The Writeoff Association 927 members · 663 stories
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RogerDodger
Group Admin

Event overview

Please refrain from saying anything that might compromise your anonymity. Doing so is grounds for disqualification. It's recommended you do dummy reviews of your own stories should it otherwise be easy to deduce which you wrote.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

oh gosh ;_;

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

Three days to write the minific; in the past it was one. Is it intentional or a mistake?

RogerDodger
Group Admin

3364875
Dammit. I knew I should have stared at that form for longer. :facehoof:

Bad Horse
Group Contributor

Three days is great. I still think speed writing is not writing. The point of such limits in contests is to not require competitors to give up days of their lives, but the word limit accomplishes that.

I wish the upper limit on minifics were a thousand instead of 750, so we could publish them on fimfiction when we're done. A story that's designed for 750 words might not work at 1000 words.

RogerDodger
Group Admin

Times have been fixed now.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

3364966
That's why I just keep a single submission around for throwing them all into. :B Unless I ever fix any of them up of course NOT LIKE THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

You know what? I may have to miss this, since there's a con going on this weekend. :( I've got three panels in a row starting about three hours after writing begins.

Dublio
Group Contributor

"Long Way Home" is the prompt. :pinkiehappy:

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3375841
Yep. A fine one, I would say.

Now I have to think of something to write, but I have nothing that could fit the prompt and length in my ideas notebook and I'm currently drawing blanks when attempting to create something from scratch. For me this usually means taking more than a day just to get a workable idea, which is not exactly feasible when the deadline is just 24 hours...

Dublio
Group Contributor

3375878

No worries. I'm sure you can do it. :pinkiesmile:

Here's to hoping we get a lot of entries this time. I find that my favorite part of this competition is all the feedback we get from various people. More entries usually means more people leaving feedback unless they wrote like six plus entries. :rainbowkiss:

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3376236
Funny thing is, after I posted that, I went to the MLP Wiki character page and started to think about why each character might fit the prompt. Now I'm writing two minifics simultaneously (as in, both documents open and writing alternately into them as I have plot related ideas), and I already had to discard a few ideas for fics :twilightoops:

But thanks for the cheering anyway :twilightsmile:

Dublio
Group Contributor

3376437 Sweet. The more fics, the merrier. :twilightsmile:

horizon
Group Admin

Eight hours in, eight submissions. This time, I'll admit in advance that one of them is mine! :twilightsmile: Really looking forward to seeing how people interpret the prompt.

Yip
Group Contributor

Starting to lose time, got to decide now if I want to participate or not... Been a while though, would probably be a good idea to do this one if I wanted to get back into things.

Dublio
Group Contributor

Looks like we've got quite a few entries already. Hurrah! I'm sure we'll get a lot more. We always tend to get a burst of entries right before submissions close. :derpytongue2:

To everyone else, there's still time to participate! 13 hours and 23 minutes left! You can do it! :pinkiecrazy:

Jonathon Smythe
Group Contributor

I'm at that awkward point where my story is just too long to submit, but I don't want to cut anything out of it.

horizon
Group Admin

3377605
Solution: Write more words! Crappy ones that you don't like. Then cut back down to 750. That way, the ones that it hurts to lose will only be a tiny fraction of the total you trim. :trollestia:

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

I got three in. I would have had time for a fourth, but all my ideas were too close to one of the three I had already submitted...

Well, now back to writing my entry to the Most Dangerous Game contest :scootangel:
(And the Body Swap Contest, and the Monthly Contest Group... I have to stop taking part in so many simultaneous events :facehoof:)

Dublio
Group Contributor

I have no idea what I was even thinking, but on the positive side, at least I managed to write things. Although I realize that procrastinating till the last second is always a bad idea since you don't have time (or are too lazy) to proofread them. Ah well. :ajsleepy:

Why do I always do this? Tsk tsk tsk. :applecry:

Yip
Group Contributor

I've gotta say, lots of posts here. Probably have a lot of authors doing multiple stories... didn't do any myself, but one thing I noticed was that there were three "Oceans" stories. I gave them a quick read and it appears as though they can definitely be read separately, but I'm kind of curious as to why the author decided to make a I, II and III version rather than just naming them differently.

Or maybe three authors all worked together to do this. You never know.

Anyway, if I do reviews on some of these stories, I'll edit this comment here. Good luck to everyone!

horizon
Group Admin

Twenty-three stories in 24 hours. Let the judging begin!

Glancing through the list, I'm amused by how many of them are 750 words on the nose (three, with three more at 749). The site actually undercounted my words (relative to what Scrivener told me) by about 1%-2%, so I'm getting visions of handfuls of authors trying to submit at like 775, getting an automated rejection, and then doing this mad scramble to remove enough adjectives/adverbs to sneak it in just under the limit. :duck:

horizon
Group Admin

3378486
I noticed the "Oceans" stories as well. For my own part, I'm going to make a deliberate point to read them out of numeric order, because I feel like multiple entries in a wordcount-limited contest should stand alone rather than building upon each other. But it's an interesting submission strategy, that's for certain, and I for one am inclined to appreciate experimentation.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3378519

Order shouldn't make a difference, they don't seem related. The third one was apparently so named just to keep the pattern, even, as it has nothing to do with the ocean.

RazgrizS57
Group Contributor

Well, I didn't get an entry through this time around do to a complete inability to come up with an idea for the prompt.

That said, I'll probably still read and write reviews for all of them. People like those, right?

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

Finished reading. Found a few gems, a few that made me go "What the Hay", but nothing that I thought outright bad.

Twilight was the most used character, starring in five fics (though in almost all cases sharing the spotlight); Luna came in second, starring four minifics and making an appearance in another; and Trixie in third, starring three (twice in a Twixie pair) and making an appearance in another. Almost seems like the usual results of any pony popularity contest :trollestia:

There were quite a few low hanging fruits that surprised me by not being taken. The Breezies (their episode, after all, could have been named after this prompt), Scorpan, traveling characters like the Flim Flam Brothers, Pinkie Pie just after leaving the rock farm, filly Applejack in Manehattan, etc.

Chris
Group Contributor

Three and a half hours, and the first reviewer crosses the finish line!

...This was a race, right?

Anyway, for each story, I've got my primary impressions after a read-through, all spoilered and such so you can read (or not) at your leisure. Included are comments on my own entry, hopefully disguised enough that you can't tell which one it is. Don't expect a lot of depth here; these are my brief takes on a story after a quick read-through of each fic. Without further adieu, here we go!

Why Pinkie?: This is misconceived as a story; the physical humor needs a visual medium, and actually being able to see some of Pinkie's antics (and everypony's expressions) would go a long way toward selling this. As-is, I'm feeling a strong sense of medium displacement. Plus, this is more “a few fandom jokes” than a cohesive narrative—this definitely would be better as a comic or short animation than as a written piece.


Inconvenient Helpers: I really liked the first segment; in-story hints of medium awareness are fun. The rest was less interesting to me, though. The scenelets didn't always build upon one another well, so I felt the narrative sometimes lacking as a result, and the smart humor was mostly replaced with character call-outs. Also, there were a fair number of editing mistakes here. Still, those first few paragraphs were great!


Oceans I: Very interesting, atmospheric piece. I have to admit, I didn't understand the point of the tense shift in the middle, but that notwithstanding, this seems like a good use of minifiction to me: take an idea, express and expand upon it, and create a vivid scene.


A Blackout in Ponyville: Well, I haven't read the comic. And you're right, I'm completely lost. While I'm kind of miffed about that—this is supposed to be FIMfiction, not ponycomicfiction, and I'm not convinced it's fair to write a story I can't enjoy despite having watched every episode of the show—I think the only fair thing to do here is abstain from voting on this one.


The Sun Birds: I wish this story was at least ten times longer because there's so much wonderful worldbuilding here. Even as-is, this was still enjoyable, and while some of the mole stuff (the first meeting with the princess) is too opaque for me, the gist of the story comes through clearly. You should definitely consider expanding this after the contest.


Oceans II: This one left me lost. Is this the moon? Is this Luna? Neither seems to make sense in context, but I think those are the only two characters it can be, based on the Oceans I. Also not sure how I feel about a multi-parter in a minific contest, but even if I'm okay with that, I'm completely lost as to how we get from Oceans I to this.


Mud: This felt more like a connecting scene (getting from one setpiece in a story to another) than like a standalone bit of fiction. It was enjoyable enough for what it was, but I felt the need for some sort of... well, for something to happen. Conflict can be low-stakes, or even hinted but unrealized, but it generally shouldn't be totally nonexistent.


Keeping a Beat: This might be a wordlimit issue, but I didn't feel the connection between Peat's backstory and his present circumstances. Sure, we know why he wanted to get away from home, but that doesn't tie directly to the band, the meager audiences... you know, the things which are set up in the first half of the story. I also wasn't a fan of some of the tech (cell phones in Equestria just don't work for me outside of sight gags). That said, I think there's a nice idea here, and my issues are of the “needs some polish” variety, not the deal-breaker sort.


The Joy Is In the Journey... Isn't It?: This one has a few editing issues (nothing awful, but the technical quality of the stories so far has been so high that a few homonyms and repeated words stick out), and I have no idea why Trixie should care which town she's in—did that bit of information end up on the cutting room floor? That aside, though, there's some nice humor here, and this is the kind of fic that works well with a word limit; good conception and nice tone, here. EDIT: see 3379369 for clarification


Berry's Secret Shame: Well, that was depressing—as intended. Unfortunately, writing was an issue here; odd wording (e.g. a box “crashing into the ground” rather than just “to the ground”) and an excess of tangential information took some of the focus off of Berry and put it on the writing itself. But you get an easy A in writing a sad scene, there.


Notebook: Okay, Spike doing the Data-speak thing and not using any contractions is really throwing me off. This one needs another editing sweep, too. But if you do both of those things, author, I think you'll have a pretty decent scenelette which could stand as a pseudo-epilogue to the show's pilot.


An Equestrian Guar: Although I sometimes pretend otherwise, poetry isn't something I know a whole lot about, so I can't say how well this nailed the style it was supposed to be in. I can, however, 1) count to six, 2) count to eight, and 3) tell if things rhyme, and this seems to do all of those, at least. And hey, points for effort; a one-day poem doesn't sound easy. I'm not getting a lot of “Equestria” out of the premise, though; this is tickling my “not pony enough” bone, I fear.


Oceans III: My goodwill from Oceans I has now completely evaporated. Sorry, but I don't know what the goal was, or even what this is supposed to be about (I mean, the last story is just one big meme), but my enjoyment has rapidly declined from the high of the first part. After the contest, I hope you'll let me know what I'm missing, author, that ties these three together, because I've got nothing, and I fear it's rather dramatically impacted my enjoyment of the first two (the latter I'm pretty sure I'd have had zero appreciation for regardless). EDIT: see 3379117 for clarification


A Little Bit of Silver: This makes good use of the short wordcount. Just a little scene with a simple conflict, a simple moral, and which gives just a hint more depth to a show character. Nice job.


Watching the Same Sunset: The writing style is interesting, but I'm having trouble with the timeline. Is this supposed to take place starting the day before Equestria Girls? Because it ends with Shimmer just getting to Humanestria (or whatever it's called), but there are a lot of things I can't reconcile between this fic and what I know of the movie.


Why I Left: So, I'm not convinced this counts as a fanfic; it's more like an urban legend in pony convention trappings. Leaving that aside, though, I got a kick out of it; the way “Discord” acts is a great mix of whimsy and curiosity, so once the story got to him, I found it fun.


Gone: This was a fine scene, but having an entire train vanish without a trace (with three of the Elements, to boot) seems like it should be a bigger deal than this; surely there should be more going on than an Appleoosan search party and the three friends? So, the highly personal, small-scale tragedy didn't fit with the big headline news-event which lead to it, for me. This seems like a story that needed more space to breath, to me.


Equestrian Defense Force: Not really sure what the point of this one was. I didn't feel like I learned much about Autumn as a character, there's not any character growth that doesn't rely on reader assumptions, and there's nothing here in the way of worldbuilding (unless we count “ponies fight/fought griffons sometimes, but that's not much). This is a story that's crying out for a purpose.


Where the Heart Is: Wow. I didn't see the twist coming, and it's just perfect. Nice characterizations, nice worldbuilding, and a novel, interesting idea. I think this is my favorite so far.


Lost to the Ages: There was a nice idea here, but it all felt a little too modern and straightforward for me—not like I'd expect Luna to sound. That might be a personal thing, though; you might want to see what other reviewers have to say before taking that too much to heart, author.


Lagan: Too much random for me, and not enough comedy. This was more “series of bizarre and unlikely events/revelations” than anything else, and while those kind of fics have an audience, I'm not generally one for them.


Yet Another Challenge: Is this associated with the last story, or is it just a coincidence? Either way, same issues, now coupled with a need to work on capitalization.


Under the Moonlight: Well, that was a sweet note to end on. There's not a lot to this, but “sweet” is nothing I'm about to turn up my nose at, and the execution is good.

Nice work to everyone who entered, even those whose stories weren't my favorites. I hope you all had fun!

Yip
Group Contributor

3378934 Um, I have a question. I found your feedback interesting, but while I totally agree with you that Oceans III is definitely not in the same realm as Oceans I, why would one ruin the goodwill of another? I found III a bit funny, but even if I hated it, I wouldn't hate I because of it (which I quite enjoyed).

It seems kind of... I dunno. It seems wrong to me.

Chris
Group Contributor

3379065

That was poorly phrased on my part. It's more that Oceans I is like A New Hope, and III is like The Phantom Menace. A New Hope didn't actually get worse when The Phantom Menace came out... but Star Wars as a whole definitely did, and a lot of A New Hope is worse unless you pretend The Phantom Menace never happened--just as the Moon's behavior in I becomes a lot less poignant when you realize she's saying all this around a bunch of AEIOU JOHN MADDEN hooey.

What I'm trying to say is, I have to actively pretend that III didn't happen to fully enjoy I, and that's an undeniable flaw.

Unless these three stories are supposed to be completely unrelated, as 3378625 seems to think they are. In that case, tying them together with the titles was a really bad idea because idiots like me will assume they're three parts of an overarching story and will read (and judge) them accordingly. I'm looking forward to seeing what a few other reviewers make of those three, among other things.

Pascoite
Group Contributor

3379117
3379065
I think it's problematic to name stories like this in the first place. For one, it'll make it look like you're trying to circumvent the word count limit by splitting a long entry over several stories, even if it turns out not to be the case. It'd be hard to judge such in isolation, though they really should be, i.e., if story 2 doesn't make sense without having read story 1, I'd have to count that against it.

The other issue is that it compromises anonymity somewhat. You could rule out people who said they only write one or two stories (assuming you believe them), but even without knowing names, there's a level of anonymity compromised by knowing these are all by the same author. If you find certain problems in one, you'll be predisposed toward looking for them in the others, for instance.

For my part, I'd prefer that no authors discussed anything before the deadline that might indicate whether they wrote more than one story and how many, but talk like that hasn't seemed to bother Roger before.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3379117
I would treat them as fully independent entities even if I thought they were related because, otherwise, story series would allow an author to somehow "cheat" the size limit. If series could be used, I could use a first story with a shorter plot to construct the scenario and establish characters, to then use those in a second one with a larger plot than usually possible.

I still think they are completely unrelated, BTW, except for the titles, the main character of I and III, and the (IMHO unfortunate and unnecessary in III) first paragraph of II and III.

BTW, thanks for your reviews :twilightsmile: Nitpicking a bit, as someone that has also read all fics (and all your reviews), you might want to re-read the second paragraph of The Joy Is In the Journey... Isn't It? , the point you complain wasn't explained is actually made explicit there.

Chris
Group Contributor

3379195

(Talkin' 'bout stories)

Yes, but we don't know why that's important. Is she visiting family? Does she have a house? Is she expected? Is there someone or something waiting there for her? What I'm missing is why it matters whether she's home or just in another town, and I think I needed at least another sentence or two to set the stakes.

That notwithstanding, I still enjoyed that fic, so it was hardly a horrific oversight. And heck, it's not like I can't imagine plenty of reasons why she'd be relieved to be back, and should feel it a disaster when she finds she isn't. But personally, I'd have liked to know why she was going home, so that I could relate to her plight a little better.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

I had a hard time with this prompt, if only because I kept thinking of it as "A Long Way From Home". Granted, it shouldn't matter too much. I was able to write more than one story (won't say how many, I'm just pleased with myself), but I expect everyone will hate them, as seems to be the standard with minifics these days.

Reviews coming whenever I can unstew my brain.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3379369

Well, I guess I misunderstood what you meant then. Thank you for taking the time to further explain :twilightsmile:

horizon
Group Admin

Reviews! That are in some cases as long as the stories themselves! :derpytongue2:

A few things: I read all 23 entries in reverse order — interpret my running commentary accordingly. Please also note that, while there are some stories I disliked, none were bad, and the goal of these reviews is constructive criticism: i.e., given the existing story, what can be done to best improve it. If you feel that I have brought up problems in your story without offering solutions, please PM me and I will make some suggestions. If you feel that one of my reviews is unfair or hurtful, that was not my intention: please let me know and I will edit it.

Reviews contain spoilers. But I hate coming back to these threads and seeing huge black blocks pooped onto the screen, so after the judging is over, I'm going to un-spoiler-text them. (Edit: Done.)


Why Pinkie?
In order to explain why this didn't work I have to summarize the story: The Mane Six are baking cakes for a celebration Celestia's visiting for. At the last moment Pinkie bursts in and parasprites both the cakes and the backup cakes. Celestia shrugs it off because they can make more, only to hear that Pinkie ate everything, including the uncooked ingredients. At that point Celestia banishes both Pinkie and, inexplicably, Twilight to the moon.

"Inexplicable" is really the only word for this story. I cannot conceive of an Equestria in which that preceding paragraph makes sense. Even if I spot you Celestia being a moon-cannon tyrant, she's perfectly okay with both party cakes and backup cakes being eaten, but when the ingredients go, suddenly there's two banishments in the queue? And what the hell is up with Pinkthulhu, Devourer Of Worlds? I will spot you any absurd premise you like for a Random story, but once you establish that premise, for stars' sake make everything logically follow from it, or at least go the full Spiderses and kick logic out the door in favor of continually escalating randomness that creates its own internal consistency, rather than just breaking the rules every time you need a cheap slapstick gag.

Inconvenient Helpers
Let's get the nitpick out of the way: a person serving as hired muscle is a "thug". I kept thinking Daring was fighting against boats. Anyway: The plot and premise here are pretty solid, and when you allow yourself to describe your actions scenes they come across pretty nicely. But that highlights a major, ongoing problem here: except for those action scenes this reads more like a script for a story than the story itself. There's not a single line of dialogue, despite the story hinging on the relationship between Daring and her titular helpers, and the story is very tell-heavy. As a description of a series of escapades, it's alright, but the very core of the story here is how Cheese Sandwich and Trixie both ruin and save Daring's day, and the ending requires that you establish why Daring is dreading them tagging along. Please, edit this and add in some direct interaction with the helpers. This could be a good story with a few thousand words; at 750 you are probably covering too much ground.

Oceans I
The division between the Moon and Luna/Night lends itself to a pretty interesting premise here. I was digging the planetary psychoanalysis, right up until the horribly lurching POV shift in paragraph 4; I had to stop and reread that several times to realize that we were switching focus to Night, especially with the giant swamp of undifferentiated "she"/"her" pronouns, and after that, I struggled to get back into the story. I do like the parallel you draw between Night/sand and Moon/Night, but the lead-in to it is deeply odd; why would looking at a grain of sand give Luna the warm fuzzies? Then there's some more POV flopping and the scene ends. To its credit, despite all that, the last line does have a pretty nice impact, but I really recommend going back through this story with a critical eye toward who the story is following; pick one character and stick with them, and if you want to shift, send clear textual signals that we're getting into the other head. So … assuming the Oceans series is from the same author: I think 1 was better than 2, since it felt more complete despite the POV issues. I'm going to take an unusual stand and say that I think 3 was better than them both. Please don't take this as an excuse to abandon serious writing and do more trollfic like 3 — all I mean by that is that each story had a specific goal, and the execution of having 3 meet its goal was better. It also aimed a lot lower. So the issue here is that with 1 and 2 you are being properly ambitious and need some editing to get there; with 3 you grabbed for the cheap joke and pulled it off.

A Blackout in Ponyville
Well, Mr. Author's Note, I have not in fact read Pinkie's micro series comic, so I'm dead in the water. But you go to reviews with the knowledge you have — so, pressing on! It's clear from context that this is a Transformers/MLP crossover, so good job expositing that sufficiently, but if there's any cool subtext in Blackout's actions or relationship with Megatron then I'm losing that totally. Some of the jokes work on their own, like the bit about idle pleasantries. The idea of Pinkie as a multiversal weapons dealer is hilarious, and her implied payment plan is too (so, I'm willing to bet that the overall joke here is "this is the backstory of the helicopter seen in her comic", and if that's the case, the author's note lied), though it begs the question of why Blackout's the only T-former to show up. Oh, well, I guess we can handwave that away for the sake of comedy. Final judgment: having no familiarity with the comic or the crossover, I'm sure I'm missing lots here, but this holds together adequately enough for a high-middle-of-the-pack vote.

The Sun Birds
Fake review.
You bastard, you headfaked by leading in with some Best Princess sisterly tension and then after the first scene we never see Luna again. But, alright, what we do have here is Celestial pet bonding, like some strange inversion of Skywriter's Philomeanie. It's even got the same split timeline (though I don't think Skywriter differentiated them by switching verb tenses, and when this story does it, it makes some of the transitions awkward). Unlike Philomeanie, though, this doesn't go for comedy, and instead manages to wedge in some nifty adventure in under 750 words. Impressive, though like Chris said, it would benefit from expansion, especially the language-difficulties scene. Anyway, I like the way that the pebbles unify the narrative in both present and past, but you missed an opportunity to lead with the pebble (the bag-around-her-neck thing doesn't quite do it). Finally … Moleysia? Really? Though given your name pun I guess I'll let it slide. I'm left with an overall good impression, but this is compressed enough that it felt like there were several other stories which made better use of the 750-word limit; this may have been a shade too ambitious.

Oceans II
To its credit, this establishes unreliable narration early on, with the narrator talking about jumping over oceans. That transforms this from a story about its dystopia into a story about its narrator, which was the more interesting choice because it adds layers to an otherwise simple pony-trapped-by-despotic-government tale. The caveat there is that, since we only have the narrator's word to go on, you have to be more careful with presenting information the reader can trust. I was willing to buy that, in fact, he does live under a despotic if vaguely described Lunar reign, but then we get into the bit about the flower-stomping, which is almost cartoonishly over the top, and I wonder whether I'm supposed to be questioning the narrator's objectivity there. He's startled by birds and lizards, and a voice — "that" voice, singular — doesn't really mesh with the idea of a guard patrol sent to, um, stomp his flowers. Is this actually about an asylum escapee? But if it is, where in the theme and/or exposition does it give us deeper insight about that reality? And if it's about what it claims to be on the surface, are there any deeper stakes here than a single slightly unhinged pony? Basically, we need more story elements here to reinforce our conceptions of what is actually occurring and why we should care about it. Telling us what "that voice" is actually saying would be a great start, or introducing some more physical scene elements (watchtowers? a photo he carries? etc.) which tell us about the world in a way independent from the narrator's interpretation of those elements.

Mud
I found myself, for a strange and fleeting moment, hoping this story would be about the Tsairzion from the previous writeoff. … Anyway: The first sentence nicely establishes setting but is way too long; split it in half. "Right, okay" doesn't sound like Rarity. So out the gate the writing feels a little shaky. The internal monologues are nice worldbuilding, but make Rarity's out-loud outburst even stranger — we get to see that she has an idea but not what's in her head? What? Another writing issue: please attach some customer names to the dresses, the vague referents are getting tiring. Aaand … she steps in the mud, and we've been listening to her internal monologue for 500 words and something's finally happening and we're two paragraphs from the end. Which sets up … her backtracking and taking a literal "long way home", which would be okay if the story was building up to it, but you can't get away with introducing that as a major story element in the last 50 words. Overall, I'm not sure what the point of this story is. Is it about the internal monologue? Is it about the mud? It doesn't feel like a character study or a scene or a worldbuilding dump (though that was probably its strongest feature). With every other story in the competition, I feel like I know what they were trying to write about, but here I have no clue. So ask yourself, "What is this story about?" — summarize what you're trying to write in a single sentence, and then look at how every element of the story either reinforces that or distracts from it. (I suspect when you do that, the titular mud will fall away as unimportant; which means that this story really doesn't incorporate the contest theme.)

Keeping a Beat
From the title, 2:1 odds on either Octavia or Vinyl, and I'll put my money on Vinyl. … Huh, well, there goes my bet: a musician OC. Nice reference, but I wonder if this story wouldn't have worked at least as well with a canon character. Reading on, I take that back; this is explicitly about a struggling artist, and I don't think the show gives us any of those. Anyway. Scene 1 provides nice tension, a setup for some sort of choice or problem or falling out. The packing-up bit seems gratuitous, but I'll spot it that if it's establishing inter-character tension and a lack of communication before they explode on the train. Scene 2: … Aaaaand we're into the weeds. You've completely switched gears, and the conflict you're now foreshadowing has nothing to do with the excellent conflict you started with. Still, you can still make something of what you've set up once they get into town. Scene 3: … wait, what? The story just ended? Where's scene 3? You've now introduced two different problems and taken no steps to resolve either of them. If you edit this story for later publication, make a choice: either throw out Scene 2 and replace it with an explosion within the band, resolving your initial setup; or greatly pare down Scene 1 into a character introduction, introduce your main conflict in Scene 2, and add a third scene where Pete confronts the ghosts of his past. Right now, this is a pair of sharp prologues and no story.

The Joy is in the Journey... Isn't It?
The good and bad news is that there wasn't much to this story. I would have been more peeved at that if it weren't for its short length — expanded out to a thousand words, it wouldn't have been able to carry its reveal, but here it doesn't feel like it's stretching too much for its punchline. (Actually, 400 words instead of 520 would have been right around the sweet spot.) A little light Trixie characterization (with a few deeply odd choices like the mugging and the lack of bathing) and a punchline that heaps on the suffering — fluffy reading, not among the top contenders, but nothing badly broke me out of the story and I don't feel like I wasted my time.

Berry's Secret Shame
This one's basically a character examination. I mean, it has a plot (Berry screws up, then runs from her problems), but the thrust of the story is what makes this character who she is. My first impression after reading was that this seems like a weak match for the writeoff theme — I guess her walk home with her inner voices shouting at her was pretty long, but this isn't about that, it's about what drives her. It's competently enough written, but … I wish we'd been given more of a reason to root for Berry. That wouldn't necessarily make it more realistic — those inner voices are a fair portrayal of depression, and just making it through the day is a big victory when you're fighting your own brain to get out of bed — but it would make the tragedy more compelling. As it is, she's self-medicating in clearly harmful ways and turning away from her friends; we (and she) need the resolution of an intervention, which this story isn't going to give us.

Notebook
As early as the first paragraph (especially "come fast") it seems obvious that English isn't this author's first language. Verb tense errors reinforce this. Rather than critique language use, I'm going to note it as a factor that drove my scoring down, and suggest that you work with an editor who's a native speaker and can help you out with that final level of polish. Grammar and word choice aside, how does the story look? It's a reflection on Twilight's childhood from the first days of Season 1, with an implied backstory for the book and photo we see in the credits. It digs into some real emotions with the trials and isolation of her childhood. With better editing, this would be a solid (if not ambitious) story; in its current state it's somewhere in the middle of the pack.

An Equestrian Guar
"Guar, n.: a drought-resistant plant of the pea family." What? Okay, let's open this one up, and — Poetry! Sweet alicorn apples, poetry! (*shuts up and reads*)

Okay, this is pushing some good poetry buttons. Props for the internal rhymes — ooh, I see the structure, the third rhyme of the set is buried inside the next set. You're talking about calves — did you mean "Gaur"? Mild frowny face for the repetition of some of the rhymes (life, thought). You win the points back for the melding of Earth and Equestrian mythology. Sea/me/Equestri-, nice. And hella extra points for name-dropping the poetic structure you're using. And suddenly that ties everything up and whacks it with the theme bat. I'm impressed. This is clearly rough around the edges, but I'm judging it as 600 words of poetry, which is vastly more difficult for its size (and time constraint) than 600 words of prose. So while this isn't the most polished piece here, it's still good, and adjusting for effort involved, I'm going to artificially bump it up to my top scorers.
Third-place pick

Oceans III
First impression: What's with the italic paragraph? Is that meant to be a sort of introductory "short description" to —

> "Aeiou."
oh god ooooh gooooood oooooooooohhhhh gggoooooodddd
author y u
author
auuuuthoooooor

Okay, now that that's out of my system (MOONBASE ALPHA CROSSOVER DETECTED; ABANDON BRAIN), let's approach this story on its own merits. Luna's playing a decent straight mare. "John and Mark", cute. Aaand there's the twist recontextualizing the encounter, which actually works — if you're going to shamelessly play fandom clichés straight, might as well mash them up and play them against each other. Also, +1 point for the subtlety of the "Oceans" subtheme in talking about a lunar mare. Overall, you managed to make me actively enjoy a Random story, author: well done.
Honorizonable Mention

A Little Bit of Silver
First impression: Is this a Phoenix Wright crossover? Wait, no, his badge isn't silver. Nice hook, though, and fluid writing (nitpick: except a few typoes like "gave really them away" and the word salad of the sentence starting "A few rather lovely mares"). Ha, nice exchange about the spells. I take that back: Great exchange about the spells. The ending twist didn't have any punch because with unnamed military ponies and a discussion about love, Shiny pretty much had to be involved, but I don't care, this sells itself on the strength of its writing rather than on the reveal. Hey, "Equestrian Defense Force" author? This is what I was talking about in your review: here we have a war movie cliché scene (old grizzled soldier putting some sense into the greenhorn), but here it works, because the scene is about the characters, sharing insights and defining their personalities (and putting in a quietly subversive metacommentary about love spells which reflects on Cadence even though she never appears in the scene). I suspect this will be one of my favorites of the comp.
Second-place pick

Watching the Same Sunset
First impression: Oooh, Sunset Shimmer. I'd toyed with the idea of an SS/EqG based fic, but didn't feel I could cram one into 750 words. Let's see how this author does. Scene 1: Plausible backstory, good conflict setup, nice job on the narrative voice. Scene 2: "But you're crying. I don't like it when you cry." <- the first line that really broke me out of the story. Flash's characterization is weird — very childlike, especially in contrast to his cleverness with things like the ice cream, which leaves him feeling mildly autistic to me. I didn't expect the shipping for some reason, but (modulo Flash's personality) it's handled pretty smoothly. Scene 3: "My name is Luna. And I am a human." AUGH AUGH NO NO WHY IS SHE INTROooooooh wait, you're implying that Sunset's still a pony, right? Wait, no, she has fingers. AUGH AUGH NO NO WHY IS SHE INTRODUCING HERSELF AS A HUMAN TO SOMEONE OF THE SAME SPECIES?! Penalty flag, 20 yards, insane dialogue. I'm hoping that this one just got jacked by the deadline, because before the end it was doing pretty well. Some editing should smooth it out if you choose to continue with it.

Why I Left
Fake review.
Well … this is unique, and sort of bizarrely/coolly meta, incorporating the literal contest theme as the contest theme. The story itself comes across as creepypasta lite, though points for incorporating little things like the Unicon bits. It feels roughly written, though I honestly have no idea whether that was intentional (emulating a narrator implied not to be a fanfic author) or just sloppy editing. It would be improved by getting into the actual plot earlier, rather than first introducing "Discord" halfway through; I wonder if that was a casualty of the wordcount limit? Ultimately, points for novelty, but overall didn't leave a strong impression.

Gone
Strictly speaking, this is a scene rather than a story — it illuminates a moment in time, with no resolution to the central question that its backstory reveals — but as a scene it does what it sets out to do. It establishes their despair and the physical setting fairly well (nitpick: it's "Appleloosa"), and works in exposition unobtrusively. It could use a minor bit of textual polishing (e.g. the string of metaphors starting with "sack of stones"), but as a Waiting For Godot-esque purgatory sequence, it does alright. To make this even better, you could use some of your remaining words to bring the mystery front and center — have them find a piece of evidence? — or perhaps have the discussion over whether it's time to call the search off. Then the compelling tension you've built up crystallizes and finds a resolution. This falls short of my top scorers not through any writing fault, but because of that unfulfilled potential; this could very easily have transitioned from scene to story and I wish I'd read this as a story.

Equestrian Defense Force
First impression: So Equestria needs an army. Did he get called up in the draft? It's not volunteering, but the dialogue's ambiguous on whether the OC protag. has a choice to refuse. "It won't. You worry too much": Penalty flag, 10 yards for painfully obvious foreshadowing. Scene 2: Feels like it's here because this is a war story and the war story requires certain clichés, not because this adds anything. There's no character development, no worldbuilding, this is just obligatory plot and wasted words unless it illuminates something else about the story. Also, what race are they fighting if they're getting magic bolts shot at them? Scene 3: Okay, I've got to take a stand here: there are some war movie clichés that just don't work in Equestria, not unless you've got a few thousand words of worldbuilding to establish how you're diverging from the show. The uncaring generals and clueless soldiers is one of them. Equestria is not an empire suppressing overseas holdings and your exposition isn't setting up a "defense" force or your protag.'s family wouldn't be so lackadaisical about joining the army. Scene 4: they're surrounded (backed into a semicircle) and Sarge Berry is concerned about not letting the (flying!) enemy through? I'm sorry, this string of war clichés has lost me; they're not in service of a coherent larger narrative. You have to use these scenes to illuminate character and make us empathize with your protag., without which the impact of the story is hollow. Remainder: I guess +1 point for not killing the protag. after making it so obvious he would die (even though that makes a muddle of the entire story arc). Your writing is technically smooth (spelling, grammar, etc.); now it's time to work on larger issues such as structure and theme, putting together those solid small blocks into enjoyable larger chunks.

Where the Heart Is
+1 point for first non-Twiluna fic (revocable if there's another Winona story, which I doubt). … Pffthaha, no, this earned that point and then some. It would have been novel enough as a fic narrated by a pet, but on top of that the changeling twist worked out as one of those brilliant-in-hindsight things that added to an already fresh take on the comp. (Why haven't I read any changeling-pet stories before? Surely this is a cool enough idea to have been done before. Either way, kudos.) The textual quality could use a bit of final polish (in hindsight, if no scenes are added or greatly altered, this may want to be closer to 800 words than 750), but the core idea is solid, solid, and this is a strong early medal contender.
First-place pick

Lost to the Ages
So far: four stories, two Luna fics, two Twixie fics. I hope this isn't a trend. Livereading thoughts: Aaaand it's about her being banished to the moon (sigh) but the voice thing may have promise. (Nitpick: Pretty sure Canterlot was built after Luna's banishment; canon repeatedly shows they ruled from the castle in the Everfree.) Okay, no, this is looking like the standard nightmare-inside-her internal-dialogue setup. From that fight description, Season 4 apparently doesn't exist. And ultimately … this retreads ground well-worn by the show. Good fanfic is about embracing and extending, giving us new angles and provoking new questions. The best part of this is the implication, at the end, that the Elements restored Luna's sanity briefly as they banished her, just to give her full comprehension of what she'd done. That's cruel, and very noteworthy, and I wish the story had focused on that horrible implication rather than noting it in passing and focusing on blander fare.
EDITED TO ADD: It's not fair to say your main point is ground well-worn by the show (though the Luna/Celestia confrontation is — there were several minutes of flashback in the S4 opener), but the general point stands: the idea of Luna confronting the Nightmare is an extremely common one in fanfiction, and if you want to take a well-used idea like that, your interpretation of it has to stand out more in order to make up for it. Creativity counts for a lot in how well your fanfiction is received — note the reception of "Where The Heart Is", which has a smashingly original idea and so far is both reviewers' top pick. When I say that I wish you'd focused more on the Elements' cruelty, that's because that particular interpretation of Luna's banishment is a novel idea, and exploring that is inherently more interesting, because it's ground that other stories have not already covered before you. Would you be able to do it and maintain the same bittersweet tone you've got here? Not at all; that's dark, dark stuff, and maybe that's a story you don't want to write. But, for better or for worse, that's what's unique about your story for me.

Lagan
"Lagan, n (Archaic): (in legal contexts) goods or wreckage lying on the bed of the sea." Or is the title an anime reference? Let's read it and see. … And, wow, this is what "Yet Another Challenge" should have been. So shamelessly random, yet the randomness builds upon itself rather than cleaving the story in half. I appreciate the little done-the-research things (the title, perytons, cannonball size and cables as a distance measurement). The single word "Esq." is funnier than any single word has a right to be. Twixie is gratuitous/fanservicey, but sets up some laughs. Points for getting away with its audacity.
Honorizonable Mention

Yet Another Challenge
Major points for the hook of the opening line. First scene solid (though "tuffled" isn't a word). Looks like it's setting up for some long-suffering-Twilight comedy. Second scene felt like it lingered overlong on Trixie's defeat given that her continual failure was already established. And then … it grabs the WTF bat and knocks the plot out of the park. Third scene: wat. Just, wat. Is this modern art, where there's some deep meta-meaning behind ripping the Mona Lisa in half, defying us to challenge our preconceptions about narrative structure and our inner need for meaning? Nah. I think I've just been trolled. :ajbemused:

Under The Moonlight
Rubbed me the wrong way for reasons out of the author's control — the orphanage thing strikes me as reaching for cheap feels in a Luna hurt/comfort fic. (The weird orphan theft in the otherwise excellent Children of the Night video creeped me out and soured me on the idea.) The instant I hit it the fic lost me, but that is not meant as a reflection on the story itself. I do like the little details, like Philomena and the Journal of the Two Sisters callout, and they're a strong point, but be careful with them — with such a tight word limit, you have to pace the plot, so the details you choose to add should be pulling double or triple duty. (Philomena, excellent — aside from making the scene more vivid, showing her featherless state establishes history and timeline. The musings about the palace, on the other hand, were interesting on their own but added little to the larger story.)

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3380169
There's a strong argument for something named Canterlot to have existed before Luna's banishment in the fact Luna calls the Royal Canterlot Voice, well, the Royal Canterlot Voice.

Also, the recently released Journal of the Two Sisters book, IMHO, throws a curveball at us by having the princesses mention that they grew up in Canterlot and that they were taught by other alicorns. I personally now consider that book to be something Celestia wrote afterwards and planted in the castle's library to troll Twilight :trollestia:

BTW, great reviews, thank you for them :twilightsmile:

horizon
Group Admin

3380732
Hmm, interesting point. I didn't remember that in JoTS when I suffered through it for my blog post, so you made me go back and reread it, you meanie. But yes: Luna explicitly mentions (once and then never again) that they grew up running around "the hills of Canterlot" and were reared by (an implied tribe of) alicorns, who taught them the Royal Canterlot Voice. To me this sounds like Canterlot-the-castle was erected after the "Era of the Two Sisters" and named after historical Canterlot-the-region.

As for the alicorn tribe, I have no idea what to make of it. I'm inclined honestly to throw my hands up, give Hasbro a penalty flag (10 yards, incoherent worldbuilding), and bury it down the memory hole, since if there was an alicorn tribe then Starswirl would have had no logical reason to grab two foals off the street to rule all of ponydom (following the destiny revealed by his time-traveling is ruled out, since it was Celestia who helped him complete his time-travel spell). Also, if there were an alicorn tribe within Equestria's borders, and they're so awesome that ponies were willing to accept the rule of two blank-flank alicorn foals without question, why weren't the alicorns already in charge? (And why weren't they already moving the sun and moon themselves!)

In order to pretzel-bend Equestrian history sufficiently to account for the alicorn tribe, the best I can do is that Canterlot-the-hilly-place is not actually within Equestria's world. If Luna and Celestia fell through a dimensional rift and were Equestria's only alicorns at the time (the Crystal Empire ruler, who is either Cadence or an ancestor of hers, is identified as a unicorn), it makes a lot more sense.

Anyway, as to what this all means for the single line of dialogue in Lost To The Ages: I stand by my nerd rage, but it's such an inconsequential issue and the fix is so simple that it shouldn't pull focus from the story's other features.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3381726
You made me re-read it first :raritywink:
BTW, Celestia also mentions Canterlot, or at least the hills of Canterlot. Page 11 (I think; the part where Celestia talks about the coronation. The digital version, which is the one I purchased, does not include page numbers).

As for the alicorn tribe, I have no idea what to make of it. I'm inclined honestly to throw my hands up, give Hasbro a penalty flag (10 yards, incoherent worldbuilding)

Which is why I stand by my theory that the Journal was just Celestia trolling Twilight :trollestia:
It's actually less painful than accepting as canon much of what is inside, even when filtered through an unreliable filly narrator, and at least it's fun to think about :scootangel:

In order to pretzel-bend Equestrian history sufficiently to account for the alicorn tribe, the best I can do is that Canterlot-the-hilly-place is not actually within Equestria's world. If Luna and Celestia fell through a dimensional rift and were Equestria's only alicorns at the time (the Crystal Empire ruler, who is either Cadence or an ancestor of hers, is identified as a unicorn), it makes a lot more sense.

That... is actually a quite interesting idea :twilightoops: Reminds me of the Elves in Middle Earth. There might be some interesting stories to be told about that.

It could also be tied with just why Celestia has a cross-dimensional portal in canon (well, EQG canon). She might be trying to find a way to return home, or at least communicate with it :rainbowderp:

horizon
Group Admin

3381864
> It could also be tied with just why Celestia has a cross-dimensional portal…

Ideaaaaaa~

… damn it, why couldn't we have had this conversation before the "Long Way Home" competition. D-: That's gold, right there.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3382324
Yeah, it fits the prompt like a glove, fits the canon, is original (or, at least, I haven't seen anyone doing something similar in MLP fiction), manages to make sense of some of the most ridiculous elements to have ever been included in official products, and can draw inspiration from not only LotR, but also nearly every mythology where gods have a place for them separate from earth. Heck, it's flexible enough that it would be possible to do a spoof of Marvel's Thor or DC's Wonder Woman using that idea and still remain canon-compatible, if someone was crazy enough to try :twilightoops:

That rainbow dash emoticon in my previous message was myself figuring that I had just written "find a way to return home" in a thread about the Long Way Home Writeoff, BTW :rainbowlaugh:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

So my comprehension abilities are slightly lacking today, but this is the only chance I’m really gonna have to just sit down and read all of these. At least everyone will be judged in the same frame of mind, I guess.

Why Pinkie? Uhh… So Celestia banished them to a wasteland somewhere because Pinkie ate all the cake? It’s a cute idea, don’t get me wrong, but I think I would have preferred seeing the aftermath rather than the incident as it happens, and both Pinkie and Celestia feel out of character. (I mean, Pinkie’s never been destructive with her eating habits; you’d think she’d know better.)

Inconvenient Helpers The penitent pony kneels before Celestia. It’s interesting how Daring being a real pony makes stories like this possible. Good use of Cheese Sandwich — wonderful to see him in a story without Pinkie — not so good use of Trixie, though I can’t help but think that the adventures of these three across Equestria would be great fun to read. That said, this breaks down a little toward the end with lots of sentences starting with “Daring Do”, and I think you mean “thugs”, not “tugs”, but I’m not sure. This does make good use of the word limit, however; this is how you can pack a lot of story into a small space, authors take note.

Oceans I This is a very lovely read, tense shifts aside. That said, I have no idea what’s going on. I can’t figure out if the Night is Luna or Celestia or some third party (she’s described as having both feet and hooves, so who knows).

A Blackout in Ponyville I see what you did with the title. Well, I read all the comics, but I’m still not sure what that has to do with a Transformer going to Equestria. And such a random one, too. I don’t think he actually did anything in Animated, did he? Well anyway, the interactions are kind of nice even if this doesn’t go anywhere. Wasn’t sure if Blacky was frustrated by his interaction with the organics, or if he’s really a softy at heart; this kinda waffles on that front.

The Sun Birds Moles? I’ve never considered non-hooves, non-mythical creatures would actually have societies in Equestria, and I can’t say I like the idea. At least you didn’t make them talk in Molespeak. (I guess it’s “Mole-ay”, huh?) I do love the language barrier scene, that’s handled quite well and something I can really enjoy. That said, I really can’t figure out what’s going on in this, not in the least. I gather that the italicized scenes are from when Celestia was much younger, but… I can’t put any of it together.

Oceans II Part of me wants to see this continued, but what you’ve built here is a very neat little idea, with just enough to get everything across. I dig dystopian stuff (though now that I think of it, there’s barely anything ‘pony’ about this), so I like the setting, and the fact that this kid knows he’s just psyching himself up for failure is pretty powerful. It speaks a lot to just what sort of regime he’s living under.

Mud You threw a lot of worldbuilding into this — all those fabrics feel a bit more high fantasy than MLP tends to be, but I like to see someone going outside the normal confines of fanon nevertheless — and then didn’t go anywhere with it. As a look into Rarity’s thoughts, it’s good, but building all that up just for a poop joke seems a wasted effort. :/ And I like poop jokes.

Keeping a Beat Peat Best. You are kidding me. Unfortunately, this really doesn’t go anywhere. It needs a longer setup to really make a sympathetic character, and his background seems to be a fairly standard set of traits. I will say though that I was expecting Vinyl Scratch given the title, and I’m pleased that you didn’t use her.

The Joy is in the Journey... Isn't It? You know, I wouldn’t have thought she was from Hoofington. Admittedly, she’s not the most reliable character, but from what she said, it sounded like Hoofington was just another stop on her tour. This is at least amusing.

Berry's Secret Shame Okay, so now we know why Berry drinks. This doesn’t really present a whole lot of original ideas though. I mean, drinking to kill the voices is a Thing, I guess. And I’ve seen ponies wrestling with those sorts of thoughts before. Not to mention the “she’s not eligible to be a nurse anymore” thing just makes me wonder why.

Notebook This could really use some proofreading, but I feel like you’ve hit on a really unique look at Twilight. Granted, I’m not sure how much I believe she could be mad at Celestia, nor how much time she actually had to do all this stuff in the notebook, but as a single snapshot, it works.

An Equestrian Guar This is the best poemfic I have ever read. It’s about beans, right? And what is “maton”, I can’t find that word anywhere.

Oceans III So I saw the commentary about these pieces before reading them. I agree that using the same title over risks breaking anonymity, but I disagree with the “cheating” thing. Post-banishment anxiety (?), a foal escaping an oppressive regime and a freaking Moonbase Alpha joke don’t have anything to do with each other that I can see. (So why didn’t you give them different titles?) Anyway, I love this. If there had to be an MBA reference in this contest, this is, I think, about the best I could hope for how to use it. The ending is a great punchline, and I love how ethereal that line is in comparison to the wackiness of the rest.

A Little Bit of Silver That line about the new guard’s eyes is really great. Honestly, I didn’t need the twist at the end; this absolutely could have stood without it, even though it hardly detracts from the rest. This is more or less a perfect flashfic, and I’m impressed that you were able to fit such a well-oiled metaphor into it.

Watching the Same Sunset It feels like this was initially longer when you finished and you had to take a lot out. That leaves this feeling shotgunned and I don’t get a really good feeling for Sunset. But why did Luna introduce herself as a human? It doesn’t sound like she knows about Equestria, so my initial thought of “oh, she’s seen ponies fall through the mirror before” doesn’t really work. I’m slightly confused.

Why I Left Fandom fic! Overall, this is neat. It really sounds like someone who was stuck at LPU — god, I hope that’s not a true story, for your sake — and the Discord twist helps keep it grounded in not-reality. I like why he helps the guy at the end, that feels very Discord-y. I’m rather pleased to see something like this around, honestly.

Gone Dang, that’s kinda heavy. Being as it’s just a scene laying out what happened, though, I don’t feel too much for it. And I’m sorry to say, but I just don’t have anything more to add.

Equestrian Defense Force All I can really say is that I expected the opening to telegraph Autumn’s death. Otherwise, this sort of covers every trope of war fiction without missing a step. On top of that, I can’t really believe that Celestia would send soldiers into battle without telling them why they were fighting. War is a touchy subject in ponyfic, and I don’t feel like this handles it appropriately.

Where the Heart Is Okay, I did NOT see that coming. Well played. I really like that bit about the herding instinct, too. This is a really surprising and original idea, executed well. I hope you can expand it a little after the contest is over to give it a post on Fimfic.

Lost to the Ages As “Luna talking to Nightmare Moon” fics go, this doesn’t add a whole lot to the genre. There are some neat world-building ideas, but otherwise it’s just another dialogue.

Lagan Love a good pirate story. Also appreciate the use of seaponies at the end, if I’m reading that right. Not sure about the shipping there, with tsundere Trixie or whatever. This is pretty random fun though!

Yet Another Challenge What is it about Trixie that inspired ridicule? At least this one wasn’t shipping, I guess. I’m not sure the buildup is really worth it for the punchline, though. I mean, it’s cute, but I’m not likely to remember this one later.

Under The Moonlight Cute. The first scene is a nice look at Luna’s character, and I like where you went with this.

horizon
Group Admin

I keep coming back to this page hoping for more reviews. I should probably give folks time to read and digest everything! Well, in the interest of offering more entertainment while we wait for judging and/or further reader impressions, let's talk about the stories we didn't write.

Here's one from my cutting room floor:

A straight-faced Slice of Life story about a pony realtor trying to close a sale. Build mock tension over inspections, valuations, desperate price negotiation as the buyer starts talking about other properties they like, maybe even the unexpected discovery of termites, etc. Finally, the contract is inked, the weary realtor hands the buyers the keys, and they trot off to move into their new home … on Long Way. :facehoof:

What did you end up not writing about, either because the idea fell apart, or it was horrible in hindsight, or you ran out of time?

horizon
Group Admin

3382557
Re: MudOh god, it's a poop joke? I missed that totally. D:

That makes me want to go back and dock it another point … but I'm not going to. I feel my score should reflect what I as a reader got out of the story, and if I missed something a story was trying to do, my reaction and review should reflect that it failed to communicate to me what was happening. In this case, it works out in the author's favor. I suppose that's not the greatest moral message ("incomprehensibility is better than poop jokes"?), but better that than judging the entry for things that don't come from the entry itself.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3386243
I'm going to post my own reviews/impressions after I'm not required to remain anonymous anymore. Besides, I believe I still have a few thousand words to write yet for Obs' Most Dangerous Game contest, and if I spend much time with reviews right now I might not end in time :twilightoops:

About roads not taken, from my brainstorming document (done in the first few hours of the contest and only touched since to delete the ideas I was using):

- A Breezie scout bringing to his kingdom information about where to gather pollen from. To be done as a little adventure (pun half intended).

- Discord thinking about how things changed in all the time he was stuck in stone. Dropped because it wasn't original.

- Zecora thinking about her way to Equestria, and where she considers her home to be. Dropped because I still can't write Zecora with a shade of competency due to being exceedingly bad at rhymes.

- Filly Applejack in Manehattan. Two ideas, actually; either seriously reflecting on how far from the farm she was in both distance and environment, or having some comedic little adventure on the road home.

- Applejack musing about how far she had come since her parents died, and how long it took to make the farm feel like home again.

- Applejack and Braeburn thinking about each other and remembering incidents when they were visiting, Braeburn thinking about a more distant past and Applejack about a closer past, to be revealed in the end that in truth they were thinking about how far from her original home Bloomberg was.

- The long road Boneless took until it returned to Pinkie (it apparently was one of the rubber chickens Pinkie was juggling long ago), to be told from Boneless' point of view as a series of funny anecdotes from when Cheese first got it until it was given back to Pinkie.

- The Flim Flam brothers intent on cheating somepony that wanted to go back home, but in the end doing the right thing, and even losing some bits to it, because they knew his plight firsthoof.

- Scorpan on his trip home after his brother was locked in Tartarus, on the way comparing how the pony lands are different from his homeland.

I didn't develop any of those further; the ones that I did develop further but didn't exactly use actually morphed into my entries, so not posting those yet. Reasons for dropping ideas include everything from lack of interest in the setting to a fear of not being skilled enough to pull a particular one off :twilightoops:

Having ideas isn't usually my problem. Executing them, on the other hoof... :facehoof:

Also, at 3382557 , since I'm already doing a post anyway: thank you for your reviews, much appreciated :twilightsmile:. And, regarding Why Pinkie?, how to summarize the story in three words: To the Moon!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

3386378
Trust me to find that stuff. :B

Yip
Group Contributor

3386243 I nearly wrote something in a LOTR-esque atmosphere, being a very big fan of adventure and Tolkien stuff myself. Had no idea what I wanted from it, so I scrapped it.

Oh well, no entry this time.

Jonathon Smythe
Group Contributor

Quckie reviews!

Why Pinkie?
Pinkiesprite - To the moon! Meh.

Inconvenient Helpers
Minecraft reference! Name drops! Tug boats, ahoy! Never ask that question! That was fun.

Oceans I
On the moon. I am confused. Who is who, is the Moon in Luna, the other way around, does Luna miss the Moon? Meh.

A Blackout in Ponyville
Inside jokes incoming. Multiverse theory! Accidental murder! Pinkie Pie, Blackout market dealer! (Pink market?) I never watched Transformers! Meh.

The Sun Birds
Reminiscing, I think. Pun! Mole pun! Words I don't know! Bird sun, apparently! Zarock? Praise the sun! I liked it.

Oceans II
Oppression, I guess. I don't understand. Wishful thinking. Ponies can't swim. Meh.

Mud
Exotic fabrics! Someone likes fire! Dresses for the princesses! Poop joke. Deerie me.

Keeping a Beat
Musician pun! Bored band! Unneeded tragic backstory! Meh.

The Joy is in the Journey... Isn't It?
Trixie! Change happens! Trixie's an idiot! It got a chuckle.

Berry's Secret Shame
Berry is clumsy! Inner demons! Drown the voices! Not bad.

Notebook
Memories! Friendship. That was good.

An Equestrian Guar
Poems! Maybe a love letter? A journal entry? A for effort on the rhymes, not a bad story, either.

Oceans III
John Madden. Okay, that was pretty funny.

A Little Bit of Silver
Royal Guard. Surprised you didn't say his eyes were shining. It was okay.

Watching the Same Sunset
Sunset Shimmer! Inner monologue! Expulsion! SunFlash! FlashSet? SunSentry! You're not in Kansas anymore! Meh.

Why I Left
Meta! Puns! Discord! Gambling! Heh. I liked it.

Gone
Pony search! Strange disappearances! Sadness. Not bad.

Equestrian Defense Force
Foreshadowing! Rookie mistakes! Senseless violence! Griffon war! Meh.

Where the Heart Is
Winona POV! What a tweest! Very nice.

Lost to the Ages
Luna! Moona! Canon? What Canon? Temporary sanity! It was okay.

Lagan
Is this a game of make-believe? Tsundere Trixie! Twixie! Strange, but humorous.

Yet Another Challenge
Pfft. Trixie is persistant! Pfft. Just silly enough to be quite humorous.

Under The Moonlight
Luna doesn't feel worthy! Orphans! It was Okay.

horizon
Group Admin

3387515
Thank you for the reviews! Even short ones give a good sense of what stands out in a story. (And yes, 3378693, we'd love to see your thoughts.)

Pascoite
Group Contributor

So, it's been nearly a year since I did a sweep of reviews in one of these, but it seems like this one's been going nicely, so I'll try my hand at them again.

Why Pinkie?
Only a couple of mechanical mistakes, so the writing's not bad. I expect this will be a common complaint for stories this short, but there's not much of an arc here. We can't come to any conclusions about the characters here. Why are they making these desserts for Celestia? I can take a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that Celestia would banish Pinkie, given that Twilight and Fluttershy both speculated on that as their fates in canon, but that Celestia would condemn Twilight as well for something she didn't do? Not bad as a quick-hit comedy, but it doesn't make a point.

Inconvenient Helpers
More mechanical problems than I would have hoped... Seems odd to me that Trixie would give Daring Do higher billing than herself. There's a setup here, but not much else. She's lamenting about everyone chasing her, and it ends with her lamenting that everyone's chasing her. We never find out what the artifact was, we don't really see her get it, we never see her triumph at delivering it to the museum. We get a few action scenes, but there's not a direction or message here.

Oceans I
The tense change is tough to make workable in such a short piece, and I didn't get anything out of it. I'll be the first to say I'm not good at reading between the lines, but I really didn't get what was happening here. I saw evidence of mutually exclusive possibilities, so I'm not sure which to believe. The writing itself is quite good, and there does appear to be a complete story arc... just that I'm not sure what it is.

A Blackout in Ponyville
Okay, from the author's note (which wasted some word count), I already know that I won't get this story. And I think it's probably a mistake to write something so dependent on something else that specific, like a crossover with an obscure property, in a contest which will have a pretty limited readership. You're really gambling that enough people will get what you're doing.

Well now, that was actually cute. I have no idea how it relates to the comic, and I'm not up on current Transformers enough to know who this is, but I watched the original show a lot, and this works for me. I just have to wonder whether Pinkie knows he's on the "bad" side and how she'd reconcile herself with that. I suppose you could have gone back far enough to find an Autobot helicopter, or even gone to the Rescue Bots (though they forgo weapons, I suppose). Still, this was a clever idea, though I'll have to point out yet again the lack of a character or plot arc. At least a bit of inner turmoil on Blackout's part is suggested.

The Sun Birds
Enjoyable, but somewhat confusing, especially as I couldn't pick up the reason for the italics or a lot of the scene changes. I have to wonder if the entire flock realizes what connection Celestia has to the sun. Would they resent it? Could she actually draw it down toward them for a moment? I feel like I'm not getting the most out of this ritual. How often is one of them permitted to do this? How often is an outsider? And of the mechanics of it: The whole mountain can't be made of these pebbles, or climbing it would dislodge far more than the one carried up it. So what's the significance of the one part of it where the pebbles are stacked, and what precautions are taken to ensure that it doesn't topple? Nice entry, though.

Oceans II
Not bad, but it works so much more by implication than anything else, but in a way that requires more work of the reader than the author, I think. There is an implied character growth to this protagonist, so good there. Mechanically clean. A little on the generic side, so it doesn't stand out, but still good.

Mud
That's a rather heavy opening sentence. You normally want something a little more concise to give an immediate, clear picture of the action, character, or setting, but this one wanders on about three or four different things. There was a nice hint of characterization for Rarity and of worldbuilding here, but nothing comes of it. What are these dresses for? What's the significance of the material? Of course, you only have limited space to go on about them here, but then it becomes a question of whether you should even introduce such things if you can't adequately explain them within the word limit. So this is a cute little snapshot of Rarity's day, but there's nothing we can conclude from it, and it ultimately brings up more questions than it answers.

Keeping a Beat
Oh, jeez, a Beatles reference. I don't get the part about the tickets. Bar patrons can apparently get in without paying, so what are the tickets for? There's a little bit of mood whiplash with the use of "lovingly" and the otherwise lackadaisical attitude everyone seems to have, particularly juxtaposing it with "tossed." The reminiscence of his hometown lacks some power, because the part about his father, which is obviously supposed to have the most emotional impact, is summed up very briefly only in the narration. It's very factual, so it doesn't carry the emotional weight. Yet he doesn't seem concerned about returning home either, so I'm left wondering if it's really such a big deal.

The Joy is in the Journey... Isn't It?
Trixie's voice doesn't sound as pompous as I'd expect, and while it's certainly possible to get her there, it does warrant some explanation. I've also never been a fan of exposition through having a character speak aloud to herself, especially when the narrator is limited anyway and can express those thoughts for her. A minor point, though. Not sure if this is getting meta with the lawyer-speak. A few mechanical hiccups, mostly with missing words. There is a point here, but it's pretty deeply buried, and it's kind of sacrificed in favor of making an iffy joke when you still had plenty of word count left. But if that's not the story you want to tell, so be it. I enjoyed the writing, in any case.

Berry's Secret Shame
This one has a nice narrative voice to it. Good use of the limited perspective. This sounds like something I might write. In fact, it sounds very much like a minific I wrote two years ago. Not really much to say about it other than it worked. We get some insight into why Berry acts the way she does, so there's an arc here. Good job with this.

Notebook
Some technical issues and tense inconsistencies. Overall, there's a nice sentiment here, though Twilight feels a little distant about it. She says she felt various emotions, and the actions she considered taking do speak to her emotional state some, but some more overt expression of how she feels about the pages in her notebook would give them more impact, I think.

An Equestrian Guar
Poetry. Well, um... Yes, but... I'm out of my element here, I have to say. It's not that I don't like poetry, but I'm not going to be too good at analyzing what patterns it fits (or attempts to). I guess all I can say is that it's a risky thing to hang the meaning on the reader knowing the definition of a fairly obscure word (or looking it up). The rhymes work nicely without having to stretch for questionable syntax or word choice to force them. You certainly aren't required to have any particular rhythm, though for what it's worth, I find myself wishing there was some sort of regular meter, even if not identical from one line to the next. And now that I look it up, I see that the only definition of guar was the one I already knew, so... what is this then? Going Jabberwocky on me or something? I dunno. Now you've lost me with some sort of mythological names of people and places and use of "Earth" (capitalized) and "hands." By the end, I'm completely lost. It started out almost like an ode, such that the speaker wasn't really addressing anyone in a concrete sense, but then it turned more into an exhortation, and I can't at all tell where it ended up. And the only reference I can find to a guar beyond the agricultural product is some kind of reptilian creature in Elder Scrolls, so... I dunno. The construction and flow is nice, but the meaning is totally lost on me.

Oceans III
Well, that happened. It's good for a chuckle, but another one that doesn't really tell a story. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to recognize the nonsense the astronauts are spouting, but I didn't catch any references in there. It's actually a concept that could have been told in far less word count than it was, which is unusual for these minifics. So... there's probably an audience for this, but I'm not one of them.

A Little Bit of Silver
Very good. The talking heads got to me, but I'll chalk it up as a sacrifice made to save word count, I suppose. I don't have much to say. Just a nice slice-of-life moment with an implied story arc behind it, but that loses a little power from the talking heads and some telly language at the key moment. An early favorite, though.

Watching the Same Sunset
The concept here is nice, but Sunset says these situations have occurred before. But she doesn't mention Celestia becoming involved before. So it seems unlikely the princess would immediately jump to expulsion and disownment. That could use some more explanation. Wow, this just brings up more questions than it answers. How did she get through the mirror? Why did she go? This could range anywhere from running off in despair to Celestia unceremoniously throwing her through it (her explanation of the event in the actual movie notwithstanding) to Flash being an asshole and drugging her ice cream so he could get rid of her, possibly under Celestia's orders. I like giving her this back story, but I wish it had said something definite.

Why I Left
This was a lot better than it had any right to be. I was inwardly groaning and waiting for a rant, but then I got a clever little ending. I can't really say much else about it beyond the fact that it accomplished what it set out to do and got a chuckle out of me.

Gone
It really seems odd to me that this search isn't bigger. The princesses haven't gotten involved or committed their guards to it? It's a little unsatisfying not to have any idea what's happening here. I mean, to some degree it puts me of a mind with your main characters, since they don't either, but I know even less than they do as to what efforts have been expended, what theories have been put out there, why they were even visiting that town. It just comes across as a generic loss story, which I guess does have real-world parallels, but it doesn't make for a strong narrative. The emotions come across nicely, though, without being overdone or bluntly pushed at me.

Equestrian Defense Force
There's a nice family moment and a nice friendship set up here. But there's a lack of an emotional effect on the characters, and the perspective gets very jumpy. The implied shipping really wasn't necessary. It turned what should have been a serious moment into a joke. And the ending was very pat. I think it would have been more powerful to carry that serious tone through and had them talking about their experiences as a way of dealing with the stress, not just giving a fairly flippant sum-up that they told stories. It ends up undermining the early story's focus on the honor and duty of serving and the seriousness of their experience.

Where the Heart Is
Looks like you mistakenly put the title in the text and cost yourself four words, since you're one that hit 750 on the nose. Nice twist caught me by surprise, and I didn't notice any mechanical problems. Definitely an unusual perspective. Not much else to say. I liked it, but it felt like Big Mac's part got rushed between mentions of saving the treat for later and then taking it again. And where was Granny Smith? Good story, though.

Lost to the Ages
Some mechanical and stylistic problems here. I like the character voicings, but it doesn't really tread any new ground. I wish it were clearer who spoke the last line, since it would have very different implications for each of them. Really, this is more about establishing Luna's state of mind at her banishment than coming up with some new events. Luna does have a fairly muted reaction, but I do like your take on the immediate aftermath of her battle.

Lagan
This truly earns a [Random] tag, and it comes by it honestly. I'm not sure I was happy about the adventure/comedy opening making an abrupt left turn to shipping, and then nothing ever comes of the pirate story, but this was funny anyway. The writing itself had a nice charm to it as well, so... good job, I guess? I still can't figure out what the title means...

Yet Another Challenge
And as [Random] as the last story was, this is even more so. A few mechanical problems, but... I dunno. Random's not so much my thing, and this one holds together a little less as a coherent story, but it got as much of a laugh out of me.

Under The Moonlight
Nice bit of characterization to add to Luna, both in her struggle to fit back in, but especially with the orphanage. That could have been emphasized more at the end, as her emotional reaction to the children was somewhat factual. But the sentiment here is nice, and the story is well-written. Another good entry, in my opinion.

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Thank you all so much for the reviews! I do plan on expanding on my story and using your notes to better help me do this! This writeoff stuff is so much fun!:pinkiehappy:

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