The Writeoff Association 926 members · 662 stories
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Georg
Group Contributor

4954002 Reg, I placed second from last in the previous Writeoff, so I can feel your pain, bro.
4953656 What struck me was the character from Gravity Falls who invented a memory deleting device, and used it on himself enough to go full bonkers.

FDA_Approved
Group Contributor

Congrats to the medalists!

4952534

And to FDA Approved, who guessed seven stories right.

And thanks, TD. :heart:

4952145
Thanks a lot for the suggestions! :heart: :pinkiehappy: I was worried that she was being too mean, but probably elongating the scenes would help (people would get used to her character and I could set things up properly). I didn't think of having a straight man, but I could see a lot of potential with that. I forgot to ask about reading material, so I'm glad you brought it up and suggested some! It'll definitely help since I haven't read too many comedies on the site.

4952194
Hm, that's true. All we really know was hearsay, where that stallion mocks Rainbow for that one line ("Get kicked out of any flight schools lately?"). That, along with Tanks for the Memories, is where my inspiration for the story took place. But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

4952772
Aw, thanks, man. :twilightblush: I'm guessing though that once I revise it, you'd probably not like it as much. This isn't usually my sort of comedy style. But I really do appreciate it!

4954002
I also didn't do too well (did as bad as my first writeoff). But after placing bottom ten a few times, you start to realize what some people like and don't like.

Try not to dwell on the results. We just have to try again. :raritywink:

4954261
I don't think it's necessarily safe. Georg's From Princess Twilight Sparkle, President of the Family Reunion won silver for the epistolary format and style-wise, it felt similar to P/C. I liked The Calligrapher better because there was something I could emotionally attach myself to. In P/C it's fun and maybe for some people you see Twilight in a negative light (I personally didn't see her like this. I just thought she was taking things overboard like usual, but in a rational yet hysterical manner) but you get the joke and that's it.

The Letter J
Group Contributor

4954653
I really should get caught up on Gravity Falls. I'm a few episodes into season two, and I don't think I've seen that one yet.

Kritten
Group Contributor

4954002
I told you that I'd have your bottom. You won't have to worry about making last place as long as I'm here. :raritywink:

Even though I did submit two stories.

horizon
Group Admin

So I guess it's time for the brief retrospective on:

BBBCF

The reaction to this story was almost unanimously on a single continuum between:

I’ve read it and did not understand a single word.

(4940125 4952183 4952516)
and

Curse you 750 word limit!!! I need more. So. Much. More. :raritydespair:

(4935047 4937429 4938184 4945740 4947284)

... with 4947888 4948648 4935038 4936714 4945610 at various points between them.

Of the outliers (4934004 4949748>>4941932 4949493 4949513), the only comments which really didn't fit on that continuum were Bachiavellian's "meh, it's changelings" and Trick Question's

it started off by explaining canon errors, but in the process the explanation became far more contrived and unrealistic than the errors it attempted to explain

... which is a pretty accurate summary.

So what's this story about?

Basically this, in Morning Sun's words: "So, Equestria is a secret Changeling Hive, it seems, and Celestia is the Queen." And it has been so for a very long time, at a minimum since Season 1 and "Project Luna". Twilight Sparkle is Celestia's chief agent/infiltrator, and was sent to Ponyville to harness the power of friendship and keep Equestria in harmony, in much the same way that Cadance is about to be sent to restore the power of love to the Crystal Empire. Changelings feed on positive emotions, after all, and what better way to get them than to offer ponies a stable and prosperous utopia under the benevolent rule of an immortal god-queen?

As such, Equestria simultaneously is and is not what it seems to be on the surface. Celestia really is their loving eternal matriarch, living openly among them as their beloved alicorn ruler. (Vaguely hinted at in the story is the idea that alicorns themselves are basically the uncorrupted form of changelings: this is what they look and act like when they aren't twisted and starving like Chrysalis.) There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that would shock the average pony, and the facade is being very carefully stage-managed, but it is sincerely being done for the greater good, because that's what keeps Celestia well-loved and well-fed. It's the ultimate in symbiotic mutualistic relationships.

The core of the story is Chrysalis arriving to throw a wrench in the works. Celestia has warning of her arrival, but doesn't have the power to simultaneously keep her and her drones from invading and to keep them from infiltration and sabotage, so she's trying to minimize the infiltration damage while luring them into a trap for a counterattack. As she notes, this is the worst possible time for an outside changeling attack, because she's preparing to deploy Cadance northward when the Crystal Empire reappears -- and a source of love that powerful is too big an asset to allow Chrysalis to control, as it would put the mad tyrant on equal footing with them. However, there's no way to disguise Cadance's value, as she's living openly as an alicorn princess and clearly being groomed for something bigger. Since Chrysalis is being stopped by the shield from invading, Celestia guesses (correctly) that she's going to infiltrate and go after Cadance as the highest-value target.

That's when Celestia comes up with a crazy plan: create a brother for Twilight who's an equally high-value target (Captain of the Guard and the cornerstone of their invasion defense), so it looks like Cadance's value isn't in what she can do, but in the way she allows Celestia to control Shining Armor. That way, when Chrysalis gets ahold of Cadance, she'll try to take Cadance's place instead of holding her for ransom and interrogation, and spend all her time trying to subvert/sabotage Shining Armor rather than realizing she already holds the key to the Crystal Empire.

So, yes, this is basically an attempt to explain why the Royal Wedding introduced Twilight's brother out of nowhere, and the reason behind it is even crazier than canon. It's a lot of crackfic for 750 words, so I had to leave a lot of background hinted and/or unexplained. I'm sure that was one of the factors in its placement, but given that I only had a few late-night hours to write it, I'm happy with 18th place.

What's next for this story?

I dunno. A fuller treatment of the core concept would probably have to be written from the ground up. I don't know how satisfying it would be to use this as a starting point and unroll it from the existing text, since this was designed to be as self-contained as possible within the 750-word limit, but this was pretty well received and I'll add it to the project list.

I would like to take a moment to celebrate, though ...

... because as of last week, I accomplished something unique: I made the finals of literally every Writeoff of 2015, and made the Top 10 of every Writeoff without a finals round. 4954463 and I were hurtling neck-and-neck toward co-finishing as 100% finalists, but he barely missed the cutoff in a round in October, so to the best of my knowledge I'm the only author with that distinction.

Yay me :twilightsheepish:

That said, this was most likely my final minific round. I just don't like them as much as the short-story rounds, and I agree with 4952511 [Bad Horse] that 750 words is too short, both for the stories that I want to tell and the stories that I most enjoy reading. It's been an interesting way of pushing my limits, but I've done it for long enough that it's starting to feel like a chore, and the sheer numbers of the minific rounds also make in-depth reviews a more frustrating experience. Finally, I'm about to get passed on the leaderboard (I'm honestly shocked that after two minific rounds in a row, with me writing my usual single entry and getting drubbed by the competitors gobbling up muilti-entry points, I'm still clinging to first place), so I really don't have anything left to prove there.

See you all in 2016! :twilightsmile:

FanOfMostEverything
Group Contributor

4955498
Huh. Somehow, I'd never made the connection that Cadence was a changeling herself. That fills in a lot of the gaps in my comprehension. I do hope you explore more of this universe. I love seeing pony-changeling symbiosis done well.

Calipony
Group Contributor

4954891
We are a bunch to contend for the last place. It's not going to be an easy task to achieve a consistent performance in that sub-contest. But having finished last and last-but-one in a row, I guess I lead, for the time being.

Yay me as Horizon would say :yay: which leads us to:

4955498
Horizon, I find it much more difficult now to substantiate your claim that you're not a changeling. I wonder if you've not been lying all these years and if your story is not partly autobiographical. :derpytongue2: Happy 2016, and I hope you'll not totally desert the Minifics rounds.

Calipony
Group Contributor

4955498

Horizon wants to become an alicorn

horizon
Group Admin

4956210
That got an out-loud laugh out of me, no lie. :pinkiehappy:

Calipony
Group Contributor

4956429
Thanks! :raritywink:
(I wish there were a WriteOff for comics. Maybe I could make it to the finals :derpytongue2:)

Winston
Group Contributor

So I wrote "Oops!" and "In the Leaves", which was a pretty dramatic gear shift from comedy to sad.

"Oops!" was the first one I wrote, and the one I spent the longest on. "In the Leaves" was actually sort of an afterthought that didn't even come to me until after I'd finished "Oops!", which I had expected would be my only entry.

And wouldn't you know it, "In the Leaves" turned out much better and made it to the finals. Tenth place isn't too bad, although had it been my primary story idea and really been worked on and polished, I think it could have done better. The major weakness is has is that it's not a very unique concept and the generalized trope it falls in has been done so many times before, but a strong execution, even of a familiar story, can go a long way. If I'd had more time to really individualize it and do more character building, that particularly probably would have helped "hide" the clicheness, but I don't think there's any getting around it completely in a piece like this.

"Oops!" was too frivolous and insubstantial of a concept to really get very far. It was fun, but that's about all. Not being an experienced comedy writer, I think that's the most significant lesson this writeoff taught me - comedy generally needs to be something with an engaging underpinning, not just "funny because funny". Looking back, that probably should have been more obvious and I think there's a lot that I'd have done differently with "Oops!" (or maybe just not done that story at all in favor of other ideas).

Bad Horse
Group Contributor

4956210 4956429 If horizon wanted to become an alicorn, he'd just become an alicorn.

Calipony
Group Contributor

4957465
You might overestimate his power, Obiwan. :derpytongue2:

Georg
Group Contributor

4957496 The Horse is strong in this one.

Caliaponia
Group Contributor

Curses

Slow summary is slow. Thanks for all the feedback, and sorry for not participating more in the thread. When the prompt came up, trying for a deep, emotional connection had me spinning my wheels. Finally, I threw in the towel and went with a more literal/comedic interpretation, and then turned around and subverted the prompt when I decided it made for a better punchline.

I was generally pleased with end result; the story was serviceable, though not inspired, and there were admittedly a few rough spots around the edges.

Most readers seemed to enjoy it, a-la comments from 4951852 4952183 4949748 4934812 and 4951179 - glad it was worth a chuckle.

As noted by 4935121 4933136 and 4948648 , the basic idea has been done before, though it's not one I've read so often that the idea feels worn (and I hadn't read Collaboration).

I'm glad the characterization felt true, 4937808 though I'll concede that things may have moved too quickly. Another rough spot was the phrasing, as noted by 4950776 I went over that intro a couple of times, and it still came out rough.

Thanks for the thoughts on the intro, 4947888 and I definitely appreciate the practical suggestions, 4935252.

Just acting on the feedback, I'm sure I could go back and polish it up while bumping it above the 1k mark. That said, this story feels like it has less potential and is less complete than 'The Floor is Lava' (despite ranking better in the writeoff-wise), so I haven't decided how much further I want to go with it yet.

Georg
Group Contributor

4956438 Caliaponia (I wish there were a WriteOff for comics. Maybe I could make it to the finals :derpytongue2:)
4957422 Winston (Not being an experienced comedy writer, I think that's the most significant lesson this writeoff taught me - comedy generally needs to be something with an engaging underpinning, not just "funny because funny".)
4956429 Horizon (That got an out-loud laugh out of me, no lie. :pinkiehappy: )

You know, that's several in a row. Maybe we could do a comedy (dark/light/with mixed nuts) theme for an upcoming writeoff. Idea?

Calipony
Group Contributor

4959932
Why not?

But not the next one, since it's going to be a general prompt. Maybe the one after?

horizon
Group Admin

4956438
I stumbled at random across this comment today — were you aware that there's an art-based Writeoff going on as we speak?

(Draw a picture to the prompt, and then authors use one or more of the pictures to base their stories on.)

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