The Writeoff Association 926 members · 662 stories
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Baal Bunny
Group Contributor

Congrats:

To our medalists, and thanks, folks, for giving "Flapjacks" fifth place. I was apparently still in a shipping mindset after finishing "A Game of Hearts" just before this round started, and I decided to see if I could write about a couple who would never say "I love you" to each other because it would never occur to either of them until this very scene that they actually were in love. A second section from Dash's POV will help hammer that home, I think, as well as put the story over the magic 1K mark needed for posting around here. :twilightsmile:

Mike

Magello
Group Contributor

4952984 The fact people are okay with this is fucking ridiculous.

"Oh this story is about us! How clever! What wit!"

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

4953058
You seem kind of bitter. It isn't a big deal. It was just one story and it didn't even make the finals.

Magello
Group Contributor

4953070 Yeah. The fact that people saw a masturbatory thing that had only the slightest concession to even trying to be about the prompt or ponies and said, 'Yeah I can get behind this' is a bitter taste.

libertydude
Group Contributor

4952715
When you explain the original concept like that, I have to say that I actually really think you've got an interesting story idea. However, I still stand by my original review, since I feel like the really interesting idea you are expressing here wasn't fully understandable within the actual story and came off as more of a simple comedy than an observational tale about the idea you were trying to examine.

Then again, as you've said, such a concept probably couldn't be fully explored in 750 words, so I'm not going to be super-snooty and say "Well, you should've been able to explore it." If there's one thing that I can say, it is that I'm certainly very interested in seeing what story you are able to produce with this concept in a later, more fleshed-out story and I look forward to taking a look at it when it is made.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

The Spare

This idea behind this story is something I actually came up with a very long time ago – basically, Princess Celestia knew that her sister was coming back soon, but absolutely none of the pieces were in place for success. And so, with less than two decades to go, she decided to construct a backup plan – she’d pick the best qualified ponies she could find to serve as her successor, should something go wrong, and as a pony to act as a hero to use the Elements of Harmony and stop Nightmare Moon.

Thus, Prince Blueblood and Sunset Shimmer. You may be familiar with the latter idea from my previous writeoff entry, My Faithful Students, and, well, this is the story I kind of cribbed that idea from, ironically.

Anyway, the core of the idea of the story was that both of them were corrupted by their having power over other ponies – Blueblood became obsessed with the trappings of power, obsessing over the simple, obvious public affairs that are more of a burden of leadership than anything else, something you are stuck doing but that he came to see as being the focus of being a Prince, while Sunset Shimmer became obsessed with the idea of being better than other ponies, having a heroic destiny – ultimately, being important.

Then Princess Cadance showed up, and displaced Blueblood. That was the scene I used for this story, and it seems that people generally felt it was a powerful one – and frankly, sort of contained the whole story in itself. Blueblood not really knowing or caring about the deeper stuff, while Sunset Shimmer quietly looks down on him as she does everyone else, and feeling smart for seeing that he was not good enough while not recognizing that she herself was a spare as well.

In the original outline for the story, it would have ended with Sunset Shimmer coming across Celestia’s records of her previous students after Twilight Sparkle showed up, and then realizing that Celestia had been spending the last thousand years looking for Twilight, and that she was just faithful student #38, not the destined hero.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with this story. I like the core scene of this, and I think it was a fun character moment for all the people involved – Celestia trying to be nice, Blueblood missing the point (as to him, it is the trappings of power that matter the most, though this wasn’t really shown very well here because he didn’t have much space), and Sunset Shimmer being arrogant and seeing through Celestia while being blind to its application to herself. But to expand it, I need to figure out what else to do with it. The story, as originally conceived, was a tragedy, because Celestia basically screwed up two young ponies’ lives because she was worried about something and tried to force things to happen her way, as well as the tragedy of Sunset Shimmer thinking that because Celestia got rid of Blueblood she was going to do the same to her.

But really, the first scene is stronger than the second one, and I need to figure out what I’m going to do about the piece as a whole.

4952697
Wow, I’m glad you approved of it to that degree. Thank you for the vote of confidence.

I do plan on giving Blueblood more character in the final version, assuming it comes to be.

4938184
I’m glad I taught so many people what a pounce pot was.

4950787
Thanks for the attempt.

4950409
The entire point of the story was that Sunset Shimmer was Twilight’s spare, but that Sunset jumped to the wrong conclusion about herself because of Blueblood; I’m not sure what else could be done there. The parallelism between her and Prince Blueblood was the key there, and it also added a minor tragedy to Prince Blueblood’s figure – that he was Prince Blueblood because Celestia needed a Cadance, and ended up with him first.

4935121
Bad Horse suggested that I should have cut the second scene entirely, because the first said what needed to be said. It definitely needs some work, though.

I’m glad the details in the first half made it feel lived-in; I was making a conscious attempt while writing this story to avoid the talking heads that sort of plague a lot of my pieces, and it was nice to see someone call that out as working for them.

4951093
Well, Sunset fled (and was bitter) precisely because she felt that the implication was that she was worthless now that Twilight showed up, and she didn’t want to hear it from Celestia.

Anyway, yeah, the second scene was a casualty of the word count, and I think I agree with Bad Horse that it should have been cut entirely, as the first scene probably made its point well enough, though with more space it could potentially work a lot better. I’m going to have to think on it.

4935252
I blame Ghost of Heraclitus for the Qilinese.

4933204 4945046 4945730 4935188
Thanks! I’m glad the core idea came through clearly for you.

4948648
Sorry you felt it was a bit misaimed, though I figured that setting it from Sunset’s perspective was a giveaway who it was really about.

4941353
Yes, part of the core tragedy there at the end is Sunset jumping to the conclusion that she is worthless like she perceives Prince Blueblood to be, rather than recognizing her value as an individual pony.

4942512
The reason I included the note about the velvet cushion was to reinforce the general niceness/opulence of the room; it was the sort of room that would impress someone as shallow as Blueblood. The little details there were intended to sort of give the idea of this being a very fancy place that you would be using in order to impress someone and make them feel important because they were being received in such opulence.

4949493
Thanks for the notes about the dialogue; I’ll have to make a sweep and try and make them a bit more pronounced. That said, they’re all pretty well-educated ponies (and two of them were mentored by the third), so there is going to be at least some similarity.

4951755
I think you’re right that the way I ran into the word count here, I should have cut the second scene and left the implication there that Sunset’s own realization of what she was was why she left.

That said, part of the intention in there was that Sunset fleeing without talking to Celestia was itself a tragedy, because Sunset assumed she was nothing but a piece to be thrown away as well, when Celestia is not quite so cold-hearted and regretted having to do what she did to Prince Blueblood.

4950429
Glad you liked the ideas; I’m sorry that it didn’t grip you. Hopefully the final version will be more engrossing for you.

libertydude
Group Contributor

4952874
I just want to clarify that I don't think the story has a bad concept(s?). Having a story purely about Twilight fighting Changelings or one where she has to marry Chrysalis because of legal mumbo-jumbo would've been a good idea for a minific prompt like this; I just thought that the sudden change in the plot and tone didn't entirely work. Don't get me wrong, I love plenty of works of media that start out with one story and style, then completely switch over to others as they go on. I just didn't think the execution here was smooth enough to allow such a change to work. Though it might be hard, I think you could legitimately expand this story with more character interactions and situations to the point where the transition and the story's comedy would work. After all, the idea of starting out with a deadly serious battle for Equestria, then morphing into a goofy romantic comedy about an unwanted marriage seems like it could actually be a pretty humorous story. It certainly would play with expectations.

tl;dr A good potential story idea is here, it just needs to be clarified and expanded so that it can be fully utilized. Good luck in writing future stories! :pinkiehappy:

Skywriter
Group Contributor

4952511
Re: "That Secret Fire"...

It's a fun little story. It deserves to be in the finals. But it isn't ambitious. If you have Aquaman, Baal Bunny, Cold in Gardez, horizon, Skywriter, etc., in a competition, and the winner is a crackfic with two jokes, something's gone wrong.

This is hilarious in hindsight, BH. I think sometimes people forget that I achieved hoers fame by writing crackfics with one or two jokes. I kinda wish I had placed just so that I could drive you into one of those "Star Trek" inescapable logic loops.

Thankfully, it performed only moderately, which is actually better than it deserved.

4953080

Joking aside, there's no screening process apart from voting, and seeing as how it never made it into the finals, I think it actually demonstrates that the system worked and it was 'screened' out. So... not really seeing your point. If there were irrelevant entries it would just be shot down.

[The Contest: Love Needs No Words]

Anyway, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who reviewed my fiction. Titanium Dragon, Logan, Calipony, Coffee Minion, Everyday, Fan of Most Everything, Georg, Xepher, Trick Question, Gullible Cynic, The Letter J, Bugle and anyone else I missed because they weren't on the spreadsheet!

Things I was proud of: My prose has gotten better.

Things I need to improve on: Oooh boy. Plot, idea development, having substance in a fic is what makes it worth reading. Doing nothing with a tired concept makes people feel like they've wasted their time reading it, and that's a big no no. I was frustrated because I drew a blank when the prompt came up, so I wrote something I was intimately familiar with and forgot to add something extra so that'd it'd deviate from the formula. Takeaway for writing is to remember that ideas are the bedrock from which the story grows. It needs to be a good idea. I'll concentrate on that the next time around. I also regret not doing the reviews of the third half of the sheet, and notably what I took away from reviews is that I sometimes focused on the wrong, niggling aspects of writing. Yes my reviews were very subjective and telling they were so, but without thorough research I did make some assertions and assumptions that frankly made me look like an ass when I realised they were so wrong (thanks to all authors and reviewers for clarifying against some of my stupider points).

So I still have a long way to go to produce something nice, but I really love how the writeoff gives me a chance to learn a lot.

Thanks! Hopefully I'll see you at the next minific writeoff.

Oroboro
Group Contributor

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Thirty Seconds,

aka Sunset Shimmer is pregnant, maybe.

Thanks for all the reviews, people!

There's no much too much for me to say on this one, other than I seem to be unable to stop writing about Sunset Shimmer, and have developed an affinity for story ideas revolving around teenaged drama and angst.

I do have plans to maybe expand this into a full story, where Sunset is in fact pregnant, and a longer exploration of her dealing with all the issues that she was afraid of in the minific. Also about her original relationship with Flash Sentry and reconnecting with him as friends.

Incidentally, this is the third time I've ranked as #7th, and every time was a story about Sunset Shimmer. I guess best pony must be lucky.

Congratulations to the winners and all the other finalists!

Edit: Also, it has now been a year since I've joined the writeoffs in the first place. I've enjoyed all of this writing and reading immensely. only missed one event (the recent OF minific), and am looking forward to many more words, horse or otherwise with you all in 2016. Cheers!

Skywriter
Group Contributor

Thanks to everyone who found the one joke in "That Secret Fire" funny and left a nice review! For those of you who didn't actually understand that there was one joke, rest assured the failure was more in the execution rather than your reading.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

4953185
I thought there were two jokes. :trixieshiftright:

Skywriter
Group Contributor

4953190
PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE OTHER ONE IS

I REALLY WANT TO KNOW

SERIOUSLY I ONLY PUT ONE IN THERE

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

4953199
Well, I guess it depends on your definition of a joke. Sugarcoat's all super-awkward demeanor towards Twilight because she was lesbian-attracted to her, and the vanilla ice cream joke at the end, were the two I saw.

Cold in Gardez
Group Contributor

4953080

I'm not sure what you want to happen when fics like these come along, magello. People read it and voted on it and it did fairly poorly. Do you want Roger to go through and disqualify fics that don't meet your standards? Are you upset there wasn't a separate forum thread denouncing this fic for its impurity?

hazeyhooves
Group Contributor

4952693
I loved the style and voice of Cold Case, and a lot of the mini-jokes. It certainly helped to make it stand out! :yay: But the overall story needed a bit more surprise to make it work, both in the reveal (it was too obvious who did it), and the joke (Rarity did the same thing in her detective episode). And I think most importantly, it didn't work as a noir story because it didn't build up any suspense: it was just a collection of scenes that each didn't lead anywhere since everypony knew nothing. they could've at least connected into each other, even with flimsy hints (or whatever Pinkie imagines)

In hindsight, it's more than obvious that a mere 750 words weren't going to be enough to clobber a detective story together with.

I dunno if anyone else pointed out, but it reminded me in a good way of the Calvin & Hobbes detective arcs... which libertydude has as an avatar here, hey! they're barely 2 pages long, not enough to fit in actual clues to be figured out, but manage to work with narrative twists and punchlines (the reader likely assumes Calvin broke the lamp himself, then in the end it was revealed to be Hobbes!). I think it shows that, even with a strict wordlimit, it can work if you focus on the entertaining style rather than fleshing out the logical mystery.

and I actually think it was a great idea for a minific. if you do rewrite it, I hope it stays similarly short and snappy. Pinkie's point-of-view could become annoying if it stretches on too long (I should know...)



and there's always the Pokey the Penguin approach to a detective story. :derpytongue2:

Bugle
Group Contributor

4953199

The entire story was a joke, namely the way Sugarcoat was so blunt about something most people would be the opposite of blunt about.

And then the ice cream bit was an extra joke that built off the first joke.

Skywriter
Group Contributor

4953205
Ah, okay. One joke, one situational humor scenario. Got it, phew. I was about to go all Picard in "Chain of Command." "THERE! IS! ONE! JOKE!"

Magello
Group Contributor

4953142 4953206 It's right there in the rules for the competition. "must be based on the prompt to a reasonable and discernible degree."

If we're just going to let it be whatever, why have that rule, why have the prompt.

KwirkyJ
Group Contributor

Kwirk Reflects on Companionate


I am overwhelmed to have placed third -- my first medal. There were several stories that I thought far outstripped my little vignette, and making it into the finals alone was a pleasant surprise.

My goal was primarily to present a not-quite romance, where the affection is a little more than platonic, a little less than romantic, and -- present in my mind but lacking in the text -- somewhat incapable of being either. Mac does these things of increasing 'cost' because of a feeling that cannot be ignored nor advanced, and even the hard separation by the vicissitudes of fate salves only so much. The actual procession of events was a quick-and-dirty listing I hammered out to present some for of narrative to follow.

It was interesting to see the different reactions to it: how each reviewer put their own twist (positive or painful) in the suggested infatuation. Some saw it as a living hell, others as something more staid, others still as a manipulative or extractionary relationship. The latter-most came as a surprise, as it was my intent to have her situations more circumstantial (with the exception of Caramel), though the use of "when she needs <thing>" could, in hindsight, be read through the lens of the unreliable narrator.

As far as execution, there were a few comments that touched upon things I had not been aware of (which is good!). The implication about the farm animals was something I completely neglected, and my real-world experiences overruled my recollection from the show. More interesting still, the overall form, with the paragraphs of near-equal length, had gone absolutely undetected, and looking at it now I must agree that some variety would benefit it greatly. Details were cut for length, with abstraction, subtext, voicing, and implication being the elements on which it somehow managed to float to the top... a ride which should not be left to its own devices.

There's a novella wanting to be written somewhere in here, but I am not competent enough for an undertaking of that scope...

Thank you all for your feedback during this busy time of year. I wish I had been more active for your collective benefit, myself.



(If you want more tragedy involving Mac, Marble, and a laser-focused unattainable infatuation, I also have this thirty-minute microfic which I wrote as an incidental warm-up before ever investigating this event.)


commentators compiled consecutively

4934004 (Loganberry)
4935038 (Titanium Dragon)
4936016 (Baal Bunny)
4937240 (Bad Horse)
4938184 (FoME)
4939238 (CoffeeMinion)
4940025 (sunnypack)
4941353 (The Letter J)
4945212 (libertydude)
4945610 (Magello)
4945730 (Trick Question)
4948648 (Xepher)
4949748 (georg)
4950429 (Bugle)
4950787 (Everyday)
4951179 (GullibleCynic)
4951752 (horizon)
4952697 (Cold in Gardez)

Cold in Gardez
Group Contributor

4953232

I agree the prompt is there for a reason, but there's already an enforcement mechanism: the voting.

In this case, people read the work in question, voted, and gave it the 61st out of 73 spots. That seems like a pretty definitive result.

I guess I don't understand what more you want.

Magello
Group Contributor

4953263 Enforcement of the rules, basically. People to actually care about making sure they're followed.

Cold in Gardez
Group Contributor

4953279

The rules are enforced. This is a community-driven project, so the community enforces the rules. That's what happened this time, and it worked.

I don't see how adding a layer of "rules police" would improve things, other than to make additional work for Roger, who has enough to do as is.

Vi
Group Contributor

4953279

why have that rule, why have the prompt.

In any case:

And there are still other writers
who had achieved Writeoff-fame,
and with new entrants every time,
there are too many to name.

Oh look, Everyday didn't name all the writers. It seems as though there are some Things Left Unsaid in his poem.

In any case, this Writeoff is over. It's time to be chill.

Skywriter
Group Contributor

4953217
Thanks! It all depends how you chunk the jokes, I guess!

Bugle
Group Contributor

4953308

Yeah, to me a "one joke story" is a story where the entire thing is one big joke that's repeated over and over. Rather than a story that literally only has one joke, and it's hidden away at the end.

But I can see where the confusion would come in.

Bachiavellian
Group Contributor

4953211
Yeah, Tracer Bullet was like 50% of my mental reference when I was trying to hammer out Pinkie's detective voice. :derpytongue2:

Keeping things short and snappy is probably a great call. I'll see if I can balance that with the pacing issues.

Thanks!

Bad Horse
Group Contributor

4953058 It was fun. We, the write-off members, collectively dealt with it by not voting it into the finals, rather than calling on Roger to take official action. That's the spirit of the write-off: It is what we make of it.

Official rulings put stress on Roger and generate arguments and drama. It's better to avoid them when they aren't needed.

CoffeeMinion
Group Admin

Congrats to the medalists! I was not one of them. Instead, I wrote:

Still Waiting

...which was also the title of a Prince song. :derpytongue2:

As with my other story, I was trying to shoot for something different than my usual kind of happy-ending tale; I wanted to evoke a feeling of melancholy, as much as to tell a story. I didn't know how well that would translate for the audience, but evidently it went well enough to get me into a Writeoff finals round for the first time. And hey, 4951852 (Titanium Dragon) was even kind enough to call it melancholic. :heart:

I enjoy music and the varied fortunes of musicians quite a bit, despite being unable to read or play it. So when 4950909 (Bugle) says that "something's missing", I'm inclined to guess it may have something to do with the story taking a telly approach to trying to build its sense of melancholy on the foundation of Purple Rain's experiences in the music industry. While I enjoyed incorporating those elements into the story, I kinda knew it was more telly than I wanted it to be. And the tellyness didn't even come across 100%; 4951752 (horizon) didn't pick up on the intended angle of Purple Rain being largely unsuccessful in the business. That's my fault, not his.

As 4940364 (Bachiavellian), 4945482 (Winston), and 4940025 (sunnypack) pointed out, the first couple of scenes had pacing issues. It turns out to be hard to introduce a brand-new character, and give their background, and show a poignant moment later in their career, all in 750 words or less. Those folks were kind enough to provide some suggestions about how to refine that, and if anyone might be interested in giving feedback as I try to expand this to a FimFiction-length story, please let me know...

Fortunately, the story worked for a few people. 4934569 (Everyday) pointed out the LUS both here and in my other story, but seemed to enjoy it overall; 4948648 (Xepher) found depth in it; and 4934004 (Loganberry) liked it, despite identifying a sentence that very much needs to die. :facehoof: But the biggest surprise for me was that 4937808 (Fan of Most Everything) and 4943764 (The Letter J) took it as a successful attempt to engender sympathy for Svengallop! My only thought was to portray him as a massive exploitative jerk, in keeping with his show appearance; but it's cool to see others take more meaning from it than I explicitly put in!

I must also make a special mention of 4944403 (Trick Question). Trick, I've been waiting for days now to respond to your comment about coming up with the same name for the same pony just a few days before I did! Rest assured, as far as I'm aware, this was 100% pure freaky coincidence; at the time I wrote this, I was not following you, nor had I seen the blog post in question. However, given the subsequent discovery of our shared preference for double-spacing after periods, one could argue this was not coincidence, but the emergence of some kinda weird collective unconscious of which we both seem to be members. The others can't judge us... they don't understand! :pinkiecrazy:

Dubs Rewatcher
Group Contributor

4953638
Whenever I saw that title, I did think of a song... just not that one D:

The Letter J
Group Contributor

Things That Have Been Unsaid
(Or "The Story That Tries To Get You To Laugh About Mind Rape.")

Apparently one side effect of making it into the finals is that I end up with a ton of reviews. Far too many for me to try to write individual replies. This was one of the stories that only had four reviews going into the last day of prelims, so I am quite happy with the turnaround there. I am also quite happy that my story sparked some discussion around here, even if it did end up going off in directions I might not have preferred. But more on that in a bit.

First, let's talk about what happened in the story (and right before it).
Apparently some people were a bit unclear on what actually happened, so here's a summary:
Basically, Twilight's "hypothetical" question was a true description of what happened. She finished the new Daring Do book, and then inadvertently spoiled it for Rainbow Dash. This obviously made Rainbow upset, so Twilight, sensing that a friendship problem had just developed, knew she needed to find a solution. Unfortunately, she was panicking, so she went with the first thing that came to her mind: erase Rainbow's memories from the past few minutes.
Afterwords, she realized, like many of you did, that erasing Rainbow's memories might not have been the best idea. This caused her to worry and panic even more. Then Starlight Glimmer showed up.
Starlight happened to come over to the castle to see Twilight for something completely unrelated to the events in the story. Twilight immediately saw an opportunity to validate her actions, so she created a "friendship test" for Starlight. The rest of the story should be straightforward from there.

The next important question, I think, is "would Twilight actually do that?"
I'm sure this is completely a matter of personal opinion, but I think that it's plausible. At least in my mind, Twilight seems to have a tendency to always try to solve problems with magic, even when non-magical solutions are available and perhaps superior. She has, admittedly, gotten better about this over the past few seasons, but I think that it's still believable that she could, in the heat of the moment, decide to cast a memory spell like that. If you don't think that that would be enough, then maybe she happened to have been studying memory-altering spells recently, so they were still on her mind.

Now let's look at what everyone thought about the story.
Well, they gave it pretty positive reviews, overall. And I am very grateful for those reviews, by the way. But that's not what we're interested in talking about here.
As I mentioned earlier, this story generated a fair bit of discussion. You guys talked about the ethics of altering memories, consent, physical and mental rape, and probably a few other things. But I believe all of that started with Bugle, who gave the story a very emphatic "nope."
Don't worry, Bugle, I don't have any hard feelings. In fact, I was expecting more people to have similar reactions to yours. I actually think that Twilight was in the wrong here, which is why Starlight tells her how badly she messed up. But my goal was to make the story entertaining enough that we could all just laugh about Twilight being awful and move on. And for most people, it seems that I succeeded.
Actually, my first draft of the story had Starlight describing memory spells as being even worse, but I decided that cutting most of that out and giving it at least the setup for a happy ending would make the whole thing more palatable.

Actually, let's talk about the ending now.
A few of you mentioned that you thought there was some weakness with the ending. This doesn't really surprise me, since I wasn't entirely sure how to end it. I considered leaving off the last paragraph, but it just felt unsatisfactory like that. Admittedly, it still feels pretty unsatisfactory as it is, but I think that it at least makes the ending a bit happier. I also considered adding another paragraph where Rainbow yells something like "Hey! Come back here! I'm not going to let you take over our town! Stop ignoring me!" but I wasn't sure that that was much better. In the end, I went with what you see there.
Also, I didn't notice until I read the story again for my fake review, but I accidentally referred to Twilight as a unicorn at the end. I don't think that anyone else mentioned it, but it really bugged me that I made such a stupid mistake.

And finally, what's next?
For this story, probably not much. I really doubt that I'll bother to do anything further with this one. But writing it was still a good learning experience, I know what I need to work on in the future.

And one last thank you to all of my reviewers, and to everyone else who read it.
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EDIT: Oh, and in case anyone was wondering if this was partially inspired by real events, no, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was not spoiled for me at all, even though I just saw it for the first time earlier today.

Everyday
Group Contributor

4953638

So, you wrote...
And when I advised you on when to describe characters...
This entire time, you...?

...Huh.

Georg
Group Contributor

4953220 If it is a joke that references itself, could it be considered recursive, and therefore an infinite number of jokes?
4951852 4937032 4950386 4937744 4933538 (who pegged this straight on) 4935121 4935252 (I don’t know about *permission* per se, but he did once make a favorable statement while looking in my general direction, so I take what I can get) 4939709 4940028 4942512 4942512 4951771 4952183 4949324


Thank you all for another most enjoyable Writeoff. I’m a little discouraged that even with the shortness of the stories this time, I still didn’t get more than half of the top place winners read before the end. (Note: Must investigate this strange concept called ‘family’ that seems to consist of a number of young people hanging around my house.)

I was a little discouraged that some of the ficlets (like a fic, but shorter) that I loved so much did not go higher on the list, and some that I really didn’t, did, but I’m putting that down to my overinflated ego. (no pins, please) I really thought Yours Truly, Cheerilee and Curses would wind up higher, and I’m disappointed that Don’t Say It wound up so low. Then again, I did place The Red Dress and Companionate fairly high, so my Fantasy Hoofball team did fairly well.

Now I’ll confess to being the author of More Precious Than Silver Or Gold, which is (hopefully) aimed at becoming part of the Cadence of Cloudsdale series by Skywriter once properly expanded and tuned to get the maximum heart-tugging. It was triggered by this quote in the (insanely good) Kale chapter of The First Time You See Her.

Alicorns, the ancient scrolls said, were like dragons. They did not age like normal ponies, which is to say, automatically via the passage of time. Just as dragons matured only as they accrued wealth, alicorns matured as they became aware of the world and of their influence over it.

I determined that if Skywriter could compare Alicorns to Dragons, I could compare Dragons to Alicorns. Under the concept of ‘Names have power for dragons’ I have a nameless dragon in a frantic search for something to bring meaning and purpose to her life, i.e. treasure. (duh!) She flies north, up the coast, searching for something that she can’t describe, and eventually comes upon the fortress city of Reduit, which recently has acquired one small alicorn princess foal and has spent every penny they have in an attempt to protect her from the world by rebuilding the fortress. Since there is no gold or silver left in the town, the dragon goes to the most protected building in the fortress to grab whatever precious item is housed there, and discovers… love, which is something dragons do *not* mix well with. Greed, yes. Love, not so much.

At this point, I had used up FAR too many of my words in the setup, even after massive cautious trimming and snipping. I decided to save the setup and dwell less on the resolution (snip!) in order to keep with the theme. In the planned expansion, Dragon will speak with the new Mother Superior to try to make sense of this new sensation in her heart, before leaving all that she carried and flying away to her own destiny. (side note: She’s going after the merchants who recently visited the city and ripped the ponies off something royal. Dragon needs treasure, after all.) There will be a short discussion on Dragon Magic, their ability to carry much of their treasure within them (i.e. can you imagine a dragon with a purse?), and the concern of the mother superior that Dragon is most probably not a candidate for an initiate, because if nothing else, she would have difficulties fitting inside the fortress, plus they would not have a robe in her size.

Oh, and hoping that someday Don’t Let the Princess Drive the Celestial Phaeton will be completed.

Skywriter
Group Contributor

4953669

Oh, and hoping that someday Don’t Let the Princess Drive the Celestial Phaeton will be completed.

You and me both, Georg. I note that PP poked his head in for a single login a while back. I feel like I'm hunting an elusive bird with that man. It sounds more favorable than "creepy stalker."

In the meantime, that story sounds absolutely delightful and I look forward to reading it and/or offering any assistance you might need in bringing it about.

Bad Horse
Group Contributor

4953132 You, CiG, and I all had our first taste of horse fame via crackfics. horizon got his start with mature comedies. :twilightoops:

CoffeeMinion
Group Admin

4953666 Indeed, when you responded to my question about Inescapable with a reference to Still Waiting, it took effort not to accidentally say something that would reveal I'd written both. :rainbowlaugh:

To whatever extent I got it more right in one story and less right in the other, it represents an innate and unintentional ability. I.e., I feel that I have much to learn about making it intentional.

CoffeeMinion
Group Admin

4953646 How have I made it this far in life without noticing those fine young gentlemen?

Well, here; one cool song deserves another! (Even if it has nothing to do with the prompt, or the other song, or...) :derpytongue2:

Hey guys. Just popping in for a moment to like. I think... this is customary, yeah? Haha.

Anyway, 4th place is pretty cool. I didn't know what to expect. I kinda joined in only like at the last 4 or something hours because people bugged me and also time zones and I didn't put much thought into it. I've never done this before and I didn't know what to do going in! Honestly, when I wrote The Red Dress I just tried to go about it from a completely different angle than a regular story. It was intentionally written to leave as much up to interpretation as a could while still maintaining a semblance of a story there, with the regular structure (or suggested, anyway). Uh... not much else I can say. I just wrote the thing and then the thing, and a bunch of you guys liked it and a bunch of you guys didn't and that's cool because I'm happy just to be here, really.

Not much else I can say except thanks for reading and taking the time to go through it all and give feedback. I read through all of them (I think!) and I took what I could to heart, although I'm perfectly aware that this type of story really is only going to appeal to certain people because of how I wrote it and what I wrote about, and that's absolutely fine because dat's wut the deal is yos.

I think if there's only one point I want to make is that I kinda write with archaic and anachronistic flair usually and like, that's kinda just how I write, so yeah, if you had a problem with that then I'm sorry, that's just how the KitsuneRisu do. :c Sowwys.

As for giving like more information, as mentioned, the point was that I was trying to make the scenario very flexible and allow the reader to come to their own conclusions at the end. I sorta do that too, I guess? In the other things I do. Sometimes not. I dunno. Writing is flexible too, like that. Haha.

Anyway thanks guys.

Peace

P.S. Ice cream for everyone YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY

P.P.S. Congrats to all of the winners! And also just to note I actually picked Companionate as my first -- I really liked it a lot, and I'm glad you got in top three, KwirkyJ so great job. And of course, great stuff to everyone else.

P.P.P.S. Am I crazy? But I liked Cold's Point/Counterpoint a lot more than The Calligrapher. Hm. I'm kinda surprised to see Point/Counter so low on the list. I really thought it'd be like way up there.

P.P.P.P.S. Hi I'm still here how do I get out :c

Regidar
Group Contributor

Finished in the bottom ten again, woohoo!

I've managed to do that with every story I've submitted to the various writeoffs I've contended in! Alright! :pinkiehappy:

;~;

Calipony
Group Contributor

4954002
Don't feel too lonely. We're in the same boat :pinkiehappy:
Besides, it’s not a breeze to write consistently spurned stories! :derpytongue2:

Sunny
Group Contributor

4953098

This is odd to me because I got a completely different vibe at the end -

That Twilight Sparkle is meant to be the Spare in case Sunset Shimmer doesn't work out.

And Sunset draws the wrong conclusion, and flees, and in doing so forces Twilight into the role Sunset was still meant for but could no longer fulfill.

I am also invoking Death of the Author if need be on this because I think it makes it a more dramatic story that way.

hazeyhooves
Group Contributor

4954105
this was how I read it, too.

FanOfMostEverything
Group Contributor

4954105
The beauty of interchangeable parts is that each can be the spare or the primary, depending on how and when one installs them.

Of course, most ponies don't appreciate being thought of as interchangeable.

Cold in Gardez
Group Contributor

4953988

P.P.P.S. Am I crazy? But I liked Cold's Point/Counterpoint a lot more than The Calligrapher. Hm. I'm kinda surprised to see Point/Counter so low on the list. I really thought it'd be like way up there.

You know, I did too? C/CP was certainly far more creative and audacious. But it also portrayed Twilight in a negative light, which is usually the mark of death in contests (people don't like challenges to their preferred characterizations).

Safe fics win, man :/

Xepher
Group Contributor

Retrospective! Yay! I wrote three stories:

The Longest Night (Twilight remembers the ponies that died during her "victories")
Eeyup (Big Mac explains his philosophy on words to Apple Bloom)
Chirality (That thing about left and right)

So, quick background. The Longest Night was my "main" attempt. Several hours (3-ish?) spent writing. Eeyup was a quick idea (1.5 hours) for a second entry that felt kinda good at the time, but even reading it the next day, I knew needed help. Chirality though... holy crap. That basic idea was something that'd been banging around in my head for months, but I I only decided to try to do it for the contest at the last minute. Well, the last 90 minutes. Just hammered it out in about 49 minutes total actually, finishing about 30 minutes before the deadline.

So, after all the fuss about Chirality at the start of this thread, I thought for sure it'd get Most Controversial. What I did NOT expect was for my "real" story (Longest Night), the one I was genuinely more proud of (and spent more time on) to take that dubious award. But it did. Weird. People's tastes are fickle. Still, very happy to have all three stories make it to the finals. A few notes on each one below.

The Longest Night:
As I mentioned earlier, I'm really surprised this "won" most controversial story of the finals. I imagine it's the subject matter, as "too (predictably) sad" seemed to be the major complaint. Yeah, I guess it kind of is. I needed to pluck the heartstrings more gently than I did, but the space constraints left me feeling cramped in style. I may expand this one, and if I do, I need to show Twilight not as merely brooding sadly, but actually using her recollections as a touchstone to keep her grounded after her hundreds of years of life as a princess. Likewise, I need to make it clear she's not blaming herself for failing to save everypony (she knows that's not possible), but simply trying to remember the ones that most others have forgotten. "You're never gone as long as someone still remembers your name." An immortal princess, Twilight reckons, can be the one to do that.

Thank you to everyone that reviewed it. I think it's given me a clear idea of what I need to do to make this work in expanded form.

Eeyup:
Big Mac was out of character. Some of that was intentional, but a lot wasn't. Overall, this one was kind of a shambles. I still like the idea, but with an idea this "simple" the strength of the story is all in the little details, and those need far, far more polish than I gave them.

Chirality:
Even I don't think this was a great story. I DO think it's a great idea, but as many pointed out, it's just an info dump for a puzzle really, and with the use of aliens (rather than magic) not very "pony" either. The speed with which I wrote it (under an hour) is what lead to several major mistakes, even in the layout of the puzzle itself. I definitely meant "both press the left button, or both press the right button" when I said "the same button." Those are the kind of loopholes you can tap-dance an entire chorus line of Genies (and Ender Wiggins) through. Totally facepalmed when someone pointed that mistake out.

If I ever redo this, I need to properly frame it in magic, AND close all the loopholes in phrasing and room descriptions. Likewise, Celestia (and any other supporting characters) need to be more than a sounding board, and actually share emotionally in the building horror of things.

All that said, that the story even placed 11th is something I'm kind of proud of. But what I'm REALLY proud of is the discussion it sparked. I wasn't joking when I said I absolutely love this fandom for that reason. We're all here for the magic horses, but genuinely interesting stuff comes from that, as this MLP thing attracts some really smart and creative people.

The idea originally came to me after someone put up an AskReddit post about how you could tell an alien the difference between left and right. It was late, so I only glanced at the thread long enough to see someone mention it as impossible until you get to electron spin experiments. That was it. Then I went to bed... and the idea has haunted me ever since. Normally I research all my scifi ideas stupidly deep. I've done the mach-cone geometry for Scootaloo, and I calculate accurate airship dimensions. But for this one, I went in blind. Everything else I now know about the Ozma Problem, the Wu Experiment, etc. I literally learned after following links from this very discussion thread.

On that note, thank you to everyone that participated in that nerd fest. Seriously! As I'm sure most (if not all) writers would agree, nothing feels as good as having people talk about your stories and seeing them drive curiosity in others. As such, I feel like I won this whole contest, even if I didn't even hit the top 10.

That said, if there's ever a lifetime achievement award for Nerd Sniping, I totally expect to be considered! My scoreboard is below. :pinkiehappy:

4933069
4933091
4933331
4933538
4933621
4933663
4933822
4934021
4934193
4934229
4934251
4934306
4934728
4934978
4935085
4935184
4935319
4935329
4935382
4935475
4935476
4936714
4937456
4937442

Bad Horse
Group Contributor

4953098

I blame Ghost of Heraclitus for the Qilinese.


Qilin: Auspicious mythical hybrid beast with perhaps a deer's body, an ox's tail and two horns (more commonly antlers in prints), and star god of the Five Directions. The print of a boy mounted on a qilin was a gift for the newly married.

(Also, it's in the Moonstone Cup. Google returns almost nothing but pony hits on 'qilinese'.)

Google books claimed to find an example from 1749, but it turned out to be a bad OCR of Oiliness.

Calipony
Group Contributor

4954261

But it also portrayed Twilight in a negative light, which is usually the mark of death in contests (people don't like challenges to their preferred characterizations).

You can’t lump everyone together, but yeah, I concur. A good idea with an uncommon characterisation will be panned, while a bland story where nothing stands out, even the characters, could even make it to the finals.

Calipony
Group Contributor

Oh, by the way, since it has already started for our friends in the East of the world (Japan, China, Australia…)

HAPPY 2016

All the best to everyone!

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

4954418
I always saw it anglicized as Kirin. Thanks, D&D.

Baal Bunny
Group Contributor

4954289

I still stand by:

My completely unsupportable hypothesis of what "Chirality" is really about. :pinkiehappy:

Mike

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