The Writeoff Association 927 members · 663 stories
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PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

Dangit, I'm done already and there ain't no thread, so I'mma makin' one. :V At least we don't have to spend all week reading, right?

Only Skin Deep: Dat sweetie snookums. For some reason, I really like the idea of Fluttershy getting an award like that, and her whole experience is just adorable. There’s a lot of symbolism in this, though I can’t quite get what Opal might be; still, it’s something you don’t see enough of in fanfic, and I appreciate the effort put into it. One other thing I like about this is how it takes the characters’ lives beyond the show, but in ways that are entirely within the show’s bounds. Fluttershy’s award, Dash being part of the Equestrian Games committee: none of these things are outside what we might expect from them, despite not being where we thought any of them might have been after season 1. Oh wow, and the ending. Good lord, this is right up with Art of the Dress, or Expectations as obsessive Rarity fics go.

TCB: Chase the Wind: Excuse me while I write a Fallout: Equestria side story next writeoff. (I kid.) It’s funny how, outside the context of that having those three words tacked onto the title, a story about a pony named Jared flying with Rainbow Dash would not be something I’d give a second glance to. All that aside, this is a decent exploration of a concept, but it doesn’t go much beyond that. Jared is something of an Everyman, and I don’t get a good feel for him, though Rainbow Dash is written well and I can’t fault the writing beyond that. A definite place to look for revision would be making Jared a stronger character. Especially if he’s got issues fitting in, more work on his personality and desires would make the ending have more impact.

Peering Through Gold: I see you’re a fan of Redwall. I honestly had a hard time taking this seriously once those Jacquesisms crept into the narrative. And that’s a shame, because both Celestia and Twilight are very well written, and good Celestia characterization is a must for a story like this. But those little details, those garishly-painted trees, lent a certain sense of whimsy to a story that absolutely did not need it. It doesn’t suck as much as you think it does, but there is a certain self-destructiveness about it.

The First Step: I just spent a solid two hours recently writing a journal about Octavia and Vinyl, so this story is right up my alley. It’s pleasant to see someone doing something ever so slightly different with them. I do feel like this story is A) too easy, and B) just a quick run through an idea. I mean, Vinyl sneaks into a high-class apartment, a role she is terribly ill-equipped for, breaks into Octavia’s unlocked apartment, and then just gets her to admit she’s got an addiction. There’s not a whole lot standing in her way the entire time, and I can’t say it’s terribly effective. Maybe with some buildup of their relationship or Octavia’s standing in high society, the ending would have more oomph, but right now it just looks like going from A to B. Also, as I’m sure many will point out, this could use an editing pass and some smoothing out of the narrative, but you’ll doubtless get more in-depth line edits from others, so I the details to them.

I Am: A little hard to get into, but I really like unraveling narrative voices like this, so it was fun. Of course, partway in I asked myself, “How does he go to the bathroom?” and that kind of ruined it, but that’s just me. I have one enormous, story-changing edit to suggest, and that’s starting later. I think it’s Vonnegut who says you need to start as close to the ending as possible, and this is set up well for doing just that. Maybe a paragraph or two at the opening so the reader gets a taste of the voice and some of the terminology, but then pick right up with Twilight’s first failed attempt to contact him. And when she says “Tell me what you know”, then he can go into all the things about how it used to be and how he got here. Still, a great experiment; I once wrote a one-syllable-word story, but it was only 600 words long, so I’m rather impressed.

Rain: That first bit where the narrator tries to figure out the story behind two random ponies really connected with me, because I’m constantly doing that. (I have also been an engineering student who likes writing.) Good characterization, and a nice climax, if brief. I can’t help but feel like this is a tad bland, but for what it is, it’s good.

alexmagnet
Group Contributor

Well, gosh... if present's already done, I suppose I should go ahead and post my reviews as well. I was gonna hold off for a bit, but fuck it. Let's do this.

Only Skin Deep
Of the fics in the writeoff, I'm tempted to tentatively say this is the best, but I say that with the knowledge that none of the fics really impressed me, and were merely "not bad" to "pretty decent" at best. It appears this writeoff was rather lackluster on the whole. That being said, this fic does it what it does rather well, and I liked Rarity's obsessiveness. That being said, I will have to disagree somewhat with PP's review and say that while I agree that most of this could fall within the bounds of the show, Rarity's "sacrifice", as it were, seemed a touch dark for a show that's largely fluffy. However, that's not to say I disliked it, per se, just that it didn't sit particularly well with me. Also, I feel like there's some significance to Opal's actions that I'm missing.

TCB: Chase the Wind
I sort of have to ask why you'd enter a TCB fic into a writeoff, but then I remember that it's not as if you can't. Personally, it feels a bit, well, lazy let's say, to use an established world (which, yes, I realize is ironic given this is fanfiction already) for your writeoff fic. To me, the writeoffs have always been a chance to show what you can come up with in a short amount of time, and doing something like a TCB fic, or a FoE fic, feels like a bit of a cop out. That being said, I'll be judging the story upon its merits alone, and not the fact that it's a TCB fic. So, with that in mind, I'm going to say that this was rather dull. There's not a whole lot going on, and it really just dumps us straight into a story about a guy named Jared who can't fly. Then he goes to Cloudsdale and suddenly he can fly. I mean, I like the implication that Cloudsdale has some sort of innate property that calls to pegasi, but I can't help but feel as though this could've been expressed better. If this story were several times longer, then I think it would've worked much better. Right now were just dropped in and told, "Here's Jared. Care about him and his problems."

Peering Through Gold
Man, I really hate to just repeat what PP said, but I have to agree that there's a certain self-destructiveness about the story that prevents me from liking it as much as I feel it should. For one, you should take a step back and realize that just because you can use a semicolon... doesn't mean you should. If there had been two of them, I would've said that was too many, but there are seventeen of them. That's an absurd number, especially for something that's barely over 4k. Of course, that's not really my main problem with the fic, just something that really started to grate on me by the fourth or fifth time. Anyway, the problem I have with this is that it just didn't really feel right to me, if that makes sense. I mean, Celestia and Twilight, while written well, didn't really strike as being particularly... realistic. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong here, but Twilight seemed to go beyond what I would call the bounds of her character as established by the show. Celestia, too, I felt that way. That being said, this wasn't bad, I just didn't care for it.

The First Step
Welp, as much as I complained about not much happening in the TCB fic, even less happens in this. At the risk of continuing to plagiarize PP's reviews, it seems to me as though there's so much more that you could've added on to this to make it feel more plausible. Reading it now, I can't help but wonder why Octavia would even do drugs in the first place, or, if it's such a big problem that Vinyl is—apparently—intimately familiar with, why she'd let her friend continue on for weeks while she knew what was happening. I mean, just the whole idea of drugs in an MLP universe seems so incredibly implausible to me, but I suppose that's a matter of personal preference more than anything. I guess all I can really say about this fic is that it felt rather trite and soap opera-y, with nice shellacking of melodrama.

I Am
I mean... sure, I guess. I don't know what really to say about this, other than, "Well okay, then." The fic seems to just happen without anything really going on. I sort of like the narrative voice, but there's nothing to really latch on to, nothing to make me give a crap about any of it. It's a neat story idea, but doesn't seem to be much else. I dunno, maybe I'm being too harsh, or whatever, but I'm not sure I really felt anything for this story. It's pretty squarely in the "meh" zone for me.

Rain
This is another story where I like the idea, but I feel as though it could've used a bit more fleshing out. I mean, I liked that you played with the idea of love with how it's portrayed in romance novels, and how it really is, or how you perceive it to be, especially with regard to the story the narrator writes being a very clear representation of what the narrator and this mare experience, though he seems not to realize it. I also liked the little hints and allusions to the fact that the mare was on the weather team, but it seems as though they may have been too vague. Also, there's fair portions of this that feel a bit rushed, not the least of which was the ending. Overall, it's a decent story, but with some more work, I think it could be a much better story.

I should probably put more effort into this, but screw it, I'm exhausted from work and still mad as a hornet.

Only Skin Deep
This one... kind of had me interested, until I figured out how Rarity was pulling off the effect, and then it kind of got lackluster to me.

The Conversion Bureau: Chase the Wind
This one honestly made me gag and want to stop reading at first, but the later part at least made a half-hearted effort. Next time, learn to write something other than Blandy McBland, it'll keep your readers from wanting to leave before the middle.

Peering Through Gold
This one... I honestly have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I really like the premise and the execution, but it kind of falls flat after the setup for the main character's conversation.

The First Step
I'd thought the TCB one was off-putting for getting nothing done, but at least it remembered to pick itself up before the end. This one kind of just scoots along on the floor to an ending that's ultimately meaningless. It reminds me of that old commercial about getting kids of drugs. "Sure, you might not succeed, but at least you tried."

I Am
I've re-read this one twice now. I still have no clue what's going on. I think one of them was Twilight?

Rain
Ah, tales of loves had and lost. Pacing was kind of jerky, though I will at least give some props to the two not ending up together. Plus the implied needling of shipfic writers made me chuckle. Even if the ending was pretty cliche and underwhelming.

Is it just me, or do I smell a little bias in these comments and reviews?

2791880
you're probably right, though it just goes to show, best not to cast votes when in a damaged state of mind :pinkiecrazy:

alexmagnet
Group Contributor

2791880
While I'd argue that it's impossible to be completely free of bias, and indeed I'm not sure I'd even want that, I'm sort of curious about what you mean by that. Bias how? Do you bias with regards to, say, technical quality? Or perhaps you're talking about my bias against TCB fics, for example. I'll freely admit that I dislike TCB fics, and while it'd be impossible, as I said, to rid myself of that, I'd like to think I can objectively judge a story with minimal influence of biases.

2792279
Bias as in actual bias. Personal taste/preference with regards to subject matter and/or technical competency is entirely up to you and that's what makes a review a review. You liked this, you didn't like that.

But when we're talking a panning of almost the entire field except for one entry, by someone who I presume is one of the entrants themselves, I tend to get a little suspicious of such reviews, especially in a peer-reviewed competition like this when the votes aren't finalized yet. It might not be outright ballot stuffing, but playing up the benefits of one ballot while declaiming the rest is not unheard of.

Of course, it's just as likely that I'm being paranoid and seeing agendas everywhere, and the field really does consist of one star and a bunch of wooden spoons. Feel free to ignore me and/or tell me that it is, in fact, just me.

2793063 I think you are being paranoid. These kinds of things are supposed to be anonymous. Authors who actually enter the contest generally give themselves generic bad reviews, because is hard to talk about your own work in such a way that it will not be obvious you wrote the thing you're criticizing. But reviewing every fic but one is not an option, obviously. So reviewing your own fic is generally an exercise in self-immolation.

I have no horse in this race, by the way.

Only Skin Deep
I do like the concept of giving until it literally hurts. There's sort of a stern, fairy-tale moral lesson in the idea, a warning not to be misled into becoming a self-consuming monster by the deceptive pixies of foolish pride that dance in the human heart. But the visceral realism of the method of self-destruction involved ruined the elfin quality and transformed this fic into a very ordinary hurt/comfort warm 'n' fuzzy.

TCB: Chase The Wind
Not knowing much about TCB going in, I found myself getting lost in some of the details the author seems to have assumed I would know. The expodumping about the Thaumatic Whatever was longwinded considering how small a role it actually played in the story. The author seems to suggest a theme at times but it is not presented clearly or forcefully enough. I did not mind Jared. I enjoyed the descriptions.

Peering Through Gold
I enjoyed this. The tension was there. The politics were infuriating and petty, exactly as I imagine real life politics to be. The pacing was not quite there. I think the story started deflating before the end, and the climax felt off-kilter. The flashback elements probably should have been revealed through exposition.

The First Step
Not a solid fic. The main complaint I have is the rough, vulgarly cartoonish manner of portraying both the characters and the problem. If I read something like this, I would at least like to see the characters do something not utterly in conformity with stereotypes.

I Am
I skimmed this. An intriguing concept but you did not make it successfully grab my attention and make me want to read. It is also hard to construct a narrative out of brute causeless sensations, cause and effect being a prerequisite for anticipation, hence purpose, hence meaning. Which of course is why the story only becomes interesting with Twilight's appearance.

Rain
I enjoyed this. Some of the details could stand to be revised or expanded. The scene breaks were artificial and I wish the story contained more downtime and contrasting elements. The girl only has meaning as a rare bright spot against a dreary, wet background; so logically she should not be in every scene or even a majority of them. But that just means the fic needs to be a lot longer.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

2793063
Given that an entrant cannot vote on their own story, bias in reviews means precisely nothing. It's certainly not worth worrying over.

alexmagnet
Group Contributor

2793063
Ah, well fair enough then. In that case I'll have to defer to Kierkegaard's comment, which is more or less what I would've said. I think that you'd be doing yourself more harm than good to talk up your own fic and beat down others because this is a contest amongst a small community, and we all know each other. It's in your best interest to be honest, and not "biased", if you want to use that word.

2795008
2794077
Yeah, you guys are right, I'm sorry. Looking back, I don't even know what I was thinking. Musta been hungry or something.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

2796254
It happens. :V Don't beat yourself up over it or anything.

Axis of Rotation
Group Contributor

I'm pretty slow with these things, so here's the first three.

Only Skin Deep
Overall, I definitely enjoyed this. I liked the opening where we got to see into some of Rarity’s methodology or philosophy behind her art: “Step one: find your vision,” “If I force it, it’ll come out bland.” We got to see a little into how she thinks about her work. But perhaps the biggest draw was in trying to figure what was making her dresses have such an influence, and finding out what Rarity was doing to herself. At first you think she’s cheating and using magic, which is shameful (but great from a writing/story point of view, since it’s a deep character revelation, and relatable), and then you find out she’s actually draining her own unique magic or life force or whatever it is contained in her cutie mark (let’s just say a very special part of her, which makes her her), and it goes from shameful to tragic.
I do think it needed some better build up in what was driving Rarity to do this, though. For example, we see her at first having a concerning loss of inspiration; it wasn’t just a bad day, she was really losing touch. But that’s such a serious concern for any artist, I felt like we needed more time to actually see it in the story; as in, see her struggling over the course of, say, a week, so that we can really feel her distress—to see it’s definitely a bad problem (which would then warrant her extreme actions—not in that they’re justified, but we can grasp why she took them). As the story is now, I understand her distress, but I don’t personally feel it. Also, her conflict sort of shifted; at first it was her lacking inspiration, and then it went to her somehow not doing enough for other ponies. But (if I remember correctly), we never really saw her solve her inspiration problem; the story just stopped talking about it. And we never know why she feels she isn’t doing enough.
Those were, at least for me, the weak points, but they can easily be fixed. I enjoyed the other bits though, like I said.

TCB: Chase the Wind
I kept wondering what everyone meant by TCB in their reviews haha. I don’t think I’ve read a Conversion Bureau fic before, but I know they used to be all the rage. That aside, I thought this was fairly solid. There wasn’t anything that particularly stood out to me or gripped/really engaged me in any way, but there’s nothing outright “bad” about it either. It’s just a nice little story about a human becoming a pony and going to Cloudsdale. Really, it felt more like a first chapter than anything else, if you ignore that last sentence or two.
There wasn’t much to Jared’s personality though, and we didn’t know a whole lot about him (I wondered what age he was). He doesn’t have much personality outside some sarcasm. I say this because the relative flatness of his character kind of keeps you from relating with his problem (not flying) or really caring when, for example, he’s falling at the end, or when he succeeds in flying or gets his cutie mark. Those are supposed to be moments we cheer for him, but I found I was more neutral than anything.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it though, and the whole concept of the conversion bureau was cool. I've always thought that ponies on earth would slowly lose their inherent magic, and I liked the fact it was the mane six who were over on earth training the new ponies, instead of some OC's. Not that OC's would have been bad (if they were well written), but I just love my mane six, ya know?

Peering Through Gold
I’ve heard before from other authors that writing Celestia is difficult, and though I’ve never tried, I’d say you did an...ok-ish job. The use of the flashbacks felt a little awkward, though perhaps that simply has to do with their placement. I liked the set up of the tension before Twilight entered, as well as the idea of her princess status causing issues between the two of them. But overall I think it feels rushed (not unexpected in a writeoff). I get Twilight’s reasons for wanting to intervene on Dusty’s behalf (well, sort of, since we never know quite what it was he did wrong, only that it had something to do with Twilight’s own experience), but I don’t think there was nearly enough motivation to interrupt Celestia, let alone overrule her without even considering that might be a bad decision. Therefore it felt out of character. I just don’t see her doing that, unless she had really, really good reasons to, and those reasons just aren’t there. Also, I feel it’s unlikely that Twilight wouldn’t have any clue that her actions would cause a political stir which could hurt her position.
Also the very end felt forced, like there wasn’t quite enough buildup, and I think it wouldn’t really be in Celestia’s personality to say things like “I’m the sun”. I think she could very well believe it, but I don’t think she’d ever admit it, unless absolutely forced to somehow, or there was just no way around admitting it.
But overall, I liked the language and the writing itself, and you were certainly trying to add a lot of emotion in there and build a believable and relatable relationship conflict, which is always better than not trying at all. Perhaps another two days on it and you would have been better off.

Less than a day left, and we have... five votes? On six fics? Ouch.

Is this normal?

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

2834395
When people start burning out, it is.

And actually, prior to this group's creation, we would've killed for five votes. The last few writeoffs of 2013 had very little participation.

But honestly, given the low entry turnout, I think some thought should be put into timing these events. Like, month-and-a-halfly rather than monthly.

TheNumber25
Group Contributor

2835501

GV and I discussed this already. We thought of moving the writeoffs to a schedule of once every two months. Another idea was to make every other month's writeoff into a minific round.

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas about this, do contribute.

Filler
Group Contributor

2836236
Fimfiction's got that built-in writeoff feature that hasn't been used since 2012...

(Also this writeoff and last have had their writing periods during finals/midterms for my some schools.)

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

2836236
Every other, or even every third, being a minific is a good idea regardless of how often they happen. (The downside to minifics is everyone does two or three entries and then you end up with thirty reviews you have to write, so it's still a time investment for the readers.)

The downside to bi-monthly is that sometimes you get the opposite problem: it's been so long that everyone's kind of forgotten about the writeoff. That said, I'd actually recommend making the next one be in two months given the turnout right now and see if people aren't happy to see it come back.

Axis of Rotation
Group Contributor

Last three stories. I really need to shorten these...

The First Step
As I was reading this and Vinyl was just entering Octavia’s bedroom, I figured that what she had done was gotten drunk. But what I hoped (and this may have been influenced by clues you gave) was that Octavia was doing drugs. Lo and behold, she was.
That idea alone was really gripping for me, that Octavia, the fanon model of prim and proper high society culture as well as personal stability (among others really, canon or otherwise), could be caught up in something as destructive as drug addiction. Now I will admit, the execution wasn’t perfect; for one, the problem gets solved (or put on the path to getting solved) way too quickly. But this is excusable, given it’s a writeoff entry; I probably would have done the same thing. The only thing I can really hold against it is that I really wanted to see why Octavia was addicted. What was it in her life that she was trying to compensate for, or replace or fulfill or cover up? What was the hurt?
Also, once Vinyl confronted her, I was a little disappointed there wasn’t more of a battle. Again, part of this has to do with how short it was and trying to give it a happy ending (nothing wrong with that), but still, once I learned that it really was drugs that Octavia had been doing, I was expecting a lot more drama. More contention. It’s a serious problem in real life, and it was portrayed as being very serious in this story; I mean, the fact she was openly snorting drugs in a club shows she’s in a bad place in her life. She isn’t just in it recreationally, or just trying it out—she’s in it deep. I expected confronting her, not to mention getting her to accept help, to be like pulling a tree up by its roots with your bare hands. I wanted more emotion, more of a dramatic clash, and there wasn’t that much. I mean, Octavia got upset and threw some insults, but that was about it. Though I did like Vinyl’s confession.
Now, I’m not necessarily speaking of them just yelling at each other more. The whole conversation could be whispered and still be incredibly powerful or gut wrenching. For one, getting into the “why” of Octavia’s predicament like I mentioned earlier would help a lot. Also, I think, trying to reveal the hurt on both sides more: Octavia’s obvious hurt/source(s) of pain which is causing her to turn to drugs, and Vinyl’s hurt and sense of betrayal over her friend surprising her (finding out must have been like getting hit with a truck) as well as stumbling into the same hole she did. She probably finds some way to blame herself—perhaps she never shared her past with Octavia, and feels that if she did, this might have been prevented. In fact, the whole confrontation could be a knee jerk reaction she has to learning her close friend is doing something she never ever imagined she would. She probably wouldn’t confront Octavia with a wise or clear head, and would still be shaken up at the discovery, unsure of how to proceed, pushed forward by her desperate desire to help her friend no matter what, despite whether or not she’s being completely helpful in her approach.
Also, not long after they start talking, Vinyl appears to be the clear winner—or rather, it seems pretty clear she’s going to win. That’s less interesting than if that certainty was shaken up a bit; maybe Vinyl says something she shouldn’t, or Octavia renders her speechless or says something she has trouble arguing. Basically, make it more difficult for Vinyl to attain her goal of getting Octavia to accept help or admit her problem. But again, this has more to do with it being short and having to get to the “happy” ending.
Well…I didn’t mean to go all prereader on you and write so much, but it’s only because I really loved the concept. I mean, the story wasn’t that interesting until she entered the apartment; then it increased with the discovery it was Octavia’s; and then exploded when the drug addiction was revealed; as the conversation progressed it lowered, as I already explained above. Anyway, I think this would be a great concept to continue outside of the writeoff and fully explore—though doing so would require a lot more story added on. But I’m sure you’d be up to the task. You’d have to tidy up your writing a bit too; you had a lot of repetitious words, such as saying door every time you referred to it over the span of a sentence or two, as opposed to saying “it”, like I just did.

I am
I applaud the author for taking on such a challenging perspective—that of a blind and deaf pony. It’s not easy, and to really get right would probably take triple the time this writeoff provided, since not only do you want to strive for accuracy (ie, “this is how a deaf and blind person would think/reason), you don’t want to confuse the reader. Making them think, pay attention and guess at what’s happening is different than being confused. At first, Well Wish’s internal monologue was hard to follow, even though it comes across as accurate regarding how someone who can’t see or hear would probably understand their world. But the language isn’t very clear, and it’s a little tough keeping track of the descriptions of this touch or that touch or this or that part of me. Further into the fic, as these things became more familiar, it was easier to grasp what Well Wish was saying and interpret what was happening in the real world.
Though really, I’m uncertain how much I should suggest trying to give the reader a clearer picture of what’s really happening. For example, when he first feels pain, and talks about the “things that aren’t real” I thought he was dreaming. I still don’t know if he was or not. But I hesitate to mark this as a strike against the fic, because it puts us in the same position as Well Wish: we have no idea what’s going on. His confusion is our confusion.
I think that’s part of the difficulty inherit in this perspective: balancing how much you make the reader feel like Well Wish, and how much you let them know what’s really going on, giving them information outside of Well Wish’s knowledge. Speaking of which, this does begin to happen once Twilight starts explaining things to him.
Overall I liked it for its unique perspective; it was interesting, but not very engaging or gripping from an emotional standpoint. The point at which the story started pulling me in was when somepony was clearly contacting and speaking to him, but because he couldn’t understand it he flipped out and was terrified, wanting it go away. Suddenly the story was a lot more interesting, because this was something tragic; his curse, which is keeping him from really living and experiencing his life, is also the same thing that he’s secure in (it’s what is familiar), and is what causes him to willingly forfeit being cured. He gets scared when Twilight communicates with him because he doesn’t understand; he doesn’t understand because of his condition; naturally, we want him to get better; but because of his condition and ignorance, he runs from the cure. What do you do? It seems as if his lack of hearing and sight is an unconquerable foe. It’s so vicious because not only does it handicap him, but it even turns attempts to help him into things that push him away.
It’s like another writeoff entry a month or two back, In Bloom by Pascoite. It was about a pony who was seriously abused by his mother, never let out of the house except when punished and chained up in the back yard. He has no idea what’s beyond his backyard fence. But once he starts talking with Roseluck through that fence, and she finally realizes what his mother has been doing, she makes the right call and alerts the police, who take his mother away. Happy ending, right? Wrong. Because his life was all he knew, he didn’t see his mother’s treatment of him as wrong—he thought he deserved being chained up in the backyard. When he loses her he’s hurt and upset, and blames and hates Roseluck for it. He even tries to hurt her. Very tragic, and it hammered home just how destructive abuse is. How do you win against it? It seems you cannot.
So it was the same sort of thing here. Of course Twilight does the right thing in trying to heal Well Wish, but because of his condition, he gets terrified and tries to run away. Something good is turned into something bad. So if this wasn’t a writeoff entry and could be a longer, regular story, I’d want that explored more. It’s a scenario where what the protagonist wants (the security of his old life) actually hurts them, instead of helping them.
I think that would help the reader get a lot more invested. After all, a story where someone is really sick but then pretty easily gets better is okay, but a story where because of said sickness the person unknowingly turns away from the cure? That’s far more interesting, I think. You can still keep the happy ending; I mean, once he sees I don’t think he’d ever want to go back—permanently, at least. He might get scared and want to be blind again, but it wouldn’t last long.
The last thing I’d suggest is trying to make the writing less confusing; I know I said there’s probably a balance, but you don’t want readers wasting too much time in just trying to grasp what’s going on at the surface. You don’t want to frustrate them, or take their attention from what really matters in the story.

Rain
“As she began to read, her eyes scanning back and forth across the pages, I felt my stomach turnover, and my heart pounding against my ribcage.” Boy, do I know that feeling haha.
Anyway, this story has a lot of potential, I think, because it has good elements. Namely, the fact that…the protagonist (did he have a name? I can’t find it) writes a meh story, instead of it being really amazing or something similar, that he’s confronted with the realization he doesn’t know something he assumed he did, and that his love isn’t returned in the end—and then that’s how it ends, without love.
But the way these elements were employed or executed or explored didn’t make a story that was very interesting. I mean, I thought his attitude towards his writing was realistic and relatable (“it’s private!”), but the rest of it was, honestly, fairly boring and predictable. It wasn’t surprising when he met her for the second time on the dock, for example—I saw that one coming. Granted, I didn’t see her buying the parchment, not liking his story, or not reciprocating his feelings.
And about that: he says he’s in love, and I get the impression we’re supposed to feel for him in the end, but I really didn’t. For one, there just wasn’t much to get invested in when it came to his character. We never learn much about his struggle (why does he hate engineering?), and his personality is rather flat and boorish. Secondly, there just isn’t enough evidence within the story to support he loves her—I don’t see it. I can see him being very interested and even forming a crush, but love? What about the mare does he love? Her honesty? While I did like her character, there still wasn’t much to hers either.
It got a lot more interesting in the end, where he confesses and is turned down. But since I don’t really buy the fact he’s in love, his reaction comes off as immature instead of the result of a broken heart. Normally, I would say this (along with his confession of love) proves that he really doesn’t know what love is—but, other than the mares statement along those lines, I never got the sense this was the point the story was making.
But, like I said, it has potential if it’s good elements are taken out, polished, and explored more fully—as well as making each character far more rounded and interesting. Their struggles too; they both have them, but we don’t ever really see them actually struggling—the most is the mare sitting on the bench looking at the sky, wherein we guess she’s struggling with something, but that’s about it. We need more to get invested.

2836236
If you and GV are dead-set on keeping the 2k minimum, then I'd honestly argue for us to have more time to write and more time between. If you drop it to 1k or even 1.5k, then I think monthly might be more sustainable.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

2839060
Thank you for an awesome review. I'm glad at least someone figured out what was going on. And comparing this to In Bloom is, I think, far too flattering of my story. :)

OKAY IT'S OVER TIME TO TALK ABOUT STUFF GOOD JOB PASCO I KNEW YOU'D WIN AGAIN :D

So as always, you can find most of my comments on my story in my review thereof. :B This was an exercise in both severely limited perspective (deaf/blind narrator) and one-syllable word stories. I wrote one once. It was 600 words long. This one's 3000. Amazingly, it got easier the longer I went; I also cheated with a lot of the outside dialogue, but I also tried to make that part of the story. He's scared not just of the sudden influx of sensory information that's never happened before, but of the multi-syllabic words. As most of the communication in this story is mind-to-mind, they represent thoughts that are too alien for him to perceive.

So yeah, everyone's right that I started in a bad place. :( Unfortunately, it took me until halfway through to realize he should be telling Twilight this stuff, not the reader. As I had less than 24 hours left at that point, I just had to prioritize finishing over doing it right, and that's why I said no one would like it and hey look, I was right. :V This will be changed when I rewrite.

The other big mistake I made was with the title. Beyond the narrator's identity, the only bit of info I had when going into this was a blurb I wanted to use as the description, but it deals with concepts of self, which is not something I actually remembered to put into the story. >.> Kinda screwed the pooch with this one.

So, in the interest of garnering potentially more feedback, I'm going to put up a full explanation of the story and see if anyone's willing to give suggests about how to make things more clear. There's a point at which obfuscation is going to be necessary, that's just the beast I'm dealing with here, but I for one enjoy piecing together stories like this, so maybe it's just me.

The plot goes like this: Well Wish (I pulled that name out of my ass so hard; it's an oblique reference to Helen Keller's first signed word, "water", that I was just trying really hard to keep to one-syllable words) lived at home with his parents. His mother took care of him and his father had no idea what to do with him. Eventually, something happened and he was sent to a home. Living conditions there were less comfortable, but not awful, save for one pony who got really fed up with being unable to deal with him, and then came the pain.

At this point, he meets his first outside pony: Princess Luna, in a dream. She doesn't know how to communicate with him and scares him, but also gets word back to Celestia about him. She's the next pony that he meets, personally taking him from the home to the castle, though she doesn't communicate with him.

Enter Twilight. First, she uses a spell that allows him to hear and tries talking to him, but of course he's got no concept of speech and is quickly overwhelmed. Then she tries for the subtle approach then, with a direct mind-link spell that requires their horns to touch. He's still scared because of conceptual reasons, but she quickly figures out how he thinks and, speaking to him in a way he's more likely to understand, puts him at ease. (All the pauses are her trying to figure out how to put things; the reader sees it as rewording to be one syllable.) Story ends with her casting a sight spell on him.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

the part that smells: nose
the part that tastes: mouth
here: some combination of location and all-inclusion of self
things to taste: food
soft touch: mother
lost: lonely; afraid; actually lost
long touch: water, bath
large touch: blanket, towel
strange smells that do not come here: father
time when I think of things that are not real: sleep
things that are not real: dreams
the thing that is not me: also mother
sharp warm touch: Celestia
soft not warm touch: Luna

Welp, another one come and gone. Ready for the next one already *starts eating the bits* Make it a minific thing if another 2k+ one is too much for you :raritywink:

alexmagnet
Group Contributor

2839060
Welp, now that this thing's over I can respond to your comment.

I think that your criticisms (along with pretty much everyone else's) were absolutely valid and brought up some really good points. The one thing I'd like to challenge is that you said you didn't really believe he was in love, which... y'know, was kinda the point. I mean, that's why she kept telling him that he didn't understand what love was. He thought he did, but really he had a crush, or a fascination, more than anything. Could I have done a better job showing that? Hell yes I could've, and I plan to once I rewrite it, but I just wanted to clear up any confusion there may have been surrounding that.

Oh, and I've already told Kierkegaard this, but his comment about the mare needing to show up less often so that she appears as more of a bright spot than a constant presence is, again, absolutely correct. When the last day for writing rolled around, I had about ~1.3k finished, and so I had to write the other 4k in less than a day. As a consequence, it ended up not being as good as I had hoped, but I'm glad that some of the stuff I was trying to convey apparently did come across.

One last thing... the narrator didn't have a name, and neither did the mare. I didn't give them names because I didn't feel they were important. It wasn't really necessary that they have names, and by writing it in that way I hoped to sort of facilitate a more readily available connection between the reader and the narrator. Make it easier to "walk in their shoes", you might say. Whether or not I accomplished that, eh, I'm not too fussed either way. I'm just glad that I didn't fall on my face or get a middling score like I usually do.

One more last final thing... congratulations to Pasc. I had no idea you entered this one, but knowing that now, it's no surprise you won. I'm just glad PP's fic was all experimental and weird this time so I actually had a shot at placing.

(P.S. The ultimate irony is that I've never actually been in love, thus committing the same sin the narrator does in Rain.)

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