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Loganberry
Group Admin

A little bit later than usual on account of my holiday, but we're up and running now with the first contest of 2018. No rule changes since last time, but I will just remind you that movie-inspired pieces are allowed. (For the avoidance of doubt, I mean the 2017 one!)

Here are the full rules.

Remember, there is no prize, as such, for this contest -- but if you win, you will be able to choose the prompt for the next contest. You'll also get a mention on the group's front page if I actually remember, which I'm sure our previous winners will confirm will be an even more thrilling experience than reading this intro post. :unsuresweetie:

Title: "Laughter, Both Old and New" (selected by last month's winner, Impossible Numbers)
Rating: E or T
Word limit: 150
Closing date: Sunday 21st January 2018, 11:59 pm UK time (world clock)

Please reply to this post with your entry. This makes it easier for me to keep track. Please do not leave feedback until after the closing date.

Entries are now open! Have fun!

6264985
I've primped up the text and used exactly 150 words. Why am I telling you the number of words? You'll see...


The Jokes Are Getting Old

"Now ask me 'how I did in court.'"

"Do I have to?"

"Come on, Twilight. You'll love the punchline." Pinkie said as she's holding up an empty hanger.

The Alicorn sighs at the line that was about to come, "How'd you do in court?"

"I lost the suit!"

"Marvelous," Twilight said with no real interest. "Now let me get back to reading."

"Wait, there's more!"

"There's more?" she groans.

"So a farmer has three daughters and-"

"-they had dates. One was named Shower Confetti and said they would eat spaghetti. Another was named Doughnut Joe and said they'll see a show. The last one was named Moon Struck and was shot by the father. Yeah, that's an old joke too. Here's a new joke; you know Cranky?"

"The donkey? Yeah."

"Remember how you threw his back out."

"Uh-huh."

"You know how he would describe you?"

"How?"

"A pain in the-"

Darn, I'm struggling to think up something for this prompt, and I proposed it in the first place! :applejackconfused:

Loganberry
Group Admin

Just a bit more than two days to go, everyone.

6264985

This idea had been in my head for a while, but I wasn't sure how to properly represent it. Then I thought I might as well be straightforward. It's not like complexities can be captured that well in 150 words.


The Hall of Laughs

“I’d show Fluttershy,” said Discord, “but her interests lie elsewhere. No, Pinkie, I rather think you should learn my secret.”

The interdimensional door opened…

“My Hall of Laughs!” he said. “I harness every single laugh I create!”

“THIS! IS! AMAZING!”

Pinkie bounced among the shelves. Laughter echoed every time she touched the walls.

Only after several minutes did a dark thought creep into her mind.

“Waaaaaiiiiiiit… Why are you showing me this?” said Pinkie suspiciously.

Discord whispered in her ear. The words, though softly spoken, roared like thunder around her skull.

“ME!?”

“The signs were obvious,” he said, shrugging. “One day, you’ll make a better Spirit of Chaos; you make other ponies laugh, not just yourself. This place won’t be able to hold the sheer power!”

The flattery rolled over Pinkie’s head. “But I’m just a pony!”

Discord grinned. “How do you think I got started… my little chaos apprentice?”

6264985
Prick, by KwirkyJ

He was trotting back to the arena stands with a hot funnel cake teetering on a wing when it happened.

"Well, if it isn't my old friend, Thornbrush."

The dark figure pressed harshly against him, driving him into the isolating gloom between the tents. His alarmed yelp was eaten by the night's throng.

"Yes," she said. "It is you, isn't it, Thornbrush. Remember me?"

Eventually, his eyes locked on her webbed wings flexing against her frame.

"You used to joke, 'look at her teeth. Doesn't she have funny teeth?' As if my teeth were the only funny thing about me, the only Noctis at flight camp."

"Artemis?"

"It's so nice to see you again, Thornbrush. Let's catch up." She grinned a razor-edged smile that didn't reach the eyes. "Look at my teeth." And lunged.

6264985
Forgot about this, so here's a last-minute entry. 150 words, as ever. Yeah, this is probably the first thing everyone thinks of when it comes to laughter, but everyone else decided it was too obvious and skipped over it, leaving me to reap all the sweet spoils! Hahahaha!


Giggle at the Ghosties

“Can you hear me, Granny Pie?”

Yes, child, I can hear you.

SHE CANNOT.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t help you. I went to the nearest town, then to the big city, and I even tried Canterlot! But nopony knew what to do.”

It’s alright, dearie. I have no complaints.

I SAID SHE CANNOT HEAR YOU.

I… I can’t say anything to her? I can’t tell her good-bye?

NO.

Why not? Why won’t you let me?

IT IS NOT MY DOING. IT IS SIMPLY TIME.

“I just wanted to hear you laugh once more.”

I…

SHE CANNOT HEAR YOU SPEAK.

So she can—snxx. Heh. Hahahaha!

“G-Granny? Is that…? Hee. Hehe. Hahaha! *sniff* You’re right. You taught me that if I could always find a reason to smile, the bad stuff would never get me down too bad. I-I’ll remember that. Thank you, Granny.”

Thank you.

YES, MISS PIE. COME ALONG NOW.

6290613

Okey dokey. In four easy steps, I guarantee you will learn this lesson! Your money back if not 100% dissatisfied!

Step One: Try to capture complexities that well in 150 words.

Step Two: Swear as you go over by half as many words again.

Step Three: Swear as you have to edit all the good stuff out.

Step Four: Wait till next month, then go back to Step One.

Loganberry
Group Admin

Anyone else who'd like to enter this month? You have a bit under three hours left!

6264985
With fourteen words to spare!

Passing the Torte

The cavern was a mass of shadows, candles only offering contrast to the greater darkness.

"Pinkamena Diane Pie," said the ancient robed figure. "Do you swear to uphold the sacred traditions I entrust to you, to keep close its ancient secrets and hold fast to its unbreakable laws?"

"I do."

"Swear it upon your life."

"Upon my life, I swear it."

"Swear it upon your soul."

"Upon my soul, I swear it."

"Swear it before all who hear and read these words as one."

Pinkie looked out, and stared you right in the eyes with the utmost severity. "As you witness me, I swear it."

"Then I bestow upon you the most divine knowledge anypony may give to another. Use it wisely, Pinkamena. Use it well."


"And that's how I learned Granny Pie's special cookie recipe!"

Not entering this month. 21 days later, I still have no idea what to write... :unsuresweetie:

--Sweetie Belle

6264985

"How did the chicken cross the road?"
"Isn't that 'why'?"
"How."
"Uhm...it walked?"
"Correct!"
"Thanks, Pinkie..."
"No problem! But what did it walk on?"
"...Legs?"
"Correct!"
"If that's all there is, then–"
"But what sort of legs?"
"Chicken legs?"
"Nope!"
"Really?"
"Nuh-uh! They were robot chicken legs! With rocket boosters and lasers!"
"So the chicken crossed the road by walking on robot chicken legs with rocket boosters and lasers?"
"Yeah!"
"What's the punchline, then?"
"Punchline? What punchline?"
"The punchline of the joke." Flatly.
"Joke?" Pinkie laughed. "Oh, that wasn't a joke."
"No?"
"No," agreed Pinkie. "No, not a joke at all... More...reconnaissance."
And Pinkie's hoof slowly reached to her own neck, grabbed something, and with a slippery metal sound, a zipping, open flopped her head.
Rainbow stared.
The chicken squawked.
"Huh?" Said Pinkie, from the other side of the road.

6264985

Flurry Heart was having the time of her young life. There were so many shapes for her to taste! There was a Round! What did Round taste like? Round tasted like berries! There was a Triangle! What did Triangle take like? Triangle tasted like a hug! There was a Sharp Pointy! What did Sharp Pointy taste like? Sharp Pointy tasted like-

Fear. Misery. The crack of the lash, the wails of the tormented. And above it all, the maniacal cackling of a pony too far gone to know anything but hatred and lust.

Bleaugh! Bad Taste! Flurry Heart spat Sharp Pointy out and smacked it with her horn. Go away, Bad Taste! Ooh, there was an Icosahedron! What did Icosahedron taste like?

Flurry Heart giggled and burbled as she played with her toys. On the floor behind her, already forgotten, a smear of dark magic slowly faded away.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6265137 6265422 6289050 6289218 6290018 6290968 6290987 6291018

Right: time's up, everyone! Thanks to a late flurry of entries, we've ended up with eight submissions this month, so seven for me to judge. (As last month's winner, Impossible Numbers is ineligible to win this time.) I'd like to offer a special welcome to the first-timers. :twilightsmile:

Feedback is now open -- for the benefit of newcomers, the one thing you really need to know is that your comments on other stories need to be descriptive -- so no grades, percentages, marks out of ten, etc. Otherwise, pretty much anything goes, as long as it's polite and SFW.

Unless I feel the need to post again, I will now retire to consider my verdict, which will be announced on Thursday 25th. Thank you again for entering!

I... may have forgotten to work on this... oops. Ah well, the feedbacks!
6265137
I must admit, this is the first I've seen of colored words in these flashfics. Otherwise, not sure what to say except that the punchline surprised me, and it got a good chuckle out of me.
6265422
Daaaang... a sad comedy? Why must you do this to me? Anyway, jam-packed with feeling, fits the prompt very well, but, unfortunately, not my style of humor.
6289050
Hm. Can't say I haven't seen this concept of Pinkie=Discord-in-training before, sadly. Though the Hall of Laughs idea was a cool, new way to bring about the concept.
6289218
Not, uh, not sure about this one. Idk. I'll think about it and see if anything comes to mind.
6290018
Whoa man... just, just whoa... if it were up to me, this would win... cause, whoa.
6290968
Hm, that was an enjoyable twist. Not sure how well it worked on the humor aspect for me, but still quite nice.
6290987
Huh. That's... certainly interesting. I can appreciate the comedy, but, sadly, this was not my style of humor.
6291018
Sombra's horn? If so, wonderfully done. If not, still an enjoyable read. You really captured Flurry's voice well.

6291270
Yeah, the Sharp Pointy is Sombra's horn.

6265137
You start out in past tense but then go to present. Nice jokes for those who are tolerant of puns, though. And you're right, it does stop at just the right time. The color's fine for interest, but it doesn't do anything essential. If it were removed, for instance, it wouldn't change my understanding. You barely have any narration—I wonder if you couldn't get rid of that as well and go all dialogue. All told, a pleasant read.

6265422
I'm not sure whose eyes are blurry. The syntax suggests the baby, but it would be hard to tell. Plus it seems like Berry's the one missing her father until it emphatically says that explicitly, so the language is a bit unclear. However, this ends up being a nice charming back story. I love it when authors grab a minor character and show me a window into their life, and this was sweet, showing Sassy's background as well as where she gets her linguistic tic. Nice, cute moment,

6265422
Another cute one, but it feels odd to me, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because there's never been any particular canon affinity between the two, and here we suddenly have Discord as a big admirer of Pinkie. It works, but it feel like I'm missing context. The perspective is a bit unsteady. The line with the ellipsis sets it as a limited narration, then the line about a thought creeping into her mind points to her as the perspective character. Then she reacts a lot to what he says, but we don't get to hear it ourselves. She's happy about it, so she doesn't have a reason to suppress her thoughts about it (essentially what the narration is), so it's curious by its absence. The overall sentiment is nice, though, and it makes me wonder if Celestia knows Discord was once a regular pony.

6289218
Man, I don't know about this. It's got really nice atmosphere, but it's another where I feel like I'm missing too much context. Yeah, there's not much room in 150 words to flesh out a back story, but there's not a lot here to make her feel justified in... harming him? Killing him? I'm not even sure what she's doing. And without even giving him a chance to see if he's matured since then. This could be quite good with another 500 words to it, but compressed as it is, it kind has to do shock value for its own sake. Still, probably the best quality writing of the entries.

6290018
A thinly veiled and clumsy allegory of 17th century French taxation policies.

6290968
On the fluff scene side as flashfics go, but very cute, and it captures Pinkie's personality well. I do wonder who she's talking to at the end. Though likely not the fourth wall again, since the reader witnessed that already. I bet she even interjected this into a conversation that had nothing to do with it. For a bit of light reading, this hits the spot.

6290987
This one's got a nice surprise at the end, albeit one that's a little hard to get my head around. Like why the chicken's doing recon and why it's held off so long to say Rainbow's there. But for the joke it is, it's just the right length.

6291018
This is equal parts adorable and disturbing. I'm not sure what the ending implies. Did she resist it and the magic is fading away? Or has it invaded her? I'm going with the former. Good job keeping the simplistic voicing of a child and the jolting change when she tastes the horn, but icosahedron is really stretching it for a child's word choice... unless I chose the wrong possibility and this is evidence of Sombra's intellect creeping in.

6295025

6265422
Another cute one, but it...

Oh dear. Don't get me wrong; I like Ceffyl Dwr, just not to the point of changing my username to match theirs.

As for the larger point, the best I can say is that I do not for one moment disagree. All I've got by way of explanation is that I haven't figured out what I can and can't do in 150 words, much less how to make 150 words do everything I want, just yet. In hindsight, this idea was probably too ambitious for such a short scene.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6265137 6265422 6289050 6289218 6290018 6290968 6290987 6291018

I had a devil of a time choosing this month, and that's a good thing. I'm going for nemryn's entry, though, largely because of Flurry's voicing actually sounding like a kid's. Regarding what Pascoite said about this story in his feedback, I get a strong feeling that "Sombra's intellect creeping in" is indeed what is happening. This would seem to explain pretty well why Flurry refers to shapes as "Round" and "Sharp Pointy" before she eats (what I do think is) the horn, but "Icosahedron" afterwards.

Congratulations, nemryn! Your "prize" is to decide the prompt for next month's contest. It's fine to take a day or two to think about it. When you've decided, please post your chosen prompt in this thread. Unless I veto it (which hasn't happened yet!) it will be included in the February contest thread, which will go up on the 1st.

Feedback remains open for any further discussion on this month's fics.

6295602
Hey, thanks! :blush:

Let's go with "a lovely night, ruined" for next month's prompt.

6296335
:rainbowlaugh: Sounds like an excellent choice for the month that holds Valentine's Day.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6296335
You're welcome! And that prompt is fine by me, so I hereby officially accept it. Because I Have The Power. The Power of Grayskull!

I'm looking forward to next month's entries already -- though given that prompt, I feel a reminder that M-rated fics are banned may be in order. :raritywink:

6265422
I'm here cuz Pascoite pointed this out. It's a lovely little thing. Gotta love Sassy anytime we can get more of her. :twilightsmile:

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