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Loganberry
Group Admin

Right then, as we're just about into February here in the UK, it's time for the second Flashfic 150 contest of 2018 to get underway. Almost a year of these now. My goodness.

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 either when I remember or when someone yells at me sufficiently about it. I'm sure our previous winners will confirm said mention will be an even more thrilling experience than reading this intro post. :rainbowhuh:

Title: "A Lovely Night, Ruined" (selected by last month's winner, nemryn)
Rating: E or T
Word limit: 150
Closing date: Wednesday 21st February 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!

6303868
This is based off something that happened to my grandma when she was cooking.


Under Pressure, Will Explode

Rarity is such an amazing mare, she seems to find the time to get everything done. She's been pushing herself, so tonight, I want her to relax during our date. I knock on her door and she greets me in the alluring way as usual; flipping her mane, fluttering those eyes, and saying "Good evening, darling. I'm thrilled that you came. I've prepared bucatini for tonight's special occasion."

"Actually, I was thinking of going out tonight."

"Nope, I won't hear of it. Everything must be perfect. Now sit down, I'll check the steam pressures if it's ready."

"Steam pressure?"

"Yes," she heads towards the kitchen, "I was in a hurry and thought I cou-AAHHH!!!!"

I run into the kitchen and see bucatini splattered everywhere. She starts to whimper at the mess and she buries her face into my chest.

I stroke her head, "Why don't we go out for pizza?"

6303868
Ok, I should really get this in early this time instead of waiting until the last minute, getting distracted, and end up not entering.... again.

Anyway, here it is, clocking in at 149 words by Fimfic's counter.

Of Stars and Storms

"Rainbow Dash! What are you doing?" yelled a very scary-looking Twilight.

Rainbow landed on the balcony where Twilight was yelling. "I'm setting up for the storm tonight, Twilight. Why?"

"Because I was under the impression the weather team scheduled tonight for clear skies. I've been planning to stargaze for weeks!" Twilight did not, unfortunately, get any less scary-looking.

"It's not my fault, some screwhead ground crew in charge of scheduling messed it up by a week. A whole week! Now we have to get some rain on the ground asap, or crops will start dying."

"Didn't this happen last year, too? And the year before that?" Rainbow relaxed slightly when she noticed the change in Twilight's tone.

"Yeah," she said, "we really should just fire that guy. But we can't seem to find anypony to take his job."

Twilight sighed. "And this was gonna be such a lovely night."

6303868

Hm. A poser at first, but I think I found a reasonably off-kilter way of meeting it. After all, what if the night was literally ruined? Turns out "ruin" was derived from the Latin word ruere, or "to fall down (violently)".

Also, I took the opportunity for a characterization exercise, which also doubles as a test run before I try a larger project involving these two. Enjoy!


Perfection, or the End of the World

Twinkleshine wished she were a star. The heavens knew no blemish.

“Isn’t Cassiopeia lovely?” In the moonlit field, Twinkleshine relaxed alongside her telescope.

Until… Flash!

“Sure!” Minuette aimed her camera. “One for the album.”

“Minuette, please! Flash doesn’t work at night. Watch for my –”

CLATTER!

Telescope.”

“Oops…”

“Minuette, you’re simply impossible!”

“Thanks!”

“It wasn’t a compliment! Oh, the detail this requires! Why can’t you be less chaotic?”

“…s-sorry.”

Twinkleshine restored her telescope to perfection…

…and stars flared.

She retreated from the eyepiece. “The stars.”

“What?”

“They’re… falling. Oh no! The stars are falling! Run! RUN! Save yourself! RUN!

Minuette stared. “They’ve stopped.”

Blink. “Wh-What?”

“Stopped.”

Twinkleshine peeked. “Oh no! Cassiopeia’s ruined!

“Cool! New constellation!”

She sighed. “Of course. Luna’s unscheduled reorganizing. Alas! Even the heavens aren’t perfect.”

Twinkleshine groaned…

“Cheer up! Least it’s not the end of the world. One for the album.” Flash!

…and smiled. “I… suppose not.”

6303868
I have been back to edit this a few million times, with likely a few more before the deadline.


Nightfall

At times the temptation nearly overwhelmed her, though in truth the Princess felt it every night, this desire to leave the moon hanging forever just beneath the eastern horizon, allowing only starshine to blanket Equestria’s nights.

She delayed moonrise for long minutes as the great brush strokes of stars and dust that comprised the Mare’s Tail filled the night’s sky. Celestia smiled and lost herself in its beauty, drawn into sweet, happy memories of a time when ponies of Everfree had honored her sister with the name.

But at last Celestia bowed her head low and sighed.

Soon the new city of Canterlot began to glow brightly with reflected moonlight, precisely as she’d designed, and she looked up once more… and despaired.

The face of the Nightmare leered at her from Luna’s moon. It whispered to her, sharp and cruel, promising that far more such nights lay ahead than behind.

6309598

I have been back to edit this a few million times, with likely a few more before the deadline.

You and me both. Good grief, I'm terrible for tinkering.

6325789 Oh good, I'm not the only one! :yay:
I'll come back and re-read everyone's stories after the deadline, just in case. :twilightsmile:

Loganberry
Group Admin

Quick reminder that you have three days (and a few minutes) to go. :moustache:

I'm done, nothing else to do. Tried to embed the countdown timer, but no go. Here it is:

Submission Deadline Countdown

6328863 Good luck! Hope to see you enter this. :twilightsmile:

Loganberry
Group Admin

6328371
That's handy; thanks!

Just under five hours to go, everyone!

Guess I'm not entering this month. Ran out of time, and my idea for this prompt never totally solidified, not to mention I got distracted by other things. I was sorta heading towards "A lovely knight, runed."...

--Sweetie Belle

6330254

Now I'm wondering which previous story had the similar-ish concept, because I can't identify any common features at all with the preceding fics.

Because you can't spell out 'leaving things until the last minute' without Ceffyl Dwr.

(Opens mouth...)

Shut up. You can't.

:fluttercry:

(...closes mouth)

Loganberry
Group Admin

Time's up, everyone. Just five entries this month, the lowest number since Flashfic 150 began, but some interesting submissions to consider. As I may well be out for most of Saturday, I'll announce the winner on Friday.

Feedback is now open!

Damn, I forgot this month.

6304491 Cute story. I can totally see that happening in real life, and (thankfully) it sounds like only your grandma's feelings were hurt.

Anyway, I saw a few issues:
1) I felt that the story title Under Pressure, Will Explode gave away a bit too much before the story began. Under Pressure would give a lot less away: we could probably guess at some point, but we wouldn't really know what was coming until near the very end.

2) Rarity is far too 'refined' to use the word Nope, so it's a bit out of character for her. No would have been much more in-character (or less out of character), if you couldn't add more to Miss Prissy Pants' dialogue. ;)

3) There were a number of small grammar issues, especially at "...Now sit down, I'll check the steam pressures if it's ready." If you read this out loud as written, I think you'll see what I mean.

In any case, I enjoyed this. :twilightsmile:

6308481 Alternate title: One Stormy Twilight :rainbowlaugh:

I liked this. It's nicely-written slice that ends right on point with Twilight's genuine disappointment and characteristic acceptance in light of the greater need of others.

My opinion: I'd use something other than "very scary-looking" to describe Twilight, and possibly sacrifice a few words in other places to give her scary anger more character. What about her was scary-looking?

That said, you made it work through the rest of the story, so I don't know what I'm complaining about. :pinkiehappy:

6309117 This was really cute! I love what you did with only 150 words, here. It started well, flowed well, ended on a positive, funny last line, and totally stayed within the nature of the prompt. Also, Minuette was hilarious. :twilightsmile:

6330254 Oh, well that's just stellar. This doesn't feel like 150 words. And you managed to invert the whole idea. Lovely work, and right under the wire. :yay:

6309598 Nice work everyone!

I thought I'd critique my own story for a change:

  • Obvious use of the prompt is painfully obvious. In my defense, this one popped into my head and demanded to be written.
  • Hyper-dramatic prose is hyper-dramatic.
  • Hey, this wasn't my prompt, and no I wasn't depressed when I wrote this. Good thing this was limited to 150 words, though. :trixieshiftright:
  • On the bright side, I did manage to share a little of my head-cannon, which likely went over everyone's heads anyway.

It's clear after reading just these few other stories that dialogue actually works much better with such a small limit. I think I'll try that next time.

6331129 The story I wrote didn't lend itself to dialogue, which is fine for what it is, but my point was more that I could explore something in the future that includes dialogue, which (usually) would require at least one more person in play. We'll see! The prompt will out the muse...

And thanks. I'll definitely be coming back to this for another round. :twilightsmile:

I'll, uh, I'll get to feedback in a bit... I hope...
6330722
Oh no!!!! Dearest Pasc is absent!
6330912
Oh hey, thanks! And yeah, I didn't like using just "scary-looking..." or even any of the other non-descriptive-descriptions... heck, I've had to give the advice to not do that to others... but, unfortunately, word count wrecked my face in :/
Anyway, I'm glad you liked it!

6330807

it sounds like only your grandma's feelings were hurt.

My grandma was fine. It didn't faze her or make her go into tears, but she was never allowed to go near the steam pressure again.:rainbowlaugh:

1) I felt that the story title Under Pressure, Will Explode gave away a bit too much before the story began.

The title did give it away, but I wanted people to put some thought into my choice for an over-informed title. It wasn't just meant as a foreshadow for the steam pressure, but also a foreshadow for Rarity as well. She was pushing herself with some stress (pressure) and after the steam pressure's mess, she broke (explode) into tears.

2) Rarity is far too 'refined' to use the word Nope, so it's a bit out of character for her. No would have been much more in-character

I honestly think she would say Nonsense if I wanted to stay in character, but I thought Nope would be more of a fresh approach from the common words she would often use.

Glad you liked it.

6330556

Darn, I'd best get my feedback in early, then.


Fair warning ahead of time: I will tend towards nitpicking. As usual, a lot of this is just me voicing my reaction to the piece, so take it with a pinch of salt.


6304491

Not bad, though romance isn't really a genre I take much interest in. It's a straightforward fragment of a scene with hints of characterization, but overall I didn't find anything particularly interesting about it. Maybe if Rarity showed more idiosyncrasies, I could at least describe it as a good character piece; as it is, the role doesn't scream "only Rarity can do this". And who is that first-person narrator? That's distracting, which doesn't help me much.

I think the main point I want to get across is that this isn't particularly juicy, even granting the 150 word limit. I'm not sure if it needs the basic premise to be expanded, or if it needs a simple extra dash of characterization to make Rarity and the narrator stand out (instead of feeling a bit generic and cookie-cutter). Either way, not bad, just not doing much for me.


6308481

Similar to the last one, this doesn't feel substantial enough, though it starts off really well. Rainbow and Twilight both feel in-character, and the conflict believable relative to their characters. Apart from the diction mentioned before ("scary-looking" should be tossed out at the first opportunity), its only real shortcoming is that the punchline feels perfunctory. "The weather schedule is messed up, and there's one guy in charge who needs to be fired but won't be." This doesn't throw any light on the characters who are front-and-centre, and isn't particularly surprising. If anything, it feels more like a second step of the joke before hitting the real punchline, since it's not clear why they can't replace the guy or whatever.

I'm being pedantic, I'll admit, and again, it's not a bad piece. It just doesn't do much for me either, and I think it's because the set-up is let down by the ending. Word count problems, I guess?


6309117

You again? If you try a stunt like this next time we have a contest, I swear it'll go very hard for you.


6309598

Evocative of melancholy and nostalgia in just the right way! I particularly like the little touches: that she'd arranged the mirrors just to catch the light, and how she's clearly nervous about raising the moon early on (raising suspension, albeit of a subdued sort, over what'll happen when she inevitably has to raise the moon). I liked this one.

Since I am erring towards nitpicking today, I will say some of the phrasing seemed a bit inelegant at times. The first paragraph needed to be chopped up, as that's one long sentence: not an encouraging way to start. Also, "for long minutes [as the great brush strokes of stars and dust that comprised the Mare’s Tail] filled" feels far too unwieldy as a single piece of language, and the plurals got tangled up in my head as I was reading, which suggests something needs changing (maybe rephrase it as "the great painting of stars and dust clouds")?

That said, I do think this is a strong piece, possibly the strongest one here for its overall pleasant use of language and the way it builds up to the reveal. Well done!


6330254

Fair warning: haven't seen the movie, so can't comment on the accuracy of Celaeno here.

OK, moving on. That first sentence left me with some very strange imagery in my head regarding the city, which proved distracting. The last few had me confused as to which "she" was doing what to which "she" (and when her daughter looked down, was that at the ship's floor or over the side, even though Celaeno had to spin round to talk to her?). So my main criticism is that the language use is confusing at times.

Having said that, this is a strong rival to 6309598's work, though here mainly because of the way the character is depicted. I won't say it's deep, exactly - apart from her love of excitement and hatred of the peaceful life, I couldn't say much about her as a person - but it covers a good range, from personal history to family to what's going on right now, and implies a lot more to be explored. The last comment about being a white crow strikes me as ambiguous in a good way; I'm not sure if she's sad, boastful, content, or what, but from the tantalizing hints here, any exploration of those elements would be welcome. Lastly, while not much actually happens, and I think a clearer conflict in the present (as opposed to the past) would put the finishing touch on it, it's still a pleasant read as-is, and well-written.


6330941

Thanks! After seeing Amending Fences, Minuette to me is now basically a permanent tourist wherever she goes. It's mainly due to the bit where Minuette immediately takes Twilight's picture, and you're not sure if she's a friend or a fangirl.

6331129

Darn. You sneaky devil, you. :ajbemused:

Myself, I usually try not to ditch a started idea unless it's extremely difficult to play with. That said, it does take me ages ahead of time to even settle on an idea in my head, so it balances out.

6331273

:twilightsmile: Thank you kindly. But yeah, meeting this word limit is like squeezing my hand into a teacup. In theory, possible; in practice, hope you like drinking tea out of the saucer. And get me some bandages.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6331326
You don't have to get your feedback in before I fire up the RNG make my decision, you know. I suppose I could have left the result until Sunday, but with five entries pressure of time isn't really an issue.

I keep meaning to try something myself for one of these. The rules allow it (I made sure of that!) although of course I wouldn't be eligible to win. Maybe one month.

6331514

:twilightsheepish: Ah. OK. In that case, pretend I never said that.

As for participating... go for it! Just don't expect us critics to go easy on you. Mwahahaha...

Loganberry
Group Admin

6332038
Said what? :scootangel:

And I should hope not!

6331326 Thanks! I appreciate that you liked the story, and also the feedback. I knew that paragraph was too long as is, but when an idea is complete in your head, it gets harder to disconnect and see it from other's perspectives. I need to keep this in mind for the future.

I read a lot of stories (such as Iain M. Banks novels, and Estee's stories) that do this kind of thing a LOT more than I do — more complex and for far longer. So I'm likely influenced by my appreciation if that.

Funny thing is, when I'm not writing prose, I usually have no problem with that... I think it's a lot easier to commit ideas to 'paper' in short bursts when you're not trying to comprehensively encompass an ocean of feelings and narrative without breathing. :twilightsmile:

6331274 Yes! Nonsense would be a perfect alternative word for her to use, there.

I do tend to nitpick grammar and word choice, so no matter the other stuff I mentioned: the main thing for me was that you presented the idea and followed through well with it to the end. :twilightsmile:

Loganberry
Group Admin

6304491 6308481 6309117 6309598 6330254
All right, results time! I enjoyed reading all these stories (not that I usually don't!) but in the end I went for the piece by Ceffyl Dwr. Celaeno doesn't get a huge amount of fleshing out in the movie, but this felt as though it was a possible bit of backstory. (Well, the early bit. The later bit might be after the film and so... er... frontstory?) The "white crow" thing caught my attention too. I did read the IDW comic prequel focusing on the pirates, but it was a while back and I can't remember how it went so I'm not taking that into account here.

Congratulations to you! Of course, you now get the thrilling reward of being able to choose the prompt for the March contest. Since the first one was April 2017, that will complete a year of these things! As ever, when you have a prompt, please let me know in this thread.

By all means continue with your feedback posts/thoughts on expanded versions/pointless rambling. (Wait, that one's for me.) Thank you all for entering! :twilightsmile:

6332811
6330254
Oh, nice job, Ceffyl! Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the movie yet, so this one isn’t my favorite. But I do say congrats, nonetheless!
mumbles something about favoratism

6332973 Congrats, Ceffyl. Knew you'd take this. :raritywink:

And despite what you might think, that's an excellent prompt.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6332878
Hmm? My hearing isn't what it used to be. :trollestia:
6332973
You're welcome! And that's an intriguing prompt! As usual, I'll put the next contest thread up on 1st March. Until then, feel free to continue with feedback and so on if you like. (If you don't like, don't. :rainbowwild:)

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