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Loganberry
Group Admin

March is here! As I type it's well below freezing with snow on the ground, so what better way to take us into spring than with a new Flashfic 150? (Don't answer that.)

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. Alternatively, the Sun may go supernova, in which case none of you will get your non-prize. It's tough, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Title: "What You Leave Behind" (selected by last month's winner, Ceffyl Dwr)
Rating: E or T
Word limit: 150
Closing date: Wednesday 21st March 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!

6338944
...............I'm in that mood again.:pinkiecrazy:


An Artist's Vision

The life of an artist is not an easy one. Take me for instance, I simply promote my work for the public to enjoy. And yet ponies look at me as..... off.

I love making portraits you see, and my latest was that of Celestia. She was happy to help and volunteered herself to make this chance come to be.

Her pose exquisite. Her mane majestic. I captured everything about her perfectly with scarlet monochrome. I was anticipating blue, but I can't change what was given to me.

I displayed my masterpiece for the public to admire, just looking at how they weep from the beauty brought me nothing but joy. However, I was soon incarcerated for my portrayal of the princess.

Could they not see the sweat, tears, and blood that was put into it?

Well......... at least they can admire the outcome I made of the fair pony.

6338944

Since last time I tried something comedic, this time I went for something more melancholy. Also, no fancy tricks or clever-sounding stories behind this one: I simply went to a thesaurus and picked out a bunch of interesting-sounding synonyms to use for the basis of the tale. Lastly, the characters chosen are based more on personal character concepts than anything concrete from the show or common currency among the fandom, just in case this has an impact on judging and feedback later on.

And yes, I am cheating in the second sentence. So sue me. :trollestia:


Outclassed

Even on her eighteenth birthday, Dinky received a gemstone from her smarter sister Amethyst. “Magico-thermo-rose-quartz”: ignites campfires.

Never toys, storybooks, anything non-practical. Gemstone tools.

Boasting?

Dinky stopped arguing and threw her hooves up. When she went to university, she went far from Ponyville. For five wonderful years, her own mare. Not a patronized child.

Ammy never got far in geophysics; Dinky became postdoctoral researcher in social sciences. Met tribes, greeted new friends, celebrated countless cities!

Ammy sent a package every birthday. Always a gemstone. Always functional.

Except one year…

Nothing.

Puzzled, uncertain, frightened, Dinky interrupted her sabbatical in the East to trek home. Burst through the door. Found Ammy alone.

She’d believed Dinky was never coming back. Why would she?

Guilt overcame Dinky. She'd kept every gemstone, but never replied. She understood.

Ever since, she unfailingly mailed Ammy "explorer photos" from Qilinland. Notes about temples she’d visited. And her love.

6338944

Okay, this happened... :unsuresweetie:


A Sunny Day

Twilight wallowed lazily in the warm mud. A moment later, a familiar claw gripped her horn.

"Spike!" she exclaimed. "What's the news?"

"Well, Flutters is still hibernating in her cave, and it's Rainbow's burning time."

Twilight nodded, and he hopped further up.

"Jack's practicing for her poker tournament, Rare's playing with the band, and Pink's up to her usual mischief."

"And the herd?"

"All's quiet. I think Celestia's stuck her head too high in the clouds this time."

Twilight chuckled. "You may be right. My shoulder's itching like crazy, too. Can you get that?"

Her quill floated and started to write.

Dear Regent Celestia,

I'm not sure what all this about dimensional anomalies was, but I can be certain everything here is exactly the same as it always has been.

Your faithful student, Twilight.

She sighed as Spike dug into her thick hide with his beak. Life was good.

--Sweetie Belle

6338944
150 words according to wordcounter.net


Standing at the Station

She waited on the station platform, a battered wicker suitcase crouching at her hooves like a faithful hound. With the other passengers gone home, the crew resting, she stood alone in the early morning haze, the intense stillness it imparted disrupted only by the ticking of the locomotive’s boiler marking time.

Peering from beneath a wide-brimmed hat she eyed her old haunt, the rustic buildings shrouded but unmistakable. No, nothing had changed. Nothing except her: taller, with a short-cropped mane atop a wiry frame, one honed by adversity.

Three years, but she’d made it. Now she thought of what drove her away and wondered if they’d show. And if they did, what next?

Steam erupted from a valve and whisked around her in dense whorls. Again silence descended. Then a time-worn voice sprang from the mist, cackling:

“There she is!”

“Eeyup. That’s her.”

“Hey, sis,” Applejack called out. “Welcome home.”

6338944
Ok, I fancy giving this a go....

-------------------------------------------------------------XXX-------------------------------------------------------------

Gamblers Ruin

The aspidistra on the balcony quivered nearly as much as the Pegasus hiding behind it.

Flash Sentry groaned with equal parts frustration and terror as he stole another glance down on the clubs gaming room and the one still standing card table. The one where he had been sat moments before with the best hand and biggest pot of his life, enough money to more than clear his debits, when the club was raided.

“One more card...” he sobbed, watching the Night Guard rampage through the establishment sending the bluff coves and doxies fleeing for their lives and livelihoods. “One more card and it was all mine!”

A pair of the Deadly Nightshades reached the stairs and with one final sorrowful look at the spread of his cards and the pile of nearly 5000 bits, Flash turns on his fetlocks and flees as only a true poltroon and coward can.

6338944

Remains of the Day


Applejack should have felt happy. She should have felt angry. She should have felt relieved. She should have felt something. Instead...instead...
"Whatcher thinking, sis?" Applebloom's single orange eye looked up at her. Applejack forced a smile.
"Just wonderin'."
Applebloom nodded. Celestia bless her, she understood. She didn't like it, I knew that, but she understood.
I swallowed. The earth in front of me should have been swimming. It didn't seem right that it wasn't.
"I know..." Applebloom hesitated. "I know you think she could have been saved...changed...but she—"
"I know." Curtly. A little too sharp, but I couldn't help myself. "I know she could have been."
I took one last empty look at the grave in front of me, the little mound of earth with its little grey headstone. Where once my greatest friend lay, marked only by the etching of a sparkling six-pointed star.

6338944
So I was thinking to myself that I could at least submit a crappy entry, and...

Well. :twilightsheepish:


Lightening her Load

Though Applejack faced away from their impromptu hiding-place beside the road, Rarity could feel her eyes roll. “Come on, sugarcube. You ain’t never been outside somewhere, and…?”

Rarity squirmed. “I’m more of an indoor enthusiast, darling.”

“Well, the closest ‘indoors’ is a half-day back that way. This’ll have to do.”

“But… well, it’s… tantamount to littering, isn’t it?”

Applejack chuckled. “Oh sugarcube… you ain’t the first pony doin’ this, and you won’t be the last.”

“...You won’t think… less of me?”

Never. Honest.”

With a sigh of resignation, Rarity slowly lowered her haunches into the prickly grass. She arched her back. Sweat beaded at her brow.

Soon she felt the smooth sensation of her heavy, cosmetics-laden saddlebag sliding off and plopping down behind her.

“Ya done?”

“Indeed,” Rarity said, tousling her mane. “Now, I don’t suppose they have a little fillies’ room somewhere around?”

Loganberry
Group Admin

Thanks for the entries so far! For anyone else who's planning on entering, you have just over 50 hours to go!

Loganberry
Group Admin

6338944
It's a very long time since I last wrote any flashfic and I'm terribly rusty, but since the rules allow it I'm submitting a piece of my own this time. Naturally it's not eligible for the contest itself, but it will be as open for feedback as any other entry when the time comes.

So, here we are. 150 words exactly:


Reshelving

“Somethin’ wrong, Twi?”

“Tell me something, Applejack. You’ve known me since I arrived in Ponyville. Have I changed?”

Applejack grimaced, rubbed the back of her neck and looked away.

“I want you to be honest.”

Looking back, Applejack raised an eyebrow and grinned crookedly. “Do you now?”

“Yes.” Twilight picked up a book, glancing at its cover. She took a gulp of air. “Please don't make me wait.”

“Well then,” said Applejack, “I reckon you have changed some. You could be a mite tetchy back in the day.”

“Tetchy?!”

Applejack chuckled. “Maybe not the best word. But you’d have some mighty sharp comebacks sometimes. Took us a while to get used to that. All gone now, though.”

She smiled. Twilight did not.

“That’s a compliment, sugarcube. You've learned so much more about everything since.”

Twilight shelved the book. In a small voice, she said, “I know.”

Applejack hugged her close.

6338944
*Deep breath* This is going to be my first piece of writing in god knows how long. So, feel free to laugh at it;

Cherished

"Hey there." The red stallion spoke warmly as he spoke up, hesitantly.

He dropped his head solemnly as he realized, once more, what he was doing.

"I haven't even said to AJ 'bout this, but..." He took a moment to mull over his words.

"When you left us... and..." He held back a tear, "And, Applebloom came along; I've never felt so scared."

"But," He took another breath, "I swore then I wouldn't ever let you or any of them down." The stallion said proudly.

He looked up once more at the tree that was made from their love, "I hope that I can keep trying to make you two proud."

The stallion reached into his saddlebags and placed a pear and apple before the tree with a smile, shedding another tear as he said before he left, "Just as much as those two keep making me proud."

Alright. That's 148. Enjoy tearing this to shreds.

Take care.

6338944
EDIT: I CHANGED MY MIND

Sojourn by KwirkyJ

Octavia Philharmonica wrinkled her nose as the pounding on her door continued. She wrenched it open mid-knock and was rewarded with the startled yelp from an unbalanced mare. She stared at the mess of a mane... and those gawdy glasses.

"Can I help you?"

"Octy?" The knocker seemed to brighten in jubilant shock. "Octy! It is you! It's you!"

Octavia disregarded the tinge of desperation seeping into the mare's voice. "Yes, my name is Octavia. What do you want?"

"I've been looking for you forever! Why didn't... You never wrote where you went, and you never came back, and I know how much this thing means to you..."

The mare stutter-stepped to reveal an instrument case leaning on the stair railing.

Octavia blinked, confused. "I... I seem to recall owning a cello, once."

"Octy, it's your cello!"

A glimmer of recognition. "Ah. We lived together."

Again, I don't foresee this one going over very well, but I forgot about this prompt and it was one of the stronger ideas (but perhaps not execution) I came up with in a day.

Untitled by KwirkyJ

"It don't feel real," Mac said, not really looking at her. "We put 'em in the ground, we shoveled the dirt... But it don't feel real."

Fiddly Twang, sitting next to him on the straw, nodded.

"AJ's still just mad. And Bloom... Well, glad Grannie's around, take care of her, anyway." He thought. "AJ's just mad."

"She'll understand eventually," Twang offered.

Mac nodded. "Reckon I'm gonna have to take over everything now. I ain't ready."

"You'll do fine."

"I ain't ready."

"You'll have us to help. That's what family's for." She reached out a reassuring hoof and pressed on his withers.

He leaned into it, then glanced towards the latched barn door.

"What is it," she asked, cautiously.

"Can you... can you stay for a while?" He shifted closer.

"I... I'm not--"

She was interrupted as Mac nuzzled her, like he saw Ma and Pa do. "I ain't ready."

6338944
Almost forgot again. I have to do a better job of keeping this on my schedule.

This'll be related to an earlier minific, "A Healthy Obsession." 150 words even.

Last Rites

Twilight Sparkle drew in one more agonized breath as her father forced a smile. He sat on the edge of her bed and stroked her forehead. “You… you’re going to get better. I promise,” he said.

He didn’t have to sugarcoat things for her. The truth never scared her. And any one of these precious breaths might taper into nothing. The doctor was surely on her way, for all the good it would do. She’d seen that look on her father’s face before, when grandma—when she…

Twilight sniffled, but she had to be strong, for her parents, if not for herself.

“W-when I’m gone—”

Her father turned away. “Please, don’t talk like that.”

“When I’m gone,” she said louder, with the last bit of her strength.

Then he rolled his eyes. “Missing school will not, in fact, kill you. You’re coming on vacation with us.”

She only glowered back. “Fine.”

Well well well, I haven't seen it this busy in a while. Eleven entries including Loganberry's: this ought to be interesting.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6365434
July was the last time we hit double figures. The first two contests (April and May) had 18 apiece, so still well short of that, but I'm very pleased to see the interest this time. Some of that credit surely goes to Ceffyl Dwr for a prompt that seems to have caught people's attention.

6365645
A prompt which seems to have many people thinking of apples, for some reason...

6365650
You don't need a reason to think about apples.

Loganberry
Group Admin

Time's up, everyone! No more entries, no more editing, no more anything. (I'll make an exception for apples.) A good entry this month, with 10 (plus my non-competitive submission) being posted. Thank you to everyone who entered! :twilightsmile:

As usual, feedback is now open! I'll announce the winner on Saturday 24th.

6366184
Don't forget to edit the group page so it no longer says the contest is open.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6366432
Thanks! Though you should know by now that telling me "Don't forget" is a lost cause if ever there was one...

KwirkyJ thinks!

Didn't see anyone opt out, so here we go... comments before life strikes again.


6339276 (An Artist's Vision)

Gosh, that was dark. Celestia was killed and put on display as a sculpture, Joker-style, yes?

A few punctuation quibbles here and there--PM me for details. I was a bit confused about the bit about 'red monochrome' vs 'anticipating blue', though--not sure how one could expect anything but red from blood, unless she's a spider-pony? Compellingly conveyed, but dark, brah. The self-absorbed implications of the language give this the twist of expectation that makes it intriguing for the reader and seemingly honest from the narrator.

6339368 (Outclassed)

I can grok it, but I think it feels a bit short-changed because it isn't sure how focused to tell the story. There's conflicting detail of a few specific moments, past and present, cast in the mold of selling conflicting long-standing sentiment on both sides, and then goes on to reveal how everything was better afterward. Unfortunately, I don't feel confident in giving much more advice than 'narrow it down'. Perhaps the lack of 'yes, I do love my syster' throughout the lead up to the final sentence doesn't help matters?

6346019 (A Sunny Day)

This is fantastic. I hate you forever now. No idea how it relates to the prompt, but who cares.

The one thing that ruffled my feathers here in the text is the implication that Celestia has been on about dimensional anomalies to prompt Twilight responding as she does, but I can't find any reference to it in the text so her response seems to come out of nowhere... dimensional rifts are no excuse for plot holes!

It can be argued that '"Spike!" she exclaimed." is poor form, coupling a bang '!' with 'exclaimed', but the fix is a little more cumbersome as I play with it.

6349053 (Standing at the Station)

I approve your use of imagery here. The idea of luggage 'like a faithful hound' is laudable, and perhaps by accident the "steam...whisked" made me double-take on my second read through to see if I'd missed a 'hiss' somewhere in the text--I think the sound in my mind just really clicked. Really sold me on the setting, is what I'm trying to say.

I would restructure the 'Peering' sentence; as-it, it feels clunky--in part because I think it wants a comma after 'hat' and a colon or semicolon in place of the current comma.

A critical comment on the setting: I don't buy the total stillness that the text implies. The train has arrived, the boiler is ticking (do train boilers tick? I don't know)... somepony will be around doing things, even if obscured in the haze of morning mist and locomotive exhaust.

6350099 (Gamblers Ruin [ sic ])

I think too much at once: Flash's situation of being in horrible debt and Flash's situation of being in some immediate peril, both situations competing for attention and there just is not space for them both.

The references down to the table took too long to parse. 'one still standing card table' is clunky. Some possessive apostrophes are missing (including the title?). Some elements are unnecessarily specific (how is 'aspidistra' contributing to the story where 'foliage' or 'fake fern', etc. might serve and not require half your audience to fire up their search engine), and some inscrutable (I get a line of printers for 'doxie' and a seashore for 'buff cove'). Your antagonists are referred to as 'Night Guard' and 'Deadly Nightshades'--are they the same thing? Specifying 5000 bits is an unnecessary detail--just 'pile (nee, mountain!) of bits' would sell the idea. Adjectives (well, pronouns?) 'poltroon' and 'coward' are redundant. Also, tense shift (form past to present) in the final paragraph.

6355694 (Remains of the Day)

Please double-space your paragraphs for readability.

Who is 'I', here? Applejack?

We just don't know enough about what happened to follow this one. Twilight went bad (evil or was stricken, it isn't clear), perhaps related to why Apple Bloom (it is two words, canonically) has only one eye left?

6358521 (Lightening her Load [ sic ])

Use of language for effect must be appreciated. Now I'm going to wash my hands of the whole ordeal.

6364054 (Reshelving)

It talks! (sorry, sorry :twilightsmile: )

I'm not sure what to make of this one. With Twi's emphatic reaction to Applejack's answer, it isn't clear how much of AJ's assessment is correct... rather, truthful. I'm also have a hard time pinning down Twi's state here--this driving question has to be coming from somewhere, but without having a clue for why she's asking it, when she's asking it, and what she expects out of it, the reader is somewhat left grasping at straws.

I do like how Applejack is consistent in her intent, even going so far as to reassure Twilight with a hug.

Completely unrelated, I recall reading an argument for 'why TwiJack is the perfect ship for classical reasons', but cannot recall reading any TwiJack story that really drew me in... I may have to correct this.

6364684 (Cherished)

Must... restrain... red... pen...!

No, it's not all bad. Lots of basic mistakes, but none that made the story you were telling unclear. ...Unless you weren't writing a story about a son reaffirming himself that he's honoring his parents and serving his family faithfully, in which case you will burn.

Most relevant critique I might offer is: review when to capitalize sentence elements near dialogue. e.g., '"But," He took another breath.' < you'd probably want to replace the comma with a period, and 'He' would be correct; '[...]any of them down." The stallion said' < should probably have the 'The' lowercase with a comma instead of period. '[...]before he left, 'Just as much[...]' is a tricky case--I think what you have is correct, but it's not commonly seen and the overweighted sentence leading into the dialogue helps not at all.

6365186 (Untitled Sojourn)

You see before you: a cake. A birthday cake. Your own birthday cake. You see your name written on the top in blue and gold icing. And you think you want to eat this birthday cake. You reach out your hand, to take the knife, when you realize that it is not a birthday cake, but instead Dumbledore's chest. You plunge your knife into Dumbledore's chest. He smiles at you. You can't stop crying--happy or sad, you cannot tell. You cry for several long minutes as you hold the knife. Dumbledore whispers that it's okay--that it's what you wanted. He offers you some tea, but you explain that you can only drink decaf.

Starbucks!

6365244 (Last Rites)

I should not have ignored the signs. "If he's not sugarcoating anything, why is he reassuring her?" The melodrama. SO the drama.

The bit about grandma could go either way, so that left me a little confused.

I think this could be polished up a little more, but still... with that absurd twist, why bother? I hope you're happy. :trixieshiftright:

6365186
Ooo, has Octavia had some kind of memory loss? Temporal displacement? Dimensional displacement? :duck:

6366477

Now I'm going to wash my hands of the whole ordeal.

Whew. I was afraid people would just outright dump on my entry. :derpytongue2:

6366507

Whew. I was afraid people would just outright dump on my entry. :derpytongue2:

That just reeks of naïveté. Don't raise a stink--it was hardly a crapshoot. Wipe the trouble from your mind. Fume not over past follies.

6366518
Come on, man; now it's just getting thick in here. :rainbowwild:

6366528
Sorry--all these toilet puns are running right through me. Holding it in just doesn't seem healthy. :trollestia:

6366477
Thanks! I had fun writing this, but I was worried it was a little too out there.

I actually made a silly comment in an unrelated conversation, and one of the replies was about how they would read that and it'd make an interesting story. And it would've. I didn't feel up to doing a full story, but I didn't have an idea for this yet, so I borrowed a little bit from that original idea. And then I didn't even spell the part I borrowed out.

As far as the prompt goes, what has been left behind is all of Equestria from before the dimensional shift. Also, Twilight sent Spike out to survey the whole area because of a previous letter from Regent Celestia before the story started.

I do kinda wish I'd managed to work Twilight and Celestia's current species into the story, though. I'd actually kind of like to explore this reality more some time.

--Sweetie Belle

6366477
Thanks for the review.

6366477

Celestia was killed and put on display as a sculpture

I was actually going for a framed portrait rather than a sculpture, using the blood as paint. As for the red vs blue color, I was trying to play off a joke on the fact that Celestia is royalty; people (or ponies in this case) that are of noble birth are often called 'blue bloods'.

Thank you for the review.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6366477
I guess it's reasonable for me to discuss my own piece (only) during the judging period, seeing as it's not in the contest. So... first up, thanks for the feedback. Always welcome!

Didn't see anyone opt out

That option was dropped a few months ago. We had repeated contests with everyone being okay with feedback, so now everyone gets it.

It talks! (sorry, sorry :twilightsmile: )

It does that quite a lot. Just rarely in this fashion. :pinkiecrazy:

I'm not sure what to make of this one. ... I'm also have a hard time pinning down Twi's state here ... the reader is somewhat left grasping at straws.

I thought I might not have given enough clues. This is a fault I've had before -- way back when I wrote the Writeoff minific that was later expanded into Like a Flower to the World, several people made similar comments. I'd prefer not to be specific about that until after the feedback period, since I'm curious as to whether anyone will get what I was going for. I will explain then, though.

I do like how Applejack is consistent in her intent, even going so far as to reassure Twilight with a hug.

Tangential, but I've found myself really liking writing AJ in the last couple of years, something I'd never have predicted when I started out here. There's just something about her character that appeals.

6366477

short-changed

I checked this in a dictionary. Are you sure this is the word you want? :unsuresweetie:

By and large, I think I see where you're coming from regarding the lack of overt affection prior to the ending. I suspect a lot of it is because I had too many unstated premises left out of the fic which would have clarified their relationship.

Most obviously, the "Boasting?" line was meant to be Dinky's interpretation (that Amethyst is showing off her own special talent via the unorthodox gifts), whereas what was really happening was that Amethyst tried to think ahead and give her meaningful, if unstimulating, gifts. Dinky is grateful enough to keep the gifts, but her desire for freedom and lack of response collectively is what drives Amethyst to stop sending any more (and to fear the worst later).

I was hoping a lot of that would be implied. For instance, the campfire gemstone for use outdoors is followed by Dinky taking a course that soon sees her visiting the outdoors too. And Dinky's affection kicks in hard as soon as the gift doesn't arrive on her birthday. Yet overall, I think this was a case of me expecting my readers to read what was on my mind rather than what was actually written.

Not sure about the "narrow it down" advice, in that context. Seems to me "needs more detail" is the actual solution, even if it requires breaking through the word limit. Or "choose another story to tell", I guess.

6366615
Now I can understand how you made the connection to the prompt. However, I would argue that it was not so much left behind as it was overwritten. Splitting hairs I guess, and it was a more, ah, imaginative take on the prompt.

6366687
Blue-bloodedness. Yes. I feel rather dim now. I think the connection was not made because she does not seem to flaunt her status, nor is her origin (being something of a fixture in the political system) really something that seems to come up much... Yet, given this narrator's imbalanced state, it could well be a connection made in their mind.

6366744
I feel confident in my use of 'short-changed'--because you are trying to convey so much detail and relying on subtext and innuendo, I find that what I got out of it is less than what could have been.

Now, I don't mean to brag, but I think myself rather adept at picking up subtext and reading and writing between the lines--however I always endeavor to ground my extrapolations in the text. To that end, I find nothing in here that demands that love be any part of Dinky's character here. She's frustrated and upset, feeling demeaned; runs away and does much to prove herself (in contract to Amethyst's boring specialty?); she never felt the need to write back and share her life; and could well have returned out of obligation, though I admit that is a stretch.

ADDENDUM: I also do not see where the 'ignites campfires' tool has any relevance to Dinky pursuing anything in the out-of-doors, as you say. University is unlikely to be a cot and campfire affair, and '[meeting] tribes' was long after the fact (possibly). Similarly, Dinky kept every one, but I don't see her ever using them.

What I would like to see, were this pursued in a workshop, would be to re-write this starting at the equivalent of where, say, Amethyst's packages stop. Pull the focus onto what Dinky does in that time; give the reader actions and dialogue (or monologue) and the subtext for the background and how it shapes their relationship, less giving the reader a chronology of life events with the subtext about feelings. Just to see what shakes out.

6366789

I feel confident in my use of 'short-changed'--because you are trying to convey so much detail and relying on subtext and innuendo, I find that what I got out of it is less than what could have been.

According to dictionary.com, "short-changed" refers to unfair or dishonest dealing, not a shortcoming in some specified area. Come to that, "innuendo" has negative definitions there too. That's why it struck me as a really odd choice of word.

Getting back to the fic itself... Whoa. :rainbowderp: I thought you meant it was a bit rickety; I didn't realize it was that bad. I thought you meant I had to add trace elements to the existing framework to confirm ahead of time some mutual affection, not give the thing a complete overhaul, a new timeline, and a completely different perspective. And since it requires adding extra material too: I mean, It was hell just cutting what I already had down to 150 words.

That in mind, overall I think I'll go for "choose another story to tell" next time. This wasn't what I'd expected, and that's not a good sign.

6366857

thought you meant it was a bit rickety; I didn't realize it was that bad.

I did mean to turn you off of the idea entirely--sorry if I overdid it. What I attempted to do was to break down and itemize what I was finding in the story, and how it related to our differing perspectives. A 'tell me where I went wrong in my interpretation' kind of analysis.

And, to be fair, my 'rewrite the entire thing' suggestion is asking a lot. I just think it would be beneficial to try, for your own purposes. You've already done the hard work and built up the idea in your head--expressing it a different way might reveal more to the idea than you had originally, but more importantly it may engage your reader differently.

Don't be discouraged. Other reviewers may yet reveal that I'm full of it and way off the mark!

6366887

Ah, I see. I am thinking of starring these two in a longer fic, so this is helpful information (how to convey the subtext more clearly, in particular, and where to put the focus for best effect). In any case, I'd rather have someone pointing this out for my own good. It's important to take one's medicine, and all that.

I'll go away and think about what you've said, though. Truth be told, I might need to consider a new strategy for these 150-word fics, as this isn't the first time I've tried to convey too much with too few words. I'll consider in particular your point about expressing the ideas in different ways to help a reader grasp the underlying concept.

Also, I notice I forgot to say thanks, so: Thank you for the feedback!

6366938
These things are hard, man. It seems like even when I write one I'm mostly satisfied with, I end up having to use dumb tricks like ellipses to paper-over huge holes in action and dialogue. :facehoof:

6339276
More than most stories, this one's going to be largely up to individual taste as to whether someone can get into the premise at all. It's not my kind of story, so I don't know that I'm going to have anything that useful to say about it. I do think that we don't know enough about this character to get that invested in what's happening. It was a nice escalation into realizing the depth of what's going on, but it ends up being for the shock value alone than learning something about a character or this world. But you had my attention.

6339368
I like this one, but it reads really strangely. The terse style of sentence fragments creates a very personal voice, yet it's all told as narrative summary, so it still feels impersonal, and it creates the sense that I'm not in the moment, more listening to Dinky tell me about this years later or reading an account she wrote of it. And that kind of distances me from the emotional high point. The "never got far in geophysics" also makes for a curious dissonance that doesn't go anywhere. She's apparently pretty knowledgeable, yet this is stated as if it's a failure, and we never know what to think about that. Plus it contradicts the "smarter sister" comment, and while I could take that as sarcasm, I don't have the background to know where that sarcasm stems from. I feel like I'm missing a couple of important pieces of the puzzle, and the delivery method is fighting itself, but I really like what's here.

6346019
I guess I'm a little confused as to how this comes from the prompt, and it's pretty random for random's sake, but it was cute. You had a good sense of making things seem intentionally off than I was just waiting for the explanation instead of wondering whether you needed an editor. Though without a sense of why this is happening , it's missing some gravity.

6349053
This is wonderfully atmospheric, but then I have no idea what the point was. It's hard to have a rooting interest in Apple Bloom when her situation is so vague. Maybe it was a problem of her own making, maybe she was a victim of circumstance. I just don't know. There's suggesting what a problem is, and then there's merely suggesting that there may be a problem at all. I do love good atmosphere, though, so this was a nice, vivid image. I wouldn't be surprised if Logan ends up liking this one a lot, because he seems to favor ones that get him thinking about what might be going on. And I do see the draw of that, but when the ambiguity rests on what the plot even is, it's harder to empathize with the character. There are a couple of nitpicky things that could be tuned up if you wanted to extend this and post it elsewhere, but this is one of my favorites of the round.

6350099
The language here is...odd. You don't have the space for context, so it means the jargon's just flying over my head, The sentiment's nice, but I can't pin down the perspective. It seems to follow Flash's mindset, but it's a little odd for him to consider himself a poltroon or a coward. If that's cowardice, I'm not sure what bravery is gong to get him. And why did you switch to present tense at the end? This one does have a complete story arc, though, and that's one of the tougher parts of writing something this short.

6355694
You're kind of waffling between third person and first person, and I don't know if there was an effect you were going for. This is a believable enough situation, but it'd really help if you gave it some purpose. Twilight has died, but we know nothing about the circumstances. There's a default amount of sad that comes with any death, and there's some more that comes with it being a character we care about from context external to the story. But there isn't anything more than that here. It's like watching the end of a movie but not knowing what led up to it. What does save this from being a pretty generic sadfic is that little note of Applejack's stubbornness at the end. That's very her, and you managed to sneak some nice characterization in there.

6358521
Okay, poop jokes are funny. This is simply a fact of life. The characterization is great here, too, but I'm confused what Rarity was actually after. My best guess is that she knew she'd have to take her saddlebags off to use the bathroom, and she felt weird doing that in public... why? She often walks around without clothes. I could see her being self-conscious about the sweat, but that wouldn't make sense with the littering comment. So upon closer examination, I don't quite understand the first part of the switcheroo, but the second one landed nicely.

6364054
I like the character interaction, but I can't figure out what Twilight's problem is. I guess she didn't want to change? Does she feel like she's lost something? Or that she has to be someone she's not around her friends? I'm just left to my own devices to discern even the first thing about why she's upset. I'll now go for a more outlandish explanation: Applejack's use of "comeback" implies Twilight actually had something to use a comeback for. So her friends hadn't been too nice to her, and she tried to give as good as she got, but her friends couldn't take what they were dishing out and took offense, so Twilight learned to bite her tongue and put up with everyone's insults. That's actually... kinda poignant. But if it's the case, it requires the reader to intuit an awful lot.

6364684
Nice enough sentiment, but this is well-trod ground. It's not bad, not even close to bad, but it's not distinguishing itself above all the other "Apples miss their parents" stories, either. What new angle can you bring to this that someone hasn't done before? What can you do to surprise the reader?

6365186
I kind of like this sense that Octavia has no idea who Vinyl is, but I was expecting it to be that it was so long ago that Octavia had forgotten, or that they'd just met last night, but Octavia was too drunk to remember. Or Vinyl just hadn't made enough of an impression on her. But to have Octavia only vaguely aware she ever owned a cello starts suggesting a bunch of much more serious possibilities, yet it doesn't do anything to invest any of those possibilities with purpose. Maybe it's years later and Octavia is suffering from a degenerative mental condition? Maybe this is a very subtle comedy and Octavia's being intentionally obtuse? I'm going for the former, but there's nothing in the story to imply this is an older Octavia. It could just be that Octavia moved on from the phase of her life and let the past have it. I think what would really sell this is Vinyl's reaction. She doesn't seem at all upset. And if Octavia's truly in that bad shape, she's probably in some sort of assisted living facility, but there's no setting at all, so it just seems like a regular house. If either one of them had an emotional response... Well, now I'm even more confused. With how precious that cello must have been to her, she would have gone looking for it, unless she went downhill very fast, in which case Vinyl would have seen it and known what became of her. Yeah, I'm probably reading far more into this than you intended. But I really like this setup, and it could be the seed of a really powerful story.

6365244
Shameless cuteness is shameless.

6368284
Thanks man! Yeah, I think I'm going to add a few more words back to the first half before I stick this in my anthology. There were a couple of lines that I wasn't sure I could get across in short form and I don't think they fully worked.

6368074

It's the cutting that I find tricky. There's nothing worse than saying "Yes, I've got the best version possible now!" and then seeing "165" on the word counter. Classic "dagnabbit".

6368284

Thanks for the review! :twilightsmile:

It occurs to me I might be overlooking the value of first-person here. You mention the fic reads like a personal voice or like Dinky's reminiscence, but without the actual personal format which would be needed to imbue it with emotion. Therefore, a totally different perspective - that is, first-person - could be what I need. It also answers Kwirkyj's criticism about expressing the story in a different way to clarify certain points and reach that emotional high (something you also described in your response).

After all, if the thing were recast as Dinky reminiscing later in life, a reader could interpret a lot of the less ambiguous conflict as possibly hindsight, or a deliberate choice on her part before revealing her actual feelings. It'd still need rewritten parts, mind, (the "boasting?" bit, for instance, wouldn't make sense in that POV), but it could work... Cogs are definitely turning in my head now.

Although in hindsight and without the benefit of being able to edit it, I should clarify the "smarter" bit wasn't sarcasm. Maybe I needed to signal the context better, but Amethyst was smarter than her at that chronological point in the narrative. And the "she didn't get far in geophysics" segment just meant "not as far as Dinky did in social sciences" i.e. it was comparative.

Glad you liked it, either way! :scootangel:

6368284
Thank you for your perspective. Something about the ending was bothering me, and you've helped identify what my disquiet was about. A single word (which I had the budget for, I think) could have gone a long way to clarifying Octavia's position. I had tried to build up what was going on with Vinyl, but I guess it didn't carry through or carry over as I expected.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6368284
Thanks! So that's both feedbackers (shut up, it's a word) making a fairly similar point. Looks like I tried to avoid being too obvious but went too far in the other direction. As I said to KwirkyJ, I'll leave a specific explanation until my results post, but your suggestion isn't it. It's one I like a lot, though. I wish I'd thought of it!

6368435
I think even a single word would make a huge difference here. Saying Amethyst hadn't gotten far in geophysics more implies she flunked out after semester or something. When you mean it in a relative sense, state it as such: she hadn't gotten as far in geophysics. Suddenly, that changes a lot of the apparent mood.


6368477
Yes, this is close to working, but some indication of how far in the future this is would help a lot, at the cost of only a few words. And I'd put some thought into the exact timeline of what happened and when such that you can give Vinyl an accurate emotional response based on what she would have known. At what point Octavia had started seriously deteriorating and where exactly in there losing her cello falls so that you can determine whether she'd actually looked for it (maybe she did and doesn't remember) and how much Vinyl knew about all this (I can't come up with a way she wouldn't know anything, because that would require Octavia to lose the cello while still in relatively full possession of her faculties, and then I can't believe she'd overlook asking a former (or possibly current at the time) roommate). You could easily make this into a nicely emotional story in the thousands of words.

Loganberry
Group Admin

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Okay, it's results time. Always good to see newcomers to this, so yay to you! It seems I wasn't alone in my struggle to understand exactly what some of the entries this month meant -- and yes, it is ironic that my own piece had a similar problem. For example, OleGrayMane's fic is really nice to read, but at the end I'm not entirely sure what I've read. KwirkyJ's is intriguing, but again I'm not sure what's happening here. If there was a longer version of this with more context, though, it'd be on my RiL list.

I'm going for Pascoite as this month's winner. Both made me laugh and gave me a warm feeling, and that's a nice combination. Also, it didn't confuse the hay out of me! So congratulations to you, and you know the form by now: please think up a prompt for April in the next day or two, then post it in this thread. :twilightsmile:

Since 1 April is Easter Sunday and I'll be away, I'll be putting up the April contest thread a few days early. You can treat the contest as open from the moment it's up.

I also said I'd explain my piece. It's simple enough: what Twi has left behind is the simpler life she used to know -- back when her character was rather more prone to sarcastic remarks -- as she's come to realise that possessing vast knowledge isn't always easy. Applejack's plain, open nature is what's prompted Twi to let her guard down and let it out. As we've established, though, I didn't do a good enough job of making that understandable.

6370234

I wasn't alone in my struggle to understand exactly what some of the entries this month meant

Oh, the irony. Not understanding our work and yet I put in my story an artist that's questioning the viewpoints of others to his work.

Could they not see the sweat, tears, and blood that was put into it?

Loganberry
Group Admin

6370988
Hey, nobody understood my work either, so we're quits. :pinkiehappy:

6365244

Congratulations on winning the Flashfic contest, Pascoite! Can't wait to see what you come up with for the prompt.

Also, I notice Loganberry didn't include a link to your entry in the announcement, so adding this just in case.

6370234

It seems I wasn't alone in my struggle to understand exactly what some of the entries this month meant

Does that include mine? :applejackunsure:

Loganberry
Group Admin

6371422
Only partially. I think Pascoite's feedback is pretty much a clearer and more helpful version of what mine would have been. Also, putting "Amethyst" and "...rose-quartz" in the same sentence was surely deliberate?

And yes, I'd somehow managed to link to Amereep twice and Pascoite not at all. Embarrassing when the one person whose name you omit is the winner!

6371560

Also, putting "Amethyst" and "...rose-quartz" in the same sentence was surely deliberate?

1. Eh? They're not in the same sentence.

2. They're both geology-themed and variants of the same silicate mineral. Otherwise, I don't see what you're getting at.

Loganberry
Group Admin

6371821
Bleah -- I meant "line", not "sentence". I'm getting too old to speak English properly, it seems. :P

Ah, so it was just a coincidence. Amethyst and Rose Quartz are two major characters in the animated series Steven Universe, whose fanbase has considerable overlap with this one.

I'm tempted to come up with something unorthodox for the prompt again, but I probably shouldn't push that kind of thing too often. So we'll go with: "No Time Like the Present."

Loganberry
Group Admin

6372487
Seems fine to me. As I said earlier, I'll put the thread up slightly early this month as I'll be away over Easter. Expect it in the next day or two.

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