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Bicyclette
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Woo, it's here! Thank you all so much for your patience! And thank you so much to my judges for undergoing the effort of reading and judging 106 stories for the contest, as well as their open-mindedness in our subsequent discussions, which took four hours total. And after we nailed down all of the entries that were to appear on this post, we talked about all of the entries that we loved that did not make it on here, and let me tell you, if we were to put those entries in this post as well, more than half of the total would be on here! So even if your entry was not part of the twenty-nine that will be appearing on this post, thank you so much for writing it and brightening our days.

As always, the prize structure on the contest post did not survive contact with the sheer number of quality entries received, so the prize pool has been bumped up to $450, split between the following awards:

  • Gold Medal: $45 (one per category)
  • Silver Medal: $25 (one per category)
  • Bronze Medal: $10 (two per category)

In addition, we will be awarding nine uncategorized Honorable Mentions, which itself felt like choosing which of our beloved children to keep out of the stories that were remaining.

Now, on to the results!


Honorable Mention: Echoes of a Song by Loganberry

Many of the Angst stories created a situation and molded the characters to fit. We had a lot of outstanding entries, but they still felt a little foreign to the magical land of Equestria. This took the opposite approach. Fluttershy feeling personally responsible for a bit of nature taking its course is pitch-perfect for her, creating a very pony-specific form of regret and reflection.

FanOfMostEverything

EEchoes of a Song
Fluttershy opens up to Rarity about her past cruelty.
Loganberry · 1000 words  ·  43  2 · 547 views

Honorable Mention: Something Stays by Str8aura

On the other hand, I just personally found this hilarious. Ponies attempting to understand a long-extinct humanity using only trace amounts of the decaying Internet is a fascinating concept. The specific traces and the resulting conclusion made it gutbustingly funny to me, especially since this seems like our most probable fate. Not necessarily by ponies, but there’s a definite element of laughing so I don’t cry with this one.

FanOfMostEverything

TSomething Stays
Nobody understands the internet. Not you, not I, not the horses living on another planet billions of years in the future, not your dog.
Str8aura · 1000 words  ·  14  1 · 245 views

Honorable Mention: Iridium by Odd_Shot

Quiet and quasi-epistolary, Iridium takes its subject - something inherently violent, brutal and unpleasant - and carries it with dignity and the grace that comes only with things said but unwritten. The narrator’s voice is lilting, despite no audible cadence; his story rings true despite being merely a scattering of images. More than anything, the restraint demonstrated here is phenomenal, and a brilliant lesson in what — and what not — to say for maximum effect.

Petrichord

EIridium
Unicorn. I have sworn an oath, and it extends to even a pony such as you.
Odd_Shot · 1000 words  ·  68  1 · 645 views

Honorable Mention: Over It by delusionalism

The author knows what mindstate they’re going for: Either they’ve been there, or they’re so intimately familiar with it in some other regard that they’ve subsumed it by proximity alone. And it’s exactly what could be asked for in a story about angst: a textbook example of dread, suffering and internal helplessness. With a mindset so well-written and relatable on a story that’s so easy to get stuck in your head, there’s no way I could let the story slide without giving it the praise that it’s clearly due.

Petrichord

TOver It
Sweetie Belle is over it.
delusionalism · 1000 words  ·  27  1 · 278 views

Honorable Mention: I Live With a Monster by daOtterGuy

What impressed me most about this story is the way the author disassociated ‘the monster’ from the character of Twilight Velvet. The mind of a foal is cleverly used to show the fear and denial of a child’s inability to come to terms with a loved one as an abuser. The added detail of where Shining got his cutie mark just gives the entire thing an emotional gut-punch that was beautifully bittersweet.

applezombi

TI Live With a Monster
Shining Armour Lives with a Monster
daOtterGuy · 1000 words  ·  160  8 · 1.6k views

Honorable Mention: The Same Mistake You're Making by EileenSaysHi

I have a soft spot for the idea of taking a familiar scene from canon, leaving the scene intact, and just making a deep dive into the thought processes and emotions of the characters involved. This story takes that premise and excels at it, adding empathy and context. While it doesn’t blaze any new trails, it adds surprising depth and emotion to both Sci-Twi’s corruptive transformation, and Sunset’s.

applezombi

TThe Same Mistake You're Making
You are Sunset Shimmer. And as you watch Twilight open her amulet at the Friendship Games, a wave of dark memory crashes over you as you race to stop her.
EileenSaysHi · 1000 words  ·  42  3 · 745 views

Honorable Mention: Should Something Be Missing? by RDT

The question of whether or not the surviving Pinkie in “Too Many Pinkie Pies” is the original one is something I didn’t expect to see a fresh take on, which made this story all the more impressive to me. The feeling that a part of oneself simply should not be, and the dawning horror in realizing that this feeling has no limit is rendered in a way that I just felt, despite not having an analogous experience of my own to draw from, and if that is not an effective piece of writing then I don’t know what is.

Bicyclette

TShould Something Be Missing?
Pinkie Pie doesn’t feel like herself. She’s not sure if she wants to feel like herself, either.
RDT · 1000 words  ·  38  4 · 530 views

Honorable Mention: Free Moon by Shrink Laureate

This story demonstrates just how much a skilled writer can do with showing only one side of a spoken conversation: fitting not only the other side of it, but an entire alternate universe into the spaces between the words. Without a single word of prose, I am right there with these unnamed astronaut ponies in the joyous moment of their triumph, making contact with their true Princess who was banished away centuries ago by “the tyrant”. I truly feel their sense of awe, and their hope for the future.

Bicyclette

EFree Moon
Three ponies are about to land on the moon in search of hope and salvation
Shrink Laureate · 1000 words  ·  148  3 · 1k views

Honorable Mention: Starry Darling by Climaclysm

This story has defined Starlight Glimmer’s mother for me, and I love her portrayal here! Her worries about her filly work both as sublime slice-of-life parenting as well as ominous foreshadowing of where those traits will lead to. And with the wonderfully subtle hint at just why we don’t see her in “The Parent Map”, it perfectly fills in the missing puzzle piece of how Starlight grew up into the mare that she became. This really should be required Starlight Glimmer reading, augh, I love it so much.

Bicyclette

EStarry Darling
Starlight just needed a push in the right direction, that's all.
Climaclysm · 1000 words  ·  35  0 · 461 views

Bronze Medal, Angst: Everybody Knows by The Red Parade

I’ve read really good stories on intrusive thoughts, the best of which have taken angles that are almost lyrical in the way they worm their way into one’s head. But where they’ve made me sympathize and appreciate the writing, this one made me hurt. A lot. It helps to remember that sometimes the voice in one’s head isn’t subtle, and approaches your feelings not with erosive vitriol but the blunt force of a sledgehammer splitting open a watermelon, where the memories in one’s head don’t whisper into your ear to degrade your self-worth but scream at your face until you want to crawl under a rock and die. It’s undeniably, horrifyingly effective in this story, and I walked away from it feeling noticeably shaken, which is proof positive enough to me that it deserves a place among the best.

Petrichord

Intrusive thoughts are something I think a lot of us have experience with. These intrusive thoughts have a brutality and a violence builds throughout the short span of the story until they explode. While I don’t usually buy into things like text formatting as a tool to tell a story, the author here used it surgically, perfectly melding it to the climax of the story itself. Some stories you see and feel, taste and smell. This story I heard.

applezombi

TEverybody Knows
I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  90  6 · 969 views

Bronze Medal, Angst: Do You Remember? by The Sleepless Beholder

Credit for thematic consistency on this one; there are few more appropriate pairings than Sunset and Wallflower for a story where much of the recent past is deliberately left mysterious, leaving the reader to piece together as much as they can from Sunset’s final thoughts. This story tells a haunting tale of juxtaposed beauty and horror that hits hard and effectively.

FanOfMostEverything

There’s just so much of this story that vibes with me so perfectly. The way that every revealed detail about where they are and how they got there is grimmer than the last, the irony that Wallflower is the one to not remember, the tragedy compounding on tragedy as Sunset piles on everything beautiful that they once had together, desperately hoping to squeeze out that one last moment of connection before the inevitable end. This story is a single, brilliant, emotional arc that came the closest out of all the entries to making me cry.

Bicyclette

TDo You Remember?
Sunset wonders just how much Wallflower remembers of her.
The Sleepless Beholder · 1000 words  ·  32  4 · 498 views

Silver Medal, Angst: Stop Making This Hurt! by mushroompone

Let me just take a moment to say the Angst category was easily the most contentious one in judging. Seriously, we had a heck of a time ranking the top picks on this one. This tale of a relationship’s last moments absolutely deserved its place in that debate. The only thing worse than watching a once-beautiful love wither and die is for the lovers to be relieved by its loss.

FanOfMostEverything

There’s something poignant and beautiful about the death of a relationship, here: it eschews the violence commonly associated with breakups and takes a subtler approach, with the passing of what once was as quiet and ultimately final as euthenasia. This, alone, makes it rather singular, and it would be all too easy to botch the execution — but the landing is as smooth as possible here, leading to a conclusion as natural and inevitable as it is heartbreaking.

Petrichord

This story felt rather unique among the Angst entries, because it felt like micro angst rather than macro angst. It’s not dealing with big, painful, drowning angst, but rather the final stage, the last blip of pain before the healing begins. The tragedy has already happened, and now the characters are finally letting themselves mourn something that died a long time ago. Just because the characters are dealing with their pain in a healthy way doesn’t mean the pain is any less real, or compelling.

applezombi

You know that feel when both you and the other person know that you should break up, but you both remember how the relationship once made so much sense and once was so beautiful and how could you possibly bring yourselves to bear to kill it for good? That vibe, captured perfectly with a stubborn Applejack and an equally stubborn Starlight in a diner scene that feels all too true to how their characters would be if they somehow found a way to love each other for a time. An absolutely brilliant piece that captures every shade and subtlety of a situation that is hard to describe and all-too-rarely depicted.

Bicyclette

EStop Making This Hurt!
Starlight Glimmer and Applejack both know they should probably break up.
mushroompone · 1000 words  ·  74  4 · 574 views

Gold Medal, Angst: As Above, So Below by Reviewfilly

Many Angst stories focused on emotional turmoil, which is certainly understandable. But this one went for shock. Not in the “Hey, look at all this blood!” sense, but in the sense of being so incredibly overwhelmed that you get knocked into dissociation and coolly watching your own actions. The final moments of an aviatrix are presented at one remove, and the slowly unraveling disconnect certainly earns it the gold.

FanOfMostEverything

Who would have thought a story of hypotheticals could work as well as it did? I was tempted to structure my thoughts similarly, but that would be a disservice that I feel deserves direct acknowledgement: This is an utterly fantastic work of fiction. Comprehension and horror bloom in equal measure over a situation artfully expressed without being direct at all, leading to a tragedy that had me close to tears. The story makes excellent use of its time, its premise and everything else, to the point where I felt like giving it anything but the highest of praise would be an utter disservice. My sincerest, most honest thanks for writing something so utterly sublime.

Petrichord

This story is a perfect example of just how much can be accomplished in a thousand words. It has a perfectly executed in medias res opening, in-depth thought narration that manages to be introspective and gently melancholy, and a vague ending. Despite this too-brief snapshot of her thoughts, we’re able to get a clear picture of exactly what’s happening, even while we feel deeply for the doomed protagonist. Personally I loved the sensation of helplessness as the protagonist considered (ultimately meaningless) existential questions.

applezombi

There are surely many stories out there about a character’s last thoughts as they fall to their likely deaths, but I doubt many will come close to matching this. The disassociation, the wandering through hypotheticals, all of it is underlaid with a haunting pleading as Cherry Berry’s thoughts dance their way to facing the end that is to come. And on their way there, the exploration of what it means to be the background earthmare whose One Character Trait is that she has the hubris to take to the sky in flying contraptions, the feelings raised by thinking about just who it is that she is addressing and how, all of it adds up to a work well-deserving of its winning place.

Bicyclette

TAs Above, So Below
A mare flies into the sky with her balloon, a mare returns to the earth without her balloon.
Reviewfilly · 1000 words  ·  44  5 · 547 views

Bronze Medal, Fluff: How to throw yourself at the ground and miss by Axolotl222

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how unconventional it is to find a wholesome story about yeeting a child out a window? Not to mention one that’s such an utterly solid story in and of itself? I love the composition and the solid characterization at play: The story is utterly, totally, one hundred percent pure Zipp and Haven energy, and it’s particularly a treat to see them done so well given the comparative lack of material that G5 has to work with relative to G4. And, of course, the feghoot at the end of it all is brilliant. Well done!

Petrichord

Here is a fun window into the domestic life of the pegasus royal family, and one of the rare g5 stories in the contest. The parent/child interactions are sweet and heartfelt. Zipp’s enthusiasm and naivete drive the narrative. On a (somewhat) biased note, the story itself ends in a pun, which I love.

applezombi

EHow to throw yourself at the ground and miss
Or that time Zipp jumped out a window as a filly
Axolotl222 · 1000 words  ·  54  1 · 770 views

Bronze Medal, Fluff: Of Rocks and Gems by Snow Quill

I do love a good uncommon ship, and by “good,” I mean “well-justified.” This more than qualifies, acting as both a defense and celebration of Rarimaud, complete with a few lines of rock poetry. Fluff doesn’t get much fluffier than a simple, quiet, romantic moment. I have to appreciate one presented as effectively as this.

FanOfMostEverything

This story captures what it is like to be a Maud in love in exactly the way like to see it: not as the butt of a joke about how strange she is, but as something truly deep and beautiful for all that is whirling on behind those permanently half-lidded eyes. Long on quiet contemplation of the perfection that is Rarity and full of wordless, adorable little actions between them, all that goes into Maud’s single line of dialogue is taken exactly for what it is by the mare whose talent is seeing the subtle shades that less perceptive ponies miss. Now that is how you write a RariMaud.

Bicyclette

EOf Rocks and Gems
A quiet evening has a rock considering a gem.
Snow Quill · 1000 words  ·  28  2 · 253 views

Silver Medal, Fluff: Laundromat by Admiral Biscuit

It’s Admiral Biscuit. Are you really that surprised?

For those unfamiliar with Biscuit’s oeuvre, cute pony-on-Earth shenanigans are his bread and butter. Even when limited to a single kiloword, he knows exactly how to follow through on interactions between the two species, both the fun and the awkward adjustments as both sides try to accommodate one another.

FanOfMostEverything

PoE is a woefully underutilized genre, particularly for down-to-earth stories. It takes a special kind of author to bring out the quiet joy that comes with combining the utterly mundane with the fantastical and creating realism out of the exceptional. It’s very easy to get engrossed by these sorts of stories when they’re done well, and it’s very much done well here.

Petrichord

Humans interacting with ponies is not my usual kind of story, so this one surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. The premise is simple; a human helps a pony deal with some racial discrimination. But it’s executed with a sense of compassion and an attention to detail that’s impressive given the short word length.

applezombi

I mean, to be honest, I go a bit feral whenever I see a cute human/pony interaction with a human I can relate to, and I was going feral here. This entire story just felt like I was looking directly through a portal into a world where magical cartoon ponies have started to live among us humans, with all the mundane little conflicts that come with living in a place not designed for your species rendered in immersive detail. That the story ends with a heartwarming moment of cross-species solidarity against a subtle and ignorant form of anti-pony racism just makes it all the better.

Bicyclette

ELaundromat
Doing laundry is always a chore, and sometimes I envied my pony neighbor for rarely having to do laundry. Until I found out she wasn't allowed to wash her blankets.
Admiral Biscuit · 1000 words  ·  374  4 · 2.6k views

Gold Medal, Fluff: Wednesdays Are Sacred by Aragon

It’s Aragón. Are you really that surprised?

A thousand word cap isn’t a challenge for Aragón. It’s an excuse to take one of his comics, go even more outlandish with the plot since he doesn’t actually have to draw the demon, and unleash heartwarming havoc on our unsuspecting eyeballs. This was one of the easiest decisions we made in the whole judging process, and for good reason.

FanOfMostEverything

Okay, it also takes a really, really special kind of author to blend multiple premises across multiple genres into a cohesive whole, and an exceedingly special author to make those elements come through while creating fiction that is well above the sum of its parts. I doubt that I’ll wind up reading another funny, feel-good story featuring monsters, murder and mutilation, and I know for a fact that I’ll never wind up reading one as good as this. Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet, stop right now and give it a read. The contest results will still be here when you get back.

Petrichord

This was arguably my favorite story in the entire contest. When I looked at the fluff stories, I was looking for narratives that had the ‘feel good’ element of a good fluff story, while still being original and unique. This one fit that criteria perfectly. The idea of a group of middle-aged teachers, shop-owners, and parents teaming up to murder monsters was as delightful as it was heart-warming.

applezombi

The structure of this story is superb, opening up in medias res before slowly putting together the premise with a perfect combination of comedic timing and tension. The peek into just what the background cast of Equestria Girls is up to feels like what should be that world’s version of “Slice of Life”, though it’s hard to imagine a canon episode written to be this satisfying. I love how brilliantly it recontextualizes the adults of this world to no longer be incompetently indifferent to the girls’ adventures, but rather just as lost as anyone would be in the horrors of living in a world under siege by magical monsters that should not exist. Yet, they do their very best to face it together as a community, and I can’t think of anything more heartwarming than that.

Bicyclette

EWednesdays Are Sacred
Mr. and Mrs. Cake choose to commit a murder in their kitchen. A feelgood story.
Aragon · 1000 words  ·  207  6 · 1.4k views

Bronze Medal, Grim: A Stitch (Or Nine) Saves Thine by TheDriderPony

This story seamlessly blends horror and comedy themes, juxtaposing a rather grim premise with an almost cheerfully casual style. Rarity’s approach to solve her problems is horrific, and yet she’s so positive about it that we can’t help but give a little terrified laugh at every new atrocity. And in the span of so few words, we’re able to see a complete story with a very real climax.

applezombi

The Cutie Mark Crusaders’ gremlin-like tendency to get into easily-foreseen trouble and Rarity’s pride in her skills in anything involving stitching and mending are brought together in an ingenious way here. The story manages the escalation into the absurd perfectly, starting from the kind of DIY would care I could expect any parent to do, with each new Sweetie Belle injury becoming sillier and more gruesome than the last. And through it all, Rarity’s love and care for her sometimes-frustrating sister shines through like a brilliant diamond, leaving a final scene that is somehow both gory and heartwarming in the best way.

Bicyclette

TA Stitch (Or Nine) Saves Thine
Sweetie Belle is... special. The kind of special that needs unique care and attention. The kind that creates all sorts of hard-to-solve problems. But Rarity always rises to the task. Because she's her sister. And big sisters fix things.
TheDriderPony · 1000 words  ·  316  6 · 2.1k views

Bronze Medal, Grim: A Broken Crown by Dashie04

This story actually angers me with how well thought-out it is. Every step of the way makes a terrible, unavoidable sort of sense. Yes, I could see Twilight making these choices. Yes, I can see how it leads to the current situation. Yes, the path to G5 is clear. You monster. Using text alignment to attribute dialogue without spending any words on it was an extra bit of brilliance.

FanOfMostEverything

I’ve seen stories that predicate themselves on worldbuilding and little else. This story seems like a story that would do the same, but is so, so much more than just that. Excellent worldbuilding, yes, but it reads like a genuine story instead of a catalogue of events — a retroactive tale of tragedy, inevitability and desperation that plunges the utopia into the end of an era. And even beyond the amount of sense its chain of events makes or the solemn certainty throughout — a thoroughly grim conceit in and of itself — it even manages to breathe life and depth into a character that seems intolerably despicable at the start. Bravo!

Petrichord

TA Broken Crown
A dreary forest.
Dashie04 · 1000 words  ·  29  2 · 340 views

Silver Medal, Grim: There is no Mare in the Shadows by Equimorto

This one was wonderfully creepy. It feels like something stalking towards the reader with how it builds anticipation, playing with expectations and twisting through its string of suspiciously specific denials. Suspense is incredibly difficult to pull off in so short a word limit, but this pulls it off with aplomb, to say nothing of that chilling last line.

FanOfMostEverything

Ahh, dread. Such a wonderful thing to establish in dark stories, but so easy to handle poorly: it takes a deft hand to establish its tone without blowing it out of proportion or portraying it awkwardly. But the deft hand is most certainly at play here: the story’s almost musical in its ability to handle refrains, blend words into a melody and build into a sublime climax. Very much worth the time to read of anyone who doesn’t mind being kept up at night.

Petrichord

Here’s another story that uses a non-traditional perspective and narration. The second person produces an experience akin to a nightmare for me, a nightmare you are desperately trying to forget the moment you wake up. It’s complete with a grim ending that leaves the reader not quite convinced it was a nightmare. Maybe, after all, it’s all real.

applezombi

It’s so easy to overdo the schtick here in describing a monster by negation, that it is even more impressive how well this story strikes the balance. The repeated reassurances that nothing is there, despite their oddly specific contents, somehow give me the feeling of a soothing lullaby as they blend into the walls of the story itself, only for said walls to come alive at the very end with the twist that makes said reassurances more chilling for being true than not.

Bicyclette

TThere is no Mare in the Shadows
There's nothing to be afraid of in the darkness. No matter what the stories say.
Equimorto · 1000 words  ·  19  0 · 268 views

Gold Medal, Grim: Womb by mushroompone

This was the other easy gold, again, for good reason. The other medalists take a step back from the source of their grimness. This one puts you behind her eyes, into her madness, floating along her stream of consciousness as she plots and acts and forces you to watch. It is equal parts beautiful in presentation and horrifying in execution, and it absolutely deserves its victory.

FanOfMostEverything

I don’t even know what to properly say about this. No praise feels significant; no attempts to describe feel sufficient. About all I can properly articulate is that the story takes its premise and executes it better than literally any other author I could possibly imagine. My only regret is that there wasn’t some sort of pedestal even higher than first place that I could properly put the story on. It would deserve more than that pedestal, honestly, but that would be a good enough starting point. Again - stop what you’re doing, read this story now, then come back after you’re done. You owe it to yourself.

Petrichord

This brutal, dark story perfectly fits what I was looking for in this category. The reference to a twin absorbing their ‘other’ while in the mother’s womb is chilling, especially when turned into such a frightening concept in the story itself. Womb is intimately terrifying and atmospherically dark. I had literal chills when I finished it.

applezombi

The mind of this story’s human Sunset Shimmer is not a pleasant place to be, and wow does this story’s slithering, poetic prose do an amazing job in putting me there all the same. I love how the little hints about just what had happened between her and the pony Sunset Shimmer we know makes her fractured logic on the nature of their relationship make all too much sense from her perspective, giving this unfortunate encounter between them a wonderfully conflicting texture in the aftertaste. This is a visceral experience as much as it is a story, and one that I will not allow you to miss.

Bicyclette

TWomb
We must have shared a womb. Sometimes twins eat each other in the womb.
mushroompone · 1000 words  ·  88  7 · 1.2k views

Bronze Medal, Humo(u)r: Exploiting Equestrian Generosity Through Unlimited Cupcakes by Gallus T. Griffon by Meteor_Mirage

The more I read this, the more I liked it. And trust me, I really couldn’t help but read it more than once. The author’s composition is really solid here: good pacing, good characterization and a good use of its central premise to create something funny, quasi-wholesome and thoroughly enjoyable: exactly what I ask for out of fluff. And yes, I did laugh at the Gallbar joke. I’m a simple man.

Petrichord

I really enjoyed the idea of approaching this first-person narrative as a school essay. Gallus’ sardonic voice is clear throughout, even when his premise is challenged and, ultimately, fails. In true Gallus fashion,he takes his failure and turns it into a hilarious win. A story both fun, original, and very true to the characters’ voices.

applezombi

TExploiting Equestrian Generosity Through Unlimited Cupcakes by Gallus T. Griffon
In which Gallus learns that cupcakes aren't meant to be trifled with.
Meteor_Mirage · 1000 words  ·  82  3 · 857 views

Bronze Medal, Humo(u)r: 4:37 AM by Kris Overstreet

Look, I’m a simple man. When I see a Skylight Lightverb fall prey to her own hubris in a situation that anypony with a modicum of common sense would have avoided in the first place, I’m going to laugh. Especially when it’s Starlight. Extra-especially when it’s presented as well as this, along with plenty of side quips to keep it from feeling one (extremely loud) note.

FanOfMostEverything

This story strikes a perfect balance with its level of whimsy, really feeling like it is set in the Equestria we know and love, complete with a little exploration of the world's animal sapience and its limits. Starlight Glimmer is a perfect choice for this silly story about a conflict entirely of her own making. It demonstrates exactly why there are so many canon episodes with that premise, as her descent into frustration and madness is just so very fun to watch.

Bicyclette

E4:37 AM
Forty-three ponies, seventeen cows, eleven pigs, three goats... and one rooster. In one castle.
Kris Overstreet · 1000 words  ·  78  3 · 645 views

Silver Medal, Humo(u)r: Gull Sentry by daOtterGuy

Civil disobedience offers a wide variety of opportunities for humor through satire. A protest can hold up a mirror to the excesses of power and reveal their sheer absurdity. Or it can just involve filching your CO’s lunch. Either way, this entry struck an impressive balance of insanity and relative groundedness. Seriously, Shining, make your own freaking sandwiches.

FanOfMostEverything

Ahh, one of my favorite kinds of comedy: A premise so coked out of its mind that it seems like a trollfic, grounded well enough that the ludicrousness of the premise is reigned in from devolving into incomprehensibility. It’s still off the rails in its silliness, of course, but connected in a way that makes it all the funnier, and the subtle jabs at Equestria’s financial management were absolutely golden. More, please!

Petrichord

Gull Sentry was absolute insanity, with just enough structure to still make sense. Shining Armor’s insistence that it should all make sense, that there is some sort of logical explaination to the insanity, adds to the fun. It’s hard to make physical comedy elements shine in a story, but this one does it.

applezombi

The absurd premise of a fully grown pegasus acting like a sandwich-stealing seagull is very well lived-up-to here with the physical comedy, but what really elevates this is the characterization! Shining Armor is the perfect "straight mare" to Flash’s foil, exuding that sense of dignity that is all the more fun to see undermined both by Flash’s antics and by how undeserved it is shown to be. And that Flash’s silliness is shown to not be random nonsense but rather very well-justified by the end takes this piece over the top to “brilliant”.

Bicyclette

EGull Sentry
He will eat all of your fries.
daOtterGuy · 1000 words  ·  87  3 · 734 views

Gold Medal, Humo(u)r: The Sweet Sounds of Spring by Rambling Writer

How did all of the medalists for this category involve birds?

In any case, it’s an old joke both in and out of the fandom, but one told very well, in an impressive variety of ways and over the course of a complete plot arc. That last one is perhaps the most impressive part for me. This crammed in three scenes and a satisfying resolution into the contest’s incredibly restrictive word limit, and it was funny throughout. If that’s not worthy of first place, I don’t know what is.

FanOfMostEverything

You know what i’m never going to get tired of? Innocuous noises masking absolutely demented content, censored only back the lack of an ability to translate. I’m convinced there’s something inherently funny about the premise, and not only is it done well here, it’s done extensively. The author made marvelous use of the time allotted for a delightful degree of silliness that was undeniably amusing from start to finish.

Petrichord

There is something delightful, almost Python-esque, about the juxtaposition of the vulgar, crass, and sometimes viciously violent dialogue of the birds, and Fluttershy’s calm, rational reactions. The absurdity is placed right next to the mundane, all while staying fully in line with Fluttershy’s character. This was one of the few entries that actually made me physically laugh.

applezombi

This entry is a classic premise executed with perfection, juxtaposing the kind and sweet nature of Fluttershy with the fact that the world of the animals that she loves is absolutely none of those things. What the birds are really saying with their beautiful song is hilariously crass, for sure, but what I love most about this is how it elevates Fluttershy’s characterization all the more, as it's a lot more meaningful to be truly kind to the animals when you can fully understand just how awful they really are.

Bicyclette

TThe Sweet Sounds of Spring
Fluttershy finds birdsong wonderful. Regardless of what that birdsong is about.
Rambling Writer · 1000 words  ·  283  4 · 1.9k views

Bronze Medal, Experimental: Per My Last Email by The Red Parade

The wonderful thing about the Experimental category is that it’s educational in its ability to take the mundane and spin it into a story. This was doubly a good thing given my initial lack of investment into either Strawberry Sunrise or Wallflower Blush. But hoo boy, you got me invested, and in the sort of format that normally promises workplace tedium no less! This is an excellent spin on a romantic comedy, and perfectly accessible in its outlandishness, which makes it an excellent story for all aspiring writers to learn from!

Petrichord

Another story that used a unique format to tell a story. While this story did contain a more traditional narrative, the fact that we only see that story through a very small window (the emails of the main characters) gives a unique take on an otherwise straightforward romance narrative. On top of that, the pairing is both unique and engaging.

applezombi

TPer My Last Email
Hi, I'm still waiting on those expense reports for November. Please get those in. Thanks!
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  128  9 · 703 views

Bronze Medal, Experimental: It Ur Flt Trixie (It's Your Fault Trixie) by SparklingTwilight

Part of the point of the Experimental category—at least, the way I was scoring the stories—was to follow the Frizzle Method: take chances, get messy, make mistakes! This story embraces that both textually and metatextually, telling a full story complete with friendship lesson while restricting itself with in both length and the alphabet. It certainly deserves recognition there.

FanOfMostEverything

There is a misconception that “experimental” stories are all about arbitrary restrictions and being intentionally difficult to read or understand, and this entry cleverly makes that what the characters go through instead of the reader, making fictional what was once metafictional, which I found very neat. The prose is wonderfully wordplay-dense and reference-dense, the latter even complete with footnotes, and the story is all wrapped up in a classic friendship lesson for Twilight that is genuinely heartwarming and humble of her. That Trixie then immediately subverts it, while being terrible in all the best ways and in no way deserving of her W, is just the cherry on top.

Bicyclette

TIt Ur Flt Trixie (It's Your Fault Trixie)
Trixie gets her friend and frenemy stuck with her in a miniature poem containing very few available letters. A/K/A "Trixie Ruins Haycartes Method"
SparklingTwilight · 1000 words  ·  16  2 · 268 views

Silver Medal, Experimental: Exciting Words and Phrases Regarding Four-Legged Equine Mammals, and Your Future Business Ventures Therein! by Silent Whisper

It only stands to reason that the story that worked its footnotes into the main text rather than the author’s note deserves a higher place. This is how logic works.
In all seriousness, this was a truly delightful bit of madness. Anything that provides context for the sentence "They are TRAITORS TO THE PROUD LINE LINEAGE AND TRADITION OF GOAT ENTERPRISES” has a special place in my heart.

FanOfMostEverything

I have to write all these titles out by hand because of weird formatting issues with my word processor, so I swear that I’m going to thump the author on the noggin if they ever enter a story with a title this long into any other contest I’m judging. Because, clearly, they’re likely to do well in those contests too, if the quality of writing at play here is any indication. This story was disgustingly funny, and while it’s not the first time I’ve seen writing that carried itself on footnotes alone — looking at you, David Foster Wallace — I’ve never seen it used in this particular direction, and rarely to this level of effect. This is the exact sort of thing I was hoping to find in the experimental category!

Petrichord

I didn’t expect a sales brochure in this category, but I probably should have. The author here uses the format to maximum advantage, employing footnotes to great comedic effect. It fits the category because there’s no real narrative here, just a great deal of expert worldbuilding and character development. It was a quite fun and engaging read.

applezombi

The voice in this entry is strong, giving a fun look at how ponies and their silly magical world would look like as viewed through an outsider's lens that is nothing but vague marketing-speak for a sales brochure typed up hastily by some shady goats. And as befitting an Experimental piece, the footnotes do the heavy lifting here, stuffed full of silly asides and groan-worthy puns alike. Best of all, there is a running gag that does the thing where it repeats so much that it circles all the way back around to being funnier the longer it goes on, which I always love to see.

Bicyclette

EExciting Words and Phrases Regarding Four-Legged Equine Mammals, and Your Future Business Ventures Therein!
Invest in magic! Conquer Equestria! All this can be yours*! (*for a fee, payable to goat.)
Silent Whisper · 1000 words  ·  30  2 · 219 views

Gold Medal, Experimental: Alicorn Ascentionism Tantamount to Plothole by Botched Lobotomy

Oh, this. I really hope Petrichord rewrites some of his defense of this story in his blurb for it, because I don’t think I can do it justice. Suffice to say, this is an incredible piece of yearning yet impossible desire, a blurring of the lines between character and story until you’re left with an eternally incomplete being staggering from genre to genre, medium to medium, acting as its own cry for help. All I can offer it is the top spot.

FanOfMostEverything

I wanted to invoke James Joyce’s name when discussing this, but I was informed that said description — like the story itself — wasn’t entirely clear. So to clear things up a little, this is a staggering work of genius in a story that couldn’t be anything but as experimental as it is: a heartbreaking tale of someone fundamentally alien to us, with a perspective fundamentally alien to ours, trying desperately to grasp at the same things humanity craves and being just as unable to live in that dream as we are. Using mixed-media to its fullest possible extent, what we wind up with is a raw, primordial scream, resonant to everyone who’s stuck with the fandom through thick and thin, nearly blinding in its solidarity between the mundane and those fundamentally detached with mundanity. It’s strikingly beautiful and utterly unforgettable, and once again — I’m genuinely, absolutely thankful to the author for writing such a masterpiece.

Petrichord

For full disclosure, it took me multiple read throughs (and an assist from some other readers) to really catch on to what was going on here. I can certainly see how a story this nontraditional can be a barrier for entry for some readers. But it is worth a look. The author brilliantly takes on the perspective of something that is not quite human and not quite mortal, and does it very well.

applezombi

This entry is everything I wanted when I created this category in the first place, and so much more. Its thousand words are chopped up into short sections, starting from unrelated little scenes that would be beautiful ficlets by themselves, the richness of their texture and wordplay bringing them closer to poetry than prose. Flowing together, they evoke the sense of things being missing, denied, or lost, until the fic itself begins to speak, straining against its limitations as a piece of fanfiction for a children’s TV show. It is with us for only a short while before its thousand words are up, but it does so much with that time, singing a lamentation dense with allusions that captures the feeling of yearning to do something more with this most looked-down-upon of mediums better than anything I have seen or likely will ever see.

It is a lonely place to be, but this piece makes me feel less so. I am not alone, as long as all of you are also stuck here with me, and I am thankful for that.

Bicyclette

TAlicorn Ascentionism Tantamount to Plothole
A sentient fanfic dreams of becoming a real show.
Botched Lobotomy · 1000 words  ·  17  1 · 371 views

And there we are! Prize winners will be contacted by PM over the next few days to disburse winnings. But I already can't wait for next time, because you can bet that there will be another one of these in Spring 2023! Until then, please keep on writing and reading My Little Pony fanfiction all you beautiful people! And if you need to enter more contests right now this very minute, do check out the following:

Farewell!

Incredible work to everyone who entered, and congrats to all who placed! This was very fun, thanks for hosting! :twilightsmile:

7713157
Wow!!

Let me start by extending my gratitude to the judges - I think I speak for all of us entrants when I say that your effort is seen and appreciated. So many stories! So many blurbs!! I can't even imagine what the behind-the-scenes cage match was like to work all of this out!

Second, let me just say that I am humbled by the awards I've received, and thankful for all of your thoughts on the pieces I submitted. I had a wonderful time writing for this contest - it challenged me in a very unique way, and it is always wonderful to hear that this personal challenge resulted in work that is meaningful and enjoyable despite (or perhaps because of) the limitations places upon it.

To my fellow entrants and winners: well done!! I thought I had read most of these stories as they released, but I was happily surprised to see that there's so many winners and honorable mentions I somehow missed completely! I'm excited to check some of them out, hopefully soon.

Lastly, thanks again to the incomparable Bicyclette for running another great contest! Can't wait to see what happens in the next one!

Howdy, hi~!

This contest was banger and thanks for the opportunity and work you've put into this. Absolute stellar turnout and work on display and truly an absolute blast to participate in. Thank you all for everything!

I had a great time reading many of these already, and now I have more!

But for real though, I invented my own bloody language and not even an honorable mention? I don't even know why I bother trying entering these things. (I had fun, it's fine.)

Thrilled to get a mention here! Congrats to all the winners and thanks to the judges!

I was not expecting to even get an honorable mention, so this is a pleasant surprise! I'm glad to see that Womb got a gold as well, because it is one of the best stories I have ever read, quite frankly. Thank you, judges, for all of your hard work on this, and congratulations to everyone who placed.

My story lost the contest. :pinkiesad2:

Grats everyone and thanks for hosting!

7713178
You need more sex jokes, obviously.

This was a really good experience! I'm glad that everything turned out ok. Congratz to everyone :twilightsmile:

7713157
First up, a very big thank you to you and your fellow judges for running such a great contest. Over 100 entries! It reminded me, and in a very good way, of the old days when writing contests were big deals with big entries. I don't know whether you plan to run another thousand-word contest again at some point, but the challenge of the format was a whole lot of fun. :yay:

Second up, congratulations to all the winners! I am really, really looking forward to reading (and hopefully reviewing) quite a few of these in due course. I think the last ponyfic contest where I was so excited about reading so many new fics was the Outside Insight contest from 2013. Even for those where I'm only reading the title card for the first time now, there are so many that appeal greatly.

Third up, thank you to everyone else who entered! Again, there are plenty in the non-winners section that have caught my eye and I definitely intend to read some of them too. As I said at the top, it's been a whole lot of fun.

And fourth up? Well... I am thrilled to get an Honourable Mention for my story, especially against such high-calibre competition. I'm very flattered by FOME's comments up there. I really enjoyed writing Echoes of a Song and I'm glad it hit the spot for you. Thank you so much! :pinkiehappy:

Jesus Christ there was so much work put into this contest. Congratulations and thanks to the judges, and congratulations to all winners and special mentions! And I'm very honored to win gold medal; it's hilarious to see FOME reference my writing as me "taking one of my comics" and turning it into prose; I guess my image has shifted completely to Comics Guy at this point, hasn't it? Still! Those comments were lovely, and this contest was incredibly fun.


7713169
Also very specific congrats to you! I haven't read Stop Making it Hurt yet, but Womb was so good I went out of my way to check if it had won before I checked if I had won at all. Outstanding work, really; I haven't read enough stories in this contest to say with any authority that it was the best out of all of them, but I would be really weirded out if it weren't. Extremely well-deserved first place!

So many entries, I can still hardly believe it… any site veterans out there able to answer, what was the last contest that had more stories than this? Meaning 107 or more. Not counting Jinglemas, of course.

Anyway, I’d already read a few of these, and while a decent chunk here won’t appeal (only some Angst and Experimental sells for this ghost, doubly so for grim stuff), enough will that I guess I’ve got some for future review blogs!

I knew my own entry was too scattershot (and not in a focused way) to get anything, it was more a personal experiment at writing that short and getting out jokes that had been waiting for months to see the light of day. Besides, even just scanning the titles, descriptions and endorsements of the fics here makes the most quality here evident. Bravo to everyone who took part, and especially to those who placed!

7713315
I figured if you'd tried compressing a plot not originally meant for a comic down to just a thousand words, your head would have exploded. :derpytongue2:

I wanted to invoke James Joyce’s name when discussing this

I'm honoured. And please, invoke away! He is name-dropped directly in the story, after all. :raritywink: I'm glad my weird little story resonated with people.

Also, wooah that's a lot of reading!

What a great idea for a contest, really produced a lot of great stuff! So many of these sound so amazing, and the best thing is they're so little commitment to actually read. Excited to go through some of them. Big congrats to all the winners, and even bigger thanks to the judges!

7713315
Aw, you are so kind!! I can't tell you what it means to hear something like this :) I remember your initial comment fondly, and I'm so glad that my story has persisted in your memory.

Congrats to you, as well! I'll be moving your entry to the top of my post-contest reading list!

Holy Cow, 106? *Whistles*

First of all, I’m honored to have one the bronze medal. While I haven’t read all the stories above (yet), I’ve read more than enough to know I had done steep competition. Which brings me to my second point…

Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions! Again all are/sound like they are incredible. And finally, thank you Bicyclette and everyone else who made this contest possible. You guys are amazing and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Have a Derpy :derpyderp1:

The contest produced a lot more pony, and that makes me happy. Great stuff from all involved. Thank you for the honorable mention. Petrichord's comment is wonderfully humbling.

You know, I initially scrolled through the list with the calmness of someone who expects nothing, hoping for maybe an honorable mention at most. Seeing the gold medal was an absolute shock. I'm not even sure what to say, except thank you very much. Your words were extremely kind, I hardly deserve them. And similarly thank you for your diligent work on judging over a hundred fics, that must have taken ages.

Congrats to everyone else as well, I've read many of the other submissions out of curiosity and there are some real gems in there.

7713214
You didn't lose, you just didn't win.

7713178
Effort and skill only go so far. Plenty of skilled writers get overlooked simply because of taste. It's not you, it's them. And they are the judges.

7713325
Can't answer, sorry. I've only recently gotten interested in contests.

You know what, the winners have gotten enough praise. This comment isn't for them, it's for all the other writers who put in the time, effort, and creativity to up the stakes and make the competition actually competitive. WHAT'S UP MY FELLOW LOSERS? Just remember, we are the many, and they will be wise to fear us!

Thanks for giving my contest a shoutout! 😃

Sorry it took so long to say, but thanks for the hard work and for the honor of the bronze medal!

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