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Jan 15: Staff Update, and Rules Update

Pre-reader 63.546"s Equestria Daily Feedback Thread Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 23[View All]

#Reviewer

As everyone should know by now, Equestria Daily has gone almost exclusively to short bullet-point reviews, except in cases where only a small number of items need to be corrected for posting. I enjoy giving longer reviews, but can no longer do so through Equestria Daily, so I will post them here. I will only do so for stories that in my estimation would have passed the old automoon system; others will get only the bullet-point treatment in the email.

This thread is only for the authors in question and me. They are free to ask questions or ask me to remove their reviews from the thread for any reason. For any other traffic, I will ask a mod to delete it. General questions about Equestria Daily or the pre-reading process should be posted here:
>>128414

Note that I won't give an exhaustive list of errors; I'll provide a representative list of the types of problems I find and leave it to the author to scour his story for the rest.

To avoid repeating myself, I'll post a few of the more common discussion topics up here; your review may refer you to one or more of these.

Dash and hyphen use:
Hyphens are reserved for stuttering and hyphenated words. Please use a proper dash otherwise. They can be the em dash (Alt+0151) with no spaces around it or en dash (Alt+0150) surrounded by spaces. Some usage (primarily American) employs only the em dash, while other usage (primarily British) employs an em dash for cutoffs and an en dash for asides. It doesn't matter which system an author uses, as long as he is consistent.

Comma use with conjunctions:
There may be other grammatical reasons to place commas, but in the simplest forms, commas accompany conjunctions to separate clauses, not to separate two items of a compound subject, verb, or object. The most common simple sentence forms are:

He performed this action and that action.
He and she performed this action.
He and she performed this action and that action.
He performed this action, and she performed that action.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization:
When transitioning from a quote into a speech tag, you use a comma in place of a period (other end punctuation would remain unchanged), and the tag is not capitalized by default. Here are the most common forms:

"Speech," he said.
"Speech." He performed a non-speaking action.
"Beginning of quoted sentence," he said, "end of quoted sentence."

Lavender Unicorn Syndrome (LUS):
This is overuse of descriptors such as "the lavender unicorn" when referring to a character. Most times, a name or pronoun will do, and they blend in without pulling attention away from what's happening in a story. These descriptors also tell us information we already know, for the most part. If anyone doesn't know that Twilight is a lavender unicorn, it'd be odd to find him this waist-deep in the fanfiction community.

When it's okay to use them are (very sparingly!) for a bit of flavor, when they actually do impart some new information, or when there are a lot of characters present, such that names quickly get repetitive and pronouns are ambiguous.

Talking heads:
This refers to conversations that have back-and-forth dialogue with little in the way of action to separate them. The characters may as well be disembodied heads floating in a featureless void, for all I know. Half of a conversation is nonverbal cues. They carry so much of the emotional content of what's said, so give the reader the complete picture. Use the same techniques as show versus tell. Speaking of which...

Show versus tell:
It's better to get the reader to interpret a character's emotions than to tell them outright. Devices for doing that include body language, reactions, facial expressions, actions, and sometimes speech and thought. The three biggest red flags are outright naming an emotion (sad), -ly adverb form (happily), and prepositional phrase form (in excitement). The last one in particular is almost always redundant with an action it follows. You'll bore the reader just throwing cold facts at him. This is akin to an actor expecting the audience to intuit his mood from his actions and speech rather than stating it outright. The latter is more efficient, but also quite boring. Showing is not always necessary, but is a better idea when emotions run high, the story is at a critical plot point, you want the reader to feel something along with the character, or it's early in the story where you need to hook the reader.

Saidisms:
The verb "said" (and to a degree, other common ones like "answered," "replied," "stated") blend in without calling much attention to themselves. It's okay to use other speaking verbs like "shouted," "muttered," "whispered," etc. to convey a mood or tone of voice, but after a point, the reader starts noticing the choice of speaking verb more than the speech itself, which is a bad thing. The more often an author uses more exotic ones, the more the reader will remember them more than the story. A good mix of mundane speaking verbs, more unusual ones, and going without a speech tag at all will serve a story well.

Head hopping:
It is okay to change character perspectives within a story, but doing so too abruptly or too often is jarring to the reader. An author must consider whether the information he's presenting would be available to the intended perspective character. If not, then he must consider whether the information is important enough to be necessary, can be presented in such a way that the perspective character can perceive it, or if a shift of perspective is truly the best way. And if a shift is justified, then be prepared to stay in that character's perspective for some time. Staying there for only a sentence or paragraph just jerks the reader around. And when changing perspectives, do so smoothly. Imagine a camera, gradually zooming out of one character to a more objective viewpoint, then zooming in on another.

Authors can find further information and other reviewing resources here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dqgYO7OqGDcE3CZ8V6WDOBKTITjzvbrHdyXOFtm_dfI/edit
559 posts and 3 image replies omitted. Click View to see all.

Anonymous 2466

>>2462
Oh...thank you for the reply! I hope my story doesn't fall too far into the terrible category then.

Also, 'chifferobe' is an acceptable alternate spelling according the wikipedia, but I'll change it anyway (because chifforobe looks more correct?)
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2468

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>Celestia’s sun//

This is really, really, really cliched.

>the first of the outposts into Equestria//

An outpost is just a place. It doesn't move. It'd be "in" Equestria, not "into."

>Walking over to the expansive window, I swung open the curtains//

This is one of the dangers of participial phrases. They mean that things happen at the same time, but she wouldn't swing open the curtains until after she'd walked over. Plus "swinging" is an odd action to take with curtains. It implies they're hinged.

>upper class//

You're using the entire phrase as a single modifier for the word that follows, so hyphenate it.

>good amount of the idle changelings//

"Amount" is more properly used for collective quantities, like food. For individual items, use "number."

>The manor was a result of vast quantities of time spent growing our influence within the city and accumulating more and more wealth.//

But why do they need wealth? There was no indication that they had or needed anything material in the show, and you haven't done any world-building here to suggest why they would. It's also odd how you have them seeing the ponies' magic as a source of food, not their emotions, though I suppose "friendship is magic" does equate the two.

>And yet,//

There are specific circumstances under which it's appropriate to have a comma after a conjunction. This isn't one of them.

>exhausted eyes. An exhausted//

Watch close word repetition like that.

>It was a little habit from my interactions with the ponies I never saw fit to kick.//

It took me a couple of read-throughs to realize this didn't mean she kicked ponies.

>If anything, I was going to need it if I was going to meet today’s visitor with any shred of Baltimare dignity.//

Really strange to have the two "if" conditionals. They're nested, so they'd seem to have an increasing specificity, but they're pretty unrelated.

>nearly fumbled the makeup kit onto the floor, and an ill-timed stab from the eyeliner brush nearly//

More close repetition.

>Whipping around to face the front of the manor, I sprinted down the hallway//

Another spot where the participle indicates simultaneous action that doesn't make sense.

>I looked up at her with hope in my eyes.//

How does she know? She can't see her own face. More to the point, you're in her perspective, so it doesn't make sense to relate her emotion through an external observation of it. More immediate to her would be the internal effects of it. And don't be so blunt as to directly identify it as hope. If you were an actor playing her role, what would you do to make the audience think you were hopeful? Have your character do the same kinds of things. This is how we normally read each other anyway, through visual and behavioral cues, so it feels more lifelike.

>making her mark here in Equestria, and she’s making//

More close repetition. I'll also say that it strikes me how often these two are using direct address already this early in the conversation. Think about how often you actually do so in a real conversation, particularly when it's only you and one other person.

>The hunger pang of my changelings//

Make this more visceral. It'll have more impact if you really demonstrate how it feels, what sensations it causes.

>I found myself shouting at the queen.//

You might be able to sell this better with a bit of internal narrative comment showing her getting worked up. And don't make it so passive. "Found myself" is a construction that should be used only with careful consideration, because it makes it sound totally involuntary. At the very least, I'd recommend moving this bit as a narrative aside into the quote at which point she actually starts. You don't want to modify how the reader hears speech after the speech has already happened. Then the reader has to go back over it or ignore the effect. So something like this:
“S-so we’re just leaving them to die? To”—I found myself shouting at the queen—“rot while we try to fight a war? While we’re hemorrhaging able hooves?
Note the placement of the dashes. Here, they mean the speech didn't stop for the aside's action. If the speech does stop, put the dashes inside the quotes, with the speech.

>The reverberation through the link made her words feel as if they were booming inside my head//

So how does this make her feel? Never forget that part. You don't want to write a story as a sequence of actions. For the ones that are important, you should also relate how the characters feel about them. You do at least have her stagger back, but what would happen internally? What physical sensations would it cause?

>Let this be a lesson growing up//

Seems like you might be missing an "in."

>Broodmother Requiem//

If "Broodmother" is actually an official title, then you need to capitalize it whenever it's used in place of her name.

>struggling to contain my own emotions//

So describe the struggle. That's what makes me feel it with her. What you have is a cold fact that doesn't mean much.

>My eyes glared with such intensity//

Again, this isn't something she can see, so how is she describing how her own face looks?

>once pristine//

Hyphenate.

I really question the need for quoted thoughts in a first-person narration. Before, the italicized lines sometimes seemed to be her own thoughts and sometimes those of her brood. But a first-person narration already gives us access to her thoughts. What's the point of presenting them like quotes?

>I laid there//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tricky verbs to get right.

>I quickly deduced the identity of my visitor, and let out a sigh.//

There's no reason for a comma there. Both verbs are linked to the same subject.

>A-are you alright, mother?//

Family relations are the same as titles. They get capitalized when effectively used as names. So it's "I'm going to the store with Mom" but "I'm going to the store with my mom." I won't mark any more of these.

>T-there//

Consider what sound would actually be repeated.

>keeping my emotions in check//

That's just so vague that it doesn't really mean anything.

>understand what was happening, even with my limited understanding//

Fairly repetitive.

>Spending a majority of one’s life in a city meant there weren’t a lot of opportunities to get out into the wilderness, but I was certain that what I was looking at was not representative of forests as a whole.//

I remarked on something like this earlier. Look at that cluster of "to be" verbs. A lot of these aren't hard to rephrase. Say instead of "was not representative of," you used "didn't represent." But having three instances of "was" in a span of only 9 words? And you have 9 "to be" verbs in this paragraph. Then 5 in the next. The whole chapter has 151 instances of "was" alone. You're awash in these boring verbs.

I suspect I'll get more used to what your section headings mean as I go further into the story, but every one of them has utterly confused me so far. I think it'd help to identify your perspective character's identity immediately as each scene begins. I spent the beginning of this chapter thinking the narrator was still Chiron, up until he explicitly said he wasn't. Then when the second scene began, I assumed the narrator was still Nymph until a few paragraphs in, when you make it clear one of the ponies is narrating. You don't want your reader to spend every scene being utterly confused at the beginning, then having to alter the context in his head once he figures out someone else holds the perspective.

>captain?//

When you italicize a word for emphasis, include any exclamation marks or question marks on it in the italics.

>According to dad//

When you effectively use a family relation as a name, capitalize it, so it's "Dad" but "my dad."

>the Captain//

Likewise, when you make it generic by putting something like "the" on the front, you don't capitalize it, possibly except for things like "Queen" which might get extreme reverence. Even so, you aren't consistent at capitalizing it.

>Vice//

Odd choice of name/accent for her, since a Russian accent would render her name's pronunciation as Wice. I bet you don't have her say it that way, if she says it at all.

>I quickly stowed the book into my saddlebags.//

One book into multiple saddlebags?

>we just need to make sure the statue is there as well as where it is.//

Odd couple of goals. If you satisfy the first, don't you have the second by default? And vice versa? I don't see how they're not the same thing.

It's clear at least when you go back to Nymph, since that's how the scene is labeled. "Overwatch" confused me because I had no idea what that was. It's a little heavy-handed to declare each scene like that, though. There's a reason you don't see many books do this.

>piece of cover, a tall piece//

Watch the repetition.

>Long range//

You're using the whole phrase as a single adjective, so hyphenate it. I won't mark any more of these.

>There was panicked yelp//

Something's a little off in the wording.

>I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.//

And this is even more cliched than "Celestia's sun."

>when the ground shifted under the blue mare//

She knows her well. Why would she refer to her as "the blue mare"? You don't think about your friends in terms like that do you?

At this point, I have to question why you're switching back and forth between Nymph and the pony so frequently. It jerks the reader around. You couldn't do the whole thing from the pony's perspective, since she doesn't know Nymph is there, but Nymph can see and hear everything the pony squad is doing, so she can still present all that's happening and the evidence of how the ponies feel about it all.

>head first//

That's one word.

>It swiped with a paw, drawing open three burning lines right above my left shoulder. I screamed. Nearly blinded from the shock, I threw whatever magic I still had in its general direction with my horn.//

This is a common issue, where writers suddenly become very factual when the action ramps up. This must hurt, and she's the one narrating it, so why doesn't the narration sound like she's panicky and injured? She's just rattling off facts like she's reading a textbook.

>Something cracked. I was certain that the carapace over my chest had cracked from the impact.//

This is pretty redundant.

>as she knelt down beside me, removing her saddlebags as she surveyed my ruined carapace//

It's pretty clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence. Also, they do they same thing as participial phrases to synchronize things, so all three of these actions occur at once. I'm not sure that's what you intended.

>“B-but I…” I trailed off//

The ellipsis already means trailing off. You don't need to repeat it in the narration.

>as I laid there//

Lay/lie confusion. I won't mark this anymore either. Suffice it to say that if the verb just happens, you need to use "lie," and if it happens to something, use "lay." So you lie down, but you lay your head down.

>My muscles strained as I crawled back into the clearing, the moonlight temporarily blinding me as I emerged into the open.//

Two "as" clauses in the same sentence again. It creates a repetitive feel.

>You look like a cornered rabbit//

Rather self-aware of the story to do this, given that's exactly what nymph thought just a couple paragraphs ago, word for word.

>‘cause//

Smart quotes always get lading apostrophes backward, since they think you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row and delete the first. I won't mark any more of these.

>there could’ve definitely some sort of magic in there//

Missing word.

>T-that//

Consider what sound he'd actually repeat. It doesn't even start with a "t" sound.

>He turned to me, and my eyes widened when he brought up my scarf from under his wing.//

There are a lot of eyes widening in this scene. Nymph just did so three paragraphs ago? Did they narrow in the meantime? Or are they even wider now? Even so, it's just repetitive.

>I listened with dread//

Another spot where you're awfully blunt with the emotion. Make the narration carry a dreadful tone in what it says and how.

>My eyes widened in shock//

So how wide are they by now? These kinds of "in/with/of emotion" phrases are best avoided anyway. besides being too blunt, they're often redundant with something already in the sentence.

>revealing little except her disappointment//

You really have to watch these emotion words.

>anxiously//

Every time you see one of these emotions with an -ly tacked on the end, consider whether it's just a fleeting thing with no importance to the plot. If it is important, then imply it through the character's behavior and appearance or the narrative tone, instead of just feeding the conclusion to the reader.

>Think of it like copying words into a journal and putting them onto the ling’s shelf.//

You do need closing quotes here, since the next paragraph starts with narration.

>Your head,” he prodded my forehead with a hoof. “Is a giant mess//

You can't just tack any given action onto speech with a comma. It has to be a speaking action. This sounds like you're trying to put a narrative aside in a quote, which you've done before, but I already left a comment about how to format it properly.

>Just act naturally, and you’ll get along just//

That's a word many authors overuse. I haven't noticed it much, but you don't want two in such close proximity like this.

>A part of me felt bad for scaring the pony away//

The way you described her, she didn't seem scared. She didn't seem anything.

>it was quickly overpowered by my excitement//

So make him sound excited. He's delivering this line as if he's reading it from a newspaper article.

>I guessing//

Typo. And note that you've started 3 paragraphs in a row with "I." It's a little repetitive.

If you haven't noticed, by now I'm leaving far fewer comments. That doesn't mean there's nothing worth commenting on—just that I'm seeing things I've already noted, and on a story this long, I just can't afford to be exhaustive. Though the editing does seem to be improving.

>maneuvering the crowd//

More maneuvering "through" the crowd. As you've stated it, they're steering the crowd.

>my sudden bout of severe claustrophobia//

If it really was severe, wouldn't that warrant having the narrator sound something other than calm?

>“Mrrr?”//

I don't understand why she has to do this. It's a telepathic connection. Why would she have to speak it out loud? If all she has to do is think it, there's no danger of the ponies overhearing.

>a stupid grin on my face as I snuggled in deeper//

This isn't really compatible with her perspective. You have her still asleep, yet she's somehow still aware of her expression and actions? I don't buy it.

>“We’re here. In Canterlot,” Steel Blade repeated.//

How can he repeat it when it's the first time he said it? I get that he probably did before Nymph woke up, but this is Nymph's narration, and he doesn't know that.

>stop right where it wanted to stop//

Repetitive. And this "where it wanted to stop" is pretty useless too. It'd be noteworthy if it was way off, but otherwise, it's what people will assume, so it's not wirth mentioning.

You're really using a lot of participial phrases in this chapter. You also tend to use them in the same position in sentences, which makes it even more repetitive in structure. You also tend to tack them onto speaking verbs. Here are all the ones in just the first two screenfuls of this scene:
>heaving a loud groan//
>blinking sleepily//
>slowly applying its brakes//
>picking up his saddlebag with his teeth and tossing it onto his back//
>briefly scanning the floor of the car//
>staying in my seat//
>smiling warmly at me//
>fidgeting with my hooves//
>backing up slightly//
>closing the gap in the aisle//

>sarge//

When you use a rank as a name, capitalize it.

>quick bump from Steel Blade, and I quickly//

More close repetition.

>as he stepped out into the aisle, closing the gap in the aisle as the line slowly shuffled after Vice//

Another spot where it's clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence, and where a participle between them means you're synchronizing four actions that shouldn't be.

>well known//

You have a number of these well- terms that need a hyphen.

>Card Shark//

...Which is actually a commonly mistaken phrase. It's become part of common usage just because people think this is how it's said, but it's really card sharp.

>smoothly//

>comfortably//
>amiably//
It's getting a bit repetitive how you keep putting these adverbs on your speaking actions. They're also things you might demonstrate better indirectly, like having Dexter act amiable instead of making me take the narrator's word for it.

>Ogres n’ Oubliettes//

You're inconsistent about the apostrophes around the n. Look how you spelled it when Dexter said it.

>two-story tall//

You need another hyphen, because all of this describes "buildings."

>I could smell the faint flowery smell//

You don't say...

>once gleaming//

Hyphenate.

>dad//

Same as ranks, when you use it like a name (like "Dad" versus "my dad"), it gets capitalized.

>He once explained that it was the smallest number that was the sum of two positive cubes in two different ways.//

Yeah, you've read that anecdote about the taxi number, I bet.

>A common misconception that many have about agelessness was that time mattered less as one got older.//

>This was generally followed by a lengthy bout of melancholy in which I lament my utter lack of hooves//
Why are you mixing tenses here?

>week long voyage//

week-long voyage

>Hope blossomed within the walls of my crystal prison, fueled by the flames of vengeance, and I clung onto it with the desperation of a drug addict.//

Look at all those emotions you're just informing me about instead of illustrating any of them. It's not going to stick with the reader as anything more than a stoic fact.

>self control//

Hyphenate.

>to not//

Reverse the order of these.

>luv’//

What's that apostrophe for? What part of that word is missing?

>I could go wherever I wanted, provided I push her a bit in the right direction//

Inconsistent tense again.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2469

>>2468
>heathens//
If you're going to give her a cockney accent and clip the "h" of the beginnings of words, why do you never do so with this one?

I just noticed the "now" and "then" scene headers as well. That's a pretty inelegant way of handling it.

>He was gone.//

This doesn't surprise her? She's delivering this line as if it's from a history textbook. Plus she's been recently injured. Her stamina's probably down. Through all this chase, she's not going to remark on being out of breath or having her injuries start to ache?

>close. I had managed to close//

I know they're meant in different senses, but this is still repetitive.

>quickly tracked the movement. He turned his head forward quickly//

And more repetition.

>who flew in circles high above, his head moving side to side as he tried to catch wind of where our stallion had gone. I stumbled to a halt, panting heavily as I rolled my aching left shoulder.//

You have two sentences in a row here that go "clause, participial element, as clause." It's a bit much when they're that complex yet identical.

>A decent number of trash bags was piled//

"Number" counts as plural here, but you're using a singular verb.

>I narrowed my eyes//

Steel Blade just did that about one screen ago. Surely you can be more creative than that.

>The pegasus guard//

One place these kinds of descriptive phrases really don't work is when you have a limited narration and are talking about a character the perspective character knows. You don't think about your own friends in your head with these kinds of phrases. And with the memories Nymph has, she's well acquainted with him. Heck, even without the memories, they've spent enough time together. Nymph isn't going to refer to him like that.

>I would have to figure out my limits before I accidentally brain somepony//

Inconsistent verb tense.

>I watched Steel Blade heft the sleeping thug//

He just hefted the pony three paragraphs ago.

>where I laid on her chest//

>who still laid on her back//
Lay/lie confusion. They're tricky verbs to keep straight. You need "lay" here.

>I swung to and fro from where I hung around her neck as she went back to the boxes to retrieve her saddlebags.//

And "as" clauses in consecutive sentences, plus some inadvertent synchronization.

>the mer let the unicorn//

And you're overdoing the references in this scene. Referring to Overwatch as such is fine until Crystal learns her name, but there's no reason for him to keep calling Lily "the merpony."

>a not unreasonable reaction to Lilywater’s overly friendly personality//

This sounds less like Crystal saying it and more like the author saying it.

>still open//

Hyphenate.

>we can start with a few basic questions to start//

They can start to start?

>W-who//

Think about what sound would actually be repeated.

>And how did you know I was a changeling?//

Why is she saying this out loud so Lily can hear? She doesn't know yet whether Crystal has told Lily, so why take the chance?

>I was curious about the presence of changelings in Canterlot, to say the least.//

How has he not been detecting them for years? Or maybe listening in on their telepathy?

>Long time infiltrators//

Long-time infiltrators

>unusual to send a changeling so young into the pony world, but to train a female in anything except love collecting or hive maintenance was highly unusual//

This is the kind of repetition that could be used for effect, but the trick is to make sure the reader knows it's there on purpose by using language like "more unusual still" for the second one.

Crystal seems to use direct address a bit more than what would feel natural. How much do you actually use it in real life? It can help differentiate dialogue when more than two people are talking, but a lot of the time here, it's just the two.

It's a little bizarre that you've now made two blatant references to the Overwatch game in a story that has nothing to do with it...

>ten minute naps//

ten-minute. Without the hyphen it means ten minute-long naps. Or ten tiny naps, I suppose.

>Despite having as much vision as a bat in broad daylight//

Depending on the kind of bat, many of them see about as well as a human or a rat. It's only a subset that have poor vision.

>My brow knit together into an expression of dazed confusion.//

Blunt with the emotions again, and this isn't how she'd perceive it anyway. She can't even see her own expression, but what clues you in that you're sad? The thoughts and sensations, or by realizing that you're frowning?

>ear piercing//

Hyphenate.

>shriek from the bathroom, and I chortled to myself as the noises coming from the bathroom//

>back up onto her hooves and stomping back//
Repetitive.

>A bright flower-print towel was thrown out, wrapping itself around her head and muzzle, and the door was slammed shut behind her.//

I don't get the advantage of passive voice here. The change of focus doesn't do anything, and it stalls out the feeling of action.

>just confused as to why you didn’t just//

That's a common word for authors to overuse, so it's worth scanning the whole story for it. You've got 20 of them in this chapter alone, which isn't awful, but make sure they're spread out, not occurring in clumps.

>half empty cereal box//

half-empty. I probably said a while ago that I'd stop marking these hyphens and forgot about it. Anyway, I hope you get the picture with these by now.

>I carefully coated the surface of my bowl of milk with cereal//

This is a bizarre phrasing. She's sticking a thin layer of cereal all over the thing? On the outside too?

>More a thousand years ago//

Missing word.

>quite young back then, but despite all odds, she grew into quite//

>see what I mean when you see//
Repetitive.

>taped gemstone//

Y'know, this has been bugging me. Crystal is fairly vain. She's also helped Lily win a bunch of money at gambling. I'm really surprised Crystal doesn't demand something better than this.

>The streets were indeed to clear a bit.//

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

>There was still plenty of ponies still//

Subject/verb number mismatch and repetition.

>when I’m barely trying to keep up with the new developments in my life//

Why are you switching to present tense here?

>illusion enchants//

You're using the verb form instead of the noun for some reason.

>“...”//

This may cut it as video game dialogue, but not in good writing. Show me what happens. By itself, this means nothing.

>mostly-gold//

This is the exception. Two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb don't take hyphens.

>The young donut shop owner had an expression somewhere between amazement and horror.//

So describe it and let me come to my own conclusion what it is.

>when the moon reaches its peak//

You seem to have trouble figuring out how to render these more unusual tenses, and you keep resorting to present.

>begin, lasting all the way until sunrise the next day when the real Summer Sun Celebration began//

Repetition.

>began to fill with partygoers//

And then in the very next sentence...

>still a bit surprising she still//

I don't know why you suddenly got a lot worse with this in this chapter.

>Lockpicking for Eggheads//

Book titles get underlined or (preferably) italicized.

>I trotted over to the dining table where Crystal rested, slumping back into a seat.//

Another danger of participles is misplaced or ambiguous modifiers. Participles like to describe the nearest prior noun or pronoun, so this tends to say Crystal slumped, though you probably meant Nymph. It's not clear.

>I considered the mess of locks spread out over the table, looking from the book still propped open to the full set of lockpicks lying across their sound-muffling velvet cloth.//

This one's not ambiguous, but it is misplaced. It sounds like the table is looking from the book.

>One is that you are a changeling that//

When you're talking about a sentient creature, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>to not//

Reverse the order of those.

>I think I heard a subtle click from inside//

Another lapse into present tense.

>before you start eating them!” I shouted, before//

Repetition.

>thomethin’ this//

Why is she inconsistent about the full-mouth-induced lisp?

>carnivorous teeth that Lily’s mouth had suddenly been filled with//

You already mentioned them a little bit ago, which both makes it not worth mentioning again, and takes away any justification for using "suddenly."

>we are going to cook our Tartarus-damned vegetables and meats before we put them in our mouths//

If that's what she wants, why does she put it back in the icebox instead of cooking it?

>confectionaries. Or rather, the partygoers in the streets ran out of cake before promptly baking up another flotilla of cakes to devour. It was apparently tradition to gorge on tasty confectioneries//

Pretty soon to use that unusual a word without going for a deliberate effect, but you spell it differently each time, too.

>with mom and dad//

Capitalize family relations when you effectively use them as names.

>looked up at the mare before me, still looking//

Repetition, and this is a word worth paying attention to, since many authors overuse it.

>hoping that neither of them would see me//

There are a certain class of verbs that don't really belong in this limited a narration, given that the narration effectively gives us the character's train of thought. They deal with thought and perception. Like it's not necessary to have the narrator say that Nymph saw something. She is the narrator, so if she didn't see it as well, the narrator can't takl about it. It's enough just to describe the item, and it's implied the character also sees it. Likewise, you don't have to tell me what the character knows, wants, wishes, hopes, etc., because the limited narrator can express the thought of it. Forcing that verb in there creates extra distance between the character and reader. For example, instead of saying a character wonders something, the limited narrator can just ask the appropriate question.

>“Because I’m trying to figure out how to act like a pony!” I hissed.//

This is a short enough quote that it's not a big deal, but if you want the reader to hear the speech in a certain way, it's best to do so before the quote. There are certain context clues, like italics or exclamation marks probably meaning shouting, but for the most part, a reader's going to hear dialogue in a normal voice when not given a reason to do otherwise. So when you make the reader change that after the fact, he either has to ignore it, accept it as a bland fact, or go back over the dialogue in the modified manner. None of those are ideal.

>nervous about what my officer thought about me being off duty during a guard shortage//

See, here's another spot where a narrative comment expressing the question about what her supervisor thinks would create far more of a personal voice than feeding the reader a ready-made conclusion about her feelings.

>few hooves as I carefully navigated my way around a few//

You're using this word a fair amount lately.

>noble cleared his throat into the microphone on the platform. A quick glance identified him as the noble//

That one too.

>spongy layers//

You already described the cake as spongy.

>And yet, something was wrong.//

There's no reason to have a comma there.

>I took another sip of my tea, and addressed my infiltrators.//

Or there. This one's just a compound verb, not multiple clauses.

>look of chagrin as she looked//

That's another word authors tend to overuse.

>‘ere//

Cockney accents take off a leading "h," but a "th"? I've never heard of that. It's actually hard to say it that way, which is the exact opposite point of an elision.

>closer to me were paying closer//

>around uncomfortably as her eyes darted around//
More repetition.

>heavy scarf//

Why would she wear a heavy scarf in summer weather? It's odd that it's never come up.

>T-thank//

Again, what sound would actually be repeated?

I have to say, I don't at all see the point in switching to Celestia's perspective for that scene. You already took me up to it in Nymph's perspective, and there was nothing important Celestia imparted for her scene. Basically I ask myself: if that had stayed with Nymph, would there be critical things I didn't understand about the story or plot elements that couldn't happen? And the answer to both of those is no. Maybe you're setting something up for later in the story, and I'd obviously have no way of knowing that now, but even so, everything is so mundane about it that I can't imagine something coming of it later on. If you do eventually take Celestia's perspective, it'd be easy to refer to this event, and the reader will remember she witnessed it. I can't think of any of her specific impressions here that would be necessary. And then you go right back to Nymph. I don't see the value in moving away from Nymph's perspective at all. An then that would free you from the expository information about Nymph's thoughts on the matter when you go back to her.

>If there was a time for comfort food, this was the time.//

To avoid the repetition, this is usually phrased as "this was it."

>Crystal had requested that she be hidden away//

Here's the reason for the scarf. This merits mentioning earlier, but as much as Crystal is admonishing her to fit in as much as possible, wearing a winter garment in the summer wouldn't do just that? I guess I'm also a little surprised Lily isn't wearing Crystal, since they never discussed a new arrangement there.

For all these quotes in italics, as long as the whole quote is italicized, so that italics are the "normal" font for it, it's fine to include the quotation marks in the italics.

>Are you in yet?//

This is that Miaisis (or however it's spelled), isn't it? Why does the scene marker not identify the perspective holder? Not that I think these scene headers are a good idea anyway, but this made me think you were continuing on in Nymph's point of view, and I spent a few paragraphs being confused.

>I peeked into the main lobby to found her//

Wrong verb form.

>piece of armor that had accumulated the most imperfections were//

Subject/verb number mismatch: piece... were.

>the perfect shine//

A little repetitive with the "mirror shine" in the previous sentence. Something like "getting them perfect" would work fine here.

>I wretched off the helmet//

Word choice. Maybe you were going for "wrenched"? Even so, that implies a twisting motion, which would be tough to accomplish with the horn going through the helmet.

>kept a few hair bands and ties nearby to keep//

>right into a pressure point on my gut, knocking the breath right//
Repetition.

And once the action scene starts, you're very much in participle mode again. From this paragraph:
>The door clicked shut behind me.//
to this one:
>He wrapped his right foreleg around my fallen limb//
there are only 2 non-dialogue sentences that don't contain one. By my rough count, that's 14 of 16 sentences, and 14 of 18 if I even include the dialogue. That's very structurally repetitive, not only because you have so many, but because you consistently end sentences with them. You have 6 "as" clauses in this span as well, 2 of them in the same sentence, so more repetition, plus you're asking the reader to synchronize lots of things, some of which probably shouldn't be. I only chose that range because it's what fits on my screen. These issues continue on past here.

>a few fell to the ground//

>I fell to my knees//
A little repetitive in consecutive sentences.

>I shouldn’t have tried to confront him, especially at a range where I fell squarely on the lower end of the bell curve.//

Does she realize he's a changeling? I'm curious as to whether she's actually as big as Overwatch, or if that's an illusion and she's her real size. Because at some point, it's not worth maintaining her secret if it'll get her killed, and if changing shape to something large actually makes her that big, why not shift to something like a minotaur or buffalo?

>Mom//

She'd been calling her "mum."

>I sighed as my eyes began to droop closed, snuggling into the cool, hard floor.//

Sounds like her eyes are snuggling into the floor.

So this is quite a good story, but it does suffer from some pervasive problems. I don't think that scene in Celestia's perspective was worth the shift from Nymph's, and there's a lot of word and structural repetition, which also causes synchronization issues with the participles. As numerous as these were, it's at least simple to describe them and sum them up, so they don't require any further discussion.

The other one was how you bluntly name emotions at times. To a degree, you can get away with some of this, since changeling perspectives are odd that way. They do sense emotions as an innate thing, so they're not so much attuned to reading them through body language and facial expression, for instance. So it does make some sense to do this for Nymph's scenes. It doesn't for the non-changeling POV characters, but also consider that most readers aren't going to pick up on the subtleties of that very well. Plus an academic realization doesn't change a more gut reaction, so if someone actually realizes that it makes logical sense for a changeling to identify an emotion outright, that's still not going to make the narrative engaging.

Here's my advice to you on that front. When you have Nymph casting about and trying to detect emotion, naming it as a factual matter is fine, since you're not trying to get the reader to connect with the characters possessing those emotions, for the most part. But when Nymph has someone right there with her, try to give a bit more indirectly through these other means, since that'll bring the story to life with the reader more. It even makes a sort of sense that Nymph would start interpreting emotions these other ways once she's merged with Overwatch. Maybe she doesn't notice doing so, and maybe she struggles with it. That would be an interesting aspect to the story, but it might be too much effort at this point to work that in all the way through what you've already written.

It's a bit obtrusive how many references you make to the game Overwatch and Discworld (and not just by including similar books in your story), as they feel more like eye-winking inside jokes, but that's probably more just my taste. Along those lines, I'll also say I agree with the comment that said the story's tone has an odd shift, where it starts out quite serious and somewhat dark, then transitions into an almost slapstick feel once Lily gets introduced. At least it goes back to being more serious here, but you might consider melding them more thoroughly. I get that you're even trying for a Discworld feel to the entire story instead of making a few isolated references, but consider that Pratchett tends to keep up the comedy even through the serious parts, instead of spending long stretches that are mostly one or the other. It's both, the whole time. Not that you have to mimic Pratchett that closely just because you've borrowed some elements from him, but he's a good example of how to keep the story tonally consistent instead of oscillating between two tones. I'll leave those as suggestions, not requirements.

Once you're ready to resubmit, you can mark it as "back from Mars," since I'd only need to spot-check things. I'd like to see this go up on the blog.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2486

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>A tired looking stallion shuffled his way through the mess, his weathered looking peacoat//

Kind of repetitive language there. More to the point, this is someone's opinion, but the story hasn't introduced us to any possible perspective that opinion might come from.

>numbness at the tips of his hooves//

Hooves don't really have feeling. They're essentially giant toenails.

>“Daddy!” It screeched, bouncing excitedly on his lap. Cornelius laughed , gently easing//

Capitalization and extraneous space.

>“Hey, sweetie”//

Missing period.

>The filly’s face//

This is third narrative sentence in a row that refers to her as "the filly," yet the stallion knows exactly who she is. Why would he refer to her like this?

>his mirth turning to surprise//

Think more about how you would convey mirth and surprise if you were an actor. You couldn't just tell the audience; you'd have to get them to read it from your appearance and behavior. That's how we interpret people we see in real life, so it makes it feel more authentic to have it work the same for written characters.

>the little filly//

It's also getting really repetitive to refer to her like this. It's not like it's a mystery who she is, and it's just telling me information I already know about her.

>The filly looked incredulously up at her father before carefully setting her present aside and leaping into her father's hooves, burying her face in the crook of his neck.//

Look at how many participial phrases you use. And look how oftern you put them in the same place in sentences, tacked on the end. Besides being structurally repetitive, keep in mind that participles mean things happen at the same time, so you have a bunch of actions synchronized here that shouldn't be. It's illogical that she can set her present down, leap to her father, and bury her face against his neck all at once, for example. Those things would happen in sequence.

>she let out a breath as she came face to face with her father.//

We're 5 sentences into the chapter, and every single one has an "as" clause so far. That's yet another example of structural repetition.

>“Yeah…” she said, her voice trailing off awkwardly.//

You don't need to narrate trailing off when it's already apparent from the punctuation.

>you go//

Extraneous space.

>uptight looking//

These phrasings should be hyphenated, but they're also getting repetitive.

>and — without missing a beat — Octavia//

Don't leave spaces around em dashes.

>Octavia ‘s//

Extraneous space, which has made the smart quotes turn your apostrophe backward.

>She felt like a captured animal, caged and on display for the amusement of the populace. Blanching at the sheer numbers of ponies skewering her with their eyes, she turned and gave her father a pleading, hopeless look and in return he offered her his most encouraging smile.//

This is symptomatic of the story. Not how the perspective is all over the place. The narrator expresses Octavia's thoughts as if his own (as in the subjective statement about "skewering"), but then the narrator evaluates and expression Octavia can't see (many authors don't get a feel for whether they should convey emotions through internal or external means—that depends on the narrator, and since you seem to be using a limited one, it should go for the internal, since it's essentially Octavia's train of thought, and she can't see her own face), then makes a vaguely subjective statement in her father's perspective.

>Hello miss Octavia//

When attached to a name, "miss" would be capitalized, and you need a comma for direct address.

>looking mare with glasses that looked//

Yet another one of these "looking" descriptions, and then you use a repetitive form just a bit later. This is a word many authors tend to overuse.

>clamboring//

Not sure whether you were going for "clambering" or "clamoring." Probably the former.

>her eyes hard and judgmental//

For the most part, I'm only marking one example of each kind of problem I see, but I'm going to pull out another example of the blunt emotional information here. Don't just say what the emotions behind her eyes are. Describe them in a way that I'll conclude this about them. Let me see them. You want to create rich visual imagery.

>lengthy hour//

Another extraneous space. Maybe you should just do a searh for two spaces.

>There was a pause. “Just go away..”//

One too many or one too few dots. And around here, the indentation goes all wonky.

>Octavia drug herself//

dragged

>the piano underneath still shined//

"Shined" is the transitive past tense, so it takes a direct object. You want "shone."

>the stallion reminded//

That's a questionable choice of speaking verb, as the direct object it takes would be the person who remembers, not the speech that evokes the memory.

>the forty some years we were married//

Good lord, how old is he? The story portrays Octavia as quite young, but this would put her father in his fifties at the very least. It's not impossible, just really odd.

>into music-//

Use proper dashes, not hyphens.

>said?’...So//

Missing space or something. This doesn't quite work.

>to ever pick up and instrument//

Typo.

>make-” The stallion interrupted//

This has the same transitivity problem as "reminded" earlier. And it has the same problem as the narrated "trailing off" earlier in that I already know it's an interruption from the punctuation.

>to it’s full potential//

Its/it's confusion.

>sudden dim. The vibrant melody was suddenly//

More repetition. But this is also a word that should be used very carefully. If something is sudden in the writing, it shouldn't really take the author pointing it out for the reader to get that feeling. It's like having to say that a joke is funny. It either comes across that way or it doesn't, regardless of what assurances the narrator might give me.

>“What’s the point? She said, her shoulders sagging and her voice turning hollow and lifeless. I’ll never be as good as you?”//

Not all of that is supposed t be a quote.

>Thanks dad/

When essentially used as a name, family relations get capitalized.

>Chaplin//

That's an old American actor, and the spellcheck has graciously capitalized it for you. You want "chaplain." Though I have to say even having such a position of chaplain as opposed to a funeral director or some such implies a whole lot of world building that I just know you're never going to develop.

>Thank you for coming every pony//

"Everypony" should be one word here, and it's another place that needs a comma for direct address.

>The first and most prominent of the feelings that hit her was sadness//

The way you nae all these emotions is seriously going to limit how much of an effect they'll have. This is the crux of the story. Demonstrate this. Get me to see her sadness and joy, not just have to accept the narrator's assurance of them.

>her father’s catatonic body//

His eyes are open? That's awfully morbid.

The two main things hampering the story are the bluntness of the emotional content and the inconsistency in perspective. The longest chapter does tend to stay in a single perspective longer than the others, but it did slide back and forth between Octavia and her father, and I'm not sure you intended to. It wasn't a jarring change, but neither did the shift accomplish conveying some information that only the change in perspective could illustrate. So it might do better to stay in one of the characters' heads. Keep in mind that limited narrators should reflect the perspective character's personality, intelligence, vocabulary, and voice, yet as you switch from one to the other, the narration sounds identical. You're not creating distinctive voices for the two. Often, when I say this to an author, they reply that they didn't realize they were using a limited narrator or sometimes don't understand the term, so it may be that this is all unintentional. It's more difficult to write an omniscient narrator than most people think it is. But you really have the feeling of a limited narrator in this story, for better or for worse, and it's not creating the effect it should.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2511

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

You want to make a good first impression and there are a couple things early on. It's kind of cliched to ask rhetorical questions in the synopsis, plus you misspelled "screencapped." On into the story, and you used "happily" twice in the first paragraph. The second one is fine, but the first one and the "basking in their delight, hoping someday maybe this would be her and her own fun-loving stallion" is kind of blunt with the emotional portrayal. Rather than outright narrate what characters think or feel, it's often better to demonstrate it through their appearance and behavior. If you were an actor, how would you sell "happy" to the audience? You can just say you are. What actions would you take? How would you make yourself look?

There's also this thing we call "Lavender Unicorn Syndrome," or LUS, where you use excessive phrases like "the carrot farmer" instead of a pronoun or the character's name. For one thing they just repeat information we already know, and for another, they often don't work with the perspective. For instance, it doesn't make sense for a first-person narrator to refer to himself with one of these, because nobody actually does that in their own thoughts. Neither would they do so about people they know well. Consider whether it's appropriate for the perspective, beyond sheer repetition.

Your opening few paragraphs use an awful lot of "to be" verbs, which are pretty boring. You want the story feeling active, especially at the beginning. It's impractical to eliminate them altogether, but it's worth trying to rephrase things and reduce them where possible.

>Still, Ponyville still//

Watch that close word repetition.

>‘Til//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they think you're trying to use a single opening quote. You can paste one in the right way. Just be on the watch for this throughout the story.

>was...more//

It formats better if you leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it begins a sentence.

>but it sure startled Applebloom as she returned home from school.//

Why is Apple Bloom being brought into this? It comes out of nowhere.

>looking very tired, a bit sad, but massively relieved//

There's that bluntness again. Describe her in a way that I'll figure out she's sad and tired and relieved without ever using the words. Maybe she's slouching, has red eyes, and won't make eye contact. Those are just a few examples, but it's more engaging when the reader can infer the emotion from the behavior than when the narrator just says what it is.

>Golden sighed deeply. She started as if she were about to speak, then stopped. Rocky gave his sister a questioning look, to which Golden nodded.//

You're starting to get it here. Aside from the "questioning look," their emotions are apparent without you ever stating what they are.

>With sad but sincere encouragement//

Very blunt again. I hope I've given you enough examples that you know what to look for now, since I won't ever finish if I keep marking every one of these.

>...what??//

One question mark is plenty, and since she's not completing an earlier suspended sentence, go ahead and capitaliz this.

>Golden, or as of now, Carrot Top//

When did she change it back? You made it sound like a product of the marriage, and she's not divorced yet.

>somepony who had an enormous burden had been lifted from her shoulders//

The wording is off here.

>Carrot soothed//

That's a really odd choice of speaking verb. If you get too outlandish, it stands out as weird, plus the grammar doesn't quite work anyway. "Soothe" would take the person or things being soothed as its direct object, not the speech that does so.

>ever?//

When you have a word italicized for emphasis, include a question mark or exclamation mark attached to it in the italics.

>with the same stunned expression she had for that exchange//

I think you're trying to use an omniscient narrator, and for the most part you are, but there are some limited elements here and there. Depending on which you actually intend, passages like this may not fit. If you're using limited narrator, you're having her evaluate her own facial expression, which she can't see.

>“I sure hope you don’t have any of those coming up.//

Missing your closing quotes.

>demi-sec or doux//

This is a handwritten letter. How exactly would he indicate the italics? People just don't do this. If he wanted to emphasize something, people would typically do that with all caps or bold or underlining, but nobody creates this kind of italic effect in handwriting.

>three-hundred//

>two-hundred to five-hundred//
>five-hundred//
Hyphens don't go there.

>And don’t you dare bake or decorate those cakes while Pound or Pumpkin are awake or could be.//

I'm not sure she's being specific enough. Just because the party is raunchy doesn't mean the cake is. It might just say "Congratulations" on it. Who cares if the kids see that?

>out...,//

The ellipsis counts as end punctuation. Don't use a comma with it.

I don't get why Pinkie has to give the party. If Mrs. Cake is so insistent that they can't back out of it, let her throw it. She'd be motivated to, since she's the one who claims not doing so would threaten the business's reputation.

>“No, I’m not denying that’s how I feel about the whole thing. I just don’t think that’s wise, or would be well-received.//

Missing your closing quotes again.

>Gummy licked Pinkie’s eye this time//

You've started 4 of the last 5 paragraphs with his name. It gets fairly repetitive.

>Princess Celestia graced Ponyville with the best sunrise the fief had seen in a decade//

Not sure I'd characterize the town as a fief. This isn't a feudal system.

Now this scene where Mrs. Cake wakes up in the morning is definitely done as a limited narrator. The narration takes on speech affecetations and expresses Mrs. Cake's opinions for her. It's possible to switch between omniscient and limited, but there's no clear effect you're going for, so I'm not sure what it's accomplishing. You might want the whole thing to be limited.

>mostly-congealed//

This is the exception to compound modifiers. When you have a two-word phrase starting in an -ly adverb, it doesn't take a hyphen.

>True love lays//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tricky verbs to keep straight.

>cake....//

Just use three dots. There's a specific use for four, but it's in formal nonfiction writing. There are other places you do this.

>Back in her room//

See it's a little odd that you did that scene in Mrs. Cake's perspective, then you have the "camera" leave the room without her. It's possible to do this, but it works better if you then ease into a limited narration in the new character's perspective, but you stay omniscient once you follow Pinkie.

>better!!?//

One of each kind of punctuation will do.

>while sat on the bed in a similar posture//

Missing word.

>nervous tick//

In that sense, it's typically spelled "tic."

>because that cake made her come talk to me and set the record straight//

Did it, though? Wasn't she already coming over before she saw it?

>the infant laying on her back//

Lay/lie confusion again.

>head’s-up//

That doesn't have an apostrophe.

Really, there are only three things here. The first is how blunt much of the emotional content is. I gave a brief discussion of that already, but there's another at the top of this thread under "show versus tell" that might help you.

The second is that it feels odd to have only the one scene with Mrs. Cake, who's a secondary character to all this, be the only one that's in a clear limited perspective. Most of the rest of the story feels omniscient, with a few hints of limited scattered around.

The last is that Pinkie's change of heart is kind of underwhelming. She struggles with how to give this party through the whole story, and she has a huge change of heart in just a couple quick paragraphs. I think it'd help to draw that out more, maybe have it happen gradually over more of the scene instead of all at once. Or at least have her need to think about it first instead of just making a snap decision that it's okay. Is it really a change for her, though? She could just as easily be giving in for Carrot Top's sake, since she doesn't seem to have learned anything or come to some new realization. Really she doesn't because of this line:
>I can’t say great, because of why we were there, but it was good.//
So what's really going on here? She's happy she completed the task that Mrs. Cake browbeat her into taking? Or that she's glad she could help a friend through a difficult time? (By the way, a lawyer picking her up as a client at this party, even with his supposed discount rate he's offering, just screams "ambulance chaser" to me.) It's not clear exactly what resolution she's come to, how she rationalizes it, and how that makes her feel, and it wouldn't take much to form one. This story's on the right track.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2516

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>I am the protege//

To be really technical, a female is a protegee.

>one of the Elements of harmony that protects//

Subject-verb number mismatch: Elements protects. Also note that it's standard to capitalize "Harmony" in this term.

>Pre-classical//

Both words would be capitalized.

>today as a Cutie Mark or Stud Stamp today//

Watch that close word repetition.

>a couple of unicorn//

Typo.

>An action for those far beyond his station, he knew just what sort of punishment he was in for. Instead of turning him in//

I have no idea what that first phrase is trying to say, and as it's worded, it all describes "he," which doesn't seem right.

>pegasi freelance group//

Noun adjuncts are singular. For instance, you say "ham sandwiches," not "hams sandwiches." You're also inconsistent about when you choose to capitalize the names of the pony races.

>two-and-two//

No reason to hyphenate that.

>As soon as he switched places with our lead pony, an earth pony named Stout Haul//

He just got finished saying that the pegasi considered him the only thing holding them back from just flying to their destination. That argument doesn't hold water if there are other non-pegasi there, and it's curious that someone as sharp as Star Swirl wouldn't point that out.

>They also don't seem to be bothered at by any form of cold weather at all.//

There's an extraneous word here.

>Frigid Pulled//

Extraneous capitalization.

>that If the beasts power came from it's eyes//

Extraneous capitalization, missing apostrophe, and its/it's confusion.

>As I charged around the side of the cart I charged//

More close repetition.

>The moment I sighted the creature I knew that I was going to be in danger as well, but if my timing was right my spell would go off regardless, and blind the creature.//

You have the comma usage backward here, and this turns up here and there throughout the story. "but if my timing was right" is a dependent clause, so it'd normally be set off with a comma, and "my spell would go off regardless and blind the creature" doesn't need a comma between an ordinary compound verb.

>The flash of light was enough to charge the atmosphere and lightly singe everything unlucky enough to be in direct contact with the light.//

More close repetition.

>his his//

Repeated word.

>it's body//

It's/its confusion again. I suspect this will be a recurring problem. If you don't want it to expand to "it is" or "it has," don't use an apostrophe. No possessive pronouns have them.

>I'm not sure If//

Another extraneous capitalization. This also seems to be a recurring issue, and I'm not sure why it's happened twice with this word.

>which is why I've exchanged Basilisk meat for some cactus pulp//

But he doesn't mention basilisk at all. He's crossed out cockatrice.

>Twilight set down her quill with a sigh.//

I have to say it's really weird that the entire chapter so far has been a brief scene of Twilight writing something herself, then a bunch of things she's transcribed. And then we get this tiny narrated scene that's completely out of that pattern. It's fine to blend real action and written records, but when the former occupies barely a couple percent of the chapter, it makes me wonder if it's really necessary to do it at all. And sure enough, nothing of any consequence happens in this scene. If you just want it to break up the letters, then you need to make a pattern of it and do this more often.

>Pagasi//

Typo.

>The family consists solely of the father//

You're either missing a line break and indentation, or you didn't intend to start a new paragraph here.

I'm starting to wonder why the entries are just numbered and not dated. Is that Twilight's doing or Star Swirl's? Either way, it's odd that Star Swirl wouldn't catalogue the dates, and if he did, it's odd for Twilight to omit them.

>I left for the Stone's home//

Assuming that's a family (because it would be odd to put "the" in front of an individual), that should be plural: Stones'.

>offerings they were offering//

Repetition.

>I think I might need change up some things//

Missing word.

>manages a complex of a task as running a mining operation//

Typo.

>interested on//

Usually, it's interested "in."

>spell. Their spell wasn't just a basic clairvoyance spell//

Quite repetitive.

>in such high regards//

That phrase is usually rendered as singular.

>pegesai//

Spelling.

>At least that's what I was told, my hoof still passed cleanly through it//

That comma is a splice.

>a pegasi//

Mixing singular and plural there.

>exempt myself to//

Usually, it's exempt "from."

>together, a boon considering I've never attempted to sew anything together//

Repetition.

>one whose standing is in as such a questionable position as my own//

The normal phrasing would be "in such a questionable position" or "as questionable a position."

>There is only so many spells//

Number mismatch: is spells.

>would be hear//

Homophone confusion.

>that I'm not able of assisting//

Really awkward phrasing.

>before I venturing//

Something got jumbled there.

>I learn//

Verb tense is off.

>some adults talking about swarm arriving//

>while galloping towards the proved to be quite difficult//
Missing word.

>Fireflies//

Sometimes, you just use "Firefly" as the plural, so be consistent.

>I'm told that, luckily, that//

Redundant "that."

>just going to completely cover my next uniform in bells, just//

Repetition, and this is a common word for authors to overuse. You have 21 in the chapter, which isn't awful, but they occur in clusters.

>If i never see that magic flower again//

Capitalization.

>Also, instead//

Extraneous spaces.

>the head pegasi in charge about the matter. He//

So is it multiple pesagi or just the one?

>less that understanding//

Typo.

>"Another section complete." she thought to herself//

Punctuation. When a quote would end with a period and you want to transition into a speech tag, the period gets changed to a comma.

>Pinkie Pie burst the the front door//

Repeated word.

>and-//

Please use a proper dash. There's a guide to the at the top of this thread.

>"delicate..."//

By the way you've punctuated the paragraph, this is a separate sentence. It needs to be capitalized.

>That's alright Pinkie.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>Either way It//

Extraneous capitalization.

>7 Layer//

This would have a hyphen. I'm a little curious about how the subtleties of taste work here. Opal and fire opal are just hydrated quartzes, amethyst is a variety of quartz, and obsidian is mostly quartz. Sapphire and ruby are the same mineral.

>make something out the most random assortment of elements//

Missing word.

>Where would one even find an oven powerful enough to melt Fire Opal anyway?//

Any oven suitable for glass blowing would do the trick. Point taken that this isn't a household thing, buy neither is it something exceedingly rare. A blacksmith could probably accommodate them, too. Sapphire and ruby would take far more heat to melt. For that matter, parts of the resipe don't make sense. It's "7 layer," yet there are 8 ingredients. I figured one would be a garnish on top, but the directions make no mention of such. But if the oven is hot enough to melt the fire opal, everything but the sapphire and ruby would melt, too. I can see wanting to serve the whole thing hot, but it the top layer should be the only melted one, it may be necessary to cook it separately and put it on afterward, or else use something like a blowtorch or broiler that can heat just the top.

>That can only mean that whatever it is that's going on, It must be big. Very Big.//

Yes, and he just said so a couple sentences before. This is redundant. There's also another extraneous capitalization.

>enchant the soldiers armor//

Missing apostrophe.

>They think that once the flames are dealt with they can deal with the dragons other dangerous bits.//

Missing comma, missing apostrophe, repetitive phrasing.

>no two materials seem hold the enchantment spells//

Missing word.

>pony kind//

This would be one word, like "mankind."

>The gems would be prohibitive based on the price alone//

Well, that depends, doesn't it? Some ores are more valuable than gems, either because of what they contain or because of scarcity (particularly to collectors).

>A gem, appropriately called Fire Opal, seems to be able to hold the ward most effectively, followed closely by Rubies.//

This makes me wonder what actually holds the enchantment. The only difference between ruby and corundum is trace amounts of chromium. Sapphire is also corundum, so it has various other trace impurities, but apparently chromium is the key one. Without any reason given for valuing this method of incorporating chromium versus any other (for example, carbon steel, where carbon enhances the steel's strength while leaving it malleable), why not just use pure chromium?

>long distance flight//

long-distance flight

>Those few ponies that have chosen//

When talking about sentient creatures, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>much the surrounding countryside//

Missing word.

>low hanging//

>close range//
Hyphenate.

>should they wear off during the fight//

Set this off with a comma.

>that It would//

Why do you keep capitalizing that word in the middle of sentences?

>anypony not involved//

How appropriate this is depends on how you intend it to be presented. Star Swirl wouldn't have italicized the word in his original writings, so has Twilight changed that for her transcription of it? The reason I say Star Swirl wouldn't have is because that's not what people do in handwriting. When adding emphasis, they'd typically use all caps, darken it (essentially, bold font), or underline it. How would someone differentiate between italics and normal font in handwriting? Print one and use cursive for the other? That'd be odd.

>The stuff they brought is actually pretty good, too bad I'll need to keep a clear head before the assault.//

Comma splice.

>Crush the Candies until a fine powder remains and place them in the silk bag. Thinly slice the orange and lemon//

Try to make sure you're consistent about capitalization. I don't know why you'd need to capitalize them all in the ingredients list anyway, but you're only intermittently doing the same thing in the directions.

>Earth pony//

If you're going to capitalize races (and you don't, as you almost always use "pegasi" in lower-case), get both of these words. Just capitalizing "Earth" makes it refer to our planet.

>you Do not//

More extraneous capitalization. I really can't imagine what's making you do this.

>I-It's//

Who would actually write a stutter in a journal? This is a speaking affectation, not something he'd actually write down.

>Things then went from bad to worse, the entire plan for the ambush was now out the window.//

Comma splice.

>The group that Frigid and I were a part of, was one of the last to enter the cave.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>I skid//

You keep switching tenses in this scene.

>I managed to hook my foreleg over some scrub bush before tumbling over the edge. Frigid managed to//

Repetitive sentence openers there.

>side, his right wing hanging uselessly by his side, damaged in the attack. I tried to pull us both up, but the long-dead plant threatened to pull//

Repetition of "side" and "pull."

>The small support team, which were ordered to stay out of the fight at my insistence, was//

A collective word like "team" can be considered singular or plural, depending on the circumstances, but you play it as both in the same sentence, as you give it "were" and "was" as verbs.

>low lying//

Hyphenate.

>lets loose it's flaming breath//

Its/it's confusion.

>one quicker pegasi//

If it's one, then why is it plural?

>tackling me away from molten puddle//

Missing word.

>divvy it out//

I've only ever heard it as divvy "up," not "out."

>themself//

No such word. I'd say to use "themselves," but we already know it's about Star Swirl, so why not use "himself"?

>alone If//

Another extraneous capitalization.

>she became worried//

You already said she was.

>Through Penny's console//

Don't you mean "consolation"? Otherwise, it sounds like he's using her control panel to do something.

>After I had calmed down and ordered the search to be called off.//

Doesn't seem like the place for a sentence fragment. It's not a coherent thought.

>state when//

Extraneous space that I assume is supposed to be a comma.

>noticed My bell//

And another extraneous capitalization.

>fight It//

Why do you keep doing that?

>It didn't even make the same melodic sound anymore, only a dull, sorrowful song could be heard from it now.//

Comma splice.

>self serving//

Hyphenate.

>The title now belongs to the pegasi who saved my life after the fight//

You keep using "pegasi" as a singular term.

>He's still little young//

Missing word.

>in anyway possible//

"Anyway" and "any way" aren't interchangeable. You do need it to be two words here.

>Could I have saved my friend.//

Isn't that a question?

>only think they know//

Another odd use of italics in something handwritten.

>a horns//

Typo.

>I noticed that her smaller sister//

He just used "I noticed" in the previous sentence.

>that It was//

>only If they//
srsly

>The mystery of the list//

This really confused me. I was trying to figure out what I'd missed earlier in the story until I figured out it's what comes after this. You ought to explain a bit about Twilight finding the list. It's weird to make a big plot point out of it when the reader has no idea what you're talking about, then show me the list afterward. Well, you did start with this last chapter, but you didn't call it a list or make a big deal out of it being a mystery, so it didn't immediately occur to be. It'd only take a little rewording up front to make sure it's clear what you're referring to.

>twilight//

Capitalization.

>That could only mean that each of the sets must represent something in particular, a pattern of sorts, and if she could find out what each of the sets represented then, she hoped, the sets would form something with more meaning.//

That's an awful lot of repetitive language.

This wasn't a bad story. The writing was fine, and it had an interesting enough plot. There are a few issues which should be clear, from all the editing stuff I pointed out multiple times to the lack of dates on the entries. It's not that the dates themselves would be so important. If one's March 23, that doesn't necessarily mean anything to me. But it does make a difference how long it's been since the previous entry. There are a few times he addresses that, but it's rare. And for a number of the entries, it'd imply quite a bit about the story's action whether two entries came a single day apart or a long time apart.

The big thing for me is that the whole thing feels so disconnected. It's not surprising, since it's in the middle of a continuity of several stories, and we're wary of posting sequels and such, since they often require the reader to know things from earlier entries. That seems to be the case here, to a degree. It's understandable enough what these events are that Star Swirl is documenting. I don't feel like there's some back story to it that I'm missing in terms of wondering what's happening in the first place. I might be missing what gives it some greater meaning, though.

So we start out with Star Swirl learning kinds of magic that he's not supposed to know, both because he wants to learn it for its own sake and because he wants to document it. This gets him ostracized, and during his wanderings, he gets assigned to this task force, and they eventually are ordered to kill a dragon. The pony who'd served as his only friend on the trip goes missing in the fight.

That's all well and good, but what did any of it mean? We see a little character development for Star Swirl in his attitudes toward Frigid and Penny, but he doesn't make a big deal out of it. It's hard to assign much importance to the loss of Frigid when Star Swirl himself doesn't say that much about it. His actions in searching for him beyond when it was reasonable to do so at least show a level of devotion, but he's writing about it in his personal journal, where he puts private thoughts that nobody else can see, and he's not going to expound on how it hurts, how much he misses Frigid, or anything? His actions and what he decides to write aren't very consistent. And then he doesn't come to any conclusion based on it. He and Penny don't come to any new understanding in their relationship, for instance.

All of these events don't share some kind of thematic tie, and then you keep adding more and more without any of it ever leading anywhere. Learning magic, the fight with the dragon, the appearance of alicorns, the hidden code. They all stack up, but without any of it coming to a resolution or good stopping point. While it's fine for a story in a series to do something like this, as long as the reader is keeping up with it, that doesn't make it a good entry point for a new reader, and without the first story being on Equestria Daily already, it's not a good place to send new readers. Plus a story should be mostly self-contained in some arc, yet every plot thread here goes unresolved. In short, it would need to stand alone well, and it just doesn't. I will say that this one is a far more convincing example of a journal than the one you sent in last time.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2521

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>Desperate hooves raced over the bare soil; a drumroll of violent urgency.//

The semicolon isn't used right. You should be able to replace one with a period and have the resulting two sentences atand as complete.

>Thunder boomed in the distance, a warning of things to come.//

It already did. It feels like this is a deliberate repetition, one you're doing for effect, but there are ways to make it obvious that it's intentional. One is to have it appear at least three times, so it's clearly thematic, particularly if there's a symbolic meaning to it. Another is to use words like "still" or "again" to call attention to the repetition. Here, though, it's odd to state it's a warning of things to come, since it already thundered, and nothing happened since the last one. If it just now made AJ think of that, then fine, but then have the narrator communicate that.

Your narration is getting really mixed here. On the side of omniscient, you're doing things like this:
>the pragmatic mare//
—making external references to the characters. AJ wouldn't call herself this, after all.
or this:
>Right now, all she cared about was finding her little sister, Apple Bloom.//
This is also more from an external viewpoint. AJ would have strong feelings about this sentence, but it's delivered dispassionately, as a factual statement. Plus it defines her sister, which AJ wouldn't need to do.

That's all fine, but we also have some indicators that you want to use a limited narrator, like these:
>Tired. Terrified.//
The narration takes on a conversational tone here. This is decidedly informal, so it would seem to represent AJ's internal impressions more.
>Had something happened to her? Was she hurt somewhere in the woods? Did a timber wolf attack?//
And here's the kicker. The narrator is presenting AJ's thoughts as if his own. These are AJ's questions, but the narrator's the one asking them.

So you need to figure out what kind of narrator you want and stick to it. I get the feeling you're trying for an omniscient narrator, but they're a lot harder to write than most people think they are.

>t never before had the place she’d called home seem so alien to her.//

Typo.

>It’s as if she had stepped into some warped version of the farm.//

"It's" doesn't mean "it was," only "it is" (or "it has"), so you're switching tenses here.

>You do not belong here, the alien forest seemed to be saying to her. Leave, NOW!//

For the stuff that's being presented as imaginary dialogue, either put it in quotes or italicize it.

>sprawled//

Odd thing for a hat to do, since it can't change its shape.

>“Apple Bloom?” She called out.//

>“Applejack?” The tiny voice replied.//
Dialogue tag capitalization. Keep an eye out for these, as there are others.

>Hang on, sis!//

As a term of address, family relations get capitalized.

>with vices crawling up its sides//

I assume you meant "vines"?

>half-boarded up//

You don't need the hyphen here. It changes the meaning, since what immediately follows the hyphenated phrase isn't what it describes.

>She could smell putrid water//

Depending on what type of narrator you want, consider that this kind of phrasing works against a limited narrator. You use these verbs of perception in other places, too. The point is that if you're using a limited narrator, the character and the narrator are essentially the same. In that case, you don't need to say the character saw something, for instance. It's enough for the narrator to describe it, because if he can see it to do so, the character must have seen it, too.

>of…well//

It formats better if you leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it starts a sentence.

>she began to cry.//

That's not a dialogue tag, so it needs to be capitalized.

>Applejack knew it was only a matter of time//

This is the same idea as the perception verbs. The narrator also knows the same things as AJ, so it's enough for the narrator to say it, and it's implicit that AJ knows. The same is true for verbs like wonder, wish, want, think, hope.

>Glancing around, Applejack naturally focused on the discarded rope.//

Keep in mind that participles imply simultaneous action, but she's don glancing around if she's focused on the rope.

>coy fish//

That's a really, really odd word choice. Are you sure you didn't mean "koi"? Even then, they're more known for being domesticated, which wouldn't put very many of them in the path of a tsunami, certainly less than any given ocean fish.

>Like feeding a wire through a wall//

Why are you comparing it to that? It's not like that at all. She doesn't have to force the rope down the well. It'll go under its own weight.

>felt a taunt pull//

Typo. I presume "taut" is what you wanted, but that's an odd fit here.

>Ah saw a flash.”

>
>“That would be the thunder,”//
Well, no, that would be the lightning.

>Perhaps there was some water left in the well.//

Wait. If it's full enough that she could reach Applejack by floating, why would she have had to feed so much rope into the well? It's really inconsistent, and she'd already come up with a plausible explanation for how Apple Bloom could be so close. Why add this one?

>Her wide eyes were filled with confusion and apprehension//

Emotion comes across far more effectively when I have to interpret it myself, not when the character or narrator interprets it for me and gives me their conclusion. Show me the evidence Applejack uses to deduce this. What's Apple Bloom's posture? Her facial expression? Her behavior? Let me be an observer, and only say what I can perceive about her, not what emotions tohse perceptions would support. In a very simple example, it's the difference between saying someone is happy and that he smiled.

>looked like she’d just been through Tartarus, Apple Bloom looked none worse for the wear.//

Watch that close word repetition, but this is odd, too. She looks like hell, but she looks like she's none the worse for wear.

>AJ spoke as if she’d never seen her before.//

And that sounds awfully familiar for an omniscient narrator. Even if it's limited Applejack wouldn't call herself that, so it'd seem to have shifted to Apple Bloom's perspective.

>Trapped animals did it all the time; chewing off their legs so that they may escape.//

Another misused semicolon. A period, dash, or colon would be fine.

>Whatever had her felt ambiguous.//

That's a really bland description for the situation.

>NOT//

For these places you use all caps, it's preferred to use italics for emphasis.

>Her eyes wide, Applejack skidded away on her back, putting as much distance between her and the well as possible.//

Seems odd that she's basically leaving Apple Bloom to fend for herself.

>Her sister was in a better frame of mind.//

That's also rather vague and bland.

>Half-dazed and barely coherent, instinct took hold//

This says that instinct was half-dazed and barely coherent.

>It was always patient.//

And then at the end, you go into the creature's perspective.

This was a nice little story. Plenty of effective horror. My only issue is with te perspective, and I've pointed out a few examples of it. If you still have questions about that, please feel free to ask. It might be quicker to do so in this thread.

In addition, I'll point out that, as the saying goes, the scariest monster is the one you never see. You either took that to heart or lucked into it, but either way, it's there. Until the end, that is. I won't make you change it, so just take this as a strong suggestion. I think the story would be significantly more effective if you removed the last two paragraphs. For one thing, as I already noted, it's an odd and unnecessary change of perspective. For another, it undoes a lot of the work you already did in creating this unknown horror. You've made it far less unknown. Before, we had no idea what it was. Something intelligent? A mindless creature who'd learned to mimic speech patterns that would lure in prey without actually understanding what it says? There was no way to tell. And that's why it's scary. Now you've really narrowed down the field, and the more familiar it becomes, the less scary it is. In fact, by putting the last couple of paragraphs in its perspective, you've even allowed me access to its thoughts, and when you do that, you invite the reader to fill in personality where it isn't defined. Often, the reader will use his own, so even more familiarity.

So I think you need to get a handle on whether you wanted to use an omniscient or limited narrator, scrub the story to make it conform to that choice, and I'd recommend taking off the last two paragraphs.

For that matter, readers are always going to say they want a sequel, but it's not always a good idea. Here, it's for the same reasons I stated. The more you explain, the more the reader has it figured out, and the less scary it is. Lovecraft explained a lot, too, but he managed to create such a pervasively dreadful atmosphere that he could afford to. You don't create an atmosphere quite like he does. He's more about setting and happenings that are obviously wrong, while you have a storm, and while it may be a stronger one than normal, it's still a fairly routine occurrence. Everything that's supposed to be eerie derives only from the storm, until Applejack gets to the well. I just don't think a sequel is going to improve things and may well reduce the creppiness factor this story had going. It's possible to make it work, but it's not easy. I can't keep you from writing one, of course, but you ought to consider how well it would work. Maybe try finding examples of stories or movies where the sequel managed to keep up the tension of the original, especially if it's one of this type where you never see the monster.

I wouldn't need to give it a full re-read—I'd just want to check how you do with the perspective, so you can mark it as "back from Mars" when you're ready to resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2523

>She puffed out her chest and looked proud.//
The puffed-out chest already makes her look proud. You're essentially repeating yourself.

>fixin’ lots and lots of repairs to the barn//

That's still a nonsensical phrase.

>the it’s tricky//

Something got messed up there.

>thoroughly unconvinced//

And that's still in here too. You use the exact same phrasing just a few paragraphs apart, and about the same character. It's very repetitive.

>She watched the two adventurers wander off, and pursed her lips in heavy thought.//

You have a lot of spots on both sides of this general rule. You use a comma with a conjunction if there's a new clause, so there has to be both a new verb and a new subject. here, you only have a new verb, so you don't need the comma. If you did have a new subject, like "She watched the two adventurers wander off, and she pursed her lips in heavy thought." then one would be warranted.

>So you—” She reached and tapped Daring Do on the chest. “—need me.”//

I showed you last time how to punctuate and capitalize an aside like that. Lose the first period, and "she" should be lower-case.

>too concerned. The trees were too close together for Daring to fly without wasting too //

Pretty close quarters to be using that word three times.

>Daring knelt low and brushed the greenery away from it’s base.//

Its/it's confusion. What you have would expand to "Daring knelt low and brushed the greenery away from it is base."

>Inside the stonework seemed to glow//

When you have a word that can either be an adverb or a preposition, it's better to set off the adverb version with a comma so the two won't get confused. Here, "inside the stonework" could be a prepositional phrase.

>from her saddlebags and held it up to the Daring//

Not sure what you're trying to say here.

What's really bogging down the second chapter is how repetitive a lot of the descriptions sound. Look how often you use light, sunlight, and crystal. There are other words you can use for these, but we keep getting the same one over and over again.

>brow furrowed in confusion//

You rarely need these "in/with/of emotion" phrases. Like this one, they're almost always redundant with some other description already in the sentence.

>hold her saddlebags in place//

You just used "hold her in place" two sentences ago.

>Cairo’s magic held her in place//

Huh? At the end of the last chapter, he disappeared. How's his magic still holding them?

>The cats snarled and leapt//

They just leapt a bit ago.

>“Ah, horseapples!”//

>“Rainbow Dash! Ah can’t jump that!”//
>“Dash! Help!”//
Unless the vast majority of a quote is italicized, leave the quotation marks in regular font. Besides, you want the opening and closing ones to match. I trust you can find the rest of these.

>Without bothering to check who was yelling//

Set this off with a comma.

>The trees cleared suddenly and bright sunlight stunned her for a second.//

>When she opened her eyes again the ground in front of her fell away//
>When she looked down she saw the faintest snaking white line//
>She scrambled to get her weight onto solid ground but there was nothing beneath her hooves to push against.//
Needs a comma between the clauses.

>an audible crunch//

As opposed to an inaudible crunch?

>satisfying crunch//

There was just a crunch in the previous paragraph.

>Twilight leapt behind a boulder to watch//

There's an awful lot of leaping going on in this chapter. This is already the 5th, and there are 4 more, all still in the first half of the chapter.

>The Pegasus’ ears perked up.//

You've been using Applejack as your perspective character. Why would she refer to Dash like this? She knows her very well. You don't think about your good friends using descriptors like this, do you? Keep an eye out for these, as I see others.

>Sugarcube//

She uses this as a generic term of endearment, so it wouldn't be capitalized.

>The Pegasus’ body was locked with tension and she had a grin on her face.//

Another odd reference, and another spot where you need a comma. If it helps, there a brief guide to comma use with conjunctions at the top of this thread.

>The cat howled louder than Rose would’ve thought possible, and leapt into the air.//

And here't the opposite issue. These aren't separate clauses, so you don't need the comma.

>—then//

Not sure why this warrants a dash, but even so, it's not picking up and earlier suspended sentence, so capitalize it.

>she felt a surge of pride//

Don't be so blunt, specially when she goes on to express it more subtly anyway.

>small gullies and the occasional bunch of small//

Watch that repetition.

>‘em//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they think you want a single opening quote. You can paste one it the right way or type two in a row and delete the first. Keep an eye out for these as well.

>a canvas stretched up and over the whole site//

You pretty much already said that.

>She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding//

This is very, very cliched. Very.

>The Unicorn finished her discussion returned to her seat//

Missing word.

>Unrolled across the ground were three bedrolls, messily unmade and empty//

You just descibed there being a pile of bedrolls, which is either contradictory, or it means they have quite a few spares. Either one is odd.

>a quad of boots//

I love this.

>Nor she could//

Got those out of order.

>canvass//

This is a real word, but I suspect it's not the one you wanted.

>Fully expecting to slam into a pony’s face, the open air and bright sun stunned her.//

This says that the open air and bright sun was fully expecting to slam into a pony's face.

>and although she couldn’t see the Unicorn’s horn//

Needs a comma here.

>Boss-pony//

If you're treating that like a name, capitalize both words.

Dash uses an awful lt of colons in her limited narration, and it just doesn't suit her well. I can't imagine she even knows how to use them like this.

>She sighed in relief.//

There you go identifying her emotion again.

>Before she could launch herself into the clearing a hoof grabbed at her tail.//

Needs a comma between the clauses. You're missing a lot of these.

>in frustration//

Another of those prepositional phrases that are rarely necessary.

>yanked. Daring popped free and sent them both rolling into a nearby tree. Rose was up first, and yanked//

Watch the repetition.

>Once the sky was clear she and Daring turned and hurried off at a right angle.//

Another spot that needs a comma.

>surprised at how thirsty she could get in such a humid environment//

What does that have to do with it? Humidity makes you sweat less effective, meaning you have to sweat more to get the same cooling effect, so it dehydrates you quicker. If you're not active, dry air might dehydrate you quicker, but it makes perfect sense to me that she'd be thirsty.

>She sighed, and pulled her head out of her saddlebags.//

And you don't need a comma there.

>Unlike the watchtower, she wanted this to be more of an obelisk: straighter, with a square base, and narrower; no visible entrance; and ornate carvings up each face to the top, capped with a dazzling pyramidal peak.//

That semicolon's misused, but let me go back to my complaint about how many colons you use in Dash's limited narration. They fit Twilight, but by using so many for both, you're making their character voicing awfully similar. You want your characters to be distinct.

>Daring whooped with excitement//

You really like those emotion prepositional phrases. Most times, they can simply be cut without losing anything.

>keep up, keeping//

>posts circled the clearing, like the posts//
More repetition.

>The bottom started to wobble and vertigo took her for a second.//

Needs a comma.

>but . . . ” She trailed off//

The ellipsis already tells me she trailed off. You don't need to repeat the obvious in the narration.

>playing close attention//

Typo.

>rock over the edge; several seconds later they heard the faintest knockings of rock on rock//

Surely there's way to rephrase that so you don't have to use the same word three times.

>a little ways//

A common phrasing, but the proper form is to use "way" as singular.

>“By taking the stairs?” Daring suggested, pointing.//

This is the second time you've had Dash unable to carry her. But the show has her capable of carrying a single pony easily. Dash carried Rarity and several Wonderbolts in "Sonic Rainboom." Dash dangles Applejack from the end of the tug-of-war rope in "Fall Weather Friends."

>gauged it’s distance//

Its/it's confusion.

>ahead. Rose carefully walked forward, keeping an eye on the ground ahead//

Repetition.

>finer grained//

Hyphenate.

>and she hit terminal velocity so quickly that she didn’t notice any freefall.//

There's not a huga amount of vaiation in how long it takes to do so, and it's not that quick. You cited 15 meters as the depth; I don't think she could even get to terminal velocity in that distance.

>head first//

That's one word.

>knocked loose. She was pretty lucky to have avoided being knocked//

Repetition. I'm seeing a lot more of it in this chapter. I wonder if you haven't edited this one very much.

>Her eyes had adjusted to the low light and she could make out the battered, dirty stetson in her hoofs.//

Needs a comma, and "Stetson" is a proper noun. It's also kind of a fandom conceit, as it's not really the kind of hat she wears.

>She still looked angry, but there was a hint of concern there, too.//

>Her anger and frustration//
You're being blunt with the emotion again.

>don’t it again//

Missing a word.

>Clearly uncomfortable//

If it's so clear, why don't I get to see it?

>They had a matriarchal society; they sent their colts and fillies from home when they were old enough to defend themselves; they sacrificed ponies to ward off the night; and their magic was based more on superstition than actual science.//

None of those list items have their own internal commas, so this doesn't really warrant using semicolons as your separator.

>shoving close to where Rose was looking//

You're using "look" a fair amount lately. It's a word authors tend to overuse.

>pulled the crystal from Rose’s grasp, nearly pulling//

Repetition.

I have to say, the degree of profanity is odd here. They obviously don't use any on th show, but you're not doing anything grittier than show-tone here. It's a cute adventure, so it just feels like it doesn't fit.

>Clonk!//

It's preferred not to put sound effects in narration like this. Just describe the sound.

Anonymous 2529

>>2523

I didn't get an email about this additional feedback and only just saw it. Thanks again for continued feedback, but I'm not sure I can bring the story to a level you want.

Some of the points you're bringing up are going to be present throughout the story. I agree with the vast majority of them. Some are definitely deal-breakers: spelling, wrong/extra words, etc. I've certainly tried going through with a spellchecker and even got someone to edit, and I spend lots of time rereading it--so at this point I think I just don't see the spelling anymore. I'd certainly like to find and fix spelling and simple grammar issues, but unless I find another editor I probably won't catch them. Likewise, I want to fix repeated or missing words, or instances where I have an action happen twice (cats leaping, for example.)

(I figured out the issue with smart quotes: When typing normally, the smart quotes work fine, but when using auto-correct on Android the smartquotes aren't used. So, typing "dont" autocorrects to "don't" instead of "don’t". Who knew?)

And a couple of the points I disagree with. Sometimes it feels like a style issue. I think run-ons and comma splices can add tension and speed to an action scene, as if the narrator can't quite finish his thoughts in time. I do indeed like those emotional prepositional phrases, and the redundant sound effects. It's an action story, and not meant to be efficient, minimalist prose. It's supposed to be fun to read.

But the real problem is that by the time you can get around to looking at it again, there's gonna be another chapter or two posted, and there's another ten or so left. Even if I keep up and fix all the mistakes, by the time it's good enough it'll all be posted. I very much wanted a boost in readers near the start to keep up comments and views throughout, rather than lumping them all on the last chapter. And I hate posting a chapter and then fixing it later -- none of the readers will see the corrections, so it's like wasted effort.

I know you're not likely to review the Google Docs before I've posted each chapter to FFN, and that's understandable. And the feedback you're giving me is excellent quality. My reviewer didn't catch these mistakes. But if it's not good enough to be submitted to the blog now, it probably won't be. Even if I go through each chapter and find badly-capitalized asides and remove colons from Dash's narration, there's always going to be more mistakes.

I really want to stress that you've been a great help. I've updated all four chapters, addressing nearly all of your feedback. I know I'm complaining. I spent three years working on this and I'm defensive. If you still like the story or think it can be fixed, I'd like to share the docs with you. The time you've put into helping suggests you want the story to succeed too. Otherwise, thank you for the help, criticisms, and suggestions.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2533

>>2529
The mechanical stuff isn't that big a deal here, as they're not prevalent enough to be a distraction when reading. It's more like removing a few speed bumps than the difference between the story being readable or not. So don't sweat that. I only went through the additional chapters because they were there; it wouldn't have made a difference to me if you'd resubmitted with the same chapters as before. I just figured I'd help out with the proofreading on them, since they were available for it. The point is more to make you aware and cognizant of them, so you'd be more likely to catch them as you write. Writing's always a learning process, after all.

It's also not a big deal whether you get a feature when you're almost done posting all the chapters or early on. For chaptered stories, I usually see a significant bump on the last chapter, so apparently lots of people wait until it's finished to start on it, probably because they don't want to be caught with a long hiatus or an abandoned story. It works a little differently on FiMFiction, where the most attention you get is when the story first gets published. On EqD, you get added to the story updates post whenever you add another chapter, and you get another solo post when the story is complete. So from that perspective, it's still worth it to resubmit while you have unposted chapters remaining. Also consider this: you have 445 views on the story so far. Adventure is a popular tag, and the central characters are all Mane 6. I predict you'd see 500-1000 additional views from EqD, and half of those might not come until you complete the story.

The earlier chapters are the most important ones. That's what draws the readers in, and we're not as concerned about subsequent chapters (though it's also important for the last chapter to be good, since it's the last impression). We sometimes see the story go up in quality with later chapters as the author gains experience, but we've also seen the quality go down, as the author's already surmounted the threshold of getting posted, so there's less payoff for staying vigilant.

To comma splices, I agree they can be used to good effect, but the trick is making it clear to the reader they're on purpose instead of mistakes. They show a level of preoccupation on the part of the perspective character, so give other evidence of that, like using sentence fragments, trailing off, getting cut off. Use another comma splice within the same paragraph. Or compound it and have three or four sentences tacked together as one giant run-on instead of just the standard two. Readers will quickly pick up on the fact that you're only doing this when the action really gets going, and they'll feel the effect.

Any time I left stuff for you to find on your own, it was for things easy to search. Like for the backward apostrophes, doing a Ctrl-f for a space followed by a single quote should allow you to spot-check all your leading apostrophes and see which ones are backward. Or looking for a double quotation mark before closing italics bbcode where it should come after. Really, once you're told you story is on Mars, you're all but a shoo-in to post. The toughest one to find on your own is probably the commas-between clauses thing, and that's not a big deal. If you fix up the proofreading stuff I mentioned (the specific instances I cited plus the ones I left you to do that are easy to search for, like the leading apostrophes) and the spots where there was a small logical inconsistency, that'd be good enough, and for a returning Mars, I'd get on it within a day or two (though it sometimes takes the blog folks several days to post it, but that doesn't affect the approval at all).

Edit: It hadn't sunk in that you said you'd already made changes. I'll get a head start in looking at them now, assuming you're done with whatever you intend to do. And don't worry about the difference in time between when I post reviews here and the email actually gets to you. We get copied on all emails, so I see when the actual reply goes out. The email actually hasn't been sent yet, as of the time I posted this, so you wouldn't have even known yet that this was a Mars verdict—that's in the email. But if the story checks out now, I'll go ahead and change it to a post recommendation.
This post was edited by its author on .

Anonymous 2534

>>2533

Thanks for the encouraging words. I think I understand a lot better. Should I submit via the EqD form again, or does your edit imply that I don't have to, since you are going to look at it?

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2535

>>2534
Normally, I'd say resubmit, but since you managed to get ahead of the email chain, I'll just go over this again under the previous submission.

And just so you'll have advance knowledge of it (and see how long it can take for emails to get routed by the folks who manage the mailboxes), here's the content of my reply:

Since you saw my response before you even got my email reply, I've had a look at your changes. I didn't give a full re-read, just looked at the specific excerpts I'd commented on before. I wish you'd handled more of the mechanical stuff in chapters 3 and 4, but there's nothing in them that comprises a serious problem to the plot or characterization, and as I said in my response on the thread, you could have resubmitted only the first two chapters, so I'm giving you some leeway in that I would have approved the story based on the condition of chapters 1-2 alone if I hadn't seen the rest. As such, the only corrections I'll offer are two missing-word ones, which you had even been willing to make in chapters 3-4. So all the stuff I noted for chapters 3 and 4 that you didn't address would make the story better, but I'll go ahead and approve it on the strength of the first two chapters.

chapter 1:
>She puffed out her chest strutted up in front of Applejack.//
Missing a word.

chapter 4:
>just don’t it again, right?//
Missing a word.

What I meant to cover in the email but didn't is the procedure for adding chapters to the EqD page. It's spelled out in the fanfiction documentation, but I'll go ahead and leave it here.

When you publish a new chapter, send an email to the main box, submit@equestriadaily.com, with a subject line of "STORY UPDATE: Daring Do and the Lost Tome of Shadows." In the body, include a link to the story's EqD page as well as the FiMFiction.net link to the new chapter you're adding. Your story will soon after be featured in one of the periodic story updates posts. When you've posted the last chapter, the process is the same, except use "STORY COMPLETE" instead of "STORY UPDATE" in the subject line, and the completed story will get another solo post.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2536

I'm only marking the first instance I see of each of these, but for most of them, there are more through the story.

>the bespectacled pale unicorn//

I probably mentioned this in your previous submission. In fact, I bet it'll have a lot of the same small issues. This phrase is describing someone the perspective character knows well, and you have a limited narration, so you're saying Sunset refers to Moondancer as such in her own head. That's not very plausible. I won't mark any more, but pay attention to these descriptors through the whole story and decide whether they're really appropriate for the perspective at the time. In a limited narration, they really only work when the perspective character is saying them about an unfamiliar character or to note something new about a character she knows already.

>fine tune//

Hyphenate.

>Moon Dancer gave her a flat stare and Sunset just laughed.//

Needs a comma.

>“Yes, mom,”//

As terms of address, family relations would be capitalized.

>“Good!” Sunset praised.//

That speaking verb doesn't quite work, as its direct object would be the person receiving the praise, not the words of praise themselves.

>Celestia’s sun//

Oh god no. This is very, very cliched. You might as well say it was a dark and stormy night. And a single tear ran down her cheek. And she released a breath she didn't know she'd been holding.

>she brought it to lips//

Missing word.

>‘just one more spell’d//

Stick an "e" in there, just lik you would for any normal past-tense verb.

>a—“//

Dashes can sometimes turn closing quotation marks backward. I see more of these later in the story.

>only to instantly come crashing down//

She just crashed a bit ago. And onto "soft carpet" which kind of doesn't fit the word choice too well.

>if worst came to worst//

if worse came to worst

>fourteen cushions//

How can she count those so quickly, particularly if they're covered?

>Or else, you’d have to go out there like that//

No reason for that comma.

>Moon Dancer breathed a sigh of relief //

These prepositional phrases of the form "in/with/of mood or emotion" are rarely necessary. There's almost always something else in the sentence to convey that mood or emotion, like the sigh here, making them redundant.

>Moon Dancer couldn’t help herself, she burst out laughing again//

Comma splice.

>after the she raised//

Extraneous word.

>Probably a good idea. In fact, I should probably//

Watch the close repetition.

I'll go ahead and type my intial impression, so it doesn't fade away too much to remember by the time I finishe the whole thing. As compared to your other story, it feels odd that this one is treading a lot of the same ground over again. We'll see if that remains the focus, but Sunset spend a good deal of it trying to make up with Twilight, and it felt like it was a recent phenomenon. Here, she's having the exact same kinds of feelings about other students, and when I hold the two up to each other, she doesn't seem to have made any progress between the stories. It's fine to cover that internal struggle of hers here, too, especially if you want this story to stand alone well, but I would still expect there to be something different in each to show it's an ongoing process.

>And…it//

You're mostly laving a space after an ellipsis, but you missed one here.

>paled visibly//

I'm not sure how you pale invisibly. Besides, Sunset's essentially the narrator, so if it wasn't visible, she couldn't have noticed it, so the point's moot anyway.

>in what could only be described as panic//

It already looks that way, so you're short-circuiting the visual to tell me this. You can add more to at visual if you want, but this is entirely unnecessary.

>lower teacher’s lounge//

I hadn't noticed where you'd put that apostrophe all the times you used this phrase before now, but this means there's only one teacher. Use the plural form. Same goes for "professor's lounge," unless you meant that was Apple Polish's personal lounge.

>After all, the school was for gifted unicorns after all./

After all, you say?

>thoughts of tea forgotten, at least temporarily//

Well, no, not by the narrative voice you have. For this limited a narrator, if she's forgotten it, so has the narrator. It's more likely she's deliberately pushing it aside in favor of dealing with this pony.

>T-that’s//

Think about what sound would actually be repeated in the stutter.

>Cheerilee blinked owlishly//

You descrived Twilight as doing so not too long ago, and it's an unusual enough word that it really stands out when repeated at all.

>months,” Cheerilee shrugged//

Poor choice of speaking verb. How do you shrug a sentence?

>off-guard//

You only need to hyphenate that if it modifies something that comes right after it, like "an off-guard moment."

>When you get put face-to-face//

Same deal.

>Another sip of tea.//

I don't know what it is about sharing tea, but authors suddenly lose all imagination when writing it. What do you do with your drink in this same situation? Yet so many writers just parrot some variation on "took another sip." Don't be one of them.

>Every colt and filly know the story.//

Typo.

>three smiling sunflowers//

They seem more like daisies. They're the wrong color for sunflowers.

>Being a unicorn was part of the core of her very being.//

Repetitive use of "being," even though they're used in different senses.

>Teaching for almost five decades probably makes a pony rather set in their ways. Sunset thought//

I haven't been keeping track of this, so you might have made the same mistake throughout the story. When you transition from a quote to an attribution, a period at the end of the quote gets changed to a comma.

>She only knocked on the door with a hoof.//

Well... what else would she use?

>to the room, all highlighted by the massive floor-to-ceiling windows that dominated the south side of the room//

Given that you already used a "the room" earlier in the sentence, that "of the room" could be changed to "of it" or eliminated entirely.

>A pencil floated in the air beside her and she scribbled something on a sheet of paper before putting it in the outbox.//

>she looked up and her normally hard eyes softened//
Needs a comma.

>I-It’s really nothing//

Unless it's something like a nme that has to be capitalized anyway, only capitalize the first part of a stutter that starts a sentence.

>Why I had that voice in my head doesn’t matter, what matters was it was there.//

Comma splice.

>Philomena finally settled on Sunset’s back and nibbled at her ear affectionately.//

Look how incredibly repetitive the sentence structure in this paragraph is. All 4 sentences go "subject does this and that."

>They recommended I take you on as my aide and I wanted to see you in action for myself.//

Needs a comma.

>Those who you have helped//

whom

>wishing she could let go of another little voice in her head//

I don't remember if I said this in your previous submission, but I'll go off on a bit of side discussion here. There are two classes of verbs that you should use very sparingly in a narration this limited. The first is verbs related to perception, like see, hear, taste, smell, feel. The reason why is because this narrator essentially is Sunset and differs very little from a first-person narrator. They're irrevocably connected; what one senses, the other does as well. So you don't need to tell me Sunset sees something. Just by the fact of the narrator describing it, it's implicit that Sunset must have seen it, or the narrator couldn't have either and couldn't describe it. It's only worth saying she sees something if you want to add special emphasis, like it's an easily missed detail or she was specifically keeping watch for it.

The second class operates on a similar theory, and they're ones related to thought and knowledge, like think, know, wish, want, wonder, and hope. The narrator can simply express these things instead of acting as a middleman and relaying an assurance that Sunset did in fact wish it. Instead of telling me Sunset wished this, just have the narrator wish it for her. There are multiple ways of expressing any of these verbs in such a manner; for "wish," it's common to use an "if only..." phrasing.

>Because when she had rubbed the back of her mane, it had once again loosened the architecture holding the massive construction supporting her mane.//

Repetitive use of "her mane."

Now that I'm at the end, I'll reiterate that this story really has nothing to offer that wasn't already in "The Application of Unified Harmony Magics." It's essentially the same conflict, though actually more muted, and Sunset doesn't seem to have made any progress on her self-criticism by the time that story happens, even though both paint her as continually working on it. The conflict feels even more wedged in on this one, though, as Sunset encounters Cheerilee by chance, then takes it upon herself to muscle Cheerliee through an encounter that's incredibly convenient in how it ends up benefiting Cheerilee and how quickly and flawlessly Sunset manages to put it together. In short, it feels like a bunch of whirlwind events happened in a short time that got everyone exactly what they wanted without any of them actually having to work for it.

That said, the writing is good, the characters are fun, and it's up to the quality of your other story. You could get this one on EqD anyway by attaching it to the first as a side story/prequel, but a solo post is obviously more desirable, and I'd rather it go that way because of the writing quality alone.
This post was edited by its author on .

Anonymous 2537

>>2535

Thank you kindly! I will take your feedback to heart for the upcoming chapters. Thanks for your patience with me, too.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2544

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

Synopsis:
>world renowned//
Needs a hyphen.

Story:
>for awhile//
"Awhile" and "a while" aren't the same thing, and an adverb wouldn't parse here. You really do need it to be two words. GDocs often lies about this.

>little. She was a little//

Watch the close repetition.

>tick tocking//

You mean the whole phrase to be a single adjective, and what it describes comes next, so hyphenate it.

>"WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING, LEADFLANK! GERARD GOLDENWINGS' NEW APPRENTICE COMING THROUGH!”//

The opening quotes and apostrophe here are a simple style, where most of the story uses the fancy style. Be consistent.

>half-flying and half-falling down through the sky//

You'll normally want to set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>another...and another...and//

It formats better if you leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it starts a sentence. This won't be the only place you do this.

>“Sheesh, those ponies make Rainbow Dash look like a proper Canterlot gentlemare," she grumbled.//

Another spot where you mix quotation mark styles. You'll have to scan the story for these.

>No sooner than had she said it//

That word order doesn't quite parse. You were using some fancy but valid ones earlier, but this one doesn't work.

>sound of something being strewn out over the floor; this time, the paper sounded//

Watch that close repetition again.

>ever so distinctive//

Hyphenate.

>found inside a rainbow-colored whirlwind//

You have to be careful ordering words that can serve as either a preposition or an adverb. Here, it sounds like you mean something's inside the whirlwind.

>Quick Twilight//

Needs a comma, or else she's saying Twilight is fast.

>‘Bolts//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they think you want an opening quote. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row and delete the first. You should probably scan the story for these, too.

>plopped down into a lay//

I've never heard that phrasing before. If it's one you're familiar with, it's fine, but it sounds odd to me.

>Navigating a sea of flapping wings and flailing hooves in order to deliver his customer’s breakfast.//

Only capitalize after a colon if the colon refers to multiple sentences.

>just waiting to trip him and ducked just//

Watch the repetition again. This is a word that authors particularly tend to overuse.

>Monsieur//

This is just a generic term of address. There's no need to capitalize it.

>the pegasus ponies that filled the air//

Usually with sentient creatures, you'll use "who" instead of "that."

>around which the storm of wings and thunder of voices whirled furiously about//

The "around which" is supposed to avoid having a dangling preposition at the end, yet you have one anyway. They're redundant.

>You poked me in the eye you jerk!”//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>You- You know my-EEEEEEE!//

Hyphens are for stutters. Please use a proper dash.

>The sun shined//

This is the transitive past tense, like what you do to brass or shoes. You want "shone."

>they were devastated//

This is awfully blunt. Paint a picture, Let me see it so I can decide for myself.

>I’m devastated//

And then he repeats the word anyway. This'll be a moot point if you deal with the previous comment.

>mayhaps//

People often confuse this with "perhaps." It's actually "mayhap."

>quite a handsome creature I think you will find//

Without a comma, this literally means he thinks they'll find it.

>after awhile//

Another spot where you actually need "a while" to be two words.

>The pegasi began breaking into argument//

Seems like that's either be "arguments" or "an argument."

>over who would be the one to catch the sparrow.

>
>“I will catch the golden sparrow!”//
What's the point of that first part when the second says the same thing?

>see-//

>Unfortunately-//
Use a dash.

>The pegasi fell silent and all eyes turned towards him.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>to-” he paused//

Use a dash. And this is one of the most useless pieces of narration that authors love to use. It's meaningless that he paused. What's important is what happens during the pause, but you skip that. The pause was already apparent from how the quote was broken, so the only reason to put these two words here is because you couldn't think of anything interesting to say.

>Gerard pointed his talon and the pegasi followed it to see something shimmering brightly over nearby Sugarcube Corner.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>“Uh…tell you what, kid,” Applejack took a green apple and popped it into the colt’s mouth.//

You've punctuated /capitalizaed this as if the narration were a speech attribution, but there's no speaking verb.

>Sugarcube//

That's a generic term of endearment she uses to describe many ponies. It wouldn't be capitalized. Look for these, as you do it intermittently.

>Golden Harvest’s stall wasn’t the first thing Dash had crashed into today//

Keep in mind you seem to be using AJ as the perspective character here, but you're presenting this as a fact where she can't know it to be. If you used a "must not have been" or "surely wasn't" or some such, it more clearly gets across that AJ is drawing a conclusion instead of having definite knowledge.

>strange looking//

Hyphenate.

>so-//

Use a dash. I don't want to clutter up my response with a bunch of these, so just go scan for them.

>in outrage//

>in frustration//
These occur in the same paragraph. In general, you want me to figure these out through your description of how the characters look and act, not because the narrator directly tells me so.

>But hey, listen up: If you promise not to go pulling any more dangerous stunts like that, maybe I can give you a few tips.//

Don't need to capitalize after that colon, since it only refers to a single sentence.

>Dash gasped in excitement//

>in disgust//
Yeah, you really need to try to avoid these "in/with/of emotion" phrases.

>You know Applejack//

Needs a comma for direct address, or she's asking AJ if she knows herself.

>Dodge junction//

Both words are in the town name, so both should be capitalized.

>Applejack laid in wait//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tricky verbs to keep straight. You want "lay" here.

>“Hey, what’s that earth pony doing?” One of the pegasi called out.//

Speech tag capitalization.

>skid his legs across the earth//

Why'd you switch to present tense here?

>in Applejack’s accent//

That's already apparent. You don't need to say so.

>Applejack mocked//

You just had Dash use the same speaking verb a bit ago, and a "mockery" in between.

>ground her hoof into the ground//

Gotta be a less repetitive way to phrase that.

>in the direction the others had left in//

Redundant "in"s.

>“You’re sure you saw it fly in here, Cloudchaser? I don’t see it.”

>
>“I’m positive! It must be hiding.”//
Why are they cooperating?

>Magic surged through Twilight and sparks streamed from her horn as she shot up.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>defenestrating them out through both open windows//

That's rather redundant. At least you're giving context to a word the reader might not know, but repeating the exact meaning is pretty blunt.

>Twilight, I heard shouting!”//

Missing your opening quotes.

>a moment of silence passed as he took in the newly disheveled library.//

Capitlization.

>It’s okay, Spike,”//

>Sheesh, what’s got his tail tied in a knot?”//
Missing your opening quotes again.

>purple tinted//

Hyphenate.

>iron.“ Uh//

You got the space and the quotation marks out of order.

>Twilight peaked over the top//

Peek/peak confusion.

>Passer euchlorus//

I thought you said it was a golden sparrow? So why does its species name refer to green?

>I guess that’s cool and all Twi,//

See, when direct address takes place in the middle of a sentence, it takes commas on both sides. At an end of the sentence, only on one side.

>Saddle Arabian Zoology.”//

Unless the base font for the quote is italics, leave the quotation marks in normal font. Here, they don't match the opening ones.

>Passer Euchlorus//

You're inconsistent at how you captalize this.

>Well guess what Twilight,//

Another thing I'm going to have to leave you to scan for, or it'll take me forever to get through this. Watch that direct address.

>I’ll already have everything I want when Gerard Goldenwings is teaching me.//

It hasn't occurred to her that she might need to use the wish to get this? Maybe not, but... well, Twilight's smart enough to figure it out, but maybe too socially inept to see what Gerard's doing. I bet if you get all three girls together, they might get it.

>full grown//

Hyphenate.

>for awhile//

for a while

>box seed//

Seems like you're missing a word. This just sounds odd.

>pulling up her binoculars and trained them on the bowl of seed//

Mismatched verb forms, unless you wanted to end the participle at "binoculars," in which case you need a comma there.

>The two ponies laid in ambush//

Lay/lie confusion again.

>began to crawl. She began//

Repetitive, but in the bigger picture, you tend to use a fair amount of these start/begin actions, and you really don't need them. It's obvious that any given action will begin. You don't need to say so. It's only worth pointing out when the beginning is noteworthy for some reason, like it's abrupt or the action never finishes.

>her proclamation was cut short when a magic aura wrapped around her muzzle and forced her jaw shut//

Capitalization.

>WOOOOOAH//

I do not exaggerate when I say at least 3/4 of the authors I get don't know how to spell this. Please don't be one of them.

>the two disoriented mares//

I was giving you some leeway on these types of descriptions, but this one is just too much. You're telling this scene with Dash as your perspective character, so she's including herself here. That's just weird. If you and a friend are doing something, do you mentally refer to the pair of you as "the two buddies"? The other thing is that if she's truly disoriented, she probably wouldn't have the presence of mind to describe herself as such. Rather, her narration, which is essentially her internal voice, would sound like it was having trouble getting sorted out.

>soon caused Twilight’s elaborate system of ropes and gears to come crashing down atop and around them. Soon//

Watch that repetition.

>now vacant//

Hyphenate.

>?!?//

One of each is plenty.

>swathes//

That's the verb form. The noun is "swaths."

>sweat stang//

stung

>The boulder raced towards the earth and sunk deeply into the water//

This sounds nonsensical. It's headed for the ground but hits the water?

>“I mean, well, yes, not me personally, but…” she gulped.//

Another non-speaking action used as an attribution.

>who cowered between the two parties//

Set off this dependent clause with a comma.

>Do-do you need help understanding what-//

The first one is a stutter which can go either way, depending on how you want it inflected, but the cutoff does need to be a dash.

>Fluttershy backed away and her lip began to quiver.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>Just thinking about the golden twit//

So this pretty definitively shos you're using Dash as your perspective character for the scene, yet you used another of those odd descriptors for her early in the scene: "the snorting pony." Why would she describe herself with a phrase like that? It's very external.

>Harry was watching droplets run down the empty recess of his spilled teacup. He looked over at Rainbow Dash with his face contorted into a grisly sneer and rumbled to his feet. He walked over, grabbed the tie-dye tail sprouting out of the wall, and plucked Dash from the window as easily as if she were a turnip from the soil.//

Hang on. You've been telling teh scene from Dash's perspective. How can she see this to describe it. With a limited narrator like this, the narrator can't see what she doesn't.

>tealeaves//

Two words.

>a twinge of regret//

Don't draw the conclusion for me. Let me see how it looks.

>Joy exploded like fireworks within Rainbow Dash.//

This loses a lot of power when you just tell me. Demonstrate it. Make Dash act joyful. Make her narration sound joyful.

>making suppressive gestures//

That's very vague. Show me what she does.

>café//

You've been inconsistent through the whole story about whether you put that accent mark there.

>honest: This I did not expect.//

Capitalization.

>Where is she might I ask?//

Needs a comma.

>She had been halfway through making up her mind to steal Ferris back and hold him ransom until the flight master anteed up and taught her some of his repetoire.//

Careful. You started the scene in Gerard's perspective, but this would require him to read her mind.

>the sounds of their humor made for a good clean harmony//

This is really oddly phrased.

>Tank blinked.//

This is a really underwhelming finale. Honestly, if you ended the story on "laugh," it would be much better.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2549

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>usually. Besides the usual//

Try to avoid close repetition like that, unless it's for a deliberate effect.

>fresh-cut flowers feels foreign//

All that alliteration tends to create a playful feel, and I'm not sure that's the tone you want. You even have 4 more words beginning in "f" in the rest of the same sentence.

>in my hand//

Oh, I guess you do have the human tag. That cover art is really misleading.

>nicely-pressed//

You don't need to hyphenate two-word descriptors starting in an -ly adverb.

>She doesn’t even know what you’ve got planned//

Who's this "you"? If this is a direct thought, then put it in italics.

>Brain, we’ve been over this.//

Okay, it's kind of a dialogue, but narration is more for indirect impressions. If you want her to be literally thinking this stuff, put it in italics. A "you" in plain narration is going to address the reader, not the character.

>I resist the urge to tell it to go one and tell me all about it.//

I have no idea what this is saying. It's also a bit repetitive.

>with a few stray whips peaking out//

Peak/peek confusion.

>Her hair is up in its usual pink bun, with a few stray whips peaking out from under her hat due to the day’s exertions. Her posture is focused, but more relaxed than she sometimes is right after work, and I doubt she’s even realized that her shift is about to end at this point. Her tail is also bound up, but one long lock of coral pink cascades down against the back of one leg, looking out of place but also kind of adorable. I spend just a moment watching her work, amused and kind of happy at catching her unawares.//

Actually, let me revisit this whole paragraph. Look at how awash in "to be" verbs it is. It ends fine, but the first half of it has 6 of these verbs. They're inherently boring, since nothing happens, and they can tend to drag a story's action and momentum. It's impractical to avoid them altogether, but it'd benefit you to try phrasing things in an active manner when you can.

>I can see in her expression a wave of shock, confusion, and just maybe a little joy//

What does he see that makes him identify it as such? Describe those things to me and let me draw my own conclusions. It's more engaging that way.

>What…what in Equestria are you doing?//

It frmats better if you leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it starts a sentence. Also, they're human. What are they doing in Equestria?

>my-//

Please use a proper dash. Hyphens are for stutters.

>covering her face with both hooves//

Oh. It's one of those. Human guy, pony gal. Got it.

>“Whatever you say lady Red!” I say//

"Lady" is essentially being used as a title here, so it would be capitalized. And you're missing a comma for direct address. And a repetitive use of "say."

>Just call me Red like I’ve asked, I’m a nurse right now, I hardly feel ladylike.//

There are times comma splices can work, but I'm not feeling it here.

>The waiter escorts us to a small table near the back of the restaurant, away from most of the other guests.//

And the story is stagnating again with all these "to be" verbs. The first two paragraphs of this scene contain a total of nine.

>the waiter pulls back Red's chair so she can sit down and she gives him one of her more charming smiles as she settles in//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>"This is way, way too much,"//

Until now, you had the fancy-style quotation marks, but it switches to the simple ones at this scene. Be consistent.

>I pretend to roll my eyes at her.//

How do you pretend that? Maybe there's not the intent behind it, but he must still do it. I mean, I don't get how you can create the impression of rolling your eyes without actually doing it.

>neither the time or place//

nor

>always-//

Use a dash.

>in half real shock, half faked shock//

This is far too blunt. Don't tell me how he feels. Demonstrate it. How would his internal musing, essentially what the narration is, reflect such a mood?

>I wrinkle my nose in exaggerated disgust. She gives a heavy, exasperated sigh.//

See how oftern you just identify character emotions? There are other times you get it right, where you just stick to what their facial expression, body language, etc. are and don't draw any conclusions from it.

>and I reach back, underneath//

I guess this means his hand is under her hoof? Because it kind of saound like he's going under the table.

>like, and more than that, I know that she sometimes has expensive tastes, even though she doesn't like//

Watch that close repetition.

>looking thrilled and a little embarrassed//

See, why this is ineffective is it doesn't create a visual. There are many ways to look thrilled and embarrassed. What's your vision of it? What do you want me to see? Experiencing it is engaging, but when I don't get to, it's just a cold fact. I can either make up my own picture of how she's acting, which is really your job, or I can move on with the information but not really having a reason to care about it.

>...//

This may cut it as video game dialogue, but not in good writing. It's irrelevat that there's a pause here. What gives it meaning is what happens during the pause, how the characters act.

>The thing is sealed tight and it doesn't seem to want to go anywhere.//

Needs a comma.

>in annoyance//

In general, I'm only pointing out the first couple instances of each kind of problem I see and leaving the rest for you to find. But you really need to clamp down on this kind of phrasing. These "in/of/with emotion" phrases are almost always redundant with something else already in the sentence, and even if they aren't, they're still forcing a conclusion on the reader instead of getting him to interpret the behavioral clues like he would with a real person. You don't want to tell the reader what to think. If it helps, there's a brief discussion of "show versus tell" at the top of this thread.

>"I'm so sorry," I mutter between my palms. "that was stupid of me."//

Either the punctuation or the capitalization is off.

>straightens and sets her lips in a straight//

Kind of repetitive.

>just call the date now we can just//

And that's a word many authors tend to overuse. You have 42 in the story, which is relatively high for this word count.

>"I. Am so. Sorry." I say brokenly.//

Punctuation.

>ok//

It's preferred to spell it out as "okay."

>mock- bow//

You don't need the hyphen, but even if you want it, don't leave a space after it.

>Why thank you sir//

>Not at all my dear//
Needs a comma for direct address.

>same, gentlemanly//

These are hierarchical adjectives, so they don't take a comma between them. It's not a foolproof test, but if you reverse the order and it sounds absurd, you probably don't need a comma.

>As if to shut me up, I hear the soft cough of the waiter at my side//

Since "I" is the subject of the main clause, that's what the "as if to shut me up" describes, but it's the waiter doing it.

>I swallow my desire to scream at this whole situation, and nod understandingly.//

You don't need a comma here, since it's all the same clause.

>for too long, and I can feel her putting a lot of weight against my hip as we move, so I won't force her to do this for too long//

Repeated phrasing.

>as I let go of her and very nearly crash into her as I fall past onto the sidewalk below//

It's pretty clunky to have two "as" clauses in a sentence like that, and it can make the chronology a lot more complicated than it needs to be, since it's trying to synchronize a bunch of actions.

Now that I'm near the end, I can say there was a lot up front in the story that never paid off. I still don't know whay everyone found his outfit funny, and they all seemed familiar with him, too, so it 's implied there's quite a bit of back story, but we nver get a glimpse of any of it.

>dissapointed//

Spelling.

This was a cute moment with lots of nice character interaction. I can't help feeling like it doesn't sell the romance, though. Mostly because I know next to nothing about this human guy. He's clumsy and lacks self-confidence. That's the sum total. Part of making a romance work is by proving the two have a real investment in each other, that there are things each one gives and takes from a relationship, and in fairly equal measure. If I don't know anything about him, then I don't know what endears him to Redheart. If you go looking through Aragon's blog posts, you'll find one where he discusses this dynamic of making sure a relationship is balanced, which is a big chunk of making it believable and authentic. It's a little better in the other direction, where he notes more details he likes about her. For instance, the way she tries to walk upright with him. A lot of these kinds of things work by anecdote though, where someone will notice a detail about someone, and it dredges up a memory of another time they noticed the same thing, or that it was important. These things do double duty, too, since that help fill in some back story as to why they love each other.

That's really the big thing. You have to convince the reader these characters are actually in love. You do show his devotion to Redheart a lot, but it's on the vague side, and since his personality is so undefined, it's unclear what Redheart sees in him. It's a nice comedy of errors, but the impetus behind a lot of that is predicated on the romantic interest. If you want to flesh that out some more, you could have a cute, compelling romance story.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2558

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>Back when I had friends, family, and those I loved and cared about.//

So you mean she didn't have friends, family, or folks she loved and cared about after she became an alicorn? Because the show very explicitly contradicts this, and you're not calling it AU.

>They are all gone now; my friends, my apprentice, Spike, my brother, Cadance, Flurry Heart, even Celestia and Luna.//

For a semicolon to be used correctly, you should be able to replace it with a period, but what comes after it here couldn't stand as a complete sentence. A dash or colon would do fine.

Let's revisit the first few paragraphs. To grab a reader's interest, it's far more beneficial to keep things active at the beginning of the story. One thing that works against that is the use of too many "to be" verbs. They're inherently boring, as nothing happens. It's impractical to remove them from a story altogether, but for the most part, it's good to limit them as much as possible. You have 11 of them in the first two paragraphs alone, which makes the story feel stagnant right from the start. But then you go through the next 3 paragraphs without a single one, only 2 in the next paragraph, and one in the next. So you eventually do a better job of casting things in active verbs, but the first two paragraphs could use a retool.

>I am the only one left and, most likely, I will be the last.//

What's her basis for saying this? It's been shown that alicorns can be born or ascended, and it's never mentioned that existing alicorns are any sort of requirement for others being able to ascend. So what does she think would prevent it from ever happening again?

>I heard a voice call out to me and I turned around.//

Needs a comma between the clauses. I suspect I'll find a lot of these.

>as a little filly, no older than six, entered my room with a hop and skip as her blue and lavender mane bounced up and down//

It's pretty clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence, particularly if they're attached to the same independent clause. Not to mention they tend to confuse a sentence's chronology, since they're both telling me all this stuff happens at the same time. And why do you describe her as "no older than six"? Twilight should know exactly how old she is.

>six year-old//

Hyphenate all that.

>Deciding to humor her//

It's not usually a good idea to so bluntly spell out a character's motivation like this.

>chalkboard, and other sort of things that I simply chalked//

Watch the repetitive wording.

>Woah//

Why can't anyone spell this right? I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least 75% of stories I see have it wrong. Do a Ctrl-f, as there are more than one.

You don't need to do these flashback scenes in italics. It's obvious what they are anyway, and it just gets irritating to read that much italicized text. It's supposed to make things stand out, but when this much stands out, nothing does.

>I asked with joy//

A couple things. First, this is very repetitive with her already describing herself as "overjoyed" in the previous sentence. Second, both of those are very blunt evaluations of her emotion. Think of how an actor would get you to believe his character was joyful. He wouldn't directly speak to the audience and say he was. Yet that's what your narrator is doing. Instead, the actor makes sure he puts details into his appearance and behavior that the audience will interpret as joy. The same works best for written characters. The ways authors are typically so blunt like this are by using emotion and mood words as nouns (his sadness), adjectives (the happy filly), adverbs (she walked excitedly), and prepositional phrases (sighed in relief).

>I showed all my friends my doll and they all loved her too.//

>Even when I went to sleep I still held on to her.//
Needs a comma.

>Miss. Smartypants//

Extraneous period.

>All my friends had gone to Summer Camps this year and I was left alone.//

Needs a comma. And why is "Summer Camps" capitalized?

>I laughed with joy//

You're doing that thing again.

>I wondered if she knew something was wrong.//

This is kind of an advanced topic, but it's worth sweeping your story for. A limited narrator, be it first or third person, gives you a unique opportunity to have the narrator express emotion on the character's behalf or show the character's perception. This usually happens through certain verbs. I'll split them by those categories and explain why.

For perception verbs, the narrator and character are the same person, so they necessarily have the same perception. If the narrator sees something, the character does as well. And if the character can't see something, the narrator can't describe it. So it's enough for the narrator to mention or describe how anything looks. It's implied that's the character's experience of it as well. So it's rare that the narrator will ever have to use perception verbs like see, hear, and smell. The only time it's worth using them in this limited a narration is when you want to emphasize the detail is easy to miss or that the character was specifically searching for it.

For knowledge verbs, it's similar. The narrator knows and feels the same things as the character. So since the narrator is already expressing things on the character's behalf, you're skipping an opportunity to do so by using these verbs. They're things like wish, want, hope, wonder, know, and think. So in this case, you're forcing an extra distance between the character and reader that doesn't need to be there. Instead of having the narrator relay that Twilight wonders this, just have the narrator wonder it for her: "Did she know something was wrong?"

>“Well, you always have to do it every day to get used to it!” I said with a smile. “Plus it helps having a good friend to help you!”//

Exclamation marks are like italics. They make things stand out, and if everything stands out, nothing does. You have exclamation marks on so much of the dialogue in this scene. Question marks are fine, as they're required by circumstance, but of the other quoted sentences, you have nine exclamation marks in a row before we get to the first period.

>causing her to laugh at the feeling of his claws//

You'll normally set off a participle with a comma.

>Spike growled and jumped towards me but I stabbed him with the fake sword causing him to back up and grip his chest.//

Needs 2 commas.

>pretending to be dead.//

Over-explaining character motives again. It's already apparent that's what he's doing, but you can add some imagery if you like.

>by the way//

Set this off with a comma.

>The Legend of Mare In The Moon//

Book titles get underlined or (preferably) italicized. But since your base font here is already italics (see previous note about all the flashbacks being italicized), that reverses book titles back to normal font.

>thanks to my alicorn metabolism//

Set this off with a comma.

>one hundred and fifty//

Twilight's usually fastidious about technical matters. I think she'd know it was improper to put an "and" in a number like that.

>feelings that I felt//

Repetitive.

>Even though the evil side of Luna was gone, dead, or banished I still felt terrified just thinking about her.//

Needs a comma.

>Yet, that wasn’t what was truly scaring me.//

There's rarely a good reason to put a comma after a conjunction. This one doesn't belong.

>sleeping a living//

Typo.

>Princess Celestia had gotten some guards to bring my stuff from the tower and she was inside one of them.//

Needs a comma, and the "she" sure sounds like it's referring to Celestia.

>Smartypants was inside//

You already said that (ambiguous pronoun aside). Needs a comma after this, too.

>she said but I quickly put my hoof to her lips.//

Needs a comma.

>she looked around in awe//

See, when you directly identify the mood like that, you don't paint a picture. You make me invent it or just move on with it as nothing more than a cold fact. It's your job to show me how this looks in a way that I'll conclude awe from it.

>It’s not to far//

To/too confusion.

>different colored//

Hyphenate.

>looked at me with excitement//

Let me see what it looks like.

>... Princess//

Don't leave a space after a leading ellipsis. There are other spots of this I see.

>S-she//

Consider what sound she'd actually repeat. Not just the "s," right?

>I didn’t need to voice an answer because my tears were already speaking for me.//

Needs a comma.

>I had long steeled my heart to prevent any pain from the fact that those I loved were gone.//

To be blunt, this is one of the big obstacles this story faces. This plot of "Twilight's sad because she outlived her friends" is so worn out that you really have to do something different with it. The Smarty Pants angle is a bit different, but she's essentially just another friend she's sad to leave. And really, after so many centuries, she's never made any other close friends? The Princess of Friendship? That's another conceit these types of stories often have that's hard to swallow. Yes, they were among her first good friends, but she's had plenty of time to come to terms with their deaths, especially considering how much else from that same era that's gone from her memory, plus she's never fostered anything else comparable?

>who held my old Smartypants doll in her mouth//

Set off the dependent clause with a comma.

>Thanks for letting me borrow, Smartypants//

Why on the world is that comma there?

>My daughter should be getting her own stuffed animal back tomorrow, good as new.//

You forgot to close your quotation marks.

>curious as to how the play date went//

Over-explaining her mood again, and it's obvious anyway from how the conversation goes.

>as the nostalgic years filled my head//

This is very vague. Any sort of specific example will carry far more power.

>I looked down at my friend... my first best friend, who looked at me with such an innocent yet confused expression.//

Repetition of "looked," plus very blunt emotional depiction again.

>I can’t remember when I felt... sad.//

This comes soon after her lamenting that she'd long ago lost the best friends she ever had, and that Spike should have outlived her immensely. Either she felt sad for those or she didn't. You can't have it both ways.

>I screamed apology after apology.//

This is really over the top. The more maudlin you get, the less authentic it feels. People rarely just lose control like this, and when they do, there's some sort of build-up as to why it's reasonable, but she goes zero to sixty in no time. Where emotion is concerned, less is often more.

>My magic reacted to my emotions and soon enough everything in my entire room exploded into a mess. The guards tried to enter my room but I shouted them to leave me alone. They must have been scared because they didn’t bother me the rest of the evening.//

All of these sentences need a comma.

>world into a united world//

Repetition.

>that was now expanding the stars themselves//

I assume you mean "to" the stars. Because I don't see the point of making stars bigger.

>For a long time//

And through all this long time, Smartypants is just sitting there doing nothing?

>Everything seemed to just get so busy//

"Just" is a word many authors tend to overuse. You have it 5 times in this paragraph alone. And there are 37 in the story, which is getting up there for this word count.

>2 + 2//

You wrote it out as words before, which is preferred.

>F-F-Four//

Only capitalize the first part of a stutter, unless it's a word that has to be capitalized anyway, like a proper noun.

>I shouted with joy.//

Blunt with the emotions again. But it's a little bit different when the narrator's talking about herself. There are some signs of emotion that you wouldn't know about, like your cheeks turning red, since you can't see them. You might deduce it from them feeling warm—you have to consider what's reasonable for the person to perceive. So there are some things you can do here to make her look joyful. She'd be self-aware of jumping or smiling, for instance, but this kind of narrator might also mention a mental image or a physical sensation it causes.

>fatigue set in and I held my favorite doll and oldest friend against my chest//

Needs a comma.

>they were not of sorrow or guilt like before. They were of joy.//

Blunt emotional context again.

>(who left Equestria forever after Fluttershy died)//

Feels really odd not to mention this until now, like it was an afterthought and you needed to wedge it in somewhere.

>A single spell later and everything was cleaned up; as if last night’s emotional outburst never happened.//

Another misused semicolon.

>The spell having ended when I fell asleep.//

Absolute phrases make poor sentence fragments, since they sound like they're trying to be complete sentences.

>A blush decorated my cheeks//

Well, it looks prescient that I already talked about blushes. She can't see this, so talk about it in terms she would perceive.

>Great “insert the amount of times” Granddaughter//

Why is that capitalized?

>“Great, but...” she gave a rejected sigh.//

You've made that lower-case as if it's a speech tag, but you have no speaking action.

>You can teach her a few things and I’m sure she can teach you a few things in return//

Needs a comma.

>shouted Smartypants with joy//

You know the drill by now.

I have to applaud you for the ending. After that maudlin display of Twilight crying, I expected you'd have her die right after Starwish left.

So it should be clear what the main problems are. Most times you try to portray character emotion, you resort to just telling me how the characters feel, and that isn't a particularly engaging method. It's an important hurdle writers need to learn to overcome, and I've noticed it in your writing before. No time like the present to conquer it.

A couple of plot elements didn't quite make sense, either, but I've already explained those. Really, if you can get a handle on having characters demonstrate emotion more than just having the narrator tell me how they feel, that's the only big thing you'd need to do that'd improve the story significantly.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2564

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>nearly sixteen and preparing to strike out on her own, their parents were nearly//

Watch repeating all but the most mundane of words in close quarters like this.

>building, what they called, the perfect place to find a cutie mark//

No reason to have any of those commas.

>finished.

>
>With the dishes finished//
More close repetition.

>she walked up the stairs to Sweetie Bell’s room, gently knocking on the door

Do a Ctrl-f on "Sweetie Bell" and make sure you've spelled it right throughout. Also note that participles mean things happen at the same time, yet she wouldn't knock on the door until after she'd walked up the stairs. I bet this will be a pervasive problem.

>full length//

Hyphenate.

>Sweetie looked at Rarity through the mirror//

How do you see through a mirror?

>Rarity smiled back, walking over to Sweetie, and looking in the mirror with her.//

And you're falling into the trap of repeating some of these words. "Smile" and "look" are ones inexperienced authors tend to overuse. You have a "look" 4 paragraphs in a row around here and 16 in the chapter. They tend to occur in clusters. At the very least, spreading them out more would help, but you really ought to use more variety in your word choice anyway.

>She started when she felt Rarity nuzzling her.//

Be careful with your perspective. You still seem to be using a pretty omniscient narrator, but you're primarily sticking to Rarity's experiences. She couldn't know for sure that Sweetie Belle felt her nuzzling here, so it seems to go over to Sweetie Belle in a shallow perspective, yet you go right back to Rarity afterward. Consistency helps. If you want to jump around quickly, then keep that motion going. If you want to settle into one character for a while, then stay with Sweetie Belle longer than a single sentence.

>She needed to be awake in the morning to complete the orders from her shop in Appleloosa.//

A word about "to be" verbs: You're not using a ton of them, but you're also not taking many opportunities to avoid them. They're inherently boring verbs, as nothing happens, so it gives your story more momentum when you can phrase things with active verbs. Take this excerpt. If you'd said, "She needed to wake early enough to complete the orders from her shop in Appleloosa," it doesn't lose anything, and it's more active.

>Taking the kettle, she walked over to the sink, filling it with water//

Yeah, this will be a pervasive problem. I can't spend hours pulling out every instance, so you'll have to sweep for these on your own. These three actions would occur in sequence, but the participles mean they all happen at once.

>needed boxing up, but the vests all needed//

More repetition. I haven't been pulling out every spot I find.

>tea cup//

Teacup. You have this more than once.

>Grasping the blankets in her light colored magic, she slipped under. She sat up moments later, realizing she hadn’t brushed her teeth after that cup of tea.//

Okay, now a word about participial phrases. They're something authors of intermediate experience tend to lean on because they're descriptive and a more advanced sentence structure, but they're also unusual in everyday use, so they stand out easily when overused. Actually, I should have grabbed the entire paragraph, since that's what I'm commenting on. You have 6 sentences, and 5 of them have a participial phrase. It gets in a rut. You don't even vary the location in the sentence. They're all simple sentences, just an independent clause with the participle attached, which limits the places you can put a participle. Still, there are ways to wedge them in other places, but you always either begin or end the sentence with it.

>she slipped under//

>She had just slipped her house shoes on//
These are only 2 sentences apart.

>her sisters mane//

Missing apostrophe.

>old times sake//

old times' sake

>W-What//

Onl capitalize the first part of a stutter unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway.

>troubling you. “Your stomach trouble//

More repetition.

>like the mares dress had been//

Missing apostrophe.

>and their adjustments were easy//

The first two were okay, but to have a third instance of this word in just the first two paragraphs of the chapter? That's a bit much. Surely you can find a synonym.

>but Rarity had done her best to adjust his vest//

And another use of a related word. That's now 4 in 2 paragraphs. Minor point, but also note that the unintentional rhyme tends to create a playful mood.

>much too small//

As you've used it, hyphenate this.

>but it was too small//

You already said so in the previous paragraph.

>You made exactly what we asked you too.//

While that is a possibly valid sentence, I can't help thinking you meant "to" instead of "too."

>so…muscly//

Leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it starts the sentence. Check through the story for these.

>as a flash of magenta appeared between the two, a scroll falling to the ground as their eyes focused.//

It can be very clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence, not only because of the repetition, but because they have the same synchronization issues participles do.

>Hmm, not even Dear Rarity?//

Wouldn't she put the quoted part in quotes? It'd use single quotes, since it's already inside another quotation.

>I know you’re on an important business trip to Appleloosa but you have to come back to Ponyville.//

Needs a comma.

I know you're doing it for dramatic tension, but I can't think of a realistic reason why Twilight wouldn't tell Rarity what's wrong with Sweetie Belle. If she could, surely she would. She's presented no justification for withholding it, or that Sweetie Belle asked her not to say, or that the doctor refused to tell anyone who wasn't family. There's a trick in making the suspended tension jive with an authentic reason for it.

>a concerned look//

Let me see it.

>“What about close to Ponyville?//

Missing your closing quotation marks.

>She was no better than their parents, running off and leaving the poor filly.//

Okay, this is opening up a can of worms. Your narration has been decidedly omniscient until now. Here, you're not stating something factual. You're having the narrator express Rarity's opinions and impressions on her behalf. That kind of thing really should be consistent throughout the story, but it also calls into question whether you need to have so much of Rarity's internal thoughts italicized as dialogue. That works for an omniscient narrator, but not really for a limited one. Given that this is the exception, it's probably better to tone this back into an omniscient feel, but I'll see how you handle the rest of the story.

>should have ran//

should have run

>‘bout//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they think you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row and delete the first. Scan the story for these, too.

>six pointed//

Hyphenate.

>Rarity was on the back of the chariot and the guards took off//

Needs a comma.

>She sat, the adrenaline from her earlier panic starting to wear off.//

Make this a more concrete image. How does this leave her feeling?

>It-It’s//

Capitalization.

>light headed//

lightheaded

>double time//

Hyphenate.

>The unnatural whiteness of everything, the artificial smell of the air, the long hallways with strange medical instruments.//

Sentence fragments also create the feel of a limited narrator, since they're informal.

>She made it to the front desk and the welcome stallion looked up at her.//

Needs a comma.

>throwing one last thank you//

>With a quick “thank you,”//
Be consistent in how you format these.

>With a quick “thank you,” she took off at a quick trot.//

And I'll revisit that one. Close repetition of "quick."

>A small basket of apples sat on the table next to Sweetie Belle’s bed. Balloons were tied to the railings. Flowers and books were placed on the window seal.//

Compare the first sentence to the other two. It has an active structure, while the other two use passive voice. See how much more interesting the first is to read? And it's "windowsill."

>the sleeping girls mane//

I don't know why you keep missing these apostrophes in possessives. You do know how to use them, right?

>she had ate//

she had eaten

I'll jump in here to say you are actually doing a nice job of characterization, and there have been multiple instances where I started typing out what I thought to be a plot hole, only to find you'd already thought of it. Like why Twilight wouldn't know the train schedule and just arrange for Rarity's transportation, or why Twilight would even suggest Rarity leave the hospital to get some sleep when Twilight herself has been sleeping perfectly well by the bedside. So kudos to you on that.

>Her blue eyes//

This'll depend on whether you want a limited narrator or not. If it's limited, you're effectively having Rarity note her own eye color, which is weird.

>her sisters green//

Yeah, why do you keep missing the apostrophes on these possessives? You get it right with names. It's kind of baffling.

>the girl’s terrified expression//

Let me see it too. It's far more powerful for the reader to witness it than to have to accept the narrator's assurances that she's terrified.

>fearing the answer//

Show this through her behavior. It'll carry much more weight.

>“I…” She trailed off//

The ellipsis already means she trailed off. You don't need to repeat it in the narration. It's not the only time you do this.

>I haven’t ate anything//

eaten

>her sisters eyes//

Missing apostrophe.

>Bulimia//

That doesn't need to be capitalized.

>to see at therapist//

Typo.

>Why did you…” she swallowed//

That's not a speaking action.

>Maybe mom and dad would notice//

When you use them in place of names, family relations get capitalized. So "there's Mom," but "there's my mom."

>their souls calling//

Missing apostrophe. I know I said I wouldn't keep marking the same things, but I have my doubts as to whether you'd find all these.

>Sweetie threw herself onto Rarity, burying her face in Rarity’s neck. Sobs shook her as Rarity held tightly to her, stroking her back.//

Okay, this is really over the top. If you get really maudlin, you make the story more ridiculous and less relatable. Real people try to control themselves more, and if you do too much, it feels inauthentic. Less is often more.

>as they sat on the kitchen floor//

Wait, they're home now? You should establish that right at the beginning of the scene. Redheart had mentioned the possibility of releasing her, but not when. Until now, I took this as still being in the hospital.

>Rarity added as much affection as she could to her words as she softly spoke.//

This is a bit awkwardly phrased, but it feels rather stiff for the kind of sentiment it's trying to express.

>“I’m terribl—“//

Note how dashes can break smart quotes. It's turned these backward. And a bunch more of them, I see, in other chapters as well.

>Oh, mother, father.//

Capitalize.

>at her convince//

I'm pretty sure you meant "convenience."

>Pinkie’s ‘Let’s Eat’ party//

This is really cute. Sounds like she's at least beginning to acknowledge her problem, but it makes me wonder when you'll say how therapy is going, or if she's even been yet.

>one month mark//

one-month mark

>Rarity and Sweetie Belle were in the kitchen preparing lunch when another knock came to the door.//

They were just in Rarity's room. This really needs a scene break.

>Would you like to come in, Sweetie Belle and I were just making lunch.//

Comma splice, and that first part needs a question mark.

>Well, I believe your therapist said to figure out your emotional state, correct? Are you upset about anything?//

So you're addressing the therapy now. I don't have a sense of how long this has been. As far as I can tell, it's the next day after Rarity scolded her parents, so 5 days after Sweetie Belle went to the hospital. It's a little quick to have been to the therapist. to say nothing of multiple visits. Yet while Sweetie Belle was initially resistant to the idea of therapy, which is fine, she's showing a very dramatic change in attitude already, and that's not quite as believable.

>she?//

When you have a question mark or exclamation mark on a word italicized for emphasis, include it in the italics.

Okay, so we have shipping out of nowhere here. I really hope it doesn't end up being extraneous to the story.

>While Sweetie was getting a shower, Rarity was cleaning up.//

Another couple of "to be" verbs that'd be easy to avoid. It's rarely necessary to use present participle tense.

>she was doing, but she was doing//

Repetition.

>‘clean’, as she put it.//

Odd for Rarity to attribute the terminology to Sweetie Belle, since Rarity used it herself earlier in the same paragraph.

>The bathroom door, by Sweetie Belle’s own decision, was to be open anytime she was in there alone.//

You already talked about this and moved on to something else, so it's strange to com back to it and say mostly the same thing.

>she heard Sweetie step out of the tub//

You already had a "she heard" phrasing in the previous paragraph. Why's it necessary to keep pointing out she heard stuff anyway? Just say it happened.

>Rarity sighed at the water droplets on the floor, finding the mop and drying them up before she finished cleaning and went to prepare herself for bed.//

That's an awful lot happening. But you say she's going up to get ready for bed, then in the next paragraph... that's not what she does.

>sisters hard-won one month//

sister's hard-won one-month

>trying to sooth her//

soothe

Nice to see this relapse. It helps combat the feeling that Sweetie Belle's recovery was too sudden and perfect. I still think her attitude changed awfully quickly, but this tempers the progression of events.

>What if Sweetie started again, but got better at hiding it? What if Rarity herself was a weak link that would drag Sweetie down again?//

Another spot where the narration takes on more of a limited feel, whereas most of the story is told as omniscient.

>Hydroflame//

Who's this? You haven't mentioned any such character before, so I have no context as to what significance this has. You're falling back on the "to be" verbs again, too. There are 7 in this paragraph.

>Oh, father, please//

Capitalization.

>“Yep. “//

Extraneous space, and it's made your quotation marks backward.

>The relaxed atmosphere the gentle teasing had created vanished almost instantly.//

Get at this through how the characters behave, not by telling me directly.

>She looked at her parents.//

Pretty repetitive with her looking at Sweetie Belle in the previous paragraph.

>The same two ponies who had cared for her and loved her as she was growing. The same two faces that always lit up with pride when she talked of nearly anything she had accomplished. The same two faces that she loved and wanted to please.//

This also has more of the feel of a limited narrator.

>was-I//

Use a proper dash. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread. For that matter, you should probably read the bit on "show versus tell" too.

>“We—“ Cookie started, but Rarity cut her off.//

Broken smart quotes. And like an ellipsis with trailing off, a dash already indicates an interruption. You don't need to have the narration repeat the effect.

>her parents eyes//

Missing apostrophe.

>Cookie looked between Rarity and Sweetie Belle.//

You're using "look" a lot again in this chapter. There are 18.

>I’m trying to work through that.//

Repetitive phrasing with what Cookie just said.

>the hurt her words caused apparent in their eyes//

Let me see it, too.

>site seeing//

sightseeing

>Sweetie munched on a cookie.//

Why's she so calm and unaffected?

>I’m going to go out, okay?//

She's key to this, and she wanted it to happen? Why's she bailing out? Why does Rarity let her?

>sipping on their drinks and watching the exchange with unhidden interest//

Set off this compound participle with a comma.

>still smiling. “I’m still//

Repetition.

>Thundy is helping Pound with his flying and the Cakes are still looking for a unicorn who can help Pumpkin with her magic.//

Needs a comma.

>guilt tripping//

Hyphenate.

>Applejack and Pinkie were tending to the buffet table. Rainbow Dash was inside giving tours, while Fluttershy was in the back doing the same.//

Lots of "to be" verbs again that would be easy to rephrase as active.

>Little Wing//

Another name you toss in there like I'm supposed to know who it is.

>crowd again. Her parents were mingling with the other ponies in the crowd//

Repetitive. And these are already the third and fourth times you use some form of "crowd" in the chapter. Then you have a fifth and sixth in the next paragraph.

>their daughters business//

Missing apostrophe.

>business mares//

Wouldn't that be one word like "businesswomen"?

>Sweetie began pushing her sister in the direction//

Odd phrasing. In the direction of what?

>her sisters grasp//

Another missing apostrophe.

>What has gotten in to you//

into

>Still not trusting her sister//

This is borderline, but it's still kind of explaining a character motive where it would be more engaging to imply it through her behavior.

>Sweetie’s ears perked up and she looked past Rarity as Apple Bloom and Scootaloo led a pony over to them.//

Needs a comma.

>in confusion//

>Twilight looked even more confused.//
Make her act confused. Don't tell me she is.

>Rarity was finding this conversation much easier than she had anticipated it being. Of course her stomach was fluttering a little, but the words were easy to say.//

A bunch of "to be" verbs again. 4 in only 2 sentences.

>The wing she was raising to shield her eyes and she looked through the crowd was only partially extended and a hoof hung inches from the ground.//

I think you typed a wrong word in there, and it's missing at least one comma.

>“Me either,” Rarity said as she giggled.//

I guess she's making a joke? Because she's liked mares at least as far back as she told Sweetie Belle who her crush was.

>And let’s not dress up, this time.//

This implies there was another time. When was that? Or are they dressed up right now? You haven't described their outfits, if that's the case.

>a blush coloring her cheeks//

She was already blushing.

>I’ve been rambling about you for ages to her.//

I just want to flag this for now, as it's something I'll discuss at the end.

>pressing a kiss to her cheek//

They've only just agreed to a date, and Twilight's already going to kiss her?

>It was the first date Sweetie Belle.//

Missing a comma for direct address.

>she bit her lip again, looking down at the carpet.//

There's no speaking action here, so it needs to be capitalized.

>I’m so proud of you, little sister.//

Capitalize the family relation when used as a term of address.

>Rarity snuggled next to Sweetie//

Sweetie Belle just did this 2 paragraphs ago.

>Maybe the struggled would continue//

Typo.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2565

>>2564
I swear I read a story with almost this exact premise. It took me a while to find it, but I finally did.

Anyway, on the more mundane side, you have a curious set of mechanical problems, like consistently missing apostrophes. A few stylistic things, too, like instances of repetition, clumps of participles and "to be" verbs, and having the narrator tell me how characters feel instead of putting it on display. You also need to decide whether you want an omniscient or limited narrator. In large part, it sounds omniscient, but it slips into a limited feel in a small number of places, so it's probably easier to purge those than to recast the whole thing as limited.

Plotwise, there were two things that bugged me. First, Sweetie Belle's seemingly instantaneous change of attitude, which I've already remarked on. The other is this Rarity/Twilight shipping. It's completely extraneous to the story. It feels wedged in and completely unnecessary. It's just forced, and it doesn't even come up until late in the story. Then you play it so coy about revealing whom she loves, when it doesn't even end up being important, which is a common trope in romances. I get that maybe Sweetie Belle is facilitating that as a thank-you to Rarity, plus there's a weak tie to whether there's space available in Rarity's bed at the end, but you never make a point out of either one of those. So it just ends up feeling like a tangential, tacked-on thing that doesn't go anywhere. Let me get back to that line I tagged earlier where Twilight revealed she'd liked Rarity for some time. This is very, very cliched. So many of the shipping stories out there are of the "pony A reveals a long-standing crush on pony B, who instantly and conveniently reciprocates, revealing she'd also harbored a secret crush" variety. So it's both cookie-cutter and unimportant, which are very hard things to recover from. At the very least, you could make this come across more realistically, but I'd encourage you to find a way to tie it in with what themes you want the story to carry. There are lots of ways you could. Maybe Sweetie Belle's prior realization of the crush made her see that Rarity might not always have the same amount of time available for her sister, and the depression from that was a factor in causing her bulimia, then acting as a matchmaker shows she's gotten over that? Maybe Rarity notices this, and it makes her feel conflicted about dating? Maybe Sweetie Belle is trying to live vicariously through Rarity, since she feels like her own life is a wreck? Do something. Make it matter that this happened in the story, or you're better off without it.

Actually, I thought of another. You make such a big deal about the confrontation with her parents, but it's so anticlimactic. Rarity tells them off and kicks them out, but the next time we see them, they just dance around the subject without resolving anything, and Sweetie Belle doesn't stick around for it. And at their next appearance, they're at the party, and everything's hunky-dory. There's a lot of important stuff that apparently happened behind the scenes, but it just feels strangely dropped.

The thing is, this is very close to working, but all these little issues add up. I'd like to see this succeed, so if you have any questions, please ask. A lot of it is fine, so I'd only want to spot-check it when it came back, though I would read through the material for the parents and shipping plot points in full again. As such, you can mark it as "back from Mars" when you're ready to resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2569

I was really hoping you'd take the initiative to scour the story on your own, as I only listed examples, not an exhaustive record. I can't spend the kind of time it'd take to go through a story of this length word by word, so if you can tame this issue enough so that a cursory glance doesn't turn much up, that's fine. The point is to look for places where you directly use mood or emotion words, like sadness, excitement, frustration, relief, anger.

Here are a few more I see just by skimming chapter 1:
look of worry and compassion
voice sharpening with anger
Nebula's voice held a cold touch of anger. (these two occur quite close together, too)
her lips curled in distaste

Basically, whenever you outright name a mood or emotion, you should be thinking about how you can have the character display it instead of stating it for the reader. Sometimes that just means eliminating the word, as the sentence already conveys such. Sometimes it means adding in some sort of facial expression, body language, etc. And again, these are just a few quick examples I spotted, not anything close to a complete list of them in chapter 1.

>She—" he glanced beyond her shoulder, to where they had left Nightmare Moon, "—collapsed//

Don't end a narrative aside in a quote with a comma. You don't need end punctuation, unless you want an exclamation mark or question mark.

Another thing I'd mentioned once before that's worth having a look for yourself is when you start a bunch of paragraphs in a short space with the same thing. So look near the end of chapter 4, for example, and see all those short paragraphs that alternate beginning with Nightmare or Nebula.

>Most ponies were insensible to nighttime color//

I think you meant "insensitive."

Okay, last time I did a full read, you only had 4 chapters, so forging ahead into new territory!

>Sometimes they can make their way into the dream realms, and stalk a pony's sleep//

>He shuddered, and silently cursed himself.//
It's worth scanning for these as well. Usually, you only need a comma with a conjunction when there's a whole new subject-verb pair, not just multiple verbs for a single subject:
He did this and did that.
He did this, and he did that.

>He heard alarm in her tone, and a desperate wish to dissuade Nightmare.//

Yeah, you're really blunt about some character motivations as well. Try to think more of a cause-effect relationship, like the high pitch of her tone she always got when losing an argument. That's the evidence, and the reader can then deduce Nebula's getting desperate.

>and the ground had a scraggly carpet of ferns//

Extraneous space.

>But Sky could sense even to her that answer seemed facile.//

That's a fairly convoluted wording. I had to read it a couple times to parse it.

>“It's not like I'm truly competent to deal with,” he gestured around him, “this.”//

You used narrative aside format correctly earlier in the story. For quick reference, I have one pulled out as an excerpt above. Do this one the same way.

>astonishment splaying across his face//

>a pained expression on his face//
>a sad look//
>an irritated shake of his head//
>heart pounding in dread//
>in outraged surprise//
>in wry amusement//
>a sad look//
I'm not close to being exhaustive, but I'll pick out a few spots where you blatantly tell the reader how a character feels. It does seem like you're doing somewhat better at it than in the first couple chapters, though.

>flightpath//

That's two words. Ctrl-f for it as there are more than one instance.

>His voice quavered as he gasped out “What...?”//

Missing punctuation.

>confounding her pursuit//

More confounding her pursuers. If it was confounding her pursuit, that would mean Nebula was having trouble following someone.

>making a heavy gamble that he would make//

Watch that close repetition.

>neither could properly close with the other//

>Neither could properly close with the other.//
These are in consecutive paragraphs.

>ever twisting//

Hyphenate.

>Sky grit his teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>the most important contribution//

Extraneous space.

>lay shattered in the middle of the clearing. Splintered chunks of wood lay//

Repetition.

>about the Nebula's injury//

Extraneous word.

>Soarin was trying to reason with him.//

>darted and struck//
Extraneous space.

>Soarin said “I//

Missing comma.

You really like to use semicolons before conjunctions, and I haven't seen a case yet where a simple comma wouldn't do the job. You want the story to be memorable for what happens, not because of your writing tics. It's one thing to do so in narration, but it's exceedingly strange to do so in dialogue, because it suggests all these characters identically know how to use semicolons, but would identically choose to speak in a way that makes them evident.

>and caught Nebula murmuring “Sorry//

Missing punctuation.

>reared up in panic and tried to throw her off, but Nebula's grip was solid. For a moment they struggled, rearing up//

Repetition.

>to skim past the vesperquine//

Keep in mind Sky is your limited narrator. Is he really gong to refer to himself with something so external as "the versperquine"?

>With renewed vigor he punched at Soarin's back, this time with discipline.//

Kind of repetitive phrasing.

>back to the attack, coming up behind Soarin just as the pegasus was pulling back//

Repetition.

>it's weathered shape//

Its/it's confusion.

>at his chest//

Extraneous space.

>back and began the flight back //

Repetition.

>so that by the time he returned//

Comma after this to set off the dependent clause.

>she said “You//

Missing punctuation.

>She interrupted him, her voice filled with a quiet intensity.//

A couple things here. First, you have his dialogue end in an ellipsis, whereas a dash would indicate an interruption. Second, like I've said, when the punctuation already indicates an interruption, you don't need the narration repeating the effect. And third, it defeats the sense of interruption to have the narrator able to wedge this comment in there. When something get interrupted, the very next thing should be what interrupts it, not an explanation.

>though she knows it not//

Why's she getting all poetic? She doesn't exactly have the time for it, but more to the point, she hasn't spoken this way before. Why's she going to start now?

>A breeze skirled its way across the grasses//

You'll be lucky to get a single reader who knows what "skirl" means, and there's zero context to deduce a meaning, since none of it deals with sound. Most people will assume it's a synonym for "swirl."

>while we lay helpless//

Lay/lie confusion. They can be tough to keep straight.

>yet to Sky she seemed to carry a subtle exhaustion in her every step. And yet,//

Repetition. And there's no reason to have that comma.

>harrumph//

You don't need to italicize that.

>they might rather a clean death//

That phrasing is off.

>saw it's ruinous state//

Its/it's confusion.

Nebula's speech is sounding awfully grandiose for her again. She uses typical coarse drill sergeant language, and now we get "she settled upon a crumbling stele"? That just doesn't fit your characterization of her.

>he glanced back at Nebula with a forlorn look//

Another spot where you directly identify an emotion, but I'm singling it out because you have him describing his own facial expression. How can he see it? And even if he could, why is that what's revealing the emotion behind it? Do you have to look in a mirror to know you're happy?

>posed a challenge the righteousness of her fury//

Missing word.

>But he did not question her, or push at her as Nebula had done. He flew off her right wing, and left her to her own considerations.//

Just another couple of examples. I haven't been marking these, but neither comma here is needed.

>And yet, her stars were beautiful. And yet, she had spared a moment of concern for Nebula.//

More unneeded commas and repetitive phrasing.

>he added “I was admiring//

Missing punctuation.

>“A few...” he trailed off//

Redundant.

>Pinky Pie//

Spelling.

>at least that one crime would not accrue to his princess//

That's a really weird phrasing.

>Wha—,//

Don't put a comma with a dash.

>River dragons//

Doesn't he call himself a sea serpent?

>He had nothing to cut with//

What about his wing claws?

>Sky wasn't sure what a Discord was//

There's a statue of him right next to where Sky works. He's not aware of the history?

>so understand her so//

Redundant use of "so." You only need one of these.

>added “It//

Missing punctuation.

>but before he could act//

Needs a comma after this for the dependent clause.

>ancient door shut. Some ancient//

Repetition.

>They have ossified Sky Diamond//

Without a comma for direct address, she's saying the elements turned Sky to stone.

>a grand spiral stair//

You're using "grand" a lot lately.

>in—“//

Dashes can break smart quotes. It's got these ones backward. It's worth scanning for any quotes you have ending in dashes to make sure there aren't any more.

>She rounded on him furiously.//

She just did that not long ago.

>And also, because Princess Celestia floated by his side.//

No need for that comma.

>with a sad expression in her eyes//

More blatant telling.

>Yet she was small; but a youth, and nothing like the stately creature depicted throughout centuries of vesperqune art.//

Misused semicolon.

>"It is still too soon to give up, my little pony.//

You use fancy-style quotation marks throughout the story, but for some reason, you have simple ones here. Check your quotation marks and apostrophes to make sure you're consistent.

>back until his back//

Repetition.

>of his wings//

>she believed//
Extraneous space.

>And yet, he had spoken truth nonetheless.//

No grammatical reason to have a comma there.

>“Will you accept my friendship,” Celestia asked//

Then why isn't there a question mark?

>A storm of emotions passed over her face.//

Don't I get to see any of them?

>He wanted to rush down, to stand with her, but this choice she could only make on her own.//

You, know, you're saying a lot of the same stuff over and over again in this scene. Furthermore, you're not really framing it as a struggle. It's tough to do, because the struggle is Luna's, not Sky's, so his viewpoint is external to that. In some places you do have him struggle alongside her, but a lot of the time, you're merely having him voice "what's she going to do?" over and over again, stretched out to a couple thousand words. It's creating false suspense, since Sky isn't at an epiphany here. I'd say either get more into his personal investment of what he's watching or focus on the outward signs that Luna's really struggling, so at least the reader can see that inner conflict vicariously through Sky's observation of it. It's a tad on the clinical side now, but not to the point I'd refuse to post it unless you changed it. I just think it's not achieving the power it could.

So I'd never read these last three chapters on your previous submissions. They hadn't been posted yet the first time, and I think maybe one of them had been added by the second. So it's not surprising I'd find more stuff in there to correct. That's fine.

What still does need attention is those blunt depictions of emotion. You actually do fine through much of the middle of the story, but I suspect that's serendipitous, as it shows up again in a couple of the newer chapters, so it doesn't appear to be the case of something you learned as you wrote. Chapter 1 is critical to get right, since that's the one where people decide whether they're going to stick with it or not. Sure there are other reasons you can lose readers as the story progresses, but you can tell the stories that just don't get chapter 1 right, as there's a big drop-off in readers over the next one or two chapters, or more so than normal. I don't want to see that happen here.

So as I said before, read through and notice any time you use a word that outright names a mood or emotion, then think about how you can imply it instead. Here's a quick example.

He walked happily as he entered the room, wearing a self-satisfied smile and gleefully humming a tune.

That's bad. I've named three moods: happily, self-satisfied, and gleefully. How does someone walk happily? There's not a set image that comes to mind. I can make one up, but them I'm doing the author's job. Try this version:

He practically skipped into the room, a bright, sunny tune perched on his lips. "Now, that's my kind of day!" he said through his enormous smile.

A lot of people think showing means throwing more words into a description, and while it can tend to be wordier than telling, it doesn't have to be. Look at my descriptions. Not once did I say how he feels, but it's painted so clearly, and through things an observer could easily detect: how he acts, what he says, his body language and facial expression. There's no question what this looks like, and you can read his feelings from it without my ever having to say what they were.

That's all you're missing, and while the whole story could use a sweep for it, the first couple chapters are the worst at it. If you can get it to where a quick skim of chapters 1 and 2 doesn't immediately turn up a dozen examples of this, I'd be happy to post it. I think you'll find it's a much more engaging way to read and write characters. As such, I won't need a full reread, so you're almost there. Mark it as "back from Mars" when you resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2575

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>Lyra Heartstrings'//

This is a common problem when authors use multiple places to edit stories. You have a simple-style apostrophe here, where in general you use fancy-style apostrophes and quotation marks. Keep them consistent.

>the lime-green mare//

A little of this kind of reference goes a long way. It's generally not a good idea to use them very much. Here, you've already said "mint-green" in the previous scene, so not only is it contradictory, it's just repeating information we already know: that she's green.

>Did you sleep okay?” The cream-coated candy maker replied with a smile.//

When a speech tag doesn't begin the sentence, it doesn't get capitalized.

>out of you tail//

Typo.

>Pegasi worked the sky, pulling clouds out of storage and carefully placing them to accent the clear, blue sky.//

Try to avoid close repetition of all but the most mundane words, like the two instances of "sky" here.

>A flash of stripes on blue coat//

Missing word.

>Glancing over at the mare, Ditzy Doo’s smile turned into a look of surprise//

A couple problems here. First, you have a dangling participle. "Glancing over at the mare" is supposed to describe Ditzy, but this says Ditzy's smile glanced over. Now look at the context of emotion. The smile is indirect, but the reader can intuit friendliness from it. However, you directly feed me the surprise. I know what a smile looks like, but there are many ways someone can look surprised. You're making me invent it, but I don't actually need to, since you've already given me the conclusion. Making me interpret cues from the character is how you get me to engage with them. Think more in terms of what evidence I could observe if I were there. Don't draw the conclusions for me. Same as an actor on stage. He doesn't tell you how he feels. He looks and acts certain ways to convey his character's emotion to you.

>fell- directly//

Please use a proper dash. This is a recurring issue.

>Lyra’s heart began thudding in her chest, eyes growing wide, pupils shrinking.//

This paragraph definitely cements that you're using a limited narrator, as you have the narration speak Lyra's internal opinions and impressions for her. So you have to be careful that what you say is reasonable in that respect. She can't see her pupils shrinking, so how does she know it's happening? Then you go on in the next sentence to say she doesn't know any of this. If she doesn't, then a limited narrator in her perspective can't, either.

>the screaming mare//

Now that I know you're using a limited narrator, it's even more unreasonable for the narration to use descriptors like this, particularly about Lyra herself. This implies that in her own mind, Lyra would refer to herself as "the screaming mare" or "the mint-green unicorn" or any other of these you use. Or for that matter, it also implies she'd internally refer to Bon Bon as "the cream-coated mare," and people just don't do that with others they know well.

>She could see the gleaming crystal palace off in the distance; its usually distracting size and shine now a beacon of hope.//

For a semicolon to be used correctly, you should be able to replace it with a period, but what comes after it here couldn't stand as a complete sentence.

>Breath//

That's the noun. You were going for the verb.

>with confusion and concern//

More directly naming emotions.

>Lyra was jolted back to reality as she fell onto the floor of a back room of Sugarcube Corner. The unicorn looked back at her captor.//

More repetition. Three instances of "back" in two sentences.

>W-Well//

Only capitalize the first one, unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway.

>8 years ago//

It's preferred to spell out relatively short numbers.

>Her ‘mane’, was made not of hairs//

Why is that comma there?

>thestralwings//

Missing space.

>cutiemark//

That's two words.

>hippocampus//

*groan* Is this where they go to college?

>But other than that, life had been rather mundane, even by non-Ponyville standards.//

Here's another thing worth sweeping your story for. The next three paragraphs have an awful lot of "to be" verbs: been, was, be, been, was, be, was. These are inherently boring verbs, as nothing happens. They can make a story stagnate. It's impractical to remove them from a story completely, but it makes your story more engaging to phrase things with active verbs as much as possible.

>A nervous-looking Pinkie pie//

Don't tell me she's nervous. Paint a picture of her as nervous. Capitalization error, too. But man. I've already explained it, but read the section on LUS at the top of this thread. I'm only a few paragraphs into the scene, and we already have the unicorn, the eldritch pony, the unicorn (again), the eldritch pony (again), and the green mare.

Pinkie's speech here sure doesn't sound much like Pinkie.

>And so, it falls on us to keep Equestria safe.//

It's rare for a comma after a conjunction to be used correctly. This one isn't. They're not for dramatic pauses.

>Lyra was shocked.//

So make her act shocked. Make the narration sound shocked.

>Octavia’s…nose?//

Leave a space after an ellipsis.

>Octavia is-“//

I've already said to use dashes for interruptions, not hyphens, but also note here how both can break smart quotes. These are backward.

>heavy-hitters//

You don't need to hyphenate that.

>“Indeed. How have you been?//

Missing closing quotation marks.

>whyHowling//

Missing space, and when already in italics, show emphasis by going back to normal font. Underlining is more for written items, like a letter or diary entry. You do this again later at the end of chapter 7.

>Octavia interrupted//

An interruption is already apparent from your use of a dash. You don't need to repeat the effect in the narration. The same would go for saying someone trailed off when you'd already used an ellipsis.

>“That’s good to hear,” Lyra started, “But I was more concerned for you.”//

Your use of commas on both sides of the tag indicates you intend the quote to be a single sentence, but if so, you've capitalized in the middle of it.

>12//

Write out short numbers.

>Atrophy did the rest//

I'm not sure that's the best word choice. It connotes wasting away of specifically muscle tissue from lack of use of disease. And it generally occurs over long periods of time. Neither would seem to apply here. And neither would repel scavengers.

>Poisonous bites//

Bites aren't poisonous. They're venomous.

>“RKKKK-SHAAA!” It cried//

Capitalization.

>You invade MY territory,” Her legs grew thicker as her mane shrank.//

You've punctuated that like it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking action. And you do it again in the next paragraph.

>still recovering//

Hyphenate.

>But what does-” the green mare’s eyes widened.//

Capitalization. And please use a dash.

>I don’t think either Vinyl or myself would feel comfortable//

Don't use reflexive pronouns in the nominative case. "Vinyl or I would feel comfortable"

>Dj’s//

DJ’s. Scan through the chapter for this.

>By the way, your mental defenses are paper thin, you’ll want to work on that.//

Comma splice.

>Haysead//

Did you mean hayseed?

>40//

Spell it out.

>This earned a snort from the usually refined mare.//

Why did you italicize "snort"? It's not a good idea to have sound effects in narration, but as it's a valid word anyway, it's fine without the italics. I don't see what the emphasis adds.

>as it was located to the right of the front door, it was decorated in tasteful browns and greens, with a distinctly traditional musical theme.//

I'm not looking for screencaps to verify, but my impression is you have that backwards. I think Vinyl's half was on the right. Left side of the screen, but on someone's right who had come in the front door.

>‘Tavi//

You don't need the apostrophe for a nickname.

>Thank you Vinyl.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>190//

>200//
Those are also short enough to write out.

>She was a noble’s daughter, he’d been locking her in the basement of his mansion every full moon.//

Comma splice.

>a look of worried frustration//

Wow, you even wedged two direct emotions into that one. Make her act worried and frustrated, and you'll never have to use the words.

>dinner!” as she ranted//

That's not a speech tag.

>nine hours?//

When you have an exclamation mark or question mark on a word italicized for emphasis, inlcude it in the italics.

>look of genuine worry//

Whenever you use a word that's a literal emotion or mood, you need to think about how you can get the character to demonstrate it instead.

>Bon Bon said nothing, just pulled her in tighter.//

Wait, Octavia and Vinyl pretty much indicated that Bon Bon already knew about this organization and had retired from it. And that if they'd invited her to dinner, it would cause problems. So how doesn't it cause the same problems for Bon Bon to know that's where Lyra spent her evening? Or is Bon Bon part of a different organization that wouldn't look kindly on this one? You could make that clearer. And Bon Bon already knows something about this Truth, too. How is she not putting two and two together?

>Lyra once again checked piece of pink stationary//

Missing word, and you've confused stationary/stationery.

>Good morning Dinky!//

Missing comma.

>recently-made//

You don't need hyphens in two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb.

>finish putting lunch together for the foals, and then we can get going.” Ditzy finished with the sandwiches, then carried a pair of plates over to the table and a pair/

Repetition of "finish" and "pair."

>this is Lyra Heartstrings, she’s an old friend of your cousin’s.//

Comma splice.

>Miss//

Only capitalize that when it's attached to a name.

>Hi mom//

However, family relations do get capitalized when used as names.

>the two ponies shared a quick hug.//

Capitalization.

>Hey Sparks//

You have lots of these greetings in this chapter that need commas for direct address. I don't know why, but the editing is noticeably worse in this chapter than the last.

>Now out, she began to carefully screw several of the components together.//

You mean the machinery is now out, right? Because the way you've phrased it, Ditzy is.

>two meter-wide//

Hyphenate all that.

>22 minutes and 17//

Write out the numbers.

>Plus, it helps to know what you’re talking about when dealing with time travelers.//

That comma shouldn't be there.

>Giving her head a quick shake//

You'll normally set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>I’m sorry Lyra//

Missing comma.

>have,“ She looked over at her granddaughter for a moment, “two//

If you want the narrator to cut into a quote, here's how to do it:
have—” she looked over at her granddaughter for a moment “—two
Note that that first set of quotes is backward. Also notice how the aside doesn't get capitalized or take end punctuation (though you can use an exclamation mark or question mark where appropriate,

>hello!!//

One of those is plenty.

>Bye grandma!//

Missing comma.

>I got directly exposed to the time stream gained my futuresight ability//

Missing comma or conjunction or something.

>35//

Spell it out.

>her and Time Turner’s families//

she

>“But… But…!”//

That punctuation combo doesn't make sense. How do you trail off emphatically?

>an almost pained look//

How can she see her own face to evaluate it as such? She's your perspective character.

The beginning of chapter 11 has an awful lot of "to be" verbs again.

>100%//

Write it out.

>It took a few seconds for her to notice the lack of response.//

What's with all the line breaks before this? Is it supposed to denote a pause? I don't think you can rely on the reader figuring that out. It just comes across as a poor scene break.

>making or ponies making//

Repetition.

>Her statuesque stillness deeply unnerved Lyra.//

Then make the narration sound unnerved.

>Eyes rolled up into her head, her paler-than-normal coat shone with sweat.//

This makes it sound like her coat has its eyes rolled up.

>“Oh, thank Celestia.” The filly said, relief filling her voice.//

Punctuation, capitalization, blunt emotional telling.

>clearly exhausted//

If it's so clear, let me see it and judge for myself.

>That’s why everypony’s looking for her, the paper rips itself apart when it tries to take her over.//

Comma splice.

>made out of magic and souls!”//

This paragraph ends with Winter Bell's dialogue, and the next picks up immediately again with it, so it's customary to leave off the closing quotation marks here.

>‘Course//

You're not eliding any letters from the word, so you don't need an apostrophe.

These chatpers with Winter Bell are falling into the trap of not having much narration to break up the dialogue. Speech tags really do nothing to that end, so keep in mind these characters are supposed to act like real people who do things as they talk, plus you can work in scenery here and there. Leaning so heavily on dialogue tends to make it feel detached.

>*Whoosh!*//

Don't put sound effects in narration like that. Just describe what happens.

>pleased-with-herself looking//

Hyphenate all that.

>at Lyra’s dumbfounded look//

A very external evaluation of Lyra's expression she's unlikely to make of herself as the limited narrator.

>a sharp crack.//

Sound effects again. This one's a valid word as is, so just get rid of the italics. Same thing later in the same paragraph.

>was where she was//

Repetitive, but also two very boring verbs.

>apple shaped//

Hyphenate.

>Possessing a dark green coat, the unicorn’s off-white mane hung//

This says her mane possessed a dark green coat.

>“AND,” she smashed the book into Twilight’s face, “YOU//

Use the narrative aside formatting I showed you earlier.

>The intense pain flooded Lyra’s nervous system; she couldn’t move, couldn’t think properly. She just lay against the wall, stunned and vulnerable.//

Yet none of this limited narration makes her sound stunned or in pain.

>determination and restrained fury in her eyes//

Make a visual. Let me see it.

>There was a blinding flash of light as the concentrated magic ball exploded against the leather-bound book.//

Look at this paragraph. In the first three sentences, you have four "as" clauses. Not only is that repetitive in structure, having two in one sentence can upset the chronology, since it tries to make bunch of things happen at the same time.

>having recovered somewhat//

And now this is the third time in only a few sentences that you use a "having" absolute phrase.

>THEIF//

Spelling. And for all these caps she like to use, it's preferred to use italics for emphasis.

>barely-conscious//

You don't need a hyphen here.

>snap//

Leave off the italics. Both times you use it.

>I’ll carry you out, we don’t want to be here when Twilight and her friends wake up.//

Comma splice.

>So far, no conclusion had been reached, or at least none had been released to the public.//

I don't see the advantage of phrasing all that in passive voice.

>visits. Celestia and Luna had arrived first, followed not long after by Cadance and Shining Armor, to visit//

Repetition.

>stand-still//

standstill

Hm, lots of "to be" verbs in chapter 13, too.

>hotsauce//

That's two words. Again, later in the paragraph.

>That girl loves what doing what we do.//

Extraneous word.

>secret-“ she held up a hoof to stave off Lyra’s reply. “And//

There's that aside formatting again.

>recently-polished//

No hyphen.

>the ex-agent//

Another odd reference for Lyra to use.

>that Pinkie liked to conduct Owl business in//

Just change "that" to "where" and you can get rid of that nasty dangling preposition.

>wondering where Pinkie was going with this//

When you have a narrator this limited, there are certain verbs you really don't need to use. Some are perception verbs, like "see." It's implicit that Lyra can see whatever the narrator describes, so you don't have to add that she sees it. Then there are knowledge verbs, like wish, want, wonder, think, know, and hope. Just have the narrator wonder this for her. It puts me much more in touch with the character if the narrator asks the question representing this wonder instead of relaying to me that Lyra wondered this.

>On, nothing//

Typo.

>really; alignments don’t really//

>looking for a late-night snack happens to look//
Repetition.

>party.” Pinkie finished//

Punctuation.

>CRASH//

Lower case and no italics is fine.

>as it span//

spun

>The strange and alien sounds that danced at the edge of her consciousness disturbed her, but the mare paid them no mind.//

That's seemingly contradictory. She can hear them, but she doesn't pay attention, even though they disturb her, but the narration sounds completely calm.

>As Lyra carefully a corner//

Missing word.

>neither to thought, nor to words//

You don't need the comma, and I think it would be clearer if you made it a compound infinitive, i.e., "to neither thought nor words,"

>way it wormed into her consciousness, echoing within her mind in such a way//

Repetition.

>uad//

Was that supposed to be "Maud"? If so, you've got a couple letters swapped.

>Oh, no madam//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>Lyra thought to herself//

Authors like to use this phrase, but really, who else would she think to?

>Cant//

Missing apostrophe.

>Breath//

That's the noun. The verb is "breathe."

>Lyra was released from the death-grip.//

You're using a lot of passive voice in this chapter. I didn't pull any out until now, but it's getting to be too much. Here are the ones I passed over earlier:
>she was greeted by the white buildings//
>She was suddenly pulled into a bone-crushing hug//

>Although, it took a little while for us to figure out what he was saying//

No reason to have that comma. And the comma following this is a splice.

>‘cause//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they assume you want a single opening quote. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row and delete the first.

>but once we did//

Needs a comma after this.

>He was shortly followed by a pony//

More passive voice.

>You should still be aware of what transpired, but not be able to remember details, does that sound about right?//

That last comma is a splice.

>Dissonance grew offended.//

Don't say this. Demonstrate it.

>forget.” He replied simply.//

Punctuation/capitalization

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2576

>>2575
This was a cute and clever story. It does need a little work, but a lot of that is cosmetic. I've marked enough examples of the mechanical stuff that you should have a good picture of what to fix. The main stylistic things are blunt emotional conveyance (there's a brief discussion of that at the top of this thread under "show versus tell"), Lavender Unicorn Syndrome (also covered at the top of this thread, and note that it's a particularly poor match for a limited narration), and talking heads at times (also at the top of this thread), as well as a fair amount of word repetition.

The only larger point I wanted to make was about there being no apparent direction to the story. It's episodic in nature, which is fine, but this far into the story, I still see no direction. There's no goal in sight of what Lyra or this organization wants to accomplish, and aside from an initial struggle to understand who the Owls are and what they want, there's no conflict beyond the obvious physical ones. But except for the generic "keep Equestria safe from these monsters," there's no objective to it all. Let me put it to you this way: the main thing that most stories should accomplish is to set up and resolve a conflict or show character growth. I don't see either one so far. There's no evidence that we won't just keep seeing more and more episodes tacked on without any sense that the story is actually going somewhere. And Lyra's character has been very static. She gains knowledge, but she's not changing in any substantial or fundamental ways.

I kept waiting for that to happen. Through the first few episodes, I was enjoying the story a lot, but the further I read, the more I wondered why there wasn't any direction to the story, and Lyra's not developing her character in any way. I don't have some new appreciation for her in chapter 16 that I didn't have in chapter 2. That's the thing that bothered me the most, not only because it leaves the overarching story feeling directionless, but it also involves more work to fix, and I'm hoping you're willing to do that work, since I like the story.

What's your endgame? I see from the extended synopsis in the submission form that you do have a plan. But after reading 17 chapters, it sure doesn't feel like there's one, and that's an awful lot to ask a reader to wade through without an indication that it's actually going somewhere. The more you can plant seeds early on that the Owls have specific plans for Lyra past some generic "keep Equestria safe," the more coherent the story feels, and the more momentum you give the story. Take your description that the supposedly dead mare figures in prominently. Those chapters have zero foreshadowing that I could pick up. It's one thing for you to mention the fact of this dead mare and have it turn out to be important, but it's quite enough to give that fact apparent weight when it's initially stated. Add some emphasis here and there, some details that there are plans going on behind the scenes, and it'll make for a far more coherent story with a reason for me to keep reading it. The thing is—that's probably not even very hard to do. So far, it comes across as true slice of life, something with little continuity and low stakes. Each episode does have its own stakes, but nothing compelling pushing into the next one and the next, and that's not the feeling you want from an adventure. To borrow from gaming, it's like I'm seeing a bunch of side quests without ever feeling like there's a main story arc. So give me some hints that there's a main quest going on behind it all, because that's what's really missing so far.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2594

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>Equestria's far boarder//

Unless the nation is in the habit of renting out its spare room, you want "border." I'll also note that this conceit of having a character looking over the town from a high place is pretty cliched.

>other - it//

Please use proper dashes. Hyphens are for hyphenated terms and stutters.

>even among the last of the summer sun sets//

sunsets

>Yet, life had a funny way of twisting things//

There's rarely a reason to put a comma after a conjunction. It doesn't belong here.

>But, he couldn't think about it that way//

Yeah, you need to stop doing that. I'm not going to mark any more.

>That beautiful, stunning, magnificent mare he'd loved and admired ever since the day they'd met years ago.//

You have the narrator directly expressing his opinion here, so you're using a limited narrator. Essentially, Spike is the narrator, and that implies a lot. One problem I already see with is is your use of descriptors like "the adolescent dragon." This means that he's choosing to refer to himself in such a way, which is just strange. People don't think of themselves so externally.

>That wasn't to say he didn't like being her little Spikey-Wikey of course, it was a role he often preferred to being Twilight's number one assistant in fact.//

Comma splice.

>Another wave of selfish frustration//

Be careful of directly naming emotions like this. Consider the characters as your stage actors, putting on a play for the reader. Actors don't just come out and say how their characters feel. They make sure they look and behave in certain ways to get that emotion across to the audience. This is how people normally read each other in real life—by observation—so it feels much more authentic to do it like this. Make him look and act frustrated, and since you hae a limited narrator, have the narrative tone reflect it as well. Have the narrator make a frustrated-sounding comment.

>Whatever love is, I won't find it here anymore. He thought to himself emptily.//

There's a guide at the top of this thread to proper capitalization and punctuation when transitioning between quotation and speech tag.

>his frustration becoming confusion//

Read the section on "show versus tell" at the top of this thread, too. Whenever you use an emotion or mood word directly, you need to think how you can demonstrate it instead of just naming it.

>she... .//

Don't add a period after an ellipsis.

>some form of consort//

I assume you mean "concert."

>Spike couldn't help but noticed//

notice

>Neither did I Spike//

Missing comma for direct address.

>his embarrassed look//

Here's another problem with naming the emotion: To evaluate his expression as "embarrassed," on would have to be able to see it, since he's the limited narrator. How can he see his own face? You have to consider how he'd perceive his own mood.

>attempting to be reassuring//

Just as bad as spelling out character emotion is spelling out their motivations.

>the unicorns' words of kindness//

There's only one unicorn there, right?

Your perspective starts to wander. For a short stretch, you have the narration expressing Sweetie Belle's thoughts and impressions, but you quickly go back to Spike.

>He may never win the heart of the pony he loved, but in doing so he'd seemingly won the heart of another. A pony that was so much like her, and possibly more.//

This sure makes it sound like he's settling, which isn't an inspiring sentiment. For that matter, this is a very common way to have a shipping story play out, how Sweetie confesses she's had a crush on Spike, and he quickly realizes, hey, he's really had one as well. It's very convenient, to the point it's both cliched and not very realistic. The trick is to make this come across as something that could happen in real life. When you're treading on well-mined ground, you have to do something to stand out, and authenticity is the best way.

Yeah, so Spike, who's never really considered loving Sweetie Belle, suddenly is in love with her to the point he's agreeing to see the world with her. You're not really selling the relationship so much as hoping the reader will just take your word for it. What is it that makes these two work as a couple and belong together? I don't know what either one likes about the other, what they would give and take. Building the relationship is as important as developing a character. If you care to look it up, Aragon wrote a blog post some months ago about making realistic relationships. It'd be worth reading.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2611

>two-thousand//
In numbers, hyphens only go between the tens and ones places.

>eeked//

eked

>every step he took snapped or cracked as if he was determined to jump on every//

Watch the repetition.

>shifting a fallen branch out of his way with magic and stepping over it.//

You just got through saying he seemed to step on everything he came across, and the first time you get to an example of such, the opposite occurs. In fact, going back to that prior reference, it was an external evaluation of it, not something introspective. In short, it sounds like something someone else would have asid about him, yet by a couple paragraphs after this one, you're taking a very limited narration in his perspective. You start out more omniscient to set the scene, which is fine, but when you ease into a viewpoint, make sure everything you say is consistent with it, and the comment about him stepping on everything doesn't sound like something he'd say about himself, at least as it's stated. Keep their attitude in mind. If Sparky had made the comment, she'd probably be a little exasperated about it, while Starbound would be more self-deprecating, and the difference between the two is in the details of how it's said, like which words you emphasize.

>Very well, I concede. You lead. But please try to be more careful, agreed?//

All that rhyming creates a playful feel, but none of the characters acknowledge it as such, so I have to assume it wasn't intentional on your part.

>Not wanting to dig himself deeper//

This is a fairly advanced topic, but there are certain verbs governing knowledge and perception that aren't really needed for a limited narration like this one, since the narrator can simply express it on his own. Consider that Starbound effectively is the narrator, so for example, you wouldn't need to say he saw something. Just because the narrator describes it, it implies he saw it; if he didn't, the narrator couldn't have either. The perception verbs are pretty self-explanatory: see, hear, taste, smell, feel. The knowledge ones are things like know, want, wish, wonder, think, and hope. When you explain that he doesn't want this, the narrator's acting less like Starbound and more like an intermediary. To bring it back closer to his own thought process, have the narrator express the want for him, something like "Now to get himself out of the hole he'd dug."

>"It doesn't matter. Stars forbid I ever try to give you something interesting to do."//

Looks like you edited the story in a couple different places. By default, GDocs replaces quotes and apostrophes with the fancy style, which most of your story has, but these are simple, probably edited in a simple word processor or directly on FiMFiction. Make them all consistent. There's the occasional one of these that reverts to simple style as I look through the rest of the chapter.

>ears swivelling//

You'll normally set off an absolute phrase with a comma.

>still unconvinced//

Hyphenate.

>this far inland the soil was tainted by the Wretched Sea. No soldiers ventured this far//

Watch the phrase repetition.

>‘bout//

The automatic fancy-style apostrophes are always backward when you put them on the beginning of a word, since they assume you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row then delete the first.

>Starbound opened was about to apologise//

Something got jumbled there.

>hoof-steps//

"Footsteps" is a single word, so I don't know why this would be hyphenated.

>w—,”//

Don't use a comma or period with a dash.

>Sparky furiously shushed him again.//

You just used "furiously" a bit ago. And it's not a word that connotes stealth.

>With a silent series of pained expressions//

First off, let me see them. This is so vague as to have no meaning. Second, remember you're using Starbound's perspective. If he's slung underneath her, particularly when she's significantly smaller, how can he even see her face to notice this?

>in the hope that it would help him blend into the leaf litter//

Another one of those knowledge verbs that the narrator could better express for him instead of attributing it to him.

>He watched as the ponies approached from down the gully. When he saw them//

Why does he not see them until after he watches them approach? This doesn't make sense.

>worse comes to worse//

worse comes to worst

>Oblivious to her insult//

Remember, he's effectively the narrator. If he's oblivious to it, the narrator has to be, too.

>with a confused expression//

You just described Starbound as "shot a confused glare" a bit ago. He'd be a little more blunt about his own emotion, I guess, but have him relate more of the raw evidence he sees from Sparky instead of readily identifying it as confusion. Describe the expression. Stick to facts, not conclusions. Show me what it looks like.

>and its winter time//

Its/it's confusion.

>ground started shaking. A second later, the back wall retracted down into the ground//

Watch that repetition.

>“Please?” She pleaded.//

Redundant.

>She seemed genuinely scared.//

What's his evidence of this? Let me see that, not get his conclusion about it.

>But the soldiers being here, in the Belt//

A comma isn't required here, but if you want one, you need another after this.

>little known//

This sounds odd to me. Is it a British figure of speech or something? I assume it's equivalent to "not to mention."

>lamenting that Sparky hadn’t made a helmet to go with it//

So have the narration lament it for him. That gets the reader a lot closer to the character, which is the whole point of choosing a limited narration.

>Indignation bubbling inside him//

So have the narration get indignant. Whenever you use a word like this that directly spells out a mood or emotion, consider whether there's a better way to give evidence of it through character behavior or narrative tone, where appropriate.

>made him bit his tongue//

Typo.

>harms way//

Missing apostrophe.

>equal measures confused and curious//

More blunt emotion.

>lifesize//

life-size

>perfect hyperbolic spirals//

I don't know what you're going for here. Hyperbolas don't coil; they asymptote into straight lines.

>the air around statue//

Missing word.

>indicating it was protected by a forcefield//

This comes across as dully informative. It's worded like it's something I should know already. More to the point, it doesn't feel like a stream of his thoughts, more like something a narration completely detached from him might say.

>blended with the floor, and his blue fur and black hair blended//

Repetition.

>if he remained still//

Needs a comma after the dependent clause.

>Starbound mentally kicked himself//

This is a symptom of something that's flared up here and there. You tend to use fairly repetitive language for similar situations. Look at all the times Starbound has crept through the cave and peered around a corner. A lot of the same actions, word choices, and descriptions keep popping up. And this must be the third or fourth time you've had him o something like this, and I think the second time you've phrased it exactly like this.

>Of course: glowing magic aura—dead giveaway. Why had he even brought it out?//

But... he already knew that. You explicitly said that it took a glow to keep it ready, but that he felt it was a risk worth taking. So why is he suddenly unaware of it?

>He felt another pang of guilt, met by a small amount of pride for her//

Very blunt with the emotions again.

>I were//

Subject-verb mismatch.

>The stallion glared at her.//

Look at how you've begun the last three paragraphs.

>for more off//

Missing word. Or this is just an expression I'm unfamiliar with.

>“What?” He mouthed.//

Capitalization.

>Starbound made a pleading gesture.//

I don't know what that is. Just tell me what he does. I'm not even sure why he'd be pleading right now, anyway.

>Do you know how to get and audience with Orison?//

Typo.

>which helped him see the soldiers//

This is again quite dry and over-explained for a limited narration. Honestly, it's self-explanatory. I think you could just cut it.

>Maybe the soldiers wouldn’t see them.//

He seems to have made an assumption here. My first thought is that these soldiers, who've clearly been here before, had installed the security system. But then it seems more like it was installed there by whoever made the statue. There's a pretty big difference in context there between whether or not it'd be reasonable to hope he hadn't been seen.

>Forcing a grin, Starbound continued to creep backwards; Sparky doing the same behind him.//

That last part is just an absolute phrase, not an independent clause. Set it off with a comma instead of a semicolon.

>Another one flew by, exploding by Sparky’s head as she stood dumbfounded by the sudden reappearance of the wall.//

You've got three of these "as" clauses in a span of just four sentences. It gets a bit structurally repetitive.

>ract//

Typo.

>The tiniest stretch of his leg sent new waves of pain crashing through him.//

Didn't he earlier describe these things as equal to a wet blanket in effectiveness as a weapon? Or was he only talking about the kind he has? That could be made clearer.

>But before reaching him, a bolt hit her square in the chest.//

A classic dangling participle. "But before reaching him" is supposed to describe Sparky, but it describes the bolt.

>surreal slurred timed//

Typo.

>as her nose filled the acrid stench of burning fur//

Missing word.

>as her nose filled the acrid stench of burning fur//

Hyphenate.

>Rarity turned from the mare to the door; a dented plate of rough and grimy metal, worn smooth in irregular blotches from ponies constantly pushing on it.//

For a semicolon to be used right, you should be able to replace it with a period, but what comes after it here couldn't stand alone as a sentence.

>She didn’t really care, though, she was going to leave regardless of what the crazy doctor wanted.//

Comma splice.

>It rattled, but didn’t open.//

No comma.

>She glanced back to the doctor who just shrugged and gestured for Rarity to get back on the bed.//

And that one does need a comma.

>She frantically scanned the room for inspiration to hit her.//

This goes back a bit to something I noted for Starbound's narration. She's panicked, but the narration doesn't sound panicked. The narration is essentially Rarity's though process. If you were panicked, how would your thoughts go? They'd likely be emphatic, fractured, short, focused more on observation than interpretation. A narrator this limited should reflect the focus character's mindset and sound not too different from something she might say out loud.

>Neither of the guards was a unicorn//

Needs a comma after this to set off the dependent clause.

>to not//

Reverse these.

>The doctor noticed Rarity//

Well, that's an understatement. There's no reason for the doctor to notice anything but her.

>She refused the look back//

Typo.

>that was as much fear as anger//

That's a very calm assessment for a limited narrator who should be very focused on staying alive instead of being frank about how she truly feels.

>The guard behind exclaimed//

That's a transitive verb; it requires a direect object. What did he exclaim?

>gentle breeze//

How could she notice a gentle breeze when she's running that fast? It'd be indistinguishable from the apparent wind due to her own motion.

>She was free.//

See, here's just an example of how the narrative tone isn't carrying the emotion. At the very least, I'd think she'd exclaim this, maybe even emphasize the last word.

>But Rarity scarcely noticed any of this.//

She sure described it in a lot of detail for someone who barely noticed it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2612

>>2611
>that made Rarity stomach churn//
Missing possessive.

>Rarity summoned her pocket mirror.//

From where? If they've captured her and put her in a bed, why would they let her have personal effects? And how would she even know where they'd put them? For that matter, I can't remember the last chapter even saying that she had such things with her.

>The instant she’d felt the pain, she’d thought back to the crystal.//

Then why am I just not hearing about it? The narration essentially is her thoughts. If the crystal occurred to her right when the pain hit, then that's where the narration should mention it, too.

>Beneath her//

You repeat this phrase with only 7 intervening words.

>bedsheets//

You spelled this as two words before (one is preferred).

>head first//

That's one word, too.

>death!” The stallion exclaimed//

Capitalization.

>thebed//

Missing space and period.

>She carefully patted her chest//

I'm wondering if the crystal is still there. Wouldn't she think of this? If she happened to land on it, bad things could happen.

>“Starbound?” A mare rasped.//

>What’s wrong?” The mare asked.//
Capitalization.

>there were marked difference//

Inconsistent with singular/plural.

>Starbound: you. Are. An. Idiot.//

I'd capitalize the "you" as well, since what the colon refers to is spread over multiple "sentences."

Sparky in particular is using direct address far more often that is reasonable. It helps discern who's speaking, but you can do that with dialogue tags, too.

>Forcing herself out of the conversation//

She hadn't been in it for some time. She even said as much in the narration a while ago.

>Starbound and Sparky paused the bickering to looked at her.//

Typo.

>I— Wait//

Don't leave a space on either side of an em dash.

>‘adventurous of spirit.'//

Note the inconsistency in quotation mark styles.

>but-//

Use a dash for cutoffs.

>I'm quite alright darling//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>possibly… I don’t...//

You've got some inconsistencies here, too. Note how the first ellipsis is a single character, while the second is three separate dots. It'd be easy to do a search and replace to change any instances of three dots into a single-character ellipsis.

>It was just a story, of course this place was riddled with injustice and evil//

Comma splice.

>lest she wound up in a mess like this again///

When you're speaking hypothetically like this, use subjunctive mood, which is essentially the infinitive form: lest she wind up...

>judging their reactions as mixes of confusion and disbelief. Although, Rarity fancied she detected a hint of awe in there as well.//

Show me how they look and let me be the judge.

>mad-mare//

You spelled that without a hyphen last time.

>mopin’”.//

Period's in the wrong spot.

>Aye, I'm not stupid ye know. I just think tryin’ to do somethin’ about the situation rather than lyin’ down and letting it trot all over ye… Well, I think ye got a better chance of survivin’ that way, ye know?//

Repetitive "ye know," plus inconsistent in settig it off with a comma.

>he turned and pushed past Rarity.

>
>He turned around.//
I get what you're going for, but it's not smooth because it isn't clear this isn't a mistake on your part. If you say something like "he turned around again," then you acknowledge and use the repetition. Otherwise, it sounds like you just weren't paying attention.

>‘get over it.'//

>“It’s not real, Rarity," she muttered to herself. "She’s not real.//
More inconsistent quotation mark styles.

>When she got out of this mess, Rarity vowed she would be more empathetic to the plights of characters in stories.//

Watch how this is worded. It sounds like she wouldn't vow to do so until she got out, but it's more that she's vowing now not to belittle characters once she gets out.

>On second thoughts//

That's usually phrased as singular.

>it would seam your friend differs in her opinion//

Seam/seem confusion.

>You'd hate to a little disagreement get in the way of that//

Missing word.

>glancing as his legs, as thin as twigs//

Typo.

>door flap//

You're inconsistent at hyphenating this, too. Here, you have it as a noun, so it doesn't need one. You've given it one in this sense before. If you use it as an adjective, like you did earlier with "door-flap entrance," it does use a hyphen.

>assessing the skills and tools and their disposal //

Typo.

>good idea. She had no idea no idea//

Inadvertent repetition of "no idea," and it's pretty repetitive to have that so soon after the other "idea."

>lettin'//

There's another simple-style apostrophe. I'm sure I'm not catching all of them.

>pegasus'//

Simple apostrophe.

>it’s okay to scared//

>If what say about this place//
Missing word.

>you have every reason in the world to be."//

Simple quotation marks.

>opposed to being draped over it//

That's usually phrased like "as opposed to."

>Rarity shook her head.//

Missing a line break here.

>"No?//

>rocks and waves."//
>"I’m only putting out ideas." She forced a smile. "Now, rather than telling me what we can't do, why don't you tell me what you think we can do?"//
>"I'm sorry.//
Simple quotation marks.

>barren, grainy, dirt//

You can put commas between adjectives, but you don't put one after the last one in the list.

>against at a fence//

Extraneous word.

>What mattered was that they were heading the wrong way. They wanted to be going into the camp, not away from it.//

If Rarity already knows this, why is she spending so much time describing the fences?

>nearside//

Two words.

>From the way they were held, Rarity guessed they were a weapon//

You use plural "they" but singular "weapon."

>carrying?” She asked//

Capitalization.

>look….//

>I.... see.//
>ah.... any//
One too many dots there.

>see."//

>"So... ah.... any ideas?"//
>"I have one//
>"Let's hear it."//
>"Right. Well, I still have my magic, which none of the guards will suspect. All we need to do is distract them long enough for me to take their casters and overpower them."//
>"You didn't even know//
>"I've practised archery. I can't imagine it'd be that different."//
>"And this distraction? What precisely did you have in mind?"//
Simple quotation marks. Let's just say this continues. I can't keep copying out every instance.

>one of the guard's caster//

Both of those need to be plural: one of the guards' casters.

>ready, scanning the road and ready//

Repetitive.

This paragraph about Rarity shooting the guards is pretty dry. It's not something she's used to, but she doesn't display much emotion about it.

>“Aah…”.//

Extraneous period.

>The one Rarity shot by Rarity//

Jumbled wording.

>the guards’ clothes: a grey jumpsuit//

You're referring to multiple guards but only one jumpsuit.

You'd mentioned that Rarity was noticeably taller than Sparky and Starbound. I'm surprised the suits fit them all equally. How big are the guards in comparison? Not Rarity's size, I presume, since they were surprised to see someone that big.

>warmth—-//

Extraneous hyphen.

>‘un//

Another backward apostrophe. And how can Rarity understand this? Do they speak two languages? She didn't know what the doctor was saying.

>state-”//

Use a dash.

>“Your... faith?” The mare asked.//

Capitalization.

>friggin’-//

Use a dash.

>saliva- drenched//

Extraneous space.

>... you//

Don't leave a space after a leading ellipsis.

>only to again collapsed to the ground//

Jumbled wording.

>"ya reckon we oughta gag her?" The second stallion asked.//

Two capitalization errors.

>Her entire forehead screamed//

You just used "scream" a couple sentences back. You're borderline okay, but you have a fair amount of structural repetition in this paragraph, with so many sentences starting with the subject.

>dry, powdery, dust//

Same as before. Don't put a comma between the last adjective in a list and the thing they modify.

>it’s metallic taint//

Its/it's confusion.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2615

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>looking stallions looked//

Repetitive.

>a wagon half-loaded with steel barrels and few random crates//

Seems like you're missing an "a."

>ya’//

I don't see why the apostrophe is there. You aren't eliminating any letters, just making an imitative spelling.

>Everfree forest//

Both words would be capitalized.

>Mapel//

Typo.

>Rusty gruffed//

>he gruffed//
These occur only 2 paragraphs apart. The more unusual a word, the more it sticks out easily when repeated.

>The auburn stallion seemed to seethe//

Your narration has been decidedly omniscient so far, so I have no idea whose perspective the "seemed" is supposed to represent. It's not a word an omniscient narrator would use, since he knows everything; "seem" wouldn't enter into it.

This other stallion is using direct address far more often that is reasonable. There are only two characters present, so the characters don't need it, and real people just don't do that this often.

>a shity sort of grin on his face.//

Typo, and another spot with an unidentifiable perspective. I mean, it would have to be Rusty's, but the narration sure doesn't sound limited except for those two excerpts where I said otherwise.

>The wagon they were riding//

Normally, you'd say "riding in."

>What few do are scarcely maintained and overgrown with foliage. What very few trails there are have been blazed out of pure necessity.//

Repetitive phrasing.

>so I think it's our best bet//

Set off this dependent clause with a comma.

>‘em//

Whenever you put an apostrophe on the beginning of a word, it's backward. You can paste them in the right way.

I'm having trouble discerning perspective in the second scene. It doesn't sound omniscient anymore, what with subjective statements like :
>who really didn’t seem to be paying much attention//
>somewhat impressive beard//
My best guess is that Rusty holds the perspective, but then why would he bother describing his own color?
>Rusty’s auburn hoof//
And why would he make such an external reference to himself?
>the earth pony chimed//
I still think you're trying to go for an omniscient narrator, but the occasional subjectivity creeps in.

>a little//

You only use this phrase 3 times in the chapter, but they all occur pretty close together.

>hundreds of gallons gasoline//

Seems to be missing an "of."

>similarly-huge//

When you have a two-word phrase starting in an -ly adverb, you don't need a hyphen.

>Clydesdale. At//

Extraneous space.

>Grunting, cursing like a sailor, Rusty dragged himself up onto the wagon and made his body comfortable, leaning back against a crate as he looked over at the unicorn.//

Keep in mind that participles mean things happen at the same time, so you have him leaning back against a crate while dragging himself onto the wagon. They'd more logically happen one after the other.

>manilla//

Typo.

>Rusty gruffed//

That word again. A common example I like to use is that you wouldn't blink at seeing "the" 4 times in a single sentence, but you'd definitely notice seeing "ventriloquist" just twice on an entire page.

>Timber is most notable for it’s ironwood characteristics//

Its/it's confusion.

>approximate time it takes for a single tree to properly mature (approximately//

Repetitive.

>then shared a somewhat horrified look//

For the amount of time Rusty seems to hold the perspective, I can't tell whether you want a limited or omniscient narrator, but if you're going limited, you have Rusty evaluating his own facial expression. While people can perceive certain things about their own faces, they don't do so through appearance, unless they happen to be looking in a mirror, and this is a visual evaluation.

>reasonably-sized//

Doesn't need the hyphen.

>two-thousand//

That's not where hyphens would go in a number.

>signed us up signed up up//

Not sure what happened here.

>like a guilty thief stashing evidence//

Kind of an odd simile to use, since that's exactly what he's doing.

>“So, Crunch,” Rusty gruffed out//

You really like that word.

>Gimme’//

What's the apostrophe there for? You don't have any elided or missing letters.

>gathering around the fire pits, navigating between tents with a lackadaisical precision, humming a little tune to himself all the while. Reaching the closest fire//

This is in a structural rut. You have four participial phrases in a row. There are six total in a paragraph of only three sentences, and every sentence ends in one. The next paragraph gives me a one-sentence break before ending two more sentences with one.

>He had a sharp face, gaunt eye sockets, though his body language and clean appearance really didn’t seem to suggest what his expression foretold about him.//

Seems like that first comma should be an "and." As is, it has an odd cadence to it, like an informal sentence fragment, though your narration hasn't been doing that, so it's odd to spring it now.

>meet Crunch everyone//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>Crunch glared at Ratchet, then glanced over to Rusty//

There's a lot of glancing and glaring happening in this scene.

>You ponies don’t like your meats, do you?//

This seems like an odd interjection. It has nothing to do with what's going on, and it goes by with nothing coming of it. It feels more like the author wanting to wedge in that batponies eat meat than something off the cuff that came up in the conversation.

>what appeared to the barrel of a rifle of some sorts//

Why is "sort" plural?

>then glanced down at her tray//

Srsly. I'm maybe 1500 words into the chapter, and this is already the tenth use of "glance."

>Shayne smirked//

And there was a smirk not long ago, too.

>out here. I doubt Celestia’s finest are gonna march out here//

Repetitive phrasing.

>Blazer asked with a sudden, toothy grin//

You just had a "suddenly" in the previous paragraph. It's a good word to avoid anyway. If something's sudden, it should usually come across without your having to say so.

>Shayne threw a leering smirk towards Blazer//

You only have four uses of "smirk" in the chapter, but they're all pretty close to each other.

>miniscule, orange glow//

You only need a comma between adjectives if they're coordinate, which usually means they describe the same aspect of something. A quick but not foolproof test is to see whether they sound reall awkward if you reverse the order. If so, they don't need a comma.

>that nopony seemed to notice//

This is a persistent issue in this chapter. Well, in both of them. The narrator keeps saying subjective things like this and expressing opinions, but it's rare that you have a clear perspective character, so I don't know whose opinions and judgments they are. Whoever it is, he must have been the only one to see this, since the narrator essentially is him.

>voice. “What//

You've got an extra space in there.

Why are you using "Rach" and not "Ratch" as a nickname for Ratchet? It took me a while to realize that's who it was. They're close, but "Rach" could easily have a German pronunciation or similar.

>Ratchet stood and made his way back to his tent near the edge of the clearing//

Once he gets in the tent, he's the only one who could witness the action described. So I'd presume he was supposed to hold the perspective? Except you pop back outside and leave him, so I don't know who the viewpoint character is.

>the mare stood//

And by now, you've taken on Shayne's perspective, and it's one of the few times there actually is a clear perspective, even though the narration sure sounds limited. But that means she'd refer to herself this way, which is strange.

There are obvious problems with repetition and perspective, so those would need to be addressed anyway. In addition, it's going to be tough to get a mature-tagged story accepted. For one thing, we don't like to make people turn off their filters, if they use one, to read something we feature. But mostly it's because a story that requires the tag probably exceeds our content guidelines. So far, I only see one bit of language (the threat Shayne makes about stallions who flirt with her) that's over the line, but we're not even into the part of the story that promises to have the most gore, and without seeing that, I can't make a call on whether it's too much. At the least, take on these mechanical and stylistic things I've detailed and tone down that one phrase, but where material that may violate our content standards is concerned, we'd need to see the actual article to evaluate how bad it gets. On that front, we'd have to wait until you've written that part.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2620

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>the Carousel Boutique//

You don't need to put "the" in front of proper names, unless it's officially part of them.

>What brings you out of the castle today my dear?//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>followed now followed//

Extraneous word(s).

>more willing volunteers//

Not clear whether the "more" refers to degree or quantity.

>protégé//

She's female, so protégée.

There's one thing that's already odd about this. You've chosen a very limited narrator, as seen by how the narration directly expresses her thoughts and opinions. Here's an example:
>Granted, she had hoped for more willing volunteers//
That takes a very informal, conversational tone. Honestly, the biggest indicator is the number of times you italicize an isolated word in the narration for emphasis, as that gives it the feel of speech or a thought process. That's all fine.

However, you also have a lot of italicized direct thought, and it's unusual to see that in conjunction with this subjective a narration, since the whole point of that narrative choice is to be able to present the character's thought, impressions, and opinions as narration instead of having to attribute them to the character explicitly. There's nothing technically forbidden about it, but it works against your choice of narrator.

Here are some example I made up to illustrate.
>"What a nice day," she thought.
This could technically be omniscient or limited, but feels more omniscient. It presents the thought as an explicit quote.
>She found it to be a nice day.
This also could be omniscient or limited, but it also feels more omniscient, since it's a statement of fact. That it's a nice day is her opinion, but it's a fact that she holds that opinion, and that's all the sentence is saying. It directly attributes the opinion to her.
>What a nice day!
This has the narrator express the opinion on behalf of the character, and it takes an informal, conversational tone. This is decidedly limited.

So all of that is to say it's a little off-putting to see you use so much quoted thought in a limited narration, because they achieve fairly opposite things about the distance they create between the reader and the character.

I think this spell might need a little more explanation, too. It sounds like it makes it so that any unicorn can cast any spell, and if so, what's the point of magic school? I bet there are other effects in play, like just not having enough magical talent or raw power to cast a particular spell successfully.

>“In your case, the stakes are low, because you don’t yet rely on your magic for everyday functions and the spells that you do use probably won’t be too advanced.”//

This picks right up with dialogue by the same character the previous paragraph ended with. So it's customary to leave the closing quotation marks off the preceding paragraph.

>it—” She levitated four identical journals from her desk towards them. “—in//

When you put a narrative aside in a quote like this, don't capitalize it, unless it starts in something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway, and don't give it end punctuation (a question mark or exclamation mark can be used when appropriate, though).

>This is only a supplement to your innate magic abilities, so you will be able to cast anything that you could before, which is only really limited by the amount of knowledge and training you have.//

Okay, so you're explaining it here. Still, the spell would seem to be a shortcut to magic school, since half of it is gaining mastery. Now all they need to gain is power, since practice would be meaningless.

>focused on the glass. As she focused//

Watch close repetition of words like that.

>~ Snips & Snails ~//

I don't think it's necessary to label the scenes like this. It's immediately apparent which ones are in the scene anyway, so it's pretty redundant.

>“fine.//

Capitalization.

>changed her mind.

>
>That didn’t change//
Again, watch the close repetition.

>The castle’s front doors boom echoed around the castle//

Something doesn't quite parse there.

>who’s castle it was//

Whose. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

>*poof*//

Normally, it's a bad idea to put sound effects in narration like this. As this is a comedy, you get some leeway, but it's still poor formatting to use asterisks around it.

>a cold fury the Starlight knew she probably deserved//

Typo.

Okay, you did end up explaining more about how the spell works, so while readers may be as initially confused like I was, it all works out, and it's not such a long story that they have to wait too much.

It was a fairly underwhelming ending, though. Just the fact of Sweetie Belle blowing up a barn isn't that inherently funny, and we don't even see it happen or the CMCs immediate reaction. When they show up at the castle afterward, there's not even much description of them, and Apple Bloom isn't mentioned at all. See, this kind of slapstick humor is sold by how the characters react, and you don't ever supply much of that.

Snips and Snails didn't even do anything, and that's barely made into a joke, either. The colts themselves seem a little disappointed, but the crowd of children doesn't react.

We never see how Dinky reacts to what's going on with her. There's just a calm aftermath. Starlight doesn't react much either. These things are geared toward a lot of physical and visual humor. There's a little higher difficulty with that in a written medium, but it's certainly not insurmountable. Still, to show that physical aspect, we need to see it, and very consistently, the incident's already happened by the time the story gets to describing it, and the characters don't act as if they're witnessing something unnerving or extraordinary. Imagine something completely slapstick or based on visual gags, like Looney Tunes or Spongebob. Then think what it would be like if you never actually saw the funny things happen, and the characters behaved after the fact as if it had been fairly ordinary. It wouldn't be very amusing. That's where all the humor will come from, and that's what this story is missing.

Last thing: the cover art. It really looks like it's a broken "Equestria Girls" genre tag. I had to look at it for several minutes, click on it, and think about it a while before I realized what it was. Another pre-reader had the same experience even when I told him all that. Even if you took it into MS paint and enlarged it 3 or 5 times,that would go a long way toward eliminating confusion. To be honest, though, even some stock screenshot of one or more of the main characters would carry a lot more interest. When cover art is really boring like this, Seth will sometimes pick something else on a whim.

This story is close. It needs that extra oomph to generate laugh-out-loud moments, because it's only mildly amusing right now. Even your parting joke—it's potentially a good one, but we don't see Starlight's reaction or how deadly serious Dinky is. It's lacking the kind of description that makes this type of joke land. If you can get that part down, you'll have something very cute.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2630

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>as he was a batpony who had recently made the move from Canterlot to Ponyville with his mother, forcing him to adjust to an inverted sleeping schedule in order to attend the local school//

This is a pretty lengthy digression, and it's not even that important. You don't want a big speed bump like this right at the beginning. Try to work this stuff in more gradually.

>"Yoo-hoo, you there, Stars?"//

This doesn't make sense with the narrative voice you've chosen. You have the narrator speaking Ebony's thoughts for him, to the point the narrator essentially is Ebony. So if Ebony didn't hear her say these things, the narrator can't, either. Yet he does. It's contradictory.

>everyponies'//

everypony's

>a filly shouted, yanking the young bat-colt//

Again, Ebony himself is essentially the narrator. So you're implying he'd choose to refer to himself as "the young bat-colt," which is strange. People don't think about themselves in such external terms. Plus he knows who this filly is, so it's not reasonable for him to think of her in such external and impersonal terms.

>his slit emerald eyes refocusing on his surrounding//

Surroundings. And why would he remark on his own eye color and the shape of his pupils? To him, they're irrelevant, so why would he mention them?

>dark furred-hoof through his slicked back//

Dark-furred hoof, slicked-back. But again, it feels weird for him to describe his own appearance in detail when it's of no importance to him.

>sorry," Ebony apologized//

That's pretty redundant.

>understanding her meaning//

It's obvious he understands from what he does next. It's not usually a good idea to spell out characters' motivations and realizations so directly.

>Long as she doesn't sell the one's I've been growing, though//

Why is that first apostrophe there?

>Her then expression//

A couple words got swapped.

>His expression calmed and collected//

That's a very external evaluation for him to make of his own expression. But that's not how people typically know how they feel anyway. You know you're sad without looking in the mirror, after all. What ways do you have of telling? These are the kinds of things more applicable to a limited narrator.

>as was her namesake//

You already said as much. This is really awkward.

>Speaking of Begonia, she--if it wasn't obvious by now--was the class bully.//

This really takes on the flavor of addressing the reader and making them an explicit audience, but you haven't established that's what is going on. In fact, that wouldn't even work well with the type of limited narration you're using, as it makes it sound like Ebony is talking to himself here.

>showed that she was trying desperately to hold back her tears from escaping//

Now you're over-explaining it. This was already evident from the physical description. You don't need to short-circuit all that by giving me the conclusion in addition to the evidence.

I can't figure out why they're alternately calling her Cinnamon Bun and Cinnabon. Is the latter a nickname? It's not exactly shorter. It makes it sound like they're two different characters.

>Glad to see that Ebony was consoling Cinnamon Bun//

Unless you phrase this as what Ebony sees, you're going over to Sweet Tooth's perspective.

>Begonia herself, who's left eye was twitching//

Whose. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

>knowing look, they slowly took a few steps back, knowing//

Watch the close repetition.

>As Miss Nurture walked back to the playground, she had this sneaking suspicion at the back of her mind that a small foal managed to pull the wool over her eyes.//

Then you spend only two sentences in the teacher's perspective. You stayed in Ebony's for a long time, but lately, it's skipping around.

>A-Alright//

Only capitalize the first part of a stutter, unless it's something that has to be capitalized anyway, like a name. Scan through the whole story for this.

>...//

This is not the kind of thing that works well in good writing, to have this be the entirety of a quote or a paragraph. You see it in video games, but they're not exactly known for good writing.

>Hey mom//

Needs a comma for direct address, and family relations get capitalized as terms of address.

>Ebony asked, the bell above the door to his home and mother's flower shop chimed as he entered.//

Comma splice.

>Unhooking his book bag from himself, Ebony walked through the floral-scented showroom, passing his mother and the counter she was behind until he reached a door at the back. Opening it wide, then stepping through it,//

Look how many of these participial phrases you use. Here are four of them in barely more than a single sentence. Authors of intermediate experience tend to lean on them heavily.

>You did get that list filled with the names of every student in your class yesterday, right.//

That's a question, isn't it?

>through his grit teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>The one's I've been growing//

I don't know why you keep putting an apostrophe in that word.

>ok//

It's preferred to spell that out as "okay."

>Ebony pick up//

Verb form.

>with seconds//

That's usually phrased as "within."

>unsure shrug. He faced forward, ensuring//

Odd juxtaposition of "unsure" and "ensuring."

>to catch their breaths//

Just "breath." It's a collective term.

>seventy three//

Hyphenate.

>At Ms. Nurture's queue//

cue

>He was more interested in the more romanticized aspects.//

Repetition of "more," plus this would be a lot more interesting if you gave a couple of examples.

>growing them just outside his room's window sill so they'd be out of sight whenever Cinnamon and Sweet Tooth would be over//

None of them have ever happened to look out the window in 3 years?

>She had also long outgrew her retainer//

outgrown

>recently-earned//

Two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb don't need hyphens.

>Ebony thought it looked nice on her; really helps to bring out her eyes.//

Misused semicolon. If you replaced it with a period, the second part couldn't stand as a complete sentence. You're also mixing tenses here.

>outstretched hoof.

>
>Giving a fake yawn and outstretching//
More repetition.

>subtlety//

subtly

>Ebony, pass this to Cinabon//

She can't spell Cinnabon right? Ironic, since she likes to use the misspelled "sekret," and Ebony doesn't call her out on it.

>lest Cinnamon would begin//

Eh, it's a long explanation. Suffice it to say you shouldn't have that "would."

>baited breath//

bated

>Yes, Ebony was the only one in his class who has yet to get his cutie mark//

Inconsistent tense again. I've seen a few others that I haven't marked.

>Cinnabun//

Now she's got a third name?

>This is Cinnamon Bun's love life, not ours; looking too deeply into this would be prying.//

Somehow, having a kid using a semicolon in an informal note when he's only around the age where he'd first get a cutie mark doesn't come across as realistic.

>not wanting to expose them as well//

Their names are on it. How can he avoid it?

>Ebony could see that his friends were just as fearful as he was//

What's his evidence?

>*BRRRIIINNNGGG*//

There are circumstances where sound effects can work, but typically only in things that are supposed to sound silly or whimsical. Just describe the sound.

>Thankfully, and much to Ebony's relief, that divine interference came in the form of the school bell ringing, signifying that class was over for the day.//

You're really stating the obvious here.

>note that nearly landed him in so much trouble included//

Feels like you're missing a few words before this.

>shrugged amusingly//

You have Ebony describing it as such. So he finds it amusing? I think you meant amusedly.

>unamused//

Pretty repetitive to use that so soon after the "amusingly."

>use to be//

used

>He'd been sitting in his room's desk//

He's in the desk?

>unwind: Get started on his homework.//

Only capitalize after a colon if it refers to multiple sentences.

>the side him and his friends have been ignoring the entire time//

Why'd you switch to present tense?

>try with Cinnamon Bun, so he figured that he might as well try//

Repetition.

>Ebony laid flat against his desk//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tough verbs to keep straight. Instead of "laid," use "lay" here.

>Wanting to hide his embaressed blush//

Bluntly spelling out his emotion and motivation again. Plus a typo.

>force her chortles at bay//

The usual phrasing is to keep something at bay.

>Sweetie//

That's just a generic nickname, not one unique to him. Don't capitalize it.

>their ears perks//

Something got messed up there.

>Hearts and Hooves day//

"Day" is part of the occasion's name, too. Capitalize it. You do this a number of times.

>Ebony couldn't describe how relieved he was to hear that.//

Well, give me something. The limited narrator you're using is uniquely poised to give me comments and images and sensations related to what he's feeling, but you're delivering it rather blandly.

I'm not sure whether the grammatical errors in his poem are intentional. If not, you have its/it's confusion, and the "shined" should be "shone."

>a single joyful tear//

There are few things in this world more cliched.

>...//

You're doing that thing again.

>Watching the scene unfold//

You've spent such a huge majority of the story in Ebony's perspective. Why go over to Cinnamon's now?

>as she might have spotted his tail hanging off the edge//

So why didn't he pull it up? Even if she saw the motion, she has no way of getting up there. It's not like he'd be found out.

>there was two things//

Singular verb with a plural subject.

On the one hand, this is a very common type of story. I've seen lots of them come through here, and if they don't do something to stand out, they're just lost in the crowd. Making the characters OCs hinders you even more in terms of attracting readers, but that's not an issue for me, and at least you've created some interesting characters. Cinnamon Bun is easily the best one. Ebony just comes across as the generic shy one, and it's not until they're passing notes that Sweetie develops that much of a personality, either, so the more you can do to punch them up, the better. That's pretty curious for Ebony, since he's the main character and we spend the most time with him, but aside from him being shy, nothing sticks in my head about who he is.

This isn't a requirement for good writing, but at least it gets you thinking about your characters. A good exercise I've heard of is to come up with 5 words or short phrases to describe your character's personality. Try to have a mix of good and bad things, and it's also good if a couple of them are seemingly contradictory. Make sure your story gets across all 5 at some point, and try to demonstrate at least 3 of them the first time the character appears.

That's not a rigid structure, but anything similar that will immediately create a clear picture in the reader's mind of what Ebony's like will make him well-rounded, realistic, and memorable.

Other than that, the only pervasive things I see are instances of repetition, directly naming character emotion too often, and blips in keeping a consistent perspective, both by saying things that aren't consistent with the chosen perspective and switching around who holds the viewpoint abruptly and for ineffective short bursts. If you could take care of these things, I could see posting it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2631

>next set yourself?” asked Octavia. I nodded my head, then checked the next set//
Watch the repetition.

And since I finally have another reason to pull out the notepad, I'll say that the story is awash in boring "to be" verbs. I'll tally up the easier ones to count when I get to the end, but for now, if you just do a Ctrl-f for "was," watch the screen light up. It'd really be to your benefit to rephrase things with active verbs where you can. They're more interesting, and they give the story a sense of motion.

I might as well wedge this in, too. I suppose you're going to ignore the fact that she talks in the EqG movies? You never hear her, but you can see her talking in the background in "Legends of Everfree" and "Rainbow Rocks."

>gets a bad wrap

rap

>back.” Octavia slipped back//

Close repetition.

>So I can see how she’d be afraid to talk to me.//

She's already said something to this effect a couple times in the paragraph. I get it.

>seriously (She’s//

Don't capitalize there unless you're going to put a period before it. And if you do that, move the preriod at the end inside the parentheses.

It's nice that you're going back through some anecdotal evidence of how their friendship has gone, but it's a little lacking in making an emotional connection, and that's because we don't see Octavia react to any of it. Vinyl says that Octavia felt a certain way about those events, but I'm left with her word as the only evidence. Rather than just say Octavia loved the remix, have Vinyl recall what her reaction was? What did Octavia do? How did she react? You don't have to go so far as to show me these things in full flashback mode, but if it meant that much to Vinyl, a few details would have stuck in her head. Let me relive that with her. And don't forget her own reaction. How did she feel when she saw Octavia enjoying it? What impressions went through her mind, what physical sensations did it cause?

>It's not like anyone knew I was gay. Part of not being able to talk, I guess.//

Really? It's not like what a person says is the best evidence of that.

>god//

You'd capitalized that earlier.

I've seen people link music for atmoshpere. I haven't seen people link something that you actually had to click on to understand the story. All I can say is it's bad enough to encourage people to click away from your story, and it must be worse to require it. And then you Rickroll the reader. I hope you know a lot of them are going to feel trolled. Some may quit reading right there.

It's probably not appropriate to italicize "Liebe," just based on your description of how long it is. Something that short is generally going to go in quotation marks, though the nature of classical music can throw things into a gray area.

>must've came//

come

Well, your closing line's effectiveness is going to hinge on the reader knowing a bit of German. The thing is, it doesn't even really express the story's theme. Neither one of them was going to throw away anything about their relationship. Vinyl was considering not acting on it, but that's not the same as throwing it away.

You're also making this difficult, because this is how approximately 75% of shipping stories play out. Person A confesses a long-held crush to person B, who either a) reveals they've actually felt the same way for a long time or b) immediately develops reciprocal (yeah, I had to work in the math term) feelings. At least you have Octavia unsure about it, but that's a variation on a theme (yeah, I'm going to work in musical terminology, too) and one that's not particularly rare in its own right, and you still have Octavia as a quick conversion. There's "hey, let's give it a try," and then there's "let's kiss, hey, we're dating now!" This story's more about cautious optimism, and it doesn't need to see that potential come to fruition to make its point. In short, you're going to have thematic closure anyway, so you might consider not having plot closure, i.e., having a bit of an open ending. That's your call, though.

Anyway, I said I'd count up the "to be" verbs, at least the ones that are unambiguous enough to do a search on. You have 72, and the big one is "be," with 26 instances, oddly enough. Usually, "was" or "is" make up the majority depending on the prevailing tense. That rate's actuallt not bad at all. 72 uses in 3870 words isn't even once every third sentence. The issue here is more where they occur. They tend to clump up so they feel locally repetitive, and one of those clumps occurred at the beginning of the story, which is precisely the wrong time to make things feel stagnant.

By the way, I'm not sure where Vinyl comes up with Octavia having some great popularity. The movies certainly never paint her as such, though it's the kind of thing that's not hard to accept without there being a cascade of other changes to canon required. I'm just wondering if it's actually the case, or if that's just Vinyl's perception of her. It might help if you had other students interacting with them at some point, or maybe related through one of Vinyl's anecdotes, to illustrate.

Really, the only thing making this rise above the sea of other shipping fics out there, TaviScratch ones in particular, is the good character work here. They're both vibrant, memorable, and likable. But the more you can do to distinguish your story from the thousands of others out there can only help. You're probably very locked into the way they establish their relationship by now, so I guess it's more in the details to distance yourself from the crowd little by little.

So to achieve that, I'd recommend having a stronger finish that doesn't make a fairly tangential point, going for a richer immersion in the anecdotal material Vinyl provides to show her history with Octavia, and keeping your verb choice more consistently active.

This is close enough that you can mark it as "back from Mars" when you're ready to resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2632

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>your first time sitting at home waiting while somepony else goes and has the dangerous adventure//

This isn't the case, though. because you picked Twilight and Fluttershy, you've matched canon. I can only assume you did that on purpose. In that case, the first time Dash got left behind was when Rarity and Applejack went to Manehattan. I was thinking that if you didn't want to match that, you could pick a pairing canon didn't, but then that'd place this even later than S6, so it'd be at least the fifth time Dash got left behind if you did that. I'll see if it ends up mattering whether this'd be the first or second time, but I think it'd be a good idea to tweak things a bit to fit that.

>The Smokey Mountains//

Ah, so you are adhering to canon. This does mean this is Dash's second time being left behind, not the first.

>Whoah//

Why can't anyone spell this right?

>The manticore was pushed forwards//

>A model representing a flock of black birds was pushed down//
Pretty repetitive phrasing so close together.

>Shining Armour//

Look, I don't mind people using British spellings for the most part. But this isn't his name.

>“Looks like the map’s still doin’ its thing. Don't that mean they're still workin’ on it?”//

You've got a mix of simple and fancy style quotations marks and apostrophes. I assume you directly edited on FiMFiction to produce the simple ones. Or maybe you want all quotes to be fancy and all apostrophes to be simple. I've seen writers do that before, but even the apostrophes are inconsistent here. And I doubt this'll be the only place in the story this happens. I won't mark any more, so scan for them.

>Without warning, her bedroom was invaded by a flock of birds, big and small, sleek and fluffy, fast and darting and fat and languorous and erratic and colourful and above all, loud!//

I was going to praise your ability to stick to an omniscient narration, which is a lot harder than most people think. But this statement is decidedly limited. It's expressing an emotion through the phrasing (somewhat) and the exclamation mark (particularly). This creates a conversational style and essentially has the narrator convey Dash's feeling on the matter as his own. If you just lost the exclamation mark, it'd at least get it back into a gray area (it's still debatable whether all those other words like loud, fat, and languorous constitute a narrative opinion).

>Oh, sweet Celestia, Fluttershy could be really hard work sometimes.//

And here, you definitely have the narrator speaking Dash's thoughts for her. This is irrevocably limited narration. Since the vast majority of the time, your narration sounds omniscient, I have to assume that's what you want. If so, then you need to take care to attribute any subjective parts of the narration to the characters explicitly. You could do that here by making this line a quoted thought.

>This was going to be a long one.//

Same deal. This is unquestionably Dash's thought presented as narration, which is fine for a limited narrator, but not an omniscient one.

>We go home, and let Pinkie throw a party.//

You don't need a comma there, since the same subject is linked to both verbs.

>chivvy//

Is that a Britishism? I've never heard it before.

>on the things she said…//

Trailing off is like your previous exclamation, in that it adds a conversational tone that doesn't work with an omniscient narrator. The same would go for the narration getting interrupted, cut off, or asking a question.

It's preferred to leave a space after your ellipses, unless they start a sentence. Otherwise, it can format funny at times, since you can't control the way FiMFiction does its typesetting.

>Silence.//

Limited feel again. Omniscient narration should be more or less formal and stick to facts. Since I'm seeing more of this as I get further into the story, I guess I could see this being intentional, where the story shifts from omniscient to limited as it goes? Except I can't imagine what effect that would be intended to create. I can't think of a thematic reason to do so, and it's not following some realization on Dash's part.

>surprisingly//

The narrator's expressing an opinion again.

>It did all look a bit amateurish. She'd probably have to chastise somepony about that later.//

Limited feel again.

>Woah//

Please, please, please don't be one of those authors who can't spell this.

>That drab earth pony that's always playing on the arcades//

For a sentient being, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>with obvious distaste//

Another narrative opinion. Obvious to whom? Not me, since I don't get to see the evidence of it. This is Dash's judgment expressed as narration.

>Rainbow was lapping it up.//

This is factual, so it could be omniscient, but it's an oddly external judgment for Dash to make, so if you did want this to be limited, it sounds more like a comment from Rarity's viewpoint.

>Dash!” exclaimed Rarity, “I don't//

You need a period after "Rarity." Your pattern of capitalization and punctuation makes the entire quote a single sentence, yet you've put end punctuation in the middle of it.

>looked honestly surprised//

There are a few spots in the story where you bluntly tell me how a character feels, and I haven't been getting bent out of shape about it, since it's infrequent. But this lacks punch when I have to rely on the narrator's judgment without being able to draw my own conclusion. Describe what she looks like in a way that I'll deduce surprise on my own.

These two are using direct address more than feels natural. It's not like they need that cue to know when they're being spoken to. In a one-on-one conversation like this, people only use it for emphasis. Consider how often you actually do so when talking with a single friend.

>Rainbow murmured an indecipherable acknowledgement.//

Narrative impression again. An omniscient narrator, by definition, couldn't find anything indecipherable. It's Rarity who finds it such, so say that. Even if you did intend a limited narration, all the indicators are that Dash is the perspective character, the few times it comes up, but Dash wouldn't find her own murmur indecipherable, so this would have to be Rarity's opinion. Thus even in that case, there's a needless shift of perspective.

>I’m sure Twilight would have welcomed the company.//

Maybe Rarity and Dash hadn't noticed, but Twilight had been desperate to go along on one of the missions, but she restrained herself because she firmly believed only those explicitly summoned by the map could go. So no, I don't believe Twilight would have welcomed the company. I think she would have said the map clearly didn't want them to have company.

>the frantically flapping pegasus//

I'll wrap it up at the end, but in the case you wanted a limited narrator, this kind of descriptor rarely works, because it implies the perspective character would choose to refer to Dash this way in her own thoughts. People just don't do that for others they know, so it would be odd for Rarity to think of Dash in these terms instead of just a name or pronoun, and even stranger for Dash to describe herself that way. But if you want an omniscient narrator, these can work, as long as you use them in moderation.

>Yup, here it was.//

Subjective narration.

>she said smugly//

And even if you want limited narration, it's awfully self-aware of Dash to admit she's smug.

>in exasperation//

It's really a good idea to avoid these "in/with/of mood" phrasings. For one, they do nothing to paint a picture; instead they make me paint the picture. For another, they're often redundant with emotional cues already in the sentence.

>mud-pony backwater//

I can buy that he doesn't know this, but even though it was founded by earth ponies, it's notable for being a place where all the races live together. This point was made in "Flight to the Finish."

>Okay, so much for lying.//

Limited narrative feel again.

>Taking a deep breath//

>Squinting at the western horizon//
>Kneeling down//
You'll normally set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>less qualified//

Hyphenate.

>Unless they were in any kind of danger, of course.//

Sentence fragments are another conversational affectation that indicates limited narration.

>But if she happened to walk past a telescope, and catch a glimpse of them in the distance, nopony could blame her for that, right?//

You don't need that first comma, and asking a question makes this a limited narration.

>She turned one of the dials that made it blurry; then tried the other way until they came into focus.//

If a semicolon is properly used, you should be able to replace it with a period, but that would leave the second part as a sentence fragment.

>Well, they were safe at least. She didn't need to go flying off to save them or anything.//

Limited narration again. Actually, the rest of the story from here is mostly limited.

Maybe I just missed something, but I think the story failed to make a point on something. Or maybe it presented its own theme's counterargument, which is odd. You make a whole scene that Fluttershy moved away from home and left Dash behind. Fluttershy hadn't even mentioned it to Dash, so it's not like it just slipped her mind and she was surprised to find out it had happened already. She had no idea about it. So Fluttershy was fine going off on her own. I can't imagine why she'd have kept it secret, though it doesn't seem malicious, since Fluttershy wasn't displeased to find out Dash had followed. I was kind of expecting Dash to make a realization about this. Maybe she'd finally take offense to being the one left behind, and that Fluttershy was doing it again. Or maybe she'd tie that back in and realize Fluttershy had already been able to handle herself before. As it is, I can't tell what you want it to mean. It's there, and it never gets folded back in to the theme again. It's fine as a piece of back story, but it's just begging to be a thematic element.

Watch the few times you directly inform the reader of character emotion. It was infrequent enough that it wasn't a big deal, but it can rob the story of some impact when you do so at an important moment, where you really want the reader empathizing with the character.

The only big issue for me was the way the narration couldn't settle into a single voice. I said I'd revisit that, so here it is. It's pretty far into the story before there's any limited character to the narration, but after that point, it wavers back and forth. It would feel like a much more coherent story if that was made consistent. I can't tell which you intended, so I'll lay out how both work.

If you want an omniscient narrator, then have the narration deal in facts and use a fairly formal tone. It is a fact that Rainbow Dash feels unhappy or that she stomps a hoof. It is an opinion that Fluttershy needs this mission to gain confidence. When the narration says something involving a judgment call, it needs to say whose judgment that is by directly attributing it. So sift through your narration, and either remove/rephrase things that state a matter of opinion or take on a conversational tone, or say outright which character has those impressions.

If you want a limited narration, then it's fine to have the narrator speak on the character's behalf, essentially representing that character's stream of thought. It can take on conversational tone, if you like, asking questions, shouting, emphasizing words, getting interrupted, trailing off. It sounds very much like dialogue at times. Just be careful that it presents that character's perception accurately. One example I use frequently is that if Rarity is your focus character, and she sees Dash blush, she can say Dash's face is red. If Rarity's the one blushing, she can't see her own face, so her perception of it is different. She might notice her cheeks warming, for instance. Also be careful that you stay with one character at a time. Don't flip back and forth between multiple viewpoints rapidly. It's best to stay with a single one for an entire scene, if you can. It's possible to shift perspective within a scene, but it takes some skill to execute, and I won't go into all that, since it doesn't seem like you'd need to in this story.

Getting back on track, this story spends so much time sounding omniscient that that's the overall feel it takes. So if your intention was to have a limited narrator, you need to chime in far more often with some kind of opinion or conversational affectation to keep reminding the reader of it. Once every few paragraphs at least usually does the trick. And you need to establish that tone right from the first paragraph.

This is a nice character piece. It just needs a more consistent perspective, so iron out what you want that to be, bring it in line with that, and I'd be happy to post it. When you're ready, you can mark it as "back from Mars," since I wouldn't need to take a detailed look at it again.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2634

>All so perfect, or it would have been.//
I pointed this out last time, but later on, so you might not have noticed it was a direct excerpt. This is Spike's thought, but it's presented as narration. Thus, Spike's effectively the narrator. That's fine. Then we have this:
>the adolescent dragon snorted//
If the narrator is speaking for Spike in the first one, then he still has to be in the second. So Spike is calling himself "the adolescent dragon." That's just weird. People don't think of themselves in such distant, external terms.

>All he did was watch empty as the fire evaporated into the air.//

Not sure about that phrasing. Are you missing some words?

>Yet, once again life was making that difficult//

No reason to have a comma there. In general, they don't belong after conjunctions.

>She was the most beautiful, stunning, magnificent mare he's ever seen//

Why are you switching from past to present tense?

>The dragon gave a disgruntled snort as that idea crossed the dragon's mind//

Repetitive use of "the dragon," but again, that's a really odd way for him to choose to describe himself.

You've still got an awful lot of "to be" verbs early on. In just the first two screens, I counted 35 of them. In the three paragraphs starting here:
>If only Rarity were here as he'd planned.//
you have 8 instances of "been" alone. It could really use some more active verb choice.

>the smouldering embers of his frustration scatting//

So he's singing? Or pooping... I don't think that's the word you wanted.

>He knew Twilight won't mind if he was gone for a night, one of the perks about being a dragon that he actually enjoyed was the fact nothing ever messed with him.//

That comma's a splice, and you're shifting tense again.

>and the dragon's head perked up//

He's referring to himself very externally again.

>his sad frown disappearing//

There's two problems with this. First, you should avoid naming emotion directly, where possible. Don't tell me it's a sad frown. Demonstrate sadness. How do you know a stranger on the street is sad? You have to pick up cues from how he looks and acts. Give me the same kinds of cues from him. And second, this makes a visual evaluation of his face, but remember he's effectively the narrator. He can't see his face.

>sorry for sneaking up on you." Came the soft voice//

Punctuation/Capitalization of dialogue/tag.

>complete bewilderment in his tone//

Put yourself in his place, since the narration is supposed to represent his experiences. You don't notice you're bewildered from hearing your tone of voice. You'd already know it internally from how you feel, and that feeling manifests itself as a mental state and possibly physical sensations. The mental state can come across through what the narrator says, but more important is how he says it. It won't sound much different from dialogue. You can give the narration a conversational feel. Maybe he has a few false starts before he can get started, maybe the narrator asks a question. You have to get at his mood through the feel of the narration, not by just summing it up in a word that isn't going to draw me into his mindset.

>the dragon's surprise//

I'm not going to keep marking these, but this type of external reference doesn't work with your choice of narrator. He's not going to describe himself with language like this, and he probably wouldn't do so for friends or acquaintances either. Please give your story a scan for these.

>tentatively//

See, this does nothing to create a picture of her. Make her look and act tentative. How does she walk? What kind of expression does she have? And don't say a tentative expression. Describe it without using emotion or mood words. Think about what she's doing with her eyes, ears, mouth, whatever. You're trying to give me a picture of her in my head that I'll conclude tentativeness from.

>the mare//

He knows her well. Why would he describe her in such generic terms? You don't think about your friends like this.

>Spike raised a barbed eye crest//

Why would he mention his own eye being barbed here? It's irrelevant. It's also something he'd be so used to that it wouldn't even occur to him. If someone else held the perspective, they might notice this detail, but he wouldn't. If you come in from the rain, and you run your hand over your head, what would you more reasonably think, "my hair's wet" or "my brown hair's wet" (assuming you have brown hair, of course)? That's the kind of obtrusively irrelevant thing you're trying to wedge in here. For that matter, I'll illustrate one of those descriptors. Would you think "my hair's wet" or "the fanfiction author's hair is wet"?

>half genuinely curious and half slightly concerned//

You're really spelling out his emotion again. The name of the game is to get me to conclude this, not just tell me outright.

>Spike shrank back slightly at the look, not only did it remind him so much of Sweetie's older sister//

Comma splice.

>Neither did I Spike,//

When direct address is in the middle of a sentence, it takes commas on both sides.

>giggling slightly as she bowed his head//

I think you meant that "she" to be a "he."

>Despite that, the dragon sighed in belief//

Typo.

>All the request//

I assume you meant that to be plural.

>The world is a big place, at least you know you'll get to see it//

Comma splice.

Just note that I'm not at all being exhaustive. I marked a comma splice on your last submission as an example so you could look through and find any more on your own, but you didn't catch any more. So I'm marking a few more examples this time, but I'm not getting the all, or I'd be spending far too long on this. The point is for you to learn to find them yourself, and not just comma splices—all these things I'm pointing out.

>from?" she asked, and at Spike’s blush she added. "Sorry//

As phrased, that period should be a comma, but you really need to split this into two sentences. I'd recommend getting rid of the "and" and starting a new sentence there.

>studding each sharp claw//

Typo.

>You're not domestic Spike.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>as magnificent as the sun set//

sunset

>Spike looked at her, his expression more akin to that of a timid puppy than a large dragon.//

How does he even know what his expression looks like? This doesn't work for his perspective. And you're using "seem" a lot around here.

>"How do you know that?"//

This is double indented, and there's no blank line after this paragraph.

>Come on Spike,//

Needs another comma for the direct address.

>just sympathy//

Repetitive with the "sympathetically" you used just a few sentences ago.

>heart breaking//

heartbreaking
Missing apostrophe.

>while he'd admitted love rarity for her looks//

Capitalization, missing words.

>that Sweetie seemed to bare//

What's she baring? She's not wearing anything.

>Spikes mind//


>At dragon's stare//

Missing word. I gather this is new material, but please give it some editing attention.

>shied away slightly. It was only then that Spike realised how he must look and fumbled for words as he shied away//

Repetition.

>tick scales//

So he's an arachnid now?

>I... I//

Extraneous space.

>far kinder and loyal than most ponies//

Missing word.

>He may never win the heart of the pony he loved//

So he's pretty much admitting he doesn't love Sweetie Belle, right when we're supposed to start believing he does?

>made him realised that//

Verb form.

>he eared to see//

I don't know what that was supposed to be.

>to brake free//

Typo. And you're using "admire" quite a bit around here.

>and he shied away//

More shying away, huh?

>the sun set sky//

sunset

>sky sky//

Repeated word.

>life’s twist and turns//

Mixing singular and plural there.

So you did add some transition to get Spike on board with someone who has to travel a lot, instead of just having him make a snap decision to leave home with her. There are still some editing and perspective issues, though, and there's still not much here about what attracts them to each other.

Since this isn't a romance that's a slow burn, it's not like you can follow them from first meeting to first kiss and tell the whole story. But you've got this perspective from within Spike's head, so why not use that to your advantage? When he's realizing he does have feelings for her, what memories does that evoke? Working through anecdote can be very effective for situations like this. They've spent time together in the past. How does he see those memories in a new light? Relate a couple to me. He might recall a couple of instances where he found her endearing, but it hadn't really registered. Or with the benefit of hindsight, maybe he can see now that there were signs of her attraction he'd been overlooking for years. That's a good way of demonstrating that they care for each other. Now, all I'm getting are some pretty generic statements. Specific is always better. A few examples will speak far louder than a sweeping generality. They can even reminisce together.

It's improving, but it still needs something to stand out above all the other similar shipping stories that use pretty much the same premise, but that don't really demonstrate the romance so much as ask the reader to accept it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2644

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>a strength that she had not known for centuries but never forgotten//

That's a really odd branching point for a parallel structure. It comes across as awkwardly phrased, since it makes it feel like the verb forms don't match, and the "not" is linked so closely with the "had."

>An eerie hush fell over the crowd//

You're using a limited narrator in Adagio's perspective, so you're implying the phrasings are ones she would choose. Why would she call this eerie, though? It might to an outside observer, but she should be used to how this goes. I don't see why she'd find it eerie.

>She turned her baleful crimson eyes//

That's another oddity of perspective. Why would she need to mention her own eye color?

>once resplendent//

You're using the shole phrase as a single modifier, and it precedes what it describes, so hyphenate it.

>They stood in a circle, each one holding the shattered remnants of their once-magnificent pendants.//

But in the movie, they left the pieces on the stage...

>Adagio grit her teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>agonizing silence tinged with palpable despair//

Let the narration carry this. You're using a limited narrator, and that's one of its strengths. What kinds of thoughts might run through your head in her situation? Have the narrator say something like that. The narration is telling me she feels this way, but it sounds very calm. When you have a limited narrator, let them run in parallel.

>look of desperation//

Watch the close repetition. You just used "look" earlier in the same sentence and "despair" 3 sentences back. More than that, though, you should try to avoid directl naming emotions like this. Demonstrate it. Describe her face and behavior in such a way that I'll read despair from it instead of you having to tell me so.

>hating how her voice cracked and wavered//

This is a fine point, but one that can make your writing a lot richer. Since you've chosen a limited narrator, have the narration express her hate. Don't just say she hates this; have her berate herself for her weakness and her failure in the narration.

>brooding and grim rather than despondent//

I'm not going to keep marking this, but look for opportunities to demonstrate emotions instead of simply naming them for the reader. Like anything else, I'll point out a few examples of this, then have you go through the rest of the story on your own to tweak further instances.

>sounds of her sister's footsteps//

There's more than one sister there, right?

>She lingered just long enough//

More repetition. She just lingered a few paragraphs back.

>The second she laid down//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tough verbs to keep straight. Lay/laid/had laid takes a direct object, so she laid her head down. Lie/lay/had lain doesn't take a direct object, so she lay down.

>finally began to close, but another hour until she finally//

Repetition.

>“Sit down,” Adagio said, carefully coaxing Sonata to sit on the bed.

This is a common issue with Dazzlings stories. Adagio was very authoritative and pretty abusive in the movie, and this is later the same day. What's made her so quickly change her attitude? I mean, I know it has to do with being defeated, but it's just suddenly there. We don't get to see the change or watch Adagio navigate it. One minute, she's mean to them, and the next, she's concerned about them. This could use a little more gradual change.

>hating the doubt she heard in her own voice//

And that's a really similar phrasing to one you used earlier.

>"Rest. We’ll talk in the morning.”//

Throughout the story, you've got a mix of simple and fancy style quotation marks and apostrophes like this. Make them consistent.

>She wished that there was something she could say, but to her eyes the night was so bleak that there were no words to say that could make it bearable.//

Another spot where demonstrating it instead of spelling out her motivation and wishes explicitly would be more powerful.

I do feel like I'm not getting much of a picture of where they are. You have a few perfunctory statements of setting, but it could use more detail. In particular, think about what things in their home could have some kind of symbolic or thematic meaning, both in what you choose to describe and how. That kind of thing adds lots of atmosphere.

>She laid in place for a minute or two//

Lay/lie confusion again.

You're using some pretty fancy language in Sonata's limited narration, which is in contrast to how Adagio thought of her in the first chapter. You do need to match personality and intelligence level of a limited narrator to the character it represents, so there's a contradiction here, but maybe an intentional one? Adagio might not realize how smart Sonata actually is. We'll see how this plays out.

>with suspicion//

Particularly try to avoid these "in/with/of mood" phrasings, as they're almost always redundant with material already there.

There, now in chapter two, we're getting a lot more setting. It's from a different character, though, so it would have helped to characterize Adagio in the last chapter to get this kind of thing from her.

>In her weary, half-asleep state, more than one word at a time was simply asking too much.//

Except her limited narration sounds very aware and coherent. Match her condition to how her limited narration says things.

>Momentarily hopeful, she lifted her hand to her neck, feeling for a gem that she knew to be absent. For just a moment, she hoped//

Repetitive, but also, it feels rather external to her to describe herself as "momentarily hopeful," since it's a pretty stoic assessment of her mood. It doesn't sound hopeful.

>Once out in the hall, a pleasant scent drifted lazily through the air.//

This makes it sound like the scent has moved into the hall, not Sonata.

>but both of them barely felt like eating//

How does Sonata know this? She's your limited narrator in this scene, and she could know that for herself, but you essentially have her reading Adagio's mind, unless you say how she came to that conclusion or that it's just her opinion.

>taking one last bite before standing up without a word, taking//

Repetition. Also note that participles make actions simultaneous, whereas these would occur one after the other. Keep this in mind when you use them. There are plenty of other examples in the story where the timeline doesn't quite make sense.

>hoping//

You're telling me what characters hope an awful lot. This falls in a class of verbs that should be avoided in limited narration, related to perception or knowledge. The focus character and narrator are linked, essentially the same, so they have the same experience of things. If the narrator describes something, it's implicit the character can see it, so you don't need to say she sees it. That covers sensory verbs. Others are things like wish, want, hope, wonder, think, and know. It's a little indirect to say she hopes something. There's an extra step between the reader and narrator. Have the narrator express the hope directly. Something like "maybe she wouldn't have to wait very long." That conveys a sense of hope without ever having to use the word, and it's a much more intimate expression than being informed of it as a fact.

>Sonata set the notebook aside and laid down//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Sonata opened one eye and glanced to the side. There was a blurry shape standing over her. It sounded like Aria and looked vaguely purple and belligerent in a sort of Aria-like kind of way, but it was hard to be certain.//

See, this sounds very much like Sonata. Maybe except for the "belligerent," though that's not such an advanced word. But compare to what you had early in the chapter that was fairly dry and lacking her personality, and was also using far more fancy words that you do here. This captures her voice much better.

>up and then looked up//

Close repetition.

>Sonata shook her head and clambered to her feet, dusting herself off before looking at Aria, concerned.//

First, the proximity suggests Aria's the one who's concerned, but I bet you mean Sonata. Second, it's very blunt for Sonata to say she's concerned and leave it as a one-word description. Voice some of her concerns. What bad scenarios does she imagine playing out? How does that make her feel physically?

>Starting that day//

Compared to the first sentence of the scene, this is repetitive and a bit confusing as to the time frame.

>No response.//

The beginning of this chapter is quite repetitive. You have two paragraphs start with this sentence, then shortly after, you have two more repetitive sentence openers:
>When she heard nothing//
>When no response came//
Those last two probably just need to be rephrased. The first two can work, though. If you want repetition to create an effect, there's a finesse to it. Basically, you need to make it obvious the repetition is intentional by drawing attention to it. The simplest way, and the one I think would be fine here, is to use words that acknowledge the repetition. So if you make the second one something like "Still no response," then it accomplishes something with the repetition, an the reader's not going to interpret it as a potential mistake.

>If- if//

Hyphens aren't for stutters, false starts, interruptions, or cutoffs. Please use a proper dash. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread.

>She wondered if Adagio had ever been there, or if she had just been knocking on an empty room and fooling herself into thinking that someone was still inside.//

There's another one of those verbs that doesn't need to be in a limited narration. Have the narrator wonder it directly instead of telling me Sonata wondered it.

>Rather, it felt like being wrapped in a wall of stone. In Aria’s arms, Sonata felt, above all else, safe, and that brought with it a little bit of comfort.//

This is pretty stiff imagery. Make it more abstract. What sort of mental image might a concept like "safe" bring? Use something like simile or metaphor to bring this alive. That's what gets the reader caught up in it.

>a familiar gesture of affection//

So make it seem familiar to me too. When has Aria done this before? If it's familiar, it'd draw a memory.

>'till//

That spelling doesn't use an apostrophe.

>thoughts of what was to come afterwards filled her with dread//

This is too vague to mean anything. Give me a couple examples of what she envisions and how she reacts to them.

>the thought of seeing those that she wronged so severely//

Fairly repetitive phrasing so soon after the one I pulled out for my previous comment.

>she imagined a new form of punishment that they might inflict on her//

She's heard Sonata crying, though. I'd like to see her try to reconcile this. In her state, she's not necessarily going to be very logical, but she's not just going to ignore evidence, either. If she really feels like they want to punish her, she's probably got some rationalization of how Sonata crying or Aria not yelling at her through the door makes sense.

>so as not to infuriate her with its scandalously lackluster boxiness//

Where's this coming from? She's never expressed any such aesthetic sense before, and frankly, this is so over the top that it feels like it's trying to be comedic.

>There had been days when she poured over it for hours on end//

pored

>once vibrant//

Hyphenate.

>together on the couch and watched television together//

Repetition.

>lamentations//

That's a really odd word choice. Are you sure this is what you really mean?

>"Well..." Sonata trailed off//

You don't need to narrate trailing off when it's already evident from the punctuation. The same goes for getting interrupted or cut off.

>confiding to Aria//

I've always heard that phrased as confiding in.

>know- I don't know-//

Please use dashes.

>know-” Sonata cut herself off//

Heh. I guess I predicted that. This is redundant.

>mixed expressions of confusion and dread//

Let me see.

>once in awhile//

"A while" actually needs to be two words here, so there's a noun to serve as the preposition's object.

>“... she//

Don't leave a space after a leading ellipsis.

>“Sonata-”//

Use a dash.

This conversation uses more direct address than feels natural. When you're talking one on one with a friend, how often do you actually do this? Mostly just when you want to emphasize something.

>‘cause//

If you're going to use the fancy quote, pay attention to leading apostrophes. Smart quotes get them backward, since they assume you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row, then delete the first. Probably all your leading apostrophes are like this. I do see others.

>trying!//

When you have a word italicized for emphasis, and there's a question mark or exclamation mark on it, include the punctuation in the italics.

I'll jump in with something you mentioned in the comments. I don't think the perspective jumps around too much. You stay with a single one through each scene, and scene breaks are a fine time to change viewpoint. You can do so in the middle of a scene, too, but there's much more of an art to doing that well. You've actually done a good job of keeping to one perspective per scene. You'd be surprised how many authors have a lot of trouble with that. You've also done a good job of clearly indicating who holds the perspective right as each scene starts so the reader immediately knows whose eyes they're seeing through, instead of having to flounder along, assuming it's the same perspective as the previous scene, until he finally does see an indication and has to reinterpret the scene so far.

>Compared to her sisters, Aria’s room//

But you're comparing rooms, not sisters...

>laid several items: A blank sheet of paper//

Lay/lie confusion, and only capitalize after a colon if it refers to multiple sentences.

>then set the paper in front of her. Then//

Repetitive.

>Then, she stretched her arm out//

And again in the same paragraph. You also don't need to follow "then" with a comma.

>thunk//

Just leave that in normal font. It's a valid word. When you get too cutesy with the sound effects, it tends to make the story feel like a comedy or something intended for a young audience.

>She picked one of them up and held it before her scrutinizing eye.//

>She picked up a splinter of her gem again, holding it up to her scrutinizing eye.//
Really repetitive phrasing. The "again" justifies the repeated action, but what comes after it isn't achieving anything with the repetition.

>Aria turned her spiteful eyes//

Why would she describe her own eyes that way? That's more something another character or an omniscient narrator would observe.

>Then, she picked up her abacus and stood up.//

You have a fair amount of these "then" actions in this chapter, plus you keep putting a comma after it, but only when it starts a sentence.

>Moving over to her mattress, she flopped down//

Another spot where a participle synchronizes actions that probably shouldn't be.

>directions Aria had given her. They had directed//

Repetitive.

>Dumb dumbfaced dummy Aria. Stupid grumpy little… stupid person.//

Note how different this sounds from a lot of the narration, yet they're both supposed to be the same person's voice. You get some leeway, as reading narration that's constantly this childish would get grating, but the tone of the narration could stand to sound a little more like her in places. What comes shortly after this is quite good, though.

>Sonata’s eyes lit up with excitement.//

Watch directly naming the emotion, and it's a rather external assessment for her to make about herself.

>bacon girl//

She used that before when she was having trouble remembering Sunset's name, but she's used it by now, so... I have mixed feelings. It's comic, but it feels a bit deliberate.

>She wanted to be look sympathetic.//

Something went wrong there.

Man, it'd be funny if she went through all this and Sunset wasn't home. Even more if Sunset's been watching her from the street the whole time.

>sniffle a little//

>mussed up her hair a little//
Repetitive so close together.

>in concern//

Okay, there are a few things I've been marking most of the examples I see, but it's time for me to hand over the reins to you. Try to avoid naming emotions outright, particularly with this type of phrasing. I'm going to leave the rest of a lot of these points for you to detect.

>C- can//

Don't put spaces after the hyphens in a stutter.

>“I…” She trailed off//

Redundant.

>Sunset directed Sonata to a pair of couches//

Kind of repetitive after you'd just mentioned a couch.

>Sunset’s expression became heavy with concern.//

There's a lot of concern in this chapter.

>squealing with excitement//

By proximity, this seems to describe Sunset. It's also the second "excitement" in the sentence.

>like,//

I could see putting a comma on both sides of this, but not just one. Or you could go without any.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2645

>>2644
>And so Sonata babbled on//
Odd for her to characterize her own conversation that way.

>many furnishing//

Typo.

Wow, this story shares a lot in common with another I read recently. Sonata helping the Dazzlings, an Adagio feeling like a failure, nautical themes. An interesting case of convergent evolution, as this was published first, and I know the author hadn't read this.

>Sonata, prattled on//

Not sure why that comma is there.

>How cool is that?//

Include the question mark in th italics.

>Ignoring Sonata’s protesting, panicked look//

You'd been in Sonata's perspective, but this feels very external to her.

>that left a pungent odor of alcohol in Sunset’s nostrils//

So... are you going into Sunset's perspective now? As stated, she's the only one who could know this.

>but failed to completely mask her unease//

How so? Let me see it.

>she winced//

Capitalization. It looks like a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>hand-written//

handwritten

I'm getting severe mood whiplash here. Last time we saw Adagio, she was browbeating herself as a failure, and now she's very much self-assured and domineering with no transition. It's one thing to have her outwardly so, but we're in her perspective now, so we see the internal, too, and it's doing the same thing.

>You’ve avoided them for awhile now.//

"A while" needs to be two words in this instance.

>I think you’re hurting a lot more than you let on. Sonata sure thinks you are, I think.//

That's an awful lot of thinking.

>giving a haughty toss of her hair//

She just did exactly that about a page ago.

>somehow, that she meant no harm. No words were spoken, and yet Sunset somehow//

Repetition.

>just a, expression that it was alright to be a little vulnerable//

Pretty vague, plus a typo.

>she laid still//

Lay/lie confusion.

>reigned in her feelings//

Actually, quite the opposite. Anyway, you want "reined."

>voice falling to a whisper//

Last time you described her tone, it was a whisper, and nothing's happened in the interim to change that, so... her voice is falling to a whisper again?

>Starswirl//

Canon is Star Swirl.

>with a savage snarl//

She just snarled two paragraphs ago.

>yet still//

Redundant.

>I will make her pay.//

Yeah, she's not really having an emotional arc I can follow here. She's a failure early in the story, an she stays sobbing in her room, then suddenly she's a femme fatale again. Next, she's understandably suspicious of Sunset, then with a little prodding, cries into her shoulder and spills her guts, then goes right back to hating Sunset and vows revenge for a perceived slight she should have known wasn't true. Sonata went to get Sunset after all, and Sonata explained enough for Sunset to know what was going on. Adagio knows all this.

>Shaking her head reflexively, Sonata’s eyes refocused//

This says that Sonata's eyes shook her head.

>assuming an expression that was at the very least neutral, if less than pleasant//

That can be what she's trying for, but it doesn't guarantee she achieved it. She can't even see it to know for sure.

I haven't commented on this until now, but it's a bit off-putting how often you have quoted thoughts. One of the main points of having a limited narrator is so you can put the thoughts as narration instead of quotes. As narration, you're giving the reader direct access to the character's mind. As quoted thoughts, you're having the narrator tell us that the character thought something, which wedges an extra step between the reader and the character. There's nothing technically wrong with doing so, but it works against the strengths of this type of narrator, and it's a less intimate connection to the character. Most of your quoted thoughts could easily be recast as third-person limited narration.

>her face heavy with concern//

You're always telling me characters are concerned. Besides the sheer repetition, it doesn't carry much weight. What do concerned people do? How do they look?

>absent-mindedly//

absentmindedly

>Woah//

Please don't be one of the seeming majority of authors who can't spell this right.

>pulled a pair of sleek sunglasses//

Seems like you're missing a word, and you just described the motorcycle as sleek a few paragraphs ago.

>in awhile//

I'll just try to knock all these down in a single comment. If "awhile" follows a preposition, it really needs to be "a while."

>the skank//

Wow. Given she was thinking about picking up some trash at a bar, not sure how she gets off accusing Adagio of this.

>Get out and I won't bother you again.//

I'm as confused as Sunset right now. At least some of that just got discussed. Aria admitted she wanted Sunset to stay. But now she's telling her to leave again, and the true intent behind it isn't evident from the limited narration so far. So it feels like Aria's being indecisive, yet even her own thoughts don't indicate such.

>Maintaining an inscrutable gaze//

Again, this is more an external observation, since Aria can't see it herself to know.

>Setting//

Seems like this needs a "down" somewhere, but you don't have anything like that, which makes it feel incomplete. This paragraph also has several more of those participles synchronizing actions that should occur in sequence.

>Closing the last of her now stuffed suitcases, Adagio stood up, closed//

Repetition. And "now-stuffed" needs a hyphen.

>staring ahead and burning with a quiet, seething anger//

At first, I wasn't clear on when this happens. I gather she was already mad before the scene started, but on my first read, it sounded like she didn't get angry until this line.

>the sleek piano//

There's a lot of sleekness lately.

>subtlty//

Spelling.

>Again Adagio’s eyes closed, a warm smile on her blissful face as she once again//

Repetition.

>what sight laid on the other side//

Lay/lie confusion.

Now that I've stewed on it a bit, I think Sunset's conclusion about whether Aria is a good person was too simplistic. It's not enough to make a blanket judgment about whether she's good or bad. She's right—it does depend on perspective. But there aren't absolutes, either. People can respect that someone they don't like has done something good. Or they can think someone they count as a good friend has done something wrong. In this case, they're getting down in the semantics of arguing overall merit when they're actually talking about individual instances. Aria trying to enslave everyone is a bad thing. Her looking out for her sisters is a good thing. How to assess the combination of the two is subjective, but that's not the argument Aria's making. Yet that kind of is the argument Sunset's making. It seems like there's a bit of a disconnect. While it's true that can happen in real life conversations, it needs a little more careful treatment in writing, if indeed that's what you're going for, to make it obvious that's what you intended instead of just being an unintentional inconsistency.

>dimly light//

Typo. Though that phrase is pretty much an oxymoron anyway.

>She crept up to the door with a hairpin in hand//

Starting here, look over the next 4 or 5 paragraphs and see how often you end your sentences with some kind of participial structure. That's another kind of repetition.

>And there, not ten feet in front of her, laid the girl she sought//

Lay/lie confusion.

>sound asleep under purple covers and snoring softly//

You already said in the previous paragraph that she was snoring softly.

>back, slipping the knife back//

I'd recommend doing a Ctrl-f for "back" and seeing how many places you use it two or more times close together.

>closing the door behind//

Behind her, right?

>making her downstairs//

Another missing word.

>Stepping into her shoes, she opened the door, locked it and stepped//

Repetition.

>incessant//

Seems a bit of an odd word choice. Usually this connotes something annoying, but she's the one doing it.

>sky, bombarding the ground with innumerous drops of clear, pure water. A gloomy haze of murky grey clouds covered the sky//

>felt when first she felt//
Repetition.

>endearingly romantic novel//

This is certainly a subjective opinion, but this feels off from her characterization. You've had her tastes consistently on the raunchy side, yet here she's going for something very tame. Not that someone can't like both, but this is the first time I'm seeing this aspect, and it's pretty late in the story to begin introducing new personality traits that she's supposedly had all along.

>inscrutable//

You rather like that word.

Yeah, they're starting to use direct address more than feels natural again. Authors tend to do this without noticing, but look how often they call each other by name. They're the only two present, so why would they even bother?

>hoping that her nerves remained concealed by her deep breaths as she deflected the question//

There's another "hope" verb that might be better expressed through narrative comment. And the "deflected the question" is kind of over-explaining her motive. Narrative comment or just letting her actions speak for themselves will get this across more effectively.

>to not//

Reverse these.

>While Aria operated the contraption//

If Adagio can hear it running already, what more operation does it take? They're pretty hands-off.

>trying to surmise what the other one was thinking//

Adagio's your limited narrator. She would know this about herself, but not about Aria. She might conclude it from how Aria's behaving, but that 's different from stating it as a fact.

>Adagio would gladly have fawned over any other day//

But I haven't gotten the sense from her characterization that she would do this openly. She does like Sonata, but that's shown more as an undercurrent to their relationship, where they're more hostile on a surface level. It feels kind of inconsistent.

>“Are you saying…” Sonata cut herself off//

Would be redundant, but cutting off would connote a dash. An ellipsis is a softer pause.

>she looked up from the ground at Aria with wide, panicked eyes//

That's rather external to her perspective again. She'd know her eyes were wide, but panicked? She can't see them to evaluate that, and that's not the immediate way she'd sense her panic anyway.

>an increasingly panicked Adagio//

Same. This doesn't sound like Adagio's perspective.

>Adagio’s eyes went wide//

Last time you described them, they were already wide.

>her face paling//

How does she know this? She could feel it going cold, but she can't know it's pale.

>Aria moved over to the door, glancing outwards as if hoping she would merely see Adagio taking a breather outside//

So your perspective character has left the room, and the camera's stayed behind. It's fine to execute a perspective shift when you really need one, and the main point is to avoid reader confusion. Since Adagio's gone, that removes confusion that she can still hold the perspective, but who's taken it up? The "as if" here makes this so it can't be Aria's, since she'd know the truth. This statement speaks to uncertainty. So that leaves Sonata, but you need to establish her as the perspective character as soon as Adagio's gone. It takes a while before you have the narration do anything to establish a perspective, but once you do, it's Aria's:
>And damn her luck, they usually worked.//
So that makes this "as if" statement incompatible with the perspective.

>…//

This may cut it as a video game paragraph, but not in good writing.

>A part of her wanted nothing more than to find a bed and lay down//

Lay/lie confusion.

>In her mind, she imagined//

Where else would she imagine it?

>the shards of her gem laid on the ground//

Lay/lie confusion.

>But what would it matter, if they stayed where they laid forever?//

Lay/lie confusion, and you don't need that comma.

>incessant droning that seemed to go on forever and ever//

Isn't that what incessant means?

>suddenly//

This is a word that should be carefully considered. You can usually write things so that they seem sudden without having to say so. It's like having to assure the reader that a joke was funny. If you have to tell him, it probably isn't.

>a note or two here and there, barely managing the high pitch it once struck so flawlessly, and it cracked once or twice//

That's very repetitive structuring: note or two, here and there, once or twice.

>“Can’t hold it for very long,” Aria explained as she draped a coat over Adagio’s shoulders.//

So after saying she refused to talk to Adagio, Aria's the one who was singing, and she spoke first?

>hand off of her face, holding it tightly in her hand//

Another spot where the repetition is justified, but it needs some acknowledgement of the repetition, like "holding it tightly in hers" or "in her own hand."

>Music's in my blood, Adagio//

You really need to cut back on the unnatural amounts of direct address. This is the second time in a paragraph.

>Adagio’s smile broadened slightly and took on a warm, almost maternal glow//

>Her expression clearly showed her pain//
How can Adagio know this? She can't see it.

>“Watch your language,” she whispered into Aria’s ear.//

Adagio hasn't exactly been clean with hers. I'm left assuming she's just copying Sonata in saying this, but that's an awfully subtle thing to rely on the reader remembering.

>Smirking, Adagio took the shards//

Within the past few paragraphs, you've used "smug" and "smirk" twice each.

>continuing to stroke her hair and sooth her//

Typo. The verb form is "soothe."

>now stinging//

Hyphenate.

>she spoke in a low, seething hiss//

When someone says something in an unusual tone, consider putting the speech tag before the dialogue. Otherwise, the reader's going to hear it in a regular tone then either have to go over it again or accept it as a detached fact.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2646

>>2644
>>2645
>calmly as she could manage. "Just calm//
Repetition.

>her haggard, obviously distraught appearance//

This is the one time such an external observation works. She's looking in a mirror, so she can see how she appears.

>a pleasant, steamy aroma//

What's causing the aroma? Water doesn't have any, and you haven't said she added anything to it.

>as she laid down//

Lay/lie confusion.

Also, your participle use is spiking again, and you tend to place them at the ends of sentences only (though the beginning isn't a great option, if you believe John Gardner). Here are all the participles in the scene until this paragraph:
>still grimacing//
>Sighing//
>curling her lip in disgust at her haggard, obviously distraught appearance//
>making a mental note to give herself the pampering of a lifetime//
>Pushing thoughts of her troubles aside as best as she could//
>filling the room with a pleasant, steamy aroma//
>occasionally glancing back towards the door and glowering//
>unable to take her thoughts off of Aria//
>Satisfying herself that it was adequately hot//
>taking her time to get used to the heat as she laid down//
That's ten of them in only ten paragraphs and only fifteen sentences. It also lends your writing a choppy feel to have so many short paragraphs. None of these are longer than two sentences, and most are only one. They don't seem to be so uniquely thematic that you'd have to divide them all up in such short pieces like this, given thay're not broken up by dialogue.

>a blissful expression on her face//

How can she see this?

>She would be lying if she said she would take a bath over a swim in the ocean, of course.//

Seems like you're missing a "rather" in there.

>A blink and a start revealed that the sight was simply her mind playing tricks on her//

This is kind of bland, since the narration is supposed to be her stream of thought. Let the tone of the narration carry her mood, too.

Okay, I was wondering when the sex tag would show up. At least Adagio rebuffs Aria's advances on the basis of them being sisters, but the fact that Aria's trying to go for that in the first place might be problematic.

>Letting out a heavy breath, her expression changed to one of concern.//

Blunt emotional context, too external to the perspective, etc. But what I wanted to point out with this excerpt is that it says her expression let out a breath.

>Adagio set the gem//

Set it where?

>Reluctantly, Aria complied.//

So she wanted to seduce Adagio and now she's reluctant to sit on the bed with her?

>Lifting her eyes to meet Adagio’s, Aria’s face//

This says Aria's face lifted her eyes.

>for awhile//

a while

>Aria trailed off//

Redundant with your use of an ellipsis. And why does this need to be a new paragraph anyway?

>Laying together//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Adagio sighed, but resigned herself to her fate and laid back.//

Lay/lie confusion. This is the one thing I'm pointing out every time I see it, since once in a while you get it right, and I don't want you fixing the ones that aren't broken.

>an insistent gesture telling her to wait//

This gets the purpose across, but it gives me no clue what it actually looks like.

>now familiar//

Hyphenate.

>considering herself fortunate that her sisters had at least been considerate//

Repetition.

>They had apparently resolved to make up for the drama of the week prior by doting on her.//

This seems out of place with how Aria had been relating to Adagio before. I can see Sonata doing this, but Aria? Plus they all admitted to being mutually at fault, so why are they treating Adagio like royalty? I guess you'll get into this, but they're trying to turn over a new leaf, yet they're falling back into the same arrangement, so if it's an unreliable narrator situation where I can see the train wreck coming even though the characters can't, that's fine, but it seems inconsistent with how everyone's attitudes have played out.

>“Ready?” Aria asked, downing her fourth mug of coffee.//

How does Adagio know it's her fourth?

>Adagio nodded, and the three of them made their way out to the garage, ready for a grueling session of Aria’s demanding instruction.//

You've got an extra line break after this paragraph. Either that, or you have a horizontal line that FiMFiction is failing to draw on my screen (which happens from time to time and isn't your fault).

>it felt like knitting wearing mittens//

I'd encourage you to stick a "while" in there. Since mittens are something one might knit, it sounds like that's a product of the knitting, not a hindrance to it.

>Adagio's eyes fell to the ground, her expression somber.//

How can she see this, and even if she could, why's that what clues her into how she feels?

>to be laying back on a comfortable chair//

Lay/lie confusion.

>to let the saltwater sooth her//

Same typo you had on that word before.

>Because that, to her, was the whole point of the beach. To relax and enjoy the scenery. To feel the sea breeze blowing through her hair, carrying with it that distinctive salty smell.//

Why did she describe this as something most people don't appreciate? Lots and lots of people do exactly this at the beach.

>Because that was the point of beaches, to enjoy the scenery//

Yes, she's already said this.

You're giving me a bunch of these one-sentence paragraphs again. Don't overplay them. They make things stand out, and when a lot of things stand out, nothing does.

>still sorting things out. There might still//

Repetition.

>malevolently eerie//

Why would she describe her own laugh that way? That implies she wasn't into the purpose behind it, if she found it unsettling.

>a trace of affection//

There are lots of ways this could look, and there could be lots of motivations behind it. A description would help.

>Looking over at Sunset, she smiled.//

They've been smiling an awful lot, and I don't think Adagio stopped since the last time.

>by the time we’d been talking this long last time//

Kind of repetitive.

>“You never know,” Adagio remarked, smiling coyly.//

I'm a little surprised Adagio is so at ease right here, since, y'know, she actually did try to kill Sunset. And she's probably not feeling too good about that at the moment.

>“If there’s one thing my friends taught me, it’s that anyone can be a good person if they want to.” Sunset pointed to Adagio’s heart and smiled. “And from what I’ve gathered, you three really do care about each other, don’t you?”//

This gets back to a point I made earlier, that bad people can do good things and vice versa. Sunset's making an overly simplistic argument here, that if Adagio cares about her sisters, she must be good. It's more that she'd have an element of good to her, and maybe Sunset can draw that out, but that one aspect doesn't mean Adagio is entirely good. I mean, you don't believe that either, since what they did at the battle of the bands was bad, but I think this deserves to be a little more nuanced of an argument.

>If that’s not enough to tell me that you could be a good person, I don’t know what is.//

And your use of "could" here hints at it a bit, but still ambiguously, as it doesn't state whether it's that she could be inherently good or if she could be made good.

>taking advantage of the lull in the conversation//

You're literally in the next sentence after dialogue, and nothing has happened to indicate any time passing since then. There is no lull.

>But we'll see how things so.//

Typo.

>Make some friends, give up my villainous ways and be a productive member of society?//

She's playing this in an extremely self-aware manner, such that it comes across as very flippant. It also makes it as if she's already completely turned her life around to view it like this, but that would mean that her actual conversion already happened off camera, which carries less power, since the reader doesn't get to see her struggle at the critical moment.

>quietly sobbing//

That's a really sudden escalation. Take the reader on the journey there; don't just jump to it. For that matter, I can't be sure she isn't faking this. I assume not, since the narration's been keeping up with telling me when that's the case.

>a look of blissful calm on her face//

She can't see this to say so, and she just closed her eyes to boot.

>gently stroking her hair//

She just did that a bit ago. It's fine if she's still doing so, but acknowledge the repetition.

>holding her in as comfortable a manner as she could//

How does Adagio know this? She's reading Sunset's mind here.

>Glancing in the general direction of the sky//

That's pretty much anywhere but down. This is ridiculously vague.

>there’s…” she trailed off//

>I…” Adagio trailed off//
Redundant to narrate trailing off when you already have an ellipsis.

>Adagio laid down on her side//

Lay/lie confusion.

>however remote//

Set this off with a comma.

>pouring over it//

poring

Are they playing a timed match? Because otherwise, I'd expect his to take many hours.

>I don’t why I even bother.//

Missing word.

>Ignoring Sunset’s attempts at comforts//

I don't know why either of those is plural.

>Rooting through her bag, she finally took out a plain black book//

Just another example of a participle synchronizing things that shouldn't be.

>It’s my diary. Hundreds of years of memories.//

Hundreds of years in a single book? She sure doesn't write much of it down.

>Noting Sunset’s surprise//

You just mentioned Sunset's surprise a couple paragraphs ago, but you haven't demonstrated it either time.

This occurs to me that they wouldn't necessarily have to learn the tonality of Mandarin, for example. Because that gets removed when you sing it.

>There's far too much for one volume.//

Ah, there we go.

>Someone that they could rely on, someone that they knew they could go to for help//

For people, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>“Umm, I guess so, but I’d prefer if you-//

Missing your closing quotes.

>Adagio’s eyes fell, becoming downcast and troubled.//

That's rather bland. The narration is her thoughts. Make it sound downcast and troubled.

>her eyes falling//

Again?

>her expression taking a melancholic turn//

Vague, and she can't see it anyway.

>further…” She trailed off//

Redundant.

>Her eyes showed a blend of desire and pity.//

I was afraid of this. Where's the desire coming from? We've gotten no characterization from Sunset's side that would suggest there was an actual attraction there. And I suppose it's very telling that you have the sex tag, but not the romance one. Sunset's been nothing but genuine about wanting to help Adagio, and she has to realize that this isn't going to help anything. I could see her having some ethical debate over whether this would actually help in some way, but without that, she's completely undermining everything she's worked for. Not to mention that this aspect is coming into the story so late that it feels very tacked-on and somewhat artificial. We'll see how this plays out.

>laying on top of her//

Lay/lie confusion.

>I would very much like to see you again, but I don’t think this is the time.//

So Adagio's now making the argument Sunset should have. Man, this is all kinds of backward.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2647

>>2644
>>2645
>>2646
Okay, problem number 1: this gets racier than we're comfortable posting on the blog, particularly considering that Sunset is essentially underage here. I kept waiting to see if that would be the case, since up until this chapter there had been only a few oblique references to sex, and I found myself wondering whether that would actually need the tag. It's a shame, because this was a really strong story up until then.

I'd mentioned several times that some of the emotional arcs felt inconsistent, and that's one of the biggest issues I have with this being resolved with sex. As I'd also mentioned, this only develops so late in the game that it seems extraneous. If you'd built up to it the whole time, there's an arrow pointing that way, but nothing related to it ever came up until this chapter, aside from a couple of insincere one-liners. Nothing about wanting to be loved or wanting children came up until the last chapter. It was all framed as her letting down her sisters, and then suddenly there's this romantic interest that had never been hinted at from either side, and there's no impetus attached to it.

It's not related to Adagio's redemption. It doesn't solve any of her problems. She just takes advantage of Sunset at a time she's trying to act in earnest, and then she ends up abandoning Sunset, yet the irony of that is completely lost on her, since that's the lesson she just spent six chapters learning. And Sunset is entirely unfazed by the whole thing. Given the way things played out, shouldn't Sunset's argument have been that it's the emotional attachments that matter, and even if Sunset doesn't love her in a sexual way, that doesn't discount the kind of intimacy two people can share, and that Adagio should appreciate someone who wants to be close to her without that outside, self-serving motivation?

So it should be clear from the detailed notes that there are some persistent problems, like repetition, perspective slips, lay/lie confusion, quotation mark styles, dash usage, etc., but those are the kinds of things you can learn and fix. They're more or less cosmetic, though they can have a pretty big subconscious effect on how well a story flows, and I was certainly not exhaustive—these are meant to help you find the rest of the same things on your own, since it'd take me far too long to handle them all.

I'll be blunt. I thought it was entirely unnecessary to go to sex in the story at all, but that's immaterial to what you want the story to be, and it's immaterial to whether the story's good or not, and I'm fully prepared to approve stories that don't suit my tastes, as long as that's the only substantial knock against it for me. But the way it comes up feels like it's an entirely different story tacked on, as it was never broadcast earlier in the story, it's not tied into the themes you've developed, it actually produces a situation precisely opposite what Sunset and Adagio were trying to achieve, and neither one of them sees any problem with this. Well, maybe Sunset does, but it ends very conspicuously without any sort of reaction from her once all is known. Sunset was never portrayed as wanting a romantic involvement, and it was never a condition to Adagio's redemption. At best, there's maybe a Florence Nightingale Syndrome thing going on, but it's not played as such. Even when Aria joked about Sunset and Adagio getting together, or when Sunset was actually in Adagio's room, Adagio just brushed it aside as a stray thought, and then in chapter 7 makes a snap decision that sex is going to accomplish something. That doesn't evolve; it just comes out of nowhere.

The whole story had been marching toward Adagio feeling better about herself and reconnecting with her sisters. Which happens. In chapter 6. So chapter 7 is set up to be some kind of denouement, yet we get even more conflict introduced that just results in kind of a nebulous ending without resolving anything. She doesn't get the closeness or children she spent the whole chapter pining for, and there's not even a point made about that failure. I can't even call it an open ending, because there's no path ahead or stakes defined for any of the possible options. It really does come across as a semi-related side story where you just wanted to ship two characters, and it doesn't even turn that way until the last couple of scenes, since the majority of the chapter was their long conversation on the beach. It's the kind of thing that'd take its own 10k-word story to develop, but it blasts by in just a couple thousand words, rising out of thin air and disappearing just as quickly.

If you want it integrated into the whole, start doing that work way back in chapter 1 or 2. That means establishing exactly what attracts these characters to each other on more than a physical level and demonstrating what each wants to give and take from the relationship. Aragon has written a very good series of blog posts that I believe he keeps linked on his homepage, in which he discusses at length what it takes to portray an authentic relationship. Maybe on Adagio's side, she could be into it for entirely shallow reasons, since she's coming from a broken mindset, except that she relates all this history that should make her able to understand it much better than that. And it's unclear what Sunset ever thought this would accomplish or why she even wants it. Plus it's hard to see either of them not being worse off as the story ends. Adagio walks away from what she thinks could be real intimacy but uses a bunch of flowery language to try arguing this is a good thing. And again, we don't get Sunset's feelings on it at all. She's been used. It's as simple as that, and for a disingenuous reason.

I think it was a mistake to so completely drop the attempted murder. Maybe Adagio can't admit that to Sunset, but it barely resurfaces at all, even in her own thoughts, and that's a pretty big change of attitude she's gone through. It'd warrant some more self-examination rather than being forgotten.

If it was just a matter of not liking the ending, there would be no problem, but it doesn't make sense to me, and I don't even see what the entire last chapter adds to what came before. It speaks to the strength of those first six chapters that I cared this much about what happened to these characters. I'm betting you're locked into having the story the way it is now, and I certainly can't blame you for that, but the last chapter's very muddled in what it's trying to say, if indeed it's trying to say anything, and it doesn't tie in very well with the attitudes and theme of the rest. It's like one of those epilogues that's more of a curiosity than any further development of the story. Plus it's a bit over the line for what content we can allow.

Man, I feel like I'm saying the same things multiple ways, but I just want to be very careful explaining, since this feels like a huge wrench thrown into what was an otherwise great story. So I'll try to sum it up in concise fashion.

—Sunset spent the entire story wanting to reconnect with her sisters and stop feeling like a failure.
—She achieved this in chapter 6.
—Romance was never a condition of this accomplishment, nor was it even a subplot. It never came up until late in chapter 7.
—What basis does Adagio even have for wanting this romance? Since the battle of the bands, it's only been a week, and Adagio had only spoken to Sunset twice as anything other than enemies before inviting herself to Sunset's house and throwing herself at her.
—Adagio's either being truthful about wanting to be loved or not.
—If she's telling the truth, Sunset doesn't give her that, so what point is there in going through with the seduction? Maybe to get Sunset to concede, but that's going to be based on getting to know her, and two conversations plus sex isn't any more of a basis for love than two conversations.
—If she's lying, then it's unclear what she wants from sex, since the whole story has been about developing healthy relationships. I could take this as her wanting to give Sunset a reward for her help, but Sunset's obviously very reluctant, so why make her take a reward she isn't comfortable with?
—Abandoning Sunset is precisely what Adagio is supposed to have learned not to do.
—Despite being used, Sunset never reacts one way or the other. It's not that she stands there emotionless, though that would also be unsatisfactory. It's that the story stops before we even get to her reaction.
—This would need to be toned back some to fit the content guidelines we maintain to appeal to a general audience, not only in what happens in chapter 7, but also with Aria trying to seduce her own sister.
—I don't know what to make of the fact that this has the sex tag but not the romance tag, especially given that Adagio explicitly wants Sunset to love her.

Despite all this, I did very much enjoy the story up to that point, and you definitely show talent as a writer. I doubt you'd be willing to make such substantial changes to this story, but I hope you'd consider submitting others to us, and if you think I'm being unfair, you can request another opinion.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2649

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>The tip of her shovel stopped halfway and made a hollow, wooden sound.//

I'm going to pull examples from the paragraph that starts with this line. Writers of intermediate experience often lean on certain structures too much, because they sound sophisticated, but the problem is that they're unusual in everyday use, so they stand out easily and quickly get repetitive. These are the participial phrase, the absolute phrase, and the "as" clause. Here are all the ones in this paragraph:
>Gasping and letting the shovel fall out of her hands//
>her eyes frantic and her heart beating loudly//
>the sight in front of her filling her heart with a mix of anticipation and dread//
>worn from age and degradation//
>Swallowing and breathing out her nose//
>fishing around for something//
>her fingers grasping the handle like a vice//
>Rearranging herself into a crouching position//
>causing her to lose her footing and fall onto her behind//
This is in a real rut, using the same structure over and over again. You can get away with this for more mundane things, since they're ordinary and pass without as much notice. It's more about breaking up the ordinary structures with regularly spaced variety than using unusual ones all the time. Note that there are attendant problems participles in particular have than you're likely to exhibit, just from the sheer number of them you use. I already see one: synchronization. Participles make things happen at the same time, whereas some of these would more logically happen in a sequence. Like this one:
>Rearranging herself into a crouching position, Sunset pulled upward on the handle with every bit of strength she had left.//
She probably doesn't pull on the handle until after she's rearranged herself.

>a mix of anticipation and dread//

I'll revisit this. It's better to demonstrate emotion than to state it outright, for the most part. This is a prime place to do so, because it's an important emotional moment in the story, and because you especially want the beginning of the story to be more evocative to snag the reader's interest. Your narration has sounded more or less omniscient, but there have been a couple touches of limited, like where you use sentence fragments to create a converstional feel. In either case, focus more on what behavior she displays that the reaer will interpret as anticipation and dread, and if you want a limited narrator, make the narration itself reflect her mood. What kinds of comments could the narrator make that would sound like the stream of thought from a person who was anticipating or dreading something?

>(Cough)//

This is a clumsy format. Just have her cough outside the quote.

>Sunset breathed a sight of relief//

Typo. And be very wary of these "in/of/with mood" phrasings. They're more of the type of directly stating character emotion I just discussed, but they're a particularly overbearing kind, since they're almost always redundant with information already there. A sigh can connote several emotions, and relief is one of the most common ones. If you think it's a little too ambiguous, some further piece of body language might complete the picture. In any case, that'll get across her mood in a much more engaging way than just having you tell me her mood.

>Scooping up her belongings and literally throwing them into her book bag, Sunset bolted up and out the door//

Here's another spot where an participle synchronizes actions that shouldn't be. Keep an eye out for these, as I'm not going to mark any more of them.

>hate filled//

When you have a multi-word descriptor right in front of what it modifies (unless it's a two-word phrase starting with an -ly adverb), hyphenate it.

>She wasn't even aware that she was holding her breath.//

This is very cliched. And if you intended to use a limited narrator, then the narration can't say what the focus character doesn't know.

>though she stopped when she saw her initial reaction//

It's ambiguous which "she" is which.

>alright...I'm//

It formats better if you leave a space after an ellipsis, except where it starts a sentence.

>We're friends now, aren't we?//

This could use some justification. Nothing's been mentioned about what they've done together since the Fall Formal, so I have no idea why Fluttershy would consider her a friend. Give me a little evidence of this. It could be as simple as Fluttershy mentioning a couple of things they'd done together to try convincing Sunset of this.

>shoulder length//

Hyphenate.

>is that you Sunny//

Missing a comma for direct address. You do this a lot.

>She was moments from screaming her head off before she felt her trembling in her embrace, her strange ramblings slowly turning into quiet sobbing.//

It starts to get hard to keep track of who all those "her"s and "she"s are.

>(huck)//

Yeah, don't put these sound effects in the dialogue.

>hopefully to get some help//

He couldn't handle her on his own? He didn't even try.

>You must be relatively new to this place, then.//

We'll see how this plays out, but it seems odd to me that a single suicide would be so noteworthy that the doctor would assume a complete stranger would know about it. And if the doctor's so familiar with it, why doesn't she recognize Sunset?

>Her arms went limp as she watched the doctor briskly walk into the corridor, unable to budge from that spot.//

Another thing you have to watch about participles is how close they are to what they describe. This makes it sound like the doctor is unable to budge.

>slowly started to quicken//

While entirely possible, that just has a strange sound to it.

>in awhile//

"A while" and "awhile" aren't always interchangeable. When it follows a preposition like this, you need two words.

>Taking a closer look, the creases on the paper were worn and dirty//

And yet another danger of participles is when you forget to include the thing they describe in the clause. This says the creases took a closer look.

>What are the odds that some girl who died in such a tragic way has the exact same name as me, let alone a girl from another world?//

Well, it's a coincidence that it's her double in particular, but she was already aware that such doubles existed.

>lying it face down//

Lay/lie confusion.

>street lamps//

streetlamps

>fifteen year old girl//

fifteen-year-old girl

>i can come over//

Capitalization.

>It wasn't exactly true that her phone needed any charging, she just didn't want to talk with anyone else tonight.//

This is the kind of thing that feels more authentic if you get at it subtly. Beware of over-explaining character intentions and motivations.

>(Drip...drip...drip...)//

Just describe the sound. This is an awkward way to handle sound effects.

>pinpoint the source of the noise. Though no matter how hard she focused, she couldn't pinpoint//

I've seen several places like this, where you repeat a word or phrase within a close space. Try to avoid doing this.

>second and third degree burns//

second- and third-degree burns

>Scrambling back a few feet, she twisted herself around and slammed a palm on the floor, sprinting towards the back door as fast as her legs could carry her.//

There are a lot of things synchronized here that shouldn't be.

>letting her know that she had just been burned//

This is really obvious. It's also an example of another problem, where you're using a very limited narrator, yet the narration isn't very relfective of her mood.

>The weakness in her voice made Rainbow's pupils contract as she looked at her.//

You're in Dash's perspective. How can she see what her pupils are doing?

>as she tried respond//

Missing word.

>She wanted to tell her everything. To just leap over and cry on her shoulder.//

You started the scene in Dash's perspective. Why are you jumping over to Sunset's now? It's a pretty short scene to need to do that. It's probably better if you pick one. You could have it be in Sunset's viewpoint, which means starting the scene outside with her. Or it you want it to be Dash, then don't jump over to Sunset now.

>(“I'm not lying, really.//

Don't format thoughts with parentheses. Either italicize it or put it in quotes and use a speech tag identifying it as a thought. But if you want the scene in Dash's head, she can't know what Sunset's thinking.

>I don't want to worry them anymore than I already have.//

"Anymore" and "any more" mean different things. You need the two-word version.

>You think for one second I'm gonna let you go back out into that freezing cold weather by yourself?!//

Why isn't Dash concerned about her going back to a place they know an intruder's been able to get in and threaten Sunset?

>kinda of//

Something's jumbled here.

>“...”//

That may cut it as video game dialogue, but not in good writing.

>I'm about to give her a ride back to her house so we can call the cops.//

I really don't understand why she's comfortable with Sunset going back to her house. She can call the cops from Dash's house.

>I think things might get complicated with the cops if you got involved.//

How? I don't understand this.

>shouldn't of//

shouldn't have

>The immense pain she was feeling in her lungs earlier was back.//

Given that you're using a limited narrator, none of the narration sounds like it's in pain here.

>“Are you Sunset Shimmer?” The officer closest to her asked.//

Capitalization.

>As much as she was loathe to admit it//

"Loathe" is the verb form. You want "loath" here.

>ten minute drive//

>forty degree weather//
ten-minute, forty-degree

>knowing that she had to look irritated for them//

Why? What purpose does it serve?

>a moment a silence//

Typo.

>Either than//

other than

>abso-LOUTE-ly//

Not sure why you'd change the spelling. Do you want her to pronounce it differently or something?

>what its like//

Its/it's confusion.

>make due//

make do

>quaff//

coif

>this time showing clear discomfort//

How does she know? This almost makes it sound deliberate.

>just...!//

Those choices of punctuation do pretty opposite things. They don't play well together.

>Vice Principle//

Spelling.

>“ Wait//

Extraneous space.

>Sunset grit her teeth.//

The past tense is "gritted."

>Preposterous!” She said//

Capitalization.

>Her eyes went wide for a split-second//

There are quite a ew places where you use a she or her, but the most recently named character isn't the one you mean. It can get confusing.

>19th century//

In this usage, hyphenate it, and that's a short enough number to spell it out.

>widely//

Are you sure this is the word you meant? It's a strange choice, and it's repetitive with a "wider" you have just a bit later.

>anymore these days//

That's fairly redundant.

>her's//

No such word. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

>be!” The maid gushed//

Capitalization.

>darjeeling//

That's a proper noun, so capitalize it.

>Ye~es//

Don't use a tildeto indicate tone. Just describe how she says it.

>crinkled mouth//

You just described her hair as crinkled.

>shoo'd//

shooed

>blemish!//

When an italicized word has a question mark or exclamation mark on it, include that punctuation in the italics.

>forty five degree//

Hyphenate.

>italian//

Capitalization.

>it,” The maid continued//

Capitalization.

>The maid thrust herself into face, “Even//

Seems like there's a missing word, plus you have that formatted like it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>started ,//

Extraneous space.

I don't get why Pinfeathers so easily gives in to both talking to Sunset and to letting her into the burned part of the house. At least Sunset notices this.

>Brick, mortar, and wood all laid strewn about/

Lay/lie confusion.

>a nervous tick//

tic

>soot-covered earth//

Why would the ground still be covered with soot? Wouldn't the rain have washed it away? It's been a long time.

>situation would've//

Extraneous space.

>soot covered//

Hyphenate.

So the upper floor collapses, and she's not at all concerned that someone heard it?

>thought,she//

Missing a space.

>LAUGHING!”, she//

You don't need that comma. You only use one to replace a period, and it would have gone inside the quotes, anyway.

Why hasn't it occurred to her that this bricked-up doorway may just lead back into the good part of the house? That'd make sense. A lot more sense than having someone come into this ruined part to block it off.

>a perpetual puddle of water beneath it//

They'd notice this in the water bill. Wouldn't they have done something about it? If it turns out it's not actually leaking, and it's just an illusion/dream, fine, but it'd be odd for them to just leave it dripping indefinitely.

>The smell was the strongest it's ever been//

I suspect that's just a typo, but you're going into present tense.

>in deliberate positions//

That's a really strange word choice. Deliberate? Someone intentionally arranged them this way? You don't give any evidence of how it looks to justify that.

>thirty degree//

Hyphenate.

>The object broke apart like pumice at her touch//

I'm not sure what imagery you're going for. Pumice doesn't break all that easily. Are you just saying it looks porous?

>“Wait, this isn't...this couldn't be her room, could it...?”//

Isn't that obvious by now? I thought she'd concluded that way back when she saw the water pipe.

>It was a steel folding chair, pristine and new//

This is the one thing in the room that stands out as being different from the rest. How did it not catch her eye immediately upon entering?

>She gave it a look as if it were the most unusual object imaginable.//

Why is she assigning imagery to her own expression (which she can't see)? It really distances her from how it feels if her cue to that is how it looks.

I'm beginning to wonder why, through all this visit to the house, Sunset hasn't once thought about the lady in the hospital, particularly once the cranes come up again.

Wait, if the mirror just crumbled from the fire damage, how haven't the windows done so as well, just from the wind against them after all this time? But Sunset had mentioned wanting to break them, so they're intact.

>burnt off floorboards//

burnt-off floorboards

>Gnarled, iron//

I'll skip the long explanation, but you don't need this comma.

>On the ground, there were trees growing in each corner of the courtyard and - ”//

I don't think she's supposed to be speaking here. These are probably extraneous quotation marks.

>(tep)//

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

>an incoherent walla//

Or this.

>Spinning around with more force than necessary//

This one's got me a bit stumped, too.

>Standing in the collapsed hallway, was the other Sunset Shimmer.//

Unnecessary comma.

It should be clear what the main problems are. There's quite a bit of repetition, that thought formatting is just weird, and there are a few perspective slips. The one of those that stands out to me the most was the half-scene spent in Dash's viewpoint. The whole story is about Sunset's experiences and mystery, so there's not a compelling reason to go into any other perspective. There's also occasional spots where the emotion is just told to me instead of demonstrated through the characters' actions and appearance.

Beneath this, though, there's a good mystery. It's a fairly common premise, but one solidified a bit by the existence of actual doubles in this world, in contrast to the standard of it being some sort of descendant or reincarnation. There are a few logical gaps in how this is put together, but it does a good job of building tension, and you do have me wondering what happens next. There's also a nice trail of evidence so far that's inconclusive, though it'd be nice to see Sunset start to put together some theories. All she has is that Golden Ardor might have done it, and she has her doubts, but she's not coming up with any other possibilities or suspects. Of course, the initial assessment of suicide is still a viable alternative. Part of the allure of mysteries is sorting out all the lines of investigation, following false leads, revisiting abandoned theories, examining multiple suspects, and such, so the more you can do to add that kind of intrigue, the better.

Still, if you can get those other things fixed up, I'd be happy to post this. I do want to stress that I wasn't comprehensive. For the most part, I only marked examples of the problems I saw, not every single instance, so it'll be up to you to apply those corrections throughout the story, not just the spots I commented on. Give it a good scouring with these things in mind.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2652

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>geodes of the Everfree Forest//

You're fine, because the movie actually calls them geodes, but... they aren't. That really bugged me.

>Twilight sighed and continued to jot down answers on her papers.//

Seems odd Twilight conveniently came there to do the same thing as Sunset. Had they agreed to meet? And in this spot, it seems like Twilight's distracted enough that she'd take a pause in doing her homework. If she can get back to it so quickly, it tends to show this isn't actually bothering her much.

Your dialogue sounds okay, but look at your narration. At the beginning, before there was any dialogue, you mixed it up with different structures. But once the conversation begins, every single narrative sentence starts with the subject, and many are about the same length. That tends to make the narration sound very dull.

>back into her bag, standing back up//

Watch the repetitive phrasing.

Twilight sure finished her homework quickly. It took Sunset a while, and she's no slouch as a student.

>OK//

Spell this out as "okay."

>Dear Twilight//

>Your friend//
Needs a comma.

>The whole trip to Camp Everfree didn't really go quite as well as we'd thought and now magic's been on our minds for weeks on end.//

>Nothing new's spiked up for a while now and the other you settled in pretty well here. //
Needs a comma between the clauses.

>colour changed repeatedly through all of the colours in the spectrum before a short blast of white light stopped the flow of magic and restored the multi-coloured//

Three uses of "colour" in the same sentence.

>soft, momentarily//

You don't need that comma.

>The impact shot her eyes open and she could see the glass where she had entered the room from.//

Needs a comma.

>laying neatly at the end of it//

Lay/lie confusion.

>around the rest of the room, looking around//

Repetition.

>toy chest with various different toys//

Kind of repetitive. I'd recommend just calling it a chest.

>yellow pajamas with pink heart//

Seems like that should be plural.

>run down her forehead as she ran//

Repetition.

>"Are you in there?" She asked//

Capitalization.

>Sunset could only watch as the chest opened up slowly.//

You just used "slowly" in the last paragraph, and you mentioned Twilight's hand twice in that paragraph, too.

>Sunset chest and pulling her out. She could see that Sunset was as tall as her chest//

Missing a possessive, and you use "chest" twice close together.

>She could see that Sunset was as tall as her chest and gently put her down on all fours.//

let me revisit that. I don't see a dependency here. You mention the two together like they have some connection, but what does her height have to do with Twilight putting her down?

>hide and even tried to hide underneath the bed, but there was nothing that she could hide//

So the operative word here is "hide."

>Coming, mommy!//

When used as terms of address, capitalize family relations.

>white hair with two pink strips//

I assume you meant stripes?

>Mommy and daddy//

These also get capitalized when effectively used as names.

>Okay, mommy.//

Capitalize.

>Shining Armour//

I'm okay with British spellings in general, but this is a proper noun, and it's not how he spells it.

>here I come!" She exclaimed//

Capitalization.

>Sunset wasn't anywhere inside//

This is already the third "inside" of the paragraph.

>Where are you?" She sing-songed//

Capitalization.

>slowly//

You use that word quite a bit.

>That was a close call, wasn't it, Twilight?//

Why? She didn't seem afraid of the mother, so I'm not sure what the issue was. And even then, why'd Sunset stay hidden after the mother left?

>OK//

okay

>small giggle slip from her mouth. It slowly developed into a small//

Repetitive. And another "slowly."

>mommy and daddy//

Capitalize.

>"—Forget it//

The way you've punctuated everything, this should be lower-case.

>eight-year old//

Hyphenate all that.

>those magic shows mommy and daddy take me to//

Capitalization.

>a small, yet rapid and enthusiastic applause//

"Applause" is a collective thing. You don't give "a(n) applause."

You really ought to Ctrl-f for slowly and small so you can see just how may there are.

>returning the crayons and sheets of paper as well as Twilight dashed over to let her brother in//

That phrasing doesn't parse.

>brother, Shining Armour//

If you're going to put a comma there, use one on both sides of his name.

>He wore a black bag around his shoulders and a purple suit and tie around his body.//

That's a really odd way of saying he's got clothes on.

>innocently flapped her eyebrows//

You sure you didn't mean eyelashes?

>Sunset's invisibility wore off and she brushed Twilight's arm away.//

Needs a comma.

>Why do you hide from mommy and Shiny?//

Capitalization.

>This went on for a few seconds before she stopped.//

This is pretty self-evident.

>OK//

okay

>over to where Sunset Shimmer laid//

Lay/lie confusion.

>its'//

Lose the apostrophe.

>Sunset laid perfectly still//

Lay/lie confusion.

>eight-year old//

eight-year-old

>She walked over to the sink and reached up at Shining Armour.//

This makes it sound like the sink is nearby, but Shining Armor hasn't noticed Sunset yet? Surely that would get a reaction.

>giving her soap to give//

Repetition.

>I never forget mommy's teachings.//

Capitalization.

>Sunset Shimmer poked her head from around the corner and watched Twilight and Shining Armour.//

So she's not where Shining can see her. This could have been made clearer before.

>eight-year old girl//

eight-year-old girl

>let those thoughts sink in, she let//

Repetition.

>Twilight hung her body over Sunset's body.//

Repetitive.

>But, you're an eight-year old//

Just do a global search and replace on this and OK. And it's rare that you should have a comma after a conjunction.

>How can such intelligence like that be in someone as fun-loving and childish as you are?//

You're losing the natural feel of the dialogue here. They're awfully self-aware, and Twilight's sounding rather adult all of a sudden. They seem to be spelling out a moral for the reader's benefit instead of going through an authentic discussion.

>watch from afar as Shining Armour and Twilight made some cookies together. She watched//

>As she watched the two of them bonding//
Repetition.

>Once Twilight's parents had put their shopping away//

You start two sentences in a row with similar phrasings. And cookies take at least a little while to bake. What are they all doing in the meantime? You just skip to them being done.

>It's okay, mommy.//

Capitalization.

>where Sunset laid//

>to where Sunset Shimmer was laying//
Lay/lie confusion.

>Okay, mommy!//

>Sure thing, dad.//
Capitalization.

>Pinkie Pie mentioned something about them//

She's lived in the human world for years, and she doesn't know what a cartoon is?

>english//

Capitalization.

>Sunset Shimmer's brows raised and lowered at different parts of the show, her interest increasing and decreasing at various points.//

This is vague and uninteresting. It doesn't say anything.

>Then, a song came on//

This paragraph is very repetitive and ends up just rehashing that very self-aware monologue Twilight gave about wanting to enjoy being a child.

>Twilight gave Sunset the biggest hug she could ever muster up//

Is that really wise, considering Sunset is wounded? For that matter, if she actually has a concussion, she needs to take it easy for at least a few days.

>where her computer laid//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Sunset's mouth opened wide when she heard Twilight's response.//

Why? Twilight doesn't give a surprising response.

>Twilight fluttered her eyebrows//

Again, I think you mean eyelashes.

>question, read the question//

Repetition.

>She was about to grab another paper//

You have a narrative aside breaking into a quote, so don't capitalize it.

>suckling//

sucking

Sunset seriously needs to look up how to treat a paper cut? And after all the medical stuff Twilight's done, she doesn't know either?

>doctor Sunny//

"Doctor" is essentially a title here, so capitalize it.

>dial-a-beat-tees or something//

Her intelligence level is really all over the map.

>sustainable//

That's a really odd word choice. Did you mean stable?

>and proceeded to stack them on top of one another//

You already had them stacked in the last paragraph.

>"Got it!" Sunset cried out//

There's an extra line break before this paragraph.

>And it just grazes off of the edge of the skylight!//

I don't know what you're trying to say.

>she let a single tear drop from her eyes//

This is incredibly cliched.

>back, and walked back//

Repetition.

>it was the Twilight that she had grown more accustomed to; the one that she had met at the Friendship Games.//

Misused semicolon. If you replaced it with a period, the part after it couldn't stand as a complete sentence.

>as the flavours danced in their mouths and left them speechless//

That must be really good food.

>I've been carrying it ever since; even when I had been a student at Crystal Prep.//

Another misused semicolon.

>Her name wasn't Sunset Shimmer, was it?//

Twilight remembers the name, but it never occurred to her that this Sunset has the same name?

>I would never leave friend//

Missing word.

There are a few pretty big logical leaps going on, plus a few spots I marked where the narration or dialogue loses its feel of authenticity. That can leave a story feeling stiff, so it lack an immersion that lets you get lost in the story. When it seems like the narration is saying pointless or obvious things, or it has a strange phrasing, it comes across like the author just wanted to move on to the more interesting parts. I've definitely been there as a writer, but you do have to keep up that careful word crafting throughout.

There's also a fairly weak theme. Twilight realizes this was her childhood friend, but there's no strong conclusion. Sunset tries to make one about not sacrificing childhood just for the sake of learning, but she doesn't make much out of it, and there weren't any significant consequences for Twilight, either. She said Sunset had been her first friend, but how did that end up shaping her life? And Sunset never tries to figure out how and why this all happened.

It's a nice plot twist, but one that's pretty apparent far before it happens, so make something out of it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2655

>that was the only thing to go through Spike's mind//
Capitalization.

>and no matter how much he hated the situation//

Set this dependent clause off with a comma.

>If the Rarity//

Extraneous word.

>It had felt like the first time he'd truly felt like his heart had broken.//

Missing a line break before this paragraph.

>For weeks he and yet when he'd finally worked up the courage//

Something got messed up in editing there.

>felt like the first time he'd truly felt like//

Repetitive phrasing.

>If she that were so//

>if he ever he could//
Extraneous word.

>good, long fly over the mountains would do him some good//

Watch the repetition.

>you." Came//

Punctuation and capitalization.

>That conversation had always been briefed//

Typo.

>from wandering.//

For some reason, this is on its own line and indented.

>he was quick to dismissed his shock//

Typo.

>and he shifted aside to offer his friend a space on the rock//

Set this off with a comma.

>drawing herself up slightly//

This is the third use of "slightly" in only four paragraphs.

>much of her sister, but he couldn't help but feel he'd voiced his question the wrong way.//

Extraneous line break and indentation.

>giggling slightly as she bowed her head//

And another "slightly" only a few paragraphs later.

>and averted his eyes to locks of her mane that hung over them//

I assume he's the one averting his eyes, but as you've worded it, she does.

>how much I loved it that is//

"That is" will normally be set off with a comma.

>amount of colts//

For individual items, you'd use "number" instead of "amount."

>thought the memory of the brown, earth pony colt that he thought//

Repetition.

>Sweetie Bell//

>a brake for Twilight//
Typos.

>to live to get together//

>It had been that that//
Something's off in the phrasing here.

>Sweeties laughter//

Missing apostrophe.

>he's fallen//

You've switched to present tense.

>Spikes mind//

Missing apostrophe.

>Noticing his friends crestfallen expression//

Missing apostrophe, and you'll normally set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>she has a special somepony//

You've gone to present tense here.

>So much for being fire proof, He grumbled internally//

Capitalization, and "fireproof" is one word.

>Even so, Sweetie Belle's words of kindness felt almost as magnificent as the sunset itself, even//

Repetition.

>That's why you came out here isn't it?//

Needs a comma.

>When I saw you leave you were heartbroken and as much as I've loved somepony before//

Needs a couple of commas in there.

>while he admitted love Rarity for her looks//

Phrasing is off.

>what he'd some to understand//

Typo.

>seen a mare more than looks//

I think you're missing a word.

>grounded with mare more truth//

Not sure what that's supposed to say.

>I didn't mean to stare Sweetie//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>not to something//

Missing word.

>the Rarity's//

Extraneous word.

>made him realized something//

Typo.

>'m just some creature that shouldn't really with a pony//

Missing word.

>"Spike," She declared//

Capitalization.

>like that did that night//

Typo.

>She gestured to the fading sunset with a hoof.//

Inadvertent line break and indentation.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2656

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>Yet, today, no matter how many bromides she repeated to herself, Canterlot passed by, its sights and sounds growing and dying away in an incomprehensible and inconsequential blur, yet//

It creates the feel of a double negative to have those two "yet"s stacked up like this.

>yet all she could feel was the cool wind in her face; all she could taste was her heart in her throat; and all she could hear was the rattle and stir of the harnesses attached to the charioteers who were pulling her through the city’s airspace at a fearful speed.//

I don't see the need for semicolons in this list. None of the items have internal commas or multiple uses of "and."

>No, it was not apprehension, she thought to herself; it was more of a mild vexation, bordering on indignation.//

It's not going to engage the reader as much when you're feeding him conclusions about how Celestia feels instead of demonstrating them. It's important to get the reader connected to the character early in the story. All that language she uses to describe Canterlot with pride is a good example of demonstrating her emotion. So go into exactly how her mood manifests here. How does it make her feel physically? What sort of mental images does it evoke? What narrative comments might she make?

>She had been groomed since infancy for her position. When she had been a foal, somepony had always been lecturing her. In the morning it had been//

Fairly repetitive to have "been" in three consecutive sentences, not to mention that "to be" is a particularly boring verb.

>to not//

Reverse these.

>commander and chief//

I'm assuming you were going for the phrase "commander in chief."

>Yet her cheek twitched//

This is already the fourth use of "yet" in the story. Try not to get fixated on certain words like that.

>It’s as if I were some genocidal dictator being tried for war crimes.//

You didn't present that as an italicized thought, so it's like you're trying to switch to a first-person narrator.

>a little beige pegasus, dressed in a black pinstripe suit and a tie which he continually had to pry off his face when the wind of the carriage’s flight flung it out of kilter, sitting and looking rather uncomfortable next to her on the carriage//

The "sitting and looking" participle is located so far from what it describes that it's ambiguous what it describes. Participles like to modify the nearest prior object, so this has to leap over it, flight, wind, and face to get to "he," which is an awkward reference anyway, then suit and tie to get to "pegasus." This is just a seriously misplaced modifier.

Jeez, you use a ton of semicolons. I'd hope you'd want me to remember what happened in the story or your characterizations, not what writing tics kept popping up. And it's really ungainly to have more than one in a sentence, when they're not being used to separate list items.

>After much cursing, and some other words that would’ve probably sparked a revolution if the public had heard, Princess Celestia, unable to evade the fact that her sister was right, had given her reluctant consent to the free counsel, but, using the divers concerns that face a ruler as her excuse, had then proceeded to ignore the lawyer’s calls, to endlessly reschedule and cancel the appointments he had made, hoping that this whole “tribunal” thing was one of those issues that just went away on their own if she ignored them long enough, like the terrorist threats their administration received on a daily basis.//

That rambles on so long that I have no idea what point it was making. You do this a lot. It's even more muddled by the fact that you don't even keep these sentences on focus, constantly wedging in tangential asides.

>though his vexation with his client’s complacency remained//

So make him act the part. Just saying he's vexed does nothing to paint a picture, plus it's a bit soon after the last use of "vexation" to appear again without sounding repetitive.

>Princess Celestia interrupted//

That's already apparent from the dialogue ending in a dash. It's redundant to narrate it as well.

>This is a joke they’re playing on me, she thought.//

It's customary to put thoughts in italics, or if you're going to use a speech tag with them, you can put them in quotes.

>Queen’s Chrysalis//

Why is that possessive?

>full grown//

Hyphenate.

>not quite joy insomuch as it was a slight, modest contentment//

You're being really disconnected with the emotion again. This is a cold fact, not something that gets me to identify with the characters.

>The princess sighed, and gave a haughty, almost mocking, sidelong glance at him.//

You do this occasionally, too: there's an unnecessary comma before the conjunction. The same subject is linked to both verbs, so you don't need a comma.

>“The governing of Equestria fell to me!” she cried.//

As vehemently as she stated that requiring both princesses' signatures was a valuable check on individual power, I don't see how she fails to understand this or hadn't long since thought of it herself.

>as, legally speaking, the PRAT, as its power is delegated to it not through the Constitution but through the Equestrian Pony Rights Act, is not a court, but a tribunal, and thus cannot operate in federal facilities, as//

Fairly repetitive to have 3 instances of "as" in the same sentence.

After reading one chapter, I'm going to talk about what's putting me off so far. This is labeled as comedy only. And so far, there's a tiny bit of linguistic and situational humor, but for the most part, it's completely serious. I get that you're going for satire, but it hasn't gotten there yet, as everything that's happened so far is pretty reasonable. I don't even know what Celestia's going to be on trial for, and there's no reason for the story to hold it as a reveal, at least not that's apparent so far. There can be reasons to withhold information, like a first-person narrator who doesn't know or who avoids thinking about it. You have a narrator that's mostly omniscient but takes on a subjective feel at times, but not in a way that would be out of place in a comedy, if indeed this came across as one. It's a bit much to ask a reader to continue on to the next chapter when he doesn't know what the conflict is, he doesn't know why the topic is being avoided, and he's only seen a hint of the promised comedy. In short, it's not providing a good hook.

I'd complained a couple times about how convoluted the sentence structures can get, and I'll allow that can be a personal taste issue, but what's more objective about it is that the story is uniformly so. The narration, Celestia's dialogue, and Due Process's dialogue don't sound much different. It may not be problematic for the narration to sound like one of them—in fact, it's a good idea, if you're using a limited narrator. Even for omniscient, it's not that big a deal, but Process and Celestia aren't that differentiated by their diction. It's definitely a gray area, since I can tell them apart without looking at speech tags, just because Process stutters and uses direct address so much. In that way, their dialogue is differentiated structurally, but not so much in word choice and vocabulary. Having that differentiation at all is better than not doing so. That means that it's not the kind of thing I'd say was wrong, but it's worth thinking about in your future writing, as the more distinct you can make your characters, the better.

>as the carriage passed overhead//

He's in the carriage, right? This makes it sound like it's above him.

>As the carriage approached in for landing//

I don't see why "in" needs to be there.

>Due Process could see that not all of the yard was filled//

You've told me what he "could see" quite a bit already. Besides the sheer repetition, this language tends to point out that he was specifically looking for it or that it's a detail difficult to notice. Neither is the case. It's presumed he'd see whatever the narrator described as there anyway, unless you explicitly say he didn't or at least implied such.

>here and there could be seen the gaudy yellow armor and overblown crests of the Royal Guards, interspersed here and there//

>ground, and pegasi in the air so corpulent that Due Process wondered how it was possible for such tiny wings to lift such a great mass of muscle and armor from the ground//
Watch that repetition.

>divinely-appointed//

You don't hyphenate two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb.

>“Please, son,”—//

Don't use a comma in conjunction with a dash.

>much needed//

Hyphenate.

>mighta’s//

I don't see what this form accomplishes. How would this be said any differently than "might as"?

>maybe mommy tells ’im he gets no ice cream//

When you use a family relation as a name, capitalize it. Compare this to the "his mommy" you used just a tad before. That one's fine as lower-case, since the "his" takes it out of the realm of being used as a name.

>divers//

It's sticking in my head that I'm seeing this word a lot, too.

Now I'm at the end of chapter 2, and I'm still not seeing any humor or satire. There's still nothing legally unreasonable happening, so it's hard to poke fun at any of it. You're still being coy for some reason about letting me know what the actual charges are, though at this point, I'm beginning to assume it's because you want that to be a punchline.

>Mommy, mommy!//

Capitalization.

>having avoiding thinking about this issue for too long//

The verb form is off there. You need "avoided."

>two hundred, ninety-second thousandth, five hundred, and sixty-second//

The proper way to do numbers is to put commas only where you would for the numerals (or periods, if you use that system), there should be no "and" in there, and the ordinal only goes on the end. So:
two hundred ninety-two thousand, five hundred sixty-second

>eight hundred and five//

Improper "and."

>fifteen minute recess//

fifteen-minute recess

Good that we're finally getting into some humor in chapter 3. That's pretty far in for a story tagged solely as comedy. I'm still not at anything unequivocally satirical, though. There's at least a setup of such, in parallel to people's tendency to sue for any frivolous reason, but it's not entirely clear yet that the reason is frivolous, at least as presented. You could either be poking fun at such real-world cases or going for an earnest examination of how the child's mother has a point.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2658

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>the grey earth stallion//

Such is the problem with these kinds of descriptors: they rarely tell the reader things he doesn't already know, so they're redundant. You just said in the last paragraph he was grey, and you already used "he" to describe him, so we know it's a stallion. Not to mention it doesn't play well with the limited perspective you've chosen, since it implies Rarity would choose to refer to him with such a phrasing in her own thoughts.

>It was why she was out in the park, anyway.//

Given that she goes on to say this as dialogue, it's redundant.

>the Sergeant//

When you use ranks generically, which usually happens by putting an article in front of them, they don't get capitalized unless they're really high up or unique (this is why Princess can be done that way, if it's meant to show respect). Captain and sergeant aren't high enough ranks to justify that.

>baulk//

I've only ever seen that spelled as "balk."

>Ponies could only cross at specified times and Rarity couldn’t cross until half-six in the evening.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>If she ever met the idiot that had ordered the raid on the Harmony District//

For sentient beings, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>Nachtkönigin//

You may well know far more German that I do. I haven't had a class in it for a couple decades, and I haven't had a good opportunity to practice speaking it for over ten years. But it seems to me there would be an adjective ending between the word parts. Some of those were always a great mystery to me, as they didn't always follow the same rules in compound words as they did in separate adjectives, but for some reason, I expected this would be "Nachtskönigin."

>The dark Pegasus stallion//

Again, your use of a limited narrator means that this is how Twilight would think of him, even though she's familiar with him and knows his name. You don't refer to your acquaintances in such terms, do you?

I'm getting confused with the languages. Apparently the day side speaks Dutch, and the night side speaks German. So where's the English coming from?

Also, I know enough Dutch and German to understand what everyone is saying, so I'm a bad judge of whether the average reader would pick up enough from context or be lost.

Okay, so you later say it's not Dutch. I can't tell the difference, but then I learned Flemish, not proper Dutch.

>“I was expecting something more old-timey,” whispered one of the humans.//

See, this just reiterates what the narration already said. It's redundant unless you do something to make each instance of it do something different. For example, Rarity predicts this reaction. Then she gets it. If you don't do anything with that, it's mindless repetition. If you draw some meaning or characterization out of it (like having Rarity gloat that she was right, maybe), then it accomplishes something.

>There was still room for her when they’d boarded and her little act of generosity meant she was the first to disembark the tram//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>Made out of sapphire glass, it was crystal clear//

If it's clear and not being used for jewelry purposes, why wouldn't they just call it corundum?

>whose boss//

You mean this to say "who is," not show possession. You want "who's."

>G-Goedenavond//

Unless it's a word that has to be capitalized anyway, only capitalize the first part of a stutter.

Okay, so Fluttershy speaks in Dutch, and Rarity answers in German. In my experience (which is admittedly a long time ago), Fluttershy would understand it but be really put off, probably angry. She might suppress it, but there'd be signs. Yet she doesn't react. Or since Fluttershy is from the night side, is German native to her? In that case, she was speaking Dutch as a courtesy to Rarity? Then I ask again: where is all the English coming from?

It's now getting really ungainly that you have to keep mentioning what language everyone is speaking on nearly every line of dialogue.

>she’d overdid//

Either "she overdid" or "she'd overdone."

>there would be no prostration on the ground and Nocturnal Equestria’s Ministry of Information was insane//

>The sun was beginning to set and she could see the faint cyan glow she’d normally seen from her apartment window.//
Needs a comma between those clauses.

>The buttery yellow Pegasus mare//

You already described her as such, it's something every reader already knows about her, you hyphenated it last time, and this is one of the absolute most cliched phrases in ponyfic.

>What a lovely accessory, he has!//

No need for that comma.

>She gestured to the Pegasus city above//

Rarity just "gestured" a few paragraphs back. It's a little soon to reuse a word choice without it sounding repetitive.

>whom hooted once in response//

"Who." It's the subject of this clause.

>She suddenly noticed//

This is the exact same way you started two sentences ago.

So, after one chapter, I'm tossed into a world where I have no idea how it got this way, I don't get how the languages work, I have no idea what purpose it serves to have humans in the story at all, and there's various terminology like "blindsight" thrown around as if I should already know what it means. I can't tell whether the two worlds are related as day/night or as dream/wakefulness. It's an interesting world, but if as a reader I feel like it's too confusing and all going over my head, I'm not likely to read on. I'll continue on through as many chapters as you've published so far, but I think you have an accessibility problem.

Another word about chapter 1: you're awash in boring "to be" verbs. It's much more engaging to use active verbs where possible. Of course, it's not practical to remove them altogether, but you can manage them for the most part. Of the non-ambiguous ones, you had 153 in this chapter, and 79 instances of "was" alone. That's a "to be" verb every 28 words, or about once every other sentence. That's how often nothing happens.

>room’.//

That period would go inside the quotes.

>in horror//

It's a good idea to avoid prepositional phrases that contain a mood or emotion like this. They just push a conclusion on the reader instead of showing him the evidence and letting him draw his own conclusion.

>There was always going to be exceptions//

You have a mismatch in number: was -> exceptions.

>Rarity had counted at least a dozen different styles of foreign clothing and the visitor’s hat steadfastly refused to coordinate with any of them.//

Needs a comma between the clauses, but this is completely redundant with the previous sentence.

>Ottoman//

That word's in such common usage now that it doesn't need to be capitalized when it refers to the piece of furniture.

>“Lang lebe die Nacht,”//

Why'd you stop italicizing the other languages?

So I guess the English is only for the reader's benefit? It's really hard to pull off a switch like that in a written medium, because it doesn't come across the same way as it would in a movie, say. The reader's not going to keep reminding himself that they're actually speaking something other than English, because in the end, what does it matter? It's fine to have one side speak something different to illustrate another culture, but to have both be different? Really, if the day side actually did speak English, what about the plot of your story would change? I'm betting nothing. Then it becomes an irrelevant detail that makes things more complicated without accomplishing something else in return.

Now that Twilight's turning the conversation toward why Rarity is there, you're finally getting to the conflict, but the problem is I'd have no idea what the conflict even is, except you described it in the synopsis. The story needs to say so, too, unless there's some sort of internal justification as to why the subject is being avoided. You've mostly used a limited narrator in Rarity's perspective, and that would mean she refuses to think about the killing or that she's so occupied with other things that it doesn't even occur to her. Neither one is plausible under the circumstances, so I don't know why the story is playing coy with it.

>Your superiors know about this folder, the Head of the Marechaussee assured me he spoke directly to Grand Inquisitor Sunset Shimmer herself//

Comma splice.

>Rarity’s averted her gaze//

Extraneous possessive.

>she wasn’t sure if she should have seen that but she wasn’t going to take any chances//

>she’d find some way of gleaning more information and they couldn’t stop her//
>He led her and Fluttershy down to the basement where the Inquisitor waited for them in a large meeting room.//
Needs a comma between the clauses.

>die ersten Pony//

Again, maybe I'm just too far removed from my German classes to remember, but there seems to be a mismatch of gender here. You're in accusative case, so "die" indicates a feminine noun, but "ersten" has a masculine ending. I don't know off the top of my head what gender "Pony" would be, but borrowed nouns, especially ones ending in "y," tend to be neuter.

>Well, of course, thought Rarity.//

Why isn't either the thought dialogue italicized or in quotes?

>The train journey there took a good six hours and she’d spent two days there.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>edges perfectly parallel with the edge//

Watch the repetition.

>“The Harmony District is a special location,” explained Inquisitor Sparkle.//

You're falling into a rut by having dialogue start all the paragraphs that contain any.

>Pegasus//

If you're not going to capitalize all the races, don't capitalize this one either. Otherwise, it refers specifically to the winged horse from Greek mythology.

>The unicorn’s name turned out to be Orchid Dew.//

How so? Did she answer Rarity's question? Did Rarity look at the paperwork?

>concernedly//

You're really going overboard with these adverbs in this chapter. A lot of them are attached to speaking actions. Adverbs are fine when they change how an action happens, like softly or quickly, but when they communicate an emotion, you ought to consider whether you could demonstrate that emotion through character appearance and behavior instead. How does a concerned person act? Have Rarity do the same things.

>best, reassuring//

No need for that comma.

>many a criminal had given her the same stare and she had learnt to brush it off herself//

Needs a comma.

>Uh-okay//

Please use a proper dash for anything other than a same-word stutter.

>partially in relief//

Another one of those ungainly prepositional phrases that directly informs me of a character's feelings, plus it points out its own shortcoming by never saying what the other part of the "partially" is.

>irritably. “Witnesses to the body dump claimed it was transported in a carriage,” she said irritably//

So she's irritable, you say?

>I thought we could use it to prove something but if it was stolen//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>meant no one kingdom’s national infrastructure could extend into the area without triggering an international incident. That meant//

Repetition.

>despites//

Typo.

>houses either side//

Missing word.

>as if there as//

Typo. Not sure why the editing is getting worse here.

>between the two kingdoms, making it look as if there as some invisible anti-plant force field between the two kingdoms//

Repetition.

>started to count under her breath as her horn started//

Repetition. I'd also caution you against making much use of "start" and "begin" actions. They're often needlessly auxiliary to the real verb, and it's obvious that any given action would begin. It's only worth pointing that out if the beginning is noteworthy, like it's sudden, or the action never finishes.

>above. There was a rumbling on the floor above//

Repetition.

>in builder’s yard//

Missing word.

>Party Favour//

Normally, I don't mind British spellings, but there are a few cases where I do. Proper nouns are one. This isn't his name.

>They knocked the Inquisitor through another door and Thunderlane crashed into a wall.//

>She’d have to chase after them and she’d end up all sweaty and smelly afterwards.//
Needs a comma.

>seven year’s bad luck//

years’

>she didn’t have to worry about heterotopic ponies at that time of the night. So long as she didn’t try anything too risky, she’d be fine//

I don't get the reasoning here.

Okay, you explain it in a bit, but it's still part of the world building you never really covered. It doesn't help that I'm awash in jargon, which makes the reader have to think longer to sort out what you're saying.

>went over heels//

Isn't it "head over heels"?

>Qilin//

...Aaaaand I have no idea what you're talking about, which makes this an irrelevant detail. It doesn't matter if I understand it, by definition, since I have no chance of understanding it.

>That’s quite enough, darling//

You have her using "darling" and "dear" far more often than she actually does in canon. Check out the transcripts. She rarely says either more than a couple times per episode.

>In the distance, Rarity could hear sirens.//

You just used "could" in the previous sentence, plus the usage here implies it's a detail most people would miss, and I doubt that's the case. What do you lose by simply saying she heard them?

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2659

>>2658
>without so much of//
That's usually phrased as "without so much as."

>into the alley. As she dragged him into the alley//

Repetitive phrasing.

>like through a sieve//

That's an odd phrasing.

>So how, are they?//

Misplaced comma.

>she thought better to enquire further//

Seems like this should be "she thought better than to." And this is already your third use of "enquire" in the last nine paragraphs.

>She was suddenly aware that seemed to be some kind of colour scheme going on//

Missing word or typo.

>Imperialism!’,//

When there's other end punctuation, it replaces the comma; don't have a comma in addition.

>The Inquisitor greeted two Lictors stood guard outside a room.//

Phrasing is off.

>adjacent Night Glider//

I've always seen it phrased as adjacent "to," but if you're familiar with using it this way, that's fine.

>her words translated by Fluttershy//

Why is this necessary? If it gets overly complex, maybe, but in my experience, most Dutch speakers can get the gist of things said in German.

>the pony that did this to you//

For sentient beings, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>don’t— No//

Don't leave a space after an em dash.

>If you need anymore//

"Anymore" and "any more" aren't interchangeable. You need it to be two words here. If you add in the implied noun, what looks right, "anymore water" or "any more water"?

>She seemed to be breathing strongly//

You said almost the exact same thing almost a page ago.

>Originally it was for disguise purposes, the spell-caster would use it to swap cutie marks as a form of disguise.//

Comma splice.

>Her body tremored with terror.//

Consider that you've been using a limited narrator, i.e., you have the narrator voice Rarity's unspoken thoughts for her at times. If she's in terror, then shouldn't her thoughts sound like she's in terror? This is delivered so calmly and stoically.

>She presumed the doctor had said Party Favour was unconscious.//

Given the earlier "Rarity heard Minuette say something about unconsciousness," this would be self-explanatory.

>but I’m sure she forbade you from dream walking her//

Given that she commented a couple times already on what she thought the doctor had said, why'd she skip this part?

>If we can wheel Herr Favour//

Since it's a direct object, doesn't the weak noun take an extra n, i.e., Herrn Favor? Or does it not work that way when it's used as a title?

>that was a recent development but most ponies agreed it was a good idea when they heard it and the Government had adopted it wholesale from its American source//

Needs two commas to separate clauses.

>her reply seemed to take the Nocturnal Equestrian aback//

How so? What did Twilight do?

>Rarity didn’t need to know that Inquisitor Sparkle had sworn this oath but the Inquisitor had insisted on telling her anyway.//

Needs a comma.

>Rarity could imagine Mevrouw Twilight Sparkle stood in front of a class//

The verb form of "stood" is off.

>Daring Do amongst the students, fast asleep, drool running down her blue cheeks//

Daring Do is blue? I can't fathom why you'd change it to that. What difference does it make?

>“I think,” she began//

It's odd to have "began" as the speaking verb when it's not even her first dialogue of the paragraph.

>started getting dirtier. It started//

>seemed to be attempting to unearth an earthenware vase of draconic proportions. Though huge, something about it seemed//
Repetition.

>She started to channel magic into her horn.She started to channel magic into her horn.

And another "started" soon after, but I've already bugged you about using this verb sparingly anyway.

>unearth more of the earthenware vessel, but there was still a large amount buried in the earth//

That's three forms of "earth" in a single sentence.

>There was none. Her mane was fine. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief.//

That's awfully bland for a limited narrator in a situation that should be emotionally charged.

>I’ll have a word with my guvnor about this but you can’t stay here//

>You know we couldn’t dream walk her and Glimmer wouldn’t confess//
Needs a comma.

>“You know something, don’t you?”//

I have no idea who says this.

>Rarity’s eyes snapped opened//

Typo, and you need a comma after this.

>GLider//

Typo.

>She looked at Rarity as if the white unicorn had suffered a brain aneurysm.//

...As if she's extremely concerned and about to summon medical help? I think you're going more for something like insanity.

>membership of that political movement//

I've always seen that as "membership in."

>There were no lanterns or street lamps and the cloud houses around her were dark//

Needs a comma.

>glowing luminescent//

Technically, those are different things. Luminescence is a property of a material, and it possesses that property even when conditions aren't right for it to glow. But most readers won't know that, which will make this sound redundant. Your call.

>Up this high, the ponies wore luminescent bands. Some wore luminescent leggings whilst others just leg bands. Most wore clothes that had luminescent strips sewn into the fabric.//

You sure like that word a lot. The first two sentences sound a bit contradictory. It's alo making me wonder how they charge these things. Luminscence means they absorb light, then give it off later even after the light source is removed. So how do they charge them, especially if it's the nocturnal side? Moonlight wouldn't do much, since it lacks the intensity and doesn't have the same spectrum.

>Guards stood guard//

You don't say... Surely you can rephrase that like "stood at their posts" or something.

>Like the Lictor that Rarity had seen//

"Whom," not "that."

>“Why yes; yes, we are!” interrupted Rarity suddenly//

A few things. First, the "interrupted" is redundant with the fact that Twilight's dialogue ended in a dash. Second, "suddenly" is pretty much implied by an interruption, but even in general, it should be used sparingly. If something's sudden, it should naturally come across that way through how you write it. Needing to say so is like having to assure the reader that a joke is funny. Third, when there's an interruption, the very next thing should be what does the interrupting or it takes away from the sense that it was abrupt. So the fact that the narrator managed to wedge in "began the Inquisitor" before Rarity's speech that cuts Twilight off, it disarms the sense that it was immediate.

>he thought better of pointing it out//

This is the second time you've used such a phrasing, and I wonder if it just means something different where you're from. Whenever I've heard the phrase "thought better of," it means the person has raised his opinion of something. "Thought better than to" means he decided he shouldn't do what he'd been considering, which seems more like what you're trying to say.

>in her best Nocturnal Equestrian//

How does Rarity know that's her best? She hasn't known Fluttershy long. For that matter, why wouldn't Fluttershy know it well? She lives in Nocturnal Equestria, doesn't she? That's the only place we've seen her until now, and nothing has come up to refute it.

>past the Ionic columns//

You already mentioned what style they were. Does it really warrant mentioning again?

>It was much nicer inside the prison; not toasty, but warm enough.//

Misused semicolon. What comes after it couldn't stand as a complete sentence.

>Rarity didn’t pay much attention to international news but what little she had read suggested it was fully in the hooves of the Army.//

Needs a comma.

>Frau Glimmer//

I notice that you always treat the second word of their name as if it were a last name, but family names don't always work like that in Equestria, like with Apple Bloom. I suppose canon hasn't said whether "Starlight" or "Glimmer" is the family thread, if indeed either one is, but just as an interesting tidbit of world-building, it might be nice to see that get switched up here and there, if you care to.

>Then he touched the door and it immediately became transparent.//

Needs a comma.

>as if she was//

You're speaking hypothetically, so use subjunctive mood, which is always "were" in past tense.

>the People’s Thing//

These two explanations for the parliaments are really wedged in. They don't fit the narrative style at all. Rarity's your limited narrator, so this implies she's thinking about the governing bodies when you go off on these tangents, yet I can't see a reason why she would be. At least this one tries to give an explanation, but it's not framed too well. You say she makes the point about how it works to Starlight, so just show me what she says. That way I still get the explanation, but it's relevant instead of trying to retcon it in through narrative summary after the fact.

>isn’t the time nor the place//

The "isn't" and "nor" create a double negative effect. You'd more typically see "isn't the time or the place" or "is neither the time nor the place."

>She looked at Starlight imploringly.//

That's a rather external judgment of how she looks, given it's her limited narration. If you're imploring someone, think about the intent, the mindset behind it, the way it feels. Not the way it looks, because she can't see her own face. When you have a perspective, be careful that the emotions are presented as how that character would perceive them.

>The cerise unicorn//

Rarity knows her name by now. Why is she still referring to her like this? And why is she using a different color than before, anyway, if you insist on doing this? It's inconsistent and can make it sound like there's yet another character present.

>then to the white unicorn//

And that's even worse. It's bad enough to have Rarity use an abstract descriptor for someone she's acquainted with, but herself? You don't call yourself "the ponyfic-writing human" in your own thoughts, do you?

>metallic grille//

You keep calling it that. I get the picture.

>whom nodded slowly//

Set this off with a comma, and it's just "who." It's the subject of this clause. Try replacing it with "he" or "him," and it usually helps figure out whether you need the nominative or objective form.

>And the pony that visited me//

"Who," not "that."

>the pony whom had been window-shopping there//

who

>had got//

had gotten

>dared. Only foals dared//

Repetition.

>she said gestured to the four cell walls//

I assume you meant that to be "gesturing." And if so, set off the participial phrase with a comma.

>He says they’ve arrested some mare called, Moon Dancer?//

Why is that comma there? They aren't for dramatic pauses.

This turned out to be a rather good story so far, but I think it has three more general things holding it back. I've at least mentioned them all before, so I'll sum them up here.

The type of descriptors we term "Lavender Unicorn Syndrome" because of the prevalence of using phrases like "the lavender unicorn" in this fandom do have their uses at times, but for the most part, it's best to avoid them, and they're a particularly poor fit for a limited narration, since the character would rarely actually think about other characters that way. It's an avenue where the story can have a broken perspective.

The other two I can lump together into accessibility. There's a balance to be struck when introducing a reader to your unique world. You don't want a huge infodump explaining every nuance of it up front, because the reader has no reason to care about it yet, and you'll just bore him to tears. You also don't just want to toss the reader into the middle of things and hope he can figure everything out on his own. There's a sweet spot where you give out the information as a subtle but steady flow as it becomes relevant to what's happening, ad the reader often won't even realize he's getting a history lesson. Take the part where you talked about the two parliaments. That was very conspicuous. But look at how far we have to get in before we realize what the conflict even is. Then take why we get to read nearly everything in English, yet we're told none of it actually is, and through 4 chapters and close to 20k words, I still have no idea why that'd be the case or why it's necessary, not to mention what humans have to do with anything. If it had been a pony killed, I don't see how it changes the plot at all. Maybe it's just meant as a parallel to the source material, where there's a third race or faction you want the humans to represent, but you still have other Equestrian races that could stand in, and I haven't read the novel, so it means nothing to me why humans might make the best choice. You have to come at a crossover as if the reader doesn't know anything about that other material. So it's very far into the story to still have so many unexplained things, and you're asking a lot of readers to take it on faith that it will eventually matter. You have to build that investment as early as you can.

Really, that's the biggest thing. I've spent so much of the story confused about what's happening and why, and that's not a good thing. If you can tune that up then I'd be happy to post it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2660

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

Your editing's actually quite good, so I don't have a lot of detailed feedback. Here's what I did compile:

>Allegra//

Why is she named after an allergy medication? Are you sure you didn't want "Allegro"?

>us-“//

Please use a proper dash (and note that in the places you did use one, you shouldn't have a space after it) and note that certain punctuation can break smart quotes. They're turned backward here. This happens in other chapters as well.

>“Elliot and I,” corrected several family members at once.//

Actually, they're wrong. People are so desperate not to use "me" inappropriately that they end up using "I" inappropriately. "Elliot and I" is nominative case, equivalent to "we." "Elliot and me" is objective case, equivalent to "us." Now, going back to the original instance, what sounds more correct, "your discontent for we" or "your discontent for us"? It's a compound object of a preposition, thus objective case.

>nice, quiet, room//

You don't need the comma between "nice" and "quiet," since they're hierarchical adjectives, i.e., they describe different aspects and would sound really odd in reverse order. You don't need the other comma either because you never place one between a modifier and its object.

>Still in shock from Octavia’s sudden gesture of kindness//

You've been in Octavia's perspective. Well, I say that because except for that one paragraph that switched to Vinyl (more on that later), anything subjective in the narration was representative of Octavia's viewpoint. This is from Martha's though, or would somehow require Octavia to read Martha'a mind as phrased. If you give the external evidence of it or explicitly say this is what Octavia thinks to be the case, that's one thing, but outright stating it as fact is quite another.

>much!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty.

>thank you, cousin//

Family relations get capitalized when they're essentially used as names, so "that's Mother," but "that's my mother."

>arranging the electronics neatly against one wall and arranging//

Close repetition.

>Christmas tree lights//

Did you forget to make that a Hearth's Warming?

>whom only had one present//

who

>Tympani//

That's odd that a percussionist would be pigeonholed into playing tympani only. Maybe they need a specialist in it, but wouldn't they want someone who could play all the percussion as needed? Not every piece includes tympani, after all.

>details;//

What follows is a sentence fragment, so the semicolon isn't used right. You're defining those details, so a colon would be appropriate.

>ect.//

Typo.

>happening!!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty.

>read aloud//

Third time you use that phrase or some close variation in three paragraphs.

>big wig//

In this sense, it's one word.

>and—“ she was cut off by Octavia.//

Backward quotes. Also, the dash already means she was cut off. It's redundant to narrate it as well.

>her family members started praising her and her talents//

You go on to have them say these things, so this is redundant.

>The rest of the day seemed like a blur. All her family members wanted to help her get ready for the audition, so nearly the rest of the day//

Repetition.

>Martha and Elliot were especially enthusiastic in supporting their relative.//

It's like you wanted to end this chapter as soon as you could. You're glossing over all kinds of things. If this is important (and it seems like it is), it'll mean a lot more for the reader to see it as it happens instead of getting a narrative summary after the fact.

>It was about a week after Hearth’s Warming//

It's strange that you ended the last chapter with Octavia noticing something was off about Vinyl, then you start this one without addressing it at all. She hasn't resolved or even thought about that in the intervening week?

>One of the carriage ponies cut her off.//

For one thing, it's already obvious she got cut off by your use of a dasj to end her dialogue. For another, I'd place any speech attribution after the dialogue. If it's truly an immediate interruption, then that interruption needs to happen right away. It undermines that if the narrator has time to say anything between the cutoff and what caused it.

>each contender had to play a five-minute piece of their choosing, along with the sight reading portion of the audition//

This isn't particularly relevant at the moment.

>There were two stallions; a black unicorn with brown hair tied up professionally, and an earth pony whom Octavia recognized right away as Mr. Woodwinds.//

Another semicolon that should be a colon.

>And whom, may I ask, is she?” asked//

"Who," not "whom." And when she actually uses the word "ask," it's repetitive to have it as a speaking verb.

>I will conduct you to make sure you keep time.//

That's strange. I can see them wanting to see how she handles following a conductor, but for the stated purpose, I'd think they'd want to see how well she could keep time on her own. That's an old music teachers' trick, to turn on an electric metronome, get the band started, mute the metronome, let them play for a while, then turn the sound back on to see how far off the beat they are.

>it made her feel nervous and queasy all over again//

While she's playing? This would be great imagery, if you could portray it: self-defeating thoughts running through her mind and her stomach churning as she struggles to keep focus on the sheet music and the conductor.

>state whether or not you have been accepted into the orchestra,” stated//

Repetition.

>she beamed//

Very questionable as a speaking verb. How do you beam a sentence?

>the unicorn//

You're in Octavia's perspective, and she knows Vinyl well. Is she really going to refer to her with a descriptor like this? Would you think about your own friends in similar terms?

>rare, teasing moods//

Unnecessary comma. They're hierarchical adjectives.

You use some form of "excite" five times in chapter four. All of these instances occur in the first two paragraphs.

>the gray earth pony//

This is even worse than using such a descriptor for Vinyl. Now Octavia's referring to herself. Who uses this kind of terminology about himself in his own thoughts?

>20//

Spell out numbers that short.

>“Oh, Octavia, deary,” Grandma Melody suddenly said with concern, “look at the time!//

You've got 4 paragraphs in a row that start: "Quote," she speaking-verbed, "rest of quote."

>whom she assumed she would learn the names of//

That's a really cumbersome phrasing. Try: "whose names she assumed she would learn."

>She was glad, too, that her family had started treating Vinyl better.//

This seems like it's supposed to be an important plot point, but you're completely glossing it over.

>you…” her voice trailed off//

An ellipsis already means trailing off, so narrating it is redundant.

>unsuspected//

I think "unexpected" is more the word you wanted here.

>flutists//

Usually, that's floutists. Well, I decided to second-guess myself, and sources tend to say "flutist" is more common in American English, though as much time as I've spent around serious musicians and being one myself, I've always heard "flautist" as far more prevalent, so maybe my experience is just skewed.

>whom often performed//

Who.

>the earth pony//

It's completely unnatural for her to refer to herself that way.

>and how she lost her career because of an accident that was completely not her fault//

It's an awful tease to hint at a very interesting piece of back story and never deliver on it.

>“Mrs. Harshwhinny?”,//

When you have other end punctuation, drop the comma, which wouldn't go outside the quotes anyway.

>the pony//

Another one of these very external references. They don't work in this narrative voice.

>I once had a tuba player come in for auditions and he remembered to bring everything except his tuba.”//

Needs a comma.

>I- I//

Don't leave a space in a stutter.

>Then Octavia rushed out the door//

And none of the ponies who came there with her immediately follow her to see what's going on?

>The sound of clopping feet became slower as the pony//

Another external reference, plus it's a very external way of her describing her own hoofsteps, like she's detached from them.

>A young filly//

If this is her memory, why is she describing it in such a detached way? It sounds like a newspaper account of it, not a flashback from someone invested in the event.

>she had said//

It's not obvious who this is. Presumably Octavia's mother, but the lead-in hasn't said Octavia's the younger one, plus the action hasn't focused on one of them yet, so it makes it ambiguous which one "she" is supposed to mean.

>It’s not a bad thing, actually, it’s very helpful for those not as inherently talented as you and I.//

Comma splice.

>clearly distraught//

In whose judgment? It's Octavia's reminiscence, so it can't be anyone but her, but she wouldn't be thinking that about herself. She'd be too busy actually being distraught to worry about whether she looks that way.

>“How dare you be such a fool//

Missing a line break here.

>And the likelihood of any of the Royal Orchestras hiring you after they hear of this event is slim to none.//

This seems very artificial and drummed up just to give the story some drama. What if Octavia had a family emergency and needed to go take care of a sick loved one? What if she'd already auditioned for other orchestras and had just heard back that she'd gotten into one that was more advantageous to her? I can't believe that they'd never fathom a reason why someone would ever decline, nor can I believe they'd blacklist her for it.//

>reason!!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty, and he's getting into what I mentioned. So this kind of thing actually has happened before. Why are they being so threatening, then? She's under no obligation to tell them her reasons.

>“Wha-?!!? How could you-?!? Octavia Melody, is this a joke?!!”//

All that punctuation is just ridiculous. One of each is fine.

>“Wait, what?!”

Note your quotation mark styles don't match. Don't italicize the closing set when the opening ones aren't. This isn't the only place you have this error.

>pulling out the band out//

Repetitive.

>“If leaving you to live on my own is the cost for being in some big symphony, then I don’t care what the payout is. It’s not worth it.”//

I'll refer to this later on, but I wanted to mark it for your attention.

>Back at Grandma Melody’s house, an old patchwork quilt sat on the couch in the basement, unharmed and ready to give warmth to anyone willing to use it.//

This is strange. I get the sentiment you're going for, but it's not like Octavia's thoughts are drifting to it. It's stated in a very detached manner, one sentence at the end of the story that doesn't flow from what came before. You just leeap location and narrative voice, and it comes out of nowhere. I'm also not quite sure why you have the quilt at Grandma's house, since it'd imply that she should know better or be receptive to Octavia's argument, if she sees the value in such a thing. This really needs a better segue.

You start the story in a very definite limited narrator using Octavia's perspective. Then you skip downstairs to say what's going on with Vinyl, which effects a jump in perspective. It's not like it was abrupt, so the fact you transitioned at all isn't the issue. But you only spent a paragraph with her before going back to Octavia. If it's important enough to go into Vinyl's head, it's important enough to stay there awhile. ALso note that if you want a limited narrator, you ought to have the narration express subjective things pretty regularly, or you risk having the narration revert to feeling omniscient. There are fairl long stretches where this is the case, like much of the conversation where Martha first shows up.

Look at your first few paragraphs as well. They keep saying the same things two or three times, sometimes even using repetitive word choice and phrasing. It's a bad idea anywhere in the story, but you don't want to create the immediate impression that the story's going to be repetitive and redundant.

Watch how often you directly identify character emotion. Here are two examples:
>a curious, wonder-filled look//
>Filled with a wave of anger.//
The three main ways authors do this are by using an emotion word as a noun (his excitement), adjective (the sad woman), adverb (he walked happily), or prepositional phrase (sighed in relief). It's more engaging to demonstrate emotion through how the characters appear and act, not by simply telling the reader how to interpret them. We normally read real people through behavioral cues, so it's more realistic to do so for written characters as well. You don't just know someone's sad. You see them cry, have a short temper, have bloodshot eyes, get distracted easily, etc., and conclude they're sad. Let the reader make these conclusions about the characters instead of telling them what the answer is. This not only gets the reader to identify more closely with the characters, but it creates richer visual images. I know what crying looks like. I don't know what "a curious, wonder-filled look" looks like. I can come up with something, but then you're making the reader do your job, and he's not seeing it as you might have imagined it, either. You want a little movie to play in the reader's head.

Okay, now getting back to that line I flagged to talk about later. You do have a theme and a conflict in this story, but they're not omnipresent enough to make the whole thing stick together that well.

Like I said, it's obvious Vinyl was upset, but it speaks to Octavia having a very casual relationship with her if she just shrugs it off and never asks Vinyl about it. Yet they both burst into tears at the thought of losing each other. It's very inconsistent. Frankly, we don't even have much evidence of how deep their friendship runs. We just have to take the story's word for it without ever seeing it in action. It's not the kind of story where you want to show them meeting for the first time and taking me up to the present so I can see all of their past together. But you've included a flashback, and that's one method for giving that back story to make the reader understand what all is involved in them being friends. Anecdote can also work well. It's closely related to flashback, but it just involves Octavia's mind wandering to times she'd spent with Vinyl instead of taking the reader back to see it happen "live." In short, if you want to hinge the story's power on them being such good friends then you need to demonstrate that to be the case before having it carry the emotional punch.

It's not even that clear what Octavia's giving up. You do have her act very excited about getting the invitation, and that's all well and good, but she passes the audition with seeming ease, so it's not even like she had to work for it. Easy victories don't mean much. She's nervous about whether she'll succeed, only to have one of the panelists gush about how nobody else has ever come close to her skill level. That's treading on Mary Sue territory. If she's good and has the confidence that results, it doesn't mean she never gets nervous, but it does mean she knows she's capable. But when she doesn't dare think she has a chance but blows the competition away, it's a fairly cliched conceit.

For that matter, when the panel was so incensed at being turned down. how does that reflect on Vinyl's friend or even Vinyl? They put themselves out there to recommend Octavia.

You wait fairly long to even bring the main conflict into the story. You do have the idea of patchwork and these poorer relatives near the beginning, but it's not until the end of the story that we see a connection between the two. I don't mean you need to spoil what Vinyl's gift is, but it'd give the story more coherence if you brought that plot thread about auditions in much sooner. Maybe not that Octavia's actually going to go do one, since she doesn't know that until she opens her gift, but just something about considering whether she could make it in a professional orchestra to show she has conflicted feelings about it and foreshadow that it's going to come up later.

I'm curious at the lack of reaction from Octavia about the fact that the audition was a gift. She only deals with the thoughts of not being able to leave Vinyl behind, and it never comes up that Vinyl was the one who instigated that. I'd expect Octavia would be touched Vinyl was willing to give up her friend so she could achieve her dream, or that Octavia would be angry Vinyl was willing to let their friendship go. As it is, she just forgets that's what started it all. Plus it goes back to my point of not getting a sense of how long or how much this has been a dream of Octavia's. How'd Vinyl even know about it? There's something that'd be good to have some anecdotes about.

There's a good story in here, but it's lacking some of the fine threads that keep it all attached together.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2663

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>ya'll//

Please don't be one of the people who can't spell this right.

>Apple Bloom found herself waving to her two friends//

The "found herself" construction implies the situation is unexpected or she can't remember how she got there. Neither would seem to be the case.

>Despite it having been a long day with the promise of summer drawing ever closer//

Set off the absolute phrase with a comma.

>the mare found herself//

No need to repeat why this phrase isn't ideal, but you also don't need to be repeating it so soon after. It's only one sentence later.

>She saw her friends wave back to her//

It'd already be implied she saw them just because the narrator said it. Pointing out she saw it tends to mean it'd be something hard to notice or that she was specifically keeping an eye out for it.

>all of them greeted by a foal in short//

I have no idea what you're trying to say here.
Edit: I figured it out later, but this is a really unclear way to say parents are there to pick up their kids.

>spotting the sight//

That's a horribly convoluted way of phrasing this. It's not even really accurate.

>smile she wore on her face faltered slightly when she approached her brother, Big Macintosh, who had a gentle smile on his face//

Repetitive phrasing about them both having smiles on their faces.

>Big Macintosh said with a smile//

You just got finished saying he smiled. Is he doing it again? What happened in between to change it?

>“Hey,” Apple Bloom tried to smile but it faltered slightly.//

You have that punctuated as a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>apparently reading her annoyance//

Who's the "her" this refers to? Afaik, Apple Bloom's the only female there. Even if you meant that to be a "his," you'd been telling the story from AB's viewpoint, yet the "apparently" isn't something she'd think about herself. She'd know whether it was true or not; "apparently" wouldn't enter into it.

>his brow being slightly raised//

This is your fifth use of "slightly" in just the last seven sentences.

>The foal//

And given that you're apparently using AB as your perspective character, why would she choose to refer to herself with this term? You don't call yourself "the person" in your own thoughts, do you?

>cheek, kicking lightly at the dirt as she felt her cheeks//

Repetition.

>this made her feel irritated//

Set this off with a comma. And instead of just telling me she's irritated, demonstrate it. What does she do? What sensations does it cause?

>this made her feel irritated//

>feel annoyance//
Yeah, this is going to be a problem. For the most part, you're going to get much more mileage out of demonstrating emotion than you will outright informing the reader of it. There a brief discussion of it in the "show versus tell" segment at the top of this thread.

>more often than not usually//

Redundant.

>It used to make Apple Bloom roll her eyes//

Needs a comma after this.

>He had been walking along her//

Missing a "with."

>ya'll//

In addition to the misspelling, it's fairly unusual to see an actual southerner use this as s singular term.

>‘bout//

The smart quotes in most word processors get leading apostrophes backward. You can paste one in the right way.

>with Big Macintosh laughed//

Verb form is off.

>just…” Big Macintosh trailed off.//

The punctuation already shows him trailing off. Narrating it as well is redundant.

>His initially happy way of talking faded off as the sound of his footsteps was all that was heard.//

This doesn't make sense. Everything faded off, not just the happiness, but "initial" makes it sound like the happiness went away before his talking did, yet you describe them as going away at the same time, giving her no opportunity to hear anything but happiness.

>in thought. She tried to think, and then those thoughts faltered//

This really doesn't mean anything. There's no emotion attached to it, so it's just there. It doesn't make me understand anything about her.

>cause//

You need an apostrophe, since you're shortening "because."

>When Apple Bloom looked up to see his face//

Needs a comma to set off this dependent clause.

>he sighed loudly//

She just did the same thing two paragraphs ago.

>“Hey, Sugar, C’mere,” Big Macintosh nodded his head.//

Another non-speaking action used as a speech tag.

>it usually made her feel anxious when she knew it was coming//

So how's it making her feel now? What images are going through her head, what physical sensations does it cause?

>pay the man//

Is... is this a human fic?

>a few small bowls//

Why is he carrying more than two?

>the heat of the air//

I'm not sure what it adds to attribute the heat to the air.

>“I don’t get it,” Apple Bloom shrugged.//

How do you shrug a sentence?

>thick rimmed//

Hyphenate.

>That had made Mac upset.//

How can she tell? What did he do?

>rough housing//

That's a single word.

>Apple Bloom could clearly remember Caramel apologizing//

This is your sixth use of "remember" in only four paragraphs.

>with the need to understand//

That's an odd thing to make eyes sting.

>It was real embarrassin’ for the two of us.//

Okay, this is coming across as a tad heavy-handed. It'd help to differentiate it from a general disapproval of PDA. Just because someone doesn't want to see ponies kissing doesn't mean they're homophobic. Nothing in AB's memory of what happened makes it clearly so.

>bout//

Needs an apostrophe.

>Big Macintosh sighed loudly//

Again?

>Y-Yeah//

Unless it's a word that has to be capitalized anyway, only capitalize the first part of a stutter.

>two stallion’s//

Lose the apostrophe.

>Our families real fine//

And that one actually should be a possessive, not a plural.

>“I…” Big Macintosh trailed off//

Redundant.

>Grown up’s//

Grown-ups

>When she had the courage to look back at him//

Needs a comma here.

>em//

Needs a leading apostrophe.

>other ponies business//

other ponies' business

>She felt a mix of emotions that were difficult to put to words.//

Well, try, or this is meaningless. The whole point of the story is to get me to feel what AB is feeling. It's like saying: "It was a dark and stormy night, and there was this brutal murder, but I can't tell you about it."

>nick name//

nickname

>You an’ AJ an Granny are all nice.//

You're still not differentiating that behavior. A random mare who complains isn't nice, but when Granny Smith makes the exact same complaint, she is nice. There's no reason for me to take the two differently unless you show me what's different about them. It sounds more like Big Mac's rationalizing than anything.

>Big Macintosh smiled, and nodded his head.//

The same subject is linked to both verbs, so you don't need the comma; it's all one clause.

>so fast that she almost choked on it. She found herself nearly dragging Big Macintosh into a run so fast//

Repeated phrasing.

>mid section//

midsection

>at least picked up speed by her request, or at least//

Repetition.

>Every thirty seconds//

As you've phrased it, this should be lower-case.

It seems odd that Big Mac had the opportunity to visit Caramel all along, and nothing's really changed, yet he's all excited to do so now and sure it'll work. It's not the most logical train of thought. Maybe if he attached more importance to having a thoughtful gift now, or that AB's presence will do something he alone couldn't?

>Caramel didn’t look like himself//

And you use "look" five times in this paragraph.

>what ar-”//

Please use a proper dash for cutoffs. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread.

>She get’s it//

Extraneous apostrophe.

>Sugar Cube//

That's typically done as a single word in MLP context, and like Big Mac calling AB "sugar," they're generic terms of endearment, not actual nicknames, so they wouldn't be capitalized.

>Thanks, Apple Bloom. I feel better knowing that, I promise.//

And that disarms that this was that much of a problem to begin with. He can get over it just because she tells him to. If there's no struggle to resolve the conflict, that makes for a very bland story. That struggle is what gives the story its power. Otherwise, it's not going to stand out above all the other generic homophobia stories. Nothing really changed during the story. Big Mac's attitude sure didn't, and AB didn't either. They just go tell Caramel to feel better, he does, problem solved.

Strong ending there. That's a nice line to go out on.

The four biggest issues:

You repeatedly use non-speaking actions as dialogue tags.
You have lots of repetition.
You too often directly tell me how characters feel instead of getting me to interpret it from their behavior and appearance.
There's a really underwhelming conflict here that takes no effort to resolve.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2664

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

>importance - weddings//

Hyphens are only for stutters or the kinds of compound words and phrases that use them. For asides and cutoffs, use a proper dash. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread.

>A slow smile.//

Having a sentence fragment like this just doesn't fit. For one thing, this is pretty far into the story to start doing so. For another, your narration has sounded decidedly omniscient, and sentence fragments take on a conversational tone much more akin to a limited narration.

>clearly irritated with him//

You're wandering into a limited feel again. The narration is expressing an opinion here (clearly to whom?), but I have no idea which character's opinion it's supposed to represent, and the narrator hasn't been given any characterization or personality to treat them as a character anyway.

>the lemon-colored unicorn//

And assuming you want an omniscient narration, it's a little odd the narrator doesn't know these characters' names, but it's easy enough to let that slide for the sake of mystery.

>We can't just stand around here and discuss this in the city for much longer. The Queen will definitely want to hear about this. We haven't had an opportunity like this is a long time.//

It gets kind of repetitive that she refers to "this" in every sentence.

>had went unseen//

had gone

>Gone were the three ponies who had been discussing the wedding like everypony else//

If they were someone nobody else could see them, why were they in disguise? And why so dramatically cast off their disguises right now? It smack of narrative convenience instead of reasonable behavior.

>Her gaze focused on the blue-maned stallion//

But they changed. He's not blue-maned anymore, is he?

>destination. The Hive where their swarm resided.//

Another sentence fragment that doesn't play well with the narrative style you've established. I think it's work better if you made "the" lower-case and replaced the period with a colon or dash.

>Though,//

There's rarely a reason to put a comma after a conjunction. You don't need this one.

>A tilt of his head.//

Another fragment that doesn't quite fit.

>His speech was interrupted//

The punctuation already tells me this. It's redundant to narrate it as well, plus you don't want any delay between the cut-off speech and what did the cutting off.

>He too,//

You don't have to have that comma, but if you want it there, you need to pair it with another one before "too."

>also sporting a large helmet to signify himself as a lieutenant//

Odd that you're bringing in this piece of information now, since you never identified the one in the first group as a lieutenant. It's fairly immersion-breaking to force that fact in like this, though, since it's not presented in a way relevant to the action. If one of the characters addressed him as a lieutenant, that's a much smoother way of working it in.

>it was clear that there were a few differences from the changeling's in the first group//

Extraneous apostrophe, and another free-floating narrative opinion. Clear to whom?

>While their//

Their/there confusion, and it'd make things clearer if you set this off with a comma.
Edit: the way the sentence is worded, you actually need to remove "their" altogether.

>having took//

having taken

>rose into the air, rising//

Watch that close word repetition.

>while making sure that nopony was looking up at them to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creatures above//

Then why are they doing something as conspicuous as flying in full view? Why not stay disguised? Why not wait until night when they can't be seen?

>Caught up in their own intents, neither of the two assemblages had caught//

More close repetition.

>celebration. With//

Extraneous space.

>They had no reason or knowledge to report of any suspicious activity, certainly not another group of changelings from a Hive other than their own.//

Why would each assume they were the only hive to know about the wedding? That seems like poor strategy. Wouldn't they expect all the hives to want in on this? It's not like such a public event could be kept secret—in fact, everyone's taking great pains in quite the opposite direction—so why is there even a chance of a single hive being the only one to know?

>As the two separate groups of changelings flew off from Canterlot, green flames quickly encircled each one as they took on the forms of pegasi.//

Again, it's clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence, but you're kind of backtracking here. The previous chapter already said they flew off but made zero mention of doing it in disguise. In fact, it said quite the opposite, that they shed their disguises and flew off while making sure nobody would see them like that.

>the two reigning changelings seemed to ignore the existence of each other completely//

Then why would it matter if the two scouting parties spotted each other?

>caverns once out of the entryway's light, the group continued on through the descending maze of caverns//

Watch the repetition.

>With a passing glance at the large statue, the four changelings sped down one of the caverns//

This is a serious hiccup in pacing. At least you're taking an omniscient voice, which excuses one error many authors make, and that's having a limited narrator dwell on a history lesson like this when the focus character wouldn't be able to spare the attention for it. But you don't have that problem. Still, this is a pretty conspicuous way to wedge in lots of exposition. You'd just started the chapter with this scouting party, showed them entering the Hive, then we spend a significant chunk of verbiage giving me lots of cultural back story before finally getting back to the action here. If you had a reason to go into this detail now, like one of the characters gazing at the statue for a while, that's one thing, but even in that case, you don't want to drop a wall of exposition. But you shut yourself out of doing even that by explicitly saying none of them gave the statue anything more than a glance.

>The lieutenant turned and held up a hoof to silence any interruption from his three companions, making sure that the wedding notice was secured tightly in the hold of his armor.//

Why does he silence them? You don't mention any of them even beginning to formulate an interruption. Any why is the wedding notice so important? The king wouldn't trust an oral report of it? Without that proof, nothing would come of it?

>a set of powerful wings that, like his subjects, held the appearance of a bird of prey//

This says his subjects held the appearance of birds of prey, not that their wings did. If hat's what you meant, make "subjects" a plural possessive.

>The King's green-blue eyes//

You just said what color his eyes were a couple paragraphs back. In fact, you called them "blue-green" then.

>appearing to take an interest//

Right after you introduced the king, you seemed to be taking a shallow limited narrative voice in his perspective, though I'm betting you wanted it to remain omniscient. Here, though, you're very external to him, since he'd know if he was taking an interest. The "appearing" is a subjective thing, though, so even as omniscient, this goes back to the same thing I'd pointed out before of the narration expressing opinions unattached to any character.

>"Her talent is... love?"//

It seemed like he recognized both the bride and groom, so why wouldn't he already know this?

>To have love be her power, the most powerful emotion known to changeling kind...//

And now you're taking a very conversational tone. You keep wavering between a limited and an omniscient feel. It's not going to be worth having me point out every single instance of it, so I'll just make that a blanket statement and say you need to scan the story for this.

>The one who had spoken was the changeling from before who had claimed that the young princess was pretty.//

No way is a reader going to remember which one this was. It's also definitely not in the king's perspective anymore, since he wasn't there to see that happen.

>about to comment about//

>allowed the rectangular lock to move out of its holding place, allowing//
Repetition.

>something she considered a serious manner//

Seems like you meant "matter" there.

>voice laden with curiosity//

It's a little off-putting to have emotions directly identified for me than letting me deduce them from character behavior and appearance, but you just told me she was curious one paragraph ago.

>"It must be something important if you are delivering the message."//

The narration pretty much already covered this.

>for bring//

Typo.

>Yet, she felt her mind traveling back to her early days//

No need for that comma.

>7//

Write out numbers that short.

>She'd show this Prince Meta-what's-his-name who was the better changeling.//

That's definitely vocalizing Chrysalis's thoughts as narration, but other places in this scene can't be, like saying she looked more confident and referring to herself as "the young princess."

>8-year-old//

Write out the number.

>This first meeting wasn't going at all the way they had hoped.//

And now you seem to be inhabiting some collective viewpoint of the parents. The perspective sure bounces around a lot.

>study horn//

I'm guessing you meant that to be "sturdy"?

>using the changeling word for "crazy"//

Why are we just now learning they speak another language? And why would he only be using single words of it?

When you have italicized words (or words in regular font in italicized passages), have a question mark or exclamation mark be in the same font as the word it's on.

>having been tricked by Chrysalis defying the pattern.//

You're way over-explaining this. The reader's seen this gag before.

>marked the marked the//

Repeated phrase.

>While the young changeling's were neck and neck//

That's the second time you've made this a possessive when it should be a plural. Not sure why.

>I can fly better"//

Missing end punctuation.

>Take that Princess//

Missing comma for direct address.

>crashed headfirst into a bush of thick brambles, causing him to crash//

So the crash caused him to crash?

>Just before their parents took off with the two of them into//

Did you mean to say "in tow"?

I'm going to stop here after chapter 2 since even if the rest were perfect, I'd still want to see these early chapters fixed up. Though it's more likely the same problems will persist throughout. There's a fair amount of repetition, some overly blunt informing me of character emotion, and at least one very obtrusive infodump, along with some assorted editing problems, but the biggest issue is that there needs to be some unity of perspective. It constantly waffles between an omniscient and limited voice, and while limited, it abruptly changes between different characters, too. It ends up making everything feel disjointed.

Another concern we have is the update schedule. There's nearly a two-year gap between the last two chapters posted, and there hasn't been another chapter in over two years. We won't post stories that we suspect will never finish or will be overly slow in updating, since readers won't be able to follow it. They'll either never see it completed or long since forget the details of what happened when it actually does update.

WufflyTime 2666

>>2659
I reallly appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback on my story.

The humans in the story are there as outsiders, to have the weird world explained to them. However, to get the plot moving, I reallocated them to later chapters. This was a terrible decision on my part.

As for the Dutch-German-intelligibility issue, I compared Dutch and German sentences to see if they were similar. If they weren't, I presumed Rarity wouldn't understand.

As for the spelling of 'Nachtkönigin', I wanted to write the easier to pronounce 'Nachtskönigin' but my dictionary always gave examples of Nacht- without the additional 's' e.g. Nachtdienst, Nachteule, Nachtfalter, Nachtmensch, Nachtschwester etc.

I will, of course, go back and look into the mistakes you pointed out.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2669

>>2666
I apologize at taking so long to respond, as I thought I had checked this thread much more recently that I had.

So, first, I did find this an engaging story despite my confusion, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Really, that's all an author can hope to do: keep the reader interested in what happens next. And you've got that. It just takes pushing through a lot of material to get there, material which is unclear as to what it means or if it'll ever be explained.

Your plan to get to why the humans are there earlier is a good one, and I urge you to state as early as possible that the central conflict is that a human has been killed. That makes the humans' presence immediately relevant, which is the perfect time to sneak in a little back story as to why they're in Equestria. It's hard, but if you can come up with thoughts Rarity would have about the situation or dialogue between her and whoever else is there that feels natural yet illustrates this back story, that's the ideal way to work it in.

All of those words with "Nacht-" at the beginning... the endings have different genders, but "teule" should be feminine like "königin." Interesting that none of those words have an adjective ending. Maybe because "Nacht-" is a noun adjunct instead of an adjective? The only one I remember this way is resistance group, "Widerstandsgruppe," and the entire class was flummoxed as to why that "s" got added there, since we figured it should be an "e" if anything. But here, "Widerstand" is also a noun adjunct to a feminine noun, so... I don't get it. But you have a pattern there, so you're probably correct.

If you have any further questions, please ask. I would love to see this story succeed.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2671

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have to fix, but take each under advisement.

Synopsis:
>But the lives of its people, particularly one Anna Erklass, faces irrevocable change//
Number mismatch: people faces.

Story:
>Winter has come//
Why the switch to present tense?

Please use proper dashes for asides and cutoffs, not hyphens.

>lest it drew//

"Lest" phrasings use present tense. Actually, they use subjunctive mood, essentially an infinitive form, but present tense is easier to explain.

>doubled down//

"Doubled over" would be a more familiar phrasing. What you had is more widely recognized as a blackjack play.

>The doe//

You're definitely using a limited narrator, since you express her thoughts directly as narration. Pay attention to the implications of your word choices, then. You're asserting that she'd describe herself in her internal thoughts as "the doe." People just don't think of themselves so externally. I take it you're withholding her name as some sort of reveal, but again, consider what's implied by your limited narrator doing so. It means she's avoiding revealing her identity even to herself, in her own thoughts. Why would she avoid the subject? This is a fairly advanced topic, but there are lots of little details that cascade out of how you decide to tell a story, and this is the kind of baggage that comes with a limited narrator. Any choices have pluses and minuses, and you ought to work within those. You make references like this in the first chapter, too.

>without mercy nor compassion//

This is actually an "or" phrasing unless you want to say "with neither mercy nor compassion."

>who she had failed//

whom

>whose purpose are yet to be revealed//

You have a plural verb with a singular subject.

>the pair of foals she protects//

Why the switch to present tense?

>their gaze were fixed//

>Reindeer magic were//
More singular/plural mismatches.

>the doe could hear//

>she could see//
Besides being a repetitive phrasing so close together, it's rarely necessary for a limited narrator to say what the focus character heard or saw. The narrator effectively is the character, so it's already implied the character can see or hear whatever the narrator mentions. Conversely, a limited narrator can't describe things the focus character can't perceive. It's only worth using perception verbs like this when you want to emphasize that it's something most characters wouldn't notice or that the character was specifically keeping an eye/ear out for it.

>It was once one star a week or two ago, before a split occurred, and the star was forever split in two.//

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, and there's nothing here to give it any sense of importance.

>It was then, that the doe looked down upon the sisters, and realised then that it was their sign//

That first comma just has no reason to be there. The second one's unnecessary, too, and you've been using a fair amount of them in the same situation. You only need one with a conjunction when there are separate clauses, but here, the same subject is linked to both verbs. There's also a repetitive "then" phrasing.

>Lilja has done her duty, and will soon resume her duties//

Repetitive.

>which could shatter at anytime//

"Any time" and "anytime" aren't interchangeable. An adverb doesn't parse here; you need it to be two words.

>day.” Sint said//

Punctuation.

>humility, and//

Extraneous space.

>merry, yet sad smile//

You don't need that comma, but if you want it, pair it with another after "yet sad."

At the beginning of the first chapter, look how often you use direct address. Many authors do this. It's just unnatural. If there is a large group conversing, it can be necessary to make sure the right person is listening, but in general people just don't do this that much, especially when there are only a couple people. Here, you have only two; there's no question about who is speaking to whom. In this case, people only use direct address for emphasis, but you're emphasizing things so much that it loses its effectiveness. Five of the first six paragraphs use direct address.

>But she was already gone.//

This is a little off with the perspective. The narrator's been voicing Anna's thoughts for her as a limited narrator. The two are essentially one and the same. So if Anna's already left, how can the narrator know what Erklass replied?

>where the were no trees//

Typo.

>As the wind howled against the mountainside, in a moment, Anna forgot her grievances with her grandfather, laughing as she gracefully leapt off the walkway and into the open air.//

It's pretty clunky to have multiples of certain elements in a sentence, like your two "as" clauses here. Not only does it get repetitive, but these (along with participles and absolute phrases) synchronize things, so it starts to lump a lot of actions ontop of each other, often to the point they couldn't actually happen simultaneously.

>as she gave herself up to the pull of the earth, letting it take her where it would... yet confident of her capacity to determine her own fate, as the air currents brushed lightly upon the soles of her outstretched hooves//

And this is in the next paragraph. You're definitely abusing the "as" clauses and participial phrases. I did a Ctrl-f on " as " (including the spaces to make sure I got it as a single word), and you have 58 of them in this chapter. That's a lot of times to use this structure. Sure, not all of them are used in this sense, but try it yourself. Do a search on " as " and watch the screen light up. Also notice how they tend to occur in clusters

>filled the city, immense pines and firs, filled//

Watch that close repetition.

You're inconsistent at times how you format thought. You have it italicized in places, in single quotes in others, and sometimes only tagged with a thought attribution.

>brushing away a strand of reddish-brown mane/

Given it's her perspective, it seems odd for her to comment on her own hair color, unless it's different than what she's used to.

>evening, shimmering//

Extraneous space.

>“Oh, hello, sis!”//

When effectively used as names, family relations get capitalized, so it'd be "I went with Sis," but "I went with my sis."

>I am//

Extraneous space.

>And really, sis//

Capitalization.

>One of them, one with a pure white coat//

Redundant use of "one."

>but on second thoughts//

I've only ever seen that phrased as singular.

>W-ho?//

I have no idea how that's supposed to sound. Do you actually have her pronouncing the "w"?

>satdown//

Typo.

>“Say,” Anna said//

Given her piece of dialogue, that's kind of a repetitive choice of speaking verb.

>“I…” Anna said, trailing off//

An ellipsis already means trailing off, so narrating such as well is redundant. The same would go for pointing out an interruption or cutoff when you'd used a dash.

>Twas’//

Why is that apostrophe there? What missing letters would come there?

>Luna, the dark-coated one//

>the white-coated child, Celestia//
As long as they've been in the story already, you don't need to keep specifying which one is which.

>in askance//

I've never seen anyone use "in" with that word.

>old, greying mare//

I get the picture. At every opportunity, you tell me she's old. It's gone past repetitive and into grating.

>Her sister flashed a look of concern//

You're doing this an awful lot in this chapter: outright telling me how characters feel. This has the effect of being more abstract and thus less relatable. The point is to make the story lifelike, as if the reader were standing there witnessing it. So how can you tell someone's concerned? It's not something you can observe directly. It's something you interpret from how the person acts and looks. So how do people behave such that you would deduce they were concerned? Have her do those things. It's like the difference between saying someone was happy and saying they smiled. One just feeds me an abstract conclusion, while the other gets me to see the evidence and draw my own conclusion, just like I would with a real person.

>a look of sadness//

I've been glossing over lots of these, but I want to point out the four main ways authors get too blunt with emotion: saying it as a noun (his sadness), adjective (he was happy), adverb (he grinned excitedly), or putting it in a prepositional phrase (sighed in relief). You're mostly doing that last one, and it's the most extraneous kind, since it almost always is redundant with information already in the sentence. The excerpt I've made here isn't redundant, but it's still a far too blunt way of communicating sadness.

>How could I forget your fondness for these, sister//

Capitalization.

>miss, if/

Extraneous space.

>‘smack!’//

Putting sound effects in the narration like this tends not to work with serious stories. They belong more in comedies or children's stories.

>journey."//

You must have done your editing in more than one place. You mostly use fancy-style quotation marks, but you have simple ones here. I haven't been paying attention, so I don't know if you have simple ones elsewhere, but you should sweep the story to make them consistent.

>stacked with, she gasped, a few slices of chocolate cake//

That's really strange to punctuate that aside with commas. It reads like you're trying to make it a speech attribution. It'd do much better with dashes.

>freshly-grown//

Two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb don't take hyphens, since none of the hierarchy of what modifies what is ambiguous.

>looked over them, a kind look//

Watch the repetition.

>What ith us around//

Typo.

>as light//

Extraneous space. You should probably do a search for double spaces to make sure you catch all these.

>In all honesty, cousin//

Capitalization.

And now that we've gotten yet another character introduced, namely Platinum, I'll say that several of your characters tend to run together. Anna and Elsa don't have very distinctive personalities. We don't know too much about them yet, but personality also comes through character voice, and their dialogue sounds so similar that I wouldn't be able to tell them apart without speech tags saying who was speaking. Adding in that limited narration reflects personality as well, I've now got Lilja, Anna, Elsa, and Platinum who all lack distinctive voices. Sint didn't speak too much, so it's hard to gauge him yet, and Firefly was unique, but the rest aren't very distinguishable. What can you do o give them little quirks and mannerisms? Play them off each other, have each react to these quirks to highlight them in the reader's eye. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but ideally, you would only have to tag dialogue for each character once, and their voices would stand out so much that it would never be in question which one was speaking. I realize they're all royals so far, which at least explains why they all use a formal tone, but they all use the identical formal tone.

>newly-tailored//

No hyphen/

>red-blue-and-yellow//

red, blue, and yellow

>a symbol of the future that awaits Equestria//

Not sure why you broke from past tense here.

>paused - with a knowing smirk//

Use a dash.

Sledge115 2674

>>2671
Hey, mate, thanks for the time taken to review my story.

First off, I've always had the nagging feeling of repetition in my writings, but until now I didn't realise it was the repeated use of 'as'!

Massive thanks for the character voices tips, I suppose it's something rather noticeable now that I'm going through all of the bits of dialogue.

Overall, though, the problem I'm having with character voices lies in the fact that I'm struggling to balance the formal, royal tones with their characterisations. Anna, for example, is much like her namesake, except a tad bit more formal, and there the line sort of blurs between formal and casual and of course, avoiding anachronisms.

The email mentioned back from Mars. Do I try to resubmit it as 'back from mars'?

At the end of it, I cannot state enough how thankful I am for the feedback. Cheers!

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2677

>>2674
Yes, one of the pull-down menus on the submission form is whether the story is a new or returning submission, and one of the choices has language about it being back from Mars. Use that one, as it helps flag it as something that's largely problem-free, and it won't require as much scrutiny.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2678

>every Hearth’s Warming with my grandparents, on the Northern coast. We would take the ferry to get there, which traveled up and down the coast every day. But the ferry left our hometown at 4 AM. So every//
Watch the repetition. It's possible you're doing this deliberately to create an effect, but it doesn't feel like it. You have three uses of "every" in just four sentences.

>me and my older sister//

At her age, and the formality implied by having her write this for an audience, I think she'd know to say "my older sister and I."

>dad wouldn’t hear of it//

When you essentially use a family relation as a name, capitalize it. So, for example, it'd be "there's Mom" but "there's my mom."

>house on the coast was a big, beautiful house//

Watch the repetition.

>And every year when we came to visit//

Normally, you'll want to set off a dependent clause like this with a comma.

>mane almost like a lion’s mane//

>endured us with feline grace, such as a long-suffering monarch of the forest might endure//
Some individual instances would be fine, but in the aggregate, you don't want this much repetition showing up in your story.

>Anypony else who tried it would feel her displeasure.//

It's very vague what this means. I assume you mean the cat's displeasure and not the granny's, but even so, how do you feel that? The cat just was restless? Or she'd attack you?

>Not that I had ever noticed before//

And this is the 3rd paragraph in a row to use "notice."

>But on this day when my granny’s cat was gone//

Another spot where you need a comma to set off a dependent clause.

>or if they were there because now that my granny’s cat was gone that meant it was finally safe for the rest of them to come out//

Hm. Especially since we've been set up for this as a Nightmare Night story, I wonder if it wouldn't occur to her the cats might be there to threaten whoever had the old cat put to sleep. May it'll play out that way...

>I pushed the paper aside, and turned to look out the window at Ponyville in autumn.//

This is the opposite issue. You've done this several times now, but it was justified. This one doesn't feel that way, though. It's all a single clause—the same subject does both verbs—so it doesn't need a comma.

>The next morning I left my sister’s house, and locked the front door behind me.//

No comma needed.

>I would never tell her that, but…//

This is far more a speech affectation. People trail off as they speak, and it requires no extra effort. It does take a deliberate effort to put an ellipsis on the page, though, and you're representing this as something she's written, not something she's narrating. So really consider if it adds something to have this and if it's really reasonable for her to do this. It's one of those things that often doesn't work in stories that are supposed to be journals or letters or other articles of writing. Another is dialogue. By the time people write something down, there's no way they could remember entire conversations word for word enough to present them as quotations. A few lines that stuck in their mind, sure, which is why you're still fine here, since you've had very little dialogue, still well within what she could remember reasonably. Though because of the manner she's writing this, I could see her hamming it up a bit in a way she wouldn't with something more limited in audience.

>fit in//

This is really going to depend on how you envision this writing. If she's published it as a book, then italics are fine here. I kind of get the sense that's what this is supposed to be. But if you intend this to be handwritten, I think italics don't work. How would you differentiate them from normal font? One's printed and one's cursive? When people want to emphasize something handwritten, they more typically underline it, darken it (essentially bold font), or write it in all caps. So just go with whatever works for the delivery medium you envision here.

Okay, you're getting into an awful lot of dialogue in this scene. I assume this isn't "live," but still something she's written. If she means it as a story, that's fine, but if she's writing it up as a formal account of what happened to her, it's not coming across as authentic.

>one of a kind librarian//

You're using "one of a kind" as a single modifier right in front of what it describes, so hyphenate it.

>Hi, Sweetie Belle!//

Compare this to a few paragraphs back where you had: "Hi Sweetie!" It's a quick enough instance that I won't grumble too much about using the comma for direct address, but since you're willing to, you might as well in both places.

>Belle!” She said//

Capitalization.

>And yet, only ponies have cutie marks.//

It's rare for a comma to be justified after a conjunction. You don't need this one.

>Twilight cast a spell and the map on her table came to life.//

Needs a comma.

>entire planet, along with the sun and the moon. The entire//

Watch the repetition.

>Me and my friends spent so many hours in that wood//

Again, I think she's old enough to know that should be "my friends and I."

>And yes, that includes cats. But there’s a difference there.//

You have a bunch of single-line paragraphs here, and there's no dialogue or quick action. Such things are usually reserved for special emphasis, but when everything is emphasized, effectively nothing is. It suggests you're probably not giving enough description or aren't organizing things very well.

>Cats, I think we can all agree, have destiny in spades.//

Where's this coming from? I don't see her justification for saying it, much less her assurance that I'll agree.

>and when she smiled//

Needs a comma after the dependent clause.

>Hi Fluttershy//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>“Oh, no. I was just going out to do a little weeding. Hold on.” She turned and poked her head behind the door. “It’s just Sweetie Belle! I’ll be just a minute.”//

"Just" is a word many authors tend to overuse. You have three of them in this short excerpt. You have 42 total in the story, which is fairly high for this length a story. It's not awful, but like many authors, it's not only the raw total, but that they occur in clumps. If you do a Ctrl-f for it, look how they get clustered, so even if it's not too repetitive over the whole story, it still is locally.

>Her face lit up with a huge grin and her eyes seemed to shimmer.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>a rare moment of anger//

>a little cry of frustration//
It's usually best to demonstrate emotion than inform of it, unless it's a fleeting thing that doesn't matter much to the story. This is one of the worst kinds, where you have an "in/with/of mood" phrasing, because it's almost always redundant with a behavior already mentioned. In any case, think about how you would know a stranger you saw in public was angry or frustrated. When the reader has to interpret the same cues he would in real life to deduce an answer, it comes across as much more authentic.

>Fluttershy nodded excitedly.//

>Fluttershy continued happily.//
And using these emotion adverbs has the same effect.

>There were hoofsteps and Discord appeared in the doorway himself.//

Needs a comma.

>possibly-former//

You don't need to hyphenate two-word phrases beginning in an -ly adverb. There's no ambiguity in the modifiers.

>thank you my dear//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>As I left Carousel Boutique//

Set off this dependent clause with a comma.

>cats, unlike ponies, never have any doubts about who and what they are//

Hm. Surely not all ponies have doubts. I have to think there are some who are convinced from an early age what their talent will be, and they turn out to be right.

>A very old mare opened the door and peered out at me.//

Watch the repetition. This is the 4th straight sentence with a "... and ..." structure.

>a cat jumped up and laid down across her lap//

Lay/lie confusion. You usually get these verbs right, which is no small feat.

>see it from their point of view, I could see//

Watch the repetition.

>nooks and crannies to hide and chase//

That phrasing is off. How do you hide a nook? Or chase a cranny?

>looking ahead to her own inevitability//

How would Sweetie Belle know this before Goldie even spoke? She's reading Goldie's mind. But it's also over-explaining what the dialogue says anyway.

>scrap book//

That's one word.

>Leaving the book on her lap//

You'll normally set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>She closed the book shut//

How else would you close it?

>aint//

Missing apostrophe.

>miss… Bell//

Since she's attaching it to a name, "Miss" would be capitalized.

>everypony had adorned their masks and costumes to become something else//

I think you meant something closed to donned. Adorned means they decorated their masks.

>who don’t yet know//

Not sure why you went to present tense here, as the rest of her action is past tense.

>Tonight was the night the monsters walk among us as our friends, and everypony gets to look into the darkness and see themselves there, reflected as in a mirror.//

You're mixing tenses again. That story at large is in past, and while it's okay to make a present-tense statement to represent an ongoing condition that's still true, you'd have to make the whole statement present tense. And this doesn't feel like a situation that warrants such.

>you’d be surprised at how many of those there were, unless of course you knew my sister//

I just wanted to tag this, because it ties into a comment I made early on about whether this is supposed to feel like something she's written or if it's supposed to be a standard narration. In standard narration, it's a bad idea to address the reader, unless you're going to do so consistently throughout the story and establish why it's being done that way. And having this as something she's written would establish it, so that'd explain why she's doing so, if that's what you intended. I'll come back to this at the end.

>and when I turned and looked at her//

Needs a comma here.

>I didn’t want them to put you to sleep as well just because my sister wasn’t here to take care of you.//

I didn't get this sense, though. You wouldn't put a cat to sleep just for that. It seemed more like the prior cat was put to sleep because it wouldn't tolerate anyone else, to the point it'd get violent, so nobody else could take care of it. Opal's not that way. She's not hostile toward everyone, particularly Fluttershy. So putting Opal to sleep wouldn't be the only option. I'm surprised it even came up as a possibility. Or maybe it didn't come up, but then why mention it now? The way it's phrased, it sure sounds like it had been discussed.

>great-grand-children//

great-grandchildren

>She turned back to me and the emotions in her eyes were pony emotions.//

Needs a comma, but this is just a strange sentence. It's awkwardly phrased, and it's infuriatingly vague. There are reasons for emotions that may be more attributable to sentient creatures, but the same emotions exist.

>she said quietly//

Your last dialogue tag was "she said softly," which is fairly repetitive, plus you have a lot of paragraphs lately that begin with "dialogue," she said.

>I hesitated, and nodded.//

No comma.

>but, I must be going//

Another comma after a conjunction that shouldn't be there.

Okay, at the end. I liked the story. But I'm still not sure what you want it to be. Take the bit that even precedes the story:

"A Nightmare Night Tail"

The cutesy pun tells me that it's supposed to be fluffy. Fair enough. Your choice of specifically linking it to Nightmare Night versus just having it happen to take place then sure makes it sound like you mean it to be spooky, but the use of "tail" immediately disarms that. You're sending mixed signals, but that's a minor thing. Now the biggie:

"by Sweetie Belle"

This one threw me for a loop. As I said before, there are only certain scenes that actually read as if this is an account meant to inform. She would have written it long after the conversations would have occurred, yet she presents them as quoted dialogue, and that just isn't plausible. On the other hand, if she meant this more as a bit of entertainment with some insight, like an essay she might submit to a magazine, for instance, that's more excusable, since she's just trying to reconstruct it as best she can. Some authors might even explicitly have her say it's her best recollection and not necessarily an exact account.

That just adds to an overall feel of inconsistency. She addresses the reader in some places but not in others, which makes her waver on whether she has an expected audience and who that audience might be. Then we have Goldie Delicious, Discord, and Fluttershy acting evasive and appearing to know more than they let on, as if this is some great secret. It's unclear whether Goldie and Fluttershy actually know, maybe just that they suspect there's a larger truth they can't quite grasp, but Discord knows. More to the point, all three of them act like this is more than a simple secret, that it's something they're reluctant to let her know. I never got a picture of why that might be, because Sweetie Belle sure didn't treat it as any sort of forbidden knowledge once she found out. To wit, she's writing it up for anyone to read. Don't the cats care if this becomes public?

Getting back to that subtitle, having it be so generic-sounding doesn't mesh with her revealing some great truth. It kind of reduces it all to a banality, but I can't believe she'd use her own dead sister so flippantly in a spooky story, so I'm left thinking she wrote it in earnest. Yet she doesn't quite make a point out of it. Knowing cats have these abilities and philosophies is one thing, but the very emotional event of seeing her sister one more time is at best tangential to that, and yet that's the big splash that's begging to carry the story's message. So the message gets a bit muddled. Here's where I'm at a bit of a loss. I wouldn't advocate excising that powerful moment, but how to tie it back in with the theme? Maybe just before Rarity smiles back, have a brief epiphany where Sweetie Belle gets the full impact of how the cats not only serve as guardians of life, but ushers to the rest that comes after, and she picks up her new little guardian with a feeling that as long as the cat is around, she'll share an unbreakable connection with Rarity until she sees her again for good. Maybe. I'm just spitballing here, but keeping the story's theme focused and coherent like that will strengthen what it's saying.

I see at least one commenter complaining that the prose style changed from beginning to end, and I see what he's talking about, though I wouldn't necessarily call it a problem. The early story has more of the non-dialogue scenes, and you're more descriptive in those. In contrast, the last scene has fairly terse narration. It's fine for narrative tone to change as suits the mood, but part of that is also going to be tied in to how I'm to take the story. As something written after the fact for a literary audience, I'd think she'd keep up a more consistent tone throughout, since she's had plenty of time to organize her thoughts before writing it, and she'd be in a more stable mindset. If, however, I'm to take the narrative scenes as what she's written and the conversational scenes as "live" or flashbacks (which, related to what I said about the plausibility of quoted dialogue, are more typically how such a thing would be presented), then it's really only the written scenes that need a consistent tone, which they already have. The conversational ones would actually occur over larger skips in time, not just the few evenings it took her to pen the account, plus it would put her in the moment of the emotions involved, making a tonal shift more authentic.

Honestly, I think removing the subtitle and author credit would solve almost all of the problems. What difference would it make if we're to see this as a standard narrative than as a document? A little less unusual format, sure, but it doesn't change the meaning of any of it, and it divests you of a lot of the incongruities in format I've been talking about. The only additional thing to turn it back into a regular story is to reword the few places you address the reader.

When you have Sweetie Belle actually writing something, then we have to question her motivation. Why does she want to write it? What does that accomplish? I don't get a sense of that. As a normal story, it's enough to say these events happen and leave the reader to derive meaning from it (and it's perfectly fine for that to still be in first person), but for her to commit it to paper shows that she thinks there's something in there that other ponies should learn from it, yet she never says anything of the sort. It lacks the kind of conclusion that would make it authentic as a character-authored piece, because it's a lot of trouble to write all this out if she has no purpose in doing it. Yet she never expresses a purpose. Plus it gets back to my point about why she thinks it's okay to reveal what she learned when everyone else acted as if it wasn't okay. Even Discord warned her about it, then she called him dangerous, which never turned into anything. That was kind of a Chekhov's Gun to set up tension there that subsequently went absent.

To be frank, this almost works as a standard story, but if you really want it to be something Sweetie Belle's written, it needs more thought put into how it's being presented, both with how much of it is supposed to actually be her writing and whether she's doing this as a bit of persuasive writing or just something with entertainment value, not to mention making it clear which of those attitudes she holds. I enjoyed it, and I'd like to see it succeed. If you have any questions, please ask, either here or through the email thread.


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