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


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:

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.

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:
643 posts and 4 image replies omitted. Click View to see all.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2825

>Perhaps she had gone too far//
You've jumped perspective again. There's a short discussion of head hopping at the top of this thread.

>Twilight brought a hoof to her face//

Missing a line break.


Not sure why that's capitalized.

>back to Spike and dropping her voice back//

Watch the close word repetition.

>gave a hearty chuckle and his guardian’s colorful imagination//


>as she looked back at him, shaking her head as her ears folded back//

It's pretty clunky to have two "as" clauses in one sentence. In addition to the repetition, it muddles up the chronology, as it tries to synchronize lots of things.

>she certainly had a flare for the dramatic//


>there was a mare that//

Use "who."

This is a really cumbersome passage where Dash evaluates all her friends. It's largely irrelevant, and it goes on awfully long. It's hard to keep a tangent interesting.

>air density//

Why would she bother with that? You have to be going a few hundred miles per hour before it's worth accounting for density variations.

>The Unicorn//

Why are you capitalizing "unicorn"?

>the pegasus//

Another strangely external reference.

>a truncated “Whoa-!”//

When you put "a" in front of a quote like that, it makes it generic and not an actual quote. Thus you don't need to lead into it with a comma, which you got correct, but you don't need to capitalize it either. And it's redundant to call it truncated when you're also using a dash.

>The populace of this city//

You just used "populace" a paragraph ago.

>protected and incentivized it’s citizens//

Its/it's confusion.

>She grit her teeth.//

The past tense is "gritted."

>The only plausible answer that Tempest could see, was that Luna had somehow been enthralled by some magical device or stratagem//

No reason to have that comma.

>the one pony that//


So after getting a long ramble from Dash, now there's a long ramble from Tempest. I don't get why she's heading to the library when she's already concluded she can't trust anything she finds there. And why doesn't it occur to her to see what the batponies have to say about any of it?

>it’s patterns and movements//

Its/it's confusion again. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes, like hers, yours, and theirs.

>your highness//

Honorifics like this should be capitalized.

>humming to herself, while Twilight turned back to her breakfast groaning to herself//

Repetitive phrasing.

>Twilight lit up her own horn as she straightened the bathrobe she was wearing once again, cringing as she remembered entering the dining room only minutes ago.//

Two "as" clauses in a single sentence. And the previous one had another.

>the Castle’s//

Why is that capitalized?

>scrunched up muzzles//

scrunched-up muzzles

>Relieved that she successfully diverted attention away from her tail//

Don't over-explain things like this.

>If we don’t, win this time//

Why is that comma there?

>Without looking up, she chimed in//

>She rolled her eyes, doing air quotes with her hooves//
Missing punctuation.

>Spike sprayed tea out his nose with//

With what?


Not sure why you randomly capitalize races in some spots and not others.

>turned back to assistant//

Missing word.

>shouted “MAIL’S HERE!”//

That is a direct quote, so you need a comma.

>muttering, “and//


Now we're back to the shipping plot. I hope there will be a point to it sometime. It's odd to pop over to a generic romance when there's no established connection to the main plot. Not that it can't work as a subplot, but there's no preamble to it. It's just suddenly dropped on us that Dash is in love with Rarity, but we just have to take the story's word for it. If you want this plot to be engaging (aside from the readers who like all shipping no matter what), it takes building it up to make the romance believable. What does Dash like about Rarity? What does she think each of them would give and take from a relationship? Aragon has a series of blog posts linked from his homepage that discuss how to build an authentic romance. They're worth reading.


Needs an apostrophe or another letter.

>I am happy to hear whatever it is you have to say; whatever it is you want to ask!//

Misused semicolon.

>Rarity’s brows knitted//

Unless you're talking about sewing, the more standard past tense is "knit."

>Her friend was obviously beating around the bush so hard, there wasn’t much of a bush left.//

Now you've abruptly switched to Rarity's perspective.

>Rares!” She insisted//

>YEAH!” She near-shouted//

>Let me guess: A strapping and muscular earth pony?//

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

>bringing her hooves together beneath her chin and fluttered her eyelashes//

The verb forms don't match.


Spell it out.

>I suppose I’ll have to keep you in a moat or something//

Missing end punctuation.

>now sweating dragon//

now-sweating dragon


I have to think you meant aviation. This term refers to the electronics. In fact, it's a portmanteau of aviation electronics.


That's not one word.

>“Yeah, just like you followed the instructions and “burned the water” while trying your hoof at spaghetti, eh Twi?//

Missing your closing quotes, and when you have nested quotations, alternate double and single quotation marks with each nesting level.

>exclaiming, “that//


>Why are you trying to get away from Rarity, did you just escape from a dress fitting that went terribly wrong?//

Comma splice.

So I'm 15k words into the story now, and a significant chunk of it is spent on Rainbow's love interest, Spike's growth, and Twilight's tail, none of which yet have any apparent relation to the story the synopsis promises. We only got one short scene of that in the entire second chapter. You can only string along readers for so long before they're going to want to know what relevance any of this has. I'll press on, but if I were reading this purely for pleasure, this is about the point I'd drop out.

>you see darling//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>free of charge!.//

Extraneous punctuation.

>Rarities left flank//

You have a plural where you need a possessive.

>Her eyes darted away, considering her response.//

This says her eyes considered her response.

>was the Elements of Harmony//

Number mismatch.

>now apparently now//


>Sister’s Castle//

Shouldn't that possessive be plural? And the canon name is Castle of the Two Sisters, unless you're saying that changed over time.

>upon the Lunar Princess upon//

Kind of repetitive.

>She the silent unicorn again//

Missing word.

>er sister, and now… her niece?

This is Tempest's reminiscence. Why is it taking on Celestia's perspective?

>Now, the geas had broken//

How'd that happen? Seems like an important even worth describing.

>hoof-written note she had received last night. It was hoof written//



That's a proper noun.

>ear to ear smile//

ear-to-ear smile


earth pony

>leaning her head in conspiratorially//

Set off the participial phrase with a comma.

>leaning her head in conspiratorially//


>looking mare looked//


>Corner-” she leaned back again in a normal voice “my//

Missing a dash.

>returned to her stage whisper//

Missing punctuation.

>Master of Ceremonies Mode//

I don't get why that's italicized.

So now there's yet another plot going on that has no apparent relation to any of the others? That brings the total to four. It's like reading four separate stories, not one story with multiple subplots.

Going into chapter 4 now. Well, chapter 3 part 2. But I'm going to cut back on what I note now, because I don't need to keep saying the same things over and over. If I've already noted something multiple times, assume you need to scan the whole story for it.

>Applejack stumbled backwards in surprise//

Missing a line break.

>Pinkies ears and mane//

Missing apostrophe.

>barrel.“Trust me!

Missing space.

>anypony that could fill that roll//


>butter yellow pegasus//

That's one of the most cliched descriptions in the fandom.

And for a chapter that promised to continue your fourth subplot, a fifth one has popped up. Honestly, this feels like an anthology of unrelated stories more so than a single coherent one.

>paying if forward//


>‘body’” Discord muttered.//

Missing punctuation.

>I thought the bluebelles’ color added a nice compliment.//

Unless they have nice things to say, you want "complement."

>Feeling curious, Moonlight’s eyes//

This says that her eyes felt curious.

>Manehattan Times//

Magazine titles get italicized, too.

>reaching orangish red glow//

Missing word.


Apple Bloom

>don’t know my away//




>she excitedly agreed represent//

Missing word.

>yelled “we//

>growling “how//

>shouting “FOOOOD//


>to…” At this point, Rarity trailed off//

The ellipsis already tells me she trailed off.

>Spike’s jaw fell open, his arms quickly went slack by his sides.//

Comma splice.

>Leeeeeroooyy Jennnkinnns//

Meme humor is a good way to make sure your story doesn't age well. And this is already a very old joke.

>exclaiming “Thank//


>pegusi// (you get this one wrong several times)


>The greatest loss however was that of Cloudchaser, and she had steadily been losing to Team Pink’s air superiority ever since.//

It's been so long since you mentioned Granny, and a lot of other females have come up, that it's very ambiguous who "she" is here.


This is a type of law. You want "ordnance."


Missing an apostrophe, when it's short for "because."

>a “Ooh-Rah!”//


>Staff sergeant Octavia//

>colonel Smith//
When put on a name or used as a term of address, ranks get capitalized.

>I won’t let you down, Ma’am.//

"Ma'a," wouldn't be capitalized.

>General Rarity//

She just showed up and hadn't been a party to the action. How is Granny Smith already identifying her as a general. particularly when she only has 2 followers?




Scootaloo's female, so protégée.


No reason to hyphenate that.



So it should be obvious what mechanical and stylistic things need work. Basically anything I had to point out repeatedly, and again, I just marked some examples, not every instance, so there are still plenty for you to find. The biggest ones were repetition and how the perspective constantly wavers. Changing perspective over scene breaks is fine, but shifting it within a scene takes some finesse to accomplish. You don't want to jerk the reader around to various characters' heads, and while within a perspective pay attention to whether the narration fits how that character would say or perceive something.

But the overall issue, like I said earlier, is that this feels like a collection of unrelated stories instead of anything coherent. There are some weak ties, like how Rarity and Rainbow Dash strode into the food fight after coming in from their shipping plot, but the shipping has no bearing on the food fight, so there's no tie-in; what happens in the dating plot doesn't matter to what happens in the food fight. Furthermore, the story only advertises that it's going to be about this Tempest adventure plot, but so far, we see precious little of it. It's only been a small part of any chapter, and seemingly diminishes more with each successive one. I think I saw only one scene of her in every chapter, and in the last few, they were very short scenes. Nothing of consequence has happened in any of them, and at 33k words in, you're stringing the reader on an awful lot with the hope that all these subplots are going to start influencing each other, and that Tempest's plot will start going somewhere.

Each of the subplots is fine on its own and could make for a cute story. They're not badly written either. But in the assembly, they don't make a whole, at least not that's evident so far, and it's a lot to ask a reader to hang on for that. I usually don't pay any attention to a story's voting ratio or number of views, since they can be misleading about quality, but they can be illustrative at times. And you have a huge drop-off in views at chapter 4. I think this is why. It's not clear the story is going anywhere. A drop-off is normal, but most quality stories retain about 1/3-1/2 of readers through the final chapter, but you're already down to 1/2 by chapter 3 and 1/4 by chapter 5. It's not that we care how many views a story will get, and there can be good reasons why quality stories wouldn't get many, but I think they're telling you something in this case.

reply to feedback 2826

Thank you for your detailed input. I relish feedback like this, because I want to get it right, and improve. I will fix the perspective changes, and I will give Tempest a more balanced follow and conflict in the early going. The subplots have their uses, but I see your point. I am heading out on a cruise to Alaska tomorrow, and in my downtime, will peck away at these fixes. I guess I will flag you when I am done, unless there is a better way to notify that it is ready for review again... Thanks, mate!

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2839

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 assume your synopsis is supposed to be formatted as multiple paragraphs, but you don't have indentations or line breaks between any of them.

Right away, you have a stagnant feel to your story. This is why: Over your first eight paragraphs, which is how much of the beginning fits on one screen for me, you have 7 instances of "was" and 2 each of "be" and "being." So, 11 "to be" verbs in 8 paragraphs. This is a very boring verb, as nothing happens. It's very possible to rephrase a lot of that with active verbs. You don't have to get rid of them altogether, but reduce them where you can, especially at the beginning, where you want to create a feeling of action. For instance, what does it harm to rephrase "being able to help ponies who needed assistance" as "helping ponies who needed assistance"?

>Wha made Celestia sick//


>A tiny smile curled Celestia's lips and she sat up in her bed//

Most times, you'll use a comma with a conjunction when it separates clauses (where each subject gets its own verb: smile curled, and she sat). Conversely, you normally won't use a comma when it's one subject performing both verbs or two subjects performing the same verb.

>if her loyal subjects saw their princess taking a day off they would naturally feel justified in doing the same//

And along those lines, you need a comma in there.

>When her sister Luna was young, she used to try to shirk her duties//

It's not clear which of them "she" refers to here.

>... And//

Don't leave a space after an ellipsis when it starts a sentence.

>Luna would come to her bedchambers to check on her and she could pretend to be sick//

Needs a comma. I trust you get the picture on this by now. I'm not going to keep marking them.

>(long story)//

This is really intrusive, and I'll tell you why. It implies that she's actively telling the story to an audience, yet you haven't defined any such audience. Until now, it was the standard type of narration that doesn't address anyone in particular, but this makes the narration very self-aware that it's talking to the reader. Coupled with the limited narration you're using, that means Celestia is aware she has a reader (or listener), yet we don't know who that is or what her motivation is to tell them. It's the kind of thing that belongs in a frame story, like if you'd started by having her invite the reader (or some other explicit audience) to sit down and listen to her tale, but it doesn't belong in a standard narration.

>The alicorn//

We term these types of references Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, or LUS, and they have their uses, but you have to think about whether they're appropriate. Because of the limited narrator you're using, the narration is Celestia's stream of thought. So you have Celestia choosing to refer to her own sister as "the alicorn." Besides being vague as to which one of them this means, it's just not something people do. Would you refer to your father in your own thoughts as "the human"? It just doesn't work. People refer to others they know mostly by name or pronoun, but the two kinds of LUS that work in limited narration are 1) when the perspective character doesn't know who it is, so such a descriptor is the only option they have for a reference, or 2) a descriptor that defines their relationship, since people do think in terms of those. So something like "her sister" can work for these characters (except that you immediately use that one next in the sentence, so don't repeat it that close together).

>Celestia had to suppress a sort of laughter.//

I assume you meant snort.

>fine - she//

Please use a proper dash for cutoffs and asides. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread. There are also brief guides for LUS and comma usage with conjunctions, since I already touched on those topics. There's one in the synopsis as well.

>since she'd carried out her clever plan, and since//

Watch the repetitive word use.

>Celestia stamped her hoof//

You just had a guard do that a few paragraphs ago.

>she hadn't been asked to come and settle a single petty dispute all day//

I don't follow. Luna would only bother her if she felt she wasn't up to the task. That doesn't mean she actually is up to the task, so the fact that nobody's interrupted her doesn't guarantee Luna's doing a good job.

>Perfect for organizing.//

She already concluded this:
>This place really needs some organization.//

>she suddenly realized how untidy it was.//

And now she's going over this a third time?

>Her books were strewn all over the floor, her kitchen walls were splotched with stains and streaks of unidentifiable substances, and her desk was covered with heaps of disorganized papers.//

I don't see what the passive voice accomplishes here, and it's costing you "to be" verbs. Say you wrote "Her books lay scattered all over the floor" for the first part and used similarly active phrasing for the rest. It has a lot more energy that way.

>She felt appalled that she had existed in these conditions for so long without even noticing.//

You've been pretty good about this so far, but it's bland to just say she's feeling a strong emotion. The limited narration should give me direct access to her thoughts on it, not just in the word choice, but the tone. Write it as something she might say out loud. Something like: "How could she have existed in these conditions for so long?"

>So her next activity was to be organizing, then.//

And a fourth time. It's like you're desperately afraid the reader won't pick up on this.

>sitting neatly in the very back of the drawer, sat//

Repetitive choice of verbs there.

>Rainbow Dash.//

About time we got to this. You've spent nearly a quarter of the story on a plotline that's pretty irrelevant and not at all indicated by the synopsis. If you cut everything up to now and simply replaced it with "Celestia was looking to de-clutter her room," what would really be lost? We'll see if the sickness element ends up being important, but I'm guessing it won't.

>Oh, she hadn't thought about these for a long, long time...//

Based on the synopsis, she got the last one less than a year ago, which isn't exactly a long, long time.

Now that you're having Celestia go through an exhaustive description of Rainbow Dash, you're getting really heavy on the "to be " verbs again.

>but also to be able to understand the more contradictory aspects of her personality//

Why is Dash the only one she asked? Celestia found them all intriguing, and I'd argue Rarity is the character who has the most self-contradictory traits. You have kind of a thin excuse for choosing Dash, except that it's necessary for the plot. Delve into what catches Celestia's interest.

>Okay, ummmmmm...//

Keep in mind this is something she's written, not spoken. Yet you have a distinctly speech-related affectation here. Actually inscribing three dots on the page is a far more deliberate thing than trailing off while speaking. You don't really see it in formal letters, just ones where someone's trying to be cutesy.

>(but I'm not going to make a habit of it!)//

Because the exclamation mark is inside the parentheses, you never really gave the sentence end punctuation. So stick a period or something after this.

>crinkles engrained in the paper//

How did they ever get crinkled? Didn't she fold them back up before storing them? Or did she just unceremoniously jam them in the drawer?

>next letter//

>next few letters//
Kind of repetitive.

>Dear Princess//

Needs a comma or colon, and why didn't Dash have a closing on this letter?

>Oh, horsefeathers. I forgot. Sorry.//

Here's another affectation that doesn't work with letters. Keep in mind what I said about the ellipsis before. If Dash feels like she messed this up, then why not get a clean sheet of paper and start over? The fact that she sent these errors means she wanted Celstia to see them, or at least didn't mind if she saw. It certainly doesn't feel like a foot-in-the-mouth thing where she has to hastily correct herself and hope Celestia doesn't care or notice. What works for spoken dialogue doesn't necessarily work for articles of writing, and you're losing the sense of authenticity these letters have when you do something that real letter-writers wouldn't.

>She's my best friend.//

I'd kind of like to see more justification of this. She's known Fluttershy the longest, and she hangs out with Pinkie a lot, too. I don't know that there's clear canon evidence these two are best friends. Not that you can't come up with a case for it, but you haven't done so. You just want me to take your word for it. Building up a past for them is similar to building up a romance (which, incidentally, you're also trying to do). Maybe you'll do this later on, but I'll go ahead and say that one of the best ways to do this, short of taking me through flashback scenes, is to work by anecdote. Have her give me a few one- or two-sentence blurbs about good times they've had together.

>Next, she'd felt... pride.//

Just naming her emotions isn't going to be very engaging. You want the reader feeling them along with her, so it's better to demonstrate them. Give me imagery of how they make her feel, physical sensations, evocative word choice and phrasing.

>already knowing what it said but eager to read it again anyway; to share once more in the happiness of her most loyal subject.//

You should be able to replace a semicolon with a period and have both sentences stand as complete, but what comes after it here couldn't. A comma or dash would work fine.


Leave a space after the ellipsis.

>She kissed me.//

This is very cliched, that once a secret crush is revealed, it is immediately reciprocated.

>Earth Pony//

Why'd you capitalize that? You didn't with "pegasus."

>All of a sudden//

Really consider whether it's necessary to say something is sudden. If you write it well, it'll come across as sudden anyway. Assuring the reader it is sudden is like promising a joke is funny. If you have to say so, it probably isn't.

>Luna smiled to herself; Tia was such a horrible faker.//

You've skipped over to Luna's perspective for a single sentence. I wouldn't advise shifting it anyway, but if it's necessary, then it's certainly worth staying there longer. There's a section on head hopping at the top of this thread that explains why it's a bad idea to jerk the perspective around abruptly. You go back and forth every paragraph or two around here.

>She just wanted to get back to reading those letters!//

Why can't she read letters while feeling ill? I don't see why they're mutually exclusive. She can still act sick while reading them. It's not like that's going to make Luna any more or less suspicious.

>All thoughts of organizing had long been forgotten.//

Remember your limited narration. Celestia essentially is the narrator. If she's forgotten, then so has the narrator. And if the narrator's forgotten, he can't know this to say it.

>Well, I did it. I asked Applejack out on a date.//

After admitting her love and kissing (and possibly more), asking her on a date is really a source of stress? That's tough to buy. Why would Applejack possibly turn her down at this point?

>Applejack can't fly//

She's been up there before, though. There are ways.

>As soon as I got to her house, it started to rain.//

She's on the weather crew. How would she not know this was scheduled? It's not hard to come up with a reason why, but you don't even attempt one, which begs the question.


I don't know what perspective this is, since Celestia wouldn't think this, but nobody else is there.

>(what? Princesses like to see their subjects get their happy endings)//

Once again, you're implying an audience you've never defined and that the narrative doesn't support.

>I'd only be allowed to go back to Ponyville for a few days a year. I'd never see Fluttershy, or Twilight, or Pinkie Pie, or Rarity.//

I'm assuming you wrote this before "Top Bolt" came out. That, or you're just ignoring it. It's also a cliched thing to do this "leaving town means never seeing any of her friends ever again." The Wonderbolts seem to have plenty of time for other pursuits, and Cloudsdale isn't that far from Ponyville anyway.

>how she'd adopted Scootaloo as her little sister//

If she's adopted, wouldn't that make her a daughter? That'd be the legal relationship.

>Earth pony and Pegasus//

You're inconsistent at how you capitalize races, and particularly for "earth pony," if you only capitalize the "earth," it makes it refer to our planet.


As in the tanned skin of dead sentient cows?

>This was actually due to an Earth pony custom//

Keep in mind Celestia's supposed to be reminiscing here. Isn't this the kind of thing she would have already known? It sounds like you're explaining it for the reader's benefit, not Celestia's.

>Once you put them on, you were never supposed to take them off unless you absolutely had to//

Kind of obtrusively addressing the reader here.

>Pegasi had a similar custom: They presented their partner with a single one of their wing feathers, which were then pressed onto a wedding band just like the Earth ponies'.//

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

>Sadly, Applejack didn't have wings//

That comes across as a value judgment that Applejack is somehow inferior.

>partially because there hadn't actually been a wedding between an Earth pony and a pegasus in centuries//

This really doesn't seem to be supported by canon either. It wasn't seen as shocking when Big Mac revealed his crush on Sugar Belle, a unicorn. The Cakes have both unicorns and pegasi in their family tree no more than a couple generations back. There really isn't that much romance to draw on from the show, but what's there doesn't suggest this, nor is it required for your plot to work. YMMV, and I won't make you change it, but it does seem odd, like it's adding pointless tension that doesn't lead anywhere.


Apple Bloom

Okay, I get why you're telling this whole wedding scene as an after-the-fact summary. Celestia's there reminiscing, and we get her memory of it. There's no dialogue, because Celestia wouldn't be able to remember it word for word well enough to present it as such. Too many authors don't get that. But a lot of the story's emotional context comes from this wedding scene, and it's emotionally detached when we get it all as narration, with nothing of it occurring "live," as you have it here. Plus it gets a little obtrusive how much you have to use past perfect tense. I think this would carry much more power as a flashback scene, where we'd be transported to the past and see it as it happens, complete with scenery, action, and dialogue.

>Shortly after the wrestling match the sun had set//

And Celestia's not going to remark on being the one to do it? You make it sound like it happened on its own.

>squeal of enthusiasm and a fervent embrace. The Cutie Mark Crusaders had danced together, bouncing up and down and squealing//

Watch that close repetition.

>Applejack herself had been called to play the fiddle//

Again, this is something I won't make you change, since there's no harm in adding to her repertoire, but in the show, she's seen playing a banjo and an acoustic guitar. It might mesh better if you used one of those.

>She has not heard one word from Rainbow Dash since then//

Why'd you switch to present tense?

>now she would never know//

This isn't true.

And of course right as Celestia is sad she hasn't received a letter in a year, another one comes in an act of utter plot convenience. There's an old principle of writing: it's fine to have a coincidence get you into trouble, but it's weak to have a coincidence get you out of trouble. Or to word it another way, coincidence is fine for causing problems but poor for resolving them.

>So that was why Rainbow Dash hadn't written in so long.//

Huh? I don't get it. Rainbow couldn't write anytime during the pregnancy? Why not? It's not like Celestia never makes it to Ponyville or sees the Elements. She would have noticed. There's no justification for why Celestia would just now be learning of this. Heck, this is very explicitly the question the synopsis asks, and we don't get a satisfactory answer.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2840

So, I will say that the writing wasn't bad, and the premise is cute. I don't mind indulging in a guilty pleasure and enjoying a fluffy romance. That said, it should be clear what the bigger problems were, but I'll sum them up.

The wedding scene is what really carries the emotional weight. Receiving the letter at the end is more the climax, but the wedding is what invests that one with it power, but it's hard to have a scene be emotionally engaging when we're getting a recap of it instead of the play-by-play account. I think a flashback would work better, and if you're concerned that having just the one flashback will make it feel out of place (for that matter, I don't think it would), you can put in a couple of short ones about Dash's interactions with Celestia. More on this in a moment.

You do a good job of demonstrating emotion instead of informing of it, at least when the stakes are low, but when emotions run high, you tend to tell me directly how characters feel. The purpose of the story is to make the reader feel like he's a witness to these events, and knowing that Celestia was sad is a conclusion, one that the reader can reach through proper evidence of it, and doing it that way feels more like real life. You have to interpret cues from other people's behavior to deduce how they feel most of the time, so doing it that way in writing as well can be more realistic.

I'm not going to rehash the specific events, but just note places where I felt things didn't mesh with the show very well. It'd help to make them conform better or do something to explain why they're different.

The subplot about Celestia feigning illness never goes anywhere, yet it takes up a significant portion of the beginning of the story. That's a lot of wasted verbiage, and the reader may well wonder if he's in the correct story, as it's not even hinted at in the synopsis.

In a couple of places, you seem to be addressing an audience, but none is ever established, implicitly or otherwise.

Dash does several things that real people just don't do in letters, and it harms the story's authenticity when they don't feel like real letters.

A number of cliches crop up. Not that cliches can't be written well, but it takes viewing them from an unusual angle, yet this story plays out like the majority of shipping stories on FiMFiction do. A confesses a long-held crush to B, who either admits the same or, if she hadn't considered it before, immediately decides she loves A back. Do something different with it. You can't write the same story everyone else is writing and hope it'll stand out.

Lastly, I never bought into what interest the characters have in each other. This goes for the couple, as well as Celestia's interest in Dash. I said I'd come back to that part, and a couple pf flashbacks or anecdotes might help flesh out why Celestia chooses Dash in particular to focus her attention on. But you really do need to work on what Applejack and Dash love about each other, as what's here is incredibly vague. I'll just refer to to Aragon's blog posts again to read up on how you really make a couple feel like they belong together. It takes thinking about what each one finds endearing about the other, what makes each think the other is good relationship material, and what each will contribute to and get out of a romance, among other things.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2842

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 will tell you of a history only god and I know.//

When you're referring to "god" and not something made generic like "a god," it's customary to capitalize it.


flat out

>Hey Somnia I forgot my homework//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>She twisted her head away from Momo, “I//

You've got a non-speaking action punctuated as if it's a speech tag.

>You know Momo//

Without a comma for direct address, she's saying that Momo is acquainted with herself. You're missing lots of such commas, and I'm not going to continue marking them.

>In a sudden//

In a sudden what?

>Gasping for air//

You'll normally set off participial phrases with a comma.

>On the bed laid a young pony of lavender color, just about to awake.//

You need "lay" and "awaken."

>and scanned the room. Before her eyes had traversed the entire room//

That sure makes it sound like she looked over the whole room, but then you skip back and say she didn't. You don't want hiccups like that in the writing.

>pattern: Long strands of hair, braided together and finished with a ribbon.//

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

>While waiting, Violet nervously tapped her hoof on the floor while looking around the hallway.//

Repetitive use of "while" phrases.

>until Violet became visible through the gap//

This is from the perspective of someone inside the room, not Violet.

>steps, the squeaking of the door hinges easily drowned out the sound of her steps//

Watch that close word repetition, like the "steps" here. This problem keeps popping up.

>the underwhelming nature of Violet's grand entry calmed their enthusiasm//

And that's from some sort of collective class perspective. It also over-explains things. You usually shouldn't be spelling out character motivations or intentions. Let the characters' actions and dialogue imply all that.

>As soon as the bell fulfilled its usual job of signaling the end of this period, a circle of ponies gathered around Somnia's table. As they approached her, their eyes filled with sparkles.//

You've started consecutive sentences with "as" clauses.

>but realized it was best to make way for the transfer student//

How does Violet know this? You're using her perspective, but the narration is telling me their thought processes.

>an earring in both her ears//

This makes it sound like there's a single earring going through both ears. A more normal phrasing would be "earrings in both her ears" or "an earring in each of her ears," though the latter is still a little strange-sounding, unless you went on to say they weren't a matched pair.

In this scene, Somnia doesn't sound too bad, but Rose's dialogue doesn't sound natural. It sounds forced, like a script for something that's not too concerned with realistic character portrayal.

>towards the big gate at the front of the school to trot back towards//

More repetition. I haven't been marking all of these.

>It was hard to believe that any pony would make the effort to search for her after the school was over, instead of just walking home and meeting at school again the next day.//

This implies she'd expect them to want to see her the next day, but given how self-deprecating she tends to be, I'm not sure she would.

>This is Azure Marina, you might have seen her before in class.//

You have a fair number of comma splices like this.

>Rose continued, “you//


>Violet held back a laugh.//

This is just an example of a larger problem. She sounds like she's actually starting to enjoy herself here, yet the narration, which is in her perspective, sounds so bland. It's just not very expressive, for the most part. The but of her waiting outside the classroom on the first day wasn't bad, but everything's so sterile and lifeless. Put some energy into it. Use imagery, simile, metaphor. Give me some rich descriptions of the setting, especially what's appropriate for the situation. Like that first day in class. It's a new room for Somnia, so surely she'd look it over, and the things her eyes linger on would reveal bits of her character, or possibly become symbolic. Yet I really get no description of the room. Compare this to the details we get when she's taken to Amber's place in chapter 2. On the whole, the story feels like it's just giving me a "this happens, then this happens, then this happens" list instead of evoking any imagery or emotion from the experience.

>under way//


>But I'm gonna say it's correct!//

Since I don't even know what she was trying to answer, I can't tell if there's a joke here. If so, I don't get it.

>There were plenty of other ponies around that would be glad to help her out and support her//

Early on, she assumed nobody would care about her, and now this? When did her attitude change? That's a pretty major shift, one that's worth showing in the story.

>everypony!” The teacher yelled//


>Violet just swung her head around from left to right, bouncing it off the wall//

She's... bouncing her head off the wall? That sounds like it'd hurt. And why are the other students just letting her do it?

>edge of city//

Missing word.

>As she crossed a bridge over the Kami river on the edge of city//

Same missing word, and this is the third straight sentence to begin with an "as" clause.

>the end of the school year was drawing closer each day//

Why is she thinking this in past tense?

>everything was going to come to end//

Missing word.


You need "amid" here.

>In a sudden//

Same as before. That's not a phrasing I've ever heard.

>Sorry for bringing up here//

Missing word.

>she replied, “no//


>It sounded from the other room.//

I'm not sure what "it" refers to here.

>At multiple points it seemed like Violet was just about to say something, but she instead kept silent.//

Seemed to whom? You've moved out of Violet's perspective.

>Violet, who already had a bleak look on her face.//

How can she see her own face to describe it as such?

>Violet stopped listening halfway through Amber's speech//

Then why does the narrator in her perspective deliver the whole speech? They're the same person. If Amber didn't hear some of it, neither did the narrator.

>you might-”//

Use a proper dash.

>only its tail waggled from side to side, while his entire face remained completely stiff.//

You're wavering between using masculine and neuter pronouns for Kiubee.

>I don't think it would be wise to just drag here into this//

>I didn't think you'd actually join as after everything that happened//

>An awkward silence laid over the three//


>Violet only now noticed that all this time Amber hasn't changed the expression on her face once.//

A lot of this scene's perspective had seemed to be in... well, I couldn't tell who, but either Amber or Rose. But this is definitely shifted to Violet's. It's also gone to present tense.

>limitations of that ability is//

Plural/singular mismatch: limitations is.


Use a dash for cutoffs.

Chapter 2 is where I stopped last time, and I'm going to stop here again. The writing isn't bad, but it's just pretty lifeless. I see in your comment that you eliminated a lot of inner dialogue, but I think that's really what the story needs, as long as it makes sense for the perspective. Like don't give me inner dialogue of multiple characters, unless you're going to rewrite the whole thing with an omniscient narrator. And that inner dialogue shouldn't be presented as quoted thoughts, either. Just let the narration speak it for her, unless it needs to be stated in first person. Inner dialogue is precisely what limited narration is for, so take advantage of it.

Beyond that, you do need a fair amount of editing help, too.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2845

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.

>Earth Ponies//

Why is this the only race you're capitalizing? The standard is to leave them all lower-case.

>ponies turned Equestria into a grand kingdom and a particular occupation became commonplace.//

You have two distinct subject-verb pairs, so they're separate clauses. You'll normally put a comma between clauses. But this sentence is phrased very strangely. It makes it sound like there was only one job that became commonplace, and that you're about to name it. But then you don't say anything. Even taking it that you mean all jobs became commonplace, that's also a strange thought. I can't imagine that being the case.

>This is the story of how I became a great hero.//

It's really strange to have these two scenes be so disconnected, since they're so short. The second presumes that Twilight's either recording the story or relating it to an audience, so is she doing that in the first scene, too? If so, it's jarring to have that context added afterward, and if not, then it's weird to have this one little scene that's not like any other, when it easily could have been, and the difference doesn't add anything.

Let me back up to the synopsis for a moment. It's awfully long, and I have to think you could get away with less. You're just trying to tell me what the story is about, not give me a scene of it. What you have in your short description is just fine. Also look how many one-line paragraphs are in the synopsis. That screams over-dramatization. Single-line paragraphs add emphasis, and when everything's emphasized, nothing is.

Now that I'm in the first actual chapter, the first thing I notice is that there's a lot of repetition. This happens in two ways. The first is on the word level.

>Night Light looked//

>Velvet looked//
>Velvet looked//
>Velvet was looking//
This is all on the first screen. Aside from the most absolutely mundane words, you want to avoid repeating them in a close space. The more unusual the word, the longer you ought to go before reusing it, since it'll stick in the reader's mind more easily. Unless, of course, the repetition is intentional, but then the key is to make it obvious that it's on purpose. That's not what you're doing in this case, though, so that's a topic for another day.

Now, the other kind of repetition I see already. Imagine taking out every sentence that contains dialogue, even if dialogue is only part of the sentence. Look at what's left. I count only 5 sentences in the entire first scene that start with anything but the subject. Many of them are about the same length. Many of them have the same inflection. At least having the dialogue interspersed helps break things up, but it still gets very plodding, like reading a list of actions.

Most of your sentences will probably end up starting with the subject, but you need to avoid having a bunch of them in a row. Throw in something different every few sentences, and work on varying the length and rhythm by tossing in some different structures, like dependent clauses and participial phrases.

And a few odd notes on detailed things.

It's strange to have them refer to Celestia as something like "the mare" several times before using her name. They know who she is, but the avoidance of using her name suggests they don't. And then the narration suddenly switches to calling her by name.

>Awes went through the crowd.//

That's just awkwardly phrased.

>the sun had just peaked into the sky//

You're confusing "peak" with "peek."

>Truly, she was as radiant as the sun she commanded.//

Your first scene is mostly in an omniscient viewpoint, but here, you have the narrator expressing one of the characters' opinions on her behalf. So you've switched to a limited narration now, in Twilight's perspective. You really should keep to one consistent type of narration until you gain enough experience to play tricks like that and make them work.

>Everypony-save for Moondancer-laughed.//

Please use proper dashes for interruptions and asides. Alt+0151 on the keypad will produce one.

>blank flank//

I'm guessing Twilight was about 4 in the first scene, so she's 14 now and still a blank flank? That seems awfully late.


Consider what sound she'd actually repeat. That word doesn't have a "t" sound in it.

>I can’t in good consciousness//


The scene where the doctor won't sign Twilight's form is a symptom of a larger problem where you absolutely blast through things. This should be a pretty emotionally charged moment, but there's not much description, setting, evocative behavior... This is a huge blow to Twilight's hopes for her future, but it doesn't dwell on her reaction at all. Seven paragraphs, and it's over. Compare to the scene before it where Sunset is verbally abusing Twilight. It still skimps on setting and Twilight's reaction, but at least it draws out what Sunset does. Really, the whole point of the story is what impact the events have on the characters, so make sure you're conveying that and not rushing on to the next scene.

>Your highness//

That whole term is an honorific, so it should be capitalized.

>“Please,” She whimpered.//

You occasionally have this problem where you capitalize a speech tag.


As a title attached to a name, this word would have to be capitalized anyway. so capitalize every instance of its first letter in the stutter.


Same issue as before with which sound she'd actually repeat.


That should be two words. There is no such word as this.

>But, the other reason//

It's rare for a comma after a conjunction to be used correctly. This one isn't.

>The Element’s power//

She's referring to more than one of them, yet she's using a singular possessive.

>pegasi guards//

Noun adjuncts are singular, even when the term is plural. For instance, you say "ham sandwiches," not "hams sandwiches."

Now in the fight with Spike, you have a couple of very jerky perspective shifts between Twilight and Celestia.

>Its serpentine eyes//

That's a strange word choice, as "serpentine" means winding the vast majority of the time.

>It unclenched its claw and Sunset fell to the ground.//

You have a number of spots like this where there's a separate verb for each subject, so you have two clauses (It unclenched... and Sunset fell...), so use a comma before the conjunction.

>all you magic//



Another stutter where the capitalization should persist.

>Aura exploded off Twilight.//

Unless "aura" is jargon from the crossover material that gets used in phrasings like this (I'm not familiar with it), you're missing a word.

>with a heavy accent//

You've already made that apparent in the dialogue. You don't need to repeat it in the narration.

>what she vants//

Note that you're inconsistently applying his accent.

There's not a bad story in here, but you've got a number of stylistic issues fighting it. I've already discussed them, but I'll sum them up here:

-Some editing issues.
-Often a lack of character emotional investment in what's happening.
-Jumpy perspective.
-Lack of description leaves many scenes feeling pretty bare.
-Many of the scenes are rushed.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2850

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.

>It was a pleasure doing business with you and I know the Princesses will feel the same once I deliver the news.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>the hotel he was staying at//

That's a bit of a clunky phrasing. Why not just "his hotel"?

>“Alright, Spike,” he said aloud to himself, “time to remind Celestia why you were chosen as the ambassador of Equestria.”//

This is the only sentence we get between him getting to his room and the text of the letter. It's rather abrupt. Doesn't he freshen up a bit? Get some paper? Find a pen? It just sounds unnatural.

>I’ve heard legends of a distant planet called “Earth.”//

This is really out of place. You're not trying to write a metafic or allude to space travel or anything. I won't make you drop the joke, but it immediately removed my enthusiasm for the story.


An odd expression for Celestia to use, since it's a very vernacular way of saying "anyhow."

>Our current treaty on the gems that border our land and theirs is coming to an end and it’s of utmost importance you work out a new deal.//

Needs a comma.

>The white mare//

You're telling the story in Spike's perspective. Is this really how he'd choose to refer to her? People don't think about friends in such external and formal ways.

>But, you have to let me pay.//

It's rarely correct to put a comma after a conjunction. This one is not.

>before laying back into his bed//

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

>But, that was a nice dream.//

Same deal with the comma after a conjunction. You should scan for these, as I'm not going to mark them all.

> I believe Equestrian’s celebrate it every year at this time.//

You have a possessive where you need a plural.


>Your friend, Celestia//
Why is she putting two closings on the letter?

>The sound of train horns and hot metal filled his nostrils//

Hot metal makes sounds? Or he has the sound of train horns in his nose? I'm not sure how to take this.

>days worth//

days' worth

The narration is starting to get a fairly repetitive feel. Here's an example paragraph:
>Spike nodded before running off toward the designated train. He handed his ticket to the conductor and found a seat. He slouched back and closed his eyes. He felt so stupid. But, there was no time to feel sorry for himself. He had only one thought on his mind.//
Look at how the same structure keeps repeating. All but one sentence starts with the subject. They're all fairly short. 4 of the 6 start with "he," and yet another starts with him as well, in name form. It just loses its flow when it does that.

>onto important matters//

"On to" needs to be separate words here, as it changes the meaning.

>Spike chuckled gave up a toothy grin.//

Phrasing is jumbled.

>I’ know//

Why is that apostrophe there?

>Twilight has pretty much locked herself up in the castle//

Why in the world did this happen? It smacks of convenience, and it never gets explained.

>“I’d love to, Spike,” Rarity pulled her eyes up to meet his.//

You've punctuated that like it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>So, is it a date?//

The problem here is we just get told they're together, but it's not really justified. I'll revisit this at the end.

>A few other passengers on the train squinted their eyes in annoyance at being woken up//

From what? His yawn? They must be incredibly light sleepers.

>“Excuse me, Miss?” He said//

"Miss" only gets capitalized when it's attached to a name, and you've capitalized your speech tag.

>plastered on//

You're using the whole phrase as a single adjective, so hyphenate it.

>continue onto the next car//

Same issue with "on to" being two words. "Onto" literally means "on top of."

>He looked at the doors directly in front of him, then glanced back at the doors on the side of the car. “The south doors, right…”//

How is this confusing? There are only two possible directions.

>where the hostess was at//

Don't ever end a sentence with "at." In most cases, you can just remove it without harming the syntax at all.

>“Will four creams be enough for ya?” She asked//

Speech tag capitalization again, and so far, you're only getting it wrong when the dialogue ends in a question mark. This used to be an issue with GDocs, so I don't know if that's what's going on here.

This conversation with the waitress is a prime spot for some anecdotes, but I'll get to that later when I wrap up the shipping discussion.

>between you and I//

between you and me

>Yes or no.?//

Extraneous punctuation.

>there’s a mare out there that loves you//

When referring to sentient creatures, it's preferred to use "who" instead of "that."

>when Rarity, came down the aisle//

Why is that comma there?

>It’s true//

Why are you switching to present tense?

>We’ve now arrived at Ponyville!//

You mentioned the trip having multiple layovers, yet none of that ever happened. He boarded a train, slept, ate, slept, and got off the train.

>it was as if nothing changed from all the years he’d lived there//

Well, he'd already said exactly this:
>“Some things never change.”//

>When he finally made it into town//

Look at the number of "to be" verbs in this paragraph. It's bogging the story down. It wouldn't be hard to rephrase most of this with active verbs, and it makes a story more interesting to read, since active verbs make things happen.

>business takes him away longer than he wishes//

You're in present tense again.

Frankly, that ending was obvious right from the start, but that doesn't mean it's badly done. I do have a few issues.

Spike keeps setting up that Rarity is going to be angry with him, but there's never any reason given why. Not that they didn't get along well, not that she'd actually ever gotten angry with him before. And as it turns out, I doubt she has. That part feels manufactured.

I guess Platinum is related to Rarity? I'm not sure, but it seemed to be implied, yet it's hard to believe she wouldn't have immediately known who Spike was, then.

I'm not sure why this holiday is so important. I'd guess it's either the anniversary of their wedding or her death, but it could be their first date or something. The story never says.

The trick to this kind of ending is to have it add new meaning to the story, but aside from an "oh, okay" moment, it doesn't add new context. It doesn't change how Spike feels, since he obviously already knew, but it doesn't change anyone else either. It's less like a story with a twist to it and more like story that just exists to have that twist in it. Usually this would involve some other character experiencing growth, since all the important stuff has already happened for Spike, unless he reaches a new understanding or something. But the twist comes and goes, and the story never really concludes anything from it.

Now, about the shipping. This is a common issue for shipping stories, and for the long version, I'll refer you to the blog posts that Aragon has written on the subject and linked from his homepage. The short version is that it's not enough just to tell me they love each other. You have to demonstrate it and establish what the basis for it is.

A good way of doing that is by anecdote, and you tried to do that by showing some past events, but look at what we really get from each one. That they got married, but that's a given, and it's pretty generic. That they went out on a first date, which is getting warmer, but still not there. That they'd hung out before dating, which is also a nice character moment. But here's the thing that's missing: I don't know why either of them is in love. They agree to go on a date, they agree to get married, but the only reason I have to think they're in love is because the narrator says so.

What is it that Spike actually likes about her? Details of her personality, things she does that he finds endearing, how she's compatible with him. Those are the kinds of things you want the anecdotes to show. People each give and take from a relationship, and they believe that the other person does the same. So what does she have that he sees as good relationship material, not just that she's attractive, but that she's the kind of companion he could see enjoying for many years? He's in a unique position to tell me that, but I never get it.

That has to come from her side as well, though we obviously can't hear it directly from her now. In anecdotes, though, she can say what she likes about him, what leads her to believe he's good relationship material in general and for her specifically. Plus he can read the signs from her that she's happy. My investment in the story is going to be driven by how much he loves her, and all I have to go on is the narrator's assurance that he does, without much evidence to demonstrate it.

When I'm convinced they're truly in love, then it means so much more when she dies. Without that piece, it's still tragic, but no more so than any other of his friends, so you're singling her out without proving she warrants that.

And creating a vibrant relationship (to be sure, a relationship should be built with the same care as a character and can almost be considered one), is what really brings life to a romance story. That's how you stand out against the crowd of all the other "dead lover" stories out there. If you can add that piece, then you'd have something here.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2852

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 have an opening quote there, not an apostrophe.

>“Reschedule one or two things”.//

>“The Country Tourer”.//
Period goes inside the quotes. There are times you can make the argument that it wasn't part of the quote, but these aren't exactly quotations. You're not putting a comma before them like they're speech.

>Coloratura tried to meet her half-lidded eye, and found she simply couldn’t.//

No need for a comma there. It's all one clause.


Could use an apostrophe on the front as well, since you're clipping it short there.


Usually spelled don'tcha.


His canon name is two words.


No need for those hyphens.

>he half-lidded, smiling face of Cherry Jubilee//

This is already the third time in the chapter you've described her eyes like this.

>her crushed swirl//

>ripped a chunk off//
It's subtle, but these don't quite work with how you described it as "mushy."

Well, I have to admit to being confused at the end of chapter 1. There's a story about Cherry trying to help Rara out, and then we go into a couple of flashbacks where she attempts to chew out Sven and... well, get Cherry's help yet again. At least that was the first time, so it's a significant event, but then there isn't any contrast drawn between the two. I don't get a sense that they're really all that different, that Rara has grown as a character at all in between. Yeah, we're early in the story, and I'm sure you'll fill in that character arc, but it's really static so far. You make a point of comparing the past to the present, but she hasn't changed any. You'd have a more compelling first chapter if there was some movement on that front, but it feels like nothing but setup, and it's a fairly large percentage of the story expended to have the nature of the conflict so nebulous still. I don't really even know what it's about yet. Rara's miserable while trying to make it without Sven, and... that's it. That's kind of vague, and I don't know anything more about what she wants, much less see her taking steps to get it.

I've had overnight to stew on it, and I'll elaborate a little more. There are a couple of avenues for conflict set up: she's mad at Svengallop, she's being comforted by Cherry, and there's something about Denim, yet I can't tell whether she's concerned about Denim's well-being or sees her as a rival. So after a chapter and a third of the way through the story, I still don't know what the chief conflict or struggle is going to be.

The beginning of chapter 2 is confusing as far as perspective is concerned. Chapter 1 ends in Rara's viewpoint, and while it's fair game to change perspectives at chapter breaks, you want to make it immediately evident you've done so, or the reader will assume it hasn't shifted. So when you start with "She kept up the good sleeping regime for three days, and then bad habits ambushed her again," it would appear to be Rara's thought. Then midway through the third sentence it seems like Cherry is the viewpoint character because some of the subject matter in the second sentence. It's not until the last sentence of the second paragraph that the perspective is obvious. You don't want me having to hit the speed bump of reinterpreting the first couple sentences once the shift is clear. It's a bad idea for the first reference to a character in a scene be by pronoun anyway, since they work by antecedent, and in that situation, there isn't one.

>It didn’t really seem to be hurting any pony.//

Seems like that "any pony" would be one word, like "anyone."

>get in the way when I was trying to get into//

Kind of repetitive phrasing.

>Never had he found himself surrounded by so many wide and eager eyes.//

This is Rara's reminiscence, yet she seems to be reading Shill's mind here. You don't normally flash back into any perspective but your own.

For that matter, these flashbacks go on long enough that it's probably better to segue into them and set them off as separate scenes, leaving them in regular font. It gets irritating to read this much italics. They're not for extended passages.

>she went along with it first//

Usually, I see that phrased as "at first."

>seemed as certain and solid as he did now. No one else seemed//

Repetitive word choice.

>I felt a hundred hands tall!//

That doesn't seem plausible as a unit of measure. First off, not many races have hands, and second, those who do aren't in charge of the ponies, so why would that be the standard?


That's a pretty weak rhyme.

>And turned my tongue towards the art//

You're a syllable short on that one.

>With sweet, divine, enchanting melodies.//

You just used "enchanting" two lines ago, and it's not evident as a thematic repetition.

>Flowing words now kept me tall,

>Kept me from the reaper’s fall
>Crashing down to fading darkness,
>Gave me heart when I was heartless.//
Okay, now look at this stanza. The first couplet is a syllable short per line, but you have a different stress pattern. It looks like you alternate stanzas where the lines start with stressed or unstressed syllables, but especially on the stressed ones, you're inconsistent at using 7 or 8 syllables per line. And this line especially:
>Changing my dark soul inside://
Has a really forced stress pattern. You're trying to emphasize that word to stomp it into the pattern, but it doesn't fit.

>Had me possessed; the ghost was my Countess!//

And this stress pattern is way off. Plus it's another weak rhyme.

>And now my roots grew back across the distance,

>And I was saved by my own reminiscence…//
It's not a sonnet, but I suppose that doesn't mean you can't have female rhyme. At least you do it in both lines. Except you do it again the next two times you have an isolated couplet. The idea behind female rhyme is that it's only an occasional thing.


Yikes. That rhyme's a real stretch.

>Farmer’s gal who’d run away,

>Lost it all, and had to pay//
Short on syllables there again.


Kind of weak to rhyme a word with itself.

Jeez, that song takes up four and a half screens. You know a hefty chunk of readers are just going to scroll past it, right? Readers are not very receptive to song lyrics, so you have to keep them short, preferably less than a screen, or break them up with anecdotes or something so you're only getting a little at a time. This is like having a block of exposition. It makes the action grind to a halt.

>Turns out wizards have a weakness//

Now you're breaking the pattern of alternating stanzas that stress or unstress the first syllable of each line. Counting where she left the song off before, you now have two stanzas in a row that begin stressed.

>My horizon! My heartsong!//

That rhythm is off.

It seems a little odd that we go to Silver Shill's reminiscence in flashback form, which necessitates being in his perspective, from an scene that was in Rara's perspective, but I guess that can't be helped, unless you don't show it in flashback mode.

And at the end of the second chapter, I'm still pretty mystified as to what the story's point is. Rara's clearly facing down some internal turmoil over what her role in life is to be, but I don't understand why that is or what it has to do with her breaking from Svengallop. It's not like she'd completely changed. Take how she loved doing events with the children. So I don't have a good picture of whether she's upset about who she is or if she's just upset about where her career can go from here. And since I'm now roughly 2/3 way through the story, that's not a good place for your reader to be. I mean, the writing's good, and the character voicing is vivid. I can certainly see it being engaging to the crowds on FiMFiction, but it's not holding together that well for me.

>few freckles flecked//

The alliteration creates a playful feel that doesn't really match the tone.

>“Letters,” she said quietly, “are nowhere near good enough. We need to meet up more often.”//

It's ambiguous who "she" is here. Applejack was the last character mentioned by name, though Rara is the most recent to warrant a "her." It felt more like Applejack was saying it, but then I had to backtrack when that made the dialogue exchanges off.

>“Applejack,” said Coloratura quickly, “you’re not making sense! That wasn’t your fault!”//

You're placing all your dialogue tags in that same position in the sentence. It's getting repetitive.

>She watched as Applejack sat down on the boards.//

Again, it's ambiguous who "she" is here. Applejack just had dialogue, but the last character mentioned was Cherry, and yet I get the sense this is supposed to be Rara.

>She ignored the way Applejack’s foreleg moved up to her snout, and the slight sniffs that followed.//

If she ignored them, then how did she see them?

>Cherry Jubilee gave a loud sniff and dabbed at her eyes with her neckerchief.//

I've said this several times already, and I'll wrap it up at the end, but i should be just as emotional as Cherry here, but I'm just not feeling it. It's not until this chapter that I'm really getting a picture of what's been going on the whole time, but it's still a bit vague, and it's pretty late in the story to create that investment.


Needs an apostrophe, not an open quote.

>far too cheesy//

Hyphenate that, since it's all a single adjective for the "smile" afterward.

>said “Good//

Missing comma.

>You’re too good to leave doin’ nothin’ but chores//

I don't understand this phrasing. My best guess is AJ's telling her that if she left and went back home to her chores, it'd be a waste. If that's what you mean, then the participial phrase "doin' nothin but chores" should be set off with commas.

>weighed down by some private misery//

How does Rara know what this is?

>“I’m saying –” she began. “Y… No.”//

This is the first time in the story you've actually gotten me invested in what happens to her, and we're about 85% of the way through. Why do I care? Because I know exactly what the conflict is that led up to this statement and witnessed her agonizing over it. That hasn't been present in the story until now.

>because they weren’t sure if she was joking or not//

Rara presumes this about AJ, but she doesn't know it. Maybe you should phrase it so. For that matter, it's better to have Rara express this directly than have the narrator say it like a middleman. It's kind of cold and factual as is, but if Rara asks herself the question, it's more personal.

>each other and tightened their grip on each other’s//

Kind of repetitive.

>“Moonlighting”, she’d said.//

Comma goes inside the quotes.


Needs to be an apostrophe.

>her hoof steering Coloratura//

>Coloratura let Applejack steer her//
These are just a paragraph apart.

I don't understand why you went to Cherry's perspective for the last scene. The whole thing had been in Rara's, so it's a "one of these things is not like the others" when only the final few hundred words out of 10k change from that. And we don't even learn anything vital from being there. Furthermore, Rara even comes back in, so whatever little bit of plot closure you wanted to achieve with this scene could still happen in Rara's viewpoint. It's not Cherry's character growth that the story's about, yet you make that your parting shot.

I like the story's message and how that's conveyed by Rara's decision at the end, and of course the writing is good, but my main problem with this is that it takes so long for it to go anywhere. It's not until halfway through chapter 3 that I find out exactly what Rara's issue has been all along and what she wants. So I have to wade through lots of vagaries that dance around the topic, and then all those song lyrics in chapter 2. That's an absolute death knell for a story. Many readers will tune out right there. If the actual content of the lyrics is important to understand the story or move the plot, make that abundantly clear, but for goodness' sake, keep it short or break it up into bite-size chunks.

For so much of the story, I'm in the dark about what's bothering Rara. It could be she hasn't gotten over feeling used, it could be that she's taken it on as a personal mission to help Sven's other victims, it could be she feels emptied out and doesn't know who she is anymore (though I'm glad you didn't go that way, since it'd be harder to explain why she felt she very much did know exactly who she was at the end of that episode). It could even be all three, but I could never tell what her attitude toward Denim was, and then Denim comes back up briefly a bit later before being dropped from the story entirely. So she's feeling like a Chekhov's gun: something given seeming importance that never gets used.

Then, it's not apparent why Rara seems to have taken an interest in country music. Is it necessary to scrape together enough money to make a living? It sure doesn't seem that way. Is it just because she wants to explore more kinds of music? I guess that's the case, given how it ends, but she never equates her disdain for Manehattan with a particular style of music. It's not like she's giving up on pop music, or it least it doesn't seem so. And Manehattan's not the only place to play that, so... I'm a bit stumped. Has her experience tainted her on not just the pop business but even the sound as well? Yet she doesn't seem to have latched onto anything else either. She's tried country, but she doesn't come across as enthusiastic about it, and nothing else gets mentioned. So even with all this talk at the end about her finding her own way, it seems like lip service, because she's not taking any steps to get there. Yeah, she wrote a song, but how is she going to present it? As a country song? As some other style she just never says she's interested in?

Only at the end is there anything concrete about Rara's emotional investment. She acts upset the whole way through, but it's just generic through the beginning since it's unfocused about what precisely is eating at her, and she doesn't even seem to be in turmoil about it, just a steady gloominess. Plus it's unclear what she's actually doing about it, so that she's engaged in a real struggle instead of just moping along. Not that moping can't be interesting to read, but it's tougher, and it still needs to earn buy-in from the reader about what and why and how and what stakes exist. Not to mention that the synopsis explicitly promises a struggle, while she's more numbly accepting things until chapter 3.

Like I said, this story has the good writing flow and characterization I expect from you, but it lacks much direction, and what direction it does have waits until the last minute to make an appearance. It takes a lot of trust fro a reader to push through all that (plus those song lyrics and the lengthy stretches of all italics!). I went back and skimmed chapter 1 to make sure I wasn't just missing something, as I've been known to do, but I don't see it. It's a little more evident that Rara's disappointed her country song didn't make a bigger splash and that she's relegated to the opening act at the moment, but she doesn't come across as feeling all that strongly about it, so with the benefit of hindsight, it's a little better, but not much.

I could post this on the strength of the writing and characterization alone, and I don't think anyone would call me on it. We've certainly posted lower-quality stories. But I've read enough of your stories to know what you're capable of, and you can do better than this. If it were a low-stakes SoL, that's one thing. It's not supposed to have a big payoff. But when you build the story around this wrenching emotional experience, it really does need to have that impact. So I'm going to send it back to you and see what you can do with it.

In quick bullet point fashion:
-Extended italics get irritating to read. It'd work better to segue those into flashback scenes.
-Having a single block of song lyrics go on that long is asking for lots of trouble. There were also lots of irregularities in meter, and I get it's just a rough draft she scribbled down, but it's so exacting in its irregularity that it doesn't come across as something half-formed.
-It's so late in the story before we find out what she wants and why, and a couple of false leads (namely Denim) just get dropped.
-When we do find out what she wants, it's kind of generic. Everyone wants to be loved for who they really are, so don't leave it so abstract. Give me specific examples of when she tried, how she failed, what the result was, and how that made her feel. She's speaking in generalities, and they're never going to connect with the reader as much as specifics will.
-Given how limited a narrator you're using, you don't get very expressive with Rara's emotion.
-I don't see the point at all of going to Cherry's perspective for the final scene.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2856

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.

>having audience with her//

Usually, that's phrased as "an" audience.

Right away, a lot of your verb choices tend toward the stagnant. You have 8 "to be" verbs in just the first 5 paragraphs. You're killing the story's momentum before it even has any. Most times, it's not hard to rephrase a lot of these things with active verbs, in the narration at least. You get leeway for dialogue, since people don't take fancy routes around such verbs, and the dialogue does need to sound natural. But as for the narration, the more active you keep it, the more interesting it is.

The beginning is also very generalized. Someone waiting to speak to Celestia is common enough that it doesn't stand out. So what can you do to make it pop? Well, look at what comes next. The narrator says she hasn't been here in a long time, and she enjoys looking around, but the detail level is so vague. If you'd just returned to a place you knew very well after being away for ages, how would you react? You'd notice lots of little details. You just mention generic things like rugs and marble floors that are stock pieces for a castle, and we don't even get a description of what any of it looks like. Impress me with how grand it is. Tie it to her personal experience. She's going to look at things that mean something to her. She doesn't just see the rug. She sees it still has the curled-up edge she used to trip on when she was young. The clock on the wall that none of the staff could ever seem to keep properly wound. A vase she remembers is gone now. Did it get broken, or had Celestia only kept it there to humor her? This is the kind of thing I'm looking for. Make this a very personal experience for the narrator, not some routine errand, since you haven't described it as one. (Actually making a routine errand interesting is a whole other topic.)

>Still, the same rugs and tapestries adorned the halls. The marble floors and walls were still//

Watch repeating a word that close.

>the guards and servants that walked the halls//

When referring to sentient beings, it's customary to use "who" instead of "that."

>Her Majesty//

That's actually a title for a queen. A princess would be Your Highness, though I'll grant you that the show seems to use them interchangeably.

>I had been waiting here for well over an hour now, standing the entire time.//

Ponies don't exactly need chairs to sit. She didn't have to remain standing.

>Though, what I had to speak with her about was no doubt an important matter.//

It's rarely correct to put a comma after a conjunction—only when there's some sort of comma-delimited element following it, like a participial phrase.

>I knew she was distraught over his disappearance.//

How so? Describe some of the reaction Clover has witnessed. Or some manner of evidence of how close they were.

>remaining friends she had left//


>And, Hurricane//

No reason to have that comma.

>And, I knew that I would die soon as well.//

Same thing. I can't keep noting these or I'll have a document full of them. Suffice it to say you should scan through ad likely remove any commas you have after conjunctions.

>that Luna has been gone//

Verb tense is off here.

Man, this chapter spends an inordinate amount of time on exposition. When you spend paragraphs at a time summarizing events, it doesn't give them much gravity. I have to think these summaries don't need to be as long as they are, but they're also very dry, like a history lesson. They're dwelling more on what events transpired and less on what effect that had on Clover. They're her memories, after all.

>After all, she is still maintaining Luna’s bedchambers//

That's a strange choice of tense anyway, "is maintaining" versus "maintains," but I'm not sure why it's in present. The whole narration has been in past tense, aside from one typo.

>As young and radiant as ever//

You're glossing over the kind of detail she'd use to arrive at this conclusion, the same way you glossed over the way the castle looked to her. What she notices, what she chooses to linger on, and how it makes her feel, are all very good ways to characterize her.

>The throne room had brought back too many memories, many good, some bad.//

One or two examples will always be more powerful that something vague or generalized. Give me a couple of one-sentence anecdotes about these memories. If I have no idea what they are, I'm not going to be invested in them.

>He seemed affronted.//

How so? What did he do?

>“Sir,” I spoke calmly, “If//

When you transition out of speech and back in with commas like this, the quote is implied to be one unbroken sentence, so you shouldn't capitalize "if."

>tried to suppress a laugh, but failed miserably. He instead tried//

Watch the repetition again.

>“Clover,” said she, her voice full of warmth, “It is good to see you.”//

Same capitalization problem with the dialogue. You'll have to scan the story for these.

>“Likewise,” I said, as it was.//

Yet the narration sounds so formal and stoic about it. It doesn't feel like the train of thought of someone who's happy to see an old friend.


Leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it starts the sentence or has other punctuation after it.

>all of the ponies that//

"Who," not "that."

>whatever else garbage//

>whatever else asinine rumors//
Awkwardly phrased.

>That small smile of hers returned to her face.//

You never really said it left. You did have her expression "shift" but then "snap back into place," so it sounds like she was already smiling.

>deal with the politics here. I doubt very much you would want to deal with//

Repetitive phrasing.

To make a point, I'm going to paste in a few paragraphs' worth of narration with all the sentences of dialogue removed.

>I nodded in affirmation. I shrugged. Celestia shifted the positioning of one of her hooves slightly. That small smile of hers returned to her face. She nodded in thought. I smiled. Celestia clapped her hooves together and leaned forward. I finally broke and a gruff laugh escaped from deep within me. I smiled at her. She bobbed her head gently.//

It gets better after this, but if you read that as a paragraph like I have it here, wouldn't that feel dreadfully plodding? They're mostly short sentences with downward inflection, and they all start with the subject. It gets very structurally repetitive. The dialogue that gets mixed in helps mask the repetition, but it can only do so much. Toss in a little more variety here and there so you don't get 10 sentences in a row that are the same.

>I finally broke and a gruff laugh escaped from deep within me.//

Needs a comma between the clauses, since you have distinct subject-verb pairs: I broke, and a laugh escaped

>if this was a mere social call//

She's speaking hypothetically, so use subjunctive mood: if this were.

>“…Gone?” Was what she eventually said//

"Was" shouldn't be capitalized here. It doesn't start a sentence.

>I paused//

This is a meaningless phrase. What happens during the pause is what charges it with tension. Is she stopping to think of how to break the news? Searching for a particular word? Surreptitiously farting? Those all completely change the mood. So let me know what the mood is here.

>Celestia’s eyes met mine//

Given how much she just used "met" in the previous paragraph, this isn't a good spot to use it again so soon.

>I allowed myself a small smile.//

Both of them are doing an awful lot of smiling. It's a word authors tend to overuse.

>This is hardly proper court procedures.//

"Procedure" would be singular here.

>obviously upset//

This is already clear from his behavior. Beware over-explaining things.

>Last though, was the herald.//

You need another comma before "though."

>I gazed up at the throne.//

All these short one-sentence paragraphs... They really don't say much. Doing this is supposed to add emphasis, but when you emphasize six things in a row, then none of them really stand out. Even so, the formatting had better be justified by something important happening in them, and nothing really does.

>Yet, I had only taken the first few before, Celestia//

Neither one of those commas should be there.

>helped me up the last five steps//

Why is Celestia making an old mare walk up there? Why doesn't she come down? I get the bit about Luna's throne, but Clover didn't know Celestia was going to do that.

>alicorn that goes around//

Who, not that.

>She paused.//

Again, this is meaningless as a standalone sentence.

>Me and Celestia were now the only two left//

Celestia and I.


That's not a spot where a hyphen would go.

>the permanent scorch mark from one of Starswirl’s wayward spells on one of the walls.//

See, this is the kind of detail I was looking for earlier. Do more of this.

>know…” her voice trembled, “…I//

Here's how to format an aside in a quote. Pay attention to the capitalization and punctuation:
know—” her voice trembled “—I

>She had so much of this bottled up//

Needs a comma here.

>her wails//

This is a bit much. I realize they're alone, to where she doesn't need to keep up appearances, but still. Where sad situations are concerned, less is usually more. If you go overboard, it just comes across as maudlin, and then you lose the sense of authenticity. You don't want the story to feel emotionally manipulative.

>I paused.//



That's not a word that would be capitalized, unless it precedes a name or title.

>I think we both knew what was to come next.//

This is the 5th sentence in a row to start with the same word.

There's some good character work in this chapter, but I can't help feeling like it's a very long wind-up before we actually get to the story the synopsis promised. It would help if you add the kinds of details I discussed earlier, since it'd increase Clover's engagement with the situation and thus feel like character development instead of a rather static explanatory chapter.

>been one of my favorite places to be//

Same as last chapter, you have a lot of "to be" verbs stagnating things right away.

>I was only a common scribe at the moment.//

This makes it sound like she knew she would be more, and we haven't gotten that sense of ambition from her.

>The most interesting that happened//

Missing word.

>The royal alchemists and the castle infirmary were always in need of fresh trimmings.//

Only 7 paragraphs into the chapter, and you already have 15 "to be" verbs, 10 of them "was."

>Canterbury Woods was a unique place.//

Seriously. Do a Ctrl-f for "was" and watch the screen light up. There are 224 of them in the chapter. That's about once every 3 sentences just for that form of the verb alone. That's how often something doesn't happen.

>some of ones back at the castle//

Missing word.

>On many occasion//


Now you're having the same issue I noted earlier. You have so many one-line paragraphs, and you have to be more judicious about where you use emphasis like this. It just looks poorly formatted.



Through this spot, look how calm and flat the narration is. If this were happening to you, would your internal thoughts be so organized and formal? There's a disconnect between the events and the narrative tone. For that matter, I understand that short sentences can work toward pacing and tension, but you still don't want to use nothing but that. Yet in this passage, nearly every sentence is identical in inflection and length, and it gets to be like reading a grocery list:
>Everything vanished. My vision went black. I could not feel the ground under my hooves. The forest’s aromas were gone. The silence intensified.
>My skin was aflame. A ringing in my ears. The bones within my body grinded against each other.//

>It was as if nothing had even happened.//

This ends a stretch of 19 consecutive one-line paragraphs. This is ridiculous. What that says to me as a reader is that you either don't have a sense of where to correctly place emphasis or you're not coming up with enough detail to fill the story out. On the word count alone, I'd say the latter isn't the issue.

>who I could now see//


>He seemed somewhat surprised. Confused.//

What does he do that leads Clover to conclude this?

>surely the townsponies would know who he is//

You've switched to present tense.

>the slightest traces of nervousness trickling into my voice//

If you're nervous is your tone of voice what clues you in? Surely there are more immediate ways she'd perceive the emotion than that.

>He paused and then began again.//

This is wasted verbiage. The fact that he paused is meaningless. What gives it meaning is why he paused, usually shown indirectly through what happens during the pause. But all we get to know is that it exists.

>How could he have possibly have known that?//

And I bet you're not going to say what it is. Consider the perspective, though. We're seeing Clover's internal thoughts as narration. If the narration won't say, that implies she has a reason to avoid thinking about it, but no such motivation has been mentioned. So there's no reason for the narrator to withhold the information.


That's not the spot for a hyphen in a number. They only go between tens and ones places.

>My brain took a moment to catch-up.//

This isn't a situation where you'd hyphenate that.

>I would strongly suspect that is was because of our meeting here.//


>“Life isn’t always fair, dear Clover. Nor is it predictable.”//

He's using direct address with her over and over. Think about how often you do so when having a one-on-one conversation. Pretty rarely. Direct address is used to get someone's attention, disambiguate to whom you're speaking, or to add emphasis. The last one is the only possibility that might apply here, but this falls under the same umbrella as all those one-line paragraphs: too much emphasis is the same as no emphasis, except that it's more irritating to read.

>trying to recollect my thoughts some//

I think you mean just "collect." "Recollect" would mean she's trying to remember them.

>All of a sudden//

You've told me things are sudden several times already. It's not the kind of thing you should have to point out. If you write it well, it will already come across as sudden. It's like having to assure the reader that a joke is funny. If it needs the explanation, it probably wasn't. You have 17 of them in the chapter, which is quite a few.

>I do not kno—” He broke off unexpectedly//

The punctuation already shows me he broke off. Narrating it as well is redundant.

>“I would like to hear it, if you do not mind.”

>“Your story?” He blinked. “Of how you got here?”//
It's ambiguous who says what here, particularly since his action is placed with her speech. I thought he was asking her how she got there, and I didn't realize I was wrong until two screens later.

>sit the boulder//

Missing word.

>sat beside him on the rock//

And you just used "sat" in the last sentence. Try to avoid close word repetition like that.

>“There!” said he, seemingly satisfied, “We may as well be comfortable while we chat, no?”//

The way you capitalized and punctuated that speech tag, it means that the two parts of the quote are one continuous sentence, yet they obviously aren't, since you put end punctuation on the first and capitalized the second.

>“Clover,” he interrupted me again, as he was wont to do, “If//

Same thing.

>who you will meet//


>“Now,” he said, clasping his hooves together, “Let’s begin.//

Capitalization again. I don't know why this is suddenly turning up. Maybe you just didn't use this pattern of speech tags until now, but it's wrong regularly enough that you should scan the whole story for it.

>He trailed off into silence.//

The punctuation already tells me this.

>researching time magic for some time//

That just sound strange, like you're trying to make a joke.

>Over time//

And with this so soon after, it's just getting repetitive.

>“But eventually, I overstay my welcome, and am noticed and forced out again.//

This is the 14th straight paragraph without even a single word of narration. Not even a speech tag. This is really talking heads.

>Every time//

It's probably best to avoid expressions about time when he's actually talking about it. It comes across as you making puns.

>He had been speaking nonstop for what felt like several minutes now.//

Yeah, I know how you feel, Clover.

>snapping me from my own thoughts//

Missing punctuation.


Spell out numbers that short. You'd already been doing so anyway.

>And a pony was never meant to experience what he has//

You're using present tense again.

>Night had now fallen proper.//

You really like to use "proper" in this way. It's already the 5th time in the chapter you've done so. It's sticking out as a writing tic.

>Crickets or some other bug buzzed off in the distance.//

This isn't really ambiguous. Crickets don't buzz.

>“Thank you for telling me,” I finally said, “I would not think it easy to carry such a burden for so long.”//

Same issue with the intermediary speech tag, but it's less obvious this time. If you put the two parts of the quote together, you'd have a comma splice.

>One of his ears swiveled in my direction and then spoke//

One of his ears spoke?

>A pause.//

A meaningless sentence.


Think about what sound she'd actually repeat. There isn't even a "t" sound in that word.

>I suspected it was related to his predicament.//

You don't need to state the obvious.

>“Starswirl,” My voice was low, “Are you feeli—” I broke off//

Two capitalization errors, redundant indications of breaking off.

>Here, was this stallion sitting in front of me//

No reason to have that comma.

>I tore off another chunk of bread and began eating.//

She didn't begin eating. She started that a while ago.

>his self//



No hyphen.

>I did not think he had had such a chance talk with anypony//

Missing word.

>somepony who he trusted//


>I gasped in amazement//

Whenever you have one of these "in/with/of emotion" phrasings, consider whether something already in the sentence conveys it, like the gasp here. If not, then consider whether it's an emotion important to the story, such that you should likewise show the character demonstrating that emotion instead of directly identifying it. You use these phrases a fair amount.

>You were the only pony that could ever match me//

Use "who."

>He then gripped me suddenly, his voice now low and serious,//

You've punctuated that like it's a speech tag, but it has no speaking verb.

>other’s hearts//

Assuming he wants her to do this for more than one person, you need a plural possssive.

>his crystal dinged twice is rapid succession//


And now you're doing that single-sentence paragraph thing again.

>without so much of a trace//

The phrasing is usually "without so much as."

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2857

>poured over every sentence//

>I excused my behavior for that you needed to learn how to cope on your own//

That's pretty hard to parse.

For a rather long letter, it sure doesn't say much. it covers all the generic stuff you'd expect it to, but it doesn't have any sort of detail to it. That leaves it feeling very impersonal. It just keeps going back over that he loves her and time travel is dangerous. The bit about Luna is interesting, but it's odd for that to just now come up, so late in the story.

>Though it was not until very recent//


>her features somewhat nervous, as if she was embarrassed about her behavior//

I don't understand why this would embarrass her. It's a heartfelt emotion, one that's completely understandable.

>Clover!” She said//



No hyphen.

>Nor did I feel like.//

Like what?

>A slight pause.//

And another meaningless one.

>My voice crackled some.//

>Her mouth twitched some.//
Repetitive phrasing so close together.

>She did not like anypony else try//

Syntax is off.


Just do a global search and replace on it. There are times it's valid to hyphenate it, but it's uncommon, and I don't see any so far.

This story's kind of an odd bird. The whole point of it is that Clover's going to tell Celestia what became of Star Swirl. The whole first chapter does nothing but lead up to the actual plot. And by the end, nothing happens. Celestia knows now, but there's no conclusion drawn from it. Nothing gets resolved, and there isn't even a direction set to start resolving it, in the way that a good open ending would. The only character development is in relation to a tangential plot that doesn't even get brought up until the last few thousand words.

I read your author's note about how you pieced the story together, and from reading it, it does really feel like that's how it was done, since it doesn't have strong thematic ties between the parts, as if it were a single, coherent plan. It could just use a little more thought as to how the last chapter provides or implies the resolution of what happened in chapter 2.

Aside from that, it's just the detailed things I had to keep mentioning, particularly all the one-line/one-sentence paragraphs and the prevalence of boring "to be" verbs.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2894

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 blur of colors whizzed through the sky; a rainbow trail left behind for brief seconds where the owner of those colors had been.//

A semicolon's really supposed to go between independent clauses. You should be able to replace it with a period and have two complete sentences, but you can't here.

>Rocketing only feet away from the observer, pink strands of mane//

This says the pink strands of mane are rocketing, not that Dash is.

>the mare flicked wild messy mane back//

Missing word.

>her friend whom had been observing her//

That's not a spot for "whom."

>the girl whom had been watching//

That either.

>“Well?” She asked impatiently.//

Speech tags don't get capitalized.

>The other pegasus shyly brushes a lock of her mane//

Why are you switching to present tense?

Your perspective continues to bounce back and forth between them, and when it stays factual, that's fine, but the narration expresses the characters' opinions and impressions as if his own often enough that it's more of a limited narration, and head-hopping is a bad idea with that.

>She would ramble for hours and hours about various facts about the group that she was familiar with//

That's just awkwardly phrased, and it's pretty much repeating what the last sentence already said twice.

>Fluttershy didn’t mind though, she wasn’t a very skilled conversationalist//That comma's a splice. It's tacking together two complete sentences.

>her friends whom insisted she needed a backup plan//

You keep using "whom" where "who" is actually the correct choice.

You haven't marked this as an AU, but it diverges from canon quite a lot. Fluttershy couldn't attend many of Dash's events? Well, some things, like Fluttershy having to pass a flight test and both of them attending college, aren't explicitly contradicted by canon, but neither do them seem to be implied by it. You can get away with some of this, but the more and more it piles up, it gets harder to take on the whole.



>one whom I have personally trained//

That's the only "whom" I've seen so far that is correct.

>Wonderbolts,” she paused for a moment so reporters could murmur amongst each other, “That//

The way you go out and back into speech with commas suggests the quote is one continuous sentence, but it clearly isn't, and you've capitalized "That."

>Rarity had gone on a designing spree and made on inspired by each of her friends.//


>Clearing her throat, Rainbow’s loud voice//

This says her voice cleared her throat.

>“Thank you, Spitefire,” she paused//

Another typo, and your speech tag doesn't have a speaking action in it.

>Today, I’m here with some of the best flyers around whom have lead me to greatness.//

That just doesn't parse.

>her pet rabbit, Angel//

This kind of appositive needs commas on both sides or none at all.

It's kind of odd seeing Dash use semicolons in her letter. She doesn't seem like the type to know how, much less be inclined to.

>She had decided on a blue sweater than Rainbow had given her years ago as a Christmas present.//

Typo. And it's Hearth's Warming there.


Don't capitalize that.

>The bellboy had lead Fluttershy//

The past tense is "led."

>the banana colored pegasus//

You're using Fluttershy's perspective. Why would she describe herself this way?



>for when whatever opened that door did//


>paled blue//



Think about wha sound she'd actually repeat. There isn't a "t" sound in that word.



>speaking again, “any//


>gentle patter//

>gentle smile//
These are only a sentence apart. Avoid close word repetition like this.

Okay, I took fewer and fewer notes as I read, since I was just seeing more of the same things. Don't take these notes as a comprehensive list. They're just examples.

Now the romance. It's hard to develop a good romance. It's not enough to just say one character loves the other. You have to prove it. All I know about Fluttershy is that she finds Rainbow attractive and like to watch her fly? But what does she actually like about her? What makes her think Rainbow is good relationship material, that they'd be compatible? Right near the end, you start to scratch the surface of that, when Fluttershy starts telling Rainbow all the times she admired her through their lives. That kind of anecdote is really where a romance can shine, since it shows them actually in love, but it needs much more detail.

From the other side, we get nothing. I have no idea what Dash likes about Fluttershy. It's a really cliched plot, too where one pony reveals a long-standing secret crush, and upon learning about it, the other pony either reveals the same, or just suddenly decides they're in love, too. You have to do something to stand out from the crowd of stories that all do this same thing. And the best way is to make their relationship really vibrant. How to accomplish that? Well, rather than spend a long time typing out a bunch of advice, I'll refer you to Aragon, who's written a good series of blogs on how to build a believable romance. They're linked from his homepage. I'd recommend reading through them.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2932

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.

Right away, the story is a bit stagnant, since it's pretty heavily front-loaded with "to be" verbs. They're inherently boring, as nothing happens, and the beginning of a story is an espeecially important place to create an active feel and grab the reader's interest. You'd do well to rephrase these with active verbs where possible.

>“I noticed you were very tense around Cup Cake,” Fluttershy said.//

She didn't seem very tense. Paint a picture of it for me.

>First your filly goes missing//

She'd mentioned ponies disappearing in her dreams, but not that it happened in real life, too. Seems like that would have come up right away. It's also strange they assume Carrot left even though Pumpkin "disappeared." Why doesn't anyone think Carrot might be a disappearance as well?

>Losing your whole family//

Wait, what happened to Pound Cake?

>things - encouraging, loyal, competitive - but//

Please use proper dashes for cutoffs and asides. There's a brief guide to them at the top of this thread. In numerous places, you use hyphens were dashes are appropriate.

>Fluttershy decided she’d try to help Rainbow, starting with her worries about Cup Cake.//

This is redundant, since she goes on to do exactly that. You don't want to over-explain things.

>Sugar Cube Corner//

In canon, they spell "Sugarcube" as one word. This comes up again in later chapters.

>As she listened to Thunderlane rant//

This is the 5th sentence of this scene. It's the 4th in a row with an "as" clause. It's the 3rd in a row where that "as" clause starts the sentence. Beware getting structurally repetitive like this.

>highly-rated fliers//

Two-word modifiers that start with an -ly adverb don't need hyphens.

>They never invited Fluttershy, but it was their loss.//

I find this very confusing. I can't believe this is Fluttershy's thought process, so it must be Dash's. Indeed, this whole paragraph seems to relate things through Dash's eyes. Yet the previous paragraph was very much through Fluttershy's viewpoint. I didn't even know Dash was there until the second paragraph, after all. You don't want to bounce the perspective around like this. There's a section on head-hopping at the top of the thread that gives some rationale for that.

>the yellow pony//

And no matter which of them holds the perspective, neither one would have a reason to describe Fluttershy in such an external, formal way. You don't think of your best friend in such abstract terms, do you? Or yourself.

>The other pegasus//

Another very external reference for this limited a narrator.

>Rainbow said, exasperated//

Don't tell me she's exasperated. Demonstrte it. What does she do? How does she look?

>an empty honeycomb lying on the ground//

Wait, that's an odd thing to have just randomly lying around a shed.

>Fluttershy rushed to her, grabbing the baker around her barrel.//

>Fluttershy bolted forward, leaping over the platform’s edge with her forelegs stretched out.//
>A whoosh of wind knocked her mane into her eyes, stopping her in mid flight.//
See how you keep tacking those participial phrases onto the ends of sentences? Just the fact you keep using them plus you keep putting them in the same place makes this very repetitive. Authors of intermediate experience tend to overuse participles, and they stand out easily when repeated, since you don't encounter them that much in everyday conversations. They have a few attendant problems I'll likely see as well, if you keep using so many. In fact, I see one already. Note that participles make things happen at the same time. Yet in that first one, Fluttershy wouldn't grab Cup Cake until after rushing to her, yet you have them happening simultaneously.

I don't get why Dash is having so much trouble carrying Mrs. Cake. She's carried multiple ponies before.

>A curving cavern//

This whole paragraph, where you have paired alliteration, is severly undercutting the story's mood. Alliteration usually creates a playful feel, and that's precisely the opposite of what you want.

And then you try to get poetic with lots of rhymes, and to be honest, most of these rhymes are very forced to the point the language seems nonsensical. I get that being nonsensical is somewhat the point, but there's a fine line. This just sounds goofy, where it should be menacing or disorienting.

>Fluttershy ran her hoof along her sides to if she had been burned//

Missing word.

>significantly singed, or scarcely scorched//

Yeah, you're severely overdoing the alliteration.

>a few second before//


>The unicorn stood besides her//


The alliteration is more tolerable as a speech affectation of Rarity's, but in the narration, it's just annoying.

>attached to which was a slender thread that she and Rarity dangled from//

That's... kind of strange how you take pains to avoid one dangling preposition but not the other. I really don't mind either way, but this is inconsistent.

>one of the thread//


>small, white//

These are hierarchical adjectives, so they don't need a comma. The (non-foolproof) test is to see whether they describe different aspects, or to see if they sound very awkward in reverse order. If the answer to those is yes, you probably don't need the comma.

It strikes me that aside from flowery language and having a sewing-themed weapon, Rarity doesn't seem like Rarity at all. If you're going to call her that, then have her be Rarity. Otherwise, just make an OC. Maybe Rarity's supposed to emulate a specific character from the manga? If so, it'd work better as an MLP crossover in the Magica Madoka fandom than the other way around.

>He hopped onto Rainbow and begin//

>for a few second//

>Fluttershy had plenty of practice dragging the reckless pegasus home from Sweet Apple Acres, and hoisted her with ease.//

Wait, what? Then why did Rainbow Dash have so much trouble carrying Mrs. Cake? She's much stronger than Fluttershy.

What happened to Cup Cake? Maybe I just missed it, but I didn't see where she got returned home. And wouldn't Fluttershy and Dash want to check on her later? Rarity just glosses over it to say she's fine.

>What you saw with your very own eyes was this unicorn dispatch//


>pegasi companions//

Noun adjuncts are singular. For instance, you say "ham sandwiches," not "hams sandwiches."

>bring out fresh binds//

Usually bonds or bindings.


Most readers will assume "herd," but a group of ponies is actually a "string." Though I don't expect you to use that.

Now that I'm significantly into chapter 4, i have to wonder what the point is. Mrs. Cake hasn't been that big a deal in the story, and neither has Apple Bloom, yet you're dwelling at length on both. It's a rather different thing than Rarity's description of there being lots of witches around, and that they could always use more fighters to combat them. By focusing so heavily on one (who is already dead, no less), it's taking focus away from the bigger picture.

And now we're getting a ton of exposition about Fluttershy. Delivering it in one big batch like this is asking for lots of trouble. It's only marginally interesting, mostly because I don't see any relevance for it yet. Exposition works best when you dole it out a little at a time, as it becomes pertinent to the plot.

>blood shot//


>Where did you learn to do heal ponies//

Extraneous word.

>can enters//


>But, Rarity talked Rainbow into it//

It's rare that a comma after a conjunction is used correctly. This one isn't.

>… And//

Don't leave a space after a leading ellipsis. You have several through here.


When you have a word italicized to show emphasis, it's preferred to include an exclamation mark or question mark on it in the italics.

>mail box//



That's two words.

>Or, it was supposed to be.//

Lose the comma.

>A part of her wanted tell //

Missing word.

>No, there couldn’t, a witch wouldn’t, trap ponies here, that much is clear//

I get that you're putting the commas to show where the rhymed lines are, but it's coming across as really forced.

>I didn’t….//

You only need three dots. Four is really for citations in formal writing.

>some of her friend//



You don't need hyphens on two-word phrases that being with an -ly adverb.

>All wrong.//

This is an occasional problem with the story, and I'll revisit it in more detail when I write up my closing discussion, but this scene goes into the third paragraph before I know what perspective it's in. The previous scene was in Fluttershy's, so the presumption will be that she continues to hold the viewpoint until there's evidence otherwise. It doesn't feel like her voicing here, so it probably has changed, but I don't get to find out who for a while. What that means is that I have to store up the whole scene to that point in my head, then reapply that context to it once I know. That's a pretty big thing to ask of a reader, and many will just gloss over it and lose the effect you're creating by having a limited narrator in the first place.

>I don’t think I’m done a great job of it//



Applejack's female, so protégée.

>There’s been no reports//

You're mixing singular (has been) with plural (reports).

>So, she ignored it.//

No comma.

>pretending to the the stranger//


>Fluttershy lost track of time//

Looks like you have an inadvertent line break here. Or maybe you need another.

>a lost expression was on her face//

Given the syntax you're trying to use, you shouldn't have that "was" there.

>The stranger grimaced against their binds.//

Again, either bonds or bindings would be much more typical.

>The swirling clouds of ink she figured were minions laid crumpled on the floor.//

"Laid" is transitive; it requires a direct object. You want "lay."

This chapter finally developed Rarity into more of the character we know than one who only bears a superficial resemblance to her, so good on that front. However, I'm not sure all these gimmicky chapters are that good an idea. I'd talked about how the one that kept resorting to alliteration undercut its own tone. Similarly, this one is presumably supposed to be a gimmick related to the witch's effect. It looks more like a screenplay, but I could also buy it as a libretto, which ties in to music. But it's focused on Rarity's viewpoint during the fight, meaning she experiences it like this. It's far more likely this would be from the witch's viewpoint, since it would choose to see things through this lens, yet what does it accomplish to use the witch's perspective? We don't even know who it is, much less have a desire to identify with it. I'll get back to this later when I discuss perspective at the end.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2933

>Now that I think of it, I presume that tragedy was fresh on her mind.//
It's surprising that a lawyer worth his credentials would think this to be well-considered and not insist she get to a more stable frame of mind before redoing her will.

This also smacks of you putting Flim in the story by name only, just to have a recognizable one. He acts nothing like Flim. He's completely on the up-and-up, and he's not trying to scheme them out of anything.

>vaguely remembered extravagances and furbelows//

Rainbow's the only one present for this, so if you're indeed using a limited narrator, she's the only candidate. Yet this sounds nothing like word choices she'd make. And it does feel like limited narration through here, as it's full of subjective judgments.

>or for church//

Conceptually, I don't have a problem with there being churches in Equestria. But just be aware that it suggests a lot of world-building that the story never delivers. Plus it's very late in the story to introduce a pretty fundamental piece of world-building. Not that it'll be critical to the plot (in which case it's also extraneous), but the way Dash so casually mentions it also makes it something that's fairly pervasive in the culture, or something she has a personal familiarity with, neither of which is suggested.

>gas lights//


>out of the way hallway//

You're using "out of the way" as a phrasal adjective, so hyphenate it.

>why on earth//

But they're not on Earth... Is it just an earth pony expression that's more generic? Seems odd for a pegasus to use it then.

>Fluttershy retreated from the map room, and decided she needed a smaller project to start off with.//

>she climbed the stairs and found her way to the master bedroom//
Note the inconsistent comma usage here. This is an intermittent issue throughout the story. In both cases, there's merely a compound verb, yet you use a comma in one and not the other. For a compound verb or subject, you usually don't need one. When you do use one is when you have a whole new subject-verb pair. Like in the first one, if you'd said "and she decided," then a comma would be appropriate.

>There was even a nice breeze coming from an open window//

Interesting. Dash had considered opening the window and explicitly did not. I trust this is intentional. But then nothing ever comes of it.

>Then, the doorbell rang.//

Another unnecessary comma after a conjunction.


After the first couple of these, we get the picture. You can just call them by name.

>There was a half-empty bottle of cider//

You have a lot of these "there was" constructions in describing Dash's house. Despite getting repetitive, it also kills the momentum with inactive verbs.

>all-empty ones besides it//

Kind of a curious use of "besides." Are you sure you didn't mean "beside"?

>Then, she dumped the rest of the cider//

No comma.

>once in awhile//

You have to be careful choosing between "awhile" and "a while." The first is an adverb, and the second is a noun. They won't parse in the same places in sentences. This needs to be two words so you have a noun to be the object of the preposition "in."

>There used to be a brash, energetic, and most of all, happy pony, and she lived right here.//

All of this is pretty nebulous. If you want the reader to become invested in Dash's character, be more specific. What exactly happened to her? Why did that affect her the way it did? One or two examples will speak far louder than a sweeping generalization.

>Kyubey was besides her on the bed.//

Yeah, you're definitely confusing "beside" with "besides." Only "beside" describs a physical position. "Besides" means "in addition to" or "not taking into account."

>Searching for a change of topic, her attention fell on Applejack’s necklace.//

Beware dangling participles. This says that her attention was searching for a change of topic.

>Then, he said it was time for her to summon her weapon.//

No comma. Just do a Ctrl-f for "Then,".

>once familiar//

Another spot where you need to hyphenate a phrasal adjective.

>The Adventure Book//

Book titles get underlined or (preferably) italicized. You have a couple instances of it.

>The blue pegasus//

This scene's been in Dash's perspective. Why would she refer to herself in such an external, formal way?


It kind of loses the horse pun if you don't spell it "Fillydelphia." Plus that's the canon spelling, and you use it later on.

>Winesap’s daughter//

I'm assuming you wrote this before we knew her father's name to be Bright Mac. Would it be a big deal to change it? You get a pass anyway for it being an AU, but unless some part of the plot hinges on it being that name, there's no reason not to.

>I might want to see Apple Bloom, first.//

No need for that comma.

>Fluttershy caught up to her and besides her in silence.//

Even correcting that to "beside," it still wouldn't parse. You're missing a verb.

>who she thought had a blue coat//

Whom, though as this is Fluttershy's limited narration, it's up to you whether you want her to know that.



>Rainbow winced.//

Missing a line break here.

>the pegasus’s neck//

Another odd reference. Dash is Fluttershy's good friend, so why would she refer to her so impersonally?

>Rainbow tussled Fluttershy mane//

"Tussle" means to get into a fight. You want "tousle." And you're missing an apostrophe.

>where Applejack laid upside down//


>graceful navigation of treacherous discussions//

You're starting to lose Dash's voice again. This doesn't sound like something she'd say, and limited narration is essentially internal dialogue.

>Only, they never did.//

No comma.

>Applejack’s head jerked up, and she glared at Rainbow. Rainbow met her gaze. Applejack broke the stare first and pulled herself off the chair. She continued walking to the middle of the room, where she stopped mid-stride. Her head drooped.//

This paragraph badly needs some variety. All of the sentences are short. All start with the subject. Only two have a dependent clause. None have any other sort of parenthetical element, like an aside, absolute phrase, or participial phrase. It doesn't take much seasoning to add a lot of flavor, and this is just bland.

>The smile faded away, and her head rolled back towards the floor.//

This is near the beginning of a long paragraph. There isn't any more narration in it. There isn't any narration in the next paragraph. There isn't any narration in the next three paragraphs after that. Monologuing has its place, but it's tougher to buy here. Applejack doesn't have any reason I've seen to sit perfectly still, and real people do things while they talk. And from the other side of it, you haven't given Dash a reason to be so riveted on it that she doesn't pay attention to anything else, which is a viable way to work it through the limited narration.


"Every day" and "everyday" aren't the same thing. The one you've chosen means "ordinary."

>Applejack grew quiet. Rainbow approached with hesitant steps and sat beside her. Rainbow reached out a foreleg and laid it on Applejack’s back. Applejack tensed and gave Rainbow a sidelong stare.//

And once we do finally get some narration, it's back to that plodding, repetitive structure.

>Or, you can also take//

No comma.


This isn't modifying something that comes after it, so you don't need the hyphens.

>Cup Dazzle//

And we've learned in canon her name was Chiffon Swirl. Really, if you went and edited this and changed Winesap to Bright Mac, what would it really hurt? And then you wouldn't have readers asking why you aren't in agreement with the show.

>So, you had a chance to revive somepony who did everything she could to deserve her life, and instead you wished away your own pain.//

Why doesn't Dash cut in her and explain her original plan. It'd help a bit, and I'd think she'd want to defend herself. It was her first instinct to save them, after all.

>getting a drink the cider bar//

Missing word.

>The air was cold as stone//

And since the encounter began, this is already the third time you've mentioned stone, and it's not done in a way that's obviously thematic, so it just comes across as an oversight.

This chapter reminds me of the earlier ones that have witch encounters formatted as poetry. Yet I can't make rhyme nor reason out of this one. I can't see the logic of how it's organized into lines. It's not by rhythm. there are a couple of rhymes, but nothing regularly spaced. I don't know what sort of atmosphere you're trying to create, so whatever your intent was it's lost on me. In fact, I was a little put off by the more readily identifiable poetry earlier, since while it rhymed, it had very irregular rhythm. And yet it had a kind of show tune feel to me, which can get away with that. Still, you want to be sure this formatting is accomplishing something. Different for the sake of different is pointless, and I'm not getting anything more than that out of it.

About this fire... Dash is on the weather team. Can't she go get a raincloud?

>Applejack huddled besides the entryway//


Okay, I like this story. I know very little of Madoka Magica, so I can't tell if some of the story's quirks are meant to emulate it, but I didn't feel lost at all, which is a sign of an effective crossover. Especially the weirdness that comes in when they're in a labyrinth, which I'd guess is more likely to come from the manga, since what you're doing is very different from a visual effect. I do think the alliterative one, as I said, is harming the mood. As to the rest of them, I think there's also a perspective problem.

In fact, perspective was an issue in other places as well. I noted spots already, so I won't detail them again, only to say that you seem to write limited narration, so be careful that you're staying in a consistent viewpoint and not jumping around unnecessarily to different characters. And then those labyrinth scenes. I alluded to this before, but the one that seems like a screenplay fights the perspective as well, since the only one who would choose to experience it that way is the witch, yet none of the witches are explicitly in the story. So the scenes are structured to make it feel like Rarity or Fluttershy or whoever holds the perspective at the time is the one viewing it like that, and it just has a plausibility problem.

A related matter is when the limited narrator loses the voicing of the character he's supposed to represent, which most often happened with Dash.

Yet you've done a very good job of characterization. The only standout to me was Rarity, who, as I said, doesn't really come across as her until we've already been with her for a while. So for quite a bit of the time she's around, I'm wondering where her insistence on the finer things in life is, her need to adjust everyone else's wardrobe, and especially why she's so willing to leap right into a fight. Like Jumping down the throat, fighting a tongue, getting spit and blood all over her, and not complaining one bit? That's not the Rarity I know. Not that there couldn't be a reason why she's changed in this manner, but you have to present it. Don't just make her different and rely on me to come up with the reason why. That's your job.

There's not all that much that needs fixing, really. The most extensive bit is making the weird labyrinth narration (seriously, does the manga do that, because the anime doesn't) suit the perspective, and clean up the rhyme and rhythm of it, for that matter. But I could even let that drop as a stylistic thing if everything else got fixed up.

Ah, but there's the rub. You have that sex tag on the story, and not a hint of it has turned up so far. Because sex and gore are the two main ways stories violate our content guidelines, we need to see how bad it'll get. We can't post such things sight unseen. So I'd need to know how explicit that's going to get, either by getting a synopsis of that specific plot thread or by seeing a rough draft of the chapter(s) where it happens. Nothing in the extended synopsis of future chapters you sent us deals with this, either, so I'm flying totally blind on it, and I can't do that.

Finally, a word about the story description. You have another one of those erroneous commas after a conjunction ("So,"), and it's quite cliched to ask rhetorical questions, particularly to end on one.

You're well on your way to having this posted. It just needs some tweaks here and there (and please apply them to your future chapters as well, since a lot of those things are likely to be pervasive), and I'd need to know what all the sex tag will entail. If all that's satisfactory, I could definitely see posting this.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2936

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 really don't see the point of putting whole chapters or even whole scenes in italics. I don't know what the italics are supposed to signify (flashbacks? personal thoughts?), plus italics are meant to show emphasis, and when everything is emphasized, nothing is.

>districts sat in the shadow of the proud, but kind edifice and the full moon would hang in the air in just the right place//

I have zero idea what this means. "Edifice" isn't the kind of thing that goes without an article; it's used here more like it's an abstract idea. And I'm just baffled at what "districts" is supposed to evoke.

>the moon above the midnight sky//

I'm not sure how the moon would be above the sky from his perspective. If he were in orbit, sure.

>The Crystal Ball had passed a few months ago and she had not danced.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>moon - the simple movement of the sky seemed to make him vanish - and//

Please use proper dashes for interruptions and asides, not hyphens.

>Sombra's gaze changed and she saw mischief in his eyes.//

Needs a comma.

>How on earth//

I'm not sure how that expression works in Equestria. If he were an earth pony, maybe, but he's a unicorn.

>you're dreadfully boring and standing here is certainly worthwhile isn't it?//

Missing a couple of commas.

>did a double take as she looked at King Sombra//

That's weirdly redundant and contradictory at the same time.

>her wariness broken and replaced with confusion//

You're using a limited narrator, so it's a bit off-putting to have her readily identify her emotion. That's not really how people experience it. To wit, if she's confused, it's more natural for her to try thinking her way through it or ask a question internally, not just to say she's confused.

>with slight disgust still visible//

And that's working against the perspective again. Her eyes are your camera. How can she see her own expression to evaluate it as disgust? You've even explicitly called it a visual thing.

>She too, felt stiff//

If you're going to use commas with "too," put them on both sides of it.

>He gave her a curious sideways glance and Cadance tried to remember what it was like having somepony who was taller than her.//

Needs a comma.

>Sombra noted that she sounded slightly sheepish//

Why are you switching to Sombra's perspective? The chapter didn't start there, and just as quickly, you go back to Cadence's. What was the value of being there? And if it has some, then surely it's worth staying there longer than a few paragraphs.

>When was the last time it was spoken?//

The tense is off here. It should be "had been spoken."

>with disinterest//

This isn't the same thing as saying he had no interest. It means he was once interested but no longer is, so make sure that's what you want.

>Cadance looked at her hooves and muttered something Sombra didn't hear and he promptly gave her another one of his curious looks that was best described as cat-like.//

And now the perspective is wavering badly. The narration identifies it as something he didn't hear before there's any evidence of such presented, which puts it in his viewpoint, but in the same sentence, there's a more external evaluation of his expression that'd seem to be more from Cadence. This also needs a comma between the clauses.

>Sighing, Cadance spoke up.//

The participle means these happen at the same time. It'd be strange for her to raise her voice while sighing.

>her not-quite-right smile//

Now you're back in Sombra's viewpoint.

>It'd take a lot explaining.//

Missing word.

>thirty two//

Needs a hyphen.

>Isn't a little weird to you that a gloomy ghost is telling me to lighten up...?//

That's a complete thought, so I don't know why she's trailing off with it.

>Cadance's smile was as it should be.//

Back into Sombra's viewpoint after having returned to Cadence's. I haven't been marking all the shifts. The perspective is really jumping around a lot.


That's generally used as a collective term: on her withers.

>to signal the start of his interruption//

But he didn't interrupt her. She finished speaking.

>last question first//

Odd juxtaposition. I think dropping the "last" wouldn't harm anything.

>looking completely relaxed//

Back to Cadence's head.

>The moon's light could be obscured, after all and a cloud outside did the trick.//

Needs a comma.


Two things: Only capitalize the first part of a stutter unless it's a word that has to be capitalized anyway. And since I don't know which word she was going to say, I don't know how to hear this. A "w" sound for "what" or "why"? An "h" sound for "who"?

>The next deep breath Cadance took was heard by both//

I have no idea which perspective this is, since neither one could definitively know that about the other without seeing evidence of it.

>her form glittering like a diamond//

Seems to be more from Sombra's viewpoint.

>Sombra's ghostly limb slipped into hers and she pulled him into the light.//

Needs a comma.

>I'm barely physically//

Physically what?

>He speaks the word with particular disgust, as though there's something about it he wants to dodge.//

Why is this in present tense? And narrative asides in quotes like this don't get capitalized or end punctuation (except possibly for an exclamation mark or question mark, if appropriate).

>She nodded into his wither.//


>one who have//

Verb conjugation is off.

>Sombra felt Cadance nod.//

Now you're in his head again.

>Cadance was relieved//

Don't be so direct. If she's relieved, then in her own head, she's going to have a "thank goodness" or some such, not a blunt "I'm relieved."

At this point, I have to wonder if you're writing an AU where she isn't married to Shining Armor. He's conspicuously absent from her thoughts.

>Cadance's hooves hurt from the night's dancing and laying out on the floor wasn't as cold as Sombra's deathly cold touch//

Needs a comma, and lie/lay confusion.

>Unable to touch anything other than flesh and his own regalia, Sombra found himself unable//

Watch that close word repetition.

>the first that Cadance had seen the handsome stallion make//

He hadn't smiled in any of the prior chapters? I could swear I'd read it, and since you were using her as your limited narrator, if the narrator mentions it, it follows that she knows about it.

>He crossed his ghostly forehooves and his expression soured.//

Needs a comma.

>the solitary Empress//

This really smacks of having moved to his perspective, since it'd be really strange for her to refer to herself in such a manner.

>Sombra looked down at the solitary Empress sprawled across the floor, and listened to her laugh for a moment longer//

That's actually a spot that doesn't need the comma, since the verb "listened" doesn't get its own subject.

>as it its//


>you had interrupted me//

Why is he injecting past perfect tense when responding to a past tense question?

>the use in the south//


>The green piece of glass close to Sombra wouldn't budge in any pointless attempt to pick it up that he made.//

That's really awkwardly phrased.

>Quirky things like this were Auntie Luna's niche but she hadn't realized how lonely she'd been//

Needs a comma.

>She didn't let that thought finish and Sombra's gaze only left her when she looked at him again, holding an azure fragment of glass in her magic.//

Needs a comma. Also note that grammatically speaking, it first appears he's the one holding the glass, since the phrase is located closer to his mention. It's a tad ambiguous.


Ah, so Shining Armor is in the picture. Curious that he's never come up until now.


Only capitalize the first part of a stutter.

>She grew up and moved out and has her own kingdom.//

And the picture comes together. I don't see what's gained by hiding when the story takes place until now, but if you're attached to the idea, it's not a big deal.

>Instead of looking down sorrowfully, as Cadance was prone to do whenever social subjects involving other ponies came up, she perked up.//

That's phrased pretty externally to her, and it's oddly expository during a scene that hasn't been.

>Cadance's purple tipped wings//

You'd wandered into her perspective around here. It's really odd for her to comment on the color of her wings. Why would she even notice?

>I had guard when I ruled//

Seems like that should be "guards" or "a guard."

>The tall Goddess-Empress of the Crystal Empire, Mi Amore Cadenza//

Again, a strange way for her to refer to herself.


Consider what sound she'd actually repeat. There isn't even a "k" sound in that word.


Only capitalize the first one.

>trying to meet his calmed gaze//

You'll normally set off participial phrases with a comma.

>and Cadance nuzzled him back, once before wilting again//

Having a comma alone there is really strange. Either put another after "once" or drop this one.

>Sombry she was so young when it happened//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>Sombra leaned down to nuzzle her again and Cadance reached up a forehoof to stroke his fluffy face, no matter how cold he was, she felt comforted for the first time since the slow freeze of everything centuries ago.//

That first part needs a comma, and one of the two commas you have is a splice. It just depends on which part you want "no matter how cold he was" to go with.

>Cadance nodded, and thawed a little bit more.//

Unnecessary comma.

>he still had an actor's heart and his voice brought every word to life//

Needs a comma.

>It was a very silly thought, in fact, it was as silly as her eyes watering at the thought of her ghostly lover vanishing like all was a dream.//

Same deal: one of those commas is a splice, but it's up to you which one.

>a dusty vinyl//

A dusty vinyl what? Or is it common nowadays to use that word as a synonym for "record"?

>Was their distinguishing feature, their unreasonably short tails?//

Unnecessary comma.

>nine inch tail//


>cold. formal//

That period should be a comma.

>"Do lutes count as a genre?"//

Given what we know about the Crystal Empire's history, I'm surprised he doesn't have anything to say about flugelhorns.

>you had been reading to be//


>your own husband//

So... they're married now? That's a rather abrupt change to the relationship. I guess I'll have to talk about this in a minute.

Well, I'm at the end, so I'll talk about it now!

I do see the progression of why Cadence ends up with him, though I'm still not exactly in touch with why. He offers her a connection to her past and is the only one who will dance with her. She does gradually act comfortable around him. But I never really get a sense of what she likes about him. Just that he's the only option does not good romance make. How is it that their personalities are compatible? What does she see as good relationship material in him? I don't know if you;ve seen it, but Aragon did a series of blog posts on how to do realistic romance, and he keeps them linked on his homepage. It might be worth going through that to make sure you have a solid romance.

It works both ways as well. From Sombra's side, all I can tell is that she's the only one who will talk to him, maybe the only one who can see him. But I have no idea what he likes about her, how he feels the mesh well together, other than they both like dancing. Now, there's something to be said for atmosphere conveying some of that. The times they play games or read together do show that they at least have a deep friendship, and that can work for portraying a relationship well after the formative stages, but the formative stages are precisely what the story is meant to document, so it feels like a big omission to leave that out.

For that matter, Sombra is evasive about his past, and he never answers her. I don't know how she lets him get away with sweeping it under the rug that he had a reign of terror over an enslaved and mind-controlled population, and probably would have killed Cadence, given the opportunity. But all that just gets shoved aside so Cadence can love him without any obstacles. That's a pretty glaring thing to overlook when deciding you can utterly trust someone.

It ended up not being so bad that Shining Armor didn't come into it until late, but make sure that works with the perspective. And a quick aside: the perspective does need to be ironed out quite a bit, as it skips back and forth between them almost constantly. But assuming you want Cadence to be the viewpoint character (she is at the point of the reveal, anyway), does she have a motivation to avoid even thinking about it so it won't show up in the narration? Sure she does. But that doesn't mean she can exercise complete control of her thoughts and keep it from ever coming up. As I noted, there are several places where it would have been natural for it to, so these are where some aborted intrusive thoughts might start up before she can tamp them down. That would make it feel more realistic, like she's struggling to keep her mind off it instead of being implausibly free of such thoughts.

I don't know how much you're willing to add to this, or if you want to keep it within what would have been allowed for the contest. Touching up the editing and perspective aren't really going to change the word count, but building up a more solid romance might, depending on whether you can cut other things to balance. But that and the jumpy perspective are really the big things here. I just didn't come away from the story with an understanding of why either of them would choose the other, and you're not trying to play it up as a dysfunctional thing. The atmosphere and characterization were good, so I'd just like to see a stronger foundation for the relationship.

Jay Bear!cSWoEWwnvI 2938


Author here! Thank you very much for the thorough critique. One of my goals with this story is to experiment with tone, style, and perspective, so it's especially helpful to see where those experiments don't work and distract from the story. That said, you also flagged a lot of things that weren't experiments and just need to be better written (chapter 1 in general, Rarity OOC in chapter 2, that infodump in chapter 4, etc.). I'll get to work on re-writing before asking any in-depth questions, since I'm sure I can resolve some questions on my own.

Regarding the Sex tag, I added that for the double entendre titles of Rarity's romance novels, and don't have plans to add anything else that would merit the tag. It sounds like I was being overly cautious with FimFic's tagging rules and can safely remove it, though.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2939

I did find those different formats interesting, so I wouldn't call them failed experiments. It's just that they didn't quite fit the chosen perspective. The one with all the alliteration did create a confused feel, which would be right on target, except it did it in more of a comical way than a menacing one. It may well be that the witch sees the situation as comical, but then you'd need to be in her perspective to show that, and the witches aren't even shown as characters, so that's not possible. That said, they can be tweaked to show the experience of the perspective characters you chose.

Again let's take the alliterative one. Iirc, Fluttershy is the perspective character for that one. And she gets affected by the labyrinth enough that she starts speaking in alliteration as well, so it's not out of the question that it flows into her perception of what's happening. A similar effect happens later on as well, when the hunters speak in rhyme, or Fluttershy gets fooled by the fork in the road. So some of those would only take a minor tweak. Show it as the perspective character sees it, not as the witch does, and make the mood match. Rarity fighting the tongue monster is an example of one that did work well. The script-format one less so, since I don't know how writing it out as stage directions and labeled dialogue is supposed to inform my interpretation of how the perspective character at the time (I forget who it was) would perceive what was going on. I mean, what about the labyrinth would make it seem to that hunter that she was acting out a script? Writing it out as one doesn't quite do it, but there are other narrative tricks that might, like having the hunter feel like she was taking her fight cues from a director or something. I'm just spitballing here, but that's the kind of thought process you need here: how does the perspective character experience it?
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2940

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.

>Thanks for walking me to the train station, daddy.//

When used as terms of address or effectively as names, family relations get capitalized.

>deep in her mane. He took a deep//

Try to avoid repeating all but the most mundane of words in a close space like this.

>to—” Pear Butter was cut off//

It's pretty redundant to narrate getting cut off when the punctuation already shows it.

>She spat her bag out and quickly crossed over to Grand Pear, planting a quick kiss on his cheek and running back to the train.//

Note that participles mean things happen at the same time, so she goes to Grand Pear, kisses him, and runs back simultaneously, where it's more reasonable for her to do that in a sequence.

>I love you, daddy!//

Capitalization of the family relation again.

>Even though his hooves felt like they were glued in place//

This is 8th paragraph, but it's the first that doesn't start with dialogue. Try and mix up the structure a bit for variety.

>tall, black//

These are hierarchical adjective, so they don't need a comma. The non-foolproof test is that if they describe different aspects of something, or if they sound really awkward in reverse order, you don't need the comma.

>the end of the last car raced past him, the bright red lights on the end//

Watch that repetition again.

>all he could do was lay still//

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

>In the exact same ritual he performed every morning//

You could use some more variety in your narration like this sentence. So many of your narrative sentences start with the subject. Most of your sentences probably will, but break them up hre and there. It doesn't take much to have a big impact.

This paragraph has its own couple of instances of repetition. There are two phrasings that get used twice:
>towards the house’s living areas
>towards the stove
>the house’s selection

>Breakfast was accounted for//

It's often hard to put my finger on exactly why something isn't working when it's purely related to the story's feel, but I'll try. The opening scene had more visual imagery than this, and there was tension. A good-bye, and we didn't know why, plus the action with the train kept interest up. Now, it's just Grand Pear going through his morning routine, and it's really dull. This paragraph is one of the worst offenders. It gives us quite a bit of detail, but it's detail that doesn't mean anything. None of these events or descriptions are going to be important to the plot. I can get that maybe you're deliberately trying to create a mood of boring routine, but that's very difficult to do while keeping the story entertaining. If you want to establish a sense of boredom, it's best to make it short.

>yesterday’s paper. If he remembered right, he still hadn’t looked at the financial section from yesterday’s edition.//

You don't need to say twice that it's from yesterday.

>Her expression was somewhere between concern and caution.//

It's fairly abstract to mention the mood, because there are lots of ways that could look. Describe it. Show me your vision of it and let me deduce the emotion on my own. If you do it well, I'll get where you want me to go.

>keeping his eyes fixated on the newspaper//

That's not really a place for "fixated." "Fixed" is more what you want.

>Grand paused for a moment//

>He paused for a moment//
These are in consecutive sentences.

>The percolator began to whistle quietly, signifying that the coffee was almost ready.//

Don't over-explain things. Let the facts speak for themselves. Even if I didn't know a percolator whistled, his reaction to it will tell me.

>he could tell that she wasn’t too pleased with his appraisal of the significance of the dreams//

How so? Let me see what she's doing. Don't just sum it up and draw the conclusion for me. It's less real that way.

>that family?//

When you italicize something for emphasis, it's preferred to include any question marks or exclamation marks on it in the italics.

>with eyes full some emotion he couldn’t quite place. Shock? Pity? Guilt?//

Missing word. Also, this places you well within the realm of a limited narrator. The narration is vocalizing Grand's thoughts for him. This really is the key to those moments of boring routine. Show his inner turmoil through the tone the narration takes, and contrast that with the boring exterior. Use the limited narrator to its full advantage.


What's that to a pony?

>he was the one that broke//

When referring to a sentient being, it's preferred to use "who" instead of "that."

>No, he couldn’t do that.//

This scene is doing a much better job of keeping tension and interest up through the narrative tone. If you can make the previous scene more like this one, it'd do a lot better.

>They’d understand, he thought.//

Okay, if you're going to have the narrator state his thoughts for him, then it's odd to also have quoted thoughts. They create different levels of distance from the reader.

>rummaging through his bag//

>rummaged through them//
These occur close enough together for a word that unusual that it feels repetitive.

>Dear Grand Pear,//

The bbcode you're using to do this formatting puts a bar down the left side, which just looks strange. Check out the bbcode guide on the site. It supports a couple different indent ones which would probably create the effect you want.

>I’ll be taking custody of the foals//

Not sure she'd actually use that term. Big Mac wasn't very young anymore when Apple Bloom was born. I don't know that he could be called a foal at that point. Applejack, maybe.

>He’d been so dumbfounded that he forgot to breathe//

You mentioned a full minute going by. You might want to shorten that. A minute's past "forgetting to breathe" territory.

>His throat began to tighten up, and he knew that it would only be a few seconds before his eyes flooded with tears.//

The limited narration (and his quoted thoughts, for that matter) sound rather sedate for what should be a big emotional moment. Compare to that bit I excerpted earlier, where Grad was asking questions in the narration. Let the narration carry his mood and show his passion.

>eased, and the tightness that he felt throughout his body began to ease//

Close word repetition.

>around the store//

>everything around him//
>all around him//
All that is in the same paragraph.

>with it out of his sight//

"It" is singular, but he knocked more than one thing to the floor.

>the payment method; in this case, a money order//

The semicolon isn't used right, since what comes after it couldn't stand as a complete sentence.

>placed a single twenty-bit coin on the counter while Grand placed//

Close word repetition.

>He could easily see that she wasn’t so convinced.//

How so? What does she do?

I'm still seeing that if a paragraph contains dialogue, it always begins with the dialogue. A little variety always helps.

>one of the taps on the bar//

It's self-evident that's where they'd be, plus it's already the third time in the chapter you've used "bar."


No reason to hyphenate that.

>still didn’t feel any different otherwise//

The "still" and "otherwise" are fairly redundant, and then you have another "still" in the next sentence.

>it sucked//

Kind of odd seeing someone of his generation using that term but it's up to you.

>Grand paused to pound another shot down.//

But Gerry cut him off, and you haven't said anything since then to change that.

>Not that it phased Grand.//


>the fu- from//

Use a proper dash for cutoffs and asides, not a hyphen.

>funeral…” Grand trailed off//

It's pretty redundant to narrate trailing off when the punctuation already indicates it.

>Gerry looked away from Grand.//

When did he look at Grand? Last time you said what he was doing, he was keeping himself occupied so he didn't have to pay attention.

>fuzziness in his sight//

You just mentioned "fuzz" two paragraphs ago.

>I screwed up, Gerry.”//

When his dialogue bridges across paragraphs, you need to renew the opening quotes on each paragraph.

>Even through the fuzz in his mind//

More fuzz already?

>as he sat on his cold metal bench, watching as dozens of ponies rushed back and forth//

It's really clunky to have multiple "as" clauses in the same sentence. They fight each other for setting the timeline.

>So long as he avoided letting anypony smell the liquor on his breath and walked a straight line, he’d be home free.//

I don't get this. They won't let drunk ponies ride the train? Why not? It isn't dangerous.

>quickly. He’d still have time to grab a quick//

>a bit too far inward, and he stumbled a bit//

>The mare in the window looked on with disinterest as Grand turned away from her slowly and began walking away slowly at first, and then began to increase his pace, his steps becoming more and more wobbly and disconcerted as he picked up speed.//

The way this is phrased, she keeps watching him the whole time, but I don't know how he could tell that.

>back over onto his back//

Repetition. You also use "still" twice in this paragraph. You have 22 uses of "still" in the chapter, which is tending toward overuse.


Include the question mark in the italics.

>laying back flat on her head//

You need "lying" here.

>wrapped him in a tight hug//

>wrapped tightly in each other’s embrace//
These are only two paragraphs apart.

>Her embrace was just about the only place he felt safe enough to let it out.//

The line break is off here.

I'll just check another couple of words that it feels like I'm seeing a lot in this chapter. Look: 25, just: 32.

>Péra wrapped a hoof around his shoulders//

And now more wrapping.

>detailed a lot of the little details//

That seems self-explanatory.

>In a couple of hours time//

This should be phrased as a possessive: In a couple of hours' time.

>The gate swung open, its lightly rusted hinges groaning quietly as they were brought to life. Grand Pear stepped through the entrance, his hooves crunching in the gravel as he made his way slowly forward. His legs were killing him after the walk to get here, each step hindered by stiffness in his joints, but it wasn’t quite time to rest.//

Look how repetitive your sentence structure is here.
1. main clause, absolute phrase, dependent "as" clause
2. main clause, absolute phrase, dependent "as" clause
3. main clause, absolute phrase, dependent clause

>patches of snow left over, but those would be gone in just a few days. Patches//

Repetition. I'm not even pointing out all the instances of repetition, just examples.

>there was one single wilting red flower already needed trimming//

Missing word.


You don't need to hyphenate two-word phrases starting with an -ly adverb.

>were only starting to bloom//

>was just starting to sprout//
These are in consecutive paragraphs.

>just wasn’t much work to do to the grave. In just a few minutes, it already looked just//

See what I mean about overusing "just"? It isn't only the raw numbers, but how they can tend to turn up in clusters.

>But it’s too late. You’re gone, and there’s nothing I can do.”//

You need opening quotes on this, since it starts a new paragraph.

>the growing chorus of sobs//

Don't oversell this. Power often comes through being understated.

This isn't a bad redemption-type story, but it should be obvious from what I had to mention multiple times what the problems are. There's lots of repetition, and the first few scenes of chapter 1 are boring. What I think it's still missing, though, is more about Pera. She encouraged Grand to visit the Apples, he seemed receptive to it, and then we skip ahead in time to where she's dead, and he still has never gone for vague reasons.

It's like that sobbing at the end. There's more than is required to make the story work. Yeah, maybe you're trying to fit canon, but even that's easy to get around. Maybe Pera goes with him, but he didn't expect to be approached by the Apples, so he got caught by surprise without her. That'd work fine. Throwing in needless tragedy makes a story harder to take as realistic, and thus it can easily have the opposite effect than the author intended: it makes the story less sad because it's harder to relate to.

At the very least, we need some more concrete reason why Grand delayed so much longer (I don't even get a sense of how much later it is), and then consider how much it actually serves the plot to have Pera dead. It doesn't change his attitude toward his daughter, after all.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2948

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.

>pairs - including//

Please use a proper dash for asides and interruptions.

>The woman//

You've now identified her as Twilight, so why persist in using vague descriptors for her?

>it’s feeble magic depleted//

Its/it's confusion.

>here,” Discord eyed Twilight with his piercing gaze//

Your speech tag has no speaking verb. You can't tack just any action onto dialogue with a comma.


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

>Finally, she turned to Discord and nodded.//

This is the last sentence of the first scene and about a quarter of the way through the story. It's also the first narrative sentence that doesn't start with the subject. It's a very aesthetic thing, but the sentence structures in this story are very plodding and repetitive. SO many of them start with the subject, and so many of them are about the same length. You have to throw a little variety in there just to give the story a pleasant flow. That's my biggest issue with the story so far: it doesn't have any sort of lyrical quality to the narration. It reads more like a list of actions.

>Discord and Twilight sat across from one another at the dining room table. Two cups of steaming hot tea sat in front of them. Twilight cupped the beverage in her hands and watched Discord.//

Try to avoid close repetition of words, too. This happened in a few places. In this example, you have two uses of "sat" in consecutive sentences, and two uses of some form of "cup."

>His signature goatee survived the transition nicely//

You have a bit of dissonance in the narrative voice. Basically, you need to decide whether you want a limited narrator who's telling the story through Twilight's eyes or a limited narrator who's external to everyone. This sounds very much like one of Twilight's thoughts, so would be limited, yet the story started out sounding very omniscient, giving descriptions Twilight herself wouldn't make, like referring to her as "the woman" and listing details about her jewelry.

>“So…” she traced the lines on the table with her eyes.//

You keep using non-speaking actions as dialogue tags.

>“About six months or so.” Discord said matter-of-factly.//

That first period needs to be a comma.

>... Ten//

Don't put a space after a leading ellipsis.

>They gave me money and sometimes food. Never more than enough to last the day, though.//

Missing your closing quotation marks.

You're using a ton of ellipses in Twilight's dialogue. They're like seasonings. A little adds flavor, but too much is overwhelming. You want the reader remembering what happened, not that he saw a bunch of ellipses.

>Twilight choked back a sob as a tear slide down her cheek.//

Three things: 1) that's a very abrupt change of mood, from being not even upset to full-on sobbing, 2) there's a typo, and 3) that single tear is about the most cliched thing possible.

>Her eyes were red, puffy, and wet.//

Going back to perspective, if you're using a limited narrator in her viewpoint, she might know her eyes were wet, but she can't see them. How would she know they were red and puffy?

>Humans and Ponies//

Not sure why you're capitalizing those.

>She ran her fingers over several textbooks of various subjects.//

This is a symptom of a larger issue. When you leave things so vague like this, it has very limited impact. Give a couple of examples, attach some emotion to them. Maybe one was from the calculus class where someone asked her on a date for the first time, maybe another was from the English class where she couldn't bring herself to read a poem she'd written, so the teacher did it for her, and everyone loved it. Little windows into her life like that with the kinds of details to bring it alive are how you really engage a reader. A couple of brief examples will always be more powerful than a generalization. This goes for whoever her romantic interest is. We've just gotten generic statements that he looked out for her, but that doesn't paint a picture at all. Let me see a couple of times he did so I get to witness them, not simply have to accept the narrator's assurances that they were appropriately touching.

>concealed the slumbering form of a young girl//

This is very external again. She's not going to refer to her own daughter as "a young girl" in her own thoughts.

>You're also a grandmother now!//

That's a strange sentiment. Celestia isn't her mother, and nowhere in the story has she expressed that she considers Celestia like one, so this is just coming out of nowhere.

>but let's try this…//

It's far less reasonable to put an ellipsis in something she's written that something she says. In speech, people trail off for various reasons, none of which apply to writing, and it's not a very deliberate thing. But in a letter, she'd have to make a conscious decision to put the three dots on the page, and she must think she's accomplishing something by doing so, but I can't imagine what that is. It's a very iffy prospect to put speech affectations into something a character has written.

>Celestia paced relentlessly across the stone floor of her courtroom.//

Wait, we were just on Earth. Why are you skipping over to Equestria? That's a very jarring transition. There are ways to make this kind of thing work, but to suddenly drop it in just makes things a little confusing.

>the wailing alicorn//

If you go over the top, you risk making the emotion feel unrealistic. Where tragedy is concerned, less is often more. Giving the character an extreme reaction doesn't make it more sad. It just makes it less authentic.

>Give my regards to all of my friends, my parents, Shining, Cadance, and Spike.//

And this is the bit that the story never explains. She's known Spike for somewhere around 20 years. She's been on Earth for 10. I would think she'd have a greater attachment to Spike than this, but she glosses over it like she can just send a hello to him, and he'll understand.

>each of you are//

"Each" is considered singular, so use "is."

This is an interesting idea for a story, but the narration never really decides what it wants to be, it's very repetitive structurally (to get a feel for that, try reading it out loud, especially if you skip the dialogue), and Twilight seems very dismissive at the end about what she's giving up in Equestria. Part of engaging with a character is getting involved with her struggle, but we don't see it here. Twilight learns that Discord can take her back, he says he needs a decision, and we cut to her calmly informing Celestia of what she decided. All that turmoil occurred off camera, yet that's what gives the story its strength. You're asking the reader to come up with that investment for you, but it's the author's job to show his vision of it. It's another example of how you diminish the story's power by sticking to vagaries instead of letting me witness the key moments that form the story's emotional basis. If it's important to the story's emotional arc, don't skip past it and make me imagine how it must have gone.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2955

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.

There are a couple of impressions I have immediately. The writing's good, but there are some quirks and stylistic things that detract from it.

You use Radagast's name so frequently that it gets off-putting. In the first scene, he's the only character there, so it's not ambiguous to use "he." It can sound forced to use names more often than is necessary.

The next thing is the preponderance of "to be" verbs. Right away, your paragraphs have so many instances of "was." Between that and "wasn't," you have 95 of them in the first chapter alone, and that just continues. That's a very boring verb, as nothing happens. It's not practical to remove them all, but you really should be using active verbs where you can. It makes the story more interesting. You use other forms of it as well, but for "was/wasn't" alone there's one about every 3 sentences. That's not terrible, but they tend to turn up in clumps, which makes the story's momentum stagnate.

I also don't get a good impression of Radagast's size. He's small enough that the rabbits can pull him on a sled, but I don't know that a couple dozen could pull a full-grown human. So is he not much bigger than the rabbits? Just having some sort of reference where he's near something of a known size would give a better picture of him. Or just saying he's a human, I guess.

>the wizard//

You're taking a fairly shallow limited narration in Radagast's perspective, so the narration is essentially his train of thought. Why would he refer to himself with such an external phrasing like this? People don't do that.

>became more dense, and shrubs started to become//

Try to avoid repeating a word close together like that, unless it's a themtic repetition.

>he could see//

>The wizard knew//
This is a subtle thing, but a limited narrator is so connected to the character that they have the same perceptions and knowledge. So it's not necessary to say he could see something. Just the fact that the narrator describes it means that he saw it. And just because the narrator says something means that he knew it. When you force in these perception and knowledge verbs, you push the narrator farther from the character, which works against the point of having a limited narrator.

>then he lay still.

>Radagast lay on his back on the ground//
Close word repetition again. I won't keep marking these, so keep an eye out for them.

>Wasn’t that the way the storm was coming from?//

You've spent the whole scene in Radagast's perspective so far. Why are you switching over the the rabbits' perspective? And you don't even stay there.

>brusque pace//

I have to think you meant brisk.

>Gandalf had been paying him a visit//

Another thing about "to be" verbs is that they're often used unnecessarily as auxiliary verbs. If you changed this to "Gandalf had paid him a visit," what do you lose?

>someone— dangerous?//

Extraneous space after the dash.

You have lots of questionable semicolons. Ideally, you should be able to replace one with a period and have both resulting sentences stand as complete.

>the pony had no idea what the birds’ names where.//

Typo. And it's getting really obtrusive here that you're apparently taking her perspective, yet you have her refer to herself as "the pony." The scene started out in a strange conversational-sounding narrator with no identifiable perspective, and he's still trying to be omniscient while taking on Fluttershy's stream of thought at times.

>she realized that her eyes were unseeing

>“I-I can’t see!” she said//
That's pretty redundant. It's also really odd that this wasn't the very first things she noticed. It's not like she'd been holding her eyes shut.

>The pony felt worry and anxiety leap upon her every nerve.//

You really need to avoid always directly identifying emotion like this. I don't doubt this is consistent with Tolkein, but it does stand out as not being very engaging. Show me how she acts and looks, or what she thinks. It doesn't connect me to the character to know abstractly that she's worried and anxious.

>But the sounds of her friends’ names where the only things accompanying her.//

Same typo as before. You seem to have a consistent issue with where and were.

>The pony, scared as she was, forced her to concentrate//

That "her" should be a "herself."

>the pony realized that she wasn’t where she thought she was.

>“I am not in Ponyville anymore, am I?”//
Redundant again.

>A single tear rolled from the corner of her hazy eye.//

This is one of the most cliched things possible.

>in the merciless nature//

That's just a strange phrasing.

>At the rim of the black circle of burnt leaves, two squirrels gathered and looked curiously at the pony.//

This is strange with the perspective. You'd apparently been using Fluttershy as a limited narrator, but now you're having the narrator describe things she can't see.

>The wind started blowing fierce.//


>She couldn’t fight or flight//

In that syntax, you'd use flee, not flight.

>unconsciousness pony//

You have a noun where you need an adjective.

>where the scared little rabbits were going to; back to his home.//

You should get rid of that first "to," and a colon would be more appropriate than a semicolon, since you're defining or clarifying their destination.

>thick, purple carpet//

Just because you have multiple adjectives doesn't mean you need a comma. When they describe completely different aspects of something, like these do, they're hierarchical adjectives and don't use a comma.

>Luna’s full moon//

It's very cliched to refer to the sun and moon as belonging to the princesses.

>but Rarity’s reaction had to do with her mane//

I don't understand what you mean Rarity's doing here.

Let me back up to an earlier sentence:
>A collective moan indicated that nopony was yet able to talk//
Rainbow Dash is, because she'd already spoken. However, the narration seems to be taking her perspective in this scene, and then this sentence works. She's worried about everyone else, and none of them can talk yet, and it's natural she might not include herself in this statement. So far, so good. But if you're in Rainbow Dash's perspective, it needs to sound like her as well. To make an extreme example, say you have Apple Bloom as your perspective character. It would feel out of place to have her limited narration (essentially her stream of thought) go on with very purple and florid language. Same thing here. A lot of this scene just doesn't sound like word and phrase choices that Dash would make.

>the alicorn//

And you're doing this same thing you did last chapter. This is a very impersonal reference. Dash knows Twilight well, so why would she choose to describe her this way? Do you think of your best friend as "the person" in your own thoughts? That's how unnatural this is.


You keep referring to this, but it has a meaning related to lightning and electricity as well, and since those things are also used in this part of the story, it gets confusing. I thought you actually meant there was an electrical arc in the room. You might want to use "arch" to describe the piece of the machine.

>nothing to severe//

Too/to confusion.

>done a few paces//

That's a strange phrasing.

>Rainbow Dash let out a sigh of annoyance.//

Really, really, really try to avoid using these "in/of/with emotion" phrases. For one thing, it's better to have the character demonstrate that emotion than to simply have the narrator state it, but these particular phrases are usually redundant with something already in the sentence. The sigh in context can already paint her as annoyed. If you don't think it's enough, you could add a bit more body language, but it's apparent she's annoyed anyway, without you having to point it out.

>A search it is, then.//

This seems awfully stoic and calm for Twilight.


Kind of an odd word choice for Pinkie.

>Although Starlight Glimmer had a dozen more questions to ask Twilight, she saw that her master wouldn’t say anything more. Twilight hated drawing conclusions on suspicions.//

Okay, I can at least see the value in changing from Dash's perspective to Twilight's. At the beginning of the scene, Dash was the only one who was aware enough to witness what was happening. Then you want the camera to stay behind after Dash leaves, so you go to Twilight. But why do you need to go to Starlight here?

Why are these two going on and on about the machine being destroyed when Twilight's already acknowledged that Fluttershy is gone? Isn't that the more immediate concern?

>When the rubble was cleared and sorted, Twilight—with pain in her heart—decided to break a few dangling cables and sharp pieces of metal off the machine//

More unusual sentence elements stand out when repeated, so you don't want them to become writing quirks. This is already the third narrative aside of the paragraph.

>Only when that was done did the two unicorns proceed to cleaning up the study.//

This paragraph is just loaded with passive voice. That's not a very interesting structure to read.

>called: The Chronicles of Starswirl the Bearded Volume One//

You don't need that colon.

>disappointment was etched on everypony’s faces//

I haven't been marking every instance of this I see. In fact, I'm not marking many of them at all. But aside from not demonstrating the emotion, it's repetitive with Starlight being described as having a "hint of disappointment" just 3 paragraphs ago.

>I’m terribly sorry, twilight//


>taking the word//

I have no idea what this means. Is it a foreign idiom?

>but neither of us has been able to find the poor darling//

The use of "neither" implies 2, but 4 of them have been looking.

>although the alicorn did her best to hide her lack of it//

And now you've gone back to Twilight's perspective. Plus used a reference that doesn't work well with it.

>as she saw that there were now two ponies missing. “Hasn’t Pinkie Pie returned yet?”//

But you haven't mentioned Dash coming back yet. Is she there?

>Fluttershy’s cabin//

It's not really a cabin. I've most often seen it described as a cottage.

>now completed circle//

When you use a multi-word phrase like "now completed" as a single modifier for a word that follows it, hyphenate the phrase.

>noticing the alicorn’s strange reaction//

Now I have no idea what perspective you're using. Twilight wouldn't describe her own reaction as strange, but you haven't taken on anyone else's viewpoint.

>opposite of the thrones//

When you're using "opposite" to describe a physical location, you typically don't use "of" with it.

>I will first tell you what the machine is and what it does//

This is just the portal machine, right? Don't they already know what it does?

>receiving many odd stared//


>Rarity wanted to take the word.//

There's that strange idiom.

>one of Moondancer’s book//



This is actually the exception. You don't ned hyphens in two-word phrases when the first word is an -ly adverb.

>Pinkie’s eyes tripled in size, and she munched away another cupcake without taking her eyes off Twilight Sparkle, captivated by the tale.//

By proximity, it sounds like Twilight is the one captivated by the tale.

>I had teleported Frodo Baggins, a character from the book, The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, into Equestria using the machine.//

Wait, what? Why not just have Middle Earth be a real alternate universe? What does it add to have it be a fictional world? It's kind of an odd choice, since MLP is itself fictional, or are you playing it as real? And is Tolkein a pony author? Or is he from the EqG world?

>Suddenly, she wished that nopony would be looking at her.//

Now you're in Dash's head. Plus it's pointless to have her and Twilight both bring up that they had some great adventures, then say absolutely nothing about them. It's a useless tease.

>phase two. The face//



Extra period.

>But whether her pony friends were really indignant, she couldn’t tell.//

This would seem to be in Starlight's perspective. Really, jumping around to different characters like this is fine in an omniscient narration, and if that's what you want to use, then just be careful to keep opinions out of the narration and don't express character thought through narration. And in that case, those references like "the alicorn" would also work, provided you don't us them too often. So it's probably easiest to make sure your narration stays omniscient.

>“It would have been nice to get rid of you for a while.”//

Why in the world does Rarity say this? It's just mean, and it's for no reason.

>a poor little filly//

And this is the kind of thing I'm talking about when I say the narration sounds limited. This is Dash's impression and thought process made into narration. When the narrator states Dash's opinion as if his own, he essentially becomes her. If you want it to stay omniscient, you have to avoid that. Keep the narration factual and attribute opinions explicitly to the characters.

>ever-slinking pile//

That means the pile is sneaking around. I have to think you meant "shrinking."

>Even Starlight had no words for such a theory.//

Why is this so hard for her to comprehend? Isn't it the most obvious explanation?

>Resting two hooves on the table, Twilight’s head was flopped down upon them//

This says Twilight's head was resting two hooves on the table.

>Sometimes her shoulder shocked//

I'm guessing you meant "shook."

>she was not going to leave her friend down//

let her friend down

>She had taken a few days off the weather squad//

She had taken a few days off from the weather squad

>start from scrap//

You might have meant "start from scratch," though it could have a valid meaning as is.

>Feeling the burden of guilt weighing on her shoulders, Twilight’s head dropped again//

Similar to before, this says her head felt the burden of guilt, not that Twilight did.

>No silence this time, but a flurry of questions, aimed directly at Starlight Glimmer.//

It's also sentence fragments like this that create a conversational tone and suggest a limited rather than an omniscient narration.

>Not ponies or zebra’s or griffons//

Why is one of those a possessive?


Why do you keep capitalizing this direction?

Well, with all this discussion about where Dash wanted to go in the books, it's more justified that it's a fictional world, but it does beg the question: we've seen in canon that they have magic comics that can draw you in to experience the adventure. It's a shorter path to having such books as well than to say Twilight built a machine that can take them into fictional worlds. She's pretty much reinventing something that already exists.

>I don’t want to tell too much about it.//

I don't understand why she wouldn't want to. She's not trying to keep a secret.


That wouldn't be capitalized, as it's a generic term of endearment.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2956

>tiny, wooden//
Hierarchical adjectives again. You don't need the comma.

>one of them had fallen down and spilled honey and broken combs on the grass//

You mention this after saying they're all shaking and shuddering, so is the broken one doing that too?

I'm not familiar enough with Tolein to know whether he uses an omniscient narrator with personality, so it may be you're just doing the same as he did. But there's a bit if a disconnect. Take this line from the beginning of chapter 3:
>From a small clearing arose a tiny, wooden cabin, barely standing out against the surrounding pine trees.//
This sounds like the point of view of someone not familiar with the place. A lot of the first paragraph seems so. It's definitely opinionated, but it's a stretch to say it's Radagast's opinion. Then later we get these:
>Yes, she was still breathing. He put a hand on her breast. Yes, she her heart was still beating.//
That's directly from Radagast's thoughts, not some external narrator, so it's inconsistent in how it uses the narrative voice.

>Folding back the wing, Radagast turned around and began pacing to and fro/

Note that participial phrases, like "folding back the wing," mean that the action they describe is simultaneous to the part of the sentence they're attached to. So you have him folding back the wing at the same time he's pacing, where it's more likely he'd do them one after the other.

>A few birds came flying down their branches//

Missing a "from."

>put in on the table//


>and stared at the wizard with tilted heads//

They just did that 2 paragraphs ago.

>He searched for the word, ‘wing,’ but found nothing useful. Then he searched for, ‘bird,’//

You don't need the comma before either quote.

>Radagast had all gained them//

A more typical phrasing would be "Radagast had gained them all."

>probably to the vegetable garden to save what could be saved from the destructive storm//

I thought they didn't like getting wet.

>she felt panic flash its tendrils around her chest//

You've been staying with Radagast's thoughts and impression, but this is definitely hers. There's no way he would know this, at least as you've stated it. It's no adeduction he's making from evidence; it's just stated as a fact, which would require him to read her mind.

>the yellow pony//

And if you are going to her perspective for some vital reason, it'd be odd fer her to describe herself this way. People don't think of themselves in so external terms.

>Grabbing some lettuce, some carrots, and filling a bowl with water from a barrel, he returned and put both food and drink down next to the bed.//

Here's another spot where participial phrases are synchronizing things that shouldn't be.

>she could see again//

You're definitely back in her viewpoint, as Radagast never knew that she couldn't see.

>the rain lost its their cloudy allies//

Extraneous word.

>that, ”//

Extraneous space.

>already having displaying//

The verb form is off. It'd be "having displayed."

>It reminded her of home and all of the other animals she called her friends.//

I can't keep marking these. Suffice it to say you need to get a handle on keeping a consistent perspective or on keeping the narration omniscient.

>smell atop the smell//

Watch that close repetition.

>“Gandalf, on the other hand”—Radagast closed his eyes and let out a chuckle—“is//

Note that the difference between the placement of dashes you use here and putting them with the speech is whether he stops speaking for the action. The one you've chosen means the speech doesn't stop, so he keeps speaking through the chuckling. Make sure that's what you intended.

>Saruman the White//

Note how you capitalize the colors with the names, yet when he first gave his name as "Radagast the brown," he didn't.

>the centaur which//

When talking about sentient creatures, it's preferred to use "who" intead of "that" or "which."

>It has simply… vanished and forgotten.//

The verb forms don't quite make sense there. The ring has vanished, that's true, but it hasn't forgotten. It's been forgotten.

>d-d-dark lord//

Why isn't it capitalized here?

>to whom we are speaking and listening to//

Since you have that first "to," you don't need the second one.

Here's the thing that confuses me a bit. Horses exist in our world, so we came up with MLP as a fantasy version of that. But how does someone in Equestria invent all these humanoid races when such things don't really exist in Equestria? Minotaurs aren't that far off, but still, whereas elves and dwarves and orcs and such are variations on humans, they aren't variations on something they'd be familiar with. Not that this is something the reader can't just accept and move past, but it does strike me as a little odd. It's just another thing poking me in the brain and making me wonder why you didn't just make Middle Earth an alternate universe they can travel to instead of a fictional one.

>Forgotten, or reluctant?//

You're definitely in Fluttershy's perspective here, which makes the following problematic:
>Having read only a small portion of the trilogy, Fluttershy hadn’t reached the part of the book were Radagast was mentioned—which wasn’t long at all. Barely a few sentences were written about Radagast the Brown in Tolkien’s trilogy, but that didn’t stop Radagast from existing right before Fluttershy’s nose.//
If the limited narrator is in Fluttershy's perspective, he can't know things she doesn't. Yet he's clearly giving information on part of the books that she hasn't gotten to.

>dug through the dusty cloths, digging//


>a droning cadence; “I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home.”//

That should be a colon.

>Sitting down on the bed//

This makes it sound like she had already gotten up and is now sitting down.

>she saw the massive trees looming over Rhosgobel. Pine trees, Fluttershy saw, but they were much bigger than any pine tree she’d ever seen//

That's three forms of "see" in just 23 words. And there are three others in the same paragraph.

>Alexander flew up and landed on Fluttershy’s head, looking outside as well and greeting the morning with the same feeling of peace as Fluttershy. His concentration wasn’t as long as the pony’s, however, and he soon flew off again and towards the kitchen, attracted by the scent of tasty treats.//

I don't know why you bother going to the bird's perspective. You only stay there for two sentences, and nothing important gets revealed while you're there.

>not— I//

Don't leave space around an em dash.

>It was strange how she felt both outlandish and familiar at the same time. But she felt good. The familiarity and resemblances gave her some comfort, and she could feel that from the inside.//

Here, you directly use a form of "feel" three times. It's a verb to avoid anyway, as it's better to demonstrate how she feels instead of telling me, and to do so repeatedly over the course of only two sentences is even more something to avoid.

>He grabbed his tea and took another sip.//

This is a very, very common trap writers fall into. When two characters are sharing a drink, they lose all imagination and can't think of anything to have the characters do with their beverages beyond some variation on "take another sip." People do lots of things with their drinks besides this. Surely you can think of some more.

>vertically from East to West//

Wouldn't that be horizontally? Unless she's looking at the map sidways, but you don't say that.


Consider what sound she'd actually repeat. "That" doesn't begin with a "t" sound.

>Indeed you aren’t.//

That's not really an appropriate response to what she said.

>and took a sip of tea//

And there you go with the sipping again. That's all they've done since they poured it. And even that didn't really get a mention.

>they’re called, pegasi//

No reason to have a comma there.

>earth-ponies and unicorns. Earth ponies//

Inconsistent dash use. Canon doesn't put one there.

>princess Celestia//

The title would be capitalized when attached to a name.

>similar, Don’t they//

Extraneous capitalization.



>I rather stay on the ground//


>She’s even wrote//

Either "she even wrote" or "she's even written."

It's a little curious that Fluttershy only discusses the other Elements and Spike. It's not like they're her only friends. She knows Bulk Biceps, Tree Hugger, and Discord. She's a frequent customer of Aloe and Lotus. She has Angel Bunny. She has parents and a brother.

>it has been awhile//

I won't go into the long explanation of why, but "a while" and "awhile" aren't interchangeable. The former is a noun, and the latter is an adverb. You need the noun form here.




Again, consider what sound she'd actually repeat.

>He could read her big blue eyes like a map. He found them the easiest eyes he had ever read, and he had read countless animals’ eyes and deciphered countless emotions.//

That's very repetitive phrasing.

>That was the way he liked to think; while on the move.//

That semicolon should be a colon. Not only are you defining or clarifying something, but you don't have an independent clause after it.

>strange, pink, column//

Hierarchical adjectives again, and you never put a comma between the last adjective and what they describe.

>although their faces looked much the same as everypony else’s//

Then how is it that this narrator, whomever it's supposed to represent, can distinguish between excitement and amazement?

>climbing frame//

Very minor thing, but your reading audience will be primarily American, and most Americans won't know this term. Here, it's called a jungle gym or monkey bars. That's up to you, though.

>pouring down the heavens//

Missing a "from."

>a rainbow-and-cloud; Dash’s cutie mark//

Another semicolon that should be a colon.

>hues of color//


>Rainbow Dash didn’t saw her//


>Fluttershy was running straight at the machine//

I don't understand why she would do this, unless she wasn't paying attention to where she was going. And if that's the case, the limited narrator using her perspective also shouldn't know where she's going.

>if she’d abort//

The tense is off here. Use "if she aborted."

>pacing>[ 2//

You have this at the end of the chapter for some reason. I assume it's unintentional.

>as predicted by the story//

Well, it's less predicted than mandated, right? THat begs the question of whether the story can turn out any way other than how it's written. Yes, Fluttershy could get hurt or killed, but in a global sense, th good guys are still going to win, I presume.

>making sure that The Lord of the Rings, was always within reach//

No reason to have that comma.

>the only sound coming from the library were//

Mixing singular/plural there, plus shortly after, there's a close repetition of "sound," and there are a lot of uses of "had been" lately.


What's the apostrophe for? There aren't any missing letters.

>princess Celestia and princess Luna//

Capitalize titles when they're on names like that.

>He flopped the stationary down//

"Stationary" means something doesn't move. You want "stationery."

>let his green, slit eyes run over the words//

Why are you bothering to describe his eyes here? The reader already knows what they look like, and it's not even pertinent to what's happening.

>Princess Celestia would recognize the letter the moment she’d receive it.//

Typical verb form would be "she received it" here.

>princess Celestia’s//


>looked at the ponies one by one, looking//


>princess Celestia//

Capitalization. I'm not going to mark any more of these.

>The other ponies followed her flight with an unsure expression.//

All of them had just one expression?

>going limp of exhaustion//

From, not of.


These are all in the same paragraph.


That should be two words.

>Shining armor//


>cramped train coupon//

I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. I guess it's an expression that doesn't translate well?

>Don’t worry Spike.//

>So what are we going to do Twilight?//
Missing a comma for direct address.

>Rarity was looking forward to go to the brilliant Crystal Empire//

The verb form there should be "going."

>men will start to call it, ‘Mirkwood.’//

You don't need that comma.

>Not only the nerves//

I don't understand what this is trying to say.

>i-lanOw[1 2//

And you've got another one of these strange things at the end of a chapter.

At this point, I've read enough of the story to get a flavor for the characterization and writing quality. I'll be at this for months if I continue giving detailed feedback, so I'm just going to skim the rest to get an idea for the plot and make sure I don't see any problems with that. I'll still pull out any detailed things I see, but I won't be reading carefully enough to find that many.

Jay Bear!cSWoEWwnvI 2957

Howdy! I’ve got most of the rewriting done (nothing posted yet), but I have a few follow-up questions. I’ve put the meatier questions about the “gimmick chapters” at the end.

>Losing your whole family// Wait, what happened to Pound Cake?

>an empty honeycomb lying on the ground// Wait, that's an odd thing to have just randomly lying around a shed.
Wasn’t sure if I needed to change anything about these lines (although “Losing your whole family” got rewritten as part of other tweaks). My objective was to leave clues to readers about some of the important differences in this alt universe, but in a way that’s natural to the characters of that alt universe. Are these too distracting where they are? If so, I’ll throw them into exposition.

>Now that I'm significantly into chapter 4, i have to wonder what the point is. [Cup Cake, Apple Bloom, and Fluttershy backstories.]

I know it’s been two weeks, but do you remember where this felt like it became too much? If it’s in Apple Bloom’s backstory, I think I can fix that easily. If it was during Cup Cake’s service, I’ll need to rethink this chapter. My main objective with the service was to give the reader a break from the heavier stuff before and after. The information is important, too, but I can present it more efficiently if the current fluffiness is getting in the way.

>There used to be a brash, energetic, and most of all, happy pony, and she lived right here.// All of this is pretty nebulous…

I may have boxed myself in here. The situation would be pretty nebulous to Dash, and while the real cause is revealed in a later chapter, it’s implausible she’d figure it out by this point. I tried rewriting this section so Dash develops an incomplete theory of what’s wrong based on other parts of her life to at least flesh things out. However, there hasn’t been any reason to distrust her POV so far, so I’m worried the reader is going to take her theory at face value rather than as another clue to the real cause. I’m not sure how to fix this.

Here’s the meat:
>Gimmick chapters
One of my objectives with changing the writing style for the labyrinths is to show how much control the witches can exert on reality. It’s not just that ponies in a labyrinth see crazy stuff; the rules of the world are so different that this crazy stuff naturally exists (it doesn’t really work in the alliteration labyrinth, but I liked it in the circus labyrinth). I’m surely gambling with the reader’s patience by writing all this weirdness, but showing this control, and how the protagonists deal with it, is important. However, I couldn’t find a natural way to maintain that sense of the witch’s control when changing these parts to be from a pony’s POV. It felt like the POV character was under mind control, but could ignore it when it was convenient.
As an experiment, I rewrote the alliteration part to read like a fairy tale told from the witch’s perspective, and I think it works. It’s much more comprehensible and does a better job of showing the witch control reality by replacing the alliteration with fairy tale styles and tropes. Looking ahead, establishing a rule that witch labyrinths are told from the witch’s perspective helps distinguish them from familiar labyrinths (which is important for the plot), and I can use it creatively in future chapters. So, beyond simply working, I think it would be an improvement to have all of these parts from the witches’ perspective.
Then again, until recently I thought “beside” and “besides” were the same word, so there’s a good chance I’m missing something obvious. Any advice based on what I wrote above, or would you need to see the final draft after I post it?

Specific labyrinth questions:
>It looks more like a screenplay, but I could also buy it as a libretto, which ties in to music.
This one is supposed to be a libretto, although heavily bastardized to remove the unnecessary parts of a typical libretto. I’m not sure why it’s coming across as a screenplay, though. Do I need to flag the songs?

>>The air was cold as stone// And since the encounter began, this is already the third time you've mentioned stone, and it's not done in a way that's obviously thematic, so it just comes across as an oversight.

I don’t actually have a question here, just wanted to point out this was a sestina. They can be beautiful when written by Ezra Pound, or awkward when written with the template I used. I was still proud of mine, though, and it [I]sucked[/i] when I realized it served no purpose here. I’m going to replace it with something that makes sense for the story (to me, at least).

Thank you again. This critique really helped me, both in terms of catching amateur mistakes and rethinking parts of the story.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2958

>Radagast had laid awake//
The proper verb here is "had lain."

>disappearing from someplace and reappear//

Inconsistent verb forms.

>the magical energy the creature bears//

Kind of a confusing use of "bear," since you'd been referring to the animal a lot around here.

>ansi-languagv[* 2//

Yeah, just check the end of every chapter. You consistently have these.

>‘Daring Do and the Dragons’ Domain.’//

Book titles don't go in quotes. They get underlined or (preferably) italicized.

>“But… but what about princess—“//

>“But… but what about princess Ember,”//
"Princess" should be capitalized, as it's being used as a title attached to her name, even in the first one, since it's implied the name would follow.

>We’re going back home boys!//

Needs a comma for direct address.


Missing space.

>for a moment, her crossed eyes looked much like Derpy’s//

How would Fluttershy know this? She could suppose it, but she can't see it to know for sure.

Okay, the song in chapter 8. It goes on for almost three full screens. I hope you know many readers will scroll past without reading it. If you want to have song lyrics, the best way to handle them is to: 1. Keep it short, 2. If it's long, break it up into small pieces with narration in between, 3. Keep it short, 4. If reading the lyrics is actually important to understanding the plot, make that very clear up front, 5. Keep it short. The reader's far more likely to read them if they fit on a single screen (or by #2, each chunk fits on a single screen) so he can see the end coming.

>Should… should I ask her?//

I really, really hope this has nothing to do with romance, because if it does, there's zero basis built up for it in the story.

>many confuses squawks//


I'll reiterate at the end, but you have very unsteady perspective throughout the story. That's the biggest issue overall. But in this chapter, you have an example of how to do it right. Look at where you alternate scenes of Fluttershy teaching the birds to sing outside and Radagast writing his spell inside. In each of those scenes, you keep to a single perspective. But in the scenes where you have both together, the narration keeps hopping back and forth between seeing through Fluttershy's eyes and Radagast's. It'll express one's opinion and say something only one could perceive in the manner, and just a couple paragraphs later, shift over to the other. When you have a limited narrator (the narration will communicate opinions and impressions on behalf og the characters instead of being completely factual), you don't want to let the perspective waver so much. For the most part, you ought to keep to one perspective per scene.

>“Catering service!” A stallion shouted//



Why would you hyphenate that? You don't for ham sandwich or turkey sandwich or anything else.

>Certainly, Miss//

"Miss" is a generic term when not attached to a name, so it wouldn't be capitalized.


The human equivalent wedges an "s" in there, so I'd suggest "guardsponies ."

>Perhaps an image of Opal and I?//

That's actually a spot for "me" because it's the object of a preposition. Consider that "Opal and I" is the same thing as "we." Also consider that "Opal and me" is the same thing as "us." Which sounds correct, "Perhaps an image of we" or "Perhaps an image of us"?

>your royal highnesses//

Honorifics like this should be capitalized.

Oh, good. More song lyrics. And these go on for four screens. They're utterly pointless.


This is another thing you need to be careful of throughout the story. Certain things, including dashes, can turn smart quotes backward, as has happened here.

>—He stabbed a claw at Spike—//

Don't capitalize asides.

>one of which I might not return//

From, not of.


Missing space.

>The other wraiths did one step back//

Kind of awkwardly phrased.

>Everywhere you looked//

Kind of odd to address the reader like this. Then there'a another "everywhere" later in the same paragraph.

>“Wait! Don’t go!”//

You have a couple of extra blank lines before this.

>My name is Pinkie Pie,//

Not more song lyrics. Jeez, these go on for 5 screens. People aren't going to read this.

>it only made the whole façade funnier//

If you have to tell the reader something is funny, it probably isn't.

>Bien sure//

I don't know what this is.

>with all logics//

"Logic" is a collective term. You don't need it to be plural.

>poor grey pegasus which just wanted to say sorry for real//

When referring to sentient beings, use "who" instead of "that" or "which."

>Come on you two//

Needs a comma for direct address.

This chapter is far longer than it needs to be. Most of Discord's comedy routine is pointless and (intentionally) unfunny, so there's not much to keep a reader's interest.

>They continued their way//

Usually phrased as "they continued on their way."

>“Well… eh… I… I can’t remember.//

Missing your closing quotes.

>But I am trailing off here.//

This usually means the speaker is gradually becoming quieter. What you want is closer to "but I digress" or "but I'm going on a tangent."

>Even though my eyes are but small and my sight is very ill//

Bats see about as well as people do.

>Hallo Giselda//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>terrible. Since the ride to that terrible//

Close word repetition.

>We should have turned around and go back//


>“Is there a flying horse by the name of Fluttershy here?” The crow said//


>he needn’t to//

That "to" is superfluous.

>—not the crow—,//

Don't use a comma in conjunction with a dash.

>“But we can’t do that!” The crow said//

Capitalization. There was an issue some time back where GDocs would automatically capitalize after dialogue if it ended in an exclamation mark or question mark. Maybe that's what's happening here.

I do wonder, when the crow said that it wouldn't be stealthy to have a whole swarm of birds accompanying them, that a bright yellow and pink flying horse isn't exactly going to blend in.

>If—“ he pointed his sword straight ahead at Fluttershy—“we//

Note the inconsistent dash placement. If they're both with the speech, it means the speaker stops while the inserted action occurs. If they're both with the narration, the speech doesn't stop. You have one of each. Also, that first set of quotation marks is backward.

>The feeling of losing someone you cared for, someone you loved. It was a feeling of a black torrent, snatching away your loved one and giving back nothing. Like a black arrow through your heart//

You're talking to the reader again.

>Ember grinded the mushrooms//

Ground. Just do a search for "grinded," as you use it more than once.

>and threw the powder//

Wait, how would he do that with fresh mushrooms? They'd have too much moisture in them to grind into a powder, unless someone had picked them and dried them first.

>count, As//

Extraneous capitalization.

>The chamber’s I’ve explored//

You have a possessive where you need a plural.



>Tablet—”she filled it with new oil, relit it, and tossed it to Rainbow Dash, who caught the thing with her mouth; then she looked back—“so//

Inconsistent dash placement again.

>tell Ember all about her, leaving no detail untold//

Kind of repetitive word choice.

>several second of agony//


>an applause//

"Applause" is a collective term. Don't use "an" with it. You do this multiple times.

>princess Celestia and princess Luna//

Capitalize the titles. And how did she get that magic from them? The discussion makes it sound like the princesses didn't know she took it.

>I’m sorry everypony.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>but Ember couldn’t care less//

You use that same phrase in consecutive sentences.

>Dash and Spike did more steps back//

Awkward phrasing.

>Indeed they weren’t. Starlight Glimmer and Twilight Sparkle were standing in a small crater//

This doesn't quite fit the perspective again. The narration in this scene so far is from Radagast's viewpoint, and the first sentence here very much sounds like his thoughts. But then it refers to two ponies by name, even though he hasn't learned their names yet.

>Twilight and Starlight knew the hidden figures were talking about them//

>They were talking about Fluttershy.//
Both of these are pretty self-explanatory. I don't think you need to say them. The reader will get the picture.

>They did another step closer.//

That must be a phrasing that doesn't translate well. It just sounds awkward in English.

>piano clavier//

I've heard of those separately as instruments, but never a single instrument referred to by both words at once.

>dash ,//

Extraneous space.

>But could Radagast’s reclaim her?//

Radagast's what?

>add to the stream she casted//

In this sense of the word, "cast" is the preferred past tense.

>And flying they did.//

The verb form for this phrasing would just be "fly."

>Twilight and Starlight exchanged a glance, as they knew very well what Radagast would do; they had read it in the book, after all. Still, they weren’t sure whether to tell that to Radagast. They were from another world, so interfering with Middle Earth might have big consequences on the fictional world Radagast lived in.//

Hm. This brings up something I'd like to discuss, but I'll save it for the end.

>friendship?” He asked.//


>Discord did sentry-go//

I have no idea what this is.

>Everypony’s ears ringed.//


Maybe I just missed it because I was skimming, but I don't recall ever seeing an explanation of why they excluded Discord from going through the portal. It sounded like they were going to explain it to him, but then Fluttershy calmed him down, and they never spoke up.

Well, I said I was going to wrap up some things at the end, so here goes. I really liked this story. I haven't read any Tolkein, so I don't know if this is supposed to mimic his style or just borrow from his world, but it's an effective tale either way. A lot of what I've noted here is detailed clean-up that's maybe a bit tedious to go through a story of this length (remember I only gave numerous comments on the first few chapters, so you should assume those things persist throughout), but not difficult to handle.

By the end, I came around to having Middle Earth be a fictional place even for Equestrians. It became a plot point that the ponies knew how things would go in the future, so having Middle Earth be an alternate dimension wouldn't have worked with that. So far, so good. But you kind of play both sides of whether they can use that knowledge. I don't understand why they can't alter what happens. Would it somehow change the actual book for them to do that? They refuse to warn Radagast about Sarumen, but they've already changed a fair amount of things just by their presence. So if they did intervene and help win this war before it starts, what implications would that have? It's not clear to me, and it seems like the rules governing that are a pretty important part of the world-building that's missing. The canon example of this is the Power Ponies comic, where they go in and just have a vague goal: defeat the enemy. If doesn't matter how, and then you get back out of the book. So why does this version of it need to work differently?

Next, the perspective is really jumpy. I'll grab this excerpt from chapter 19, which is a good example:


“I know, Twilight. I feel terrible too,” Starlight said, while keeping an eye on the Wraiths, who seemed to be standing still now. “But we could at least—“

An explosion of sound interrupted Starlight’s words. In a chorus of unholy shrieks, the Ringwraiths unleashed their black breaths once more. They had heard them speak about flying, and realized that they might just flee. That couldn’t happen. They had to ground the ponies long enough to finish them off.

Behind the column, Radagast winced at the sound and the fear that bore it. Gritting his teeth, he tried his best to resist it, but found his mind too weak. Once again the agony tried to rip him apart. But then the black breath suddenly ended, and a grave silence lay upon Dol Guldur like a heavy blanket. Only the winds roared on.


In the first paragraph, the "seemed" puts this in one of the good guys' perspectives. Really, it could be any of them who are paying attention, since any of them could have this opinion of the wraiths. If I go back a few paragraphs for context, it's most likely Twilight's perspective. But the point I want to make is that when you have the narrator expressing an opinion or personal impression, particularly if he does so in a conversational manner (emphasizing words, asking a question, using an exclamation mark, etc.), the narrator takes on that character's voice and essentially becomes that character. That's what a limited narration is. For omniscient, the opinion would need to be attributed to a character, like saying "seemed to Twilight" instead.

So we go to the second paragraph, and it's now delivering the wraiths' impressions. "That couldn't happen" is directly what the wraiths are thinking. No other character there would have this thought, and no other character there would be able to read their minds and know they were literally thinking this. They might deduce it, but it's stated as a fact.

And in the very next paragraph, we have Radagast taking the perspective. For example, the "he tried his best" and "found his mind too weak" are things only he would know. So in three consecutive paragraphs, you've inhabited three different perspectives. This is not a good thing to do.

There's a brief rationale in the section on "head hopping" at the top of this thread, but I'll sum it up a bit to say that you should try to hold to one perspective in a scene, if you can. When you shift to the wraiths and Radagast, like you have here, consider if it's really necessary. What do we learn from the wraiths' viewpoint? Nothing useful. We could already presume they would want the ponies fleeing, so learning they thought so doesn't change anything. And if it's not adding anything to be in their perspective, you shouldn't go there. Or if there is some critical piece of information, then it's worth staying in their perspective for a while. It's not even hard, most of the time, to show one character's emotions from another's perspective. You can tell when someone's happy from how the act, how they look, and what they say, after all. You don't have to read their mind to know. And that's why you don't usually have to shift perspective to get at information like that. When you keep jerking readers around to different viewpoints, it gets confusing, it's easy to mix up who thinks what, and it doesn't get the reader engaged on a deeper level with any of the characters.

The very unsteady perspective is the most pervasive problem I see, and it's really the only major one. If you could improve that substantially, I'd be happy to post the story, but I realize that it may be a daunting task to go back through 150k words with an eye to keeping the perspective more stable in each scene.

The last bit is that you disarm one of the story's major conflicts. When Radagast has to win Fluttershy's mind back to his side, he makes vague allusions to the torture and brainwashing she underwent, but that's one of the story's more powerful moments. It informs how hard it must be to get her back, that she was so thoroughly broken. Yet while the story does stay with her in places, it leaves her behind for this. It's not exactly that surprising what happens to her, since the Witch King had already alluded to such, so I don't see a reason to keep it secret.

In any case, the big emotional crux is knowing what happened to her so we know what it's going to take to undo it. But we never get to see that. There's just one paragraph of Radagast surmising what they did to her and sharing her memories of it, but it's told in very generic terms, and it's over with after a few sentences. It ends up not even being that difficult to win her back. It does take several paragraphs, but it's pretty steady progress with no setbacks, so it lacks some dramatic tension. I think it'd really add to the story's power if you added a couple scenes showing what happened to Fluttershy to get her to this state and struggle more to shake it off.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2959

First off, not sure if you saw my earlier reply here:>>2939

>Re: Pound Cake and the honeycomb

They're a little distracting because there's no explanation for either. The reader's naturally going to assume thins are just like regular Equestria until it's explicitly said they aren't, so it's a natural question to ask where Pound Cake is when only Pumpkin was mentioned. Sure, the characters would have no clue who Pound Cake was either, so it wouldn't work to have them mention it. But just an offhand comment like calling Pumpkin their only child makes it explicitly clear. Same with the honeycomb. It's not that it's impossible for these characters, but a honeycomb isn't something you'd normally keep in a shed anyway, so it just confuses me as to why it's there.

>Re: Cup Cake's funeral

It's more that the chapter spends so much time with Apple Bloom, only to have her be pretty irrelevant to the story. You sure set her up like she's going to be a significant character, but nothing comes of it.

>Re: Dash

She knows that she used to be happy, but that she isn't anymore. She doesn't know why? Is it just a pervasive feeling that came over her gradually? If so, it might help to say that. The bigger issue is that she doesn't say how she knew she used to be happy. Give me a couple of quick one- or two-sentence anecdotes of happy memories. Be specific. The first time she medaled in a race and danced around so much she nearly fell off the podium. Little bits like that. They add so much life. And maybe she compares it to an anecdote more recently

>Re: Gimmick chapters

It would probably help if you do follow a pattern like you plan to, where you use witch perspectives but not familiar ones. Yet that may be a little too subtle for readers to pick up on. To wit, the characters don't identify which ones are run by familiars right off the bat, so the connecting thread doesn't become apparent until later. However, I talked about these scenes in my previous reply, so I won't repeat that here. The only thing I'd caution you about using the witches' perspectives is that you do need to let the witches come across as characters. Like don't just drop me into these perceptions without letting me get a hint of the witch's personality, same as you'd need to do with any character.

>Re: libretto

The biggest thing here is that most readers will be familiar with what a screenplay is, but have no idea what a libretto is. So just the fact that the dialogue is labeled by speaker feels like a script, and the reader will attach that to whatever's in their experience. Plus with MLP and Madoka being TV shows, it fits. That said, I don't think it matters, unless you're dead set on it coming across like an opera or musical. If that's the case, don't rely on the format alone. Add in imagery that would suggest one or the other, like a pit orchestra, audience using opera glasses, etc.

>Re: sestina

I'm not too familiar with many poetic forms, and most readers won't be either. I don't actually remember whether this was formatted in a way that made it look different from normal prose, so that's one potential fix. But repetition is a tricky thing to deal with. There are ways to make it obvious that it's intentional, and that's how you make it thematic. To do so would take acknowledging the repetition (like italicizing the second time for emphasis or using words such as "again" to call attention to it) or to use it more than twice in the same way, since that seems far more deliberate than two. And you did actually have it more than twice here, but it still didn't feel deliberate. That's an aesthetic thing, though, and the next reader could easily have a different reaction than I did. This one's a minor instance, and I don't think it'd hurt the story to have it. It's not like I won't approve your story if you don't fix every last thing. There's a tolerance level for artistic license.

Did you mean that the mention of stone served no purpose, or that having it as a sestina served no purpose? Because if it's the latter, then it may still lend to the labyrinth's atmosphere, and It's more so that what you say needs to have a purpose, not necessarily how you choose to say it. There are plenty of stories out there written as poems where there's no thematic reason for the story to be poetic. It can just be a genre choice, and I wouldn't say that's wrong.

I did say that some of the formatting choices were lost on me. That's more a data point for you. If many readers are getting lost, that's bad, but it might not bother others. You do have a reason for it. It's like if you told a joke that I didn't get. That doesn't automatically make it a bad joke, and most people might get it just fine. So if you say it's a sestina, I can accept that. It's just not the kind of thing most readers will notice or understand. You could explain it in an author's note for the chapter, if you wanted to make sure.

Jay Bear!cSWoEWwnvI 2963


Thanks, I did see >>2939. I wasn't sure what you meant that it wasn't possible to have scenes from the witch's perspective, which is why I tried it to see if I could find the problem myself. I see what you mean about building up their characterization, though, so I'll pay attention on that when editing those scenes.


I meant having a sestina here doesn't serve a good purpose, and I do plan to replace it. Repeating "stone" (as well as light/dark, reflection, and book) were all products of the structure, so that will be less evident on the rewrite. It'll still be basically the same scene, but the style should make more sense. This was a case where I wasn't really thinking about the style's effect on how this part of the story is told, and I think the story does suffer here. If I got really lucky, someone who knows about sestinas might recognize it and comments "Cool, it's a sestina," and other people would know that was intentional rather than me getting sloppy with repetition and line breaks. It's not worth it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2964

Yeah, it'd just be weird to show the labyrinth scenes through the witches' eyes in a very mechanical sense without having any of their characterization come through. Perspective is supposed to get the reader to identify with or understand a character, and if you never do anything with them except literally describe what they see, then it's kind of pointless. That said, I could buy it as building atmosphere, but without letting the reader see a little about who these witches are, it'd feel exceedingly superficial, which is against the point of using a limited narrator.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2965

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'm going to do something to illustrate a point. Here are the first words of all your narrative sentences for the first scene:
a, the, the, I, I, pneumatic, the, the, an, a, a, the, she, I, I, below, a, a, I, a, I, Zephyr, I, she, I
Except for that one "below," you have very repetitive sentence beginnings. Now, some words like "a" and "the" are so mundane that they pass by without notice, so it's not so much that the words themselves are repetitive; it's more that the sentence structures are. They all start with the subject. It gets to feel like a list of actions and doesn't flow very well.

>I swallowed and met her eyes. “Which means… we have to land.” Zephyr nodded. “Crap.”//

It's a little ambiguous who says this dialogue.

>left, a broad river valley at the north end, and an immense forest along the left//

It's a little odd that you're mixing types of directions.

You're probably giving more of a description of the map than you need. How many of these details are actually going to be important to the story? If a lot of them, then how many will be important soon? It's better to introduce information as it's needed instead of pushing a bunch of it at once and hoping the reader will remember it later.

>aluminum eggshell//

For one, you called it aluminum and polycarbonate before, and for another, you don't need to remind the reader so soon afterward what the aircraft is made of.


Needs a space.

>again.” Zephyr grabbed my seat and lifted her helmet as the transport rocked again//

Watch close repetition of words like that.

>The pegasus//

He knows her well. Why would he refer to her in such an impersonal manner? You don't think of your coworker as "the person," do you?

>the heavily armored mare//

Another very impersonal reference for a friend. I assume this kind of thing will pervade the story, so I won't mark anymore, but this i why this kind ofdescriptor doesn't work with a limited or first-person narrator. People think about other they know in three ways: name, pronoun, and relationship. Only the third falls into the realm of this kind of descriptor, so he might call her "my teammate" or something.

>thick, nylon//

>small, quartz//
These are hierarchical adjectives, so you don't need a comma between them. It can be tricky in some cases to tell the difference, but the general way is that if they describe different aspects or would sound really awkward in reverse order, you don't need a comma. There are a whole lot more of these I saw, but I'm not going to keep marking them.

>“Yeah,” I hollered toward the airlock, “Just//

The way you use those commas, it means both parts of the quote form one continuous sentence, but if that's the case, you've capitalized "just" in the middle of a sentence.

>quartz porthole//

I wonder why they're using quartz anyway. If they have the technology to make polycarbonate, then they must have something better than glass for the windows. It's heavy and not very resistant to damage.

>popped open and swung open//

Kind of repetitive language.

>A high, keening hiss made the aircraft’s hull ring. Lightning crackled along the hull breach, and a glowing, serpentine form shot into the cabin.//

This is another thing the chapter suffers from. I feel like I've seen these same actions and description three or four times already. There's lightning, noise from the hull, damage to it, loud sounds, lots of quartz, cannons firing, over and over again.

>razer teeth//


>farther than it had right//

I've only ever seen that phrased as "than it had any right to."

Here's another thing: if you'd used a third-person limited narrator, there's a range of distances you can use. But when you choose first-person, you're irrevocably at a very close distance to the character. That means that the narration should sound like the character might speak, reflecting his intelligence level, vocabulary, personality and mannerisms. And it should also reflect what's happening at the moment. While the aircraft is breaking up, look at how calmly and stoically he describes it all. If that were you, wouldn't you be freaking out? I'd expect this section to be fast-paced, lacking in detail aside from what he'd focus on for his survival (to make an example, in the middle of a swordfight, it wouldn't make sense for him to give a lengthy description of the mountains in the background), and expressive of his emotions.

>As the serpent shook its entire body and retreated half a meter, maw gaping wide in a hiss, a thin, metal object fell from a holster taped to the pod’s roof and clattered on my ice-encased legs. Frost encroached on my eyelids, numbing my face and locking my mouth open. I began to jerk and buck inside the ice as the ice grew over my nostrils and cracked lips. The serpent shrieked a final time as I wrapped a shaky field around the shotgun on my lap and raised it to eye level.//

Around here, your sentence structure is getting repetitive again, but in a different way. Look how many "as" clauses you're using in this paragraph and the ones around it. Authors of intermediate experience often lean way too heavily on participial phrases and "as" clauses, but they get repetitive easily, since they don't appear much in everyday conversation, so they stand out. Do a Ctrl-f on " as " (include the spaces before and after) and watch the screen light up. There are 128 in the chapter. Granted, you use the word in similes, too, and those will happen in pairs, but that's still a lot. And that won't pick up ones at the beginnings of sentences either.

>As I watched, a tattered, scorched book and several burning pages blew out into the grey skies on the whistling, uncaring wind.//

The thing is, as a reader, I have no idea what this book is yet. I haven't even seen him act like it was particularly important, So it means nothing to me when it's lost. Now he's acting like he's upset, but I'm very detached from it since I don't understand why. He just gets the default sympathy he would for any generic character who's lost something.

>despite the hot air//

It's still going to feel cold at that speed.

>The first of many raindrops speckled the concrete and steel around us.//

Wait, I thought you said this was in a desert. For that matter, what's a bed factory doing in the desert? It'd be expensive to supply it with resources.

>Cold water splashed across my face.//

He was just about to set up camp, and this scene seems totally disconnected from that. I have no idea what's going on here. Maybe he's disoriented, too, but there's no indication of it, so my only assumption can be that he knows exactly what's going on. So why don't I?

>Ma’am; you require medical attention.//

Why the semicolon? It's not used right. A comma would be fine there.

>one hundred and fifty-seven//

I'd think a robot would be programmed to know it's improper to use "and" in a number like that.

>glided inside the immense, domed room. Other robots like the one that carried me glided//

More close word repetition.

>Another robot glided to the bed//

And shortly after, more gliding.

You're losing the sense of a limited narration again. While Crystal is in this operating room, you just go to all the voices and dialogue around her. It's first-person, though. I'm supposed to be getting her experience of all this. There are confusing and strange things going on, and they're talking about amputation. Why doesn't she have any reaction to it? It's like she's completely indifferent to all this.

>I reared up as it leapt, rammed my forehooves into its chest//

This makes it sound like the ghoul rammed his forehooves into its chest.

>Rasping, bestial growls that sent shivers down my spine//

I'm barely a page into the chapter, and this is already the third shiver to go down his spine.

By this point, I just see more of the same. I'll skim the rest of what's published to see if there are any big plot problems, but really the only thing I haven't mentioned yet is this is pushing the limits on gore. There's some pretty explicit descriptions. I'll still note detailed things I see, but I'll be reading too fast to catch much.

>It’s the nearest river for thousands of square kilometers//

Why is he stating distance using an area measurement?

>sky; approaching from a few kilometers away was a trio of dark specks that stood out against the blue sky//

More close word repetition.



>To the right of my saddlebags were the husk of my armor//

Number disagreement. the subject of "were" is "husk."

>Faint buzzes almost outside my range of hearing came from the limb.

>A faint//
Close word repetition.


The apostrophe would go before the period. It doesn't work like quotation marks.

>times—” I jerked my head to the right. “—but//

Don't use a period on an aside like this. The only end punctuation they take is a question mark or exclamation mark, as appropriate.

>I levitated small plate//

Missing word.

>diner: One//

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

>yeah…” I trailed off//

The ellipsis already means she trailed off. Saying so in the narration as well is redundant.

Okay, I'm at the end of chapter 2. A lot of words in, and a lot of words still to go, but I'm not seeing any new problems I hadn't already seen in chapter 1. I could go on, but there's not a lot of point to it, as all I'd really get out of it is making sure there weren't any big plot holes (and since the story is incomplete, I couldn't guarantee there never would be anyway) and seeing if you cross the line on any of our content restrictions. So I'm going to stop here.

Really, anything I've had to mention multiple times are the things that need attention, but I'll sum them up here.

-You constantly put commas between adjectives that shouldn't have them.
-You have very repetitive sentence structures, where the vast majority start with the subject. Try reading your story out loud, especially if you skip the dialogue, and I think you'll hear how plodding it feels. You also have spots where you use a ton of "as" clauses.
-This is probably pushing it as to what gore we can allow.
-The narration is very bland and emotionless for a first-person narrator. The whole point of first-person is to give me a front-row seat to the character's thoughts and impressions. It'll typically read like an internal monologue or stream of consciousness. Compare your narration to your main character's dialogue. Her speech is very animated and indicative of how she feels. So are the few thoughts that are presented as quotes. The narration shouldn't sound much different than that, but it very much does.

The repetition and the emotionless narration are the two biggest issues, and unfortunately, they're also some of the more involved things for an author to deal with. It's not going to be a quick process to go through 100k+ words and revamp that. If you can, then I'd be happy to look at it again. I have almost no familiarity with Fallout, either the game or the MLP crossover, so I don't know how much of this story is original and how much is borrowed. I at least recognize a couple character names, but for instance, I don't know whether Eagle, Zephyr, and these alicorns are your invention or not. Either way, they're interesting characters, and on the whole, the writing is good. I think you're capable, but it's also a lot of work to fix those things.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2980

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.

>his teeth shined//

"Shined" is a transitive past tense, so this would need a direct object, and it would say that his teeth were polishing something. You need "shone."

>Nodding at his reflection, he trotted across his room in Princess Twilight’s castle and out the door, stopping once to pick up a single purple rose with no thorns from his desk.//

Note that participial phrases mean things happen at the same time, so he nods at the mirror, trots across the room, and stops simultaneously. It's more reasonable that those things would happen in sequence.

>especially after what happened a month ago with Duke Bull Horn//

It's a bit off-putting to make such a big deal of this without explaining any of it. I'll come back to this in a moment.

>She wore an elegant purple dress that to flow with every move.//

Wording is off.

>What had come to a shock to Flash//

I've always heard that phrased as "come as a shock."

>it actually didn't turn out to be to difficult//

To/too confusion.

>more than one…awkward conversations, to say the least.//

Leave a space after an ellipsis, and you have a singular/plural mismatch.

The flashback scene is presumably the background about the duke we're supposed to get, but it starts out with a huge block of exposition, which isn't a good way to get the reader's interest. It runs for 11 paragraphs. It's better to work that kind of thing in gradually as it becomes important.

>slid it her head and the map//

Missing word.

>thinks your crazy//

Your/you're confusion.

>Smarty pants//

That's a name, so both words would be capitalized.

>incidents,” Spike said, wincing, “But//

The way you punctuated that, the quote is on continuous sentence, so when you capitalize "but," you're doing it in the middle of a sentence.

>Twilight and Flash’s//

By not putting a possessive on Twilight, this means their heads are community property that they own jointly.

>It’s be enough//


>The duke//

You're inconsistent at capitalizing that.

>more then just a guard//

Than/then confusion.

>and the idea of stressing her out by having her worry about a relationship with him was the last thing he wanted//

How is that more stressful than a relationship with anyone else? Or does he think she shouldn't be in one at all?



>worse comes to worse//

"Worst" on both of those, too.


Only capitalize the first part of a stutter unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway.

>I need to pick up a book I lent her anyway.//

Wouldn't she be interested to go anyway? You don't have to make up a contrived reason for her to go.

>giggling at the drake’s enthusiasm//

You're using a limited narrator in Flash's perspective, so the narration is essentially his thoughts. Why would he internally refer to Spike with something as impersonal as "the drake" when he knows Spike well?

>The present…//

If you do flashbacks well, you won't have to indicate when they happen. The info will be in the context. But why did you use a line to separate scenes here when you didn't at the previous scene break?

>so twinkly that could blend in with Twilight’s castle//

Missing word.

>‘nobles’” she said//

Missing a comma.



>he was being to forward//

Too/to confusion.

>a pony well dressed pony//

Extraneous word, well-dressed.

>I though with a title//


>in a horrible, horrible impression of…it was so bad, Twilight couldn’t even figure out what accent he was trying to imitate//

Why are you jumping over to Twilight's perspective here?

>Doth mother know…you wearth her drapes?//

"Mother" would be capitalized in this instance, and he's got the archaic verb conjugation wrong. I can't tell if he's doing it on purpose or if it's your mistake.

>And with that//

You start two paragraphs fairly close together with that identical phrase.

>flower pots//


>The center of the ballroom had been cleared for dancing and a stage set up right next to it, but there were a number of small tables off to one side and a stage for the band off to the other.//

So... there are two stages? I'm confused.

>ruining you date//


>Faust have mercy on me//

That's very cliched.

>And with that//

You really like that phrase.

>Their not here yet.//

Their/they're confusion.

>working it’s way//

Its/it's confusion.


Typo, but why do you have it as plural anyway? You have the other two types as singular.

>Pretty sure we’re all foals compared Celestia.//

Missing word.

>Twilight asked in shock.//

You identify shock fairly often, too. Even so, it's better to make her look shocked than to tell me she is. How does she act? What does she look like?

>Money Bag’s//

This implies his name is Money Bag.

>wont //


>All three ponies turned as Princess Celestia herself made her way towards the group, everypony else bowing as she passed. Flash himself also bowed as she approached, partly out of duty, and partly out of reverence.//

That's three "as" clauses in only two sentences. It's a bad idea to be structurally repetitive like this.

>Money bags//


I'm a bit past the halfway point, and I'm getting bogged down in all these detailed mechanical things, a lot of them the same issues over and over again. Just assume you need to sweep the whole story for them. I'm going to read the rest just to look for plot or character problems.

Wait, the duke is actually going to try assassinating Twilight? That's pretty extreme.

This isn't a bad story, but it's pretty cliched for the point to be getting them up to a first date, a kiss, a wedding, or whatever. Twilight does learn that others can appreciate her for who she is, but even that's a fairly cliched lesson on its own. Plus the conflict that leads up to it, the dispute with Bull Horn, is very superficial. He just comes across as a generic villain, not someone with a real personality. If he just feels like a stock baddie, then it'll disarm the story's tension. It'd help if you gave him a more legitimate beef with her or at least gave him an emotional arc.

Aside from that, there were plenty of editing issues, and for a story with a limited narrator, the narration itself doesn't feel very lively. Unless you have the perspective character's impressions flowing in pretty regularly, it can revert to feeling omniscient. In places, you do that well. It's not just what the narration says, but how it says it. If Flash is angry, for instance, let the narration sound like an angry person.

The flashback sequence ended up being awkwardly wedged in. I think you'd do much better to keep things in chronological order and put that first. The structure implied you'd be skipping back and forth in time, but you only ever did it once.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3001

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.


Leave a space after an ellipsis, unless there;s more punctuation after it or it starts the sentence.


Only capitalize the first part of a stutter.

I have to agree with the comment that there's an awful lot of italics here. When you emphasize nearly everything, you effectively emphasize nothing.

>It had only been...a week?//

Space needed after the ellipsis again. I won't keep marking this, but I pulled it out for another reason. This paragraph brings the story's momentum to a halt. It has 8 "to be" verbs. That's a very boring verb, as nothing happens. You should use active verbs wherever you can, since the engage the reader more. Just as an example, say you rephrased this sentence as "How much time had gone by... a week?" That's all active phrasing, and it doesn't lose any of its meaning. It's impractical to remove all "to be" verbs, but it makes for a more active story when you only use them sparingly.

>The pony straightened up and brushed her long green mane out of her face, revealing bright orange eyes. “Oh, hey! Didn’t see you there. I’m Spring Forward!”//

But Spring Forward has a pale pinkish coat, blonde hair, and green eyes: http://mlp.wikia.com/wiki/Spring_Forward

>except for the wing//

And Spring Forward is an earth pony

Why is Spring Forward so chipper? Most prisoners aren't.

>It was full of surprising bitterness from the still somehow cheerful in the face of being captured, beat up, and shoved into a dingy prison, with meat, the Other, and...herself.//

I can't quite decipher that sentence. It feels like there's supposed to be some mention of Spring later on. Like, what does "cheerful" describe?

>Tempest raised her head in a sudden movement, surprised, then took a second look at Spring’s wing.//

You just mentioned surprise a sentence ago. But also beware of directly identifying emotions like this. It's too calmly self-aware for her to realize that, and with the type of narrator you're using, Tempest is effectively the narrator. If you're surprised, do you calmly think to yourself, "I'm surprised," or do you think, "oh crap!"

I don't get what the griffons want to achieve by leaving a dead body in the cell, especially since they go down there. Someone had to put Spring in there, after all. It'd stink, even to them. Maybe they just want to traumatize the prisoners? There's been no explanation as to why, though. Tempest hasn't described anything as outright abusive.

>Pegasi relied on their wings to do their magic.//

Wait, pegasi can start fires with their wings?

>backed away, eyes darting back//

Watch the repetitive word choice.


When you have a word italicized for emphasis, it's preferred to include an exclamation mark or question mark on it in the italics. You have other instances of this.

>It was a miserable five days//

And we don't know how long Tempest has been there. So is she actually eating the meat? Because I don't see how she's alive otherwise. I also can't believe the griffons are stupid enough not to know they can't feed ponies that, unless it's another form of torture. Then that goes back to my earlier point about there being no clear evidence of torture, which would be counterproductive to selling them as slaves anyway.

>some labeled with simple words like Corn//

Now I'm confused. Meat would be more expensive than corn. Why feed prisoners meat when they can feed them cheaper corn, which they'll actually eat? And a healthy slave is a better slave.

>down. A griffon led the way, carefully lowering herself down//

Repeated use of "down," plus the second one's redundant with "lowering" anyway.

So does Spring Forward's body in the cell imply that The Other was someone else whose death Tempest had been responsible for?

>“Interesting…” he snapped his fingers.//

You have that lower-case as if it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

Either the ending is really weak or it's just going way over my head. I guess the Storm King figured out Tempest had been responsible for bringing down the ship, so he respects her power. But what is it that she thinks she can benefit from by talking to him? She'd still be in a situation where she felt she was better off alone. That's what made her run away from home in the first place. Also, this isn't exactly how they met. Now, we're not typically in the habit of enforcing comic canon, since they don't take care to mesh with the show, even sometimes contradicting it. But there were 4 comics made specifically as prequels to the movie, and the 4th deals with how Tempest came to work for the Storm King. I don't think it'd take much of a tweak to get in compliance with that, but I'm also not going to require you to.

I also agree with one of the comments that Spring's death has an understated enough effect on Tempest that it's a little hard to get as much of an emotional impact from it. Part of it is that the reader will have a default reaction, just because the death is a sad situation, but the other part is seeing how Tempest responds to it. Again, this is something a minor tweak would handle. Some kind of rage when she burns down the ship would help, and I see that she does express anger toward herself, but she never comes across as the Stockholm Syndrome type where she wouldn't also blame the griffons. Maybe she deserves the pain, but they do, too.

There are a few things here that don't quite jive, plus the mechanical fixes. If you can tend to that, I'd be happy to post the story. When you're ready to resubmit, I wouldn't need a full reread, so you can mark it as "back from Mars."

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3002

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.

>enjoying the warmth of the sun and the fresh air//

It's ambiguous whether this refers to Twilight or Spike.

>She stopped in place and looked at the sky over the Everfree Forest.

>“Hey, Twilight! What are you looking at?” Spike looked//
That's 3 uses of "look" in a close space. It's a word many authors tend to overuse.

>A pleasant and relaxing picnic with her friend was exactly what she needed to forget about the recent fiasco with the publishing of the Friendship Journal.//

Let me back up to this sentence. This is clearly Twilight's internal thought expressed as narration. That makes this a limited narrator in her perspective. It's a bad idea to let this kind of perspective wander around. Yet only three paragraphs into the story, it's already switched:
>It took very little effort for Spike to identify what held Twilight Sparkle's attention, because there was a large, shimmering patch of air above the Everfree Forest, as colorful and shifting as Celestia's mane in a stiff breeze. He had to admit, he had never before witnessed something as unique and flickering as the light in the sky, which swiftly started shrinking in on itself. Well… maybe that one time at the Crystal Empire when the Crystal Heart was activated against King Sombra...//
This is very much in Spike's perspective, and it takes a conversational tone. If you want the story told through his eyes, why start with Twilight at all? I suspect you're going to have lots of problems with jumpy perspective.

>Trying to make some sense of her situation//

Don't over-explain things like this. Let her actions speak for themselves.

>Her neck was a little stiff, but flexible enough to look over her shoulder and down, noticing the two bronze stripes of fur running along her spine.//

This explicitly says her neck noticed the stripes.

>the bruised that were starting to color her skin//


>dangerous predators who would love to feast on her bruises body//

Opposite typo.

>Yet, something felt odd.//

It's rarely needed to put a comma after a conjunction.

>She couldn’t help herself from occasionally glance at the scary looking trees//


>a mistake resulting in her little nose being pricked by a thorn.//

This is a subtle thing, but you often have very subdued reactions. Take when Raichu first woke up. She has no idea where she is, and nothing looks even remotely familiar. Yet the narration sounds very calm. Same here. We're calmly told she pricked herself on a thorn. What would actually go through your mind if this happened to you? This stoic mention of it doesn't sound like she's surprised at all, and then she goes on to rub it without remarking on how it feels. Wouldn't that be on her mind at the moment?

>a sight of a blueberry caught her attention//

This says the sight of the blueberry caught her attention, not that to blueberry did. Seems odd.


Consider what sound is actually repeated. "That" doesn't start with a "t" sound.

>wooden jaws//

You already said they were made out of wood.

>rolling on the ground//

As it's placed in the sentence, this tends to describe the roar, not Raichu.

>After looking up, the pupils in her eyes//

This says her pupils looked up, which while true, is a strange way to phrase things.

>back first//

The way you're using it, hyphenate that phrase.

>“I hope no animal got hurt," she murmured, torn between the safety of her home and the possibility that some poor, helpless creature in the dark forest was injured and needed her help.//

See, this is what I was talking about when I said you tend to over-explain things. The narration expresses the exact same thing she just got finished saying. The reader already knows she feels this way.

>noticing a small dust cloud moving across the numerous hills//

You began the scene in Fluttershy's perspective. Twilight wasn't even there yet. But how would Fluttershy know what Twilight noticed? There might be context clues she reads, but you're stating it as fact, so it amounts to a perspective shift.

>hoping that no Equestria-ending threat awaited them//

And just as quickly, you're back to Fluttershy's perspective.

>sliding down hills//

>slid down her forehead//
Repetitive word choice in consecutive sentences.

>escaping death was the only thing on her mind//

If this is so, how can the narration even talk about anything else? Such is the difficulty of using a limited narrator: the narrator can't know anything the character doesn't. So if you're explicitly saying Raichu can't think about anything but escaping, then that's all the narrator can talk about.

>She looked up, a lifetime supply of apples hung there//

Comma splice.

>a distinct impression of her body, all the way up to the ears//

This is almost exactly the way you described the crater in the prologue.

>of relief//

>expression of anticipatory terror//
Try to avoid directly identifying emotion like this, particularly using a with/in/of phrasing. It doesn't paint much of a visual. What does she do? What does she look like? That's more engaging to describe.

>Not even feeling all that tired despite her non-stop running.//

That sentence fragment feels out of place.

I don't understand the purpose of the short scene with Applejack in it. Presumably she's going to catch up to Raichu at some point, and we can find out what's been going on with her then. Nothing of consequence happens in this scene. Same with Apple Bloom's scene.


What's this?

>Even in Equestria, a flying wingless critter wasn’t something she would ignore or consider normal. It wasn’t flying for long though.//

Why would the "even in Equestria" occur to her? When has she ever been anywhere else?


And what's this?

>showing four tiny fangs in her shining teeth//

She can't see this? How does she know what it looks like?


What's the apostrophe for? What letters are missing?

>“Ah said, drop that apple before Ah make ya!” Applejack said with firm steps and narrowed eyes.//

That's Raichu narrating this. How does she know Applejack's name?

You're really overwriting the Apples' accent. Readers know what they sound like.

>still apologizing//

In the way you're using this, it needs a hyphen.

><N-no thanks,>//

I don't see a reason to use implied speech here. Applejack can infer well enough what Raichu means without having to spell it out as dialogue. If Fluttershy were here, it might be a different matter.

>kept shaking its head//

>Applejack kept watching//
Repetitive use of "kept" in consecutive sentences.

At least the events in this scene are important, but it shouldn't be necessary to switch to Applejack's perspective for it. We don't really learn anything that we couldn't from Raichu's viewpoint. She's who the story's really about, after all. She can read all this info about how Applejack feels by observing what she does.

>Raichu kept staring at the apple, occasionally glancing between the mare and filly who kept encouraging her//

More repetitive use of "kept."


I've never seen this before. What exactly is it a contraction of?

>the pokemon’s head//

You're in Raichu's viewpoint. Why would she refer to herself like this? In your own thoughts, do you call yourself "the person"?

>Raichu’s eyes opened in an instant. “I do what?”//

I sure got the sense from the prologue that she already knew she talked like that. She's repeatedly said it out loud, while the narration is in her perspective, so she must be aware of it.

>taking a moment to fix her purple mane//

Why wold Starlight bother mentioning her own hair color? It's not relevant, and it'd be something she takes for granted.

><Hello,> she said as the word “Rai” reached ponies’ ears.//

You've been using Starlight's perspective in the scene, so this would be her knowledge. How did she understand that as a hello?

>taking a moment to fix her purple mane//

>walking by numerous pillars and doors//
>waiting for Applejack to approach//
>stopping herself in the middle of the stairs//
>riding the farm mare’s back//
>noticing a few bandages on the critter’s head//
That's all in just the first screen of chapter 2. You're using so many participial phrases that it gets structurally repetitive. And go back to that "riding the farm mare's back." Normally, you'd see an "on" in there. Plus Starlight knows Applejack. Why would she refer to her with something as impersonal as "the farm mare"?

><No, I would never!>//

Again, how would Starlight know this? The narrator essentially is Starlight at this point, so if she doesn't know something, the narrator can't either.

>words made of is their own name//

Phrasing is off. And has it been established yet that her name is Raichu? It wouldn't be hard for her to confirm that, but just make sure it actually happens somewhere.

>Why are you calling her pest?//

Missing word.

>still slightly sad//

I can't tell what perspective you're in anymore. Starlight's? Raichu's? It keeps jumping around. Pick one and stick with her for the scene.

>few months worth//

That's phrased as a possessive: few months' worth.

>“I must say, never in my life have I encountered or read about such an animal,” Dr. Fauna said, clapping her forehooves in excitement.//

I'm not sure it buys you anything to do this scene as a flashback. Why not just move it to the beginning of the chapter so it's all in chronological order?

>The rat could do little but stare at those impressive features of Raichu.//

Why are you jumping to the rat's viewpoint now? And "impressive features of Raichu" is such a roundabout way of saying that. Why not just "Raichu's impressive features"?

>cool looking//



Write out the words.



>This taste delicious//



You don't need a hyphen there.

>‘Arts of mind healing and hypnosis’//

You only need the italics, not the quotes, but do capitalize the title properly.


Not sure what that was supposed to be.

>down with a bit more rubble falling onto the floor. She approached her, looked down//

Close repetition of "down."


Note that smart quotes get leading apostrophes backward because they assume you want an opening single quote. You can paste one in the right way.

>Starlight grit her teeth//

Past tense is "gritted."

>Raichu fell to her knees and grit her teeth//

Same thing, but it's repetitive to have Raichu do the same thing as Starlight just a paragraph later.

>luckily none was reaching any precious books//

The comma before this is a splice, and the syntax is off here. So is the perspective. Who's the one saying the books are precious? I can't tell.

>her hoof leaving a hoof-mark//

That would seem to be self-evident.

>She levitated Raichu upward and placed on her own back//

Missing word.

>Not only it gave her time//

Phrasing is off.

>Applejack held hat//

>bringing back smile//
Missing word.

>This place have//


>Small snowdrops were falling from the sky while one landed on her nose and dissolved into water.//

Melting isn't the same thing as dissolving.

>First one being the fact//

>Most of them being//
>the fact that she was one of them//
That's a lot of repetitive language for one paragraph.


You only need three dots, and is Raichu Jamaican now?

>words; ‘Pikachu’ and ‘their child’.//

You're clarifying there, so use a colon, not a semicolon.

>wrapped in bandage//

"wrapped in bandages" or "wrapped in a bandage"

>She grit her teeth//


>Why’s she so different now//

Why are you switching to present tense?

>She was lying on a spacious wooden bed with violet eiderdown and a large blue pillow, her size was certainly no match for the owner of this bed.//

Comma splice.

>One quick glance at the window at the brown sky//

Surely you meant that first "at" to be "out."


This needs to be two words.

Why is the letter in the same format as Raichu's translated speech?

>Awkward silence overtook the room as Starlight and Raichu stared at each other, none dared to move.//

>Raichu climbed down and peeked from behind the bed, only the upper part of her head was visible thanks to her cover.//
Comma splices.

>calming her nerves//

How does Raichu know that's what she's doing?

>hiding animal and added, “You can come out from hiding//

Close repetition.

>She pointed at her mentor.//

How does Raichu know what relationship they have?

>suddenly feeling uneasy//

And this isn't in Raichu's perspective either. Your viewpoint is jumping around.

>The comfort of the bed beating dirt in a scary forest any day.//

That's awkwardly phrased.

>the reason behind bandages//

Missing word.

There's nothing I need to go into detail about in summary here. The three biggest issues were general editing, unsteady perspective, and repetition.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3007

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.

Short description:
>own, little//
No reason to have a comma there.

Long description:
>The day goes on and Spike and Sweetie Belle babysit Flurry Heart together, almost like their own little family.//
That's actually the same sentence you have in the short description, but you have different comma usage in each. The one you have after "on" in the short description should be in this one, too.

>They should be arriving here at any moment, now//
This isn't really a situation to use a comma there. You would if you wanted to emphasize "now," like she's just gotten new information that changes things. The "any moment now" idiom doesn't use one.

>Now Spike//

And it's kind of repetitive to use "now" so soon after. Especially right at the beginning, you don't want to create the impression that the story is likely to be repetitive.

>"Ugh," Spike rolled his eyes.//

You've punctuated that as if it's a speech attribution, but it has no speaking verb. You can't just tack any action on to dialogue with a comma.

>For the thousandth time Twilight//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>I've got this," He chuckled.//

Same deal with a non-speaking action. Even if this were acceptable to do, you wouldn't capitalize the speech tag.

>I promise," Spike came to a stop.//

Let's just say non-speaking speech tags are going to be a pervasive issue, as will likely capitalization of speech tags. You'll need to sweep the story for these. There's a brief guide to it at the top of this thread.

>She padded his head.//

You've confused "padded" for "patted." And at this point, I wouldn't assume the reader has retained anything from the description or cover art. It's worth establishing right away that Spike is older and bigger than he is in the show.

>The others should be waiting for us at the train station, already.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>the way the there//

Extraneous word.

>As Twilight was chasing niece//

Missing word.

Actually, is Spike any older? If not, the cover art is misleading. Flurry Heart doesn't seem to be any older.

>he knew being Shining Armor's brother would naturally make Twilight Flurry Heart's aunt//

Twilight is his sister.


When you have a word italicized for emphasis, it's preferred to include a question mark or exclamation mark on it in the italics. There are other instances of this later on.

>just absolutely filled with toys and games that were just//

Watch the close word repetition. In particular, this is a word inexperienced authors tend to overuse.

>fluttered her way out of Spike's arms before jetting her way//

More repetitive phrasing.

>She nuzzled her head.//

The direct object of "nuzzle" should be what she's doing it to, not with.

>down the hallways at high seed//


>just adorable playing with the all the toys. There was just//

Close usage of that word again.


Watch that you don't let personal opinions creep into the narration. So far, you've been using an omniscient narrator, so in this paragraph, it's fine when you say Flurry felt sympathy, because that's factual. But when you take a conversational tone like this, it pushes it into a limited narrator, and then stating something only Flurry Heart could know means you're shifting perspective, which isn't a good idea in the middle of a scene.


Three dots is plenty.

>Flurry soared him//

"Soar" doesn't take a direct object.

>lest he would risk//

"Lest" uses a different kind of verb form called subjunctive mood. The bottom line is that you don't need "would" here.

>That made very Flurry happy.//

Jumbled wording.


You don't need to put asterisks around sound effects like this.

>He lied there on the bear for a moment//

They're tricky verbs to keep straight, but you should use "lay" here instead of "lied."


Please use a proper dash for cutoffs and asides.


Needs one more dot in the ellipsis.


That's two words.

>Spike walked stepped//

Extraneous word.

>beside castle’s the doors//

Jumbled wording.

>Many Ponyville's ponies//

Missing word.

>Not ones to deny such a day, Spike//

You're referring to Spike with the plural "ones."

>a plane double hayburger//

You've confused "plane" with "plain."

>Eh, don't worry about//

Don't worry about what?


That should be a plural, not a possessive.

>He's the fella you're dancing with in that cute, little wedding picture you keep in your room.//

I'm nearly halfway through the story, and this is the first bit of tension that's come up. Until now, it's just been fluff. There's no source of conflict, no character growth. Any sort of problem that arises is immediately dealt with. You need to have something pushing the story forward.

>broke a tear//

That's not a phrasing I've ever heard before, but if it's familiar to you, it's fine.

>Around a lot of carrot dogs and hayburgers, I'm willing to bet.//

I assume it's Cookie thinking this? If you're going to use an omniscient narrator, you'll normally want to put dialogue-type tags on thoughts.


That's a generic title, same as the "sir" Spike used earlier. You wouldn't capitalize this.

>I appreciate it, Sir//

Well, now you've decided to capitalize it. It shouldn't be.

>is she more of trouble//

Phrasing is off.

>still napping//

Hyphenate, given the way you've used it.

>Why did Hondo have to say what he said?//

Why is Sweetie Belle referring to her dad by his name?

>Spike awkwardly rubbed the back of his.//

The back of his what?

>A small blushed//



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

>'come with me, dear,'.//

Capitalization, extraneous comma.


Three dots is plenty.

>she is...embracing it? What is going on?//

Why'd you switch to present tense in the narration?

>"She's gone!"//

I'm about 75% of the way through the story, and this is the first whiff of real conflict. That's a lot to ask of a reader to stick it out this long.

>Despite Spike having scales, Flurry very comfortable in his arms.//

Some missing words in there.

>You've been real good to her, today.//

You really like to stick commas on those adverbs at the ends of sentences. They're rarely needed.

>Sweetie Belle green eyes//

Missing a possessive.


As one word, that's a noun. You need it to be a verb.

>look before looking//

Repetitive word use.

>You won't find stain//

Missing word.


That may cut it as video game dialogue, but not in good writing.


Three dots is plenty.

These are just examples of the editing issues I found. There are more, but I should have all the types covered. Other than the editing, the perspective is very unsteady. It never settles into either omniscient or limited narration, and while limited, it skips around to different characters frequently. And there's never tha much of a conflict or character growth. There are minor ones like what to feed Flurry Heart and when she goes missing, but they're all solved quickly and with little effort. The only thing we learn about the characters is that Spike and Sweetie Belle may have a mutual crush, but that doesn't get developed through the course of the story. It's way into inconsequential slice of life material before it's even brought up, and then nothing is done with it by the end of the story. They still just may have a mutual crush.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3011

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.

>There's still a lot a fighting//

That second "a" should be "of." Maybe you were going for a more phonetic interpretation of how she said it? Either way, the computer still has to hear her and decide what words to use, and even our modern ones are decent at catching grammar like that. I'd think hers would know the proper word.

And a word about italics. They get annoying to read in large quantities. They're also meant to separate things as different. But when the whole thing is different, nothing is. The reader will already pick up how this is being presented as recordings. You don't need the italics to convey that. If they were short recordings interspersed in lots of "live" narration, then there would be a justification in setting them apart, but there's no need to do that for the way you have it.

It might help to put an [hr] between log entries.

>There's a lot of other Talons up her too//


>Even if its just me//

Its/it's confusion. Since it's either a computer putting the audio into text or the reader kind of listening to the recording, there are some things it wouldn't make sense to assume she got wrong.

>I' have//

Extraneous apostrophe.

>but... I've//

Inconsistent ellipsis format. It's preferred to put a space after, unless it starts a sentence, because it plays better with FiMFiction's typesetting, but either format is okay as long as you use the same one throughout.

>Ponies they're//

And it seems like that was supposed to be "there."

>It was, sickening.//

Why is there a comma here?

I mentioned two possibilities before, and I think it's going to make more sense to take this as the reader listening to the recording instead of seeing a text transcript of it. That means it's more reasonable to use ellipses, since it'd be tough to explain to a speech-to-text algorithm which pauses should be ellipses, commas, semicolons, periods, dashes, or just about anything. But taking it as an audio log has its own issues, namely that it wouldn't make sense to have certain kinds of errors, like the aforementioned its/it's confusion. They sound the same, so who's to say which is recorded? There's no reason to choose the wrong one, because then you're presuming Gilda meant the wrong one or the listener hears the wrong one, neither of which is justifiable. This does mean it'd help if you were more judicious about putting commas between clauses. Here's an example I pulled from a little later on:
>I've cut zebras in half on the battlefield, so I'm no stranger to entrails and the like, but that was nothing compared to that building.//
You got this one right. Whenever there's a passage where each subject gets its own verb (I've cut..., so [I am]..., but that was...), you set it off with commas.
>There was a mare in the office too but she had nothing to say after she succumbed to a sudden case of decapitation.//
Here's an example of a spot that needs one. You do have separate subject-verb pairs, but there's no comma to separate the clauses (There was... but she had).

I guess I don't have a picture of who Gilda is yet. She's tough enough to take out the whole Steelworks, but she doesn't have much sway with the military or pegasi.

>Twenty Seventh//

In all these dates, when the ordinal number has two words, put a hyphen between them. Same deal with the cardinal numbers of the years, if that comes up later.

>Found some a lot of ingots//

Jumbled wording.

>High grade//


More than in the previous version, you're starting to wander into things that a reader would have to be familiar with Fallout: Equestria to understand. I haven't read it. I don't know what the Curtain or the Luna are. I can guess the latter is a ship, but I don't know what significance it has or why Gilda wants to destroy it. In crossover stories, don't assume the reader knows anything other than canon MLP.


Ship names get italicized. Of course it already is, since everything is (though it shouldn't be).

>its only a pyre//

>maybe its magic or something//
>Knowing who its made to look like//
Its/it's confusion.

>stuck up//

>Fifty Two//


You sometimes capitalize that and sometimes don't.

>I found a Ministry of Peace hospital just outside the lethal zone. It was inhabited, but it isn't now.//

I don't know whether that means it was once inhabited but anyone there died in the attack on the city, or if Gilda found someone there and killed them.

>fro this place//


>their front's//

You have a possessive where you need a plural.

>screaming 'that's what everypony says!'.//

Punctuate and capitalize that like dialogue. And the period at the end is extraneous.

>manticore or something//

Missing period.

>played open//

I assume you mean "splayed."

>I'm sorry Dash.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>its still deadly//

Its/it's confusion.

>I looks like the shield went down.//


>I think its radiation//

Its/it's confusion.

>no where//

That's one word.

>I'm sorry Dash.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>December Twenty Third, Year one.//

You'd been capitalizing the year numbers. But it looks like you stop doing so here. It goes on like this, at least for the few more dates I scanned ahead to see.


There was one time a while back where you didn't capitalize both words.

>I heading out//


>Lot's of game.//

You have a possessive where you need a plural.

>eating them like crazy so they can't be bad. The things are growing like crazy//

Reptitive phrasing. And there are ways to check if something's poisonous. Wouldn't she know that?

>cave, They're//

Comma should be a period.

>Damn, it's been a long ass time since I've used this thing.//

Seems odd to have a 12-year time skip and not comment on why.

>About a third of them foals//

Missing period.

>hoof made//

That'd probably be one word like "handmade." Except why is a griffon using a "hoof" word?

>Its a little big//

Its/it's confusion.


One exclamation mark is plenty.

>I was going to start yelling for somepony to come help, I didn't want to go get her myself.//

Comma splice.

>left eh kids//


>I had to make a silencer for my rifle//

Where's she getting the material and tools for this? For that matter, where's she getting the toys for the kids?

>If they knew even half the things I've done they run away in terror.//


>Next time I get out of the valley//

Well, there it is. She should mention this earlier.

>I just, don't like leaving them alone.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>fifty nine//


>I'm sorry Dash.//

Comma for direct address.

>I spent a hundred round//


>My pistols don't have silencers to it was only an hour before the parents rushed into the clearing at the Ice Caverns' entrance.//


>I cleared out all the bodies//

How'd she get rid of the blood? Or don't they have any? If not, here's a spot where someone unfamiliar with the crossover isn't going to understand.

>its all my fault//

Its/it's confusion.

>and tall the younger ponies//


>its some kind of blasphemy//

Its/it's confusion. You get this right sometimes. I'm not sure what the deal is.

>Its not much//

I'm just going to list these when I see them. It's taking too much time to type "Its/it's confusion" over and over again.

>he bastards..//

Needs one more dot.

>All the younger mare's are alive//

You keep mixing up possessives with plurals.

>Fuck I should have been watching the entrance!!!//

Unless this was something she wrote out herself, I don't know how a recording device would differentiate three exclamation marks over one.

>sand bangs//


>their isn't in green foliage//

Several typos.

>They have all the mare's and foals//

Possessive/plural. I mean, you get "foals" right. Why is "mares" any different?

>run .//

Extraneous space.

>I am going to hurt them SO much!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty.

>Its all fresh off the assembly line.//

>bleeding out on the ground//

>bled out on the ground//
Pretty repetitive so close together.

>make shift//

That's one word.

>If these bucks are scared than the rest of their comrades should be scared too.//

Than/then confusion.

>questions, to ask them after all//

No reason to have a comma there.

>'Stable 34 territory acquisition expedition//

Where's that quotation supposed to close?

>'We're so sorry spirit', 'please don't hurt us spirit', 'we didn't want to hurt anypony Storm Mother'.//

Needs commas for direct address.

>their trying to shoot//


>December First.//

That period needs to be a comma.

>Ambush at the yeti Geyser.//

Not sure why "geyser" is capitalized. Or if it's a place name, why "yeti" isn't.

>I let through leave//


>ponies Young//

Missing period.

>It's been a real long time since I used this thing, this will be my last recording.//

Comma splice, and there are several more in this entry.


One too many dots.

>took about twenty tries before I could do it with coughing up blood or crying //

Sounds like you meant that to be "without."

>Its nice//

>Its comfortable.//

>Take care of your home my Children.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>You must all be kind to each.//

Missing an "other."

The expansion definitely makes it clearer what's going on and adds more emotional depth. Since I'm not familiar with Fo:E, though, I don't know when this is supposed to take place. Would Gilda have made up with Dash as in "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone"? Would "Griffon the Brush-Off" have happened? I don't know where we are in Gilda's relationship with Dash. And that informs what it meant for that to end. I gather Gilda killed her because she was paid to, though I don't know whether it was a straight-up hit job or just a bounty on ponies in general. Without that kind of background, I don't know how big a deal it is that Gilda killed her. She regrets it so badly later, but then I don't understand why she could have done it in the first place. It's not like Gilda had some wholesale personality change that made her a different person in that regard. Either there's supposed to be a change that wasn't conveyed, or Gilda's just being inconsistent.

That's really the only story issue for me. Other than that, there's just a lot of mechanical clean-up that needs to happen. It's not unusual for extensively rewritten material to have new issues pop up, but it felt like this was cleaner before. A lot of these things are pretty obvious.

Hold on, let me revisit her age. She says she's 60 in year 14. then in year 40, she says she's 85. Wouldn't she be 86? And she's still marauding around. How long do griffons live? If that's a piece of Fo:E lore, I don't know it. Then she dies in year 55, short of her birthday, so she's 100. Ponies, at least, seem to have pretty human lifespans, and you even allude to such (14 being very young to get pregnant, for instance). Unless griffons are much longer-lived than ponies, it's kind of hard to buy her doing all this at such an advanced age.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3012

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.

Why'd you put the title in quotes?

>Larger than life//

>hundred carat//
When you use multi-word phrases as single descriptors like this, hyphenate them.

Your perspective is pretty unsteady so far. You obviously start the story with an external viewpoint, but as you ease into it, it seems to take on Rarity's perspective, or possibly remain omniscient. There's nothing decidedly limited about the narration, until we get to this:
>Yet Rarity still appeared completely unfazed//
The opening narrator wasn't a character, because he's clearly self-aware that it's a story. But this statement is from a character viewpoint. "Seemed" is a judgment call. Seemed to whom? I don't know. And that's the kind of context that informs perspective. It's not the same narrator we stated with, because he'd know if she was unfazed; "seem" wouldn't enter into it.


One exclamation mark is plenty.

>sequins that drew the eye back to that one perfect diamond that shone like a beacon!//

The two "that" clauses get a bit repetitive when tacked so close together, but technically, both of them should be "which." You're not creating a subcategory; you're just saying this particular diamond and these particular sequins have these characteristics.

>Then a particularly extravagant spin left her facing the edge of the ship and she blindly stepped forward into empty air…//

You've got a number of spots like this, where you need a comma between the clauses.

Right after that first picture, we get assaulted with "as" clauses. You have all these within the space of just 3 paragraphs:
>as she sashayed along the railing//
>as they saw that a sparkling bridge of blue light had materialized beneath the mode//
>as he followed her onto the bridge//
>as he walked past//
>as the music reached its swelling finale//
This and the participial phrase can be wonderfully descriptive, but they're also uncommon enough in everyday usage that they easily stand out as repetitive, and a lot of authors overuse them.

>reached its swelling finale, they reached//

Close word repetition.

>through which she now played a blood-pumping solo on her guitar//

There have been three female characters (well, the reader's left to intuit that the "rainbow-maned pegasus" is female) mentioned in the sentence already, so it's ambiguous who "she" is.

>a figure wearing a cloak that hid all their features//

This is also inconsistent with the omniscient narrator hat you seem to favor. As omniscient, he'd know who this was. There are ways to make the language work and keep the secret, but the narrator or perspective character needs a reason to.

>When Rarity makes art it doesn’t matter what era//

Needs a comma in there.



>Let me just cut you off right there, Darling.//

"Darling" is a generic term of endearment. It wouldn't be capitalized.

>a particularly fancy skybridge//

There's an opinion creeping into the narration again, but I don't know whose. And whatever personality the seemingly omniscient narrator took on at the beginning of the story has been missing ever since, so it's not him.

>this way, darling//

That's already her third time saying "darling" in this scene. If you look through episode transcripts, she doesn't actually eay it that often, usually no more than two or three times in an entire episode.

>Why don’t we ask him?//

When you italicize w rod for emphasis, it's preferred to include an exclamation mark or question mark on it in the italics.

>definitely not grape juice//

This goes to perspective again. Why's the narrator making a big deal about this? What would matter if it was wine?

>yelling “Thank//

Needs a comma.

Now that you have a scene with Applejack, it's very consistently a limited narration in her perspective. That just leaves me confused about what the narrative voice was supposed to be before now.

>she flew over the earth pony//

Well, now it's slipped. Why would AJ call herself "the earth pony"? In your own head, do you call yourself "the person"?

>Applejack looked hurt.//

How can she see herself to tell? The perspective's somewhere else, but not necessarily with her cousin. Though that's the only other option, I guess.

>I just don’t want to see you hurt again.//

And this use of "hurt" in the same paragraph is repetitive.

>Before Twilight could reply someone tapped her shoulder.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>Turning around//

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

>she saw Applejack wearing a very odd dress//

So this is in Twilight's perspective...
>Rainbow Dash was the first to find her voice, and naturally the first thing she did with it was laugh.//
This might still be in Twilight's perspetive, but it sounds more like it'd be Rarity's or AJ's...
>She looked around and saw a good vantage point in a nearby tower.//
Now you're in Rarity's head...
>They had never seen fashion like this before!//
And now you're in some kind of collective viewpoint. This is all in the first page.
>But Ginger was hardly listening, already planning on how she would try again.//
Into Ginger's perspective now. It's bouncing all over the place.

>into— ”//

Extraneous space.

>back at Ponyville//

I'd normally see this phrased with "in."


Please use a proper dash for cutoffs.

>Rarity’s reply sounded rehearsed//

This has to be from AJ's perspective...
>Rarity stood up and rounded on the other mare with such suddenness that Applejack had to take a step back.//
But this is unidentifiable. The "had to take a step back" feels like AJ's, but it's strange for either one of them to call AJ "the other mare."



>Applejack’s voice remained strong and self-assured as ever, but her stance told a different story as she continued to back away, her broad shoulders tensing. Rarity’s body language was also different. Gone was the grace of the dainty lady, and in its place was something almost predatory.//

And you're switching perspective in the middle of the paragraph here.

>A fifty carat diamond with a good cut and clarity, it would make a fine addition to any collection.//

Fifty-carat. And while that's not technically a comma splice, it sure feels like one.

>“Blue Topaz”, Rarity thought//

Comma placement.

>Rarity looked away//

>looking affronted//
>Everyone looked at Rarity.//
>“Look, you have a lot of talent.//
That's all in just 3 paragraphs. "Look" is a word many authors tend to overuse.

>I can’t decide who I fall in love with//

I don't gather how this follows from "I'm just a regular mare." Do exceptional mares decide who they fall in love with?

>She did not hear Applejack knocking//

How does she know AJ knocked, then? You've mostly been using a limited narration, so the narrator is essentially the focus character. If Rarity doesn't know AJ knocked, neither does the narrator.



>darling.” Rarity said//


>Somepony made themselves your problem and you treated them much better than you had to.//

Why is AJ making pretty much the opposite argument that she had the day before?

I realize you were very hampered by word count limits, but all of the romantic attractions here are things I just have to accept the story's word for. None of the characters actually justify their infatuations. I don't know what Ginger actually likes about Rarity that she would consider her good relationship material. Same goes for whatever Rarity likes about AJ. It's on the absurd side, but you're not tagging this as comedy, so that's not the angle you're taking. In that case, I really am looking for this to be an authentic portrayal of an earnest love interest, but it's just surface-level, and it's hard to stand out from the crowd of all the other stories that do the same thing. For that matter, the emotional climax of Ginger having to face rejection occurs off camera, so I'm just left to imagine what impact that's had on her, or at the least, to take AJ's vague description of it.

Really, the two biggest things are that the love interest lacks depth and the perspective skips around between limited perspectives and an omniscient voice.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3019

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've done a good job using a close limited narrator. The narration expresses Ghost's opinions as if his own, essentially becoming her. But there are a few hiccups. Look at this one:
>Ghost thought that the mochas weren’t half bad here//
She wouldn't think, "I though the mochas weren't half bad here." She'd just think, "The mochas weren't half bad here." By forcing that "Ghost thought" in there, you're putting distance between Ghost and the narrator, who's now a middleman instead of being identically Ghost.

>Four- no//

Please use a proper dash. Alt+0151 = —. And don't put space on either side of it. This goes for the whole story. Don't use hyphens for asides and interruptions.

>Ghost hated the crowds in the supermarket//

This one isn't too bad, but it's a little clinical. Let the tone come through in how she says it, something like "those crowds in the supermarket always grated on her nerves."

>That was at a different cafe, though//

>It was in the past, though//
Kind of repetitive phrasing in the same paragraph.

>She wished she had a social life//

There are two classes of verbs you should only use sparingly in a close limited narration like this. The first governs perception. Since Ghost essentially is the narrator, they share the same perception. If the narrator says something is there, it's implicit that Ghost sees it. You should never have to say she saw, heard, felt, etc. anything, unless you really want to add emphasis that she was on the lookout for it or it was something most people would miss. The other class of verbs governs knowledge, things like want, wish, know, wonder, etc. Instead of using these, express them through tone. Like here, instead of saying she wished this, express it as a longing: If only she had a social life. That gets the wish across, but in a much more personal way.

>The door chimed announced//


>thinking that it was mighty rude to not order anything, and hoping that her opinion didn’t show on her face//

A couple more of those types of verbs here that could be more powerful through narrative tone.

>That would be the sixteenth time she wiped the same spot, she mused//

Similar. You don't need the "she mused." Just let the narrator express the thought on her behalf.

>Another customer, hoorah! Ghost felt she could almost cheer at the sound.//

Well, she did cheer. Just not out loud.

>Her changeling friend may work with the royal guards//

Verb tense is off here. You need "may have worked."

>The changeling looked around.//

This is another advanced point about perspective, but you're implying this is the phrasing Ghost would choose to describe her friend. That feels very formal and external. In your own head, do you refer to your best friend as "the person"? More likely you'd use a name or pronoun.

>The changeling looked panicked for a moment, looking around.//

Another very impersonal reference to her best friend, and a close repetition of "look." And instead of saying Misty looks panicked, which is an abstract thing, make it concrete. Tell me how she looks and acts, and let me conclude that it's panic.

>Misty nodded, and sat down at a table nearby//

You only need the comma before the conjunction if it starts a new clause, and not even always then. You don't have a subject for the verb after "and"; it shares the same subject as "nodded," so it's not a new clause, just a compound verb.

>walked in a few minutes late and relieved her, before walking//

Close word repetition.

>The unicorn prodded her friend//

And that's even weirder than calling her friend "the changeling." She'd actually refer to herself as "the unicorn"? Do you think of yourself as "the human"?


Needs a space.

>you?” She teased//

Looks like you meant that to be a speech tag so don't capitalize it.

>Whatever trouble Misty Step was in, she resolved to do the best she could to try to fix it.//

This sounds rather calm for the situation, which tends to undermine the tension it creates. And undermining tension isn't a good way to end a chapter.

>Misty frowned and huddled against her warmer, warm-blooded friend//

It'd make sense for Ghost to refer to Misty as "her friend," but not for Ghost to refer to herself as "Misty's friend."

Before I move on to chapter 2, a word about your synopsis. It tells me nothing about your story, only that a pony and her changeling friend go on an adventure. That's incredibly generic. It's not going to grab readers' interest. Give me a taste of what's going to happen in the story.

>he put away her keys and flipped on the lights, revealing a cozy little apartment. In one corner was a heap of blankets and cushions, arranged into a nest.//

It's fine that you want to give a description of her apartment, but she's the limited narrator, so you have to give her a motivation to discuss it. This sounds like the once-over a first-time visitor would give, but both she and Misty are familiar with it. Find ways to work in these details. Take that last sentence. There's no reason for her to say it. It's normal to her, it's not relevant to what is happening, and she wouldn't notice it unless you give it a reason to stand out to her. Something like "In one corner was a heap of blankets and cushions, arranged into a nest that she hadn't gotten around to cleaning up for weeks now." That gives a reason for her to describe it, namely, that she sees it as a mess she needs to clean up.

>In one corner was//

>Taped to the pillow nest was//
>Across the room were//
>On the table was//
These are the beginnings to four sentences in a row. See how repetitive they are?

>She hoped she had something that Misty liked reading.//

Why? They haven't discussed anything like this.

>In one corner of the room was//

Now you're back to that phrasing and one you already used.

>Ghost made a mental note to clean those when she got the chance//

>Ghost made a mental note to clean out.//
More repetitive phrasing.

>The apartment was small, crowded, but cozy, and Ghost was proud that she had such a nice place to live.//

You pretty much already said this earlier:
>revealing a cozy little apartment//

>They worked for Chrysalis, and were waiting for the right moment to take over again//

You don't need that comma. It's just a compound verb.

>I’ll have my job back//

We're not going to get an explanation of this?Be careful how you give it, though. Ghost would already know the story, so it wouldn't make sense for Misty to tell her. You have to find other ways of hinting at it.

>She shruggedd//


>She points at a few cacti sitting on her shelf.//

Why are you in present tense here? And Ghost already said she had two cacti.

>This was a problem, because the fire had spread over her bed and was slowly making its way around her.//

This is phrased very calmly, given this:
>The heat was unbearable, and the smoke made her cough.//

>She wondered//

Another one of those verbs you can do without.

>That was a terrifying dream, for many reasons.//

But the narration doesn't sound terrified. And beware of referring to generic things like the "many reasons" here. I don't know what any of them are, so I have no way to identify with her. Briefly list a couple of them.

>Misty,” She sighed//

>right?” She inquired//

>her abomination meal//

I love this.

>Ghost managed a grimace that slightly resembled an encouraging smile.//

How does she know what it looks like? She can't see it.

>Misty trotted into the bathr//

Something got cut off there.

>Ghost sighed as she tossed her back into her apartment.//

Are you sure this is phrased how you wanted? I don't understand it.

>While the class went on about sine and cosine//

I thought you said this was an algebra class. That's trigonometry.

>written in worse handwriting than Ghost wrote in.//

Kind of repetitive phrasing. Just leave it as "written in worse handwriting than Ghost's." For that matter, it isn't handwriting. I typically see it called hoofwriting (closer parallel to the earth term) or mouthwriting (closer to what non-unicorns actually do)/hornwriting.

>Ghost started up a pot of her favorite jasmine tea, and grabbed another book.//

Unnecessary comma.

>Sometimes, Ghost thought as she warmed up a towel in her magic, it really sucks to be right.//

Your presentation of that is closer to dialogue. If you want it that way, use quotation marks or italics for the thought. But you can remove the thought tag and just state it as narration, in past tense.

>any of their behavior follow//

>this criteria//
Singular/plural mismatch.


You don't need a hyphen for a two-word phrase starting in an -ly adverb.

>The unicorn//

Another strangely external reference, this time to herself. I haven't been marking every one of these, by the way. You should go through the whole story for them.


>coffee making//
Strange that you have one of those as a single word and the other as two.

>business pony//

This would likely be one word, like the human equivalent.

>list.” She mumbled//



I've always seen that as "decipher," but if you're used to this spelling, it's fine.



>which had spread behind the counter and out towards the customer’s chairs, which were thankfully vacated//

It's kind of clunky to have two "which" clauses stacked up like that.

>happened?” Blurted//



This might also be a regional spelling, but I've only seen "refrigerator."

>until it shined like new//

"Shined" takes a direct object. You want "shone."

>“Waffles!” Squealed//




>shquares~” She//


>added “I’ll//

Needs a comma.

>pushing a crosswalk button over and over//

I love this.

>ruined page//

You just used "ruining" in the last paragraph.

>going.” Ghost murmured//


>Was she really that surprised about how easy it was to miss out on the lecture.//

Isn't that a question?

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3023

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.

>wished — for//

Don't leave space on either side of an em dash.

You've got some questionable semicolons. In formal usage, you should be able to replace one with a period and have both resulting sentences stand as complete, but many of yours would result in sentence fragments.

>A sigh of disappointment escaped her lips.//

Beware directly identifying emotion like this. It's often better to demonstrate it through character behavior and appearance, so that the reader can draw his own conclusion—this mimics how people judge each other in real life anyway. But in these "in/with/of emotion" phrasings, there's usually already something in the sentence to convey the mood. Here, the sigh and what she'd been musing already get across disappointment.

>Tempest’s surprise was apparent in her gaze and in her voice.//

Consider you've been using a limited narrator in Tempest's perspective so far. But she can't see her own face, so how does she know what her expression looks like, much less that it's "apparent"? Besides, it doesn't vocalize the emotion well. When you're surprised, you have a "wait, what?" moment, not a calm, "oh, that surprises me." This could stand to come across as more authentic. How she looks isn't going to be her clue as to how she feels anyway. You don't have to look in a mirror to know you're happy, after all.

>she cut her off//

That's already what the dash means. Narrating it as well is redundant.

>“As you wish,” Twilight nodded.//

You're using a non-speaking action as a speech tag.

>laying down and getting comfortable//

"Lay" and "lie" are tough verbs to keep straight, but you need "lying" here.

As this conversation starts, compare the flavor of the narration to what it was at the beginning of the scene. Early on, it was very expressive of Tempest's thoughts and opinions. Now it's just spouting factual statements. Inject some of those flavorful-toned sentences fairly regularly, or it will sound like you've reverted to an omniscient narration.

Consider character voicing. Twilight's speech sounds virtually identical to Tempest's. If I picked out a random statement, I doubt I'd be able to decide who said it based on voice alone. Maybe from the circumstances of what it actually said but not how it said it. You want to give these characters distinct voices. For that matter, you're affecting a very cumbersome voice for both. Purple, florid language has its place, but extemporaneous musings and off-the-cuff dialogue aren't usually a good use for it. At least Twilight could believably have this level of vocabulary, but Tempest didn't especially seem to in the movie, and you're not giving her a reason why she would.

>Surely even among the diplomacy-obsessed Equestrians//

Pretty repetitive to start two sentences in a row with that word.

>Tempest snorted, a mixture of exasperation and quiet amusement on her breath.//

Again, odd for her to outright identify her mood rather than the effect it's having on her. From her perspective, the effect would be the more noticeable thing.

>a bit of//

You use this phrase is consecutive sentences.

>“And at the risk of sounding too pleased with myself,” she looked up to meet Tempest’s gaze.//

Non-speaking action used as a speech tag again.

>delicious food//

How does she know it is? She hasn't tasted it yet.

>shocking and intriguing//

Yet the narration reacts to Twilight very calmly, not as if it's intrigued and shocked.

>“Not quite what I meant,” Tempest shook her head.//

Non-speaking action as speech tag.

>real friends that cared about you//

It's preferred to use "who" instead of "which" or "that" when referring to sentient beings.

>“I didn’t,” she nodded.//

Non-speaking action as speech tag.

>a hole in her heart that she didn’t know she had//

You already spoke to hunger she didn't know she had. It's kind of a cliched thought, as well as being repetitive, but I can't tell if the repetition is intended. I doubt it, but there could actually be a very interesting thematic link here. The key is to make it obvious you're doing it on purpose by acknowledging the repetition. You could have her liken it to the earlier hunger, for example.

>“I never realized.” She finally said.//



You can keep this if you like, but for me, it's an odd word choice. "Panoply" implies a covering that's all over, but this one is only on the horizon. It also connotes something protective, which isn't the case here.


It's kind of weird that you've repeatedly used this to describe his defeat.

>“Thank you for your offer. But I’m learning to be more comfortable with who I am.”//

Looks like there's an inadvertent line break here.

>He gaze//


>again, but stopped short. A curious notion washed over her. She looked to the decanter and once again focused on her magic. Her horn sparked again//

That's three uses of the same word very close together.

>“No.” She said quietly to herself.//


There's some nice characterization here, but I'm confused. You submitted it as a complete story and didn't give a synopsis of forthcoming chapters, but on FiMFiction, it's marked as incomplete. The incomplete is probably an oversight on your part (I believe it's the default when you create a story), but it really does feel incomplete.

There's not a big moment of character change here, and Tempest doesn't struggle wih it much. She does wrestle a bit with understanding why Twilight acts the way she does, but not with accepting Twilight's attitude, and it's really that struggle that would or wouldn't introduce tension in to the story. If it's something worth having, it's something worth fighting for, so let me see Tempest's fight to attain what it is she wants here, and let me see Twilight fight to help her get it. When there's just a direct path from need to success without any obstacles, it's hard for the story to make a compelling case. And then when she does get it, there's no catharsis for her.

For that matter, I'm not sure why you're tagging this as AU. There's some talk of a council which may or may not fit into canon, but it's relatively unimportant to what's happening.

I liked your characterization of Tempest, but Twilight's voice is pretty indistinguishable from hers, and it could use some higher-stakes and less easily resolved conflict.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3024

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.


Missing space.

>There was reason//

Missing word.

>six pointed//



That's two words.

>well deserved//


>Twilight- urk//

Please use a proper dash for interruptions and asides. You have a number of these throughout the story.

>bone crushing//

Hyphenate. Whenever you have a multi-word descriptor used as a single adjective in fron of what it describes, hyphenate the phrase.

>fore legs//

That's one word.

>“Oh, I’m still going”//

Missing period.

>and tried to recall the whirlwind of books and dusty scrolls of that day.//

You'd been using Twilight as your perspective character, but this is within Spike's head.

>lung crushing//

Hyphenate, but that's pretty repetitive with the earlier "bone-crushing."

>out the equation//

Missing word.

>Spike felt the now all-too-familiar embrace of a super-strong alicorn.//

You keep flipping back and forth btween their perspectives, and not in a way that an omniscient narrator would.

>change Rarity’s dress and mask to better suit her new look//

How does she know it'll suit her better? She's not exactly fashionable.

>This would be her spells greatest test//

Missing apostrophe.

>and she payed dearly for a few months back//

Missing word.

>doors.” she said//

Punctuation. And I don't get Luna's point. Why would Rarity be the only one to serve as an example?

>she desperately wishes she there could’ve been another way//

Wording is off.

>her Mom//

I won't get into the grammatical dtails here, but if you'd said just "Mom" here, it would need to be capitalized, but with the "her" in front of it, it shouldn't be.


Did you mean that to be "camel"?

>If there is a universal constant, then Pinkie is the certainly the universal variable. But if there is one thing Twilight can count on, it’s her friends//

Why are you switching to present tense here?

>lantern lit//


>in place like this…//

Missing word.

>wished she had stop breathing//

Syntax is off.

>all she could do is watch her friend melt in front of her eyes//

The comma before this is a splice, and you've gone to present tense again.

>Her only response were//

Singular/plural mismatch.

>when Luna pulled similar stunt//

Missing word.

>ended up finding her hiding in the closet, and thinking she was just vermin, ended up//

Repeated phrasing.

>was out of limelight//

Missing word.

>How had Pinkie not succumb to its power?//

Typo. And I haven't been marking many of the perspective shifts, but this is another. Most of the scene was in Twilight's, but you're going to Celestia here.

Aside from the mechanical things, the biggest issue here is the jumpy perspective. It's a bad idea to skip around to different viewpoints in this limited a narrator, because it can be confusing an jarring when the narrative view keeps changing. It also defeats the purpose of using a limited narrator like this, as the reader's never given the time to settle into the different viewpoints. It'd help if you tried to stick to one character per scene.

Plot-wise, the biggest issue is that Twiligt wanted to make the point that her friends are all as important as her. But given the opportunity to, she never does. To her friends, sure, but they already knew that. She didn't make the point to the crowd, which was the outcome she really wanted.

Consider also that the stakes were never very high. The biggest one of all is that Rarity was upset her dress wouldn't get used. Pinkie and Dash didn't have any issues, Applejack didn't even turn up until afterward, and Fluttershy immediately recovered, so the effect on her wasn't significant. Rarity immediately forgave her, too. When everything gets solved so easily without anyone becoming too upset it undermines that there was anything serious going on in the first place.

Even Twilight's problem seems a little misplaced. She's not uncomfortable with the spotlight; she just wanted that spotlight shining on her friends, but she's in the perfect position to make sure it is, so was there some other reason she was desperately avoiding it? That doesn't come out, and it's not used to balance out the justifcation for her actions, such that the other girls understand why she did it and agree to meet in the middle somewhere. Twilight just kind of comes to the conclusion that she never really had an argument in the first place. Resolve that conflict, don't nullify it. They do apologize to her, but really, for what? None of them were acting unreasonably.

If that mask at the end is so potentially dangerous, why is it so easy for someone to gain access to it? It's also a strange diversion from the story's message to have this tangent that doesn't go anywhere.

There's a nice idea in this story, albeit one that's been done plenty of times before, but it could use some focus on the depth of the emotional journey for all involved. Let me see the stakes involved: what Twilight wants, what she's willing to do to get it (so far, you've got those), and what bad thing will happen if she doesn't. And throw some more obstacles in her path. The only major one is Rarity getting upset; all the rest just solve themselves.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3039

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 magenta pony//

You're using Tempest as your perspective character. That means you're having her refer to herself using this type of phrase. Who does that?

>the taller mare//

Again, you're having Tempest refer to herself this way.

>the other unicorn//

Similarly, why would she use a reference like this for someone she knows? You don't think of your acquaintances using language like this.

>Taking a quick breath, she rattled off//

Note that participles make things happen at the same time. So she's speaking while inhaling.

>After she started talking about the incinerator room, she just tuned her out.//

This gets convoluted as to which one of them each "she" refers to.

Now I'm going to illustrate something. I'm going to copy out every participial phrase I see in the first scene.
>hidden behind the doors in Twilight's abode//
>turning another corner in the hallway//
>Turning a corner//
>raising an eyebrow//
>Laughing nervously at Tempest's complete non-reaction//
>Taking a few seconds to ponder the proposal//
>Rounding the corner//
>turning around//
>Taking a quick breath//
>Noticing that Starlight had finished her spiel//
>trying to remember the directions//
>Double-checking to make sure she had found the pool//
>Freezing for a few seconds//
That's quite a lot. Not overwhelmingly so, but authors of moderate experience tend to rely on this structure too much. They don't turn up a lot in everyday conversation, so they're unusual and stand out easily. Similar are absolute phrases and "as" clauses, and you have your share of those as well:
>as Tempest Shadow, only a few days into her new life, turned a corner and continued her steady pace//
>as the candelabras and other wall decorations passed by//
>as she slammed into another resident of the castle//
>as the other mare shook her head//
>a slight blush rising on her features//
>As Tempest continued to stare silently//
>as the taller mare passed//
>as Starlight continued her "easy" directions to what should have been a simple room//
>her horn-stub dropping electric blue sparks on the floor//
So just watch that you're not getting structurally repetitive.


As she's a female, it's technically protegee.

>Ducking under the table//

>Closing the book//
>Seeing she had been acknowledged//
>Chuckling nervously//
I've already made my point about these, but look how you've started 4 paragraphs in a row with participial phrases. That's also very repetitive.

>so, she won't//

There's rarely a reason to put a comma after a conjunction.

>shocked and embarrassed//

That doesn't really describe how she looks. It's just identifying the emotion. It's more like real life when I get a picture and have to evaluate it. So what does Starlight do here? If you describe her reaction well, the reader will deduce these emotions without you having to mention them at all.

>anger and embarrassment//

Yeah, don't just name emotions like that.

>Sunset." Starlight said, give a few soft hoofclaps//

Punctuation, typo. In fact, it looks like you have this punctuation problem quite a bit. If dialogue ends in a period, then replace the period with a comma when you add a speech tag after it.

>We've all got some stories to tell, why don't we see if Cheerilee would let us present them to her class?//

Comma splice.


Consider that this is supposed to represent her speaking quickly, yet it actually takes longer to read than separate words. It's creating he exact opposite effect. It's better to write this out normally and just say in the narration that she speakd it very fast.

>Those are hands.//

Minotaurs have them. Plenty of creatures have hand-like claws. Why are they so alien to the students?

>—” She beat her hoof against the diagram a couple of times to emphasize—”to//

Be consistent with your dash placement. Either they both go with the speech (which means she stops talking for the action) or both with the narration. And don't capitalize an aside in a quote like this.

>and snarled slightly//

Missing punctuation.

>Ponyville market had always been an impressive sight to visitors.//

You'd been using Tempest as your perspective character. How would she know this?

>Despite being a small town, the market was always filled//

This says the market was a small town.

>whomever was the current mayor//

This is actually a spot for "whoever."

>a reassuring hand//

Yet you just got through making hands sound so mysterious in the schoolhouse.

>metaled hooves//

Why do you keep calling them that?

>laying perfectly still//

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

>Pausing to dramatically think for a moment, a pink glow//

This says that a pink glow paused to think.

You're basically running through all the same tricks Trixie showed Sunburst. Why not come up with something original?

>The two guffawed at the showpony//

I assume these are modeled after Waldorf and Statler? I approve.

>afraid of having to explain the situation to Twilight//

How does Tempest know this?

>as one Twilight's friends//

Missing word.

>Tempest visibly getting more and more irritated//

How does she know this? She can't see herself, yet you're telling the story from her viewpoint.

>although both it and her magic field seemed to have no effect on the pony//

Now this is being told from Starlight's perspective. To Tempest, "seem" wouldn't enter into it. She'd know.

>Tempest, who was now watching the three ponies with slightly tear-filled eyes//

I'll touch on this in a moment, but this completes a character arc you never started.

>Seeing that Tempest was somewhat upset//

That's more from Twilight's point of view than Tempest's.

On second thought, you didn't quite complete that character arc. So, at the beginning, Tempest is so lackadaisical about joining this group. She has zero interest in it. Why does she? Just to stave off boredom? You have her learn a lesson toward the end, so why not make that a theme through the story. It really needs one, or a lot of it is pointless. And really, the scene at Trixie's show goes on awfully long for something that's both rehashing material from a show episode and not working toward Tempest's character arc.

So why not have Tempest want to join the group? She doesn't even have to be cognizant of why. She might explicitly know she's looking to make friends, or she might just have some unidentified gnawing feeling that she's missing out on something and she hopes she might find it here. Then keep framing every scene through that lens, such that the events are helping her work toward finding that friendship or suffering setbacks.

How to complete it, then? She doesn't have to be completely won over. Even showing her on the road to getting there is fine, but aside from tearing up a little, she didn't show much of a realization that this is something she wants to achieve. Then the ending is pretty weak, as it doesn't have her start to follow through on that. Twilight, of all ponies, isn't even definite about what's happened, and you turn that into a mild joke. Ending on a joke is fine, but you do want the story to have closure. Not necessarily plot closure, to where she's accomplished everything she wants to in friendship, but thematic closure, where the story makes its point.

This was a pretty good story. You have a few mechanical things, like using commas with speech tags and overuse of certain types of phrases, but you also need to tighten up on what the actual story is. Keep things focused and working toward that goal, showing Tempest's progress toward it, both her steps forward and backward. Along those lines, it did seem a little odd for Grubber to show up and then get completely dropped without serving much pirpose. Can he play a role in her character growth? If not, does he really need to be in the story at all?

If you can get those things ironed out, I could see posting this.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3042

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.

>approximately 19:42 ,//

Extraneous space.

>ambience magic//

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Are you sure this shouldn't be "ambient" magic?

>Eyewitnesses’ account describe the incident as a sudden of swelling of ambience magic for a few seconds before the aforementioned explosion took place. Bystanders describe the ensuing explosion as a burst of a deep purple magic which tore through the roof and wall of the tower, residence of Twilight Sparkle and her assistant, and then shot upwards to the sky before quickly dissipating.//

What's the difference between an eyewitness and a bystander here? The bystander account is of a direct observation, so aren't they also eyewitnesses? And both essentially say the same thing.

>Captain Shining Armour//

Normally, I don't mind the difference between British and American spellings, but this isn't his name.

>a medical revision//

I have no idea what you're trying to say here either. Maybe you meant "evaluation"?

>Being the only known witness of the event besides Miss Sparkle herself, questioning has been scheduled for tomorrow.//

"Being the only known witness of the event besides Miss Sparkle herself" doesn't describe anything in the sentence. Grammatically it refers to the fact that questioning has been scheduled for tomorrow, which doesn't make sense.

>the guard will continue//

"Guard" would be capitalized here, since it's part of the official title of the group.

In chapter 2, I don't understand the difference between what's underlined and what isn't. I assume it's supposed to represent a form with lines there for writing on, but I don't understand the logic behind which sections have them and which don't. If you really want this to look like a form, it might be a better option to make an actual one and put an image of it in here.


Here's where a balancing act comes in. Authenticity says that this is a document for internal hospital use, so they would use common abbreviations for efficiency. However, you're presenting this outside the intended audience, and I don't know what this means.

>lead to believe//

The past tense is "led."

>Further analysis are required//

You're mixing singular and plural there.

> I don't what should be thanked//

Missing word.

>Per testimony of the Royal Guards//

This is a strange phrasing for this form. Why are medical personnel recording testimony?

>Further analysis are required//

Same singular/plural mixture you had for Spike's report.

>I don’t know how soon will the news of what happened reach you//

Syntax is off.

>I was doing the routine check up of the guard//

Just "check" would sound more reasonable here. "Check up" often has a medical connotation.

>We thought it may have been an attack at first, you know we’ve been on the edge//

That's a comma splice. Now since this is a letter the character has written, the error could plausibly be the character's and not the author's, so I guess that depends on whether you're deliberately having him make this error. And the idiom is just "on edge."

>back detachments from all over Equestria back//

Watch the close word repetition.

>the Twilight’s tower//

Extraneous word.

>Princess Celestia herself was flying straight for the tower, part of the roof was caved in. I don’t I don’t know what happened I got there as fast as I could.//

The firs sentence is a comma splice, and the second kind of is, except that it doesn't even have the comma.


Needs a space, and I can't tell why the sentence cuts off. This is the kind of thing that happens in dialogue, not a letter.


Needs a space.

Why didn't Shining Armor sign his letter?

>Residents of the city were rocked early in the night by a loud blast coming from the Royal Castle.//

Why is the byline in a smaller font than the article?

>In the eve//

on the eve


Why is this capitalized?

>in the proximities of the castle//

If you really want to use that word, a more normal phrasing would be something like "in close proximity to the castle."

>Spike: “How is Twilight? Can I see her?”//

I guess I've never seen an actual interview report, but it seems odd they'd do it in script format. Unless maybe this was taken down by a court reporter or something, but one isn't identified. A poilice officer isn't going to write it down word for word, for example, much less his own dialogue.


And it seems odd that whoever this is would record speech affectations, like trailing off. They're only interested in the facts, not the nuance of how it's said.

>Spike: “… ”//

>Copper: “…”//
This might cut it as video game dialogue, but not in good writing. Whoever is compiling this report is actually going to write this down? I don't buy it.

>However, thanks to the testimony of Spike//

Missing a space between paragraphs.

>ambience magic//

Same issue with that word choice earlier in the story.

>rundown observatory//

"Rundown" is a noun that means a summary. You want "run-down." Though that tends to mean in bad shape through chronic neglect, not ruined by some freak accident.

>delegated investigator//

While it's possible this is a valid meaning (it would mean that the investigator in charge made someone under his command do it instead of him), I think it's more likely you intended something closer to "designated."

>South tower//

I don't know why that would be capitalized, but didn't you earlier say it was the southwest?

>Copper: “…”//

Again, it's not believable she'd write this.

>events of the Summer Sun Celebration has//

You have a mismatch of singular and plural: events... has.

>Strictly off the record.//

This is to Copper's commanding officer, right? Don't they ever see each other in person? Why does Copper have to communicate this via letter?

>several concussions//

I didn't realize it was possible to have more than one at a time. I suppose she could have kept injuring herself, but then I have to question what goes on at this hospital.

>could not be awaken//


>Nervous system had suffered a thaumaturgic feedback, causing.//

Causing what?


Twilight's female, so protégée.

>A meeting of the Royal Guard and the Royal Archmage Court, was held at the Royal Canterlot Castle on the fourth of January at noon.//

There's no reason to have that comma.

>Ambience magic//

Same word use issue with that.

>The Guard is still on the look//

on the lookout

>discomfort and uncertainty is//

Plural subject with singular verb.



I assume they have the authority to present their findings to the public without Celestia's approval? Seems like they're breaking the chain of command here.



>Southwest tower//

Again, I don't know why you're capitalizing directions, but you've also switched yet again on whether it's the south or southwest tower.

>a private room//

Seems like on all these statements of which room, if it's worth saying where it was at all, it's worth being specific, like noting a room number.

>there were only a few rooms left in the towers to take care//

take care of

>Additionally, if she speaks the truth//

A number of these documents have spots like this where there's a new paragraph without indenting or leacing a blank line. Don't do both, but you need one or the other.

>ambience magic//

I'm going to stop marking these. Just assume you need to sweep all the chapters for this word usage.

>further worked would be required//


>As far as the Court is concerned, the matter of the Summer Sun Incident has reached its conclusion.//

Really? They still don't know what magic was used or if Twilight was the one using it.

>Twilight Sparkle casted Dark Magic//

In the sense of magic, the past tense is usually used as "cast."

>Letter of Discharge//

This is not at all how any military would deal with a soldier in Shining Armor's situation. I realize the Royal Guard wouldn't necessarily operate like any Earth nation's army, but it's strange to have such a departure from that when there isn't a need to. And doesn't Shining Armor outrank Lt. Heartmare? How can a lieutenant remove him from duty then?

>Its resident, Twilight Sparkle, who was severely injured in the process.//

That's not a complete sentence.



>we hope for her soon recovery//

You're using an adverb as an adjective here.

>Actions will be taken to ensure that such an occurrence will not happen again peace and safety which characterise our beloved city.//

Something went wrong here.

>who have maintain//


>a homage//


>I have no ground to ask for an apology//

Why would she ask for an apology? She should be offering one.

>disgrace has fallen Twilight Sparkle//


>downed upon Equestria//


>a millennia//


I'm a little surprised there wasn't any sort of public announcement. Celestia didn't ask Twilight's parents to keep it secret, after all. I do find it curious how Luna's banishment didn't leave a body behind, but Twilight's did. There's definitely a balancing act where it can feel justified or not as to outright explaining everything for the reader. And in a case like this, where you'd spent many chapters doling out the facts little by little, only to make that all moot by giving up the entire thing, after inviting the reader to assemble all the little clues. It does feel like a let-down, at least for me, but that's secondary at this point.

Primary is to fix all the editing issues and quirks, like all the mechanical errors I noted and the procedural things that didn't make sense (interview reports recorded in script format, essentially having a junior officer relieve his superior officer of duty, etc.)

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3054

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.

>and—" My sister glanced to her nervous looking elegant orange-maned manager. "—and//

A narrative aside cutting into a quote like that shouldn't be capitalized or end in a period.

>nervous looking//

>foil decorated//

I'm barely a couple paragraphs in, and I'm already suffering participle overload. The first paragraph wasn't too bad overall, except the first two sentences both end in a participial phrase, which gives you a repetitive feel right as the story begins. But then look at this sentence:
>Minutes later Sassy and I trotted toward Canterlot Castle up Alicorn Way, levitating foil decorated boxes tied with ribbons and bows, trying to avoid traffic consisting of stallions in suits wearing top hats and mares in spring dresses sporting green bows.//
You have 6 participial phrases in one sentence. That's actually impressive. But it isn't good.

>She threw open the red door to the bottom flat of a duplex brownstone, tossing her keys onto a glass coffee table with a bang.//

Also keep in mind that participles mean things happen simultaneously. So she tosses her keys while opening the door here.

>splashed with paint from a paint factory explosion//

That just sounds self-explanatory. Maybe you need better imagery. Go for something outlandish.

>Sugar Cube Corner//

Canon spelling has "Sugarcube" as one word.

>(And if that last gets back to Scoots or Bloom, I'll know it was you who said it.)//

Wait, who am I? No audience has been mentioned for her. If you're going to do that, establish it up front, but there's more going on here. It depends on how she's telling the story. Am I accompanying her? Or is she telling me/writing about it after the fact? If the former, nobody's acknowledged I'm there. If the latter, it doesn't ring true, since nobody could remember these events in enough detail to reconstruct entire conversations word for word. The way this is typically handled is by jumping to flashback scenes so that the past events can reasonably be presented "live," though there are other ways. I'm just not sure how you intend to portray this, but it isn't working. EDIT: Now that I've read the whole thing, I'd recommend getting rid of this. You barely revisit addressing the reader in any fashion, and you never even identify who "you" is. This bit stands out as the part that doesn't belong with the rest.

>using her horn to boil the kettle//

Rarity doesn't do this in her own kitchen. Seems odd that anyone who wasn't particularly powerful (or who had that as their special talent, I guess) would be able to.

>Sassy and Twilight were the same age.//

Why is Twilight being brought into this? She's not relevant to anything that's happening. Sweetie just mentioned Rarity. Why wouldn't she give Sassy's age relative to her?

>an hurricane-aftermath//

That's not a spot for "an."

>rumbled shirts//

Are you sure you didn't mean "rumpled"?

>sound— the//

Don't put space on either side of an em dash.

>Posters displayed the constellations and aspects of the Milky Way. One displayed//

Watch the close repetition.

>a obsidian//


>I— You//

No space.

You've kind of already let on what this colt's deal is when he said it was too noisy at night, so it's a little off-putting that he's not going to tell her now, and she hasn't figured it out.

>wrote on the chalkboard by the door using the chalk in his mouth//

This is agian something that sounds rather self-explanatory, but it also sounds kind of like he had the chalk in there all along.

This colt seems rather matter-of-fact about his parents' deaths. And why is he throwing a sweater at Sweetie Belle?

>which smelled faintly horsey//

Then why'd she put it on? I mean even without the smell, why'd she put it on? He didn't tell her to, and I still don't get why he threw it at her. He hasn't asked her to go anywhere with him, and she hasn't acknowledged that she will.

>the sky turn deep yellow, orange, then crimson. In minutes, the sky started turning blue//

Kind of repetitive. Plus it takes some time for all this to happen. She's already been self-conscious about this seeming like a date, so she's just going to gloss over this time period without comment?

>peddling her legs//

You sure you didn't mean "pedaling"? Even so, it's kind of an odd word choice.

>Blue." I said//


>It was indeed as silky as I imagined.//

You're really going out of your way to talk up this OC. I understand why Sweetie Belle would do so externally, but I don't know why she'd think he's so great. She doesn't even know him yet. Just be aware of how many readers will take this. It takes a lot of gradual convincing that an OC is worth caring about, and you're kind of forcing the issue. People will assume this is a representation of you.

>"Who?" He asked.//


>I just smiled. Just//

Watch that close repetition of "just." It's a word many authors tend to overuse.

>Fire Break//

Does Sweetie Belle know him? She hasn't indicated she does, but in her limited narartion, she's come up with his name without it being mentioned.

>as he rubbed Blue's head like a tike as we left//

Kind of clunky to stack up two "as" clauses like that.

>"Yes, princess."//

As a term of address, that would be capitalized.

>There's been some oversights!//

This is just strangely worded. I can't figure out what she means.

>Oh, yes, I remember her when she called herself Pins. She studied to be a doctor, but the dean of the school didn't like her 'prickly' ideas. Right. A good mare. Sweetie Belle, see that Blue visits the office of the exchequer.//

I assume this means Blue is due some kind of inheritance or some such? It's rather strange to bring it up and close the matter in such rapid fashion, not to mention assigning Sweetie Belle the responsibility for handling it. Plus I hope it'll end up being pertinent to the plot that Sassy wanted to be a doctor.

>text checker//

You can't have this both ways. It's her limited narration, so when she heard Luna says it, she's the one who perceived it as the correct word. She can't get it wrong now.

>And with that, she sprung into the sky and soared off.//

She leaves so abruptly and without explanation. It feels more like the plot had no more use for her than she had an actual reason to leave.

>She visited all of Ponyville together in one big dream once//

Did she really swear an entire town to secrecy? I guess there's precedent for that, though. *cough*Equestria Girls*cough*

>That elicited a dainty royal chuckle and I turned to gaze into her royal blue eyes.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>We— I//

Extraneous space.

>first name basis//

first-name basis

>Er— I've//

Extraneous space.

>old mares tales//

old mares' tales

>Tears streamed down his cheeks.//

This is sudden, and she relates it as a mundane fact. It really feels like she's completely unaffected by it.

>Canterlot mountain//

If that's a proper place name, then "mountain" would be capitalized too.

>She cast another spell and a faintly glowing blue bubble formed around each of us.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>lay down//


>He lay//

This seems like an odd word choice. It doesn't connote any urgency.

>"Please," he pleaded.//

That seems self-explanatory.

>"Blue," Luna said, "What did you sense?"//

Because of the way you punctuated that, you're saying both parts of the quote form a single sentence. That's fine. But then you're capitalizing "What" in the middle of a sentence.

>Oh, and I learned that some of the voices he heard were the stars.//

This glosses over a lot, and she's so glib about it that it doesn't carry any weight.

>It was ponies' dreams he heard when he slept.//

That's been obvious from the start.

>dinner." Luna said//

>sister." she said//

>her sisters' ear//

You have a plural possessive where you need a singular.

There are a number of editing issues, and I'll step aside for a minute to sy that I have been keeping up with the previous story you submitted here. I've enjoyed it, but a lot of the same editing mistakes I helped you clear up in the early chapters are popping up again in the newer ones, some of them pretty obvious. I was hoping you'd take a little more care with editing.

In the end, why does it matter that this happened? Sweetie Belle was "hired" to help Blue find his cutie mark, but he didn't. Blue found out what the voices were, but so far, that's been treated as no more than a curiosity. What's he going to do with this knowledge? He's been brought on as Luna's student, probably because she's the best one to instruct him in an ability nobody else has, but it's also just kind of tossed in there. Neither he nor Luna shows too much of a definite plan of what that entails. There's so much that's open-ended here.

Now, open endings are fine, but there's a way to make them work, and that's to establish what the stakes and likelihood of the various possible outcome are. That's really not happening here. All these potential pieces are set into motion, but it' vague about what direction things might head, and nobody seems that emotionally attached to any particular outcome. If the characters don't care that much, it's hard for the reader to. Sweetie Belle's a first-person narrator, so we should have a front-row seat to how all this is affecting her, but she doesn't have a plan and she doesn't seem invested in where things are going.

And that's the biggest weakness here. It feels like I'm tossing along in the current with these events, but they're not heading anywhere.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3067

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 owe you an apology, Star Swirl.” She swiveled her neck to look at him.//

She looks at him after she speaks to him?

I'm going to pull out a few sentences to illustrate something.
>AJ raised her foreleg.//
>Star Swirl glanced at Applejack and nodded.//
>She flipped her hoof so that the bottom faced upward.//
>Her green eyes shone as she relived the moment.//
>Applejack nodded.//
>Star Swirl cleared his throat.//
>Twilight thought for a moment.//
>Applejack held her hoof toward her friend.//
>Twilight pursed her lips.//
>AJ stared at the ground.//
>Twilight tilted her head, perplexed as to why Applejack brought up that adventure.//
>Applejack's ears twitched.//
>Star Swirl raised his eyebrows.//
>Applejack waved her foreleg.//
This is a stretch where I've removed all the dialogue and any narration that was just a speech tag. Read down this as if it were a single paragraph. See how plodding it is? Most of the sentences are about the same length and with the same inflection. All of them start with the subject, and most of those subjects are names. It helps mask this when there is dialogue breaking it up, but you still want the narration to flow well, or I'll get the feeling that the speech is fine but the action is dull.

>Much of the land was a patchwork of cultivated fields intersected by thin roads and railways.//

This is a very thin description for a moment that's supposed to be inspirational.

Twilight's using direct address with Star Swirl an awful lot. It's never ambiguous who she's talking to, so it shouldn't be necessary.

Around here, the story's starting to stagnate. You're having Star Swirl do a lot of exposition via dialogue, and a lot of it is stuff the reader should already know. The "as you know" type os expository dialogue always has a really tough time feeling natural.

>“I do not make friends with stupid ponies.”//

That's rather callous of her. Why would she rule them out? I could see her not wanting to be friends with malicious ponies or immoral ones, but stupid? Some ponies just couldn't help being that way, and it doesn't seem like a sentiment Twilight would have.

>“Twilight Sparkle, I apologize for doubting you.

Missing a line break here.

>Seeing that Star Swirl was taking banter well//

Don't over-explain what's going on. This is already apparent.

>entry way//

That's one word.

Now that I'm at the end of chapter 1, I want to paste in an earlier excerpt:
>Was that what they were talking about? Yet her friend didn't appear irate. If anything, she seemed pensive, her eyebrows slightly angled upward.//
This takes a very conversational tone. It's not omniscient. An omniscient narrator would know what they were talking about; he wouldn't have to ask. An omniscient narrator wouldn't bother with "seem" or "appear," unless he was attributing such a perception to a character. Yet most of the chapter feels like it's omniscient. It's very formal and factual, and it never mirrors Twilight's (and I presume she'd be the perspective character, since the excerpt I pulled is told from her viewpoint) emotional state. Plus you use lots of phrases like "the farm pony." Limited narration is essentially the focus character's thoughts, so this implies that Twilight chooses to refer to AJ as "the farm pony." That just doesn't ring true. People don't think of acquaintances in such formal, external terms. In your own head, do you refer to your best friend as "the person"? Or if omniscient is what you did want, then make sure you're not having the narrator express opinions as if his own (attribute opinions to the characters) or taking a conversational style (asking questions, trailing off, adding emphasis, etc.).

>Fluttershy truly was curious about Mystical Mask's daughter//

Why are you referring to her like that? You've only called her Mage Meadowbrook or some manner of LUS.

>“He's real?”//

When a word is italicized for emphasis, it's preferred to include a question mark or exclamation mark on it in the italics.

>forced my friends and I//

That's actually a spot for "me." Take the friends out: "forced I." Doesn't sound right, does it?

>back. It's horrible to look back//

Watch the close word repetition.

>siren's magic//

There were three, so use a plural possessive.

>counter spell//

Make that one word, or possibly hyphenate it.

>Are you asking me to be your pupil?//

But Meadowbrook specifically said "filly." Seemed like she was looking for a child. It's a bit of a leap for Fluttershy to assume Meadowbrook meant her.

>remembering some of the things Starlight had done to her and her friends in the past//

There are lots of little phrases you like to put in along these lines throughout, but they're not very effective. There are two reasons why. First, it's similar to spelling out emotions. You've probably heard of "show, don't tell" before, where it's usually better to demonstrate emotion than to have the narrator state it outright. It can also be distancing to explain character motivations and intentions. The second thing is that this statement carries no power. I have no idea what these memories are or what they mean to her. It's harder to do this kind of thing in an omniscient narration, since they like to take on a more personal voice, but a couple of examples will always speak louder than a cold, vague summary. Give me a sentence or two each about a couple of these memories. That brings it alive. Then I get engaged with the character and her feelings on the matter. Just leaving it that she had memories is a fact that does nothing to make me empathize with her.

>“If it'll make you happy, then yes, I'd love to.”//

This is a weird sentiment. The first part makes it sound like she's not interested and is playing along to humor her. If she'd really love to, then why qualify it like that?

>Hearths Warming//

Missing apostrophe.

>Had it been his idea, or had Twilight fallen asleep on her own? Oh well, it wasn't that important to the story.//

Here, you're taking a very limited feel to the narration again. You're predominantly using omniscient, but there are the occasional slips like this.

This chapter is extremely dialogue heavy. I don't get a good sense of what the setting is and if that guard is still standing there listening to him. It also tends to make the conversation a little sterile. There aren't the kinds of emotional cues that back up the mood of what they're saying. Remember, a significant part of a conversation is nonverbal. Don't neglect it.

>Ponies marveled at the ancient legend brought to life.//

I guess I'm surprised they'd recognize her unprompted. Has news of their return spread widely?

>when she spied the familiar rooftop in the distance//

>I see the rooftop of my boutique//
These are redundant.

>“Aww,” chorused the followers//

>“Ooooh,” the ponies chorused.//
Repetitive speech tag so close together.

>yet another pony was monopolizing her special time with Mistmane//

This is sudden. Sassy's barely spoken so far.

I'm now 4 chapters in, and I don't see a coherent story. It's just episodes of a Pillar talking an Element through a very low-stakes conflict that's easily solved, and there's no connection between chapters, other than the characters are already linked, but there's nothing in the story doing so. It's felt like I've read 4 separate short stories, not 4 chapters of a long story.

>your highness//

You'll typically capitalize honorifics like this.

>If his canter could do that, how disruptive must his gallop be?//

You're lapsing into a limited narration here. Take this with the earlier:
>the princess//
If you're truly using a limited narration, then this implies Celestia chooses to call herself "the princess," which is oddly formal. This is also very much from her point of view:
>appearing uncomfortable//

Why is Celestia laughing about Stygian on coffee? Does she know him? If so, we don't have any evidence of that.


Keep the question mark inside the italics.

>Oh, Harmony//

Strange that he'd use that as an expression, because they didn't in the past, and when the modern ponies said things like "Tree of Harmony," the Pillars didn't understand. he'd know what it meant now, but it wouldn't have worked its way into his everyday usage.

>ponies who only knew Luna and I//

Same deal as before: use "me" here.

>If anything, he seemed to be under-reporting the horrors he'd witnessed in battle.//

Into Celestia's viewpoint again.

>protect . . .//

The best argument I can make for not putting spaces between the dots of an ellipsis is that FiMFic's typesetting doesn't recognize it as a single entity, so the spaces are fair game for line breaks. On my browser, two dots ended up on the next line.

>You guys are so proud of yourselves, like it's some kind of accomplishment that hair grows out of your face.//

But... she has hair covering her face as well. I get what you mean, but for an animal with a coat, it's not quite the same sentiment.

This chapter finally seems to have some lasting plot to it, but it doesn't really tie into any of the others, except for Stygian being around the castle.

>Daring Do didn't want to let Somnambula in on her secret identity.//

This is pretty obvious from thir behavior. Don't over-explain it to the audience.

>I've heard some unbelievable stories from Daring Do//

But this is Daring Do saying it, right? I don't understand. It's not like they really need to keep up this charade for Somnambula's benefit. She hasn't read the books, so she'd have no idea what they were doing.

>him,” - here she curved her forelock into a horn shape to illustrate - “but//

>Ages'” - she made hoof quotes - “is//
You have hyphens here where you need dashes.

>ghost aren't//

Mixing plural and singular.

>“Okay. What?”//

Include the question mark in the italics.

>“You were in Somnambula – the town – when Dr. Caballeron was causing trouble, right?”//

Why wouldn't she already know this?

>few seconds head start//


>“I'm s-”//

Use a dash.

>the Map wanted you and the other Elements to bring us back for a reason//

Huh? The map didn't direct them there. Twilight undertook that on her own. The only thing the map did was help them find spots of dark energy and direct them to help Stygian, both after the Pillars had already returned.

>“It's like Rocky says – there's a reason they decided to keep me around.”

>“I'll say,” said Dash with a laugh.//
That's three forms of "say" close together.

>If he lost his balance and fell, he'd certainly be the heaviest pony she'd saved from falling from a dangerous height, although not the first.//

Drifting into the feel of a limited narrator again.


Wait, so is he Scottish or Swedish? Or that Dreamworks/Disney brand of Viking that has a Scottish accent for some reason?

>She would have stumbled over the word if she had not spent an hour in the library with Twilight and Star Swirl earlier in the day.//

Because that specific word came up, or because spending time in the library just makes her generally smarter?

>at edge of our property//

Missing word.

>adding her own opinion//

That's just obvious. You don't need to narrate it.

>But I forgive you if you forgive me.//

Interesting she's making that conditional. It didn't seem like she was at first, and it runs contrary to what she said to him.

>the affects are unpredictable//

Effects. As a noun, "affect" means something like a tic, not a result.

>Stygian sipped from his cup again.//

He's doing that a lot. There's a disease readers catch where they can't think of anything more for a character to do with a beverage than some variation on "take another sip." Think of the things you'd do with your coffee while talking to a friend besides drinking it, then work some of that in.

>but yet//


>He took a drink of coffee///

And you're still at it...

After a couple of chapters of feeling like the story was going somewhere, it's lapsed back into the pattern of a Pillar having a low-stakes discussion with a show regular. That's really how the entire story feels so far, with the exception of the plot point about revamping the military. It's like those stories where it's practically obligatory that it visit each of the Mane 6. Everyone's paired up here, and we go through a somewhat philosophical discussion that ultimately doesn't resolve anything or even create tension to be resolved later. And so many of the chapters have no dependence on each other. As I said earlier, this feels like reading a series of quasi-related stories, not a single one with an overarching plot.

In fact, the story really isn't delivering on what the synopsis promises. The fix for that is probably revising the synopsis, though honestly, what it describes sounds more interesting than what's actually there. It's implied that the Pillars will have trouble fitting in to modern society, and that many apologues are owed. The item about Meadowvrook does come to fruition, but also note that the synopsis focuses on her and Star Swirl.

Of course, it's enirely possible (even likely, I'd say) that we'll get to some more compelling plot points in future chapters, but you're asking readers to go through an awful lot to get there.

Do the Pillars have some kind of unified plan, or are they just wandering around aimlessly trying to find things to do? I get the impression it's more of the latter, but that makes for less of a coherent story. I think it'd help if you established an organized plan for what these characters want to do and that they're on the same page about it, and then make that clear from the earlier chapters. Without any sort of overall purpose, the result is a directionlessness that doesn't keep me wanting to see what happens in the next chapter. The more of an impetus you can give events, the better off you'll be. What they want currently is a set of very broad things that are unlikely to get underway by the time the story concludes, and they're also things for which there's no real conflict or struggle to attain.

We don't know what kind of opposition Flash and Rockhoof will face in increasing the military, Somnambula and Star Swirl are pretty vague in what they actually want, and Mistmane and Meadowbrook seem more interested in surveying the magic school and evaluating the present state of magic than actually achieving something.

Aside from that, there are these detailed mechanical and stylistic things, but the only one I want to emphasize is the perspective. It seems like you want to use an omniscient narrator, but then you have to keep the narration from slipping into taking on any character's persona. There are numerous places where it did that and transitioned into a limited feel. You don't want the narrative voice wavering like that. Or if you intended to use limited, be careful the narration is always focused on saying only what the current perspective character could know or perceive (until you get used to the effect, it's better to keep to one perspective per scene), sounds how that character might phrase things, and doesn't revert to sounding neutral and formal for long stretches, which makes it lapse back into sounding omniscient.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3068

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.

>so why was it so hard to find the words.//

Isn't this a question?

>mention- her respect//

Not sure why this warrants a dash, but please use a proper one.

>She took the picture of her and Pinkie Pie off the wall making her way to her bed.//

This sounds jumbled. It seems to say the picture is of Pinkie making her way to bed. Or the wall is going to bed.

>picture- as//

Yes, please use proper dashes, either an em dash with no space on either side or an en dash with space on both sides.

>I actually wanted to ask if want to come with.//

Missing word and repetitive use of "want."

>The alicorn inspected the room with joyful curiosity. She frowned when she saw something underneath the covers of Starlight's bed.//

I get that Starlight's not in the room to witness this, but does that really warratn changing perspective? Is this stuff important? If so, can you stay with Starlight and have her notice evidence of it? Or if it really is necessary, can you have a smoother transfer of perspective?

>t was a journal//


>But she had already read the last entry before she realized it.//

This is really contrived. She knew it was a journal and inadvertently read it? That's really hard to believe.


You have several four-dot ellipses. They should be only three.

>This was her teacher and usually the situation was reversed.//

And now you've popped back to Starlight's viewpoint.

>I just flipped to last entry//

Missing word.

>"Years ago," She stated//

Don't capitalize the speech tag.

>mane. "but//

You have a period, so this starts a new sentence. Capitalize it.

>where we're differ//

"where we differ" or "where we're different."

>"...You're right." Twilight grinned boastfully.//

For several paragraphs around here, you're disorganized. You consitently have one character's speech in the same paragraph as the other's narrated actions, and it gets confusing as to who's speaking.

>And if there's something Pinkie//

Seems like you're missing a word here.

>dragged her to barn//

Missing word.

>she would never try and hurt you, or do anything to hurt you//

That says the same thing twice.

>Put your heart in Starlight.//

>She'll say yes Starlight.//
Missing a comma for direct address.

>He's the guest bedroom//

>Trixie sarcastically//
Missing word.

>"I don't know what to do." She said//


>she won't full on reject you. And least not fully.//

She's saying the same thing twice.

>"Well, for instance," she paused in the road//

You're using a non-speaking action as a speech tag.

>But, you weren't going to tell me.//

No reason to have that comma. They don't normally go after conjunctions.

>I'm took a guess//


>Not just to be advice.//

The syntax is off here.

>She was please//


>it eventually lead to an entrance//

The past tense is "led."

>Starlight practically felt a hole being born in her chest.//

I have to think you meant "bored."

>Starlight lifted the cup to her lips, it tasted like a strange combination of lemons and grape.//

Comma splice.

>Starlight think she saw//

Verb form is wrong.

>first one i went to//


>the post office closes at Midnight//

Why is that capitalized? And why is the post office open so late?

>some pony//

One word, same as "somebody."


>Slowing marching up the stairs//
>Her gaze sudden turned serious.//

>The beautiful flowers of the night rushed over the daylight ones.//

I have no idea what this means. There's no context for it.

>A good night sleep//

A good night's sleep

>Scribbling down the words, she quickly jumped under the covers//

Participial phrases mean things happen at the same time, so she's writing while jumping in bed.

>else where//


>placed the small piece of parchment her saddlebag//

Missing word.

>He held a small blanket and a candle.//

This is the third sentence in a row with a "small" in it.

>hourse 'till Midnight//

Typo, capitalization, and spelling it "till" doesn't use an apostrophe.

>I know it isn't a big sentence, or huge reveal.//

Looks like the bold font got cut off before the end of the letter.

>the pinkie pony//


>neat envelope, with various stickers on it. Her name was written neatly//

Repetition of "neat."

>It was "sent in" last minute//

When you have a quote inside another quote, use single quotation marks for the inner one.

The biggest issue here is that I still don't know what made Starlight fall in love with Pinkie. As much time as the story spends exhorting her to think about it and express that to her, she never really speaks of it to anyone, and when she finally puts it into writing, it's still very vague. She likes Pinkie's mane and smile, and she's happy Pinkie treated her well during her reformation. That's all very generic and not much to build a relationship on. What about her makes Starlight think they'd be compatible? How did she gradually come to find Pinkie endearing? I could go on at length, but instead, I'll refer you to Aragon. He's made a series of blog posts on how to do realistic and plausible shipping, and they're linked off his home page.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3069

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 normally blizzarding frozen north of the Crystal Empire//

But the Crystal Heart keeps the blizzard out. Wouldn't she be able to see the moon? Or is she outside the city's border?

>whenever I would come here. I needed a good prodding to come up here//

Try to avoid close repetition of words and phrases like this.

Right away, I'm noticing quite a lot of "to be" verbs. Mostly, you use "was," but it doesn't really matter which form. They're stagnant verbs and tend to make a story's action stagnate. I did a Ctrl-f for "was," and the screen lit up. Let me pull out an example to illustrate.
>I was thankful for my friend, former mentor and faithful confidant, Twilight Sparkle, for convincing me to make the trip up to the Crystal Empire for New Year’s.//
If I replace the "was" or just rephrase it to avoid having a verb there at all, it takes on a more active feel, which is more interesting to read. Try something like this:
>Fortunately my friend, former mentor and faithful confidant, Twilight Sparkle, had convinced me to make the trip up to the Crystal Empire for New Year’s.//

Here's another:
>Truthfully, anxiety was still an undercurrent in my mind//
>Truthfully, anxiety had still clouded my thoughts//

It's impractical to completely avoid "to be" verbs, and you get more leeway for dialogue, since real people don't creatively avoid them when they speak, but using active verbs where possible in the narration will make for a more engaging read.

>I was curious about Twilight’s recent research with Sunburst as the sole reason.//

I don't understand what this is saying.

>Let me break the fourth wall, talk directly to my audience and tell you that your guess is as good as mine.//

Don't do this. You're now explicitly saying Starlight has an audience. Who is that audience? Is someone standing there listening to her tell the story? Is she writing all this down? Whatever the case, if you imply or outright state an audience, you need to define them. Why does she want them to hear it? Why do they want to listen? That's a can of worms best avoided unless you're prepared to deal with all that.

>“What a perfect New Year’s Eve,” Sunburst was the first of us to speak//

When you transition from speech to narration with a comma like that, the narrative bit needs to be a speech tag, but that's not how this is phrased.

>off-white stripe going down his muzzle//

I wonder if, being a pony, she'd know the proper terminology for that. For the width of it, it's be called a blaze.

>his voice trailed off//

You ended his speech with an ellipsis, which already means he trailed off. It's redundant to narrate that as well.

>I reply//

Why are you switching to present tense?

>and…” Sunburst trailed off//

Redundant again.

>“But there’s already—” Sunburst tried to protest, but was cut off by my excited smile.//

Two things to say about this. First, this is similar to the trailing off. The dash already means he got cut off, so you don't need to narrate it as well. Second, when you have an interruption, what comes immediately after it needs to be what does the interrupting. The fact that the narrator has time to wedge in the "Sunburst tried to protest" makes it seem less sudden. Do something like this:
>“But there’s already—” My excited smile silenced him.//


That's a strange word choice, as it implies the story focuses on non-civilians, civilians are in the minority, or Starlight herself isn't a civilian. I wonder if you meant citizen.

>in bedazzlement and awe//

Try to avoid directly naming emotions like this. You've been pretty good about presenting behavior and body language as evidence instead of just saying how characters feel, but be especially aware of using these "in/of/with emotion" phrases. Better to demonstrate that through what these characters are doing. It makes things more vivid.

>with,” I answered the question he wanted to ask.//

If that had just said "I answered," it'd be a valid speech tag, but as you've phrased it, that narrative piece should be a separate sentence.

A word about your choice of speaking verbs. You have to find some moderation. Yes, "said" is pretty unremarkable, but it also blends it. The reader doesn't really see it there, and the speech stands out. It's fine to have some more unusual speaking verbs for variety, but don't go overboard. They're okay when they change how the reader interprets or hears the speech, but if you go overboard with fancy ones, they steal attention from the dialogue.

>“Because of you, it’s going to be a good year,”//

Missing a line break here.

I have to say, this was far better written than a lot of what we get, never mind that it's your first one. I think it's on track to where we could post it with a little work. So have a look through what I've said and fix these things up. Then there's one more thing. The romance itself is very superficial.

If you love somebody, there will be lots of reasons why. I never learn why either of these characters think the other would be good relationship material. As far as I can tell, it's just because they knew each other since childhood. But what does Starlight actually like about him? What qualities does he have that she admires? What does Sunburst say to indicate the same about Starlight?

Actually, let me go on a brief tangent. You did a good job at staying in Starlight's perspective. Lots of authors have trouble with that, and they wander over to Sunburst's head to let me know what he's thinking about all this. You didn't do that. You kept steady in showing everything through Starlight's perception. And that's why I made the distinction of Suburst saying what he liked about her. She can't read his mind, after all, so the only way she'd know is if he said it.

But back to the romance. You have to prove to me that these two are in love, not just expect me to take your word for it. So part of that is taking me through Starlight's thoughts about him, so she can say what she likes about him. Anecdote can be a powerful thing here. So instead of just saying she thinks he's smart, give me a few sentences about a time she saw that on display and found it endearing. Then do that for a few other of his qualities as well, and you'll have all this evidence for why she loves him. That's how to build it up.

Also consider that a relationship is a give and take. Not only should she be thinking about what she'd get out of dating him but what she would contribute. What does she think he's going to get out of it?

I could go on at length, but fortunately, someone's already done the legwork. There's a user on the site called Aragon. If you go to his home page, you'll see that he's linked to a series of blog posts about writing romance. It's worth a read. (And he's a good author, so while you're there, his stories are worth a read, too.)

So you've got an excellent start here. You're already ahead of the curve. Just add that context to justify the romance and take into account the other comments I've made, and you could get this fixed up to where I'd be happy to post it. Because hey specifically apply to things I saw in the story, you might want to read some of the sections at the top of this thread, namely the ones about dialogue punctuation/capitalization, show versus tell, and saidisms.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3070

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.

>Rainbow Dash and Rarity head east//

I thought when Rainbow Dash headed east, it took millions of words. Sorry, couldn't resist.

>, love, it’s//

If this formatting means something, it's lost on me.

That opening paragraph just comes across as inconsistent. First off, Dash is not a poetic character. To that end, I could buy the uneven rhythms and stretched rhymes. Yet it's so almost regular that it doesn't feel haphazard. It feels more like something planned, a speech that Dash had worked on for some time but not perfected yet, and the word choice is rather advanced for her in places. In fact, the near-structure of it seems to be fighting the whole theme of the piece.

In short, it doesn't say "Rainbow Dash" to me, nor does it create the tone that follows through the rest of the story.

>If is that one?//

Wording got jumbled here.


I don't understand why you're putting a dash here. There isn't a change in the train of thought, and nothing interrupts her.

>Dash felt Rarity take her hoof. She tucked a loose part of her curly mane behind her ear//

The first part sure makes it sound like Dash isn't looking at her, so how would she see the second part?

>She pondered how to open up without opening up all at once, which from her years of experience with her neurotic friends tended to look pretty bad.//

Again, this just doesn't evoke Dash for me. Compare it to her dialogue. The two should sound very similar. A limited narration is essentially the character's internal stream of thought, and if it sounds much different than what they say out loud, there would need to be a rationale for why (like an informal thought pattern against formal speech because she's in a ritzy venue, for instance).



>cried out as her tongue burned//

Go back to the notion that the narration is Dash's stream of thought. She says this so matter-of-factly. If you did this, you'd probably have some choice words running through your head, but she just glosses over it. If it were to create the sense she barely noticed, I could buy that, but then she wouldn't be crying out. When she doesn't pay attention to the right things, it loses some authenticity.

>locked inside Carousel Boutique preparing//

Why do they need it to be locked?

>Dash laid on her friend’s plush bed//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Pegasi could feel and manipulate the energy in it like a unicorn could a leyline.//

This seems to contradict her earlier statement that the pegasi who'd modified it had done so in ways few of them understood.

>ripping across the sky//

You repeat this phrase in consecutive sentences.

>Dash would fly.//

I get why she'd like to fly, but it feels like you're skipping over something, namely the pluses and minuses of traveling together. I'm not even sure if Dash would count the companionship as a plus or minus at this point, and that's a rather telling thing.

>it’s a moment of piece//

I don't know if you're doing deliberate wordplay here or this is a typo. If the former, I'm not sure what it means.

>below her//

>beneath her//
Kind of repetitive to end consecutive sentences this way.



>If Dash had paid enough enough attention to that lesson, she might have come to the conclusion that since the jetstream was essentially one giant column of air being vibrated by unbound magical forces, it was only logical for it to produce sound as the overtones interacted in the space around her.//

Well... you're using a limited narrator. So this is Dash's stream of thought. It explicitly does occur to her if the narrator says it. There are ways to say things to this effect, but they're usually phrased more like she would have been satisfied with that conclusion were she more scientific, or some such. This sounds more like she's saying she lacks the knowledge to reason out the explanation she just reasoned out, which is contradictory.

>carrying over the wind in fifths and fourths and major thirds//

Look, I know you in particular can't help letting this kind of thing creep into the writing, but once again, this is Dash's limited narration. This means that she not only knows what these things are but so instinctively that she can recognize them when they're not where her attention would be focused. Don't lose an authentic train of thought for the character, or else you might as well be writing omniscient.

>a trail of condensation clinging to her like the tail of a comet//

I guess it depends on what the source is? Only condensation from a combusting propulsion source would trail behind, and she doesn't have one. If you're talking about the vapor clouds that form when objects approach the speed of sound (presumably, exiting the jetstream means she's suddenly going much faster relative to the air around her), then those would be more around her head and wings.

Wait, let me revisit that. She shut her wings, and there's suddenly a downward force on her. It's just gravity, so nothing more than she's used to. There's not going to be an aerodynamic force pushing her down just from that.

>again, light blue suited her. Another thought overtook her, and she rolled again//

Watch the close word repetition.

>Dash, pumped her wings hard//

Why is that comma there?

>emblazoned with the San Diamingo flag//

Kinda makes me wonder what it looks like...

>over the mountain,” the pony explained over//

Watch the close repetition.

>There are essentially two towns on either side of the island.//

This makes it sound like there are four towns total, two on each side.

>What kind of food to they have?//


>lulled them into silence//

It's kind of presumptive for Dash to assume this is what's happening with the staff member. She can only speak for herself, unless she's drawing a conclusion from her observation of his behavior.

>above, she spotted a pair of pegasi riding a thermal updraft into the clouds above//

Close repetition.

>Thanks for the lift dude.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>in the background, dramatic music playing in the background//

Close phrase repetition.

>all bursting out all//

Close repetition.


Here's a danger of using a double hyphen over a real dash: you can't control the typesetting on FiMFic. On my browser, it's put a line break between the hyphens.

>led her down the single dirt road leading//

Repetitive word choice.

>then back to cabin//

Missing word.

>You could have gotten sunburned//

Do ponies get sunburned? I know only certain animals can.

>Much to her friend’s chagrin//

Why would Dash refer to herself in such a roundabout way?

>down into deep//

Seems like you're missing a word.

>Dash laid in a soft bed //

Lay/lie confusion.

>how do you propose I make it down in time for the spa appointment.//

Isn't that a question?

>the pegasus//

So I guess you've tranferred over to Rarity's viewpoint. It doesn't go back for the rest of the chapter, so it's not bad, though I'm not sure it's adding anything either. But once again, this is a very impersonal kind of reference to make about someone she knows well.

>if you want to look presentable when we got to the resort club//

That "got" doesn't parse.

>cognitive dissonance//

You've done a better job since the early chapters of keeping Dash's narration from sounding too advanced, but there are occasional spots like this. You have her not knowing what spelunking is and thinking they'd have a log flume ride coming down the mountain (Is it really a mountain, though? There's a minimum elevation requirement to call it that.) despite no evidence of such, and yet she both knows what cognitive dissonance is and is inclined to use the phrase.

>That vague notion seemed familiar, but it was equally easy to dismiss.//

And you're getting a bit advanced with her again.

>The jetstream roared above her, no more than a few hundred years away.//


>to find Dash zonked out on a folding chair. It felt strange to find her//

Watch the repetitive phrasing. And it's curious for you to switch to Rarity's perspective here. The whole story's been with Rainbow Dash so far. Is it really buying you anything to go to Rarity? We don't learn anything important while there, and it only lasts a few paragraphs. You could easily cut it without losing anything, or have this be something Dash observes while pretending to be asleep.

>Having already made the important decision to stay in bed until the tides washed the island away, her resolve was strong.//

This makes it sound like it was her resolve that had made the decision.

>ice cold bottle//


>The poor pegasus//

Why would Dash refer to herself so externally? Nobody does this.

>Without taking her eyes off of Rarity, Dash eyed the paper bags sitting on the floor//

This is self-contradictory.

>Dash nervously peered into the bag and pulled out its contents. “Is that... Prench?”//

I don't understand this on two levels. First, Rarity had put the cold bottle against Dash's neck, so when did it go back into the bag, which may not even be that close to Rarity? And second, Dash already said it was a champagne bottle, so why did she need to look into the bag to see that's what it was? She's the narrator. If the narration says it's champagne, then Dash knows it's champagne.

>“What’s that, some kind of protein shake?” Dash grimaced at the thought.//

I guess I'm a little surprised that someone athletic like Dash would hate protein shakes, but it's not impossible.

>toast, “The//


>And it’s why I love you so much that, uhm, I want to know if you’re happy.//

Okay, nothing in the story so far has made me think they were already in a relationship. Rarity doesn't react with any degree of surprise, so either they are, Rarity's long since figured this out, or Rarity's just taking this as a platonic statement. And this is good! Rarity's hard to figure out here, and it keeps things interesting.

>everything’s confusing//


>leaning on a stood//


>The chords sounded funny//

This goes back to narrative voice again. Remember, this is the same limited narration you had identifying fifths and fourths and major thirds, and now she can only say something vague (which fits her character better anyway).

>More chords floated past them.//

Why do you keep just calling the music chords? Whether or not Dash has any musical knowledge, she's going to describe it in more ways than that.

>whatever,” Rarity said, “It’s//

Capitalization. When you re-enter the quote like this, it doesn't get capitalized.

>by the time she touching down again//

Syntax is off.

>with the incredible roar of the wind passed around her//

Weird phrasing. Maybe you meant that "with" to be a "while"?

>All that was left with the night.//

This might be okay, but it kind of sounds like another "with" you meant to be something else.

>ocean stretched on endlessly beneath her. The island was a tiny speck in the endless ocean//

Pretty repetitive phrasing.

>Using the jetstream to retrace her flight path//

How's that work? Presumably she's not in it, so she's just below it or something? How can she sense it there in the dark? Seems like this would be a great place for some sensory imagery instead of glossing it over.

>The island appeared on the horizon//

But she mentioned it being a speck before. That sure made it sound like she still had it in sight.

Man, this is a really hard kind of story to judge. It's got lovely atmosphere and characterization, and on the balance that can outweigh some missteps. The biggest is that the narration is inconsistent at feeling like it's Dash's voice. It's too sophisticated at times, and then there are the big poetic paragraphs. Because of the narrator you're using, it's Dash coming up with that stuff on the spur of the moment. On the one hand, that makes it more reasonable that the rhymes aren't very clean most of the time, but on the other, it means Dash is both able and inclined to think in poetry off the cuff, and that's tougher to believe.

So I'll say this: Fix up the typos and mechanical errors and such. I'm prepared to take the poetry as a conceit for the story. But you should really consider how out of place the two short diversions into Rarity's perspective are, and you should think about making the prose-style narration more in tune with Dash's character. It should reflect her intelligence level, vocabulary, mannerisms, and personality, and there were several places, mostly in the early chapters, where it fel like you were losing her voice. Again, if you want that fancy language, you could go for an omniscient narrator, since matching her voice wouldn't be an issue then, but that would be a far more extensive change to make than "dumbing down" some of the existing narration, as it were.

If all you fix is the mechanical/stylistic things, I'll post this, but as much as you want this to be an intensely personal experience for the readers, seeing through Dash's eyes, I hope you'll consider that it would be even more powerful if it more consistently emulated her. Mark it as "back from Mars," and I'll approve it when you resubmit.

Oh, and a word about cover art. You have a lot of followers, and this is a popular enough ship. I'm surprised it's gotten so few readers. I wonder if it isn't the art. If you really want to keep this, you can, but Seth always complains at us when we send him stories with stock images as cover art like this, since they look pretty boring on the blog. Even a nice episode screencap of Dash alone or with Rarity and looking mood-appropriate would make a noticeable difference.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3071

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 road to school to the bus stop//

So which is it? I realize it could be both, but it's just confusing reading it this way. I'm not sure whether she's walking to school or the bus stop. Either way, this seems to say school is her destination, but the very next sentence talks about her going home, so I can't figure this out.

>as of billions of tiny little cotton balls had covered everything//


Just in the first screenful, you have 12 instances of "was" or "wasn't." There are over 100 in the story. That's a lot for this word count. If I factor in other forms of "to be," then you're even more awash in them. It'd pay off for you to phrase things with active verbs where you can. "To be" is boring. Nothing happens. It's impractical to avoid it altogether, particularly in dialogue, since people don't creatively phrase things to get around it when they speak, so you get some leeway there. I'll pull out an example.
>Her bike was in the shop, so her only ride home was the local bus that ran by every fifteen minutes.//
If I rewrite this with active verbs, it could be something like this:
>The shop still hadn't finished fixing her bike, so she had no other way home except the local bus that ran by every fifteen minutes.//

>She also realized that because of the snow the bus would be late//

Why? Is the road not plowed? Is the bus always late when it snows? I'd like to see her justification.

>Once she had reached school, she noticed one of two things.//

This says she only noticed one thing, but then you have her go on to notice both. Even if she only noticed one thing, this wouldn't work for the perspective. You're effectively using Sunset as your narrator, so if there's something she doesn't notice, the narrator can't notice it either.

>Not that the substitute cared, he was dozed off in Ms. Harshwhinny’s chair//

That's a comma splice, and the syntax is off for "he was dozed."

>low voiced//

Hyphenate multi-word descriptors like this when they come before what they're describing.

>She was the newest of the group therefore she shouldn't know either.//

Needs a comma.

>But she guessed that's what the hushed whispers were for, but it didn't seem to comfort her in the slightest.//

The two uses of "but" create the feel of a double negative. Plus Sunset should know whether she was comforted or not. "Seem" shouldn't enter into it. That'd be someone else's impression of her.

>twenty third//


>Shock overtook Sunset’s face, then confusion, then understanding.//

This is a bad idea in two ways. First, it's better to demonstrate how a character feels through their behavior, body language, and dialogue, instead of directly naming emotions. It's more realistic that way. Think about it: you don't know how some random person you see in public feels. There's not a narrator telling you. But you can observe them and figure out how they feel from how they act. That's how it works in real life. So when you have to figure out a written character the same way, it's more authentic.

And second, you're using Sunset as your viewpoint character. That means you also have to be careful exactly what things you use to give her emotion context. Only she could know what memories are running through her head, for example. A narrator in another character's viewpoint couldn't tell you what Sunset is thinking. Along those same lines, consider that Sunset can't see her own face to make the judgment you're having her do here.

>twenty first//


>what Sunset did know, was that she was going to be there for Applejack//

Why is this such a big thing for her? The other girls know AJ well, and they're not moving to do anything. Why not? Do they know AJ would just rather be alone? Have they tried in the past and nothing's worked? Seems like that's the kind of stuff Sunset should ask about before she unilaterally decides she's going to fix AJ.

>Losing a parent was hard//

This kind of begs the question of how Sunset feels about her own parents.

>Lunch time came around//

Why are we only halfway through the day? You already said "The rest of the day was a blur of classes" as if it's already over.

>Do you....//

Only three dots in an ellipsis. A four-dot one is a specific use case in formal nonfiction.

>I don't know dear//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>At a time like this, she really needs her friends.//

Then why have none of her friends ever done anything about it?

>the bell for the period to end rung//


>When she arose from her bed//

Needs a comma here to set off the dependent clause.

>today,” She said//

Capitalization. Dialogue tags don't get capitalized unless they start the sentence.

>up,” There was pity in her eyes.//

The narrative part here doesn't have a speaking action, so it can't be a dialogue tag. It needs to be a separate sentence, so end the dialogue with a period. Both of these dialogue mechanics issues persist throughout the story. I'm not going to mark any more, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

>the older woman//

AJ is your perspective character now, so you're saying she chooses to refer to her own grandmother like this. In your own thoughts, would you call your grandmother this?

>turnin’.” She turned//

Watch close word repetition like this.

>Seeing how nothing she said was going to get though her stubborn granddaughter’s head, Granny Smith decided to let it go.//

Why are you jumping over to Granny Smith's perspective for a single paragraph? Stay in AJ's head.

>Applejack didn't even bother to shower, she just threw on her work clothes and headed out.//

Comma splice.

>blanketing it in white//

Most times, you'll set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>It was quiet, most mornings were.//

Comma splice, and you have a close repetition of "most" in the next sentence.

>Apple Bloom hated getting up this early, it was the bane of her existence.//

I'm seeing a lot more of these comma splices lately. I'm going to have to stop marking them.

>I wasn't even old enough to talk to them. I don't even remember what Momma looks like and it hurts Applejack! It hurts!//

This'll take a bit more explanation to get into. If Apple Bloom never knew them, then why does she have such an attachment to them? THis is a very over-the-top reaction. She'd love them just by the fact they're her parents, but she didn't have a reason for so personal a relationship with them, so give me more about why this matters so much to her.

>I was four, remember?//

She just said she wasn't old enough to talk to them before they died. A four-year-old can't talk?

>Apple Bloom you can't blame yourself//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>I’m the reason their dead//

Their/they're confusion.


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

>walking passed Applebloom//

Past/passed confusion; Apple Bloom.

>I miss my parents in Equestria//

Ah, there we go. But as relevant as this is to identifying with AJ, she barely touches on it. This is the only mention it ever gets.

>The usually kept girl//

Something's off in that phrasing.

>she had went//


>Oh, Okay//

Why is "okay" capitalized?

>Sunset hadn’t been friend with,//

Friends, and that comma is unnecessary.

>bit bile//

Missing word.

>confused and not sure what made her friend leave so abruptly//

Don't jump over to AJ's perspective like this.




When you have an apostrophe on the front of a word, be aware that smart quotes will turn it backward. You can paste one in th right way or type two in a row, then delete the first.

>recognized the immediately song//

Syntax is off.

>years...” her voice trailed//

The ellipsis already means she's trailing off. Narrating it as well is redundant.


young ’un

It sure doesn't end up taking much convincing to get Apple Bloom to give up her guilt. Part of the power in a story is the difficulty involved in achieving what the protagonist wants. This is all pretty straightforward. At least Apple Bloom doesn't come around when Applejack first spoke to her, but they just make the same argument to her twice, and the second time it works. Plus having everyone come over for dinner ended up not mattering to this. It had nothing to do with what Applejack said to her, so that leaves it feeling extraneous. Plus that's another example of a problem being fixed very easily. Everyone shows up, and Applejack's immediately in a good mood. They didn't have to work for it, so there's less of a payoff when they get the effect they want.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3089

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 quiet chime sounded and the creature’s characteristics popped up in the lower left of her visor.//

You have a number of places like this that could use a comma between the clauses. When a conjunction separates two subjects that each get their own verb, you'll normally put a comma there. In this case, you have "chime sounded, and... characteristics popped up." Here's another spot a bit later wi the the same issue:
>Luckily she heard its skittering legs at the last second and she was able to throw up a personal shield in time.//
Assuming this is going to be a pervasive thing, I won't be able to mark them all, so give the story a scan for these.

>thirty three//


>according to her helmet’s heads-up-display//

Participial phrases like this normally get set off with a comma.

>take a step back to take//

Watch the close repetition of words or phrases like this.

>faster than light travel//

Whenever you have an entire phrase that acts as a single adjective in front of what it describes, hyphenate it. So, "faster-than-light travel." The exception is if there's a two-word phrase starting with an -ly adverb. Those don't use hyphens.

>it more closely resembled a gangly insect rather than a spacecraft capable of faster than light travel//

Now I'm going to revisit this sentence. This is narration, but it's expressing Twilight's opinion for her. Mostly, the narration has been pretty factual, but here, it's taking on Twilight's viewpoint. It could stand to be more consistent. Limited narrators essentially take on a character's identity, while omniscient ones are formal and factual for the most part. Your story has sounded mostly omniscient to this point, but some spots like this one sound limited. The problem is that I can't tell what you intend. If you want omniscient, then you can't let character opinion like this creep into the narration without explicitly saying is what that character thinks. Or if you want a limited narrator, then establish that more definitively from the start, and have it poke in with a subjective statement like this more often. The longer you go without something like this, the more it feels like omniscient narration with occasional perspective mistakes than a limited narration.

And here's another thing that doesn't work if you're using a limited narrator:
>The alicorn mare//
This would mean that Twilight is choosing to describe herself with such a phrase. People don't think of themselves in such formal, external ways. For omniscient, this kind of phrasing is fine, as long as you don't overuse it.

For that matter, if you want a limited narrator, then it's really not necessary to have so much italicized thought. The narration already is her thought, so let it express those for her. By making them quotes, you're forcing a distance between the character and reader that works against the point of using a limited narrator.

>Then I saw the fire….//

A four-dot ellipsis is really for quoted excerpts in formal nonfiction writing. It's possible to actually do that in fiction, like if you were showing a research paper Twilight had written, and she did something like that in the paper. But for trailing off, just use three dots.

>much needed//


>As the purple pony settled in the padded pilot’s seat, the canopy swung down and locked with a pneumatic hiss as the airtight seal pressurized.//

It's really clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence like this, plus they effectively over-specify the chronology.

>high pitched//


>at best, thirty light minutes away//

No reason to have a comma there.

>burnt out//


>excuses.” Twilight quipped//


>Princess.” The voice boasted back//


>Regret maybe?//

If you've got a word italicized for emphasis, then include a question mark or exclamation mark on it in the italics.

>“Anyway,” Twilight decided to file that thought away to think about later, “I//

And this is the opposite problem. You have something punctuated/capitalized like a speech tag, but it has no speaking action. Add one in or make it a separate sentence.

>several thousand light year//


>it was nice to finally have somepony to talk to; especially one that knew her so well.//

A semicolon is really only correctly used if you could replace it by a period and have both resulting sentences stand as complete, but what comes after it here couldn't. A comma would work fine. This is the only one I've marked, but most of your semicolons are misused.

>hideous!” His voice came in//


>gut wrenching//


>“It wasn’t your f…” His voice cut out//

An ellipsis is for a gradual fade. If the voice cuts off suddenly, use a dash.

>Too bad I don’t have time to catalog everything. The mare thought with some indignation.//

You're really intermittent at getting this kind of punctuation/capitalization issue wrong, so I can't tell whether you're making careless errors or don't understand the rules. There's a short section on dialogue capitalization/punctuation at the top of this thread.

>two hundred and sixty//

Someone as scientific as she is should know it's improper to use "and" in a number like this.

>the recording, along with any information she had gathered since her last data drop//

You need to pair that comma with another at the end of this descriptive aside.

>The three that her scanner failed to pick up anything//

Syntax is off here.

>Whatever monster created the life forms within//

It's starting to get stretched very thin that I have no idea what's going on. In a novel-length story, it's easier to put off something for thousands of words, because that's only a small portion of the whole thing, but when I'm closing in on 20% of the way through, and I don't have the first clue 1) what made Twilight run away, 2) why they want her to come back, and 3) whatever you're talking about in this sentence, then you're stringing the reader along too far. There is one exception to this, but it's not one you're using: that the limited narration can't address any of this because it's so abhorrent or traumatic to her that she forces the thoughts away before she can dwell on them. She's been given no motivation to do so.

By the end of chapter 1, I didn't know what the story's central conflict was supposed to be. There was just some banal interaction with an alien life form, then a mild but vague confrontation with another pony. I asked myself then whether it was okay prolonging even identifying the conflict this long, and I decided that it sometimes takes novels several chapters do to this, but now that I'm well into chapter 2, it's getting to be too much. Either let the reader know what the conflict is sooner or give Twilight some plausible reason why she refuses to even think about it, as well as demonstrating her having to fight off such thoughts.

>her conscious overruled her//


>Depressing the acceleration bars of her control yoke, her vessel’s pulse drive kicked on//

This says that her vessel's pulse drive depressed the acceleration bars.

>gentle decent//


>sunward facing//


>flattened mesa//

As opposed to... an unflattened mesa?

>drew her ire attention//

It feels like there's a word missing here or something, but maybe it's just an expression I'm not familiar with.

>dark thoughts muddled her mind//

When you leave something so vague like this, it loses all meaning.

>sparks arching//

Usually sparks are described as "arcing," though what you have is possible, if unusual.

>burnt out//


>A cluster of thick crimson crystals//

Is this the plutonium? I don't know of any plutonium compounds having such a color, but if this comes straight from the game, then I suppose it's at least consistent with the source.

>her world turned to red//

Ah, so we finally have some drama. But it still does nothing to bring a sense of unity to the story or explain what's caused it all. What has the most forward momentum so far is wondering why the story's giving me the impression that all the evidence of intelligent life she's found are from the same source. There's only the most vague back story about why she's out here and what she wants to accomplish, so that part isn't compelling.

>ear splitting//


>Lined with flakes of ablative skin, they//

What's "they" here? The only candidate I can see is the flakes, but then this says the flakes are lined with flakes.

>peeked around her cover briefly, just long enough to take a peek//

Watch the close repetition.

>but every second she wasted, meant the sentinel grew closer//

No reason to have a comma there.

>an angry, computerized scream//

Is it alive? It kind of sounds odd for a computer to be angry or scream. What purpose would it serve?

>Violet eyes//

Once again, keep in mind you're using her as the perspective character for a limited narration. Why would she remark on her own eye color?

>the two flying sentinel’s//

Why is that a possessive?

>Her ears swiveled around and locked in on the whirling and buzzing//

Maybe you meant whirring?

>accelerate around next bend of the crevice//

Missing word.

I'm going to pull some examples out of the end of chapter 3 to make a point. Here are all the participial phrases you use in the last screenful:
>using her powerful hind legs to accelerate around next bend of the crevice//
>searing away the shadows//
>Galloping along the rocky floor//
>reminding the little pony that she was still being hunted//
>Flaring her wings wide//
>placing a hill between her and the sentinels//
>opening the canopy just in time to leap into it//
>Throwing her harness on//
>slowly trudging after her//
>Staring forward once more//
>letting her breathing fall to a more manageable level//
>already mulling over ideas on how to patch it//
That's over 5 paragraphs and 20 sentences. So you're averaging 2.4 per paragraph, or a little more than one every other sentence. That gets to be very structurally repetitive. The reader notices, albeit perhaps unconsciously, that he's seeing the same elements over and over again, and it feels repetitive. This is even more true the more unusual an element is, and participial phrases don't turn up much in everyday speech, so they stand out easier. The same is true of words. You wouldn't blink at seeing "the" 4 times in a single sentence, but you'd remember seeing "ventriloquist" twice on an entire page. So just watch for getting in a rut with these.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3090

>newton meters//
Torque units are usually hyphenated.


Why is this capitalized? Is it a trademark or something?

>deep space fighters//


>showing the Equestrian fighters angle towards her//

The verb form here should be "angling," unless you mean that to be a noun, in which case, "fighters" needs to be possessive.

>“I was hoping.” The Equestrian captain answered//


>one way//


>She was the furthest pony from Equestria//

There are other ponies in the same system. She will be when she warps again, but for now? If this is true, it's true by such a tiny margin that it may as well not be.

>twenty five//


>Guilt wracked her//

The previous paragraph already describes the circumstances of this. Don't be so blunt with her emotions as to state them outright. Focus on what thoughts and images go through her head (which you've already done) and how this makes her feel physically. But to those thoughts, even though you'v covered what they are, pay a little attention to tone. The narration is essentially her internal monologue, so think about not only what she'd say in her head but how. These are painful images, so she wouldn't be stating them stoically as if reading from a history book. You've got some word choice in there that's in the right direction, like acrid and devastation. These are not factual words, so they let her opinion creep in. That's good. But some of this might get painful enough that she can't complete a sentence, maybe she'd emphasize a word here and there. Basically, give it the inflections she might use if she spoke it out loud.

>the Equestrian pilot//

She knows his name, right? If so, why make such an impersonal reference?

>many more sights that brought a flood of memories to the forefront of her mind//

Another spot where it's way to nebulous. Just a one-sentence example or two of these memories will carry far more weight than leaving it as a bland generalization.

>Griffons, Yaks, and the Dragons//

Why would these be capitalized? She doesn't capitalize pony.

>Twilight Sparkle seemed lost for words//

To whom? She's essentially the narrator. She'd know whether she was at a loss for words. "Seem" wouldn't enter into it.

>a maelstrom of conflicting emotions swirled through her head//

You're doing that vagueness again.

>Twilight saw the explosion happen again, just like it did every time she dreamed of that day.//

See, she's not fighting the thought. She's letting herself see it. So why is the narrator withholding the identity of "he"? You're not setting this up to be plausible as to why she keeps skirting the issue.

>Its ponies like us//

Its/it's confusion.

>“But those families…” She began, only to be interrupted right away.//

Three things here. First, you have the same dialogue tag capitalization issue. Second, if she gets interrupted, she'd get cut off with a dash, not trail off with an ellipsis. And third, when someone gets cut off, the very next thing needs to be what cuts her off. The fact that the narration gets to wedge all that in there takes away the sense that the interruption is sudden and immediate. Just end the speech with a dash, remove that narration, and go right to his speech in the next paragraph.

>His words echoed across the void and they might have worked in the end but he would never know because she was already gone.//

This needs a couple of commas, and it's weird with the perspective. If she's gone, she wouldn't know any of this. It's like you're shifting to his perspective.

>learn her tactics and anticipate her actions//

Really, what are they going to do to her, though? They won't shoot her down, and unless she's somewhere out of her ship gathering resources (which she doesn't even need to do anymore), they couldn't capture her either. I don't get a sense of what the actual peril is.

>month long/


>duel levers//

This means they're for fights. You want "dual."

>worn out//


>Carefully setting down a crate of lustrous emril ore, the alicorn princess followed the sound back into her ship’s cockpit.//

I mentioned a while back that you use a lot of participial phrases. I haven't seen a cluster quite that extreme again, but there are a couple dangers of using them. One is that they imply synchronized action, so here, she's going back to the cockpit while she's setting the crate down. Whenever you use a participial phrase, make sure you actually intend the actions to be concurrent.

>a hostile scan; ever! The most they’ve ever done is a cursory scan//

I don't understand the difference. What makes a scan hostile?

>high pitched//


>Somepony was screaming and only when the attack had ended did she realize that it had been coming from herself.//

This is a very cliched thing.

>It represented the only safety she had but she knew she would never make it in time.//

This is pretty much the same dilemma she faced with the sentry bots. Does the game repeat like this?

>dizzyingly speeds//

You have an adverb where you need an adjective.

>The gangly insect-like spaceship//

I don't know how many times you need to describe it as such.

>a house-sized rock//

I don't get a sense for how much cover this provides. Some of the things she's done aboard the ship make it sound bigger than a house, so this wouldn't obscure her.

>now donut-shaped asteroid, where she could now//

Watch the close word repetition.

>the inevitability of her inescapable fate//

She just got finished saying the other Equestrians were only minutes behind when all this started. She seems to have conveniently forgotten.

>closed her eyes shut//


>Having reached the end of their short energetic lives, the Equestrians//

This makes it sound like the Equestrians reached the end of their lives.

>taxing their weapon’s heat dissipation systems//

That should be a plural possessive, assuming there's more than one weapon in the fleet.

>Hellish lights danced by her cockpit and out of the corner of her eye, she saw several of them slam into her fellow ponies’ shields.//

Comma splice.

>chance… Twilight’s thoughts trailed off//

The ellipsis already connotes trailing off. Narrating it as well is redundant.

>One that was piloted by a friend.//

If he's a friend, why hasn't she named him in 6 chapters?

>Four million suns worth//


>I have run the numbers again and again. She reminded herself//


>a pony//

This makes it sound like she doesn't know who it is.

>damaged, yet un-breached//

You don't need that comma, but if you want it there, you need to pair it with another after this.

>small wave had just crashed, sending a torrent of frothy bubbles racing up the shore to be followed by a small//

Watch the close word repetition.

>downward spiraling//


>He asked almost more as an accusation, than a question.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>Did you find any friends? Did you find any allies? Did you find the peace you were looking for?//

I don't get his argument. She left so Equestria would have peace. He's not addressing whether it worked.

>they found a natural adversary, and.//

And what?

>lit by the ambient light//

Lit by light? Seems self-explanatory.

>Her own little science vessel only served as target practice to them//

She keeps denigrating the ship, but it's taken out quite a few enemies and survived. It's been ringing false for a while now. Not that she wants to seek out combat, but she keeps saying it's inadequate in a fight yet proving otherwise.

>Memories poured forth of their own accord. She saw her friends again, smiling at her, beckoning her.//

You're being needlessly vague again.

>coast line//


>a gentle decent//


>Lifting a hoof, she gently ran it along the multi-tool’s smooth rounded surface.//

Another spot where a participle synchronizes actions that probably shouldn't be. You also need a comma between smooth and rounded.

>She had no more use for it anymore.//

The "no more" and "anymore" are redundant.

In the end, I'm unfamiliar with the game, so I don't know how much about this story was driven by it. For instance, why Twilight never reveals who the friend she rescues is. But again with that as an example, there are some things you can get away with in games that you can't in stories. It makes no sense from her perspective to keep his identity secret, unless you give her a reason to. Same with whatever villain she was referring to. It's still a little off-putting how far we go into the story before we know much about what's going on, but I gather the game is like that as well, so I can take that as being consistent, where it still works with what narration you've used.

Other perspective issues are her use of impersonal descriptors, particularly for herself, and the odd way you have so much quoted thought when the narration is already her thoughts. I can live with the latter, though consider how distancing it is to have the narrator become a middleman relaying quotes when it's supposed to be identically Twilight.

There's some mechanical clean-up needed as well, and I provided examples of all the kinds of problems I saw, though certainly not an exhaustive list of every instance, so take those examples and apply them throughout.

Anonymous 3097


Thank you for pre-reading my story. I've read through your feedback, and I just wanted to respond to some of your notes and ask a question or two if you don’t mind.

First, I fully agree with all of your notes on my problems with mechanics. I'm actually a little embarrassed at some of the dumb mistakes I made. I’m sorry about that.

As for my issues with having consistent narration, I get why switching back and forth is an issue and I’ll work on rewriting parts of the story where this problem is evident. If I might ask, would you prefer a limited narrator or an omniscient narrator for this story?

Some parts of the story do reflect things in the game and I know they sound weird if you haven’t played it before. Examples include the hostile scan comment, how the different enemies act, the strange way plutonium is presented, and how the computers screech or scream.

With regard to your comments on the story, I see why there are issues with the main plot. One of the reasons why is in the game itself, the main character never has his/her backstory explained. He/she is only referred to as The Traveler in the game and no reason is given as to why he/she is trying to reach the galactic center. I wanted to leave the exact circumstances of what happened to Twilight as a mystery. Same with the identity of the pony who followed her. My intention was to parody the game and not delve into either backstory but I can understand why it didn’t work. I never intended this to be a long story in the first place and to be honest, I don’t have any canon background for either. Would this be a killing stroke to the story then?

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3101

I apologize for taking so long to respond. I sometimes forget to check this thread, as I don't get many responses anymore.

The idea with a crossover is that someone who knows nothing about the other material won't be lost. Oddly enough, it seems that people who are familiar with the game will also be lost, quite by design. So all that is to say that anything you've done to mirror what happens in the game (skimping on Twilight's back story, computers screaming, etc.) are fine. They'll hurt immersion for readers new to the game, and I don't think it would hurt the crossover nature to add that stuff, but no, you don't have to.

Between omniscient and limited narration, that's entirely up to you. There are strengths and weaknesses to both, and it'll come down more to what you're comfortable using or feel provides a better story. I think what you have is much closer to limited, so just from a standpoint of how much effort it'd take to make it all uniform, that's the easier route.

Omniscient tends to work better when you want broad overviews of events and want to be able to say what any character is thinking or what other thing is going on across the universe. But you'll normally want to keep such a narrator formal and factual. Limited can only portray what one character at a time knows and perceives. You can jump to multiple characters, but you shouldn't do so often or abruptly. It's best to keep to a single character per scene if possible.

Limited is usually the better choice when the story is focused on the experiences of a small number of characters or you want the reader to identify with one or two in particular, since a limited narration gives a much more intimate portrait of that character. But it's possible to do it either way.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3109

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.

There are a few standard things like editing mistakes and close word repetition, but the biggest thing, and the one I'll discuss some, is that the perspective is really unsteady.

I'll begin at the beginning.

>Twilight Sparkle asked Spike for the umpteenth time//

"Umpteenth" is an opinion, so in the first sentence of narration in the story, you're already clearly using a limited narrator. That's fine. The only characters clearly present so far are Spike and Twilight, and this could reasonably represent either of their opinions, but I don't know whose yet.

>the princess//

Next sentence. This isn't something either one would reasonably use. Twilight wouldn't call herself that, and Spike knows her too well to use such an impersonal reference. You don't think about your friends or yourself in your own head as "the person," do you? It's just as poor a fit for a limited narration unless it's a reference they would reasonably use (like "her number one assistant" for Spike, as an example). So I still can't tell who holds the perspective, but it's leaning a little toward Spike.

>nervously wearing a groove into the platform//

"Nervously" is an opinion, so we're still definitely in a limited narration, and it's favoring Spike's viewpoint so far.

>The young dragon//

By the same token as "the princess," Spike wouldn't refer to himself as this, so you've seemingly drifted over to Twilight's viewpoint now.

>Despite his smile, his voice sounded as nervous as Twilight looked.//

Now I can't tell anymore. The comparison of his smile to his voice feels external to him, yet Twilight wouldn't know how she looked. She can't see herself, after all. You're just flicking around to perspectives all over the place.

>the concern in her friend's voice cutting through her inner excuses//

Only Twilight could possibly know this. If you'd phrased it as Spike surmising this, that'd be different, but when stated as fact, this has to be Twilight's perspective.

>Spike whirled around and felt his heart leap into his throat//

Likewise, only Spike could possibly know this, and it's just a couple paragraphs after the previous excerpt I made.

>As she drew near, he struggled to not simply lose himself in adoration of her. Not today, today was too important to lose focus.//

Definitey in Spike's head here. And look at the second sentence. Not only are you conveying Spike's opinion, but the narration is taking a conversational tone to where it sounds very much like dialogue. That's another indicator of a limited narrator in his viewpoint.

>he found himself cut off//

The "found himself" instead of just leaving it facutally at him getting cut off now places this back in Spike's perspective.

>Twilight smiled, though it was more in defeat than anything else.//

Back to Twilight.

>Spike chuckled at the memory of Discord's version of their roleplaying game.//

Next paragraph, and back in Spike's viewpoint. You actually stay with him for quite a while, but you don't exactly have a choice, as he's the only one present anymore. Though you still fight that with these references like "the little dragon." Spike wouldn't call himself that.

And so goes the rest of the prologue. Now, as we start chapter 1:
>Formal events in Canterlot were always glamorous affairs//
A narrative opinion, but I don't know whose. It's not Spike, since he isn't there, so you haven't carried over the perspective from the previous chapter. It's important to establish perspective immediately.

>Unfortunately for Twilight Sparkle and Rarity//

In the next paragraph, we now know which characters are even present, but we don't know which one holds the viewpoint.

>hoping the beverage//

It's not until the end of the third paragraph that we get something that can only be from Twilight's perspective.

>a decidedly hard gleam in her eye//

"Decidedly" is a judgment Rarity would make, and Twilight can't see her own eyes anyway, so this has jumped over to Rarity.

>Twilight silently promised herself//

Still the same paragraph, but only Twilight could know this.

>Despite her own words, Rarity frowned a little and looked into her nearly drained glass.//

Except for the one slip, you'd stayed with Twilight, but now we're more explicitly in Rarity's head.

(There's an awful lot of smiling going on. There are other words for that and other ways to display the same emotions.)

>Rarity, whose gaze seemed focused on something in the crowd//

And back to Twilight.

>hile she couldn’t find fault with her friend’s logic, she still felt guilty about agreeing with it.//

And to Rarity.

>in the tone she reserved for friendly lectures//

Probably back to Twilight, but this could plausibly be Rarity's opinion.

>Rarity couldn’t help but chuckling.//

Only Rarity would know what she couldn't help doing.

>Twilight could only sheepishly nod her head//

Same deal, but this is in the same paragraph. You should definitely not use multiple perspectives in one paragraph, even if you have good reason to shift the perspective in the middle of a scene.

>Freed from her station at Twilight’s side, Rarity navigated the little clusters and islands of ponies//

Over to Rarity again, since Twilight's no longer present.

>if Spike had been a young stallion instead of a baby dragon, he would look like the pony before her//

That's a little too on the nose. Give the reader some credit.

Oh... so it's not just supposition. She immediately sees through his disguise? I'm not sure what to think about that.

>Fire Heart could only stammer at first, petrified by both Rarity’s invitation and her intensely hypnotic stare.//

And now back to my tracking of perspective. You're in Spike's head here.

>Rarity found herself stealing glances at her companion//

Just a paragraph later, back to Rarity.

>Despite her words, Rarity’s body language told a very different story//

You've used that phrasing multiple times by now. And this is in Spike's head.

>Rarity watched his change in demeanor with a mixture of guilt and regret and found herself//

Back to Rarity. You also use this "found him/herself" phrasing a lot.

>His fate was truly sealed however, when he felt the insistent tug of unicorn magic on his collar.//

Once more to Spike.

>she felt him begin to follow her//

Back to Rarity.

>For her own part, Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, had endured just about all she could of the gentry and, with Rarity being safely distant to spare her any embarrassment, had begun to tell the more unpleasant ones just what she thought of them, titles or no.//

Oh, we're going to Twilight now.

>For all her expectations, the reaction each pony had for the other was decidedly different from what she had thought.//

And just as quickly back to Rarity.

>she realized the pony in front of her was sweating with fear//

And to Twilight.

>Rarity only half listened to Twilight’s rambling apology and a feeling of doubt began to eat away at the back of her mind//

Next paragraph, back to Rarity.

>Leading on a strange stallion, toying with him//

Is it really any better if she's leading Spike on?

>happy to be away from the closer scrutiny of the nobles around him//

You'd actually stayed with Rarity for a while, but this is Spike's viewpoint.

>Fire Heart visibly scowled//

This would be Rarity's observation.

I don't need to continue this any further—you should get the picture by now.

One other thing you ought to watch. Look how repetitive this sentence structure gets here:
>The ingredients congealed into molten mass as he continued to read, watching in surprise as they began to liquefy, turning into a bubbling crimson broth.//
You have main clause, "as" clause, participial phrase, "as" clause, participial phrase. Furthermore, "as" clauses and participial phrases serve to synchronize actions, so every single verb in this sentence happens simultaneously. That's probably not reasonable, but it's also hard to keep track of.

I hadn't been keeping detailed notes through chapters 2 and 3, but I had to pull this excerpt:
>Slowly releasing a breath she hadn't realized she was holding//
This is onr of the most cliched things you could have possibly written.

Perspective was obviously a big problem. Why so? Rather than retype it all, I'll just refer you to the section on "head hopping" at the top of this thread.

The other thing is that I never got a sense of the actual romance here. This is another time I'll refer you somewhere instead of typing out a bunch of advice myself. Off his homepage, Aragon has a series of blogs linked on writing romance, and they're worth reading. In short, there doesn't seem to be any more than a physical attraction here, and I don't know why Rarity's toying with Spike at all. Aragon goes into this in depth, but make sure the reader knows exactly what both of them like about the other, what they'd each give and take from a relationship, and why they each think the other would be good relationship material. The story makes it clear they're in love, but in name only. I have the "what," but I'm missing the "why."

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3112

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 opening gets a bit repetitive in structure. It's also a tad confusing. I tried to figure out why it was italicized. I assumed it was because you were starting with an omniscient narration before easing into a limited perspective, then it's a couple paragraphs in before it becomes apparent he's writing something. These kind of bait-and-switch openings can work when they make for a nice surprise, but there's really no payoff here. It adds confusion without getting anything back for it, and when your opening note has no plot relevance (the fact that he's a writer is relevant, but the reader already knows that from reading the front-page description, and what he's writing about has no importance), it doesn't make a good hook.

This also creates a dissonance that may be justified, but it's hard to tell. He's a prospective writer, so it's hard to know whether to take deficinencies in his writing as intentional or stemming from you. For instance, look at what he's written. Every single sentence but one starts with the subject. That creates a repetitive feel. That's probably still going to be the majority of what you write, but when it's this prevalent, it can get plodding to read. Then look at how many "to be" verbs there are. By paragraph of the things he's written, here they all are:
is, is, is
be, is (you're actually doing quite well in this paragraph—lots of active description)
are, are (both of these use passive voice, which compounds the problem I'll discuss in a moment)
are, are, is
It's not overwhelming, but there are quite a few of these. The problem is that these are boring verbs. Nothing happens, and the several instances of passive voice even accentuate that nothing happens. Even a description of something static can use active language, like "he stood there" versus "he was there," and you've got some active descriptions mixed in as well.

Again, am I to take that as a deficiency in his writing or yours? If the former, then I think it'd help immensely if he immediately glances back over it and is dissatisfied for some of these very reasons, or at least a vague sense of them. If it's not until much later in the story that he learns to spot such things, the reader's not suddenly going to remember all this and excuse it. That ship has sailed.

The one thing that does seem to bleed from his writing to yours, at least what I've seen from the first page alone, is some repetition. His "so thus" is redundant, and you have a "start on his description of the station, but it was starting" that exhibits close word repetition.

I see georg already left a comment to this effect (more on that later), but if you've done anything to address it, it isn't clear enough. The only things he acknowledges having trouble with are identifying parts of speech, staying focused, and descriptive language.

Moving on.

>oversized shield shapes and configurations//

This just sounds weird. What's a shield "configuration," and how does it differ from a shape in this context?

>Baked Bean then sighed, slid his pencil into the spiral binding along the top of his notebook, before placing it into his saddlebags.//

The syntax is off here.

Now that I'm a little further in, I see that the overuse of "to be" verbs is continuing outside Bean's writing.

>Celestia’s bright sunlight//

This is a very cliched thing.

>soot and cinders//

He sure tried to make the station sound inviting. Why did he not mention any of the downside like this?

>adjectives – or were they adverbs//

I'm surprised someone who fancies himself a writer wouldn't know the difference. He doesn't even seem to care.

>brass sculptures//

Outdoors? They would be a nightmare to keep shiny.

>wealthy. The whole city was rich, both in atmosphere and monetary wealth//

More close repetition.

You're really hammering in that this guy's poor and everyone around him is rich. I get the point. The only reason to go on at length about it like this would be if it changed, like he's getting angrier and angrier as he thinks about it, but the narrative tone stays constant.

>and while she didn’t usually have time to meet with ponies for very long//

You have a few spots like this where you could use a comma to sett off a dependent clause, but mostly you're good about that.

>no,” he stopped.//

That's not a speaking action, yet you've punctuated/capitalized it as if it is one.

>having a very loose understanding of the rules made it so difficult to know if he was doing things right or wrong//

So he actually is a bit on the ignorant side. This is probably early enough in the story that it doesn't feel like you're unreasonably hiding it from the reader, though like I said about all the inactive "to be" verbs and repeated sentence structure, it'd help if he acknowledged something sounded off about his earlier attempts, even if he couldn't pinpoint what.

It is getting a little off-putting that he's so focused on physical descriptions, and ones that aren't that interesting anyway.

>nicker of annoyance//

>frustrated breath//
His mood is already coming through fine through what he does and the narration's tone. You don't need to short-circuit that by directly identifying the emotion for the reader. You'd already said he was frustrated anyway.


This is one punctuation combo that's never made sense. How do you trail off emphatically? They're opposite effects.


Only three dots. Four is for a specific nonfiction use.

>“There! He’s running away!” A guard shouted.//

You've capitalized the speech tag. It should still be lower-case, even if the quotes doesn't end in a comma.

>She then spun him slowly in the air in front of her.//

Looks like you meant to put a blank line before this.

>There was a few moments//

You have a singular verb with a plural subject.

>same emphasis on vowels and consonants//

That's awfully vague. I can't come up with how that would sound. It's also described kind of weird. If vowels and consonants are emphasized, then what else is there?

>You tend pick up//

Missing word.

>in embarrassment//

Here's another spot where you directly named an emotion that you didn't need to.

>I think you mean you were looking for adjectives//

Yeah, you're revealing this so far after it came up that leaves me feeling like it's the author's mistake for several pages. I'd recommend at least saying he has trouble with parts of speech pretty early on. It's fine to leave it generalized like that, but then it sets it up better. Getting the reader to see something as character incompetence instead of author incompetence can be a tricky business.

>“Yeah, it’s something like that, I guess.” He replied.//

Punctuation/capitalization of speech tag.

>I should have revoked it many years ago//

Seems like "repealed" would be a better word choice. But here's where my suspension of disbelief starts to kick in. Her power hasn't changed over the years. If she could have repealed it long ago, she still can. And it's entirely possible to repeal a law in such a way that its effects are retroactively nullified, i.e., she doesn't still have to follow it because it was still in effect when the nose touch happened. THen when you do try to explain it, you just gloss it over. That's kind of unsatisfactory.


> Bean’s legs again//
Watch the close word repetition.

>happened, truly. If you happen//



Leave a space after each ellipsis.

>Yes, Ma’am//

No reason for "ma'am" to be capitalized here.

>really…expect me…to…marry//


>“Wait. You’re the Princess,” Bean spoke his sudden thought//

That does't really parse. The speech can't be the speaking verb's direct object since you already gave it one.

>You…you couldn’t…couldn’t//


Celestia sure is using direct address a lot. Think about how often you actually do when you're having a one-on-one conversation. There are really only three reasons people do so:
1) to get someone's attention
2) to disambiguate who should be listening to them
3) for emphasis
You don't need either of the first two when there are only two people in the conversation, and when you use too much emphasis, it loses the effect, so this isn't working well for the third case, either.

Celestia's behavior is kind of all over the map. When her nose first gets touched, she's very low-key about it, and she treats Bean quite playfully. Yet she goes on about how it's a very serious situation and she needs to do whatever she can to avoid it. Those two things don't mesh. Either this is a terrible occurrence or she's gently guiding him through something inconsequential. Don't play it both ways. The premise itself as well—your synopsis tells of very serious places the story will go, yet having it all founded on something as lighthearted as a nose boop undercuts the tone, unless there ends up being a good reason why a nose touch in particular should be taken this seriously.

The last thing I have to say is that this will be a very difficult thing to pull off well. Of course, I have the benefit of the extended synopsis, but that actually makes things worse in this case. If I had no idea where you planned to take it, then I wouldn't know to be afraid, but you're going to be greeted with a ton of skepticism when you introduce an OC and ship him with a fan favorite canon character.

You really have to get the reader in the character's corner, but I have no reason to yet. He's not endearing. I know very little about him. He's an aspiring writer a little frustrated with his lack of progress, he's pretty cliched in his disdain for the wealthy, and... that's it. You're not going to get a reader to care about him with such a limited portrait, and caring about him is crucial to making a ship between him and Celestia appealing.

One method I've heard is to come up with a list of five adjectives or short phrases that will cover as much of the character's personality as possible. It helps if a couple of them are contradictory, because real people are just like that. Make sure the story exhibits those traits, and try to show at least three of them the first time he appears. You don't have to do that literally, of course, but it's at least a good mental exercise in making sure your characters are well fleshed out.

Maybe you'll do a convincing job of the ship later on, but for one thing, you need to get the reader on board with Bean immediately, and for another, this situation is so ripe to be mishandled that I wouldn't be prepared to approve it sight unseen anyway. So even if you fixed all that stuff, I'd want to see the story far enough along to evaluate how well the shipping is pulled off.

Oh, one more last thing. You'll get a lot more views if you publish on FiMFiction.net. But even if you leave it in GDocs, it'd look a lot better if you cleared the comments out. They just make the story look messy, and you don't want to air your dirty laundry and let everyone see spots where reviewer thought it needed work. That'll bias the reader toward seeing the same flaws.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 3113

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 have a few editing problems like comma splices and consistent confusion between "its" and "it's." More than that, though, I'm seeing a couple more subtle but pervasive problems.

First, the perspective. You're using a limited narrator in Chrysalis's perspective in the prologue. That's clear from the conversational tone you take, as if Chrysalis herself is vocalizing her inner thoughts. But using her as the viewpoint character has several implications. When the narration refers to her as something like "the dethroned queen," it's Chrysalis choosing to call herself that. People don't think about themselves in such external and formal ways. They would tend to use just pronouns and names, except in unusual circumstances. Another example is where you say she didn't feel the tears coming from her eyes. She is the narrator. If she doesn't know the tears are there, neither does the narrator.

Then at the end of the prologue, you go over to Thorax's perspective for only a couple of paragraphs. It's a jarring shift to him that needs to happen much more smoothly, but is it even necessary to? There's nothing critical to the reader's understanding that happens after she leaves, so why not just stop there?

The rationale behind maintaining a steady perspective is discussed at the top of this thread under "head hopping."

And second, you use a ton of participial phrases. They don't turn up that often in everyday language, so they stand out easily when overused. In addition to getting repetitive by having a lot of them, authors tend to place them in the same positions in sentences, which makes them repetitive in structure, not just makeup. They also cause several common errors, and the more you use, the more likely you'll have such mistakes.

I'll pull out some examples to show you.

Here, you start three consecutive paragraphs with a participial phrase, so again, it's not just having them in the sentences but also using the same placement within those sentences.
>Spotting a hidden alcove in a small gorge//
>Nursing her sore joints//
>Continuing on into the cave//

Here are all the other participial phrases within those three paragraphs:
>gliding down to the ledge that jutted just beyond the opening//
>landing without her usual finesse//
>largely ignoring the aesthetics of the place//
>instead following the cave wall around to where the stalactites and stalagmites gave way to a tunnel//
>leading deeper below ground//
>her eyes perfectly adapted to seeing clearly in the deep and dark places of the world// (This one's actually an absolute phrase, but it's another type of participial structure.)
>letting her see the corridor//

So, you're really repetitive with those. Now to the kinds of errors that pop up. Participial phrases like to describe the closest noun or pronoun that comes before them, unless the start a clause, in which case they describe the clause's subject.
>She was surprised to see a carved door at the end of the hallway, taking a moment to register that fact with her beleaguered brain before proper intrigue could even start to take hold.//
Because if its proximity, this sounds like the hallway is taking a moment to register the fact. It's pretty clear a hallway can't do that, but it still creates a sentence that doesn't feel quite right, which isn't good, and eventually you'll run into one of these situations where it truly is ambiguous what the participle describes.

>Continuing on into the cave, Chrysalis noted it’s rugged, natural appearance as on notices an ant, largely ignoring the aesthetics of the place, instead following the cave wall around to where the stalactites and stalagmites gave way to a tunnel leading deeper below ground.//

Participles mean things happen simultaneously, so here, she performs every one of these four actions at the same time. That can be a lot to keep track of, plus the multiple instances of the participles forcing things to sync up can feel oddly worded. But more to the point, that synchronization sometimes doesn't make sense. She wouldn't follow the cave wall to the deeper passage until after she'd gone inside, yet this says they happen concurrently.

I'll read on a bit to see how the human stuff goes initially.

You're directly naming a lot of emotions. That doesn't make for engaging writing. Think of how you have to interpret real people. You don't just innately know someone is happy. You deduce it from how he looks and acts. You might see him laugh and smile, then conclude he's happy. It feels more like real life when a reader has to interpret written characters the same way, so focus more on the evidence of how your characters feel than just telling the reader. There's a section on this at the top of the thread as well, under "show versus tell."

So you introduce Allan in the first scene of chapter 1. All I learn about him in this scene is that he recently started dating someone, and this fact surprises his father. That's nothing to go on. I don't have the first clue what he's like or why I should care what happens to him. You need to define this character better so that he's immediately interesting.

A good exercise for this is to make a list of 5 or 6 traits he has that give a fairly complete description of his personality. Try to make at least a couple of them contradictory, because real people are like that. Make sure the story demonstrates all those traits. And I don't mean just saying what they are. If he's a huge D&D fan, then don't just say he is; show him rattling off a bunch of game statistics. Furthermore, make sure you demonstrate at least 3 of those traits the first time he appears.

He doesn't show up again until 3 scenes later, and I don't learn anything new about him. It's still just those couple of bare facts that hardly elevate him above generic.

Chapter 2 does a good job of keeping to a single perspective per scene and having that viewpoint character interpret the behavior of those around him instead of stating others' feelings as fact. But in this first scene, you're having Thorax do quite a bit of exposition. He knows very specific things, and I get that you've already had Chrysalis able to read Allan's memories, but this still strains credulity, and a lot of it isn't even particularly relevant at the moment. Exposition is often better handled by meting it out in small bits as it becomes important to the plot. All these things that Thorax intuits aren't necessary to understand the story at this time, and note that he's doing a far better job of characterizing Allan than the time we actually spend in Allan's viewpoint. That's not good.

Chapter 3 goes back to having unsteady perspective. The first paragraph immediately establishes Allan's viewpoint, but it only stays there until the third paragraph, which switches to Thorax. The 11th paragraph goes back to Allan, then the 14th returns to Thorax. The 19th seems to go to Twilight, and you stay there for the rest of the scene.

By the 28th paragraph, you're still with Twilight, but look at this:
>Turning her head back to look at him, worry written plainly onto her features. He’d stopped moving, and looked like he was on the brink of tears//
The latter part is clearly her opinion, and it's something she can observe. Fair enough. But in the first part, how could she perceive this? She can't see her own face.

So now I'm a prologue and three chapters into the story, and I still know nothing about your protagonist except from one sentence in the prologue and some exposition Thorax dropped about him in chapter 2, and that's not much to go on. I have no idea who he is, and I have no investment in what happens to him. When the reader doesn't care about your main character, it's all but impossible to keep the story interesting.

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