Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found. Of course, not everything is a black-and-white issue; this is not a list of things you have
to fix, but take each under advisement.
Synopsis:>My name is Lyra and I live and work in Ponyville//
Since there are separate clauses (that is, each verb gets its own subject: name is... and I live and work), you chould use a comma before the first "and."
>It's a wonderful job, I get to meet lots of different ponies from all walks of life.//
You have a comma splice here, which may fit the character voicing, but you don't really have the space to establish that much character voice in the synopsis, so it might be better to leave this kind of thing to the main story, or else it appears to be more author error.
Chapter 1:>frost covered//
You're using that whole phrase as a single adjective, and what it describes comes after it, so hyphenate it.
>According to the wooden clock above me I wasn’t due to open for another fifteen minutes//
I don't get why she wouldn't know this already. She never looked at the time at her house? Doesn't she use an alarm clock? And her commute can't have any variability to it. I can't imagine how she wouldn't already have a good sense of what time it was.
>I didn’t need to rush though, I usually only started getting customers coming in around lunchtime.//
Comma splice. And if this is true, why open that early? It's not giving her much return on her time.
>my cutie mark; a golden lyre.//
Misused semicolon. You should be able to replace one with a period, but "a golden lyre" wouldn't constitute a complete sentence. You could use a colon here, since you'e defining/clarifying, or a dash, since this could be a change in the track of her thoughts, or a comma, since this could be an appositive.
>shutting out the frigid January morning air//
Participial phrases and absolute phrases are both wonderfully descriptive things, but authors of intermediate experience tend to fall in love with them and overuse them. This causes multiple problems.
First, they're not something you encounter much in everyday speech, so they're unusual. The more unusual something is, the more easily it sticks out when repeated, and you don't want your story sounding repetitive. For example, you wouldn't notice seeing "the" four times in a single sentence, but you'd definitley notice seeing "ventriloquist" twice on an entire page.
And in another type of repetition, it's not just that you're using these kinds of phrases at all. It's that you're also using them in the same places in your sentences. They overwhelmingly come at the end, so your sentences are structurally repetitive.
Using so many of them opens you up to several other kinds of things as well. They're supposed to describe something, but it's a common error to word your sentence so that the thing they describe doesn't appear, leaving them to seem to describe something else. If I see an example of that in the chapter, I'll copy it out to illustrate.
Another one is that participial phrases mean things happen at the same time, and authors often don't pay attention to that. They end up synchronizing actions that shouldn't be. I'll also point out an example of that if I see one.
So from just the first screenful of your story, here are all the participial elements I see:>trying to keep my teeth from chattering//>the sound of my hooves against the frost covered ground echoing around an otherwise empty street//>held within a faint emerald glow//>emblazoned at the top//>squinting//>attempting to use what little light was afforded to me//>According to the wooden clock above me//>shutting out the frigid January morning air//>fumbling with the keys still within my magical grasp//>Blinking out towards the crimson horizon beyond the glass door//>brought through a lack of sleep//>maneuvering them to flick every lightswitch inside the shop//>illuminating my surroundings//>containing songs for every instrument I sold and more//
It's also customary to set off participial phrases with a comma, which you don't always do. But look at the sheer number of those. You have 14 in just 16 sentences. This is overkill.
A related structure that authors latch onto is the "as" clause, which suffers from most of the same problems, and you use lots of those, too. Over these same 16 sentences, there are 5. You have two other uses of "as," but they're in a different sense. You have 72 uses of "as" in the chapter, and most of those will be for these clauses. Between this and the participials, you're really abusing such structures.
>A collection of shiny brass instruments sparkled within a glass case against one wall, other instruments were either laid out on small tables to be played, or hung delicately from ornate stands.//
>I entered the building slowly, squinting as I turned to glance upwards//
This is one I already marked, but I pulled it out again as an example of unintentional sychronization. She probably wouldn't try to look at the clock until after she'd entered, but this says she does them at the same time.
>I hate mornings, I’ve never really been a morning pony.//
Comma splice. These can be used to good effect in creating a character voice, but 1) they're best held for when you want to show the character is feeling rushed, confused, emotional, etc. Using lots of them in normal situations defeats the effect. And 2) I don't believe you're doing this intentionally.
>A brighter cyan glow surrounded me as I pulsed energy through my horn and sent out a series of sparks through the air, maneuvering them to flick every lightswitch inside the shop and illuminating my surroundings.//
This is all a synchronization issue with participles, too. You're having a sequence of cause-and-effect actions all happen at once.
>A collection of shiny brass instruments sparkled within a glass case against one wall, other instruments were either laid out on small tables to be played//
Comma splice. Suffice it to say you have a lot of these. I'm not going to keep marking them.
>shuffling hooves barely audible against the soft carpet below. Carefully, I shuffled//
Like I alluded to before, watch repeating words in a close space like this.
>So long little buddy//
Needs a comma for direct address.
>elevated a fresh one from within//
You're really purpling this up. That's kind of a taste issue, but there's something to be said for simplicity. Elevated? Exhausted glass dome? Defunct lamp? If you had an omniscient narrator, you could more easily get away with this. But you have a first-person narration. That means that the narration is her stream of thought. Who monologues in their head with such fancy language? If you set her up as a really intellectual type, fair enough. You do have her actual dialogue as pretty fancy, but she doesn't speak like this in canon, so why would she in her own head? Some fancy words would do fine, especially for creating vivid imagery, but when it's just needlessly choosing more complex synonyms, what is it accomplishing for the story? The idea for choosing fancy words is that a simpler one wouldn't quite do.
>I approached the counter and the newly delivered box//
You just called it a "newly delivered box" a few paragraphs ago.
>before placing the papers onto the countertop and began//
These verb forms don't match, but what you need to do to fix that depends on how you want the sentence structured. If you want the last verb to be another participle (boo!) it needs to be "beginning." If you want it to branch from "I" as a parallel verb to "opened," then you need a comma after "countertop" to show the participle (boo!) ends there.
>began to unpack//>began unpacking//
>at a moments notice//
at a moment's notice
>five, prepared and neatly bound stacks//
I don't understand what that comma is doing there. Partly because I'm not sure what "prepared" means in this contex, but mostly because "five" and "prepared" would be hierarchical adjectives—they'd sound really awkward if you swapped the order—so they don't take a comma.
That's not a part of a number yo'd hyphenate, and why is it capitalized?
It's also odd that you keep using these kinds of descriptors. Again, the reader is to take the narration as Lyra's thought process. She knows Derpy and Octavia well. Why would she, in her own head, refer to friends and acquaintances in such an external and impersonal way? You don't think of your grandfather as "the gray-haired man," do you? You'd just mentally refer to him by name or pronoun mostly.
>taking it in her mouth delicately and placing it in her bag before re-clasping it shut and began//
This looks like that earlier instance. I believe you're missing commas in both, since I can see more clearly how you want this one structured.
>See you later,” and turned my attention back down to the parchment before me//
You've capitalized/punctuated that as if it's a speech tag, but it isn't.
Unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway, only capitalized the first instance of a word that begins a sentence with a stutter.
>allowing the door to gently close behind her. I allowed//
Close word repetition.
>Once she had disappeared completely out of sight, I turned my attention to the mare who had come in.//
So she has a new customer, but she's going to waste time watching Octavia leave? Why?
>“I-I…” she began, stammering//
You already showed me the stammering in her dialogue, so narrating it as well is redundant.
>stave next to the pre-printed treble and bass clefs, and began to jot down notes onto the stave//
Close repetition again, and a single one is just generally called a staff.
Only capitalize the first one.
>The ringing of the bell above the door slowly fading into silence.//
You probably meant to use "faded" there. While sentence fragments can be used by authorial discretion, participial elements make for poor ones, since they're supposed to be descriptive, but there's nothing for them to describe.
>kept invading my mind, and I kept//
Close word repetition.
>I didn’t mind though, The//
>last minute customers//
Same as earlier, "last-minute" should be hyphenated here.
>began to whirr and a long piece of paper began//
Besides just being repetitive to use these so close together, "begin" and "start" actions are also something many authors overuse. It's a given that any action would begin, so for the most part, it's only worth pointing out that beginning when it's noteworthy for some reason, like it's abrupt or you want to emphasize that the action never finished. You have 10 forms of "start" and 25 of "begin" in the chapter, which is a lot for this word count.
>Turning on the light, I eyed up the hastily stacked piles of boxes from earlier, groaning aloud.//
I'd refrained from pointing out synchronization issues for the most part, but this is an egregious one. You have her doing all three of these actions simultaneously, and it doesn't make sense for her to. There's no path of light on -> realize she still has work to do -> groan.
However, really consider this paragraph. It's symptomatic of a lot of this chapter. There's a whole lot of needless detail. Her interaction with Octavia was the same. Nothing came of it. She did seem to note Octavia wasn't acting right and speculated on why, but neither one of them attempted to discuss it, and Lyra only mentioned it as a factual thing without expressing her feelings about it. On the other hand, Lyra's repeated tries to work on her music while getting interrupted were good, because that characterizes her well. But this paragraph... maybe half of it is interesting. All the details of her adding up the receipts and refilling the till are presented so emotionlessly. If there's something thematic or symbolic about it fine, but if you're just trying to fill up the page with words, this isn't the way to do it. Make all this detail matter in some way, or get rid of it.
>the days earnings//
the day's earnings
>There was only about twelve bars//
You have a singular verb with a plural subject.
Only capitalize the first.
>a nervous twinge to my voice//
This is another subtle perspective issue many authors have. If you're nervous, how do you experience it? More likely through your thoughts and physical sensations. Probably not through how you sound. If you sound that way, you're already nervous, and you'd already know that. You don't need to interpret the sound to key you into understanding how you feel.
Only capitalize the first.
>I should have run already, I thought.//
The narration's already understood to be her thought. You don't need to say so.
>I thought, dropping my leg back down onto the snow and looked ahead to where the pony had ran, seeing a trail of hoofprints under the next streetlight in the distance.//
Another missing comma that jumbles the meaning, but this is a case where it can be unclear what the participle describes. "Seeing" is so far from "I" that it creates a sense it more likely describes "the pony."
>Why are ponies running away from me today?//
You should still phrase this in past tense.
>As I waited for my coat to dry I felt myself beginning to shiver again.//
Well, this just emphasizes a question I was going to ask earlier. Why would she try warming herself with a shower when it'd just make her feel cold afterward. If she needed to get clean, too, then she'd have an additional motivation to take the shower, but if she only wanted to get warm, bundling up in a blanket and getting the fireplace going would be more effective.
>half finished bars//
>Turning my eyes away from the fire, my gaze returned to the pages of sheet music in front of me.//
Ah, I finally caught you doing one of these. The last participle I marked was a misplaced modifier, where it seems to describe something closer to it in the sentence than the intended target. In this case, the intended target isn't even in the sentence. This explicitly says her gaze turned her eyes away from the fire, not that she did.
So that seems like I've said a lot, but consider that I wouldn't have spent a couple hours in your story if I didn't think it was worth the investment.
The overall idea for the story seems fine, but make sure you keep a strong thematic line going through it, whatever you want that to be: writing her music, developing a relationship with Bon Bon, finding her place in town, all of the above. Whatever. But keep that floating along through everything so the reader sees it as a common thread. In some of the areas of pointless detail I noted, it felt like the story had no direction. Keep a motive force behind what's happening, and don't get bogged down in irrelevant material.
Aside from that, it should be clear what the pervasive writing issues were: comma splices and repetition, plus it'd help if you'd develop a consistent voicing for Lyra in how fancy she talks/thinks (and perhaps connect the dots as to why your version of her does when the canon one doesn't).
This is a good effort for your first story on the site, and I think you're capable of getting it fixed up to where I'd be happy to post it.
This post was edited by its author on .