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Jan 20: Board Organization Discussion
Jan 15: Staff Update, and Rules Update

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

#Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous 2529

>>2523

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2533

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous 2534

>>2533

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

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2535

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2536

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

>the bespectacled pale unicorn//

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

>fine tune//

Hyphenate.

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

Needs a comma.

>“Yes, mom,”//

As terms of address, family relations would be capitalized.

>“Good!” Sunset praised.//

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

>Celestia’s sun//

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

>she brought it to lips//

Missing word.

>‘just one more spell’d//

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

>a—“//

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

>only to instantly come crashing down//

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

>if worst came to worst//

if worse came to worst

>fourteen cushions//

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

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

No reason for that comma.

>Moon Dancer breathed a sigh of relief //

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

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

Comma splice.

>after the she raised//

Extraneous word.

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

Watch the close repetition.

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

>And…it//

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

>paled visibly//

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

>in what could only be described as panic//

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

>lower teacher’s lounge//

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

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

After all, you say?

>thoughts of tea forgotten, at least temporarily//

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

>T-that’s//

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

>Cheerilee blinked owlishly//

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

>months,” Cheerilee shrugged//

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

>off-guard//

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

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

Same deal.

>Another sip of tea.//

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

>Every colt and filly know the story.//

Typo.

>three smiling sunflowers//

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well... what else would she use?

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

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

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

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

>I-It’s really nothing//

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

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

Comma splice.

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

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

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

Needs a comma.

>Those who you have helped//

whom

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

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

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

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

Repetitive use of "her mane."

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

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

Anonymous 2537

>>2535

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

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2544

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

Synopsis:
>world renowned//
Needs a hyphen.

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

>little. She was a little//

Watch the close repetition.

>tick tocking//

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>No sooner than had she said it//

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

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

Watch that close repetition again.

>ever so distinctive//

Hyphenate.

>found inside a rainbow-colored whirlwind//

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

>Quick Twilight//

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

>‘Bolts//

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

>plopped down into a lay//

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

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

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

>just waiting to trip him and ducked just//

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

>Monsieur//

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

>the pegasus ponies that filled the air//

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

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

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

>You poked me in the eye you jerk!”//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>You- You know my-EEEEEEE!//

Hyphens are for stutters. Please use a proper dash.

>The sun shined//

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

>they were devastated//

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

>I’m devastated//

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

>mayhaps//

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

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

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

>after awhile//

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

>The pegasi began breaking into argument//

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

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

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

>see-//

>Unfortunately-//
Use a dash.

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

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>to-” he paused//

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

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

Needs a comma between the clauses.

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

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

>Sugarcube//

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

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

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

>strange looking//

Hyphenate.

>so-//

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

>in outrage//

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

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

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

>Dash gasped in excitement//

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

>You know Applejack//

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

>Dodge junction//

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

>Applejack laid in wait//

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

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

Speech tag capitalization.

>skid his legs across the earth//

Why'd you switch to present tense here?

>in Applejack’s accent//

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

>Applejack mocked//

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

>ground her hoof into the ground//

Gotta be a less repetitive way to phrase that.

>in the direction the others had left in//

Redundant "in"s.

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

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

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

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>defenestrating them out through both open windows//

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

>Twilight, I heard shouting!”//

Missing your opening quotes.

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

Capitlization.

>It’s okay, Spike,”//

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

>purple tinted//

Hyphenate.

>iron.“ Uh//

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

>Twilight peaked over the top//

Peek/peak confusion.

>Passer euchlorus//

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

>I guess that’s cool and all Twi,//

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

>Saddle Arabian Zoology.”//

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

>Passer Euchlorus//

You're inconsistent at how you captalize this.

>Well guess what Twilight,//

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

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

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

>full grown//

Hyphenate.

>for awhile//

for a while

>box seed//

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

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

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

>The two ponies laid in ambush//

Lay/lie confusion again.

>began to crawl. She began//

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

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

Capitalization.

>WOOOOOAH//

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

>the two disoriented mares//

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

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

Watch that repetition.

>now vacant//

Hyphenate.

>?!?//

One of each is plenty.

>swathes//

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

>sweat stang//

stung

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

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

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

Another non-speaking action used as an attribution.

>who cowered between the two parties//

Set off this dependent clause with a comma.

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

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

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

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>Just thinking about the golden twit//

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

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

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

>tealeaves//

Two words.

>a twinge of regret//

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

>Joy exploded like fireworks within Rainbow Dash.//

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

>making suppressive gestures//

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

>café//

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

>honest: This I did not expect.//

Capitalization.

>Where is she might I ask?//

Needs a comma.

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

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

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

This is really oddly phrased.

>Tank blinked.//

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

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2549

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

>usually. Besides the usual//

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

>fresh-cut flowers feels foreign//

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

>in my hand//

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

>nicely-pressed//

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

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

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

>Brain, we’ve been over this.//

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

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

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

>with a few stray whips peaking out//

Peak/peek confusion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

>my-//

Please use a proper dash. Hyphens are for stutters.

>covering her face with both hooves//

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

>“Whatever you say lady Red!” I say//

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needs a comma between the clauses.

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

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

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

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

>neither the time or place//

nor

>always-//

Use a dash.

>in half real shock, half faked shock//

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

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

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

>and I reach back, underneath//

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

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

Watch that close repetition.

>looking thrilled and a little embarrassed//

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

>...//

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

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

Needs a comma.

>in annoyance//

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

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

Either the punctuation or the capitalization is off.

>straightens and sets her lips in a straight//

Kind of repetitive.

>just call the date now we can just//

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

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

Punctuation.

>ok//

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

>mock- bow//

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

>Why thank you sir//

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

>same, gentlemanly//

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeated phrasing.

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

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

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

>dissapointed//

Spelling.

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

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

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2558

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>six year-old//

Hyphenate all that.

>Deciding to humor her//

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

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

Watch the repetitive wording.

>Woah//

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

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

>I asked with joy//

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

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

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

>Miss. Smartypants//

Extraneous period.

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

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

>I laughed with joy//

You're doing that thing again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needs 2 commas.

>pretending to be dead.//

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

>by the way//

Set this off with a comma.

>The Legend of Mare In The Moon//

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

>thanks to my alicorn metabolism//

Set this off with a comma.

>one hundred and fifty//

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

>feelings that I felt//

Repetitive.

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

Needs a comma.

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

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

>sleeping a living//

Typo.

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

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

>Smartypants was inside//

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

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

Needs a comma.

>she looked around in awe//

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

>It’s not to far//

To/too confusion.

>different colored//

Hyphenate.

>looked at me with excitement//

Let me see what it looks like.

>... Princess//

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

>S-she//

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

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

Needs a comma.

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

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

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

Set off the dependent clause with a comma.

>Thanks for letting me borrow, Smartypants//

Why on the world is that comma there?

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

You forgot to close your quotation marks.

>curious as to how the play date went//

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

>as the nostalgic years filled my head//

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

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

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

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

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

>I screamed apology after apology.//

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

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

All of these sentences need a comma.

>world into a united world//

Repetition.

>that was now expanding the stars themselves//

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

>For a long time//

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

>Everything seemed to just get so busy//

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

>2 + 2//

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

>F-F-Four//

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

>I shouted with joy.//

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

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

Needs a comma.

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

Blunt emotional context again.

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

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

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

Another misused semicolon.

>The spell having ended when I fell asleep.//

Absolute phrases make poor sentence fragments, since they sound like they're trying to be complete sentences.

>A blush decorated my cheeks//

Well, it looks prescient that I already talked about blushes. She can't see this, so talk about it in terms she would perceive.

>Great “insert the amount of times” Granddaughter//

Why is that capitalized?

>“Great, but...” she gave a rejected sigh.//

You've made that lower-case as if it's a speech tag, but you have no speaking action.

>You can teach her a few things and I’m sure she can teach you a few things in return//

Needs a comma.

>shouted Smartypants with joy//

You know the drill by now.

I have to applaud you for the ending. After that maudlin display of Twilight crying, I expected you'd have her die right after Starwish left.

So it should be clear what the main problems are. Most times you try to portray character emotion, you resort to just telling me how the characters feel, and that isn't a particularly engaging method. It's an important hurdle writers need to learn to overcome, and I've noticed it in your writing before. No time like the present to conquer it.

A couple of plot elements didn't quite make sense, either, but I've already explained those. Really, if you can get a handle on having characters demonstrate emotion more than just having the narrator tell me how they feel, that's the only big thing you'd need to do that'd improve the story significantly.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2564

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

>nearly sixteen and preparing to strike out on her own, their parents were nearly//

Watch repeating all but the most mundane of words in close quarters like this.

>building, what they called, the perfect place to find a cutie mark//

No reason to have any of those commas.

>finished.

>
>With the dishes finished//
More close repetition.

>she walked up the stairs to Sweetie Bell’s room, gently knocking on the door

Do a Ctrl-f on "Sweetie Bell" and make sure you've spelled it right throughout. Also note that participles mean things happen at the same time, yet she wouldn't knock on the door until after she'd walked up the stairs. I bet this will be a pervasive problem.

>full length//

Hyphenate.

>Sweetie looked at Rarity through the mirror//

How do you see through a mirror?

>Rarity smiled back, walking over to Sweetie, and looking in the mirror with her.//

And you're falling into the trap of repeating some of these words. "Smile" and "look" are ones inexperienced authors tend to overuse. You have a "look" 4 paragraphs in a row around here and 16 in the chapter. They tend to occur in clusters. At the very least, spreading them out more would help, but you really ought to use more variety in your word choice anyway.

>She started when she felt Rarity nuzzling her.//

Be careful with your perspective. You still seem to be using a pretty omniscient narrator, but you're primarily sticking to Rarity's experiences. She couldn't know for sure that Sweetie Belle felt her nuzzling here, so it seems to go over to Sweetie Belle in a shallow perspective, yet you go right back to Rarity afterward. Consistency helps. If you want to jump around quickly, then keep that motion going. If you want to settle into one character for a while, then stay with Sweetie Belle longer than a single sentence.

>She needed to be awake in the morning to complete the orders from her shop in Appleloosa.//

A word about "to be" verbs: You're not using a ton of them, but you're also not taking many opportunities to avoid them. They're inherently boring verbs, as nothing happens, so it gives your story more momentum when you can phrase things with active verbs. Take this excerpt. If you'd said, "She needed to wake early enough to complete the orders from her shop in Appleloosa," it doesn't lose anything, and it's more active.

>Taking the kettle, she walked over to the sink, filling it with water//

Yeah, this will be a pervasive problem. I can't spend hours pulling out every instance, so you'll have to sweep for these on your own. These three actions would occur in sequence, but the participles mean they all happen at once.

>needed boxing up, but the vests all needed//

More repetition. I haven't been pulling out every spot I find.

>tea cup//

Teacup. You have this more than once.

>Grasping the blankets in her light colored magic, she slipped under. She sat up moments later, realizing she hadn’t brushed her teeth after that cup of tea.//

Okay, now a word about participial phrases. They're something authors of intermediate experience tend to lean on because they're descriptive and a more advanced sentence structure, but they're also unusual in everyday use, so they stand out easily when overused. Actually, I should have grabbed the entire paragraph, since that's what I'm commenting on. You have 6 sentences, and 5 of them have a participial phrase. It gets in a rut. You don't even vary the location in the sentence. They're all simple sentences, just an independent clause with the participle attached, which limits the places you can put a participle. Still, there are ways to wedge them in other places, but you always either begin or end the sentence with it.

>she slipped under//

>She had just slipped her house shoes on//
These are only 2 sentences apart.

>her sisters mane//

Missing apostrophe.

>old times sake//

old times' sake

>W-What//

Onl capitalize the first part of a stutter unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway.

>troubling you. “Your stomach trouble//

More repetition.

>like the mares dress had been//

Missing apostrophe.

>and their adjustments were easy//

The first two were okay, but to have a third instance of this word in just the first two paragraphs of the chapter? That's a bit much. Surely you can find a synonym.

>but Rarity had done her best to adjust his vest//

And another use of a related word. That's now 4 in 2 paragraphs. Minor point, but also note that the unintentional rhyme tends to create a playful mood.

>much too small//

As you've used it, hyphenate this.

>but it was too small//

You already said so in the previous paragraph.

>You made exactly what we asked you too.//

While that is a possibly valid sentence, I can't help thinking you meant "to" instead of "too."

>so…muscly//

Leave a space after an ellipsis, unless it starts the sentence. Check through the story for these.

>as a flash of magenta appeared between the two, a scroll falling to the ground as their eyes focused.//

It can be very clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence, not only because of the repetition, but because they have the same synchronization issues participles do.

>Hmm, not even Dear Rarity?//

Wouldn't she put the quoted part in quotes? It'd use single quotes, since it's already inside another quotation.

>I know you’re on an important business trip to Appleloosa but you have to come back to Ponyville.//

Needs a comma.

I know you're doing it for dramatic tension, but I can't think of a realistic reason why Twilight wouldn't tell Rarity what's wrong with Sweetie Belle. If she could, surely she would. She's presented no justification for withholding it, or that Sweetie Belle asked her not to say, or that the doctor refused to tell anyone who wasn't family. There's a trick in making the suspended tension jive with an authentic reason for it.

>a concerned look//

Let me see it.

>“What about close to Ponyville?//

Missing your closing quotation marks.

>She was no better than their parents, running off and leaving the poor filly.//

Okay, this is opening up a can of worms. Your narration has been decidedly omniscient until now. Here, you're not stating something factual. You're having the narrator express Rarity's opinions and impressions on her behalf. That kind of thing really should be consistent throughout the story, but it also calls into question whether you need to have so much of Rarity's internal thoughts italicized as dialogue. That works for an omniscient narrator, but not really for a limited one. Given that this is the exception, it's probably better to tone this back into an omniscient feel, but I'll see how you handle the rest of the story.

>should have ran//

should have run

>‘bout//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they think you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row and delete the first. Scan the story for these, too.

>six pointed//

Hyphenate.

>Rarity was on the back of the chariot and the guards took off//

Needs a comma.

>She sat, the adrenaline from her earlier panic starting to wear off.//

Make this a more concrete image. How does this leave her feeling?

>It-It’s//

Capitalization.

>light headed//

lightheaded

>double time//

Hyphenate.

>The unnatural whiteness of everything, the artificial smell of the air, the long hallways with strange medical instruments.//

Sentence fragments also create the feel of a limited narrator, since they're informal.

>She made it to the front desk and the welcome stallion looked up at her.//

Needs a comma.

>throwing one last thank you//

>With a quick “thank you,”//
Be consistent in how you format these.

>With a quick “thank you,” she took off at a quick trot.//

And I'll revisit that one. Close repetition of "quick."

>A small basket of apples sat on the table next to Sweetie Belle’s bed. Balloons were tied to the railings. Flowers and books were placed on the window seal.//

Compare the first sentence to the other two. It has an active structure, while the other two use passive voice. See how much more interesting the first is to read? And it's "windowsill."

>the sleeping girls mane//

I don't know why you keep missing these apostrophes in possessives. You do know how to use them, right?

>she had ate//

she had eaten

I'll jump in here to say you are actually doing a nice job of characterization, and there have been multiple instances where I started typing out what I thought to be a plot hole, only to find you'd already thought of it. Like why Twilight wouldn't know the train schedule and just arrange for Rarity's transportation, or why Twilight would even suggest Rarity leave the hospital to get some sleep when Twilight herself has been sleeping perfectly well by the bedside. So kudos to you on that.

>Her blue eyes//

This'll depend on whether you want a limited narrator or not. If it's limited, you're effectively having Rarity note her own eye color, which is weird.

>her sisters green//

Yeah, why do you keep missing the apostrophes on these possessives? You get it right with names. It's kind of baffling.

>the girl’s terrified expression//

Let me see it too. It's far more powerful for the reader to witness it than to have to accept the narrator's assurances that she's terrified.

>fearing the answer//

Show this through her behavior. It'll carry much more weight.

>“I…” She trailed off//

The ellipsis already means she trailed off. You don't need to repeat it in the narration. It's not the only time you do this.

>I haven’t ate anything//

eaten

>her sisters eyes//

Missing apostrophe.

>Bulimia//

That doesn't need to be capitalized.

>to see at therapist//

Typo.

>Why did you…” she swallowed//

That's not a speaking action.

>Maybe mom and dad would notice//

When you use them in place of names, family relations get capitalized. So "there's Mom," but "there's my mom."

>their souls calling//

Missing apostrophe. I know I said I wouldn't keep marking the same things, but I have my doubts as to whether you'd find all these.

>Sweetie threw herself onto Rarity, burying her face in Rarity’s neck. Sobs shook her as Rarity held tightly to her, stroking her back.//

Okay, this is really over the top. If you get really maudlin, you make the story more ridiculous and less relatable. Real people try to control themselves more, and if you do too much, it feels inauthentic. Less is often more.

>as they sat on the kitchen floor//

Wait, they're home now? You should establish that right at the beginning of the scene. Redheart had mentioned the possibility of releasing her, but not when. Until now, I took this as still being in the hospital.

>Rarity added as much affection as she could to her words as she softly spoke.//

This is a bit awkwardly phrased, but it feels rather stiff for the kind of sentiment it's trying to express.

>“I’m terribl—“//

Note how dashes can break smart quotes. It's turned these backward. And a bunch more of them, I see, in other chapters as well.

>Oh, mother, father.//

Capitalize.

>at her convince//

I'm pretty sure you meant "convenience."

>Pinkie’s ‘Let’s Eat’ party//

This is really cute. Sounds like she's at least beginning to acknowledge her problem, but it makes me wonder when you'll say how therapy is going, or if she's even been yet.

>one month mark//

one-month mark

>Rarity and Sweetie Belle were in the kitchen preparing lunch when another knock came to the door.//

They were just in Rarity's room. This really needs a scene break.

>Would you like to come in, Sweetie Belle and I were just making lunch.//

Comma splice, and that first part needs a question mark.

>Well, I believe your therapist said to figure out your emotional state, correct? Are you upset about anything?//

So you're addressing the therapy now. I don't have a sense of how long this has been. As far as I can tell, it's the next day after Rarity scolded her parents, so 5 days after Sweetie Belle went to the hospital. It's a little quick to have been to the therapist. to say nothing of multiple visits. Yet while Sweetie Belle was initially resistant to the idea of therapy, which is fine, she's showing a very dramatic change in attitude already, and that's not quite as believable.

>she?//

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

Okay, so we have shipping out of nowhere here. I really hope it doesn't end up being extraneous to the story.

>While Sweetie was getting a shower, Rarity was cleaning up.//

Another couple of "to be" verbs that'd be easy to avoid. It's rarely necessary to use present participle tense.

>she was doing, but she was doing//

Repetition.

>‘clean’, as she put it.//

Odd for Rarity to attribute the terminology to Sweetie Belle, since Rarity used it herself earlier in the same paragraph.

>The bathroom door, by Sweetie Belle’s own decision, was to be open anytime she was in there alone.//

You already talked about this and moved on to something else, so it's strange to com back to it and say mostly the same thing.

>she heard Sweetie step out of the tub//

You already had a "she heard" phrasing in the previous paragraph. Why's it necessary to keep pointing out she heard stuff anyway? Just say it happened.

>Rarity sighed at the water droplets on the floor, finding the mop and drying them up before she finished cleaning and went to prepare herself for bed.//

That's an awful lot happening. But you say she's going up to get ready for bed, then in the next paragraph... that's not what she does.

>sisters hard-won one month//

sister's hard-won one-month

>trying to sooth her//

soothe

Nice to see this relapse. It helps combat the feeling that Sweetie Belle's recovery was too sudden and perfect. I still think her attitude changed awfully quickly, but this tempers the progression of events.

>What if Sweetie started again, but got better at hiding it? What if Rarity herself was a weak link that would drag Sweetie down again?//

Another spot where the narration takes on more of a limited feel, whereas most of the story is told as omniscient.

>Hydroflame//

Who's this? You haven't mentioned any such character before, so I have no context as to what significance this has. You're falling back on the "to be" verbs again, too. There are 7 in this paragraph.

>Oh, father, please//

Capitalization.

>“Yep. “//

Extraneous space, and it's made your quotation marks backward.

>The relaxed atmosphere the gentle teasing had created vanished almost instantly.//

Get at this through how the characters behave, not by telling me directly.

>She looked at her parents.//

Pretty repetitive with her looking at Sweetie Belle in the previous paragraph.

>The same two ponies who had cared for her and loved her as she was growing. The same two faces that always lit up with pride when she talked of nearly anything she had accomplished. The same two faces that she loved and wanted to please.//

This also has more of the feel of a limited narrator.

>was-I//

Use a proper dash. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread. For that matter, you should probably read the bit on "show versus tell" too.

>“We—“ Cookie started, but Rarity cut her off.//

Broken smart quotes. And like an ellipsis with trailing off, a dash already indicates an interruption. You don't need to have the narration repeat the effect.

>her parents eyes//

Missing apostrophe.

>Cookie looked between Rarity and Sweetie Belle.//

You're using "look" a lot again in this chapter. There are 18.

>I’m trying to work through that.//

Repetitive phrasing with what Cookie just said.

>the hurt her words caused apparent in their eyes//

Let me see it, too.

>site seeing//

sightseeing

>Sweetie munched on a cookie.//

Why's she so calm and unaffected?

>I’m going to go out, okay?//

She's key to this, and she wanted it to happen? Why's she bailing out? Why does Rarity let her?

>sipping on their drinks and watching the exchange with unhidden interest//

Set off this compound participle with a comma.

>still smiling. “I’m still//

Repetition.

>Thundy is helping Pound with his flying and the Cakes are still looking for a unicorn who can help Pumpkin with her magic.//

Needs a comma.

>guilt tripping//

Hyphenate.

>Applejack and Pinkie were tending to the buffet table. Rainbow Dash was inside giving tours, while Fluttershy was in the back doing the same.//

Lots of "to be" verbs again that would be easy to rephrase as active.

>Little Wing//

Another name you toss in there like I'm supposed to know who it is.

>crowd again. Her parents were mingling with the other ponies in the crowd//

Repetitive. And these are already the third and fourth times you use some form of "crowd" in the chapter. Then you have a fifth and sixth in the next paragraph.

>their daughters business//

Missing apostrophe.

>business mares//

Wouldn't that be one word like "businesswomen"?

>Sweetie began pushing her sister in the direction//

Odd phrasing. In the direction of what?

>her sisters grasp//

Another missing apostrophe.

>What has gotten in to you//

into

>Still not trusting her sister//

This is borderline, but it's still kind of explaining a character motive where it would be more engaging to imply it through her behavior.

>Sweetie’s ears perked up and she looked past Rarity as Apple Bloom and Scootaloo led a pony over to them.//

Needs a comma.

>in confusion//

>Twilight looked even more confused.//
Make her act confused. Don't tell me she is.

>Rarity was finding this conversation much easier than she had anticipated it being. Of course her stomach was fluttering a little, but the words were easy to say.//

A bunch of "to be" verbs again. 4 in only 2 sentences.

>The wing she was raising to shield her eyes and she looked through the crowd was only partially extended and a hoof hung inches from the ground.//

I think you typed a wrong word in there, and it's missing at least one comma.

>“Me either,” Rarity said as she giggled.//

I guess she's making a joke? Because she's liked mares at least as far back as she told Sweetie Belle who her crush was.

>And let’s not dress up, this time.//

This implies there was another time. When was that? Or are they dressed up right now? You haven't described their outfits, if that's the case.

>a blush coloring her cheeks//

She was already blushing.

>I’ve been rambling about you for ages to her.//

I just want to flag this for now, as it's something I'll discuss at the end.

>pressing a kiss to her cheek//

They've only just agreed to a date, and Twilight's already going to kiss her?

>It was the first date Sweetie Belle.//

Missing a comma for direct address.

>she bit her lip again, looking down at the carpet.//

There's no speaking action here, so it needs to be capitalized.

>I’m so proud of you, little sister.//

Capitalize the family relation when used as a term of address.

>Rarity snuggled next to Sweetie//

Sweetie Belle just did this 2 paragraphs ago.

>Maybe the struggled would continue//

Typo.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2565

>>2564
I swear I read a story with almost this exact premise. It took me a while to find it, but I finally did.

Anyway, on the more mundane side, you have a curious set of mechanical problems, like consistently missing apostrophes. A few stylistic things, too, like instances of repetition, clumps of participles and "to be" verbs, and having the narrator tell me how characters feel instead of putting it on display. You also need to decide whether you want an omniscient or limited narrator. In large part, it sounds omniscient, but it slips into a limited feel in a small number of places, so it's probably easier to purge those than to recast the whole thing as limited.

Plotwise, there were two things that bugged me. First, Sweetie Belle's seemingly instantaneous change of attitude, which I've already remarked on. The other is this Rarity/Twilight shipping. It's completely extraneous to the story. It feels wedged in and completely unnecessary. It's just forced, and it doesn't even come up until late in the story. Then you play it so coy about revealing whom she loves, when it doesn't even end up being important, which is a common trope in romances. I get that maybe Sweetie Belle is facilitating that as a thank-you to Rarity, plus there's a weak tie to whether there's space available in Rarity's bed at the end, but you never make a point out of either one of those. So it just ends up feeling like a tangential, tacked-on thing that doesn't go anywhere. Let me get back to that line I tagged earlier where Twilight revealed she'd liked Rarity for some time. This is very, very cliched. So many of the shipping stories out there are of the "pony A reveals a long-standing crush on pony B, who instantly and conveniently reciprocates, revealing she'd also harbored a secret crush" variety. So it's both cookie-cutter and unimportant, which are very hard things to recover from. At the very least, you could make this come across more realistically, but I'd encourage you to find a way to tie it in with what themes you want the story to carry. There are lots of ways you could. Maybe Sweetie Belle's prior realization of the crush made her see that Rarity might not always have the same amount of time available for her sister, and the depression from that was a factor in causing her bulimia, then acting as a matchmaker shows she's gotten over that? Maybe Rarity notices this, and it makes her feel conflicted about dating? Maybe Sweetie Belle is trying to live vicariously through Rarity, since she feels like her own life is a wreck? Do something. Make it matter that this happened in the story, or you're better off without it.

Actually, I thought of another. You make such a big deal about the confrontation with her parents, but it's so anticlimactic. Rarity tells them off and kicks them out, but the next time we see them, they just dance around the subject without resolving anything, and Sweetie Belle doesn't stick around for it. And at their next appearance, they're at the party, and everything's hunky-dory. There's a lot of important stuff that apparently happened behind the scenes, but it just feels strangely dropped.

The thing is, this is very close to working, but all these little issues add up. I'd like to see this succeed, so if you have any questions, please ask. A lot of it is fine, so I'd only want to spot-check it when it came back, though I would read through the material for the parents and shipping plot points in full again. As such, you can mark it as "back from Mars" when you're ready to resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2569

I was really hoping you'd take the initiative to scour the story on your own, as I only listed examples, not an exhaustive record. I can't spend the kind of time it'd take to go through a story of this length word by word, so if you can tame this issue enough so that a cursory glance doesn't turn much up, that's fine. The point is to look for places where you directly use mood or emotion words, like sadness, excitement, frustration, relief, anger.

Here are a few more I see just by skimming chapter 1:
look of worry and compassion
voice sharpening with anger
Nebula's voice held a cold touch of anger. (these two occur quite close together, too)
her lips curled in distaste

Basically, whenever you outright name a mood or emotion, you should be thinking about how you can have the character display it instead of stating it for the reader. Sometimes that just means eliminating the word, as the sentence already conveys such. Sometimes it means adding in some sort of facial expression, body language, etc. And again, these are just a few quick examples I spotted, not anything close to a complete list of them in chapter 1.

>She—" he glanced beyond her shoulder, to where they had left Nightmare Moon, "—collapsed//

Don't end a narrative aside in a quote with a comma. You don't need end punctuation, unless you want an exclamation mark or question mark.

Another thing I'd mentioned once before that's worth having a look for yourself is when you start a bunch of paragraphs in a short space with the same thing. So look near the end of chapter 4, for example, and see all those short paragraphs that alternate beginning with Nightmare or Nebula.

>Most ponies were insensible to nighttime color//

I think you meant "insensitive."

Okay, last time I did a full read, you only had 4 chapters, so forging ahead into new territory!

>Sometimes they can make their way into the dream realms, and stalk a pony's sleep//

>He shuddered, and silently cursed himself.//
It's worth scanning for these as well. Usually, you only need a comma with a conjunction when there's a whole new subject-verb pair, not just multiple verbs for a single subject:
He did this and did that.
He did this, and he did that.

>He heard alarm in her tone, and a desperate wish to dissuade Nightmare.//

Yeah, you're really blunt about some character motivations as well. Try to think more of a cause-effect relationship, like the high pitch of her tone she always got when losing an argument. That's the evidence, and the reader can then deduce Nebula's getting desperate.

>and the ground had a scraggly carpet of ferns//

Extraneous space.

>But Sky could sense even to her that answer seemed facile.//

That's a fairly convoluted wording. I had to read it a couple times to parse it.

>“It's not like I'm truly competent to deal with,” he gestured around him, “this.”//

You used narrative aside format correctly earlier in the story. For quick reference, I have one pulled out as an excerpt above. Do this one the same way.

>astonishment splaying across his face//

>a pained expression on his face//
>a sad look//
>an irritated shake of his head//
>heart pounding in dread//
>in outraged surprise//
>in wry amusement//
>a sad look//
I'm not close to being exhaustive, but I'll pick out a few spots where you blatantly tell the reader how a character feels. It does seem like you're doing somewhat better at it than in the first couple chapters, though.

>flightpath//

That's two words. Ctrl-f for it as there are more than one instance.

>His voice quavered as he gasped out “What...?”//

Missing punctuation.

>confounding her pursuit//

More confounding her pursuers. If it was confounding her pursuit, that would mean Nebula was having trouble following someone.

>making a heavy gamble that he would make//

Watch that close repetition.

>neither could properly close with the other//

>Neither could properly close with the other.//
These are in consecutive paragraphs.

>ever twisting//

Hyphenate.

>Sky grit his teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>the most important contribution//

Extraneous space.

>lay shattered in the middle of the clearing. Splintered chunks of wood lay//

Repetition.

>about the Nebula's injury//

Extraneous word.

>Soarin was trying to reason with him.//

>darted and struck//
Extraneous space.

>Soarin said “I//

Missing comma.

You really like to use semicolons before conjunctions, and I haven't seen a case yet where a simple comma wouldn't do the job. You want the story to be memorable for what happens, not because of your writing tics. It's one thing to do so in narration, but it's exceedingly strange to do so in dialogue, because it suggests all these characters identically know how to use semicolons, but would identically choose to speak in a way that makes them evident.

>and caught Nebula murmuring “Sorry//

Missing punctuation.

>reared up in panic and tried to throw her off, but Nebula's grip was solid. For a moment they struggled, rearing up//

Repetition.

>to skim past the vesperquine//

Keep in mind Sky is your limited narrator. Is he really gong to refer to himself with something so external as "the versperquine"?

>With renewed vigor he punched at Soarin's back, this time with discipline.//

Kind of repetitive phrasing.

>back to the attack, coming up behind Soarin just as the pegasus was pulling back//

Repetition.

>it's weathered shape//

Its/it's confusion.

>at his chest//

Extraneous space.

>back and began the flight back //

Repetition.

>so that by the time he returned//

Comma after this to set off the dependent clause.

>she said “You//

Missing punctuation.

>She interrupted him, her voice filled with a quiet intensity.//

A couple things here. First, you have his dialogue end in an ellipsis, whereas a dash would indicate an interruption. Second, like I've said, when the punctuation already indicates an interruption, you don't need the narration repeating the effect. And third, it defeats the sense of interruption to have the narrator able to wedge this comment in there. When something get interrupted, the very next thing should be what interrupts it, not an explanation.

>though she knows it not//

Why's she getting all poetic? She doesn't exactly have the time for it, but more to the point, she hasn't spoken this way before. Why's she going to start now?

>A breeze skirled its way across the grasses//

You'll be lucky to get a single reader who knows what "skirl" means, and there's zero context to deduce a meaning, since none of it deals with sound. Most people will assume it's a synonym for "swirl."

>while we lay helpless//

Lay/lie confusion. They can be tough to keep straight.

>yet to Sky she seemed to carry a subtle exhaustion in her every step. And yet,//

Repetition. And there's no reason to have that comma.

>harrumph//

You don't need to italicize that.

>they might rather a clean death//

That phrasing is off.

>saw it's ruinous state//

Its/it's confusion.

Nebula's speech is sounding awfully grandiose for her again. She uses typical coarse drill sergeant language, and now we get "she settled upon a crumbling stele"? That just doesn't fit your characterization of her.

>he glanced back at Nebula with a forlorn look//

Another spot where you directly identify an emotion, but I'm singling it out because you have him describing his own facial expression. How can he see it? And even if he could, why is that what's revealing the emotion behind it? Do you have to look in a mirror to know you're happy?

>posed a challenge the righteousness of her fury//

Missing word.

>But he did not question her, or push at her as Nebula had done. He flew off her right wing, and left her to her own considerations.//

Just another couple of examples. I haven't been marking these, but neither comma here is needed.

>And yet, her stars were beautiful. And yet, she had spared a moment of concern for Nebula.//

More unneeded commas and repetitive phrasing.

>he added “I was admiring//

Missing punctuation.

>“A few...” he trailed off//

Redundant.

>Pinky Pie//

Spelling.

>at least that one crime would not accrue to his princess//

That's a really weird phrasing.

>Wha—,//

Don't put a comma with a dash.

>River dragons//

Doesn't he call himself a sea serpent?

>He had nothing to cut with//

What about his wing claws?

>Sky wasn't sure what a Discord was//

There's a statue of him right next to where Sky works. He's not aware of the history?

>so understand her so//

Redundant use of "so." You only need one of these.

>added “It//

Missing punctuation.

>but before he could act//

Needs a comma after this for the dependent clause.

>ancient door shut. Some ancient//

Repetition.

>They have ossified Sky Diamond//

Without a comma for direct address, she's saying the elements turned Sky to stone.

>a grand spiral stair//

You're using "grand" a lot lately.

>in—“//

Dashes can break smart quotes. It's got these ones backward. It's worth scanning for any quotes you have ending in dashes to make sure there aren't any more.

>She rounded on him furiously.//

She just did that not long ago.

>And also, because Princess Celestia floated by his side.//

No need for that comma.

>with a sad expression in her eyes//

More blatant telling.

>Yet she was small; but a youth, and nothing like the stately creature depicted throughout centuries of vesperqune art.//

Misused semicolon.

>"It is still too soon to give up, my little pony.//

You use fancy-style quotation marks throughout the story, but for some reason, you have simple ones here. Check your quotation marks and apostrophes to make sure you're consistent.

>back until his back//

Repetition.

>of his wings//

>she believed//
Extraneous space.

>And yet, he had spoken truth nonetheless.//

No grammatical reason to have a comma there.

>“Will you accept my friendship,” Celestia asked//

Then why isn't there a question mark?

>A storm of emotions passed over her face.//

Don't I get to see any of them?

>He wanted to rush down, to stand with her, but this choice she could only make on her own.//

You, know, you're saying a lot of the same stuff over and over again in this scene. Furthermore, you're not really framing it as a struggle. It's tough to do, because the struggle is Luna's, not Sky's, so his viewpoint is external to that. In some places you do have him struggle alongside her, but a lot of the time, you're merely having him voice "what's she going to do?" over and over again, stretched out to a couple thousand words. It's creating false suspense, since Sky isn't at an epiphany here. I'd say either get more into his personal investment of what he's watching or focus on the outward signs that Luna's really struggling, so at least the reader can see that inner conflict vicariously through Sky's observation of it. It's a tad on the clinical side now, but not to the point I'd refuse to post it unless you changed it. I just think it's not achieving the power it could.

So I'd never read these last three chapters on your previous submissions. They hadn't been posted yet the first time, and I think maybe one of them had been added by the second. So it's not surprising I'd find more stuff in there to correct. That's fine.

What still does need attention is those blunt depictions of emotion. You actually do fine through much of the middle of the story, but I suspect that's serendipitous, as it shows up again in a couple of the newer chapters, so it doesn't appear to be the case of something you learned as you wrote. Chapter 1 is critical to get right, since that's the one where people decide whether they're going to stick with it or not. Sure there are other reasons you can lose readers as the story progresses, but you can tell the stories that just don't get chapter 1 right, as there's a big drop-off in readers over the next one or two chapters, or more so than normal. I don't want to see that happen here.

So as I said before, read through and notice any time you use a word that outright names a mood or emotion, then think about how you can imply it instead. Here's a quick example.

He walked happily as he entered the room, wearing a self-satisfied smile and gleefully humming a tune.

That's bad. I've named three moods: happily, self-satisfied, and gleefully. How does someone walk happily? There's not a set image that comes to mind. I can make one up, but them I'm doing the author's job. Try this version:

He practically skipped into the room, a bright, sunny tune perched on his lips. "Now, that's my kind of day!" he said through his enormous smile.

A lot of people think showing means throwing more words into a description, and while it can tend to be wordier than telling, it doesn't have to be. Look at my descriptions. Not once did I say how he feels, but it's painted so clearly, and through things an observer could easily detect: how he acts, what he says, his body language and facial expression. There's no question what this looks like, and you can read his feelings from it without my ever having to say what they were.

That's all you're missing, and while the whole story could use a sweep for it, the first couple chapters are the worst at it. If you can get it to where a quick skim of chapters 1 and 2 doesn't immediately turn up a dozen examples of this, I'd be happy to post it. I think you'll find it's a much more engaging way to read and write characters. As such, I won't need a full reread, so you're almost there. Mark it as "back from Mars" when you resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2575

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

>Lyra Heartstrings'//

This is a common problem when authors use multiple places to edit stories. You have a simple-style apostrophe here, where in general you use fancy-style apostrophes and quotation marks. Keep them consistent.

>the lime-green mare//

A little of this kind of reference goes a long way. It's generally not a good idea to use them very much. Here, you've already said "mint-green" in the previous scene, so not only is it contradictory, it's just repeating information we already know: that she's green.

>Did you sleep okay?” The cream-coated candy maker replied with a smile.//

When a speech tag doesn't begin the sentence, it doesn't get capitalized.

>out of you tail//

Typo.

>Pegasi worked the sky, pulling clouds out of storage and carefully placing them to accent the clear, blue sky.//

Try to avoid close repetition of all but the most mundane words, like the two instances of "sky" here.

>A flash of stripes on blue coat//

Missing word.

>Glancing over at the mare, Ditzy Doo’s smile turned into a look of surprise//

A couple problems here. First, you have a dangling participle. "Glancing over at the mare" is supposed to describe Ditzy, but this says Ditzy's smile glanced over. Now look at the context of emotion. The smile is indirect, but the reader can intuit friendliness from it. However, you directly feed me the surprise. I know what a smile looks like, but there are many ways someone can look surprised. You're making me invent it, but I don't actually need to, since you've already given me the conclusion. Making me interpret cues from the character is how you get me to engage with them. Think more in terms of what evidence I could observe if I were there. Don't draw the conclusions for me. Same as an actor on stage. He doesn't tell you how he feels. He looks and acts certain ways to convey his character's emotion to you.

>fell- directly//

Please use a proper dash. This is a recurring issue.

>Lyra’s heart began thudding in her chest, eyes growing wide, pupils shrinking.//

This paragraph definitely cements that you're using a limited narrator, as you have the narration speak Lyra's internal opinions and impressions for her. So you have to be careful that what you say is reasonable in that respect. She can't see her pupils shrinking, so how does she know it's happening? Then you go on in the next sentence to say she doesn't know any of this. If she doesn't, then a limited narrator in her perspective can't, either.

>the screaming mare//

Now that I know you're using a limited narrator, it's even more unreasonable for the narration to use descriptors like this, particularly about Lyra herself. This implies that in her own mind, Lyra would refer to herself as "the screaming mare" or "the mint-green unicorn" or any other of these you use. Or for that matter, it also implies she'd internally refer to Bon Bon as "the cream-coated mare," and people just don't do that with others they know well.

>She could see the gleaming crystal palace off in the distance; its usually distracting size and shine now a beacon of hope.//

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

>Breath//

That's the noun. You were going for the verb.

>with confusion and concern//

More directly naming emotions.

>Lyra was jolted back to reality as she fell onto the floor of a back room of Sugarcube Corner. The unicorn looked back at her captor.//

More repetition. Three instances of "back" in two sentences.

>W-Well//

Only capitalize the first one, unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway.

>8 years ago//

It's preferred to spell out relatively short numbers.

>Her ‘mane’, was made not of hairs//

Why is that comma there?

>thestralwings//

Missing space.

>cutiemark//

That's two words.

>hippocampus//

*groan* Is this where they go to college?

>But other than that, life had been rather mundane, even by non-Ponyville standards.//

Here's another thing worth sweeping your story for. The next three paragraphs have an awful lot of "to be" verbs: been, was, be, been, was, be, was. These are inherently boring verbs, as nothing happens. They can make a story stagnate. It's impractical to remove them from a story completely, but it makes your story more engaging to phrase things with active verbs as much as possible.

>A nervous-looking Pinkie pie//

Don't tell me she's nervous. Paint a picture of her as nervous. Capitalization error, too. But man. I've already explained it, but read the section on LUS at the top of this thread. I'm only a few paragraphs into the scene, and we already have the unicorn, the eldritch pony, the unicorn (again), the eldritch pony (again), and the green mare.

Pinkie's speech here sure doesn't sound much like Pinkie.

>And so, it falls on us to keep Equestria safe.//

It's rare for a comma after a conjunction to be used correctly. This one isn't. They're not for dramatic pauses.

>Lyra was shocked.//

So make her act shocked. Make the narration sound shocked.

>Octavia’s…nose?//

Leave a space after an ellipsis.

>Octavia is-“//

I've already said to use dashes for interruptions, not hyphens, but also note here how both can break smart quotes. These are backward.

>heavy-hitters//

You don't need to hyphenate that.

>“Indeed. How have you been?//

Missing closing quotation marks.

>whyHowling//

Missing space, and when already in italics, show emphasis by going back to normal font. Underlining is more for written items, like a letter or diary entry. You do this again later at the end of chapter 7.

>Octavia interrupted//

An interruption is already apparent from your use of a dash. You don't need to repeat the effect in the narration. The same would go for saying someone trailed off when you'd already used an ellipsis.

>“That’s good to hear,” Lyra started, “But I was more concerned for you.”//

Your use of commas on both sides of the tag indicates you intend the quote to be a single sentence, but if so, you've capitalized in the middle of it.

>12//

Write out short numbers.

>Atrophy did the rest//

I'm not sure that's the best word choice. It connotes wasting away of specifically muscle tissue from lack of use of disease. And it generally occurs over long periods of time. Neither would seem to apply here. And neither would repel scavengers.

>Poisonous bites//

Bites aren't poisonous. They're venomous.

>“RKKKK-SHAAA!” It cried//

Capitalization.

>You invade MY territory,” Her legs grew thicker as her mane shrank.//

You've punctuated that like it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking action. And you do it again in the next paragraph.

>still recovering//

Hyphenate.

>But what does-” the green mare’s eyes widened.//

Capitalization. And please use a dash.

>I don’t think either Vinyl or myself would feel comfortable//

Don't use reflexive pronouns in the nominative case. "Vinyl or I would feel comfortable"

>Dj’s//

DJ’s. Scan through the chapter for this.

>By the way, your mental defenses are paper thin, you’ll want to work on that.//

Comma splice.

>Haysead//

Did you mean hayseed?

>40//

Spell it out.

>This earned a snort from the usually refined mare.//

Why did you italicize "snort"? It's not a good idea to have sound effects in narration, but as it's a valid word anyway, it's fine without the italics. I don't see what the emphasis adds.

>as it was located to the right of the front door, it was decorated in tasteful browns and greens, with a distinctly traditional musical theme.//

I'm not looking for screencaps to verify, but my impression is you have that backwards. I think Vinyl's half was on the right. Left side of the screen, but on someone's right who had come in the front door.

>‘Tavi//

You don't need the apostrophe for a nickname.

>Thank you Vinyl.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>190//

>200//
Those are also short enough to write out.

>She was a noble’s daughter, he’d been locking her in the basement of his mansion every full moon.//

Comma splice.

>a look of worried frustration//

Wow, you even wedged two direct emotions into that one. Make her act worried and frustrated, and you'll never have to use the words.

>dinner!” as she ranted//

That's not a speech tag.

>nine hours?//

When you have an exclamation mark or question mark on a word italicized for emphasis, inlcude it in the italics.

>look of genuine worry//

Whenever you use a word that's a literal emotion or mood, you need to think about how you can get the character to demonstrate it instead.

>Bon Bon said nothing, just pulled her in tighter.//

Wait, Octavia and Vinyl pretty much indicated that Bon Bon already knew about this organization and had retired from it. And that if they'd invited her to dinner, it would cause problems. So how doesn't it cause the same problems for Bon Bon to know that's where Lyra spent her evening? Or is Bon Bon part of a different organization that wouldn't look kindly on this one? You could make that clearer. And Bon Bon already knows something about this Truth, too. How is she not putting two and two together?

>Lyra once again checked piece of pink stationary//

Missing word, and you've confused stationary/stationery.

>Good morning Dinky!//

Missing comma.

>recently-made//

You don't need hyphens in two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb.

>finish putting lunch together for the foals, and then we can get going.” Ditzy finished with the sandwiches, then carried a pair of plates over to the table and a pair/

Repetition of "finish" and "pair."

>this is Lyra Heartstrings, she’s an old friend of your cousin’s.//

Comma splice.

>Miss//

Only capitalize that when it's attached to a name.

>Hi mom//

However, family relations do get capitalized when used as names.

>the two ponies shared a quick hug.//

Capitalization.

>Hey Sparks//

You have lots of these greetings in this chapter that need commas for direct address. I don't know why, but the editing is noticeably worse in this chapter than the last.

>Now out, she began to carefully screw several of the components together.//

You mean the machinery is now out, right? Because the way you've phrased it, Ditzy is.

>two meter-wide//

Hyphenate all that.

>22 minutes and 17//

Write out the numbers.

>Plus, it helps to know what you’re talking about when dealing with time travelers.//

That comma shouldn't be there.

>Giving her head a quick shake//

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

>I’m sorry Lyra//

Missing comma.

>have,“ She looked over at her granddaughter for a moment, “two//

If you want the narrator to cut into a quote, here's how to do it:
have—” she looked over at her granddaughter for a moment “—two
Note that that first set of quotes is backward. Also notice how the aside doesn't get capitalized or take end punctuation (though you can use an exclamation mark or question mark where appropriate,

>hello!!//

One of those is plenty.

>Bye grandma!//

Missing comma.

>I got directly exposed to the time stream gained my futuresight ability//

Missing comma or conjunction or something.

>35//

Spell it out.

>her and Time Turner’s families//

she

>“But… But…!”//

That punctuation combo doesn't make sense. How do you trail off emphatically?

>an almost pained look//

How can she see her own face to evaluate it as such? She's your perspective character.

The beginning of chapter 11 has an awful lot of "to be" verbs again.

>100%//

Write it out.

>It took a few seconds for her to notice the lack of response.//

What's with all the line breaks before this? Is it supposed to denote a pause? I don't think you can rely on the reader figuring that out. It just comes across as a poor scene break.

>making or ponies making//

Repetition.

>Her statuesque stillness deeply unnerved Lyra.//

Then make the narration sound unnerved.

>Eyes rolled up into her head, her paler-than-normal coat shone with sweat.//

This makes it sound like her coat has its eyes rolled up.

>“Oh, thank Celestia.” The filly said, relief filling her voice.//

Punctuation, capitalization, blunt emotional telling.

>clearly exhausted//

If it's so clear, let me see it and judge for myself.

>That’s why everypony’s looking for her, the paper rips itself apart when it tries to take her over.//

Comma splice.

>made out of magic and souls!”//

This paragraph ends with Winter Bell's dialogue, and the next picks up immediately again with it, so it's customary to leave off the closing quotation marks here.

>‘Course//

You're not eliding any letters from the word, so you don't need an apostrophe.

These chatpers with Winter Bell are falling into the trap of not having much narration to break up the dialogue. Speech tags really do nothing to that end, so keep in mind these characters are supposed to act like real people who do things as they talk, plus you can work in scenery here and there. Leaning so heavily on dialogue tends to make it feel detached.

>*Whoosh!*//

Don't put sound effects in narration like that. Just describe what happens.

>pleased-with-herself looking//

Hyphenate all that.

>at Lyra’s dumbfounded look//

A very external evaluation of Lyra's expression she's unlikely to make of herself as the limited narrator.

>a sharp crack.//

Sound effects again. This one's a valid word as is, so just get rid of the italics. Same thing later in the same paragraph.

>was where she was//

Repetitive, but also two very boring verbs.

>apple shaped//

Hyphenate.

>Possessing a dark green coat, the unicorn’s off-white mane hung//

This says her mane possessed a dark green coat.

>“AND,” she smashed the book into Twilight’s face, “YOU//

Use the narrative aside formatting I showed you earlier.

>The intense pain flooded Lyra’s nervous system; she couldn’t move, couldn’t think properly. She just lay against the wall, stunned and vulnerable.//

Yet none of this limited narration makes her sound stunned or in pain.

>determination and restrained fury in her eyes//

Make a visual. Let me see it.

>There was a blinding flash of light as the concentrated magic ball exploded against the leather-bound book.//

Look at this paragraph. In the first three sentences, you have four "as" clauses. Not only is that repetitive in structure, having two in one sentence can upset the chronology, since it tries to make bunch of things happen at the same time.

>having recovered somewhat//

And now this is the third time in only a few sentences that you use a "having" absolute phrase.

>THEIF//

Spelling. And for all these caps she like to use, it's preferred to use italics for emphasis.

>barely-conscious//

You don't need a hyphen here.

>snap//

Leave off the italics. Both times you use it.

>I’ll carry you out, we don’t want to be here when Twilight and her friends wake up.//

Comma splice.

>So far, no conclusion had been reached, or at least none had been released to the public.//

I don't see the advantage of phrasing all that in passive voice.

>visits. Celestia and Luna had arrived first, followed not long after by Cadance and Shining Armor, to visit//

Repetition.

>stand-still//

standstill

Hm, lots of "to be" verbs in chapter 13, too.

>hotsauce//

That's two words. Again, later in the paragraph.

>That girl loves what doing what we do.//

Extraneous word.

>secret-“ she held up a hoof to stave off Lyra’s reply. “And//

There's that aside formatting again.

>recently-polished//

No hyphen.

>the ex-agent//

Another odd reference for Lyra to use.

>that Pinkie liked to conduct Owl business in//

Just change "that" to "where" and you can get rid of that nasty dangling preposition.

>wondering where Pinkie was going with this//

When you have a narrator this limited, there are certain verbs you really don't need to use. Some are perception verbs, like "see." It's implicit that Lyra can see whatever the narrator describes, so you don't have to add that she sees it. Then there are knowledge verbs, like wish, want, wonder, think, know, and hope. Just have the narrator wonder this for her. It puts me much more in touch with the character if the narrator asks the question representing this wonder instead of relaying to me that Lyra wondered this.

>On, nothing//

Typo.

>really; alignments don’t really//

>looking for a late-night snack happens to look//
Repetition.

>party.” Pinkie finished//

Punctuation.

>CRASH//

Lower case and no italics is fine.

>as it span//

spun

>The strange and alien sounds that danced at the edge of her consciousness disturbed her, but the mare paid them no mind.//

That's seemingly contradictory. She can hear them, but she doesn't pay attention, even though they disturb her, but the narration sounds completely calm.

>As Lyra carefully a corner//

Missing word.

>neither to thought, nor to words//

You don't need the comma, and I think it would be clearer if you made it a compound infinitive, i.e., "to neither thought nor words,"

>way it wormed into her consciousness, echoing within her mind in such a way//

Repetition.

>uad//

Was that supposed to be "Maud"? If so, you've got a couple letters swapped.

>Oh, no madam//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>Lyra thought to herself//

Authors like to use this phrase, but really, who else would she think to?

>Cant//

Missing apostrophe.

>Breath//

That's the noun. The verb is "breathe."

>Lyra was released from the death-grip.//

You're using a lot of passive voice in this chapter. I didn't pull any out until now, but it's getting to be too much. Here are the ones I passed over earlier:
>she was greeted by the white buildings//
>She was suddenly pulled into a bone-crushing hug//

>Although, it took a little while for us to figure out what he was saying//

No reason to have that comma. And the comma following this is a splice.

>‘cause//

Smart quotes always get leading apostrophes backward, since they assume you want a single opening quote. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row and delete the first.

>but once we did//

Needs a comma after this.

>He was shortly followed by a pony//

More passive voice.

>You should still be aware of what transpired, but not be able to remember details, does that sound about right?//

That last comma is a splice.

>Dissonance grew offended.//

Don't say this. Demonstrate it.

>forget.” He replied simply.//

Punctuation/capitalization

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2576

>>2575
This was a cute and clever story. It does need a little work, but a lot of that is cosmetic. I've marked enough examples of the mechanical stuff that you should have a good picture of what to fix. The main stylistic things are blunt emotional conveyance (there's a brief discussion of that at the top of this thread under "show versus tell"), Lavender Unicorn Syndrome (also covered at the top of this thread, and note that it's a particularly poor match for a limited narration), and talking heads at times (also at the top of this thread), as well as a fair amount of word repetition.

The only larger point I wanted to make was about there being no apparent direction to the story. It's episodic in nature, which is fine, but this far into the story, I still see no direction. There's no goal in sight of what Lyra or this organization wants to accomplish, and aside from an initial struggle to understand who the Owls are and what they want, there's no conflict beyond the obvious physical ones. But except for the generic "keep Equestria safe from these monsters," there's no objective to it all. Let me put it to you this way: the main thing that most stories should accomplish is to set up and resolve a conflict or show character growth. I don't see either one so far. There's no evidence that we won't just keep seeing more and more episodes tacked on without any sense that the story is actually going somewhere. And Lyra's character has been very static. She gains knowledge, but she's not changing in any substantial or fundamental ways.

I kept waiting for that to happen. Through the first few episodes, I was enjoying the story a lot, but the further I read, the more I wondered why there wasn't any direction to the story, and Lyra's not developing her character in any way. I don't have some new appreciation for her in chapter 16 that I didn't have in chapter 2. That's the thing that bothered me the most, not only because it leaves the overarching story feeling directionless, but it also involves more work to fix, and I'm hoping you're willing to do that work, since I like the story.

What's your endgame? I see from the extended synopsis in the submission form that you do have a plan. But after reading 17 chapters, it sure doesn't feel like there's one, and that's an awful lot to ask a reader to wade through without an indication that it's actually going somewhere. The more you can plant seeds early on that the Owls have specific plans for Lyra past some generic "keep Equestria safe," the more coherent the story feels, and the more momentum you give the story. Take your description that the supposedly dead mare figures in prominently. Those chapters have zero foreshadowing that I could pick up. It's one thing for you to mention the fact of this dead mare and have it turn out to be important, but it's quite enough to give that fact apparent weight when it's initially stated. Add some emphasis here and there, some details that there are plans going on behind the scenes, and it'll make for a far more coherent story with a reason for me to keep reading it. The thing is—that's probably not even very hard to do. So far, it comes across as true slice of life, something with little continuity and low stakes. Each episode does have its own stakes, but nothing compelling pushing into the next one and the next, and that's not the feeling you want from an adventure. To borrow from gaming, it's like I'm seeing a bunch of side quests without ever feeling like there's a main story arc. So give me some hints that there's a main quest going on behind it all, because that's what's really missing so far.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2594

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

>Equestria's far boarder//

Unless the nation is in the habit of renting out its spare room, you want "border." I'll also note that this conceit of having a character looking over the town from a high place is pretty cliched.

>other - it//

Please use proper dashes. Hyphens are for hyphenated terms and stutters.

>even among the last of the summer sun sets//

sunsets

>Yet, life had a funny way of twisting things//

There's rarely a reason to put a comma after a conjunction. It doesn't belong here.

>But, he couldn't think about it that way//

Yeah, you need to stop doing that. I'm not going to mark any more.

>That beautiful, stunning, magnificent mare he'd loved and admired ever since the day they'd met years ago.//

You have the narrator directly expressing his opinion here, so you're using a limited narrator. Essentially, Spike is the narrator, and that implies a lot. One problem I already see with is is your use of descriptors like "the adolescent dragon." This means that he's choosing to refer to himself in such a way, which is just strange. People don't think of themselves so externally.

>That wasn't to say he didn't like being her little Spikey-Wikey of course, it was a role he often preferred to being Twilight's number one assistant in fact.//

Comma splice.

>Another wave of selfish frustration//

Be careful of directly naming emotions like this. Consider the characters as your stage actors, putting on a play for the reader. Actors don't just come out and say how their characters feel. They make sure they look and behave in certain ways to get that emotion across to the audience. This is how people normally read each other in real life—by observation—so it feels much more authentic to do it like this. Make him look and act frustrated, and since you hae a limited narrator, have the narrative tone reflect it as well. Have the narrator make a frustrated-sounding comment.

>Whatever love is, I won't find it here anymore. He thought to himself emptily.//

There's a guide at the top of this thread to proper capitalization and punctuation when transitioning between quotation and speech tag.

>his frustration becoming confusion//

Read the section on "show versus tell" at the top of this thread, too. Whenever you use an emotion or mood word directly, you need to think how you can demonstrate it instead of just naming it.

>she... .//

Don't add a period after an ellipsis.

>some form of consort//

I assume you mean "concert."

>Spike couldn't help but noticed//

notice

>Neither did I Spike//

Missing comma for direct address.

>his embarrassed look//

Here's another problem with naming the emotion: To evaluate his expression as "embarrassed," on would have to be able to see it, since he's the limited narrator. How can he see his own face? You have to consider how he'd perceive his own mood.

>attempting to be reassuring//

Just as bad as spelling out character emotion is spelling out their motivations.

>the unicorns' words of kindness//

There's only one unicorn there, right?

Your perspective starts to wander. For a short stretch, you have the narration expressing Sweetie Belle's thoughts and impressions, but you quickly go back to Spike.

>He may never win the heart of the pony he loved, but in doing so he'd seemingly won the heart of another. A pony that was so much like her, and possibly more.//

This sure makes it sound like he's settling, which isn't an inspiring sentiment. For that matter, this is a very common way to have a shipping story play out, how Sweetie confesses she's had a crush on Spike, and he quickly realizes, hey, he's really had one as well. It's very convenient, to the point it's both cliched and not very realistic. The trick is to make this come across as something that could happen in real life. When you're treading on well-mined ground, you have to do something to stand out, and authenticity is the best way.

Yeah, so Spike, who's never really considered loving Sweetie Belle, suddenly is in love with her to the point he's agreeing to see the world with her. You're not really selling the relationship so much as hoping the reader will just take your word for it. What is it that makes these two work as a couple and belong together? I don't know what either one likes about the other, what they would give and take. Building the relationship is as important as developing a character. If you care to look it up, Aragon wrote a blog post some months ago about making realistic relationships. It'd be worth reading.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2611

>two-thousand//
In numbers, hyphens only go between the tens and ones places.

>eeked//

eked

>every step he took snapped or cracked as if he was determined to jump on every//

Watch the repetition.

>shifting a fallen branch out of his way with magic and stepping over it.//

You just got through saying he seemed to step on everything he came across, and the first time you get to an example of such, the opposite occurs. In fact, going back to that prior reference, it was an external evaluation of it, not something introspective. In short, it sounds like something someone else would have asid about him, yet by a couple paragraphs after this one, you're taking a very limited narration in his perspective. You start out more omniscient to set the scene, which is fine, but when you ease into a viewpoint, make sure everything you say is consistent with it, and the comment about him stepping on everything doesn't sound like something he'd say about himself, at least as it's stated. Keep their attitude in mind. If Sparky had made the comment, she'd probably be a little exasperated about it, while Starbound would be more self-deprecating, and the difference between the two is in the details of how it's said, like which words you emphasize.

>Very well, I concede. You lead. But please try to be more careful, agreed?//

All that rhyming creates a playful feel, but none of the characters acknowledge it as such, so I have to assume it wasn't intentional on your part.

>Not wanting to dig himself deeper//

This is a fairly advanced topic, but there are certain verbs governing knowledge and perception that aren't really needed for a limited narration like this one, since the narrator can simply express it on his own. Consider that Starbound effectively is the narrator, so for example, you wouldn't need to say he saw something. Just because the narrator describes it, it implies he saw it; if he didn't, the narrator couldn't have either. The perception verbs are pretty self-explanatory: see, hear, taste, smell, feel. The knowledge ones are things like know, want, wish, wonder, think, and hope. When you explain that he doesn't want this, the narrator's acting less like Starbound and more like an intermediary. To bring it back closer to his own thought process, have the narrator express the want for him, something like "Now to get himself out of the hole he'd dug."

>"It doesn't matter. Stars forbid I ever try to give you something interesting to do."//

Looks like you edited the story in a couple different places. By default, GDocs replaces quotes and apostrophes with the fancy style, which most of your story has, but these are simple, probably edited in a simple word processor or directly on FiMFiction. Make them all consistent. There's the occasional one of these that reverts to simple style as I look through the rest of the chapter.

>ears swivelling//

You'll normally set off an absolute phrase with a comma.

>still unconvinced//

Hyphenate.

>this far inland the soil was tainted by the Wretched Sea. No soldiers ventured this far//

Watch the phrase repetition.

>‘bout//

The automatic fancy-style apostrophes are always backward when you put them on the beginning of a word, since they assume you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row then delete the first.

>Starbound opened was about to apologise//

Something got jumbled there.

>hoof-steps//

"Footsteps" is a single word, so I don't know why this would be hyphenated.

>w—,”//

Don't use a comma or period with a dash.

>Sparky furiously shushed him again.//

You just used "furiously" a bit ago. And it's not a word that connotes stealth.

>With a silent series of pained expressions//

First off, let me see them. This is so vague as to have no meaning. Second, remember you're using Starbound's perspective. If he's slung underneath her, particularly when she's significantly smaller, how can he even see her face to notice this?

>in the hope that it would help him blend into the leaf litter//

Another one of those knowledge verbs that the narrator could better express for him instead of attributing it to him.

>He watched as the ponies approached from down the gully. When he saw them//

Why does he not see them until after he watches them approach? This doesn't make sense.

>worse comes to worse//

worse comes to worst

>Oblivious to her insult//

Remember, he's effectively the narrator. If he's oblivious to it, the narrator has to be, too.

>with a confused expression//

You just described Starbound as "shot a confused glare" a bit ago. He'd be a little more blunt about his own emotion, I guess, but have him relate more of the raw evidence he sees from Sparky instead of readily identifying it as confusion. Describe the expression. Stick to facts, not conclusions. Show me what it looks like.

>and its winter time//

Its/it's confusion.

>ground started shaking. A second later, the back wall retracted down into the ground//

Watch that repetition.

>“Please?” She pleaded.//

Redundant.

>She seemed genuinely scared.//

What's his evidence of this? Let me see that, not get his conclusion about it.

>But the soldiers being here, in the Belt//

A comma isn't required here, but if you want one, you need another after this.

>little known//

This sounds odd to me. Is it a British figure of speech or something? I assume it's equivalent to "not to mention."

>lamenting that Sparky hadn’t made a helmet to go with it//

So have the narration lament it for him. That gets the reader a lot closer to the character, which is the whole point of choosing a limited narration.

>Indignation bubbling inside him//

So have the narration get indignant. Whenever you use a word like this that directly spells out a mood or emotion, consider whether there's a better way to give evidence of it through character behavior or narrative tone, where appropriate.

>made him bit his tongue//

Typo.

>harms way//

Missing apostrophe.

>equal measures confused and curious//

More blunt emotion.

>lifesize//

life-size

>perfect hyperbolic spirals//

I don't know what you're going for here. Hyperbolas don't coil; they asymptote into straight lines.

>the air around statue//

Missing word.

>indicating it was protected by a forcefield//

This comes across as dully informative. It's worded like it's something I should know already. More to the point, it doesn't feel like a stream of his thoughts, more like something a narration completely detached from him might say.

>blended with the floor, and his blue fur and black hair blended//

Repetition.

>if he remained still//

Needs a comma after the dependent clause.

>Starbound mentally kicked himself//

This is a symptom of something that's flared up here and there. You tend to use fairly repetitive language for similar situations. Look at all the times Starbound has crept through the cave and peered around a corner. A lot of the same actions, word choices, and descriptions keep popping up. And this must be the third or fourth time you've had him o something like this, and I think the second time you've phrased it exactly like this.

>Of course: glowing magic aura—dead giveaway. Why had he even brought it out?//

But... he already knew that. You explicitly said that it took a glow to keep it ready, but that he felt it was a risk worth taking. So why is he suddenly unaware of it?

>He felt another pang of guilt, met by a small amount of pride for her//

Very blunt with the emotions again.

>I were//

Subject-verb mismatch.

>The stallion glared at her.//

Look at how you've begun the last three paragraphs.

>for more off//

Missing word. Or this is just an expression I'm unfamiliar with.

>“What?” He mouthed.//

Capitalization.

>Starbound made a pleading gesture.//

I don't know what that is. Just tell me what he does. I'm not even sure why he'd be pleading right now, anyway.

>Do you know how to get and audience with Orison?//

Typo.

>which helped him see the soldiers//

This is again quite dry and over-explained for a limited narration. Honestly, it's self-explanatory. I think you could just cut it.

>Maybe the soldiers wouldn’t see them.//

He seems to have made an assumption here. My first thought is that these soldiers, who've clearly been here before, had installed the security system. But then it seems more like it was installed there by whoever made the statue. There's a pretty big difference in context there between whether or not it'd be reasonable to hope he hadn't been seen.

>Forcing a grin, Starbound continued to creep backwards; Sparky doing the same behind him.//

That last part is just an absolute phrase, not an independent clause. Set it off with a comma instead of a semicolon.

>Another one flew by, exploding by Sparky’s head as she stood dumbfounded by the sudden reappearance of the wall.//

You've got three of these "as" clauses in a span of just four sentences. It gets a bit structurally repetitive.

>ract//

Typo.

>The tiniest stretch of his leg sent new waves of pain crashing through him.//

Didn't he earlier describe these things as equal to a wet blanket in effectiveness as a weapon? Or was he only talking about the kind he has? That could be made clearer.

>But before reaching him, a bolt hit her square in the chest.//

A classic dangling participle. "But before reaching him" is supposed to describe Sparky, but it describes the bolt.

>surreal slurred timed//

Typo.

>as her nose filled the acrid stench of burning fur//

Missing word.

>as her nose filled the acrid stench of burning fur//

Hyphenate.

>Rarity turned from the mare to the door; a dented plate of rough and grimy metal, worn smooth in irregular blotches from ponies constantly pushing on it.//

For a semicolon to be used right, you should be able to replace it with a period, but what comes after it here couldn't stand alone as a sentence.

>She didn’t really care, though, she was going to leave regardless of what the crazy doctor wanted.//

Comma splice.

>It rattled, but didn’t open.//

No comma.

>She glanced back to the doctor who just shrugged and gestured for Rarity to get back on the bed.//

And that one does need a comma.

>She frantically scanned the room for inspiration to hit her.//

This goes back a bit to something I noted for Starbound's narration. She's panicked, but the narration doesn't sound panicked. The narration is essentially Rarity's though process. If you were panicked, how would your thoughts go? They'd likely be emphatic, fractured, short, focused more on observation than interpretation. A narrator this limited should reflect the focus character's mindset and sound not too different from something she might say out loud.

>Neither of the guards was a unicorn//

Needs a comma after this to set off the dependent clause.

>to not//

Reverse these.

>The doctor noticed Rarity//

Well, that's an understatement. There's no reason for the doctor to notice anything but her.

>She refused the look back//

Typo.

>that was as much fear as anger//

That's a very calm assessment for a limited narrator who should be very focused on staying alive instead of being frank about how she truly feels.

>The guard behind exclaimed//

That's a transitive verb; it requires a direect object. What did he exclaim?

>gentle breeze//

How could she notice a gentle breeze when she's running that fast? It'd be indistinguishable from the apparent wind due to her own motion.

>She was free.//

See, here's just an example of how the narrative tone isn't carrying the emotion. At the very least, I'd think she'd exclaim this, maybe even emphasize the last word.

>But Rarity scarcely noticed any of this.//

She sure described it in a lot of detail for someone who barely noticed it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2612

>>2611
>that made Rarity stomach churn//
Missing possessive.

>Rarity summoned her pocket mirror.//

From where? If they've captured her and put her in a bed, why would they let her have personal effects? And how would she even know where they'd put them? For that matter, I can't remember the last chapter even saying that she had such things with her.

>The instant she’d felt the pain, she’d thought back to the crystal.//

Then why am I just not hearing about it? The narration essentially is her thoughts. If the crystal occurred to her right when the pain hit, then that's where the narration should mention it, too.

>Beneath her//

You repeat this phrase with only 7 intervening words.

>bedsheets//

You spelled this as two words before (one is preferred).

>head first//

That's one word, too.

>death!” The stallion exclaimed//

Capitalization.

>thebed//

Missing space and period.

>She carefully patted her chest//

I'm wondering if the crystal is still there. Wouldn't she think of this? If she happened to land on it, bad things could happen.

>“Starbound?” A mare rasped.//

>What’s wrong?” The mare asked.//
Capitalization.

>there were marked difference//

Inconsistent with singular/plural.

>Starbound: you. Are. An. Idiot.//

I'd capitalize the "you" as well, since what the colon refers to is spread over multiple "sentences."

Sparky in particular is using direct address far more often that is reasonable. It helps discern who's speaking, but you can do that with dialogue tags, too.

>Forcing herself out of the conversation//

She hadn't been in it for some time. She even said as much in the narration a while ago.

>Starbound and Sparky paused the bickering to looked at her.//

Typo.

>I— Wait//

Don't leave a space on either side of an em dash.

>‘adventurous of spirit.'//

Note the inconsistency in quotation mark styles.

>but-//

Use a dash for cutoffs.

>I'm quite alright darling//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>possibly… I don’t...//

You've got some inconsistencies here, too. Note how the first ellipsis is a single character, while the second is three separate dots. It'd be easy to do a search and replace to change any instances of three dots into a single-character ellipsis.

>It was just a story, of course this place was riddled with injustice and evil//

Comma splice.

>lest she wound up in a mess like this again///

When you're speaking hypothetically like this, use subjunctive mood, which is essentially the infinitive form: lest she wind up...

>judging their reactions as mixes of confusion and disbelief. Although, Rarity fancied she detected a hint of awe in there as well.//

Show me how they look and let me be the judge.

>mad-mare//

You spelled that without a hyphen last time.

>mopin’”.//

Period's in the wrong spot.

>Aye, I'm not stupid ye know. I just think tryin’ to do somethin’ about the situation rather than lyin’ down and letting it trot all over ye… Well, I think ye got a better chance of survivin’ that way, ye know?//

Repetitive "ye know," plus inconsistent in settig it off with a comma.

>he turned and pushed past Rarity.

>
>He turned around.//
I get what you're going for, but it's not smooth because it isn't clear this isn't a mistake on your part. If you say something like "he turned around again," then you acknowledge and use the repetition. Otherwise, it sounds like you just weren't paying attention.

>‘get over it.'//

>“It’s not real, Rarity," she muttered to herself. "She’s not real.//
More inconsistent quotation mark styles.

>When she got out of this mess, Rarity vowed she would be more empathetic to the plights of characters in stories.//

Watch how this is worded. It sounds like she wouldn't vow to do so until she got out, but it's more that she's vowing now not to belittle characters once she gets out.

>On second thoughts//

That's usually phrased as singular.

>it would seam your friend differs in her opinion//

Seam/seem confusion.

>You'd hate to a little disagreement get in the way of that//

Missing word.

>glancing as his legs, as thin as twigs//

Typo.

>door flap//

You're inconsistent at hyphenating this, too. Here, you have it as a noun, so it doesn't need one. You've given it one in this sense before. If you use it as an adjective, like you did earlier with "door-flap entrance," it does use a hyphen.

>assessing the skills and tools and their disposal //

Typo.

>good idea. She had no idea no idea//

Inadvertent repetition of "no idea," and it's pretty repetitive to have that so soon after the other "idea."

>lettin'//

There's another simple-style apostrophe. I'm sure I'm not catching all of them.

>pegasus'//

Simple apostrophe.

>it’s okay to scared//

>If what say about this place//
Missing word.

>you have every reason in the world to be."//

Simple quotation marks.

>opposed to being draped over it//

That's usually phrased like "as opposed to."

>Rarity shook her head.//

Missing a line break here.

>"No?//

>rocks and waves."//
>"I’m only putting out ideas." She forced a smile. "Now, rather than telling me what we can't do, why don't you tell me what you think we can do?"//
>"I'm sorry.//
Simple quotation marks.

>barren, grainy, dirt//

You can put commas between adjectives, but you don't put one after the last one in the list.

>against at a fence//

Extraneous word.

>What mattered was that they were heading the wrong way. They wanted to be going into the camp, not away from it.//

If Rarity already knows this, why is she spending so much time describing the fences?

>nearside//

Two words.

>From the way they were held, Rarity guessed they were a weapon//

You use plural "they" but singular "weapon."

>carrying?” She asked//

Capitalization.

>look….//

>I.... see.//
>ah.... any//
One too many dots there.

>see."//

>"So... ah.... any ideas?"//
>"I have one//
>"Let's hear it."//
>"Right. Well, I still have my magic, which none of the guards will suspect. All we need to do is distract them long enough for me to take their casters and overpower them."//
>"You didn't even know//
>"I've practised archery. I can't imagine it'd be that different."//
>"And this distraction? What precisely did you have in mind?"//
Simple quotation marks. Let's just say this continues. I can't keep copying out every instance.

>one of the guard's caster//

Both of those need to be plural: one of the guards' casters.

>ready, scanning the road and ready//

Repetitive.

This paragraph about Rarity shooting the guards is pretty dry. It's not something she's used to, but she doesn't display much emotion about it.

>“Aah…”.//

Extraneous period.

>The one Rarity shot by Rarity//

Jumbled wording.

>the guards’ clothes: a grey jumpsuit//

You're referring to multiple guards but only one jumpsuit.

You'd mentioned that Rarity was noticeably taller than Sparky and Starbound. I'm surprised the suits fit them all equally. How big are the guards in comparison? Not Rarity's size, I presume, since they were surprised to see someone that big.

>warmth—-//

Extraneous hyphen.

>‘un//

Another backward apostrophe. And how can Rarity understand this? Do they speak two languages? She didn't know what the doctor was saying.

>state-”//

Use a dash.

>“Your... faith?” The mare asked.//

Capitalization.

>friggin’-//

Use a dash.

>saliva- drenched//

Extraneous space.

>... you//

Don't leave a space after a leading ellipsis.

>only to again collapsed to the ground//

Jumbled wording.

>"ya reckon we oughta gag her?" The second stallion asked.//

Two capitalization errors.

>Her entire forehead screamed//

You just used "scream" a couple sentences back. You're borderline okay, but you have a fair amount of structural repetition in this paragraph, with so many sentences starting with the subject.

>dry, powdery, dust//

Same as before. Don't put a comma between the last adjective in a list and the thing they modify.

>it’s metallic taint//

Its/it's confusion.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2615

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

>looking stallions looked//

Repetitive.

>a wagon half-loaded with steel barrels and few random crates//

Seems like you're missing an "a."

>ya’//

I don't see why the apostrophe is there. You aren't eliminating any letters, just making an imitative spelling.

>Everfree forest//

Both words would be capitalized.

>Mapel//

Typo.

>Rusty gruffed//

>he gruffed//
These occur only 2 paragraphs apart. The more unusual a word, the more it sticks out easily when repeated.

>The auburn stallion seemed to seethe//

Your narration has been decidedly omniscient so far, so I have no idea whose perspective the "seemed" is supposed to represent. It's not a word an omniscient narrator would use, since he knows everything; "seem" wouldn't enter into it.

This other stallion is using direct address far more often that is reasonable. There are only two characters present, so the characters don't need it, and real people just don't do that this often.

>a shity sort of grin on his face.//

Typo, and another spot with an unidentifiable perspective. I mean, it would have to be Rusty's, but the narration sure doesn't sound limited except for those two excerpts where I said otherwise.

>The wagon they were riding//

Normally, you'd say "riding in."

>What few do are scarcely maintained and overgrown with foliage. What very few trails there are have been blazed out of pure necessity.//

Repetitive phrasing.

>so I think it's our best bet//

Set off this dependent clause with a comma.

>‘em//

Whenever you put an apostrophe on the beginning of a word, it's backward. You can paste them in the right way.

I'm having trouble discerning perspective in the second scene. It doesn't sound omniscient anymore, what with subjective statements like :
>who really didn’t seem to be paying much attention//
>somewhat impressive beard//
My best guess is that Rusty holds the perspective, but then why would he bother describing his own color?
>Rusty’s auburn hoof//
And why would he make such an external reference to himself?
>the earth pony chimed//
I still think you're trying to go for an omniscient narrator, but the occasional subjectivity creeps in.

>a little//

You only use this phrase 3 times in the chapter, but they all occur pretty close together.

>hundreds of gallons gasoline//

Seems to be missing an "of."

>similarly-huge//

When you have a two-word phrase starting in an -ly adverb, you don't need a hyphen.

>Clydesdale. At//

Extraneous space.

>Grunting, cursing like a sailor, Rusty dragged himself up onto the wagon and made his body comfortable, leaning back against a crate as he looked over at the unicorn.//

Keep in mind that participles mean things happen at the same time, so you have him leaning back against a crate while dragging himself onto the wagon. They'd more logically happen one after the other.

>manilla//

Typo.

>Rusty gruffed//

That word again. A common example I like to use is that you wouldn't blink at seeing "the" 4 times in a single sentence, but you'd definitely notice seeing "ventriloquist" just twice on an entire page.

>Timber is most notable for it’s ironwood characteristics//

Its/it's confusion.

>approximate time it takes for a single tree to properly mature (approximately//

Repetitive.

>then shared a somewhat horrified look//

For the amount of time Rusty seems to hold the perspective, I can't tell whether you want a limited or omniscient narrator, but if you're going limited, you have Rusty evaluating his own facial expression. While people can perceive certain things about their own faces, they don't do so through appearance, unless they happen to be looking in a mirror, and this is a visual evaluation.

>reasonably-sized//

Doesn't need the hyphen.

>two-thousand//

That's not where hyphens would go in a number.

>signed us up signed up up//

Not sure what happened here.

>like a guilty thief stashing evidence//

Kind of an odd simile to use, since that's exactly what he's doing.

>“So, Crunch,” Rusty gruffed out//

You really like that word.

>Gimme’//

What's the apostrophe there for? You don't have any elided or missing letters.

>gathering around the fire pits, navigating between tents with a lackadaisical precision, humming a little tune to himself all the while. Reaching the closest fire//

This is in a structural rut. You have four participial phrases in a row. There are six total in a paragraph of only three sentences, and every sentence ends in one. The next paragraph gives me a one-sentence break before ending two more sentences with one.

>He had a sharp face, gaunt eye sockets, though his body language and clean appearance really didn’t seem to suggest what his expression foretold about him.//

Seems like that first comma should be an "and." As is, it has an odd cadence to it, like an informal sentence fragment, though your narration hasn't been doing that, so it's odd to spring it now.

>meet Crunch everyone//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>Crunch glared at Ratchet, then glanced over to Rusty//

There's a lot of glancing and glaring happening in this scene.

>You ponies don’t like your meats, do you?//

This seems like an odd interjection. It has nothing to do with what's going on, and it goes by with nothing coming of it. It feels more like the author wanting to wedge in that batponies eat meat than something off the cuff that came up in the conversation.

>what appeared to the barrel of a rifle of some sorts//

Why is "sort" plural?

>then glanced down at her tray//

Srsly. I'm maybe 1500 words into the chapter, and this is already the tenth use of "glance."

>Shayne smirked//

And there was a smirk not long ago, too.

>out here. I doubt Celestia’s finest are gonna march out here//

Repetitive phrasing.

>Blazer asked with a sudden, toothy grin//

You just had a "suddenly" in the previous paragraph. It's a good word to avoid anyway. If something's sudden, it should usually come across without your having to say so.

>Shayne threw a leering smirk towards Blazer//

You only have four uses of "smirk" in the chapter, but they're all pretty close to each other.

>miniscule, orange glow//

You only need a comma between adjectives if they're coordinate, which usually means they describe the same aspect of something. A quick but not foolproof test is to see whether they sound reall awkward if you reverse the order. If so, they don't need a comma.

>that nopony seemed to notice//

This is a persistent issue in this chapter. Well, in both of them. The narrator keeps saying subjective things like this and expressing opinions, but it's rare that you have a clear perspective character, so I don't know whose opinions and judgments they are. Whoever it is, he must have been the only one to see this, since the narrator essentially is him.

>voice. “What//

You've got an extra space in there.

Why are you using "Rach" and not "Ratch" as a nickname for Ratchet? It took me a while to realize that's who it was. They're close, but "Rach" could easily have a German pronunciation or similar.

>Ratchet stood and made his way back to his tent near the edge of the clearing//

Once he gets in the tent, he's the only one who could witness the action described. So I'd presume he was supposed to hold the perspective? Except you pop back outside and leave him, so I don't know who the viewpoint character is.

>the mare stood//

And by now, you've taken on Shayne's perspective, and it's one of the few times there actually is a clear perspective, even though the narration sure sounds limited. But that means she'd refer to herself this way, which is strange.

There are obvious problems with repetition and perspective, so those would need to be addressed anyway. In addition, it's going to be tough to get a mature-tagged story accepted. For one thing, we don't like to make people turn off their filters, if they use one, to read something we feature. But mostly it's because a story that requires the tag probably exceeds our content guidelines. So far, I only see one bit of language (the threat Shayne makes about stallions who flirt with her) that's over the line, but we're not even into the part of the story that promises to have the most gore, and without seeing that, I can't make a call on whether it's too much. At the least, take on these mechanical and stylistic things I've detailed and tone down that one phrase, but where material that may violate our content standards is concerned, we'd need to see the actual article to evaluate how bad it gets. On that front, we'd have to wait until you've written that part.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2620

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

>the Carousel Boutique//

You don't need to put "the" in front of proper names, unless it's officially part of them.

>What brings you out of the castle today my dear?//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>followed now followed//

Extraneous word(s).

>more willing volunteers//

Not clear whether the "more" refers to degree or quantity.

>protégé//

She's female, so protégée.

There's one thing that's already odd about this. You've chosen a very limited narrator, as seen by how the narration directly expresses her thoughts and opinions. Here's an example:
>Granted, she had hoped for more willing volunteers//
That takes a very informal, conversational tone. Honestly, the biggest indicator is the number of times you italicize an isolated word in the narration for emphasis, as that gives it the feel of speech or a thought process. That's all fine.

However, you also have a lot of italicized direct thought, and it's unusual to see that in conjunction with this subjective a narration, since the whole point of that narrative choice is to be able to present the character's thought, impressions, and opinions as narration instead of having to attribute them to the character explicitly. There's nothing technically forbidden about it, but it works against your choice of narrator.

Here are some example I made up to illustrate.
>"What a nice day," she thought.
This could technically be omniscient or limited, but feels more omniscient. It presents the thought as an explicit quote.
>She found it to be a nice day.
This also could be omniscient or limited, but it also feels more omniscient, since it's a statement of fact. That it's a nice day is her opinion, but it's a fact that she holds that opinion, and that's all the sentence is saying. It directly attributes the opinion to her.
>What a nice day!
This has the narrator express the opinion on behalf of the character, and it takes an informal, conversational tone. This is decidedly limited.

So all of that is to say it's a little off-putting to see you use so much quoted thought in a limited narration, because they achieve fairly opposite things about the distance they create between the reader and the character.

I think this spell might need a little more explanation, too. It sounds like it makes it so that any unicorn can cast any spell, and if so, what's the point of magic school? I bet there are other effects in play, like just not having enough magical talent or raw power to cast a particular spell successfully.

>“In your case, the stakes are low, because you don’t yet rely on your magic for everyday functions and the spells that you do use probably won’t be too advanced.”//

This picks right up with dialogue by the same character the previous paragraph ended with. So it's customary to leave the closing quotation marks off the preceding paragraph.

>it—” She levitated four identical journals from her desk towards them. “—in//

When you put a narrative aside in a quote like this, don't capitalize it, unless it starts in something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway, and don't give it end punctuation (a question mark or exclamation mark can be used when appropriate, though).

>This is only a supplement to your innate magic abilities, so you will be able to cast anything that you could before, which is only really limited by the amount of knowledge and training you have.//

Okay, so you're explaining it here. Still, the spell would seem to be a shortcut to magic school, since half of it is gaining mastery. Now all they need to gain is power, since practice would be meaningless.

>focused on the glass. As she focused//

Watch close repetition of words like that.

>~ Snips & Snails ~//

I don't think it's necessary to label the scenes like this. It's immediately apparent which ones are in the scene anyway, so it's pretty redundant.

>“fine.//

Capitalization.

>changed her mind.

>
>That didn’t change//
Again, watch the close repetition.

>The castle’s front doors boom echoed around the castle//

Something doesn't quite parse there.

>who’s castle it was//

Whose. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

>*poof*//

Normally, it's a bad idea to put sound effects in narration like this. As this is a comedy, you get some leeway, but it's still poor formatting to use asterisks around it.

>a cold fury the Starlight knew she probably deserved//

Typo.

Okay, you did end up explaining more about how the spell works, so while readers may be as initially confused like I was, it all works out, and it's not such a long story that they have to wait too much.

It was a fairly underwhelming ending, though. Just the fact of Sweetie Belle blowing up a barn isn't that inherently funny, and we don't even see it happen or the CMCs immediate reaction. When they show up at the castle afterward, there's not even much description of them, and Apple Bloom isn't mentioned at all. See, this kind of slapstick humor is sold by how the characters react, and you don't ever supply much of that.

Snips and Snails didn't even do anything, and that's barely made into a joke, either. The colts themselves seem a little disappointed, but the crowd of children doesn't react.

We never see how Dinky reacts to what's going on with her. There's just a calm aftermath. Starlight doesn't react much either. These things are geared toward a lot of physical and visual humor. There's a little higher difficulty with that in a written medium, but it's certainly not insurmountable. Still, to show that physical aspect, we need to see it, and very consistently, the incident's already happened by the time the story gets to describing it, and the characters don't act as if they're witnessing something unnerving or extraordinary. Imagine something completely slapstick or based on visual gags, like Looney Tunes or Spongebob. Then think what it would be like if you never actually saw the funny things happen, and the characters behaved after the fact as if it had been fairly ordinary. It wouldn't be very amusing. That's where all the humor will come from, and that's what this story is missing.

Last thing: the cover art. It really looks like it's a broken "Equestria Girls" genre tag. I had to look at it for several minutes, click on it, and think about it a while before I realized what it was. Another pre-reader had the same experience even when I told him all that. Even if you took it into MS paint and enlarged it 3 or 5 times,that would go a long way toward eliminating confusion. To be honest, though, even some stock screenshot of one or more of the main characters would carry a lot more interest. When cover art is really boring like this, Seth will sometimes pick something else on a whim.

This story is close. It needs that extra oomph to generate laugh-out-loud moments, because it's only mildly amusing right now. Even your parting joke—it's potentially a good one, but we don't see Starlight's reaction or how deadly serious Dinky is. It's lacking the kind of description that makes this type of joke land. If you can get that part down, you'll have something very cute.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2630

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

>as he was a batpony who had recently made the move from Canterlot to Ponyville with his mother, forcing him to adjust to an inverted sleeping schedule in order to attend the local school//

This is a pretty lengthy digression, and it's not even that important. You don't want a big speed bump like this right at the beginning. Try to work this stuff in more gradually.

>"Yoo-hoo, you there, Stars?"//

This doesn't make sense with the narrative voice you've chosen. You have the narrator speaking Ebony's thoughts for him, to the point the narrator essentially is Ebony. So if Ebony didn't hear her say these things, the narrator can't, either. Yet he does. It's contradictory.

>everyponies'//

everypony's

>a filly shouted, yanking the young bat-colt//

Again, Ebony himself is essentially the narrator. So you're implying he'd choose to refer to himself as "the young bat-colt," which is strange. People don't think about themselves in such external terms. Plus he knows who this filly is, so it's not reasonable for him to think of her in such external and impersonal terms.

>his slit emerald eyes refocusing on his surrounding//

Surroundings. And why would he remark on his own eye color and the shape of his pupils? To him, they're irrelevant, so why would he mention them?

>dark furred-hoof through his slicked back//

Dark-furred hoof, slicked-back. But again, it feels weird for him to describe his own appearance in detail when it's of no importance to him.

>sorry," Ebony apologized//

That's pretty redundant.

>understanding her meaning//

It's obvious he understands from what he does next. It's not usually a good idea to spell out characters' motivations and realizations so directly.

>Long as she doesn't sell the one's I've been growing, though//

Why is that first apostrophe there?

>Her then expression//

A couple words got swapped.

>His expression calmed and collected//

That's a very external evaluation for him to make of his own expression. But that's not how people typically know how they feel anyway. You know you're sad without looking in the mirror, after all. What ways do you have of telling? These are the kinds of things more applicable to a limited narrator.

>as was her namesake//

You already said as much. This is really awkward.

>Speaking of Begonia, she--if it wasn't obvious by now--was the class bully.//

This really takes on the flavor of addressing the reader and making them an explicit audience, but you haven't established that's what is going on. In fact, that wouldn't even work well with the type of limited narration you're using, as it makes it sound like Ebony is talking to himself here.

>showed that she was trying desperately to hold back her tears from escaping//

Now you're over-explaining it. This was already evident from the physical description. You don't need to short-circuit all that by giving me the conclusion in addition to the evidence.

I can't figure out why they're alternately calling her Cinnamon Bun and Cinnabon. Is the latter a nickname? It's not exactly shorter. It makes it sound like they're two different characters.

>Glad to see that Ebony was consoling Cinnamon Bun//

Unless you phrase this as what Ebony sees, you're going over to Sweet Tooth's perspective.

>Begonia herself, who's left eye was twitching//

Whose. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

>knowing look, they slowly took a few steps back, knowing//

Watch the close repetition.

>As Miss Nurture walked back to the playground, she had this sneaking suspicion at the back of her mind that a small foal managed to pull the wool over her eyes.//

Then you spend only two sentences in the teacher's perspective. You stayed in Ebony's for a long time, but lately, it's skipping around.

>A-Alright//

Only capitalize the first part of a stutter, unless it's something that has to be capitalized anyway, like a name. Scan through the whole story for this.

>...//

This is not the kind of thing that works well in good writing, to have this be the entirety of a quote or a paragraph. You see it in video games, but they're not exactly known for good writing.

>Hey mom//

Needs a comma for direct address, and family relations get capitalized as terms of address.

>Ebony asked, the bell above the door to his home and mother's flower shop chimed as he entered.//

Comma splice.

>Unhooking his book bag from himself, Ebony walked through the floral-scented showroom, passing his mother and the counter she was behind until he reached a door at the back. Opening it wide, then stepping through it,//

Look how many of these participial phrases you use. Here are four of them in barely more than a single sentence. Authors of intermediate experience tend to lean on them heavily.

>You did get that list filled with the names of every student in your class yesterday, right.//

That's a question, isn't it?

>through his grit teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>The one's I've been growing//

I don't know why you keep putting an apostrophe in that word.

>ok//

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

>Ebony pick up//

Verb form.

>with seconds//

That's usually phrased as "within."

>unsure shrug. He faced forward, ensuring//

Odd juxtaposition of "unsure" and "ensuring."

>to catch their breaths//

Just "breath." It's a collective term.

>seventy three//

Hyphenate.

>At Ms. Nurture's queue//

cue

>He was more interested in the more romanticized aspects.//

Repetition of "more," plus this would be a lot more interesting if you gave a couple of examples.

>growing them just outside his room's window sill so they'd be out of sight whenever Cinnamon and Sweet Tooth would be over//

None of them have ever happened to look out the window in 3 years?

>She had also long outgrew her retainer//

outgrown

>recently-earned//

Two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb don't need hyphens.

>Ebony thought it looked nice on her; really helps to bring out her eyes.//

Misused semicolon. If you replaced it with a period, the second part couldn't stand as a complete sentence. You're also mixing tenses here.

>outstretched hoof.

>
>Giving a fake yawn and outstretching//
More repetition.

>subtlety//

subtly

>Ebony, pass this to Cinabon//

She can't spell Cinnabon right? Ironic, since she likes to use the misspelled "sekret," and Ebony doesn't call her out on it.

>lest Cinnamon would begin//

Eh, it's a long explanation. Suffice it to say you shouldn't have that "would."

>baited breath//

bated

>Yes, Ebony was the only one in his class who has yet to get his cutie mark//

Inconsistent tense again. I've seen a few others that I haven't marked.

>Cinnabun//

Now she's got a third name?

>This is Cinnamon Bun's love life, not ours; looking too deeply into this would be prying.//

Somehow, having a kid using a semicolon in an informal note when he's only around the age where he'd first get a cutie mark doesn't come across as realistic.

>not wanting to expose them as well//

Their names are on it. How can he avoid it?

>Ebony could see that his friends were just as fearful as he was//

What's his evidence?

>*BRRRIIINNNGGG*//

There are circumstances where sound effects can work, but typically only in things that are supposed to sound silly or whimsical. Just describe the sound.

>Thankfully, and much to Ebony's relief, that divine interference came in the form of the school bell ringing, signifying that class was over for the day.//

You're really stating the obvious here.

>note that nearly landed him in so much trouble included//

Feels like you're missing a few words before this.

>shrugged amusingly//

You have Ebony describing it as such. So he finds it amusing? I think you meant amusedly.

>unamused//

Pretty repetitive to use that so soon after the "amusingly."

>use to be//

used

>He'd been sitting in his room's desk//

He's in the desk?

>unwind: Get started on his homework.//

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

>the side him and his friends have been ignoring the entire time//

Why'd you switch to present tense?

>try with Cinnamon Bun, so he figured that he might as well try//

Repetition.

>Ebony laid flat against his desk//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tough verbs to keep straight. Instead of "laid," use "lay" here.

>Wanting to hide his embaressed blush//

Bluntly spelling out his emotion and motivation again. Plus a typo.

>force her chortles at bay//

The usual phrasing is to keep something at bay.

>Sweetie//

That's just a generic nickname, not one unique to him. Don't capitalize it.

>their ears perks//

Something got messed up there.

>Hearts and Hooves day//

"Day" is part of the occasion's name, too. Capitalize it. You do this a number of times.

>Ebony couldn't describe how relieved he was to hear that.//

Well, give me something. The limited narrator you're using is uniquely poised to give me comments and images and sensations related to what he's feeling, but you're delivering it rather blandly.

I'm not sure whether the grammatical errors in his poem are intentional. If not, you have its/it's confusion, and the "shined" should be "shone."

>a single joyful tear//

There are few things in this world more cliched.

>...//

You're doing that thing again.

>Watching the scene unfold//

You've spent such a huge majority of the story in Ebony's perspective. Why go over to Cinnamon's now?

>as she might have spotted his tail hanging off the edge//

So why didn't he pull it up? Even if she saw the motion, she has no way of getting up there. It's not like he'd be found out.

>there was two things//

Singular verb with a plural subject.

On the one hand, this is a very common type of story. I've seen lots of them come through here, and if they don't do something to stand out, they're just lost in the crowd. Making the characters OCs hinders you even more in terms of attracting readers, but that's not an issue for me, and at least you've created some interesting characters. Cinnamon Bun is easily the best one. Ebony just comes across as the generic shy one, and it's not until they're passing notes that Sweetie develops that much of a personality, either, so the more you can do to punch them up, the better. That's pretty curious for Ebony, since he's the main character and we spend the most time with him, but aside from him being shy, nothing sticks in my head about who he is.

This isn't a requirement for good writing, but at least it gets you thinking about your characters. A good exercise I've heard of is to come up with 5 words or short phrases to describe your character's personality. Try to have a mix of good and bad things, and it's also good if a couple of them are seemingly contradictory. Make sure your story gets across all 5 at some point, and try to demonstrate at least 3 of them the first time the character appears.

That's not a rigid structure, but anything similar that will immediately create a clear picture in the reader's mind of what Ebony's like will make him well-rounded, realistic, and memorable.

Other than that, the only pervasive things I see are instances of repetition, directly naming character emotion too often, and blips in keeping a consistent perspective, both by saying things that aren't consistent with the chosen perspective and switching around who holds the viewpoint abruptly and for ineffective short bursts. If you could take care of these things, I could see posting it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2631

>next set yourself?” asked Octavia. I nodded my head, then checked the next set//
Watch the repetition.

And since I finally have another reason to pull out the notepad, I'll say that the story is awash in boring "to be" verbs. I'll tally up the easier ones to count when I get to the end, but for now, if you just do a Ctrl-f for "was," watch the screen light up. It'd really be to your benefit to rephrase things with active verbs where you can. They're more interesting, and they give the story a sense of motion.

I might as well wedge this in, too. I suppose you're going to ignore the fact that she talks in the EqG movies? You never hear her, but you can see her talking in the background in "Legends of Everfree" and "Rainbow Rocks."

>gets a bad wrap

rap

>back.” Octavia slipped back//

Close repetition.

>So I can see how she’d be afraid to talk to me.//

She's already said something to this effect a couple times in the paragraph. I get it.

>seriously (She’s//

Don't capitalize there unless you're going to put a period before it. And if you do that, move the preriod at the end inside the parentheses.

It's nice that you're going back through some anecdotal evidence of how their friendship has gone, but it's a little lacking in making an emotional connection, and that's because we don't see Octavia react to any of it. Vinyl says that Octavia felt a certain way about those events, but I'm left with her word as the only evidence. Rather than just say Octavia loved the remix, have Vinyl recall what her reaction was? What did Octavia do? How did she react? You don't have to go so far as to show me these things in full flashback mode, but if it meant that much to Vinyl, a few details would have stuck in her head. Let me relive that with her. And don't forget her own reaction. How did she feel when she saw Octavia enjoying it? What impressions went through her mind, what physical sensations did it cause?

>It's not like anyone knew I was gay. Part of not being able to talk, I guess.//

Really? It's not like what a person says is the best evidence of that.

>god//

You'd capitalized that earlier.

I've seen people link music for atmoshpere. I haven't seen people link something that you actually had to click on to understand the story. All I can say is it's bad enough to encourage people to click away from your story, and it must be worse to require it. And then you Rickroll the reader. I hope you know a lot of them are going to feel trolled. Some may quit reading right there.

It's probably not appropriate to italicize "Liebe," just based on your description of how long it is. Something that short is generally going to go in quotation marks, though the nature of classical music can throw things into a gray area.

>must've came//

come

Well, your closing line's effectiveness is going to hinge on the reader knowing a bit of German. The thing is, it doesn't even really express the story's theme. Neither one of them was going to throw away anything about their relationship. Vinyl was considering not acting on it, but that's not the same as throwing it away.

You're also making this difficult, because this is how approximately 75% of shipping stories play out. Person A confesses a long-held crush to person B, who either a) reveals they've actually felt the same way for a long time or b) immediately develops reciprocal (yeah, I had to work in the math term) feelings. At least you have Octavia unsure about it, but that's a variation on a theme (yeah, I'm going to work in musical terminology, too) and one that's not particularly rare in its own right, and you still have Octavia as a quick conversion. There's "hey, let's give it a try," and then there's "let's kiss, hey, we're dating now!" This story's more about cautious optimism, and it doesn't need to see that potential come to fruition to make its point. In short, you're going to have thematic closure anyway, so you might consider not having plot closure, i.e., having a bit of an open ending. That's your call, though.

Anyway, I said I'd count up the "to be" verbs, at least the ones that are unambiguous enough to do a search on. You have 72, and the big one is "be," with 26 instances, oddly enough. Usually, "was" or "is" make up the majority depending on the prevailing tense. That rate's actuallt not bad at all. 72 uses in 3870 words isn't even once every third sentence. The issue here is more where they occur. They tend to clump up so they feel locally repetitive, and one of those clumps occurred at the beginning of the story, which is precisely the wrong time to make things feel stagnant.

By the way, I'm not sure where Vinyl comes up with Octavia having some great popularity. The movies certainly never paint her as such, though it's the kind of thing that's not hard to accept without there being a cascade of other changes to canon required. I'm just wondering if it's actually the case, or if that's just Vinyl's perception of her. It might help if you had other students interacting with them at some point, or maybe related through one of Vinyl's anecdotes, to illustrate.

Really, the only thing making this rise above the sea of other shipping fics out there, TaviScratch ones in particular, is the good character work here. They're both vibrant, memorable, and likable. But the more you can do to distinguish your story from the thousands of others out there can only help. You're probably very locked into the way they establish their relationship by now, so I guess it's more in the details to distance yourself from the crowd little by little.

So to achieve that, I'd recommend having a stronger finish that doesn't make a fairly tangential point, going for a richer immersion in the anecdotal material Vinyl provides to show her history with Octavia, and keeping your verb choice more consistently active.

This is close enough that you can mark it as "back from Mars" when you're ready to resubmit.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2632

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

>your first time sitting at home waiting while somepony else goes and has the dangerous adventure//

This isn't the case, though. because you picked Twilight and Fluttershy, you've matched canon. I can only assume you did that on purpose. In that case, the first time Dash got left behind was when Rarity and Applejack went to Manehattan. I was thinking that if you didn't want to match that, you could pick a pairing canon didn't, but then that'd place this even later than S6, so it'd be at least the fifth time Dash got left behind if you did that. I'll see if it ends up mattering whether this'd be the first or second time, but I think it'd be a good idea to tweak things a bit to fit that.

>The Smokey Mountains//

Ah, so you are adhering to canon. This does mean this is Dash's second time being left behind, not the first.

>Whoah//

Why can't anyone spell this right?

>The manticore was pushed forwards//

>A model representing a flock of black birds was pushed down//
Pretty repetitive phrasing so close together.

>Shining Armour//

Look, I don't mind people using British spellings for the most part. But this isn't his name.

>“Looks like the map’s still doin’ its thing. Don't that mean they're still workin’ on it?”//

You've got a mix of simple and fancy style quotations marks and apostrophes. I assume you directly edited on FiMFiction to produce the simple ones. Or maybe you want all quotes to be fancy and all apostrophes to be simple. I've seen writers do that before, but even the apostrophes are inconsistent here. And I doubt this'll be the only place in the story this happens. I won't mark any more, so scan for them.

>Without warning, her bedroom was invaded by a flock of birds, big and small, sleek and fluffy, fast and darting and fat and languorous and erratic and colourful and above all, loud!//

I was going to praise your ability to stick to an omniscient narration, which is a lot harder than most people think. But this statement is decidedly limited. It's expressing an emotion through the phrasing (somewhat) and the exclamation mark (particularly). This creates a conversational style and essentially has the narrator convey Dash's feeling on the matter as his own. If you just lost the exclamation mark, it'd at least get it back into a gray area (it's still debatable whether all those other words like loud, fat, and languorous constitute a narrative opinion).

>Oh, sweet Celestia, Fluttershy could be really hard work sometimes.//

And here, you definitely have the narrator speaking Dash's thoughts for her. This is irrevocably limited narration. Since the vast majority of the time, your narration sounds omniscient, I have to assume that's what you want. If so, then you need to take care to attribute any subjective parts of the narration to the characters explicitly. You could do that here by making this line a quoted thought.

>This was going to be a long one.//

Same deal. This is unquestionably Dash's thought presented as narration, which is fine for a limited narrator, but not an omniscient one.

>We go home, and let Pinkie throw a party.//

You don't need a comma there, since the same subject is linked to both verbs.

>chivvy//

Is that a Britishism? I've never heard it before.

>on the things she said…//

Trailing off is like your previous exclamation, in that it adds a conversational tone that doesn't work with an omniscient narrator. The same would go for the narration getting interrupted, cut off, or asking a question.

It's preferred to leave a space after your ellipses, unless they start a sentence. Otherwise, it can format funny at times, since you can't control the way FiMFiction does its typesetting.

>Silence.//

Limited feel again. Omniscient narration should be more or less formal and stick to facts. Since I'm seeing more of this as I get further into the story, I guess I could see this being intentional, where the story shifts from omniscient to limited as it goes? Except I can't imagine what effect that would be intended to create. I can't think of a thematic reason to do so, and it's not following some realization on Dash's part.

>surprisingly//

The narrator's expressing an opinion again.

>It did all look a bit amateurish. She'd probably have to chastise somepony about that later.//

Limited feel again.

>Woah//

Please, please, please don't be one of those authors who can't spell this.

>That drab earth pony that's always playing on the arcades//

For a sentient being, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>with obvious distaste//

Another narrative opinion. Obvious to whom? Not me, since I don't get to see the evidence of it. This is Dash's judgment expressed as narration.

>Rainbow was lapping it up.//

This is factual, so it could be omniscient, but it's an oddly external judgment for Dash to make, so if you did want this to be limited, it sounds more like a comment from Rarity's viewpoint.

>Dash!” exclaimed Rarity, “I don't//

You need a period after "Rarity." Your pattern of capitalization and punctuation makes the entire quote a single sentence, yet you've put end punctuation in the middle of it.

>looked honestly surprised//

There are a few spots in the story where you bluntly tell me how a character feels, and I haven't been getting bent out of shape about it, since it's infrequent. But this lacks punch when I have to rely on the narrator's judgment without being able to draw my own conclusion. Describe what she looks like in a way that I'll deduce surprise on my own.

These two are using direct address more than feels natural. It's not like they need that cue to know when they're being spoken to. In a one-on-one conversation like this, people only use it for emphasis. Consider how often you actually do so when talking with a single friend.

>Rainbow murmured an indecipherable acknowledgement.//

Narrative impression again. An omniscient narrator, by definition, couldn't find anything indecipherable. It's Rarity who finds it such, so say that. Even if you did intend a limited narration, all the indicators are that Dash is the perspective character, the few times it comes up, but Dash wouldn't find her own murmur indecipherable, so this would have to be Rarity's opinion. Thus even in that case, there's a needless shift of perspective.

>I’m sure Twilight would have welcomed the company.//

Maybe Rarity and Dash hadn't noticed, but Twilight had been desperate to go along on one of the missions, but she restrained herself because she firmly believed only those explicitly summoned by the map could go. So no, I don't believe Twilight would have welcomed the company. I think she would have said the map clearly didn't want them to have company.

>the frantically flapping pegasus//

I'll wrap it up at the end, but in the case you wanted a limited narrator, this kind of descriptor rarely works, because it implies the perspective character would choose to refer to Dash this way in her own thoughts. People just don't do that for others they know, so it would be odd for Rarity to think of Dash in these terms instead of just a name or pronoun, and even stranger for Dash to describe herself that way. But if you want an omniscient narrator, these can work, as long as you use them in moderation.

>Yup, here it was.//

Subjective narration.

>she said smugly//

And even if you want limited narration, it's awfully self-aware of Dash to admit she's smug.

>in exasperation//

It's really a good idea to avoid these "in/with/of mood" phrasings. For one, they do nothing to paint a picture; instead they make me paint the picture. For another, they're often redundant with emotional cues already in the sentence.

>mud-pony backwater//

I can buy that he doesn't know this, but even though it was founded by earth ponies, it's notable for being a place where all the races live together. This point was made in "Flight to the Finish."

>Okay, so much for lying.//

Limited narrative feel again.

>Taking a deep breath//

>Squinting at the western horizon//
>Kneeling down//
You'll normally set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>less qualified//

Hyphenate.

>Unless they were in any kind of danger, of course.//

Sentence fragments are another conversational affectation that indicates limited narration.

>But if she happened to walk past a telescope, and catch a glimpse of them in the distance, nopony could blame her for that, right?//

You don't need that first comma, and asking a question makes this a limited narration.

>She turned one of the dials that made it blurry; then tried the other way until they came into focus.//

If a semicolon is properly used, you should be able to replace it with a period, but that would leave the second part as a sentence fragment.

>Well, they were safe at least. She didn't need to go flying off to save them or anything.//

Limited narration again. Actually, the rest of the story from here is mostly limited.

Maybe I just missed something, but I think the story failed to make a point on something. Or maybe it presented its own theme's counterargument, which is odd. You make a whole scene that Fluttershy moved away from home and left Dash behind. Fluttershy hadn't even mentioned it to Dash, so it's not like it just slipped her mind and she was surprised to find out it had happened already. She had no idea about it. So Fluttershy was fine going off on her own. I can't imagine why she'd have kept it secret, though it doesn't seem malicious, since Fluttershy wasn't displeased to find out Dash had followed. I was kind of expecting Dash to make a realization about this. Maybe she'd finally take offense to being the one left behind, and that Fluttershy was doing it again. Or maybe she'd tie that back in and realize Fluttershy had already been able to handle herself before. As it is, I can't tell what you want it to mean. It's there, and it never gets folded back in to the theme again. It's fine as a piece of back story, but it's just begging to be a thematic element.

Watch the few times you directly inform the reader of character emotion. It was infrequent enough that it wasn't a big deal, but it can rob the story of some impact when you do so at an important moment, where you really want the reader empathizing with the character.

The only big issue for me was the way the narration couldn't settle into a single voice. I said I'd revisit that, so here it is. It's pretty far into the story before there's any limited character to the narration, but after that point, it wavers back and forth. It would feel like a much more coherent story if that was made consistent. I can't tell which you intended, so I'll lay out how both work.

If you want an omniscient narrator, then have the narration deal in facts and use a fairly formal tone. It is a fact that Rainbow Dash feels unhappy or that she stomps a hoof. It is an opinion that Fluttershy needs this mission to gain confidence. When the narration says something involving a judgment call, it needs to say whose judgment that is by directly attributing it. So sift through your narration, and either remove/rephrase things that state a matter of opinion or take on a conversational tone, or say outright which character has those impressions.

If you want a limited narration, then it's fine to have the narrator speak on the character's behalf, essentially representing that character's stream of thought. It can take on conversational tone, if you like, asking questions, shouting, emphasizing words, getting interrupted, trailing off. It sounds very much like dialogue at times. Just be careful that it presents that character's perception accurately. One example I use frequently is that if Rarity is your focus character, and she sees Dash blush, she can say Dash's face is red. If Rarity's the one blushing, she can't see her own face, so her perception of it is different. She might notice her cheeks warming, for instance. Also be careful that you stay with one character at a time. Don't flip back and forth between multiple viewpoints rapidly. It's best to stay with a single one for an entire scene, if you can. It's possible to shift perspective within a scene, but it takes some skill to execute, and I won't go into all that, since it doesn't seem like you'd need to in this story.

Getting back on track, this story spends so much time sounding omniscient that that's the overall feel it takes. So if your intention was to have a limited narrator, you need to chime in far more often with some kind of opinion or conversational affectation to keep reminding the reader of it. Once every few paragraphs at least usually does the trick. And you need to establish that tone right from the first paragraph.

This is a nice character piece. It just needs a more consistent perspective, so iron out what you want that to be, bring it in line with that, and I'd be happy to post it. When you're ready, you can mark it as "back from Mars," since I wouldn't need to take a detailed look at it again.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2634

>All so perfect, or it would have been.//
I pointed this out last time, but later on, so you might not have noticed it was a direct excerpt. This is Spike's thought, but it's presented as narration. Thus, Spike's effectively the narrator. That's fine. Then we have this:
>the adolescent dragon snorted//
If the narrator is speaking for Spike in the first one, then he still has to be in the second. So Spike is calling himself "the adolescent dragon." That's just weird. People don't think of themselves in such distant, external terms.

>All he did was watch empty as the fire evaporated into the air.//

Not sure about that phrasing. Are you missing some words?

>Yet, once again life was making that difficult//

No reason to have a comma there. In general, they don't belong after conjunctions.

>She was the most beautiful, stunning, magnificent mare he's ever seen//

Why are you switching from past to present tense?

>The dragon gave a disgruntled snort as that idea crossed the dragon's mind//

Repetitive use of "the dragon," but again, that's a really odd way for him to choose to describe himself.

You've still got an awful lot of "to be" verbs early on. In just the first two screens, I counted 35 of them. In the three paragraphs starting here:
>If only Rarity were here as he'd planned.//
you have 8 instances of "been" alone. It could really use some more active verb choice.

>the smouldering embers of his frustration scatting//

So he's singing? Or pooping... I don't think that's the word you wanted.

>He knew Twilight won't mind if he was gone for a night, one of the perks about being a dragon that he actually enjoyed was the fact nothing ever messed with him.//

That comma's a splice, and you're shifting tense again.

>and the dragon's head perked up//

He's referring to himself very externally again.

>his sad frown disappearing//

There's two problems with this. First, you should avoid naming emotion directly, where possible. Don't tell me it's a sad frown. Demonstrate sadness. How do you know a stranger on the street is sad? You have to pick up cues from how he looks and acts. Give me the same kinds of cues from him. And second, this makes a visual evaluation of his face, but remember he's effectively the narrator. He can't see his face.

>sorry for sneaking up on you." Came the soft voice//

Punctuation/Capitalization of dialogue/tag.

>complete bewilderment in his tone//

Put yourself in his place, since the narration is supposed to represent his experiences. You don't notice you're bewildered from hearing your tone of voice. You'd already know it internally from how you feel, and that feeling manifests itself as a mental state and possibly physical sensations. The mental state can come across through what the narrator says, but more important is how he says it. It won't sound much different from dialogue. You can give the narration a conversational feel. Maybe he has a few false starts before he can get started, maybe the narrator asks a question. You have to get at his mood through the feel of the narration, not by just summing it up in a word that isn't going to draw me into his mindset.

>the dragon's surprise//

I'm not going to keep marking these, but this type of external reference doesn't work with your choice of narrator. He's not going to describe himself with language like this, and he probably wouldn't do so for friends or acquaintances either. Please give your story a scan for these.

>tentatively//

See, this does nothing to create a picture of her. Make her look and act tentative. How does she walk? What kind of expression does she have? And don't say a tentative expression. Describe it without using emotion or mood words. Think about what she's doing with her eyes, ears, mouth, whatever. You're trying to give me a picture of her in my head that I'll conclude tentativeness from.

>the mare//

He knows her well. Why would he describe her in such generic terms? You don't think about your friends like this.

>Spike raised a barbed eye crest//

Why would he mention his own eye being barbed here? It's irrelevant. It's also something he'd be so used to that it wouldn't even occur to him. If someone else held the perspective, they might notice this detail, but he wouldn't. If you come in from the rain, and you run your hand over your head, what would you more reasonably think, "my hair's wet" or "my brown hair's wet" (assuming you have brown hair, of course)? That's the kind of obtrusively irrelevant thing you're trying to wedge in here. For that matter, I'll illustrate one of those descriptors. Would you think "my hair's wet" or "the fanfiction author's hair is wet"?

>half genuinely curious and half slightly concerned//

You're really spelling out his emotion again. The name of the game is to get me to conclude this, not just tell me outright.

>Spike shrank back slightly at the look, not only did it remind him so much of Sweetie's older sister//

Comma splice.

>Neither did I Spike,//

When direct address is in the middle of a sentence, it takes commas on both sides.

>giggling slightly as she bowed his head//

I think you meant that "she" to be a "he."

>Despite that, the dragon sighed in belief//

Typo.

>All the request//

I assume you meant that to be plural.

>The world is a big place, at least you know you'll get to see it//

Comma splice.

Just note that I'm not at all being exhaustive. I marked a comma splice on your last submission as an example so you could look through and find any more on your own, but you didn't catch any more. So I'm marking a few more examples this time, but I'm not getting the all, or I'd be spending far too long on this. The point is for you to learn to find them yourself, and not just comma splices—all these things I'm pointing out.

>from?" she asked, and at Spike’s blush she added. "Sorry//

As phrased, that period should be a comma, but you really need to split this into two sentences. I'd recommend getting rid of the "and" and starting a new sentence there.

>studding each sharp claw//

Typo.

>You're not domestic Spike.//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>as magnificent as the sun set//

sunset

>Spike looked at her, his expression more akin to that of a timid puppy than a large dragon.//

How does he even know what his expression looks like? This doesn't work for his perspective. And you're using "seem" a lot around here.

>"How do you know that?"//

This is double indented, and there's no blank line after this paragraph.

>Come on Spike,//

Needs another comma for the direct address.

>just sympathy//

Repetitive with the "sympathetically" you used just a few sentences ago.

>heart breaking//

heartbreaking
Missing apostrophe.

>while he'd admitted love rarity for her looks//

Capitalization, missing words.

>that Sweetie seemed to bare//

What's she baring? She's not wearing anything.

>Spikes mind//


>At dragon's stare//

Missing word. I gather this is new material, but please give it some editing attention.

>shied away slightly. It was only then that Spike realised how he must look and fumbled for words as he shied away//

Repetition.

>tick scales//

So he's an arachnid now?

>I... I//

Extraneous space.

>far kinder and loyal than most ponies//

Missing word.

>He may never win the heart of the pony he loved//

So he's pretty much admitting he doesn't love Sweetie Belle, right when we're supposed to start believing he does?

>made him realised that//

Verb form.

>he eared to see//

I don't know what that was supposed to be.

>to brake free//

Typo. And you're using "admire" quite a bit around here.

>and he shied away//

More shying away, huh?

>the sun set sky//

sunset

>sky sky//

Repeated word.

>life’s twist and turns//

Mixing singular and plural there.

So you did add some transition to get Spike on board with someone who has to travel a lot, instead of just having him make a snap decision to leave home with her. There are still some editing and perspective issues, though, and there's still not much here about what attracts them to each other.

Since this isn't a romance that's a slow burn, it's not like you can follow them from first meeting to first kiss and tell the whole story. But you've got this perspective from within Spike's head, so why not use that to your advantage? When he's realizing he does have feelings for her, what memories does that evoke? Working through anecdote can be very effective for situations like this. They've spent time together in the past. How does he see those memories in a new light? Relate a couple to me. He might recall a couple of instances where he found her endearing, but it hadn't really registered. Or with the benefit of hindsight, maybe he can see now that there were signs of her attraction he'd been overlooking for years. That's a good way of demonstrating that they care for each other. Now, all I'm getting are some pretty generic statements. Specific is always better. A few examples will speak far louder than a sweeping generality. They can even reminisce together.

It's improving, but it still needs something to stand out above all the other similar shipping stories that use pretty much the same premise, but that don't really demonstrate the romance so much as ask the reader to accept it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2644

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

>a strength that she had not known for centuries but never forgotten//

That's a really odd branching point for a parallel structure. It comes across as awkwardly phrased, since it makes it feel like the verb forms don't match, and the "not" is linked so closely with the "had."

>An eerie hush fell over the crowd//

You're using a limited narrator in Adagio's perspective, so you're implying the phrasings are ones she would choose. Why would she call this eerie, though? It might to an outside observer, but she should be used to how this goes. I don't see why she'd find it eerie.

>She turned her baleful crimson eyes//

That's another oddity of perspective. Why would she need to mention her own eye color?

>once resplendent//

You're using the shole phrase as a single modifier, and it precedes what it describes, so hyphenate it.

>They stood in a circle, each one holding the shattered remnants of their once-magnificent pendants.//

But in the movie, they left the pieces on the stage...

>Adagio grit her teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>agonizing silence tinged with palpable despair//

Let the narration carry this. You're using a limited narrator, and that's one of its strengths. What kinds of thoughts might run through your head in her situation? Have the narrator say something like that. The narration is telling me she feels this way, but it sounds very calm. When you have a limited narrator, let them run in parallel.

>look of desperation//

Watch the close repetition. You just used "look" earlier in the same sentence and "despair" 3 sentences back. More than that, though, you should try to avoid directl naming emotions like this. Demonstrate it. Describe her face and behavior in such a way that I'll read despair from it instead of you having to tell me so.

>hating how her voice cracked and wavered//

This is a fine point, but one that can make your writing a lot richer. Since you've chosen a limited narrator, have the narration express her hate. Don't just say she hates this; have her berate herself for her weakness and her failure in the narration.

>brooding and grim rather than despondent//

I'm not going to keep marking this, but look for opportunities to demonstrate emotions instead of simply naming them for the reader. Like anything else, I'll point out a few examples of this, then have you go through the rest of the story on your own to tweak further instances.

>sounds of her sister's footsteps//

There's more than one sister there, right?

>She lingered just long enough//

More repetition. She just lingered a few paragraphs back.

>The second she laid down//

Lay/lie confusion. They're tough verbs to keep straight. Lay/laid/had laid takes a direct object, so she laid her head down. Lie/lay/had lain doesn't take a direct object, so she lay down.

>finally began to close, but another hour until she finally//

Repetition.

>“Sit down,” Adagio said, carefully coaxing Sonata to sit on the bed.

This is a common issue with Dazzlings stories. Adagio was very authoritative and pretty abusive in the movie, and this is later the same day. What's made her so quickly change her attitude? I mean, I know it has to do with being defeated, but it's just suddenly there. We don't get to see the change or watch Adagio navigate it. One minute, she's mean to them, and the next, she's concerned about them. This could use a little more gradual change.

>hating the doubt she heard in her own voice//

And that's a really similar phrasing to one you used earlier.

>"Rest. We’ll talk in the morning.”//

Throughout the story, you've got a mix of simple and fancy style quotation marks and apostrophes like this. Make them consistent.

>She wished that there was something she could say, but to her eyes the night was so bleak that there were no words to say that could make it bearable.//

Another spot where demonstrating it instead of spelling out her motivation and wishes explicitly would be more powerful.

I do feel like I'm not getting much of a picture of where they are. You have a few perfunctory statements of setting, but it could use more detail. In particular, think about what things in their home could have some kind of symbolic or thematic meaning, both in what you choose to describe and how. That kind of thing adds lots of atmosphere.

>She laid in place for a minute or two//

Lay/lie confusion again.

You're using some pretty fancy language in Sonata's limited narration, which is in contrast to how Adagio thought of her in the first chapter. You do need to match personality and intelligence level of a limited narrator to the character it represents, so there's a contradiction here, but maybe an intentional one? Adagio might not realize how smart Sonata actually is. We'll see how this plays out.

>with suspicion//

Particularly try to avoid these "in/with/of mood" phrasings, as they're almost always redundant with material already there.

There, now in chapter two, we're getting a lot more setting. It's from a different character, though, so it would have helped to characterize Adagio in the last chapter to get this kind of thing from her.

>In her weary, half-asleep state, more than one word at a time was simply asking too much.//

Except her limited narration sounds very aware and coherent. Match her condition to how her limited narration says things.

>Momentarily hopeful, she lifted her hand to her neck, feeling for a gem that she knew to be absent. For just a moment, she hoped//

Repetitive, but also, it feels rather external to her to describe herself as "momentarily hopeful," since it's a pretty stoic assessment of her mood. It doesn't sound hopeful.

>Once out in the hall, a pleasant scent drifted lazily through the air.//

This makes it sound like the scent has moved into the hall, not Sonata.

>but both of them barely felt like eating//

How does Sonata know this? She's your limited narrator in this scene, and she could know that for herself, but you essentially have her reading Adagio's mind, unless you say how she came to that conclusion or that it's just her opinion.

>taking one last bite before standing up without a word, taking//

Repetition. Also note that participles make actions simultaneous, whereas these would occur one after the other. Keep this in mind when you use them. There are plenty of other examples in the story where the timeline doesn't quite make sense.

>hoping//

You're telling me what characters hope an awful lot. This falls in a class of verbs that should be avoided in limited narration, related to perception or knowledge. The focus character and narrator are linked, essentially the same, so they have the same experience of things. If the narrator describes something, it's implicit the character can see it, so you don't need to say she sees it. That covers sensory verbs. Others are things like wish, want, hope, wonder, think, and know. It's a little indirect to say she hopes something. There's an extra step between the reader and narrator. Have the narrator express the hope directly. Something like "maybe she wouldn't have to wait very long." That conveys a sense of hope without ever having to use the word, and it's a much more intimate expression than being informed of it as a fact.

>Sonata set the notebook aside and laid down//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Sonata opened one eye and glanced to the side. There was a blurry shape standing over her. It sounded like Aria and looked vaguely purple and belligerent in a sort of Aria-like kind of way, but it was hard to be certain.//

See, this sounds very much like Sonata. Maybe except for the "belligerent," though that's not such an advanced word. But compare to what you had early in the chapter that was fairly dry and lacking her personality, and was also using far more fancy words that you do here. This captures her voice much better.

>up and then looked up//

Close repetition.

>Sonata shook her head and clambered to her feet, dusting herself off before looking at Aria, concerned.//

First, the proximity suggests Aria's the one who's concerned, but I bet you mean Sonata. Second, it's very blunt for Sonata to say she's concerned and leave it as a one-word description. Voice some of her concerns. What bad scenarios does she imagine playing out? How does that make her feel physically?

>Starting that day//

Compared to the first sentence of the scene, this is repetitive and a bit confusing as to the time frame.

>No response.//

The beginning of this chapter is quite repetitive. You have two paragraphs start with this sentence, then shortly after, you have two more repetitive sentence openers:
>When she heard nothing//
>When no response came//
Those last two probably just need to be rephrased. The first two can work, though. If you want repetition to create an effect, there's a finesse to it. Basically, you need to make it obvious the repetition is intentional by drawing attention to it. The simplest way, and the one I think would be fine here, is to use words that acknowledge the repetition. So if you make the second one something like "Still no response," then it accomplishes something with the repetition, an the reader's not going to interpret it as a potential mistake.

>If- if//

Hyphens aren't for stutters, false starts, interruptions, or cutoffs. Please use a proper dash. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread.

>She wondered if Adagio had ever been there, or if she had just been knocking on an empty room and fooling herself into thinking that someone was still inside.//

There's another one of those verbs that doesn't need to be in a limited narration. Have the narrator wonder it directly instead of telling me Sonata wondered it.

>Rather, it felt like being wrapped in a wall of stone. In Aria’s arms, Sonata felt, above all else, safe, and that brought with it a little bit of comfort.//

This is pretty stiff imagery. Make it more abstract. What sort of mental image might a concept like "safe" bring? Use something like simile or metaphor to bring this alive. That's what gets the reader caught up in it.

>a familiar gesture of affection//

So make it seem familiar to me too. When has Aria done this before? If it's familiar, it'd draw a memory.

>'till//

That spelling doesn't use an apostrophe.

>thoughts of what was to come afterwards filled her with dread//

This is too vague to mean anything. Give me a couple examples of what she envisions and how she reacts to them.

>the thought of seeing those that she wronged so severely//

Fairly repetitive phrasing so soon after the one I pulled out for my previous comment.

>she imagined a new form of punishment that they might inflict on her//

She's heard Sonata crying, though. I'd like to see her try to reconcile this. In her state, she's not necessarily going to be very logical, but she's not just going to ignore evidence, either. If she really feels like they want to punish her, she's probably got some rationalization of how Sonata crying or Aria not yelling at her through the door makes sense.

>so as not to infuriate her with its scandalously lackluster boxiness//

Where's this coming from? She's never expressed any such aesthetic sense before, and frankly, this is so over the top that it feels like it's trying to be comedic.

>There had been days when she poured over it for hours on end//

pored

>once vibrant//

Hyphenate.

>together on the couch and watched television together//

Repetition.

>lamentations//

That's a really odd word choice. Are you sure this is what you really mean?

>"Well..." Sonata trailed off//

You don't need to narrate trailing off when it's already evident from the punctuation. The same goes for getting interrupted or cut off.

>confiding to Aria//

I've always heard that phrased as confiding in.

>know- I don't know-//

Please use dashes.

>know-” Sonata cut herself off//

Heh. I guess I predicted that. This is redundant.

>mixed expressions of confusion and dread//

Let me see.

>once in awhile//

"A while" actually needs to be two words here, so there's a noun to serve as the preposition's object.

>“... she//

Don't leave a space after a leading ellipsis.

>“Sonata-”//

Use a dash.

This conversation uses more direct address than feels natural. When you're talking one on one with a friend, how often do you actually do this? Mostly just when you want to emphasize something.

>‘cause//

If you're going to use the fancy quote, pay attention to leading apostrophes. Smart quotes get them backward, since they assume you want a single opening quotation mark. You can paste one in the right way or type two in a row, then delete the first. Probably all your leading apostrophes are like this. I do see others.

>trying!//

When you have a word italicized for emphasis, and there's a question mark or exclamation mark on it, include the punctuation in the italics.

I'll jump in with something you mentioned in the comments. I don't think the perspective jumps around too much. You stay with a single one through each scene, and scene breaks are a fine time to change viewpoint. You can do so in the middle of a scene, too, but there's much more of an art to doing that well. You've actually done a good job of keeping to one perspective per scene. You'd be surprised how many authors have a lot of trouble with that. You've also done a good job of clearly indicating who holds the perspective right as each scene starts so the reader immediately knows whose eyes they're seeing through, instead of having to flounder along, assuming it's the same perspective as the previous scene, until he finally does see an indication and has to reinterpret the scene so far.

>Compared to her sisters, Aria’s room//

But you're comparing rooms, not sisters...

>laid several items: A blank sheet of paper//

Lay/lie confusion, and only capitalize after a colon if it refers to multiple sentences.

>then set the paper in front of her. Then//

Repetitive.

>Then, she stretched her arm out//

And again in the same paragraph. You also don't need to follow "then" with a comma.

>thunk//

Just leave that in normal font. It's a valid word. When you get too cutesy with the sound effects, it tends to make the story feel like a comedy or something intended for a young audience.

>She picked one of them up and held it before her scrutinizing eye.//

>She picked up a splinter of her gem again, holding it up to her scrutinizing eye.//
Really repetitive phrasing. The "again" justifies the repeated action, but what comes after it isn't achieving anything with the repetition.

>Aria turned her spiteful eyes//

Why would she describe her own eyes that way? That's more something another character or an omniscient narrator would observe.

>Then, she picked up her abacus and stood up.//

You have a fair amount of these "then" actions in this chapter, plus you keep putting a comma after it, but only when it starts a sentence.

>Moving over to her mattress, she flopped down//

Another spot where a participle synchronizes actions that probably shouldn't be.

>directions Aria had given her. They had directed//

Repetitive.

>Dumb dumbfaced dummy Aria. Stupid grumpy little… stupid person.//

Note how different this sounds from a lot of the narration, yet they're both supposed to be the same person's voice. You get some leeway, as reading narration that's constantly this childish would get grating, but the tone of the narration could stand to sound a little more like her in places. What comes shortly after this is quite good, though.

>Sonata’s eyes lit up with excitement.//

Watch directly naming the emotion, and it's a rather external assessment for her to make about herself.

>bacon girl//

She used that before when she was having trouble remembering Sunset's name, but she's used it by now, so... I have mixed feelings. It's comic, but it feels a bit deliberate.

>She wanted to be look sympathetic.//

Something went wrong there.

Man, it'd be funny if she went through all this and Sunset wasn't home. Even more if Sunset's been watching her from the street the whole time.

>sniffle a little//

>mussed up her hair a little//
Repetitive so close together.

>in concern//

Okay, there are a few things I've been marking most of the examples I see, but it's time for me to hand over the reins to you. Try to avoid naming emotions outright, particularly with this type of phrasing. I'm going to leave the rest of a lot of these points for you to detect.

>C- can//

Don't put spaces after the hyphens in a stutter.

>“I…” She trailed off//

Redundant.

>Sunset directed Sonata to a pair of couches//

Kind of repetitive after you'd just mentioned a couch.

>Sunset’s expression became heavy with concern.//

There's a lot of concern in this chapter.

>squealing with excitement//

By proximity, this seems to describe Sunset. It's also the second "excitement" in the sentence.

>like,//

I could see putting a comma on both sides of this, but not just one. Or you could go without any.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2645

>>2644
>And so Sonata babbled on//
Odd for her to characterize her own conversation that way.

>many furnishing//

Typo.

Wow, this story shares a lot in common with another I read recently. Sonata helping the Dazzlings, an Adagio feeling like a failure, nautical themes. An interesting case of convergent evolution, as this was published first, and I know the author hadn't read this.

>Sonata, prattled on//

Not sure why that comma is there.

>How cool is that?//

Include the question mark in th italics.

>Ignoring Sonata’s protesting, panicked look//

You'd been in Sonata's perspective, but this feels very external to her.

>that left a pungent odor of alcohol in Sunset’s nostrils//

So... are you going into Sunset's perspective now? As stated, she's the only one who could know this.

>but failed to completely mask her unease//

How so? Let me see it.

>she winced//

Capitalization. It looks like a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>hand-written//

handwritten

I'm getting severe mood whiplash here. Last time we saw Adagio, she was browbeating herself as a failure, and now she's very much self-assured and domineering with no transition. It's one thing to have her outwardly so, but we're in her perspective now, so we see the internal, too, and it's doing the same thing.

>You’ve avoided them for awhile now.//

"A while" needs to be two words in this instance.

>I think you’re hurting a lot more than you let on. Sonata sure thinks you are, I think.//

That's an awful lot of thinking.

>giving a haughty toss of her hair//

She just did exactly that about a page ago.

>somehow, that she meant no harm. No words were spoken, and yet Sunset somehow//

Repetition.

>just a, expression that it was alright to be a little vulnerable//

Pretty vague, plus a typo.

>she laid still//

Lay/lie confusion.

>reigned in her feelings//

Actually, quite the opposite. Anyway, you want "reined."

>voice falling to a whisper//

Last time you described her tone, it was a whisper, and nothing's happened in the interim to change that, so... her voice is falling to a whisper again?

>Starswirl//

Canon is Star Swirl.

>with a savage snarl//

She just snarled two paragraphs ago.

>yet still//

Redundant.

>I will make her pay.//

Yeah, she's not really having an emotional arc I can follow here. She's a failure early in the story, an she stays sobbing in her room, then suddenly she's a femme fatale again. Next, she's understandably suspicious of Sunset, then with a little prodding, cries into her shoulder and spills her guts, then goes right back to hating Sunset and vows revenge for a perceived slight she should have known wasn't true. Sonata went to get Sunset after all, and Sonata explained enough for Sunset to know what was going on. Adagio knows all this.

>Shaking her head reflexively, Sonata’s eyes refocused//

This says that Sonata's eyes shook her head.

>assuming an expression that was at the very least neutral, if less than pleasant//

That can be what she's trying for, but it doesn't guarantee she achieved it. She can't even see it to know for sure.

I haven't commented on this until now, but it's a bit off-putting how often you have quoted thoughts. One of the main points of having a limited narrator is so you can put the thoughts as narration instead of quotes. As narration, you're giving the reader direct access to the character's mind. As quoted thoughts, you're having the narrator tell us that the character thought something, which wedges an extra step between the reader and the character. There's nothing technically wrong with doing so, but it works against the strengths of this type of narrator, and it's a less intimate connection to the character. Most of your quoted thoughts could easily be recast as third-person limited narration.

>her face heavy with concern//

You're always telling me characters are concerned. Besides the sheer repetition, it doesn't carry much weight. What do concerned people do? How do they look?

>absent-mindedly//

absentmindedly

>Woah//

Please don't be one of the seeming majority of authors who can't spell this right.

>pulled a pair of sleek sunglasses//

Seems like you're missing a word, and you just described the motorcycle as sleek a few paragraphs ago.

>in awhile//

I'll just try to knock all these down in a single comment. If "awhile" follows a preposition, it really needs to be "a while."

>the skank//

Wow. Given she was thinking about picking up some trash at a bar, not sure how she gets off accusing Adagio of this.

>Get out and I won't bother you again.//

I'm as confused as Sunset right now. At least some of that just got discussed. Aria admitted she wanted Sunset to stay. But now she's telling her to leave again, and the true intent behind it isn't evident from the limited narration so far. So it feels like Aria's being indecisive, yet even her own thoughts don't indicate such.

>Maintaining an inscrutable gaze//

Again, this is more an external observation, since Aria can't see it herself to know.

>Setting//

Seems like this needs a "down" somewhere, but you don't have anything like that, which makes it feel incomplete. This paragraph also has several more of those participles synchronizing actions that should occur in sequence.

>Closing the last of her now stuffed suitcases, Adagio stood up, closed//

Repetition. And "now-stuffed" needs a hyphen.

>staring ahead and burning with a quiet, seething anger//

At first, I wasn't clear on when this happens. I gather she was already mad before the scene started, but on my first read, it sounded like she didn't get angry until this line.

>the sleek piano//

There's a lot of sleekness lately.

>subtlty//

Spelling.

>Again Adagio’s eyes closed, a warm smile on her blissful face as she once again//

Repetition.

>what sight laid on the other side//

Lay/lie confusion.

Now that I've stewed on it a bit, I think Sunset's conclusion about whether Aria is a good person was too simplistic. It's not enough to make a blanket judgment about whether she's good or bad. She's right—it does depend on perspective. But there aren't absolutes, either. People can respect that someone they don't like has done something good. Or they can think someone they count as a good friend has done something wrong. In this case, they're getting down in the semantics of arguing overall merit when they're actually talking about individual instances. Aria trying to enslave everyone is a bad thing. Her looking out for her sisters is a good thing. How to assess the combination of the two is subjective, but that's not the argument Aria's making. Yet that kind of is the argument Sunset's making. It seems like there's a bit of a disconnect. While it's true that can happen in real life conversations, it needs a little more careful treatment in writing, if indeed that's what you're going for, to make it obvious that's what you intended instead of just being an unintentional inconsistency.

>dimly light//

Typo. Though that phrase is pretty much an oxymoron anyway.

>She crept up to the door with a hairpin in hand//

Starting here, look over the next 4 or 5 paragraphs and see how often you end your sentences with some kind of participial structure. That's another kind of repetition.

>And there, not ten feet in front of her, laid the girl she sought//

Lay/lie confusion.

>sound asleep under purple covers and snoring softly//

You already said in the previous paragraph that she was snoring softly.

>back, slipping the knife back//

I'd recommend doing a Ctrl-f for "back" and seeing how many places you use it two or more times close together.

>closing the door behind//

Behind her, right?

>making her downstairs//

Another missing word.

>Stepping into her shoes, she opened the door, locked it and stepped//

Repetition.

>incessant//

Seems a bit of an odd word choice. Usually this connotes something annoying, but she's the one doing it.

>sky, bombarding the ground with innumerous drops of clear, pure water. A gloomy haze of murky grey clouds covered the sky//

>felt when first she felt//
Repetition.

>endearingly romantic novel//

This is certainly a subjective opinion, but this feels off from her characterization. You've had her tastes consistently on the raunchy side, yet here she's going for something very tame. Not that someone can't like both, but this is the first time I'm seeing this aspect, and it's pretty late in the story to begin introducing new personality traits that she's supposedly had all along.

>inscrutable//

You rather like that word.

Yeah, they're starting to use direct address more than feels natural again. Authors tend to do this without noticing, but look how often they call each other by name. They're the only two present, so why would they even bother?

>hoping that her nerves remained concealed by her deep breaths as she deflected the question//

There's another "hope" verb that might be better expressed through narrative comment. And the "deflected the question" is kind of over-explaining her motive. Narrative comment or just letting her actions speak for themselves will get this across more effectively.

>to not//

Reverse these.

>While Aria operated the contraption//

If Adagio can hear it running already, what more operation does it take? They're pretty hands-off.

>trying to surmise what the other one was thinking//

Adagio's your limited narrator. She would know this about herself, but not about Aria. She might conclude it from how Aria's behaving, but that 's different from stating it as a fact.

>Adagio would gladly have fawned over any other day//

But I haven't gotten the sense from her characterization that she would do this openly. She does like Sonata, but that's shown more as an undercurrent to their relationship, where they're more hostile on a surface level. It feels kind of inconsistent.

>“Are you saying…” Sonata cut herself off//

Would be redundant, but cutting off would connote a dash. An ellipsis is a softer pause.

>she looked up from the ground at Aria with wide, panicked eyes//

That's rather external to her perspective again. She'd know her eyes were wide, but panicked? She can't see them to evaluate that, and that's not the immediate way she'd sense her panic anyway.

>an increasingly panicked Adagio//

Same. This doesn't sound like Adagio's perspective.

>Adagio’s eyes went wide//

Last time you described them, they were already wide.

>her face paling//

How does she know this? She could feel it going cold, but she can't know it's pale.

>Aria moved over to the door, glancing outwards as if hoping she would merely see Adagio taking a breather outside//

So your perspective character has left the room, and the camera's stayed behind. It's fine to execute a perspective shift when you really need one, and the main point is to avoid reader confusion. Since Adagio's gone, that removes confusion that she can still hold the perspective, but who's taken it up? The "as if" here makes this so it can't be Aria's, since she'd know the truth. This statement speaks to uncertainty. So that leaves Sonata, but you need to establish her as the perspective character as soon as Adagio's gone. It takes a while before you have the narration do anything to establish a perspective, but once you do, it's Aria's:
>And damn her luck, they usually worked.//
So that makes this "as if" statement incompatible with the perspective.

>…//

This may cut it as a video game paragraph, but not in good writing.

>A part of her wanted nothing more than to find a bed and lay down//

Lay/lie confusion.

>In her mind, she imagined//

Where else would she imagine it?

>the shards of her gem laid on the ground//

Lay/lie confusion.

>But what would it matter, if they stayed where they laid forever?//

Lay/lie confusion, and you don't need that comma.

>incessant droning that seemed to go on forever and ever//

Isn't that what incessant means?

>suddenly//

This is a word that should be carefully considered. You can usually write things so that they seem sudden without having to say so. It's like having to assure the reader that a joke was funny. If you have to tell him, it probably isn't.

>a note or two here and there, barely managing the high pitch it once struck so flawlessly, and it cracked once or twice//

That's very repetitive structuring: note or two, here and there, once or twice.

>“Can’t hold it for very long,” Aria explained as she draped a coat over Adagio’s shoulders.//

So after saying she refused to talk to Adagio, Aria's the one who was singing, and she spoke first?

>hand off of her face, holding it tightly in her hand//

Another spot where the repetition is justified, but it needs some acknowledgement of the repetition, like "holding it tightly in hers" or "in her own hand."

>Music's in my blood, Adagio//

You really need to cut back on the unnatural amounts of direct address. This is the second time in a paragraph.

>Adagio’s smile broadened slightly and took on a warm, almost maternal glow//

>Her expression clearly showed her pain//
How can Adagio know this? She can't see it.

>“Watch your language,” she whispered into Aria’s ear.//

Adagio hasn't exactly been clean with hers. I'm left assuming she's just copying Sonata in saying this, but that's an awfully subtle thing to rely on the reader remembering.

>Smirking, Adagio took the shards//

Within the past few paragraphs, you've used "smug" and "smirk" twice each.

>continuing to stroke her hair and sooth her//

Typo. The verb form is "soothe."

>now stinging//

Hyphenate.

>she spoke in a low, seething hiss//

When someone says something in an unusual tone, consider putting the speech tag before the dialogue. Otherwise, the reader's going to hear it in a regular tone then either have to go over it again or accept it as a detached fact.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2646

>>2644
>>2645
>calmly as she could manage. "Just calm//
Repetition.

>her haggard, obviously distraught appearance//

This is the one time such an external observation works. She's looking in a mirror, so she can see how she appears.

>a pleasant, steamy aroma//

What's causing the aroma? Water doesn't have any, and you haven't said she added anything to it.

>as she laid down//

Lay/lie confusion.

Also, your participle use is spiking again, and you tend to place them at the ends of sentences only (though the beginning isn't a great option, if you believe John Gardner). Here are all the participles in the scene until this paragraph:
>still grimacing//
>Sighing//
>curling her lip in disgust at her haggard, obviously distraught appearance//
>making a mental note to give herself the pampering of a lifetime//
>Pushing thoughts of her troubles aside as best as she could//
>filling the room with a pleasant, steamy aroma//
>occasionally glancing back towards the door and glowering//
>unable to take her thoughts off of Aria//
>Satisfying herself that it was adequately hot//
>taking her time to get used to the heat as she laid down//
That's ten of them in only ten paragraphs and only fifteen sentences. It also lends your writing a choppy feel to have so many short paragraphs. None of these are longer than two sentences, and most are only one. They don't seem to be so uniquely thematic that you'd have to divide them all up in such short pieces like this, given thay're not broken up by dialogue.

>a blissful expression on her face//

How can she see this?

>She would be lying if she said she would take a bath over a swim in the ocean, of course.//

Seems like you're missing a "rather" in there.

>A blink and a start revealed that the sight was simply her mind playing tricks on her//

This is kind of bland, since the narration is supposed to be her stream of thought. Let the tone of the narration carry her mood, too.

Okay, I was wondering when the sex tag would show up. At least Adagio rebuffs Aria's advances on the basis of them being sisters, but the fact that Aria's trying to go for that in the first place might be problematic.

>Letting out a heavy breath, her expression changed to one of concern.//

Blunt emotional context, too external to the perspective, etc. But what I wanted to point out with this excerpt is that it says her expression let out a breath.

>Adagio set the gem//

Set it where?

>Reluctantly, Aria complied.//

So she wanted to seduce Adagio and now she's reluctant to sit on the bed with her?

>Lifting her eyes to meet Adagio’s, Aria’s face//

This says Aria's face lifted her eyes.

>for awhile//

a while

>Aria trailed off//

Redundant with your use of an ellipsis. And why does this need to be a new paragraph anyway?

>Laying together//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Adagio sighed, but resigned herself to her fate and laid back.//

Lay/lie confusion. This is the one thing I'm pointing out every time I see it, since once in a while you get it right, and I don't want you fixing the ones that aren't broken.

>an insistent gesture telling her to wait//

This gets the purpose across, but it gives me no clue what it actually looks like.

>now familiar//

Hyphenate.

>considering herself fortunate that her sisters had at least been considerate//

Repetition.

>They had apparently resolved to make up for the drama of the week prior by doting on her.//

This seems out of place with how Aria had been relating to Adagio before. I can see Sonata doing this, but Aria? Plus they all admitted to being mutually at fault, so why are they treating Adagio like royalty? I guess you'll get into this, but they're trying to turn over a new leaf, yet they're falling back into the same arrangement, so if it's an unreliable narrator situation where I can see the train wreck coming even though the characters can't, that's fine, but it seems inconsistent with how everyone's attitudes have played out.

>“Ready?” Aria asked, downing her fourth mug of coffee.//

How does Adagio know it's her fourth?

>Adagio nodded, and the three of them made their way out to the garage, ready for a grueling session of Aria’s demanding instruction.//

You've got an extra line break after this paragraph. Either that, or you have a horizontal line that FiMFiction is failing to draw on my screen (which happens from time to time and isn't your fault).

>it felt like knitting wearing mittens//

I'd encourage you to stick a "while" in there. Since mittens are something one might knit, it sounds like that's a product of the knitting, not a hindrance to it.

>Adagio's eyes fell to the ground, her expression somber.//

How can she see this, and even if she could, why's that what clues her into how she feels?

>to be laying back on a comfortable chair//

Lay/lie confusion.

>to let the saltwater sooth her//

Same typo you had on that word before.

>Because that, to her, was the whole point of the beach. To relax and enjoy the scenery. To feel the sea breeze blowing through her hair, carrying with it that distinctive salty smell.//

Why did she describe this as something most people don't appreciate? Lots and lots of people do exactly this at the beach.

>Because that was the point of beaches, to enjoy the scenery//

Yes, she's already said this.

You're giving me a bunch of these one-sentence paragraphs again. Don't overplay them. They make things stand out, and when a lot of things stand out, nothing does.

>still sorting things out. There might still//

Repetition.

>malevolently eerie//

Why would she describe her own laugh that way? That implies she wasn't into the purpose behind it, if she found it unsettling.

>a trace of affection//

There are lots of ways this could look, and there could be lots of motivations behind it. A description would help.

>Looking over at Sunset, she smiled.//

They've been smiling an awful lot, and I don't think Adagio stopped since the last time.

>by the time we’d been talking this long last time//

Kind of repetitive.

>“You never know,” Adagio remarked, smiling coyly.//

I'm a little surprised Adagio is so at ease right here, since, y'know, she actually did try to kill Sunset. And she's probably not feeling too good about that at the moment.

>“If there’s one thing my friends taught me, it’s that anyone can be a good person if they want to.” Sunset pointed to Adagio’s heart and smiled. “And from what I’ve gathered, you three really do care about each other, don’t you?”//

This gets back to a point I made earlier, that bad people can do good things and vice versa. Sunset's making an overly simplistic argument here, that if Adagio cares about her sisters, she must be good. It's more that she'd have an element of good to her, and maybe Sunset can draw that out, but that one aspect doesn't mean Adagio is entirely good. I mean, you don't believe that either, since what they did at the battle of the bands was bad, but I think this deserves to be a little more nuanced of an argument.

>If that’s not enough to tell me that you could be a good person, I don’t know what is.//

And your use of "could" here hints at it a bit, but still ambiguously, as it doesn't state whether it's that she could be inherently good or if she could be made good.

>taking advantage of the lull in the conversation//

You're literally in the next sentence after dialogue, and nothing has happened to indicate any time passing since then. There is no lull.

>But we'll see how things so.//

Typo.

>Make some friends, give up my villainous ways and be a productive member of society?//

She's playing this in an extremely self-aware manner, such that it comes across as very flippant. It also makes it as if she's already completely turned her life around to view it like this, but that would mean that her actual conversion already happened off camera, which carries less power, since the reader doesn't get to see her struggle at the critical moment.

>quietly sobbing//

That's a really sudden escalation. Take the reader on the journey there; don't just jump to it. For that matter, I can't be sure she isn't faking this. I assume not, since the narration's been keeping up with telling me when that's the case.

>a look of blissful calm on her face//

She can't see this to say so, and she just closed her eyes to boot.

>gently stroking her hair//

She just did that a bit ago. It's fine if she's still doing so, but acknowledge the repetition.

>holding her in as comfortable a manner as she could//

How does Adagio know this? She's reading Sunset's mind here.

>Glancing in the general direction of the sky//

That's pretty much anywhere but down. This is ridiculously vague.

>there’s…” she trailed off//

>I…” Adagio trailed off//
Redundant to narrate trailing off when you already have an ellipsis.

>Adagio laid down on her side//

Lay/lie confusion.

>however remote//

Set this off with a comma.

>pouring over it//

poring

Are they playing a timed match? Because otherwise, I'd expect his to take many hours.

>I don’t why I even bother.//

Missing word.

>Ignoring Sunset’s attempts at comforts//

I don't know why either of those is plural.

>Rooting through her bag, she finally took out a plain black book//

Just another example of a participle synchronizing things that shouldn't be.

>It’s my diary. Hundreds of years of memories.//

Hundreds of years in a single book? She sure doesn't write much of it down.

>Noting Sunset’s surprise//

You just mentioned Sunset's surprise a couple paragraphs ago, but you haven't demonstrated it either time.

This occurs to me that they wouldn't necessarily have to learn the tonality of Mandarin, for example. Because that gets removed when you sing it.

>There's far too much for one volume.//

Ah, there we go.

>Someone that they could rely on, someone that they knew they could go to for help//

For people, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>“Umm, I guess so, but I’d prefer if you-//

Missing your closing quotes.

>Adagio’s eyes fell, becoming downcast and troubled.//

That's rather bland. The narration is her thoughts. Make it sound downcast and troubled.

>her eyes falling//

Again?

>her expression taking a melancholic turn//

Vague, and she can't see it anyway.

>further…” She trailed off//

Redundant.

>Her eyes showed a blend of desire and pity.//

I was afraid of this. Where's the desire coming from? We've gotten no characterization from Sunset's side that would suggest there was an actual attraction there. And I suppose it's very telling that you have the sex tag, but not the romance one. Sunset's been nothing but genuine about wanting to help Adagio, and she has to realize that this isn't going to help anything. I could see her having some ethical debate over whether this would actually help in some way, but without that, she's completely undermining everything she's worked for. Not to mention that this aspect is coming into the story so late that it feels very tacked-on and somewhat artificial. We'll see how this plays out.

>laying on top of her//

Lay/lie confusion.

>I would very much like to see you again, but I don’t think this is the time.//

So Adagio's now making the argument Sunset should have. Man, this is all kinds of backward.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2647

>>2644
>>2645
>>2646
Okay, problem number 1: this gets racier than we're comfortable posting on the blog, particularly considering that Sunset is essentially underage here. I kept waiting to see if that would be the case, since up until this chapter there had been only a few oblique references to sex, and I found myself wondering whether that would actually need the tag. It's a shame, because this was a really strong story up until then.

I'd mentioned several times that some of the emotional arcs felt inconsistent, and that's one of the biggest issues I have with this being resolved with sex. As I'd also mentioned, this only develops so late in the game that it seems extraneous. If you'd built up to it the whole time, there's an arrow pointing that way, but nothing related to it ever came up until this chapter, aside from a couple of insincere one-liners. Nothing about wanting to be loved or wanting children came up until the last chapter. It was all framed as her letting down her sisters, and then suddenly there's this romantic interest that had never been hinted at from either side, and there's no impetus attached to it.

It's not related to Adagio's redemption. It doesn't solve any of her problems. She just takes advantage of Sunset at a time she's trying to act in earnest, and then she ends up abandoning Sunset, yet the irony of that is completely lost on her, since that's the lesson she just spent six chapters learning. And Sunset is entirely unfazed by the whole thing. Given the way things played out, shouldn't Sunset's argument have been that it's the emotional attachments that matter, and even if Sunset doesn't love her in a sexual way, that doesn't discount the kind of intimacy two people can share, and that Adagio should appreciate someone who wants to be close to her without that outside, self-serving motivation?

So it should be clear from the detailed notes that there are some persistent problems, like repetition, perspective slips, lay/lie confusion, quotation mark styles, dash usage, etc., but those are the kinds of things you can learn and fix. They're more or less cosmetic, though they can have a pretty big subconscious effect on how well a story flows, and I was certainly not exhaustive—these are meant to help you find the rest of the same things on your own, since it'd take me far too long to handle them all.

I'll be blunt. I thought it was entirely unnecessary to go to sex in the story at all, but that's immaterial to what you want the story to be, and it's immaterial to whether the story's good or not, and I'm fully prepared to approve stories that don't suit my tastes, as long as that's the only substantial knock against it for me. But the way it comes up feels like it's an entirely different story tacked on, as it was never broadcast earlier in the story, it's not tied into the themes you've developed, it actually produces a situation precisely opposite what Sunset and Adagio were trying to achieve, and neither one of them sees any problem with this. Well, maybe Sunset does, but it ends very conspicuously without any sort of reaction from her once all is known. Sunset was never portrayed as wanting a romantic involvement, and it was never a condition to Adagio's redemption. At best, there's maybe a Florence Nightingale Syndrome thing going on, but it's not played as such. Even when Aria joked about Sunset and Adagio getting together, or when Sunset was actually in Adagio's room, Adagio just brushed it aside as a stray thought, and then in chapter 7 makes a snap decision that sex is going to accomplish something. That doesn't evolve; it just comes out of nowhere.

The whole story had been marching toward Adagio feeling better about herself and reconnecting with her sisters. Which happens. In chapter 6. So chapter 7 is set up to be some kind of denouement, yet we get even more conflict introduced that just results in kind of a nebulous ending without resolving anything. She doesn't get the closeness or children she spent the whole chapter pining for, and there's not even a point made about that failure. I can't even call it an open ending, because there's no path ahead or stakes defined for any of the possible options. It really does come across as a semi-related side story where you just wanted to ship two characters, and it doesn't even turn that way until the last couple of scenes, since the majority of the chapter was their long conversation on the beach. It's the kind of thing that'd take its own 10k-word story to develop, but it blasts by in just a couple thousand words, rising out of thin air and disappearing just as quickly.

If you want it integrated into the whole, start doing that work way back in chapter 1 or 2. That means establishing exactly what attracts these characters to each other on more than a physical level and demonstrating what each wants to give and take from the relationship. Aragon has written a very good series of blog posts that I believe he keeps linked on his homepage, in which he discusses at length what it takes to portray an authentic relationship. Maybe on Adagio's side, she could be into it for entirely shallow reasons, since she's coming from a broken mindset, except that she relates all this history that should make her able to understand it much better than that. And it's unclear what Sunset ever thought this would accomplish or why she even wants it. Plus it's hard to see either of them not being worse off as the story ends. Adagio walks away from what she thinks could be real intimacy but uses a bunch of flowery language to try arguing this is a good thing. And again, we don't get Sunset's feelings on it at all. She's been used. It's as simple as that, and for a disingenuous reason.

I think it was a mistake to so completely drop the attempted murder. Maybe Adagio can't admit that to Sunset, but it barely resurfaces at all, even in her own thoughts, and that's a pretty big change of attitude she's gone through. It'd warrant some more self-examination rather than being forgotten.

If it was just a matter of not liking the ending, there would be no problem, but it doesn't make sense to me, and I don't even see what the entire last chapter adds to what came before. It speaks to the strength of those first six chapters that I cared this much about what happened to these characters. I'm betting you're locked into having the story the way it is now, and I certainly can't blame you for that, but the last chapter's very muddled in what it's trying to say, if indeed it's trying to say anything, and it doesn't tie in very well with the attitudes and theme of the rest. It's like one of those epilogues that's more of a curiosity than any further development of the story. Plus it's a bit over the line for what content we can allow.

Man, I feel like I'm saying the same things multiple ways, but I just want to be very careful explaining, since this feels like a huge wrench thrown into what was an otherwise great story. So I'll try to sum it up in concise fashion.

—Sunset spent the entire story wanting to reconnect with her sisters and stop feeling like a failure.
—She achieved this in chapter 6.
—Romance was never a condition of this accomplishment, nor was it even a subplot. It never came up until late in chapter 7.
—What basis does Adagio even have for wanting this romance? Since the battle of the bands, it's only been a week, and Adagio had only spoken to Sunset twice as anything other than enemies before inviting herself to Sunset's house and throwing herself at her.
—Adagio's either being truthful about wanting to be loved or not.
—If she's telling the truth, Sunset doesn't give her that, so what point is there in going through with the seduction? Maybe to get Sunset to concede, but that's going to be based on getting to know her, and two conversations plus sex isn't any more of a basis for love than two conversations.
—If she's lying, then it's unclear what she wants from sex, since the whole story has been about developing healthy relationships. I could take this as her wanting to give Sunset a reward for her help, but Sunset's obviously very reluctant, so why make her take a reward she isn't comfortable with?
—Abandoning Sunset is precisely what Adagio is supposed to have learned not to do.
—Despite being used, Sunset never reacts one way or the other. It's not that she stands there emotionless, though that would also be unsatisfactory. It's that the story stops before we even get to her reaction.
—This would need to be toned back some to fit the content guidelines we maintain to appeal to a general audience, not only in what happens in chapter 7, but also with Aria trying to seduce her own sister.
—I don't know what to make of the fact that this has the sex tag but not the romance tag, especially given that Adagio explicitly wants Sunset to love her.

Despite all this, I did very much enjoy the story up to that point, and you definitely show talent as a writer. I doubt you'd be willing to make such substantial changes to this story, but I hope you'd consider submitting others to us, and if you think I'm being unfair, you can request another opinion.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2649

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

>The tip of her shovel stopped halfway and made a hollow, wooden sound.//

I'm going to pull examples from the paragraph that starts with this line. Writers of intermediate experience often lean on certain structures too much, because they sound sophisticated, but the problem is that they're unusual in everyday use, so they stand out easily and quickly get repetitive. These are the participial phrase, the absolute phrase, and the "as" clause. Here are all the ones in this paragraph:
>Gasping and letting the shovel fall out of her hands//
>her eyes frantic and her heart beating loudly//
>the sight in front of her filling her heart with a mix of anticipation and dread//
>worn from age and degradation//
>Swallowing and breathing out her nose//
>fishing around for something//
>her fingers grasping the handle like a vice//
>Rearranging herself into a crouching position//
>causing her to lose her footing and fall onto her behind//
This is in a real rut, using the same structure over and over again. You can get away with this for more mundane things, since they're ordinary and pass without as much notice. It's more about breaking up the ordinary structures with regularly spaced variety than using unusual ones all the time. Note that there are attendant problems participles in particular have than you're likely to exhibit, just from the sheer number of them you use. I already see one: synchronization. Participles make things happen at the same time, whereas some of these would more logically happen in a sequence. Like this one:
>Rearranging herself into a crouching position, Sunset pulled upward on the handle with every bit of strength she had left.//
She probably doesn't pull on the handle until after she's rearranged herself.

>a mix of anticipation and dread//

I'll revisit this. It's better to demonstrate emotion than to state it outright, for the most part. This is a prime place to do so, because it's an important emotional moment in the story, and because you especially want the beginning of the story to be more evocative to snag the reader's interest. Your narration has sounded more or less omniscient, but there have been a couple touches of limited, like where you use sentence fragments to create a converstional feel. In either case, focus more on what behavior she displays that the reaer will interpret as anticipation and dread, and if you want a limited narrator, make the narration itself reflect her mood. What kinds of comments could the narrator make that would sound like the stream of thought from a person who was anticipating or dreading something?

>(Cough)//

This is a clumsy format. Just have her cough outside the quote.

>Sunset breathed a sight of relief//

Typo. And be very wary of these "in/of/with mood" phrasings. They're more of the type of directly stating character emotion I just discussed, but they're a particularly overbearing kind, since they're almost always redundant with information already there. A sigh can connote several emotions, and relief is one of the most common ones. If you think it's a little too ambiguous, some further piece of body language might complete the picture. In any case, that'll get across her mood in a much more engaging way than just having you tell me her mood.

>Scooping up her belongings and literally throwing them into her book bag, Sunset bolted up and out the door//

Here's another spot where an participle synchronizes actions that shouldn't be. Keep an eye out for these, as I'm not going to mark any more of them.

>hate filled//

When you have a multi-word descriptor right in front of what it modifies (unless it's a two-word phrase starting with an -ly adverb), hyphenate it.

>She wasn't even aware that she was holding her breath.//

This is very cliched. And if you intended to use a limited narrator, then the narration can't say what the focus character doesn't know.

>though she stopped when she saw her initial reaction//

It's ambiguous which "she" is which.

>alright...I'm//

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

>We're friends now, aren't we?//

This could use some justification. Nothing's been mentioned about what they've done together since the Fall Formal, so I have no idea why Fluttershy would consider her a friend. Give me a little evidence of this. It could be as simple as Fluttershy mentioning a couple of things they'd done together to try convincing Sunset of this.

>shoulder length//

Hyphenate.

>is that you Sunny//

Missing a comma for direct address. You do this a lot.

>She was moments from screaming her head off before she felt her trembling in her embrace, her strange ramblings slowly turning into quiet sobbing.//

It starts to get hard to keep track of who all those "her"s and "she"s are.

>(huck)//

Yeah, don't put these sound effects in the dialogue.

>hopefully to get some help//

He couldn't handle her on his own? He didn't even try.

>You must be relatively new to this place, then.//

We'll see how this plays out, but it seems odd to me that a single suicide would be so noteworthy that the doctor would assume a complete stranger would know about it. And if the doctor's so familiar with it, why doesn't she recognize Sunset?

>Her arms went limp as she watched the doctor briskly walk into the corridor, unable to budge from that spot.//

Another thing you have to watch about participles is how close they are to what they describe. This makes it sound like the doctor is unable to budge.

>slowly started to quicken//

While entirely possible, that just has a strange sound to it.

>in awhile//

"A while" and "awhile" aren't always interchangeable. When it follows a preposition like this, you need two words.

>Taking a closer look, the creases on the paper were worn and dirty//

And yet another danger of participles is when you forget to include the thing they describe in the clause. This says the creases took a closer look.

>What are the odds that some girl who died in such a tragic way has the exact same name as me, let alone a girl from another world?//

Well, it's a coincidence that it's her double in particular, but she was already aware that such doubles existed.

>lying it face down//

Lay/lie confusion.

>street lamps//

streetlamps

>fifteen year old girl//

fifteen-year-old girl

>i can come over//

Capitalization.

>It wasn't exactly true that her phone needed any charging, she just didn't want to talk with anyone else tonight.//

This is the kind of thing that feels more authentic if you get at it subtly. Beware of over-explaining character intentions and motivations.

>(Drip...drip...drip...)//

Just describe the sound. This is an awkward way to handle sound effects.

>pinpoint the source of the noise. Though no matter how hard she focused, she couldn't pinpoint//

I've seen several places like this, where you repeat a word or phrase within a close space. Try to avoid doing this.

>second and third degree burns//

second- and third-degree burns

>Scrambling back a few feet, she twisted herself around and slammed a palm on the floor, sprinting towards the back door as fast as her legs could carry her.//

There are a lot of things synchronized here that shouldn't be.

>letting her know that she had just been burned//

This is really obvious. It's also an example of another problem, where you're using a very limited narrator, yet the narration isn't very relfective of her mood.

>The weakness in her voice made Rainbow's pupils contract as she looked at her.//

You're in Dash's perspective. How can she see what her pupils are doing?

>as she tried respond//

Missing word.

>She wanted to tell her everything. To just leap over and cry on her shoulder.//

You started the scene in Dash's perspective. Why are you jumping over to Sunset's now? It's a pretty short scene to need to do that. It's probably better if you pick one. You could have it be in Sunset's viewpoint, which means starting the scene outside with her. Or it you want it to be Dash, then don't jump over to Sunset now.

>(“I'm not lying, really.//

Don't format thoughts with parentheses. Either italicize it or put it in quotes and use a speech tag identifying it as a thought. But if you want the scene in Dash's head, she can't know what Sunset's thinking.

>I don't want to worry them anymore than I already have.//

"Anymore" and "any more" mean different things. You need the two-word version.

>You think for one second I'm gonna let you go back out into that freezing cold weather by yourself?!//

Why isn't Dash concerned about her going back to a place they know an intruder's been able to get in and threaten Sunset?

>kinda of//

Something's jumbled here.

>“...”//

That may cut it as video game dialogue, but not in good writing.

>I'm about to give her a ride back to her house so we can call the cops.//

I really don't understand why she's comfortable with Sunset going back to her house. She can call the cops from Dash's house.

>I think things might get complicated with the cops if you got involved.//

How? I don't understand this.

>shouldn't of//

shouldn't have

>The immense pain she was feeling in her lungs earlier was back.//

Given that you're using a limited narrator, none of the narration sounds like it's in pain here.

>“Are you Sunset Shimmer?” The officer closest to her asked.//

Capitalization.

>As much as she was loathe to admit it//

"Loathe" is the verb form. You want "loath" here.

>ten minute drive//

>forty degree weather//
ten-minute, forty-degree

>knowing that she had to look irritated for them//

Why? What purpose does it serve?

>a moment a silence//

Typo.

>Either than//

other than

>abso-LOUTE-ly//

Not sure why you'd change the spelling. Do you want her to pronounce it differently or something?

>what its like//

Its/it's confusion.

>make due//

make do

>quaff//

coif

>this time showing clear discomfort//

How does she know? This almost makes it sound deliberate.

>just...!//

Those choices of punctuation do pretty opposite things. They don't play well together.

>Vice Principle//

Spelling.

>“ Wait//

Extraneous space.

>Sunset grit her teeth.//

The past tense is "gritted."

>Preposterous!” She said//

Capitalization.

>Her eyes went wide for a split-second//

There are quite a ew places where you use a she or her, but the most recently named character isn't the one you mean. It can get confusing.

>19th century//

In this usage, hyphenate it, and that's a short enough number to spell it out.

>widely//

Are you sure this is the word you meant? It's a strange choice, and it's repetitive with a "wider" you have just a bit later.

>anymore these days//

That's fairly redundant.

>her's//

No such word. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes.

>be!” The maid gushed//

Capitalization.

>darjeeling//

That's a proper noun, so capitalize it.

>Ye~es//

Don't use a tildeto indicate tone. Just describe how she says it.

>crinkled mouth//

You just described her hair as crinkled.

>shoo'd//

shooed

>blemish!//

When an italicized word has a question mark or exclamation mark on it, include that punctuation in the italics.

>forty five degree//

Hyphenate.

>italian//

Capitalization.

>it,” The maid continued//

Capitalization.

>The maid thrust herself into face, “Even//

Seems like there's a missing word, plus you have that formatted like it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>started ,//

Extraneous space.

I don't get why Pinfeathers so easily gives in to both talking to Sunset and to letting her into the burned part of the house. At least Sunset notices this.

>Brick, mortar, and wood all laid strewn about/

Lay/lie confusion.

>a nervous tick//

tic

>soot-covered earth//

Why would the ground still be covered with soot? Wouldn't the rain have washed it away? It's been a long time.

>situation would've//

Extraneous space.

>soot covered//

Hyphenate.

So the upper floor collapses, and she's not at all concerned that someone heard it?

>thought,she//

Missing a space.

>LAUGHING!”, she//

You don't need that comma. You only use one to replace a period, and it would have gone inside the quotes, anyway.

Why hasn't it occurred to her that this bricked-up doorway may just lead back into the good part of the house? That'd make sense. A lot more sense than having someone come into this ruined part to block it off.

>a perpetual puddle of water beneath it//

They'd notice this in the water bill. Wouldn't they have done something about it? If it turns out it's not actually leaking, and it's just an illusion/dream, fine, but it'd be odd for them to just leave it dripping indefinitely.

>The smell was the strongest it's ever been//

I suspect that's just a typo, but you're going into present tense.

>in deliberate positions//

That's a really strange word choice. Deliberate? Someone intentionally arranged them this way? You don't give any evidence of how it looks to justify that.

>thirty degree//

Hyphenate.

>The object broke apart like pumice at her touch//

I'm not sure what imagery you're going for. Pumice doesn't break all that easily. Are you just saying it looks porous?

>“Wait, this isn't...this couldn't be her room, could it...?”//

Isn't that obvious by now? I thought she'd concluded that way back when she saw the water pipe.

>It was a steel folding chair, pristine and new//

This is the one thing in the room that stands out as being different from the rest. How did it not catch her eye immediately upon entering?

>She gave it a look as if it were the most unusual object imaginable.//

Why is she assigning imagery to her own expression (which she can't see)? It really distances her from how it feels if her cue to that is how it looks.

I'm beginning to wonder why, through all this visit to the house, Sunset hasn't once thought about the lady in the hospital, particularly once the cranes come up again.

Wait, if the mirror just crumbled from the fire damage, how haven't the windows done so as well, just from the wind against them after all this time? But Sunset had mentioned wanting to break them, so they're intact.

>burnt off floorboards//

burnt-off floorboards

>Gnarled, iron//

I'll skip the long explanation, but you don't need this comma.

>On the ground, there were trees growing in each corner of the courtyard and - ”//

I don't think she's supposed to be speaking here. These are probably extraneous quotation marks.

>(tep)//

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

>an incoherent walla//

Or this.

>Spinning around with more force than necessary//

This one's got me a bit stumped, too.

>Standing in the collapsed hallway, was the other Sunset Shimmer.//

Unnecessary comma.

It should be clear what the main problems are. There's quite a bit of repetition, that thought formatting is just weird, and there are a few perspective slips. The one of those that stands out to me the most was the half-scene spent in Dash's viewpoint. The whole story is about Sunset's experiences and mystery, so there's not a compelling reason to go into any other perspective. There's also occasional spots where the emotion is just told to me instead of demonstrated through the characters' actions and appearance.

Beneath this, though, there's a good mystery. It's a fairly common premise, but one solidified a bit by the existence of actual doubles in this world, in contrast to the standard of it being some sort of descendant or reincarnation. There are a few logical gaps in how this is put together, but it does a good job of building tension, and you do have me wondering what happens next. There's also a nice trail of evidence so far that's inconclusive, though it'd be nice to see Sunset start to put together some theories. All she has is that Golden Ardor might have done it, and she has her doubts, but she's not coming up with any other possibilities or suspects. Of course, the initial assessment of suicide is still a viable alternative. Part of the allure of mysteries is sorting out all the lines of investigation, following false leads, revisiting abandoned theories, examining multiple suspects, and such, so the more you can do to add that kind of intrigue, the better.

Still, if you can get those other things fixed up, I'd be happy to post this. I do want to stress that I wasn't comprehensive. For the most part, I only marked examples of the problems I saw, not every single instance, so it'll be up to you to apply those corrections throughout the story, not just the spots I commented on. Give it a good scouring with these things in mind.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2652

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

>geodes of the Everfree Forest//

You're fine, because the movie actually calls them geodes, but... they aren't. That really bugged me.

>Twilight sighed and continued to jot down answers on her papers.//

Seems odd Twilight conveniently came there to do the same thing as Sunset. Had they agreed to meet? And in this spot, it seems like Twilight's distracted enough that she'd take a pause in doing her homework. If she can get back to it so quickly, it tends to show this isn't actually bothering her much.

Your dialogue sounds okay, but look at your narration. At the beginning, before there was any dialogue, you mixed it up with different structures. But once the conversation begins, every single narrative sentence starts with the subject, and many are about the same length. That tends to make the narration sound very dull.

>back into her bag, standing back up//

Watch the repetitive phrasing.

Twilight sure finished her homework quickly. It took Sunset a while, and she's no slouch as a student.

>OK//

Spell this out as "okay."

>Dear Twilight//

>Your friend//
Needs a comma.

>The whole trip to Camp Everfree didn't really go quite as well as we'd thought and now magic's been on our minds for weeks on end.//

>Nothing new's spiked up for a while now and the other you settled in pretty well here. //
Needs a comma between the clauses.

>colour changed repeatedly through all of the colours in the spectrum before a short blast of white light stopped the flow of magic and restored the multi-coloured//

Three uses of "colour" in the same sentence.

>soft, momentarily//

You don't need that comma.

>The impact shot her eyes open and she could see the glass where she had entered the room from.//

Needs a comma.

>laying neatly at the end of it//

Lay/lie confusion.

>around the rest of the room, looking around//

Repetition.

>toy chest with various different toys//

Kind of repetitive. I'd recommend just calling it a chest.

>yellow pajamas with pink heart//

Seems like that should be plural.

>run down her forehead as she ran//

Repetition.

>"Are you in there?" She asked//

Capitalization.

>Sunset could only watch as the chest opened up slowly.//

You just used "slowly" in the last paragraph, and you mentioned Twilight's hand twice in that paragraph, too.

>Sunset chest and pulling her out. She could see that Sunset was as tall as her chest//

Missing a possessive, and you use "chest" twice close together.

>She could see that Sunset was as tall as her chest and gently put her down on all fours.//

let me revisit that. I don't see a dependency here. You mention the two together like they have some connection, but what does her height have to do with Twilight putting her down?

>hide and even tried to hide underneath the bed, but there was nothing that she could hide//

So the operative word here is "hide."

>Coming, mommy!//

When used as terms of address, capitalize family relations.

>white hair with two pink strips//

I assume you meant stripes?

>Mommy and daddy//

These also get capitalized when effectively used as names.

>Okay, mommy.//

Capitalize.

>Shining Armour//

I'm okay with British spellings in general, but this is a proper noun, and it's not how he spells it.

>here I come!" She exclaimed//

Capitalization.

>Sunset wasn't anywhere inside//

This is already the third "inside" of the paragraph.

>Where are you?" She sing-songed//

Capitalization.

>slowly//

You use that word quite a bit.

>That was a close call, wasn't it, Twilight?//

Why? She didn't seem afraid of the mother, so I'm not sure what the issue was. And even then, why'd Sunset stay hidden after the mother left?

>OK//

okay

>small giggle slip from her mouth. It slowly developed into a small//

Repetitive. And another "slowly."

>mommy and daddy//

Capitalize.

>"—Forget it//

The way you've punctuated everything, this should be lower-case.

>eight-year old//

Hyphenate all that.

>those magic shows mommy and daddy take me to//

Capitalization.

>a small, yet rapid and enthusiastic applause//

"Applause" is a collective thing. You don't give "a(n) applause."

You really ought to Ctrl-f for slowly and small so you can see just how may there are.

>returning the crayons and sheets of paper as well as Twilight dashed over to let her brother in//

That phrasing doesn't parse.

>brother, Shining Armour//

If you're going to put a comma there, use one on both sides of his name.

>He wore a black bag around his shoulders and a purple suit and tie around his body.//

That's a really odd way of saying he's got clothes on.

>innocently flapped her eyebrows//

You sure you didn't mean eyelashes?

>Sunset's invisibility wore off and she brushed Twilight's arm away.//

Needs a comma.

>Why do you hide from mommy and Shiny?//

Capitalization.

>This went on for a few seconds before she stopped.//

This is pretty self-evident.

>OK//

okay

>over to where Sunset Shimmer laid//

Lay/lie confusion.

>its'//

Lose the apostrophe.

>Sunset laid perfectly still//

Lay/lie confusion.

>eight-year old//

eight-year-old

>She walked over to the sink and reached up at Shining Armour.//

This makes it sound like the sink is nearby, but Shining Armor hasn't noticed Sunset yet? Surely that would get a reaction.

>giving her soap to give//

Repetition.

>I never forget mommy's teachings.//

Capitalization.

>Sunset Shimmer poked her head from around the corner and watched Twilight and Shining Armour.//

So she's not where Shining can see her. This could have been made clearer before.

>eight-year old girl//

eight-year-old girl

>let those thoughts sink in, she let//

Repetition.

>Twilight hung her body over Sunset's body.//

Repetitive.

>But, you're an eight-year old//

Just do a global search and replace on this and OK. And it's rare that you should have a comma after a conjunction.

>How can such intelligence like that be in someone as fun-loving and childish as you are?//

You're losing the natural feel of the dialogue here. They're awfully self-aware, and Twilight's sounding rather adult all of a sudden. They seem to be spelling out a moral for the reader's benefit instead of going through an authentic discussion.

>watch from afar as Shining Armour and Twilight made some cookies together. She watched//

>As she watched the two of them bonding//
Repetition.

>Once Twilight's parents had put their shopping away//

You start two sentences in a row with similar phrasings. And cookies take at least a little while to bake. What are they all doing in the meantime? You just skip to them being done.

>It's okay, mommy.//

Capitalization.

>where Sunset laid//

>to where Sunset Shimmer was laying//
Lay/lie confusion.

>Okay, mommy!//

>Sure thing, dad.//
Capitalization.

>Pinkie Pie mentioned something about them//

She's lived in the human world for years, and she doesn't know what a cartoon is?

>english//

Capitalization.

>Sunset Shimmer's brows raised and lowered at different parts of the show, her interest increasing and decreasing at various points.//

This is vague and uninteresting. It doesn't say anything.

>Then, a song came on//

This paragraph is very repetitive and ends up just rehashing that very self-aware monologue Twilight gave about wanting to enjoy being a child.

>Twilight gave Sunset the biggest hug she could ever muster up//

Is that really wise, considering Sunset is wounded? For that matter, if she actually has a concussion, she needs to take it easy for at least a few days.

>where her computer laid//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Sunset's mouth opened wide when she heard Twilight's response.//

Why? Twilight doesn't give a surprising response.

>Twilight fluttered her eyebrows//

Again, I think you mean eyelashes.

>question, read the question//

Repetition.

>She was about to grab another paper//

You have a narrative aside breaking into a quote, so don't capitalize it.

>suckling//

sucking

Sunset seriously needs to look up how to treat a paper cut? And after all the medical stuff Twilight's done, she doesn't know either?

>doctor Sunny//

"Doctor" is essentially a title here, so capitalize it.

>dial-a-beat-tees or something//

Her intelligence level is really all over the map.

>sustainable//

That's a really odd word choice. Did you mean stable?

>and proceeded to stack them on top of one another//

You already had them stacked in the last paragraph.

>"Got it!" Sunset cried out//

There's an extra line break before this paragraph.

>And it just grazes off of the edge of the skylight!//

I don't know what you're trying to say.

>she let a single tear drop from her eyes//

This is incredibly cliched.

>back, and walked back//

Repetition.

>it was the Twilight that she had grown more accustomed to; the one that she had met at the Friendship Games.//

Misused semicolon. If you replaced it with a period, the part after it couldn't stand as a complete sentence.

>as the flavours danced in their mouths and left them speechless//

That must be really good food.

>I've been carrying it ever since; even when I had been a student at Crystal Prep.//

Another misused semicolon.

>Her name wasn't Sunset Shimmer, was it?//

Twilight remembers the name, but it never occurred to her that this Sunset has the same name?

>I would never leave friend//

Missing word.

There are a few pretty big logical leaps going on, plus a few spots I marked where the narration or dialogue loses its feel of authenticity. That can leave a story feeling stiff, so it lack an immersion that lets you get lost in the story. When it seems like the narration is saying pointless or obvious things, or it has a strange phrasing, it comes across like the author just wanted to move on to the more interesting parts. I've definitely been there as a writer, but you do have to keep up that careful word crafting throughout.

There's also a fairly weak theme. Twilight realizes this was her childhood friend, but there's no strong conclusion. Sunset tries to make one about not sacrificing childhood just for the sake of learning, but she doesn't make much out of it, and there weren't any significant consequences for Twilight, either. She said Sunset had been her first friend, but how did that end up shaping her life? And Sunset never tries to figure out how and why this all happened.

It's a nice plot twist, but one that's pretty apparent far before it happens, so make something out of it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2655

>that was the only thing to go through Spike's mind//
Capitalization.

>and no matter how much he hated the situation//

Set this dependent clause off with a comma.

>If the Rarity//

Extraneous word.

>It had felt like the first time he'd truly felt like his heart had broken.//

Missing a line break before this paragraph.

>For weeks he and yet when he'd finally worked up the courage//

Something got messed up in editing there.

>felt like the first time he'd truly felt like//

Repetitive phrasing.

>If she that were so//

>if he ever he could//
Extraneous word.

>good, long fly over the mountains would do him some good//

Watch the repetition.

>you." Came//

Punctuation and capitalization.

>That conversation had always been briefed//

Typo.

>from wandering.//

For some reason, this is on its own line and indented.

>he was quick to dismissed his shock//

Typo.

>and he shifted aside to offer his friend a space on the rock//

Set this off with a comma.

>drawing herself up slightly//

This is the third use of "slightly" in only four paragraphs.

>much of her sister, but he couldn't help but feel he'd voiced his question the wrong way.//

Extraneous line break and indentation.

>giggling slightly as she bowed her head//

And another "slightly" only a few paragraphs later.

>and averted his eyes to locks of her mane that hung over them//

I assume he's the one averting his eyes, but as you've worded it, she does.

>how much I loved it that is//

"That is" will normally be set off with a comma.

>amount of colts//

For individual items, you'd use "number" instead of "amount."

>thought the memory of the brown, earth pony colt that he thought//

Repetition.

>Sweetie Bell//

>a brake for Twilight//
Typos.

>to live to get together//

>It had been that that//
Something's off in the phrasing here.

>Sweeties laughter//

Missing apostrophe.

>he's fallen//

You've switched to present tense.

>Spikes mind//

Missing apostrophe.

>Noticing his friends crestfallen expression//

Missing apostrophe, and you'll normally set off a participial phrase with a comma.

>she has a special somepony//

You've gone to present tense here.

>So much for being fire proof, He grumbled internally//

Capitalization, and "fireproof" is one word.

>Even so, Sweetie Belle's words of kindness felt almost as magnificent as the sunset itself, even//

Repetition.

>That's why you came out here isn't it?//

Needs a comma.

>When I saw you leave you were heartbroken and as much as I've loved somepony before//

Needs a couple of commas in there.

>while he admitted love Rarity for her looks//

Phrasing is off.

>what he'd some to understand//

Typo.

>seen a mare more than looks//

I think you're missing a word.

>grounded with mare more truth//

Not sure what that's supposed to say.

>I didn't mean to stare Sweetie//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>not to something//

Missing word.

>the Rarity's//

Extraneous word.

>made him realized something//

Typo.

>'m just some creature that shouldn't really with a pony//

Missing word.

>"Spike," She declared//

Capitalization.

>like that did that night//

Typo.

>She gestured to the fading sunset with a hoof.//

Inadvertent line break and indentation.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2656

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

>Yet, today, no matter how many bromides she repeated to herself, Canterlot passed by, its sights and sounds growing and dying away in an incomprehensible and inconsequential blur, yet//

It creates the feel of a double negative to have those two "yet"s stacked up like this.

>yet all she could feel was the cool wind in her face; all she could taste was her heart in her throat; and all she could hear was the rattle and stir of the harnesses attached to the charioteers who were pulling her through the city’s airspace at a fearful speed.//

I don't see the need for semicolons in this list. None of the items have internal commas or multiple uses of "and."

>No, it was not apprehension, she thought to herself; it was more of a mild vexation, bordering on indignation.//

It's not going to engage the reader as much when you're feeding him conclusions about how Celestia feels instead of demonstrating them. It's important to get the reader connected to the character early in the story. All that language she uses to describe Canterlot with pride is a good example of demonstrating her emotion. So go into exactly how her mood manifests here. How does it make her feel physically? What sort of mental images does it evoke? What narrative comments might she make?

>She had been groomed since infancy for her position. When she had been a foal, somepony had always been lecturing her. In the morning it had been//

Fairly repetitive to have "been" in three consecutive sentences, not to mention that "to be" is a particularly boring verb.

>to not//

Reverse these.

>commander and chief//

I'm assuming you were going for the phrase "commander in chief."

>Yet her cheek twitched//

This is already the fourth use of "yet" in the story. Try not to get fixated on certain words like that.

>It’s as if I were some genocidal dictator being tried for war crimes.//

You didn't present that as an italicized thought, so it's like you're trying to switch to a first-person narrator.

>a little beige pegasus, dressed in a black pinstripe suit and a tie which he continually had to pry off his face when the wind of the carriage’s flight flung it out of kilter, sitting and looking rather uncomfortable next to her on the carriage//

The "sitting and looking" participle is located so far from what it describes that it's ambiguous what it describes. Participles like to modify the nearest prior object, so this has to leap over it, flight, wind, and face to get to "he," which is an awkward reference anyway, then suit and tie to get to "pegasus." This is just a seriously misplaced modifier.

Jeez, you use a ton of semicolons. I'd hope you'd want me to remember what happened in the story or your characterizations, not what writing tics kept popping up. And it's really ungainly to have more than one in a sentence, when they're not being used to separate list items.

>After much cursing, and some other words that would’ve probably sparked a revolution if the public had heard, Princess Celestia, unable to evade the fact that her sister was right, had given her reluctant consent to the free counsel, but, using the divers concerns that face a ruler as her excuse, had then proceeded to ignore the lawyer’s calls, to endlessly reschedule and cancel the appointments he had made, hoping that this whole “tribunal” thing was one of those issues that just went away on their own if she ignored them long enough, like the terrorist threats their administration received on a daily basis.//

That rambles on so long that I have no idea what point it was making. You do this a lot. It's even more muddled by the fact that you don't even keep these sentences on focus, constantly wedging in tangential asides.

>though his vexation with his client’s complacency remained//

So make him act the part. Just saying he's vexed does nothing to paint a picture, plus it's a bit soon after the last use of "vexation" to appear again without sounding repetitive.

>Princess Celestia interrupted//

That's already apparent from the dialogue ending in a dash. It's redundant to narrate it as well.

>This is a joke they’re playing on me, she thought.//

It's customary to put thoughts in italics, or if you're going to use a speech tag with them, you can put them in quotes.

>Queen’s Chrysalis//

Why is that possessive?

>full grown//

Hyphenate.

>not quite joy insomuch as it was a slight, modest contentment//

You're being really disconnected with the emotion again. This is a cold fact, not something that gets me to identify with the characters.

>The princess sighed, and gave a haughty, almost mocking, sidelong glance at him.//

You do this occasionally, too: there's an unnecessary comma before the conjunction. The same subject is linked to both verbs, so you don't need a comma.

>“The governing of Equestria fell to me!” she cried.//

As vehemently as she stated that requiring both princesses' signatures was a valuable check on individual power, I don't see how she fails to understand this or hadn't long since thought of it herself.

>as, legally speaking, the PRAT, as its power is delegated to it not through the Constitution but through the Equestrian Pony Rights Act, is not a court, but a tribunal, and thus cannot operate in federal facilities, as//

Fairly repetitive to have 3 instances of "as" in the same sentence.

After reading one chapter, I'm going to talk about what's putting me off so far. This is labeled as comedy only. And so far, there's a tiny bit of linguistic and situational humor, but for the most part, it's completely serious. I get that you're going for satire, but it hasn't gotten there yet, as everything that's happened so far is pretty reasonable. I don't even know what Celestia's going to be on trial for, and there's no reason for the story to hold it as a reveal, at least not that's apparent so far. There can be reasons to withhold information, like a first-person narrator who doesn't know or who avoids thinking about it. You have a narrator that's mostly omniscient but takes on a subjective feel at times, but not in a way that would be out of place in a comedy, if indeed this came across as one. It's a bit much to ask a reader to continue on to the next chapter when he doesn't know what the conflict is, he doesn't know why the topic is being avoided, and he's only seen a hint of the promised comedy. In short, it's not providing a good hook.

I'd complained a couple times about how convoluted the sentence structures can get, and I'll allow that can be a personal taste issue, but what's more objective about it is that the story is uniformly so. The narration, Celestia's dialogue, and Due Process's dialogue don't sound much different. It may not be problematic for the narration to sound like one of them—in fact, it's a good idea, if you're using a limited narrator. Even for omniscient, it's not that big a deal, but Process and Celestia aren't that differentiated by their diction. It's definitely a gray area, since I can tell them apart without looking at speech tags, just because Process stutters and uses direct address so much. In that way, their dialogue is differentiated structurally, but not so much in word choice and vocabulary. Having that differentiation at all is better than not doing so. That means that it's not the kind of thing I'd say was wrong, but it's worth thinking about in your future writing, as the more distinct you can make your characters, the better.

>as the carriage passed overhead//

He's in the carriage, right? This makes it sound like it's above him.

>As the carriage approached in for landing//

I don't see why "in" needs to be there.

>Due Process could see that not all of the yard was filled//

You've told me what he "could see" quite a bit already. Besides the sheer repetition, this language tends to point out that he was specifically looking for it or that it's a detail difficult to notice. Neither is the case. It's presumed he'd see whatever the narrator described as there anyway, unless you explicitly say he didn't or at least implied such.

>here and there could be seen the gaudy yellow armor and overblown crests of the Royal Guards, interspersed here and there//

>ground, and pegasi in the air so corpulent that Due Process wondered how it was possible for such tiny wings to lift such a great mass of muscle and armor from the ground//
Watch that repetition.

>divinely-appointed//

You don't hyphenate two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb.

>“Please, son,”—//

Don't use a comma in conjunction with a dash.

>much needed//

Hyphenate.

>mighta’s//

I don't see what this form accomplishes. How would this be said any differently than "might as"?

>maybe mommy tells ’im he gets no ice cream//

When you use a family relation as a name, capitalize it. Compare this to the "his mommy" you used just a tad before. That one's fine as lower-case, since the "his" takes it out of the realm of being used as a name.

>divers//

It's sticking in my head that I'm seeing this word a lot, too.

Now I'm at the end of chapter 2, and I'm still not seeing any humor or satire. There's still nothing legally unreasonable happening, so it's hard to poke fun at any of it. You're still being coy for some reason about letting me know what the actual charges are, though at this point, I'm beginning to assume it's because you want that to be a punchline.

>Mommy, mommy!//

Capitalization.

>having avoiding thinking about this issue for too long//

The verb form is off there. You need "avoided."

>two hundred, ninety-second thousandth, five hundred, and sixty-second//

The proper way to do numbers is to put commas only where you would for the numerals (or periods, if you use that system), there should be no "and" in there, and the ordinal only goes on the end. So:
two hundred ninety-two thousand, five hundred sixty-second

>eight hundred and five//

Improper "and."

>fifteen minute recess//

fifteen-minute recess

Good that we're finally getting into some humor in chapter 3. That's pretty far in for a story tagged solely as comedy. I'm still not at anything unequivocally satirical, though. There's at least a setup of such, in parallel to people's tendency to sue for any frivolous reason, but it's not entirely clear yet that the reason is frivolous, at least as presented. You could either be poking fun at such real-world cases or going for an earnest examination of how the child's mother has a point.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2658

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

>the grey earth stallion//

Such is the problem with these kinds of descriptors: they rarely tell the reader things he doesn't already know, so they're redundant. You just said in the last paragraph he was grey, and you already used "he" to describe him, so we know it's a stallion. Not to mention it doesn't play well with the limited perspective you've chosen, since it implies Rarity would choose to refer to him with such a phrasing in her own thoughts.

>It was why she was out in the park, anyway.//

Given that she goes on to say this as dialogue, it's redundant.

>the Sergeant//

When you use ranks generically, which usually happens by putting an article in front of them, they don't get capitalized unless they're really high up or unique (this is why Princess can be done that way, if it's meant to show respect). Captain and sergeant aren't high enough ranks to justify that.

>baulk//

I've only ever seen that spelled as "balk."

>Ponies could only cross at specified times and Rarity couldn’t cross until half-six in the evening.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>If she ever met the idiot that had ordered the raid on the Harmony District//

For sentient beings, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>Nachtkönigin//

You may well know far more German that I do. I haven't had a class in it for a couple decades, and I haven't had a good opportunity to practice speaking it for over ten years. But it seems to me there would be an adjective ending between the word parts. Some of those were always a great mystery to me, as they didn't always follow the same rules in compound words as they did in separate adjectives, but for some reason, I expected this would be "Nachtskönigin."

>The dark Pegasus stallion//

Again, your use of a limited narrator means that this is how Twilight would think of him, even though she's familiar with him and knows his name. You don't refer to your acquaintances in such terms, do you?

I'm getting confused with the languages. Apparently the day side speaks Dutch, and the night side speaks German. So where's the English coming from?

Also, I know enough Dutch and German to understand what everyone is saying, so I'm a bad judge of whether the average reader would pick up enough from context or be lost.

Okay, so you later say it's not Dutch. I can't tell the difference, but then I learned Flemish, not proper Dutch.

>“I was expecting something more old-timey,” whispered one of the humans.//

See, this just reiterates what the narration already said. It's redundant unless you do something to make each instance of it do something different. For example, Rarity predicts this reaction. Then she gets it. If you don't do anything with that, it's mindless repetition. If you draw some meaning or characterization out of it (like having Rarity gloat that she was right, maybe), then it accomplishes something.

>There was still room for her when they’d boarded and her little act of generosity meant she was the first to disembark the tram//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>Made out of sapphire glass, it was crystal clear//

If it's clear and not being used for jewelry purposes, why wouldn't they just call it corundum?

>whose boss//

You mean this to say "who is," not show possession. You want "who's."

>G-Goedenavond//

Unless it's a word that has to be capitalized anyway, only capitalize the first part of a stutter.

Okay, so Fluttershy speaks in Dutch, and Rarity answers in German. In my experience (which is admittedly a long time ago), Fluttershy would understand it but be really put off, probably angry. She might suppress it, but there'd be signs. Yet she doesn't react. Or since Fluttershy is from the night side, is German native to her? In that case, she was speaking Dutch as a courtesy to Rarity? Then I ask again: where is all the English coming from?

It's now getting really ungainly that you have to keep mentioning what language everyone is speaking on nearly every line of dialogue.

>she’d overdid//

Either "she overdid" or "she'd overdone."

>there would be no prostration on the ground and Nocturnal Equestria’s Ministry of Information was insane//

>The sun was beginning to set and she could see the faint cyan glow she’d normally seen from her apartment window.//
Needs a comma between those clauses.

>The buttery yellow Pegasus mare//

You already described her as such, it's something every reader already knows about her, you hyphenated it last time, and this is one of the absolute most cliched phrases in ponyfic.

>What a lovely accessory, he has!//

No need for that comma.

>She gestured to the Pegasus city above//

Rarity just "gestured" a few paragraphs back. It's a little soon to reuse a word choice without it sounding repetitive.

>whom hooted once in response//

"Who." It's the subject of this clause.

>She suddenly noticed//

This is the exact same way you started two sentences ago.

So, after one chapter, I'm tossed into a world where I have no idea how it got this way, I don't get how the languages work, I have no idea what purpose it serves to have humans in the story at all, and there's various terminology like "blindsight" thrown around as if I should already know what it means. I can't tell whether the two worlds are related as day/night or as dream/wakefulness. It's an interesting world, but if as a reader I feel like it's too confusing and all going over my head, I'm not likely to read on. I'll continue on through as many chapters as you've published so far, but I think you have an accessibility problem.

Another word about chapter 1: you're awash in boring "to be" verbs. It's much more engaging to use active verbs where possible. Of course, it's not practical to remove them altogether, but you can manage them for the most part. Of the non-ambiguous ones, you had 153 in this chapter, and 79 instances of "was" alone. That's a "to be" verb every 28 words, or about once every other sentence. That's how often nothing happens.

>room’.//

That period would go inside the quotes.

>in horror//

It's a good idea to avoid prepositional phrases that contain a mood or emotion like this. They just push a conclusion on the reader instead of showing him the evidence and letting him draw his own conclusion.

>There was always going to be exceptions//

You have a mismatch in number: was -> exceptions.

>Rarity had counted at least a dozen different styles of foreign clothing and the visitor’s hat steadfastly refused to coordinate with any of them.//

Needs a comma between the clauses, but this is completely redundant with the previous sentence.

>Ottoman//

That word's in such common usage now that it doesn't need to be capitalized when it refers to the piece of furniture.

>“Lang lebe die Nacht,”//

Why'd you stop italicizing the other languages?

So I guess the English is only for the reader's benefit? It's really hard to pull off a switch like that in a written medium, because it doesn't come across the same way as it would in a movie, say. The reader's not going to keep reminding himself that they're actually speaking something other than English, because in the end, what does it matter? It's fine to have one side speak something different to illustrate another culture, but to have both be different? Really, if the day side actually did speak English, what about the plot of your story would change? I'm betting nothing. Then it becomes an irrelevant detail that makes things more complicated without accomplishing something else in return.

Now that Twilight's turning the conversation toward why Rarity is there, you're finally getting to the conflict, but the problem is I'd have no idea what the conflict even is, except you described it in the synopsis. The story needs to say so, too, unless there's some sort of internal justification as to why the subject is being avoided. You've mostly used a limited narrator in Rarity's perspective, and that would mean she refuses to think about the killing or that she's so occupied with other things that it doesn't even occur to her. Neither one is plausible under the circumstances, so I don't know why the story is playing coy with it.

>Your superiors know about this folder, the Head of the Marechaussee assured me he spoke directly to Grand Inquisitor Sunset Shimmer herself//

Comma splice.

>Rarity’s averted her gaze//

Extraneous possessive.

>she wasn’t sure if she should have seen that but she wasn’t going to take any chances//

>she’d find some way of gleaning more information and they couldn’t stop her//
>He led her and Fluttershy down to the basement where the Inquisitor waited for them in a large meeting room.//
Needs a comma between the clauses.

>die ersten Pony//

Again, maybe I'm just too far removed from my German classes to remember, but there seems to be a mismatch of gender here. You're in accusative case, so "die" indicates a feminine noun, but "ersten" has a masculine ending. I don't know off the top of my head what gender "Pony" would be, but borrowed nouns, especially ones ending in "y," tend to be neuter.

>Well, of course, thought Rarity.//

Why isn't either the thought dialogue italicized or in quotes?

>The train journey there took a good six hours and she’d spent two days there.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>edges perfectly parallel with the edge//

Watch the repetition.

>“The Harmony District is a special location,” explained Inquisitor Sparkle.//

You're falling into a rut by having dialogue start all the paragraphs that contain any.

>Pegasus//

If you're not going to capitalize all the races, don't capitalize this one either. Otherwise, it refers specifically to the winged horse from Greek mythology.

>The unicorn’s name turned out to be Orchid Dew.//

How so? Did she answer Rarity's question? Did Rarity look at the paperwork?

>concernedly//

You're really going overboard with these adverbs in this chapter. A lot of them are attached to speaking actions. Adverbs are fine when they change how an action happens, like softly or quickly, but when they communicate an emotion, you ought to consider whether you could demonstrate that emotion through character appearance and behavior instead. How does a concerned person act? Have Rarity do the same things.

>best, reassuring//

No need for that comma.

>many a criminal had given her the same stare and she had learnt to brush it off herself//

Needs a comma.

>Uh-okay//

Please use a proper dash for anything other than a same-word stutter.

>partially in relief//

Another one of those ungainly prepositional phrases that directly informs me of a character's feelings, plus it points out its own shortcoming by never saying what the other part of the "partially" is.

>irritably. “Witnesses to the body dump claimed it was transported in a carriage,” she said irritably//

So she's irritable, you say?

>I thought we could use it to prove something but if it was stolen//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>meant no one kingdom’s national infrastructure could extend into the area without triggering an international incident. That meant//

Repetition.

>despites//

Typo.

>houses either side//

Missing word.

>as if there as//

Typo. Not sure why the editing is getting worse here.

>between the two kingdoms, making it look as if there as some invisible anti-plant force field between the two kingdoms//

Repetition.

>started to count under her breath as her horn started//

Repetition. I'd also caution you against making much use of "start" and "begin" actions. They're often needlessly auxiliary to the real verb, and it's obvious that any given action would begin. It's only worth pointing that out if the beginning is noteworthy, like it's sudden, or the action never finishes.

>above. There was a rumbling on the floor above//

Repetition.

>in builder’s yard//

Missing word.

>Party Favour//

Normally, I don't mind British spellings, but there are a few cases where I do. Proper nouns are one. This isn't his name.

>They knocked the Inquisitor through another door and Thunderlane crashed into a wall.//

>She’d have to chase after them and she’d end up all sweaty and smelly afterwards.//
Needs a comma.

>seven year’s bad luck//

years’

>she didn’t have to worry about heterotopic ponies at that time of the night. So long as she didn’t try anything too risky, she’d be fine//

I don't get the reasoning here.

Okay, you explain it in a bit, but it's still part of the world building you never really covered. It doesn't help that I'm awash in jargon, which makes the reader have to think longer to sort out what you're saying.

>went over heels//

Isn't it "head over heels"?

>Qilin//

...Aaaaand I have no idea what you're talking about, which makes this an irrelevant detail. It doesn't matter if I understand it, by definition, since I have no chance of understanding it.

>That’s quite enough, darling//

You have her using "darling" and "dear" far more often than she actually does in canon. Check out the transcripts. She rarely says either more than a couple times per episode.

>In the distance, Rarity could hear sirens.//

You just used "could" in the previous sentence, plus the usage here implies it's a detail most people would miss, and I doubt that's the case. What do you lose by simply saying she heard them?

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2659

>>2658
>without so much of//
That's usually phrased as "without so much as."

>into the alley. As she dragged him into the alley//

Repetitive phrasing.

>like through a sieve//

That's an odd phrasing.

>So how, are they?//

Misplaced comma.

>she thought better to enquire further//

Seems like this should be "she thought better than to." And this is already your third use of "enquire" in the last nine paragraphs.

>She was suddenly aware that seemed to be some kind of colour scheme going on//

Missing word or typo.

>Imperialism!’,//

When there's other end punctuation, it replaces the comma; don't have a comma in addition.

>The Inquisitor greeted two Lictors stood guard outside a room.//

Phrasing is off.

>adjacent Night Glider//

I've always seen it phrased as adjacent "to," but if you're familiar with using it this way, that's fine.

>her words translated by Fluttershy//

Why is this necessary? If it gets overly complex, maybe, but in my experience, most Dutch speakers can get the gist of things said in German.

>the pony that did this to you//

For sentient beings, you'll normally use "who" instead of "that."

>don’t— No//

Don't leave a space after an em dash.

>If you need anymore//

"Anymore" and "any more" aren't interchangeable. You need it to be two words here. If you add in the implied noun, what looks right, "anymore water" or "any more water"?

>She seemed to be breathing strongly//

You said almost the exact same thing almost a page ago.

>Originally it was for disguise purposes, the spell-caster would use it to swap cutie marks as a form of disguise.//

Comma splice.

>Her body tremored with terror.//

Consider that you've been using a limited narrator, i.e., you have the narrator voice Rarity's unspoken thoughts for her at times. If she's in terror, then shouldn't her thoughts sound like she's in terror? This is delivered so calmly and stoically.

>She presumed the doctor had said Party Favour was unconscious.//

Given the earlier "Rarity heard Minuette say something about unconsciousness," this would be self-explanatory.

>but I’m sure she forbade you from dream walking her//

Given that she commented a couple times already on what she thought the doctor had said, why'd she skip this part?

>If we can wheel Herr Favour//

Since it's a direct object, doesn't the weak noun take an extra n, i.e., Herrn Favor? Or does it not work that way when it's used as a title?

>that was a recent development but most ponies agreed it was a good idea when they heard it and the Government had adopted it wholesale from its American source//

Needs two commas to separate clauses.

>her reply seemed to take the Nocturnal Equestrian aback//

How so? What did Twilight do?

>Rarity didn’t need to know that Inquisitor Sparkle had sworn this oath but the Inquisitor had insisted on telling her anyway.//

Needs a comma.

>Rarity could imagine Mevrouw Twilight Sparkle stood in front of a class//

The verb form of "stood" is off.

>Daring Do amongst the students, fast asleep, drool running down her blue cheeks//

Daring Do is blue? I can't fathom why you'd change it to that. What difference does it make?

>“I think,” she began//

It's odd to have "began" as the speaking verb when it's not even her first dialogue of the paragraph.

>started getting dirtier. It started//

>seemed to be attempting to unearth an earthenware vase of draconic proportions. Though huge, something about it seemed//
Repetition.

>She started to channel magic into her horn.She started to channel magic into her horn.

And another "started" soon after, but I've already bugged you about using this verb sparingly anyway.

>unearth more of the earthenware vessel, but there was still a large amount buried in the earth//

That's three forms of "earth" in a single sentence.

>There was none. Her mane was fine. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief.//

That's awfully bland for a limited narrator in a situation that should be emotionally charged.

>I’ll have a word with my guvnor about this but you can’t stay here//

>You know we couldn’t dream walk her and Glimmer wouldn’t confess//
Needs a comma.

>“You know something, don’t you?”//

I have no idea who says this.

>Rarity’s eyes snapped opened//

Typo, and you need a comma after this.

>GLider//

Typo.

>She looked at Rarity as if the white unicorn had suffered a brain aneurysm.//

...As if she's extremely concerned and about to summon medical help? I think you're going more for something like insanity.

>membership of that political movement//

I've always seen that as "membership in."

>There were no lanterns or street lamps and the cloud houses around her were dark//

Needs a comma.

>glowing luminescent//

Technically, those are different things. Luminescence is a property of a material, and it possesses that property even when conditions aren't right for it to glow. But most readers won't know that, which will make this sound redundant. Your call.

>Up this high, the ponies wore luminescent bands. Some wore luminescent leggings whilst others just leg bands. Most wore clothes that had luminescent strips sewn into the fabric.//

You sure like that word a lot. The first two sentences sound a bit contradictory. It's alo making me wonder how they charge these things. Luminscence means they absorb light, then give it off later even after the light source is removed. So how do they charge them, especially if it's the nocturnal side? Moonlight wouldn't do much, since it lacks the intensity and doesn't have the same spectrum.

>Guards stood guard//

You don't say... Surely you can rephrase that like "stood at their posts" or something.

>Like the Lictor that Rarity had seen//

"Whom," not "that."

>“Why yes; yes, we are!” interrupted Rarity suddenly//

A few things. First, the "interrupted" is redundant with the fact that Twilight's dialogue ended in a dash. Second, "suddenly" is pretty much implied by an interruption, but even in general, it should be used sparingly. If something's sudden, it should naturally come across that way through how you write it. Needing to say so is like having to assure the reader that a joke is funny. Third, when there's an interruption, the very next thing should be what does the interrupting or it takes away from the sense that it was abrupt. So the fact that the narrator managed to wedge in "began the Inquisitor" before Rarity's speech that cuts Twilight off, it disarms the sense that it was immediate.

>he thought better of pointing it out//

This is the second time you've used such a phrasing, and I wonder if it just means something different where you're from. Whenever I've heard the phrase "thought better of," it means the person has raised his opinion of something. "Thought better than to" means he decided he shouldn't do what he'd been considering, which seems more like what you're trying to say.

>in her best Nocturnal Equestrian//

How does Rarity know that's her best? She hasn't known Fluttershy long. For that matter, why wouldn't Fluttershy know it well? She lives in Nocturnal Equestria, doesn't she? That's the only place we've seen her until now, and nothing has come up to refute it.

>past the Ionic columns//

You already mentioned what style they were. Does it really warrant mentioning again?

>It was much nicer inside the prison; not toasty, but warm enough.//

Misused semicolon. What comes after it couldn't stand as a complete sentence.

>Rarity didn’t pay much attention to international news but what little she had read suggested it was fully in the hooves of the Army.//

Needs a comma.

>Frau Glimmer//

I notice that you always treat the second word of their name as if it were a last name, but family names don't always work like that in Equestria, like with Apple Bloom. I suppose canon hasn't said whether "Starlight" or "Glimmer" is the family thread, if indeed either one is, but just as an interesting tidbit of world-building, it might be nice to see that get switched up here and there, if you care to.

>Then he touched the door and it immediately became transparent.//

Needs a comma.

>as if she was//

You're speaking hypothetically, so use subjunctive mood, which is always "were" in past tense.

>the People’s Thing//

These two explanations for the parliaments are really wedged in. They don't fit the narrative style at all. Rarity's your limited narrator, so this implies she's thinking about the governing bodies when you go off on these tangents, yet I can't see a reason why she would be. At least this one tries to give an explanation, but it's not framed too well. You say she makes the point about how it works to Starlight, so just show me what she says. That way I still get the explanation, but it's relevant instead of trying to retcon it in through narrative summary after the fact.

>isn’t the time nor the place//

The "isn't" and "nor" create a double negative effect. You'd more typically see "isn't the time or the place" or "is neither the time nor the place."

>She looked at Starlight imploringly.//

That's a rather external judgment of how she looks, given it's her limited narration. If you're imploring someone, think about the intent, the mindset behind it, the way it feels. Not the way it looks, because she can't see her own face. When you have a perspective, be careful that the emotions are presented as how that character would perceive them.

>The cerise unicorn//

Rarity knows her name by now. Why is she still referring to her like this? And why is she using a different color than before, anyway, if you insist on doing this? It's inconsistent and can make it sound like there's yet another character present.

>then to the white unicorn//

And that's even worse. It's bad enough to have Rarity use an abstract descriptor for someone she's acquainted with, but herself? You don't call yourself "the ponyfic-writing human" in your own thoughts, do you?

>metallic grille//

You keep calling it that. I get the picture.

>whom nodded slowly//

Set this off with a comma, and it's just "who." It's the subject of this clause. Try replacing it with "he" or "him," and it usually helps figure out whether you need the nominative or objective form.

>And the pony that visited me//

"Who," not "that."

>the pony whom had been window-shopping there//

who

>had got//

had gotten

>dared. Only foals dared//

Repetition.

>she said gestured to the four cell walls//

I assume you meant that to be "gesturing." And if so, set off the participial phrase with a comma.

>He says they’ve arrested some mare called, Moon Dancer?//

Why is that comma there? They aren't for dramatic pauses.

This turned out to be a rather good story so far, but I think it has three more general things holding it back. I've at least mentioned them all before, so I'll sum them up here.

The type of descriptors we term "Lavender Unicorn Syndrome" because of the prevalence of using phrases like "the lavender unicorn" in this fandom do have their uses at times, but for the most part, it's best to avoid them, and they're a particularly poor fit for a limited narration, since the character would rarely actually think about other characters that way. It's an avenue where the story can have a broken perspective.

The other two I can lump together into accessibility. There's a balance to be struck when introducing a reader to your unique world. You don't want a huge infodump explaining every nuance of it up front, because the reader has no reason to care about it yet, and you'll just bore him to tears. You also don't just want to toss the reader into the middle of things and hope he can figure everything out on his own. There's a sweet spot where you give out the information as a subtle but steady flow as it becomes relevant to what's happening, ad the reader often won't even realize he's getting a history lesson. Take the part where you talked about the two parliaments. That was very conspicuous. But look at how far we have to get in before we realize what the conflict even is. Then take why we get to read nearly everything in English, yet we're told none of it actually is, and through 4 chapters and close to 20k words, I still have no idea why that'd be the case or why it's necessary, not to mention what humans have to do with anything. If it had been a pony killed, I don't see how it changes the plot at all. Maybe it's just meant as a parallel to the source material, where there's a third race or faction you want the humans to represent, but you still have other Equestrian races that could stand in, and I haven't read the novel, so it means nothing to me why humans might make the best choice. You have to come at a crossover as if the reader doesn't know anything about that other material. So it's very far into the story to still have so many unexplained things, and you're asking a lot of readers to take it on faith that it will eventually matter. You have to build that investment as early as you can.

Really, that's the biggest thing. I've spent so much of the story confused about what's happening and why, and that's not a good thing. If you can tune that up then I'd be happy to post it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2660

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

Your editing's actually quite good, so I don't have a lot of detailed feedback. Here's what I did compile:

>Allegra//

Why is she named after an allergy medication? Are you sure you didn't want "Allegro"?

>us-“//

Please use a proper dash (and note that in the places you did use one, you shouldn't have a space after it) and note that certain punctuation can break smart quotes. They're turned backward here. This happens in other chapters as well.

>“Elliot and I,” corrected several family members at once.//

Actually, they're wrong. People are so desperate not to use "me" inappropriately that they end up using "I" inappropriately. "Elliot and I" is nominative case, equivalent to "we." "Elliot and me" is objective case, equivalent to "us." Now, going back to the original instance, what sounds more correct, "your discontent for we" or "your discontent for us"? It's a compound object of a preposition, thus objective case.

>nice, quiet, room//

You don't need the comma between "nice" and "quiet," since they're hierarchical adjectives, i.e., they describe different aspects and would sound really odd in reverse order. You don't need the other comma either because you never place one between a modifier and its object.

>Still in shock from Octavia’s sudden gesture of kindness//

You've been in Octavia's perspective. Well, I say that because except for that one paragraph that switched to Vinyl (more on that later), anything subjective in the narration was representative of Octavia's viewpoint. This is from Martha's though, or would somehow require Octavia to read Martha'a mind as phrased. If you give the external evidence of it or explicitly say this is what Octavia thinks to be the case, that's one thing, but outright stating it as fact is quite another.

>much!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty.

>thank you, cousin//

Family relations get capitalized when they're essentially used as names, so "that's Mother," but "that's my mother."

>arranging the electronics neatly against one wall and arranging//

Close repetition.

>Christmas tree lights//

Did you forget to make that a Hearth's Warming?

>whom only had one present//

who

>Tympani//

That's odd that a percussionist would be pigeonholed into playing tympani only. Maybe they need a specialist in it, but wouldn't they want someone who could play all the percussion as needed? Not every piece includes tympani, after all.

>details;//

What follows is a sentence fragment, so the semicolon isn't used right. You're defining those details, so a colon would be appropriate.

>ect.//

Typo.

>happening!!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty.

>read aloud//

Third time you use that phrase or some close variation in three paragraphs.

>big wig//

In this sense, it's one word.

>and—“ she was cut off by Octavia.//

Backward quotes. Also, the dash already means she was cut off. It's redundant to narrate it as well.

>her family members started praising her and her talents//

You go on to have them say these things, so this is redundant.

>The rest of the day seemed like a blur. All her family members wanted to help her get ready for the audition, so nearly the rest of the day//

Repetition.

>Martha and Elliot were especially enthusiastic in supporting their relative.//

It's like you wanted to end this chapter as soon as you could. You're glossing over all kinds of things. If this is important (and it seems like it is), it'll mean a lot more for the reader to see it as it happens instead of getting a narrative summary after the fact.

>It was about a week after Hearth’s Warming//

It's strange that you ended the last chapter with Octavia noticing something was off about Vinyl, then you start this one without addressing it at all. She hasn't resolved or even thought about that in the intervening week?

>One of the carriage ponies cut her off.//

For one thing, it's already obvious she got cut off by your use of a dasj to end her dialogue. For another, I'd place any speech attribution after the dialogue. If it's truly an immediate interruption, then that interruption needs to happen right away. It undermines that if the narrator has time to say anything between the cutoff and what caused it.

>each contender had to play a five-minute piece of their choosing, along with the sight reading portion of the audition//

This isn't particularly relevant at the moment.

>There were two stallions; a black unicorn with brown hair tied up professionally, and an earth pony whom Octavia recognized right away as Mr. Woodwinds.//

Another semicolon that should be a colon.

>And whom, may I ask, is she?” asked//

"Who," not "whom." And when she actually uses the word "ask," it's repetitive to have it as a speaking verb.

>I will conduct you to make sure you keep time.//

That's strange. I can see them wanting to see how she handles following a conductor, but for the stated purpose, I'd think they'd want to see how well she could keep time on her own. That's an old music teachers' trick, to turn on an electric metronome, get the band started, mute the metronome, let them play for a while, then turn the sound back on to see how far off the beat they are.

>it made her feel nervous and queasy all over again//

While she's playing? This would be great imagery, if you could portray it: self-defeating thoughts running through her mind and her stomach churning as she struggles to keep focus on the sheet music and the conductor.

>state whether or not you have been accepted into the orchestra,” stated//

Repetition.

>she beamed//

Very questionable as a speaking verb. How do you beam a sentence?

>the unicorn//

You're in Octavia's perspective, and she knows Vinyl well. Is she really going to refer to her with a descriptor like this? Would you think about your own friends in similar terms?

>rare, teasing moods//

Unnecessary comma. They're hierarchical adjectives.

You use some form of "excite" five times in chapter four. All of these instances occur in the first two paragraphs.

>the gray earth pony//

This is even worse than using such a descriptor for Vinyl. Now Octavia's referring to herself. Who uses this kind of terminology about himself in his own thoughts?

>20//

Spell out numbers that short.

>“Oh, Octavia, deary,” Grandma Melody suddenly said with concern, “look at the time!//

You've got 4 paragraphs in a row that start: "Quote," she speaking-verbed, "rest of quote."

>whom she assumed she would learn the names of//

That's a really cumbersome phrasing. Try: "whose names she assumed she would learn."

>She was glad, too, that her family had started treating Vinyl better.//

This seems like it's supposed to be an important plot point, but you're completely glossing it over.

>you…” her voice trailed off//

An ellipsis already means trailing off, so narrating it is redundant.

>unsuspected//

I think "unexpected" is more the word you wanted here.

>flutists//

Usually, that's floutists. Well, I decided to second-guess myself, and sources tend to say "flutist" is more common in American English, though as much time as I've spent around serious musicians and being one myself, I've always heard "flautist" as far more prevalent, so maybe my experience is just skewed.

>whom often performed//

Who.

>the earth pony//

It's completely unnatural for her to refer to herself that way.

>and how she lost her career because of an accident that was completely not her fault//

It's an awful tease to hint at a very interesting piece of back story and never deliver on it.

>“Mrs. Harshwhinny?”,//

When you have other end punctuation, drop the comma, which wouldn't go outside the quotes anyway.

>the pony//

Another one of these very external references. They don't work in this narrative voice.

>I once had a tuba player come in for auditions and he remembered to bring everything except his tuba.”//

Needs a comma.

>I- I//

Don't leave a space in a stutter.

>Then Octavia rushed out the door//

And none of the ponies who came there with her immediately follow her to see what's going on?

>The sound of clopping feet became slower as the pony//

Another external reference, plus it's a very external way of her describing her own hoofsteps, like she's detached from them.

>A young filly//

If this is her memory, why is she describing it in such a detached way? It sounds like a newspaper account of it, not a flashback from someone invested in the event.

>she had said//

It's not obvious who this is. Presumably Octavia's mother, but the lead-in hasn't said Octavia's the younger one, plus the action hasn't focused on one of them yet, so it makes it ambiguous which one "she" is supposed to mean.

>It’s not a bad thing, actually, it’s very helpful for those not as inherently talented as you and I.//

Comma splice.

>clearly distraught//

In whose judgment? It's Octavia's reminiscence, so it can't be anyone but her, but she wouldn't be thinking that about herself. She'd be too busy actually being distraught to worry about whether she looks that way.

>“How dare you be such a fool//

Missing a line break here.

>And the likelihood of any of the Royal Orchestras hiring you after they hear of this event is slim to none.//

This seems very artificial and drummed up just to give the story some drama. What if Octavia had a family emergency and needed to go take care of a sick loved one? What if she'd already auditioned for other orchestras and had just heard back that she'd gotten into one that was more advantageous to her? I can't believe that they'd never fathom a reason why someone would ever decline, nor can I believe they'd blacklist her for it.//

>reason!!!//

One exclamation mark is plenty, and he's getting into what I mentioned. So this kind of thing actually has happened before. Why are they being so threatening, then? She's under no obligation to tell them her reasons.

>“Wha-?!!? How could you-?!? Octavia Melody, is this a joke?!!”//

All that punctuation is just ridiculous. One of each is fine.

>“Wait, what?!”

Note your quotation mark styles don't match. Don't italicize the closing set when the opening ones aren't. This isn't the only place you have this error.

>pulling out the band out//

Repetitive.

>“If leaving you to live on my own is the cost for being in some big symphony, then I don’t care what the payout is. It’s not worth it.”//

I'll refer to this later on, but I wanted to mark it for your attention.

>Back at Grandma Melody’s house, an old patchwork quilt sat on the couch in the basement, unharmed and ready to give warmth to anyone willing to use it.//

This is strange. I get the sentiment you're going for, but it's not like Octavia's thoughts are drifting to it. It's stated in a very detached manner, one sentence at the end of the story that doesn't flow from what came before. You just leeap location and narrative voice, and it comes out of nowhere. I'm also not quite sure why you have the quilt at Grandma's house, since it'd imply that she should know better or be receptive to Octavia's argument, if she sees the value in such a thing. This really needs a better segue.

You start the story in a very definite limited narrator using Octavia's perspective. Then you skip downstairs to say what's going on with Vinyl, which effects a jump in perspective. It's not like it was abrupt, so the fact you transitioned at all isn't the issue. But you only spent a paragraph with her before going back to Octavia. If it's important enough to go into Vinyl's head, it's important enough to stay there awhile. ALso note that if you want a limited narrator, you ought to have the narration express subjective things pretty regularly, or you risk having the narration revert to feeling omniscient. There are fairl long stretches where this is the case, like much of the conversation where Martha first shows up.

Look at your first few paragraphs as well. They keep saying the same things two or three times, sometimes even using repetitive word choice and phrasing. It's a bad idea anywhere in the story, but you don't want to create the immediate impression that the story's going to be repetitive and redundant.

Watch how often you directly identify character emotion. Here are two examples:
>a curious, wonder-filled look//
>Filled with a wave of anger.//
The three main ways authors do this are by using an emotion word as a noun (his excitement), adjective (the sad woman), adverb (he walked happily), or prepositional phrase (sighed in relief). It's more engaging to demonstrate emotion through how the characters appear and act, not by simply telling the reader how to interpret them. We normally read real people through behavioral cues, so it's more realistic to do so for written characters as well. You don't just know someone's sad. You see them cry, have a short temper, have bloodshot eyes, get distracted easily, etc., and conclude they're sad. Let the reader make these conclusions about the characters instead of telling them what the answer is. This not only gets the reader to identify more closely with the characters, but it creates richer visual images. I know what crying looks like. I don't know what "a curious, wonder-filled look" looks like. I can come up with something, but then you're making the reader do your job, and he's not seeing it as you might have imagined it, either. You want a little movie to play in the reader's head.

Okay, now getting back to that line I flagged to talk about later. You do have a theme and a conflict in this story, but they're not omnipresent enough to make the whole thing stick together that well.

Like I said, it's obvious Vinyl was upset, but it speaks to Octavia having a very casual relationship with her if she just shrugs it off and never asks Vinyl about it. Yet they both burst into tears at the thought of losing each other. It's very inconsistent. Frankly, we don't even have much evidence of how deep their friendship runs. We just have to take the story's word for it without ever seeing it in action. It's not the kind of story where you want to show them meeting for the first time and taking me up to the present so I can see all of their past together. But you've included a flashback, and that's one method for giving that back story to make the reader understand what all is involved in them being friends. Anecdote can also work well. It's closely related to flashback, but it just involves Octavia's mind wandering to times she'd spent with Vinyl instead of taking the reader back to see it happen "live." In short, if you want to hinge the story's power on them being such good friends then you need to demonstrate that to be the case before having it carry the emotional punch.

It's not even that clear what Octavia's giving up. You do have her act very excited about getting the invitation, and that's all well and good, but she passes the audition with seeming ease, so it's not even like she had to work for it. Easy victories don't mean much. She's nervous about whether she'll succeed, only to have one of the panelists gush about how nobody else has ever come close to her skill level. That's treading on Mary Sue territory. If she's good and has the confidence that results, it doesn't mean she never gets nervous, but it does mean she knows she's capable. But when she doesn't dare think she has a chance but blows the competition away, it's a fairly cliched conceit.

For that matter, when the panel was so incensed at being turned down. how does that reflect on Vinyl's friend or even Vinyl? They put themselves out there to recommend Octavia.

You wait fairly long to even bring the main conflict into the story. You do have the idea of patchwork and these poorer relatives near the beginning, but it's not until the end of the story that we see a connection between the two. I don't mean you need to spoil what Vinyl's gift is, but it'd give the story more coherence if you brought that plot thread about auditions in much sooner. Maybe not that Octavia's actually going to go do one, since she doesn't know that until she opens her gift, but just something about considering whether she could make it in a professional orchestra to show she has conflicted feelings about it and foreshadow that it's going to come up later.

I'm curious at the lack of reaction from Octavia about the fact that the audition was a gift. She only deals with the thoughts of not being able to leave Vinyl behind, and it never comes up that Vinyl was the one who instigated that. I'd expect Octavia would be touched Vinyl was willing to give up her friend so she could achieve her dream, or that Octavia would be angry Vinyl was willing to let their friendship go. As it is, she just forgets that's what started it all. Plus it goes back to my point of not getting a sense of how long or how much this has been a dream of Octavia's. How'd Vinyl even know about it? There's something that'd be good to have some anecdotes about.

There's a good story in here, but it's lacking some of the fine threads that keep it all attached together.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2663

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

>ya'll//

Please don't be one of the people who can't spell this right.

>Apple Bloom found herself waving to her two friends//

The "found herself" construction implies the situation is unexpected or she can't remember how she got there. Neither would seem to be the case.

>Despite it having been a long day with the promise of summer drawing ever closer//

Set off the absolute phrase with a comma.

>the mare found herself//

No need to repeat why this phrase isn't ideal, but you also don't need to be repeating it so soon after. It's only one sentence later.

>She saw her friends wave back to her//

It'd already be implied she saw them just because the narrator said it. Pointing out she saw it tends to mean it'd be something hard to notice or that she was specifically keeping an eye out for it.

>all of them greeted by a foal in short//

I have no idea what you're trying to say here.
Edit: I figured it out later, but this is a really unclear way to say parents are there to pick up their kids.

>spotting the sight//

That's a horribly convoluted way of phrasing this. It's not even really accurate.

>smile she wore on her face faltered slightly when she approached her brother, Big Macintosh, who had a gentle smile on his face//

Repetitive phrasing about them both having smiles on their faces.

>Big Macintosh said with a smile//

You just got finished saying he smiled. Is he doing it again? What happened in between to change it?

>“Hey,” Apple Bloom tried to smile but it faltered slightly.//

You have that punctuated as a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>apparently reading her annoyance//

Who's the "her" this refers to? Afaik, Apple Bloom's the only female there. Even if you meant that to be a "his," you'd been telling the story from AB's viewpoint, yet the "apparently" isn't something she'd think about herself. She'd know whether it was true or not; "apparently" wouldn't enter into it.

>his brow being slightly raised//

This is your fifth use of "slightly" in just the last seven sentences.

>The foal//

And given that you're apparently using AB as your perspective character, why would she choose to refer to herself with this term? You don't call yourself "the person" in your own thoughts, do you?

>cheek, kicking lightly at the dirt as she felt her cheeks//

Repetition.

>this made her feel irritated//

Set this off with a comma. And instead of just telling me she's irritated, demonstrate it. What does she do? What sensations does it cause?

>this made her feel irritated//

>feel annoyance//
Yeah, this is going to be a problem. For the most part, you're going to get much more mileage out of demonstrating emotion than you will outright informing the reader of it. There a brief discussion of it in the "show versus tell" segment at the top of this thread.

>more often than not usually//

Redundant.

>It used to make Apple Bloom roll her eyes//

Needs a comma after this.

>He had been walking along her//

Missing a "with."

>ya'll//

In addition to the misspelling, it's fairly unusual to see an actual southerner use this as s singular term.

>‘bout//

The smart quotes in most word processors get leading apostrophes backward. You can paste one in the right way.

>with Big Macintosh laughed//

Verb form is off.

>just…” Big Macintosh trailed off.//

The punctuation already shows him trailing off. Narrating it as well is redundant.

>His initially happy way of talking faded off as the sound of his footsteps was all that was heard.//

This doesn't make sense. Everything faded off, not just the happiness, but "initial" makes it sound like the happiness went away before his talking did, yet you describe them as going away at the same time, giving her no opportunity to hear anything but happiness.

>in thought. She tried to think, and then those thoughts faltered//

This really doesn't mean anything. There's no emotion attached to it, so it's just there. It doesn't make me understand anything about her.

>cause//

You need an apostrophe, since you're shortening "because."

>When Apple Bloom looked up to see his face//

Needs a comma to set off this dependent clause.

>he sighed loudly//

She just did the same thing two paragraphs ago.

>“Hey, Sugar, C’mere,” Big Macintosh nodded his head.//

Another non-speaking action used as a speech tag.

>it usually made her feel anxious when she knew it was coming//

So how's it making her feel now? What images are going through her head, what physical sensations does it cause?

>pay the man//

Is... is this a human fic?

>a few small bowls//

Why is he carrying more than two?

>the heat of the air//

I'm not sure what it adds to attribute the heat to the air.

>“I don’t get it,” Apple Bloom shrugged.//

How do you shrug a sentence?

>thick rimmed//

Hyphenate.

>That had made Mac upset.//

How can she tell? What did he do?

>rough housing//

That's a single word.

>Apple Bloom could clearly remember Caramel apologizing//

This is your sixth use of "remember" in only four paragraphs.

>with the need to understand//

That's an odd thing to make eyes sting.

>It was real embarrassin’ for the two of us.//

Okay, this is coming across as a tad heavy-handed. It'd help to differentiate it from a general disapproval of PDA. Just because someone doesn't want to see ponies kissing doesn't mean they're homophobic. Nothing in AB's memory of what happened makes it clearly so.

>bout//

Needs an apostrophe.

>Big Macintosh sighed loudly//

Again?

>Y-Yeah//

Unless it's a word that has to be capitalized anyway, only capitalize the first part of a stutter.

>two stallion’s//

Lose the apostrophe.

>Our families real fine//

And that one actually should be a possessive, not a plural.

>“I…” Big Macintosh trailed off//

Redundant.

>Grown up’s//

Grown-ups

>When she had the courage to look back at him//

Needs a comma here.

>em//

Needs a leading apostrophe.

>other ponies business//

other ponies' business

>She felt a mix of emotions that were difficult to put to words.//

Well, try, or this is meaningless. The whole point of the story is to get me to feel what AB is feeling. It's like saying: "It was a dark and stormy night, and there was this brutal murder, but I can't tell you about it."

>nick name//

nickname

>You an’ AJ an Granny are all nice.//

You're still not differentiating that behavior. A random mare who complains isn't nice, but when Granny Smith makes the exact same complaint, she is nice. There's no reason for me to take the two differently unless you show me what's different about them. It sounds more like Big Mac's rationalizing than anything.

>Big Macintosh smiled, and nodded his head.//

The same subject is linked to both verbs, so you don't need the comma; it's all one clause.

>so fast that she almost choked on it. She found herself nearly dragging Big Macintosh into a run so fast//

Repeated phrasing.

>mid section//

midsection

>at least picked up speed by her request, or at least//

Repetition.

>Every thirty seconds//

As you've phrased it, this should be lower-case.

It seems odd that Big Mac had the opportunity to visit Caramel all along, and nothing's really changed, yet he's all excited to do so now and sure it'll work. It's not the most logical train of thought. Maybe if he attached more importance to having a thoughtful gift now, or that AB's presence will do something he alone couldn't?

>Caramel didn’t look like himself//

And you use "look" five times in this paragraph.

>what ar-”//

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

>She get’s it//

Extraneous apostrophe.

>Sugar Cube//

That's typically done as a single word in MLP context, and like Big Mac calling AB "sugar," they're generic terms of endearment, not actual nicknames, so they wouldn't be capitalized.

>Thanks, Apple Bloom. I feel better knowing that, I promise.//

And that disarms that this was that much of a problem to begin with. He can get over it just because she tells him to. If there's no struggle to resolve the conflict, that makes for a very bland story. That struggle is what gives the story its power. Otherwise, it's not going to stand out above all the other generic homophobia stories. Nothing really changed during the story. Big Mac's attitude sure didn't, and AB didn't either. They just go tell Caramel to feel better, he does, problem solved.

Strong ending there. That's a nice line to go out on.

The four biggest issues:

You repeatedly use non-speaking actions as dialogue tags.
You have lots of repetition.
You too often directly tell me how characters feel instead of getting me to interpret it from their behavior and appearance.
There's a really underwhelming conflict here that takes no effort to resolve.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2664

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

>importance - weddings//

Hyphens are only for stutters or the kinds of compound words and phrases that use them. For asides and cutoffs, use a proper dash. There's a guide to them at the top of this thread.

>A slow smile.//

Having a sentence fragment like this just doesn't fit. For one thing, this is pretty far into the story to start doing so. For another, your narration has sounded decidedly omniscient, and sentence fragments take on a conversational tone much more akin to a limited narration.

>clearly irritated with him//

You're wandering into a limited feel again. The narration is expressing an opinion here (clearly to whom?), but I have no idea which character's opinion it's supposed to represent, and the narrator hasn't been given any characterization or personality to treat them as a character anyway.

>the lemon-colored unicorn//

And assuming you want an omniscient narration, it's a little odd the narrator doesn't know these characters' names, but it's easy enough to let that slide for the sake of mystery.

>We can't just stand around here and discuss this in the city for much longer. The Queen will definitely want to hear about this. We haven't had an opportunity like this is a long time.//

It gets kind of repetitive that she refers to "this" in every sentence.

>had went unseen//

had gone

>Gone were the three ponies who had been discussing the wedding like everypony else//

If they were someone nobody else could see them, why were they in disguise? And why so dramatically cast off their disguises right now? It smack of narrative convenience instead of reasonable behavior.

>Her gaze focused on the blue-maned stallion//

But they changed. He's not blue-maned anymore, is he?

>destination. The Hive where their swarm resided.//

Another sentence fragment that doesn't play well with the narrative style you've established. I think it's work better if you made "the" lower-case and replaced the period with a colon or dash.

>Though,//

There's rarely a reason to put a comma after a conjunction. You don't need this one.

>A tilt of his head.//

Another fragment that doesn't quite fit.

>His speech was interrupted//

The punctuation already tells me this. It's redundant to narrate it as well, plus you don't want any delay between the cut-off speech and what did the cutting off.

>He too,//

You don't have to have that comma, but if you want it there, you need to pair it with another one before "too."

>also sporting a large helmet to signify himself as a lieutenant//

Odd that you're bringing in this piece of information now, since you never identified the one in the first group as a lieutenant. It's fairly immersion-breaking to force that fact in like this, though, since it's not presented in a way relevant to the action. If one of the characters addressed him as a lieutenant, that's a much smoother way of working it in.

>it was clear that there were a few differences from the changeling's in the first group//

Extraneous apostrophe, and another free-floating narrative opinion. Clear to whom?

>While their//

Their/there confusion, and it'd make things clearer if you set this off with a comma.
Edit: the way the sentence is worded, you actually need to remove "their" altogether.

>having took//

having taken

>rose into the air, rising//

Watch that close word repetition.

>while making sure that nopony was looking up at them to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creatures above//

Then why are they doing something as conspicuous as flying in full view? Why not stay disguised? Why not wait until night when they can't be seen?

>Caught up in their own intents, neither of the two assemblages had caught//

More close repetition.

>celebration. With//

Extraneous space.

>They had no reason or knowledge to report of any suspicious activity, certainly not another group of changelings from a Hive other than their own.//

Why would each assume they were the only hive to know about the wedding? That seems like poor strategy. Wouldn't they expect all the hives to want in on this? It's not like such a public event could be kept secret—in fact, everyone's taking great pains in quite the opposite direction—so why is there even a chance of a single hive being the only one to know?

>As the two separate groups of changelings flew off from Canterlot, green flames quickly encircled each one as they took on the forms of pegasi.//

Again, it's clunky to have two "as" clauses in the same sentence, but you're kind of backtracking here. The previous chapter already said they flew off but made zero mention of doing it in disguise. In fact, it said quite the opposite, that they shed their disguises and flew off while making sure nobody would see them like that.

>the two reigning changelings seemed to ignore the existence of each other completely//

Then why would it matter if the two scouting parties spotted each other?

>caverns once out of the entryway's light, the group continued on through the descending maze of caverns//

Watch the repetition.

>With a passing glance at the large statue, the four changelings sped down one of the caverns//

This is a serious hiccup in pacing. At least you're taking an omniscient voice, which excuses one error many authors make, and that's having a limited narrator dwell on a history lesson like this when the focus character wouldn't be able to spare the attention for it. But you don't have that problem. Still, this is a pretty conspicuous way to wedge in lots of exposition. You'd just started the chapter with this scouting party, showed them entering the Hive, then we spend a significant chunk of verbiage giving me lots of cultural back story before finally getting back to the action here. If you had a reason to go into this detail now, like one of the characters gazing at the statue for a while, that's one thing, but even in that case, you don't want to drop a wall of exposition. But you shut yourself out of doing even that by explicitly saying none of them gave the statue anything more than a glance.

>The lieutenant turned and held up a hoof to silence any interruption from his three companions, making sure that the wedding notice was secured tightly in the hold of his armor.//

Why does he silence them? You don't mention any of them even beginning to formulate an interruption. Any why is the wedding notice so important? The king wouldn't trust an oral report of it? Without that proof, nothing would come of it?

>a set of powerful wings that, like his subjects, held the appearance of a bird of prey//

This says his subjects held the appearance of birds of prey, not that their wings did. If hat's what you meant, make "subjects" a plural possessive.

>The King's green-blue eyes//

You just said what color his eyes were a couple paragraphs back. In fact, you called them "blue-green" then.

>appearing to take an interest//

Right after you introduced the king, you seemed to be taking a shallow limited narrative voice in his perspective, though I'm betting you wanted it to remain omniscient. Here, though, you're very external to him, since he'd know if he was taking an interest. The "appearing" is a subjective thing, though, so even as omniscient, this goes back to the same thing I'd pointed out before of the narration expressing opinions unattached to any character.

>"Her talent is... love?"//

It seemed like he recognized both the bride and groom, so why wouldn't he already know this?

>To have love be her power, the most powerful emotion known to changeling kind...//

And now you're taking a very conversational tone. You keep wavering between a limited and an omniscient feel. It's not going to be worth having me point out every single instance of it, so I'll just make that a blanket statement and say you need to scan the story for this.

>The one who had spoken was the changeling from before who had claimed that the young princess was pretty.//

No way is a reader going to remember which one this was. It's also definitely not in the king's perspective anymore, since he wasn't there to see that happen.

>about to comment about//

>allowed the rectangular lock to move out of its holding place, allowing//
Repetition.

>something she considered a serious manner//

Seems like you meant "matter" there.

>voice laden with curiosity//

It's a little off-putting to have emotions directly identified for me than letting me deduce them from character behavior and appearance, but you just told me she was curious one paragraph ago.

>"It must be something important if you are delivering the message."//

The narration pretty much already covered this.

>for bring//

Typo.

>Yet, she felt her mind traveling back to her early days//

No need for that comma.

>7//

Write out numbers that short.

>She'd show this Prince Meta-what's-his-name who was the better changeling.//

That's definitely vocalizing Chrysalis's thoughts as narration, but other places in this scene can't be, like saying she looked more confident and referring to herself as "the young princess."

>8-year-old//

Write out the number.

>This first meeting wasn't going at all the way they had hoped.//

And now you seem to be inhabiting some collective viewpoint of the parents. The perspective sure bounces around a lot.

>study horn//

I'm guessing you meant that to be "sturdy"?

>using the changeling word for "crazy"//

Why are we just now learning they speak another language? And why would he only be using single words of it?

When you have italicized words (or words in regular font in italicized passages), have a question mark or exclamation mark be in the same font as the word it's on.

>having been tricked by Chrysalis defying the pattern.//

You're way over-explaining this. The reader's seen this gag before.

>marked the marked the//

Repeated phrase.

>While the young changeling's were neck and neck//

That's the second time you've made this a possessive when it should be a plural. Not sure why.

>I can fly better"//

Missing end punctuation.

>Take that Princess//

Missing comma for direct address.

>crashed headfirst into a bush of thick brambles, causing him to crash//

So the crash caused him to crash?

>Just before their parents took off with the two of them into//

Did you mean to say "in tow"?

I'm going to stop here after chapter 2 since even if the rest were perfect, I'd still want to see these early chapters fixed up. Though it's more likely the same problems will persist throughout. There's a fair amount of repetition, some overly blunt informing me of character emotion, and at least one very obtrusive infodump, along with some assorted editing problems, but the biggest issue is that there needs to be some unity of perspective. It constantly waffles between an omniscient and limited voice, and while limited, it abruptly changes between different characters, too. It ends up making everything feel disjointed.

Another concern we have is the update schedule. There's nearly a two-year gap between the last two chapters posted, and there hasn't been another chapter in over two years. We won't post stories that we suspect will never finish or will be overly slow in updating, since readers won't be able to follow it. They'll either never see it completed or long since forget the details of what happened when it actually does update.

WufflyTime 2666

>>2659
I reallly appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback on my story.

The humans in the story are there as outsiders, to have the weird world explained to them. However, to get the plot moving, I reallocated them to later chapters. This was a terrible decision on my part.

As for the Dutch-German-intelligibility issue, I compared Dutch and German sentences to see if they were similar. If they weren't, I presumed Rarity wouldn't understand.

As for the spelling of 'Nachtkönigin', I wanted to write the easier to pronounce 'Nachtskönigin' but my dictionary always gave examples of Nacht- without the additional 's' e.g. Nachtdienst, Nachteule, Nachtfalter, Nachtmensch, Nachtschwester etc.

I will, of course, go back and look into the mistakes you pointed out.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2669

>>2666
I apologize at taking so long to respond, as I thought I had checked this thread much more recently that I had.

So, first, I did find this an engaging story despite my confusion, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Really, that's all an author can hope to do: keep the reader interested in what happens next. And you've got that. It just takes pushing through a lot of material to get there, material which is unclear as to what it means or if it'll ever be explained.

Your plan to get to why the humans are there earlier is a good one, and I urge you to state as early as possible that the central conflict is that a human has been killed. That makes the humans' presence immediately relevant, which is the perfect time to sneak in a little back story as to why they're in Equestria. It's hard, but if you can come up with thoughts Rarity would have about the situation or dialogue between her and whoever else is there that feels natural yet illustrates this back story, that's the ideal way to work it in.

All of those words with "Nacht-" at the beginning... the endings have different genders, but "teule" should be feminine like "königin." Interesting that none of those words have an adjective ending. Maybe because "Nacht-" is a noun adjunct instead of an adjective? The only one I remember this way is resistance group, "Widerstandsgruppe," and the entire class was flummoxed as to why that "s" got added there, since we figured it should be an "e" if anything. But here, "Widerstand" is also a noun adjunct to a feminine noun, so... I don't get it. But you have a pattern there, so you're probably correct.

If you have any further questions, please ask. I would love to see this story succeed.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2671

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

Synopsis:
>But the lives of its people, particularly one Anna Erklass, faces irrevocable change//
Number mismatch: people faces.

Story:
>Winter has come//
Why the switch to present tense?

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

>lest it drew//

"Lest" phrasings use present tense. Actually, they use subjunctive mood, essentially an infinitive form, but present tense is easier to explain.

>doubled down//

"Doubled over" would be a more familiar phrasing. What you had is more widely recognized as a blackjack play.

>The doe//

You're definitely using a limited narrator, since you express her thoughts directly as narration. Pay attention to the implications of your word choices, then. You're asserting that she'd describe herself in her internal thoughts as "the doe." People just don't think of themselves so externally. I take it you're withholding her name as some sort of reveal, but again, consider what's implied by your limited narrator doing so. It means she's avoiding revealing her identity even to herself, in her own thoughts. Why would she avoid the subject? This is a fairly advanced topic, but there are lots of little details that cascade out of how you decide to tell a story, and this is the kind of baggage that comes with a limited narrator. Any choices have pluses and minuses, and you ought to work within those. You make references like this in the first chapter, too.

>without mercy nor compassion//

This is actually an "or" phrasing unless you want to say "with neither mercy nor compassion."

>who she had failed//

whom

>whose purpose are yet to be revealed//

You have a plural verb with a singular subject.

>the pair of foals she protects//

Why the switch to present tense?

>their gaze were fixed//

>Reindeer magic were//
More singular/plural mismatches.

>the doe could hear//

>she could see//
Besides being a repetitive phrasing so close together, it's rarely necessary for a limited narrator to say what the focus character heard or saw. The narrator effectively is the character, so it's already implied the character can see or hear whatever the narrator mentions. Conversely, a limited narrator can't describe things the focus character can't perceive. It's only worth using perception verbs like this when you want to emphasize that it's something most characters wouldn't notice or that the character was specifically keeping an eye/ear out for it.

>It was once one star a week or two ago, before a split occurred, and the star was forever split in two.//

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, and there's nothing here to give it any sense of importance.

>It was then, that the doe looked down upon the sisters, and realised then that it was their sign//

That first comma just has no reason to be there. The second one's unnecessary, too, and you've been using a fair amount of them in the same situation. You only need one with a conjunction when there are separate clauses, but here, the same subject is linked to both verbs. There's also a repetitive "then" phrasing.

>Lilja has done her duty, and will soon resume her duties//

Repetitive.

>which could shatter at anytime//

"Any time" and "anytime" aren't interchangeable. An adverb doesn't parse here; you need it to be two words.

>day.” Sint said//

Punctuation.

>humility, and//

Extraneous space.

>merry, yet sad smile//

You don't need that comma, but if you want it, pair it with another after "yet sad."

At the beginning of the first chapter, look how often you use direct address. Many authors do this. It's just unnatural. If there is a large group conversing, it can be necessary to make sure the right person is listening, but in general people just don't do this that much, especially when there are only a couple people. Here, you have only two; there's no question about who is speaking to whom. In this case, people only use direct address for emphasis, but you're emphasizing things so much that it loses its effectiveness. Five of the first six paragraphs use direct address.

>But she was already gone.//

This is a little off with the perspective. The narrator's been voicing Anna's thoughts for her as a limited narrator. The two are essentially one and the same. So if Anna's already left, how can the narrator know what Erklass replied?

>where the were no trees//

Typo.

>As the wind howled against the mountainside, in a moment, Anna forgot her grievances with her grandfather, laughing as she gracefully leapt off the walkway and into the open air.//

It's pretty clunky to have multiples of certain elements in a sentence, like your two "as" clauses here. Not only does it get repetitive, but these (along with participles and absolute phrases) synchronize things, so it starts to lump a lot of actions ontop of each other, often to the point they couldn't actually happen simultaneously.

>as she gave herself up to the pull of the earth, letting it take her where it would... yet confident of her capacity to determine her own fate, as the air currents brushed lightly upon the soles of her outstretched hooves//

And this is in the next paragraph. You're definitely abusing the "as" clauses and participial phrases. I did a Ctrl-f on " as " (including the spaces to make sure I got it as a single word), and you have 58 of them in this chapter. That's a lot of times to use this structure. Sure, not all of them are used in this sense, but try it yourself. Do a search on " as " and watch the screen light up. Also notice how they tend to occur in clusters

>filled the city, immense pines and firs, filled//

Watch that close repetition.

You're inconsistent at times how you format thought. You have it italicized in places, in single quotes in others, and sometimes only tagged with a thought attribution.

>brushing away a strand of reddish-brown mane/

Given it's her perspective, it seems odd for her to comment on her own hair color, unless it's different than what she's used to.

>evening, shimmering//

Extraneous space.

>“Oh, hello, sis!”//

When effectively used as names, family relations get capitalized, so it'd be "I went with Sis," but "I went with my sis."

>I am//

Extraneous space.

>And really, sis//

Capitalization.

>One of them, one with a pure white coat//

Redundant use of "one."

>but on second thoughts//

I've only ever seen that phrased as singular.

>W-ho?//

I have no idea how that's supposed to sound. Do you actually have her pronouncing the "w"?

>satdown//

Typo.

>“Say,” Anna said//

Given her piece of dialogue, that's kind of a repetitive choice of speaking verb.

>“I…” Anna said, trailing off//

An ellipsis already means trailing off, so narrating such as well is redundant. The same would go for pointing out an interruption or cutoff when you'd used a dash.

>Twas’//

Why is that apostrophe there? What missing letters would come there?

>Luna, the dark-coated one//

>the white-coated child, Celestia//
As long as they've been in the story already, you don't need to keep specifying which one is which.

>in askance//

I've never seen anyone use "in" with that word.

>old, greying mare//

I get the picture. At every opportunity, you tell me she's old. It's gone past repetitive and into grating.

>Her sister flashed a look of concern//

You're doing this an awful lot in this chapter: outright telling me how characters feel. This has the effect of being more abstract and thus less relatable. The point is to make the story lifelike, as if the reader were standing there witnessing it. So how can you tell someone's concerned? It's not something you can observe directly. It's something you interpret from how the person acts and looks. So how do people behave such that you would deduce they were concerned? Have her do those things. It's like the difference between saying someone was happy and saying they smiled. One just feeds me an abstract conclusion, while the other gets me to see the evidence and draw my own conclusion, just like I would with a real person.

>a look of sadness//

I've been glossing over lots of these, but I want to point out the four main ways authors get too blunt with emotion: saying it as a noun (his sadness), adjective (he was happy), adverb (he grinned excitedly), or putting it in a prepositional phrase (sighed in relief). You're mostly doing that last one, and it's the most extraneous kind, since it almost always is redundant with information already in the sentence. The excerpt I've made here isn't redundant, but it's still a far too blunt way of communicating sadness.

>How could I forget your fondness for these, sister//

Capitalization.

>miss, if/

Extraneous space.

>‘smack!’//

Putting sound effects in the narration like this tends not to work with serious stories. They belong more in comedies or children's stories.

>journey."//

You must have done your editing in more than one place. You mostly use fancy-style quotation marks, but you have simple ones here. I haven't been paying attention, so I don't know if you have simple ones elsewhere, but you should sweep the story to make them consistent.

>stacked with, she gasped, a few slices of chocolate cake//

That's really strange to punctuate that aside with commas. It reads like you're trying to make it a speech attribution. It'd do much better with dashes.

>freshly-grown//

Two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb don't take hyphens, since none of the hierarchy of what modifies what is ambiguous.

>looked over them, a kind look//

Watch the repetition.

>What ith us around//

Typo.

>as light//

Extraneous space. You should probably do a search for double spaces to make sure you catch all these.

>In all honesty, cousin//

Capitalization.

And now that we've gotten yet another character introduced, namely Platinum, I'll say that several of your characters tend to run together. Anna and Elsa don't have very distinctive personalities. We don't know too much about them yet, but personality also comes through character voice, and their dialogue sounds so similar that I wouldn't be able to tell them apart without speech tags saying who was speaking. Adding in that limited narration reflects personality as well, I've now got Lilja, Anna, Elsa, and Platinum who all lack distinctive voices. Sint didn't speak too much, so it's hard to gauge him yet, and Firefly was unique, but the rest aren't very distinguishable. What can you do o give them little quirks and mannerisms? Play them off each other, have each react to these quirks to highlight them in the reader's eye. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but ideally, you would only have to tag dialogue for each character once, and their voices would stand out so much that it would never be in question which one was speaking. I realize they're all royals so far, which at least explains why they all use a formal tone, but they all use the identical formal tone.

>newly-tailored//

No hyphen/

>red-blue-and-yellow//

red, blue, and yellow

>a symbol of the future that awaits Equestria//

Not sure why you broke from past tense here.

>paused - with a knowing smirk//

Use a dash.

Sledge115 2674

>>2671
Hey, mate, thanks for the time taken to review my story.

First off, I've always had the nagging feeling of repetition in my writings, but until now I didn't realise it was the repeated use of 'as'!

Massive thanks for the character voices tips, I suppose it's something rather noticeable now that I'm going through all of the bits of dialogue.

Overall, though, the problem I'm having with character voices lies in the fact that I'm struggling to balance the formal, royal tones with their characterisations. Anna, for example, is much like her namesake, except a tad bit more formal, and there the line sort of blurs between formal and casual and of course, avoiding anachronisms.

The email mentioned back from Mars. Do I try to resubmit it as 'back from mars'?

At the end of it, I cannot state enough how thankful I am for the feedback. Cheers!

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2677

>>2674
Yes, one of the pull-down menus on the submission form is whether the story is a new or returning submission, and one of the choices has language about it being back from Mars. Use that one, as it helps flag it as something that's largely problem-free, and it won't require as much scrutiny.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2678

>every Hearth’s Warming with my grandparents, on the Northern coast. We would take the ferry to get there, which traveled up and down the coast every day. But the ferry left our hometown at 4 AM. So every//
Watch the repetition. It's possible you're doing this deliberately to create an effect, but it doesn't feel like it. You have three uses of "every" in just four sentences.

>me and my older sister//

At her age, and the formality implied by having her write this for an audience, I think she'd know to say "my older sister and I."

>dad wouldn’t hear of it//

When you essentially use a family relation as a name, capitalize it. So, for example, it'd be "there's Mom" but "there's my mom."

>house on the coast was a big, beautiful house//

Watch the repetition.

>And every year when we came to visit//

Normally, you'll want to set off a dependent clause like this with a comma.

>mane almost like a lion’s mane//

>endured us with feline grace, such as a long-suffering monarch of the forest might endure//
Some individual instances would be fine, but in the aggregate, you don't want this much repetition showing up in your story.

>Anypony else who tried it would feel her displeasure.//

It's very vague what this means. I assume you mean the cat's displeasure and not the granny's, but even so, how do you feel that? The cat just was restless? Or she'd attack you?

>Not that I had ever noticed before//

And this is the 3rd paragraph in a row to use "notice."

>But on this day when my granny’s cat was gone//

Another spot where you need a comma to set off a dependent clause.

>or if they were there because now that my granny’s cat was gone that meant it was finally safe for the rest of them to come out//

Hm. Especially since we've been set up for this as a Nightmare Night story, I wonder if it wouldn't occur to her the cats might be there to threaten whoever had the old cat put to sleep. May it'll play out that way...

>I pushed the paper aside, and turned to look out the window at Ponyville in autumn.//

This is the opposite issue. You've done this several times now, but it was justified. This one doesn't feel that way, though. It's all a single clause—the same subject does both verbs—so it doesn't need a comma.

>The next morning I left my sister’s house, and locked the front door behind me.//

No comma needed.

>I would never tell her that, but…//

This is far more a speech affectation. People trail off as they speak, and it requires no extra effort. It does take a deliberate effort to put an ellipsis on the page, though, and you're representing this as something she's written, not something she's narrating. So really consider if it adds something to have this and if it's really reasonable for her to do this. It's one of those things that often doesn't work in stories that are supposed to be journals or letters or other articles of writing. Another is dialogue. By the time people write something down, there's no way they could remember entire conversations word for word enough to present them as quotations. A few lines that stuck in their mind, sure, which is why you're still fine here, since you've had very little dialogue, still well within what she could remember reasonably. Though because of the manner she's writing this, I could see her hamming it up a bit in a way she wouldn't with something more limited in audience.

>fit in//

This is really going to depend on how you envision this writing. If she's published it as a book, then italics are fine here. I kind of get the sense that's what this is supposed to be. But if you intend this to be handwritten, I think italics don't work. How would you differentiate them from normal font? One's printed and one's cursive? When people want to emphasize something handwritten, they more typically underline it, darken it (essentially bold font), or write it in all caps. So just go with whatever works for the delivery medium you envision here.

Okay, you're getting into an awful lot of dialogue in this scene. I assume this isn't "live," but still something she's written. If she means it as a story, that's fine, but if she's writing it up as a formal account of what happened to her, it's not coming across as authentic.

>one of a kind librarian//

You're using "one of a kind" as a single modifier right in front of what it describes, so hyphenate it.

>Hi, Sweetie Belle!//

Compare this to a few paragraphs back where you had: "Hi Sweetie!" It's a quick enough instance that I won't grumble too much about using the comma for direct address, but since you're willing to, you might as well in both places.

>Belle!” She said//

Capitalization.

>And yet, only ponies have cutie marks.//

It's rare for a comma to be justified after a conjunction. You don't need this one.

>Twilight cast a spell and the map on her table came to life.//

Needs a comma.

>entire planet, along with the sun and the moon. The entire//

Watch the repetition.

>Me and my friends spent so many hours in that wood//

Again, I think she's old enough to know that should be "my friends and I."

>And yes, that includes cats. But there’s a difference there.//

You have a bunch of single-line paragraphs here, and there's no dialogue or quick action. Such things are usually reserved for special emphasis, but when everything is emphasized, effectively nothing is. It suggests you're probably not giving enough description or aren't organizing things very well.

>Cats, I think we can all agree, have destiny in spades.//

Where's this coming from? I don't see her justification for saying it, much less her assurance that I'll agree.

>and when she smiled//

Needs a comma after the dependent clause.

>Hi Fluttershy//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>“Oh, no. I was just going out to do a little weeding. Hold on.” She turned and poked her head behind the door. “It’s just Sweetie Belle! I’ll be just a minute.”//

"Just" is a word many authors tend to overuse. You have three of them in this short excerpt. You have 42 total in the story, which is fairly high for this length a story. It's not awful, but like many authors, it's not only the raw total, but that they occur in clumps. If you do a Ctrl-f for it, look how they get clustered, so even if it's not too repetitive over the whole story, it still is locally.

>Her face lit up with a huge grin and her eyes seemed to shimmer.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>a rare moment of anger//

>a little cry of frustration//
It's usually best to demonstrate emotion than inform of it, unless it's a fleeting thing that doesn't matter much to the story. This is one of the worst kinds, where you have an "in/with/of mood" phrasing, because it's almost always redundant with a behavior already mentioned. In any case, think about how you would know a stranger you saw in public was angry or frustrated. When the reader has to interpret the same cues he would in real life to deduce an answer, it comes across as much more authentic.

>Fluttershy nodded excitedly.//

>Fluttershy continued happily.//
And using these emotion adverbs has the same effect.

>There were hoofsteps and Discord appeared in the doorway himself.//

Needs a comma.

>possibly-former//

You don't need to hyphenate two-word phrases beginning in an -ly adverb. There's no ambiguity in the modifiers.

>thank you my dear//

Needs a comma for direct address.

>As I left Carousel Boutique//

Set off this dependent clause with a comma.

>cats, unlike ponies, never have any doubts about who and what they are//

Hm. Surely not all ponies have doubts. I have to think there are some who are convinced from an early age what their talent will be, and they turn out to be right.

>A very old mare opened the door and peered out at me.//

Watch the repetition. This is the 4th straight sentence with a "... and ..." structure.

>a cat jumped up and laid down across her lap//

Lay/lie confusion. You usually get these verbs right, which is no small feat.

>see it from their point of view, I could see//

Watch the repetition.

>nooks and crannies to hide and chase//

That phrasing is off. How do you hide a nook? Or chase a cranny?

>looking ahead to her own inevitability//

How would Sweetie Belle know this before Goldie even spoke? She's reading Goldie's mind. But it's also over-explaining what the dialogue says anyway.

>scrap book//

That's one word.

>Leaving the book on her lap//

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

>She closed the book shut//

How else would you close it?

>aint//

Missing apostrophe.

>miss… Bell//

Since she's attaching it to a name, "Miss" would be capitalized.

>everypony had adorned their masks and costumes to become something else//

I think you meant something closed to donned. Adorned means they decorated their masks.

>who don’t yet know//

Not sure why you went to present tense here, as the rest of her action is past tense.

>Tonight was the night the monsters walk among us as our friends, and everypony gets to look into the darkness and see themselves there, reflected as in a mirror.//

You're mixing tenses again. That story at large is in past, and while it's okay to make a present-tense statement to represent an ongoing condition that's still true, you'd have to make the whole statement present tense. And this doesn't feel like a situation that warrants such.

>you’d be surprised at how many of those there were, unless of course you knew my sister//

I just wanted to tag this, because it ties into a comment I made early on about whether this is supposed to feel like something she's written or if it's supposed to be a standard narration. In standard narration, it's a bad idea to address the reader, unless you're going to do so consistently throughout the story and establish why it's being done that way. And having this as something she's written would establish it, so that'd explain why she's doing so, if that's what you intended. I'll come back to this at the end.

>and when I turned and looked at her//

Needs a comma here.

>I didn’t want them to put you to sleep as well just because my sister wasn’t here to take care of you.//

I didn't get this sense, though. You wouldn't put a cat to sleep just for that. It seemed more like the prior cat was put to sleep because it wouldn't tolerate anyone else, to the point it'd get violent, so nobody else could take care of it. Opal's not that way. She's not hostile toward everyone, particularly Fluttershy. So putting Opal to sleep wouldn't be the only option. I'm surprised it even came up as a possibility. Or maybe it didn't come up, but then why mention it now? The way it's phrased, it sure sounds like it had been discussed.

>great-grand-children//

great-grandchildren

>She turned back to me and the emotions in her eyes were pony emotions.//

Needs a comma, but this is just a strange sentence. It's awkwardly phrased, and it's infuriatingly vague. There are reasons for emotions that may be more attributable to sentient creatures, but the same emotions exist.

>she said quietly//

Your last dialogue tag was "she said softly," which is fairly repetitive, plus you have a lot of paragraphs lately that begin with "dialogue," she said.

>I hesitated, and nodded.//

No comma.

>but, I must be going//

Another comma after a conjunction that shouldn't be there.

Okay, at the end. I liked the story. But I'm still not sure what you want it to be. Take the bit that even precedes the story:

"A Nightmare Night Tail"

The cutesy pun tells me that it's supposed to be fluffy. Fair enough. Your choice of specifically linking it to Nightmare Night versus just having it happen to take place then sure makes it sound like you mean it to be spooky, but the use of "tail" immediately disarms that. You're sending mixed signals, but that's a minor thing. Now the biggie:

"by Sweetie Belle"

This one threw me for a loop. As I said before, there are only certain scenes that actually read as if this is an account meant to inform. She would have written it long after the conversations would have occurred, yet she presents them as quoted dialogue, and that just isn't plausible. On the other hand, if she meant this more as a bit of entertainment with some insight, like an essay she might submit to a magazine, for instance, that's more excusable, since she's just trying to reconstruct it as best she can. Some authors might even explicitly have her say it's her best recollection and not necessarily an exact account.

That just adds to an overall feel of inconsistency. She addresses the reader in some places but not in others, which makes her waver on whether she has an expected audience and who that audience might be. Then we have Goldie Delicious, Discord, and Fluttershy acting evasive and appearing to know more than they let on, as if this is some great secret. It's unclear whether Goldie and Fluttershy actually know, maybe just that they suspect there's a larger truth they can't quite grasp, but Discord knows. More to the point, all three of them act like this is more than a simple secret, that it's something they're reluctant to let her know. I never got a picture of why that might be, because Sweetie Belle sure didn't treat it as any sort of forbidden knowledge once she found out. To wit, she's writing it up for anyone to read. Don't the cats care if this becomes public?

Getting back to that subtitle, having it be so generic-sounding doesn't mesh with her revealing some great truth. It kind of reduces it all to a banality, but I can't believe she'd use her own dead sister so flippantly in a spooky story, so I'm left thinking she wrote it in earnest. Yet she doesn't quite make a point out of it. Knowing cats have these abilities and philosophies is one thing, but the very emotional event of seeing her sister one more time is at best tangential to that, and yet that's the big splash that's begging to carry the story's message. So the message gets a bit muddled. Here's where I'm at a bit of a loss. I wouldn't advocate excising that powerful moment, but how to tie it back in with the theme? Maybe just before Rarity smiles back, have a brief epiphany where Sweetie Belle gets the full impact of how the cats not only serve as guardians of life, but ushers to the rest that comes after, and she picks up her new little guardian with a feeling that as long as the cat is around, she'll share an unbreakable connection with Rarity until she sees her again for good. Maybe. I'm just spitballing here, but keeping the story's theme focused and coherent like that will strengthen what it's saying.

I see at least one commenter complaining that the prose style changed from beginning to end, and I see what he's talking about, though I wouldn't necessarily call it a problem. The early story has more of the non-dialogue scenes, and you're more descriptive in those. In contrast, the last scene has fairly terse narration. It's fine for narrative tone to change as suits the mood, but part of that is also going to be tied in to how I'm to take the story. As something written after the fact for a literary audience, I'd think she'd keep up a more consistent tone throughout, since she's had plenty of time to organize her thoughts before writing it, and she'd be in a more stable mindset. If, however, I'm to take the narrative scenes as what she's written and the conversational scenes as "live" or flashbacks (which, related to what I said about the plausibility of quoted dialogue, are more typically how such a thing would be presented), then it's really only the written scenes that need a consistent tone, which they already have. The conversational ones would actually occur over larger skips in time, not just the few evenings it took her to pen the account, plus it would put her in the moment of the emotions involved, making a tonal shift more authentic.

Honestly, I think removing the subtitle and author credit would solve almost all of the problems. What difference would it make if we're to see this as a standard narrative than as a document? A little less unusual format, sure, but it doesn't change the meaning of any of it, and it divests you of a lot of the incongruities in format I've been talking about. The only additional thing to turn it back into a regular story is to reword the few places you address the reader.

When you have Sweetie Belle actually writing something, then we have to question her motivation. Why does she want to write it? What does that accomplish? I don't get a sense of that. As a normal story, it's enough to say these events happen and leave the reader to derive meaning from it (and it's perfectly fine for that to still be in first person), but for her to commit it to paper shows that she thinks there's something in there that other ponies should learn from it, yet she never says anything of the sort. It lacks the kind of conclusion that would make it authentic as a character-authored piece, because it's a lot of trouble to write all this out if she has no purpose in doing it. Yet she never expresses a purpose. Plus it gets back to my point about why she thinks it's okay to reveal what she learned when everyone else acted as if it wasn't okay. Even Discord warned her about it, then she called him dangerous, which never turned into anything. That was kind of a Chekhov's Gun to set up tension there that subsequently went absent.

To be frank, this almost works as a standard story, but if you really want it to be something Sweetie Belle's written, it needs more thought put into how it's being presented, both with how much of it is supposed to actually be her writing and whether she's doing this as a bit of persuasive writing or just something with entertainment value, not to mention making it clear which of those attitudes she holds. I enjoyed it, and I'd like to see it succeed. If you have any questions, please ask, either here or through the email thread.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2682

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 I see you're starting with the weather. That's a very common thing to do, and it makes it a lot harder for your story to stand out. The weather isn't even important to the plot, so not only is it a cliche, it doesn't even matter much. You've got interesting ideas for plot and characterization in this story. Get right to them. Start with something revealing about a character, or drop us right into some action.

>Once all the apples had been gathered, Mac pulled the cart over to the next tree, then repeated the process once//

I know they're meant in different senses, but try to avoid close word reptition like this for all but the most mundane of words.

>Applebloom//

Apple Bloom

>He bucked the tree and a bombardment of apples fell into the cart.//

Needs a comma between the clauses, since each subject gets its own verb.

>Sweetie gave me her half of her sandwich during lunch//

That first "her" really changes the meaning to one I think you didn't intend.

>ok//

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

>Applebloom tilted her head, confused//

The furrowed brow and tilted head already paint a picture of confusion. There's no need to short-circuit that picture by telling me it's confusion.

>spotting her//

This is similar. It's obvious from what she says that she spotted Lily. You don't need to explain every detail.

>as she raised as hoof//

Typo.

>here says you're new here//

Watch the repetition.

>A-About//

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

>Peering down at his sister, the rightmost corner of Big Mac's mouth curled upward.//

This says the corner of his mouth is peering down at Apple Bloom.

>ungrit//

The past tense would be "ungritted."

>axle to one of the cart's wheels had rusted shut//

I'm not sure what this means. How would an axle be open in the first place?

>personally maintained the farm's equipment himself//

The "personally" and "himself" are redundant.

>with a sense of urgency//

Don't tell me this. Demonstrate it. What does she do that makes her appear urgent?

>the yellow filly straightened to attention to the call of her name//

Two things here. First, here's how to format a narrative aside in a quote:
Applebloom—" the yellow filly straightened to attention to the call of her name "—help
That's if he stops speaking while that action happens. It actually seems here like he wouldn't. In that case, the dash placement moves outside the dialogue:
Applebloom"—the yellow filly straightened to attention to the call of her name—"help
And the other thing: Big Mac knows Apple Bloom very well. Why would he refer to her as "the yellow filly"? You're using a limited narrator in Big Mac's perspective, since the narrator speaks his thoughts for him. So this would also be his thought. You wouldn't think of a brother or sister in such abstract terms, would you?

>to-go//

For how you've used this, you don't need the hyphen.

>his mind processing everything that had occurred//

This is so vague as to mean nothing. It's pretty clear what he's doing anyway. You don't need this here.

>referring to the house just down the road//

You're over-explaining things again. Just say the house is there, and the reader will make the connection.

At this point, I wonder why Lily has suddenly lost her shyness.

>hussle//

hustle

>There was also the fact that it's been years//

it'd

>two fillies, who looked back and forth between the two//

Repetition.

>B...Big//

Leave a space after the ellipsis.

>relief washing over him//

He's the limited narrator, Let me know how this feels, both physically and what mental imagery he has. This is a great place to use simile or metaphor to create a vivid picture of the emotion without having to name it.

>Mendy?//

When you have a word italicized for emphasis, it's customary to italicize an exclamation mark or question mark on it as well. You did it right earlier.

>The mare turned to Big Mac//

This is similar to having Big Mac's narration refer to Apple Bloom as "the yellow filly." He knows Mendy well. Why would he use such an abstract descriptor for her in his own thoughts?

>'cause I sure as horseshoes don't recognize her.//

Capitalization.

>Paw Mend look down to her//

Typo.

>why don't you two come inside and make yourselves comfortable.//

That's a question, isn't it?

>the stallion looking back at her with a pensive look on his face//

Now I have no idea whose perspective you're in. Big Mac wouldn't call himself "the stallion," and he wouldn't be able to see the expression on his own face.

>she looked over her whither//

You've confused "whither" with "withers."

>his old friend//

See, now this is the kind of descriptor that actually makes sense, since this is one way he'd think of her. You generally want to keep to name pronouns, or terms descriptive of relationships between the characters, if they know each other.

>See you're still wearing that yoke//

>Mac pawed curiously at the yoke around his neck//
That's not really a yoke. It's a horse collar.

>with a mortified expression//

Describe it. It means a lot more if I witness it than if I hav to take the narrator's word for it that it was mortified.

>a might awkward//

mite

>she had to clear her throat before finishing with//

Capitalize this.

>what?//

Italicize the question mark, too.

>From the way Big Mac stiffened his shoulders and avoided eye contact, she could tell his parents wasn't something he liked to bring up.//

>Somehow sensing the change in atmosphere, the mare smiled, yet her ears folded back.//
The first statement is from Mendy's perspective, and the second is from Big Mac's. See how the perspective is wandering back and forth? It should stay more consistent than that. It is possible to shift it in the middle of a scene, but rarely more than once. You don't want to keep jumping around.

>S-Seven//

Only capitalize the first one. You get this right intermittently.

>Her eyes were red and puffy//

Why? That usually means she's been crying, but he would have noticed that before.

>'cause I do.//

Capitalization.

>Less, of course//

Needs an apostrophe, since you're shortening "unless."

>We both would have had to give up on our dreams to raise our child//

Huh? He couldn't work on the farm? His parents seemed to manage okay.

>Didn't have the heart, or the courage to do so.//

So what did Mendy tell her? Who does she think her dad is? And why would that be preferable to knowing it was Big Mac?

>N-No//

Capitalization.

>Lily found that an odd request//

How can he tell? What does she do?

This is a really hard story to judge. It's fine for what it is, but then it never strives for that much. It's pretty obvious as soon as Apple Bloom takes Big Mac to Lily's house and Mendy is introduced how the rest of the story is going to happen, at least in a broad sense. That's not necessarily a problem, as long as the story tosses in a few surprises in the details, plays an unexpected angle, manages a nice feat of characterization, or has such an earnest authenticity that it resonates. And along that front, I do like how Mendy lies about Lily's age, but Big Mac's figured her out before Mendy even attempts it, so it takes away much of the unpredictability.

Perspective plays into this, too. The story is told through Big Mac's eyes, so we should have a front-row seat to his emotions. And while we do get some subjective thought about what he wants out of this relationship, he spends the whole time being rather calm and stoic about everything. Mendy's the one having a near-breakdown, yet Big Mac's the one framing the reader's view of the story, and his emotions are largely absent. There's some behind the scenes, but really, I have a far clearer picture about Mendy's feelings than the one whose head I'm supposed to be in. Then when he does start to get a bit fatherly, it seems like too much too soon. Here's a filly he's known for a few hours, and he's sidling onto a swing up against her, asking if she'd like them to do things together, and gazing at the sunset. There's a bit of a creepy vibe. Lily started out so shy, and now she doesn't mind the adult she's just met promising to buy her sweets at Sugarcube Corner?

It even makes for a weak ending. What point is the story making? Big Mac finds out he has a child, but he only deals with some pretty superficial existential questions, and he doesn't really come to a conclusion about it. He's at least decided he wants to spend some time with Lily, but it's fairly vague and noncommittal. He hasn't made some realization about his life, the situation with Mendy is up in the air, and he's only just started down the path of being a father, while still leaving open all the questions he asked himself.

Now, there's nothing wrong with open endings, but there's a trick to them, and that's to attach clear stakes, both positive and negative, to each of the viable options. That makes him, and consequently the reader, conflicted over what to choose. Or make it so there's a clash between what he'd prefer versus what is likely. Just something to get the reader invested. If the characters, particularly the perspective one, doesn't appear to be very passionate about how things go from here, then there's not much reason for the reader to, either. So really lay out his thoughts on the subject. There's a lot here that would concern him: Lily's well-being, his own sense of responsibility and family, what's good for Mendy. These are all intimately tied up in how he proceeds from here, so compare and contrast the good and bad of each of these threads against what he chooses. Then the reader knows what fallout will happen from any course of action. If there's not that impetus given to all the possibilities, the reader's just going to envision the nice fluffy option. There's a definite art to open endings.

To illustrate, here's a column that deals with several kinds of specialty items in stories. You can skip down to the part about open endings. It goes into more detail than I could here.

http://onemansponyramblings.blogspot.com/2016/06/gimmick-stories.html

That's really all that's lacking from this story: some kind of overall message or completed character development arc.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2691

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found, so it's up to you to use those examples to scan the full story. 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.

>who laid on the other end of the life raft//

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

I'm not sure why you capitalize "coast guard" some times and not others. Is it that you leave it lower case when you're referring to an individual servicemember and upper case when you refer to the whole organization?

>The stallion’s voice was heavy with guilt.//

You've done a pretty good job of avoiding this so far, but it's best not to name emotions directly, if you can help it. Better to make the stallion act as if he's guilty than just say he is. If you were a stage director, what would you tell the actor playing this role to do so the audience would interpret him as feeling guilty? That's how you have to think about it.

>With a towing line between the ring on his waist buckle and the life raft’s handle//

Is this wise? If the raft gets grabbed by something, he'll go down with it. Keep in mind how swimmers always hold a victim from behind. It's so the victim can't grab hold of the swimmer and put him in danger. The swimmer needs to be in control, and the same would go for the pegasus here. He needs to be able to cut that line away in an instant, so better if he's holding it somehow than having it fastened to him.

>He knew that risking their own lives was a part of their job, but that didn’t absolve them from worrying about each other.//

Try to avoid over-explaining thought processes like this. You do it in a couple places. It's not exactly hard to figure out, and it can feel like you're talking down to the reader. I'll revisit this later, as there might be an issue with perspective.

>Jason could feel the situation slipping away from them.//

I want to flag this sentence as well for when I talk about perspective.

>troublesome castaways//

You just called him troublesome a bit ago. It's an unusual enough word that it stands out when repeated that closely.

>Settling himself below the helicopter, his friend was forced to battle the overbearing winds and currents, just to keep the life raft in one place.//

If he's beneath the helicopter, he's also getting quite a bit of downwash from the rotor. On a helicopter this size, roughly 20k pounds weight class, he's probably getting a good 30 kts of wind, and that'd be a significant hindrance to a pegasus. It's bad enough to have that on a swimmer, but with a pegasus actually trying to fly there, he's in a significant column of air moving downward, so it'd take a lot of effort just to maintain altitude. There's a reason you don't fly anything under a helicopter. There are lots of regulations in place for formation flight and shipboard landing to keep helicopters from getting into each other's rotorwash, and that's essentially what this pegasus is doing. (I do a lot of aerodynamics work for the Navy having to do with operating helicopters aboard ships.)

>her limply body//

You have an adverb there where you need an adjective.

>high-rank//

high-ranking

>usefulness on the field//

in the field

>please,” he pleaded//

Pretty redundant choice of speaking verb.

>Jayson’s//

Why'd you change the spelling?

>seemed to struck his nerve//

Verb form is off.

>pegasi aerial support//

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

>full of hope and desperation//

Directly naming emotions again. Demonstrate them instead.

>T-Thank//

Only capitalize the first part of a stutter, unless it's something like a name that has to be capitalized anyway. And consider what sound he'd actually repeat. There isn't even a "t" sound in that word.

>When he raised his head, he noticed the raft moving away from the yacht’s hull.//

I'll go ahead and mention this here, even though it's a perspective matter. You'd been telling the story recently through Jason's eyes, even having the narration express his opinions for him. So why are you switching to the dad here for a grand total of one paragraph? You have to consider perspective changes carefully, and I don't see that it accomplishes anything here, plus it's pretty jarring.

>Placing her on the medical stretcher located by the left wall, she covered her with a rescue blanket to prevent her body from further losing warmth.//

Participles make thinggs happens simultaneously, but she wouldn't use the blanket until after placing her on the stretcher.

>Despite being the main mechanic, her medical magic had found itself handy here.//

This is a very extraneous statement. It doesn't add anything.

>knowing how perilous the situation was for her colleague//

There are quite a few little places like this where you over-explain characters' mindsets. Just let their actions speak for them. What does she do that might clue the reader in? Does she have to force her thoughts to stay focused? Does she keep peeking out the door to try catching a glimpse of what's happening in the water? Things like that.

>at time like these//

Singular/plural mismatch.

>as her emotions sometimes really did tend to interfere with her work//

This is really tough to bring it in. You ought to show it happening anyway, but this isn't a good time to establish a history of it. For one, just saying there's a history means next to nothing. Examples speak far louder. But with the amount of action going on, you can't afford to go off on a tangent, and it would imply her mind is wandering to such things, which would be strangely self-aware at the moment.

>troublesome stallion//

You're going to call him that again?

>their mouth//

There's only one mouth between them?

>But thanks to his stubbornness and irrational behavior, her friend was now in the middle of what could turn out to be an actual suicide mission.//

Well... no. What the stallion did has no bearing on his daughrer still being inside. He jeopardized what the pegasus was doing, but it doesn't change Jason's mission.

>A sudden bright point appeared on the water’s dark surface.//

Missing a line break.

>began to carefully observe his environment. His ears, clogged with water, soon began//

Watch that close repetition of "began."

>JayHawk//

You hadn't been using that capitalization pattern in chapter 1.

>thousand ton//

Hyphenate.

>ANYBODY HERE?//

It's preferred to show emphasis with italics.

>On the both sides//

Extraneous word.

>he could see the railing still attached. He noticed//

You have a lot of these unnecessary words framing his perception. Unless you want to point out it's something most people would miss, it's not worth saying that a character saw or noticed something. Just say it's there. These are wasted words.

>slip-away//

INconsistent with the terminology you'd been using.

>he went passed//

Passed/past confusion.

>He took of his flippers//

Typo.

>lest he fell//

It's a rather involved explanation, but use "fall" here.

>five…” he paused when Baton Rouge’s growling scream filled the helicopter’s interior, “…four//

When you want to put a narrative aside in a quote, use dashes, and the aside doesn't take end punctuation (though it can take an exclamation mark or question mark where appropriate). It should look like this:
five—” he paused when Baton Rouge’s growling scream filled the helicopter’s interior “—four

>Panting slightly//

Set off the participial phrase with a comma.

>'Cute', Jason thought sardonically.//

The comma goes inside the quotes.

Hm. With you using meters and words like "torch," this doesn't feel consistent with someone who's in the US Coast Guard. It's not impossible, but it is unlikely.

>On the top of the huge furniture pile right in the cabin’s centre laid… a four feet tall iron safe.//

Lay/lie confusion, four-foot-tall.

>hers right mind//

Typo.

>sat himself right before the quivering tablecloth before he gently pulled it away//

Time is of the essence here. Why isn't he just grabbing her and running? He can't afford to coax her out.

>"Well it’s about time,”//

For the most part, you have simple quotation marks in the story, but you're mixing styles here.

>the rest of debris//

Missing word.

>causing the cabin’s door to slam shot//

Typo.

>Her efforts were constantly monitored by Joe the co-pilot, and Night Shade.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>You’ll hurting yourself//

>she didn’t even knew//
>became a one big hum//
Wording is off.

>buckling over. It was over//

Watch that close repetition of "over."

>the yacht’s bow finally disappear//

Wording is off. There's a lot more of this problem in chapter 3. Not sure why.

It feels rather tacked on to suddenly introduce this subplot of Rouge being a mother. It'd be far more effective if it'd been there all along.

You keep calling this a crash site, and I don't know why. There wasn't actually a crash, not so far as we've been told.

>helicopter’s cabin edge//

helicopter cabin’s edge

>If they don't pull back now, they might never return safely to the base.//

I'm wondering why Sam hasn't been giving them regular readouts of how much fuel reserve they have. They know how much it takes to get back to shore, so he can figure out how long they can stay on station.

>on your fifth//

I don't know what this means. Is he referring to five o'clock?

>the small external crane//

It's called a winch. A crane is something different.

>Although Night Shade’s tried to sound serious//

Wording is off.

You're mixing both styles of quotation marks a lot in this chapter again.

>We’ll be pulling you out while underway, so hang on//

I don't know that they'd be allowed to do this. At the very least, they'd have to stop once they'd lifted Jason and Lion Heart up close to the cabin, since the wind would be prone to bashing them against the fuselage.

>Jason voice//

Missing a possessive.

>In the dim green light of the cabin//

I haven't been inside a helicopter at night, so I don't know what color the actual lighting is, though on Navy ships, it's usually blue or red for areas adjoining the outside, for the same reasons that would affect this crew: they don't interfere with night vision goggles, red preserves the eye's ability to see in the dark, and they don't carry as far, so they more likely keep from giving away position. There may well be green coming from the instrument panel, but actual lighting might not be green.

>every kind of weather conditions//

Singular/plural mismatch: kind -> conditions

>Can you reach the main point in present conditions//

They could potentially hot refuel from a ship. Is the storm big enough they couldn't safely rendezvous with one?

>got the professional help//

Extraneous "the."

>Rogue//

I'm actually surprised this is the first time you've had this misspelling, but maybe I just missed some. It's worth doing a global searh to see if there are others.

>Coast Guardian//

The typical terminology is Coast Guardsman, if not just airman.

>further in dangerous territory//

Usually phrased with "into."

>Jay’//

It's just a nickname. It doesn't need an apostrophe.

>the pilot’s cockpit//

Why are you specifying "pilot's" cockpit there? It's useless information.

>legend//

Even though there's no actual ship called the Legend, class names would still be capitalized.

>In the aft section of the vessel laid a flat rectangular landing area//

Lay/lie confusion.

>The fluorescent circle in the middle crossed with a longitudinal line marked the exact point for the helicopter to land.//

I'm not aware of any deck markings for Navy or Coast Guard ships being fluorescent. There's in-deck lighting outlining the shapes of the markings. The longitudinal line is called a line-up line.

>replying," replied//

Redundant.

It might be easier for them to do a hot refuel than a landing. That just requires them to hover above the aft port corner of the flight deck and lower a refueling hose.

>Stratton//

Ship names get italicized.

>present course and speed//

What they'd most care about is the readings from the ship's wind indicators, night/day, and the sea state. They can look those up on a reference table which will show the difficulty of landing and whether it's even authorized. The ship can also steer to the most advantageous angle, usually into the wind, unless the wave direction is significantly different than that.

>signaling officer//

Full name is LSO or Landing Signal Officer.

>control tower//

A ship like this doesn't have a tower. That post is the HCS or Helicopter Control Station. And it's not just the HCS and LSO giving them info. There's a device called a HARS bar on top of the HCS which stays level to give the pilot an indication of the horizon.

>garage opening//

They're hangars, and there are two of them. But they wouldn't have the doors open in this situation.//

>mamma//

As a term of address, family relations get capitalized.

>With one engine intact//

Did the other engine quit? I can't imagine he'd have enough torque to hover on one engine with that many people aboard.

>helped the survivors to exit the helicopter//

I doubt they'd be allowed to get out before the chock-and-chain guys had finished, nd they definitley wouldn't shut down the engines until then.

>to crew//

Missing word.

Minor detail, but none of these servicemembers are observing proper protocol for disembarking a vessel.

>survivor's ambulance//

There's more than one survivor, right?

>“Oh, and Jason…” the pony captain finally turned his attention to the human, “… not bad, for a bipedal.”//

Use that formatting I showed you for putting a narrative aside in a quote.

>Jason thoughts//

Missing possessive.

>He was impressed with the little filly and how brave she had been.//

Really? Once he grabbed her so they could leave the vessel, it sure seemed like she was panicking and making things difficult for him.

So now I'll go over perspective like I said I would. Pay careful attention to which character's thoughts and opinions the narrator is expressing at all times. You make some pretty abrupt shifts at times. It's much easier to change perspective at scene breaks, since you don't have to execute a transition, and there are times it seemed like that's why you used them—you switched to a different point of view even though there was no time skip and sometimes no change in location. That's fine, but even within scenes, you'll jump from one character to another. Many of the scenes start out even sounding omniscient.

For instance, take the scene that starts with:
>In the meantime, Jason, while being half-blinded by the helicopter’s search light, took his time to enjoy the view of his friends doing something for a change.//
The "for a change" takes this into the realm of a limited narrator, since it's expressing Jason's impressions on his behalf. The rest of the paragraph still works from his viewpoint, but in the next paragraph, it abruptly shifts to Lion Heart:
>At first, she could hardly make sense of her surroundings, and the dizziness in her head made her barely contain the urge to vomit.//
These are things only she could know, unless they were clearly couched as another's interpretation. (Saying something like "The green tint to her face and her wobbly knees sure made it look like she'd barely fought off a round of nausea." would frame it more as Jason's perception and keep the point of view with him.) You do stay with her for a while, and the transition to Sam's perspective isn't as abrupt, but you only stay with him for a single paragraph before moving over to Jason again.

As to the whole premise... I wonder why they even bother with helicopters anymore now that they have access to pegasi who are more maneuverable, likely faster, and capable of lifting proportionally greater loads. It wouldn't be too hard to come up with an in-universe explanation. In fact, you kind of have one already: none of the pony races are particularly good swimmers, so they need humans for that function, and it would be hard to carry the human out there in the first place. Though Equestria has those flying chariots pegasi can pull. Just might be worth saying why they need to keep the human doctrine on how to operate. Plus does it work in reverse? Do humans bring anything in effecting rescues in Equestria?

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2692

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found, so it's up to you to use those examples to scan the full story. 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 longer she lied in that bed//

Lay/lie confusion.

>her world decided to enforce it's twisted form//

Its/it's confusion.

>hundreds of years worth//

years'

>That word brought on nothing but worry and panic. It brought on sadness, and a strange kind of depression that not even she could describe.//

This is all so vague. It's mean a lot more if there were concrete examples of this. Give me a quick anecdote about a time she felt this way before. Otherwise, it's just abstract and detached.

>The ones that tell the tales of those who were unfortunate enough to stay awake that dreaded night.//

She's not a child, though. She's apparently managed to fall asleep every time before. So why is this such an issue? I know she'll fail to fall asleep this time, and as it gets closer to the deadline, it'll be a source of anxiety for her, but there's not a history of failure that should be making her act as if it's a chronic problem. In fact, she's never failed before. For that matter, I'll go ahead and voice a concern I already have from reading your extended synopsis. Why isn't there a system in place to sedate ponies who can't fall asleep? Why leave them to die? It doesn't seem like there's a purpose in doing so, like a certain number have to be sacrificed to maintain the way it works.

>Jazz had also heard the rumors.//

You already talked about the rumors. Why bring them up again as if they're something new?

>felt her dark brown mane press against her face//

What relevance does her mane color have here? I ask because you're using a limited narrator here, implying that she'd choose to bring up her hair color, and I don't see a reason for it.

>end up the the rest of the ponies//

Wording got messed up there.

>She even had a cute stallion of whom she had her eye on.//

Wording is off there too.

>Is it because of the things she thought?//

Why are you going to present tense?

>Her golden-colored eyes snapped open.//

Same deal as her hair color. Why would she mention it here?

>There were pierced through the darkness like a sewing needle.//

Wording is off.

>considering that she has more than enough money tucked away somewhere for college//

Switched to present tense again.

>Her heart was beating so fast, it resembled the rumblings of a train.//

I don't get what about a train's rumbling inherently equates to speed.

>nail biting//

Hyphenate, but... what do nails mean to a pony?

>It was if Death himself was perched upon her shoulder.//

Missing word.

>She contemplated turning on a radio, but deemed that a horrible idea for reasons she didn’t really know.//

You do this a lot: use a comma with a conjunction when it's merely separating a compound verb. You only need one when the new verb gets its own subject. There's a brief guide to comma use with conjunctions at the top of this thread.

Well, I'll go ahead and voice concerns I have, and maybe the story ends up addressing them.

There's one monster, and there are apparently safe places it can't go. Why not evacuate ponies to these safe areas? Why not evacuate ponies in general and monitor the monster's movements to keep shifting ponies around to places where the monster isn't? Why not try to kill or banish the monster? And again, why not sedate ponies who can't fall asleep? This monster has a single week to patrol the entire nation. It shouldn't be hard for a small number of awake ponies to remain hidden from it. Statistically speaking, it'd be nearly impossible for it to find them, let alone travel far enough to search all the far-flung cities. It seems like it's going to spend the entire week chasing her, so any awake ponies anywhere else in Equestria will be fine. There are some parts of the premise that don't quite make sense.

>The chances that Jazz and Crest, roommates in the same household, disappear during the same Townsend are next to nil.//

Switching to present tense again.

It's quite rare to see your sentences start with anything but the subject. It helps when there's dialogue to break the narration up, but you don't have any yet, so it especially stands out. It makes the sentence structures repetitive, like reading a list.

>They moved in a seemingly random and quick manner.//

This doesn't seem like it'd be Jazz's evaluation, so it's external to her and doesn't fit the narration you've established.

>Her eyes were sleep//

I don't know what that means.

>She looked exactly how Jazz wished herself could had looked.//

Phrasing is off.

>It was odd.//

The indentation is off here.

>as if it was bleeding for Jazz and it alone.//

I don't know what the "it alone" is supposed to refer to. The sky turned color for its own sake? Or did you mean to use "him" there?

>She turned back to Crest and her quiet, shallow breathes.//

You're using the verb form "breathes" where you need the noun.

>Her body rose and fell with every breathe//

Same thing.

>next to it’s fallen master//

Its/it's confusion.

>selfish — waking//

Don't put spaces around an em dash.

>she most she could do//

Typo.

>full blown//

Hyphenate.

>Jazz’s shakes grew rougher, and faster, until eventually the mare was almost pushing her friend off of her own bed.//

You're using a limited narrator, so you're having Jazz choose to refer to herself as "the mare" in her own thoughts. Who does that?

>Jazz had never heard of anypony who had actually woken up during the fated week.//

I'm confused. How would she know if anyone had woken up during Townsend versus not being able to fall asleep in the first place? She mentioned ponies disappearing, but how does she know which one of these situations applied to them? There's never been someone who was awake at any point during Townsend who was still around afterward to say what happened. Yet she can still differentiate whether they woke up early or never fell asleep? How?

>“Oh no, no... “//

Extraneous space, which has made your quotation marks backward.

>as they realize that their darling daughter had become a victim of The Townsend//

Switch to present tense. I'm marking a lot of the same things over and over again, and I'll be at this forever if I keep doing so. At this point, I have to leave it to you to find these things yourself.

>Tossing aside every childish will//

Strange phrasing.

>Her eyes were as wide as dinner plates//

Besides being a cliched phrase, how would she know this? She can't see them.

>she a bit too bothered//

Missing word.

>It had taken Jazz a few moments//

>It took her a little longer than she’d like//
These are in the same paragraph. Then in the next one, we get this:
>It had taken Jazz approximately ten seconds//

>maybe-//

Use a proper dash.

The indentation is very uneven in chapter 3. It's probably a result of importing from GDocs or some such, but since you're leaving blank lines between your paragraphs, you don't need to indent at all.

>“Just… calm down."//

Notice how you have a mix of quotation mark styles. Keep these and the apostrophes consistent throughout the story.

>If somepony else was still awake, they’d have to be there, right? J//

Extraneous letter at the end.

>She passed the homes of ponies of whom she just vaguely knew.//

That second "of" shouldn't be there.

>flower and coffee bean covered//

Hyphenate all that.

>since she made her way to the police station//

This makes it sound like she's already been to the plice station, but she hasn't gotten there yet.

>Hello-//

Use a dash.

>It sounded like a pig was being slaughtered right in front of the world’s largest megaphone.//

That's kind of comical for how serious this is supposed to be. And how would a pony even come up with a pig being slaughtered as a comparison? That presumably doesn't happen in Equestria.

>Whatever the creature was, it rammed through the glass doors//

How'd it even get in? I'm guessing it only searches each building once, so if you hole up in a place it's already checked, wouldn't you be okay? Unless it saw you go in there, of course.

>full maximum//

Pretty redundant.

>monsters footsteps//

>this monsters steps//
Missing apostrophe.

>the shrill cry that the screeching cry that//

Something got messed up there.

>behind her as an astonishingly quick pace//

Typo.

>It’s defeated cries//

Its/it's confusion.

>It’s lights shown brightly//

Only use "it's" if you want it to expand out to "it is" or "it has." If you want to show possession, don't use an apostrophe. That's just the way all possessive pronouns work, like my, your, his, her, our, their. No apostrophes. And you've confused "shown" with "shone."

>Opening the door with her injured hoof, she jumped behind the desk.//

The participle makes these actions happen at the same time, but they'd more likely happen one after the other.

>dimly swinging//

I have no idea what this would mean. How would something swing in a dim manner? They have nothing to do with each other.

>fully wail in fright//

Why would she give away her location like that?

>Jazz had somehow managed to cry herself to sleep.//

So falling asleep after the deadline doesn't count, I guess?

>small leak dripped monotonously into a small//

Watch the close word repetition.

>eight, soulless//

Those are hierarchical adjectives, so they don't need a comma between them. Basically, they describe different aspects and would sound really awkward in reverse order.

>She had to forget about monster//

Missing word.

>and the poor mare//

That's a rather external assessment for her own limited narration to make about herself.

>The blue mare//

That too.

>even close, unable to reach even//

Watch the close repetition.

>Jazz lied back//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Whether or not she got out of there alive or not//

Redundant "or not."

>Why would it come down here.//

That's a question, right?

>Whatever what coming upstairs//

Typo.

>medium pitched//

Hyphenate.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2693

Note that this list is not comprehensive. I picked out a few examples of each kind of error or problem I found, so it's up to you to use those examples to scan the full story. 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 illustrate a point. By paragraph, here are all the "to be" verbs in the first screenful:

-was, were, was
-been, been, been, was, was, was, been
-was, be, be, were, was, was
-was, wasn't, was, were, was
-was, was

First, that can get pretty repetitive. Second, that's about the most boring verb possible. Nothing happens. It's a good idea to pick active verbs wherever you can (dialogue gets somewhat of a pass), but it's especially important to keep the beginning of the story from feeling stagnant like this.

>it was nearly impossible to read with a glance//

>I glanced around me//
Try to avoid close word repetition like this. These instances of "glance" are only two sentences apart. There's another just a couple paragraphs later:
>I glanced back at the doors//

>finding it the same//

>finding the more I examined this world around me//
>finding the endless forest to be the only thing else//
>finding only pitch-black ahead of me//
>finding the warm, orange glow//
>finding it empty//
These are all within the first two pages.

>inside was as dark as night itself//

>I peered inside the doorway//
>As I inched closer inside//
>When I took a step inside//
>I ventured further inside//
>Something inside me//
>I took a few cautious steps inside//
And so are these. For that matter, how many times can she go inside? She inches inside, then takes a step inside, then ventures further inside, then takes a few cautious steps inside.

>As I pass through the doorway//

Why are you switching to present tense?

>My eyes drifted further to my right, ending at the wall just next to me; a counter with stools seated on the side facing the dining room.//

For a semicolon to be used right, you should be able to replace it with a period and have both sentences stand as complete, but the second part here would be a fragment.

>She rest her head lazily against her hoof//

The verb form is off.

>She looked tired, but relaxed, and her smile looked as though she had just seen an old friend. But, as inviting as she looked//

And 3 uses of "looked" in only 2 sentences. Yeah, repetition is going to be a significant problem.

>I glanced around at the dining room again, hoping for a little more direction on what to call this place, “restaurant is located.”//

You have that punctuated and capitalized as if it's a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>Luna’s…That’s a rather odd name for a restaurant…//

How so? Luna's answer is completely reasonable. Why wouldn't the narrator assume that?

>She poured a glass, and slid it over to me.//

You do this a fair amount too: use a comma with a conjunction when it's only separating a compound verb. You only need one when the new verb also has a new subject. There's a guide to comma use with conjunctions at the top of this thread.

>She raised her hoof, and rest her head against it once more.//

Another unnecessary comma, and the verb form's off again. Come to think of it, it's the same verb as last time. Are you just used to seeing "rest" as the past tense of it? It's not an accepted one. You do this throughout the story.

>I pushed the menu away, and leaned back on my stool for some breathing room.//

No comma.

>My eyes darted around the room once more, deciding I could look past its sickly nature.//

This says her eyes decided she could look past its nature.

>a cup coffee//

Missing word.

I'm seeing enough uses of "small" and "smile" that they're also sticking in my head.

>I couldn't say I had never met a pony so cryptic before.//

I'm not sure this says what you want it to say, due to the double negative.

>None of the keys looked nothing like a modern key//

Same thing. I think this says the opposite of what you wanted.

>down from the stool top down//

More close word repetition. There are more of these than I'm noting—I just wanted to pick out some examples.

>One way lead up a set of rickety wooden stairs, the second led//

You spelled the same verb two different ways (the second is correct).

>“It keeps us from any…” Luna paused to contemplate for a brief moment, “sleepwalking mishaps.”//

If you want to break into a quote with a non-speaking aaction, here's how you do it:
>“It keeps us from any—” Luna paused to contemplate for a brief moment “—sleepwalking mishaps.”//
This turns up again in chapter 10, where you at least get the dashes right, but you needlessly capitalize the aside.

>Who knew what else lay beneath the surface of such a pony.//

That's a question, right?

>In fact, this entire restaurant is one giant riddle.//

You've switched to present tense again.

>With a small turn//

>With a small turn of her hoof//
These are in the same paragraph.

>on sitting on//

Extraneous word.

>barely hiding my discontent//

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

And in this chapter, you have 12 uses of "small." 8 of them are on the last screenful.

From here on, I'm going to assume I've provided enough examples of things from the first two chapters, and I'll mostly only bring up new issues.

>The more I tried think about //

Missing word.

>did…I//

Needs a space after the ellipsis.

>I had to think about how I got to this forest and why I’m in this restaurant.//

Tense shift.

>I waited the pony’s reply//

Missing word.

>it often lead to making baseless assumptions//

You're using the present tense form where you need the past.

>She watch the mare//

>I caught her eyes shift to me//
Verb form.

>down the dark hallway passed the bar//

Passed/past confusion.

>as the realization that everypony was trapped inside these woods//

You've got a clause without a verb here.

You have a number of spots in this chapter where you punctuate a question with a period.

>hanging from it’s elongated jaw//

Its/it's confusion.

>It placed his//

You're vacillating between calling Discord a "he" and an "it" a number of times.

>Discord, is my name.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>Something about the way he spoke made me feel even more uncomfortable than Luna.//

Luna doesn't feel uncomfortable.

>matter of fact//

In this usage (it's acting as a single descriptor for something that follows it), hyphenate.

>His eyes ran over my for a second.//

My what?

>I lost mine quite sometime ago.//

His what? He mentioned insanity, not sanity. And this is an instance where "some time" needs to be two words.

>play anymore tricks//

And "any more" needs to be two words here.

>How could it have changed.//

Isn't that a question?

>“She’s locked up, that doesn’t mean she’s crazy.//

Missing the closing quotation marks.

>all out sprint//

all-out

>I read, “Luna’s”//

That's not dialogue, so you don't need the comma.

>bright, neon//

Those are hierarchical adjectives (the non-foolproof test is that they'd sound really awkward if you reversed the order), so you don't need a comma between them.

>But, all this darkness offered no other hints as to where I was.//

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

>I remembered coming in from fog.//

Missing word.

>Stumbling across the room, my hoof missed a few passes at the door handle//

This says her hoof stumbled across the room.

>mesmerically//

Is that even a word? I'd expect "mesmerizingly."

>When she slammed the bottle back down, her hoof and foreleg hit the table with enough force to cause it to shake.//

This is exactly what happened a bit ago.

>A chill crept down up//

How does that work?

>I only grit my teeth//

The past tense is "gritted."

>coalesced in shifting wall of fog//

Missing word.

>The words were just barely above a whisper, hardly audible even in the dead of the night. I only managed to catch them by listening carefully.//

You've essentially said the same thing three times.

>drudging//

dredging

>Coming to the top, however, some odd sound from behind me caught my ear.//

You occasionally have these dangling participles. This says some odd sound came to the top.

>refusing to acknowledge the dread crept up my spine//

The verb form is off.

>strown//

strewn

>safe…” Her voice trailed off//

The ellipsis already means trailing off, so narrating it as well is redundant.

>Her eyes searched my own as her head fell slowly to the side.//

>Her ears perked as something like joy pushed through the madness.//
>I furrowed my eyebrows as I pressed back into the door.//
>Frantically, she clapped her hooves as an exuberant grin spread across her face.//
>She groaned as she hit struck her head a few times with her hoof//
>I rubbed my head as I looked at whoever had burst in.//
>Luna said as she stepped into the disaster that was the crazy mare’s room.//
>Shivers radiated into me as I slowly realised this crazy mare—Twilight, apparently—was utterly terrified.//
>I took my leave, though I kept staring daggers at Luna as I passed.//
Those are taken from a stretch of only 7 consecutive paragraphs. See how often you use those "as" clauses? It gets very structurally repetitive when the same element keeps turning up.

>showing the disappointed boredom on her face. Her eyes were still half-closed, keeping their disinterested aura, but her gaze held some resentment//

Look at all those emotions you're not demonstrating. None of this paints a picture. I just have to take the narrator's word for it in the absence of evidence, which just leaves it so abstract. Show me what I'd see if I were there witnessing it myself, and let me draw the conclusions.

>“As I said before,” she said//

Fairly repetitive use of "said."

>struck a cord//

chord

>Surprise, annoyance, and resignation warred with each other for control of my expression.//

I haven't been marking all the spots where you blatantly tell emotions, but I wanted to call this one out for a specific reason: it doesn't fit your narration. How does the narrator know what her facial expression is? Certain things about it, she could feel, but that would be the position or condition of body parts, not the emotion driving it. Look at it this way: do you have to look in a mirror to know you're sad (plus the narrator here can't see her own face anyway)? There are far more immediate ways you know your own mood then from how you look.

>[i[had//

Broken tag.

>who I recognized//

Whom, if your perspective character would know that.

>C-cheers//

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

>But, I suppose it was all for naught.//

No reason to have a comma there.

>Rarity turn her attention to me.//

Typo.

>she said with a laugh as a smirk broke out//

You've mentioned her smirking more than once now. You use it a lot for Luna, but you acknowledge the repetition there, making it thematic. For Rarity, it just feels repetitive.

>I should have known would be of no help//

Missing word.

>"Purple coat, really frazzled," Doormat brushed her mane from in front of her face//

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

>But, damned if it wasn’t something.//

That comma shouldn't be there.

>the sickly sweet liquor//

Wine's usually considered separate from liquor, but I suppose it depends on whether your character knows that.

>a faint sounds//

>The door swung opened//
Typo.

>something.I//

Missing space.

>twack//

Did you mean "thwack"? And don't italicize that. It's a valid word, and putting sound effects in narration suggests a far more lighthearted atmosphere than you have going here.

>jibberish//

Usually spelled "gibberish."

>patted on Pinkie on//

Extraneous word.

>Her gaze trailed from Pinkie to myself.//

Reflexive pronouns are really only for when the same person or thing is the clause's subject.

>The feeling from the cur Rarity’s icy gaze burrowing deep into the back of my skull made sure even that small kernel of happiness was short-lived .//

Extraneous space before the period, and that's just strangely phrased. It took me a while to parse it, and it is a valid construction, but it takes a bit of picking apart to figure it out.

>Then heart lept//

Missing word and typo.

>Twilight didn’t even acknowledge Rarity; nor did she ask my permission as she slid into the seat across from me.//

What's that semicolon doing that a comma wouldn't?

>thud//

Same deal with italicizing that sound effect.

>"This way,” came Twilight’s whispering voice. The cook’s busy in the freezer."//

Missing your opening quotation marks for the second part of the quote. And note how you've mixed simple and fancy style quotation marks. Make sure you use one kind throughout the story. I have seen authors use one kind for quotation marks and the other for apostrophes, and that's fine, as long as you're consistent. I see a lot of this in chapter 14, and while I don't recall seeing it before this, it might have escaped my notice.

>less trees//

"Less" is for collective quantities, like money. You want "fewer."

>away, ghosting away//

Close repetition.

>at wits end//

at wits' end

>pulled the door opened//

Typo.

>As the door swung open//

Set off the dependent clause with a comma.

>dusty, musty//

That rhyme tends to create a playful mood, which isn't what you want here.

>cellar!" The darkness called out//

Capitalization.

>head first//

headfirst

>who glared at the mare//

Another dependent clause that needs a comma.

It occurs to me now that our protagonist has never wondered why Fluttershy doesn't fly up above the fog to see the terrain. Now that Dash has been discovered, that'd apply to her, too.

>big-shot//

No reason to hyphenate that term.

>as her eyes drift closed completely//

You've shifted to present tense.

>soldout crowd//

sold-out

>before stopping just past myself and Twilight//

Another spot where a reflexive pronoun isn't appropriate.

So far, the buggest issues are sheer repetition and occasional blunt naming of character emotion, though there are a few persistent editing errors. I do have one concern going forward. All of the other bar patrons are caricatures of canon characters, but pushed so far that they're obviously not their canon selves. I get that they're supposed to be part of a dream logic, and so they don't have to be realistic, but I gather that Luna more or less is the actual Luna. I do wonder why Luna chooses to act in such an antagonistic manner, though. And it does call into question why to use these characters in particular. If the protagonist turns out to be someone who knows them all, then they may well be drawn from her own subconscious. But if they're strangers to her, then I don't know why they're even there. It's pretty random to pick real ponies who happen to personify these qualities, which suggests they're then deliberate choices on Luna's part, and I'm not sure why she'd populate this place with such disrespectful parodies of her own friends. That just leads me back to the assumption that the protagonist must know them all, as it's the only explanation that makes sense; furthermore, it's really the only explanation that makes this a pony story at all, since otherwise, they're just archetypes who have no meaning in this universe, and then they could be human or whatever without changing anything. So if you don't already have some sort of connection planned, I'd encourage you to think about why these specific ponies are represented here and make it plausible that the protagonist or Luna (whoever's invented them) would choose them in the first place and decide to portray them in this manner.

I'll emphasize again that I didn't mark every instance of every problem I saw, particularly after the first few chapters, so I'm leaving it to you to recognize the kinds of things I've pointed out and scan the story for other instances of the same. If you can tune this up a bit, I'd be happy to post it.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2706

>Shooting through where the ill-fated structure used to float//
>leaving a trail of blue for any ponies who might look up at her//
>carving another swath through her sky.//
>Finishing her turn//
>lit by the afternoon sun//
>scattering a few flecks of loose cloud//
>Stretching her body back and forth//
>feeling her blood flow subside//
>protruding from her mailbox//
>not bothering to close the little door//
>signed with Spitfire's cutie mark//
You use a ton of participial phrases. These all occur on the first screen, in only 6 paragraphs. They're a structure many authors of intermediate experience tend to overuse. I see the appeal: they lend a sophistication and they're descriptive, but you also don't encounter them that much in everyday speech, so they're unusual. The more unusual something is, the more easily it sticks out when repeated. They're also not the kind of thing Dash would use that much in her own thoughts. It's particularly clunky to see more than one in a single sentence. In addition, there are some common problems that crop up with them, and you likely have those when you use so many.

A little further in, you have a bunch of Dash's thoughts presented as italicized quotes, but you have the type of narrator who can simply state them for her. So why are you going for two methods of delivery there? It's inconsistent. It's possible to do so, but generally as an occasional thing, not like the huge number of quoted thoughts you have. Unless you want to recast the narration as omniscient, that is. Then you wouldn't have to worry about matching the narration to Dash's voice. It's up to you, but you need to decide what kind of narration you want.

>It was the simple things that made life good sometimes.//

A lot of what the narration says is factual, but this is clearly Dash's opinion. That raises two issues. For the first one, look back at this line:
>the pegasus continued on at full speed//
If you're going to have the narrator express Dash's opinions as his own, then you're using a limited narrator. Essentially, the narration is Dash's internal stream of thought. But why would she refer to herself as "the pegasus"? That's very external. People just don't think about themselves in such terms. The other issue: you don't have the narration express her opinion very often. If you really want a limited narrator, you have to keep that personal voice going, or it just reverts to feeling omniscient. Then, when you do have an opinion creep in, it feels out of place. And the personal voice could use a little work, too. Take this line:
>She reached into the box and fished around within until she was confident she had extracted its contents.//
That doesn't sound like something Dash would think. It's got advanced word choice and very formal construction. It ought to sound like something she'd actually think to herself or maybe even say out loud.
>boring social stuff she never bothered with//
Now, there you go. This sounds very much like something Dash would say. It's clearly her personal impression, and it takes on her voice. This is how most of your narration should sound.

>the Carousel Boutique//

You don't use "the" with most proper place names, unless is actually part of the title. You go to the store, but you go to Target.

>forgetting to close the window behind her//

If you want a limited narrator, keep in mind that the narrator and Dash are the same. If Dash forgot, so did the narrator; he can't tell me she forgot.

Now that she's going into this social event, the narration is getting very bland. Compare it to the beginning of the story. There was lots of description and imagery. Now it's very bare-bones. Give me a little detail. And if you want a limited narration, speckle it with Dash's personal observations about what's going on.

>demonstration to show her//

Redundant.

>A quarter of the present//

Missing word or typo.

>I look forwards to meeting him.//

forward

>connections,"—Rarity//

Extraneous comma.

>Confusion crossed Golden Goose’s face.//

Try to avoid outright naming emotions like this. It's closer to real life when the reader has to interpret behavioral cues and deduce emotion. How does he look that Dash would interpret as confusion? Give me the visual and let me figure out the emotion.

>the subtle changes in his expression//

This means nothing if I don't get to see them.

>Golden Goose had spotted them and approached the couple.//

Wait, he tried to invite himself along with her. I got the impression that was his way of getting there. If he was going anyway, why'd he press to be her date? Maybe he's got a crush on her, but I've seen no signs of that.

>small, round//

These are hierarchical adjectives, so they don't need a comma. The not-foolproof test is that they describe different aspects, and that they have a natural order they like to be in, such that if you reverse the order, it sounds really awkward.

You did better when there wasn't much dialogue, but now that we're in the middle of lots of conversation, take a look at your narrative sentences. They're quite repetitive in structure, all starting with the subject, and all about the same length. Try to throw a little variety in there.

>Rainbow flashed an apologetic look. Rarity returned an annoyed one.//

Describe them. This doesn't paint a picture. You're making me do the work.

>we gotta talk about it//

This again highlights the need to decide what kind of narration you want. If Dash was having that much of a reaction to it, then that should have shown up in the narration. Yet the narration was silent about it. For an omniscient narrator, that's fine. For a limited narration, that implies Dash either had no reaction or was avoiding thinking about it.

>At least I know what your tongue tastes like now.//

This also seems like something that should have been mentioned at the time, but it's a gray area. It is kind of nice to be surprised by it now, but it'll depend on your narration. Like if you have a limited narration and Dash doesn't mention it when it happened, that implies it didn't surprise her or she didn't notice it, neither of which is the case. I'm also surprised Rarity did it, as nobody else would have been able to tell, so it wasn't necessary to keep up the act. I'm guessing she did it because she wanted to.

>Rarity donned her own winter outfit and the two left the hotel room with their luggage to check out.//

Needs a comma between the clauses.

>around at the snow stuck to the tops of the trees and sitting on the buildings around//

Watch that close repetition. Plus the "around them" phrasing is kind of repetitive with the "behind them" in the previous clause.

>She studied its contents as she passed and made a mental note for later.//

You're really in a rut of starting narrative sentences with the subject. But also consider that you appear to be using Dash as your limited narrator, so you tell me she reads this flyer, but you don't tell me what it said. Essentially, this means Dash is refusing to think about what it said, like she saw it but it didn't register. And yet you say she's filing it away. That doesn't compute.

>a second snowball interrupted her.//

Capitalize that. There's no reason not to have it as a new sentence.

>She scooped up a large wad in her forehooves flew up with it//

Missing an "and" or a comma.

>mostly-buried//

Two-word phrases starting in an -ly adverb don't typically take hyphens, as there's no ambiguity in the hierarchy of modifiers.

>Below, the rhythmic click-clack of the wheels reminded its occupants of its progress. Inside, a pegasus and a unicorn sat side by side on an upholstered seat.//

Repetitive way to start those two sentences (though I'm glad you're not using the subject). However, this is decidedly omniscient.

>"Then I never"—she paused to get some air—"want to see your face ever again!"//

This sounds like she stops speaking for the pause. In that case, the dashes go with the speech:
"Then I never—" she paused to get some air "—want to see your face ever again!"

>laying on her back//

Lay/lie confusion.

>Followed by, Spending more time with her would be so awesome.//

That kind of phrasing, which doesn't really use a speaking verb, tends to work better with a colon instead of a comma.

>Come on Rainbow,//

In the middle of a sentence, direct address takes commas on both sides.

As Rainbow goes around to visit all her friends, you're using direct address a lot more than feels natural. It's not necessary for them to know when to listen, since it's only two of them at a time. It's fine for emphasis, but that should be an occasional thing, not a significant portion of the time.

>a familiar voice called from the other side//

That's pretty much the same phrasing you used at Fluttershy's house.

>Concern grew on her face.//

Let me see how this looks.

>Rainbow heart//

Missing possessive.

>She looked up and launched herself into the sky//

Just more of this rut where every sentence starts with the subject. Beginning here, you have ten sentences in a row that do so, and many of them are about the same length.

>Instead she turned her attention to the pony saying them. Rarity looked so animated talking about her passions, and Rainbow could tell she was enjoying her self-promotion. She was so nice to look at, from the way she moved her head to how her shoulders shifted when she changed topics.//

I just want to flag this for later, for something I'll talk about in wrap-up comments.

>Another pause.//

A little of this goes a long way. Authors like to use this sentence, but really, it means next to nothing. What's important is what happens during the pause. What little action does Dash do to signify she's thinking? What goes through her head? That's what makes the pause meaningful.

>Rainbow took a breath and focused on Rarity's deep blue eyes. She then turned her thoughts to what was behind them.//

Flagging this for later, too.

>"Well,"—Rainbow walked in front of Rarity—"I figure,//

Lose that first comma. Also consider whether the dash placement is what you want, given what I said earlier about how that indicates if the speech stops or not.

>Rainbow felt Rarity's chest move under her wing as she breathed.//

You already said as much.

>burst!//

So far, you'd always included an exclamation mark or question mark in the italics (which is the standard way of doing it when the italics are for emphasis).

Okay, I'll bring back in those lines I tagged. But first I want to say how nice it is to see a romance done this way. It's not perfect, but it's far better than most we get. For one thing, Rarity's not super-conveniently already in love with Dash as well. She's just willing to give it a try and see if Rainbow can win her over. Now, I do think there would tend to be at least a tiny attraction there in the first place, or it'd seem like Rarity's agreeing to the date for charity reasons more than anything else. I mean, she would admire Rainbow as a friend anyway, and it might be nice to see that creep in a bit than the slightly guarded disdain she exudes all the time now. Anyway, I like seeing the slow burn here, where it takes them some time to establish a relationship, not just diving into it, and that the story doesn't stop there (you are going to add more chapters, right?), since it's a pretty cliched thing to have their agreement to date or kiss or get married (I guess the jury's still out on that one) as the story's goal.

I don't know if you intended it this way, but Rarity's adherence to by-the-book ways that couples are supposed to behave smacks of Twilight and her sleepover manual, and it lends her a naivete that's quite cute, especially if I take it as not personal naivete but universal, as in that's just the attitude that ponies in general have. It keeps things closer to a show tone, which of course isn't required, but I found it charming. The tongue thing kind of works against that, though...

Now I will get to those excerpts I said I wanted to discuss. I do see Rarity's attitude toward this relationship, but the more I think about it, Rainbow's doesn't quite make sense. I think the pieces are there; it's more that they're out of order. So look at the first one. Rainbow's reciting all the things she likes about Rarity, but why is she just now thinking of this? The "omigosh" moment where she decides she wants to date Rarity was based on simply enjoying the kiss and possibly the companionship. But isn't that the time for her to take stock of what she likes about Rarity and decide that it really is a romantic interest? I mean, that's what makes people want to be together: they enjoy each other's personalities and get along well. Yet Rainbow does't know that yet and hasn't even considered it? That's hard to buy. I have to think she has gone over this stuff in her head, and pretty much anywhere between the fake date and her realization she wants a real one, whether it's little by little or in a rush, is the time for all this to occur to her.

Then look at the second excerpt I flagged. Now we're even later in the game, and surely she's thought about what qualities she liked in Rarity by now. Maybe on not such a formal level, but there needs to be something. This is far past the point she should be a mindset deeper than "I feel funny when I look at her."

So what I'd really like to see is this kind of self-searching about what attracts her to Rarity start much earlier, before she realizes she enjoyed the fake date much more than she meant to, and definitely before she goes to all the trouble of actually asking her out.

Be careful how you do that as well. You don't want to be vague. Working by example is often the most powerful way to go. So rather than just say she appreciates Rarity's generosity, have her reminisce about a one-to-two sentence anecdote from a time she saw that generosity in action. Instead of just saying Rarity is pretty, have her recall a time that Rarity's beauty struck her, and maybe that she didn't understand her reaction at the time. Things like that. Aragon put together a good series of blogs on how to make shipping realistic; they're linked off his home page. It might be worth reading through a bit of that to get more in-depth information on what I'm getting at here: that Rainbow needs to have, at least on a subconscious level, a sense of what she likes about Rarity and what each one of their give and take from the relationship would be. That's really all this story needs on a conceptual level.

The mechanics are pleasantly clean, too, except for all the structural repetition of subject-first and participial phrases. I mentioned that participles can go wrong in multiple ways, which are misplaced modifiers, dangling participles, and synchronization problems. You had a few spots that strayed into gray areas, but nothing outright wrong, which is impressive. I'm not sure whether you're just careful about your participle usage or if you're incredibly lucky. Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. Anyway, that's the other thing I'd like to see from this story: more variety in your sentences so they don't get bogged down in having the same things over and over again.

Oh, and sort out what kind of narrator you want to use, as that affects how well the narrator's voice should match Dash's and how appropriate it is to present so much of Dash's internal thoughts as quoted material versus narrative comment.

If you can get a handle on those things, I'd be happy to post this. In fact, there aren't any pervasive plot and character problems to where I'd need to read it in detail again. I'd just want to spot-check things, so you can mark it as "back from Mars" when you're ready to resubmit.
This post was edited by its author on .

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2711

Right away, there are some subtle oddities in the perspective. First, we get this:
>the pink earth pony//
People don't think about themselves or others they know in such abstractly external terms, so this would seem to be an omniscient narrator. But a little later, this turns up:
>chuckling at her employer’s silly question//
This expresses an opinion in the narration, so it'd tend to indicate a limited narrator. It's most likely Sweet Roll's viewpoint, but it's possible this is Cherry judging her own question as silly. Shortly after:
>The fun hadn’t yet begun!//
That's not just an opinion. That's the narrator directly taking on one of the characters' voices. So you definitely have a limited narrator, and probably in Cherry's perspective. So you have to be careful to keep it that way.

>crystal blue eyes//

I could see her commenting on her own hair color, since it's hanging right in front of her face. But she can't see her own eyes, and their color isn't relevant to what's happening, so why would she mention it?

>“Hmm, that looks good!” She exclaimed//

Capitalization.

>Recipes were unnecessary, for she knew them all by heart.//

Then why'd she clip them up? Just knowing what she wanted to make should be enough.

>a two-oven kitchen//

You're using a lot of repetitive language around here. Within three paragraphs, you mention recipes three times, "mixed" gets used twice, You say she has two ovens twice.

>Everything was first name basis.//

First-name, and it seems like there are a couple missing words.

>the corner of his shiny black eyes//

One corner for two eyes?

>“Oh,” she mentally grasped his meaning.//

You punctuated that as if it was a speech tag, but there's no speaking verb.

>The tantalizing aroma of chocolate and sugar wafted from the kitchen.//

Watch your perspective again. Cherry is your perspective character, but she's in the kitchen, so she wouldn't know what was wafting out. And it's more Burt who finds it tantalizing. You seem to be switching perspectives, but there's a finesse in doing so, and it's rarely necessary in a story this short.

>Ashleigh//

I was giving you the benefit of the doubt that "Burt" was short for something, but now this? They're supposed to be ponies, right?

>lanky, yellow stallion//

Those are hierarchical adjectives, so you don't need a comma between them. The non-foolproof test is that they describe different aspects and that they tend to sound more awkward in a different order.

>A few awkward seconds and a wink from a fellow taxi passing by later, her head popped up.//

Now this seems to be from Manual's perspective.

>A wry grin started to form on the edge of his lips//

Missing your end punctuation.

>“Long enough.” He said//

Punctuation/capitalization.

>mug, watched//

You have an extra space in there.

>Slipping out of her boots, she left them on the mat next to the door.//

Keep in mind that participles make things happen at the same time, but she wouldn't leave her boots on the mat until after she'd slipped them off.

>The mare smiled back and pushed the cart around the corner into the kitchen.//

And given your limited narration, this is essentially Cherry referring to herself as "the mare." People just don't do that.

>as she were their mother of sorts//

Missing an "if."

>as she were their mother of sorts//

That's not the first time he's used direct address is it? If you're calling attention to the formal title he uses, that's not what direct address is.

>“Yeah, who is it?” A husky voice grunted from behind the door.//

Capitalization.

>your Majesty//

The "your" gets capitalized in that phrase, too.

>26//

Spell out numbers that short.

>The mare flinched//

That odd reference again. For that matter, she knows Nutmeg well, so it's odd for her to think of him as "the stallion."

>now rabid//

Hyphenate.

>her voice laden with urgency//

Odd for her to describe the emotion in her voice instead of the emotion she's actually feeling. Authors often fall into this trap, like saying the perspective character had an expression of rage. But that's not how we perceive our own emotions. Would you have to look in a mirror to know you were angry? Would you have to hear your own voice to know you has a sense of urgency?

>—.//

Don't put a period after a dash.

>Yet, a little nagging voice in the back of her mind told her otherwise.//

It's rarely valid to put a comma after a conjunction. This one doesn't belong.

>Flinging open the door, she tackled him with a hug.//

Another spot where a participle synchronizes actions that should probably happen in sequence.

>the light pink earth pony/

Another odd reference. Do you call your grandfather "the gray-haired man"?

>Cherry rubbed her hooves together, a few embarrassed chuckles escaping her lips, “Um,//

Another spot where you punctuate something like a speech tag when it has no speaking verb.

>50//

Write it out.

>wait. . .” her mother’s voice trailed off//

The ellipsis already meas she trailed off. Narrating it as well is redundant. It's also weird that you're using Cherry as your perspective character, but the camera stays behind after she leaves.

I just noticed your paragraph indentations are pretty uneven.

>Fili-second//

Both parts of the hyphenated name would be capitalized. Look for this eery time you use that name.

>Dropping into a side alley, the pink mare peeked around the corner//

More synchronization issues.

>Cherry found herself in small dull room//

Missing word. Plus the "found herself" phrasing means it was unexpected, but she knows where she's going.

>we’re— Oh//

Don't put a space after the dash.

>The pink mare//

Another odd reference.

This is a nice little behind-the-scenes kind of thing showing what Fili-Second gets up to during her free time, but ultimately, I'm not sure what the point was aside from being a simple fluff piece. Cherry doesn't have to struggle to achieve anything, and any interesting things we learn about her (namely the fact that she does all these charitable activities) happen right up front, so they don't develop through the story. It's nice that she's trying to reach out to the Mane-iac, but what does it accomplish? Is this helping to rehabilitate her? Or has the Mane-iac expressed on her own that she wishes she would have visitors? There's really nothing that changes as a result of these events, and nobody has to go to any trouble to achieve something. What message did you want the reader to take away from this? That Cherry is a nice person? That's fine, but it doesn't need a whole story to convince me of that. Show me what a difference that has made, not just that she drops in on these ponies in need, but that it's really changed their lives for the better. Particularly for the Mane-iac, since that's the one you chose to dwell on. What sort of change has come over her due to Cherry's attention? Compare the before and after. Show that the Mane-iac has become a better person. Something like that.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2717

>"Keep doing that and you'll go deaf in one ear."//
As opposed to... having them on straight and going deaf in both ears? I'm not sure what Sugarcoat's getting at. That Lemon shouldn't be wearing headphones at all?

>Lemon sighed heavily, and shook her head to clear her mind.//

The same subject does both verbs. That makes it a compound verb, not a separate clause, so you don't need the comma.

>everything!"//

Take care that you don't include the quotation marks in the italics, unless the entire quote is italicized. This happens throughout the story, so scan the whole thing for it.

>'Course//

You don't need the apostrophe, since you're eliminating an entire word, not clipping some letters off this one. You use this spelling a couple of times.

>ya'//

And you don't need that apostrophe either. You're not clipping letters off, just making a spelling imitative of a pronunciation of what is still the whole word. You do this one a lot. A global search and replace would get rid of them.

>in genuine surprise//

>excitedly//
You were doing well at demonstrating emotion instead of naming it, but then I get these two close together. Something like this can work sparingly, but not if the emotion is important to the story, and you don't want to lean on it much. Have them act accordingly so the reader can deduce the emotion without you saying it.

>Vinyl made a face.//

Describe it a bit. This is so vague it doesn't mean anything.

>Lemon could see curiosity//

Yeah, make her act curious. It's more realistic when a reader interprets behavior then when he just has the narrator drawing the conclusion for him. That's how we read other people, so it feels more natural. There's no narrator in real life telling us how people feel.

Oh, the cloud's real? That's... interesting.

>faux-nervously//

What she said in conjunction with the giggle already gets this across. You don't need to spell it out.

>Her embarrassment//

Just describe the change in her behavior and appearance. Don't leave it as some abstract assessment of her mood.

>and her cheeks pinked//

This is a subtle thing about perspective. Consider you've been telling the story from Lemon's viewpoint. She can't see her own cheeks to notice this. She may conclude that by the fact they've gotten warm, for example, but not through direct observation. You have to consider how the viewpoint character can and would perceive what the narration describes.

>This is about losing yourself, and being where you want to be//

No need for that comma.

>They rubbed, they squeezed... they massaged.//

Okay, this is kind of coming out of nowhere. And I'm nervous that this is the Romance tag coming in, specifically because it comes out of nowhere. We'll see, but it's curious that this elicits no response from Lemon. If it's unexpected, it should surprise her. If it's not unexpected, then it speaks to a pre-existing relationship, yet they sure haven't acted like they're in one until now.

>She sat back, and gazed outside again.//

Don't need that comma.

>every time I thought screwed things up//

Missing word.

>Classical?//

You do, however, italicize exclamation marks or question marks on a word that's been italicized for emphasis. You'd been doing so until now.

>She squeezed Lemon's hands, and grinned knowingly.//

Don't need that comma.

>and looked like it had been for a while//

Wait, how could she possibly tell this? Even one second after it was gone, what evidence would there be of it? When it rains, I guess she might tell by how wet the ground is, but she's looking up.

>Indie, no!//

Italicize the exclamation mark.

>Lemon shook herself off, and stood as tall as she could.//

No comma.

>putting on an expression of determination//

Think of your perspective again. Lemon can't see this, so it's odd for her to evaluate it. She could say that's what she's attempting to do. But more immediate to her would be the actual feeling. So how does that affect her? That's what makes more sense to say. What thoughts are going through her head? What physical sensations does it cause? Put yourself in her place and say how you'd experience it, not something that's an external observation of it.

>Lemon placed her hand to her heart, and looked at Indigo.//

No comma.

>clearly flustered//

So give me more description of her that paints a picture of her as flustered. If you were a stage director, what would you tell your actress to do to get this across? A play doesn't have a narrator to tell the audience Indigo is flustered. It's entirely upon the actress to get that across. For the most part, written characters work best when they do the same. You give me the visual through which I can infer the emotion.

>once in awhile//

"Awhile" and "a while" aren't generally interchangeable. You do need it to be two words here so there's a noun to serve as the preposition's object.

>That was a pep talk worthy of me!//

Italicize the exclamation mark.

>"Yeah. I wonder,"//

You wouldn't bother putting any other end punctuation in the italics, though, unless the entire quote is italicized. So leave an ending comma, period, dash, or ellipsis outside the italics.

>Indigo batted away one of the little hearts popping up around Lemon's head.//

Okay, you're kind of going weird on the cartoon side. The actual movie didn't have these effects, and I couldn't tell if the raincloud was supposed to be some magical power Lemon had, but now it looks like you're going for cartoon logic. So I'll reiterate that the movie doesn't do this, and you're going for an even more serious tone than the movies, so this feels like a big step in the opposite direction.

>Lemon rubbed her hands together, excitedly.//

That excitedly is once again blunt, but it's also extraneous. She already comes across that way.

>She held her shirt away from her body//

This sure sounds like she's taken it off.

>Indigo peeled her shirt off and walked across the field to the locker room.//

O-kay. She has something on under it, I trust?

>It was white, and much smaller than before.//

Oh, wait, it's there permanently, even when she's in a good mood? That could be clearer. I'm not sure how the reader's supposed to figure that out before now, since her canon portrayal doesn't include it.

>She put her headphones on, and loaded a new playlist//

No comma.

>one that she had downloaded from Vinyl's player when they'd exchanged numbers//

Why didn't you mention it at the time? Did Vinyl suggest she grab it? Did Vinyl even know she did?

>The music started up, and the last bit of cloud whisked away.//

Oh, okay. It does go away.

Okay, aside from a tiny bit of blushing, I can't fathom why you tagged this as romance. There's no romance in it, and even the vague hints at such are completely extraneous to the plot. Not that that's really a problem. That kind of thing tends to get you downvotes from people who came in expecting all-out shipping and get barely a whisper of it. It's not exactly mistagged, and it's your risk to take. To wit, your like ratio is hovering below 20:1, and based on the quality of the writing alone, I would have bet on higher. That tag is probably hurting you a bit.

The more important point is the story that you start with and the one that actually finishes. They're both fine, but they don't really connect. It wouldn't be hard to address that, though. So let me look at the before and after pictures.

At the beginning, Lemon is moping around about how all her friends are in a bad mood, and she feels distant from them. Vinyl shows up and gets her to calm down by playing music. (For that matter, why was it necessary for them to listen while looking out the window? Nothing happens out there, and Vinyl even tells her to close her eyes at one point, so that she can't see anything outside. And it's only through serendipity that the window performs a function—she sees Indigo running out there, but Vinyl didn't set it up that way; she had no idea Indigo would even be out there.) So calmed, Lemon decides she wants to invite all her friends to a party to get them all to reconnect.

At the end, Lemon confronts Indigo, and she makes an argument at least related to the problem. It doesn't address that desire for a get-together, but it does address the root cause of what's bugging Indigo, so it would probably still achieve that desired effect. But she stops there, and this idea of a party is completely dropped. Tie those threads together!

Make some stronger connection that the calming effect of Vinyl's music has enabled Lemon to see the situation clearly and act to resolve it. Don't forget about that party. Indigo wants to take Lemon out for a shake, but what happened to the rest of the girls? You don't have to show all those interactions if you don't want to. It'd make the story significantly longer, and it might be hard to make them all seem necessary and interesting. But just indicating that she's going to have a similar talk with each of them is enough. It shows that she's going to solve the problem that was presented way back at the beginning of the story. As it is, she's re-engaged with Indigo, but she's forgotten about the others. The ending hits a different target than the beginning was shooting for, and there's nothing accomplished by the shift. I'd like to see you have thematic closure here. And it's as simple as this: Like I said, make it a little more clear that Lemon couldn't have thought of and implemented this plan if Vinyl hadn't calmed her down first. After Lemon makes up with Indigo, have her mention this plan of throwing a party to her, and Indigo says it's a good idea. Then the story closes with Lemon going off to talk to the others the same way she had with Indigo. Now you have a consistent plot arc, and all those pieces relate to it, for the price of only a couple paragraphs.

Pre-reader 63.546!vZ.Mh9z92U 2723

Note that for a lot of the mechanical stuff, I only pointed out one or two examples of each kind of problem, not every instance of each. You should look for other instances of the same things, as in many cases, there were other spots that needed to be fixed.

>regardless of if you studies//

Typo.

>Valentine's day//

Capitalization.

>My only true love is the basketball game tomorrow?//

I can't figure why that's a question.

>My sport friend//

>the redhead//
People just don't think about others they know in such external, abstract terms.

>this- even in my head- that's//

Please use proper dashes, not hyphens.

>one-hundred percent//

As you've phrased it, hyphenate the whole thing.

>I'be//

Typo.

>...how fast does this girl work?//

When you have a leading ellipsis, you still capitalize after it if it's a new sentence. Only leave it lower-case if it's picking up from an earlier sentence that ended in an ellipsis.

>corner,a//

Needs a space.

>bouncy hair bounces//

It does, does it?

>'ol//

The missing letter is the "d" at the end. Why is the apostrophe on the beginning?

>I'm came here//

Phrasing is off.

>considering Pinkie//

Set off the participle with a comma.

>The pink-haired party animal//

Yeah, these kind of references just don't work for a limited narrator, and first person is as limited as it gets.

>cheesy I love you message//

cheesy I-love-you message or cheesy "I love you" message

>Me and my heart freeze.//

Somehow, I think Twilight knows grammar better than this.

>Stenson//

Stetson

>Her shining green eyes lock with my magenta ones.//

Why in the world would she mention her own eye color?

>I instinctively twirl a piece of my indigo hair//

Same deal with the hair. Why would she even notice the color? It's unimportant to her and irrelevant to what's happening.

>Yer spacin' off.//

I've always heard it as spacing out.

>Now, I'm gonna head out now//

Watch the close repetition.

>a one time thing//

one-time

>once in a lifetime sight//

once-in-a-lifetime

>I thought it was a phase that most people went through when that age came around where that part of you becomes aware to you.//

This is really awkwardly phrased.

I'm curious as to whether this is supposed to be happening before or after she falls for Timber Spruce.

>Applejack is one of my closest friends. She's kind, caring, hardworking, but what drew me towards her was her honesty. Her honesty is almost as beautiful as her. I see her honesty always shining through those vibrant green eyes.//

I have a feeling I'm going to need to refer to this passage later, so I'm marking it for now.

>Friendship has a theoretical 28% chance of ending if subject is not attracted to other girls but open minded, theorized 85% chance if subject hates girls attracted to other girls.//

Where is she getting those numbers? Her own estimation? Did she find some sort of statistics to support this?

>Option 3: kiss Applejack.//

I'm always taken aback at how common this is in fanfiction. You wouldn't do this in real life out of the blue. Not the least reason for which is that it might get you hit and possibly disciplined.

>You'r//

Typo.

>feels like the millionth time, I feel//

Repetitive.

>me and Spike can curl up//

Yeah, Twilight wouldn't get that wrong.

>I walk up to the home, nervously and with careful steps.//

>I adjust my glasses nervously.//
>Nervously, I set my backpack//
>that nervous feeling//
These all occur within the same screen, and the last two are in the same paragraph. I get the idea. You should avoid directly telling the reader how a character feels. If Twilight's nervous, how would she act? What would she look like? What questions and images would run through her mind? Think about how you can tell a stranger in the street is nervous. You want the reader observing the same clues you would. If you give the right clues, the reader will get the emotion you want him to without ever having to say it. Since that's how real life works, it comes across as much more authentic.

>a feel a blush//

Typo.

>the fashionista//

Another oddly external reference.

>But my nails are the least of my concern right now.

>
>Applejack is.//
I get what you're trying to say, but this doesn't say it. You're saying Applejack is the least of your concern.

>Even then, the darkness doesn't go away.//

Why would it? Glasses just change focus, not the light level.

>I slowly breath outwards.//

Typo.

>I can remember every time you took me to your family farm, and I can remember every time we went to the library together. All the times I tried out those delicious apple fritters I helped your family make, and all the times we picked out books together so we could read and talk about them.//

Okay, gonna mark this for later discussion as well.

>A candy heart.//

It's a nice pattern, but the way they'd been left so far is really haphazard. How could Applejack be sure Twilight would even see them? Only one of them had been reasonable so far.

Okay, summation time. I'll bring back in those two passages I marked. The first one lists a few qualities Twilight likes about Applejack, and the second lists a few specific activities they've done together. You're on the right track with those, but they show up awfully late in the story, they're fairly vague, and there's not a lot of them.

Before I elaborate, I'll refer you to someone else who already has. Aragon has written a series of blog posts about how to portray a realistic romance, and he's linked them off his user page. I think they're worth reading, and I think they'd help you here. The bottom line is that there needs to be a reasonable give and take here, that each one brings things into the relationship and gets things out of it. They have to have genuine reasons for wanting to be together, and they have to be more or less equals in it. That's a paraphrase, but I'll let Aragon do the heavy explaining. because he's put a lot more thought into it.

The way most authors do romance wrong is to expect me to care about the couple without ever giving me a reason to. Because I like MLP, I already like these characters and so have some interest in seeing them happy. But that's not enough for me to immediately believe they're in love. This is a very common plot you have going here, where one character harbors a secret crush, and when she finally acts on it, the other very conveniently admits she's also had a crush. Add in the "do I like girls?" gayngst, and your foundation is a collection of cliches. People do harbor secret crushes, but the odds against two secret crushes matching up are pretty big. It's still a common story type for Twilight to admit her crush and for Applejack to have never considered it before, but she agrees to give it a try. While cliched, it's still more realistic. Though that would obviously nullify the angle of the candy hearts. It's your story, and it's ultimately up to you what you're willing to change and by how much, but when you're writing the same thing the reader has seen done countless times before, it's incredibly hard to make your version stand out.

So let me get back to what I was saying earlier about why Twilight likes Applejack. The most cliched stories never even get to that. They expect me to buy into the relationship simply because the author says they're in love, but you've at least started down the road of justifying it. But like I said, it's well into the story before we get any of this. Start laying that groundwork right from the first paragraph. Sprinkle it regularly throughout the story. Twilight's mind should keep coming back to what she finds endearing about Applejack. That's part 1.

Part 2 is being specific. You also took a step in the right direction by listing those activities Twilight said she liked doing with Applejack. That way, it's not some big, vague "I like her." It shows the kinds of common interests they share. It suffers in the same ways as part 1, in that you only address it this one place in the story, it's buried way toward the end, and it's still a little on the vague side. An example always speaks far louder than a generalization. So give me more examples, and elaborate on them a bit. The time Twilight tried fritters. Don't leave it at just that. Give me a few sentences about it. How she took a bite, but it was still too hot, and she had to fan her mouth to keep from burning it, but once it cooled enough to swallow, it was so good! And Applejack must have seen the streak of cinnamon on Twilight's cheek, but it was a good hour later before Twilight noticed it on her reflection in the farm house's window. The reflection of her and Applejack walking side by side, the blonde hair like spun sunlight, and Twilight just knew it must smell like apple pie.

Maybe that rambled on a bit long, but you get the picture. I don't need an entire scene of it, but a few sentences to give me a vivid picture of how each one of those events happened, how they made Twilight feel close to Applejack, how Twilight started noticing how much she enjoyed the companionship and found her friend attractive. That adds so much life to it and really makes their relationship feel authentic. It's the right kind of detail in the right kind of places that can convince a reader of anything.

And then part 3. Because you're using Twilight as your perspective character, it's harder to get at what Applejack thinks and feels. The only two ways are for Twilight to read it from Applejack's behavior or for Applejack to say it outright, but like Aragon says, they need to be equals. By now, it's painfully obvious Twilight is in love with Applejack. You have to convince me of the other direction, too. And you don't have that at all. I just have to take your word for it. She hasn't demonstrated anything of the sort. Whether she just now decides to give Twilight a shot or she's also been harboring a secret crush, I need to know the same things from Applejack's side: What is it that she likes about Twilight? What does she find endearing? What does she expect their common interests to be? They don't talk until the end, and since you stay with Twilight as your limited narrator, this won't come out until late in the story, but it's an essential thing to include. Give me that same kind of evidence that Applejack loves Twilight.

That's how you stand out from the crowd, because most authors are content to assume any given reader will automatically believe in the romance. Problem is, that's making the reader do the author's job.
This post was edited by its author on .


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