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:
Why is she named after an allergy medication? Are you sure you didn't want "Allegro"?
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.
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//
>Christmas tree lights//
Did you forget to make that a Hearth's Warming?
>whom only had one present//
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.
What follows is a sentence fragment, so the semicolon isn't used right. You're defining those details, so a colon would be appropriate.
One exclamation mark is plenty.
Third time you use that phrase or some close variation in three paragraphs.
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//
>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//
Very questionable as a speaking verb. How do you beam a sentence?
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?
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.
I think "unexpected" is more the word you wanted here.
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//
>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.
When you have other end punctuation, drop the comma, which wouldn't go outside the quotes anyway.
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.
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.//
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.//
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.
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//
>“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 .