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File: 1432770632858.jpg (153.26 KB, 1024x926, New mare.jpg)

Umbra's Infinitieth Review Thread Umbra!S7TySB6rOMCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 607

Image by DeviantArt's jggjqm522: http://jggjqm522.deviantart.com/

Welcome, for the umpteenth time, to the eighth circle of Hell.

Haha, just kidding. It’s actually the ninth. With summer comes the heat, and also a surprising amount of free time, and so I’m back again to ruffle jimmies and rustle feathers. For those of you who are new to Ponychan, my name is Umbra. My claim to fame on these boards is equally composed of my spectacularly rude reviews, and my habit of disappearing for months on end. Don’t let that former statement scare you off, though. Without flexing my pompous muscle too much, my reviews are usually well-received and have been found to be fairly effective. I’ve been out of the community for far too long, and I feel it’s time I jump back in.

THREAD OVERVIEW AND GUIDELINES

1) Please be kind and respectful to others on the thread. I may seem like an asshole in my reviews, but the truth is that I’m barely a dick, which is at least three categories below asshole. In addition, I fully support Ponychan’s guidelines for proper posting and behavior. Be sure to observe them.

2) This thread is for content evaluation, not for general proofreading. FimFiction.com has a variety of wonderful proofreading threads that I encourage you to visit if you need editing for grammar and spelling.

3) I cannot stress enough that if I review your story, I am unlikely to be kind. I use vulgarity liberally, and my feedback is typically very harsh; I review this way,of course, with the intention of providing effective and useful material for your revisions. No one has yet found my style of review to be an issue, but it is something of which you should be aware.

4) Word count is capped at 7,500 per submission. If you have a work that exceeds this length, please submit it in chapters or sections, and each will be treated in the queue as if it is a standalone story.

5) Requests, if posted in between 12 noon and 6 p.m., will be reviewed within 72 hours barring unforeseen circumstances, provided the queue is not overly-bloated. Requests posted outside this time frame will be reviewed within 96.

6) Excessive gore and sexual content are unacceptable. I will review stories containing gore so long as it is tasteful and serves a clear purpose to the story. Explicit sexual content, in any form and amount, is strictly prohibited and will result in an immediate and permanent ban from the thread. Suggestiveness falls under the same category as acceptable gore, however; as long as it is tasteful and relevant, it is acceptable.

7) Stories will be evaluated on a 1-5 scale based on three metrics. In order of importance, they are: characterization, plot and technicals. A full rubric can be found at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LPOM94UXFmUdCU-ygJylVEZEZwZ-T11NxsydSh0AndI/edit


8) For each submission, please create a standalone, fresh (meaning free of other comments and clutter) Google Document with commenting abilities and suggestions turned on. I cannot review effectively in a format that does not allow comments, as it strips me of the ability to provide illustrations of your story’s weak points. Each submission should be created with the following format:

Title: [Title]
Genre: [Genre]
Word count: [Word count]
Description: [Description]
Link: [Link]

Let the games begin.
This post was edited by its author on .

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 617

>>607
> I fully support Ponychan’s guidelines for proper posting and behavior.
Lol, what guidelines? The ones forbidding you from posting porn, or the ones forbidding you from doing illegal stuff?

Ponychan was nice and friendly, but everything changed when mlpchan attacked.

Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 618

File: 1433219930244.png (193.34 KB, 1024x1024, 135030400410.png)

Well what do you know? The caretaker of the vanishing isle floats by once more. Perhaps I will have something for you before the currents change again.
This post was edited by its author on .

Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 622

>>617
>>621
This. 'Twas the split that caused the fallout; now is a time for healing. Though I don't think this discussion should take place in Umbra's thread. He's been here a while and has done the fandom a great service with what he does. I think he deserves a bit of respect from those lingering in his thread.

Umbra!S7TySB6rOMCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 661

>>622

Good to see you, my friend. I hope you have something good for me!

Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 663

File: 1434339109847.png (231.97 KB, 800x821, 1186839_540168489389897_106114…)

>>661
Soon... Well, I suppose I should give you the finished chapters, but I can't guarantee I'll be able to edit them anytime soon. It's a shame we weren't able to find each other at a more convenient time. The chapters together all total about 11k right now, but we'll take them one at a time—unless of course you'd like to read further.
What you helped me with before was Ink Blot's side of the story. This version follows Twilight through the same tale, but I had issues with the pacing—again.

Title: Nightmare's Kiss
Tags: Dark, Tragedy
Wordcount: 3400 for the first chapter, but all three total 11k
Summary: After her darkest secret is uncovered by a young filly, Twilight frantically tries to outrun her past, but the one thing she can't escape is inside her own mind.
Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_KnJ77OJkWqd5H006lqY8SDOrNLm7nymAHOcmwh87Dg/edit
There's some notes from the last person who looked at it, so just ignore those, I guess.

Review - Nightmare's Kiss Umbra!S7TySB6rOMCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 666

File: 1434579851572.png (323.75 KB, 700x525, Long time.png)

>>663

Image credit: http://rautakoura.deviantart.com/

Gee, Ponychan sure isn't as lively as it used to be. I'll be happy to continue providing feedback on the whole of your story after completing this review as long as there are no stories in the queue; in the interest of procedure, however, here is the review of your introduction and first chapter.

REVIEW

Evaluation sheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16UrDWvJCMq-qChtk_bX0ARAfHAq_9xLpu0fIbn3CviU/edit

Most comments and suggestions have been provided in-Doc. I would like to highlight particular issues and suggestion here.

Introduction

Your introduction is as fascinating as it is poorly-executed. BR, you bear a striking resemblance to J.K. Rowling in your writing, by which I mean you are a gifted storyteller who executes their narratives in a questionable manner. During your introduction, you describe an absolutely fascinating process; a visceral, horrifying, utterly disgusting and simultaneously engrossing process that seems, at least to me, to be totally unique. This plot point promises some serious originality within your story; originality that this fandom desperately needs. However, stylistically, you squander that potential through a series of tired cliches and, frankly, immature sentence structure/word choice. For example:

>"No! You’ll not have me! I’ll die first!"


Whether this artistic trope began with Patrick Henry, the word may never know; in any case, I am as tired of this type of statement in literature as I am of Smurf movies (which is to say, very). The "Brave Soul Baits the Monster/Antagonist/Creepy-Ass Vine Things by Being Bold in the Face of Death" trope is a lazy excuse for writing. You're better than this. I know you are.

>"No, he was headed for a far worse fate."


Why in the world is such a statement necessary? This is certainly telling, but it's not even telling that can be justified; you are literally words away from describing how horrifying this character's ultimate fate is; this statement, and many like it, appear throughout your story, and do not merely seem artificial, but entirely tacked-on. I'm being so harsh on this for the simple reason that these sorts of statements yank readers from their state of immersion. "But death would be too welcome" is already an ominous sentence that promises further horrors; anything further on this note, other than direct demonstration, is repetitive. I have harped on understatement a million times before, and will continue to do so now: in storytelling, understatement is always ideal. To use a cliche of my own, let the reader use their imagination; simply letting someone's expectation of what is about to happen run free can work wonders for your story's ability to create suspense.

>"He knew what was coming next, and only wished he had seen it coming sooner."


This sentence was almost painful to read. I want you to try something: imagine that same sentence, but spoken by a character rather than narrated. Take Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight, for example. Remember the hospital scene, during which time Dent discovers that Rachel was killed by the Joker's trap? Imagine if, instead of picking up the coin and screaming, as he did, he shouted, "I knew this was coming! If only I had seen it coming sooner!"

We wouldn't fucking tolerate it. Not in a million years. Dent's actual reaction was unbelievably powerful; it was relatable and deeply emotional. What I'm getting at here is this: while in third-person narration, there are a certain number of artistic liberties you can take, you should, for the most part, treat the narrator as just another character. If a sentence couldn't reasonably be used by a character in the same way as it could be used by the narrator, I would reconsider it.

There are many other issues with your introduction, but these have been closely analyzed in-Doc; specifically, many of the other issues revolve around sentence and paragraph structure that I believe would substantially improve the flow and atmosphere of the introduction. Please consider them.

Telling

Boy, howdy, we all knew this was coming. Telling is, by far, one of the most common complaints I raise in my reviews, but this story is just a textbook case. Specifically, most (if not all) of Twilight and Pinkie's interaction in chapter one is telling; that is, you reveal an absolutely flabbergasting amount of information within the span of roughly 2,000 words. Just to give a few prime examples...

>"Ink Blot and her mother were almost constantly at odds, and Pinkie had come to see Twilight during a few of their more virulent bouts."


Already, I sense that Ink Blot and Pinkie's relationship is going to be a major element in this story. Why on earth would you reveal such an important plot point in a single sentence? It's not revealed gradually through awkward conversation, not even alluded to. It's just handed to the reader on a silver platter. One of the most important elements of any work of fiction is something I refer to as the "lightbulb moment." This is the moment in a story where, during either conversation or subtle narration, the reader figures out an important plot point. The absolute most important element of this is the figuring out. Most of your readers are not children; they do not need, or for that matter, want to have everything explained to them in explicit terms. Just the opposite: they want the opportunity to gradually glean information. Take Star Wars' reveal of Darth Vader as Luke's father as an example (I didn't bother placing spoiler tags because, if at this point, you have not seen Star Wars, well...). That twist is one of the most beloved and classic in all of history. Yes, it was revealed in an instant during Luke and Vader's confrontation, but only after an entire story worth of buildup and subtle suggestion: Yoda's wise advice, Luke's discussions with his aunts and uncles, etc. As a consequence, every fucking person in every fucking theater across the world collectively shat their pants when watching that scene, because it was unexpected, but simultaneously expected because of carefully Lucas had crafted the films.

>"'I was so proud of her, the day she got her cutie mark. I always knew she’d be a great artist. Mackie and I both knew. The day she was born, she…' Pinkie’s lip trembled. 'She was so beautiful. A work of art. She had my face, but his eyes.' Pinkie let out a short laugh. 'I thought it was a clever joke, calling her Ink Blot, like the psychology test, but Mackie said it would be a good name, like abstract paintings.'"


What the shit? You literally just skipped over a lifetime worth of information in an amount of words that probably took two minutes to write. I'm not saying you need to tell Ink Blot's life story in order to make this scene more powerful, but I sure as hell want to see more of the time period being discussed here. This and the above example are just two of literally dozens throughout this section in your story that strike me as lazy; it takes very, very little effort to discuss a back story in explicit terms, and a hell of a lot more to reveal that information through basically any other means. Pinkie is literally telling Twilight every detail of her relationship with Ink Blot, and by consequence, you, the narrator, are telling us every detail. I don't want to read a freaking military operations debriefing; I want to read an intricately crafted, beautiful and deliberate work of art.

Of course, these issues are what spawn your greatest issue: pacing. I'm not surprised that this is still problematic for you, and the reason is obvious. Telling doesn't take a lot of time. What I would have much preferred is to see this chapter from Pinkie's perspective. That is, I would have loved to see Pinkie experiencing all these frustrations of parenthood, see all the emotions she's displaying in this scene, but in the moment. That would have been absolutely wonderful, and I'll tell you why. Can you imagine reading a series of scenes in which Pinkie tries progressively harder to win Ink Blot's affections, only to be shot down each time? Can you imagine how painful, how empathetic it would be, to watch Pinkie languish, in silent misery, as she watches her daughter slip away despite her best efforts? I can't even imagine how heartbreaking that succession of events would be with the right amount of effort. Instead, this scene is utterly flat, nothing more than a series of surface-level plot points that elicit next to no emotional response. It would likely take more than 5,000 words to communicate these same ideas in scenes rather than telling, and therein lies the beauty! All those words give you an incredible opportunity for character development, and for laying plot strings. There is so much potential here; don't squander it.

VERDICT

As was the case with The Pony on the Wall, excellent opportunities, poor execution. Correcting your telling will improve your pacing, and correction your character interactions will improve your telling. Really, this all comes down to characterization issues; begin there, and before you know it, you'll see a trickle-down effect that improves your entire story. The most important elements I want to see improved in this story are:

1) Diction. You'll notice, when reading over my comments on your introduction, that I complained a lot about your word choice. It is very difficult, yet extremely important, to strike a balance between language that is simplistically immature and utterly purple. You have strayed too far to the former. I need to see more intricately and thoughtfully crafted sentences.

2) Structure, both of sentences and your plot overall. Again, I would love to see you gut the entirety of Pinkie and Twilight's interaction and replace it with a series of scenes involving Ink Blot and Pinkie. I want to see the pain, the frustration, the wistfulness in Pinkie's attitude. I want to see her lose more and more hope of ever having a close relationship with her daughter again. I want to feel what she feels, not hear what she says. I think this is going to improve the entirety of the story if you correct surrounding passages to match.

3) Characterization. I really didn't buy Pinkie's characterization in this chapter. She seemed OOC, and Twilight, while not out of character, was exceptionally flat. Work on creating genuine emotion in your characters. My advice is to read your entire story as a dramatic read, as if it were a stage play. Ask yourself, honestly, if each piece of dialogue is as realistic and impacting as it could be, and revisit.

A plethora of other comments and nitpicks have been provided in your rubric evaluation and in margin comments in the document. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Good luck!
This post was edited by its author on .

Raindrops (phone)Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 945

>>666
>That post number
Well, it had to come up at some point; it may as well have been you.

>BR, you bear a striking resemblance to J.K. Rowling in your writing, by which I mean you are a gifted storyteller who executes their narratives in a questionable manner.

And that's why I've got you, buddy. I had a feeling I was still struggling with those. 'll get there someday. Unfortunately my computer's in transit right now, but that'll just give me time to work on what you mentioned in my head. Besides, this board is rather slow. I should have a lot more to say next week. Thanks for now.
This post was edited by its author on .

Raindrops (phone)Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 966

>>666
>Can you imagine reading a series of scenes in which Pinkie tries progressively harder to win Ink Blot's affections, only to be shot down each time? Can you imagine how painful, how empathetic it would be, to watch Pinkie languish, in silent misery, as she watches her daughter slip away despite her best efforts?
It would be a deliciously miserable tale, but one that I can't help feeling would take up too much story. I could shift the two parts at the end to take up part of different chapters to make room for this whole thing, and I suppose if the scenes were kept short it could work, but if I start needing backstory for the flashbacks this is going to get pretty ridiculous.

And that's not even to mention the fact that this really shouldn't venture outside of Twilight's immediate knowledge, for the reason that in my planned final chapter for this story, Twilight herself is found as a storybook with the title "Nightmare's Kiss". I think you can figure out what that implies. Perhaps I could just cut out that little detail and spare myself the trouble, but it seems the most fitting demise for Twilight, due to her inability to forgive herself.

Ion-SturmCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 973

File: 1438842166398.jpg (79.53 KB, 680x854, a33.jpeg)

Clicked /fic/ instead of FimFiction from the address suggestions, found myself here. Figured I'd drop in and say hi for old time's sake.

Ah, the memories...
This post was edited by its author on .

Umbra!S7TySB6rOMCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 974

>>973

Well, what do you know? Good to hear from you!

I miss the days when I was overwhelmed with requests. It seems we like to swing between extremes here at Ponychan.

Ion-SturmCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1013

File: 1440201921456.gif (1.39 MB, 200x150, JmeFFBE.gif)

>>974
Well, if you really want some material to work with, I can provide. Be aware that the only real writing I've done has been for semi-silly stuff.

Heavy MoleCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1014

File: 1440284616010.jpg (122.65 KB, 987x810, checkered_in_places_cover_by_c…)

Title: Checkered in Places
Genre: Comedy
Word count: appr. 5,000
Description: The second chapter of my satire fic, which is a play on Rainbow Dash episodes in general and "Read it and Weep" in particular. RD is humiliated when she loses a chess match to Rarity and in a characteristic fit of bravado resolves to become the greatest chess grandmaster in Equestria. Chronologically, it takes place around the time of "Magic Duel".

In this chapter we are (almost) introduced to the B-plot of the story, which involves the arrival of Saddle Arabian impresarios. Twilight has received a mysterious summons to Canterlot Castle and encounters a mystic guide to accompany her on her descent through the city...
Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QBLObyIqn4PmdBAnv9Mum4JCH69MHMPHo3fFZajYXg8/edit

Be as harsh as you like. I'll still think that, deep down, you're a good person.

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1023

>>1014

Whoa nelly. Sorry for the lateness. Here we go!

Umbra!S7TySB6rOMCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1024

>>1023

Yes, that was me. My computer got sick and I had to kill it with fire, so my tripcode wasn't saved.

Heavy MoleCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1025

File: 1440782494383.png (243.18 KB, 500x373, lucy272.png)

>>1023
Roger

Heavy MoleCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1030

File: 1441083930264.jpg (44.92 KB, 500x500, lucy128.jpg)

You're not having trouble accessing the document, are you? I saw the edit request and confirmed, I think, but I don't have the most savoir faire when it comes to that kind of stuff...

Heavy MoleCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1069

File: 1442193761997.jpg (14.2 KB, 210x207, lucy205.jpg)

Uh... bump?

Heavy MoleCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 1073

File: 1442334909930.png (29.61 KB, 183x124, lucy249.png)

Oh, okay. Got them. Gmail put the notification in a different inbox for some reason (told you I wasn't savvy about this stuff).

Thank you!


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