The quality of today’s story is both moving and instructive.
“Teach Me Goodness”
[Slice of Life] • 13,579 words
On the last day of school before summer vacation, Cheerilee informs her students that she’s going to pursue her doctorate in Fillydelphia, and won’t be returning as their teacher in the fall. Her friends and students alike spend her last night in Ponyville bidding farewell and showing their appreciation for her, each in their own unique way.
But one student, in particular, has a hard time coping.
FROM THE CURATORS: While we recently featured another story about Diamond Tiara connecting with an unexpected mentor, we found ourselves unable to ignore this Writeoff Association gold medalist — and the way it took its premise in a very different direction, focusing on the emotional journeys of Tiara and her teacher. “This was just a satisfying read full of wistfulness and heart,” Horizon said. “Cheerilee’s inner conflict is earnest and moving, Diamond Tiara is equally well painted, and the side characters steal the show with their appearances.” Present Perfect cited one of those as a highlight of the story. “There is a perfect moment in this, when Rarity gives Cheerilee her parting gift,” he said. “I say ‘perfect’ because the way the events and Cheerilee’s emotions are described perfectly mirrored my own. The revelation of the gift brought tears to my eyes, and then I had to laugh along with Cheerilee at Rarity’s remark. That’s powerful.”
Along with its solid range of characters, we were impressed by the story’s emotional balance. “The whole thing is just tear-jerkingly sad, but … I love the humor,” Present Perfect said. “There’s not much, and it’s very incidental and almost entirely thanks to the CMCs, but it helps keep this from being dour while not overshadowing the serious emotions at play.” And the story seamlessly demonstrated some rare skills, AugieDog said: “I’m normally a huge perspective ogre, grouchily grousing when authors try to shift between characters during the course of a single story because so many authors fail in that attempt. But the shift here from Cheerilee to Diamond Tiara is handled in exactly the right way, letting them illuminate each other and bringing out the overall theme.”
“Teach Me Goodness” is also “an example of a really well-done revision,” AugieDog said. “The original version [which is included as a bonus chapter] is good, but the longer version digs into the material that was only hinted at in the first draft and expands on it to enrich the whole piece.” Not only was that instructive reading, Horizon said, but it illustrated some daring choices in the editing process: “What impresses me most is that the revision moves the climax, upending the pacing of the entire story — and yet works as well, if not better. It’s rare to see that pulled off.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Posh discusses mothershuckling, author-eating jackals, and menthol-starved cynics.