News Archive

  • Sunday
    SA Reviews #95

    12 comments · 846 views
  • 1w, 4d
    Round Robin Reviews # 17

    50 comments · 1,912 views
  • 1w, 6d
    Morning Sun's "Gnosis" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    7 comments · 1,143 views
  • 2w, 4d
    SA Reviews #94

    13 comments · 1,473 views
  • 3w, 3d
    Round Robin Reviews # 16

    3 comments · 1,806 views
  • 4w, 2d
    SA Reviews #93

    8 comments · 1,621 views
  • 4w, 5d
    NaPoWriMo 2016!

    Do you like to write? Do you think you could write a novel in a month? Or set yourself a high word-count objective and meet it? Welp, 5 days late here for the announcement, but if you like a writing challenge head up to the EQD NaPoWriMo 2016 blog post!

    23 comments · 1,762 views
  • 4w, 6d
    BillyColt's "I Have a Hat" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story might just prove to be magical reading.

    I Have a Hat

    [Alternate Universe] [Crossover] • 8,935 words

    Upstart is excited. His mother has hired a unicorn for a party. It will be so delightful to see a unicorn performing magic. It's sure to be fun for the whole household!

    Of course, it's just a little fun. She's not really a unicorn. After all, unicorns don't exist.

    FROM THE CURATORS: "An Equestria where magic has ceased to be a factor in ponies' lives is a fascinating AU right from the start," AugieDog said, and all of us reading this Victorian-flavored tale — a pony take on G.K. Chesterton's play Magic — found ourselves swept up in its enchantments.  "This offers a thoughtful bit of commentary on the role of magic in our lives," Chris said, "and its Equestrian mooring is a surprisingly necessary lens through which to see our own human mythologies."  As Present Perfect put it, "it turns out there's nothing to make the reader tremble in awe at the knowledge magic exists quite like taking magic away in the first place."

    And while the power of that theme might have sealed this story's feature, there was plenty more to like here — such as I Have a Hat's tonal balance and character work.  "There's a noble tragedy that suffuses the entire story, even as its surface content remains light and slice-of-life," Chris said about the former, while AugieDog praised the latter: "The characters, all OCs, are fully-formed and well-detailed." Horizon appreciated those both: "The subtle power plays among the various inhabitants of the house were just as fascinating as the bigger, flashier A-plot, and watching the visitors navigate those tensions really helped ground both halves of the story into a more unified whole."

    But our commentary kept turning back to this story's well-realized setting, perched at a carefully calibrated distance between our lives and the show.  "It was a brilliant choice, I think, to set this in a pseudo-Victorian era," Horizon said. "I'm reminded of L.P. Hartley's quote 'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there' — both in the contrast between the setting's past and present, and the contrast between the setting's present day and our own."  Chris appreciated how that also contributed to the mood of the story: "The mix of 1800s-ish setting and moors with a somewhat more modern writing style gives the piece an appropriately uncertain, ethereal air."  But, like any good magician, most impressive of all was how seamless the presentation was.  "Justifying an AU an like this is always a challenge," Present Perfect said, "but this one rises to it effortlessly."

    Read on for our author interview, in which BillyColt discusses branding arcs, unplayed cards, and toyline invitations.


    Give us the standard biography.

    Well, I’m a 25-year-old college graduate, a musician, and an accountant. Currently desperately searching for a job here in sunny southern California!

    My chief interests are television, theatre, and classical music. I got into creative writing mainly through roleplaying, and I started with little short stories and terrible fanfictions for things like Neopets and Eragon. I got into MLP after finding it had a Sondheim tribute, and I started writing fanfiction after having some chats on the imageboards.

    How did you come up with your handle/penname?

    It was really something I came up with more or less on a dime. I wanted a snazzy handle that wasn’t one of my other online handles, and my first fic was going up, so I needed something fast. “BillyColt” seemed like as good an idea as any, and I’ve gotten fond of it as a moniker.

    Who's your favorite pony?

    Oh, I don’t like to play favorites, but Rarity is my favorite of the mane six. She’s always fun to watch, thanks to her flamboyant personality and voice work. I also just find something novel about how her character arc is about building a business and personal brand.

    What's your favorite episode?

    Hm. That’d be tricky. If I had to just pick one episode, it’d be Pinkie Pride, which is in my opinion the best episode of season 4 (which I’d say ties with season 5 as the best season thus far) and The Saddle Row Review (which in my opinion is absolutely delightful). Other episodes I’d mention include Brotherhooves Social, Just for Sidekicks, Amending Fences, Sonic Rainboom, and PPOV. I’m sure that if I spent more time on it I could name many other episodes.

    I’m also a big fan of the comics, and some of my favorites stories in there are Zen and the Art of Gazebo Repair, Neigh Anything, Reflections, Sombra Rex, Siege of the Crystal Empire, the Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Luna micros, and too many of the Friends Forever issues to name.

    What do you get from the show?

    It’s a nice show that doesn’t feel like it’s talking down. It’s simple, sometimes clever, likable, and it has nice tunes. The musical numbers were probably what drew me to the show in the first place. I’m a big Stephen Sondheim fan, and when I found that the show did a number in the first season that was a tribute (actually two songs: "Art of the Dress" and "At the Gala" are both modeled after songs of his, and other songs throughout the series are based on other showtunes).

    Apart from that it’s just a nice, likable show. As far as childrens’ shows go, it has most of what I want to see in one. At its best it shows a good ethos and has very clever writing. Even at its worst I can’t think of any episodes that I’ve strongly disliked in the way that some other shows I also love have produced things that get my ire up.

    I don’t suppose any of that rambling makes sense. It’s just a show I like, I guess. Not much else to it.

    What do you want from life?

    Same thing as most people, I imagine. Comfort, certainty, and something worthwhile to do.

    Why do you write?

    I’ve always been someone who likes culture stuff; music, art, literature. That kind of thing. Also I crave validation from others. Creating content for a fandom is a pretty good way to scratch that itch, it turns out!

    What advice do you have for the authors out there?

    The thing that kills me more than anything is procrastinating, and it still gets me. People who follow my blog or my tumblr might recall that I sometimes say I’m gonna try to stick to a 20-minutes-a-day schedule, and I’m never able to really do that. So I’m not really the best person to ask for advice on it. Though I might pass along something from the game The Beginner’s Guide, in that one shouldn’t worry if they don’t always have ideas. Lows are just part of the process of being a creator.

    You said of this story that: "Mainly, the source is GK Chesterton's play "Magic," with elements taken from Ingmar Bergman's film "Ansiktet" (called "The Magician" in its US release), which was loosely based on the aforementioned play."  Could you elaborate on what inspired you from those works?

    Well, really it’s an adaptation in most respects. Neither of them are the most famous of their works; Chesterton’s more famous for his Father Brown stories and the novels of his that got quoted in Deus Ex, and Bergman made many movies, and The Magician never got the kind of reception that Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, or many of his others did. However, I think that they’re both fine works.

    Both of those sources share the rough plotline of a traveling magician who’s invited to perform for a rich household. The title of the story actually comes from the Chesterton play. In the first scene, the Conjurer (as he’s called) says a poem to Patricia:

    I have a hat, but not to wear

    I wear a sword, but not to slay

    And ever in my bag I bear

    A pack of cards, but not to play.

    Chesterton was really a wonderful poet. I used this as a springboard for giving Enchantra the character trait of having her mutter rhyming snatches, which is always fun to do (oh, did I have fun writing Zed’s couplets).

    The broad strokes of both sources are roughly the same. You have the magician himself, you have the household, you have a woman who believes in him, and you have an obnoxious skeptic who’s determined that the magician is nothing more than a fraud. However, they diverge in some ways. Chesterton was a devoted Catholic, and so in his version, the Magician is, by most appearances, real. Bergman was an agnostic, so in his version the Magician turns out to be a fraud, albeit with one or two very odd things that seem a little inexplicable.

    Some of the particular influences from the movie are the troupe of assistants (the Conjurer in Chesterton’s play is by himself, while the Magician in Bergman’s is attended with a host of others) and the ‘invisible chains’ scene, which I ripped off wholesale from the film. It was a scene that really stood out to me, how Bergman is able to take a scene where so little is happening and make it gripping and suspenseful. All from a man quietly trying to free himself from apparently invisible chains.

    From the play itself I keep more or less the relationship between the magician and the young woman at the house who fancies him (though obviously genderflipped). This element was largely excised from the movie, where the magician was already married. Though I should point out that I deliberately left Upstart’s age vague, leaving it to the audience whether he’s a colt or a young stallion, and picking how the relationship dynamic works best (whether it’s a child who views her with a sense of wonder or a young adult who’s feeling a sense of romantic attraction).

    The characterization of Duchess is very much inspired by a similar character in Magic, an amusing buffoon of a character who tries to please everyone and pleases no one. One funny exchange of dialogue in the play relates to how he donated equal amounts of money to two opposing political movements. Many of the characters in that play are very distinct archetypes, something which I took to mind in crafting the characters for this. Letterhead is very much based on the skeptic characters from those works (Morris in Magic and the doctor in The Magician), leaning a bit more towards the doctor. Though one thing I notice in my version is that the skeptic never receives a comeuppance. Morris in Magic is made bed-ridden when confronted with a trick he can’t explain (he is made well by the end of the play when the Conjurer and Patricia come up with an alternate explanation that they don’t share with the other characters or the audience), and while the doctor in Bergman’s story isn’t shown to be wrong, he is subject to an elaborate, terrifying prank.

    The character of Penner doesn’t particularly have a close analogue in either work. I suppose he might be closest to the Reverend and/or Doctor Grimthorpe from Magic in terms of the dynamic he has with Letterhead.

    On a related note, what differences do you see in your story as relates to its Equestrian setting?  In other words, how do ponies change the nature of the tale?

    Well, the most obvious thing is that it signals that the magic is, in fact, real all along. In addition, I find I like working with alternate universes and futures and stuff with the MLP setting. I think it makes sense, given that My Little Pony is itself a toyline. I feel it invites viewers to speculate more with ‘what if?’ scenarios than most other properties. I mean, there are a number of properties I love a great deal that I would never write fanfiction for, such as Breaking Bad or BoJack Horseman, because those stories don’t seem to invite me to do alternate takes as much. They have a set sequence of events and character development and the world outside of what we immediately see isn’t as important as the main characters themselves.

    MLP, because of its nature as a toyline as much as a TV show, I feel invites it a lot more, particularly when it has a setting that feels like it exists outside of what’s shown on-screen. And I feel that the malleability that comes with that lends itself well to crossovers and other adaptive works. I also suspect that this is why shipping doesn’t annoy me in this fandom the way it does in, say, Harry Potter or the Avatar cartoons.

    Because MLP is also a cartoon, it makes it easier to work with the characters as archetypes and broad strokes. Obviously there are differences as a work of prose, but I think a good fanfic will invoke elements of the source material, and in doing so I think that the fact that it’s a story set in a cartoon universe lends it well to those kinds of characters.

    Why did you chose to reveal the truth about Enchantra at the end of the story?

    I felt that was the ending that was the most appropriate. The source subjects, like many other works about magicians (such as The Illusionist and The Prestige) play with themes of duplicity and falseness, and it’s fairly common in those works to have the grand masterstroke revealed. The revelation of the secret does, in many ways, serve as a climax of its own sort.

    Also, the fact that this is a My Little Pony story is going to betray something to the audience at any rate. The audience knows that in the story’s universe, magic really was there. It doesn’t make sense to keep it ambiguous at that point.

    How do you view the ending you wrote?  As optimistic and hopeful?  Bittersweet?  Nobly tragic?  Something else?

    I think of it as optimistic. I imagine that if it were animated or the like there would be a dramatic swelling of strings as the carriage sails across the night sky. Like in some kind of Christmas movie.

    Is there anything else you'd like to add?

    I’m just glad that people liked the story this much. I’d been working on it for years and was somewhat terrified of putting it up. But now it’s up and it seems that the people who have read it liked it a great deal. That makes me feel good. Here’s hoping I can continue writing things that I and my readers enjoy!

    And last of all, thank you.

    You can read I Have a Hat at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

    2 comments · 1,258 views
  • 6w, 3d
    SA Reviews #92

    10 comments · 1,788 views
  • 6w, 5d
    S6E25-26 - To Where and Back Again

    268 comments · 5,527 views
  • 7w, 5d
    S6E24 - Top Bolt

    I'm guessing most of us saw this already :p

    89 comments · 3,493 views
  • 8w, 5d
    S6E23 - Where the Apple Lies

    CIDER IS BAD

    157 comments · 4,239 views
  • 9w, 4d
    Round Robin Reviews # 15

    9 comments · 1,840 views
Apr
20th
2013

Originally posted to the Vault on 4/12/13.

A beautiful story about the very early days and challenges of Celestia and Luna.

[Adventure] • 13,800 words

A snapshot of the millennial lives of a young Celestia and Luna, as they prepare to do battle with Discord and fight to keep the Harmony they have only so recently mastered, and learn lessons they will struggle with all their days. In a journey that has no end, what matters most is who walks beside you.

Hit the break for a chat with RedSquirrel456 and links to Whisper Sun, Silent Moon out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab yourself an ebook copy over at the Downloads page!

FIMFictionEquestria Daily

Where do you live?

Sometimes in the state of Colorado. Sometimes in the far reaches of wherever my imagination goes.

What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)

I’m currently funemployed, but I do some volunteer busywork here and there.

How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?

It started in a small IRC chat group I talk with on a regular basis. One day, a member of the group came in and announced that a remake of My Little Pony had been made. This was around... late February 2011, fairly soon after the show got started. We all thought it couldn’t possibly be that good, and I decided to take a peek myself. I was willing to give it a chance at least, since I enjoyed a good cartoon here and there, but it was mostly to satisfy that weird desire most everyone had: to see how bad it was and how they’d mangled the idea.

I watched the first two episodes that very night, and realized it actually wasn’t bad at all. More than that, I’d enjoyed it immensely for a reason I couldn’t quite place. As I moved on to the third episode, I realized I was hooked and simply had to watch the rest. It wasn’t until “Winter Wrap Up” (I watched most of the first season within a couple of days) that I finally admitted that I was going to start following this thing.

Then I heard a place called Equestria Daily had popped up, and it was the final nail on the coffin.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Favorite is such a strong word. I don’t actually have one!

Who is your favorite character based purely on the canon of the show itself? Would your answer change if you considered the fandom in its entirety (i.e. art, fanfiction, memes, etc)?

It’s a tie between Applejack and Rarity. They both have qualities I identify with, or at least strongly admire: a strong love of family, a good work ethic, the ability to handle stressful situations, and sporadic, wild creativity. Also they’re both very adorable.

Fandom wise, Pinkie Pie. Who else would actually be able to have a conversation with the fandom despite being a nonexistent cartoon?

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

One day, many years ago, I was sitting around wondering what I was going to call myself when I first downloaded AOL Instant Messenger. Then, I decided I kind of liked squirrels. Then, I added a string of numbers because “RedSquirrel” was already taken. It stuck because I’m terribly unimaginative when it comes to this kind of thing.

Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?

Writing has always been a big part of my life. I always loved reading, which soon got me thinking that I could make stories of my own. It started with my love of dinosaurs, which most little kids have. I was a huge fan of dinosaurs and read voraciously about them. Big surprise, I forgot most of what I learned, but the craft of writing itself left its mark. It wasn’t long before I saw that one of my favorite scientists, Robert Bakker, had written a novel of his own: Raptor Red. I got it when I was around nine years old, read that book in just under two days, and then I read it again and again and again. I finally began to realize that I could write creatively about things that interested me, and I never looked back.

I’ve written a few other fanfics, and started serious creative writing after I started moving through the Redwall series. I started on Fanfiction.net the moment I discovered it, though I’m not afraid to say some if it was so horrible I deleted it from my account there. But I’m going to post my pony fic there too once I stop procrastinating about it.

As for professional writing... I’m working on bringing that day closer.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Think about writing.

Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?

I don’t like to say I have a “favorite” this or that, because it implies I’ll always come back to something in spite of how it might apply to a current situation... so no, I do not.

Stephen King believes that every author has an “ideal reader” – the one person who they write for, the one person whose reactions they care about. Do you have one, and if so, who is it?

I don’t necessarily agree with this, since I write mostly to satisfy my desire to tell a good story. You could say I write for myself in that case, but then why would I bother posting it actually hoping to entertain other people? In general, I write for anyone who enjoys reading a good story, and that’s all.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Never stop doing either of those things. Read about a wide variety of subjects in a wide variety of styles. Write in different ways and write about different characters. Keep new thoughts coming.

Don’t be afraid to listen to criticism. Don’t be afraid to take an axe and hew the passages you are most proud of. Don’t be afraid to eat your own words once in awhile.

Be afraid of not approaching writing with a healthy, fearful respect. Be afraid of becoming prideful.

Get pre-readers and editors who don’t just give critique on grammar, but characters, ideas, and storylines. Don’t be afraid to admit that sometimes an idea just won’t work and you have to toss it. Don’t be afraid to say an idea is brilliant and you have to find a way to work with it.

Most of all, don’t be afraid of the idea that you can one day admit that you are a good writer.

What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)

It starts with the idea of a story, generally prompted by a phrase or song or emotion or even a dream. I don’t usually think of the entire story then and there. These kernels of ideas can be in the beginning, middle, or even end of a story, and the story itself is grown from around those idea kernels. Generally, I just sit around until inspiration strikes. I will then spit out a burst of several hundred or even several thousand words depending on my stamina.

It’s kind of an organized chaos, but without the organized. I like to think that my stories grow on their own without much guidance from me. The story has already happened. I just need to figure out how best to present it.

Multiple drafts are almost unheard of. I usually take a single draft and edit it over and over until it’s to my satisfaction, often dropping it and coming back to it later. Though in those single edits I have a lot of help from feedback I get from friends and much needed revisions from my first and only prereader/editor, RazgrizS57. Go check the guy out. He’s a cool brony.

What inspired you to write Whisper Sun, Silent Moon?

A great many things. Chief among them the writing prompt for one of /mlp/’s write-offs! That’s where the story got started, and I’m almost glad I didn’t submit it or I might have just ignored it after the contest was over. But stylistically, I would say it was a combination of stories I’d already read, coupled with finally believing that these stories could become very personal and still be grounded in Friendship is Magic.

Major inspirations are some gems from the fandom’s earlier days... It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door by Jetfire had an inexplicably huge impact on how I saw ponyfic. It could be epic while still having heart, it could dare to build its own worlds while remaining true to the show, and it could just be totally awesome. That story convinced me to begin my own work and not be embarrassed to share it. It still stands as one of my favorite fics of all time, and I still hope for the day I see more by that author. I love you Jetfire! *tears at mane*

Twilight Sky Over Canterlot by TwilightFlopple is an unavoidable inspiration. The sheer amount of tenderness and warm fuzzy feelings I got from that story knows no bounds. It was only a slice of life and yet it still contained so much in a relatively small amount of words. I knew I had to write a story like that too someday. Luna’s depiction in that fic played a part in all this too. I had to explore a Luna and a Celestia who were just more vast than any one story could say, who sang old songs of times gone by and supped with young ponies while being ageless creatures that have seen more than most can imagine.

Apart from those, I think a lot of it has to do with my general love for mystery combined with grand worldbuilding. I love to explore when I play a game or even look around a forest, and I adore the idea of delving into ruins or sifting through history books. I love the idea of things just being bigger than we can possibly imagine, that the world will always be unknown and interesting and chaotic, and things have happened and will happen that none of us will ever know. Whisper Sun, Silent Moon is sort of my ode to anything and everything that involves grand adventure with a dash of epic mystery added to it.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Whisper Sun, Silent Moon?

None that would have ended the story! I think what was hardest was trying to make Celestia and Luna shine through with their dialogue and actions. This story is about a point in their lives where they are both still adjusting and changing but bring their unique personalities to the situation. The dream sequence where everything is wrapped up had its own unique problems. I had some trouble trying to figure out how to make their interaction succinct and yet pack it with enough meaning to let everyone know that this was where everything is resolved. It’s still the most experimental thing I ever did.

When you set out to write Whisper Sun, Silent Moon, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

That the world is a big, big place, and even the seemingly “important” people don’t fully know their roles in it. Not every story will be told, in fact, nearly every story that’s ever happened will be lost to the flow of history, but all of them deserve to be heard as all of them have in some way impacted the world. It is that humility that we must never forget when great things come our way, whether it be success in a venture or even just a chance to help a friend by giving them a shoulder to cry on.

Also, of course, is the idea that love is a power greater than most can imagine. It transcends everything and it is love that gives us our greatest strength when the going gets tough. As the Good Book says, if I “do not have love, I am nothing.” It’s one of the reasons I was so glad to see the Canterlot Wedding episode allow love to get its day in the spotlight. Plus, it let me use the idea that in the Pony World, you can literally weaponize the power of love and use it to shoot things.

And that’s just awesome.

Where can readers drop you a line?

For any and all pony fiction needs, my message box on FIMFiction is open to all. Occasionally I still check my message box at Fanfiction.net, and there I’m under the title “Red Squirrel Writer.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

POOOOOONNNIIIIIEEEEEESSSSSS

Report RBDash47 · 12,951 views ·
#1 · 189w, 5d ago · 3 · ·

That was a fantastic story. It's worthy of every praise it gets.

#2 · 189w, 5d ago · 2 · 6 ·

is there a way to block site blogs:twilightangry2:

RBDash47
Site Blogger
#3 · 189w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

>>1021428

There isn't. I'm sorry you don't like them. :fluttershysad:

#4 · 189w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

>>1021433 nothing personal man, I just think it's unnecessary since most of the stuff mentioned on these thing already has, or soon ends up on the featured board anyways.

RBDash47
Site Blogger
#5 · 189w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

>>1021435

S'true. The actual interview's something new, though. Maybe knighty'll see fit to add a setting that doesn't put site posts in your feed if enough people ask, I don't know how important that is to him.

#6 · 189w, 5d ago · · ·

POOOOOONNNIIIIIEEEEEESSSSSS

Wiser words were never spoken.

#7 · 189w, 5d ago · · ·

In other words, you'er telling me to read this story. I guess I should give it a peek.

#8 · 189w, 5d ago · · ·

Great story, worth reading a few times.

#9 · 189w, 2d ago · · 1 ·

502FimFiction.net..... IT'S BACK! YAY..... wait no, that other thing.

Bring back the banner! lol.

#10 · 189w, 5h ago · · ·

OMG, POOOOOONNNIIIIIEEEEEESSSSSS, my eyes filled with tears at the awesomeness of this wisdom:moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::trollestia::pinkiehappy:::yay::rainbowkiss::coolphoto::raritystarry::ajsmug::raritywink:

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