RBDash47

I run ran the Pony Fiction Vault! I also write occasionally.

News Archive

Apr
27th
2013

Today's story is a thoroughly entertaining romp through Canterlot as everyone's favorite purple unicorn, over and over again. We're treated to a first-hand (hoof?) look at her snarky mind... and how she faces the consequences of having no consequences, for a little while at least.

[Adventure][Dark] • 35,000 words

Twilight isn't having a very good day. An experimental spell blew up in her face, an army of changelings is attacking Canterlot, and she just died. Yet somehow, it looks like it's going to keep going downhill from here.

Given the chance to correct what's gone wrong, Twilight swears she's going to fix all this even if it kills her. Which it will. Frequently.

Hit the break for a chat with Eakin, and links to Hard Reset out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab yourself an ebook copy over at the Downloads page! (And note that the online version features a bonus alternate ending.)

FIMFictionEquestria Daily

Where do you live?

Washington, D.C.

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

Working on a Master’s degree in cyber security, and also some stuff I can’t really talk about because I signed a nondisclosure agreement.

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

I first saw it right after the end of the first season, when I found myself with a surplus of free time one week and decided to investigate what this show was that was producing all these strange yet awesome mashup videos that were appearing everywhere on the internet. Blew through the first season in two days, then moved on to other things for a while and came back about two weeks before season two started. I’d say it was all the great music that was popping up that sucked me into the fandom, and everything snowballed from there.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Oh, man, that question is just mean. Probably “Cutie Mark Chronicles” just for all the worldbuilding and backstory in that episode. But obviously I have a weakness for time loops, so “It’s About Time” is up there too.

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)?

Just canon? Twilight Sparkle in a landslide. I’m so like her it’s a little bit scary. I think that’s the reason writing from her perspective worked so well in Hard Reset. There are passages in there that are basically just me transcribing what I would think in that situation.

Bringing fanon into the picture, Luna and Celestia. My not-so-secret wish for Season 4 is a “day in the life” episode around those two governing Equestria.

Favorite supporting character to write is AJ. Of the Mane six she’s probably the most well rounded. She lacks any exaggerated personality quirk and is easily the most flexible character from a writing standpoint, slipping easily between roles as the story calls for them.

Least favorite is Fluttershy. Sorry Fluttershy! You’re sweet but also kind of boring.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It’s my middle name.

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

I’ve always loved writing, but the first time I ever did anything that wasn’t for my own amusement or academics was writing sketch comedy for a theatre group in college (CHELSEA 11:17! Stands for Creative Handwritten Episodes Lovingly Submitted or Extracted from Ass) that handed out scripts to audience members and forced them to do cold performances of them, usually while drunk. In a way I can still see that influence in what I write now. I think my dialogue and characters are pretty solid and punchy, but I could stand to devote more words to physical descriptions and setting which obviously weren’t necessary when I was writing for the stage.

Pony is the first time I ever tried my hand at really longform stuff, but even if I eventually move on from this fandom I could see myself writing professionally, or making an effort to at least.

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

Between school, work, and writing I spend a lot of time staring at a computer monitor, so my other interests are active outdoorsy things. Hiking is always a good way to clear my head. I enjoy rock climbing (mostly in gyms, not about to try scaling Everest or anything) and I ran a half marathon a few years ago before all the aforementioned sitting in front of a computer. I’m trying to get back into that.

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

I’m going to give the same answer as about half the authors you interview and say Terry Pratchett. I read Good Omens when I was nine and re-read it so many times the cover eventually fell off. Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files series have been my go-to fantasy series for the last year or so, though. Getting out of the fantasy genre, I always quite enjoyed Michael Crichton. Between him and Orson Scott Card I learned pretty quickly how to separate my feelings for an author’s work from my feelings about their personal views and politics. When I’m not reading fiction I gravitate towards economics and political science. For that, the only author that jumps to mind is Michael Lewis. I guess I like a little bit of everything.

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?

The reader who gives constructive criticism! I try to give my readers something to think about, and I’d rather read one comment that’s two or three paragraphs of “here’s what I liked, here’s what I didn’t, and here’s what the story made me consider,” than fifty “This is good!” or (ugh) “MOAR!!!” comments, because 90% of the time the former sort of comment makes me think of what I’ve written in a new way, and sometimes even changes the direction the story develops in. Usually for the better.

Also readers who tell me that I’ve inspired them to do something of their own, either based on my stuff or independently, always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

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

Lots! If you’re writing dialogue, read it aloud or act it out and you’ll see pretty quickly when something feels awkward and unnatural. It’s also a great way to spot typos and errors that your eyes might otherwise skim over.

Read a lot. More importantly, read a lot of stuff from different genres and authors. Learn a little bit about a lot of things. Not only will you be a better writer, you’ll have more interesting conversations at parties. Oh, and go to parties. Meet people. Most of my characters’ voices and ways of speaking are based at least somewhat off of people I know.

To utterly mangle the work of Charles Bukowski, there are people who want to be writers and people who want to write. Figure out which one you are early on and if it’s the former reconsider why you’re doing what you’re doing. All my best stuff comes out of what could charitably be described as a manageable madness.

Plan ahead. Even if the plan changes as you’re writing the story (it will) never just write aimlessly. Every scene should have a readily identifiable point and should leave your reader knowing something they didn’t before they read it, whether it’s about your plot or a character.

I got a lot out of How Not to Write a Novel by Mittelmark and Newman. Most hilarious style guide I’ve ever read. I’d recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in writing.

There’s little excuse for sloppy spelling or grammar in this day and age. Use Google! I’ve used it to look up “How to use semicolons” at least four times, or to check the spelling or definition of a word.

Finally, disabuse yourself of the idea that there’s any correlation between effort and quality. I wrote An Important Letter in about 90 minutes and I love it. I dragged The Pony Who Wasn’t Special out of my head over four days of concentrated effort and in retrospect I think it’s just OK. On a smaller scale, it’s likely that the tiny line you throw into a scene without thinking will grab all of your reader’s attention and they’ll totally ignore what you expected to be the epic moment of triumph that you’ve been building up to for four chapters. Learn to take it in stride. In the end, you’re the only critic you need to please but if you ever write off criticism with “well, that guy just doesn’t get it,” you’re probably wrong. Be the bigger person and embrace the criticism, because if you don’t you won’t get better.

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

My process is... weird. I don’t have an editor, or a pre-reader, or anyone standing between the raw output I put up and what I post. I have little self control, and after some basic proofreading I throw up chapters the minute I finish them. I do multiple drafts of each chapter in my head, though. I don’t need a lot of time to slip into “writer mode,” and any chunk of fifteen minutes or so can become writing time thanks to the Google Drive app on my phone. Even if I only get a sentence or two down that’s more than I had before. When I do have a block of time to devote to writing, I usually slap a single song on endless repeat and go to town. Something catchy, if not good. I once wrote 7,000 words over 137 repetitions of “Caramelldansen.” Don’t judge me.

What inspired you to write Hard Reset?

An easy one! The “Choose” storyline of the web comic Skin Horse, written by FIMFiction’s very own Skywriter, was the direct inspiration for Hard Reset.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing Hard Reset?

Not as such, although the genesis of “Closure” is sort of interesting. I was originally planning to end the story (alt-ending notwithstanding) after “Perfect Run,” but people mentioned that it felt somewhat abrupt and I agreed. I figured I’d bang out a quick epilogue and that would be that. Ha. No. Thirty-six hours and 10,000 words later, I knew I had something special even if I wasn’t entirely sure how it had happened. I’m glad it did though, because now I can’t imagine the story without it.

When you set out to write Hard Reset, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

When I set out to write Hard Reset it was going to be four chapters long with no alternate ending, Twilight would have discovered that the only way to figure out who was a changeling was to passionately make out with them, and the changelings ended up opening a brothel/embassy in Canterlot in exchange for cancelling the invasion. The less said about my plan at the outset the better.

Where can readers drop you a line?

Sending me a PM on FIMFiction would probably be best.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I like helping people! If you have questions about something you’re writing, or want to banter back and forth about story ideas, or talk about stories in general, or even just rant about something in your life that’s getting under your skin to a sympathetic ear I’m available. I’m a horrible proofreader, though, so that isn’t a service I’m offering. Try not to take offense if I log on and off without replying. Half the time I’m on FIMFiction I’m on a phone or iPad and I prefer to respond to PMs with a keyboard.

RBDash47 · 4,369 views · Report

Comments ( 34 )

#1 · 64w, 5d ago · 18 · ·

Oh, this was a good one. It was also the story that brought Eakin to my attention, and I'm glad to say he's continued to impress me ever since.

#2 · 64w, 5d ago · 8 · ·

Working on a Master’s degree in cyber security, and also some stuff I can’t really talk about because I signed a nondisclosure agreement.

This has made Eakin infinitely more awesome than he already was in my eyes.

And this has always looked like an appealing story, I just haven't gotten around to reading it yet. But I've read other things from Eakin (particularly Duel Nature) and I've enjoyed those so this should be no different.

#3 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

Undeniably awesome. I'm actively watching for the third in the series.

#4 · 64w, 5d ago · 2 · ·

This was an excellent one, and to anyone reading this interview who hasn't read the story: Read it! Read it now!

I mean, what more can you say than a recommendation by Cold in Gardez?

#5 · 64w, 5d ago · 2 · ·

>>1037082

Trust me, whatever you're imagining me doing is WAY cooler than what I actually do

#6 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

I have to say that I'm grateful for the spanish version, being that my first language.

#7 · 64w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

>>1037160

Heh, isn't that just the way life works sometimes? Anyway, it's mostly interesting to me 'cause I've wanted to get into cryptography and cyber security. It's actually causing me to debate switching majors.

#8 · 64w, 5d ago · 4 · ·

Twilight would have discovered that the only way to figure out who was a changeling was to passionately make out with them, and the changelings ended up opening a brothel/embassy in Canterlot in exchange for cancelling the invasion.

This sounds completely hilarious and now I want someone to write this.

Man, I wish I could write. I have so many ideas and so little follow-through...

#9 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

I was originally planning to end the story (alt-ending notwithstanding) after “Perfect Run,” but people mentioned that it felt somewhat abrupt and I agreed. I figured I’d bang out a quick epilogue and that would be that. Ha. No. Thirty-six hours and 10,000 words later, I knew I had something special even if I wasn’t entirely sure how it had happened.

Moments when stories suddenly unfold like that are why I still cling to writing long after common sense would dictate leaving it behind. I don't have anything substantial to offer to Eakin in this comment here, but I am most certainly looking forward to the final installment of the Hard Reset trilogy.

#10 · 64w, 5d ago · 2 · ·

>>1037228

Man, I wish I could write. I have so many ideas and so little follow-through...

My life.

Eakin, you seem like a bro. Props for being awesome! :D

Even if your cliffhangers make me want to find you and lock you in a room Alan Wake-style until you've finished the third part of the Hard Reset series. Which I know you gave a name to but now cannot recall (something with loops :P).

#11 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

"signed a nondisclosure agreement"

That just makes me more curious! :raritydespair:

Also, I am extremely like twilight, another reason I liked the fic. Likely bromance, no homo:rainbowderp:

#12 · 64w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

>>1037221

If you find it interesting, and you like it, it can be a VERY profitable field of study.

>>1037197

All credit for the Spanish translations goes to this guy, not me.

>>1037257

You Can Fight Fate is my working title, actually. Give writing a shot, you might find you really like it. I started, and can't seem to stop... Oh, and thank you, of course.

#13 · 64w, 5d ago · 5 · ·

Hard Reset was one of those funny ones.  By funny I meant I went into it expecting one (good) thing and came away with something completely different and much better. It was lighter and darker, and far more creative than similar stories I've read in the past.

The alt ending was chilling. And then working it into the sequel even though it didn't technically happen? That's good writing right there, my hat is off to you.

As you can probably tell I'm very nearly speechless at how good this was.

#14 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

I enjoyed Hard Reset a lot, as Eakin might have noticed when I decided it was one of those rare stories I consider to be worth analysing the hell out of it. And by that, I mean staying up to some stupid time in the morning adding tropes to its TVT page.

Perhaps what I enjoy most about it in retrospect is the feel of it; the writing has a distinctive style that really works for me. I'll have to figure out why precisely at a later date. In any case, it's a very strange blend of light and dark, and an interesting take on one of my favourite ideas in fiction: the time loop.

It's also strange in that the sequel has a completely different theme but is nevertheless extremely enjoyable. There aren't many stories that can undergo such a shift between installments and still keep my interest in the same way.

#15 · 64w, 5d ago · 1 · 5 ·

It really is a great story, but the sequel was a massive disappointment, to the point that I stopped reading it.  Between the massive shift in the style and focus, and then not even trying to pursue the TwiLuna potential romance in favor of Twilight and an OC (shudder to the extreme, then pull out a chainsaw), it focused on the wrong things, and just felt... dead compared to Hard Reset

#16 · 64w, 5d ago · 3 · ·

This is a must read for any fan of baseball bats, changelings, little black cocktail dresses, and weather vanes.

#17 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1037515  Hey.  Chainsaw's uncalled for, that was a tasteful OC.  (Personally I liked the sequel better than the original and I can't wait for more (unless the wait is caused by Optimalverse stories) :pinkiehappy: )

#18 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1037515 Seriously, you don't know what you're missing! Give it another shot, its well worth it :twilightsmile:

#19 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

I recently discovered Hard Reset, and it's sequel, I think by reccomendation from InsertAuthorHere...

regardless of how I heard of it, I'd recommend it to anyone.  It really is the best kind of dark, and time travel is best pony :twilightsmile:

#20 · 64w, 5d ago · 4 · ·

>>1037228>>1037257

The best way to start writing is really just to start.  Throw down a few sentences of an idea and see where your brain takes you.

It's also a huge help if you have someone who can give pointers & keep you motivated.

That said, I've been looking for more opportunities to preread/edit, so if you end up with something and would like a second opinion, feel free to drop me a pm :pinkiehappy:

BR
#21 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

Where do you live?

Washington, D.C.

Oh, cool. Another D.C. brony.

#22 · 64w, 5d ago · · ·

That was very informative. :pinkiehappy:

But did anypony else notice that some of those answers seemed to be word-for-word copies of earlier comments Eakin had made? Am I being paranoid? Maybe I'm having an extreme bout of Déjà vu? :applejackconfused:

#23 · 64w, 4d ago · 3 · ·

>>1037515

I'm sorry you didn't like it, and that you're being voted down for having a dissenting opinion. I did probably fumble Azalea in a few ways, though I do have further plans for her. TwiLuna is a good ship, but I stuck her with Star Swirl instead and I stand by that. It's a more original avenue and I'm looking forward to exploring a bit more about how she's changed and the kind of family dynamic she had with Star Swirl and their daughter.

>>1037961

It's more likely the other way around. I filled this out back in march and I probably recycled some phrases in replying to comments while they were fresh in my mind.

#24 · 64w, 4d ago · 1 · ·

>>1038302

Yeah, folks don't like dissenting opinions, especially when the story in question is larger/popular, etc.  Your writing is solid, the biggest issue I had really going into the sequel was that you showed us in Hard Reset one of Twilight's 'hidden desires' was to be with Luna.  She only forsook one of her final attempts to lay with Luna.  With that scene, it set a notion that, when you were moving forward with the sequel, that TwiLuna would be the pairing of choice.

With that expectation of the sequel, I'll admit, I tried to get into it, but that was basically what drove the wedge between me and the enjoyment.  Not the first story I've dropped for the romance direction, and won't be the last.  Probably one of the best written ones I'll drop/have dropped here though. As far as the OC and my prior remarks, again, persona bias for you axing the TwiLuna.  /shrug.  I'll try new things, but not at the sake of axing that.  : p  (Romance Reports was the largest rant-inducing story, just a random fact there, lol)

Keep up your excellent writing good sir, I'm fairly certain a large number of folks are still enjoying the tale you're weaving.

#25 · 64w, 4d ago · · ·

>>1038302 Oh, okay. I'm not crazy! :pinkiecrazy:

#26 · 64w, 4d ago · · ·

How awesome do you have to be to get an interview?

#27 · 64w, 4d ago · · ·

This one has been on my read later list since I saw it pop up on EQD. I seriously need to get on that.

>>1037707

We're everywhere, I tell you

>>1039615

You have to do special favors for RBDash47, inquire within

#28 · 64w, 3d ago · · ·

Oh hey, a story I actually read is on here. I remember reading Hard Reset and following the sequel. So good, man. The writing style is unique and flat-out hilarious. I mean, yeah, it's Groundhog Day to an extent, but that was also great. The first-person Twilight was great, as well. It's not often that you come across a good one like this.

#29 · 64w, 2d ago · · ·

Ha!  I LOVE "How to Not Write a Novel", and I gladly hold it up as the single greatest thing for a prospective writer to read, aside from the archives at TVTropes.

I love these interviews, if only because they remind me that there ARE actually other well-read authors out there who care about their craft. :pinkiesmile:

#30 · 64w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1037365

Rereading my comment, I can see exactly why you thought I meant the sequel itself, but my original meaning was the title of the series. And I have written some stuff, but it's, like, a ridiculously slow process. And not even for a good reason, I just don't write like 95% of the time. XP

I just need to figure out a really, really good motivator for myself...

a3V
#31 · 64w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1038302

Hey Eakin, do you outline your stories? If so, how useful do you consider them to be?

#32 · 64w, 1d ago · · ·

>>1044080

Yes, to an extent. I don't usually write anything out but I do try to have a general plan for where each story will be going, especially an ending. If I get a good idea it can totally change mid-story, though. It's helpful to have some kind of plan. Nothing kills a story faster than a chapter or two where it feels like nothing significant is happening.  

#33 · 64w, 4h ago · · ·

>>1037160 I'm imagining you doing something along the lines of what the main character of brain jack by Brian Falkner does for a living.

#34 · 63w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

Linked to me 'accidentally' by a friend who only meant to link the cover art, Hard Reset was the first serious fanfic I had read in nearly a decade, and the first serious pony fanfic I had read ever.  For a full week after reading it, I kept thinking about it constantly... the what-ifs, the character development, the mental and emotional state of Twi throughout the story (and its sequel, conveniently stopped at chapter 8 at the time).  It brought me something I'd not had in years: dreams.

I linked it to friends (including the one who unintentionally linked it to me), and those who read it all loved it and ended up sucked into pony fanfics in general.  It led me to read further pony fanfics and my appreciation for it has only grown since, even as I can now recognize some minor shortcomings.  It also gave me an appreciation for the 'dark' tag... something I never thought I could want in a story.

So, I'm glad to see you getting more recognition for Hard Reset.  It remains the best fanfic I've yet read, and my first recommendation to anyone even remotely considering reading pony fanfiction.  Thanks, and I look forward to the third story when you get to it (even if I may hold off reading Stitch in Time chapter 9 till then to avoid cliffhangers :twilightsheepish:)

...so with that gushing out of the way, I have to say your original plan for Hard Reset sounds both hilarious, and like a potentially awesome story all its own.  I'm glad Hard Reset turned out the way it did, but certainly wouldn't mind seeing a story like that as well.

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