News Archive

  • Tuesday
    Some minor and MASSIVE changes

    We've just made some really massive backend changes on the site. As usual with these things, there is a good chance something no longer works. If that's the case, this is the post to report them in.

    You'll also notice some fancy new dropdowns for notifications/PMs, and comment pagination that's much more robust and basically works a million times better than it ever did.

    Edit: Chapter publishing and comment liking should be fixed. So should adding items to public bookshelves (curse me only testing private ones..)

    339 comments · 4,358 views
  • Sunday
    Reviews! Round 55

    25 comments · 1,062 views
  • 6d, 17h
    Carabas' "Moonlight Palaver"

    6 comments · 785 views
  • 1w, 6d
    Lucky Dreams' "In The Place The Wild Horses Sleep"

    12 comments · 1,089 views
  • 2w, 9h
    User Stats

    129 comments · 3,244 views
  • 2w, 1d
    New formatting options

    We've added some new formatting options to the chapter formatting dialog. People have asked for better dark schemes, and we now have a few that are tinted towards a color, as well as "Ultra Dark", which has a true black background. Alongside these new options, we've improved all dark schemes to fade out the overall site background when you're reading the chapter, which gets rid of those annoying light-colored bars on the sides of the page, which made those options significantly less useful.

    In addition to color options, we've added font options too, including a few common serif/sans-serif fonts that we missed, as well as a bunch of "Cursive" fonts, which attempt to emulate handwriting in some way. Some people have a hard time reading "computer font" text, we hope that the handwriting-like options will at least help.

    We've also added some accessibility features to both the color and font lists, there are two new high-contrast color schemes, and we've added support for common dyslexia fonts, if you have them installed on your computer.

    Edit: Quote box formatting has been improved inside stories, especially for dark schemes.

    100 comments · 1,897 views
  • 2w, 3d
    Reviews! Round 54

    20 comments · 1,275 views
  • 2w, 6d
    RCL Turns 1: Ask Us Anything!

    (A quick note before we get into the good stuff: You can now find all the Pony Fiction Vault and Royal Canterlot Library-approved stories -- all the ones hosted on Fimfiction, anyway -- in the "Interviews" shelf of the communal libraries. Just access any of your shelves to find it!)

    Today's feature is a little different — in celebration of a full year of author spotlights, we're turning the lens onto the RCL itself!  When we announced the Ask Us Anything last week, dozens of questions flooded in from community members, ranging from the serious (how do we choose our features?) to the silly (fight a duck-sized horse or a horse-sized duck?) to the literary (how many prereaders should look at a story?).  After subjecting over 50 authors to our interviews, fair's fair — we rolled up our sleeves and answered them all.

    Read on for our responses, in which we discuss guilty pleasures, salivating zebras, and Sturgeon's Law. (As well as milking a question or two for puns.)

    (Note: Bradel was unavailable for this AMA.  Other curators — Chris, Horizon, JohnPerry, and Present Perfect — have been identified by their initials.)

    What's the most surprising thing you've learned from being part of the RCL?

    C: I learned that I’m quite possibly the least hard-hearted reviewer on the team!  And all this time, I thought I was right properly cruel…

    JP: Probably how varied the tastes of this group are. We all have very high standards, but we all look for really different things out of the stories we read. I think each of us has been in the position of nominating a story that the rest of us looked at and went “...Really?” In the end, what it means is that if a story was good enough to pass muster with the majority of us, you know it’s gotta be doing something right.

    PP: Juggling multiple evaluation standards is easier than I would have thought.

    Have you ever nominated a trollfic?

    PP: I’m pretty sure all the trollfic nominations came from me.

    H: I'd like to note that's "all," plural.  Don't worry, we forgive you, even if our eyes never will heal.

    Pick a background pony to become an alicorn.  What unexpected topic are they the princess of?

    PP: Carrot Top is Princess of Potatoes, to her eternal grief.

    C: I was gonna come up with one… but I really like PP’s.  I’m gonna go with that, I think.

    What fic is your guilty pleasure?

    PP: Guilty pleasure? Fallout: Equestria springs immediately to mind, though that’s more a love/hate relationship.

    C: Equestria Hockey League.  It’s not a particularly well-written story, and it’s pretty much the definition of an excuse plot, but I’ll forgive a lot for a story featuring Trixie as Sean Avery.

    H: gale-wind's old "Equine Sexual History" series.  … Hey, don't give me that look.  Ponifying the research behind the Kinsey Reports pushes all the right buttons.

    JP: Beating the Heat by Andrew Joshua Talon. It’s so stupid and insane that it’s amazing.

    Is there a story one of the other curators wrote that you'd nominate if it were eligible?

    C: I found Bradel's Three Nights really moving.

    JP: Oh, that's easy.  Chris' Letters from a Senior to a Junior Changeling. I'd nominate that in a heartbeat.

    H: Benman's Mortal and Chris' The Purloined Pony are both already in the Pony Fiction Vault, so my next choices are Chris' Wyrmlysan and John's The Wreck.

    PP: Melt and Thou Goddess by horizon, and Chris’s Going Up, he said without hesitation.

    What changes have you observed in the writing community over the past year? Do you feel the community has improved or worsened? –Pav Fiera

    JP: I wouldn’t necessarily put it in terms of better or worse… in fact, honestly, I feel like the community remains pretty recognizable to what I saw a year ago. Some writers have become less active, newer ones have become more prominent, bandwagons still pass through town and new trends replace old ones; the circle of life goes on.

    But in terms of the overall quality of stories and number of good writers, I think that remains relatively high (certainly compared to the early years of the fandom). The two big writing contests this summer showed off a lot of talent, it was great to see Blueshift return to form this year after his absence, and in rising newcomers like Estee you find this really interesting and increasingly prominent voice in the community. The names have changed a bit, but the quality is pretty much the same as it was a year ago, if not better.

    I think the biggest shift I’ve noticed in the past year has been the tone. There’s more of a… bluntness, I suppose, that readers and authors are willing to demonstrate. As the fandom matures, I think people are increasingly willing to test the boundaries of what is acceptable. And I don’t think this trend has been confined to the past year, either, but I really started to notice it this past year. I see more AVGN-style reviews of stories now and risqué stories have increasingly become part of the norm. For better or for worse, you have a lot more voices in the community now, and they’re all trying to be heard over the din.

    H: I'm impressed by the explosion of reviewers (plug: the excellent City of Doors maintains a master list, which is how I discovered 2/3 of them), and by the way the community has come together around some high-profile contests and produced some exquisite writing in the process.

    PP: There seems to be more of everything. And while we keep losing long-time, big-name authors to the ravages of burnout, it seems there are always more coming in to take their places.

    What sort of stories have you guys rarely seen (if at all) that you'd like to see more of? –RazgrizS57

    H: Mysteries — aside from some Sherlock Holmes crossovers, they're pretty thin on the ground.

    PP: Noir, mystery or otherwise. I know there’s a very well-known one still ongoing, but it doesn’t seem like too many people write the genre.

    JP: Non-adventure Daring Do stories. I’ve only come across a couple, but I’m having insanely good luck with them so far. Please send more.

    How long does it typically take you guys to decide upon which stories to feature? –RazgrizS57

    JP: Honestly, it varies pretty significantly. Word count and familiarity with the story have a fair amount to do with how quickly we get to something, plus simple luck given how many of us are online at once. I think the quickest time we passed a story was 6 hours, 37 minutes, but usually they take upwards of several days.

    C: If it’s a story that some or all of us have already read, it can take a day or less, as all that’s needed is some skimming to refresh your memory and make sure you didn’t miss anything when you first read it.  Stories that are new to all of us take longer, especially if they’re long fics themselves.

    H: On the far end, Outside The Reaching Sky took literally seven months to pass (and then two more to get ahold of Karazor).  Everyone insisted on reading the prequel story first, and it's tough to slot 250K words into your schedule.

    PP: That’s 0.4 Fallout: Equestrias!

    How often are nominations turned down inside your little circle? –RazgrizS57

    H: Actually, we're such nerds that we have a little spreadsheet to track those statistics! We've nominated and evaluated 119 stories since we started — out of which 68 passed (52 have been featured; 3 would have been featured but we couldn't contact the author; 4 are queued for upcoming features; and 9 are duplicates because we interviewed the author for a different story).  The remaining 42.9% of stories get judged "good, but not good enough."  Even though we only nominate stories we really think are special, it's still an uphill climb!

    Who's your favorite character to write/read and why? –Dash The Stampede

    PP: I find myself writing Applejack as a main character an awful lot, especially for first-person stories. I always say it’s because she doesn’t have a lot of character on her own, meaning it’s hard to screw her up, but that’s slowly changing. I dunno. I recently wrote a story from Sunset Shimmer’s perspective, and I loved it. Her whole arc of getting over having been the bad guy, trying to learn to be a friend, maybe trying to get her guy back is really compelling, especially when you add in her being the straight woman in a school full of idiots.

    JP: I think anyone who has looked at my recent stories can figure out that mine is Daring Do. She’s become my go-to character to talk about myself: someone who has traveled and moved around a lot, who isn’t very anchored to one place or one group, maybe a bit of a loner… It’s funny, I started writing a story built around her loneliness and past regrets, and then we got the episode that showed Daring to be downright hostile to receiving outside help, which fit perfectly with this image I was developing of her.

    H: I'll just say that "best pony" and "pony I like to read about the most" are very different things.  And note that Ms. Harshwhinny, despite several speaking roles, is still missing a FIMFiction character tag.

    What tags make you cringe when a story comes in? –Dash The Stampede

    C: I trust the other reviewers enough that there’s not really any genre that sets off warning bells when it comes in.  I’m not a big shipping guy, but if someone else puts up a shipping story, my first thought isn’t “oh great, another one of those.”  It’s more “hey, let’s see what’s special about this one!”  Generally, if a story gets in, it’s a given that there is something special about it, even if we end up not featuring it.

    JP: I have enough trust in my fellow curators that if it’s up for RCL consideration, I’m not worried about what tags it has. In my regular day-to-day explorations of FIMFic, however, the “Human,” “Anthro,” and “Crossover” tags put me on edge.

    H: Personally, I find "Slice of Life" a very mixed bag.  It tends to be defined by what it isn't — funny, or sad, or adventuresome, or dark, or romantic, because all of those things have their own tags — rather than what it is, which is "normal ponies doing normal things." (And let's face it, normal gets boring after a while.)  There are a lot of SoL stories I've read and loved, but I have to be pushed into the experience.

    PP: I wasn’t going to take my usual jab at Slice of Life, but then horizon covered all the reasons I tend to pan it, so what he said.

    Got a favorite genre to read/write? –Dash The Stampede

    H: I have a big soft spot for science fiction, especially in my ponyfic.  Stories that chew the implications of Big Ideas; about what it means to be sapient, what we're capable of, what the boundaries of reality are — there's a lot of fertile ground there, when a setting like Equestria is so different from our daily lives.

    PP: Comedy. I write a lot of “random comedy” (it generally is only funny to me) because I enjoy not taking anything seriously ever. Except the Royal Canterlot Library, of course!

    JP: Introspective stuff, I think. I’m big on character studies, and this fandom has those in spades.

    Wildcard: What was your first favorite on Fimfic? –Dash The Stampede

    PP: It was apparently For I Am a Jelly God by Posh, which is a hilarious look at inserting G1 elements into FiM. It certainly wasn’t my first-ever favorite story, though! (Sadly, there’s no record of what was.)

    JP: Looks like mine was The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle by Gravekeeper, which I remember being really funny.

    H: emkajii's amazing and long-since-abandoned Equestria: Total War, whose loss I still mourn.

    Do you feel that your work with the RCL has improved your own writing? If so, how? –RBDash47

    C: Well, it’s certainly meant reading more excellent stories, and exposure to good writing is one of the best ways to improve one’s own.  I couldn’t point to any specific thing in one of my stories and say “yes, I did that because of such-and-such from an RCL story or interview,” but I still think it’s been a positive influence.

    JP: I wouldn’t say it’s had an influence on my stories, but I think interacting with other interviewers has given me a better sense of what to look for when reading a story, which is awfully helpful for my own reviews.

    H: The biggest influence I can specifically name is a lateral one: the RCL introduced me to Present Perfect, and through his signal boosts, to the Writeoff Association. I've competed several times there and gotten some excellent feedback that's helped me revise those stories before official publication.  My RCL reading has been diverse and interesting, and all of the stories we feature set excellent examples, but when you're experienced enough that all the basic tools are already in your toolbox, it's tougher to put a finger on how any individual story has subtly shaped those tools.

    What is your favorite word? Why? –RBDash47

    C: “Puissance,” because apparently I love Stephen R. Donaldson and hate WTFHIW (who once commissioned me to write a story, and specifically forbid me from using the word.  Absent that restriction, that word would in fact have been in it).

    JP: It’s not English, but mine is “homohomonukunukuapua’a.” I love saying it really fast and seeing someone’s perplexed expression. I’m also really partial to good curse words; they’re one of the purest expressions of emotion you can get in a word. Some are sharp, and some you like to let linger on the tongue, savoring like a fine wine… but most importantly, they just feel good to say.

    PP: Ooh, going outside English, are we? Then I have to say “mamihlapinatapai”. It’s one of those words you see in “Words We Need in English” articles, and it means “a look shared between two people who are wishing the other would do something neither wants to do”.

    H: The mere fact that the word lagom exists makes me want to move to Sweden.  It's a beautiful word for a beautiful concept.  Also the German sehnsucht, which C.S. Lewis described as "an inconsolable longing" for "we know not what," which sometimes feels like the best single-sentence description of the human condition. (And Portuguese saudade, for similar reasons.)

    Have any passages from the stories you've reviewed stuck with you? –RBDash47

    C: I’m pretty sure I could quote most of Spike’s last few lines in The Descendent’s Variables from memory, and they stick with me as a particularly powerful moment.  Unfortunately, they also spoil the story pretty completely.  Go read it, if you haven’t already (really, why do you think we recommend these?).

    H: A collection of mental snapshots, more images than words.  Celestia's final drink in Princess Celestia Hates Tea, the soaring tower of Lost Cities, the narrative parkour of RUN … more amazing moments than can come easily to mind.  I go back through our list once in a while to savor them.

    If the Crystal Kingdom Limited leaves Ponyville going 60 miles per hour and the Canterlot Express leaves one hour later going 85 miles per hour, how long will it take the Express to catch up with the Limited? –RBDash47

    JP: Trick question. The Crystal Kingdom and Canterlot trains serve different routes, so one can’t catch up with the other.

    H: Two point fo… *glances up from his math*  Dang it!

    C: You’re both wrong.  The correct answer is, “one commercial break.”

    What is your opinion of Trixie? –Xhoral1865

    PP: Sethisto can have her when he pries her from my cold, dead hooves.

    C: I tend to have a soft spot for ponies whom I’ve written about in my own stories, so I’m rather fond of her, myself.

    JP: Never heard of her.

    My biggest question is, how exactly do you guys choose the authors/stories? (I mean sure there are plenty of good writers out there, but how do you narrow it down to just one person. And if that writer has multiple stories, how do you choose which one to highlight?) –Tsuguri

    PP: The “multiple stories” problem has only come up once, and we literally made a separate spreadsheet listing all the author’s stories (there were a lot), read and vetted them all normally and picked the one that came out on top. But normally, the process relies on one of us seeing something great and nominating it. Chris and I read a lot, John does too; it’s mostly luck of the draw. It’s also worth mentioning that just because we post a particular story, that doesn’t mean it’s the author’s best story, or the only one worth spotlighting, just that it fit our criteria.

    H: We've only had the one multi-story battle, but several times, one of us has read a nominated story and said, "It wasn't as good as (other story that author has done)," and then (as PP said) we counter-nominate and let the two duke it out.  Only once has a head-to-head story battle ended in a tie (because Obselescence is just that good).  And as for how we narrow it down to just one feature per week — at any given time, we've got a dozen nominations pending; it just comes down to which ones we approve first.

    How has the RCL vision changed over the year? Have you guys shifted gears at all? –psychomotorboat

    C: I don’t know if our vision has changed, exactly; we (the original members, anyway) pretty much worked out what we wanted to do before we started.  We have had some ongoing discussions, though, particularly about things like how important it is or should be if a story is broadly accessible, or to what degree “this isn’t ‘pony enough’” should weigh in a decision whether or not to feature.  We want to find good stories, first and foremost—but the devil’s in the details.

    H: I think the vision's stayed pretty stable, but the division of labor has smoothed out as we've gone — and (of course) as the curator roster changes, that subtly shifts the stories we're exposed to and the standards of "best ponyfic".

    Any plans to feature an already RCL featured author again? We all know there are some authors that have many outstanding works. –psychomotorboat

    PP: Yes. We’ve got a couple stories saved up should we ever want to re-feature, but we haven’t quite worked out all the details of when, how, what, etc.

    H: Literally by definition, every featured author is capable of writing at least one top-notch fanfic, and very few stop there!  We could easily go for another year just refeaturing authors, but erring on the side of new spotlights helps keep the features fresh and helps readers find even more cool stuff.  Refeatures will happen at some point, but new authors is our focus.

    Among those talented authors how do you pick the story? Or does the specific story and what makes it unique matter more than the authors track record or magnum opus? –psychomotorboat

    PP: Occasionally, one of us will suggest a story and someone else will go, “Wait, no, they’ve done better,” and nominate a second or even third piece. There are particular authors we definitely want to feature, but we’ve also already featured a lot of authors whose story was the first of theirs any of us had read.

    H: PP's answer was so good that I stole it to use it up above.  :V  Typically, though, it's "This story is RCL material" rather than "This author is RCL material" (with the caveat that authors at that level are likely to have other featureable stories).

    What do each of you bring to the table when it comes to:

    1.) Story assessment, like your personal literary merit standards

    2.) Story hunting - how do you find your suggestions that you share w/ other curators?

    3.) Favorite stories - do your predilections for specific genres or characters get in the way of your assessment of the stories merit?

    4.) Have your standards changed since starting the RCL?

    5.) Personal favorite RCL feature so far? –psychomotorboat

    PP: For #2, I read fanfic constantly: stuff I’ve randomly added to my read-it-later, stuff from authors I’m following, stuff from friends, stuff that looks funny, and audiobooks I find on YouTube. My motto is “I’ll read it eventually”. As to #3, I think I read a lot more shipfics than anyone else. (Chris likes to joke that we always vote in opposition to one another.) My standards may have actually gotten a little more lax since the RCL started. And my favorite feature — I’m glad someone asked! — is definitely In the Place the Wild Horses Sleep, which we just put up. It is, after all, the story I called “the pinnacle of My Little Pony fanfiction”. Although I think the word I was looking for was “apotheosis”.

    C: 1) I typically prefer to let my work speak for itself in matters like this; if you feel like the stories the RCL puts up have literary merit, then great, and if not, I’m at least as much to blame for that as anyone else.  2) When I find something great in my for-fun reading, I’ll always toss it up.  Otherwise, if we’re running low on stories, I’ll typically trawl through some older stories I read in the fandom’s earlier days to see if anything there’s worth recommending—or more often, if the author has written something else even better since then.  3) I don’t think so.  They affect my recommendations; I recommend more slice-of-life stories than PP, he recommends more shipfics than I do (though I’ve put up a couple!), but when it comes to reading and voting, I think we’re all pretty fair.  4)  Not really.  It probably helps that I’d been doing my own fanfic reviews for a couple of years by then, so I already had some kind of feel for what I was doing.  5) That is such a grossly unfair question; you wouldn’t ask a man to pick his favorite child, would you?

    JP: 1) I think “literary merit” is something of a moot question when it comes to us; we all have strong opinions about ponyfic, so if one of us is nominating something, literary merit is pretty much assumed. But in terms of story assessment, the main things I wind up looking at are the tone, the characterizations, and how the premise is handled. This is the stuff I really care about. 2) Once in a while I toss something up, although PP and Chris definitely nominate the vast majority of stories we read. 3) Nah. It helps that the reviews I do outside the RCL are about reading whatever the feature box throws at me, which kinda forces a certain acceptance of all genres/characters on me. And when it’s us nominating the stories, with our high standards, I’m willing to give any of them a shot. 4) I don’t think so. I have a better sense of what my fellow curators look for in stories, but I don’t think my standards have shifted much. 5) My interview with Lucky Dreams, just because that was really fun to see come together.

    H: 1) For story assessment, I mostly bring my appetite.  You'd be surprised the amount of emotion you can draw from a well-crafted story.   You didn't hear that.  2) I'm the quiet one; I don't nominate much, but I must be doing something right because 9 of my 11 suggestions have been featured. 3) If I have to be honest, maybe so. By the numbers, we tend to feature a larger proportion of Dark/Sad stories relative to how many the fandom writes; I think that's because it's a lot easier to make the story compelling and give it weight when the emotional stakes are higher, and I certainly don't nominate a lot of light/fluffy stuff. However, once a story's nominated, I work hard to evaluate it on its own merits. 4) The RCL has forced me to read a great variety of stories, and I think that's made me a little harsher on common ideas and tropes, since fewer ideas get a pass on "this idea is new to me" unless they are genuinely fresh. 5) Lucky Dreams was great, but I have to give shortskirtsandexplosions points for class — when we contacted him to feature The Numbers Don't Lie, it was his idea to do a dual interview and make certain that theworstwriter got equal billing.  And Cloud Wander's interview was hands down the most delightful to read.

    Any plans for putting a file/document together with all the interviews and stories like RBDash47 did with the PFV? –psychomotorboat

    C: We’ve had some informal discussions about doing something like this, or putting our own downloads of stories up on our site instead of only linking to the original, but nothing’s come of it yet.  Doing those things — well, doing them right — is time-consuming, and we don’t want to prioritize that ahead of reading and featuring new stories.  It really makes you appreciate how much work RBD was doing all that time!

    H: If anyone's interested in (and capable of) curating that project, drop one of us a line.

    Each of you has read an insane amount of stories. How has the fanfiction community changed from past year to now? –psychomotorboat

    C: Sad to say, I think fanfiction’s become much more segregated from the general community over the past year or two.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that Equestria Daily isn’t the be-all and end-all of bronydom like it used to be, I think.  It’s still a big hub, but it used to be that if you were into ponies, you were pretty much guaranteed to visit EqD at least occasionally—and when you did, you’d see a couple of fanfics floating around with the news and pictures and comics.  Now, the fandom has fractured to the point that I think a lot of people never see the fanfic side of the community at all; authors are much more isolated than artists or musicians.  On the plus side, the fanfic community is still growing, and I’ve seen several great authors emerge in the last twelve months—including at least a couple whom we’ve featured, who hadn’t written a single word of ponyfiction twelve months prior.

    H: Pssh, you say "isolated" like FIMFiction isn't getting more views than Equestria Daily.   It's just become the gold standard of ponyfiction hosting (though ED is still a good gatekeeper for finding quality stuff — and their recent "Outside Insight" fanfiction competition drew a remarkable caliber of stories).  I think you're right, though, that the community in general is getting more fragmented — there's the show, the comics, the novels, the fanfics, the fan comics, the PMVs, the original animations, the musicians, the dozens of annual conventions … who can keep up with all that any more?  You could level the same complaint at, say, pony music — once upon a time, reading EqD would be enough to hit all the highlights, but there's such a rich subcommunity there that any site that wants to be authoritative has to focus on that subcommunity specifically.  Fanfic's not an outlier; we're caught up in the wave.

    Has it become harder to find stories up to your standards? Do you foresee the "well" of quality stories for you to find and feature running dry? Or has the community continued to grow stronger? –psychomotorboat

    PP: Every time I look at our queue and start to lament a lack of entries, I find four or five stories all in a row to nominate.

    JP: If anything, it’s become harder to keep up with all the amazing stuff we’re seeing these days.

    And finally, what happens if a curator goes rogue? Like evil evil –psychomotorboat

    H: I keep trying, but it turns out the Evil League of Evil internal promotion process is really hard.

    PP: We scramble the Royal Canterlot Library Tactical Assault Teams.

    H: Yeah, don't remind me, I'm still cleaning confetti out of my pieproof vest.

    JP: You’re talking about a group that brought on a guy who made a name for himself reading clop in the feature box (hello!). We’re already a bunch of rogues.

    What was it that got you hooked into the fandom in the first place? Friend recommending? Random scrolling online? What was the single thing that got you into it? –chaos2012

    PP: The show, of course. Finding out that a whole ton of other people liked this magic horse cartoon was really liberating. I think I hooked myself, deciding that I would not only participate, but contribute in the only way I really could (i.e., writing).

    C: I blame the internet.  People kept posting reaction images until I got curious enough to see where they were all coming from, and here we are.

    JP: Someone I knew on the internet told me about it, and I went, “Eh, why not?” I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into.

    H: A friend was bugging me to run an online game of 4th Edition D&D, which I had a low opinion of due to its strong focus on combat.  I said, "Sure, but only if I can cross it over with the most anti-D&D setting possible" (naturally, My Little Pony).  Then I actually started thinking about how it would work, because it was an interesting challenge.  Then I watched the show, and too late, I was hooked.

    How do you get chosen for interviews? *cough* –chaos2012

    H: The single most important thing, of course, is "write good stories" — but a close second is "get involved in the community".  Listening to editors and editing for others will both improve your writing.  Reading/reviewing/commenting helps you learn from others' mistakes, and steal pick up great techniques for your own stories.  Competitions force you to push your boundaries and reading your competitors' stories exposes you to a lot of new ideas at once.  And I can't overstate the benefit of word-of-mouth — both giving and receiving.  80% of my pleasure reading these days is from following a personal recommendation, since that has a much better track record for me than the featurebox; and when I follow someone because I get good story recs or feedback or discussion from them, I end up reading their stories too.

    PP: As an aside, remember to give your editors lots and lots of thanks whenever your story is mentioned or you’ll give someone a complex!

    How do you choose the stories/authors for interviews? –acmincorporated

    C: First, one of us has to become aware of the story (see the question above for more information on how to do that).  Then, if they think that story is worth posting, they’ll link it to the rest of us with some comments highlighting why they think it’s RCL-worthy.  Then the rest of us get a chance to read it, debate its merits, and if we collectively approve of it, we put together an interview and track down the author.

    H: Don't forget that we have a thread in our FIMFiction group where you can give us reading suggestions for stories that you really enjoyed!  I think about 20% of our features have started out with a story suggested there.

    What is your name? –Razalon The Lizardman

    PP: Razalon the Lizardman.

    C: Chris.

    JP: Just Perfect.

    H: Hang on, I know this one. *checks cheat sheet*

    What is your quest? –Razalon The Lizardman

    PP: I still need to unlock the Polaroid so I can reach the Chest. :(

    C:  To have fun and learn something in the process!

    JP: To make myself… not bored.

    H: To do such a bad job denying that I'm a changeling that nobody ever suspects my true secret.

    What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen zebrican swallow? –Razalon The Lizardman

    H: Blue!  No — yelloooooooooooooooooowwww…

    PP: Equestrian or— dammit.

    C: Trick question!  Zebras salivate just like ponies do, so their swallows are waterborne, not airborne.

    Of all the writers on Fimfiction, what are the top four you think would be good additions to the show's writing staff? –Razalon The Lizardman

    JP: Four? I would have trouble coming up with one. There’s a lot of great writers in this fandom, but a lot of them aren’t really suited for childrens’ entertainment. And I think even fewer could handle the demands writing for a television show would entail. I know I would crack within a minute under that kind of pressure. I could name some authors who write excellent childrens’ stories, but I don’t know if they’d be comfortable writing for television.

    C: I really have no idea; writing for a show and writing for readers are two very different skills, and while I’m sure a great author could be a good show writer, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be the best choice.

    PP: Chris is absolutely right. A lot of authors can do “show-style” fics well, but there’s a huge difference between “writing story” and “writing TV show script”. So I’d have to know how good an author is at doing that before I could really answer.

    H: I'd love to see Skywriter work with the IDW comics team, though.  He already professionally writes for comics.

    What was your favorite interview? –Titanium Dragon

    PP: To read? It would have to be either short skirts or Lucky Dreams. It’s great when authors turn out to be characters as much as those they write. To write, well, I can’t remember which all I did, but I was rather pleased with myself after doing "The Art of the Dress" or "Expectations". I like being able to show off my English degree. :B

    JP: I haven’t done a whole lot of interviews yet, but Lucky Dreams was an absolute blast to interview. I’m going to remember that one for a while.

    H: As mentioned above: Lucky Dreams was great, but I have to give shortskirtsandexplosions points for class — when we contacted him to feature The Numbers Don't Lie, it was his idea to do a dual interview and make certain that theworstwriter got equal billing.  And Cloud Wander's interview was hands down the most delightful to read.

    What percentage of these stories do you consider to be literature? –Titanium Dragon

    JP: Of the ones we feature? All of them.

    C: That sounds like a rorschach test if I’ve ever seen one.  What is literature?  Should we care if a story is “literary,” or should we only worry about quality?  Is there a difference?  I try not to get caught up in semantics when I can avoid it, personally.

    How many really great stories do you think there are in total in the fandom? –Titanium Dragon

    PP: Well, we’re closing in on 100,000 published stories on FIMFiction. Let’s say other sites — DeviantArt,, EQD pre-Fimfic — contribute another 50,000 stories. By Sturgeon’s law, 15,000 of those aren’t crap. So maybe 1,500 are great. That’s still a lot, go us!

    C: If anything, I think PP’s number is probably low.  My reading skews toward the not-awful end of the spectrum, it’s true, but I find great ones a lot more than 1% of the time.

    JP: Whatever the number, it’s still way more than I’ll ever get around to reading.

    How many of Short Skirts and Explosions' stories are RCL quality? :F –Titanium Dragon

    C: Since we’ve already featured one of his stories, it should go without saying that the answer is equal to or greater than one.

    Who are your favorite authors in the realm of literature? For those of you who write, which of those authors influence you the most? Any James Joyce fans in your lot? –Compendium of Steve

    PP: I’ve never been an authors person, really. I read Dubliners once and hated it, for instance, but I still want to read Finnegan’s Wake. I’m probably influenced most by the fantasy writers I grew up reading, though: Anne McCaffrey, Brian Jacques, Mercedes Lackey. Of course, nowadays I learn more from other fanfic writers than anyone.

    C: Fantasy authors have been a big influence on me, JRR Tolkien and Stephen R. Donaldson paramount among them.  Kipling and Lang have both had definite influences on my writing outside of the fantasy crowd, and authors like Milorad Pavic have had a big influence on me when it comes to expanding my understanding of what fiction can be.

    H: I'm too much of a philistine to appreciate Joyce, but darf's Alectrona was an interesting attempt to evoke that style, and I really appreciated the blog posts in which darf dissected that story.

    JP: I’m gonna level with you guys; I was never much for literature. Even today, when it comes to print-and-bound work, I’m way more interested in non-fiction. As a kid, I wanted to travel, so I collected maps and read travel guides. I would read stuff about art, or science, or how things worked. These days, history and anthropology are my big reading interests outside ponyfic. The real world holds so many wonders that fantasy and sci-fi have never had much appeal to me. Why read about dragons when I could read about dinosaurs? Why read about spaceships when I could read about actual ships? You ever seen that big picture book with all the cutaways of buildings and giant machines, that had the foldout with the diagram of the Queen Mary? I pored over that thing as a kid. That was the kind of stuff I loved.

    Even today, writing pony literature, the desire to write it doesn’t come from any love of fantasy, but just because it’s become this handy way to talk about my observations and experiences of the world in a safe place, while having a little fun.

    What is your personal writing workflow like? (For example, do you have a specific wordcount goal for how many words you will write each day? Has it been work to make writing a consistent habit, or is it something that comes naturally to you? Do you take the time to do additional drafts for fanfic that you write, if so how much, and what's your process for editing and rewriting?) –Chinchillax

    PP: “Gee, I should write now.” Play video games. Suffer endless spiral of cushing guilt. Write something stupid so I look productive for that month. Repeat.

    JP: Setting a word count goal is the best way to ensure I will fail said goal. I always play it by ear; since I consider fan fiction a hobby, I just do it when I feel like it. In fact, my workflow tends to alternate between really active and non-existent. What tends to happen is that I have an idea, and then it’s a race against time as I try to finish the story before I lose interest in pursuing the idea further.

    H: Same here; I've always been a burst writer.  Every other year or so, I push myself into some variant of NaNoWriMo and drop 50,000 words at a stretch.  When my muse takes me, I can burn through most of a story in a few sittings.  Most of the rest of the time, I'm bleeding sentences onto the page one by one, if I'm writing at all.  I really don't recommend my methods.

    How many people do you ask to preread a story you wrote before submission? –Chinchillax

    PP: Usually one or two. It depends on what I’ve written and who I get to look at it; I know what folks’ strengths and weaknesses are pretty well now.

    JP: Just one or two. These days, it’s usually two.

    H: Quantity is far less important than quality.  A single prereader who deeply engages is worth ten who toss in occasional comments.  That having been said, I try to get exactly enough feedback to get me to take a look at the story from an alternate angle; past a certain point, extra opinions add more noise than signal, because different editors will have conflicting suggestions for what's strong and weak (and how to fix it).

    Which character do you find most difficult to write? –Chinchillax

    JP: Discord. Discord, Discord, Discord. His personality is hard to capture; it’s in this strange place between devious, arrogant, and playful, and if you’re even just a little off in any direction it really shows. He also has the same issue as Pinkie Pie where a lot of his cartoony antics in the show are visual-based, which is hard to convey in writing.

    PP: Celestia. I’m not good at the “eternal, unflappable mother/chessmaster” thing.

    H: The Cutie Mark Crusaders, and children in general.  Chessmastering is easy.  Innocence is hard.

    How has writing pony fanfiction affected your day to day speech? Any funny moments or slip ups? –Chinchillax

    C: I did once accidentally ask my sister if she wanted to play a game of Shadows Over Canterlot.  She was amused.

    H: I have been occasionally heard swearing "Stars damn it!"

    What story concept can you not stop reading about you love it so much? –Chinchillax

    PP: Anything stupid that lampoons the show or the fandom. Also, right now, anything with Sonata Dusk in it SHE IS LITERALLY PERFECT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND

    C: ...You’re right, I don’t understand.

    To the question, though: stories rooted in mythology or folklore.  I love the sense of history they bring, and I’ve always felt like the uncertain, just-so, magical nature of those kinds of stories makes them an exceptional fit for the Equestrian setting.

    H: Everything's better with time loops.

    What story concept have you read so many times you've gotten sick of it? –Chinchillax

    JP: Orphan Scootaloo. Although I think we’re starting to get to the point that the backlash to that particular trope is outpacing the trope itself.

    PP: Overly-dramatic romance. Especially with Vinyl Scratch and Octavia.

    C:  Jerk narrators.  Not to be confused with snarky comic narrators, who are often also bad but can sometimes be funny, the jerk narrator spends the entire narrative being… well, a jerk.  Thinking the worst of everything, and not so much joking about it as being pointlessly crude and generally unpleasant to be around.  I’m not sure why this is such a trend in ponyfiction specifically, but I see it a lot in stories that don’t get an RCL recommendation from me.

    JP: Oh lord, I forgot about jerk narrators. You know what, I’m with Chris on this one. Orphanloo will be my #2.

    Which two characters have the most interesting relationship to read about? –Chinchillax

    PP: Spike and Twilight, probably. There’s so much nuance and so many ways you can approach that relationship, it’s almost a limitless well for story ideas.

    H: A while back, I called Celestia and Luna's falling-out and reconciliation "the greatest story that canon will never tell," and the show hasn't proven me wrong yet.

    Do you believe Sturgeon's Law is real? –Chinchillax

    PP: Well, I did just reference it in an above answer... The more fanfic I read, though, the more I think the actual number is closer to 20%.

    C: Not per se.  I think that fan content typically doesn’t follow a traditional bell curve; when there’s little or nothing in the way of barriers to entry, you see more material pile up at the lower end of the quality curve than you otherwise might expect.  But I don’t think there’s anything magical about the number 10, nor that the specific percentage is consistent across space, time, and content category.

    JP: Not really, no. I understand the spirit of the adage, but it always struck me as a rather pessimistic way of looking at the world. Besides, even if it was true, 10% of all pony fanfic is still far, far more pony fanfic than I will ever be able to read. Why would I even want more than 10%?

    H: It's like Moore's Law or the 80/20 rule: it's not a mathematical law, it's an observation of reality.  The principle is self-evident and the specific number is somewhere between approximation and self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Do your friends and family know how much fanfic you read/write? How did you tell them, or how do you avoid bringing it up? –Chinchillax

    PP: Oh yeah. My mom is a long-time writer of X-Files fanfiction, so I get to laugh with her about the tropes inherent in all fandoms.

    C: It’s no secret that I like MLP, but my RL friends and family don’t know about the fanfiction specifically.  Both of my parents have, at best, a tenuous grasp on the concept of a “fandom,” and are still pretty sure this pony-liking thing is mostly or entirely ironic (it’s not like I’ve tried to mislead them; I just think they can’t quite wrap their heads around the concept).  I honestly don’t think I could explain my hobby in a way they’d actually understand if I tried.

    JP: My family has a pretty good idea, although for my parents it’s mostly limited to generalities. My younger siblings have a better sense of the insanity that fanfiction often entails.

    H: My family knows, and they think it's cool, but they couldn't care less about MLP.  After I won AugieDog's contest with Thou Goddess, my mom made me a professionally printed and bound version for my birthday.  I'm sort of the literary prodigal son: my father's published a nonfiction book, my older brother's published several novels, and I've never sold a single story, but my most-read ponefic has gotten more eyeballs than either of them by a factor of 10.

    And finally, a portal to Equestria opens up at your local supermarket next to the dairy section, what do you do? –Chinchillax

    PP: I would probably start by chucking a small child through to make sure it was safe.

    JP: Why the dairy section? Are Equestria’s cows and chickens making a move against our dairy industries?

    H: I would invite Cranky Doodle through, and then open all the milk containers and sit in the fridge case with him to have a smoke — just so that, right before he extinguished his cigarette, I could stare at the hot butt of an ass behind the dairy air.

    Would you eat an aborted Foetus for one billion pounds? –Superflyingcookie

    H: can't answer, dodging thrown objects

    PP: Is this a bad time to mention that I’ve always wanted to try eating human?

    JP: I’m American. What am I supposed to do with pounds?

    PP: Yeah, a billion pounds of what, exactly? How can you even carry that around?

    Would you rather wipe your ass with clingfilm, or sandpaper? –Superflyingcookie

    PP: I don’t know what clingfilm is, but it’s probably better than sandpaper.

    C: These are the most British troll questions I’ve ever seen...

    Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck, or a duck sized horse? –Superflyingcookie

    PP: Why would I fight a duck-sized horse when I could cuddle it instead?

    JP: Obviously the duck-sized horse. Ducks are dirty, cheating bastards.

    Would you rather watch porn OF your parents, or watch porn WITH your parents? –Superflyingcookie

    PP: I think watching porn with my parents could be a hilarious and rewarding experience.

    JP: Why not both?

    C: I watched season 1 of Game of Thrones with them; that’s basically the latter, right?

    I need this answered for writing purposes: what do you think Sunset's cutie mark means? –veryveryfluttershy

    PP: She’s got kind of a yin-yang thing going on… Maybe duality combined with strength? The sun being a symbol of Celestia, after all.

    H: This might help, but I'd also point out that the show's primary use of the yin-yang symbol has been the duality of night and day, and Sunset Shimmer is etymologically poised at the same balance point between them that Twilight Sparkle is.  I think there might be some callout there.

    What style of writing would you all mostly agree as "the best" one? And what would the best/easiest writing style be for a writer just starting out like me? (Besides having good grammar, that is.) –Naviskypegasus

    JP: Actually, I think the thing we would agree on is there is no single best style of writing. A big part of reviewing literature is being open to different styles and new perspectives. If you’re not, you really cripple yourself as a reviewer. I think the most important thing that Obselescence’s “The Most Dangerous Game” contest this summer showed is that it’s easy to deride a certain genre or trope – until you see someone make it work. It’s the same with writing style.

    This is a cliché (and somewhat frustrating to hear, I realize), but whatever works for you is ultimately something you’re going to have to figure out yourself. And the only way you can figure that out is with lots of practice. That’s just the nature of art. All I can really recommend is start out simple, start with something you’re comfortable with, and then work your way up from there.

    PP: It’s not so much writing style that matters as ability to craft a story that makes sense. I’ve seen too many fics derailed by, to name an example, unrealistic hospital procedures. No amount of literary writing style will cover up a bad decision in the narrative.

    All of your favorite bands and why. –CodeBroviet743

    JP: Rubber bands. They’re so versatile and fun to play with!

    H: Half A Jam Dog.  Their album "High-Altitude Pork Futures" is sublime.

    PP: I think my favorite artist is now officially Weird Al Yankovic, and not just because he was in the show. (Does this make me a Weird Al hipster in this fandom?) Third Eye Blind is kind of no more and the Goo Goo Dolls finally disappointed me with their most recent album. The album I consider the best ever is () by Sigur Rós. My favorite online artist is probably Pogo, and if I had to pick one, my favorite brony artist would be… I should probably say Baasik and BlackGryph0n. Their IMmortal album is fantastic. I’m also a long-time fan of Sim Gretina (he and many others I was following before ponies happened!) The “why” is “because I like them a lot, duh”.

    H: Seriously though, I go through, like, every genre out there, and I tend to get obsessed with bands that nobody's heard of.  The four CDs that haven't left my car in years are Old Soul's self-titled album (this one, not the modern Toronto indie band), The Rasmus' "Hide From The Sun," Wolfstone's "The Half Tail", and Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Hot" (omg sellout).

    C: I’m a classically trained musician — I don’t listen to very much in the way of bands.  Uh… I really like Kansas?

    Do any of you read Mario Vargas Llosa? –CodeBroviet743

    H: Sadly, I live in the United States, which means that I never even hear about authors like Vargas Llosa until someone from the outside world mentions him and I have to go on a quick google binge.

    Favorite fanfictions? –CodeBroviet743

    PP: I’ve got a big list on my Fimfic user page. It’s mostly full of literary stuff (“Art of the Dress” or “Expectations”), with some comedies (It’s Always Sunny in Fillydelphia), a crossover I’ve been following since I pre-read it for EQD (My Little Metro) and In the Place Where Wild Horses Sleep. And The Spiderses.

    C:  It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door is one of those stories that just worked for me; In Their Highnesses’ Clandestine Corps gave the the closest thing to an OTP I’ve ever had; Memories of Those Friends Who’ve Gone Before Us is still the exemplar I point to when people want to know how to write something show-like for an adult readership and a literary medium.  I mean, I could name a couple dozen more stories that I love without having to really think about it, but those three stand out to me as ones that have been not just good stories, but stories that I, personally, connected with.

    H: Aside from the obligatory link to my userpage favorites and my bookshelves, I have to single out Eakin's Hard Reset, simply because I've written 70,000 words of love letter to it.  I don't think there's any bigger praise you can level on a work of fiction than "you inspired me" — and I love everything about how our community has done that with MLP, and how it makes our own works come alive in the process.

    Thanks for joining us for this great year in ponyfic! Read our author interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories to feature at our Fimfiction group.

    24 comments · 1,472 views
  • 3w, 1d
    Library Update - FAQ

    370 comments · 6,040 views
  • 3w, 2d
    The Library Update

    889 comments · 11,956 views
  • 3w, 3d

    249 comments · 6,166 views
  • 3w, 5d
    Groups Post - October 2014

    51 comments · 1,681 views
  • 3w, 6d
    The Royal Canterlot Library AMA — Now accepting questions!

    (Whoops, I posted the spotlight too early this morning to include this very important piece of news!)

    Next week will be the first anniversary of the Royal Canterlot Library’s first interview.  That’s right — 52 weeks’ worth of interviews with some of the fandom's best writers.

    We thought we’d do something fun to mark the occasion.  So, to celebrate one year of asking brony authors questions about horsewords, we’re giving you the opportunity to turn the tables on us!

    For the next week, we invite all of you to ask us anything (individually or as a group). We’ll compile your questions and answer them in a special post on our website on Friday, Oct. 10, which will take the place of our usual feature next week. And yes, you may ask us anything.* Who’s best pony? Which was our favorite interview? Which one of us is the cute one? Anything you like!

    (* Do note that, in order to keep a positive tone and keep our focus on the fandom's top stories, our answers won't discuss details of failed nominations — but we'll do our best to balance our mission with the full honesty of an AMA.)

    Just post your question in this thread on our FIMFiction group within the next week, or post a comment down below. (Reblogger's note: please, do post questions in the thread, and not the comments of this journal. I'll make sure any that are get included, it'll just be way easier to keep everything together that way!) We look forward to answering your questions!

    And now, back to our regularly scheduled interview...

    14 comments · 864 views
  • 3w, 6d
    Cynewulf's "When The Levee Breaks"

    5 comments · 842 views
  • 4w, 3d
    Reviews! Round 53

    24 comments · 1,424 views
  • 4w, 4d
    Story Update Emails

    ...are currently disabled. As we work over to the bookshelf system, I wanted to scrap these emails that basically only cause issues with bulk sending. In the future we want to have a system that emails you weekly with a list of your updates if you opt into that.

    edit: That's not to say I won't bring them back if people rely on them a lot...

    edit: We're going to turn them back on for now and then bookshelves will be daily emails.

    196 comments · 2,665 views
  • 4w, 6d
    Fic Spotlight #12

    27 comments · 2,084 views
  • 5w, 1d
    Unread Chapters

    EDIT: I have made a quick script that fixes this on an individual user basis. Click here to fix the issue for your account

    Edit 2: For people having trouble with the link, what would have happened is you must have clicked mark all read at some point in the past which removes all your unread entries. Now the script is repopulating all the ones that had been removed.

    Edit 3: Fixed some issues with the script including deleted stories, unpublished chapters and unpublished stories. Try it again if you have issues

    Due to a minor...uh...mistake, while updating the database for new features, I unintentionally wiped most of the unread chapters table. Don't worry too much though, this is essentially a big cache, no data has really been lost. However, I most likely won't fix this until I roll out this new stuff which should be here by the weekend. In the mean time, you can always just order your favourites by last updated, and in most cases that's not going to be vastly different unless you're very random about which stories you choose to read and when. You can also fix it by simply toggling a chapter being read for any story.

    Anyway, apologies for that, but I wanted to make a post to let people know there's no actual data loss.

    186 comments · 4,695 views
  • 5w, 5d
    Reviews! Round 52

    16 comments · 1,401 views

Off in the distance, jazz music echoes through a rainy night. The clubs on the corners let out melodies like gasps from entwined lovers. Johnny is making eggs, two over-easy and a scramble. Steam rises from a half-empty cup of coffee sitting on a table older than its occupants. Scattered among the grease and grime sit the discarded remains of unfinished ideas, monuments to a capacity for higher thought but an inability to utilize it. Johnny arrives, two eggs, over-hard.



He studies his full cup, swearing to his deity of the month that he should kick the stuff. She stares, pleads with her eyes. He can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if he had just said no, if he had just walked away when he had the chance. An empty cup stares back at him, uncaring. Two lovers laugh and stumble in, drenched to the bone in hopeless confusion. They don’t mind.



He swore that moment stretched on longer than the Intercontinental Expressway, and with just as many construction projects. She slapped him. Hard. He didn’t react, but he wished the mark on his face would stay permanently burned into his skin, a reminder that he was alive, a reminder that there was more to this than simply showing up. She throws the book at him. He starts to write.



“Shouldn’t we, ya know...”


Stripes throws down a twenty. His lady can only stare at the full page in front of her. Cold eggs and an empty cup face her, framing the void where he once was. She leaves the notes behind.



The Long Haul, by RedSquirrel456


Someone decided it would be a brilliant idea to put the new guy in charge of the new new guys. Now I have to be in charge of people! Help me...

Most war fics end up either being about a super soldier destroying everything in his path or entirely comprised of blood and guts. Sometimes even both. And I guess those have some appeal, but there’s more to war than super soldiers and blood and guts. So let’s take a look at what RedSquirrel did differently.

The entire story takes place in the middle of a siege. And that’s where things go differently than most stories. Instead of focusing on the assault of the city, RedSquirrel uses a lull in the battle to tell his story. The battering ram has reached the gates, and the mostly minotaur army is waiting to burst into the city. During this downtime, two friends converse and discuss what led them here. And by the time the gates are down, the story is over.

It’s such a short span of time, yet RedSquirrel crafted a wide world and created two excellent characters. In that one conversation, he’s created a rich backstory for minotaur culture, from holy cities and rebellions against oppressive rulers to a coalition army of griffons, ponies, and minotaurs fighting for that rebellion. And all of this worked because those two friends, the minotaur war-hero and his unicorn friend, were well-executed characters. Their differences, their contrast, made the conversation very interesting. I felt like I was reading the conclusion to a long, well-crafted story, yet it was a 3k one-shot.

Yep. This is a 3k one-shot. It’s a nice, quick read with excellent world-building and wonderfully crafted characters. If that’s not a good enough reason to give this a read, I don’t know what is.


I like to think that world building is a sort of pet mechanic of mine, one that I stress to peers and friends and one that I shamelessly relish in for its inherent detail. It is then with caveats that I recommend The Long Haul. This story is, for all intents and purposes, a dense and extremely pure shot of world building straight to your literary brain. It is the briefest of windows into an entire universe of backstory, complexity, and history, smack dab in the middle of a siege clearly centuries in the making and with the political implications innumerable. All of this immediately apparent and sitting perfectly steady without the broader context one might like to enjoy before reaching this pivotal scene.  

For a fan of rich and detailed worlds, this is a double shot of espresso, with all of the rich, subtle and intricately woven flavors transporting you momentarily elsewhere, and depositing your now amped up self back into reality far sooner than you'd like.

More importantly, however, and the real genius of this extreme short, is that the world building is actually the backdrop. The real heart of the story is its characters, and the clearly ongoing moral and philosophical conversation they have. The nature of war, the role of friendship, the moral implications of means to ends, each touched upon, and each clearly a small drop in an ocean of a debate.  Rearranging the metaphor, The Long Haul is a cup of world-building black coffee with a double shot of rich-character espresso.

Like coffee, though, enjoying this is a bit of an acquired taste, especially to really appreciate the subtlety. Readers expecting the glory of war time, or the expansion of fanon, will come away sorely disappointed that neither realm is even touched. The story is quite literally contextless as its focus remains on Epaulette and Grim, the two protagonists. Those expecting something related to the show will also find themselves wondering how to react; I would go so far as to say that aside from Equestria's species relations being juxtaposed, there is no real reason to even set Long Haul in the My Little Pony world. The theme of friendship contrasted with a depraved setting is not something unique to, even if inspired by, the show. This is, however, a testament to the strength of the story’s own merits.

Professor Plum:

Oh sweet baby Jesus, people actually trust me to do this?

I need more scotch...

Fuel of the Gods Scottish

Okay, where to begin with this story...

It’s pretty damn good.

I actually read this story some time ago, as it was entered in a writing competition which I judge for (a competition it subsequently won).  The premise is simple:  During a lull in a battlefield, two friends discuss what brought them here, what keeps them fighting, and the nature of the world.  And to my surprise, it does all of these quite tactfully.  

I'll admit, when I first heard of the premise, I was afraid it would be an absolute gore-fest.  We all know the sort; the ones where the plot gets replaced by ropes of intestines, ruptured arteries and severed limbs.  Don't get me wrong, gore does certainly have its place, but that place shouldn't be the heart of a story.  This one, however, surprised me.  It's grim and gritty, as you'd expect any battlefield to be, but RedSquirrel manages to dance around the more disturbing parts of war, deciding to focus on the characters instead.

One thing worth noting is the author really understands how to build a world.  We get a glimpse at a place where minotaurs have risen up from oppression, where an alliance was formed between the noble races from across nations, and how friendships formed from such alliances, forged in the heart of battle, against the anvil that is this stronghold's walls.  Contrasting and conflicting outlooks on life are brought alongside one another thanks to such bonds, and The Long Haul shows us how varied and different the world can be, while remaining the same on the inside.

The best part is he manages to do this while keeping the word-count just under 3k.  It's short and sweet, and I really can't think of a reason why you wouldn't want to read this story, unless you don't like minotaur soldiers or something.  And in that case, you have my permission to go tell them that face-to-face.

The greatest soldier of our time.  Godspeed,  Barble Bapkins


Good Intentions, by Just Horsing Around


This story did two things for me: It reminded me how a proper horror story is meant to be told and just how important the description is.

Most people writing horror stories try and invent some terribly frightening evil creature. They try to make it as dark and spooky as possible, giving the reader all sorts of descriptions about just how scary this thing is. And then they write scenes to match this level of description. They explain in great detail just how terrified the characters are.

Good Intentions did none of that. The story starts out as a light-hearted slice of life, introducing two seemingly-innocent friends to Ponyville. They learn their way around town, then settle down, one setting up a carpenter’s shop and the other a beauty salon. Yet everything seemed... off. And that’s where the importance of descriptions comes in. The description mentioned there’s a dark, evil creature that hunts ponies running loose in Equestria. So each time something seems just a little bit off, that description comes to mind. Every time Twilight finds something possibly related to that creature, the contrast with the rest of the story is incredible. The combination of those small hints with the description creates something quite terrifying. The opening chapters seem so innocent, yet that contrast creates a sense of terror within the reader. Oh, and we haven’t even come close to seeing the creature yet.

But like the opening of chapter two says, “The problem with the unknown was that it left your imagination to run wild, and imagination could lead you anywhere if you let it,” not knowing what the creature is does wonders on the imagination. And this is all only about a third of the way through the story. As it continues on, the reasoning behind the title starts to become clear, more hints at the underlying darker story pop up, and a very well-executed dark story is told.

Sure, it’s over 90k words, but it’s one of the, if not the, best dark stories I’ve read on this site. From start to finish, I could not put this down.


I read Good Intentions a fair bit of time ago. It caught my attention after showing up in the new stories (or perhaps updated stories, I will not profess to have seen it before it was cool if I cannot produce the evidence required for such hipsterish activities) section at a time I was sort of tired of OC-based fan fiction. I would also preface by saying that I am a sucker for psychological horror. The best way to build tension, suspense, is to key your audience in early to the truth, but maintain your character’s ignorance in a realistic way. This sort of curtain reveal forces empathy into your reader, while at the same time evoking the sort of shock and screeching horror that could only be effectively produced by one’s own cocktail of neurochemistry.  

Good Intentions is predicated on this very idea. It is a classic scenario wherein two OCs come to town and interact with the mane 6, but it is shrouded very quickly in a mystery and evil that is brilliant in its ability to strike fear into both the characters and the reader. Intentions layers a somewhat standard plot line into a different somewhat standard plot line, but ends up with a deep moral question regarding trust. The whole concept of friendship is put to the test in a way that frustrates the reader but refuses to let them be frustrated.

Moreover, the horror one feels comes from a very organic place. Though the original characters don’t stand out at first, one finds themselves able to identify with their archetypes quickly. They are written almost as a proxy for the reader to truly feel the terror that slowly threads itself through Ponyville, unable to put on the brakes as the world slowly, but increasingly, becomes both a dangerous and unforgiving place. In that vein, the story does a succinct job of keeping the reactions of each character believable, casting the citizens of Ponyville somewhat as antagonists but without sacrificing their inherent good nature, nor betraying the reader’s expectations of their goodwill. The meat of the story, and the true horror, comes from the realization that irrational actions are bred from a logical thought process; how else is one to react to an untraceable and readily apparent life-ending evil? The real turmoil is not the external threat to society, but the internal threat of society.

There are a few semantic nitpicks I have, especially with the author’s insistence on using the alternate “hallo” as opposed to “hello” in dialogue. The protagonists, though proxies, are still somewhat forgettable, and though it is extremely effective, the literal monster (as opposed the metaphorical one brought on through fear) feels really convenient and somewhat contrived.

Through it all, the story is still able to maintain a somewhat light heart, though perceptions are forever changed, there is no lingering resentment from the reader. Intentions is the standard those looking to write suspense/horror should abide by.

Professor Plum:

Alrighty, let's start this one of by saying this author really understands how to write horror scenes.  And by that I mean there are barely any of them, with most of the story being relatively light-hearted in tone.  The contrast between the slice-of-life Ponyville and the dark, tense will-she-or-won't-she-die-horribly terror scenes just amplifies the suspense, bringing you out in a cold sweat.  And the descriptions of the perpetrator—or the lack thereof—means the reader's imagination runs rampant as to what could possibly behind these mysterious disappearances.

"All a good horror game needs to do is hand you a piece of sandpaper and shout encouragement

as you vigorously massage your own undercarriage" ~ Yahtzee Croshaw

The story goes that a series of mysterious thefts begins as soon as two new ponies trot into town.  This, on its own, isn't too worrying, as it would usually be the sign of particularly incompetent petty thieves.  However, the pattern—or more accurately, lack of a pattern—to the thefts matches the calling card of a series of mass-disappearances.  So, naturally, this is mildly worrying, so the mane 6 try to stop that sort of thing.  You know, being heroes and all.  Kinda their job.

Also worthy of note is this story's fondness of the word "Hallo".  Reminds me uncomfortably of the time Rammstein visited my hometown.

None were spared.  Not even the children.

The rest of this story, however, I'd describe as merely "good".  There's a shipping subplot in there, but I don't really see it adding much to the story that couldn't have been obtained elsewhere, and I was astounded when two of the most boringly designed OCs I've ever heard of actually turned out to have decent characterisation.  I mean, when an author introduces not one, but two new characters with grey coats and black manes, you can be forgiven for likening them to members of the Neutral Planet and expecting personalities to match.

And while the story has horror scenes that know their places in the world, the story itself wasn't anything to write home about, and the ending left me feeling slightly disappointed, as I'd imagined much more interesting baddies in my head.

But, yes, overall I liked this story.  Suspense so thick you could try to cut it, but the knife would just get stuck instead is always a plus for me.  It also asks one of the most important questions of our age:

"What DO you call a zebra with wings?"


Fire on the Mountain, by MongolianFoodHoarder


See? This is what happens when people put me in charge of things. Two stories from the World-Building Alliance yet again! Not that I’m complaining!

As is expected from the group, this story does a lot of world-building, and it does it really well. The primary focus of the story is on griffon culture and how it appears to be on the cusp of great reform, or perhaps even revolution. It’s introduced a clan-based society that focuses quite a bit on status and tradition. This culture gives off a very Roman feel with how it’s set up politically. However, this isn’t all the story does. So far, it’s hinted at some very interesting bits of headcanon regarding technology and the history of Equestria. All in all, this story does some excellent culture-building, and once it’s finished, should prove to be quite the tale.

World-building aside, this story is as entertaining as it is because of the characters and how they interact with each other. The two introduced in the first chapter, Tor and Gareth, are executed wonderfully. The first, Tor, shows all the signs of being the typical idealistic noble who sets in motion a radical political motion while the second, Gareth, looks to be the typical snobbish noble convinced of his own importance. Yet for all these differences, the two appear to be friends. Given the way the story is headed, this looks to be leading to some interesting drama and conflict. I, for one, cannot wait to see how that relationship gets tested in the coming chapters.


There is something... missing. A sparsity, perhaps. I hesitate to fully give a recommendation here one way or the other. The simple truth is that I do not think there is enough happening here to merit one. The facts are these: sometime between the banishment of Nightmare Moon, but before her return, two well-to-do gryphons participate in a cultural event. The younger of the two proceeds to break caste to the chagrin of his elder, but lower stationed compatriot. The air is thick with societal pressure, heavy politicking, alcoholics, sliding doors, trams, and a penchant for the bourgeoisie and the world bordello.

The protagonist, Tor—a proverbial knight in shining tail feathers—lives out his life in the gryphon capitol a nobleman and senator, benevolent but aggravated. His motivations remain unclear, though it is crystal that he takes pleasure in being a poster child for democratic governance. It is a shame, then, that he seems able to maneuver through society so fluidly without raising the types of moral questions he seems prone to ask, and regularly asks of others. Tor has no problem making sly jabs at Equestrian monarchy and censorship, or challenging his own society’s notion of nobility, yet seems to fully take advantage of his station while remaining blissfully unaware of his own inherent hypocrisy. In a single motion he professes to dissuade the use of his own title, but fully utilizes it to get his way. It is a deep character flaw that remains unaddressed by the narrative, a shame considering how it is the perfect sort of internal conflict that can drive the somewhat stalling plot.

Granted, the story is but three chapters into what is setting up to be something much grander than a simple world-building tour. The descriptions of scenery and the city are wonderful, there is a palpable sense of theme and metaphor through architecture, in one case literal tiers of the city serving as hubs of activity for their relative social classes. The sense of history, too, is immense. Various hints are dropped regarding the past, and Celestia’s dealings in diplomacy, without hijacking the still character driven plot at the front of the story. Skill and care have been applied tactfully to convey an immensity to the reader without overwhelming them. The complex government of the gryphons is explained simply without sacrificing its intricacies, foreshadow is placed in believable conversation, long-standing agreements are mentioned in passing not as convenient explanations, but as natural, fleeting moments, and so on.

That in mind, I still find myself missing pieces and bits. Time skips are dealt with poorly, scene changes go from being fluid to jagged with no warning and no sense of tone or pacing. Expert world-building is butted up against far too many assumptions and superfluous information. Characters, especially at the start, are met partway through their conversations, but with no footholds for the reader to latch onto in order to quickly gain enough context to follow along. Simply, things often feel forced.

Despite these drawbacks, however, I must admit that I am piqued at the potential of this one. The weaving-in-progress of the tapestry-like backdrop has me keenly interested in the somewhat blasé story that is unfolding in the foreground. That, and the complexity (finally) offered to gryphon culture is a big draw.

Professor Plum:

Whether or not you want to read Fire on the Mountainside can be answered with a simple question:

Do you like Game of Thrones?

If yes; read this, as you'll enjoy it.

If no; stop lying, put down your season two box-set, and read this.

This makes all the talk of “The Stallion Who Mounts the World" rather uncomfortable.

Low-born nobles battling with high-born sycophants, broken traditions and colossal secrets make for an interesting conflict, all set in the period before Nightmare Moon's return gives this story a distinctly George R. R. Martin feel.  Thankfully, the living spoiler hasn't shown up yet to die before we get halfway through.

Oh, and did I mention it's all about Gryphons?

There are very few things that could be added to Game of Thrones and be considered an improvement.

Gryphons are one such thing.

Interesting characters set the stage for what's shaping up to be a nationwide battle of wits that could change how the entire world is run.  Tor, this tale's protagonist, is a true gentle man gryphon.  While he himself is high up society's ladder, his actions show a great sympathy for those less fortunate, and is not afraid to smack a fool stop other gryphons from kicking the grips of those on lower rungs.  

If I had to criticise it (and I do) I seem to remember the first chapter or so suffering from a bit of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, leading to confusion over who was doing what, but it's definitely ironed out after that.  Good job, you crazy Mongol.

An important thing to note to anyone looking to read this story is that it's nowhere near finished.  At all.  If one were to compare it to a gryphon, it wouldn't so much be a cub as an egg (do gryphons lay eggs?  I've never thought about that before...)

This story has a long way to go, and it's only just taking its first steps.  But I'm happy to watch it as it grows

Jesus Christ that sounds creepy

Now, go forth and read.

So sayeth the Plum

See?  I can write something without copious amounts of Rarity





“Egg metaphors and piss-poor attempts at Noir?!”

“Hey! I’d call them ‘poor’ not ‘piss-poor!’”

“Never again.”

“C’mon! It’s great!”




“The doors swing open, a saxaphone solo wafts in from the dark—”

“Get out.”



“Don’t panic!”


“And people wonder why I drink...”

Wanderer D · 5,948 views · Edited 77w, 3d ago · Report
#1 · 77w, 3d ago · 1 · 6 ·


#2 · 77w, 3d ago · · ·

Whyte&Mackay? Meh, I would thought you a fellow of Jura.

#3 · 77w, 3d ago · · ·

This blog gets more and more schitzo every month... :pinkiecrazy:

Comment posted by OtterMatt deleted at 1:34am on the 7th of May, 2013
#5 · 77w, 3d ago · · ·


Mm, while there are nicer scotches out there, I've always been partial to the Glasgow Special.  And it's bloody cheap, too.  Best value on the market, I've found

#6 · 77w, 3d ago · 1 · 3 ·


You say that as if it's a bad thing! :pinkiecrazy:

#7 · 77w, 3d ago · · ·

And yet another round of reviews that took an entire month to do. At this point, the only way Seattle's Angels is going to get even remotely close to doing one round a week is if the three reviewers for a future round start their work in advance, even before the previous group of three is done with their round.

Oh well, at any rate, I think we should all be glad that the new guy was able to lead the two newer guys without getting anyone killed. Still no word from the new 'new guy', though. Sorry, CSquared, but you'll forever be the new guy here.

#8 · 77w, 3d ago · · ·

Oh, you and your scotch, Professor Plum. :pinkiecrazy:

#9 · 77w, 3d ago · · ·

That scene at the end killed me.

Those three stories also look very good. I'll be sure to check them out! :twilightsmile:

#10 · 77w, 3d ago · 2 · 3 ·


Blame Pilate. It's all his fault. :derpytongue2:

>>1059907 Mr. Over-analysis himself?


I'm fine with that.

Damn, still nothing I've nominated. What is this? Scotch?! No wonder. Damn drunk reviewers. With your fancy words and your fancy review parties! In my day we rambled on and on...

*falls over*

#13 · 77w, 3d ago · · 4 ·

One day I'll be on here ;_;

Saxophones are cool, Csquared, and you know it.


I never said they weren't :derpytongue2:



You're getting corned beef hash, eggs over medium for that one.

See?  I can write something without copious amounts of Rarity
But why would you want to? :rainbowhuh:

That was an odd review.

The heck did I just read? :applejackconfused:


Why? Because it needs more Rainbow Dash.

Here's a question - who picks the stories you review, and how?


The three people up that round present some qualifying stories they've read as possible suggestions. Those three people then read the suggestions and come to a consensus on which three to review. Additionally, people are known to suggest stories in this thread.

#27 · 77w, 2d ago · · 1 ·

>>1060137 ... As a Seattle's Angels reviewer or getting one of your stories featured here? :rainbowhuh:

#28 · 77w, 2d ago · 4 · ·

these comments are such a circlejerk



I gave you a +1 :twilightsmile:

Let's be honest, it's either us or Phazon.

>>1062993 :twilightoops: Huh? What'd I do? No seriously, all I've done in these comments is pick on CSquared, (sort of) whine about the Round numbering, and upvote Plum's reply to your barrage of 'darlings'.

Actually, now that I think about it, that is all I do around here anymore. Hmm... well I haven't gotten around to asking Nietzsche why he went Danish on us.


Oh, I was just referring to the fact that you're fairly officially our most frequent (or at least, most vocal) commenter/groupie. Don't let the power go to your head. :twilightsheepish:

Ergo, most comments would come either from us BS'ing each other, or Phazon railing on us for taking so long. Other recurring categories I neglected to mention: invariably one person asking us again how we select the stories, several confused/humorous comments about some aspect of the intro/outro, occasionally someone saying the blogpost was humorous though they have no intention to read any of the three stories, and occasionally someone lamenting that they haven't been selected yet to be featured here.

Cynical? Me? :rainbowkiss:

Of course, legitimate discussion of the fics featured here is more than welcome in the comment there right here, or in the fics themselves, or in our handy-dandy forums

>>1064088 Ah. Like I said back in Round 16 18, I'm basically the most active nobody in Seattle's Angels... the group itself, of course. I have no delusions about becoming a reviewer here. And besides, if there is any power that I shouldn't let go to my head, it comes from having two of my recommendations featured here.

>>1061933 A story, I have no interest or chance of being a reviewer.

>>1066132 Oh. Well in that case, all that requires is some schmuck to go through your less-viewed stories, pick out some of the better ones, and plug them on the Seattle's Angels thread. I of course don't feel like doing that. Granted, I am a schmuck, but I'm not your schmuck.

Wanderer D
#36 · 77w, 8h ago · 5 · ·

>>1064088 Hey, how do you guys select your stories? I have like, 16 that need more attention/readers!

>>1066559 So did I, but you don't hear me broadcasting it like some inane tweet. :trixieshiftleft:

...Wow, my internet persona's kind of a douche. :twilightoops:


I thought it was 17.

#41 · 75w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

Plum is officially my favorite person. Not only a Zero Punctuation, but a Rammstein reference as well!? Nice.

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