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  • T The Definition of Strength

    Sabra has been searching for his answer for three long years, and at long last he may have found it. It just might not be the answer he expects.
    26,557 words · 2,329 views  ·  162  ·  0
  • T Why Me?

    It's been four days since Tirek, and Discord is finally feeling back to being his old self. Or is he?
    7,287 words · 3,292 views  ·  513  ·  8
  • E Old Habits

    It's Nova's first official day off, and he's decided to spend it in one place he knows he can relax: the Canterlot Bazaar. But when he has an unexpected encounter with a face from his past, can he face the pony he once was?
    19,698 words · 827 views  ·  162  ·  1
  • T Carry On

    Sometimes the hardest thing to do isn't completing the mission, it's coming home again. For Dusk Guard member Sky Bolt, the mission was a complete success. Everything went perfectly. So why can't she sleep?
    18,257 words · 1,101 views  ·  188  ·  2
  • E Hearth's Warming Cookies

    It's Hearth's Warming season and that means presents, caroling and—of course—making Hearth's Warming Cookies. But just what makes the cookies so important, anyway? Young Jammer Song is about to find out....
    7,054 words · 537 views  ·  92  ·  0
  • T Emoticon

    It's Steel Song's day off, and he's got plans. Plans of the relaxed sort. Plans that most definitely do not involve a strange, brown earth pony who acts like he's known Steel for years. And why is he running, anyway?
    10,199 words · 767 views  ·  139  ·  2

Blog Posts208

  • Wednesday
    It's Good to Be Back

    13 comments · 93 views
  • Saturday
    Halloween Sale!

    22 comments · 201 views
  • 1w, 1d
    Whoa! Everything's Different! (UPDATED)

    Whoa! It's like coming back to your house after a vacation and finding that someone has reorganized the reading room. Not the living room or the kitchen so much, but mostly the reading room.

    Of course, I'll probably find the same once I get back home officially. Right now I'm back from the fishing trip but not back from Alaska yet. In fact, yesterday was the last day of post-trip boat work. Also, the swelling in my my hands has yet to go down all the way yet, which is how I gauge my "this is done" meter. Don't worry if you're curious, this year I took a picture of my hands in their swollen state. They're about three-quarters of the way back to normal at the moment (making typing this a bit like flexing a, tight, sore muscle after a workout, like stretching a stiff, cold, rubber-band), but once they've reached normal size and feel normal again I'll take a second picture and put up a comparison.

    Also, there probably won't be a writers guide post this Monday. I'm not 100% sure on that, however. It sort of depends on how my trip back goes, how much immediate work I have to do upon returning before I get back to work, and what my mental state is when I do return. Getting back into the swing of things after a month of not writing and working 18 hours a day always takes a day or two.

    Like I said, we'll see. I don't want to put it off any longer than necessary, but I want it to be useful.


    So, that said, how about this FimFiction update!? I think it's great. At least, the mobile side of it. Mobile functionality is now a real thing, so I don't have to resort to OS tricks to get functions of the page to work anymore. And I've liked the idea of the bookshelf system since I first heard of it. I'm not sure how this will change up my usual habit of thanking everyone who faves my works? More to think about. Plus, now I need to organize my own system. Still, nice to see the mass flood of Dusk Guard stories onto shelves labeled "10/10" or "Must Reads of FImFiction."

    Okay, okay, okay, so writing news. I promised brainstorming while I was gone, and you guys are getting it. First up, some news some of you may not welcome. Colony probably won't release this year. I know, I'm disappointed myself, in myself. There will be a longer post on what's gone wrong with it, but the truth is that it's going to need some draft work. More than usual.

    And I know why. I tried a few new things with Colony, and unfortunately, some of them didn't work. I've learned a few lessons from it as a result (and that'll be a writing post, I guarantee it), lessons I won't forget easy.

    Don't read this wrong, Colony isn't getting scrapped, like the first draft of The Phoenix. It's simply going to take some work. I'll send it out to some Alpha Readers as soon as it's done and start collecting feedback on where it falls flat and where it works.

    While that happens, I move my next writing project into full attention. "The Dusk Guard: Beyond the Borderlands" is getting my full attention as soon as Colony's first draft is out. And, thankfully, it has not suffered the experimentation I did with Colony. My goal is to get the whole thing done in a month. 4-5K words a day, 5-6 days a week. Month and a half maybe? We'll see. But I'm excited to finally, finally get the next bit of the Dusk Guard out and ready. Then I can start sweating on "Hunter/Hunted."

    And while I'm working on "Beyond," I'll spend a day or two getting Hunter and Dawn's side stories published on FimFic at last. I promise. Look for those very soon. They're both done, they just need editing work and covers.

    Anyway, and past "Beyond?" :pinkiesmile: I've got my next project.

    My next book will be titled Shadow of an Empire, and I'm excited to start work on it. A western fantasy—by which I mean Wild West, with outlaws and guns, not Western World—set in a shattered world where The Empire reigns supreme. Those who choose to live in the next to lawless outskirts of its territory are fast with a gun and quick with their magic, but always mindful that no matter how far away it may seem, the Empire's shadow has a long reach. Magic, six shooters, good, and evil; they're all going to collide! I'm still working out a few details (wait until you see THIS magic system, it's RAD!) but I can tell you this for certain: this one is going to be a blast. Plus, like "Rise" and "Beyond," I'm not trying anything new as far as writing techniques go, so it should be a straight start to straight finish project.

    Anyway, it's good to be back on land and on the grid!

    UPDATE: Oh, and next week is Halloween! And I've got something coming for that! Keep an eye on this space!

    11 comments · 115 views
  • 4w, 2d
    Off the Grid I Go!

    All right guys, this is it! I've been able to log in with my phone whilst away in Alaska to keep somewhat up to date, but today, I board the mighty fishing vessel I'm currently beholden to and head for the fishing grounds! Which means, sadly, that I will be off the grid for at least two to three weeks.


    But that's okay! It's a good off the grid. Because while I'll be away, I'm going to be doing a lot of grunt work, which means I've got plenty of time to think. And think. And plot, and pace...

    In other words, when I get back I'll have a wealth of new story content to offer. Hunter's side story and Dawn's (at long last) to start, but Colony is almost done with its first draft, and once that's off to the alpha readers, the staggered work I've done on "Beyond the Borderlands" can go to full-time project in earnest. I'm still hoping for a near-Christmas release, but no promises. That means it could be sooner but it could be later. I'm cutting no corners with this.

    Anyway, the original point of this was that I'll be back soon, and with lots of brainstorming done for the next few things coming after "Borderlands" and Colony. Like "Hunter/Hunted." Or Shadow of an Empire and The Phoenix. And, of course, lots of blog post topics!

    All right, I need to go grab my gear and get underway to board our mighty vessel. It's time to face the fierce fall elements of Alaska, and catch those shrimp!

    5 comments · 77 views
  • 6w, 3d
    Being a Better Writer: What's a Memorable Scene?

    Welcome back for today's Being a Better Writer post. Hopefully it's a good one, because it's going to be the last one for a little while. Starting this Wednesday, I'll be off to Alaska for work, and shall effectively (and sadly) become a bit of an internet recluse, since it'll be both tricky to get online (I won't be able to at all during the season, and beforehand I'll be working quite a bit.

    Today's post is a bit more nebulous topic, and so I'm going to try and approach it in a bit more relaxed manner. Rather than moving from point to point, or even prepping more than the initial idea beforehand, I'm just going to talk about it and see where things go. Partially because I feel like being a bit more relaxed today, partially because I want to see how well this works, and lastly because the topic itself can be a little nebulous.

    So, what does make a memorable scene? And here's where we run into a few differences, right with the first answer. Because to me, what makes a scene memorable is something important happening. But that might not be the same answer that others give. In fact, others might give a completely different assessment of what makes a scene memorable. Perhaps it has to do with the main characters. Perhaps it's the final battle, the most energetic portion of the story. Even upon thinking about it, my own answer that it is something important doesn't exactly hold a sum total, because there's a secondary element to consider, in that it be interesting. For me, these are two things that I put into my mind when I'm writing: What's important about this scene? And is it interesting?


    But that probably isn't what's going through other writers or readers heads when they do their own scenes. They might be going for clever dialogue. Or maybe even a funny joke.

    So why when I'm asked what makes a memorable scene, do I think of importance and interest? I think part of it comes from what I'm looking at as a writer. The last thing that I want my reader to do is be forced to slog through things that aren't important. Look, let's be honest, anyone with half a decent talent for prose can sit down and write a lovely several thousand word piece on a character's experience of cleaning a kitchen. Sliding the washrag across the counter, doing the dishes, cleaning the windows, putting things away ... this can be done pretty easily.

    But what does it mean? What reason does the reader have to read about such an event? Let's face it, we've all had our characters do tiny little things like take a drink from a glass, and those little bits of flavor add to the story, but they're like bacon bits. Tasty, but short-lived and not that good on their own. And if you make a whole chunk of a story about someone cleaning their kitchen, unless it serves a purpose, unless it's important to the story somehow, well then it's little more than a whole bowl of bacon bits. The writing is good, yes, but there isn't anything important going on.

    Clearly context has a bit to do with this. A story about action, adventure, and high-daring escapes really drags when a character spends their day in a kitchen doing nothing relevant to the story. You see this problem in a lot of places, both on FimFiction and in published books from lesser-known authors. They've put the character in a situation, and then they write about it without stopping to consider whether or not there would be any reason to do so.

    Importance. Spending five-thousand words of prose on a scene that contains nothing of importance might still lead to a well-written scene, but the reader isn't going to find it memorable. You have to consider how important it is to the story. What will it convey? What will it do for the reader? Is it moving the plot ahead (aside from just burning time)? Is it delivering the reader interesting elements and anecdotes?

    For me, usually considering the importance of the scene, combined with the characters I then turn loose in it, tends to make the scene memorable enough. Because if I combine anything of importance with characters that are going to bounce off and around it, I can usually trust on those characters to make the scene memorable in various ways. For example, Steel Song in a kitchen is going to be pretty utilitarian—and by extension, not interesting—unless he's interacting with Cappy or his niece and nephew. But even by taking those characters out of the equation, having Steel ruminate on their absence can be a way to keep the scene interesting as well (though it should also be important in some way). Likewise, writing a chapter about Ditzy Doo cleaning up her kitchen could be really boring and not at all memorable if simply approached in a very flat manner, but if the author uses it to show the meaning about Dtizy through her thoughts and actions, such as thinking about the rapid-cooking that led to unwashed dishes she did so that she and her daughter wouldn't be late to a play while doing them, or about the fun she and Dinky had making a desert that led to the mess she's cleaning up.

    Man, this is such a tricky question. Let's see, what about a scene that doesn't really seem that exciting, but is important? After all, plenty of foreshadowing in books often happens during what most of us would consider day to day activities. How do we get our readers to remember some important detail from a scene that's less than exciting or doesn't seem important (and how do you keep them from getting bored)?

    A lot of that goes back to one of my earlier posts on misdirection. Basically, you can conceal information that is important by hiding in with other interesting things. For example, Harry Potter pulled double duty with this in one book by having what would have only been a marginally important scene (a dinner party) serve as foreshadowing for the room of requirement. But to keep it from being dull (and to make it memorable for the reader), Rowling used Dumbledore as the vehicle for the foreshadowing as they group discussed unusual stories of their experiences at Hogwarts. The audience gets a plethora of funny events (which keeps them interested), topped by Dumbledore's special mention of a "magic bathroom" that serves as the capstone story to the scene. The reader laughs, remembers that last story (which becomes relevant later) and enjoys what would otherwise have been a bunch of characters sitting around talking.

    Earlier I mentioned context, and I think I should get back to that. Context means a lot for your story. An action scene can be memorable. A character breaking character for a big reason can be memorable. A well-timed joke (like Dumbledore's funny story) can cement the scene in the reader's mind. A clever finish to a scene, something unexpected.

    Each of these are things that can in one case make a scene memorable, but in another, can break it (or worse, make it memorable for all the wrong reasons). A lot of it comes down to what story you want to write, what story you want to tell, and what elements you've put into your work. A true horror story, for example, isn't likely to try and make it's scenes memorable with constant pop-culture references and fourth-wall winks. It's going to try and make scenes that are tense. Terrifying. Nightmarish. Or perhaps shocking. In Monster Hunter Alpha, one of the most memorable scenes in the entire book is one in which the main character takes an industrial-strength snowblower—the kind that can eat small trees—up against a horde of zombie werewolves. The end result is one of the bloodiest things in the entire series, to a point of near absurdity that even the characters comment on. It's memorable precisely because it's so absurd ... but also because it is a great solution for the problem, and fits right into the series blend of ridiculous over-the-top action and dark humor.

    It's not something you'd see in Harry Potter, although that does make an amusing thought ("Harry Potter, tonight you—arrgh!"). My point is, keep your context in mind when thinking about what will make your scene important and interesting.

    Another thing to keep in mind is what sort of readers you're appealing to with your story. A reader who likes nothing but straight hollywood action, for example, isn't at all going to find a slice-of-life story interesting. Putting a single chapter of it into a story for that kind of reader is pushing it. Likewise, a reader who lives for complex, spiderweb plots and stories where there are wheels within wheels is probably not going to enjoy a very straightforward, simple mystery where everything is just as it appears. And versa-vice with a switch of the situation.

    We tend to acknowledge this (at least, usually) when considering what we or others like to read, but as writers, we can't forget that the same rules apply. Context of what kind of story you're telling and for who can change quite a bit about making a scene memorable or interesting.

    One more thought—at least at this moment—concerning having a memorable scene, and even more importantly, and ending. No matter what the scene is like, the best way to make sure that your reader remembers it is to make it relevant. A reader who understands that he can drift through the story without paying close attention isn't going to bother remembering details of scene or story. If you make scenes relevant, give them weight, where what happens and what is said has recurring effects on the story as a whole, it becomes memorable, because your reader quickly learns that they need to remember why a scene is important.

    As a side note, this is one more reason I despise flashbacks 90% of the time. Because writers use them not to present new information to their reader, but to re-explain and retread information that was already discussed, taking the decision away from the reader as to whether or not to remember information and scenes (and therefore making them less memorable). Even more grievous, I'm pretty certain that this feeds back to the writer as well and lulls them into a false state where they themselves stop considering the importance of what they present. After all, for both parties, why bother remembering or picking out anything important when it'll be handed to them in a silver platter later?

    Anyway, getting back to where that side note took off, the more events of the story mean, the more weight they have, the more a reader will remember them and the more important each scene will feel in relation to the core of the story and the end. To use an earlier example from Rowling, the Dumbledore toilet story still probably wasn't memorable to some readers. However, once Harry has found the room of requirement and he as a character makes the single-line connection between the two, the reader's attention is drawn back to it and the scene is given greater importance in the dialog as a whole.

    Hmm ... come to think of it, retroactive memorability (?) is something to consider as well. Not as a core point, because if an entire scene's worth of material only become relevant and interesting later, than it was probably boring at start, and we don't want that. But you can, through later elements of the story that come back to something in an earlier scene, make that scene more memorable (especially on a reread). For instance, the first time a reader reaches the scene in "Rise" where Steel plays with his niece and nephew only to find himself completely snared by a well-placed (and well-tied) jump-rope, the scene is cute and mostly serves to illustrate what Steel is like when he let's himself relax, as well as to counterpoint the relative loneliness and lack of family the rest of his life has. But only in the finale, when Steel uses the same snare concept on Radiant's gigantic golem, does the scene take on a new level of importance, and therefore, memorability to the reader. It was a foreshadowing, not that the reader knew it at the time. But when the result pays off at the end of the book, the reader is tied back. Even if they forgot it, on another read-through the scene will take on a whole new significance.

    All right, I think I'm starting to reach the end of my thoughts in this, at least for the moment. Which means it's probably a wise idea to summarize things. So, when making a scene memorable, remember that you need to give your reader a reason to remember it. So it'd better be important to the story somehow. It should also be interesting. Funny, unique, cool ... there should be something going on that makes your reader interested in what's happening. Keep in mind context of both the characters and scene, but also of the story overall.


    So, I think that's it for this post, which regrettably is the last one you'll see for a while. But before I go, what did you think? Not just on the subject (and I welcome all comments in that vein, but about the style? Was the "stream of consciousness" approach more helpful? Less helpful? Interesting?

    As usual, thanks for reading, and I look forward to doing this again ASAP!

    Edit: Tag's fixed, guys! My bad! Running a bit late today, so I didn't proof beforehand!

    3 comments · 187 views
  • ...
 622
 3,445

Steel Song is a lot of things. Earth pony. Uncle. Professional bodyguard.

Retired.

So when he receives a mysterious package from Princess Luna a few weeks after the changeling invasion, he's understandably apprehensive. More-so when he presents himself before the Royal Diarchs to find that not only do they desire him to come out of retirement, but to take command of a most unusual position...

A position that may have more significance than any of them suspect. Because strange thefts are occurring on the Equestrian Railway, thefts that nopony can explain. Thefts that may have far more sinister intentions than their seemingly innocent nature may convey.

Intentions sinister enough to shift the balance of power in Equestria forever.

Book I of The Dusk Guard Saga.

Epic Fantasy

Has a collection of Side Stories as well, the first of which is here.

Now with a TV Tropes page!

"This is 100% Approved by Twilight's Library!"

Added to Twilight's Library 11/26/2013

Added to Canterlot's Finest 12/01/2013

First Published
3rd May 2013
Last Modified
7th Sep 2013

Nice, excellent dialogue.  Its hard to tell where this story could go.  Lots of potential direction with no clear villain as of yet. I very interested to see where this goes.

>>2522743

Thanks! Glad you're enjoying it so far!

>>2544416

I'm hoping that's popcorn of approval!

Then again, with those glasses, void popcorn.

Awww, poor Cappy.  Really enjoying the story so far, looking forward to seeing where you will take it.

>>2579439

Thanks, glad you're enjoying it!

Wow amazing fanfic. Luna is my favorite pony and I believe that you did a good job at portraying her. A beautiful job well done here! Full marks in MY book!

>>2582048

Thanks for the praise! I'm glad you enjoy her character, as she's a very difficult one to write. Hopefully you continue to enjoy her appearances ahead!

Angel the bunny. He's more Angelus than angel :)

>>2612571

Yeah, it always made sense to me that most ponies around town would have a healthy respect/fear of Angel. And if you're working in a forest that he probably frequents, well...

Old stallion you are missing a golden chance. She does not see  you as a old pony.

You should put this in a few more groups man! There are at least six more places you could pop this in at.

>>2644702

Wait, really, which ones? I browsed through, but only found the four.

>>2644711

Well there's the OC group, the self promotion bureau, a fantasy group, uuuuh, I'm sure there are a few others at least. o.O Just make sure you spread out addin your story to multiple groups. Ticks less people off.

>>2644767

Enacting. Lets see what I can get!

>>2644823 cage the elephant is awesome!

>>2614247

Yeah, Steel's really shooting himself in the hoof when it comes to Cappy.

>>2652329

That twangey beat was just perfect for Nova's character. That was the first theme I decided on.

I like the chapter it was light and showed some team bonding. There were secrets revealed, setting for overall plot and humor at another pony's expense. You did good

>>2678182

Glad you enjoyed it. If you like the team playing off one another, then you'll probably really enjoy part two. Rise is as much about the creation of the Dusk Guard as it is about their first foe, and in another few chapters we'll be into the next part.

I will say this though, the setting and the plot may feel like they're finally coming together here, but when we get into the later chapters, most will find themselves thinking back to things from even the first few chapters and saying "Wait! You mean that was ... oh dang!" There are a lot of seemingly innocuous throwaway lines that will later turn out to be very important clues. Watching the pre-readers head's explode (their words, not mine) was quite enjoyable.

There's a pretty complicated spiderweb here. It might feel a little slow at first, but that's just all the pieces being carefully set up.

>>2680092 Oh trust me I know about plot twists. Two things; you said that the story is 260000 words long. Does that mean you've written it already? and if you're having spiderweb problems I know this guy that operates out of New York that likes to dress up in red and blue spandex while cracking bad jokes that could help you out

>>2680490

Yes, TDG:R is already completed in it's entirety. And there will be about four more books following the various characters and a larger overall arc after that, although each will be standalone  (none of these are completed, although work on the second book will begin after I get my next novel out). This has been in the works for a while.

And no spiderweb issues, that guy has enough of his own problems anyway.

Really digging this story now.  Love all the little details you are throwing in. keep it up!

>>2680764

Thanks! Glad you're enjoying it! Got a favorite character so far?

EDIT: Had a double. Gone.

Comment posted by Viking ZX deleted at 8:06pm on the 5th of June, 2013

Why the bloody hell doesn't this have more views yet?

>>2705168

Luck of the draw my friend. And it doesn't help that it's starring OCs, and most readers tend to avoid OC stories as I understand it. I'm confident that as time moves on, the growth of viewers and readers will continue to accelerate. If you'd like to help though, feel free to! :pinkiesmile:

I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far! I aim to please!

EDIT: And if you don't have a keen eye, the beginning is a little slow (even I'll admit that). If you pay attention it ramps up pretty quick, but being the type of fic it is it can take a bit for people to catch on to everything.

Alright a new part begins. Now have a mustache:moustache:

You're doing a great job with your story, great dialogues and a solid story, I'll read it thoroughly whenever I have time.

I hope you get more recognition in the future.

>>2714478

Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it! :pinkiehappy:

I hope you find the time to keep up with it! Don't feel rushed though, it'll be here waiting!

Favorited, can't wait to continue.

I like how you said Celestai's personel choice was improsened without actually saying so, very well played. :moustache:

I agree with Einzel the story is solid the dialogue is consistent and well written, and the characters are elevale. It was a very down to earth chapter that makes the story more realistic and makes the reader able to relate to the story better. i mean et a ton of people have een set p on lnd dates y fr[/]ends. am an ncle myself and love seeng my nece and nephew when they come to vst. Everyone has dealt wth paperwork at one pont or another n ther lfetme and t's annoyng. So really ths was a relaxng and fn chapter to read   :pinkiehappy::moustache::moustache:

His accent is very natural sounding. I started reading him as Steve Erwin as soon as I met him. Well done

>>2715236

>>2715191

I'm glad you're enjoying them. As important as all the plot was, I tried my hardest to make characters that felt real. By the end of this fic, they were friends, and I hope all my readers end up feeling the same way.

His accent is very natural sounding. I started reading him as Steve Erwin as soon as I met him. Well done

Thanks. And if you read the comments there, he was supposed to be kind of Texan. But he had his own ideas. :rainbowlaugh:

If the design is layering crystals, Skybolt is getting very close to what they do with semiconductors in Intergrated chips ( IC's).

Errrmmmm... I honestly didn't see that coming. I wonder who the keys free... The Dusk guard and the crystal empire, what an interesting idea.:moustache:

>>2742878

The real trick is figuring out how this puzzle piece fits in with all of the others so far. :raritywink:

cool beans

Bravo! I much enjoyed this chapter, it reminds me of gym class.

>>2759500

Glad you're enjoying it!

>>2759754 Capture the flag is one of my favorite games in gym.

good story

>>2772755

Glad you've found it, hope you continue to enjoy it!

HOORI SHEET. I have never seen anything this long before in terms of FanFiction before. My own story is dwarfed in comparison, even by the first act. I must certainly devote a few hours of my time to read this later. Perhaps I can pick up a few skills for writing my own novel, eh?...

Like I'm ever gonna finish that. But still! Excited! :raritystarry:

Had to look back at second chapter to realised what Steel meant when he said he almost missed what Luna meant.  

Well done. I found it particually amusing becuase CTF is one of my favorite games. Can't wait to see Nova's deep dark secret.

>>2777471

*In Mr. Torgue's Voice*

FORESHADOWING!

>>2777710

:pinkiehappy:

That sister is a SPY! Or erm, changeling... Or she's really TO'd at Steel for ... ? I actually have no idea...

The plot thickens...

Well, two things. 1) is his sister sapphire shores? And 2) she was talking about cappy wasn't she.

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