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  • E Teacher's Pet

    Fair or not, most classes have that one perfect student, that one little flower that the teacher can't help but adore. Cheerilee's class is no different.
    3,259 words · 3,684 views  ·  449  ·  3
  • E The Gift That Keeps On Giving

    The Princesses' birthday celebration is here again, and Mayor Mare needs a scapegoat—er, trusted citizen—to handle Ponyville's gift. Deciding what to get for an ancient ruler who's seen everything will be a piece of cake.
    5,155 words · 2,578 views  ·  405  ·  3
  • E A Hiccup in Time

    Twilight Sparkle definitely learned her lesson from her last time-travel experience. This one's not her fault. Really. Sometimes nature can be... annoying.
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  • E But You Surpass Them All

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  • E Friendly Correspondence

    Twilight Sparkle always wrote to Princess Celestia about her lessons in friendship. Sometimes, Celestia wrote back. Even if Twilight didn't know it.
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  • T He Kindly Stopped For Me

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  • E A Taxing Situation

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Blog Posts19

  • 1w, 2d
    Another Reading!

    Goombasa is doing a reading of Duet in the Folk Style!

    He's definitely one of the top-tier readers around, so it's an honor to have him choose one of my stories. Here's Chapter 1. Check out his other stuff while you're there! I'll blog agin when additional chapters go up.

    0 comments · 39 views
  • 4w, 6d
    1,000!

    So, yesterday I rendered my thousandth story verdict for Equestria Daily. When I joined up over two years ago, I never thought I'd see that high a number. We had a lot more people on staff back then, and I didn't need to be more than a minor contributor to help out. I usually did three reviews a week. Later, we went to reduced feedback and this year to straight yes/no (any additional feedback at the reviewer's discretion). Now I do about two or three a day. And the queue length, which drove us to the yes/no system in the first place, has come way down from the 170 we had then. These days, it hovers around forty.

    I don't have anything too deep and philosophical to say about it. I do have one point to make though: the fandom seems to care less and less about quality writing. Whenever a story is rejected, we provide links to recommended reviewing help. But fewer writers are taking advantage of that. A smaller percentage of rejected stories come back than ever before. The two former mainstays of author help see little traffic anymore. The Training Grounds on ponychan barely sees a review request once every week or two. I'm a member of WRITE but not a mod, so I don't keep tabs on the overall traffic, but it is down. I used to get an assignment regularly every three weeks with the occasional request to take on an additional one in between. My last review for them was nearly seven weeks ago, the one prior to that another twelve weeks earlier. That's depressing.

    Why does it happen? I suppose I could poll the authors and see, but not many would even see my question. Plenty of the stories we receive give credit to editing or proofreading help on their front pages, so maybe they're just seeking it from private sources now, but the quality's always going to be hit or miss with those unless you can link up with someone who has a well-established reputation. These groups exist for a reason. They're good at what they do. I wish more writers would take advantage of them.

    Another has to do with where the writers congregate. Long ago, almost all fanfiction went through Equestria Daily. If you wanted publicity, your story had to be good. I'm not ready to call Equestria Daily dead quite yet—in my own experience, a feature there usually generates 1-2k views, while a story I post to FiMFiction only will get maybe 500. But with FiMFiction becoming fairly self-sustaining, more authors seem to submit stories to Equestria Daily as a "why not?" thing, because they've learned that fame and popularity no longer require quality, so why spend time on that? And it's true. I can't necessarily fault writers for doing that, though I'd rather have a small group of readers whom I know to have higher standards than a large anonymous crowd chanting, "Moar!" To paraphrase something one of the other pre-readers said (Alexstrazsa, I think): most fanfiction readers don't care if it's good. Even other groups set up to feature good writing don't get much attention. A feature on The Royal Guard only brings me about fifty readers, for instance.

    But if I can convince just a few writers to care, then it's worth it. There was a push a month or so ago where some pretty prominent reviewers made public offers to help authors. Kind of an open invitation—authors have to realize we're very busy people and can't necessarily take on any project at any time. I was hoping my other reviewing work wouldn't continue drying up, so I didn't join those folks at the time, but now I should.

    Yes, I'm busy too. I give private reviews to 4 or 5 people whenever they ask, though I only get regular requests from one or two of those. I also do a ton of reviewing work for Equestria Daily, and in the middle of all that, I try to work on my own stories. But if you need help, it never hurts to ask. I'll tell you if and when I'm available and whether I think I can give your story the attention it needs.

    I prefer comedy, slice of life, and sad. I'm neutral toward romance and dark. I tend not to like crossovers, human, sci-fi, grimdark, and adventure. I don't review mature-rated stories. And I tend not to like taking on stories more than 10k words or so. I'll take most any story under consideration, but if you stick with what I like or can tolerate, you'll get a more effective review, since I can focus on it more than just trying to endure it.

    With that, I'll go back to the titled topic and end on some statistics.

    I've heard estimates of EqD's acceptance rate anywhere from 7-17%, but it goes back well before the spreadsheet, and I really don't know what the correct number is. It's probably in there somewhere.

    My own record:

    Stories rejected permanently (to the sun): 27. These are almost always for content against our policy that would substantially alter the story to remove or for things that aren't actually stories.

    Stories given a standard rejection (to the moon): 887.

    Stories rejected for minor revisions (to Mars): 43. These are given encouragement that they're not far from being accepted, and it's particularly frustrating when these stories don't get resubmitted.

    Stories accepted for posting: 50.

    43 comments · 384 views
  • 7w, 19h
    Another fic reading! And it's a good 'un!

    My compadre Present Perfect has been involved in a reading of one of my favorites of my own stories and kept it secret for months. And it's a Scribbler performance, so you know it'll be good. Really, she's the top for dramatic readings, and she's doing dark fics all month, so head on over, enjoy her talents over all the recordings she's made, and give her some love in the comments!

    0 comments · 97 views
  • 8w, 1d
    Duet in the Folk Style

    I don't normally blog when I release a story, but Duet in the Folk Style had a big effect on me. It started out as a completely different type of project a long time ago, one which I had to abandon for lack of direction. Then it got a thorough overhaul of the original four chapters with an actual ending in mind. After writing the last two chapters, it made it very difficult to do my final editing sweep. It's just one of those stories that has a very different feel to it after the first read-through.

    It's also my first chaptered story I've published since my first fanfic three years ago. I haven't been in this position in so long that I don't really know what to expect anymore. I won't ramble—I'll save the reflective thoughts for the author's notes at the end of the last installment, and even then, I'll keep them relatively short. I just wanted to say here that I've developed an extreme emotional investment in this story, I loved developing and writing the characters of the three listed as main characters, and it's been a rough last couple of weeks while I put the finishing touches on it. I think it does some things not often found in the romance stories in this fandom.

    As I said in the synopsis, the story is complete. I decided long ago to finish a story before posting any of it, if I ever wrote another chaptered story, because so many things can pop up to sap my motivation to work on it. But if I complete it first, there's that drive to the finish line without anything negative holding me back. So here it is. And as a little bonus for those who read the blog, here's the full schedule:

    Sept. 28> Chapter 1: Overture

    Oct. 5> Chapter 2: Crescendo

    Oct. 12> Chapter 3: Divertimento

    Oct. 19> Chapter 4: Elegy

    Oct. 26> Chapter 5: alla Rustica

    Nov. 2> Chapter 6: Toccata

                  Epilogue: Encore

    4 comments · 97 views
  • 10w, 5d
    My Domestic Equestria

    So I posted this story earlier today, and it's an odd bird. More a peek at my home life with a budding MLP fan. As such, it's nonfiction, which surprised me a little that it passed moderation. I figured it'd be called too meta or something, and that I'd have to do it as a blog post instead. So here's a blog post to signal-boost what might have been a blog post.

    By the way, my wife just baked some cookies for real tonight. My son always helps with that, and this time he asked if Pinkie could help, too. Everypony got to share a cookie with him! I hope everyone finds this a cute window into a child's perspective on the show, along with a few of my own thoughts sprinkled throughout.

    2 comments · 129 views
  • ...
 37
 2,415
Source

Partway through her morning practice routine—and routine it is—Octavia seems to have gained an audience. Well, if that mare wants to listen, she'll get a good show.

Expanded from the tenth-place finisher in /fic/'s first minific write-off, "What Lies Beneath."

Featured on Equestria Daily!

Cover art by drawponies

Reviewing help from Mystic and Chris.

First Published
17th Jun 2013
Last Modified
17th Jun 2013
#1 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

Octavia's my favorite, and I really believe you did her justice in this one. Thank you.

#2 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

Not sure if I'm getting as much out of this story as its potential might have been. Some of the phrasing and construction in the earlier sections felt a bit awkward to me, and I noted some instances of what I felt were superfluous commas. I'm also not sure I agree with the narrative voice sounding like Octavia's, but that's all headcanon, so it's not really subject for debate.

That said, I think this story has a really great theme. I'm kind of in two directions about it—on one hand, when we're contemplating the extemporization of a simple occurrence or set of occurrences into a larger, more thematic meaning, I feel like minimalism is almost always better because it lets us draw out that meaning in a more natural, personal way, and there's some extra description or contemplation in areas here I could do without. On the other hand, the explication is almost all internal, which makes sense. I feel it fits better in that light, though my personal preference is towards a more poetic analysis of the material, rather than what we seem to be led to believe is Octavia's somewhat clinical observation of a wholly personal phenomena.

The jargon didn't really add much to the piece for me, aside the delightful title usage which I think is wonderful, and very fitting.

Derpy's introduction as an character rather than a narrative element also felt awkward to me, though that's possibly further headcanon intruding. Something about the pace of the dialogue just felt forced, I suppose.

Either way, a good read, though something I'd be interested in seeing a slight angling of approach towards. Looking forward to seeing it go up on the TVS.

Apologies if my unsolicited feedback is bothersome at all.

#3 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

>>2733394

No, it's always interesting hearing others' take on something, as even an interpretation of a character that I hadn't considered or wouldn't use myself contains some nugget of insight that will be useful in other stories. Even if you have a different vision of Octavia's voice than I do, it's another vector for character development that I could apply to her or someone else. Thank you for your thoughts.

Your comment about the description or contemplation that you'd like to see toned down is something I had to work on. There were some very blunt thoughts in there before, and Mystic immediately jumped on them as something that felt like a giant neon sign telling the reader that he was to notice this point, dammit.

And the dialogue at the end was something I struggled with. The original version was very terse and rushed, and Chris took issue with a couple of aspects of it, so I'd already reworked that part once. And sometimes it takes more than one try to get it right. Or two. Or three. I'm curious what exactly you mean by the character versus narrative, though. Is it that she worked better when she was some external thing that only the narrator had access to? In that case, would you have liked it better if their interaction were summarized by the narrator instead of presented "live"?

#4 · 75w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

>>2733489

Well, before Derpy was introduced and used to speak, or rather when she stopped being an element to Octavia's contemplation and was given an attempt to realize herself as an entity (I'd say 'person' but we're working with equines here), it feels like she fell flat. Specifically because her dialogue was absent of any notable personality (the Derpy in my head is 'child-like', as you've used liberally elsewhere, but not in her speech here), and fell kind of flat. It didn't do a great deal to advance the story either - her exchange with Octavia may as well have been 'and finally they spoke' - as a result, she's still a vessel for the advancement of the story's contemplation, but she doesn't feel organic.

A bit of the difference in opinion definitely comes down to style: I love short snippets of everyday life like this, but I enjoy them when they're minimalistic to the point of forcing the reader into contemplation, or when they focus on the poetics of the mundane. This is kind of in between, and I think it is something that could work well, but it needs to feel more organic than it does in parts. It was specifically bits of the information (which looked like remnants of the necessity of jargon in the original story) and the interaction at the end that faltered for me; I think the epiphany Octavia's led to is a worthwhile one, but her route to reaching it could have been gentler.

#5 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

>>2733517

(I'd say 'person' but we're working with equines here)
Persons don't have to be human, though. I'm not really sure where the idea that they do came from.

#6 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

>>2733731

In its colloquial usage, and referenced by the show, we often use species designations for singular entities rather than one that's common among humans.

#7 · 75w, 1d ago · · 1 ·

Ahh. There was me lining up to say that the jargon was making it difficult to enjoy. I know nothing about music and found myself getting pulled out of constantly because I had no idea what most of it meant (even though it didn't necessarily matter to understanding the work).

That aside, the thing that really sprang to mind was a rule (more of a guideline, really) I picked up from one of NorsePony's blog posts on writer's tips: make sure every character wants something. Some of the description for rather forced because it seemed to be covering up for a lack of underlying direction, as if my attention had to be micro-managed because there was no overall course set. With a little more empathy for Octavia's drive, much of the indirect monologue could have been skipped and the engagement raised significantly—something I could relax into. Too much effort was spent making sure that I was thinking what the author wants me to think, and it makes prose rather stiff and tiring for the reader.

In fact, I recall a lesson from a book that said to remove such things and see if the core concept actually had more power that the author thought it did. For example, the inner monologue 'No, don't leave!' felt harshly out of place. The slightest of physical cues and a resumption of play would have made the case much more powerfully, but the monologue itself comes off as having the intention driven home rather brutishly. Much of the monologue felt the same when I read it, and by the time the twist came, I just wasn't in the mood to be taken with it, yet I think in many places it the story would have worked better by simply removing them.

-Scott

#8 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

Having some music experience, yet none of the detailed work. There is something unique about music's language. When you hear it, no matter the form, when you listen, you learn and love in your own tastes and views. One may know it in expertise, one may know it in love of song, yet to find that synergy, that harmony, is all together rare.

But a lovely short, it was.

#9 · 75w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

I thought this was very well done.

I especially liked the fact that you subverted the expectations people had for Derpy and Octavia. Ignore any comments about characterization. The whole point of this piece is transforming Derpy from a :derpytongue2: to a more three dimensional personality and I think you did masterfully in that regard.

I can't see how the language turns people off. This is probably because I grew up in a musical family, and the terms were familiar; so I can't tell if your terminology detracts from the story or not. I personally liked it, because it added authenticity to your Octavia and made the change of her perspective of Derpy more drastic then it would have been otherwise. All in all this was a wonderful short. Have a 'stache! :moustache:

#10 · 75w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

One thing I found really interesting is how Octavia's thoughts about how she wants others to just say they enjoy her music, rather than ramble about jargon, is almost exactly opposite from how I and many other writers want others to comment on their stories. While "I love it!" feels good, nothing beats an intricate, detailed comment.

And then, of course, greatest of all is a positive comment full of understanding as well as suggestions for improvement... which Derpy then gives. I know nothing about music, but through the characters' emotions and actions, I was able to relate it to something I did know about. That bit of parallel commentary was delightful.

#11 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

I often think of a story's like/dislike ratio as a view-weighted factor of audience-perceived quality. Thing is, it only really works when conceived as a fraction.

This story has no dislikes. I really really wanted to dislike it just so that it's like/dislike ratio would make mathematical sense.

So me pressing the like button counts for a lot more than it usually does here. Good story.

#12 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

Welp. This is my new headcanon for Derpy. And possibly Octavia as well.

Well done, mate. Really well done. A delightful little read--you've worked your way into Octavia's head rather successfully. Like with Derpy's critique, I have no complaints, really. Short and sweet, bit brimming with emotion, and a good smattering of comprehensive musical knowledge that made this seem all the more "real". Kudos.

It looked into a deeper side of Octavia than many of us dare to tread, and it very much applies to all artists. The question that we all have asked ourselves at some point: Why do we create?

I can only speak for myself, but I think that whatever reasons you have hidden away are with good intent.

I enjoyed this, my friend. Cheers!

#13 · 75w, 1d ago · 2 · ·

I don't think I've ever before seen those two characters interact in a fic. Awesome story you did there. I think what really made me REALLY LOVE instead of "just" REALLY ENJOY this story was Derpy's unexpected knowledge of music. It's a nice little touch that really does it for me, like Fluttershy's knowledge of sewing in-canon.

#14 · 75w, 1d ago · · ·

>>2733735

I'm not sure what you're saying here.

#15 · 75w, 20h ago · 2 · ·

This was wonderful. Speaking as someone who plays cello for a living, it is refreshing to read an Octavia (and Derpy in this case) story that really seems to understand the music, the instrument, and most importantly, why they are played the way they are! Bravo

#16 · 75w, 10h ago · · ·

Oh, I liked this! 'Cause I'm like Octavia, I know all the theory and stuff (Bachelor of Music Ed FTW), but that's not the point of music. Those are the tools and techniques; the point of music is to take in the beauty that has been written and make it our own, to make a kind of glorious dance between the composer and the performer. And we should, like Derpy, use knowledge to enrich our enjoyment, not weigh it down and make it stuffy.

I loved the twist of Derpy having in-depth knowledge of music and music theory. People should not be ashamed to squee over suspended chords and picardy thirds. (We did a recent piece in choir this year, "The Dark Night of the Soul" by Gjielo, and I was bouncing up and down, going, "Oh my goodness, it ends with a plagal cadence, that's so perfect!" and maybe one person understood my fangirling. It was sad.)

Also, I like this line: "An audience was an audience after all." It's true! I've done a few concerts where there were more of us in the choir than in the audience, and you know? It doesn't matter. An audience is an audience. If we make one person's day, that's worth it.

Anyway, thank you, I loved it. :twilightsmile:

#17 · 75w, 7h ago · 1 · ·

Knighty needs to add a "friendshipping" tag.

#18 · 75w, 1h ago · · ·

I appreciate all the comments and votes!

>>2735999

>>2736194

>>2738871

>>2740461

This was somewhat of an indulgence for me, which will likely limit its audience, but I did want to capture that feeling of making music. I used to compete in performance and composition in high school, and while I chose another route as a profession, music is still a cherished hobby. While I rarely play anymore, I still have fun writing music, though mostly for choir these days.

This one's for the music lovers.

>>2736204

Yes, detailed feedback is more useful than a simple "I liked it." But Octavia's in a position that she knows she's good, and is happier when she's managed to make that emotional connection with her audience. It's a fine point, and there are certainly more objective ways to declare a musician good than a writer. In the end, of course, writers and musicians alike would certainly prefer having it both ways: being told their work was appreciated, and getting a detailed explanation of why. :raritywink:

#19 · 74w, 6d ago · · ·

That was just awesome and adorable! I loved how Octavia wants to please Derpy a little more each time then Derpy confronts her with so much wonderment and attention to detail and musical knowledge! :raritystarry::derpytongue2:

#20 · 74w, 5d ago · · ·

Lovely, charming, sweet fic that had me smiling. I've had a rough few weeks, so this was a treat to read, and I needed something like this. So thank you. <3

As I was reading it, I was listening to some of my favorite string music. This, in particular:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ASNMQwcbax8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

I think it was rather fitting background music for this story. ^^

#21 · 73w, 4d ago · · ·

Moderately short, but it still carries the feeling and impact of a fic thrice it's length.  My interest in Octavia notwithstanding,  this is probably one of the best fics I've read in a while.  Definitely a favourite.  Thank you for creating this marvelous story!

#22 · 73w, 4d ago · · ·

This is well written and deeply written.

#23 · 72w, 2d ago · · ·

OBJECTION

A madrigal is a vocal piece.

On-topic: awesome story, love reading stuff about Octavia, especially when the writer actually uses proper musical terminology :rainbowkiss:

#24 · 72w, 1d ago · · ·

>>2836842

A madrigal can be transcribed for any instrument. When a violin plays Rachmaninov's Vocalise, is it not still a Vocalise? Maybe not in presentation, but the transcriber wouldn't take it upon himself to change the title to suit.

#25 · 70w, 3d ago · · ·

I think it is very telling that Octavia would mistake Derpy's earnestness for some kind of child-like judgment-less enjoyment.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
#26 · 53w, 4h ago · · ·

Gratifyingly good job with the jargon, old bean. :3

#27 · 49w, 6d ago · · ·

Ironic that this story, expressing a longing for simple appreciation rather than technical criticism, has pages of technical critique in the comments, but seems to be the only story on fimfiction without a LOL or a MOAR.

Still. Where do you get those wonderful commentators? :trixieshiftright:

#28 · 49w, 6d ago · · ·

>>3609514

Oh, I've seen you around Chris's blog. You know these folks well. A veritable rogues' gallery.

#29 · 48w, 5d ago · · ·

This was a beautiful little story.

I like your writing style. Simple start, a bit more info in the middle, a twist towards the end, and an ending that makes you think about it.

Gosh, the only complaint I have is that you called it a cello instead of a bass, but honestly, even the creators of the show think it's a cello, so who am I to judge?

#30 · 48w, 5d ago · · ·

>>3650541

Really, I can't tell whether it's supposed to be a cello or a bass. Things become oddly proportioned when transferred to quadrupeds, so unless the writers care to name which it is, I'm not sure we can know.

#31 · 48w, 2d ago · · ·

Heh.

Pascoite's Canon.

:facehoof:

#32 · 46w, 17h ago · · ·

>>3652190

One of the writers called it a cello, but they clearly couldn't tell the difference between a cello and a bass. (They said it had to be a cello because of characteristics that both instruments share.)

I think it's a bass because you sit to play the cello but stand to play the bass, and Octavia is standing, and also because the slope of the upper C-bout and the direction of the tuning pegs suggest a throwback to the classic double bass violone. However, I had a whole argument with another instrumentalist who was firmly in the cello camp, and our conversation was inconclusive.

In the end, I prefer it to be called a bass, because I play the bass and am somewhat sick of people calling my instrument a cello. I can only assume Octavia is just as frustrated as I am by the discrepancy, whatever the actual identity of her instrument.

#33 · 46w, 2h ago · · ·

>>3748218

I've certainly done that before... zeroed in on a technical detail and drawn a conclusion from it that the writers probably never intended or would even have the knowledge to include. I agree that the instrument's proportions are closer to a bass, but I'm not sure playing it standing is conclusive, since equine posture may well make playing many instruments seated problematic. In my mind, she can play all the strings anyway :pinkiehappy:

#34 · 45w, 6d ago · · ·

>>3751315

I just wish I could figure out how she does it! I have enough issues using fingers, but all she has is a hoof!

#35 · 34w, 3d ago · · ·

Easily one of the best slice-of-life one shots i've ever read.

#36 · 11w, 2d ago · · ·

In a word, genius.

I'm not familiar with most of the musical terminology in use here, but it was effective none the less. I was pleasantly surprised to see Octavia humbled by the end of it too.

#37 · 7w, 4d ago · · ·

I was kind of weirded out when I saw this fic, I was like "Derpy and Octavia starring a fic?! DAFUQ!?" But it turned out to be amazing. I guess I got so used to see fics about Octavia and Vinyl that seeing her with  a pony that's not Vinyl or a member of her anssemble seems weird. But this is the proof that even two characters that don't seem to have anything in common can work perfectly together if they are handled correctly.

In other words: Great job mate! I loved this fic. Faved and liked :pinkiehappy:

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