Featured In9

More Stories6

  • 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 · 2,331 views  ·  163  ·  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 · 3,296 views  ·  513  ·  8
  • T The Dusk Guard: Rise

    Steel Song is a lot of things. Earth pony. Uncle. Professional bodyguard. Retired. So when he receives a mysterious package from Princess Luna, he's understandably apprehensive. Things are never as they seem in Equestria...
    274,966 words · 3,447 views  ·  399  ·  6
  • 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  ·  164  ·  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 · 1,102 views  ·  189  ·  2
  • 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  ·  140  ·  2

Blog Posts208

  • Wednesday
    It's Good to Be Back

    13 comments · 107 views
  • 6d, 9h
    Halloween Sale!

    22 comments · 202 views
  • 1w, 2d
    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, 3d
    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, 4d
    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 · 188 views
  • ...
 23
 538

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, as his uncle has brought somepony unexpected with him to help with the family's yearly tradition.

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

Added to Twilight's Library 1/14/2014

Just something I threw together over the last two days for Christmas. Enjoy.

Uses characters from and is part of The Dusk Guard.

First Published
24th Dec 2013
Last Modified
24th Dec 2013
#1 · 44w, 3d ago · · ·

Spotted a typo:

Well, I guess I can ask him while we’re making cookings

:derpytongue2:

#2 · 44w, 3d ago · · ·

That was sweet

#3 · 44w, 3d ago · · ·

>>3675826

Fixed. Thanks.

#4 · 44w, 3d ago · · ·

Sweet little story and as for the spoilers, I think most of us could tell that the Dusk Guard would somehow be involved when the Crystal Empire reappears.

I think I spotted one or two minor typos but there was something else, gnawing at the back of my mind, that made me ignore them, sorry.

Wasn't the filly's name SparkleR? :applejackunsure:Could be wrong but wanted to bring it up nonetheless.

Happy Hearthswarming

#5 · 44w, 3d ago · · ·

>>3677107

Naw, it's Sparkle. Glad you enjoyed!

#6 · 44w, 3d ago · · ·

Very nice! Especially at the end, there! I'm recently warming up to cute father-son stories :twilightsmile:

#7 · 41w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

Two things:

Thing one:

Ahuizotl was standing on end of the coffee-table, his arms spread wide, a fierce grin on his muzzle as he faced down Wonderbolt members Soarin and Spitfire.

Thing two:

Dawwwwwwwwww

Bonus thing:

Have a thumb.

#8 · 41w, 3d ago · · ·

Hah!  I really liked the way this story was told, it really warms the heart.

Wear it with pride, sir.  You earned it;

-Lumino

#9 · 41w, 2d ago · · ·

>>3788266

Yahoo! Twilight's Library!

I'm glad you enjoyed this. Good to hear I hit the feels.

#10 · 40w, 5d ago · · ·

That was great. I'll admit I was hoping the guest would be Cappy, but I'm not going to complain.

#11 · 40w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

I enjoyed this quite a bit, thanks for the read!

#12 · 40w, 1d ago · · ·

>>3835146

I'm glad you liked it. :twilightsmile: Feel free to check out my other works if you like the style as well. They're not as "daww" as this, but they're written with the same level of care!

>>3811844

Cappy already had plans with Summer and the rest of her friends in Canterville. Had the story continued to the carols however, she would have shown up. :pinkiesmile:

#13 · 40w, 1d ago · · ·

>>3835270

I'll take a look at them, though I have allot on my plate.  So It might take some time.

#14 · 24w, 4d ago · · ·

What is it that makes unicorn children making food and interacting with their parents so adorable?! I think it might have something to do with being inexperienced with magic. Would it have the same impact with pegasi? I must do science to this at some point...

Loved the story, and the world building was great as well. Onto the next one!

#15 · 24w, 3d ago · · ·

Rough? Unpolished? Sugary? Features a little experimentation?

Sounds like a Hearth's Warming Cookie, alright. :twilightsmile: At least the ones around my place.

Smart Cookie made cookies with ponies cutie marks on them and then gave them to other ponies, asking them to find the pony that matched the cutie mark and give the cookie to them. Ponies did, because they respected Smart Cookie, and in the process, some of them got to know the ponies they were giving the cookies too, further helping bring Equestria together.

The concept of Cutie Mark Cookies is so marvelous that I couldn't help but grin throughout the entire last half. I also liked how much character you were able to give Smart Cookie in this one paragraph. There's a desire to bring ponies together, and there's a feeling of authority to her.

which puts this little tale between books three and four.

Between three and four of the full-length books, I presume? Judging by the fact that neither Strength nor Habits mentions the Crystal Empire in their descriptions, anyways. :twilightblush:

#16 · 23w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

ah! right in the feelings!!

#17 · 21w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

“I…” Nova looked down at his spread of cookie dough, the cutters coming down once more in perfect unison. “I was an asset relocation engineer.” Jammer frowned at the unfamiliar words.

“A what?” he asked as his uncle let out a snort.

“That’s more than one question,” Nova said, shaking his head.

That was hilarious!:rainbowlaugh:

You are the top one of my three favorite FIMfiction authors alongside Pen Stroke & Arad

#18 · 19w, 4d ago · · ·

>>4378057

What is it that makes unicorn children making food and interacting with their parents so adorable?! I think it might have something to do with being inexperienced with magic. Would it have the same impact with pegasi? I must do science to this at some point...

If my plans for the future are anything, yes, both pegasus foals and earth pony foals will be adorable as well. Kids in general are awesome to write, because they hold onto that awesome sense of wonder and amazement at everything ... combined with flat-out blunt methodology and thought-processes that can lead to some hilarious actions.

I love kids. Kids are awesome. :pinkiehappy:

>>4382361

The concept of Cutie Mark Cookies is so marvelous that I couldn't help but grin throughout the entire last half. I also liked how much character you were able to give Smart Cookie in this one paragraph. There's a desire to bring ponies together, and there's a feeling of authority to her.

I was really pleased with that one, if you'll indulge my bragging a little. I needed a reason for ponies to have cookies at Hearth's Warming, got to thinking, and came up with something that was both plausible and worked great for the story I wanted to tell.

Between three and four of the full-length books, I presume? Judging by the fact that neither Strength nor Habits mentions the Crystal Empire in their descriptions, anyways.

Yes. While it was a quick one-shot, "Hearth's" place is between book three (tentatively titled "Hunter/Hunted") and book four (no title yet).

>>4420070

:pinkiehappy: Success!

>>4499645

You are the top one of my three favorite FIMfiction authors alongside Pen Stroke & Arad!

:pinkiegasp: There are not enough emoticon icons in the world to express how awesome this compliment was! Thank you!

#19 · 10w, 2d ago · · ·

>>4499645 yeah, he hit my fav writer at about 5 chapters into The Dusk Guard: Rise, although loyal2luna does take 2nd place easily. :twilightsmile:

i need to check out this Pen Stroke.

well, this was a very nice chapter. we get foreshadowing galore. who will nova meet in the next book(s) that he'd give a cookie to? :rainbowhuh:

:yay: :rainbowkiss: :rainbowkiss: :twilightsmile: :moustache: :moustache: :moustache: 7.8/10 and a :heart: for all the dawwwwww.

#20 · 10w, 1d ago · · ·

>>4883085

You've never heard of Pen Stroke!? He's one of the most popular writers on this website with 6,225 followers last time I checked and my favorite author before I found out about the Dusk Guard. Well on the other hand, I didn't know about him for a couple months when I first started coming to this site. I'll go ahead and check out this Loyal2Luna. Sounds interesting.

#21 · 7w, 1d ago · 2 · ·

“Ask your mom what my old job means later, kid.” Jammer ducked the cookie beneath the counter as his mom turned and rolled her eyes at Nova.

I can't believe I didn't notice this at first! I wonder what Jammer's mom's response was.:rainbowlaugh:

#22 · 4d, 16h ago · · ·

making Christmas cookies of my own (the genesis of the idea) and everything else Christmas-related with my family.

Pardon me for trespassing upon your private matters, but could you please elaborate on this a bit more? I can't seem to understand what would make a cookie unique to a specific person, given that cutie marks don't exist IRL.

Thank you in advance!

#23 · 4d, 10h ago · 1 · ·

>>5191874 Um ... nothing spectacular. We just make and then decorate a bunch of Christmas cookie plates to give out every Christmas. Sometimes a few will end up highly individualized (like a Metroid cookie), but for the most part it's just cookie decoration.

So no cutie marks, but sometimes skills.

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