• 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?  · Viking ZX
    10,199 words · 759 views  ·  139  ·  2  · 

Featured In10

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 · 2,279 views  ·  161  ·  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 · 3,260 views  ·  508  ·  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 · 3,417 views  ·  397  ·  6
  • 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 · 1,098 views  ·  187  ·  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 · 531 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 · 759 views  ·  139  ·  2

Blog Posts206

  • Wednesday
    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!

    10 comments · 95 views
  • 3w, 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 · 73 views
  • 5w, 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 · 167 views
  • 5w, 6d
    On True Beauty

    This is actually a repost from my facebook, but I felt that it was worth sharing here. It has little to do with writing, so if the topic does not interest you, I will not be bothered by this. But it's something that I felt I wanted to share.

    On Beauty:

    Hold on, because this is going to be a long post. Also, I'm going to save it as a note so it's not lost anytime soon (addendum: and repost on FimFic). But this is my belated, public response to a question a friend asked me some time ago. The question that prompted this, if I remember correctly, was: What is beauty to you?

    Now, what I'm going to say is probably going to shock some people. The question is a hotly debated one online, with people sharing photos of what they say beauty is, debates over where we should look for it, etc. Personally, I don't quite agree with any of them. This is why.

    Beauty is not one thing. To me, there are two components to what makes someone beautiful.

    The first (and some will dislike me for saying this) is the physical, outer component. Physical, outer beauty. Yes, it's real, and yes, we should admire it. Stop pretending it's bad. It's what we're going to see first. Be it long legs, short hair, rippling abs, green eyes  ... Whatever it is that physically attracts us to the person that's held in the physical realm. This is outer beauty, and it's a thing that's different for everyone. I like certain attributes of a physical quality and find them beautiful which another person will not. This is part of who we are.

    Now there's no "perfect" physical quality list that's the sum of perfection. There's just what each person looks like, and what each person finds physically attractive. But it's a real thing, and we need to look for it when we're looking for a relationship. We NEED to be physically attracted on some level. It's not wrong that someone single glances at someone else who is single and thinks "Great googa mooga, WOW!" before going slightly catatonic. Or even "Wow, that person is good looking!" before embarrassing themselves by trying to strike up a conversation while mentally stunned. This is the way we were made. There isn't anything wrong with the physical beauty.

    But there's a second, more powerful beauty, one that's hidden at first. The inner beauty, the one that you see in their eyes, in who they are and what they do. And you can't simply see this at first. That's why we need the physical beauty, to act as a bridge and then a foundation.

    As someone spends time with someone, as they start to see this inner beauty, the outer beauty to them, is affected. It's like an exponential polish—it can make all the most beautiful parts and and places known ... or it can draw the eye to all the flaws, either way showing you a persons true, ultimate beauty.

    The inner beauty is the more powerful, but slower, of the two. Inner beauty improves and builds upon outer beauty, making it more and more beautiful every day. A couple who love each other for the inner beauty don't see the flaws. They don't see that she's overweight now and he's incapable of benching his own weight anymore. In their own eyes, they ARE, because the inner beauty has polished that outer beauty to the point where the flaws aren't even seen by the couple, or important. Every bit of outer beauty is magnified by the inner beauty that they've taken the time to see. No matter what others say of the outer beauty, the FULL beauty is available to the one who sees both.

    Likewise, poor inner beauty has the same exponential effect. Poor inner beauty begins to draw attention to the flaws, lowers the outer beauty. An individual with poor, lackluster inner beauty, though they may have the most amazing physical qualities ever, will never have true beauty. No matter how they try, the more those around them see the lack of inner beauty, the less attractive that persons outer beauty will appear.

    In summation, you must have both, in some amount. Outer beauty is the foundation, the framework. But the inner beauty builds upon that, shapes it over time, and makes adds the polish that makes the outer beauty shine like the sun.

    Now, about us. As people today. I think part of the reason we're having so much trouble these days, finding so many problems and battling on public forums over beauty standards and what to look for is because both sides are partially right, and both sides are partially wrong. It takes both. Outer beauty AND inner beauty.

    Worse, we've forgotten what each one entails. Outer beauty is quick to see, heavily based on personal impressions and cultural upbringings. Inner beauty is individualized, subtle, and takes time to see. We've forgotten this. So many relationships go sour because people have mixed these two up, misinterpreted one for the other. People give up on someone after one date because they're forgetting that the inner beauty takes time to identify and see. They're impatient, unwilling to take the time. Or they want outer beauty, confusing it for the more powerful of the two.

    The truth is that we need to have both. We need to open our minds and remember that both exist. This does not mean that because you have great inner beauty you'll get the person you want. Inner beauty expands the outer beauty, not changes or covers it. If there is not outer attraction at all, then all the inner beauty will do is make you shine.

    Accept this. It's just the way we are. I KNOW there are women who do not find me attractive in the least. They want a whipcord/rail thin man. I am not that. I'm stocky, tank-like. All the inner beauty in the world that I can show them will not matter, because there is no foundation for it to build on.

    This is okay. I wouldn't want to force someone to find something that wasn't there. Someday, I'll find a woman who IS okay with a guy who's built like a concrete wall and has spastic view on life, who finds that attractive. And then, if she finds the inner beauty to her liking, and I likewise to both of her beauties, something amazing will happen.

    We need both. Don't rely on the outer as your sole means. You cannot strut your perfect figure and expect it to be everything. It will fade. It will age. Or you might be incredibly proud of a certain feature, only to find that the one who likes you (and you them) is attracted to something else entirely. In other words, you cannot rely on outer alone. It will never succeed.

    Likewise, you cannot simply rely on the inner beauty (And please, don't demand that people acknowledge you for inner beauty right away. That's saying more about your true inner beauty than you think, and it's not a positive message. Be patient there.). You must lay the foundation in some way. You don't need to be perfect. But you need to make your foundation there. Be proud of what you do have. And even if you don't feel beautiful now, wait for the one who starts to see the inner beauty.

    Because we need both. And whatever outer flaws you think you have, if you're inner beauty is great, it will sweep over all the outer flaws and decrease them in importance. This is why we have to give others the chance. Don't turn that person down if they're just "average" in your book. Wait. Get to know the inner beauty. If it isn't there, no harm. If it is, you'll find that what was there will grow all the more attractive and beautiful to you.

    And one last thing before I summarize. This is why friendships are so important. Not fake friendships (which are part of the controversial friend-zone), but REAL friendships. Friendships that involve trust. Camaraderie. Laughter. Sad times. Understanding. It's been said that the greatest relationships grow out of true friendship, and this is why. Because we learn to see the inner beauty, learn to see who someone truly is. False friendship, a temporary limited contact or respite, where one party or the other isn't putting forth their effort or limits the trust, cannot do this. So be friends. Men and women, amazingly enough, CAN be friends. Pop culture has driven this horrible, wrong idea that such things cannot happen without a relationship. Pop culture is wrong. We can be friends, great ones, and not ever be attracted to someone. And we should be. Even if we don't find love, let's be honest, we need true friends. We should stop being scared of them.

    And who knows, maybe we'll find our best friend in the process.

    But if we do, it'll be because we looked at both beauties. The outer, and the inner.

    So in your own day to day search for that other who will be the most important person in your life, don't forget either of these two. Don't discount them. Let them BOTH work. Figure out what attracts you about the outer beauty, what catches your eye, but then give the time for the inner beauty, the extension, the polish to truly shine. You might just surprise yourself with what you find.

    If you disagree with or where deeply, properly offended by any of this, well, I'm sorry (if only offended because you want to be offended, no apology. I don't care much in that case). If you like it, and want to share, feel free too share it with whomever you like.

    Who knows, maybe it'll help those of us out there who've forgotten what we really need to be looking for, what we really mean when we talk about beauty. Maybe it'll help add some context to what we really mean when we say "You're beautiful."

    This has been what beauty is to me. Thank you for your time.

    4 comments · 93 views
  • 5w, 6d
    All Right, So Here's the Schedule

    All right everyone, I'm throwing up my schedule so you guys know what to expect and about when. Here's the big news:

    Starting next week, I will be in Alaska getting ready for the shrimp season. I will only have guest access on what basically amounts to a library computer. So next weeks blog guide will be the last one for a while. Possibly four weeks. Shrimp season is somewhat malleable, so I can't give a solid time on when I'll be back. I'd expect before the end of October, which is usually when I'm free. Regardless, this is the schedule I'm going to try to stick to:

    Next Monday: The last "Being a Better Writer" guide until I get back.

    Shrimp Season.

    End of October: Return. start posting "Remembrance." Also, the Dusk Guard Group Banner Contest ends! Be sure to get your entry in before then!

    Finish Colony. Once Colony's first draft is done, "Beyond the Borderlands," the sequel to "The Dusk Guard: Rise, "becomes my full time project. I can't say how long it will take me to finish it, but I'd guess about 2 months. During this time, the last side story (Dawn's) will go up as well.

    Finish "Beyond the Borderlands" and start posting it to FimFic. Watch it take FimFiction by storm, start working on next novel, also on another side-story and "Hunter/Hunted."

    These are my plans through the end of the year. With luck, we'll see "Beyond the Borderlands" start releasing sometime in December, maybe even around Christmas! And Colony probably around the end of this year/beginning of next year. Kind of depends on the editor.

    Anyway, just updating all you guys so you know what's coming. Sorry I didn't get "Remembrance" done before leaving, but I wanted to give it the time it needed to be released and I STILL need to get a cover commissioned for it. After the shrimp season I can give it the attention it deserves.

    You guys are awesome, hope the slight delay isn't driving you all nuts!

    And yeah, the idea of a December release for "Beyond the Borderlands" is probably pretty good news.

    3 comments · 81 views
  • ...

This story is a sequel to The Definition of Strength

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, where anything and everything is for sale from all across the globe. But when he runs into a pony he didn't expect to see again, can he face who he once was? Or are old habits best left forgotten?

Third of the Side Stories to The Dusk Guard: Rise. Familiarity with Rise is not required per se, but recommended.

Side Stories so far:

Carry On

The Definition of Strength

Old Habits


The Saga has a TV Tropes page!

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

Added to Twilight's Library 4/9/2014

Special Thanks to Sonorus, Jorlem, Sinister Voice, and Bronze Aegis for their help pre-reading, editing and getting a summary together.

Art by NabderbD

First Published
10th Mar 2014
Last Modified
7th Apr 2014
#1 · 32w, 3d ago · · · The Plan ·

I can tell this will be a personal fav. I'm curious to see how this will go with all the foreshadowing (at least what seems like the potential for it).


#2 · 32w, 2d ago · 2 · · The Plan ·

“Why do you have—and in fact is that—an actual griffon skeleton sitting on your desk?”

Sky Bolt: "Just finished lunch!"

Nova: :pinkiegasp:

Also, why did I not see this story get posted earlier? >_<

#3 · 32w, 13h ago · 1 · · The Plan ·

Muahaha, I am caught up with the Dusk Guard! :pinkiehappy:

I get the feeling that, among other things, we may get to see a bit more of that implied possible NovaScratch ship. This makes me happy, although somewhat wary of an upcoming snark overload. :raritywink:

Now, I believe the traditional response in these parts to catching up with a story is MOAR!!! :flutterrage::rainbowlaugh:

#4 · 31w, 6d ago · · · The Plan ·

I think we might have quite a bit of foreshadowing.... The bit behind the curtain's likely to show up at some point.

Getting Nova shaved coatless (and maneless)is an interesting prospect.

Also 2 things:

The cover looks like it has a touch of Borderlands 2 (not that i'm against it)

“Why do you have—and in fact is that—an actual griffon skeleton sitting on your desk?”

Thinking the same thing.

It better not be from the griffon which derailed a train...

#5 · 31w, 5d ago · · · The Plan ·


I can't say. All I can say is I think you're going to be surprised. :pinkiesmile:


Gotta lay the groundwork for her projects somehow ... this one is actually a tie-in with Sky Bolt's conversation with Steel during her own side-story (now let the mad theories commence!).


NovaScratch? You don't say? We shall see. Incognito :moustache:


The cover definitely took a very large piece of inspiration from the BL2 title cards. As for the griffon skeleton, I can't say much about that now...

#6 · 31w, 3d ago · 1 · · The Scene ·

There should be a way to like this story more - all of them - a thousands of likes!!! :pinkiecrazy:

I love those music links you place in your stories - playing them in background and stopping/switching when next one happens really makes experience more enjoyable for me. Like that switch from basar music to daft punk inside music shop. :twilightsmile:

Thank you for all those stories and i hope to see more of them. i a kinda sad i didn't find them sooner - i am here tx to that crossover piece with x-com i read.

#7 · 31w, 3d ago · 1 · · The Scene ·

Finally caught up!

It'll be interesting to see if Vinyl remembers when Nova robbed her, and what Nova'll do if she doesn't.

Also, still wondering why Sky Bolt had those bones. My best guess is that she's trying to base a design around a griffon, probably wings or talons for their armor. Or it was a one-off joke and I'm reading way too much into this.

#8 · 31w, 3d ago · · · The Scene ·

Oh wow, Nova is in deep. :pinkiegasp:

#9 · 31w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Plan ·

Vinyl Scratch. At one point you saved her club from golems. Another point had you stealing from her. (kinda hoping for 'Tavi to show up)

Guessing from the intro he's going to meet another thief. Offer him the 'chance of a lifetime'.

#10 · 31w, 1d ago · · · The Scene ·

A little paranoia never hurt. Though in the daytime I wouldn't think it to be that much of a problem.

So. Misunderstanding time. He thinks she's after him for the theft. She's probably wanting to thank him for saving the club. Either he fesses up immediately, which isn't likely, or he'll trip up and reveal it at some later point.

One thing to note is that each of these little slice of life stories is great for building the character. But eventually hope that the sequel has them actually working together more as a unit. First thing I'm expecting is the rematch to show how much they've improved. Mods probably will be disabled. Actually armor is probably banned. Wouldn't want them to curbstomp the guards, ignoring all the magic lasers.

#11 · 31w, 1d ago · · · The Scene ·


Glad you're enjoying them, and glad you enjoy the music links. It's fun sticking little tidbits like that into the work, and it's something you can't do with a non-digital format or with a published work, so it's fun to play with.


Vinyl? Oh, you'll have to see. Now, as far as the bones go, while it was a fun laugh, she definitely has them for a reason. It's long term though, don't expect to find out why anytime soon!




Ah, but see how they act around each other during "Rise" compared to here and notice the difference (or even just how they fought at the end of "Rise"). Unless Steel particularly comments them on it, such a thing is a gradual shift with how they spend their time and practice.

#12 · 31w, 1d ago · 1 · · The Scene ·


I could just see her -knowing- what he had done but playing innocent to make him sweat.  Glasses make for best pokerface.

#13 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Aaaaand he's screwed. Then again, this is Vinyl, so who knows?

#14 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Interesting interrogation technique - when she decides she don't like the answers she will force feed him with whole pitcher of Shock won't she?

:trixieshiftleft: I mean it gotta be illegal drink  - sounds to dangerous to be sold legally :trixieshiftright:

Like something from twilight basement!:twilightsheepish:

#15 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·


Nova got caught. Best to just fess up honestly, readers would also get to figure out. He could try escaping, but that wouldn't do much since Nova is kind of a high profile character in Canterlot.Only other option is to have something interrupt the conversation, like a mugging.

#16 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·


Tune in next week! :pinkiehappy: There is a critical detail here that people are missing though.


Shock is actually 100% legal! It's no worse then hitting yourself with a decently low-power taser. On the inside. Sure, you might want to not let grandpa with his weak heart take a whole pitcher at once, but if you can handle a nice buzz, you can drink Shock.

On a side note (which I forgot to put in the authors note), Shock is one of my personal favorites for things I had to invent for the series. I'd love to actually try some.


This is Nova. The kid can vanish. If he wants to run, he could be in Seaddle before anyone even realizes where to look.

#17 · 30w, 3d ago · 1 · · The Mark ·

>>4128397 Still I don't think he would run. I'd think his team would be competent enough to track him down if need be.  Us readers will get to see soon enough.

Also, for Shock, not exactly this, but I was playing around in high school physics class with a Van De Graaff machine, and I put a bottle of fruit punch to the device for about ten minutes while the teacher was lecturing. Then, deciding to take a sip, I proceeded to get zapped a bit. It was amusing.

#18 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

I love the crazy magic drinks people come up with. Shock, Highground ("Hi ground!" *thud*), Mind Bombs (multicolored smoke comes out your ears), Pan Galactic Gargle Basters...I just love these things.

#19 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Very nice. This and the last chapter are awesome.

#20 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Scene ·

I really like this story. One question though

e almost shook his head, but opted instead for nodding politely and then ducking out of the way of a  black-and-grey griffon carefully balancing a large platter of something that spelled spicy in one paw.

Is this a talking tray?

#21 · 30w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

In deep, I tells ya! :pinkiegasp: :fluttershyouch:

#22 · 30w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·


Wait, this is actually possible? Someone get on this! We need some tests!


Shock is one of those things that's sits firmly in the camp of "I'm writing about this because I can't have something like it. :pinkiesmile:


Fixed. And glad you're enjoying it. We'll see more of Nova hanging out at the bazaar in the future...



#23 · 30w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

So Vynl Scratch got a decent-enough glance at him when he swiped from her? :pinkiegasp:

#24 · 30w, 1d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4134147 Indeed. To a degree it's "screw regular drinks, we have frickin' magic!" and I love it. Magic, which we view as being so freaking awesome or mysterious is used for something so mundane because in their world it's "why not?" It adds a level of "yeah, magic exists as a common thing in this world" to me and really makes a world feel more real.

#25 · 30w, 17h ago · · · The Mark ·


...well, at least it's not scumble

#26 · 29w, 6d ago · · · The Mark ·

This is a comment about Rise and its three side storys. I post it here because it is the point furthest into the future of the universe avaible (not including the crossover).

At the beginning of my read I was amazed by the characterisation of the princesses. Unlike many other ficts they acted as it would be excepted while staying canon. This for many writers unassailable grap to see beeing taken seemingly effortlessly was my reason to read further.

Your style of writing was at that point like coffee keeping me awake, really good and strong coffee.

Althrough Rise is labled as adventure it does not take on many of those cliches. Your characters does have a goal but they are not travelling through all of everywhere to get there while meeting every chapter new people and having to solve small quests (every read Eragon or similar adventures?). There is allways something new but that are the character themselve and what they are doing and how they react. Even in the side storys you keep that (while calling it Slice of Live becouse the goal is missing). And it may not feel like a full-blood adventure but it definitly feel like a adventure.

I adore how you set up the goal long, looong before it became clear that it would be the thing the Dusk Guard would have to investigate. First just as small footnotes that Equestria is not as crime free as it seems. Than playing with the reader by introducing some ways in wich the robberys may occur (Luna s doormagic, hijaking bandits/changelings, Sombras followers) and for what goal they may have (Sombra chants "Chrystalzzz") while staying completly original in my mind (has anyone ever guessed correctly  before you revealed it?).

Story wise marvelus!:pinkiehappy:

The one thing I did not like was the gear. Sky Bold may be a genius but the idea to create armor out of crystals only becouse of their resistant qualitys I find strange. Not only are those crystals brittle (unlike tough steel which can be extremly hard as well) but as well extremly expensive and non repairable.

The bodysuite? Understandable and have a reason why they are not used wide spread (princess private hord of nearly forgotten bits).

The mods? Similar through out reasons for their current use.

The Hummingbird? Marvelous constructed.

Following proof of concept ideas out of the middle age would be scale armour (sadly not silent but by using enchanted steel as plates and working the crystals in sufficiently thickness on top without giving them room to move and make noise (for further reduce of noise could the etches of frequently touching plates be covered with cloth)) while in Equestria the dragons are proof of concept for these type of armor.

Yeah. I could not warm up to it... :applejackunsure:

Alle the characters work well with each other. There is no denying it. You have switched the POV frequently between them and others so the reader could learn to know them. You stated it in a later comment that you find it hard to write out of the POV of certain characters and it is understandable that during the introduction everything was told out of Steel Songs POV.

Neverless I want to ask if you have noticed, that you particular never wrote out of Sabras POV? Until reading The Definition of Strength he appeard to me as an wholesome complete character. And kind of boring as if you have only needed a sixth member.

Dawn with her aloof facade and professional cold felt right with her few appearances as POV-character.

I regeted it that Steel only got his moments while beeing at his sisters place but given the amount of paperwork he had to fight it would have been boring most likly.

You used Nova and Sky Bold frequently but thinking back I feel like you always used Hunter to tell the story.

Yes, all had their moments but this is how I fell thinking back on it. :rainbowhuh:

As a final word I want to say that I happily await the next update. :rainbowdetermined2:

#27 · 29w, 6d ago · · · The Mark ·


Maybe? :trixieshiftright:


:pinkiehappy: Eeyup. If I ever end up in Equestria, I'm finding myself a glass of Shock to celebrate.

And since it isn't plot critical, the drink is made by mixing charged thunderclouds into the mix near the end. Jam Roll's wife is a pegasus. So, now you know the secret island ingredient!


By Celestia's beard that's a lot of text! :pinkiehappy: To arms, my fingers! Prepare the keyboard!

Ok, *ahem!*

First of all, glad you enjoyed the Dusk Guard so much and are having a blast with the series. And I'm especially glad you enjoyed my portrayal of the Princesses. I spent a lot of time thinking about what they would be like, how they could be both personable and yet immortal demigods and worked hard to get their characters just right in my head and then on paper. I'm glad you appreciate the effort and that I was able to make them real. We're going to see more of them and their sort of "semi-hooves off" advice as well as direct orders in the future. :pinkiesmile:

Second, I'm glad you enjoyed the adventure! The reason it feels a little different than something like Eragon is because "The Dusk Guard" isn't just Adventure, it's also an Epic Fantasy. Which makes it an adventure epic like LotR or The Wheel of Time. Which doesn't mean that the action will be any less intense (after all, I'll bet those last few chapters of "Rise" had you sucked in to the point of no return) but that the stage is vast. I can't give anything away, but just as "Rise" started off at a gradual pace and then began to pick up speed, the saga as a whole follows a similar arc. Stick with this to the end, and you're going to see some seriously cool stuff happen. In other words "Rise" is the slowest moment of the entire series.

And of course, that plays into the gradual reveals. While I can say that some readers have guessed some things correctly (a few have figured out that Golden wasn't the real figure behind the curtain), I can say with confidence that there are several things that no one has yet actually figured out (and that includes the TV Tropes page). There are enough scarce clues to sort of put the pieces together, but no one has yet. I expect when book two arrives, there will be some very "WHAT!?" moments, followed by "OOooooooh, so that's what that meant."

And yes, that is a challenge to the really astute readers out there to do a second read-through and see what you pick up. I've laid out my spider-web carefully, and on a second read through, you might notice a few key things or lines that seem ... out of place. Someone once commented on "Rise" having only a few logical errors and I had to :pinkiehappy: because I know what they were referring to, and ... well... *insert maniacal laughter here*

So no, as of yet there are still a few pieces of the puzzle that no one has guessed or put together. That said, I'm not going to leave them that way. All will be explained in time. :pinkiehappy:

It is a bummer that you couldn't get into the gear though. If it helps, try to think of it more as Mjolnir armor or the nanosuits from Crysis. Except using magic instead of science to enhance and improve. And what you've seen here is only the Mark I designs. Yes, it's expensive, but it's pretty durable, tough, and serves the team well (and you'll see more of this in the future, like I said, for now it's Mark I, but as things really wind up, the armor is going get to strut its stuff). I'm not going to spoil anything, but if you have technical questions about stuff, I can probably answer them. Crystal is brittle for us, yes, but as you might have noticed, this particular crystal is pretty tough stuff. That said, you saw it get beat up in the battle at the end of "Rise," and their gear is going to suffer a lot more wear and tear as the saga moves on. Huzzah for realistic battle damage!

Oh, and here's a fun fact. One of my alpha-readers was a steam-enthusiast engineer, and both The Hummingbird and the superboilers that power it are completely viable. How's that for cool? If only we had access to the magic supplies Sky Bolt does ... I could be typing this from the deck of my steam-powered airship!

I deliberately only wrote one scene in "Rise" from Sabra's PoV as I didn't quite trust myself to understand his mindset or character at that point. Which was one of the reasons I was both excited and nervous to write "The Definition of Strength." Fortunately, I got into his head, and that story turned out all right. But for the most part, "Rise" bounced between Steel, Nova, and Hunter, although Steel and Nova were the two that got the most development. I can promise that by the end of the series, I'll have done my best to give each of the characters their due over the course of the saga with regards to viewpoints, and each member of the Guard will have had their moment of glory. It sounds like you enjoyed Hunter's PoV the most though (from what you remember) which probably has to do with how laid back he is.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed "Rise" and that you're enjoying the side stories. There's still a lot more to come, and a lot of surprises incoming! Also, since you enjoyed my work, I'd also like to point you towards my sole published work so far: One Drink. The sequel hits next month with the force of a bomb, so definitely check it out so you can be ready! I hope you enjoy it (and not just because you buying my stuff helps keeps me afloat, although there is that)!

Also, there's a Dusk Guard contest going on here that closes in a few days you might want to check out as well!

Thanks for reading!

#28 · 29w, 6d ago · 1 · · The Mark ·


Thanks for the fast answere! :pinkiegasp:

Epic Fantasy I have not considered. It fit. And I find Rise not slow at all but nicely paced. And memorable adventure in wich the characers did not get herded from one point to the next.

To the armor: Do you now the difference between though and hard? Diamonts are hard but brittle. Bronze is though but weak. Hardness and thoughness are different and to archive both is hard to impossible because they cancel each other out.

A stone will not change form no matter how often it is hit but just one hit to hard will break it. A metal ball instead will change its form wich every hit a bit but never break.

Additionally has a extremly hard armor another flaw. Where goes the energy of an hit? If the armor does not absob it (usually through deformation) it has to go somewhere. The first cars build had an extremly hard car body. So hard that even in a crash the damage was small. Where did the energy go? The drivers got thrown around in the car and broke their bones.

Extremly though armor does not break but absorb as much energy as possible while deforming as little as possible. Its physiks.




I feel like a nerd.:rainbowlaugh:

#29 · 29w, 6d ago · · · The Mark ·


Well yeah, that's why we don't make armor out of diamonds. Diamonds are tough but brittle.

But between the alternating layers of the armor and undersuit, the stuff the Dusk Guard wear is both durable and capable of taking a solid hit and redistributing it (multiple layers with different angles of crystal formation ensure that it's like trying to break through a phone book: page by page). And ... in addition, it's also magic (and yes, that's a hand-wave, but under the Rule of Cool). Basically, consider the stuff much hardier than the metal armor the Royal Guard wear in addition to having other factors going for it. Their armor is made out of the same stuff the crystal golems were, and those suckers were durable. :pinkiehappy:

#30 · 29w, 5d ago · · · The Mark ·

Oh shit :pinkiegasp:

Also, Shock sounds like the coolest drink ever.


Yeah, I think it's pretty simple. Good armor (or car body, or whatever) is usually deformable, as the deforming absorbs the kinetic energy that would otherwise injure the wearer. But if you have an enchantment on it to dissipate the kinetic energy, you can build the armor much, much harder than you could otherwise.

#31 · 29w, 4d ago · · · The Mark ·

Dat ending.

#32 · 29w, 3d ago · 2 · · The Reveal ·


If they don't end up at least friends after this, I will buy a hat and eat it.

#33 · 29w, 3d ago · · · The Reveal ·

A little reminder for Nova that there are no innocent crimes.:derpyderp1:

#34 · 29w, 3d ago · · · The Reveal ·


Thanks for update! :pinkiehappy:

#35 · 29w, 2d ago · · · The Reveal ·


Nothing like a good cliffhanger! :pinkiesmile:


:pinkiehappy: Who knows? The shadow knows...


Action ... meet consequence. With a side order of guilt.


Your welcome! Still one more to go! And there's a nifty surprise coming along with it I think all of you are going to like! It's freaking awesome, IMO!

#36 · 29w, 1d ago · 1 · · The Reveal ·

A blind Vinyl Scratch! Now THERE'S somewhere I didn't think you would go!

Anyway, I'm still loving this story universe. Keep it up!

#37 · 29w, 16h ago · · · The Mark ·

shock- because the gargleblaster needed SOME competition.

#38 · 29w, 16h ago · · · The Reveal ·


If you buy a hat to eat it, it's not worth as much.  I suggest eating your socks, less emotional attachment, but more sweat.  Sounds more impressive.

#39 · 28w, 6d ago · · · The Reveal ·

>>4179151 NOTHING is better than the Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster.

As a side note, there's a bar in Ottawa called Zaphod Beeblebrox that serves something they call "Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster". Doesn't live up to what's promised in the book.

#40 · 28w, 5d ago · 1 · · The Plan ·

Nice stuff. I particularly liked the observation about exam tables. Those things are somehow always cold, regardless of the surrounding temperature.

#41 · 28w, 3d ago · · · The First Last Job ·

I can see these stories are only going to get better and better. Don't slow down now!

#42 · 28w, 3d ago · 1 · · The First Last Job ·

I really liked this story, especially his message. It shows that Nova isn't some idealistic hero, especially not with his past, that's going to 'end all crime'. He realizes that trying to enforce a total shutdown of crime would end badly, as it would encourage them to escalate in retaliation. Thundercloud is a bit dense though. Didn't realize that the crime itself that bothered Nova, it was using the kids and calling them trash, especially with what we know of his backstory. Now to see if there are any underlying groups that are willing to go against the Dusk Guard, even after the warning. Possibly assisted by Mint and her numerous hidden assets stored around Equestria. Wonder where the griffin merc fr-. Well, now I think I know where the next story (hopefully) is headed.

#43 · 28w, 3d ago · · · The First Last Job ·

Awesome.  Greatly enjoyed it. :)

#44 · 28w, 3d ago · · · The First Last Job ·

This was excellent, though I expected nothing less.

And now I feel like playing some borderlands 2, still have a couple of DLC's to shoot up!

#45 · 28w, 3d ago · 1 · · The First Last Job ·

Have I said already that Nova is a badass? Because he's become quite a badass :rainbowdetermined2:

Also, NovaScratch! *ShippingGoggles*

#46 · 28w, 3d ago · · · The First Last Job ·

Awesome :pinkiehappy:

#47 · 28w, 3d ago · · · The First Last Job ·

I can't help but notice that you mixed in Thunderhead instead of Thundercloud a few times, other than that, can't wait for what's next.:pinkiehappy:

#48 · 28w, 3d ago · · · The First Last Job ·

This was a fun romp. I can't wait for Hunter's side story.

#49 · 28w, 3d ago · 1 · · The First Last Job ·


I must admit, it isn't the first time it's been done (so I can't lay claim to the idea at all), but I felt it really helped for the story. Glad you liked it.


Even in a desert. Throw an exam table into the sun, it'll hit the core cold.


Doing what I can! Glad you're having fun with them!


I ... can say nothing. Except that I think you're going to be very, very surprised. :pinkiehappy:




Yay! And BL2 is awesome.


Yeah, he is. Along with the whole team. When they get pointed at you, your best option is to surrender. :rainbowlaugh:




I think that was shades of Nova calling her that which didn't get edited out. Thanks for the catch! Fixed!


It's coming. Of course, there's a bit of a wibbly-wobbly adventure with Steel coming first, at least if I'm reading this little gadget with the bright light correctly...

#50 · 28w, 3d ago · 1 · · The First Last Job ·

Dammit man, stop making yourself my favorite author.

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