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Sequels1

  • 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 · 795 views  ·  143  ·  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 · 2,409 views  ·  167  ·  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 · 3,369 views  ·  517  ·  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 · 3,558 views  ·  407  ·  7
  • 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 · 1,137 views  ·  194  ·  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 · 555 views  ·  95  ·  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 · 795 views  ·  143  ·  2

Blog Posts214

  • Monday
    Sick Day Post

    Well, I'm still sick. Which is kind of ... wow. Whatever this is, I've had it for just over a week now, which is ridiculously long. It kind of reminds me of Bronchitis, except not as nasty. Then again, the last time I had Bronchitis I happened to have Strep Throat at the same time, which led me to coughing so hard I blacked out.

    Yeah, that wasn't fun. Regardless, whatever I've got now is pretty stubborn, but it's not that bad. And thanks to some Nyquil I was finally able to get some good, solid sleep last night. But, I'm still sick. I'm not entirely better yet. And so today I'm putting off the weekly writing guide post. Sorry guys.


    But all is not lost! See, I actually need some new topics anyway. Right now I'm down to four:

    Pacing

    Killing Characters

    Developing Villains

    What was done right with Guardians of the Galaxy Hint, it's a lot.

    That last one will have spoiler issues, obviously. So if you somehow haven't seen Guardians yet (for shame!) then either skip that one when it arrives or be prepared to have one of the better movies out there this year spoiled.

    But that's only four current topics. Which means I need to expand my list once more. So if you've got something about writing you'd like to me to discuss at some point, post it in the comments! I'm now open for suggestions!

    And lastly, last week I mentioned to some of you that the newest chapter of Arad's "Mente Materia," a bonus chapter detailing the post-crossover story's aftereffects in-universe, probably seemed a bit familiar to most of you. And some of you immediately called it. I wrote it. It was a guest chapter. Arad and I worked out a few details it could and couldn't cover and then I put the chapter together. As for why it wasn't credited, well, Arad and I decided not to credit for a week or so, to see what kind of reaction was had—and to see what a few specific fans would say. Because there's been a few readers of Arad's stuff that wouldn't stop slamming my stuff every time it came up, complete with commentary about how terrible a writer I was compared to Arad and how he shouldn't be bothering promoting my stuff. So I suggested we pull a switcheroo and see if those few readers could put their money where their large mouths were. Plus, it'd be fun to write some fanfic not so tightly steeped in Dusk Guard lore (it was very relaxing to be able to not have to worry about my spiderweb for once).

    Anyway, end result? Those few readers couldn't tell the difference. Don't mess with authors, people. We've got tools at our disposal for striking back. :scootangel:

    Anyway, onto the week! It's time to bundle up and kick this cough OUT!

    5 comments · 53 views
  • Friday
    Sick Week

    So, what's new?

    Don't get sick, that's what. I managed to pick up a sore throat that messed up my voice and then turned into a cough that was not only keeping me up till the wee hours of the morning, it was giving me a nice headache and bit of grogginess that made work all but impossible for a day or two. So I'm about 12,000 words behind on my quota. I basically almost lost a week. Boo.

    On the plus side, a new Smash Brothers came out, and I did manage to use the sick time not only to do some worldbuilding for Shadow of an Empire, but to get the last bit of editing done for both for "Remembrance" and ... well, I'm still working on a title for Dawn's side story. Anyway, point is they're BOTH going up soon. All I need now are the covers. As soon as I get those, we'll have a release date. Which will be pretty cool, because I'll be releasing BOTH stories simultaneously, and then uploading the chapters according to a timetable. I'm trying something a little new since both of them take place at the same time. Maybe I can grab two feature box spots at once!

    Anyway, just a quick update. Trying not to cough up my lungs. Sound like I'm going through puberty again. Enjoying the new Smash brothers.

    Oh, and in case you missed it, the newest bonus chapter of Arad's "Mente Materia" is out, and it might seem a little ... familiar to you guys.

    8 comments · 46 views
  • 1w, 1d
    Being a Better Writer: Character Descriptions

    Late update today. I'm battling a sore throat, so I'm trying give myself the sleep I need to drive it back. My voice sounds weird right now.

    Anyway, today's topic inspired was by a bit of a firestorm I saw with regards to a story that someone had written. And while the firestorm in question will definitely not be the subject of today's post, nor do I wish to get into that as it is an entirely separate topic, today's topic will brush up against it for a brief moment.

    Today, I'm going to talk about character descriptions.


    Character descriptions are something that every new writer struggles with, and often many somewhat experienced writers as well. Because when we get right down to it, character descriptions fall into one of those writing areas where no one teaches you how to do it, and everyone assumes that it's fairly straightforward and to the point. "You shouldn't need to be taught about this," the public mindset seems to say. "How hard can it be? You just describe your character!"

    Well, as it turns out, and as most new writers discover when they put their pencil to paper for the first time, describing your characters is much more difficult than it appears. It's hard. Many writers, in a fit of panic (or without realizing it), will simply throw out a narrated description of basic looks—eye color, hair, figure, etc—and then just jump right into the story, without realizing how jarring and unappealing to the reader such a description is. Only upon going back do most of them realize how truly unappealing it is for a story to start off with "Bob was asian, five-foot-three-inches, with brown hair and brown eyes ... etc, etc." Only when they do realize how unappealing it is does the real panic set in, when they realize that they have no idea how to do any differently.

    Which is why I'm talking about this today. Because to many readers, how you describe a character can be a make-or-break point for the entire book. Young writers don't quite realize how important something as simple as a character description can be to the readers acceptance of a work. Plenty a time has been the moment when a reader has picked up a book, read only a few paragraphs, run across a poor character description, and put the book back on the shelf. Why? Because even if they don't consciously realize it, a poor character description is often an indicator of other problems with the book, be they weakness of story, poor attention to detail, or just in general a low quality read.

    Yikes. Suddenly the amount and care for detail you put into your character description takes on a whole new level of importance, doesn't it? It might not just be something that's a nice part of your work, it's something that the very reading of your work may hinge upon.

    Kind of makes it important to get right.

    So, where do you start? How do you go about making sure that your character description is going to be something that keeps your reader flipping through your pages? Well, to start, you're going to need to know a few things about your work.

    Perspective and Voice

    First of all, what perspective is your book going to be using? You need to decide this and acknowledge it in your introduction of the character. Because trust me, very few things will make your reader put a book away like a narrative that jumps to an entirely different style or out of character to introduce someone. If you're going to write in first-person limited, you cannot jump to third person omniscient to introduce your character and then back (especially if you stay in character, with one very specific case exemption). It's horridly jarring.

    In other words, keep your introduction in perspective. This might seem obvious, but then again, I've seen numerous novice stories where the writers have made just this mistake without even realizing it. So first person stories stay first person with their character descriptions, and third-person stories stay in third person. Omniscient stays omniscient, limited stays limited. More on this in a bit when we get to the how.

    But before that, we also need to discuss voice. Voice is make-or-break with character description, though it matters more if your perspective is first person, as it's much more apparent. What is voice? Voice is how the character talks, speaks, and acts, and combined with perspective, breaking voice can be incredibly jarring to the reader. Let me show you want I mean through an example. Here we're going with a first-person, omniscient, direct perspective (ie, the character is telling you a story) and I'm going to give him a voice. Now let's watch what happens when I break that voice.

    It was a cold morning that morning, like most mornings were back then. Cold. Dark. Wet as a piss-poor boot on a rainy day. I still don't know why I bothered to get out of bed that morning. Maybe I was tired of rolling my face into that mildewed pillow over and over again. Maybe I though it'd be worth thinking about going to work. Or maybe I just wanted a nice, stiff, hot cup of coffee. Although in all likelihood, I'd only get one of those things. The local coffee shop was a right pisser when it came down to it: always busy, always getting your order wrong, and never happy to see you unless you were some well dressed posh boot-licker with a stick shoved up his backside. And that wasn't me.

    I'm nothing ordinary. I look very normal. I'm five-foot-two inches; so short. I have dark hair, usually unkempt, and I'm not particularly fit. I have blue eyes, a larger nose, and a bit of stubble around my strong jawline. I'm a bit on the thin side, and I'm usually listening to a pair of headphones.

    Ow, that actually took some work to force myself to write. But did you catch how jarring that was? We start off with this very well-defined voice, things are going great and then POW! The voice is gone. Instead we have bland, everyman description. We could have cut those details straight out of a character file and simply changed the perspective and tense to match the prior paragraph.

    And all I really did was change the voice. With the voice gone, the character's unique attitudes and perspectives either vanished or became flat. Would the one telling the story in the first paragraph have used the phrase "pair of headphones" or "a larger nose?" Not at all! He would have said something like "My nose has always been a bit on a ugly side, sort of like a squashed Mr. Potato Head has taken up residence on my face." Or something like that.

    While this may seem obvious, you'd probably be surprised how many new writers make this mistake, or worse, published writers. I've cringed at many a book (some of which were otherwise fine) where every time a new character came onto the scene the author would break perspective, character/narrator voice, or both when describing them. Crud, I've read one book (and this is a published, bestseller, more's the tragedy) where every new character completely broke perspective and voice, going from third-person limited to what was almost a direct, to-the-reader paragraph written by the author. It was bad. really bad. Then again, so was the rest of the book.

    So, keep perspective and voice in mind when it comes time to describe a character. Reread your descriptions later—out loud, if needed—to see if they flow with the rest of the story around it. If necessary, make changes. But of course, before you get started, here's something else to think about when it comes to character descriptions.

    Reason, Scene, and View

    Originally, view was going to be a different perspective form, but I figured that'd be too confusing. So we're going to go with Scene, View, and Reason. Because as important as perspective and voice is, there are other things to consider when introducing a character.

    Reason is the first thing you should consider. It's AMAZING how many authors mess this up, but let's think about this for a moment. Say your character is in a firefight. Things are exploding, the situation looks bleak—and suddenly a new character bursts onto the scene to save the day, midst gunfire and explosions. Now, how much reason at all does the main character have to give a detailed description of the character in question, considering they're trying not to die? Very little. And in such a scene, certain details are going to be much more important to the character than others.

    Even outside of limited perspective writing, don't make the mistake of thinking you can just drop all the details on the reader. Pacing (something I should do a post on later) is incredibly valuable. Dropping a full description of a character into the middle of a climactic scene? That pulls the reader out of the scene and ruins the pacing. So every time you think to describe a new character, don't hesitate to ask what reason you have for doing so in the first place, and what reason you have for writing the details that you do. Please, do not be the author who pulls us out of a story talking about the new female characters cup size and tight, slap-worthy behind. You'd better have a darn good reason for that aside from personal appeal.

    Even with your viewpoint character, you need reason. A lot of newbie writers just make the assumption that a character who's starring in the story should be described immediately, but that's not really true. How many of you wake up and then do a mental catalog of all your features? Maybe if you're a narcissist, or if you've got a reason to care about one particular aspect or feature for some reason, then yes, you'd think about it. But how many of you do a daily rundown?

    You don't. Reason. Sure, you can hand-wave it, but that pulls the reader out. Give your character a reason (such as the "looking in a mirror" character description trope. Or better yet, just let the description come naturally with the elements of the story.

    Now scene. I touched on that above, but I'll go a bit further here. Remember your scene and the context therein, not just with regards to emotion and events, but things in the room. It's a bit jarring for characters to react in random ways ith character descriptions that aren't contextually related to the scene around them. Use the scene to let your character's looks be known. For example, when Steel dunks his head in the water barrel at the beginning of Rise, the resulting splash and description of him cooling off also describes much of his body type and coloration, easing the reader into a natural picture of what he looked like (this was also something that a certain well-known fic site's pre-reader disliked to an incredible degree—they actually demanded I dump it and just start with a generic, straight description, one more reason I view them as about as competent as a bunch of kindergartners when it comes to fic work).

    Lastly, view. This is a subtext of voice, really. Basically, what it asks is that when you describe a character, make sure that you're doing it not just from the proper perspective, but with their view. What's important to the describer? What details would they notice that are both important to them and also useful to the reader? This can really flavor your book, your characters, and most often seems to become a stumbling point when a writer writes a gender aside from their own. I think we can all see where that goes.

    Point is, your character's viewpoints matter when describing someone. They might see things through a lens that isn't fully correct, or view motivations falsely. This is entirely fair, and we shouldn't be afraid to pull punches when this happens. Even if the reader disagrees with an observation a character makes, it tells them something about both characters.

    The Details Themselves

    All right, we've talked about everything else up to this point to set the stage. Now let's talk about the nitty-gritty specifics with all that other stuff in context.

    First of all, you don't need to describe everything. Remember the lessons above, but also take in this bit of wisdom: A perfectly visualized character often is not a perfectly described one. This is because like characters, we often remember and fixate on specific details rather than the whole. A mark of clever, experienced writing often is that when describing characters, the author will give you just enough specific details to get your attention, but let you fill in the rest of the details. Let us take Harry Potter, for instance. What specific details were we given about Snape? If you're like me and most readers, you remember that he was thin, gaunt perhaps, and that he had greasy hair and a greasy nose. JK Rowling didn't dump many other details (at least, not that I recall right away). She gave you just enough to envision him, and envision him you did.

    Stephen King is a master of this. Go ahead, reread one of his works and pay attention to the details he offers. They often aren't many, no more than three or four details that interestingly enough can paint a very broad picture. And yet when reading his books, readers praise the descriptive characters and how well they can envision them. Despite the fact that he's only giving you a few direct details.

    Tricky, tricky, Mr. King. You knew exactly what you were doing too. Giving the reader the details that were important to know or to visualize, and then letting all the other blanks just sort of fill themselves in.

    Perspective matters again here, as different characters will observe different things, and here's where we get to the elephant in the room: race.

    Unfortunately, race (in America) has become a sort of screwed up version of "The game." Basically, if you mention it, everyone loses.

    Uh-oh. It's sad, but true. There is literally no good way to tackle this that will please everyone. In a country where you can be publicly blasted for "not being (insert race here) enough" and race and culture have become so hopelessly intertwined as to be indistinguishable to most people, character race is basically an open invitation for an absolute crap-storm of rage to descend on your work.

    And nobody wants that. So how do you dodge it?

    First, never—and I mean never—unless you have a very character-specific point to raise, begin a character description with "they were -insert race here-." Seriously, do not. That is the path of the crap-storm, because the moment you use any sort of racial identifier, anyone who at all has any baggage attached to whatever identifying word you used will unzip it and set up shop. And every word thereafter will be, unfortunately, picked through by that entire baggage set's personal handlers, who will interrogate everything you write to look for "problems."

    Yeah, seeing the issue here? Don't use racial terms.

    Do you even need to? Well, actually ... No. No you don't. First of all, culture and "race" are two distinct things but slammed together in the modern world climate. And you don't need to directly address either in order to describe a character.

    Think back to what I said about Stephen King's writing, or Rowling. Drop the details people need. You don't have to say "I'm Hawaiian." You can have a character mention that they grew up in Laie, Hawaii. Or you can observe that they have tanned, tough skin.

    Truth is, you can dodge a lot of the controversy just by giving the important details. Maybe hair color. Or the tint of their skin. And none of these are declarative statements of race. It's tricky, but in the modern climate, it's something you just have to deal with.

    Summary

    In conclusion, when describing characters, think about perspective and voice. Then bring that into play with the reasons, the scene, and the view of the character. Then, lastly, consider which details are important. Do this, paint the scene, and walk away with a character description so natural it'll seem like your reader really knows them.

    Good luck! See you all next week!

    12 comments · 175 views
  • 1w, 4d
    Whoa. Correia Takes the SJW Movement to Task

    I know, I've been quiet lately. I've been trying to finish up the first draft of Colony (which is in the final act now, finally), and that's kept me pretty busy. Hunter's story is getting its editing pass this weekend (so ... tomorrow, actually, dang) and will start going up not long after I work out the cover details.


    Anyway, before I get back to work, I just wanted to share a link. This link, specifically. It's from Larry Correia's blog, and it's sort of a summation, a "why I do this," of sorts. And it tackles, of all things, the SJW insanity and how it's been hurting writing.

    Thing is, I feel he makes some incredibly good point. Correia's been fighting this fight for a while, and he's never been shy to point how foolish an opponent's arguments are. With this post, he summed up just about everything distubing that's been permeating the writing culture, and in a very blunt, to the point sort of way.

    Warning: It IS blunt. But sometimes bluntness is needed, and in this case, I happen to think Correia is entirely correct.

    I'd prefer not to kick off a firestorm of controversy in the comments, and with this one, that's a possibility. So in the event you want to weigh in on this, remember the rules of my comment threads, please: No cursing. Be considerate and well-spoken. Don't resort to nastiness, bile, or any of the other typical, less-astute methods of conversation seen around the internet.

    Anyway, I need to get back to work! This book needs to get done!

    13 comments · 192 views
  • 2w, 2d
    Being a Better Writer: Character Versus Plot

    Character Versus Plot: What's Driving Your Story?

    Today we're going to talk about a lesser-considered aspect of storytelling and writing. I've bandied about with a few different introductions to the concept and summarily discarded all of them, so instead I'm just going to jump right in and tackle things.

    Effectively—and understand that I am for the purposes of today's concept, grossly simplifying—every story out there, written, told, or seen, rides a sliding scale into one of two categories: They're either a character-driven piece or a plot-driven piece. That's it. These are your options, and understanding which your story is going to be, as well as more importantly, how to achieve this, will play a part in determining the success of your work.

    Okay, some of you are nodding, some of you are confused, a few are wondering where I'm going with this. So let's look into this one a little more deeply.


    We'll start with the underlying concept behind these two options: All stories are driven by something. Now, when I say that a story is driven by something, I don't mean the antagonist, or the inciting incident, or even the growth of the character. What I'm referring to by driven is the events or actions by which the story is pulled forward.

    Bilbo leaving Frodo the ring, for example, is something that pulls the story forward. Harry receiving a letter from Hogwarts. Vin being noticed by Kelsier. A story is, in it's purest, simplified form, a collection of events. But something inside the story must happen in order for these events to occur. Cause and effect.

    What I'm discussing today is the method by which the story moves forward. Is it character-derived, or plot-derived?

    I see a few of you are still scratching your heads. The simplest, easiest way to describe this idea is to ask what causes the story to continue forward. Is it the characters? Or is it some force outside of the characters? Is the story moving forward because of my characters actions and choices, or is it moving forward because it needed to move forward so something happened?

    Both types of story exist (and, as one would expect, most stories are a blend of both, weighted in one direction or the other). Thriller novels, for example, tend to be driven more often by their plots than by their characters. Events that move the story forward are "Acts of God" or other higher powers which exist for the sole purpose of dragging the characters along from scene to scene. The writer wants a car chase to happen? So he funnels the story towards that end, placing the characters in a situation where there is only one possible answer—car chase.

    Stories that focus more on character, however, take a different route. Rather than plot-based forces pulling the story forward, these are stories in which the characters choices are what move things along. Rather than outside occurrences forcing a character to engage in a car chase, this will be a story where the character is given valid options and then chooses to engage in the car chase.

    Now, I'm certain a lot of you are simply nodding and thinking to yourselves "Well of course, that makes sense." And yes, it does. But now we need to consider this question: Which one are you writing?

    Because to tell the truth, while your works will undoubtedly have both aspects included in them, each story you write is going to gravitate towards one type or the other, and understanding and acknowledging this in advance will make your work much easier.

    For example, take my work on Colony. Colony is a much less character driven work than my last few stories, and it took me a while to realize it (downside of pantsing the story). Much of the major events that control the story are driven not by the characters choices (with a few exceptions), but rather by outside, plot-driven forces. None of the character's ever wanted to go to the colony world of Pisces, for example. Instead, they're press ganged into it by a powerful megacorportation who, while offering them a substantial monetary reward for carrying out their task, really doesn't give them much in the way of a choice. The other options are so unappealing that it's very clear to the characters and the reader that the only recourse is to accept the job and head for Pisces.

    There are other events like this in Colony. But for Colony as a story, that's all right, because the focus isn't the character driven elements, it's how the characters react to being thrown into these situation, and the situations themselves.

    Another example of a plot driving: Everyone's favorite, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Harry never chooses to be a wizard and start receiving letters from Hogwarts. The letters simply start arriving one day. And then, characters with power outside of Harry's control determine the reaction (taking the letters away, nailing the letterbox shut, and fleeing to a cabin on an island). Much of the driving force of The Sorcerer's Stone for the first "act," in fact, is not character based at all. Harry is pretty much dragged along up until the setting has been introduced, at which point he starts making conscious choices of his own (befriending Ron, for instance, or helping take down a troll).

    Come to think of it, The Sorcerer's Stone is probably a pretty good example of the two types and how to juggle them, as the first half of the story is mostly Harry being dragged from point to point, while only after he acclimates to the new setting does he really start making choices that move the story forward.

    Knowing which particular style your story is going to serve as the primary driving force of your story before you start will do wonders for how your story turns out. For instance, if you want to write a deep, character focused drama with introspective characters coming to grips with their own lives ... and then create a story that is entirely driven by the plot and not by that character, the entire theme and objective of your work will be weakened. Likewise, if you want to write a rollicking action story that never stops, but choose to have much of the story driven by the characters, you're putting a lot of weight on those characters to make the choices that will continually keep the action-ball rolling. Sure, it can be done, but it's not easy, especially if those characters start trying to make decisions that would pull away the action-adventure focus.

    What does this mean for you? Well, that you need to make a choice before you get too far into any work about exactly which driving force you want to be in control of your story, and then think ahead to how that's going to change your story. Can you count on your characters to make certain decisions to move the story in the right direction? Or will you need an exterior force, a plot moment, to take control and move things forward? How will it change your story to have such a force interacting with your characters? Will it put the reader's focus in the wrong area? Will it detract from the theme or moral of your work? A story in which the theme or moral is that we always have a choice, for example, would be rendered ironic by a story in which everything was driven entirely by the plot rather than the characters.

    Conscious acknowledgment of what drives our story can be a powerful tool in forming a strong narrative and focus for the reader. For example, look at the storyline of Bioshock. One of Bioshock's greatest storytelling powers was it's insistence that the character was the one making the decisions, that the character was driving the story. Only when you reached the twist did you learn that everything the character had gone through was in fact, not a character decision, but the plot dragging the character along and convincing him that their choices were their own when they were not. Bioshock's creators built up a powerful narrative based on what observers perceived was a character-driven story, and then brutally tore that construct away at a critical moment while showing the player how willing they had been to believe that it was all character rather than something orchestrated by others. Bioshock ended up being recommended in Time magazine partially because of how well its story juggled these two concepts.

    But that's pretty advanced use of such a tool, so don't expect to do something like that right away. In fact, don't expect to need to. What you should expect is to understand what drives the story of your own works. When you sit down at a keyboard or with a pen, ask yourself: What is going to drive this story? Are my characters subject to the whims of the plot? Do they choose their own path? How will this affect the story I have in mind? Will it make it less exciting? More exciting? Should I consider changing my focus between the two in order to strengthen an aspect or theme of my work?

    As with many things, either of these alone will not make or break your work. However, a firm understanding of how they work and what they can do for you will, with time, be part of the polish that grants your work an extra shine of quality.

    Good luck with your writing, and I'll see you all next week.

    12 comments · 199 views
  • ...
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Source

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

Emoticon

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 · 37w, 2d 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 · 37w, 17h ago · 3 · · 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 · 36w, 5d 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 · 36w, 4d 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 · 36w, 4d ago · · · The Plan ·

>>4061984

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

>>4070518

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!).

>>4079094

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

>>4085832

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 · 36w, 1d ago · 2 · · 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 · 36w, 1d 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 · 36w, 1d ago · · · The Scene ·

Oh wow, Nova is in deep. :pinkiegasp:

#9 · 36w, 6h 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 · 36w, 6h 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 · 36w, 3h ago · · · The Scene ·

>>4097308

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.

>>4099528

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!

>>4100052

:pinkiehappy:

>>4104356

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 · 35w, 6d ago · 2 · · The Scene ·

>>4104356

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

#13 · 35w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

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

#14 · 35w, 2d 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 · 35w, 2d 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 · 35w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Mark ·

>>4128250

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

>>4128265

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.

>>4128303

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 · 35w, 2d 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 · 35w, 2d 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 · 35w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

Very nice. This and the last chapter are awesome.

#20 · 35w, 2d 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 · 35w, 1d ago · · · The Mark ·

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

#22 · 35w, 23h ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4128430

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

>>4128723

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:

>>4128815

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

>>4129942

:pinkiehappy:

#23 · 35w, 16h ago · · · The Mark ·

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

#24 · 35w, 4h 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 · 34w, 6d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4128397

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

#26 · 34w, 5d ago · · 1 · 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 · 34w, 4d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4136458

Maybe? :trixieshiftright:

>>4138058

: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!

>>4148504

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 · 34w, 4d ago · 1 · 1 · The Mark ·

>>4148769

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.

:rainbowhuh:

....

:rainbowkiss:

I feel like a nerd.:rainbowlaugh:

#29 · 34w, 4d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4149163

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 · 34w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Oh shit :pinkiegasp:

Also, Shock sounds like the coolest drink ever.

>>4149207

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 · 34w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Dat ending.

#32 · 34w, 2d ago · 2 · · The Reveal ·

Bonding!

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

#33 · 34w, 2d ago · · · The Reveal ·

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

#34 · 34w, 1d ago · · · The Reveal ·

Dawww!!!:twilightsmile:

Thanks for update! :pinkiehappy:

#35 · 34w, 21h ago · · · The Reveal ·

>>4158148

Nothing like a good cliffhanger! :pinkiesmile:

>>4161881

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

>>4162701

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

>>4163211

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 · 34w, 5h 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 · 33w, 5d ago · · · The Mark ·

shock- because the gargleblaster needed SOME competition.

#38 · 33w, 5d ago · · · The Reveal ·

>>4161881

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 · 33w, 5d 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 · 33w, 3d 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.

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

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.

Awesome.  Greatly enjoyed it. :)

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!

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

Also, NovaScratch! *ShippingGoggles*

Awesome :pinkiehappy:

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:

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

>>4173169

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.

>>4189296

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

>>4197309

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

>>4197312

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

>>4197341

Thanks!

>>4197646

Yay! And BL2 is awesome.

>>4197657

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

>>4198075

Thanks!

>>4199038

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

>>4199070

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...

Dammit man, stop making yourself my favorite author.

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