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  • E Stetson

    Applejack reflects on the mistakes of her past.
    4,834 words · 8,878 views  ·  681  ·  7
  • E Twilight Rides a Snowboard

    Is there any way this can end well?
    1,663 words · 776 views  ·  49  ·  1
  • E Shadowbolt

    Twilight's practicing a new spell that may have unintended consequences.
    4,427 words · 1,167 views  ·  49  ·  3
  • E Discord's Game

    Celestia and Luna arrive in Equestria to find it ruled by a cruel tyrant. Can they defeat him?
    46,502 words · 870 views  ·  28  ·  1
  • E Raising the Sun

    Princess Celestia shows Twilight how she raises the sun. It's not quite what Twilight expected.
    1,600 words · 422 views  ·  27  ·  1
  • E Faces of Love

    Love is dangerous. So why do we want it?
    13,477 words · 739 views  ·  47  ·  4
  • E The Night Before Wednesday

    Will Fluttershy learn the true meaning of Wednesday?
    1,786 words · 154 views  ·  24  ·  1
  • T The Last Crusade

    A tyrant has ruled for a decade. A crusading trio sets out to stop her.
    50,103 words · 576 views  ·  37  ·  3 · gore

Blog Posts94

  • 8w, 5d
    Expectations and reviewing

    What makes a bad fic bad?

    It seems like a simple question, and one that any reviewer should be able to answer with ease. Bad grammar, overused plotlines, flat characters - the list could go on and on. But why are these things bad? Is there some objective way to measure a fic’s quality?

    I don’t think there is. Even things that seem to be objective, like spelling and punctuation, are subject to change, because that’s the nature of language. It’s always evolving to meet our needs and sometimes conform to modern usage. As if that weren’t bad enough, these “rules” can be ignored to produce a story deemed “good,” as was done in “Flowers for Algernon” or my fic “The Editor in My Head.”

    Maybe I’m just not smart enough to figure it out, but I can’t come up with any reason many traits of a bad fic should be objectively considered bad. Nevertheless, when I see that story about a depressed teenager who tried to commit suicide and turns into a black and red alicorn (once I hack through the description’s spelling errors) at the top of the “New Stories” column, I know. It’s going to be downvoted to oblivion, the comments won’t be kind, and I feel my stomach churn at the thought of reviewing this kind of thing for the hundredth time.

    So the question isn’t so much what makes a bad fic bad, but why? I believe the answer is fairly simple, but I think it has some important implications for anyone who wants to review - not just on Fimfic, but everywhere.

    The reason a person deems a fic bad is because it doesn’t meet his or her expectations. Beyond basic mechanical competency, we expect a story to entertain. When it fails to entertain, we feel cheated and reach for that downthumb. Reviewers take it a step further and analyze what, exactly, about the story robs it of its entertainment value. As I said before, this could be any combination of things - bad characters, boring plot, etc. - and the reviewer’s job is to identify and explain to his or her audience where the fic falls short.

    Seems easy enough, right? Except it’s not. In my opinion, a reviewer should strive to be as objective as possible, analyzing a fic based on its merits on not the reviewer’s particular biases. How can you do that if the standard of judging a fic is subjective in the first place?

    The key, I think, lies in identifying which expectations can reasonably be applied to a story. There are some that are near-universal - good grammar, for example - but others only apply in limited situations and may be exclusive to a single person. For example, you wouldn’t expect a tragedy to leave you laughing on the floor. For another, it’s unfair to condemn a story about Twilight riding a snowboard just because you don’t like snowboarders.

    That doesn’t mean you have to like it, of course. Everyone has their own preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re going to review, you need to recognize which expectations are shared by the community regarding the story in question, and which are your own preferences, which, while valid, are perhaps not a good standard for judging a fic’s quality.

    I’ve run into this situation a few times, and each time I’ve tried to distinguish between my preferences and the community’s preferences. I once read a story with the following premise: Twilight fell into a coma before the mane six reached the Elements of Harmony. Nightmare Moon took over and executed all of the mane six, except Twilight, who was locked in a cell. The story begins with Twilight waking up and realizing what has happened in her absence, realizing that all of her adventures were nothing more than the creation of her mind while in a coma.

    It was a dark, short one-shot, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. When I reviewed the story, I didn’t condemn it as bad. I pointed out some things I thought the author did well, and explained that while the story didn’t fit my tastes, I couldn’t find any reason to call it a “bad” story. So should reviewers distinguish between their taste in entertainment and the expectations held by the community as a whole - the expectations by which a fic should be judged in a fair review.

    That said, there’s one other aspect of expectations I think needs addressing. What if the community as a whole has an unrealistic expectation? For example, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the colors red and black, OCs, HiE, or alicorns. They get hated because, most of the time, they fall into other pitfalls that make them boring - usually absurd characters and plot.

    A writer should take this into consideration, but that’s not the point of this blog. What should a reviewer do when faced with such an expectation?

    As before, a reviewer should distinguish between what takes away from a story’s entertainment value and what only happens to have negative connotations. When I encounter the dreaded red-and-black alicorn (a very rare occurrence nowadays), I simply explain that this particular character design has been overdone, and done badly, so many times that few people will give the story a chance. Does that make it a bad story? Not by itself, no.

    And that’s the role of a reviewer - point out what detracts from a story’s entertainment value and leave biases and preferences at the door, or explain to a writer why these biases exist in the first place.

    Not sure if this made any sense. But hey. What do you think?

    ~Scribs

    6 comments · 38 views
  • 10w, 2d
    A discussion on stealing characters

    I was reviewing a story earlier today that had many, many flaws. One of these flaws, as some commenters said, is that the author used a character from a well-known fic written by a well-known author. These commenters complained that, unless the writer had the permission of said author, using that particular character was bad. Somehow.

    This isn't the first time I've seen this come up in a story, and for a while, I agreed. After all, this is a writing website, and stealing a character is kind of like plagiarism, and that's bad. Except then someone else countered with another question: "Did [well-known fic author] ask permission from Lauren Faust/Hasbro/the show's creators to use [canon character(s)]?"

    Which led me to realize that fanfiction in general apparently occupies this sort of weird space where you can steal indiscriminately from the source material but not other derivatives of that source material. (Apologies if I'm using the terminology wrong.)

    So here's my question. Why is it OK to use characters and settings from the show, but not characters created by other fic writers? When I try to reason it out, I always run into a dead end, but for some reason it just feels different. This isn't something I call anyone out on, partly because I can't figure out how to justify it while simultaneously endorsing stealing characters from the show, and partly because I'm not familiar enough with popular fics to know they're doing it in the first place.

    Young whippersnappers...

    Anyway, I'm curious about what you guys think. Does this bother you? And if so, why?

    ~Scribs

    13 comments · 74 views
  • 10w, 3d
    Scribblestick tries to return after a very long period of doing almost nothing

    Hi there! It's me, Scribblestick, that guy who was once notoriously friendly and chill and so on and so forth. You know, that guy who did a bunch of reviews and some analysis blogs and posted fan theory stuff and even published a story now and then. And then you followed me for some reason. Yay!

    Anyway, I've been doing a lot of soul-searching during the interseason break, trying to figure out why it is I stopped doing all of those things. The details of my spiritual journey, as it were, are long and complicated and mostly beyond my ability to clearly express right now. But, I've come to the decision that I want to make a determined effort to contribute to this community again, seeing as it's brought me so much joy and happiness and [insert positive emotion words] in the past.

    So, first thing's first: I have a new story in the works. A sort of 'choose-your-adventure'-style story. Obviously, this is a somewhat ambitious undertaking that won't be ready for publication for a while, but if any of you are interested in prereading/giving feedback, I'd love to have some assistance. In the meantime, I'll just keep plugging away until it's ready for public reading and all that jazz.

    Second, and perhaps more immediate, I'd like to get back into reviewing. It's something I absolutely love, and it's something I really enjoyed doing here on Fimfic. I plan to do reviews on recent stories, but if you'd like me to look over something you wrote, I'd be happy to do that, too. Just let me know.

    On a related note, I realize I left several review requests unfinished when I stopped reviewing many months ago. So, sorry if I left you hanging. It wasn't you, it was me.

    On another related note, I have no plans right now to join any sort of review groups or do any formal group reviewing, other than the WRITE requests I get from time to time. This is because group pressure was a big factor in me losing steam last time, and for obvious reasons, I'd like to avoid that again. So, for now, it'll just be me all on my lonesome, trying to make Fimfic a better place.

    Third, you guys are awesome. I guess that's not really a goal or anything, but it's still true.

    And on that note, I should probably get back to work. Later!

    ~Scribblestick

    8 comments · 40 views
  • 10w, 6d
    Updates - The Last Crusade

    I've made some changes to the first two chapters of "The Last Crusade." Nothing major, just getting rid of the horrible exposition blocks at the beginning.

    That is all. For now.

    2 comments · 38 views
  • 24w, 4d
    How "Twilight's Kingdom" broke Discord

    I don't hate "Twilight's Kingdom." I want to get that out of the way now, in case someone thinks I'm going to be ranting about how much I hate this finale. Because I don't. I just found it underwhelming, and this is one reason why.

    Quick recap: Tirak has escaped Tartaurus and is stealing everypony's magic. Discord is sent to track him down and stop him, and Discord manages to do both without much trouble. Tirak begins telling Discord what a shame it is he's gone soft and values friendship and how they both can have their way with Equestria if they team up. Discord decides he likes the sound of that and helps Tirak round up all the ponies everywhere. Eventually, Tirak stabs Discord in the back and steals Discord's power. Discord regrets his decision to betray his friends and returns to the side of friendship, eventually having his powers restored when Tirak is defeated.

    Here's why this doesn't work.

    1) Discord should not have been taken in by Tirak's words. Discord himself is a master silvertongue, having singlehandedly imploded the mane six in "Return of Harmony." This tactic doesn't work in "Keep Calm and Flutter On" because the mane six have learned to expect it and recognize when he tries to do it again. Fluttershy even uses it to her advantage as a means of showing she cares about him, thus cracking his heart open enough for friendship to begin to sink in. Tirak's attempts to convince Discord to join him are tactics Discord himself has used in the past, and he should have been smart enough to recognize Tirak's silvertongue-ery as such.

    2) Tirak could not and did not offer Discord anything Discord could not have had on his own. Discord ruled Equestria once before being defeated by Celestia and Luna, and was well on his way to conquering it again before the mane six defeated him in "Return of Harmony." Both instances required the use of the Elements of Harmony. When Fluttershy refused to use her Element against him in "Keep Calm," Discord could have proceeded to conquer Equestria unhindered, but chose not to. While it's true Fluttershy could have reneged on her promise later, that possibility is irrelevant to the events of "Keep Calm," as Discord decides to abandon world domination without Fluttershy ever indicating she would do so. The only reason he didn't take over was because he chose not to.

    3) Discord chose to give up world domination because he values friendship more. This is at the heart of why Tirak's persuasion should have failed. Discord chose of his own will in "Keep Calm" to value friendship more than his own desires or fun. This was a central point of Tirak's attempts at persuasion, and it's one Discord should have rejected because he effectively did so in "Keep Calm."

    4) Discord already learned this lesson in "Keep Calm and Flutter On." From a moral-telling standpoint, this ground was already covered, and in my opinion it was done much better. There's no need to go over it again. I'm sure there are plenty of episodes that repeat morals, but "Keep Calm" has a special place in my heart as an episode I defended in-depth in the past, so it irks me to see its point brushed aside.

    So, the question becomes, what could be done instead? Here's my answer: Instead of having Tirak persuade Discord to join him, have him force Discord to join him.

    Here's how the scene plays out: Discord confronts Tirak as before. Tirak tries to talk Discord over to his side, but Discord rejects the idea for the reasons I stated above. Tirak then reveals he is already more powerful than Discord (because having him weaker at that point is an arbitrary decision made by the writers) and tells Discord if he doesn't help him, he will take away Discord's powers. Discord agrees, but does what he can to help his friends without getting caught. Discord constantly hides important information from Tirak anyway (a fourth alicorn princess, the fact that Twilight now has all the alicorns' magic, or the obvious failsafe he set up by bookmarking relevant portions of the group journal), which doesn't make much sense if Discord is supposed to be Tirak's willing and compliant ally.

    Thematically, this works much better as well, because Discord's growth as a character is now contrasted against Tirak, whose desires mirror those Discord himself had when he first appeared in "Return of Harmony" (revenge, take over the world, etc.). It forces Discord to face the worst of his past self and allows him to reject it anew, much like Rainbow Dash rejects Lightning Dust's tactics in "Wonderbolt Academy." It also sets him up as a foil to Twilight when she willingly gives up all her magic to save her friends. This would allow Discord's character to grow even more, having seen Twilight's example and having learned through experience that betraying your friends in the interest of self-preservation doesn't pay off.

    But hey, that's just me. What do you think?

    ~Scribblestick

    12 comments · 116 views
  • ...
 70
 2,161
Source

When Pinkie's friends can't pick a book to read, she decides to write her own with the help of an editor only she can hear. But why is Pinkie suddenly having memory lapses? Just what is the editor editing? And more importantly, will Pinkie's grammar and formatting ever improve?

Special thanks to my prereaders and to Cozmosus for writing the story that inspired this one.

Cover image by ErisGrim.

Featured on Equestria Daily on October 8, 2012

First Published
29th Sep 2012
Last Modified
29th Sep 2012
#1 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

I liked it. It was funny and original.

#2 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

Oh, god, lol. I knew a fix when Pinkie went into 1st person the moment I saw that, but lo and behold! You made the best damn story I ever read.

5/5 Moustaches :moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache:

#4 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1356267

All in a day's work. Now to make a short story to laugh at when I graduate high school.

P.S. If you want the first chapter, I'll give you a link to it... it'll involve ponies in a war with humans, time-control (No Dr. Whoves), guns, magic, the usual shit. My class loved the first 2 chapters.

#5 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

Thank goodness Pinkie Pie got rid of that crazy editor-person.

This is brilliant, by the way. :pinkiesmile:

#7 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

this better get featured

#8 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1356847 WHAT HAVE I DONE. :raritydespair:

#9 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1356854

Unleashed a thousand year rain of burning cupcakes and eternal parties, until eventually all ponies are dead of exhaustion. Then, she shall travel the cosmos, bringing joy and death to every being she meets. Eventually, when her own universe is devoid of life except herself, she will smash the fourth wall to pieces, and eventually, destroy all life in every reality.

#12 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

Bravo, Bravo, I say! :pinkiehappy:

#13 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

Needs a comedy tag.

This is fucking hilarious. :rainbowlaugh:

#14 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1356302 Sure! Just send me a PM.

#15 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

This is amazing.

5/5 Happy Twilights.

:twilightsmile::twilightsmile::twilightsmile::twilightsmile::twilightsmile:

#16 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

I think this is the right reference. I'm not sorry if it isn't, because I love this damn movie. Fuck the remake.

#17 · 108w, 5d ago · · ·

>>1358413 I couldn't say. I'm only vaguely familiar with this movie's premise.

#18 · 108w, 4d ago · · ·

Hehe. Fun story. Had some experience with bad editors?

#19 · 108w, 4d ago · · ·

>>1361428 Me? No. I'm more likely to be the evil editor myself. But I do know what it's like to have someone try and write your story for you.

#20 · 108w, 4d ago · · ·

this is much better then its views total. Great story

#21 · 108w, 3d ago · · ·

This story is excellent! Perfect Pinkie Pie antics, uniquely suited for fanfic. Just a really brilliant idea. Rec'ing this one to my friends, for sure. :twilightsmile:

#22 · 108w, 3d ago · · ·

>>1368823 Thanks! Glad you liked it.

#23 · 108w, 3d ago · · ·

This was brilliant, one of the most entertaining fanfics I've read lately. :twilightsmile:

I especially like the final words, because it's basically what I say to myself when I write. :pinkiesmile:

#24 · 108w, 2d ago · · ·

Good to see this is getting a steady stream of attention, Scribble.

#25 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

lmao, that was awesome... best story I've read in awhile. haha.

#26 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

Aww man... would you believe that I've been working on a similar concept for about a month? It's called Lyra the Stalker, and it was about Lyra being aware of her Author. And now you did it, only better. I'm a little unhappy now. This is what I get for delaying it so long, I guess. :pinkiesad2:

#27 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1409087 Funny, someone else told me they were doing one with Twilight. Guess this is a popular theme right now.

#28 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1409099

But I did it before it was cool. :rainbowdetermined2:

#30 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1409128

Well, in any case, you're the one in the feature box, and I'm... well, me. So, who wins this round, hmm? :twilightoops:

#31 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

Heh, clever, most clever. :pinkiehappy:

#32 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

Was that... was that meta?

Hmm. You know what? I think I smelled a lesson at the end, just on the way out. I'm not going to listen, though, because I've been a critical bastard for too long. :ajbemused:

This was quite an enjoyable story. The premise was unique and funny, and I was entertained. You have won the approval of Inky, and thereby win the Inky Award. Shove that on your shelf and smoke one, boy.

#33 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1361828

Evil dictator editor is still better than no editor.  at least you can choose to accept or refute their changes.

#34 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1409923 My life is now complete... :pinkiegasp:

>>1409938 True... though Pinkie's editor didn't really give her that option.

#35 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1410161

Yes, but Pinkie is a character, not a writer.  Clearly, the writer for the story(you?) thought these ideas were gold.

My favorite part is that Pinkie kept getting dragged back to the center of the room.  that was like lolwut?

#36 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1410161

You bet yo flank, boy.

YA HEAR THAT, EVERYPONY!? Everything and anything you've ever done, are doing, or will do shall be meaningless... until you win an Inky Award.

#37 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

I was mentioned? I was mentioned... I WAS MENTIONED!!!

This is happy day! I feel almost important.

#38 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1410827 I'd do a link if I could get the code to work. :facehoof:

#39 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1410870

Sounds like a plan. I'm actually writing a sequel called Rainbow Dash Makes Rainbows, and it should be far better than Pinkie and RD bake Cupcakes.

Also, what do you think would happen if your Editor met my Narrator?

#40 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

I don't know if anyone's played a Half Life 2 mod called "The Stanley Parable" but this definitely shares some key aspects. If you really liked the premise of your story, Scribble, I recommend you give it a go.

Good stuff, both this fic, and the game.

EDIT: I forgot one of the main points of my post, which is that, because of the aforementioned game, the editor had a very specific voice.

#41 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1411256 :twilightoops: Narrator vs. Editor...

Let's take it one step further: what if your Pinkie and Narrator met my Pinkie and Editor (Don't capitalize that!)? What if my Editor (Gaah!)went with your Pinkie and vice versa?

Why do I like this idea more than I probably should? :ajbemused:

#42 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1412340

Something like this needs to happen.

#43 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1412437 My imagination is already running wild... :pinkiecrazy: :pinkiegasp:

#44 · 107w, 2d ago · · ·

Shoot me a PM. We need to have a talk.

#45 · 107w, 1d ago · · ·

Excellent

#46 · 107w, 1h ago · · ·

Hmm... There are a few typos in this story.  You may want to fix them, but it's your prerogative. :ajsmug:

Editors aren't always trying to write the story for you; sometimes they're just trying to keep it out of the red-and-black zone!  A story should operate with a modicum of common sense, after all. Unless it's a Pinkie story, in which case it runs on Pinkie Sense.  

Now where am I going to find a banjo?

#47 · 106w, 6d ago · · ·

>>1411828 I hadn't played it before reading this, but I saw your comment, installed it, and yup, I see what you mean about the similarity. I still haven't gotten the ending the narrator wants because I've been too busy being contrary, lol.

#48 · 106w, 6d ago · · ·

>>1411828>>1428117 Well, I'm glad I can make an accidental Half Life 2 crossover. :pinkiehappy:

#49 · 106w, 5d ago · · ·

SO Awesome!:rainbowkiss:

#50 · 106w, 5d ago · · ·

This was fantastic!  Is the Editor's personality actually how you work on other people's stories, or was it a character of its own?

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