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One Man's Pony Ramblings - Bad Horse's guest blog post on Why We Write · 5:24am Aug 10th, 2013

Bad Horse has been requested by [url=http://www.fimfiction.net/user/ChrisChris to do a guest blog on One Man’s Pony Ramblings, and somehow in the chaos, he asked me for my opinion.

Well. I’m not one to brag. Oh, who am I kidding?

First thing : Please go to the blog, read it, and add your wisdom to the comments. You can even go into all the author’s responses and comment. (Must...restrain...self...)

Second thing : (Squee! Bad Horse asked for my opinion! I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!)

Ahem. Well, he asked a lot of writers for their opinions, and that’s a lot like asking a grandparent about their offspring. His blog posting is filled with happy smiling faces, all displayed by proud parents. Hey, we love ‘em.

I must warn you, there can be hours of reading in his blog posting and the author responses, with deep thoughts that may just change the way you think about writing.

Our original email exchange follows:

(From Bad Horse)
I tried to write a blog post about some of the things that puzzle me most about writing:
- Why do I write?
- Does my writing makes the world a better place?
- Do I care whether it does?
- There's such a thing as a bad story, but is there such a thing as an objectively great story, that's great for everyone? It seems like an absurd idea, so why do we all seem to believe so strongly in it?
And... I don't know. So I thought I'd ask some other writers. Have you got any answers or ideas to share?

Here’s my response : Yes.

Now let me expand on that a little, and I’m going to go about this in reverse order, just because. I have to warn you before you start reading. I ramble :)

Bad Stories

By definition, there are good stories that are ‘bad’ in many ways. After all, an element of a story can be lousy without making the whole story bad, and sometimes makes it better. The major parts of a story can be referred to as M.I.C.E. for Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event, and I’m going to try to give an example of a ‘good’ story that stomps all over one or more of the elements but still is ‘good.’

For example:
Do characters need to be exciting? No! : John, the Least Interesting Stallion in Equestria is self-descriptive, and Quizzical (from my comment) You managed to take the absolutely most boring character that ever existed in Equestria, whose special talent is a chalkboard, and whose study focus are dirt and counting dirt, and turn them into a character that is just fascinating.

Do events need to be exciting? No! :
Pinkie Watches Paint Dry

Does an Idea need to be exciting? Um. Actually, yes
Celestia’s Tiny Student was an exciting concept saddled with bad grammar. It was so exciting that I volunteered to help edit it up, and I don’t regret helping out one bit. Then you have Erase and Rewind which is the only ponyfic I’ve ever recommended to a friend of mine who hates ponies.

Does a Milieu need to be well-defined or exciting? Well, we’re getting into fuzzy territory for me here. After all, the setting we work from is a cartoon designed to sell little plastic toys with combable manes to young girls, and we wind up with everything from Naked Singularity , my Sacrifice of the Knight Bolo , to Cupcakes (which I’m not about to link) We’ll leave this for Bad Horse, who can describe it much better than I.

So my response to the question is : “Yes, there are objectively perfect stories, for a given value of ‘objective.’” Even the best story I sent to my friend will not be read, because there are ponies in it. (Seems to be an allergy. I should include a disclaimer with everything I send. Caution: This document was processed on equipment that also is used for the manufacture of pony-based products. Use is not recommended if the user has a serious allergy to ponies.)

Why do we believe there is a perfect pony story that everybody will like? (and of course, that we will be the one who writes it) Hope springs eternal in the human breast; (A. Pope) It’s probably a little like why we buy a lottery ticket. Yeah, there’s not a chance, but you know.... With a couple billion people worldwide, including Senators, there’s not a chance *everybody* will agree on anything, but if you could get 1/10 of a percent to send you ten bucks, you can buy a small island. And everybody has at least some small idea of just how they’re going to spend that money.

Does my writing make the world a better place?:
If you mean, have I solved Mid-East peace, or possibly discovered colt fusion, no. What a silly thought. However, I have made hundreds if not dozens of people across the globe break out laughing. So until I can discover a ballistic nuclear tickle missile, that’s about as good as its going to get. (Attention NSA: That’s a joke. I don’t have a feather-stuffed missile in the back yard ready to shoot at North Korea in case they get too stuffy.)

Do I care? Well. Yes. It takes a special kind of person to go around and do things they think will make the world a worse place. And since I’m not interested in politics, that leaves the Light Side of the Horse.

So why do I write?

I suppose it’s a little like cupcakes. There is more than one ingredient in my writing cupcake, and they have a synergistic synthesis of delightful delicious interactions.

Let me get out the time machine and show you. Here we have a young Georg in college, writing to get out of the English class. If you write non-fiction, you need to record your sources. If you write fiction, you can just make it all up. There was no decision needed. Fiction!

Now we skip forward a few years to an older Georg, playing Fantasy Role-Playing games, once a week or so, every week, since he was in college. (until the present, by the way) GMing a game is a lot like writing: You have characters who have motivations, they take actions, unexpected things happen, people die, fights break out. I stood at the end of the table with a few notes and some dice for almost two years for one game, and I’m still friends with the players. It was great practice for writing drafts and event sequences, but my grammar *stunk*. About this time, I started writing a story based on the FRP game in little dribs and drabs. I showed it to a few people, all of whom liked it, but I figured it would take 150k words to complete, and at my rate of writing, that worked out to about 150 years. (plus ten years or so for an editor to wade through it)

Now skip forward to last year, almost exactly a year ago. (checks) Oh heck. It is a year ago. My, how time flies. I had been watching the ponies on Youtube for a few weeks, and a few ideas started bouncing around in my mind. I’m a believer that Friendship is Magic actually has two levels of ‘Seriousness’ concealed inside: The Celestia/Luna story, and the little ponies stories. It bugged me that Luna had no real ‘mea culpa’ moment where she confessed the error of her actions, or other serious subjects. So my little inside voice started talking to me.

Why don’t you just write down your idea?
Well, that didn’t take long. Why don’t you put it up on FimFiction?
I need an avatar. Oh look, a pony creator.
Ok, there we go. It’s posted.

Now from this point on, you might as well go read Skywriter’s Twilight Sparkle Earns the Featurebox because that is *exactly* what I went through. Um. Almost. Figuratively only. I really don’t own a crossbow, or a quill, but other than that, it’s very close.

So to summarize:

I write to get the ideas out of my head and down on paper.
I write because it makes me happy to make others happy. (much like Pinkie Pie)
I write because I’m an egotistical narcissist who adores seeing others tell me how great I am. (well, maybe a little)
I write because a well-constructed story is a joy to look at, much like people who make ships in those little bottles.
I write because some things that I would like to happen in the show are too good not to share.
I write because I like to take otherwise normal events and twist them or flip them, playing what happened then or wouldn’t it be cute if and this should happen.
I write because otherwise the wife is going to hand me a hoe and make me work in the garden.
I write because you can only play World of Warcraft for so long before you have to take a break. (that’s about 15 hours a day)
I write to embarrass my children.
I write because I like ponies.
I write because it’s fun.
And I want to share.

Thank you.

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Comments ( 1 )

That was a giant collection of story plugs, lol.

But yeah, overall, I write when I have ideas I think others will find worth reading, and I've personally gotten comments like "thanks, that brightened up my day"... and that makes it all worth it :pinkiehappy:

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