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Bad Horse

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Bad Horse Blog Index · 9:17pm May 30th, 2014

Fimfiction provides no easy way to find old blog posts, so this index will always be on my user page. Each list is mostly in chronological or reverse-chronological order.
I've added a few good blog posts by other people.


Books, lecture series, and websites about writing in general

  * Understanding Fiction: A book by Brooks & Warren that explains how stories work, according to New Criticism.
  * The Writer's Notebook: Craft essays from Tin House
    Writing: Jack Bickham, my strange hero

Story structure; What makes something a story? (mostly chronological, because new posts refer to old posts)

  * Stories with and without meaning: The Urban Fantasy Anthology
    Completeness in stories, poems, and songs: We have different standards for what counts as a complete narrative, depending on whether it's presented in prose, poetry, or song.
    Three more kinds of non-story: These are not stories: The hero does the right thing for the wrong reasons; The hero already knows the thing they “learned”; The author distributes the character growth arc across multiple characters.
  * Understanding Fiction: Brooks & Warren analyze famous stories.
    From sadfic to literature: Tension, Decision, Drama, Theme, Character, Response. Allowable combinations of positive & negative emotions.
    Writing: A three-second mistake that ruined an entire movie: The same narrative, told from a different point of view, is a different story.
    Human nature and other bullshit: Stories are about the particular issues of particular humans in particular cultures, not about human nature or "what it is to be human".
    Bears Discover Fire: Why is this a story?
    The Blues Brothers as magic realism
    An extremely short story: The GIF Day
    Writing is philosophy by existence proof: Writing fiction is proving that life is worthwhile by giving examples.
    Everything I Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Supervillains: The classic superhero story is designed to justify our crappy, thoughtless lives to ourselves.
    Why I'm about to "No true Scotsman" you: If there are patterns that make something a story, you have to expect there are bad stories that don't fit those patterns.
    The Gilligan's Island theory of stories: A theory of story is always limited to some subset of all possible story types.
  * ROF1. A general evolutionary theory of fiction: Why our brains reward us for reading stories, why they like stories that are painful, and why they like stories that are bad for us.
  * An appraisal-based ontology of fiction: Categorizing stories by their fundamental appraisals.  Narratives which don't fit any of these categories probably aren't stories.

Theme, central ideas

    Sex, violence, and meaning: Stories are morals. (Hard to read.)
  * The story isn't over when you wrap up the plot and Writing: A Passage to India, & not stopping when the plot ends: The plot is not the story; the plot is only the surface manifestation of the theme. You still need to relate the plot resolution to the theme after you wrap up the plot.
    Writing: Saving the world vs. kissing the girl: The story isn't over with the plot success/failure; we need to see its impact on relationships.
  * Thematic cheating: Forcing things to work out, against all odds, the way your theme demands, is dishonest propaganda.
  * Show us the theme: The difference between a story and an essay is that the story must show, not tell, the theme.
    "Publishable" Ideas, by Aquaman: Great stories don't come from a single great idea.


  * Writing: Relating plot and character. "Look Before You Sleep" and bookplayer's "How to Do a Sonic Rainboom".
    On Mary Sues: Some people need Mary Sues.
    Write-off: Why I love "The Ponies we Love"
    Bickham on Setting (POV & setting changes, casting against setting)
  * Collateral damage in Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice: Imbalances between character realism and plot requirements in Shakespeare
    The Great Shakespeare / My Little Pony Showdown: Part 1: Who writes more-distinctive characters: Shakespeare, or the writers of My Little Pony?
  * The Great Shakespeare / My Little Pony Showdown: Part 2: RESULTS!
    Twilight Sparkle's Literary Preferences: Twilight doesn't like all books.
    Writing: One single sharp character moment
    Character names: Re-use versus re-describe: Lavender unicorns in the EQD Omnibus
    Why it's easy for me to write fan-fiction
    Agency and Character Development in Crusaders of the Lost Mark, by bookplayer
    Unexceptional Exceptions, by bookplayer. On avoiding generic fantasy worlds and other cultural defaults.
    Difficulty Levels, by Chinchillax. A lesson about life from video games.
    Hungry Ghosts and Jealous Gods - Writing about Addiction, by Heartshine.  And all her other blog posts.

Show and Tell

    Writing: When to show & when to tell
    Writing: Telling vs. body language
    Writing: Other ways to look at "Show, don't tell": If you can tell it, tell it. Show things that you're not sure about. Tell the things that could generate confusion but not drama.
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, world-builder (TheJediMasterEd): How Solzhenitsyn describes the world of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
    Emergency new story announcement and "Show, don't tell" demonstration: Twilight Sparkle Makes a Cup of Tea
    Writing: Show and tell 1: Francine Prose
    Writing: Show & tell 2: Extreme telling
    EM Forster on character: Novels are for telling
    Writing: Show us the theme
    Writing: When only to show: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
    Superman taught me to kill: Things shown are true. The reader may interpret things merely said to be lies. Subconsciously.
    YOUR FACE (hazeyhooves): On using facial expressions. They might not show what a character feels.
    Honeycomb on show, don't tell: Don't tell the reader what to feel or think.

Relationships & Romance

    The Invisible Chores in a Relationship, by bookplayer
  * "It Feels Rapey" -- A Caustic Guide On How Not To Write Romance (Aragon)
    Why romances aren't romantic: Romance can develop only between characters who have something else to do.
    Writing: The romance novel POV trick: Rapid POV switches are used in romance to convey intimacy.
    Alien Shipping Syndrome is a Terrible Thing. On romance, by Chuckfinley.
    5 Tips for Avoiding Alien Shipping Syndrome. On romance, by bookplayer.


  * EM Forster, Aspects of the Novel, chapter 6: Fantasy
  * Fantasy as deontology (finale spoiler)
    Fairy tales are weird
    Fairy tales are random
    Comedy vs. Humor: Comedy amuses. Humor emotionally connects with the reader. Shakespeare wrote comedy; Joseph Heller wrote humor.
    Defining the readers of each genre: Data mining (by Catalysts Cradle).
    EM Forster, Aspects of the Novel, chapter 7: Prophecy
    Children's books as mind control: We don't keep scary things away from children to protect them. We do it to control them.

Scene structure

    Mythbusting: Scene + Sequel structure
  * Scene structure cures dull dialogue: Dull dialogue results from a dull scene, not from a lack of body language.
    Writing: Build-ups and resolutions versus shocks and limbo
    Writing: Follow each chain of thought to its end


  * Writing: Dialogue and artifice (bookplayer): Realistic dialogue isn't as good as distinctive dialogue.
  * Scene structure cures dull dialogue: Fixing the dialogue in a scene from "Moving On" by changing the scene's setup.
    Writing: Collaborative experiment: Speech tags: When did writers start using speech tags?
    Writing: Speech tag results

Point of view

    Writing: The romance novel POV trick: POV switches as dialogue and a measure of closeness between people.
    Bickham on Setting (POV & setting changes, casting against setting)
    Shared point of view

Other Tips & Techniques (most-useful first)

  * On Writing and Knowledge (Dr Blankflank): Don't write what you know. Know what you write.
  * Crutches (relying on dragons, death, & romance)
  * Why the new My Little Pony is 20% cooler
    Writing: Pacing: It isn't about speed.
  * Writing: Keeping all the puzzle pieces in play: Managing your reader's short-term memory
  * Symbolism in the Doctor Who episode "Amy's Choice"
  * Writing: You can't tell by the color: A lot of context packed into a single odd word choice in Reading Lolita in Tehran.
  * The geography of story: Physical movement symbolizes story movement.
  * Lead your readers
    Dream sequences & symbolism: Good and bad uses of symbolism in dreams
    How not to ship the Mane 6 with each other
    Writing: Adam Cadre's Narrative Patterns. Heuristics for fiction.
    Taboo "friendship": To write about friendship, avoid using the word "friendship".
    Writing: Plotters and pantsers in other walks of life, and Commedia dell'Arte: Some genres are just more pantsy than others.
    Writing tip: Know whom you're taking advice from
    Take advice you disagree with
    Writing: Letting a story sit
    When to throw away story ideas (because they won't be popular)
    The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen
    Writing: Philip Roth on the importance of knowing what people fantasize about, and of hating things


    Does grammar matter? Not to most readers.
    Things that make you say "Hmm..." (when you can't use a contraction)
    Linguistic puzzle for the day


  * The Art of Plain Speech (Ben Bova, posted by iloveportalz0r)
    Writing: Waves of style (Excerpt: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, part 2, chapter 4)
    Writing: Bjarke Ingels on style
  * Information theory and writing
    Writing: News from the front in the war on adverbs
    Writing: Culture and sentence length
  * Stylometrics
       Stylometrics: Pros vs. fans
       Stylometrics: Factoring out Equestria and point of view
    Magnetic Poetry Duels


    The ring of words by TheJediMasterEd

Story analyses

    My favorite first sentences
  * Raiders of the Lost Ark: A story analysis from Scriptnotes
    Theme and plot: A Canterlot Carol
  * Writing: War and peace, truth and fiction
    Why Fallout: Equestria is Worth Reading Even if You Hate it
    Annotations: "I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream" by Azusa, /Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/ by Titanium Dragon
    Annotation: Skywriter's "Torn Apart & Devoured By Lions"
    Excerpt: The Last Unicorn, chapter 8
    The Last Unicorn, chapter 13 again, funky stuff highlighted
    Writing: Plot in Cormac McCarthy's "All the Pretty Horses"
    Writing: "All the Pretty Pony Princesses" vs. Charles de Lint: The conscious vs. the subconscious
    Why fan-fiction does twist endings better (Trust, Game of Immortals, Happy Ending)
    Writing: Tempted by meaning: Stories in Understanding Fiction that are just about their meanings are boring.

Literary Theory

  * The annihilation of art
  * Thoughts on listening to Mahler's Fifth Symphony three times in a row
  * Writing (and composing): Mahler, Beethoven, Faulkner, House of Dawn, & the Wundt curve
  * Modernist and Medieval Art : They're based on the same metaphysics.
  * The Arian Heresy and the Fall of Rome: Religion and rationalism caused the Dark Age.
    Literary modernism explained: The Teaching Company audio course, Literary Modernism by Jeffrey Perl.
  * the revolution will be inscribed in cuneiform: The claim that modernism was a reaction to sudden changes in beliefs doesn't stand up, because ~1910 was not a time of unusually rapid change in beliefs.
  * Modernist Manifestos & WW1: We Didn't Start the Fire—Oh, Wait, we Totally Did: Modernism was not a reaction to WW1. On the contrrary, it may have been a cause of it.
  * Art and Genocide: The Führer who Loved Only Buildings: Hitler was motivated to kill by his love for art.
    An explanation of a famous neo-modernist poem: A genuine modernist's explication of Gertrude Stein's "yet dish"
    Modernist politics: Stalin and Hitler versus the movies
    "You're stupid and Ezra Pound is not." Also, Modernism is a plot by the CIA.
  * Post-modern dialectic as improv (Real Presences by George Steiner, a bad book I learned a lot from)
  * How I took a literary theory class and accidentally stopped hating Republicans, part 1
     * HITALTCAASHR, Part 1.2: Annie Dillard on modernist fiction
     * HITALTCAASHR, Part 2: What are English departments teaching?
     * HITALTCAASHR, part 3.1: College English leftism: How did it begin?
     * HITALTCAASHR part 3.2: Teaching English: 1987-1990
    Near and Far--Construal and Psychological Distance: Two opposing modes of thinking
    Art--for art's sake, autotelic, autonomous, and autopoietic: What these words mean
    How and Why Humans Dichotomize: Why humans oversimplify everything

Business, Publishing, Career development

    Beyond Ponies: An anthology of non-pony fics by ponyfic writers
    Review--Creating Faulkner's Reputation
    Do writers get better? No.
    Writing: Anvil and fan-fiction: Fan-fiction can make you a better writer. (First see Stylometrics: Pros vs. fans.)
    SFF writing workshops: Deadlines, money, and a fim-fiction scholarship
         Current Clarion scholarship: Applications for Clarion 2018 Open Today! Get your free money here!
    Signal boost: The Indie Hypocrisy (Viking_ZX): Why are indie movies & indie video games "good", while indie books are "bad"?
    Bad Horse's Bad Advice--Avoiding comparisons (with other writers)
    Fifty shades of marketing
    Readers want blood (NY Times bestellers are mostly bloody)


    Rules for Writing by GhostOfHeraclitus
    Writing: Short-shorts and the word-count donut hole
    Why read?: Is reading fun?
    Why We Read
    Why We Write
    Some numbers: Of words, in famous books.
    Racism inverted = racism?
    Writing: Jack Bickham, my strange hero
    Writing about rape
    Writing about rape, again
    Private stories, songs, & movies
    Story as dream
    Everything I Have to Say About "Gratuitous" Sex Scenes Summarized in Three Words
    The Paris Review: Writers at Work
    Making story art with the GIMP
    Is writing like computer programming?
    Does reading tvtropes.org make you a better writer?
    Laugh tracks
    Quote of the day: William Goldman: The day you think you know how to do it is the day you're done as a writer.
    Art is hard
    Things to avoid in stories: banality, contrivance, predictability, thinness, falseness, randomness, tidiness
    Writing: Philip Roth, & the ethics of writing
    Ink blots and Moby Dick: The way characters interpret things tells us about them. Similarly, good literature may be an inkblot test of the reader.
    Writing: Philip Roth on writing Anne Frank fan-fiction


Pony alerts & reviews (reverse chronological)

    Recs: An even worse self insert, The making of "Spring is Dumb"
    Buffy vs. The Librarians
    Season 7 Episode 14--Fame and Butthurt
    New story: I Shall Please by FanOfMostEverything
    TheJediMasterEd's first story: "Beneath your feet, what treasures"
    Two and two-half barn-busting stories
    Some folks worth following
    New write-off story recs
    Fic Rec: Save the Records
    Adventures in Twilight's Gall Bladder, read by ShadowOfCygnus
    A couple of stories from the write-off
    Story recommendation: Collaborators
    Summer is Magic: Forever Summer
    18th Brewmare & 50 Shades of Brad
    Artist: Noben
    A new story from Bob From Bottles
    An early yet confident recommendation (GaPJaxie, "Daring Do")
    Maud Pie meets Quizzical: The poetry of the layers
    A semi-secret, semi-new Skywriter story, "One Perfect Throw"
    Read this now: Thou Goddess, by horizon
    Fic alert: Height, by PoweredByTea
    A reading of "Coyote and the Boulder", by me
    A few recommendations (The Never-Was and Wouldn't-Be by Obselescence, Daring Do and the Dance by Georg, Home by RBDash47, Roaming by Skywriter)
    Recommendations: Cloud Wander, archonix
    A couple of recommendations: GaPJaxie & Jedi Master Ed
    Twilight Sparkle vs. the Equestrian Library Association
    Decisions, by hester1
    Belated emergency signal boost, & DuncanR
    Reviews: Mortal, Twilight's Forfeit
    Story recommendation: Biblical Monsters by Horse Voice
    Emergency new story announcement: Shorts by Cold in Gardez
    Whispering Stars
    Emergency new story announcement: Hoardsmiths by Skywriter
    Theme and plot: A Canterlot Carol
    Story recommendations: Kaleidoscope, A Canterlot Carol, Thweet Geniuth
    Emergency new story announcement: Quizzical
    Emergency new story announcement: Equestria's End by Aquillo
    Emergency new story announcement: In Their Highness' Clandestine Corps by AugieDog
    Emergency new story announcement and "Show, don't tell" demonstration: Twilight Sparkle Makes a Cup of Tea
    Why Fallout: Equestria is Worth Reading Even if You Hate it
    Whom the Princesses Would Destroy (GhostOfHeraclitus)
    Three new comedies (Georg, Cobra Commander, GhostOfHeraclitus)
    Sisters, chapter 3
    Recommendations: If a Pony Catch a Pony, Legends of the Night Guard, Cool Jazz
    Starlight Over Detrot
    New story rec: Concept art (Georg)
    The King of Carrot Flowers

Non-pony reviews

    Review of the Iliad, or, The Rage of Bad Horse
    Stories with and without meaning: The Urban Fantasy Anthology
    Disagreeing With The Dead: Why James Joyce's "The Dead" is a bad story
    Twilight anti-fan-fiction: Luminosity, by Alicorn
    Review: Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier, 1915
    John Updike's 6 Rules for Reviewing
    Review: William Congreve's "The Way of the World", 1700
    Review: Shakespeare's Henry IV, parts 1+2
    Collateral damage in Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice: Imbalances between character realism and plot requirements in Shakespeare
    Book review and writing tip - Mask of the Sorcerer: Too much wonder
    Review: The Hobbit (the 2013 Peter Jackson movie)
    Peter Beagle: The Line Between
    Review: Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016
    Hidden Figures: The real agenda is $$$
    Henry James: Daisy Miller + Pandora
    Review: Saul Bellow, Seize the Day (1953)
    Saul Bellow's short stories
    Review: The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
    Update: The Razor's Edge
    Review: Ivan Turgenev's Rudin (1856, Russian)
    Review: William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (I said some stupid things)
    Confused by Charles Bukowski
    New pony tale: "Loyalty" (but really about The Things They Carried)
    Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
    Review: House Made of Dawn
    Review: I am Not a Serial Killer
    The Last Jedi (no spoilers)


FimFiction (reverse chronological)

    Author pie charts graph
    Ficdom Structure 2: Author heat map
    The importance of user interfaces: We have good stories because we have a good UI
    A hypothetical question about thumbs
    The stupidest thing about the featured box
    Writer attrition: 1/3 per year: 1/3 of writers leave fimfiction each year
    We are the two percent: 2% as many words are read on fimfiction as in English-language novels
    How popular is each character tag?
    A warning about the new bookshelves
    EM Forster on Ulysses as fan-fiction
  * Attrition: An estimate of the rate at which people leave fimfiction
    When do readers know whether they liked a story?
    Peachy: Inconsistent application of site rules.
    EMERGENCY! (Unless you are Professor Plum): The case for meta-fics.
    Black-and-red alicorns, I mean soldiers, in Equestria
    The Firefly effect: Niche stories get fewer but more-interested readers
  * Writing to not be disliked
    More on writing to not be disliked
    Serious Stories
    Serious Stories 2.0
    When do people read fimfiction?
    First stab at recommendations
  * Some statistics on fimfiction.net: Ranking authors

Other (reverse chronological)

    Bronycon: And That's How Equestria was Made!: An MLP "Baron Munchausen / Evil Overlord"
    Some Luna head-canon
    Trotcon 2015
    Their hate makes us strong: Bronydom is good because membership has a price
    Bronycon 2014
    Bronycon 2013
    Boycott Hasbro?
    Sad bronies
  * Collective Pony Nouns
  * We're Number One, maybe
    My Little Pony is not a women's show
    Even here there be ponies
    Why Double Rainboom offends me
    And now, most-surreal My Little Pony reference in a webcomic!
    Writers vs. artists on alicornification
    WTF, Hasbro? Why are their plushies so bad?
    Suddenly, I want to know: Whose name becomes the family name?
    Abnormal: On being a brony
    My My Little Pony / OkCupid experiment
    Lauren Faust on MLP G1
    Valve founder Gabe Newell is a brony

ME ME ME (chronological)

  * Pony Tales
    Bad Horse 2012: A self-indulgent self-review
    So it turns out I'm Celestia
    Bad Horse, ponykiller: Ruining MLP for my nieces.
    Golden Vision interviewed me on livestream
    Interview follow-up, reviews, and my secret story
    On Moving On
    Father's Day
    I've been vaulted!
    Writing: "All the Pretty Pony Princesses" vs. Charles de Lint: The conscious vs. the subconscious
    Write-off: Yay me!
    This could have been mine: The one who got away.
    Canterlot's Finest / Moments
  * My Royal Canterlot Library interview for "The Magician & the Detective"
    Poll: So why are you watching me, anyway?
    Fluttershy, Big Mac, and Mike Stahly
    The White Wolf novel I'm (sort of) working on
    Clarion write-a-thon
    Clarion write-a-thon, starting now!
    ??p?? (Elpis (Hope))
    An explanation of "Elpis"
    Mailmare discussion [ALL THE SPOILERS]
    Two and two-half barn-busting stories: Completions of that story beginning
    I am now part of the literary canon: They teach me at Princeton!
    Writing: The Mailmare, Fallout: Equestria, bad guys, and economics
    InquisitorM on "The Mailmare"
    Why it's easy for me to write fan-fiction
    "Shut Up" and my "psychic experience"
    reddit on Twenty Minutes now

Readings, Videos, Translations

    Reading of "Bad Horse's Bedtime Stories" by Neighrator Pony
    Yeah, I've had a script produced. (Movie based on "Goldenmane")
    Reading of "Elpis" by Cherax; other readings
    (Russian translation of 20 minutes)
    I've been scribbled!
    Audio readings by me



    The 10 Creepiest Things About My Little Pony
    My Dickish Pony: Ponies Are Dicks (S1-4) by PresentPerfect
    Unicorn clop simulator!
    We are not the weirdest people out there
    Bronies: Living up to the stereotype
    R34 explained
    Yeah, I got your Hearth's Warming story right here.
    Quote of the day: Wes of AmazingSuperPowers.com on cloning
    Relief for lavender unicorn syndrome
    Good pre-reader, bad pre-reader
    bookplayer's 50 questions
    We go to the gallery: Modern art for children
    Happy holidays! (weird Santa GIF)
    Programming language analogies
    Publishers still don't get online distribution...
    Silly human...
    Today on FML: Brony-trolling fail
    Now canon
    Not canon
    It's good to be bad: Jaguars are for villains.
    For SCIENCE!
    Dragon, why u so mean?: Dragon mis-hears pony words.
    What I learned today: "Pony play"
    Rainbow Dash sighted in Indonesia
    Found in a fortune cookie: A bizarre fortune.
    You've had too much pony when...
    My new alicorn OC
    Celestia pin-up
    Bad hair day / Awesome hair day?
    The Original Batman


    How to Lose
    The Hunger Games and hypocrisy
    Live a meaningless life
    How the Web destroyed civilization

Other Other

    The coolest thing I've seen this month: Apollo audio recording.
    Daily D'awww
    The tree that owns itself
    Another reason to visit New Zealand: Hobbiton!

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Comments ( 13 )

A lot of these get 404 errors
Correction: I think all of them get 404'd

Awesome, by the way. I can't wait to go through them all.

Curiosity: What was wrong with them?

Thank you. This is pretty awesome.

Excellent. You're going to add this to your fimfic page, right?

I've already clicked through and read a couple of the older ones that sounded interesting, so it's doing its job.

Very nice. I did an index for my stories recently for much the same reason, but probably won't for my blog posts, because I seldom say anything profound in them. I would advise you to link to this in your main page (like I did for mine) to make it easier to find for us later.

Any idea why?

Because whenever EqD prereaders fail a story without reason, they always pin the blame on the show-don't-tell imaginary rule. :pinkiecrazy: Thus, a flock of novice writers fell on your blog like hungry vultures, hoping to learn the trick that would increase their chances of getting published. :pinkiehappy:
Providing completely inaccurate remarks on topics I have no clue about since 2012.

Yay, an index! The main reason I didn't read your old blog posts yet is that navigating them in FIMFiction is a huge pain.

I second the request for you to link this on your page and, if possible, keep it updated. Though I'm not taking chances, I've already bookmarked this :twilightsmile:

BTW, do you have anything against getting new comments on month-old (or older) blog posts? If not, a few of mine might start appearing :scootangel:

2159835 I've got nothing against comments on old posts. This is the web, not a newspaper.

Bookmarked. :pinkiehappy:

I have not indexed dissertations made in the comments by Titanium Dragon.

Funny enough, this is the reason I'm using this index at this very moment.

I have a ton of reading to do.


Did you ever read my "Grammar for Real People" blog series?

I really need to continue that....

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