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Real life is for the stories you just can't make up.

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Aug
31st
2014

First Impressions Critique: Of Ponies and Dragons - By NobleValor · 8:31am Aug 31st, 2014

First Impressions Critique: Of Ponies and Dragons - By NobleValor
Link to story: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/206948/of-ponies-and-dragons
Link to Fimfiction's Guide to Writing: http://www.fimfiction.net/writing-guide
Link to Tips to Writing Fanfiction: http://www.fimfiction.net/blog/326406/tips-for-writing-fan-fiction-or-any-fiction-really
Link to FIC: Of Ponies and Timelords: http://www.fimfiction.net/blog/369265/first-impressions-critique-of-time-lords-and-ponies-by-arched-lightning
(I'll quote whoever I damn well please, whenever.)

Date Created: August 31, 2014

Note: I'm thinking on how I could improve these First Impression Critiques to better the author I'm critiquing more efficiently, so expect some future changes in how I do these critiques.
After finishing my critique on Of Timelords and Ponies and talking to the authors of the story, I've decided that I should and try pointing out the good things that were done well in the story. Keep in mind that the purpose of this isn't to overly praise the author on what they did right, but to make sure that they don't change what they did correct in the story as well as what they did wrong.

* * * * * * * *

- First Impression -

Of Ponies and Dragons, by NobleValor, is a quick read, clocking in at 1.7k words, submitted to Equestria Daily's 'The Equestria Daily Outside Insight Summer Fanfic Contest'. Really, there isn't much to say about the story in a sense of a first impression. The grammar and description are spot on for well done, and tag usage is pretty simplistic.

Through each critique done in the past, talking about tag usage has been done not because it was done wrong, but to make sure that what was tagged is what the author was striving for when writing the story under a specific tag, for those of you who never understood it. The only tags used for this story would be 'Sad' and 'Slice of Life', which makes the story even more simpler for a quick read of a story.

The only thing needed to be said for when writing a sad fic is to make sure that you're not only trying to stir up the emotions of the reader for the sad aspect. Sure, the entire story could be built around something sad, but try to strive to create more than one emotion for the reader while they're reading. Causing readers to stir up emotions during their read will definitely gain their attention and excitement while reading, which can really lead up to a great book if used correctly. As said before, just simply try going for different emotions when necessary during the story. Don't cause too much change in the tone/mood though, just keep things stuble and the reader will be able to have a blast while reading.

The 'Slice of Life' tag would be used for when the story itself is something similar to the show in a number of aspects. For it being the short story as it is, as well as the low word count for the one chapter, it's pretty easy to pull it off, as well as being extremely understandable for the reader in why it's tagged under 'Slice of Life'.

- Grammar, Punctuation, and Style -

Ellipses in a story should be used sparingly, and through the 1k words that are in this story, it could be said that ellipses are a bit 'stale' in the sentences they are put in. An ellipse would be the triple dots (...), in which create a short pause for the reader before getting to the next set of words. Normally, in a story, they are used to try and create suspense and anticipation for the reader, but what most authors fail to realize is that normally, the way they were used in the story don’t get the wanted effects they anticipated for.

In the dialogue from Spike, he goes on saying: "Now...Imagine seeing that...All the time." A number of things could be spotted wrong with grammar and punctuation in this one sentence alone, but for now, ellipses are the main subject in which to be discussed about. Also, when ellipses are used, that's not the end of the sentence, that just shows that there's a pause within the sentence, sort of like what an dash or comma would do.

Ellipses, in opinion, are normally regarded as cheap devices that shouldn't be used in a story. Normally, experienced authors would be able to use them efficiently inside a story, while normally novice authors would steer away from them, as they know what they could do to their story. Most of the time, including in this story, ellipses are used as cheap suspense devices by novice authors who try to stir up emotions from the readers.

Sure, it could be said that most of the seven times ellipses shown in the story, they were used in dialogue, which is a good way in order to show that the character is trailing off on their wording, which in turn, creates a more 'realistic' conversation between characters.

Although it could be said, it doesn't mean it's entirely true. When writing a conversation inside a story, the best thing to stick to would be the character's 'nicks' when inside a conversation, similar to how Applejack goes about calling people 'sugarcube', or how Rarity does the same with 'darling'. Although it could be said that a 'nick' could be trailing off during a conversation to think about what to say before saying it, this leads to the fact that Spike wouldn't be the one to do such pauses, as in the show, he wasn't the one to pause himself to question what he would be about say, and he certainly wouldn't be doing that after a stage of maturity. The second fact would be that it creates conversations in which "they're choppy, unfocused, filled with pauses, and all around terrible" once the conversation becomes too realistic to a conversation you would see in a real life scenario.

Revising that sentence above to "Now, imagine seeing that all the time," would be a better way in which you are able to achieve the same feeling to the reader given from Spike as he is explaining it. The same could be done for most of the ellipses used in the story, simply replacing them with commas or just removing them completely would be sufficient enough to make the flow easier on the story.

Although it's nice to not see ellipses being used as cheap emotional devices during a story, that doesn't mean that they're frowned upon in every scenario that they could be used in. Sure, you could probably get away with using them once or twice in dialogue for a story as short as this, if used properly, but overusing them can become quite the annoyance. The line "Spike was touched. These things..." is an example for this, in which Spike is thinking. The same could be done with an en dash for the ellipse, but it still gives a required pause in which goes to the next line of Spike correcting himself.

Moving on to a different subject, in a third person novel, it is not required at all to use any type of quotation mark to show the thoughts of a character in third-person perspective view. This story in particular is a third-person limited perspective, in which the perspective is still third-person, but is limited to only how Spike views things.

Using quotation marks, and single quotes, in a third person novel is highly not recommended to be done, as it will generally lead to confusion for the readers who confuse them for regular dialogue or thoughts. "But how could I possibly write thoughts in a third-person-perspective-told story without using quotation marks, you may be asking yourself, and if you are asking yourself this, then you really need to look back at what I just did there."

The best way to go about showing what the character is thinking in a third-perspective story would be by using what I just did up above, or simply using the italics tool. There are a lot of authors who use the italics tool in some type of way, thought being one of them, and it's pretty easy to use with the readers being plenty capable of distincting their usage upon seeing them.

Oh, and you used dashes incorrectly with the line: "Well, when that happened, I changed Twilight. I don't just mean physically, but" -Spike tapped his temple - "mentally too." The proper way in writing that line would be to use en dashes, instead of regular dashes: "Well, when that happened, I changed, Twilight. I don't just mean physically, but –" Spike tapped his temple, "– mentally too." Just google "en dash" and copy and paste it whenever you need it, or you could use a double-dash "--" as an informal way of doing the en dash.

All in all, the style of the story is pretty okay as it is. Sure, there could be plenty of revisions to come to fix some of the grammar and punctuation mistakes, and show and tell could be implemented a bit heavier on the story to really make the sentence flow a lot easier on the readers, but other than that, the story is in a pretty comfortable state to where it is now.

- Story -

Of Ponies and Dragons is a pretty simple short story, as the entire story is of Spike discussing with Twilight about the inner struggles he's been having with himself ever since transforming to Spike-zilla form, hoarding everything he saw, and back. Later on in the story, Fluttershy appears out of nowhere and reassures Spike that he still has control over his own self.

Although it could be said while reading the story that Spike seems a little bit "out-of-characters" for some readers, but that's the main point of the story, as Spike had gone through a mental change on how he perceives the world around him. Although Spike didn't keep the physical changes he had, he still retained some of the mental ones, such as hoarding everything he saw, classifying something as just another object he owned.

It seems pretty understandable as well for Spike to take on a different style of wording his sentences than he does in the show, mainly because in the fic, Spike matures in his mental state, which can be seen from how he would insert more lengthy words than what he would normally say. Growing up around a pony like Twilight and then going to through a stage of maturity would kind of make you expect something like that to occur, as people normally take on 'nicks' from other people they've been around for a while, such as phrases or thought patterns. Although, in this story, it does go a little bit heavy on what even a mentally changed Spike would say. The story could be revised though to fit more into what the show's Spike would say with a little hint of maturity to better fit the scenario in which Spike is in.

Other than that, the story does a well job in creating a sense of emotion and understanding of Spike for readers for a short story. The story, again, is pretty simple on the terms of plot, but it does it's intended purpose well.

- Conclusion -

Breaking the third-person perspective of this story, I would have to say that I recommend this story. It's a quick read for any readers with an interesting plot behind it, and it could possibly even show new writers a good way in writing the feelings of a character for their own stories. This critique in particular is pretty small, compared to what I've done in the past, but with the story being as well done as it is, I don't really require to go over many things, as the story does everything — except the things I've pointed out — well.

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Comments ( 1 )

Huh, not as bad as I thought. :pinkiesmile: On the note of single quotations, generally, when I write it is a bit more involved, so as such I put it on my kindle to read and go from where I left off. (Italics don't show on a kindle, not mine at any rate.) Just kinda got to be habit after that. :twilightsheepish:

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