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10 Tips for Beginning MLP Writers · 3:14am Nov 9th, 2014

Just something I decided to do real quick after noticing some recurring cliches in the fandom.

1) Having your OC villain beat the Princesses/mane six easily is not badflank. It's overdone and cliche. Having them be able to MATCH the Princesses and barely edge out a win is better, but often times it's simply better to keep the Princesses occupied elsewhere. Having Rainbow Dash be curbstomped in a race by a character or a character outmagic Twilight is NOT a good idea, if a character needs to beat them, justify it somehow. Be more creative than simply 'my character pwns everything'.

2) Having your OC no sell the Elements of Harmony/Rainbow Power is not badflank. It is 'how to make your character a Mary Sue in one simple step'. The Elements of Harmony/Rainbow are canonically the most powerful magic in the setting that not even Discord can overcome. The canon writers have been able to avoid this trap cleverly, so can you.

3) Having your OC HERO easily beat up Discord or fullpower Tirek does not make him Badflank. It makes them ALSO a Mary Sue. Having them HELP the heroes defeat a villain however, is perfectly fine, so long as it's done completely organically and that the story's logic SUPPORTS them being able to do it.

4) Making your character a new Element of Harmony is...actually okay, but make sure you do it ORGANICALLY AND WELL. Remember that to be able to use the Elements with the others requires having an organic, genuine friendship with the rest of the Bearers and to truly, genuinely represent that trait. Saying 'my character is the Element of Trust!' without any build up or them actually DEMONSTRATING this trait is bad, having them organically build friendships with the mane six over a story and actually show they're trust worthy and reliable, but still flawed, is good writing. See the Pony POV Series and "To Forgive Is Equine" for good examples of how to handle this well.

5) If you're writing a crossover, don't let one side overshadow the other. To quote Linkara: the cardinal sin any crossover can make is to make one side look worse than the other. Don't let one side help the OTHER solve all their problems, have them HELP each other solve one another's problems. They can make solving canon things EASIER for the other, but it should be a two way street. Don't have Link kick Discord and Chrysalis' flanks but Ganondorf no selling the Elements. If one side has trouble with the other hero's villain, the other hero should have trouble with that side's as well. For a great example of handling this well, see "Friendship is Showtime" by MangaKamen.

6) No matter how much we don't like it, that one character you don't like? Odds are there's someone, somewhere out there that likes them. Do NOT just write a fanfic for the sole purpose of beating up a character you don't like. You WILL offend those who DO like them and it hurts the story. If you don't like something about a character, Rescue From the Scrappy Heap in your own eyes and give them some growth or development that GENUINELY and organically overcomes that flaw without beating them up.

7) Let your own desires take a back seat if it's what makes a better story. If you think Equestria's geocentric orbit is stupid and makes no sense, fine, more power to you, but incorporating that into a story just because you want to make a point rather than it supporting the story. It's not a good use of your space or the reader's time if it serves no purpose other than to vent your anger at something you dislike. Think of what's best for the plot, keeping the characters IN character, and the audience, not what's best for YOU. If a plot line you REALLY wanted conflicts with the theme, tone, or direction the plot has taken, either scrap it completely or rework it to fit organically.

8) If you're going to do a 'Mare do Well Aftermath' or 'Canterlot Wedding 'Twilight was right everyone else was wrong!' or other commonly used storylines, rethink your position and look up what others have already done. Write it in a new, refreshing way. Have the OTHERS realize they were wrong with the Mare-Do-Well incident and come to talk to Rainbow Dash who's actually FORGOTTEN the whole darn thing and wanted to leave it as water under the bridge for example.

9) Romance...is perfectly fine so long as it's done well. Having your OC be a canon character's love interest is PERFECTLY fine so long as you remember one thing: even if your character has an identical personality to a canon character, they should still have VISIBLE chemistry and characterization that meshes well together. There should be interactions where the characters work off one another and their personalities mesh. Having your character bump into Fluttershy say 'hi' and suddenly she's smitten by him is not a good idea. Having your character bump into her, the two begin a conversation where they work off of each other organically and fluidly in a natural fashion, and walk away with a crush on each other is a good idea. I suggest looking up "On A Cross and Arrow" for a good example of how to write this, but I also actually recommend watching G2 My Little Pony Tales, which had some actually legitimately good, fleshed out romances.

A good rule of thumb is the audience should feel 'aww, aren't they cute together' or 'Hmm...yeah, I could ship those two' BEFORE the words 'love', 'he's so cute' or other 'I'm in love' phrases are even MENTIONED. The audience should feel the two work well as a couple before you TELL them one is in love with the other.

10) There is no such thing as a used up premise. You want to write a 'Rainbow Dash's wings are lost, hurt, crippled, ect' story? Go ahead, just remember one VERY important rule: make it new. Make it fresh. Add ideas and situations that most wouldn't expect or that other stories haven't done. Any premise can be good if it brings something new to the table.

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Comments ( 8 )

Thanks for writing this up. I'll be looking over this blog from time to time.

Well said, this could help a lot of writers that are just starting out.

This is a useful list for both beginning and experienced writers, just as a reminder.

Yeah, making the villain of my first MLP fanfic, "Shining in the Darkness," no sell the Elements was pretty much what killed it, because I kept telling myself that I had an explanation for it, but I slowly realized that I didn't actually know what that explanation was. The best I could come up with was that the mane six hadn't even come close to unlocking the full power of the Elements, and they would've gone on a search for a reimagined version of the Rainbow of Light (which would've used the popular "The Elements were forged FROM the Rainbow of Light" fanon) in order to basically power them up. Of course, then season 3 had to invalidate much of my plans, and then season 4 invalidated the Elements origin, so even if I did want to go back to that story and make it so that it bridged the gap between seasons 2 & 3, there was no way I could use my original idea. Though oddly enough, Shining Armor would've gotten some kind of "Rainbow Armor" power-up that was basically Rainbow Power before Rainbow Power was even a thing...


Since when has 'canon invalidates fanon' stopped us?

2584246 True, but I'm not nearly as good at incorporating canon elements into my already existing fanon as someone like, say, you.

Plus, as I said, I had written myself into a corner with the villain and realized that I pretty much had no clue what I even wanted to DO with the story, not helped by the fact that I probably introduced some plot points too early.

I am planning on including a jab at that old story of mine in "Anniversary Mayhem," though... And there's a scene I've had in mind for years with Shining Armor and Princess Luna having a little chat about certain things that was originally going to appear in "Shining in the Darkness," but I never got to that point. I plan on including something similar to that originally envisioned scene in "Anniversary Mayhem," though the circumstances are completely different.

I can't say much more than what has already been said, other than that this is great.

Question - for the sake of parody, it is okay to break some of these, to make fun of the tropes?

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