• Member Since 11th Oct, 2013
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alarajrogers


Okay, I admit it, I'm probably not your mom. But odds are I'm old enough to be. Now with Patreon account (under alarajrogers) and short stories on Amazon (under Alara Rogers).

More Blog Posts361

  • 6 days
    Wrote, like, three words in June

    I'm exaggerating. It was actually 18K, which sounds respectable until you realize it was a third of the recent chapter of No Escape From Yourself, and one other story, and that's it. Work has been brutal this month.

    I expect things to be more relaxed in July, so I hopefully will get more written.

    Read More

    6 comments · 127 views
  • 6 weeks
    I frankly cannot believe this.

    Given the overlap between fans of She-Ra and fans of My Little Pony, how is it there are no stories yet where Swift Wind comes to Equestria and ponies try to get him and Celestia to date? That would be hilarious.

    11 comments · 253 views
  • 6 weeks
    More 52 Project stories, but sadly no fanfic

    I've been struggling so hard to write anything. Output this month is abysmal. I've had to put all the writing energy into the 52 Project stories, so I haven't gotten any farther on my fanfics than I did when I last posted.

    Read More

    3 comments · 186 views
  • 11 weeks
    I am not dead

    I feel like, in this day and age, this is something I should be telling y'all fairly regularly.

    Anyway, I have been writing frantically for my 52 Project and haven't had a chance to swing around to any fanfic yet. But I believe I am going to do the next chapter of No Escape From Yourself, very soon.

    Read More

    9 comments · 378 views
  • 13 weeks
    52 Project is live!

    Not related to MLP, but to my recent blog post about the 52 Project, a thing I am undertaking where I have to post a short story every week for a year.

    First story, "The Chicken Story", is up!

    Read More

    4 comments · 128 views
Jan
28th
2015

Evil does not equal being a twit. · 5:56pm Jan 28th, 2015

This has been a problem that has plagued me all my life, both because I like villains, and because I like good writing.

Assholes are not necessarily evil. They can be, but they do not have to be, and they are no more likely to be evil than characters who seem charming and friendly. ("Evil" here being defined as mwahahaha, I murder for fun or for the glory of the Superior Race, type of evil. Comic book villainy, particularly "edgy" comic book villainy from after the fall of the Comics Code.) But very often a character will be presented as a villain just because they are an asshole, in ways that really do not correlate with each other in any way.

The worst example I can recall of this in a pro novel was a book in which the main character has an asshole boss. You know the type. Shits downhill, sucks up to important people, is pushy and demanding and maybe not very good at his job. And then aliens are introduced, and suddenly he becomes a foaming-at-the-mouth batshit crazy xenophobe who attempts to murder alien children. None of this was telegraphed; the guy was nothing but an asshole and suddenly he becomes a terroristic would-be murderer.

On the flip side, the anti-trope for this idea is Severus Snape. Snape is a total asshole. He is cruel to Harry for no good reason ("your dad tormented me" is not a good reason to harm a child who never knew his dad), he is outrageously biased in favor of Slytherin, he has total NiceGuy(tm) Syndrome in regards to Lily (she's his best friend, and he calls her a racial slur for dating the guy who bullied him.) But Snape is a hero. He does the right thing, frequently for the wrong reasons. (I am not influenced by the movies here; I loved Snape for his character archetype long before he was Alan Rickman.)

So what does this have to do with MLP? Well, I previously ranted about why Gilda gets assigned the role of a genuine "villain", as if she's on a par with Nightmare Moon and Sombra, or even on a par with Trixie. I am now going to do the same thing for Blueblood.

Prince Blueblood is intended as a send-up of girlish fantasies of a Prince Charming, intended to demonstrate to little girls that pining after That Perfect Guy who you don't even know, based on his looks and his social status, is stupid. So he is shown to have no real redeeming qualities aside from being physically attractive. He's inconsiderate, selfish, kind of cowardly, classist in the extreme, and rude.

But at no point does he threaten anyone's life. At no point does he try to rule or dominate. He doesn't have a violent temper. He isn't shown to be steaming over his humiliations months later. He doesn't have a financial motive to cause harm. He doesn't try to cover up a terrible mistake he made. As the "secondary villains" go, he is the least objectionable of the bunch. Gilda really does shoplift for fun and throw a screaming fit at Fluttershy for no good reason, but all Blueblood ever does is act like a selfish twit.

So why does fandom love to make him some sort of powerful Machiavellian schemer, or a leader of a racist pro-unicorn faction, or something?

Probably it's due to the lack of genuine villains of his archetype. Suri Polomare is probably the only character who is a respected, powerful individual who is a genuine villain; Nightmare Moon was this, in a sense, but the distinction between powerful, respected Princess Luna and batshit crazy Nightmare Moon is so obvious, they're perceived as different people. Likewise, a Sombra who was ever a legitimate, respected king would probably be seen as almost an entirely different person from evil King Sombra. We don't see a lot of characters who are actually accepted parts of the power structure, who are bad guys. Suri is a genuinely powerful and respectable fashion designer who turns out to be a thief and plagiarist (also an ass to her employee... but since she's not a mwahahaha evil type, I'm ok with this), but she's the only one... Trixie has no real power, she's an itinerant performer and seems to not be doing so well after Ponyville. Gilda was never shown to have any power in pony or griffon society. The Flim Flam brothers do not appear to be successful businessmen. Filthy Rich, despite his name and the bitchiness of his daughter, doesn't appear to be actually a villain. So if you want a villain who is part of the legitimate power structure, you go for Blueblood, because who else is there?

This is why I despise the concept that you should never use OCs if there's a canon character you can shoehorn into the role. Blueblood isn't a villain. He's a selfish twit. Adding a villainous dimension to his character is a means of expanding on the one-note wonder that he is, yes, but it expands him in a way that is predictable and kind of pathetic. What about "I'm rude to random mares at parties" connects to "I have a Machiavellian plot to overthrow my aunts and take over Equestria?"

Mind you I'm not in favor of total whitewashing like "Blueblood is really a great guy, he was faking being an ass because reasons!" Those are entertaining one-off speculations, but there's no meat behind them either. Saying he's not really an ass is kind of like saying Discord is a genuinely sweet, kind and gentle person who somehow turned into a malicious bully because Chaos. When you basically know one thing about a character, saying that that one thing isn't true goes against most principles of good fanfic writing. You can make characters complex -- personally I like to write a version of Discord that is capable of being genuinely sweet and kind, but at the same time, does enjoy tormenting others and pretty much always has, because then you can get some conflict between competing aspects of the same personality. Giving Blueblood good reasons to be an ass, while still not attempting to deny the basic fact that he is one, is good writing. But both "Blueblood is not really an ass at all" and "Blueblood is really an evil villain" are totally unsupported by what little we've actually seen of the character, and should be avoided.

(A side note on villains being in character: just as being an ass doesn't make you a villain, being a villain doesn't make you every kind of villain there is. There is no reason to assume Nightmare Moon would ever be a rapist, nor that she wanted to bathe in the blood of all of ponykind. Discord as a sadistic murderer makes no sense because the Element Bearers lived through their first encounter with him. The Sirens feed on disharmony, not murder; they may not care if their victims get so violently stirred up that they kill each other, but they probably do not actually drag ponies to the depths of the ocean and eat them like literal Sirens did. The Tirek of G4 canon probably does not slaughter children for amusement. And so on.)

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Comments ( 12 )

This is a fantastic point. I generally love Blueblood stories that don't involve him being either a villain or a good guy (or the ones that make him too dumb to live), but usually ones that make him out to be an ass who's still going to do the jobs he's supposed to, because he's certainly not going to jeopardize his Princely rank by pissing off his Aunts.
I think he's a microcosm of something I really hate in fics, the stories where the nobles of Canterlot are both incredibly stupid/racist, despite Celestia and the government being super focused on promoting harmony as an ideology for the past 1000 years, and ALSO how those same nobles are always plotting and scheming to steal power from the Princesses. Either one of those two ideas can work in proper context, but the literary trope of nobles being these idiotic out of touch dandies is based on British nobility in the last 200 years, after they have been cut off from political power, whereas the nobles scheming for ever more power is based on, well, most of history older than say 400 years ago, back when the nobility across Europe really did have a ton of political power and fought ruthlessly to keep it. But the crux of the matter is, you have to pick one, if you are going to have any kind of realistic concept of a government and society, your nobility can be based off Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, but not both.

I will say in general that it makes more sense for a villain who is affably evil to be smarter than a villain who is also openly an asshole, because presumably both those villains are selfish, and get a kick out of seeing others squirm (assuming the affably evil villain isn't just a misguided good guy), but the affably evil villain is smart enough to understand enlightened self interest and keeping up appearences, etc, so that acts as an indicator that they are more intelligent.

The Tirek of G4 canon probably does not slaughter children for amusement.

:trixieshiftright: ...probably... ...but we can't be sure...

Though it does sound like the kind of thing King Sombra would do. :twilightoops:

My favorite explanation for Blue Blood is rather simple.

A famous mare that have done a great service towards Equestria that he couldn't simply say 'no' to without gutting his reputation spent a whole night acting like a crazy gold-digger at him, before snapping because he didn't grab her by the mane and dragging her to bed like some type of cave-stallion.

Don't get me wrong, I like Rarity.and Blue Blood could have handled it way better... but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango.

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Oh, Rarity has to share in the blame there, certainly... but Blueblood's asshattery went way beyond "I want to chase this crazy mare off". I mean, he did stuff like push her in the way of a flying cake so it wouldn't hit him.

Was he deliberately being an even bigger asshole than usual in hopes that it would chase her off? Maybe, but only an asshole would have enacted a plan like that anyway. He has to be someone who isn't humiliated at the thought of looking like the World's Biggest Selfish Twit, and whose basic equine decency is weak enough to allow him to do stuff like steal her seat.

I actually have some personal experience with this, so I know what I'm talking about. I spent four years unsuccessfully trying to convince this dude that just because I was willing to be friends with him and roleplay with him, that didn't mean I ever wanted to be his girlfriend. (This is not "oh, I like you as a friend" territory here. This is "I am specifically totally uninterested in you as anything but a friend, and never will be, because I do not find you attractive"... to which I get a response like "But in all the movies, the girl never wants to go out with the hero, and eventually he wins her over, so I know if I just try hard enough I'll win your heart." A palm planting on a human face, forever.) I made no headway until I deliberately started channelling the biggest fictional asshole I knew at the time, Kerr Avon from Blake's 7, and started deliberately being rude and insulting and cruel because four years of being bluntly honest hadn't worked. And I am an asshole, because I was willing to think of a plan like that and enact it. (But he was a bigger one for forcing me to it. Seriously, I was not shy about telling him I wasn't interested in him romantically, at all, ever, never would be.)

Blueblood may have been driven to near-insanity by the endless parade of pretty mares trying to sex him up, but the fact that he adopted a strategy this extreme, this quickly, with this little direct provocation by Rarity, when there were other strategies he could no doubt have tried that would have let her down easy and protected both their reps... nope, he's a selfish ass. She's hardly perfection, but he didn't even try the polite dodge first.

When it comes to villainy, I've always preferred the manipulative villain who either quietly works in the shadows, or the one who open with his villainy but still handles themselves in a confident or even arrogant manner. These types of villains are the more dangerous sort, the quiet ones can wreck havoc without the blame ever being pinned on them. More often than not they usually get the blame pinned on the protagonists or someone close to them in some form. Then you have the cunning, open villain who is obviously the bad guy but manages to keep two or three steps ahead of the protagonists. I've preferred the "I will own this world; try and stop me." versus "I will own this world; you cannot stop me." The former challenges the heroes where the later is so arrogant that they will likely fall into a pit trap of their own making.

The thing I will say about clichéd villains is that they are easily identifiable and are clichéd for a reason: because they work. Overdone, yes, but they do work.

All in all, I will say that a villain, like any character, should have more than just one layer to them. Their villainy on the outside should only be the covering to the evil that is deeper within. The why they became the way they are and what drives them. It is essential to any character build, be they good, evil, or anywhere in between.

Blueblood is one of my favourite characters in fanfic when he's done right, because a writer who actually understands what you're talking about in this blog can make him into such a complex character and can utilise his character in so many ways. He can be decent as a minor villain in a more low-stakes story, he makes for a good repentant sinner archetype for a tale of redemption, and he's an excellent unsympathetic comedy protagonist.

For anyone who hasn't read it before, The Best Night Ever remains my gold standard for Blueblood stories. It's basically Groundhog Day with Blueblood as Bill Murray. How can you go wrong?

I actually think writing Blueblood as a villain is warranted. Blueblood is (or appears to be) a self-obsessed narcissist. Sure, in the setting of a silly gala among the elite of society, his behaviour is that of a typical asshole who does not know how to socialize properly, but I don't think it's out of character to imagine him doing more extreme things in more extreme settings.

I can easily see him doing some very morally questionable stuff if it served to strengthen his reputation. In the world of a narcissist, everything is about you, so others don't matter. If this is Blueblood's persona (which it seems to be), I think depicting him as a power-hungry villain is perfectly reasonable.

HOWEVER, this does not make him evil. An evil character would do cruel things basically just for the sake of being cruel, which I don't think fits Blueblood.

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Above all, Blueblood appears a vain character, absorbed with his own self and comfortable with his position; as a royal in the circles of higher society, he is probably used to getting away with everything and is only ever told how wonderful, charming, beautiful and clever he is because all those high society ponies want to be in good graces with him to improve their own social standing within the creme of society. it wouldn't surprise me if Blueblood was the epitome of a subservient, exceedingly polite sycophant when in the presence of the Princesses, simply because they have a higher standing than he has.

Blueblood is on top of the metaphorical food chain when it comes to social status, and has done nothing to deserve it (assuming he has been born into the rank of a prince). He seems very happy with his current life and position, leaving little room for any ambitions but the most petty ones. Power-hungry seems out of place when the only way to increase his own power means attacking the foundation on which his own status rests: The Princesses. Similarly, comitting some heinous act would endanger his position, because the Princesses would disapprove.

It is either that or Blueblood is suicidally stupid and generally treats everpony the same way as he treated Rarity, in which case he probably ceased being a prince on the day he first met Princess Luna.

Blueblood as a real villain only works within a very thin margin of intelligence. Villain Blueblood has to be intelligent enough to pull off something cunning enough to be reasonably sure not to be noticed by his aunts, yet not intelligent enough to realize he cannot really improve his situation in any meaningful way using such methods, or rather he could probably achieve the very same goals with similar effort in more morally agreeable ways.

tl;dr: Blueblood is that pampered petty pony prince who already has everything. He is a narcissist, but has no reason to be a villain because there's so little room for ambition for him. So to be a villain, Blueblood would either need to be so stupid he would fail immediately or clever enough to realize there are better ways to achieve whatever he wants.

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tl;dr: Blueblood is that pampered petty pony prince who already has everything. He is a narcissist, but has no reason to be a villain because there's so little room for ambition for him. So to be a villain, Blueblood would either need to be so stupid he would fail immediately or clever enough to realize there are better ways to achieve whatever he wants.

He could be a villain if your plot involved something that might threaten the cushy position of the nobility -- for instance, Princess Twilight Sparkle starts agitating for a constitutional monarchy with democracy and checks on the power of the nobility beyond "don't do what Princess Celestia wouldn't like you doing", at which point Blueblood might realize that his position could genuinely be threatened. Even then, though, if he's lived his life as a pampered pony prince who's never really had anything to strive for, the odds of him being a competent villain are low.

I actually have two stories in which he's sort of a quasi-villain, but in both cases, he's the catspaw of someone else (and actually he isn't a villain at all really; in one of them, the thing he's pushing for is something Celestia is against but is, objectively, a good thing, even if he's demanding it for the wrong reasons; in the other, he's pushed into making a stand against a person that everyone else thinks is a hero because that person has arbitrarily decided that he's a villain, so he gets recruited by someone else in the same boat.)

There's just no reason to believe he's ambitious enough to want to overthrow his aunts -- as you point out, he pretty much already has everything he wants. Having more actual power would just translate to more responsibility.

I could see interesting potential for conflict in him -- he doesn't appear on the face of it to be doing anything remotely related to his cutie mark. What if his destiny was to be a great explorer and adventurer, like Daring Do, but his life as a pampered pony prince has essentially cut off that avenue from him, so he feels as if such activities would be beneath him and also he's scared? What happens to a pony whose life circumstances more or less conspire to keep him from fulfilling his cutie mark? That's actually kind of my take on him -- I have a backstory for him in which he, Daring and Shining Armor went on one great adventure together when they were all kids, and the eventual result was that they all got cutie marks, Shining's mother took Daring under her wing (not literally, as she's a unicorn) and taught her how to write, and Blueblood ended up getting shut down by his parents, who wanted him to lead a safer, more controlled life. So Daring and Shining now have the lives they expected to have when they earned their marks, and Blueblood... doesn't.

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He could be a villain if your plot involved something that might threaten the cushy position of the nobility

Of course, that's the reasonable option. Nobles, as a class of prestige and power are usually a conservative force counteracting change to the current order; if the good guys want to change the distribution of power and wealth, the nobility will naturally be an adversary.
However, in case of Equestria, it is definitely worth arguing whether a proposed new system of government is better than the benevolent tyranny of a set of wise, good and implacable god-queens. And that of course raises the question who, in fact, the villains are.

When it comes to competence - well, I think we can be reasonably certain that Blueblood is neither a big fighter or wizard or general or anything, but I would not put it beyond him to display some level of competence when it comes to intrigue and manoeuvring on a social stage. Which is typically the stage a change in government will be fought on, lest it be open revolution.

I could see interesting potential for conflict in him -- he doesn't appear on the face of it to be doing anything remotely related to his cutie mark

Yes, that could be a hook for a story about Blueblood - but the compass could as easily mean him being a compass of sorts, either a leader or government figure or even as some sort of role model or pacemaker in high society. Cutie marks can be ambiguous as nothing good.

So far, Kelpie was the most dangerous villain. She wanted to drown all the ponies, little foals and their pets. She could just control few of them to move her and her children to another side of the dam, yet she wanted to take longer route to make sure every one of them is dead.

CCC

My favourite explanation for Blueblood is that he's the pony version of Bruce Wayne :twilightsmile:. He has the cash, the position in society; he's just missing the masked alter ego who fights crime at night, but he does spend a lot of time off-screen...

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