• Member Since 5th Feb, 2012
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ACAB | ♠️ | A teacher, student, writer, and opinionated reader. Responsible for cleverpun's Critique Corner. | Donate via Ko-fi

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  • 3 weeks
    So I Watched My Little Pony: A New Generation

    So I watched that new small horse movie. It was pretty good. I'd give it a solid 7/10. I don't feel my time was wasted, I enjoyed it. But I would probably not watch it again. (And those of you who follow my reviews, know that a 7 from me is still earned.)

    The Good:

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    6 comments · 184 views
  • 24 weeks
    Does Anyone Know of Recently Published Medical/Science Thrillers?

    Alright, here's an odd request for y'all.

    A friend of mine is working on a query letter for her book. Industry standards means she needs to compare her book to other books on the market. None of my writing group could think of appropriate comparisons, so I thought I'd ask here.

    Read More

    2 comments · 147 views
  • 28 weeks
    Happy International Asexuality Day!

    I discovered/realized/admitted I was asexual this year. I've always been asexual, it's just that now I have a word for it.

    Asexuality is a complicated topic, and I'm hardly an expert. But feel to ask any questions you feel like in the comment section. I won't be offended.

    And to start you off, here's some questions I've fielded in real life so far (mostly from my family).

    Read More

    3 comments · 250 views
  • 28 weeks
    Got My First Dose of the Vaccine!

    For every American who says your vote doesn’t matter, and that politics has no direct impact on your life...

    gestures broadly

    5 comments · 200 views
  • 35 weeks
    Inexcusable Now Has a Chinese Translation: 怜悯命运

    Yes that's right. The same person who kindly translated If You Came to Conquer has now done Inexcusable.

    Once again, big thanks to Dreams Set Free for their hard work!

    Find the translation right over here.

    1 comments · 245 views

Three Year Anniversary Special: Writing Retrospective + AMA · 10:32am Feb 4th, 2015

As of today, I have been a member of this site for three years. Three years! That’s older than some of my relatives. My use of this site has outlasted my enjoyment of the show. To celebrate this “milestone”, I thought I would look back on some of the things I published on this account. Examine what they taught me and how they have held up to time. Further, I thought I would analyze some of the themes and concepts that repeat across multiple stories. I always enjoy such analyses of other author’s works, and I certainly do have some noticeable quirks in that regard. Finally, as an extra bonus, feel free to ask me questions in the comments section. Be it about writing, me, my cat, go ahead. I welcome comments and questions all the time, of course. Having an explicit avenue for it, however, often makes the act of asking less daunting. :raritywink:

And with that introduction out of the way, let us take a trip through time; to when Obama was starting his second term, Neil Armstrong was still alive, and I sucked at writing.

List of Lessons Learned by Story

Crazy Mark Chronicles; By Tartarus this story is bad. So bad, it was the only thing I actually de-published from my account. And yet, it taught me a lesson I often forget. Having been a writer for so long (since high school junior year, a good nine or ten years now), it is often easy to get cocky. To take your own meager skills for granted. I approached FIMfic as a way to practice, and I just assumed I would be able to succeed here because I was so amazing at writing. Eventually I learned (or re-learned) otherwise, and this story was an important first step in that process.

I Put a Spell On You; See above. Dream sequence was fun to write though.

Like a Sex Machine; The first thing I wrote that achieved a modicum of popularity. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this was the first step to teaching me an important truth. Not just about fanfiction, but all entertainment.

A work’s ease of digestion and concept is its most crucial indicator of popularity, rather than its quality or execution. This can be seen from everything FIMfic’s own front page (porn, goofy comedy, and crossovers everywhere), to film and television (Jackass had four movies—one of which was nominated for an Academy Award), to music (just look at the Billboard Hot 100). It was another, different lesson that this isn’t always a bad thing, but baby steps and all that.

Can You Keep a Secret?; This story taught a very important lesson: just because your audience asks for more, doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to give it to them. Especially if you half-haunch it. To this day I am very wary of adding chapters or sequels to stories because of this.

The Elements of Excess; Hoo boy. This story taught me a lot of things. Don’t make too many references. Don’t overdo the alliteration. Outline your story.

And yet, I think its recent cancelation taught me the most important lesson. Creativity is a volatile thing. It is not something that can be coerced or forced, and it is reliant on personal context. I took so many breaks to work on other things, so many creative detours, I think it was inevitable that this would be canceled. Each month made my mindset that much farther away from what it was at the start of the story.

I applaud anyone who can work on a single project for years or decades, but that is not for me. This story and my need to cancel it taught me to finish something before publishing it.

I Am Not the Actor; This was the first dramatic thing I wrote that became popular. I think, more than any other story, this one taught me the importance of having an editor work on a story from start to finish. At least in fanfiction, editors can have a large impact on the stories they work on, and continuity is key for that to be productive. I’ll never hire an editor after a story is already started, after this one suffered for it.

This was also a bit of an object lesson in reader reactions. The audience guessed my original ending in a matter of just a few chapters (I’m shaking my fist right here). I actually had a reasonable idea of how this story went from the beginning, but the way the audience reacted to the story’s plotline shattered my original expectations. It was at once a scary thing and a pleasant surprise.

In a similar vein, the ending also taught me a few things about story structure. In one comment I compare the story to Mass Effect—a journey that works better without an ending. I have since realized that such stories are really quite common and popular. Many comics and webcomics in particular only have the goal of continuing, not concluding. More than a few fics have the same goal. I always tire of stories like that, and I think that this story might have misled readers about its intent. They perhaps expected constant continuation instead of an abrupt end, and I did not foreshadow it appropriately.

I considered adding a new epilogue where the returning Pinkie Pie is revealed to be a clone as well, but that would only have obfuscated the above problems for a small amount of time. The shock would wear off and everyone would analyze and rip apart my cop-out with ease.

Still, despite its big picture flaws, it has some powerful moments in it that I enjoyed writing.

Blitzkrieg Poison Kills Assassins; This story was an interesting experience after the fact. It is, dare I say, too cerebral for a comedy. Many of its jokes require a bit too much meta knowledge or rely on the reader for their setup. Its pacing and concept sounded good in theory but don’t work as well as they should.

This pattern/problem would repeat in a lot of my later comedies. For someone who is mostly popular for comedy, I sure do struggle with it.

I guess this story also taught me that EqD features aren’t magical attention tickets.

Pictures of Lily; Ah, the first actual romance I wrote. I have a soft spot for this one, since Fluttershy and Twilight are such blatant abstractions of myself. And yet, this story taught me that the age-old adage “write who you know” doesn’t always solve everything. I often base aspects of characters or scenes on real life—perhaps this scene with Celestia and Luna is based on my own siblings, or Rainbow Dash’s inner monologue takes cues from mine.

The problem here is that the story over-relies on that. The characters are extremely personal constructs, and the story focuses on their interactions. It is, as one comment points out, a bit forced. There isn’t enough context for the reader to empathize with the characters and it makes the story falter.

Romance is a hard thing to write, and this story was certainly a good lesson for multiple reasons.

Stallion of Her Dreams; This one is easy. “If the story is short, maybe it isn’t worth posting.” One may note that I have a scraps collection now. I put off such a thing for a while, but ultimately it seemed better than disingenuously presenting snippets as finished work.

The Unexpected Sexual Harassment of Twilight Sparkle; Hnnggg where to start with this. There were certainly moments in this story I enjoyed writing (things like the “Giggle at the Ghosties” rewrite or the intros in chapter one). But as a whole, it was constricting. I’ll never rewrite an episode again, because it simply doesn’t offer enough creative freedom. I felt shackled by the episode’s plot, like a child connecting the dots instead of an author expressing themselves. EqD’s prereader pointed this out, but I simply didn’t have the force of will to redo the second chapter after submitting it there.

This was exasperated exponentially by my spectrum of gender rewrites. At first it seemed like a good idea—help the audience identify with one set of characters or the other and be more inclusive by offering different versions of the story. But the work definitely outstripped the reward there.

Building on these points, I realize a major contributor to this story’s popularity was simply its title; by piggybacking on and “satirizing” a different popular fic the story got more exposure. And yet, having to rationalize and explain my intentions wasn’t worth it. I imagine a decent chunk of the downvotes are people auto-negging based on either perceived similarity to or mockery of The Unexpected Love Life of Dusk Shine, and I don’t blame them. I still hate that fic, but I understand perfectly their position.

You can also see lessons I mentioned earlier not being learned here—things like cerebral/sluggish comedy, popularity being a function of digestion, and others.

Battery; This story taught me that mood and surrealism have their place as storytelling techniques. I tend to value clarity over anything else in my writing style. Combined with my meager outlining habits, it often results in stories that tend to be fairly logical and direct, but can skimp on the narrative filigree in order to focus on plot and characters. Early science fiction writers used a similar approach. When I read an Isaac Asimov story, I often have to put up with the bland prose in order to enjoy it. I’ve tried to avoid that extreme in my writing and haven’t always succeeded.

This story is the opposite. It has no plot and no direction. The characters are one-dimensional and have no arcs or evolution. It is only a mood, throbbing and pulsing, staring the reader in the face and breathing heavily before it abruptly leaves.

I have a sequel outlined, but honestly it seems like it might be a mistake to write. The sequel would be another of my logical, direct, possibly blunt stories. And should one really tack such a thing on to a surrealistic mood tumor? Can that ruin the impact or enhance it?

It also taught me that the internet will latch onto anything as fetish fuel, regardless of the context or intent. I suppose I knew that already, but it had not applied directly to my work before now.

Smut; I’m lumping all the clop, porn, and smut from my alt here. That may seem silly, given the number of stories there, but I think it is appropriate. All these stories ultimately teach different permutations on the same lessons.

The most important is that not all things need to be taken seriously. So much of this material would have been better if I had taken it less seriously. I think of myself as a professional with standards, and I tried to approach smut from that angle. A skill to be learned, a challenge to be overcome and understood. I actually got into quite a few flame wars with other users when I tried to apply this view to them.

I realize now that such a viewpoint was misguided. Porn and smut do not demand high standards. They don’t even demand competence. They merely demand a single outcome, and if they help a reader on their way to that then they can be called successful stories. There’s definitely a parallel here with other light entertainment like goofy comedy and pop music.

The second, related lesson was the difference between smut and erotica. Both of them have similar techniques, but one emphasizes imagery and the other mood. I’m still working on writing the latter well, so this continues to be a lesson in progress (like everything here, really).

The final lesson is common enough that I can provide a link instead of an explanation. There’s a significant difference between setting a mood and describing a particular motion twelve times.

An Annual Occurrence; This story, like the above, taught me that fluff and silliness can make a decent break for the brain. Unlike the above, it taught me that in a SFW way.

It was also a distinct precursor to the next entry on this list. It uses a similar narrative style and theme; large swaths of dialogue broken up by complex descriptions, and Luna and Celestia discussing something that they have different viewpoints on. They are so similar that their disparate popularity is a bit perplexing, but I suppose there’s so many potential factors that it is not something I can analyze properly.

Finally, it takes the aforementioned problem of slow comedy and manages to somehow pull it off (at least better than the others). There are only a few explicit jokes, and several come at the end of the story. The style is really quite blase most of the time, silly metaphors excepted. Yet the situation is so silly, perhaps that is why it works. The matter-of-fact narration contrasts the silly situation just enough to produce comedy. Or something.

“Princest Is Wincest,” It Said.; This is it, my most popular story. As far as positives go, I think this is the story where I best managed to balance description and dialogue. Celestia and Luna’s conversation is often broken up by relevant details, and the back and forth was pleasant to write.

That said, it definitely has issues. At times that narration often focuses on rather silly things. Celestia’s muffin and Luna’s juice in particular get a lot of attention, and it serves no purpose except for breaking up swaths of dialogue. While spending several paragraphs describing a window and the light coming through it is pleasant enough, it is also a bit superfluous and excessive.

One reviewer pointed out that the comedy often goes on too long to be funny—the explanations of things like Celestia’s little juice shield deflate their comedic value. The reviewer also notes that there weren’t that many jokes to begin with, and this makes the effect more noticeable.

One of my most common pieces of advice to writers is the difference between involving comedy and being a Comedy. This story illustrates that perfectly; there is some comedy in it, but it isn’t truly a Comedy. If I had to post this today, I would probably leave the Comedy tag off completely. I actually debated this very point when first posting it, but none of my editors really objected.

The same reviewer also pointed out how forced Luna’s mention of Nightmare Moon is, and they confirmed my own problems with that scene. I felt like the contrast between government-enforced secrecy and laissez faire PR warranted mention, but the result feels sloppy.

I like to think that this story’s writing is a worthy factor in its popularity, but the title and Comedy tag are more likely causes. This and the previous entry are definitely some of my better-balanced works as far as the prose is concerned, though, and I tried to use their model in later stories.

Before History Began; This story was an attempt to mimic the structure and style of oral prose, but it is clear after writing that reconciling such disparate mediums was not a good idea. The repetition and structuring of oral stories are necessary in order to help tellers remember them. In written mediums those things become a liability, because the stories are constructed, told, and digested in completely different ways.

Despite being a failed experiment, at least it’s not unreadable, though. I think Tolkien had the right approach to these sorts of things (in The Hobbit, at least; Lord of the Rings put me to sleep). I have a story nearly finished that tries to put some of these lessons to use, so we’ll see if I learned anything or not.

My Little OPony: Twilight Is Magic; see previous notes about mimicking episodes and outlining stories. I wised up faster with this one and went off the rails almost immediately.

The Word Felt Wonderful; I can actually write on a schedule if I try. Therefore I must just be lazy/easily distracted.

If You Came to Conquer; This story represents a lesson that I have yet to truly master. The line between “open to interpretation” and “frustratingly vague”. I love a work that lets its audience choose their own meaning. Some of my favorite stories and songs hinge on this property. And yet, imparting this quality to my own stories is difficult. It requires both a sense of your audience and of your own writing, both things I am still developing.

I’m actually working on a sequel to/continuation of this, so we’ll see if I can address that issue or make it even worse.

Where Things Are Hollow; See above. EqD rejected this for lacking a concrete message or ending, and rightly so. Like many of my ideas that are based on loose concepts or experimental challenges, it is too exploratory for its own good.

If anyone is interested in seeing the slapdash extra bit I tacked on the end to try and get past EqD’s prereader and then promptly cut after rejection, you can find it in the original GDoc over here. Stories can’t be fixed quickly, and this ties into the very first lesson on this list.

Common Themes and Concepts

Ah, the fun bit. Moving away from what I’ve learned, let’s look at some of the themes and concepts that repeat in my stories, why I use them so much, and perhaps where they came from. Relevant stories to the concept are in parentheses.

Identity (Think Pink! or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Parties, I Put a Spell On You, Can You Keep a Secret?, The Elements of Excess, I Am Not the Actor, “Princest Is Wincest,” It Said., If You Came to Conquer, Where Things Are Hollow);

This is a big theme in my writing, if that list is any clue. How we define ourselves and, more importantly, how we are defined by others is a universal theme. One would think ponies have these questions figured out, since they all get free life skills in the form of cutie marks, but that’s not the case. This even appears in the show with the Cutie Mark Crusaders (even if they handle that difficult question in a very dumb way).

If I had to choose a common thread among these stories, it would be the way their protagonists don’t have individual control over their identity. There are other factors and forces that prevent them from having real control and choice. And at the climax of the story, that conflict is resolved by giving characters control over their own identities again, or by empowering them to make decisions they could not before. The stories that break this pattern are all Dark or Tragic—Princess Nightmare Moon has to suppress her identity to get what she wants, Ex-Princess Twilight Sparkle sacrifices her own identity without realizing the consequences, and Pinkie Pie is punished for robbing somepony else of their identity.

This might be a recurring theme in my works because I am still working on finding my own identity, but that seems a little too convenient and Freudian. The way so many plots are resolved by granting freedom of identity to the protagonists might be an indirect result of my American values, or perhaps a fork of the show’s own optimism. Hard to say.

Mind Control/Mental Manipulation (Think Pink! or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Parties, I Put a Spell On You, Like a Sex Machine, The Elements of Excess, Stallion of Her Dreams, The Unexpected Sexual Harassment of Twilight Sparkle, Battery, My Little OPony: Twilight Is Magic, Sugarcoated So Poorly, If You Came to Conquer, Where Things Are Hollow);

Another huge list. I can say without qualification that losing control of my own mind is one of my greatest fears. It is certainly an old, adult fear to lose one’s mental faculties. It often appears in mythology and religion from very old sources. Hence this power/ability is a common component of my villains. And characters who have completely lost themselves to outside forces often mark emotional nadirs or important climaxes. Princess Luna driven into insanity by Nightmare Moon, Twilight corrupted by chaos magic, and Twilight made amnesiac by her own magic all represent such points in their respective stories.

There’s also the connotations of violation and power it represents. Battery and TUSH in particular use it this way, the former to characterize how helpless the protagonist is, and the latter to contrast with/as an escalation of the main five’s pervy behavior.

I’ve had more than a few discussions on the nature of this trope with various people. It often appears in kid shows as a way to provide a recoverable alternative to death or injury. Yet to me, it represents so much more than that. It is the territory of despicable villains and morally grey protagonists for a reason. To have that much power over someone and to rob them of control of themselves is both evil and horrifying.

Of course, those same connotations of power make it a big turn on for a lot of people, and no doubt some of my stories got some additional attention because of that (as noted above about Battery). But context is key to arousal, and I (usually) try to portray this as the creepy, disturbing thing it is.

Wish Fulfillment/Escapism (I Put a Spell On You, Pictures of Lily, Generic Wish Fulfillment Story #43,127, My Little OPony: Twilight Is Magic, If You Came to Conquer, Where Things Are Hollow);

These stories fall into two distinct subtypes; the more bombastic and insulting ones that poke fun at the results of wish fulfillment, and the more subdued ones that point out that things don’t always turn out like one plans.

I suppose if it comes down to it, I prefer the latter. The former are certainly amusing, but they are also shallow. Good satire isn’t blunt or loud. I think the closest these “whiny” stories come to subtlety is My Little OPony. The fickleness of the “author” probably says more about the types of people who write these stories and in a more subtle way than the actual story does.

The “subtle” ones do have execution problems, though. Both If You Came to Conquer and Where Things Are Hollow don’t really use the theme to good effect. They are both too vague about the consequences to really say anything meaningful about escapism as a topic.

If any of these stories approach their theme well, it might be Pictures of Lily. I like how the ending portrays Fluttershy as happier with fantasy, but she isn’t incapable of breaking away from it either. Perhaps if there’s any common message here, it’s that escapism is more fulfilling when it is grounded in reality. That way it can spur you to improvement instead of substituting for it. Of course, that doesn’t come across well in any of these, but perhaps recognizing it in that form will help me express it better next time.

Lambasting Crossovers ('Twas Beauty Kissed the Beast, A Geometric Shape in Equestria);

I hate crossovers. They take some of the most important fundamentals of writing—ensuring that all your details are relevant to the story and your world is consistent—and barf all over them. And they do this for no good reason, besides appealing to the author/a narrow subset of fans.

It is no surprise then, that the two crossovers I’ve written take the negative qualities of crossovers and shove them to the forefront. It’s such a dumb thing to do to a story, and while there are some theoretical positives (after all, fanfiction’s main strength is pre-existing audience familiarity), they never truly work in practice.

I actually considered writing a few different pony crossovers—one with Awesomenauts and one with Borderlands—but even during the concepting stage and rough draft stage the crossover aspects were bluntly and blatantly dragging the story down.

Someday I might find a crossover that changes my mind; after all, I eventually encountered decent HiE, which has nearly identical problems. Until then, however, my disdain for the “genre” remains.

Dealing with Bad Situations (Can You Keep a Secret?, The Unexpected Sexual Harassment of Twilight Sparkle, “Princest Is Wincest,” It Said., If You Came to Conquer);

I think a distinct sign of my optimism is how I portray bad situations in stories. In all the above, bad situations are things that can be overcome by patience and explanation. Be it some overly forward suitors or the end of the world, waiting can solve or at least mitigate them somewhat.

This is odd, however, because several of my stories (Battery and Pictures of Lily in particular) take the opposite view; that patiently accepting a situation only makes it worse. The difference might lie in the passiveness of the characters—the latter stories have protagonists who do not take any action regardless of their point in the story, while the former do actively try and change their situation eventually. One set uses patience to prepare for action and the other does not.

Perhaps this is too nebulous to truly be called a theme; the listed stories don’t really have many connecting threads or concepts. And yet the pattern seemed to warrant some comment.

Personal Mistakes (Think Pink! or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Parties, I Am Not the Actor, Sugarcoated So Poorly, If You Came to Conquer, Where Things Are Hollow);

In the comments for I Am Not the Actor, I asked the audience a question: “In a world with magic, which is worse: the belief that mistakes are inevitable, or the belief that they can all be prevented or fixed? And what does it mean if one belief is true but the other is not?”

I think this question and its implications is crucial to the functioning of the FIM universe. A single slip up can destroy the entire world, but you’ll always have a chance to correct that mistake. It’s so optimistic and sugary you could probably layer a cake with it.

This is a very tricky concept to promote, because ponies are just anthropomorphic enough to suffer for their mistakes. It comes down to a question of personal responsibility, and the show doesn’t always portray its protagonists positively in that sense in order to teach lessons.

These stories all use that question to create drama; they assume that mistakes can be fixed, but the solution requires proportional effort. Mind raping your friend can be undone, but changing their mental processes has already made the antidote more difficult. Rending the fabric of reality can be undone, but what if the act removed your ability to reverse it? Global extinction can be undone, but only with a high personal cost and a very complex bit of magic. Combined with short-sighted protagonists, it's a recipe for heartbreak and psychological damage.

To me, that is a much more valuable lesson than the version in the show. Not all accidents can be prevented, but they aren’t inevitable either. It all relies on personal responsibility, and if that lapses then everyone pays the cost. There are parallels to real life here (drunk driving?), but the scale of magic and energy in this setting makes for much grander drama.

And so concludes this meandering retrospective of some author who writes about ponies. I considered adding a section about the lessons I learned from the site and social interactions, but that is a blog post in itself. Thanks for making it to the end, I know it was a long essay.

Don’t be afraid to ask me questions in the comments, be they about this blog, writing in general, my cat, or whatever else! AMA, as redditors say. And don’t be afraid to comment even if it isn’t a question. :raritywink:

I have always said: the difference between a bad author and a good author is not how well one writes, but their willingness to improve. If nothing else, my body of work on this site does show improvement. Hopefully as I continue writing, both here and working on my original stuff, I will continue to improve and learn and analyze. And I know this community will continue to help me in that humble goal. Until then, there’s always the Ernest Hemingway quote;

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” — New York Journal-American (11 July 1961)

Here’s to all the years to come.

Comments ( 16 )

My only complaint about OPony was that you didn't go full on My Immortal with it. But it was entertaining. I especially appreciated how we went from Twilight trying to fend off Rarity during Winter Round Up to the final battle with no explanation of the events in between, because Twilight is apparently so awesome she defies need for explanation. She did something, now the final boss is here trying to save their machinations.

2769063 I guess I could've gone full My Immortal with it. I usually don't enjoy reading stories like that, though. The bad writing might give the story more parodic/satirical value, but it also makes it much harder to read. I'd rather write normal and let the plot and situation of the story deliver the satire. It's a personal threshold I suppose.

For the abruptness, I was trying to imply that the author got sick of the story and so abruptly cut to the end. Considering the entire story skips large chunks of things, though, it might just be that Twilight is too amazing to be described in full detail. Like the Necronomicon, but with awesomeness instead of unintelligible madness.

2769142 Oh, I know. Honestly one can only take so much perfection. And it must have been hard on our poor budding author to realize that the show itself had one-upped her in terms of making Twilight an OPony. I mean, yes, draconic mage is cool, but she had a super saiyin battle with the powers of four alicorns at her beck and call and managed to stalemate against a guy who had every bit of magic from an entire nation + Discord's power just for fun. And like the show, the way to win was not by fighting, but by giving it all up for her friends. Rather sweet.

What... is your name?

What... is your quest?

What... is your favorite video game series?

2769150 Don't forget the part where she fought him to a standstill despite explicitly not knowing how to use her powers and being unable to control them mere minutes earlier. :derpytongue2:

2769513 My real name is actually my Deviantart username. I made that account before I became paranoid about sharing such information on the internet, and changing it is too expensive.

My quest is to become competent, perhaps even capable. It might sound like a humble goal, but you'd be surprised how much effort it takes. After 25 years I'm still working on it.

Hard to say what my favorite series is. I have many favorite video games, but the series they are part of have lots of highs and lows (like the Fallout series or Borderlands series) or are so similar as to not warrant playing (like most Nintendo franchises). I suppose by that metric I would have to go with Mass Effect. Yes, it's a continuous narrative, but there are enough changes from one game to the next (and they came so far apart) that each game has some identity of its own. I'm a sucker for good sci-fi, action-oriented combat, and interesting characters, and Mass Effect marries them all wonderfully.

There are other series that I'm looking forward to the next iteration of, but until they come out we can't really be sure how good they will be.

2769673 Well, in fairness, he had just blown up her home, nearly killing her pet and destroying every book she owned in the process. There was never better motivation to learn quickly, and she was prepared to take a pound of flesh for ever burnt page. You don't fuck with books.

You just wrote an entire stories length in a blog...


so similar as to not warrant playing (like most Nintendo franchises)

Does not compute.

2769685 True, but adrenalin can only take one so far. Going from accidentally teleporting into a rock to a Dragonball Z-esque laser dogfight so quickly isn't exactly smooth narrative construction.

2769702 I know, right? I said the same thing to myself when I saw the word count in GDocs. :derpytongue2:

I considered cutting it down a bit, but summarizing three years worth of writing was going to be verbose no matter what I did.

2769723 I've played and enjoyed my share of Pokemon, Legend of Zelda, Smash Bros., and Mario Kart (among others). But eventually it reached the point where I stopped looking forward to the next installments, because I knew what to expect. Nostalgia is a powerful force, but it can't compare to the ups and downs of a new experience.

2769853 True true, but we rarely accuse DHX of that during a finale. We were lucky Twilight didn't do a montage to show her getting used to the power in secret over months while Tirek raped and pillaged.


Nostalgia is a powerful force, but it can't compare to the ups and downs of a new experience.

Every new game in a Nintendo series is a new experience. New titles introduce new elements, but the core gameplay remains the same, with a few exceptions. If the core gameplay was too different, than it might as well be a whole new IP.

hi hi

As someone whose use of this website has outlived their enjoyment of the show, I am curious if there was a moment in the show where you felt like it jumped the shark, or if there was a change in your own preferences at some point that made you less interested in what the show had to offer in the first place. (Or perhaps a mixture of both?)

On the topic of self-identity, I tend to take a more observational approach, rather than a proscriptive approach. Trying to apply narrow definitions to a person -and for that matter a story- is an inherently limiting action. I am a writer, the story is a comedy. The notes in a harmony need not all be the same in order to work together, in fact, some of them need to be dissonant. Self-identity is subjective, it is not an objective truth. And while one of the benefits of self awareness is the ability to change, one does not need to change to fit an existing rigid social construct. How many years would it take to survey a forest with a magnifying glass?

One thing is certain, and experimentally verified to boot, that intelligence and self-awareness are not the same thing. In fact, there are lots of examples of situations where self-awareness is costly. Those who have savant syndrome display remarkable skill and capability in certain areas, while displaying an overall low IQ. Part of the reason for their remarkable skill is because it is fragmented from their consciousness. (Also, in primates, Chimpanzees display a lot of very advanced cognitive abilities, beyond what humans are capable of, but only recognize themselves in mirrors about half the time.)

2769874 Well, it's a newish experience, certainly. I'm not saying iterative sequels are bad, or that any of the pokemon games or Mario Karts, etc. are bad. The familiarity of collecting 16 badges or doing four cups or 8 dungeons again, but in a slightly different way, can be fun. They've just become stale for me personally, which is why I didn't consider them in my favorite game series. Same thing happened with plenty of non-Nintendo franchises like Final Fantasy and SoulCalibur. If we were discussing my favorite games (particularly those for certain systems) rather than entire series, it would be another matter :raritywink:

2769973 The last episode of the show I watched before giving up on it was the S4 finale. It felt at once contrived, silly and excessive. I was getting burnt out on the show before that (as I noted in this blog post), but I think those two episodes were the final evidence I needed that the show had nothing to offer me anymore.

I intentionally chose a vague term for all the different "themes", because this blog post is rather exploratory and meandering. "Identity" could also mean self-image, self-concept, self-perception, or a whole host of other psychological terms/buzzwords.

It is certainly a very subjective, nebulous concept, and that is one reason why I chose it. The stories I listed all have extremely varied approaches to the idea of identity, but I think that is a result of my own writing style as much as the variable parameters of the concept. I like being able to explore a concept via writing, and that means using multiple different approaches to a single subject. I Am Not the Actor uses the idea of identity very explicitly and very often, but one needs to look much harder at If You Came to Conquer to see that idea, for example.

I agree that trying too hard to define and pigeonhole these things can be bad. And I have written several things that did suffer for their need to dictate theme. But for an exploratory essay like this, I figured using some terms to examine my own work might be an interesting exercise. :raritywink:

2771231 Okay then, what are some of your favorite games?

2771706 That list would be longer than this blog post :rainbowlaugh:

Fallout: New Vegas and Pokemon Crystal would probably be at the top of the RPG section.


Even if one need not be a master to enjoy friendship, I'd like to think that perhaps like writing, there are always lessons left to learn. But it certainly isn't going to do anyone any good to stay in magic kindergarten forever, and if all someone is really going for is some laughs or over-the-top action, tacking on a half-formed lesson isn't going to do anybody any favors.

(I'm going to stop myself before I start writing an essay as well, but I'll trust that you've still got some stories left to tell.)

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