• Member Since 25th Mar, 2015
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The Hat Man

Specialties include comedy, robots, and precision strikes to your feelings. Hobbies include hat and watch collecting. May contain alcohol.

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The Hat Man Reviews: Scribblefest Entries #1! · 5:09pm Mar 9th, 2016

Hello, my friends! Well, it being a rainy morning out here in Houston, and since I've been getting excited about the Everfree Northwest Scribblefest 2016 contest, I thought I'd do some reviews! For those of you who haven't read my entry, Marble's Horizon, I hope you'll give it a look and tell me what you think. It's getting a very slow build and hasn't gotten a feature or anything, but nearly everyone seems to like it (and they keep asking me for a sequel, which I'm considering [considering, kids, I haven't decided anything!]).

Also, my good chum HapHazred has posted a review of it! And, to my delight, it's a favorable one. :twilightsmile:

But enough plugs. Last year had so many good entries, many of which made their way onto my list of favorites, so I look forward to seeing what the contest brings forth this time!

Apple Bottoms is a cool guy who has the distinction of winning last year's contest. That story, Letters from the Capital, was a pleasant and funny piece that was subtle in its presentation, yet deep in the themes of reconciliation and new friendship. I thoroughly believe it was deserving of its win.

This story, however, misses the mark a little.

The plot is that Queen Chrysalis is stalking Twilight Velvet (Twilight's mom) with the intent of frightening her, breaking her spirit, and kidnapping her to force Twilight Sparkle and Celestia to do as she wishes. Chrissy is without most of her army, and the small group that she has is down on its luck and eating out of a dumpster behind Joe's Donut Shop. Chrissy is played as ineffective and bumbling, and Velvet as cheerfully clueless. Then a crisis happens and the two are forced to work together and... things happen.

The story does have a pretty high rating and, indeed, there are some genuinely great things in it. The silliness of the first half of the story is actually pretty funny. The dramatic and emotional things in the second half feel genuine as well (minus an outburst at Celestia that I can believe, but nonetheless feels a bit out of left field). But the problem is that the two halves of the story are in such sharp, jarring contrast to each other that it feels really uneven.

The cartoony villainy of the first half makes it jarring when Chrissy suddenly comes to Velvet for help. Velvet's portrayal as ditzy and oblivious makes for an odd change when she is called upon to be a wise, motherly figure. And when Celestia shows up, it really feels like we've hit another conflict that had no build up.

It's a long way from terrible, but I feel like it could have been better with a longer length (but that's how contests are, kids; word limits being what they are) or just a stronger sense of what it wanted to be.

Recommended?: Surprisingly, yes! There are so few Twilight Velvet stories out there, and while the story is only middling, the good parts of it are worth the short amount of time it takes to read.

A changeling has wandered into the human (Equestria Girls) world. Starved and cut off from the hive, he has taken to a surprising food source: Tumblr likes!

The Changeling, going under the name Bug Bee, is attending Canterlot High and is friends with Fluttershy and Derpy, both of whom know his secret. He posts random cool things on his Tumblr in an effort to get someone to like it. Somehow, this gives him the emotion he needs to survive.

I have to say, the cleverness of the idea and Bug Bee himself are the strongest aspects of the story. And it really is quite clever; lots of people will just post and reblog whatever in an effort to get more likes, but the idea of actually needing such likes as a form of sustenance is a nice twist. And it is rather amusing to see his comments on the flavors of different emotions. His empathic abilities allow him to sense the emotions of everyone around him, including classmates and teachers, which allows him to keep a running narrative of his perspective in the world as he keeps his true identity a secret - especially from Sunset Shimmer, who is surprisingly one of his blog's biggest fans.

My biggest problem is that a lot of the fun of the story in the first half is lost in the second half. I won't spoil what happens, but the last half of the tale is just a long conversation. It loses the interesting character perspective and the tension leading up to it wasn't given enough time to build. It's just a little too talky, and I don't really feel like it led anywhere in particular. There are still some good lines in that half, though, in particular - I'm spoilering this if you don't want even the most minor of spoilers - this bit of wordplay:

"So every like goes to your changeling hive in Equestria?" Sunset arched a brow.
"Most." My stomach was aching. "I took a page from your book, so I’m sending nearly everything directly through the portal. I just sample some of the likes now and again."
"Oh. Well I'm glad—"
"I literally took a page from your book," I clarified. "Love doesn't just leak through dimensions."

Recommended?: Again, yes. :twilightsmile: Much like "Kidnapping," this story is a little inconsistent in pacing issues, but it has some cool parts that are worth a read. Moreso, I think the characterization remains strong, even when the pacing does not. Several others have wondered about there being a continuation/expansion of this story and character, and I would agree that there is potential for it. It's not Lise's best, but it's a decent entry nonetheless.

Story #3: Weatherpony by HapHazred

Great cover, 10 out of 10.

...Oh, right, I'm reviewing the story! Whoops! :twilightsheepish: (Though seriously, that is a damn nice cover.)

All right, now lest anyone think I'm reviewing this as a tit-for-tat, give-a-like, get-a-like kind of thing, rest assured that this is not the case. I was going to post some reviews, Hap's included, regardless of if he had reviewed mine, and regardless of if he had given it a positive review.

The story centers a weatherpony named Windy Weathertop, a Fillydelphia-based worker who is tough as nails and takes no guff from nopony and no cloud! And the twist is that she's an earth pony.

When the Cloudsdale weather factory suffers a freak accident and is on the verge of a catastrophic meltdown that threatens Cloudsdale and parts beyond with complete annihilation, the pegasi are all scrambling to get it under control. Amid the chaos is Windy, who is armed with a set of magic cloud-walker horseshoes, a pair of artificial wings, and a few other tools that I won't spoil here. (Oh, and Rainbow Dash is there too.)

This story is the most consistent out of the three today. It is very much in the vein of big, loud disaster movie thrillers and makes no attempts to apologize for this. Windy is badass and knows it and does things she realistically shouldn't be able to do. There are explosions and weather going haywire and chumps standing around not knowing what to do while our heroine goes "Yo, chill... I got dis!" with a smile on her face. Well, that last part isn't literally true, but you get the idea; it's that type of story.

But that doesn't mean it's bad. Far from it. While it at first seems like a classic case of a dyed-in-the-wool "Donut Steel" OC, Windy isn't badass because she's overpowered... she's badass because she's underpowered and thriving in her environment despite that fact. Many of my readers might know of my fondness for characters who play against their "type." (Gadget from "The Iron Horse" being the prime example in my own work.) Windy doesn't fly faster or more nimbly than the pegasi... in fact, the story makes it clear that she is struggling against gravity and has had to make huge adaptations to deal with her non-native environment. It also adds in the idea that because she's an outsider, she brings a new perspective to problems the other ponies might not have seen. I think that's a cool idea and one that I believe teaches us something about how to solve some problems here in Real Life too.

Recommended?: Yeah. No real caveats this time. Unless you don't like more high-octane kinds of stories, I think most will like this. It's not subtle or quiet or touchy-feely, but it's solid storytelling.

Well, people, those are my reviews. Got an opinion, a response, or a recommendation of other entries for Scribblefest? Leave a comment below and I'll give 'em a look. :eeyup:

Comments ( 4 )

I just realized that Weatherpony has now become lacking in my eyes because I didn't literally have Windy say 'Yo chill, I got dis'. :applejackconfused:

Ah well. No time for regrets.

I think I might have enjoyed the Kidnapping a little less than you, but I do agree that the beginning was quite funny at times, and I do have the tragic tendency to focus on the negative more than I should.

Also, you're lagging behind! I've already got nine down. Next on my list is Give a Like (which you've already read, apparently, which looks rather nice), the Inadequacy (not sure what that one is about aside from Shining and his family), and one other I haven't decided yet. Preferably a more adventurey type one. A lot of the ones I've found tend a lot towards Slice of Life, I noticed.

I've also realized reviewing these is a lot easier than reviewing for TGB, since I don't have a whole series of standards to uphold in my mind. This feels way more chill, and it's a nice break. Probably why I can get through them faster.


I just realized that Weatherpony has now become lacking in my eyes because I didn't literally have Windy say 'Yo chill, I got dis'. :applejackconfused:

I know. What were you thinking? :derpytongue2:

But in all seriousness, regarding "Kidnapping," I think it has merits that are worth a look even if the story itself is just so-so. And while it's true that the "sympathetic changeling" aspect is overplayed a bit, that's not the part I like: I like Twilight Velvet snatching up the chance to mother something and coping with her latent embitterment towards Celestia. Imagine if the story had just narrowed it down to Velvet taking care of an injured changeling, shielding it from Celestia while harboring her resentment (whether Tia deserved it or not) and eventually giving it back to Chrysalis, possibly without any expectation of thanks or repayment and maybe even with the risk of being betrayed. That might have been a decent story! The lack of a consistent tone and the jarring elements in what it is right now, though, makes it a little lacking.

In short, the interesting ideas in it don't excuse the poor tone shift and pacing, but alternately, the poor tone and pacing don't negate the parts that are genuinely good. I don't think it's great, but I can't say that I absolutely hate it either. Maybe I'm just a little more forgiving. :twilightsheepish:

Also, you're lagging behind! I've already got nine down.

True, but I don't usually write reviews. And I usually write about 6-8k words, sometimes way more, every two weeks, so I've got a bit on my plate. Plus, I didn't know where the entries were. I had to find out from Lise herself to know that "Give a Like" was her entry. The other ones I know about are ones I've found out through you. Hopefully, I'll be able to do more. I kinda like writing reviews. :twilightsmile:

Preferably a more adventurey type one. A lot of the ones I've found tend a lot towards Slice of Life, I noticed.

Slice of Life is really over-represented around here, I notice. I think that's because people think it's easy to write, and yet, paradoxically, there are so many that are just really awful to read.

I will forgive a mediocre story with interesting aspects. I will forgive a major flaw in a story that is otherwise pretty great. I will forgive occasional, minor errors of wording, spelling, or punctuation. But there are two things I will never forgive: lazy writing and being boring.

The problem with a lot of Slice of Life tales is that the authors think they can give a quick glimpse into the day a character's life or a look at their thought process, and that's enough. Sometimes, that can even be rather intriguing: I recently read a story about Sunset Shimmer just lounging around at home, contemplating her feelings about her new life and her new body and that was it. And it was interesting... but nothing actually happened. The worst SoL (heh heh) stories have nothing happen and don't even manage to be interesting. Like, say, a Scootaloo story that really isn't much more than "I can't fly. I want to be like Rainbow Dash. She flies so gewd, but I cannot fly. I am teh sad." That's not a story to me. It's why I wanted Marble's Horizon to actually go somewhere; have her face a conflict, consider it, and confront it. And I'm glad that was recognized. :twilightsmile:

Good luck on the other reviews! I hope EFNW releases their list soon so I don't have to scrounge your reviews for more to read. :unsuresweetie:

3799568 I think I tried getting at the idea that Kidnapping was like two or three stories crammed into one, and I think I definitely stand by that comparison. Each of them was all right, and I think I'd have enjoyed reading them. A silly comedy where Crysalis tries to kidnap Twilight Velvet (I thought that part was pretty fun), a more serious look at Twilight putting her motherly skills to use to help Crysalis and her changeling, and that little bit where Twilight Velvet resents Celestia for taking her children away.

I think all three of those are solid ideas and premises. I'd still recommend the story to anyone willing to overlook a bit of an inconsistent and at times jarring story, but I do feel I'd have to add that caveat.

And I definitely agree on the slice of life front. I personally prefer it on the whole because it tends to be a bit more good-natured, and a lot of more grandiose stories get bogged down in seriousness a lot more (which is fine, but admittedly, I can kinda get that anywhere) but what I find is it's really hard to find a slice of life story I'll not only get very invested in, but also find very memorable. It's something I try and struggle with myself, with mixed results at times.

Thanks for the review! I may have missed the mark on Twilight Velvet a bit; I wasn't trying to make her seem ditzy, but rather trying to showcase how incompetent Chrysalis was at sending threatening messages! :rainbowlaugh:

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