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Titanium Dragon

TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Read It Later Reviews #46 – Pegasus, The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth, An Ordinary Day, Memories, Holder’s Boulder · 8:58pm Apr 11th, 2016

I spent pretty much all of Sunday reading Scribblefest entries, and this is going to be the last Scribblefest-centric review post. On the whole, the finalists had a number of very decent stories, and while I didn’t end up writing a review of every story, I did manage to write reviews for a good number of them.

As always, note that I am but one of nine Scribblefest judges, so my word is not the last one on these.

Today’s stories:

Pegasus by Grand_Moff_Pony
The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth by The 24th Pegasus
An Ordinary Day by alt-tap
Memories by peekaboo
Holder’s Boulder by Horse Voice

by Grand_Moff_Pony

Equestria Girls, Slice of Life
2,916 words

Planes. They're big, loud, and heavy, but they somehow lift off the ground over and over again, going from place to place seemingly without effort. But what if planes didn't exist? Not because they didn't work, but because they weren't needed?

What if I had wings of my own?

What if I told you that such a world really existed?

Why I added it: Scribblefest!

This was one of my favorite stories in this year’s Scribblefest competition. Slice of life pieces are hard to pull off properly; a lot of pure slice of life stories fail to interest me. But this story, like many good slice of life stories, chose the right slice of life. I got a strong feeling of wistfulness here as Rainbow Dash sits on the plane, contemplating flying and what it would be like to have wings. The whole scene of her contemplatively looking out the window during taxi and takeoff while being interrupted by the world around her ended up feeling very evocative to me.

I suspect that this story isn’t for everyone; Horizon noted that it "bounced off of him", and several other folks seemed to feel the same (while a few thought it was really good). I personally really enjoyed it, but it may not be everyone's thing. The drifting focus might be offputting, or it might just be that it came particularly close to some of my own experiences while taking off in a plane and thinking about the world.

I'm not really sure. But I liked it.

Recommendation: Recommended.

The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth
by The 24th Pegasus

Alternate Universe, Dark, Sad, Poetry
2,510 words

War changes ponies. It can make civilians into soldiers, and soldiers into heroes. But becoming a hero requires a sacrifice, not only of blood, sweat, and tears, but of the soul. For when the dark days come, it's the heroes who bring the sun, and when it returns, they're forever lost in the light.

Being a hero doesn't just mean being brave. It means giving up your life to the cause—regardless of whether or not you die.

Why I added it: Scribblefest!

This is a very unusual story; it isn’t often these days you see an entire story told in poetic verse, much less something over 2,000 words long.

This is the story of the Sombra War universe Rainbow Dash, starting with the start of the war, and ending with the end of Rainbow Dash’s days. Using an ABCB rhyme scheme and a pretty decent command of meter, the poem leads us through boot camp, through the loss of her wing, through her despair and eventual hope of returning to the air, and then the post-war years.

All in all, this is a pretty solid piece, and I suspect that if you are the type who doesn’t mind or likes poetry, this will be up your alley. It is a rather grim thing, and the story is told in a fairly straightforward way, but it doesn’t really detract from it too much. There’s a few bits here and there which work very well (particularly notes about little bits of blue), but there are also some things that felt a little bit trite. That said, on the whole, I think it worked well enough, and I liked it in the end, even if it wasn’t perfect.

Recommendation: Worth Reading if you don't mind poetry.

An Ordinary Day
by alt-tap

Slice of Life
5,436 words

Fluttershy lives a happy life. Every day is special. All of her friends are lovely ponies.

Today is a day just like any other; she wakes in the morning, does her chores, sees her friends, takes a nap and sees more of her friends before an evening of relaxation.

Just an ordinary, wonderful day.

Why I added it: Scribblefest!

Horizon said of this story:

Reading this for Scribblefest, and I just have to say that it's a shame that this doesn't have any comments yet. I can't remember the last time I was so engrossed by a story in which nothing of consequence happens. The language here is beautiful (although marred by a fair number of typos -- you might want to read back through and take an edit pass) and it's got some surprises along the way, but mostly this is just vivid and poetic. Thank you for it.

I think this is a pretty good summary of this piece. It is an ordinary day for Fluttershy, and yet, it is a day full of joy and beauty. People sometimes talk about fluff fics or WAFF fics – Warm and Fuzzy Feelings – and this is really an archetypical example of a story full of this sort of thing. The story is just bursting with happiness and just general joie de vie. Fluttershy is just so happy all day, loving the world around her, and particularly certain ponies.

Not much happens here, and yet, a lot of characterization is revealed and expanded on as we see how Fluttershy sees the world, thinks about her friends, and is just generally, unrelentingly nice. And it is just a really nice thing to read.

That being said, this story is not perfect, and I would love to recommend it a lot more heartily than I actually can. Where this story falls down is in its presentation. There are typos, including one in the third sentence of the story, and many of the paragraphs are long enough that they feel almost meandering. While the paragraph style communicates something about Fluttershy’s mentality, it also sometimes feels as if a great deal is packed in to each paragraph to the point where they’re almost exhausting to read.

There’s a few other issues here and there as well – a character who appears midway through the story, Smiling She Greets The Dawn, AKA Candymane, was a point of confusion. She has two names – Smiling and Candymane – and the story keeps switching between them. I had to re-read this section to realize that it was just talking about one pony and not two.

But all and all, this was a very sweet story that read almost like a children’s story. I’d almost want to say it should have the romance tag, given Fluttershy’s feelings about a certain pony being displayed here, but I’m not sure that is really right – the story isn’t really focused on that so much as Fluttershy’s general love of life and those around her. If you are a FlutterDash shipper, though, this is probably something you’ll appreciate, even though it isn’t the primary focus of the piece.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.

by Peekaboo
Sad, Slice of Life
2,286 words

Pregnant Buttercup and her mother Tulip Bouquet reminisce about older times, and the things to come when the soon-to-be mother has her foal.

Why I added it: Scribblefest!

The summary of this story pretty much covers what it is about – Buttercup talks to her mother Tulip Bouquet about her upcoming foal, as well as her loneliness sitting around the house on bedrest while the rest of the family works in the fields.

This is a slice of life piece about two original characters, and indeed, this is basically a work of original fiction – it isn’t really a pony fanfic, it is just a story where the protagonists happen to be ponies. This isn’t really a bad thing, but it also means that the story is trying to do a great deal here in a small space – get us to care about this person, get us to realize that something is off about the scene, and get us to the end of the story while still being engaged.

Alas, while this story is decent, I felt like it followed a very standard formula for a story of this genre. If you realize what is amiss early on, there’s really nothing left but waiting for the other shoe to drop, and really, the conversation itself felt a little bit generic – I don’t know how many times I’ve heard/read/watched parents to be fretting over their upcoming kids, and this conversation felt very archetypal. That isn’t to say it was bad, but it meant that it felt like I had seen it before (and I’m sure I’ll see it again) and it didn’t really seem like it did anything outside of the bounds of that standard type.

Consequently, it is hard for me to recommend it; it isn’t that it is bad so much as that it felt generic.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.

Holder’s Boulder
by Horse Voice

Drama, Horror, Mystery
5,332 words

"Mind thy work. Honor thy kin. Stay away from Holder's Boulder."

Marble disobeyed the warnings.

Why I added it: It’s Horse Voice. How could I not? Scribblefest made me stop putting off reading it.

Maud wakes up one night to see Marble Pie standing in front of Holder’s Boulder. Shortly afterwards, Maud catches Marble destroying the journal of Holder Cobblestone, the original discoverer of Holder’s Boulder. Though most of it is rendered illegible, it seems to warn of a great evil lurking within the stone.

Gradually, piece by piece, Maud works to reconstruct the journal and discover just what Holder’s Boulder is – and just how much danger they might be in.

As is typical of a Horse Voice story, this is quite strong, and solidly constructed. The story gradually builds up to the reveal of just what Holder’s Boulder is and how it came to house said “great evil”, as well as Maud’s solution to the problem. And at the end, it all comes together nicely.

While this is a relatively simple story, it is well-constructed, and Maud works well as the deadpan protagonist here, outwardly stoic but inwardly concerned about the well-being of her family and the world.

I liked it, and I suspect most folks who enjoy dramatic buildups – and a slightly different approach to cosmic horror stories – will appreciate it.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.

Pegasus by Grand_Moff_Pony

The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth by The 24th Pegasus
Worth Reading

An Ordinary Day by alt-tap
Worth Reading

Memories by peekaboo
Not Recommended

Holder’s Boulder by Horse Voice
Worth Reading

And there we go! Scribblefest has come and gone, but the stories remain. Hopefully some of them will suit folks’ fancy and they’ll end up enjoying them.

Now, time to get back to work on writing pony stories of my own…

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 123

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 440

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 1889

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Comments ( 8 )

This gives me a little hope that I might still win the Checklist And Caliper Award. I await the judges' verdict with abated breath. :rainbowdetermined2:

Thank you for the review! :twilightsmile: I'm glad you enjoyed my story.
The typos are being fixed, (I have some 'issues' that make spelling especially difficult for me.)
Sorry I didn't do the changeling bit too well. I was trying to make it a little confusing since changelings are meant to be a particularly mercurial and indistinct force. Any suggestions how I could represent that better without it interfering with the reader's comprehension?


Sorry I didn't do the changeling bit too well. I was trying to make it a little confusing since changelings are meant to be a particularly mercurial and indistinct force. Any suggestions how I could represent that better without it interfering with the reader's comprehension?

While I get what you were going for, I think the cost of confusing the reader there wasn't really worth the benefit of using multiple different names in the prose. As it isn't really the focus of the piece, I just wouldn't mess around with it in terms of switching between calling them Candymane and Smiling; it is fine to note that they have two names, but using just one or the other in the prose would make it easier to read.

I'm afraid I'm not allowed to give out spoilers on the results of the judging before it is announced. :ajsmug:

Thank you for the review, even if it wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. I'd much rather readers be honest about it, as it hopefully will help me to become a better writer. I'm not super confident with my writing in the first place, least of all with this story, as this is not the first review of a similar rating this story has received... I kind of wish that I'd never submitted it honestly. I've read the other stories, and they're all way more qualified and by far more deserving to be on that list.

Memories was written in one shot, VERY late at night, and I didn't have an editor for it so I'm sure there are plenty of things that could be picked out and fixed. Never mind the fact that in this story I wrote about some things I wouldn't really have the first clue about in any respect, so I apologize if it came off as generic/boring/dumb. Nevertheless, to be honest I really don't know that I ever will get around to changing or fixing anything on it. I'd just rather focus on moving forward and improving instead.
Thanks again for the review, by the way. Maybe next year I can think of something a little less generic to write about.

Don't be so down on yourself; it did make the final round, meaning it was in the upper half of stories in the competition. I can't tell you exactly how well it did, but it did make that first cut and it definitely did not get last place in its category.

It wasn't bad. It just felt kind of generic. I've read a lot of stories like this, to the point where I call them "graves fics", even though they don't all involve graves. It isn't really my kind of story to begin with, but it also felt like the two stories it told both were things I'd seen before.

The execution of it was fine. The biggest issue I had was that the story didn't feel like it really did something new.

Thanks for taking the time to review my story. Glad to see that it was worth reading. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, because poetry and all, and I know it's still a little rough in places, but I think it was good enough for an attempt at something new. Can't wait to hear back from the contest!

Hunh. I got more mentions this round than any of the actual authors? I'll drop you a PM about my royalty check. :raritywink:

Tch. Just a brief taste of fame and it all goes to your head. :V

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