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Apr
13th
2016

First Impression Reviews: Episode Three · 7:18pm Apr 13th, 2016

Below are two fanfic reviews based purely on the initial impressions provided by the first chapter (or first 3k words.) For an outline of what my reviewing guidelines are, go here. Please do not request reviews!

Before I get into the reviews proper, I just want to note: The way I’m doing these is not random--I’m clicking on the last page of my to-read list, and reviewing the stories on the bottom of each page...

There’s still 18 pages left.

Ahem… So given that I was fairly new to MLP fiction upon joining this site, there’s going to be a lot of weird stuff on here that I probably wouldn’t have added these days. A few short months ago, I was still cultivating my tastes and trying to figure out what I was even into. I had no idea what ‘displaced’, ‘HiE’, or even ‘clop’ was. So if you see something weird reviewed here… Well, I’m just going through the motions of this little experiment. Let’s just leave it at that.



Trial Run by UnlicensedBrony
Rating: Teen
Tags: Romance
Summary: It's obvious to everypony, themselves included, that Applejack and Rainbow Dash have romantic feelings for one another. The only reason they're not together is that they're both convinced that a relationship between them could never work out. Rarity, on the other hoof, is convinced that it could, and Rainbow Dash agrees to a 'three date trial' to prove her wrong...
Grammar: 4/5 - On a technical level, this fic is written very well. I noticed some less than optimal word choices here and there. Nothing horrible, but I think the author may have confused the exact nature of their meanings. For instance, at one point, they describe RD shrugging “coolly” at Rarity during a casual (if awkward) conversation. The problem is that “coolly” as an adverb tends to hold cold and unfriendly connotations. That wasn’t how the author was writing Rainbow in that scene, so the word choice was off. There were several instances of this kind of thing. Also, ellipses again. Guys… What’s going on? Am I crazy? What’s with these spaces and uncapitalized words after ellipses? It’s turning into a new pet peeve! And “alright” is not all right, at least not to me. I know language is always changing, and some institutions are sort of grudgingly accepting it, but I refuse. So there.

My Thoughts:
While my time in pony fic land has seen certain ships rise in my favor, I’m still rather open about ship fics (are you kidding? I read a RariPie and liked it) so I have no strong feelings against AppleDash. It’s the first ship I tried, actually. But shipfics are very hit or miss with me to begin with. Ironic, since I prefer romantic reading or some element of romance 90% of the time. I’m just a snob about my love stories.

Luckily, Trial Run is pretty freaking good. I mostly skip AppleDash these days as I’ve moved on to other ships that better appeal to my personal tastes (TwiLuna and FlutterDash, anyone?) But this is good! Really good. The dialogue flows, the characterizations feel spot on, the plot feels natural and engaging… I think just about the only “bad” point I can lament is that this is one of my bottom tier ships, so my enjoyment is kind of permanently hampered. Still, I could read worse. Much worse.

There was even a pretty good undercurrent of mild humor. This isn’t a comedy, but the exchange between Rainbow Dash and Rarity had my face split wide into a grin. It was genuinely entertaining seeing the two clash wills. That’s all that this chapter really consisted of, but it made for a great read.

Final Verdict: I give this AppleDash romance my seal of snobby approval! +1 for Rarity putting her clean and feminine standards on the line to play cupid.



Anything But The Gala by Ponibius
Rating: Teen
Tags: Comedy, Slice of Life
Summary: Princess Celestia has hosted the Grand Galloping Gala for hundreds of years, the grandest party in all of Equestria and said to be without peer—and has hated every year of it. Now that her sister has returned to her, she hopes to share this painful royal duty. Shame for her that Princess Luna wants nothing to do with the Gala, or any of the other princesses for that matter. Luna is going to have to use all her wits and skills to stay one step ahead of her sister and be anywhere but the Gala.
Grammar: 5/5 - I’m pretty sure this person could give me writing tips. I saw nothing wrong!

My Thoughts:
I actually started this one when I first found it, but it failed to hold my attention at the time. Since I wasn’t sure if it was due to my mood in that moment or an actual reflection of the fic, I set it aside for later. Now I’m finally returning to it. So what is really the case? Well, I had to start over just to be sure. And I just have to say...

Wow! This is a fanfic written by someone of considerable skill--you can tell because they are handling so many things at once (scene descriptions, character actions, dialogue) without neglecting anything. The writing is focused and very well-paced. The author knows a thing or two about comedic timing. As this is written in first person from Princess Luna’s point of view, we get this formal, occasionally archaic, and often wry tone that is deliciously funny to read. Please forgive this really large excerpt, but I think it captures the soul of this fic very well. Princess Luna has just complained about a recent attempt at playing golf with her sister, to which Celestia replies:

"You didn't like it because I beat you."

"Only because thou hast far more practice at it than I," I shot back. The memories of how I had kept overshooting the green were not happy ones. It turned out that alicorn strength was poorly suited to the game. Though my sister was, of course, superb at the game after uncounted decades of practice. Just like how she was perfect at most things. I was not jealous; merely annoyed.

At least I had gotten a little bit of humor when I accidently pelted somepony with a ball. The fact that the pony in question who had been sulking in the bushes was Speedy Press, a tabloid journalist whom had written several scathing articles saying that I was ruining Equestria in some manner or another, had made it a very happy accident.

“Then perhaps we should do it again soon?”

“Neigh, I think not,” I said in a disinterested manner. "Not when I would have to wear those hideous, uncomfortable clothes again."

My sister let out a patient sigh. "You just don't like plaid."

"Because plaid is a hideous color scheme." Really, I did not know why she had insisted so that we dress so strictly for the occasion. 'Tis not as though the outfit were needed to participate in the game. Also, the pants had been itchy. "Thou knowest I hate plaid."

You see that beautiful flow? The natural back and forth? I quite like that dry, witty banter. It had me smiling throughout. And I mean… Come on! Are you telling me you can’t giggle at the mental image of Luna pouting in plaid golf clothes next to an annoyingly chipper Celestia? That’s the best thing about Anything But The Gala...it trusts me to fill in the blanks! It doesn’t hold my hand and lead me to punchlines. Just by the strength of its character, I am perfectly capable of finishing its thoughts. Good comedy doesn’t need to spell everything out for you all the time.

Less skilled authors might have tried to paint the image I just mentioned for me. This would have weakened the hilarity of it. Sometimes, a picture really does say a thousand words, but my mind needs a chance to paint it on its own. Otherwise, I find myself stuck with someone else’s attempts at forcing their ideas, and things might get lost in translation. Even unintentional comedy can be preferable to the author’s vision. A writer has to be secure enough to be able to step aside and let that sort of thing have room to happen. Too often, I think stories try to desperately control our perception of their tale. This is a mistake. Some of my favorite books and fanfiction are the ones that allowed me the space to fit my headcanon and personal jokes.

Another great thing about Anything But The Gala is its interpretation of Equestrian government and aristocracy. The author did a top-notch job on world-building, and they illustrate a firm grasp of how they feel the land of MLP would operate. I love Princess Luna’s characterization to crumbly little bits--she’s haughty, and mischievous, and competitive. Celestia’s portrayal as a conniving older sister might have been done to death, but it’s a solid route to take, and it works well for this story.

Final Verdict: I’m rather surprised I’m saying this, but I think this one is going to have to go into my favorites. I very seldom add fics to that honored shelf so quickly (I didn’t even finish this chapter--I only read the first 3k words!) but it’s just so good. I cannot recommend this one enough.


Current To-Read Count: 178/184

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Comments ( 4 )

Neat blog entries! I saw them mentioned in the First Glance Reviews group and decided to take a look.

Guys… What’s going on? Am I crazy? What’s with these spaces and uncapitalized words after ellipses?

The short answer is yes. Yes, you are crazy.

Technically speaking, when using ellipses in casual writing as a means to convey a pause or a fade off of a thought the correct usage is:

"I . . . I don't know you," he said, "What are you . . . what are you doing here? "

Note that there is a space before and after the ellipses, as well as between the dots themselves. The only time this is not true is when the ellipses is next to a quotation mark; in that case, there is no space between the quotation mark and the ellipses. You still space out the dots, though.

You do not capitalize the words after the ellipses unless they are a proper noun or otherwise require a capital; the ellipses themselves have no bearing on the capitalization or lack thereof in the sentence. The exception to this is when the ellipses is being used as a trail off of a complete thought, like so:

What is . . . Oh, forget it, it doesn't matter now.

So the example you provided is actually incorrect.

That said? I have only rarely encountered ellipses following these specific rules. In actual, real usage, the pattern I've mostly seen is this:

"I... I don't know you," he said, "What are you... what are you doing here? "

Occasionally I've seen the capitalization after ellipses format, but it's comparatively rare to the former, and haven't really seen the whole capital-after-thought-trail-off thing applied with any degree of regularity. The only times I can even remember the true, technically correct version being used have been in grammar manuals.

So, yes, you are crazy (or, at least, incorrect). But so is almost everyone who ever actually writes. You're just wrong in different ways. :twilightsmile:

3895984 thanks for reading my reviews! I hope you found them insightful! :twilightsmile:

Yeah by episode 7 I was starting to suspect there was a style guideline I was unaware of. I've been in an undergraduate creative writing program and paid a professional editor to look over a novel I was publishing, and yet none have mentioned what you have. I blame the strange inconsistencies in the evolving language. But hey! If I'm incorrect, I'm incorrect. I'll make a note of it from this point on. Might have to talk to my proofreader too. I think he has professional editing experience and he also failed to catch this in my work...

May I ask what style guide, or otherwise widely accepted book (like The Elements of Style) you used as a reference?

3896088

thanks for reading my reviews! I hope you found them insightful! :twilightsmile:

I do, indeed! I particularly like that you put all your biases up on the table. You acknowledge that your mood at a particular time when reading a fic greatly changes your impression of it. I can't recall any review I've read that acknowledges that the frame of mind of the reviewer at the time of reading has an impact on how the work is perceived.

Yeah by episode 7 I was starting to suspect there was a style guideline I was unaware of. I've been in an undergraduate creative writing program and paid a professional editor to look over a novel I was publishing, and yet none have mentioned what you have. I blame the strange inconsistencies in the evolving language.

Yeah, pretty much. The technical rules as written are simply a pain in the backside to utilize, especially in a world where typing is the most common mechanical method of getting words down. It's a pain to space out each and every ellipses and the thing about faded off thoughts requiring the next thought be capitalized is a bit amorphous and subject to some interpretation, for instance. The typography evolved so that the meaning of ellipses was retained, but in a streamlined manner. As long as readability hasn't been compromised, the form simplified to simply make it easier to do and apply.

But hey! If I'm incorrect, I'm incorrect. I'll make a note of it from this point on. Might have to talk to my proofreader too. I think he has professional editing experience and he also failed to catch this in my work...

I wouldn't be too hard on your professor and proofreader. I wasn't using hyperbole when I said I've only really seen the technically correct version in grammar manuals. And it's not like the problem is recent, either; I have a 1977 edition of I, Robot that utilizes the most common formatting for ellipses that I mentioned previously. So even the professionals get it wrong and have for a long time!

May I ask what style guide, or otherwise widely accepted book (like The Elements of Style) you used as a reference?

Well, honestly, I didn't dig out my old grammar manuals from storage. I vaguely remembered there being something peculiar about ellipsis use when you mentioned your increasing irritation about it, so I did the lazy thing and used google, taking a sampling of different online style guides.

I don't think Strunk and White said anything in particular about how ellipses were to be printed; the book considered that an aspect of typography and not grammar, so how it was formatted was irrelevant as long as the usage was correct. I think. It's been a while and I could be misremembering.

Here's a list of some of the grammar guides I found online that told me about the ellipses use:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/ellipsis.htm

http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/ellipses.html

http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/punctuation/when-to-use-ellipses.html

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/ellipses?page=3 <--- this one in particular might be useful as it has a list of references. I recognized the The Chicago Manual of Style as one of the books I have, so it'd probably be one of the first places to look.

Hope this helps!

3896237

I do, indeed! I particularly like that you put all your biases up on the table. You acknowledge that your mood at a particular time when reading a fic greatly changes your impression of it. I can't recall any review I've read that acknowledges that the frame of mind of the reviewer at the time of reading has an impact on how the work is perceived.

It is a constant thorn in my side when reviewers fail to acknowledge their biases or what outside influences might be affecting their views. I really prefer those who are honest about the fact that their opinions are just that--opinions. I think about the only thing people can agree on in terms of measurable quality is the technical strength of a story: the spelling, the grammar, the syntax, etc. Beyond that? It's all in the eye of the beholder. There's plenty of things that I like that are not that popular or well-received by critics.

Hope this helps!

It certainly does! Thank you for all those links! :twilightsmile:

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