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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXII

    Wow, last weekend was a busy one. Family gathering was relatively small this year, for obvious reasons. Although I must emphasize the “relative” part; usually when there’s a big holiday like the 4th, we end up with 20 people or more present. This weekend was “only” nine, including me, my parents, and my brother’s family of six. That’s right, six. That boy is a glutton for punishment, I swear to

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    7 comments · 272 views
  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXI

    My preliminary editing of the original fiction version of Guppy Love is all but finished! Soon I will have the entire story stored in GDocs and ready for prereading, which means it’s about time I started really looking for prereaders. I intend to ask the prereaders of the MLP version to come back to evaluate the changes, but I’d like to get a few others to offer a fresh perspective. I’m

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    16 comments · 310 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCX

    Howdy, folks. I’m afraid I don’t have much to report this week. Well, other than the very real possibility of maintaining 2,000 words/day of writing this month. Feels like I haven’t pulled something like that off in ages. Pays that I’m finally cutting down on the video games again. It comes in phases.

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    4 comments · 326 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIX

    The past week has been one of highs and lows. The brief crash has led to me being two days behind on my reading schedule. The good news is that I’ve got a Vacation Week coming up in a couple weeks that I can use to easily make up the lost time. The bad news is that my current major reading project was scheduled to be finished the day before its review gets published, so I’ve no choice but to

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    7 comments · 364 views
  • 3 weeks
    Charity Stream!

    I usually save these kinds of things for my main review blog, but this one's time sensitive, so: my old friend Cerulean Voice is hosting a charity stream! Head here to get the details.

    0 comments · 81 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews XXXII · 12:33am Apr 29th, 2016

This is the prelude to silence.

I've moaned and groaned quite a bit in the last month about my lack of time lately, and I'm afraid things haven't improved. As of right now I am a day behind on my reading and have written maybe 2,000 words for the entire week, both rather pathetic showings on my part. On the plus side, I move into my apartment this weekend, which means my daily commute from the office will be reduced by 1 - 1/2 hours, and I'll finally be able to set my own schedule at home without having to fret over when family will jump in to blow a couple hours of my time on something. I will be, in a word, free at last. Thank Celestia Almighty!

Buuut there's a caveat: this also means that I'm going to be spending the next three days driving around for hours at a time, packing things up, unpacking things, setting up my place, and all the general activities required from a move. This means I'm not going to have time to catch up with either my writing or reading over the next three days, and I'm probably not going to post a blog this weekend. I've also decided to postpone reviews next week, if only because I don't intend to crush myself under a vast weight of reading obligations just to get enough read by Thursday.

Still, these are all good things in the long run. I'm postponing my reviews, but my reading is going to stay set as is. I can do this because next week's reading schedule – which has been on the books for over a month, before I even knew all of this would happen – is an extremely light one, requiring less than a third of my average devotion. That gives me plenty of room to play catch up while still being able to do some writing. Plus,this will give me an extra week of breathing room for my selection of Round Robin entries, so for me it's a win all around.

Alright, peoples! Enough chitter chatter about how you won't be seeing me over the next week. Reviews!

Stories for This Week:

Upon Breaking Rules by Habanc
If You Came to Conquer by cleverpun
The Elements of Awesomery by PresentPerfect (Requested by PresentPerfect)
Post Nuptials by Darth Link 22 (Re-Read)
Advanced Lessons by dungeonguy88 (Origin story of A Very Merry Chrysalis)
Total Word Count: 102,201

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 0
Pretty Good: 2
Worth It: 2
Needs Work: 0
None: 0

Ah, LunaLight. Such a common ship, but it still remains a favorite. Truth be told, it’s fun shipping Twilight with just about anypony… crackships excepted, of course.

In Upon Breaking Rules, Habanc obeys that almost moral obligation writers have to act upon interesting ideas that come from any given source. In this case, that source is the cover art. The story opens with Celestia learning that Luna has been invited to one of Pinkie’s Hearth’s Warming parties in Ponyville. After obtaining permission to go (a point of irritation for me, as Luna shouldn’t have to seek permission as if Celestia were her mother), we get a look at Luna’s chosen attire for the evening, which proves that she’s not quite up to date on modern fashion.

In a risque guise, she thus attends the party and soon submits to inebriation, mostly due to the egging on of Rainbow Dash. The story thus follows Luna’s first night of drunken freedom in a thousand years. Miraculously, it doesn’t result in anything damning, but does lead to an interesting discovery regarding Equestria’s newest princess.

This was a tale at times entertaining and amusing. Habanc’s interpretation of Luna – which I suspect is more based upon the comic book rendition of the character – is at once cute and endearing. Her manner of investigating the modern culture of social gatherings fits perfectly with her desire to grow into the new world and let her mane down for a change, and the occasional slip ups or faux pas are pleasantly blended into the events. The story is well written and the characters feel largely appropriate – although Pinkie’s cameo felt just a little too childish for my tastes.

And of course, there is the bumbling potential romance that ultimately comes to the forefront. Since it’s possible this was meant to be the primary purpose of the story, one can argue that it took too long to get to that point. I didn’t mind, as the first half of the story interested me enough to keep things going.

All in all, I can think of only one thing that really bothered me. There are a few instances where Luna observes the events going on around her and thinks about how downright scary they are, with clear indications that she’s hesitant to give them a try. One sentence later, she’s ‘eagerly’ trying them anyway, as if the hesitation didn’t exist in the first place. I’ll grant that she’s growing steadily more drunk as the story goes on, and that may have something to do with these on-a-dime about faces – having never been drunk before, I wouldn’t have the experience to vouch for such things. It struck me as awkward at best and jarring at worst.

Upon Breaking Rules was a treat to read. Well-written, festive, and with just the lightest sprinkling of romance, it does a lot right and little wrong. Give it a go whenever you’re feeling like having a little fun.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

If You Came to Conquer

5,959 Words
By cleverpun

Consequences and penance come together in this tale by cleverpun. The concept is unexpected, but in hindsight should have been obvious; frankly, I’m surprised this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. In If You Came to Conquer, Nightmare Moon wins. She challenges Celestia, who refuses to fight back, and promptly murders her. No exile, no thousand years, no Elements of Harmony.

But victory is not as sweet as Nightmare anticipated. Her eternal night soon leads to its inevitable conclusion: the death of all things. Alone and realizing her folly, Nightmare does the only thing she can think of: travel back in time and right her horrible wrong. Two catches: first, that she’s tried that before, and second, there’s only one guy who can send her back, and he happens to be encased in stone.

I enjoyed this story. It’s concept is interesting, the implications are broad and the potential is great. The knowledge that cleverpun has written a sequel only makes it that much better. This rendition of Nightmare Moon is a reasonable one (in its possibility, not the character herself), and I would love to learn more.

That said, there are a few curious issues. For example, there comes a moment when Nightmare has a discussion with a certain filly. Is this supposed to be a heated moment? The filly sounds excitable, sure, but Nightmare spends the entire conversation droning. The dialogue just didn’t seem to fit in places; what was being said was appropriate, but how it was being said felt off. If I had to pin this on anything, it would be the distinct lack of narrative assistance and perhaps a bit of poor punctuation choice. I won’t hold the latter against cleverpun, though; there are certain things that are just plain hard to balance when it comes to dialogue. Besides, for all I know, Nightmare's tone was an intentional aspect and I just don't get it.

In the end, I enjoyed the story, even though it comes with the caveat of feeling woefully underexplored. I will be looking forward to the sequel when it finally shows up on my list.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

The Elements of Awesomery

31,674 Words (Incomplete)
By PresentPerfect
Requested by PresentPerfect

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am typically not a fan of crackfics, which is why I was wary when PP asked me to review his own The Elements of Awesomery. It’s not what I expected, but seriously, what crackfic is?

The concept – not that you really need to know, because crackfic – involves an alternate universe where a bunch of renamed characters representing the EoH take on the mantle of the Elements of Awesomery, with Rainbow DashWondercloud Lightningbolt as their beyond awesome leader. With Elements coming into play like Badassery and Moe-as-Fuck, you know you’re in for one crazy ride. Which is all this is.

I confess, I laughed. EoA is a parody wrapped in a satire with a healthy glaze of audience mockery. Everything that’s come to traditionally define ‘awesome’ is included, whether it’s actually awesome or not. What I think I like the most about the story is PP’s sweeping aim, making fun of so many common errors, character types and plot failures that I can’t help but wonder if he had a literal list of things that he needed to mock per chapter.

As resoundingly dumb as the entire story is, I can’t help but acknowledge that it’s clever in its manner and purpose. Hidden behind the explosions, rippling muscles, death-dealing hoofbumps, hideous dialogue, narrative absurdity and blatant wish fulfillment is something that even I can be entertained by.

I think this belongs in my single most under-used bookshelf. Enjoy the spot, PP; I don’t keep too many of these.

Bookshelf: Special Placement: Crackfics

Post Nuptials

33,259 Words
By Darth Link 22

I first read this story way back in ancient times when I didn’t write reviews and bookshelves still didn’t exist on the site. I recalled looking upon the story positively at the time. I was interested in seeing how my interpretation would change now that I’ve matured as a writer and reviewer.

Sitting pretty at almost 29,000 views and nearly 2,200 upvotes, it’s safe to say that Post Nuptials is one of the sites more popular stories. For those of you unaware of it, it centers around the immediate aftermath of A Canterlot Wedding, in which the Mane 6 and a few others have some serious discussions regarding their feelings to resolve the question of who is responsible for what was, for lack of a better description, an all around fiasco. All of this is centered around Twilight's accusation of Cadance and how all her friends and even family dismissed her out of hand.

As with so many stories, my feelings towards this one are mixed. There are times when it feels less like a story and more like an author getting on a soap box. At other times, it felt too melodramatic, like the author is intentionally trying to squeeze every potential tear and tug on every single heartstring, and not always effectively. The descriptions are telly, there’s exposition all over the place, the dialogue alternates between overlong monologues and overly dramatic self-reflection, and a lot of the points are repeated from chapter to chapter nonstop. There are, simply put, unpleasant aspects all over the story.

Even so, the bad is somewhat balanced by the good. I think one of the best aspects of this story is the linking of events from the show. This is not something commonly – or easily – done, and most authors don’t even bother. Where they fail, Darth Link 22 succeeds by taking episodes seemingly unrelated at all to one another and creating common threads that fit wonderfully with Post Nuptials. The author used these links to great effect, and it’s something I’d like to learn to do myself.

Moreover, there a distinct feeling of lessons learned, lives moving on and relationships building. Even if this was all achieved through woeful melodrama, the character building is unquestionably solid.

The only other word of warning I can offer is that this story is written early in MLP:FiM’s existence, so a lot of things known today are not present in this story. This is an understandable thing and not to be taken negatively, but it can come as a shock when, just for example, Fluttershy looks upon the statue of Discord with nothing but revulsion and considers him irredeemable.

Although it might be considered a ‘classic’ of MLP literature, I feel Post Nuptials is the kind of story that gets its props from it plot, not its style. I recommend it to anyone who is willing to accept weak writing in favor of a decent story.

Bookshelf: Worth It

After enjoying the amusing little Hearth’s Warming story A Very Merry Chrysalis, I elected to read the stories that originated its world. This begins with Advanced Lessons, in which Princess Twilight Sparkle walks in on Chrysalis lounging in Celestia’s private chambers and comes to the conclusion that she’s done something to Celestia. As it turns out, Chrysalis is just visiting, and the two monarchs have been good friends for an incredibly long time.

As much as I’ve never been big on the idea of Chrystlesia (I still don’t know what to call that pairing), dungeonguy88 continues to sell it, and sell it well. Chrysalis herself is still the main draw for me, her tsundere manner of dealing with her own emotions being nothing short of adorable.

What? I’ve got a thing for tsundere, okay?

Ahem, moving on. The point is, this story does a great job of painting Celestia and Chrysalis’s history in a light that really makes the idea work. Even better, this story manages to include an effective headcanon of changelings that, while not necessarily detailed, is interesting in the possibilities it opens up. I thoroughly enjoyed the intent of this story – even Blueblood manages to come out likeable. And the humor is spot on, never making me laugh out loud (which is hard for most writers), but definitely keeping me smiling from beginning to end.

Well, maybe not. The story does have some issues, and most of them can be summed up in one word: grammar. This story’s grammar is atrocious. Comma splices, improper dialogue punctuation, comma splices, incorrect words that render sentences meaningless, comma splices, a few spots of weak dialogue, and did I mention the comma splices? Seriously, those things are everywhere. The narrative is a mess, grammatically speaking.

There’s one other element of the story that bugged me, and it had to do with exposition. A great many things are explained through such things, such as the opening scene that sets the story up. It’s not bad in most cases, but then you get to chapter three. That chapter is 6,800 words long, and almost exactly a fourth of it – yes, I ran the numbers – is a nonstop running of exposition. I’ll grant that some people will be okay with this. Heck, most people. But at the same time, I’m also very aware that all of this information could have been put into a separate chapter with much, much more detail and the story might have been far better for it.

Or it would have distracted from the primary purpose of the story. It’s not clear cut, apparently, but I still feel like the author missed out on an opportunity. At best, the lengthy exposition acts as a distracting tangent, but it has the virtue of at least being an interesting tangent, so my feelings are mixed. Since I’m not entirely sure what the best course of action is in this case, I can only be miffed and encourage others to come to their own conclusions.

Anyway, if one is willing to ignore the blatantly bad grammar and can accept the exposition, this story brings with it some great elements. I can’t rate it too highly due to the issues it has in the writing, but it was still a fun read.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

Paul's Thursday Reviews XXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews Have Returned!
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXX
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXXI

Want me to review your story? Send me a request! Check my profile page for rules.

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Comments ( 8 )
Author Interviewer

Somehow, I win :V

I was surprised as heck to see that title in this journal, and even more surprised to see that I'd suggested it. XD Totally forgot!

Now go read all my other fics. V:

Dude, I feel your pain. I'm getting out of final exams week. My time's been on a premium all month.

I’ll grant that she’s growing steadily more drunk as the story goes on, and that may have something to do with these on-a-dime about faces – having never been drunk before, I wouldn’t have the experience to vouch for such things.

You just earned some more respect from me.

After 21 years of waiting, I've found that booze honestly isn't all it's cracked up to be. Just makes me tired. Maybe other people have more potent reactions, or something.

Have we come full circle? :raritywink:

I actually still remember your original comment on this story, because it made me think. Was making the confrontation sort of detached and passive worth it? Did it make the reader identify with Nightmare Moon's attitude, or did it just rob the climax of its impact?

Ultimately, that is a consistent challenge in my stories (as is the vague conclusion). A lot of my plots rely on the theme that conflicts are resolved (or escalated) through words. Many important climaxes and moments in my stories revolve around conversations rather than fight scenes or reveals/twists. I also think that overly visceral descriptions rob the events of their impact. Nothing is scarier, after all.

Ultimately, though, I think you're right that it was a shortcoming of my writing. At the time, I was still learning about how dampening passive voice can be and how to avoid it (I still am, come to that). The scene needed more weight, since the story didn't get a sequel for a long time.

As always, thanks for your insight :twilightsmile:

This is the prelude to silence.

I feel the need to point out that that line could be an amazing hook

What? I’ve got a thing for tsundere, okay?

Hah, I know what story I've mine should send your way :twilightoops:

A shorter commutes is always a good thing. ;) Good luck with the move! :)

Enjoy your new home! :twilightsmile:

Ah, The Elements of Awesomery. I actually thought of recommending it to you, myself. A personal favorite of mine.

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