• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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PaulAsaran


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!"

More Blog Posts460

  • 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 · 216 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 · 303 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 · 321 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 · 358 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
May
13th
2016

Paul's Thursday Reviews XXXIII · 12:42am May 13th, 2016

At long last, it's time for things to start going weird. What do I mean by that?

Well, in the past I always kept to a strict setup of story types: RiL, Review Requests, Completed/Sequels, Re-Reads and, most recently, Recommendations. Every blog had at least one of each, every time. Now that I'm doing the Round Robin reviews, however, I need to be more flexible regarding how I schedule my stories.

So from here onwards, I will continue to originally schedule blogs in the old fashion. Every time I choose a story for the Round Robin, stories from later schedules will be bumped forward. The catch: the stories I bump forward are based on when they are originally scheduled for publication and where they fall on my reading schedule, not what type they are. This means that any given week can have as many of a given story type as there are reviews for that week, or even none at all. Doing this makes it significantly easier for me to get stories posted without having to completely reschedule everything over the next five weeks (a task that could take many hours).

So yeah, no more nice, neat arrangements of story types. What you see is what you get.

Before I jump to the reviews, two topics of import:

1) It's my turn to do the Round Robin! Keep an eye out for the site post this coming Saturday.

2) I've been invited to be a guest for the Seattle's Angels podcast! I bought a webcam just for the occasion, so if any of you want to finally know what my ugly mug looks like, here's your chance. SA live feed starts Saturday @ 8:00 PM Eastern, if you should be interested.

Stories for This Week:

The Good Ship Lifestyle by A Hoof-ful of Dust
Even in Dreams by Chris (Recommended by AugieDog)
Pegasus by Grand_Moff_Pony (Patreon Accelerated Review!)
Name Rater by Thought Prism (Completed Story)
The Moonstone Cup by Cyanide (Re-Read)
Solitary Locust by Ambysprite (Gift)
Total Word Count: ??????

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 5
Worth It: 0
Needs Work: 0
None: 0


Once again, we have a story for which I had no idea what I was getting into. These RiL stories have been on my list for so long that I’m coming to forget everything about them – even why I chose to RiL them in the first place. Which is interesting, because it’s turned into a sort of Russian Roulette, only with horse words.

In The Good Ship Lifestyle, we watch as Cheerilee faces a strange and unwelcome behavior that exists in the citizens of Ponyville: they can’t stand to see anypony without a special somepony. Period. And poor Cheerilee is single, which makes her a prime target for shipping.

This story is, simply put, a shipper’s arena. It acts as an amusing outsider’s look at the manner of the fandom’s shipping community, with none other than Pinkie Pie leading the insanity. The rules are simple: if you see them standing near one another, they are an item, even if they’re already an ‘item’ with somepony (or whatever creature) else. Cheerilee’s reaction is appropriate and I approve.

So, we have solid writing, great pacing, explanations with almost no exposition (!), and an easily identifiable source of amusement that turns back on certain members of the audience. Surely I must have something to complain about.

I’m thinking, okay?

Nope. Gotta say, I enjoyed the whole thing. Read it, you may just be entertained.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Even in Dreams

1,469 Words
By Chris
Recommended by AugieDog

Inspired by a curious something-or-other I won’t be revealing in Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?, “He-Who-Bears-A-Normal-Name-Like-A-Weirdo-Seriously-What-Brony-Does-That?” Chris decided to review the dreams of certain ponies we didn’t get to see in the episode. What follows appears simple on the whole, but has a curious point under its everyday veneer.

The story is short and has little in the way of flashiness, aside from a rampaging Minuette being just a little more nutty than one might expect (although they’re awesomely flavored nuts). The writing is competent without really drawing any attention to itself. Most of the characters dreams are kind of a let down via a sheer lack of imagination even the characters themselves acknowledge as somewhat woeful.

Then the message hits. Just like the rest of the story, it doesn’t smack you with a sledgehammer, but simply comes along quietly. The end result is something that, in hindsight, should have been patently obvious to everyone, and puts the episode’s conclusion into an entirely new light. The best part about it is that I think it’s legitimate enough that it could have actually happened this way, and nopony would have been the wiser. If all the world’s greatest problems could be resolved this way… well, the world wouldn’t have any problems.

And so we have our lesson, to quote the author: “Sometimes, there's nothing wrong with normal.”

Huh. I guess Chris’s name is appropriate, after all.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Pegasus

2,916 Words
By Grand_Moff_Pony
Patreon Accelerated Review

Another one where I had no idea what to expect. It also indicates how busy my request list got, considering this is a PAR but still took… what, two months for me to get to? Oh well, that’s a heck of a lot faster than what other people had to wait for. It does make me realize that I need to make some adjustments to my scheduling, though.

Anywho, to the story. Pegasus stars Equestria Girls Rainbow Dash, who is getting on a flight to Canterlot from Seaddle. Yet a routine trip she’s gone on a dozen times has an entirely new meaning now that Rainbow is aware that there’s another her out there somewhere, a pony Rainbow with wings who doesn’t need big machines and seat belts and control towers to go flying. Faced with this curious reality, Rainbow finds herself reflecting on her understanding of the world.

If there’s one thing most people wouldn’t apply to Rainbow’s character, it’s introspection. GMP did it anyway, and did it well. Rainbow’s entire world has been shaken in ways she hasn’t quite figured out, and it’s interesting to watch her struggle to make sense of it all. For once, we have a chance to see that quiet and thoughtful really can be part of RD’s makeup. Oh, and for those of you worrying that she’s OOC, here’s a little quote to help you get over that:

Yeah, no way would I be some discount plane. I’m way cooler than that for sure.

Another short and sweet story. While I’m sure people out there have had Rainbow question the nature of her pony counterpart being able to fly, it’s the first time I’ve seen it, and to see it done in a more subtle way is not something I would have anticipated. All in all, I am pleased.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Name Rater

20,367 Words
By Thought Prism
Completed Story

If I had to sum up my opinion of this story in just one sentence, it would probably be something along the lines of: “Oh, come on!”

So, who here has wondered why it is that every pony we ever see has the perfect name for their special talent and destinies, even though there’s no way to know about it from birth? Well, Thought Prism has the answer in Name Rater, in which the titular character’s skill is to look at any pony at any age and immediately know not only their destinies, but the perfect name for them. Thus was he given the job by Celestia and Luna to name every foal who was born in Equestria based upon his incredible skill.

He doesn’t like his job.

This story starts off at once both strong and interesting. We are introduced to a crotchety character whose solitary life is brought to a screeching halt by an invasion of three (in)famous fillies hoping he can tell them what their special talents are. Pulled away from his home by necessity, he ends up discovering that the world has changed dramatically in his absence.

My primary frustration with this story has to do with its length. There’s so much that could have been done with this idea, and most of the chapters offer some nice pacing. Then Name Rater meets the princesses, and suddenly all pacing and proper plot flow are thrown in the trash. Name Rater’s behavior comes mostly out of left field, but even more so are the reactions of those in attendance, which rapidly goes from excessive melodrama to “Whelp, glad that’s over, talk to you later!” It’s as if Thought Prism forgot how to handle character behavior and reactions for one chapter.

Aside from that one tragic misstep, the story is pretty good on the whole. Name Rater is interesting in a way that only the eternally grumpy can be, and his very existence opens up a whole world of background-building possibilities. The best part is that Thought Prism may have alleviated my number one complaint a little by having written a sequel, which I can assure you I’ll be reading.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


The Moonstone Cup

61,073 Words
By Cyanide
Re-Read

Ah, The Moonstone Cup. It easily qualifies as one of the oldest big hits in the history of the fandom. My commentary on the story was at times praised and harshly downvoted, and looking back, I feel I know why in both cases. It was interesting to get to read the story from the perspective of one far more experienced in matters of literature.

For those of you unawares, The Moonstone Cup is just about everything you’d expect: Twilight Sparkle gets sponsored to join a bi-annual tournament of magic, going up against the most powerful mages in the world. That’s it. No, really, you don’t need to know anything else. I mean, sure, there are other things happening – like a side-story devoted entirely to Trixie and the ominous presence of an ancient dragon queen – but bah, this story’s about the tournament.

Therein lies one of the frustrations of this story. Cyanide (who apparently disappeared entirely from the fanbase ages ago) shows great potential in the arena of worldbuilding, conceiving entirely new races and histories and cultures… and then does absolutely nothing with any of it. There’s so much potential brimming in this story’s universe, and we must settle for this brief glimpse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed, I just wish I could have seen more. This isn’t any issue with the story really, it’s just an unpleasant knowledge of a missed opportunity.

The story does have its detracting factors. For one, the writing, while generally competent, is loaded with a number of mistakes. They aren’t severe issues, but the story could have done with a little less word repetition and LUS, just to name a few things. There’s also the overarching sense that the story has no great purpose other than to show Twilight being a badass – not necessarily a bad thing, but hardly deep. Which is curious, because there’s an impression that a lot of depth exists, but simply wasn’t used.

There’s also a few glaring inconsistencies regarding character strengths. One character in particular shows an early respect and, perhaps, even a little fear of taking things too far, only to show near the end not only no care in the world, but has her power upped by a factor of a million just for the sake of the climax.

Despite these issues, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The fights are creative and fun, the characters are well defined, and there’s an overall sense of bigger things going on underneath the plain surface of the main plot. I’m happy to bump this story higher on my bookshelves than it was previously.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Solitary Locust

Incomplete — 120,123 Words
By Ambysprite
Gift

Once upon a time, I didn’t exist. I discovered FIMFiction and I relentlessly pelted the site with my first story, and for all intents and purposes was ignored. This didn’t surprise me. I just kept writing, happy to have rediscovered my love for writing. I had fully anticipated being an unknown entity on the site for years. Then, one day, a certain person took notice. This person was both famous and infamous, a troll and a legitimately good writer, loved by some and hated by others. Regardless of what others thought of her, my first experience was this: she not only discovered me, but opened the door to my access to some of the sites best and brightest. It didn’t make me famous overnight, but it put me on the road I’m on now, and I dare say I wouldn’t have over 800 followers now if she hadn’t given me that first push. I looked upon her with respect for what she did for me, and even in later times when she insists that I’m her superior, I am still grateful for what she did for me. Think of her what you will, but to me, she is a friend.

And so, when I learned that Ambysprite was abandoning her old personae and taking a vacation from MLP to ‘get her head straight,’ I decided then to do something for her. The first thing I did was over to take over one of her abandoned stories – yes, she accepted my proposal, and no, I’m not saying which one it is. You’ll know when I finally get to it.

The second thing I decided to do was read what easily qualifies as her greatest story, Solitary Locust, and review it, in spite of it being incompleted. Indeed, this story ranks among those that I’ve always impatiently watched for completion without any expectation of being rewarded for my patience, such as Steel Resolve’s Green and Daemon of Decay’s Asylum. But now the reality is sinking in that Solitary Locust really might never be completed… and so I shall read it, and for once I will be able to give a proper account of the story and Ambysprite’s writing talents.

Solitary Locust is a dramatic and dark tale set shortly after A Canterlot Wedding. In it, Twilight is pressured by Mayor Mare into giving a presentation to the local townsponies about changelings in order to calm the ongoing fear that has been spreading like a plague after the recent invasion. When she tries to demonstrate a changeling detection spell, however, the magic backfires chaotically, and Twilight finds herself turned into a changeling! Now everypony is convinced that she not only is a changeling, but kidnapped the ‘real’ Twilight Sparkle. Within a matter of seconds, Twilight becomes Equestria’s most wanted fugitive.

The very first thing to note about this story is the writing style. One might call it talkative, or perhaps expositiony. A few might refer to it as telly, although that seems less than accurate. Whatever you want to call it, it’s wordy, taking slow and careful time to go over Twilight’s inner thoughts and turmoil. This is a big difference from most modern fanfiction, and indeed, a lot of modern original fiction. It’s closer to an older style of writing, the kind I grew up with and used to model my writing style on.

Some might find this manner of writing to be too verbose, but in my case, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Yes, we are given a lot of information that makes events seem to pass slowly, but Ambysprite’s choice of words and flow make it so that every sentence has its own weight and impact. Twilight’s misery and steadily growing fears are felt blow for blow, and the emotion is nothing short of tangible. This writing style is powerful in its evocation of Twilight’s feelings, keeping you consistently engrossed in the moment.

Another aspect we see in this story is a recognition of Twilight as a character. Ambysprite gets her more or less perfect, from her reactions in the heat of the moment to her desperate attempts to ‘logic the hell’ out of her situation. There’s only one scene that really feels off in this regard, but it turns out there’s a good reason for her OoC behavior which, if you pay close enough attention, will be quite obvious. It all serves to make the twist near the end that much sweeter… so to speak.

The story seems slow at times, but it flows in such a way that I never minded it, because even when nothing was happening, something seemed to be happening. This is due to Ambysprite navigating Twilight’s long bouts of thought and consideration as if they themselves are the advancement of the plot, so that every twist and turn she makes on her careening, confused and at times downright insane mental path feels like a step forward for the plot. As such, conversations take a back seat to the narrative – another relative rarity in fanfiction.

Despite this, the dialogue doesn’t suffer. Many authors can do great narrative or great dialogue. Ambysprite pulls off both, with conversations that never feel forced or scripted, brimming with emotion and consequence.

Of course, Ambysprite can’t take all the credit. No, she took a route that many fail to try: she got help. Lots of help. Every chapter has a slew of editors and prereaders credited – including myself for chapter seven. The result is flawless wordplay and a complete absence of typos, awkward word choices and confusing sentences. Few writers would go through so much effort and seek so much help in the pursuit of perfection, and so I tip my hat to this impressive (and slightly intimidating) effort.

I wanted to treat this review as fairly as every other, and that means calling out the negatives. Unfortunately for me and my reputation, I’m having trouble with this goal, because I just can’t find anything to complain about. Unless you count the fact that the story appeared to be ready to wind down and Ambysprite never finished the damn thing, which I would consider a pretty significant negative. But other than that? I really can’t think of anything to criticize. I loved the story from beginning to end; the emotions, the plot development, the characters, the writing style, all of it.

I’m keeping this in my Incompletes bookshelf, just in case Ambysprite miraculously decides to finish it someday. For now, however, I will break one of my golden rules and actually rate an unfinished story. May it serve as encouragement for her to complete this shining gem of literary excellence.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

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
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXXII

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

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Comments ( 35 )

The problem I had with Solitary Locust wasn't the writing quality: few could deny that the story is described and told well. My issues with it were the glacial pacing and the absence of a plot. For the first two chapters (a hefty 25k words). there is more description of Twilight's various injuries than any sort of plot momentum.

This is exactly the same problem I had with Asylum. Both stories are incredibly well-written, but don't do anything other than torture their main character--at length--with no sign of reprieve or plotline in sight.

Obviously, some people enjoy that sort of thing. It's absolutely not for me, though.

I was going to say... I didn't think you reviewed incomplete stories. I've been waiting for Solitary Locust to finish for a while now... between that and Asylum, they're probably the two oldest unfinished stories left on my bookshelf, and Asylum just updated the other day.

Solitary Locust sounds intriguing... but I hate reading unfinished fics. No chance you'd take over this one, too?

3941172
Lemme guess, you're not a fan of Wayward Pines? :rainbowlaugh:

Forgot to total your ratings, dude.

3941275
Oops. In my defense, I'm very much distracted. Will fix shortly.

Thanks for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Well, mostly:

My primary frustration with this story has to do with its length. There’s so much that could have been done with this idea, and most of the chapters offer some nice pacing. Then Name Rater meets the princesses, and suddenly all pacing and proper plot flow are thrown in the trash. Name Rater’s behavior comes mostly out of left field, but even more so are the reactions of those in attendance, which rapidly goes from excessive melodrama to “Whelp, glad that’s over, talk to you later!” It’s as if Thought Prism forgot how to handle character behavior and reactions for one chapter.

So, here's the thing. In case you skipped the author's notes, the first chapter was actually originally the only one, so as to let the reader imagine the possibilities. I expanded the story due to public outcry. I could have easily just kept it as a mostly-happy slice of life for the whole length, but I felt Name Rater's backstory and character logically demanded he confront the princesses about his discontent at some point. I know the drama for that scene was probably excessive, but he had been bottling up his emotions for centuries, and it wouldn't have sat well with me if Twilight and Co.'s reactions weren't equally emotional. Maybe I just can't write drama well in general. The relative number of likes for my other stories seems to reinforce that hypothesis.

It's funny, I haven't really needed an editor yet, since I'm good at catching typos and forming plots. Not to mention all the random little symbolic things nobody is likely to notice. For instance, I had Name Rater's crown set with Garnet because it's the gemstone of self actualization/finding one's purpose. But now that you mention it, grabbing someone to use as an 'OOC Detector' of sorts could be useful.

And don't get your hopes up too much regarding the sequel; it's likely not what you're expecting. Name Rater is the narrator through which we view events, but the story is really about an OC filly and Twilight.

I was somewhat frustrated by Name Rater. The concept was neat, but I just found the main character so unlikable, and not in a literary "you're not supposed to like him" sense. That was especially true once Celestia showed up.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Are you finishing Splinterwood? <.< Because I really want to see where that goes.

3941387

To each their own I suppose. I wrote Name Rater using essentially a grumpier version of my own personality, so in all likelihood we'd make for poor friends IRL. :ajsleepy:

Thanks for the review! I'm glad you liked the story. :)

Solitary Locust

Ahhh, yes. One of my banes reading through. It was such a monster to read through the extremely wordy chapters, but every time I started to skim, I would notice how important every part was. Often it'd merge between an instruction manual and chit-chat with a highschool girl. It was just a complete piece of work to read through, but that's me personally.

3941268 Never heard of it till now.

I dislike a lot of things based on their inconclusive structure, though. I wrote an entire blog post about it. :derpytongue2:

3941571
SciFi torture porn. Inexplicably popular. Books and a series on Fox.

I recommended "Even in Dreams"?

I mean, I enjoyed reading that story when it came out, but I have no recollection of sending any mention of it in your direction. Looks like my brain is doing things without running 'em past the rest of me again... :twilightsheepish:

Mike

3941172
One can certainly see it that way, since there's no question that Twilight is tortured by everything that's happening in both physical and mental ways. But I don't consider this to be an absence of plot at all. Twilight's ability to overcome her psychological breakdowns and move forward mentally is at the core of the plot itself. In essence, her mental state in light of the terrible things happening to her is the plotline. Even when real-world events (well, real from her perspective) are proceeding, these things aren't as important as her evolving (and, at times, de-evolving) ability to cope.

3941180
Every time I see Asylum update, I find myself tapping my toe and being tempted to throw out a "Are you ever going to finish this?" note to DoD's inbox.

3941268
Highly unlikely. I don't have time to write my own fics, much less someone else's. I only offered to take over the one I did because I'd already gotten heavily involved with it as a braisntormer/pre-reader and didn't want to see it go by the wayside.

3941385
Reading the author's notes wouldn't have alleviated the problem, it's the pacing that was all off for the scene. We got an image early in the story that alludes to Name Rater not liking Celestia, but as time went on it seemed just an aspect in the background. Which was fine, bec—BOOMsuddenlyit'satthefrontofeverything! But only long enough for him to get a rant in, then everything hunky-dory and we're all back to smiles and things being fine. Twilight has a mental breakdown without any buildup, only to immediately after hop back up and say "Oh, yes, I'm good. What's next?"

So I see two major problems. The first is that Name Rater's opinion of Celestia, while given proper emphasis early on, didn't hold enough presence throughout the story to provide any expectation of the rant that was coming. This made it feel very sudden when the pacing of the rest of the story called for a slower buildup.

The second problem was how the characters jumped from emotion to emotion at the drop of a hat during that scene, ranging from happy to shocked to broken to perfectly happy again in a very short span of time. Or at least, that's how it appeared. I may be the one who is off, but in my experience most people don't barrel through emotional states like that.

But really, that chapter was the only part in the whole story I didn't like. Everything else was pretty good.

3941388
Alas, that is not the one. I never even got a chance to read it. Because, y'know, incomplete. And I'm not about to start something that ends up being awesome-looking and find that the only way it's concluding is if I take it up. I grabbed one story, I ain't grabbing another.

Thanks for the review, Paul "apparently-a-much-less-normal-name-than-Chris!" I was surprised when this popped up on your to-review list; while I don't think it's a bad story or anything, it's basically an episode reaction fic, and I wasn't sure how well it would hold up to scrutiny. So I was very happy to see that you enjoyed it!

Comment posted by the parasprite deleted May 13th, 2016

3942046

Yeah, I've been aware that pacing is my biggest problem as an author for a long while now. Hopefully the creative writing class I signed up to take in the fall will help alleviate it.

3941915 That is a valid way to look at such stories. I think, however, that it comes down to a question of tone and focus. In the case of Solitary Locust, I think both of those areas go the opposite route.

Solitary Locust focuses very heavily on Twilight's injuries and anguish, not her accomplishments. For example: there's an early scene where she goes to Fluttershy's cottage and steals medical supplies. The story spends page upon page not only describing Twilight's moral conundrum, but also her physical injuries. The pain of opening the door with her broken horn, the anguish of sterilizing her wound, and the trauma of resetting her own broken bones are all described in agonizing and exacting detail. And after all this suffering, all this buildup and excruciating climax, there is no emphasis placed on her success. Despite her minor triumph of mending her injuries, the story quickly moves on to another prolonged discussion of her mental and physical injuries.

The story's tone is not hopeful or optimistic. I'd dare say it's very defeatist or even explicitly nihilistic. For the story to have the themes of accomplishment and mental victory that you are suggesting, there would need to be a severely different tone and focus. A story about triumph needs to use regular moments of hope and optimism to spur the character forward. This story doesn't do that. It feels more like Twilight is being dragged along, pulled against her will. The only reason for her to keep moving forward is to experience more misery.

Like I said, there are stories which break characters down to build them up again. I strongly disagree that Solitary Locust is one of those stories. If it is an attempt at that kind of story, then it is quite bad at it :rainbowlaugh:

3941587 Sounds like something I would dislike, yes :derpytongue2:

3942818
Ah, but I said nothing about there being a sense of victory and triumph, just a sense of pressing onward. Solitary Locust isn't the kind of story that grants rewards for victory and permits moments of encouragement. It's the kind of story that keeps the pain and hardship and despair going in the hope – but not a guarantee – that there will be some light at the end of the tunnel. The exquisite pain that Twilight is undergoing is described in detail because it is part and parcel to her mental state and the challenges that must be overcome.

In a sense, you're absolutely correct: it is a story about Twilight undergoing excruciating physical and mental agony without reprieve or a promise of success. There's certainly no indication (yet) that Twilight will be 'built back up' at the end of all this. It could very well be that at the end of the story we'll find that it's all one big crapsack where Twilight achieves nothing and dies in misery – and I acknowledge that would be pretty crummy. Which is somewhat amusing, as I've written a story that many have argued does precisely that.

But the story's not over, I still see the potential for a light at the end of the tunnel (especially after the revelations of the most recent chapter), and I am of the opinion that the pain makes us stronger. I could be completely wrong about that for this story, but until it ends, there's no way to know.

And there is, of course, a matter of taste. Some people need to see that continuous reinforcement on the idea of victory. Others do not.

...

It's at points like this that FimFiction's comment system annoys me. I can't constantly see what you wrote, so I end up going off on my own tangents. Makes me think what I'm saying isn't doing what it's supposed to.

3942882 The slim possibility for a light at the end of the tunnel is not the same as the believable buildup to one :derpytongue2:

I'm not saying that a story can't be grinding and defeatist, only to turn around at the end. The lower the character sinks, the more impressive and cathartic their rise is, after all. But such stories need a lot of foreshadowing and careful pacing to make that shift believable. Given the way Solitary Locust has progressed, I highly doubt it is building up to an optimistic turnaround. And if it does, then such an ending would be severely at odds with the rest of the story.

Let's say the story does end on a happy note; is it a case of Twilight Earning Her Happy Ending? Or is the ending clashing with the goals and tone of the previous parts?

Let's say the story ends on a downer; is it a case of Twilight being cheated out of her happy ending? Or does the ending simply match the tone and goals of the previous parts?

I obviously have experience with both aspects of this. I've written a depressing story whose happy ending was not foreshadowed properly (I Am Not the Actor), and depressing stories whose endings didn't offer the reader any closure or catharsis (If You Came to Conquer et al.).

While I respect your optimism, and concede the story isn't finished yet, I highly doubt that it's ending will suddenly make the story any less of a depressing slog.

3943017
And I will concede that it's far too late for any happy ending to make the story not be a 'depressing slog.' I mean, you have to get through the majority of it first. And that still assumes that a happy ending is on the way, which we can't know at this time.

However, your self-comparisons are inaccurate.

The mistake you made in I Am Not The Actor has nothing to do with the fact that the clone's situation didn't match what the ending gave us. The problem is that the solution came out of nowhere. Solitary Locust has given us plenty of foreshadowing as to what the real situation is and where it may be going with the ending. I Am Not The Actor didn't. Now, if in the end a solution drops into Twilight's lap without any relation to anything that's been happening in the story, then it compares to yours, but so far there's no indication of that happening (and there wouldn't be until it happened). A positive result can still happen in Solitary Locust without being completely out of left field; all the openings are there if the author just decides to make use of them. The fact that the entire story has been brutal so far doesn't mean that a happy ending doesn't fit with the overall style.

I can't speak to the stories related to If You Came To Conquer, as I've only read the main one. As such, I don't think me pointing out that the main story's ending seemed fine to me would be a sound argument. I may change my mind upon reading the sequel, after all.

My overarching point is that a brutal, harsh, depressing body of a story is not mutually exclusive to a happy ending. It can be done, although I will acknowledge that it takes a talented writer to pull it off. Whether Ambysprite is good enough to do so or not (or even intends to try) remains to be seen.

3943063 Such is the issue with rampant speculation, inference, and debate about unfinished works. But at least it's never boring :raritywink:

Obviously none of my self-comparisons are going to be accurate: all my stories are a confluence of many problems. I thought it might help illustrate my point, though. I can't think of any stories which otherwise have the same problems off the top of head (except Asylum, but again that isn't finished :derpytongue2:).

3943170
Heh, you ran into that problem, too? I tried to think of something and came up blank. Almost suggested my own Twilight's Inferno, but I'm biased towards that one and thus probably don't look at it in the same way as everyone else.

3941471
I was being a bit harsh, sorry :pinkiesad2:
It also depends on what mood I was in when I picked up Name Rater; whatever it was, I wasn't expecting what I found.

3945157

It's cool. We write stuff that's available for free on the internet. If I never got any harsh criticism, I'd be very confused.

Typo: "I mean, sure, there are oher things happening"
Pretty sure that oher needs a 't' to grow up into a full-fledged other.

3949002
Yeeeah, I had a ton of things going on at once when I rushed this one out the gate, so I didn't do my usual editing run. :fluttershyouch:

3949068
I'm sure I wouldn't know anything about that sort of thing. Which certainly isn't why I'm a couple hundred reviews behind on the list and only getting around to this post of yours now.

I honestly think Cyanide was going to write a sequel to The Moonstone Cup. He's an excellent writer and those loose ends seemed deliberate.

4231811
I got the same jive. Only makes it even more annoying that the guy disappeared leaving us with just that small glimpse.

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