News Archive

  • Friday
    MaxKodan's "Dappled Shores" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story warns about the hidden dangers of "shows, don't tell".


    Dappled Shores
    [Romance] [Comedy] [Drama] [Equestria Girls] [Slice of Life] • 4,640 words

    Rarity and Sunset are having their third weekly Dappled Shores marathon.

    And then Sunset ruins everything.

    Read More

    6 comments · 1,177 views
  • 1 week
    WishyWish's "Sugarcube in the Corner" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    An unlikely crossover source mashes up with pony in today's story.


    Sugarcube in the Corner
    [Drama] [Sad] [Slice of Life] [Tragedy] • 8,069 words

    Enter Painless — a young resident physician at Manehattan East Side Memorial Hospital who drew the short lot, and ended up working through Hearth's Warming. With the city caught in the grips of a blizzard that weatherponies are still trying to get under control, the night is boring, the decorations contrived, and the coffee is as bitter as his sensibilities.

    Tonight, Painless has a single, pointless task assigned to him — to keep the company of a lonesome, unconscious stallion who is essentially already dead. In so doing, a young doctor will learn that medicine is about more than scalpels and technique.

    It's also about mending broken hearts.

    Read More

    5 comments · 2,627 views
  • 3 weeks
    The Albinocorn's "Firebird Dahlia" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    An explosive sibling rivalry is at the center of today's story.


    Firebird Dahlia
    [Drama] [Slice of Life] • 48,819 words

    Life is looking up for Sunset Shimmer.

    With her grandstanding at the Battle of the Bands, Canterlot High has taken a new approach to her. Amends have been made, friendships have been restored, and Sunset is on the fast track to becoming a better person.

    But even now, there are still apologies that have to be said.

    For her Spring Break, Sunset returns to Equestria to make up with her estranged family: the parents that raised and provided for her, and the sister she left behind. But a lot has changed since then, and some wounds won't heal by just saying 'I'm sorry.'

    Read More

    11 comments · 3,055 views
  • 4 weeks
    forbloodysummer's "Why Are You Here, Your Majesty?" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is here for a very good reason.


    Why Are You Here, Your Majesty?
    [Drama] • 8,405 words

    Immortals are few and far between in Equestria, and they are all known to each other. Two of them are about to get to know each other a little better. Because one has just turned up uninvited in another’s private chambers. Maybe it’s time they had a chat?

    Read More

    8 comments · 3,453 views
  • 5 weeks
    Rocket Lawn Chair's "Star-Crossed" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is a tale of love written in the sky.


    Star-Crossed
    [Romance] [Slice of Life] • 2,968 words

    A thousand years ago he was turning Equestria into a hotbed of mayhem.
    Five years ago he was growing moss and lichen on his shoulders.
    Today he's asking Celestia out on a date.

    Celestia didn't know such a creature as Discord would be able to change so radically without it being part of some elaborate prank. But what's more unsettling, she didn't know she'd be able to change just as drastically. As she finds new feelings for the Master of Chaos, she begins to have doubts toward the integrity of her desires, and suspicions of her sister's possible involvement.

    Read More

    0 comments · 3,112 views
  • 7 weeks
    Fiddlebottoms' "Discord's Ant Farm" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    In today's story, take a trip into the future with one of My Little Pony's ant-agonists.


    Discord's Ant Farm
    [Sad] • 2,619 words

    That wacky Spirit of Chaos is at it again...

    Except, there's no ponies in the audience.

    There's nothing, really. Just an empty, post-apocalyptic expanse.

    Nothing, and some ants.

    Read More

    21 comments · 3,761 views
  • 8 weeks
    FrontSevens' "Fun in the Summit" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is a foray into diplomatic impunity.


    Fun in the Summit
    [Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 7,774 words

    Trade negotiations. Board meetings. Formal garden parties. Not the definition of a fun weekend for Princess Celestia at all.

    However, Celestia has a plan. Rarity’s going to join her this year, and by their gossiping powers combined, they may be able to turn this upcoming convention into something a little more unconventional.

    Read More

    6 comments · 3,184 views
  • 9 weeks
    cursedchords' "The Legend of the Scorpion Queen" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story about Equestrian harvest legends will grow on you.


    The Legend of the Scorpion Queen
    [Romance] [Sad] • 16,226 words

    On the eve of the Day of Reaping, the start of the Equestrian Harvest, it is traditional that a legend be told over supper: the legend of how the traditions surrounding the Day of Reaping came to be. It is a story of love, ambition, and vengeance.

    Long before Equestria, a grand Unicorn King maintains a splendid garden. On one of his travels he brings a scorpion back to live within it. That scorpion, resentful of being removed from her home, sets out to have her revenge.

    Read More

    6 comments · 5,135 views
  • 10 weeks
    Pen Stroke's "Morsel of Truth" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Sink your teeth into today's spooky story.


    Morsel of Truth
    [Slice of Life] • 4,349 words

    There is a bit of truth to every legend, though the ravages of time can bury it deeply. Myths and lore become twisted, melded, and torn the longer they are around. One of Equestria’s oldest legends is that of Nightmare Moon. It is the core of Nightmare Night and the excuse for children to go out asking for candy with a single, common rhyme.

    Nightmare Night, what a fright. Give me something sweet to bite.

    Read More

    5 comments · 5,535 views
  • 11 weeks
    Hap's "The Donutier" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story will éclair-ify what it means to truly have friends.


    The Donutier
    [Slice of Life] • 13,097 words

    My name is Twilight Sprinkle, and my passion is donuts—from the delicate morsels I serve at elegant cocktail parties to the hearty pastries enjoyed by hard-working ponies who get up early. I don’t have friends, I don’t have books, and I sure as the sun don’t have any wings. I don’t care whether you’re here for revenge, for romance, or for a favor. My name is Twilight Sprinkle and I’m not who you think I am, so either buy a donut or get the hay out of my store!

    Read More

    76 comments · 5,029 views
Feb
17th
2017

Author Interview » The Minister of Scones' "Somepony Tries to Sell Twilight Insurance" [Royal Canterlot Library] · 2:07pm February 17th

If you're in the market for a comic tale, today's story has a deal for you.


Somepony Tries to Sell Twilight Insurance
[Comedy] [Random] [Slice of Life] • 6,260 words

Ballpoint Smudge has one job. It's not an easy one, but it's one he's determined to do to the best of his ability. The only problem is that as soon as he meets Twilight Sparkle, everything he's ever learned about princesses goes flying out of the window. He was expecting her to be regal, haughty and bossy. Instead she's warm, friendly and welcoming. Perhaps she's genuinely a nice pony? Nah. It's got to be a test.

FROM THE CURATORS: Although the central gimmick of this story is right on display in the title, "this is no one-note joke of a fic," Chris said in his nomination.  "A pleasant blend of conversational humor, exaggerated characters — the protagonist's conversation with his boss is the high point of the story — and even a light moral, this is one of those works that is just effortlessly enjoyable from start to finish."  Broad agreement followed, along with compliments on the story's breadth.  "The voicing and general writing are the highlight here, along with that boss scene Chris mentions," Present Perfect said.  "The lightning-fast dialogue is easy to follow and only adds to the humor."

He wasn't the only one to praise the subtle whimsy on display.  "From the very first paragraphs, I loved the narrative voice," AugieDog said.  "The sort of Terry Pratchet/Douglas Adams humor on display here is a delicate balancing act, and the author manages it better than most."  Soge went further: "There is real skill on display here, from the superb voicing to the intricate characterization and the late reveal about Twilight. It's one of those fics that makes me want to instantly follow the author."

But there was more than the voicing to like.  Chris pointed out the melding of nostalgia and modernity: "It captures an early-season feel (right down to a letter to Celestia!) while grounding itself firmly in the S6 era," he said.  And AugieDog approved of the story's extension of its sources.  "Even the way the author pretty much quotes word for word the insurance dialogue from Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary serves the story well," he said.  "The author takes the lines, expands them to make them work in a pony context, and takes them somewhere Bierce would never have imagined in his wildest dreams."

Read on for our author interview, in which The Minister of Scones discusses fifth earls, hot water bottles, and summary pie.


Give us the standard biography.

I’m an 18-year-old maths student from England. I read maths at a Russell Group university, but more I dare not say for fear of the dreaded internet stalkers. My rôle-models include Dr Johnson, Lieutenant-Colonel A.D. Wintle M.C., and Vivian Stanshall. They were all very English. Accordingly, so am I.

I try to maintain a healthy skepticism by reading Private Eye, but occasionally this gives way to a happy-go-lucky and fairly naïve attitude. Both of these are at times present in my writing. Essentially, I advocate whimsy in the face of adversity. That probably explains why I listen to so much Gilbert and Sullivan.

I’m very fond of science-fiction and fantasy, especially shows like Doctor Who and Blake’s 7. I watch a lot of ‘retro’ television, as I’ve always enjoyed television more when it feels more like a real stageplay than a film. I think most shows lost that when they went single-camera.

Now for a bit about my life. I was born at an early age, and sent to school, where I began to demonstrate high intelligence (Modest, huh?) and behaviour best described as, um, ‘unusual’. In typical nanny-state style, the school repeatedly lied to my parents, saying I was behaving fine, until they realised that actually they couldn’t cope and recommended that I see a psychiatrist. Now, frankly, anyone who willingly goes to see a psychiatrist should have his head examined (a clever joke), and so my parents took me out of school and home-educated me. It is to this that I attribute the fact that I’ve read lots of good books and know some things that are actually useful in real life, instead of how to write formulaic essays and jump through other such hoops.

I demonstrated immense mathematical aptitude (modesty again), and so sat my maths GCSE (a mid-level qualification) at the age of 13, rather than the usual 16. I got an A*. Shortly afterwards, I was sent back to school, where I toddled along happily learning things. By the time I was in sixth form, I’d grown weary of compliance (and frankly I thought that making us carry ID cards was nothing short of totalitarian), and so began to rebel by putting up satirical versions of the school’s inane posters. Things came to a head when I was summoned to the office of some high-ranking school official (he had a stupid title, but I forget what it was) over some posters I’d put up which featured a big picture of Terry-Thomas emblazoned with the legend “BE BIG! BE CLEVER! SMOKE!” The school lot failed to see the funny side. I was threatened with expulsion, but I don’t think they’d have done it. They needed me for the league tables. (Award self 10 modesty points.)

Now I’m at university. It’s okay.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

Oohh, fun story, there. Basically, there’s an obscure, but superb, Doctor Who audio play called Death Comes to Time. It features a Timelord, played by Stephen Fry, called The Minister of Chance. Now, a year or three ago, when writing a birthday card for a friend (a pegasister, in fact, so the card had an origami Fluttershy inside) I was inscribing it with various fictional titles for both of us (Fifth Earl of Buckwinhamptonshireshire, and that sort of thing), and was reminded of the Minister. I like scones, so I just swapped ‘Chance’ with ‘Scones’. I liked the title so much that I jumped at the chance to reuse it.

Who's your favorite pony?

Tricky one. I might a few years ago have said Pinkie Pie, but sometimes I get pretty sick of her. The thing is, sometimes she’s badly written, and she’s just Pinkie for the sake of being Pinkie, which I don’t think works terribly well. I think I’ll say Applejack. She honest and dependable, and I approve of that.

What's your favorite episode?

I really don’t know. My first episode was Call of the Cutie, which I was led to watch by a bizarre set of coincidences. I was on the bus to Edinburgh as part of a school trip to see two art galleries (only one of them contained anything positively identifiable as art; the other was composed entirely of insults to my intelligence), and I felt compelled to listen to Tom Lehrer’s "New Math." No particular reason, I just felt like it. The only one I could get on mobile was an animated version by a YouTuber called OcarinaPlaya, or something like that, and featured a singing unicorn. I thought it was pretty cute, but didn’t realise it had anything to do with My Little Pony. Still, I checked out his channel, and found Doctor Whooves animated in the same style! I had to watch that. It didn’t make much sense out of context, but I still enjoyed it.

Anyway, after a bit of poking around, I discovered that the Doctor was (sort of) a proper character in, er, My Little Pony. Because I have no shame, I watched the clip from Call of the Cutie. The thing was that it was so cute that I ended up watching the whole episode. And then the first three seasons, which was all that had been made at the time. If you’ll cast your minds back, you’ll recall that you used to be able to watch whole seasons of MLP in one go on YouTube.

Anyway, as a direct result, Call of the Cutie has a very special place in my heart.

What do you get from the show?

Comfort, in a way. I watch a lot of kids’ shows, and plenty of them aren’t ones I grew up with, just ones I like. Writers often think they don’t have to be believable or rational when writing shows for children, and I reckon they’re right. There’s a lot more imagination and weirdness, and I enjoy that. The one thing I don’t like is condescension. If you treat kids as though they need to be talked down to, they’ll behave as if they do. Really, they need a challenge from television.

As far as the show goes, although I still watch it, I do feel it’s gone downhill. Mostly it just the characterization — it tends to be rather bland, with ponies just acting like parodies of themselves. Some episodes are still really good, though.

An interesting thing is that I’ve seen every episode of My Little Pony ‘n’ Friends and My Little Pony Tales, and, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyed them. I don’t enjoy G3 nearly so much, though the songs are generally good.

What do you want from life?

Various things, including love, books and hot water bottles. A dog would be nice, too.

Why do you write?

The aforementioned Dr. Johnson once asserted “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” Since I don’t get any money, a simple process of logical reasoning should lead you to the answer you seek.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Plan carefully! I often don’t plan, and end up with something substandard as a result. If a story looks like it’s changing direction and deviating from your plan, fine. Now re-plan it. I know, I know, Charles Dickens made up his stories as he went along. However, you are not Charles Dickens. Unless you are, in which case, Edwin Drood is long overdue an ending. Get on it!

Apart from that, proofread. Grammar is terribly important. If you just have a few errors, people will helpfully correct them for you. If your piece is strewn with them, they’ll give up and read something else. About a third of stories I see in the New Stories section of Fimfiction have descriptions I don’t understand. I don’t read those stories.

If you really struggle, you probably need someone to read through your story for you. I appreciate that that’s not always easy, but it is important. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s also worth reading about this sort of thing. A writer who can’t use words properly would be like a carpenter who can’t use tools. It doesn’t matter how good your plan for a table is if you’re holding the hammer the wrong way round.

I daresay you’ve heard all that advice before. That’s because it’s good advice. Follow it.

What was it about Ambrose Bierce’s discussion of insurance in the The Devil’s Dictionary that made you think it’d cross over so well with My Little Pony?

Um, nothing, really. It’s just that I only write pony fanfiction. I grant you, there are plenty of other shows it wouldn’t cross over well with, so there’s that.

I suppose one advantage is that a My Little Pony story can have whatever characters and scenarios you want, because it’s a huge world that we’ve only seen tiny glimpses of. The only prerequisite is that it involves ponies. I can’t imagine that shoehorning the insurance debate into, say, Star Wars would work quite so well. You’d have to set it on a planet where the set-up was viable, and you wouldn’t really be able to involve any Star Wars characters without a struggle, so the readers would only have your word for it that it was set in the Star Wars universe. With MLP, all you have to do is make the characters ponies and give them cutie marks, and hey-presto!

All the same, I’m surprised it did as well as it did. I suppose having a quirky title must have helped. Shame no-one ever did a reading of it, though. I always sort of wondered what an American reader might make of it, given how unashamedly English parts of it are.

Because analyzing humor only makes it funnier, talk a little about your approach to writing comedy.

I let the ideas and scenarios drift around in my head, and whenever something funny pops out, I put it in. I suppose a lot of my comedy is character-based; that is to say, humour rather than wit or buffoonery (at least if we use Frank Muir’s classification), which plenty of people don’t get; indeed, it’s been conjectured that that kind of comedy is fairly peculiar to the English-speaking world. For that reason, I try to put in some ordinary jokes, too.

I am very fond of comedy, and watch more sit-coms than is good for me. I’m the only person I know who’s watched every episode of Yes Minister, Selwyn Froggitt, and Black Books. To an extent, I think some of this must have rubbed off on me.

Mind you, my writing style is quite different to the way I joke in real life. I’m mostly reliant on a kind of absurdism, but that works best when it’s spontaneous, so I do my best to eliminate it from my writing. Blimey, I don’t half ramble!

What does the future hold for Ballpoint Smudge?

That’s up to him. He’s a nice enough fellow, but I can’t quite see myself using him ever again, so I’ve released him to go his own way. I hope things turn out nicely for him. He’ll probably get married to that filly I mentioned in the story, but who can say? Jackpot, on the other hand … well, he’s already mid-comeback. An utter swine, of course, but great fun to write.

Why end with Twilight writing a letter to Celestia?

I was stuck for an ending that summed up the story. Back in the day, when MLP writers were stuck for an ending that summed up the story, Twilight wrote a letter to Celestia. I wanted a piece of that pie. That, or it was a horrible imposition that all the writers hated. Still, I liked it. I think people were pleasantly surprised by it, as well, so that was nice.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I’m glad you asked me that. You see, when reading through the story recently, it struck me just how awful it was. Truly awful. Not my best work by a long shot. It’s badly structured, badly paced, and, worst of all, chunks of dialogue from the Devil’s Dictionary are reproduced almost verbatim. It was like watching Star Wars immediately after The Dambusters. About the only thing I was happy with was some of the dialogue (the original dialogue, mind). Frankly, I’ll not take the credit for plagiarism. Especially not gimmicky plagiarism.

With that in mind, at the time of writing this (the end of January), I’ve just embarked on a rewrite. A significant rewrite, from the ground up. I’m still planning it at the moment. I intend to post it as a new chapter of the original, called something like ‘Insurance Revisited’. I don’t expect many people to read it, but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night.

Thanks very much for the attention (and especially to Present Perfect for that lovely review he gave me a while ago); I remain,

Ever yours,

— The Minister

You can read Somepony Tries to Sell Twilight Insurance at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

Comments ( 4 )

Reason #457 why I love the authors on this site. :pinkiehappy:

I remember this story. I know it's a comedy, but it kind of bugged me that the characters all talk like insurance is gambling and ignore the actual purpose: mitigating risk. Twilight acts like insurance itself is a scam and the salesman seems to agree by the end. It didn't even seem like that was a joke, either.

At least the idea of insuring that castle is kind of funny, but honestly applying any sort of bureaucracy, taxes, or legal status to that castle is humorous; it's pretty low-hanging fruit in some regards, though surprisingly underutilized for the most part.

The title makes me think of someone trying to sell insurance that protects you in case of Twilight-related incidents ("fire insurance" ==> "Twilight insurance"), which strikes me as a good thing to have if you live in Ponyville ;)

4430354 My dear fellow, that's precisely what happens in the sequel!

4426006 Come again? Do you mean the story, or what?

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