• 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 Posts469

  • Monday
    On the Bulletproof Heart

    No, no, wait! Put away those torches and pitchforks, I promise BPH is still in production.

    Read More

    35 comments · 396 views
  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXX

    Wanting to be a “good son”, I elected to stay at my parents’ place for the Labor Day weekend to help them clean up the damage from Hurricane Laura. Luckily, Dad had prepared for these kinds of events ages ago; they had a gas-powered generator strong enough to keep the water flowing, keep the lights on, the refrigerator humming, and run two window-unit air conditioners in place of the central

    Read More

    14 comments · 379 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIX

    You know what my greatest weakness is? It’s video games. When I was a kid my parents bought me and my sister an NES, and I was all over that thing. In my teenage years it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend 18-20 hours a day playing games. My parents found the best way to punish me for anything was to just hide them. It was certainly an unhealthy obsession. The things I considered achievements

    Read More

    20 comments · 393 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXVIII

    Before anyone asks, no, I’m unaffected by Hurricane Laura. I’d call it “dry as a bone”, but the humidity in the area would make me eat those words.

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    18 comments · 349 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXVII

    Hello again, all you horsefans. It seems I’ve been losing a lot of time this month, with reasons ranging from burnout to vacations to a sudden onset of Starbound Obsession, but as of this week I’m finally starting to turn the ol’ grindstone again. My top priority remains BPH, but I’m also working on a few other projects. After much indecision and uncertainty, I’ve set my sights on finishing that

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    23 comments · 354 views
Jul
6th
2017

Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXIX · 10:01pm Jul 6th, 2017

Hello, boys and girls! I'm back, and feeling a lot more confident about the coming storm than I did a week ago.

"Why, PaulAsaran, what ever would have caused you to do something like that?"

Well, random follower whom I appreciate oh-so much, things happened over the weekend. I mean, there was the unpleasant stuff. I drove from my apartment to my parents' place during the 4th of July weekend rush and spent all of two days building a greenhouse that my parents decided, in their infinite wisdom, didn't need to be made in, say, the winter or fall of the past two years when they had the parts and, y'know, the weather would be on our side (forget what Applejack might have told you, outdoor labor in the summer sun sucks).

But the real thing that made it so good is that I got 3,000 words written. Per day. Four days in a row. And just like that, I've made up for being four days behind on my self-imposed writing schedule. This weekend reminded me not only of what I am capable even with a busy schedule, but just how good it feels to do it.

Now I just have to make sure I maintain that momentum.

In the meantime, I'm hoping to have a surprise one shot out soon. Not saying what it's about, only that it's one of those ideas that hits you out of nowhere and you just have to write it down while it's still fresh. Here's hoping we'll see it within the week.

Reviews!

Stories for This Week:

Discord Applies for Citizenship Papers by CCC
A Tale Told by Foehn
Battery by cleverpun
Something Magical by Dark Avenger
Diamond in the Rough by AbsoluteAnonymous
Rarity Snuggles Everypony (Whether They Like It or Not) by PropMaster
Total Word Count: 50,814

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 2
Worth It: 1
Needs Work: 2
None: 0


Discord Applies for Citizenship Papers

1,157 Words
CCC failed to provide cover art.

This idea sounds like it could be a riot if approached properly. There are a great many things that can be done with it, both highly comedic and character building in nature. CCC decided to go 100% comedic, and I guess I can’t fault them for that.

That said, I can’t help but think the author didn’t take this half as far as they could have. The comedy was extremely limited and made no attempt to branch out any farther than filling out forms, with minimal effort made to take advantage of things like narrative style or character behavior. I mean, c’mon, this is Discord, shouldn’t he be reacting to things in a way that ups the ridiculous factor by 10,000?

I might have smiled at his antics, but the story needs a lot more if it’s going to land higher on my bookshelves.

Bookshelf: Needs Work


A Tale Told

1,305 Words
By Foehn

Question of the day: which one is Blueblood?

This is a story will little content but a lot to show for it. It centers on a unicorn attempting to speak to his overbearing, racist father at a family reunion as he recalls a meeting with a certain pegasus. Nope, that’s it. Nothing more than that.

Oh, but the delivery of that scene is something else. Foehn offers a sombre, deep atmosphere accompanied by subtle-yet-engaging visuals. This feels like an experiment in setting and mood. Experiment or not, it’s a great success. The young unicorn’s sadness is never expressly stated, but it never has to be, because the sensation of disappointment and threat of a decision soon to come linger with every word.

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I strongly encourage reading it for the sake of learning a little about atmosphere and mood.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


Battery

3,252 Words
cleverpun failed to provide cover art.

If it’s true that dreams mean something, then I must wonder about cleverpun’s state of mind.

One part sensual and another part creepy crapsac, this story provides an unusual idea for how electricity might be produced in Equestria – living batteries. The system is a wet dream the likes of which I’d expect to see showcased on HentaiFoundry (err, don't ask me how I know what that is :twilightblush:), but the story isn’t focused at all on the sex part. Instead, it focuses on the psychological effects of the system on those who have been contracted to act as the batteries.

Spoiler alert: it’s not pretty.

cleverpun works this story well by devoting much of the focus on the atmosphere. It’s a terrifying prospect, the things that the ‘company’ is doing to the minds of their contracted batteries, and you can’t help but wonder what was done to get this system working. Who came up with it, are the Princesses aware of it, and if so how in Equestria were they ever convinced to let it happen? It feels like something that would fit perfectly in the universe of Fallout: Equestria.

If you’re interested in the legitimately creepy, with sexual torture/addiction as the lynchpin, this will do it for you. If you’d rather avoid such things? Steer clear, obviously. For my part, I found it curious and a nice tickle of that dark interest I have.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a cold shower.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Something Magical

6,002 Words
By Dark Avenger
Recommended by Pascoite

As happens with so many stories, this one leaves me in a state of mixed feelings. Something Magical takes place in the near future, in which Cranky has left Ponyville and ended up in an old pony's home in a far off town. There is is cared for by Liz, a young griffon who seems to owe him a lot. When Liz notes Cranky working on a story, she gets curious. Next thing she knows, they’re having a conversation about the nature of stories, happy endings, friendship and reality.

The frustrating part about this one is that there is a ton of background information never given to us, and that can be annoying to people who want to know, for example, why Cranky left Ponyville. This takes away a lot of context and left me scratching my head as I waited for the information that was obviously coming… and never did. I was so distracted by my want to know more that I ended up missing the point of the story.

That doesn’t make the story bad, though. It is interesting at worst; I couldn’t help but be happy for how far Cranky had clearly progressed as an individual. Now patient, thoughtful and caring, it’s a far cry from the cantankerous grump the show gave us. His conversation with Liz showcases just how much he learned from his time in Ponyville. Heck, his relationship with Liz alone is a testament to that.

However, the whole thing is greatly overshadowed by the unanswered questions – at least for me. Some people will likely get something more out of it, but in my case the lack of information was just too distracting.

Which is why I have every intention of reading the prequel.

Bookshelf: Worth It


Part of SleepIsforTheWeak’s huge request was to go through all of AbsoluteAnonymous’s works. I chose to hit this one early because shipping. No, really, shipping is its own excuse for a shipper. Anyway, this story takes place immediately after The Best Night Ever and runs on the premise of Applejack getting smashed drunk at a pub with the rest of the girls. Rarity, much more in control of her alcohol intake, volunteers to take the farmpony home so she doesn’t hurt herself on the way. Of course, the fully liquored up AJ chooses this opportunity to spill the beans on just what she thinks of the fashionista.

Conceptually? Not bad, not bad. But the story is riddled with problems in the delivery, starting with:

Applejack was already frustratingly unconcerned with what others thought of her. Even when sober, she was far too open and loud about what she did, never seeming to care whether anypony else heard her. This was the complete opposite of fastidious Rarity, who spent nearly every waking second striving to make the best impression possible to everypony around.

Thank you, author, for telling me everything I already know. I really don’t like it when writers do this. It’s like they put no thought whatsoever into their audience.

Add to this the idea that AJ and Rarity are walking home from Canterlot – which, I note, is far enough away from Ponyville to warrant a rail line between the two. I guess Rarity was okay with trekking through open, possibly wild landscape for an entire night with a stubborn, drunken pony to care for.

When everything's said and done, the lump reaction I had for this story was how disheartened Rarity will be when she finds out that Applejack – in spite of all promises to the contrary – doesn’t remember her own confession. The story took all the easy steps, both in writing style and plot, and doesn’t bring anything new or interesting to the RariJack table. Combine that with a lackluster/annoying narrative and the whole thing winds up as a flop in my book.

Bookshelf: Needs Work


A snugglelump or cuddle can truly befuddle,
A snugglewump or cuddle’s very sly
sly sly sly
If pony’s what you covet, you’ll find that they love it!
Because they snuggle up the things you prize.

I couldn’t resist. And now I’ve probably shown my age. Does anybody here know what I’m parodying?

Anyway, there was no way I was going to ignore this clickbait magnet of snuggly horrors. Paul needs more cutsey stories in his review blogs. In this one, we find that Rarity has been cursed such that every night she is magically teleported into a different pony’s bed, starting with her close friends, to snuggle them in her sleep. She ends up extremely clingy and near impossible to wake up, forcing most of them (with one notable exception) to just put up with it for the night. Then morning comes and she disappears just as instantly, waking up back in her bed none the wiser. What starts as a silly, snuggly mystery gradually grows into a silly, snuggly horror of lovecraftian proportions.

There are issues with this story. The writing is weak at times, with mistakes ranging from an overly telly style to regular typos and misstatements. The final solution is annoying, the final flashback scene doubly so, and plot mishaps abound. And I don’t care about any of it. This is a story you read because it makes you grin. If you can’t resist nitpicking everything you read, this might not be the story for you. But for me, it was fun in all the right ways, even with the issues.

This story was cute, fun, ridiculous and silly. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Read this if you just need to be entertained without worrying about all the trappings of this thing we call 'literature'. When dealing with corrupt snuggle demons of the Cuddle Dimension, one learns to take things as they come.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXVIII
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Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXX
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXXI
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews LXXXIII
Paul's thursday Reviews LXXXIV

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Comments ( 18 )
PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

I KNOW >:V

Thanks for the review, I'm glad it was an interesting experience.

I find it odd how you didn't catch the reason for Cranky moving out of Ponyville. There's both several hints in the story itself, and also a prequel linked in the next chapter.

4594131
:O

4594150
It's been a few weeks since I read the story, but I do remember the story regularly talking about the fact something in Ponyville happened, none of which were actual hints the reader could use to know what happened in Ponyville. Granted, I may have just missed something that indirectly states "X is what happened." And I wouldn't read the prequel right away, as I do my readings to a rigid schedule said prequel hadn't even been introduced to yet. I won't be getting to the prequel or the sequel for months at best.

If dreams did mean anything, then I would wonder about my state of mind too.

I will confess, when I saw you add this story to your review bookshelf, I spent a long time thinking of some witty, self-deprecating thing I might say about it when your review was posted. Ultimately, however, this is one of my stories that I feel the most conflicted about.

The first half, where Mirror Door describes her time in the tube, feels awkward and gross and uncomfortable, to the point where I don't even like re-reading it. But wasn't that the point? The second half of the story I like, but it doesn't have the same impact without the first half. I considered re-writing this into original fiction, but I doubt any reputable place would want to publish it. I had a few ideas for backstory and a sequel (which the curious can find in the author's note and comments), but they never materialized properly.

As always, thanks for your honest critique. I think this is one of those rare occasions where the review was positive, but I can't necessarily agree with it :derpytongue2:

(And for the record, I have a HentaiFoundry account and a FIMfic porn alt. :trixieshiftright:)

4594152

That's alright. Suffice to say that you will get some of your answers from said prequel. I was also planning to reveal more about Liz and how he got to know Cranky, but never got around to it.

What coming storm?

4594680
The 'coming storm' is 3-5 weeks of having to read between 50-60k words a day because I got slammed with a lot of long stories back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-you-get-the-picture. I elected to forgo my usual reading maximums for a while to ensure I wouldn't have to skip a blog to keep up. Things should go back to normal for me come August.

The story took all the easy steps, both in writing style and plot, and doesn’t bring anything new or interesting to the RariJack table.

How does a story published in Oct 2011 bring something new to the fandom in 2017?

Read this if you just need to be entertained without worrying about all the trappings of this thing we call 'literature'. 

I'm curious, why does being fun afford "Rarity Snuggles Everypony" a pass from the standards of literature, but shipping (or some other element) does not for "Diamond In the Rough"? Is that fair for a story receiving a judgment?

4600401
Yes, it is absolutely fair, because they are entirely different stories. Rarity Snuggles Everypony is intended to be silly and not taken seriously. Diamond in the Rough is a straight up romance. They are not held to the same standards. If I were to hold every story I read to the exact same standards, I would be obligated to limit myself to only one genre, or maybe even a niche sub-genre.

4600410
Hm, but if that's so, then why say:

There are issues with this story. The writing is weak at times, with mistakes ranging from an overly telly style to regular typos and misstatements.

defining these elements as standards that would presumably affect the fun to be had? That they don't suggests they aren't standards for a non-serious goofy story. So I'm confused why you mention them at all, instead of the standards that actually would condemn the story if they were not met.

Saying "it was fun in all the right ways, even with the issues," suggested it succeeded despite actual flaws, not because it was judged by different rules, and so I wondered why A Diamond In The Rough couldn't also succeed despite its actual flaws.

Also, I'm still interested in my first question ^.^

4600499
I mention them because even though I, personally, considered the humor and nature of the story to override the flaws, other people will not. There will be those who will condemn this story for the flaws that are shown regardless of the nature of the story itself, and it's important I keep that in mind. If I give a story a positive rating without indicating to the audience that flaws exist, I'm lowering the value of all my recommendations as a whole. You don't point people to a Quintin Tarantino movie and say "It was an awesome ride!" without also adding in, "But damn if it wasn't gruesome." You've gotta give readers a larger picture or else you run the risk of appearing one-sided or, worse, dishonest.

As for the whole date thing, I missed that it was created in 2011. But I wouldn't have been impressed even if I had. As I said, the story took all the easy and obvious steps and makes no attempt to make the events interesting. Forget RariJack; it doesn't make the romance interesting, which is far more important.

I'm not saying the decisions made were bad, but if you're going to take all the obvious steps then there needs to be something else in the story to make it more interesting. Diamond in the Rough didn't do that.

4600515

Forget RariJack; it doesn't make the romance interesting, which is far more important.

Yes! Exactly. Here I agree. How it works as a romance is key, and "interesting-ness", we can say, is a standard for romances. It's vague, but I think it's a good start.

and makes no attempt to make the events interesting.

I see people say this a lot. It assumes the author's intent, but how do you know this without asking them? Presumably they thought their plot was very interesting and intended it so, even though it wasn't. Surely you can only say the story succeeds or doesn't succeed in making things interesting. Would you agree?

4601045

I see people say this a lot. It assumes the author's intent, but how do you know this without asking them? Presumably they thought their plot was very interesting and intended it so, even though it wasn't. Surely you can only say the story succeeds or doesn't succeed in making things interesting. Would you agree?

You're clearly someone who puts a lot of weight into individual words (I bet politicians hate you). Presumably, my intent was to judge the author's intent, but how do you know this without actually asking me? I might have (and, in fact, did) just put the words down without thinking that closely about them, because I don't pause to consider every word I write.

If I was one of those sorts to agonize over every word that comes out of my keyboard, I would probably agree with you and say I messed up. Since I'm more laid back, I'd rather say that you're looking too deeply into phrases and giving them a lot more meaning than they are meant to.

And yet I'm also one who believes 'words have meaning', if you will, so that's not a very constructive stance to take. So instead my official stance will be thus: I put more into that statement than I should have without meaning to. Oops. I'm sure if you read all my reviews you'll find tons of situations exactly like this one where I said something that can be interpreted in ways I never intended.

4601165

You're clearly someone who puts a lot of weight into individual words (I bet politicians hate you).

Ha! Maybe. Never met one. Kinda want to now.

Presumably, my intent was to judge the author's intent, but how do you know this without actually asking me?

Touché.

As far as the weight I place on words--i.e. why it seems I'm arguing--I'll be honest. I sometimes pick on reviewers. Mostly, because they have an influential role. They impact both writers and readers, and that's important. Reviewers publicly judge another's work, but few judge theirs. I think reviews deserve as critical an eye as any story.

Honestly I don't usually bother (so much for the moral grandstanding, eh?). But I've seen you around for years, and have always been interested in following you. I love your avatar. I mean, I've had your user page sitting open in a tab for weeks. So I was basically in the area and now here I am--picking on you. :) Um, hi nice to meet you.

So am I casual with words? Probably not. I certainly stress enough over mine :P But it's really more so that I don't (usually) take reviews casually.

4602208
Ah! I see. Well I certainly can't argue with your motivation of keeping reviewers honest. You're right, we do hold a certain power over others, and as such it's important that our credentials are scrutinized. But seeing as of how what I'm reviewing is other people's stories, shouldn't my credentials also be judged by how I write my stories? Although I grant that's not always possible; some reviewers out there don't actually do any writing themselves (which always struck me as iffy).

For my own part, I personally relish any opportunity for someone to review my work. But yeah, it doesn't happen often.

Had me open in a tab for weeks, eh? Well, that's sorta like following anyway, isn't it? Pretty sure I've seen you around for a while too.

Anyway, feel free to keep trying to keep me honest. In truth I probably should be paying a lot closer attention to my own words. I've been trying to do so with my stories, which is why I've been going for editors of a higher level lately. But at the same time, I try to keep a relaxed manner when handling my reviews, so even though I always reread/edit them before publication and I do replace a lot of things to correct myself, I'm not exact going over everything with a fine-toothed comb.

4602260
I myself could probably learn to take reviews less seriously :twilightsheepish:
But nnngghh it's so hard. :raritycry:

But seeing as of how what I'm reviewing is other people's stories, shouldn't my credentials also be judged by how I write my stories? Although I grant that's not always possible; some reviewers out there don't actually do any writing themselves (which always struck me as iffy).

Ah great question. I don't really know the answer. I agree, there seems something wrong about judging a game you don't play. And yet, do I need to play baseball in order to recognize a bad swing? Perhaps not. Though perhaps I learned what a bad swing was by listening to those who had played baseball, so it doesn't really count. Still, maybe I can judge a swing without ever having picked up a bat, but could I teach someone a good swing? That's something different, I think. How could I guide someone through the experience of writing if I've never written anything myself, or at least tried? I mean, can wisdom come from a lack of experience?

It's a super interesting question. What do you think?

4602954
Oh, sure, you can look at a batter and say 'that's a good swing.' You can base that judgement upon what you've heard others say, without ever having held a bat before in your life. But...

You'll never get the nuance. No matter what you are doing, there are always little things, self-learned things, things you try, things that can't be taught without holding that bat in your hands and feeling it in your grip as the ball connects. Writing, while fundamentally different in every way, still runs on the same guidelines. There are mental processes a writer undergoes, considerations, doubts, distractions, all sorts of things that occur when your hands are moving over the keyboard.

And to complicate the issue, these processes are different depending upon what you are writing. What is going through my mind while writing a story to entertain people is different from those that occur when I'm writing a review to cast judgement, and both are different from my thought processes when I'm at work writing a technical field instruction that can cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars (and maybe a life or two) if I get it wrong. Writing is a complicated art, just like swinging a bat, throwing a football, or defending the soccer goal.

Yes, you can be an armchair warrior and cast judgement on others for something you've never done before. Some people do surprisingly well with just that. Is it luck, or is it a certain observation skill? Regardless, I'm less inclined to trust their judgement until I know they've had the burden of staring at a blank screen with no clue of exactly how to get from Point A to Point B.

4603063
Yeah, I agree. Not only is there nuance, but writing puts to the test all the advice given to authors. I've come to believe that the way in which we analyze stories is not actually how you become a good writer. For instance, there are lots and lots of ideas on what makes a good character--"here are the five elements," or three, or seven. This works for discerning why a particular character appealed to you or not. But I argue it won't actually help you write characters that are any more inspired or deep or real, because how we analyze characters doesn't teach you anything about real people, which is what all characters are based on. Like memorizing a formula but being unable to derive it, you don't get a true understanding. You're sort of working backwards, like trying to learn to put together a puzzle by staring at a completed one.

More than all the treatises on character I've read, what has taught me the most is simply observing the people around me and discovering what makes them tick. I think you can learn far more from watching--really watching--your brother and mother argue over dinner than you can from all the blogs that are written.

And not because the reviews are wrong in what they say about stories. It's just, we assume this is also the way to teach people the process of writing, and I think that's wrong.  Or at least mostly wrong.

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