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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!"

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Jun
28th
2018

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXI · 8:44pm Jun 28th, 2018

Whelp, somehow I managed to get my numbers up to 1,500k/day for the month. I can hear you all nodding your heads and saying that’s pretty impressive. All I can think is “it’s sure as hell not 2,000k! :twilightangry2:” and "I'm still 13,000 words behind schedule! :raritycry:" Paul is a weirdo.

Paul also plans to release a new story in a few days. After nearly two weeks of waiting, it’s clear to me that the artist I contacted for cover art doesn’t plan on getting back to me. I shall assume this means they don’t care/ are DA-dead, and I shall act as as I deem appropriate. So keep an eye open in the next few days for a EqG Twilight/Rarity short. It’s not much, as these short stories tend not to be. Just something to tide people over while we all wait for the August 12th release of Bulletproof Heart.

Speaking of stories, I totally missed that Heir of Generosity is my 50th story on FIMFiction. I remember when I thought I was doing good at 10. Now that I’m trying to release a new story every month, that number is going up fast. There is the caveat that those short stories are typically of lower quality than my longer pieces that I devote months to, but I don’t mind. Producing all sorts of different ideas keeps things from getting stale.

My one shot for July is probably going to be a little longer than what I’ve been doing lately. I plan to start on it very early as a precaution. Won’t say what it’s about, but I will say it’s going to be continuing a series I haven’t touched in many moons.

Alrighty, time for some reviews.

Stories for This Week:

A Canterlot Invasion by Twinkletail
Rise of the Dark Unicorn by Sky McFly
La Petite Mort by PegasusMesa
The Lotus Eaters by horizon
Old Memories, New Traditions by DrakeyC
Little Truths by EbonQuill
Nighthood by Casca
The Sun's Torment by TheAshenKnight
Home by adoptpetz
Bad Therapy by Rathbane

Total Word Count: 109,607

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 0
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 5
Needs Work: 2
None: 0


Fleur de Lis is your traditional feminine, super-ignorant, elitist sissy girl. That’s pretty much all this is.

I get it. People are scared of… certain things. I find their fear ridiculous, and I’d like to speak out in ardent defense of that which scares them, but alas, I can’t or I spoil the ending. Not that there’s much to spoil really. As soon as the ‘invader’ make an appearance, I knew what it was and what kind of story I’d gotten into. I’m sorry to say the concept has been done to death for as long as the stereotype Fleur is painted with here has existed, which is a long time.

For what it’s worth, Twinkletail did well with what little they had. The story is competently written, with a good eye for misdirection. I’m willing to rate it on the middle ground because, technically and stylistically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with it. But the subject matter is so banal as to be almost insulting, and this will surely be forgotten in the time it takes me to move on to the thing on my schedule. Here’s hoping the next story I read by this author covers more interesting ground.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Rainbow RocksNeeds Work


This didn’t prove as interesting as I’d hoped.

This story is painfully direct, and so shall the summary be: a unicorn named Styxon Stones arrives in Ponyville. He tells everyone Celestia and Luna are dead and he’s now ruler of Equestria. Everypony accepts it without batting an eye. Spike doesn’t.

And that, my friends, represents the lump sum of the emotional output of this story. Every scene operates like this. “Hey, why is this happening?” “Here’s the explanation.” “Oh, I’m sad!” “Yeah, it sucks.” “Okay, done feeling sad. So what’s next?” Everything moves along at the same pace, with exactly that amount of interest from the characters. Sky McFly, I’m sorry to say, needs to develop their writing in a number of ways.

Starting with pacing and atmosphere. With every event told in as bland and direct a manner as can be, it’s impossible to eke out any emotion from the events. Rather than blowing through a moment with dialogue, take some time to give us body language, show us how the characters feel, try different sentence structures. Be creative in ways other than plot. You’re not going to garner much emotion by saying “she was scared for her life.” Take the ending as an example: Twilight wakes up, whines about needing to bury the villain, everyone disagrees, oh, and the princesses are freed. The end. Not exactly the most riveting and emotional conclusion.

Then there’s the logical issues. Where did Styxon get the power necessary to defeat the princesses? How is he taking all the magic of all the other ponies in Equestria? And no, “magic” isn’t even close to enough of an answer.

Explain to me how it is Styxon supposedly has the magic of all the unicorns in Canterlot at the same time, and yet he somehow must have pre-coronation Twilight’s power too if he hopes to conquer Equestria? Especially when it’s shown he can beat her easily in a one-on-one duel?

How the heck can falling off a cliff into an ocean as an Ursa Major kill somepony, especially when this is a dream and they can shapeshift into anything, including flying things?

How did Twilight know that Rarity was Styxon’s weakness when the one and only thing she’s ever heard in regards to the subject is a private recording of him not caring about her at all?

Why did Twilight conveniently forget how to teleport?

Why did Styxon banish Applejack from just Ponyville, giving her free reign to go anywhere else in Equestria?

How in the name of all that is Luna could Applejack fall for a stallion whose lump contribution to the entire story is to be lazy and flirt with every pretty mare he thinks might be available?

How does a Wendigo get defeated by Rainbow Dash pretending to like somepony? And how did Styxon get control of it?

Alright, I’ll stop. The important thing to note here is not that these things are ridiculous, but that Sky McFly expects us to take it all at face value. Very rarely is anything ever explained or shown to us to make sense of these things, and when they are the explanations are usually something along the lines of “because a character you trust says so.” We need a lot more than that.

Needless to say, I am not impressed. Sky McFly needs to develop their skills significantly if they’re going to make this a story worth recommending.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


This was everything I expected… and nothing I expected. The story begins with a wealthy mare, presumably in Canterlot, meeting Rainbow Dash at the birthday party of her fiancé. One thing leads to another, and soon our fancy lady is smitten.

This started out as a typical ‘rich girl falls in love with country bumpkin’ story, but turns into something completely different. Alas, I can’t say how, because that would be spoilers. I’m typically not interested in stories with twists of this nature. I’m willing to give this one a pass, partially because of how well written it is but also because it doesn’t waste our time with 10,000 seemingly meaningful words before ripping the rug out from under us.

This is a decent little romance /surprise. Nothing astounding, but certainly worth the read.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
What Goes UpWHYRTY?


This was… strange. The story reveals that Flim and Flam have created a machine that lets you live a brief fantasy where your greatest regret in life never happened. It gives us an anthology where four ponies – Applejack, Scootaloo, Dr. Whooves, and Trixie – try the machine. The stories run the gamut from silly to dramatic, and each is contained in a manner that utilizes as few words as possible (Scootaloo’s is only ~200 words!). I suppose for the crowd that demands clean, efficient prose that’s going to be a big deal.

Personally, I liked Applejack’s the most as it took the concept at its most serious. One could argue this is the case for Scootaloo’s, but I couldn’t tell if hers was intended to be serious or humorous, so it was a bit lessened in my eyes.

If hers was meant to be serious, though? Ouch.

I’m afraid I’m one of those people who thinks Dr. Who is vastly overrated, and so I didn’t get much at all from the Dr. Whooves one. Sorry, horizon, I know it’s your favorite.

Trixie’s was just silly, and I’m divided on whether it’s a good silly or a bad silly. I tend to take her character seriously, but at the same time I can see the appeal of making fun of her.

It’s not the greatest of horizon’s works by a long shot, but I enjoyed it for what it was. I expected something a lot deeper, and maybe it is in a manner I can’t detect. But for what it is? I’ll take it.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Hearth Swarming EveWHYRTY?
The Last Dreams of Pony IslandWHYRTY?
Social LubricantPretty Good
The Kindest SilencePretty Good
The Dragon's RiddleWorth It


Like The Ties That Bind, this one isn’t actually a request but a recommendation for Seaddle’s Angels that I scheduled before realizing where they probably belonged in my schedule. Set during the events of Hearth’s Warming Eve, this story takes look at Twilight Velvet and Night Light as they prepare for another holiday season without their kids. Twilight Velvet spends much of this time recalling Hearth’s Warmings of the past and how she and her husband have adapted to the steadily increasing independence of Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor.

This is a pleasant, lightweight story about family and traditions. It doesn’t appear to have any higher purpose other than to give us a picture of who Night Light and Twilight Velvet are as individuals, and that’s fine. It’s entertaining to watch their quirks and recognize where Twilight got hers. The OCD and the fact checker. No surprise, but fun regardless.

Take a look at this one if you’re interested in finding out a little more about Twilight’s parents. It’s a relaxing little ride.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Also, anyone who has Ms. Branford as an avatar clearly has good taste.

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Little Truths

10,695 Words
By EbonQuill
Requested by Novel-Idea

Novel-Idea suggested I take on this story before I got any further in his Wavelengths of Time series, and since I owed him a favor I decided to take him up on that idea. Set in Sunset’s third year as Celestia’s student, Little Truths stars first year student Lemon Hearts as she attempts to become the next Autumn Princess at CSGU. To this end, she has enlisted the help of Sunset herself, who has won the Autumn Crown two years running.

We all know where this is going.

This was a fascinating look at the early years of Sunset Shimmer, as well as a clear indication of just how good she is at being bad. I spent the entire story watching Lemon’s ambitions soar, just waiting for the other horseshoe to drop. And when it finally does, it is every bit as damning as you’d expect.

This is an excellent accompaniment to Novel’s Wavelengths of Time franchise. Heck, I would almost argue it should be the very first story in the series, but that wouldn’t quite mesh with Novel’s actual introduction. Still, it’s a good opportunity to learn more of Lemon Heart’s background, and well worth the time with excellent pacing, solid writing, and a clear awareness of the source material.

If you’re reading Wavelengths of Time, you should definitely read this, preferably right around Bards of the Badlands.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Slouching Towards CanterlotWorth It


Nighthood

5,095 Words
By Casca
Recommended by paul

In Nighthood, we get to meet Raddish and Gloom, the two night guards who drove Luna’s carriage during the events of Luna Eclipsed. While Luna is off doubling her fun, they settle down outside of town and learn a little more about one another. Oh, and deal with giant Everfree monsters, but who doesn’t? Yawn.

This story was… strange. It doesn’t really give us time to grow attached to our characters, though it does make an attempt at it before putting the fate of Ponyville at stake. Well, supposedly. At any rate, it mostly revolves around us getting a very brief look into the backgrounds of our two intrepid guards and trying to get them to like one another.

It’s hard to explain why I didn’t get into this one. It just felt too direct. Here are our characters, here are their backgrounds, here’s a threat, story over. I felt as though the story sacrificed atmosphere for conciseness but didn’t achieve a favorable result.

The good news is that I’ve read some of Casca’s more recent material and know he’s achieved great works of literary art. Whatever the real problem is here, it doesn’t make itself known later, and so I’m willing to handwave the matter. But as far as this story is concerned… it’s not bad, but it never caught my attention either. I think the middle ground would be appropriate.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
ScaldWHYRTY?
The Confessions of Clyde Pie, Prince of RockNeeds Work


The Sun's Torment

2,511 Words
By TheAshenKnight
Recommended by Pascoite

Set 700 years after the banishment of Nightmare Moon, this story reveals that Celestia never learned why Luna attacked her on that fateful night. One evening while going to set the sun, she decides to take a detour and investigate Luna’s old, abandoned room. There, by sheer coincidence, she stumbles upon her sister’s abandoned journal, which at last reveals the reasons behind Luna’s actions that night.

I came out of this with mixed feelings. It strives for atmosphere and an emotional connection with Celestia, and this it does well. It’s got decent pacing, keeping its descriptive nature limited enough to keep the story flowing but present enough to paint vivid imagery. It’s hitting upon one of the most common subjects of MLP, but I suppose that will only matter to certain folks out there.

What bugged me was the journal entries of Luna. I’m sure they are meant to convey some level of emotion, but for the most part they felt stale to me. Oh, yes, you get an idea for how Luna’s supposed to be feeling, but you can’t really… feel it. Of course, it can be argued that this is just how Luna writes, but if this is supposed to be the pivotal point of the entire story, I think this would be where the author would want to focus the brunt of their efforts. But it was too clean, too grammatical, too calm for someone who might be desperate or furious, and that killed it for me.

Still, if you ignore that one issue, the story did its job well. I was satisfied in pretty much every other way, and so I’m willing to put this on the middle ground.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Home

6,968 Words
By adoptpetz
Sequel to My Scrappy Little Mutt

For this review, we return to adoptpetz brief AU where all students at Celestia’s academy are given dragon assistants. Garble was Sunset’s assistant back when she was Celestia’s personal student, and her abandoning him for the human world left significant emotional scars. Ten years later, Garble is seriously injured in a phoenix raid and left for dead by his dragon gang. Rescued by Twilight, Fluttershy, and Spike, he now must face the humiliating reality that he’s stuck with the ponies for a while.

This one is a direct continuation on the themes and purposes of its predecessor, so much so that they almost feel like they should be the same story. The only fundamental differences are the setting and the change in conclusion. That really isn’t such a big deal, especially considering that this story is a vast uptick in terms of grammar and style; adoptpetz is certainly getting into the writing zone at this point.

I find only two problems with the story, and they feed off one another. The first is that the pacing feels rushed. It starts off fine with us seeing how Garble got injured and rescued. But the instant Sunset enters the picture, we’re in a breakneck race to the conclusion. Garble’s entire manner does a 180 shift with a speed that is shocking considering how he was in both this and the last story. I feel that had the author taken the time to rebuild the relationship between these two over a few days I might have found the events more believable on the whole. As it is, it’s just “Sunset appears, everyone starts crying, problem solved”.

Also, I have to ask: how in the name of Luna does “HOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW!” qualify as a yelp? Insert comment here about not using all-caps for emphasis.

All that being said, adoptpetz’s improvements are continuing to show, which gives me much faith in this author’s future. Their art is developing, as it should, and it may be that there are some nice gems coming in the future. The mistakes now are less egregious and the stories are getting more interesting. I will definitely be reading another one by this author in time.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
My Scrappy Little MuttWorth It
The Seventh ElementNone


Bad Therapy

47,179 Words
By Rathbane
Completed Story

Most stories involving mind control are either designed as epic heart-wrenchers (for example, Twilight, Revised) or blatant clop. So when I saw something that looked like it wanted to treat the concept as a basic adventure, I figured I’d give it a shot.

The premise is as obvious as you’d expect: a psychologist moves to Ponyville with the ability to hypnotize and enslave anyone who looks at her watch (I assume she could use other implements for this, but she never does). She proceeds to do the obvious.

What immediately strikes me is that the villain doesn’t seem very… well, villainous. She hypnotizes ponies and uses them as… uh… bird stands? To have them sing her praises? Really? Pretty wimpy stuff, Spiral Swirl. But then, I suppose that’s all part of why I wanted to take a look in the first place. Spiral Swirl is a poor villain with extremely capable abilities. Heck, she even uses her powers to legitimately solve the problems her victims came to her for help with in the first place. That’s not something you see often.

In a way, Spiral Swirl is my favorite part of the story. She’s using the single most evil act conceivable without being, y’know, all that evil about it. It made her interesting. Handled properly, this could have been a wonderful demonstration of how to use the concept of mind control without going into extremes.

Alas, this was not handled properly, and that has everything to do with the writing style. Rathbane has no sense of pacing (including having barely an idea of the existence of commas). Every event happens at the same speed, with the same voice, no matter what. Spiral Swirl hypnotizing Rarity is told at the same pace as Vinyl getting into a hoof-fight with Octavia is told at the same pace as Twilight discovering the entire town has been hypnotized. Add to that a style that is telly in the extreme, little use of narrative, and consequently zero atmosphere.

Lastly, there’s the matter of length. The vast majority of the story is Spiral Swirl hypnotizing different ponies. This does little to advance the plot, and it almost seems like the entire reason the story exists is so that Rathbane can write the same scenario over and over again. This could have been handled in two or three chapters, easily, without losing a thing in actual content.

It’s a shame, but I suppose that’s what happens sometimes when you try out a new author. Still, this is Rathbane’s first story on FIMFiction. Perhaps one of the more recent ones will bear nicer fruit.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Stories for Next Week:
Exes by Donraj
The Equestria Games: Flight of the Pegasi by Cerulean Voice
Gravity by Avox
Telos by Foehn
Civil Distinction by SpitFlame
Double by Jack of a Few Trades
Listen by Taialin
Blur by Fire Gazer the Alchemist
Forget me Not by Lupine Infernis
Psychadelic by Masterweaver


Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXX
You Are Here
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXVI

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Comments ( 9 )

Review request: The Rise of Lunchtime Luster by Twinkletail. It’s one of my favorite stories. https://www.fimfiction.net/story/178360/the-rise-of-lunchtime-luster

EThe Rise of Lunchtime Luster
Princess Lunchtime Luster, the Princess of the early afternoon, is tired of being neglected.
Twinkletail · 5.2k words  ·  65  1 · 681 views

4891240
Consider it added.

Oh boy I can't wait to see you rip tear shred review my story next week! I'm scared shitless super excited!

I agree completely with coming out of "The Sun's Torment" with mixed feelings. The writing's not bad, but on the stylistic front, the author relies heavily on certain grammatical structures that end up getting very repetitive. Yes, the diary didn't read as that engaging, but not only is it that tumultuous things are written rather blandly, but it also makes several mistakes that authors often do when they don't put enough thought into what a diary should actually sounds like. The usual culprits, like using speech affectations (a fair number of ellipses) and being inconsistent as to who the diary's expected audience is. Basically, it read like someone with real talent peeking through, but without enough experience to bring it to bear. It was definitely a better-than-average story, but it lacked the kind of punch it could have had and really needed to stand out in a crowded genre.

I'm legit excited for your review, and to know how I can improve. The goal for any good writer is to be like fine wine: get better with age.

4891256
I don't know whether to give you a comforting pat on the back or laugh maliciously. I wonder if it's possible to do both and not have them cancel one another out.

4891317
I tend to get picky when people try to write journal entries in stories. It seems like something a lot of people have trouble grasping, and I can't understand why.

4891318
I'm just sorry it took so long. And at this point anything that's over 70k is going to take me forever to get to, as my long-range schedule is booked solid for 40 straight weeks!

4891788
I'm very picky about journal/diary/letter stories as well, because too many authors think they can just write a regular story and slap a "dear Celestia" or "dear diary" on the front and expect it to work. There are degrees in between, of course, but you can tell when someone's actually thought about it. Few things kick me out of a story's atmosphere harder than reading a purported journal/diary/letter that just doesn't sound like one. The author needs to ask whether they'd actually write one that way. Often, they haven't even put enough thought into it to ask that simple question. Like would you actually send a letter with all that crossed-out text you didn't want the other person to see? Would you actually try to reconstruct entire conversations as quoted dialogue days after they actually happened instead of just summarizing what was said? Would you actually put a dash on the page and abruptly change your train of thought when something interrupted you while writing it? There are very few circumstances that would justify these or many other things, yet authors do them all the time.

4891794
I know! Thank you. I honestly don't know why this is so hard to grasp. One does not recall every word directed to them in a conversation that took place ten minutes ago, let alone hours ago. They might remember a single line that stood out to them, but that's it. I even had someone pre-reading Bulletproof Heart the other day who saw an in-story letter and asked why I hadn't bothered to put a dash in at an interruption. I couldn't believed they asked, especially considering this is someone who, from all I've read by them, appears to have a solid grasp of such things.

But I digress. If a story has a letter involved, the manner in which that letter is written can make or break the story for me. The Sun's Torment is a perfect example of that.

Thank you very much for including me. I’m glad you enjoyed Bad Therapy and I know it definitely has some flaws but it was fun ride. And I’m glad you enjoyed Ms. Spiral Swirl:)

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