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

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Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXXII · 2:43am Sep 28th, 2018

Whoa, almost missed this one! Sorry, folks, was a little busy today.

Whelp, I’m at it again. Earlier in the week I got a ‘eureka’ moment and now I’m writing another short story. Well, short by my standards, which is to say, not. And now I’m alternating days between working on it and working on my bigger stories. I won’t say much about it, but I will note that it’s another music-inspired piece. Since it’s way too late to release it for September, it’ll have to be my October release. And given that I have so much time available for its release, I may call upon a prereader or two to help me smooth it out. I’m pretty sure this one will need it.

And… that’s all I’ve got for this week. Whaddaya say we get to the reviews?

Stories for This Week:

Yours Truly by Thanqol
One Pony’s Peculiar Predicament by Zeg
An Old Coot by Bachiavellian
Love on the Reef by D G D Davidson
My Little DJ by iDash
Speeding Ticket by Feeling Grand
The Rise of Lunchtime Luster by Twinkletail
Alternate Beginnings: Year One by Doug Graves
A Bed of Roses by Half the Battle
How the Foundation Ruined Nightmare Night by Drefsab

Total Word Count: 174,018

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 2
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 1
Needs Work: 4
None: 0

Yours Truly

18,646 Words
By Thanqol

Everyone said that if I read no other Thanqol story, I had to read this one. But nobody would tell me what the darn thing was about. Turns out it’s a collection of letters written among the Mane Six after they go their separate ways in life. Twilight ends up teaching in Hoofington, Rainbow Dash joins the Wonderbolts, Rarity moves to Canterlot… Pinkie becomes an air pirate? Uh, sure. It’s Pinkie, she can do whatever the heck she wants.

I fell out of my seat laughing at that wanted poster for Blueblood.

But the core of this story is the letters that pass between Applejack and Twilight as they come to learn they have so much more in common than direct conversations ever revealed. This is a tale about long-distance friendships and how, in some cases, distance really can make the heart grow fonder. ...or it might be a wish-fulfillment story and desperate attempt to justify only ever communicating to people via online chat rooms and email, but let’s not quibble.

Thanqol handled the journal/letter formatted story like a pro. At no point was I pulled out of the tale because of silly mistakes. This is written such that I remained invested almost the whole time (I’ll get into why ‘almost’ soon). I loved the growing relationship between Applejack and Twilight. I relished the side letters relating the relationship of Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. I enjoyed the little extra bits involving Rarity and how she so desperately missed Spike. Any Pinkie Pie moment, rare though they were, was nothing short of delightful – the spot of lightness to help even out the heavy bits.

There’s also some subtle worldbuilding thrown in, including a story that may or may not be part of Equestrian history. We get to see that even Equestrian diarchs have health issues, and when they get them it’s a big deal. We learn a little about magic and Ponyville tradition and the strength of our favorite ponies’ bonds. These letters are rich, if not outright vivid, and yet they’re still so natural and appropriate to each writer. This is, without a doubt, some great literature.

I only have a handful of issues, and none of them are significant. First, I would have loved to have seen a final letter – perhaps as an epilogue chapter – from Rarity or Spike. I could see them reacting to the collected letters, which would have been a nice final touch (not that the existing one isn’t good, but still).

Second, the one moment that threw off the immersion for a minute or two was a brief scene involving Luna in which Thanqol abandoned the formatting of the rest of the story. I don’t think it was appropriate to handle it that way, even if I understand why Thanqol did so. I’m sure there have been plenty of people who have made this complaint already – I wouldn’t be surprised if Thanqol themself entertained doubts about the decision – so I won’t harp on it. It’s probably a debate that’s as old as dirt.

Last but not least, I had trouble with time. It’s clear that time is passing in this story, but is it weeks? Months? Years? We finally get something at the end of the story, but it doesn’t help the most important moments. I guess it’s not a big deal, as it didn’t hurt my immersion into the story too much, but I kept seeing what was being said and having to revise my perspective because, clearly, these characters are older than I thought from the last letter.

But waving those issues aside, I greatly enjoyed this and I can see why so many people consider it one of FIMFiction’s best stories. It’s a tale consisting of a great many messages, many of them seemingly opposing one another. It raises the idea that every dream comes with context, and the solution that works for one may not work for another. It’s about sacrificing to be together; it’s about staying apart to stay in love. It’s about being happy with what we have; it’s about raising a middle finger at what we’ve got and demanding better. I can’t help but feel that the one dominant theme in this story is that its themes constantly oppose one another, even as they find a curious harmony.

Thanqol makes it work, and that may be the thing that makes this story so incredibly good. It deserves all the hype people have thrown my way about it.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Study In RainbowsWHYRTY?

Set shortly after the episode Bats!, we start with the discovery that Fluttershy has been uncontrollably transforming into her vampire fruit bat form and feasting of the apples at Sweet Apple Acres at night. She’s desperate to make sure nopony finds out, but eventually Rainbow Dash catches her in the act. As she and Twilight puzzle over the problem, Fluttershy finally confesses that there may be more to her transformations than Twilight’s magic alone.

Ultimately, this ended up being a story about trust, particularly between Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. Rainbow comes through with flying colors, as expected of the bearer of Loyalty; the real challenge is getting Fluttershy to accept her offer. Zeg proves to have a strong understanding of both characters’ nature and mannerisms, from Rainbow’s tendency to rush into bad decisions to Fluttershy’s devotion to the care of others.

In the overall scheme of things, the story only has one problem, which is an over-attention to detail. A good example is in a later chapter when Fluttershy is getting… orange juice. Yes, orange juice. Zeg devotes an entire paragraph to carefully detailing the exact method that Fluttershy procures from her fridge and pours a glass of orange juice. Why? I have no idea. All I know is that I was reading it and questioning what possible advantage it might be giving the story. Zeg doesn’t do this too often, but enough to be noticeable, and it leaves me scratching my head in confusion.

But ignoring that, this is a decent story. The writing isn’t amazing by any means, but neither is it flawed, and the primary theme is strong. The confrontation between the pair is very well done in my opinion and the interaction between Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash is top notch. The pacing is a bit slow, but I’ve dealt with a lot worse in that regard.

All in all, not a bad start as my first story to read from this author. I’m curious to see what’s next.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Spike was enjoying a nice nap of a little over a decade, but then his sleep is disturbed by a curious, lonely filly named Magnolia, Rarity’s great-great-(plus or minus a great) granddaughter. What starts off as a curious encounter for Equestria’s most beloved and friendly dragon turns into the friendship of a filly’s lifetime. But as the years pass, Magnolia knows there’s something wrong, and she’s determined to help Spike get over an old wound.

At first glance, one might expect this to devolve into an ‘immortality sucks’ story. Bachiavellian proves far more… the word ‘mature’ comes to mind, although I don’t think that’s the right one. Regardless, this was a pleasant look at Spike in his old age (by pony standards) and a bit of a character study. The lingering issue looming over his head gradually leads to a final encounter that is quiet and calm, yet far more emotional than I ever anticipated.

It’s curious. Bachiavellian’s writing style, especially in regard to conversations, is almost dry, and there were times when I felt like the narrative wasn’t doing its part properly. Not good for a story centered around conversations. And yet in the end I still reacted very strongly. Thinking on it, I get the feeling the author may have intentionally held back on the majority of the scenes just so that the last one could be stronger. That, or my natural predisposition to care about him as an individual gave me a biased reaction. No way to know for sure which it is.

At any rate, I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself. I can only wonder what on earth other people wrote that resulted in this only making third place in its Writeoff. A little too slow-paced, I think, yet thoughtful and ending on a strong but bittersweet note.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Set in the same universe as To My Princess, on the Day of My Departure, this story utilized characters introduced in an MLP picture book: My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea. It stars the merpony Electra (FYI, merpony = siren) and the unimaginatively named Nar Wally the narwhal. Nar Wally is deeply in love with Electra but believes himself too undesirable for her. But when Electra accidentally causes a pony to fall from a passing ship with her siren song, the two are forced to work together to save the poor stallion’s life.

Despite the introduction and description, this is a story more about Electra than Nar Wally. It is something of a character piece, showing her struggles to right her wrongs and accept the new rules of Aquastria. And of course, it shows that she’s not half as bad as her opening scene makes her seem.

This was a pleasant tale, at times exciting and at others quietly emotional. Nar Wally’s devotion, Flash Sentry’s lingering sense of defeat and failure, and Electra’s brash manner all play well together to form a nice whole. There are only two issues, the first being that it can be hard to pick up when you haven’t seen the source material. If you keep up with it for the first thousand or two words, though, that quickly becomes a non-issue; you learn all you need to know about the characters very quickly and (happily) without leaning on exposition. The second issue is that topics come up, largely in passing, with Flash that will confuse you if you haven’t read To My Princess, on the Day of My Departure. It’s not a game changer, but knowing what is being referenced would help highlight the point of the moment far better.

Other than that? This was a pleasant read and far more than I expected. I’m more interested in exploring D G D Davidson’s library than I ever was before. A shame the majority of that library includes never-to-be-finished big stories.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
To My Princess, on the Day of My DeparturePretty Good
Catching the WindNeeds Work

My Little DJ

11,284 Words
By iDash

When I saw the cover art, I admit to having been curious. I think we can all agree that Scootaloo’s singing and lyrics in The Show Stoppers was pretty crummy. But if you pause and consider the musical accompaniment behind the lyrics… that part wasn’t bad at all, y’know? So yeah, curious.

In this story, Scootaloo is (sigh) an orphan and somehow nopony in Ponyville is aware of it. But one winter night Vinyl finds out and, as these things go, immediately takes Scootaloo in. Which is easy considering how much she makes and the fact Octavia moved out at some indeterminate point. The plot then focuses on them transitioning to a mother/daughter role. Really, it’s everything you’d expect. I’m not going to harp on the obvious parts of the story. These things are common for a reason, after all. If you’re a Scootasad fan, it’ll be right up your alley.

What I do look upon with skepticism is the overall writing style, which is telly and direct to the point of frustration. Moments that could be evocative are plain, because iDash never bothers to really explore a scene and give it the requisite atmosphere and lingering impact it deserves. Take, for example, this one scene where Vinyl has a bad day and accidentally takes it out on Scoots. Scootaloo’s emotions?

Scootaloo was offended but tried not to show it. She was mad now.

Ignoring the blatant repetition, that’s got to be the most yawn-inducing way to indicate anger I’ve ever read. In terms of creating an emotional reaction from readers, it’s downright useless. And since this is the level of immersion present in the entire story, I never reacted to anything.

This is made all the worse when it comes to the music. This is supposed to be a story starring musicians (or a filly gradually becoming one). So when the lump sum of describing the music comes down to this:

Vinyl’s voice flowed smoothly like honey through each verse, filling Scootaloo with a warm happiness. It was amazing how well she could sing.

I am not moved. Music doesn’t translate into literature well, and I have my own ideas of what beautiful music is. I guarantee you, the next guy’s got an entirely different perspective. If you’re going to try to describe music in any form in literature and make it moving, you’ve got to really flex those descriptive chops.

Throw on top of this a rushed plot that skips all that annoying character/relationship building, and I’m sorry to say I got nothing out of this. It’s an intriguing idea, that I’ll grant, but it needs a smoother plotline, way more atmosphere and a lot less tell before it’ll get to be high on my bookshelves.

But, y’know? This is an early addition to iDash’s library. I can’t write off the author from this alone, especially when there’s plenty of newer material to examine. Mayhap if I read something comparatively newer I’ll find these issues have been assessed and addressed.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
And We DancedWorth It

Well, that was strange. There’s not much to this story other than Rainbow being OP and unintentionally breaking the law. I think this was meant to be funny? It reads like a brief scene from Imploding Colon’s Austraeoh series, except without context or purpose. It tries to give off some ultimate motive of not breaking the law, but the point is lost considering all Rainbow does to ‘solve the problem’ is acknowledge the problem exists.

I’m just not sure what this was meant to be. The tags say comedy, adventure, and slice-of-life. The only one it seems to approach is adventure, but then that doesn’t seem to have a point behind it. I left this confused and not much else.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
I'm RealPretty Good

Lunchtime Luster is an alicorn with some… semi-phenomenal abilities, all related to lunch. She’s been around for a while, longer than Cadance or Twilight Sparkle, but nopony knows she exists. This she will no longer tolerate, and so she goes to demand that Celestia recognize her as a Princess of equal standing. Celestia is not impressed.

I don’t know where this idea came from, but it is certainly amusing. I wonder who the alicorns of dinnertime and breakfast are. Is there a dessert-based alicorn? Regardless, this was a silly little tale in which a not-so-impressive alicorn finally gets her… er… ‘place in history’. I feel Celestia’s pain.

On a side note, Meridian Prime has a surprisingly cool design.

You know what would also be cool? Take this character and do something serious with her. Yeah, her and this entire story is one big joke, which is fine. But from what I’m seeing, she doesn’t have to be, and my curiosity is raised. Leave it to me to see ‘serious story’ potential in a gag concept.

But regardless of potential aspects, I enjoyed the story for what it was. Nothing amazing, but certainly worth the time invested. Give it a go if you feel like having a chuckle or two.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Canterlot InvasionWorth It
Rainbow RocksNeeds Work

Alternative Title: Ponyville Mares Are Easy

I saw these stories making the rounds. Honestly, I had zero interest in them. All signs pointed to a blatant self insert driven entirely by wish fulfillment and written by a fanboy who, lacking the minimal willpower necessary to settle for one waifu, decided “screw it, I’m gonna have ‘em all!” So when the author asked me to do a review I was… unenthusiastic.

But hey, we all had/have those fantasies, right? And I can’t really fault a guy for taking the time to write them down and trying to make something of it. And I’ll admit, I’m impressed that Doug Graves has managed to get over 240,000 words of this series written in under a year – as a new FIMFiction writer, at that. Regardless of writing/story quality, that’s takes dedication.

But there are problems. We all know what they are, because they appear in these stories all the time. Human in Equestria and Self Insert Harem genres? Yeah, I probably don’t even have to start the lists, and I can already hear the collective moans reverberating in the stratosphere. But Doug asked for a review, and it’s only fair I explain the issues properly. You guys ready for this? Here we go.

Starting point: a non-brony man wakes up in Equestria and the first thing he sees is a talking orange-and-blonde pony. What should his first reaction be? “How did I get here?” “Why am I naked?” “How the hell am I going to get home?” Apparently, in Doug’s mind it’s “That pony’s cute. Wonder if she’ll bang me?” Doug’s reaction to suddenly finding himself in an alien world he knows nothing about full of magical, neon talking horses goes far, far beyond anything realistic. He acts as if being torn from his home and family and world is as natural as breathing. If that’s how you think people react to their entire universe being destroyed, you clearly haven’t thought about it too much. Common HiE problem #1.

Common Harem problem #1 confounds the issue further by having Doug and Applejack not only falling for one another, but getting married in less than 24 hours. In the author’s defense, some characters (like Granny Smith) do have words about this blatant problem, but no arguments exist that can possibly justify it. I don’t care how desperate Applejack is for a stallion, there’s no sense in this at all beyond blatant wish fulfillment. And while, again, I don’t necessarily have a problem with wish fulfillment, it in and of itself is an outright crappy means of controlling the plot of a story. This by itself relegates this series to the nickel-and-dime airport pocketbook variety, the kind of story people will only read because they’re desperate for something to do.

Of course, Doug doesn’t stop there. Within a matter of days his self insert has Rarity and Rainbow Dash wrapped around his finger. The good news is that it doesn’t take a day or two to marry them too - it actually takes a couple months to make those conquests, and then only because their regular use of him as a tool to satisfy their sexual urges (with AJ’s permission) gets them pregnant. And I’ll acknowledge the author backed themselves well by establishing fairly early that this version of Equestria is the ‘herding’ variety of one stallion to multiple mares. People can complain if they want, but so long as it’s an established natural aspect of Equestrian society I’m okay with it.

But that still doesn’t alleviate the fact that this is all blatant wish fulfillment by someone who just couldn’t pick one waifu. That will make your average reader roll their eyes and move on because, let’s face it, it’s predictable and obvious. Worse, it’s contrived, so it gives the whole thing an unpleasantly inauthentic feel.

HiE Problem #2: a human has appeared in Equestria. Nobody, not even the human himself, questions this. He’s just there, and perfectly willing to move on with his life as if his arrival via unknown means is perfectly natural. Okay, so perhaps there’s some relief that, for once, the requisite angst of the situation has been skipped. Fine. But where’s the curiosity? News that a human exists at all would have (and did) spread beyond Ponyville. You can’t tell me there aren’t ponies of intellectual and/or scientific or even political mind who wouldn’t want to learn more, but somehow he’s just ignored. I’d be okay with that if humans already existed in Equestria, but all indications point to the opposite. It all grows the feeling that this is a highly contrived situation.

And let’s not forget there’s no AU tag here, despite the title itself declaring it so. But this is more than just ‘random human shows up in Equestria and things go as normal’. Doug has completely rewritten the equation by starting this story seven years before the start of the show, but somehow expects us to believe the characters are all as they were when the show started. Do the Mane Six seem to be in their late 20’s/ early 30’s to you in The Elements of Harmony? Because they sure don’t to me. Or is Doug bedding and wedding these five mares when they’re 15 or so? This is especially glaring when one considers Rainbow Dash’s athletic dreams and how late in life she was when she joined the Wonderbolts. Talk about a short career.

An argument could be made that Doug envisions the ponies aging like real-world ponies, but if that’s the case then the girls would be relatively old when the show starts and Twilight enters the picture, and we can all tell that’s not the case. Is this one of those situations where the characters only age exactly as the author wants them to for the given situation? Whatever is going on, it certainly isn’t helping this story in the realism department.

But if you really want to talk about canonbreakers, how about the Cutie Mark Crusaders? You know, those established sisters of three of the Mane Six? Yeah, not in this story. I was wondering why Apple Bloom never showed up in the early chapters with how Doug was now living at Sweet Apple Acres (or Apple Acres, as the author mysteriously dubs it). Again, this is not a bad element by itself, but if you’re going to completely rewrite the history of major characters, it’s important to let the audience know that long in advance. And no, calling your story “Alternate Beginnings” is not enough when you’re erasing characters or completely rewriting their history.

That leads to something else, something not specifically plot-related: the writing. It’s very… plain. Everything happens at the same pace. Transitions are often nonexistent. There’s no effort at all to create a mood or atmosphere. Events simply happen, one after the other. To be frank, it’s not very exciting. There’s not even a sense of rising action or climax; the ending just sort of happens like everything else and, by the way, that’s the conclusion story over bye. Where’s the drama? Where’s the romance? Where’s the conflict and its resolution? Things are happening in this story, but they are written in such a way that you’d think nothing’s happening at all.

In the end, I’m sorry to say this was everything I expected. Doug Graves has a praiseworthy devotion to the craft of writing, but needs to develop in a lot of ways before they’ll start turning heads. Atmosphere, plot development, character behavior, originality and creativity. Mayhap this author will give us something worthwhile with practice and a willingness to write something outside this one AU. Right now? Their placement is clear.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New author!

A Bed of Roses

22,279 Words
By Half the Battle
Recommended by Pascoite

When a series of bad events lead Roseluck to depression, she finds herself stuck at Ponyville’s hospital on suicide watch. This is the story of her recovery and return to normal life.

I imagine there is an expectation that, because this story is about something very serious and personal to the author like depression, suicide, and the recovery from both, people are obligated to praise it. And I will acknowledge wholeheartedly that triumphing over something like that is impressive and worthy of praise. Kudos to you, author, and kudos also for being willing to put something so personal into a story.

But I am not here to point to a story and declare it good just because it is personal to the author writing it. I am here to declare if a story is good. In this case, the ideas and events within the story are perfectly fine, but their delivery is lackluster at best. Events occur with little to no attention paid to transitioning and the atmosphere is nonexistent. The story is dialogue heavy, an unfortunate thing when the dialogue feels forced, like everyone’s reading from a script. That has everything to do with a narrative that refuses to offer any hints towards character behavior. And no, adding “She began to break down again.” at the end of a paragraph of dialogue doesn’t count. Events that should have been emotional came out bland and anticlimactic, and discussions that could have tugged at our heartstrings slipped past in a blink.

Again, the story, the events and the activities? They’re all fine. This has all the ingredients of a great plot. What Half the Battle needs is to be less dialogue-heavy. To pay more attention to body language, mood, and setting. To give the scenes their due attention: give sad moments their proper gloom, make the moment of vindication more climactic than a dry judge issuing a dry verdict, and make those big scenes meant to be full of emotional impact bigger and more beautiful. Don’t give equal focus to every moment, but direct our attention to what matters most.

A decent plot, but a poor delivery. Perhaps with practice this author can wow us in the future, but this one can only go to one location.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Alternative Title 1: Attack of the Killer TomatoesPumpkins
Alternative Title 2: The Royal Pumpkin and Her Loyal Gourds

Princess Luna has decided she wants some special extra elements this Nightmare Night, and so calls upon the Foundation for Spellcraft and Alchemy to supply her with a few simple magical items. Alas, the task falls upon researchers Willow and Bramble, whose efforts give the Princess far more than she bargained for. One thing is for sure: this will be a Nightmare Night Bridle Falls will never forget.

This story is indescribable fun from beginning to end. It’s witty, it’s ridiculous, and it’s got Luna proving she can handle just about anything so long as her Royal Voice is intact. I wish I could properly describe the events of this story to give you an adequate appreciation for it, but revealing much of anything would be inappropriately spoilery of me. But it’s strong in every way that matters, with enjoyable characters, circumstances as dire as they are entertaining, and solutions that are as ridiculous as the problems. Throw in Best Princess in various states of frustration and you’ve got a great read regardless of the season.

Absolutely read this. The fact it’s gone four years without breaking 1,000 views is proof that there is no justice or fairness in this world.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Stories for Next Week:
Caught by Apple by Borsuq
A Nice Night For It by Robolestia
"And Then Rainbow Dash Was a Colt," and Ten Other Really Awkward Stories by Piquo Pie
Twilight Sparkle's School of Harmony by Venates
Autophobia by Ice Star
366 Hours by Dandereshy
Their Hearth's Warming by ThunderChaserCreate
A Small Moment by Tramper
Quizzical by JMac
Those Left Behind by the7Saviors

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Comments ( 22 )

Arrrrggghhh!!! I have stuff to do!! All these... Oh, well. I'll do stuff later. Time to read poni. Darn you.

Okay, tackle the big one first.

"Yours Truly" was a great story, and I hold it up as a shining example of how to do epistolary stories well. I've had to browbeat authors so many times for not adhering to the form well, and this one eventually made me decide to try my own hand at it to see if I could take my own advice (and based on a couple events from RL), which became "The Art and Science of Letter Writing."

Anyway, I do have a couple problems with it, but they're all plot-related. The first is this fandom conceit that ponies (usually Pinkie) can indulge in air piracy with impunity. Celestia rarely seems to care that it's going on, and she certainly doesn't here. Second, it strains credulity that a single group of 7 friends would produce 3 romantic pairings. And the biggest for me is that Apple Bloom knew about AJ and Twilight, yet at the moment she should have been doing everything she could to contact Twilight, she didn't make a single attempt, and she's not even given a motivation as to why. That piece of drama felt extremely contrived as a result.

On the whole, though, it's one of the best stories I've read through the years.

"An Old Coot" was a pretty cool story. I don't remember under what circumstances I read it. Maybe the author asked for a private review. I do remember it taking a little tweaking to fine-tune Spike's interaction with the filly, but it's a nice piece of characterization.

"A Bed of Roses." Hm. I know what metric I used to recommend stories to you, and this one was kind of tough to gauge. It did a lot of things wrong, but it did a few things quite well. On the bad side, well, a lot of the emotional moments came across as rather unemotional, the pacing of Roseluck's affliction is rapid—seriously, she's almost immediately upbeat about being in a mental hospital, and once she's released, she snaps to a good attitude again. The whole court case subplot was a mistake, as it fails to cast Sunburst (an OC before there was a canon character by that name) as a villain, and the mechanics of how that lawsuit would even proceed were not based on anything approaching real law. What was good, though? I really thought the first chapter showed a lot of promise. The setup was good, it didn't god for the easy emotional grab, and there was this great theme of how Roseluck related to a favorite aunt, but unfortunately, the aunt gets dropped from the story, only to make a brief but underwhelming resurgence near the end. Even the dryness you complained about seemed to serve an atmosphere of Roseluck becoming disassociated from her life, and just kind of looking on it in an external, dispassionate way. Different people experience depression in different ways, of course, but that's certainly one way it can manifest, and it felt like a realistic depiction to me. But as she moves to a better place, I would expect more real emotion to creep into the narration, and it really didn't.

I recommended this based on the strength of the first chapter, but it does drop off from there.

On another note... man, I looked at your scoring sheet where you say what's up next for each author. Why'd you pick that one? It's not bad, but it's just a slice-of-lifey headcanon dump. I can see how letting you pick whatever catches your eye can be a good exercise in what stories are better attention-grabbers based on cover art, synopsis, etc. And there's certainly something to be said about picking what seems to appeal to you, lest you be forced to read things you never were going to like in the first place. But sometimes I (like probably everyone else) wish I could just point you to my 5 or 10 best stories and tell you to pick from those.

Yours Truly is already on my RiL list (it may be that Pascoite recommended it to me too, though I can't remember for sure) but I'll add the Foundation one as well. Of next week's selection, Quizzical is the only one I've read. I quite enjoyed it, but not enough to have read the sequels (yet).

Hey, thanks for the review!! And I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Yeah, I get what you mean about dry prose. It's definitely something I want to improve on, and I usually just end up trying to make it feel invisible, to varying degrees of success.


I don't remember under what circumstances I read it.

I think you might have been in the Writeoff where it debuted. I did take a lot of advice from the discussion thread when sprucing it up for Fimfic.

Thanks for the review! and going through each of the areas in meticulous detail. I find myself agreeing with each; some because I mis-aimed my sights, and others because I missed my target.

Such the self-insert/wish-fulfillment; it’s partially true, and fails from an initial unwillingness to, as you might say, put my baby on a pike for more than half a chapter. Things just work out too cleanly, too quickly. Should I try to rewrite this AU (and maybe I should just drop it, I dunno) I would certainly pace everything differently, put more of the curiosity/character building early that will leave a lot more space in later chapters for the eventual Harem-iE nonsense.

Or the age, and maturity level; I peg them at just barely adults at the start. Applejack right after ‘Where the Apple Lies’, basically. However, I start the Mane Six (Five?) at the maturity level shown at the start of the show. Despite it being seven years prior. It leaves them basically no room to grow or develop, crippling for any story but especially one this scale.

Especially since the goal was to drop a human into Ponyville, and have things develop such that at the end everything is exactly the same as it starts in canon. Did I make it? Well, ‘needs work’ sums it up pretty well.

I did enter a story in that write-off, but I didn't do any reviews, and I don't remember reading it within the write-off context. I'm pretty sure it was afterward. Maybe you'd asked me to look over it during your revision before posting it here? I looked through my email to see if I was the PR who approved it for EqD, but that was AugieDog.

Okay, then that might be it, and I might just be crazy. Wouldn't be the first time my memory decided not to work. :derpytongue2:

>stories for next week
I await my doom C:

Hey, thanks for the review! Glad you enjoyed the story, it's been one of my favorites despite getting a fraction of the views my bigger stories do, and it's good to see that others are still finding it to be a fun read.

Thank you for the review.

One of the most interesting things about Yours Truly is the criticism I get for it. The broad consensus is that everyone loves it, of course, but some people have also found certain parts just don't work for them. What I find really interesting is that they're never the same parts. This is the first time anyone's criticized the moment that I broke the letterwriting format, for example.

But I do really appreciate that you picked up on all the contradictions and opposing messages, and I'm extremely happy that you thought they worked together in harmony. I was in a long distance relationship of my own, and Yours Truly was my good-bye letter to that chapter of my life. In it, I gathered together all the daydreams I had collected over the years, all of the contradictory actions I desperately wanted to take, and all the reasons I wound up putting those desires aside. I know how my own tale ended, but this story was my chance to explore all the other ways it could have gone and it will always hold a place in my heart because of it.

EDIT: Just FYI, the Rarity-Spike postscript suggestion is kinda-sorta-done in the story Easy As Lying. That too is a deeply personal story, but for very different reasons.

I'm going to assume your query is related to why I picked Basking to read as opposed to some unspecified other author's story. But really, why would anyone pick anything? I scanned your various stories and that one stood out to me based on its description, it's art, and my mood at the moment. It's not like I can know if a story is a great piece of literature until I've tried it, y'know?

I have had a few whiners beg me not to read X story because "it's absolute crap and you can't review it!!!!". For people with really low story counts I sometimes even agree to read something else, if only because I know I'll be getting to their unpolished turd eventually, whether they like it or not. My philosophy is that if you don't want it to be read and potentially reviewed, you wouldn't put it in a public space.

It's October, so now's the perfect time to read Foundation. Absolutely, give it a try!

I'm not sure how you planned to make this story end exactly the same as canon starts when you're changing basic fundamentals like the CMC's parentage and the character's relationships (like how AJ and Rarity couldn't stand one another for the first few episodes).

Dropping it is entirely up to you, but I would certainly recommend trying short stories for a short while to polish your skills before attempting another multi-book megastory like this one. In your defense, a ton of starting writers (myself included) make this mistake. It's so very easy to let ambition get ahead of you.

The low attention was a big part of why I targeted it, and I'm glad to say I wasn't disappointed.

Really? Nobody jumped on that Luna scene? Huh. Guess that just goes to show how one reader's normal is another's kryptonite.

But yeah, the conflicting themes struck me as a major element of the story. It felt as though you were very intentionally using minor characters (well, minor for Yours Truly) to emphasize that aspect. I thought it worked really well.

I'll have to read Easy As Lying to see what's going on there. But first, I need to get back to Sherlock Rares and Dashson.

Each of my stories (barring one, which I secretly hate) was written for a specific person. I identified a single person who I wanted to make happy by writing a story for them, and so the story was written, and I regard each story as a success because it achieved that goal. Subsequent popularity is collateral happiness. I think it's the best way to write because if you're trying to chase Internet Fame, or trying to please everyone in this business you'll go mad.

That was a lot of the fun/challenge, planning out how exactly that happens, though a few areas seem more forced / contrived.

A lot of the filler chapters, though, could stand on their own, maybe with minor alterations at best. One of my favorites to write was Winter's Mournful Melodies; probably could be spruced up with a little more detail, but that's true of nearly everything I write.

No, I'd never beg you not to read a story. I might tell you I think it's a pretty flawed one, but if you picked it for whatever reason, go for it. The only reason I bring this up with you, though, as opposed to other reviewers is that you keep score. It's harder for people to piece together reviews that might have occurred over the course of several years and try to get an overall picture of a writer's skill, but when you have previous results shown below each review and a spreadsheet tallying it all up, there's a much more lasting effect and a bigger risk, thus a higher motivation for any given author to want you to read their best stuff.

I’m glad you enjoyed the rise of lunchtime luster, and agree that there’s a lot more that could be done with her character.

You, sir, are a silly person.

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