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Wings of Black Glass

The worst fanfic ever written is still better than the greatest story never told.

More Blog Posts30

  • 108 weeks
    Pony Wars

    So that Pony Wars project that I’m posting the character backstories for: That’s a project trying to make a new setting for people to create stuff for. While I was initially brought in to help with some of the worldbuilding, I’ve since turned into the lead author for it. (right now the *only* author for it, but that’s another issue) Dratta Arcana is the project lead, and he wants people to

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    0 comments · 134 views
  • 125 weeks
    I still exist.

    I’m still here.
    I’ve just had nothing to say.

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    0 comments · 109 views
  • 144 weeks
    Out of time

    I have something of a confession to make.

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    2 comments · 121 views
  • 152 weeks
    Mask of Despair and EQD

    A couple months ago, I submitted The Mask of Despair to EQD. Rejected, obviously. At the very least, they gave me some notes on it. More notes than all the other comments and messages combined. On that note: why did no one tell me it was such a mess? It’s got random capitalizations, missing words, and

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    2 comments · 143 views
  • 154 weeks
    My first Shipfic

    So yesterday I wrote my first Shipfic, and it’s doing alright. 60+ views, 8 upvotes, a dozen-or-so favorites. (Nothing I’ve done can come close to competing with The Alicorn Limit, though.) I had wanted to get it done for Hearts & Hooves day,

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    0 comments · 127 views

Reviewer's Café response · 8:14pm Jan 2nd, 2019

So the reviewer’s café reviews for The Nightmare Night Knightmare finally came out a little over a week ago. To my surprise, they did not entirely eviscerate it. I thought I would make a response to them. I really wanted to get this done last year, but things got in the way. First of all, I wanted to let the reviews sink in and read them a couple of times before making knee-jerk accusations. Second, other things got in the way (like Christmas) and most importantly I was 800 miles from my computer. I will make an effort to not be too defensive, and probably fail.

There are some broad categories each reviewer brought up, and they mostly fall like this:
The character, being an Original character contest this was a given they would bring it up.
The monster, Deimos, all of them made comments on it.
They also all made some comment on the plot itself.
Lastly, the quality of my writing. There appears to be quite a lot to say here, it’s where they gave me my lowest scores.

Fragile Flower/Knightmare:
The single most significant criticism of her is that she seemed to be too much like Fluttershy. This is… probably a valid point. It was certainly something I noticed as I was writing, but my efforts to distance her seemed to fall flat. She went through several iterations as I was working on her, at one point she was even kind of a jerk teenager. This is one reason I gave her the tendency to say “sigh” aloud as a word rather than just sighing. (It might seem a bit strange, but I’ve met a few people who did that in real life)

One big difference between Knightmare and Fluttershy would be their response to Deimos. Fluttershy would have tried to talk it down or use the stare on it. She might even have tried fighting it off. (like she did with the bugbear)

Off the Fluttershy topic, I never got around to fleshing out some other aspects of her aside from her phobias. I wanted to make a mention of her job as a florist, but when I put in a scene with her working at a plant nursery it just sort of dragged on and added nothing and ate way too many words to fit in. Her profession wasn’t relevant to the story in the slightest, so I cut it out to save words.

On the topic of Knightmare’s name… I probably shouldn’t have bothered. Basically I just really wanted to use the title of the story and shoehorned that in because I thought it would be clever. “Because I thought it would be clever… and it really wasn’t” probably sums up a lot of the choices I made.

One reviewer complained about Knightmare’s reaction to losing a leg being somewhat weak. Even considering I was trying for an emotionally drained and dulled by painkiller and physically exhausted response, it really was. I was also right up at the edge of my word limit by that and was searching for things to cut.

The big question I took from the reviews is, “why didn’t you use a bad guy from the show?” A couple of reasons. By the point of the show where the story takes place (somewhere mid-season 8) there’s really only a few antagonists left. Chrysalis and Ahuizotl being the only really evil ones who might pose any sort of physical threat. But Chrysalis wouldn’t go anywhere near Canterlot without her drones, and Ahuzotl is more of a Rainbow Dash/Daring Do bad guy.

Besides, Deimos isn’t really a villain. A villain has plans and personality. It was just a big monster, like a thing off a random encounter chart. I just needed it around to injure Luna and remove Knightmare’s leg.

More valid criticism is that Deimos is… weird. I sort of feel like I wildly overdeveloped it to the point where it wasn’t even scary. I fell into some kind of variant of the uncanny valley. I gave Deimos’s description to a friend and asked if it was scary and he said it was like a demon from the warp. (from the Warhammer franchise) That probably should have been a red flag for me to tone it down. Part of the reason for his weirdness is because he wasn’t even supposed to be real! (more on that below)

The story:
They all seemed to think the story was just kind of there, that it didn’t really stand out. This is fair. I was trying to explore Fragile Flower more than tell a story about the events, and I have troubles with short stories. Although they did comment that it was like the show (one seemed to rate it higher because of that, another lower) That… I had not intended.

With a cripplingly short word limit, I probably shouldn’t have had so many plot threads. Knightmare’s daughter, her fear, her leg, Luna and the monster, Stardust… I had some seven characters all doing/saying things (aside from the two nameless guards) and probably should have trimmed it a bit.

Some of those threads came about because I was trying to do too many things at once. I wanted a Halloween story, I wanted a scary monster to injure Luna for Stardust to save her from, I was trying to explore a new OC… There just wasn’t enough space in only 6k words. Given ten thousand words I might have pulled it off. (Probably not) I included Stardust, Dainty Dawn, and Picket because those are all characters who appear in my other fics, and I’ve decided that all of them take place in the same continuity. (I skipped using Picket’s full name because it was kind of stupid and needs context.)

Another weak point of my story (which none of them mentioned, because it was so weak none of them even noticed it) was that it wasn’t scary. I was trying (sort of) to actually write a scary story. It… did not work. As I was working on it I kept trying to put in jump scares… and kept thinking “how do you scare someone in a short story?” I have no answer to that. I know there are frightening books out there, but startles/jumps? I feel as though the medium of text on the page sort of prevents that from happening at all.

Part of the reason the story ended up the way it is is that I started with the concept of “Luna gets injured during Nightmare Night” for a Halloween story and went from there. This was before the contest was announced, and I decided to stick with that. But how was I going to injure her? At first, it was going to be a scene where Stardust was in an illusion/costume (similar in appearance to what Deimos ended up as) and hurt her by accident. But Stardust was an already established character, which was out of the rules for the contest. So I considered her injury coming from a pair of trouble-making twins whose practical joke gets out of hand. (Along the lines of Merry and Pippin from Lord of the Rings) but wasn’t sure twins would be allowed. So I settled on Knightmare instead and made Deimos a real thing.

I was so stuck on the “injure Luna on Nightmare Night” that it probably got in the way of exploring Fragile Flower.

(I seem to have gone off on a few tangents there…)

On the quality of my writing:
This is where they seemed to think I did the worst. One of the reviewers said it was “almost mechanical,” this is the polite way of saying “boring.” I am forced to agree. My thoughts on the quality of my writing in general are… complex. I will go into them in greater detail elsewhere so this doesn’t eclipse the length of the story itself.

Except for the first section, I’ll go into that. Yeah, it was rough. Once again I made the mistake of writing it one tense/pov and then changing it later. Instead of rewriting it from scratch I just changed the tenses, and the edges show. Not having a clear tone in mind at the time didn’t help either.

Some of the woodenness of my story is because I was trying really, really, hard to fit it under six thousand words. (A number I just barely squeaked under.) In case you can’t tell, I have this terrible urge to explain everything, and it bloats my word-counts terribly. Brevity of prose eludes me.

Although I will defend myself on a few points.

They docked me for using “sigh” as a spoken word. As I mentioned above in the character section, this was not an error. This was a verbal distinction I made for the character to say the word out loud. (It may have been a poor one, but that is not this point) To make this clear I explicitly point it out the first time she does it.

They also made a point of me capitalizing the names of the various pony types, Pegasus, Unicorn, and Earth Pony. They point it as incorrect. On this, they are simply wrong. Well, maybe. It depends on if the pony types are “breeds” or “ethnicities.” You don’t capitalize breed names, but you do capitalize ethnicities. They are certainly not different species, as they can interbreed freely. We use the term “breed” for domesticated animals and pets, and the use of it when speaking of people is generally considered an insult at the best of times and profoundly racist at the worst. Within the world of Equestria, they would certainly consider the different pony races the way we consider different ethnic groups. I will treat them as such.

One of them said I had several characters speaking in the same paragraph. I did not. I went looking and couldn’t find a single instance of this. If it’s in the same block of words separated by a line break then it is the same person speaking. There are a couple of spots where I don’t mention who is speaking or where one could certainly think a line might be more appropriate for someone else to say, but that is not this point.

Now, to be fair, I don’t know in what format they were reading. (on computer, on phone, downloaded…) It’s possible that between writing it on my editor, sending it to Grammarly for some limited checking, bringing it back, then importing it into fimfiction and tweaking it to be easier to read that something got mixed up somewhere… and different browsers/operating systems may display things differently.

I am not trying to excuse the flaws. Rather, to explain them. There are certainly deficiencies in my writing. Quite a few, in fact. Some I am aware of, others I am not. Somewhere in those reviews, they all say in one form or another that I (badly) need to find an editor. Now that I've vented for a bit, I'm going to go looking for one.

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