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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 CXLV · 10:04pm Jan 10th, 2019

As many of you probably know, a certain Aquaman is trying to put together a BronyCon 2019 Bookstore. I have every intention of joining this by adding Bulletproof Heart and The Gentle Nights: Audience of One to the store. But there’s a third book I’m considering adding: a short story collection. Basically, I intend to get up to 100k word’s worth of my individual short-and-medium length stories here on FIMFiction and make them into a single book for selling.

The simple fact is that I have more than 100k worth of such stories on this site. As that 100k is meant to be a hard limit, I have to narrow down my selection. I should probably do it soon, because whatever I pick will need to be combed through with editing runs and some of the older ones might take time.

Here’s where you folks come in. I want opinions! If there’s a story in my collection you feel deserves to be in the compilation, let me know and I will consider it… er… considered. Remember, we’re looking at my shorter stories, and while I’m interested in some of the medium-length ones (say, A Figment of Her Imagination), I have to keep in mind the 100k hard limit. Also, none of my Mature stories are permissible (so no Them entries). In addition to appearing at the bookstore, the final selection will be made available online at cost, probably on Lulu.

Oh, the shorts in my existing collections (like Paul’s Persistently Protracted Practice Pieces) are fair game too.

And for those of you wondering, yes, this does mean I intend to go to BronyCon this year.

Alright, while you guys get to thinking about that: reviews!

Stories for This Week:

The Apple on His Flank by Drakkith
The Moon, The Flower, And The Door by Bucking Nonsense
As The Feathers Blow Away by CristalGalaxy
A Letter to the Griffon Emperor on the Matter of War by Wages of Sin
Would It Matter If I Was? by GaPJaxie
A Canterlot Carol by GhostOfHeraclitus
One Thousand Years by MaxKodan
Entropy by zaponator
The Division Bell by FloydienSlip
If You Need a Little Faith... by Quillamore

Total Word Count: 43,842

Rating System

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

Apple Bloom comes home late one night after getting into a fight. This leads to an argument, and some unpleasant words are spoken. Big McIntosh, seeing a disturbing parallel, decides it’s time to tell Apple Bloom something that’s been kept hidden all her life: his cutie mark story.

Whelp, I hate to say it, but Drakkith’s ‘feels’ warning is legit. This is a hard-hitting story about Big Mac, his father, and old regrets. It’s also a nice bit of relationship growth between the oldest and youngest siblings of the Apple Family, which we really need more of. Best of all, the author plays this one straight, resulting in a pleasantly focused story that keeps to its main theme and pulls it off well.

There’s really not much else to say. I’d like to offer some form of criticism, but this is just a solid story. It even ages well, there being nothing at all in it that contradicts modern canon despite it being more than five years old. That’s a rare accomplishment, especially considering the relatively recent reveals regarding the Apple Family.

As far as short, feelsy stories go, this one has everything I could possibly ask for. I don’t usually give my top rating to short stories, but I feel this one’s earned it. This is a phenomenal improvement over the last story by this author I read. It’s like night and day.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
How to Preen Your ChickenNeeds Work

Bucking Nonsense really knows how to live up to their name.

In this story, Princess Luna has decided to take on a personal student. Her selection process is both simple and complicated: invite anyone who wishes to try to come to the palace to take the exact same test as every other applicant. That test? Open a door. A lot of unicorns do so, invariably with ease, and each gets sent home having no idea why they failed. And then an earth pony filly shows up…

This story is in desperate need of a sequel. Oh, look, a sequel!

Oh, look, it’s cancelled. Luna damn you, Bucking Nonsense. Luna damn you to Tartarus in a handbasket.

The whole “Luna gets a student of her very own” idea is fairly common, but still intrigues me more often than not. People tend to approach it in a surprisingly wide range of ways, from the obvious “unicorn learning magic” to the “social misfit” and anything in between. What this one brings to the fore is the manner in which Luna tests her potential new student, and it’s quite an unexpected and endearing one.

Aside from that, the conclusion opens a door (uh, pun not intended) to a world of interesting possibilities that I would very much look forward to seeing explored. Really, the only complaint I have at all is that we don’t get to see it done. But as for this story on its own, it certainly holds its own weight through a combination of wit, a bit of silliness, and a good look at Princess Luna’s preferences in students compared to Celestia’s. It’s a difference I wholeheartedly approve of. Throw in a couple well-placed Pinkie Pie cameos and I am immensely satisfied.

Really the one and only negative in all of this is the cancelled sequel. It is – and this time he pun is entirely intended – bucking nonsense. Ignoring that? This is definitely worth a read.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Who Is This Lord Tirek You Speak Of?Pretty Good

Well. Didn’t expect that. I mean, really, anyone who sees this and knows the tropes of Scootasad fics would expect it to be about Scootaloo attempting suicide. Refreshingly, that’s not the case. This isn’t a Scootasad fic at all.

That doesn’t mean it ends well for her.

I see what CristalGalaxy is trying to do here, and I commend that as a lover of sadfics in general. But the author failed to capture the requisite emotions with this one for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the unbelievability of the scenario. For one, I don’t see Scootaloo making this particular mistake. More importantly, Rainbow Dash has been shown numerous times canonically to be much faster than a falling object, so I can’t believe the scenario as presented. Third, Rainbow subtly suggests that she can only perform a Sonic Rainboom in happy moments and so can’t do one now, which is preposterous considering the second time she performed a Sonic Rainboom was in the exact same situation this story presents. Then there are the technical issues. The style is repetitive both in terminology used and content, making the story less gripping and more tedious.

I should reiterate that the idea presented here is a good one. I’ve never seen the whole “Scootaloo can’t fly” thing handled like this, which definitely works in the author’s favor. But CristalGalaxy really needs to refine their technique in order to make this work, as well as think a lot more about plausibility. Wanting to produce certain emotions is great and all, but when you try to do so in a scenario that makes no sense it gets a lot harder for readers to take those emotions in.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

The emperor of the griffons has sent Equestria a missive demanding their unconditional surrender. Twilight decides to write a letter explaining exactly why his idea of waging war against the ponies is… let’s say “fundamentally flawed”.

This story was more or less what I expected it to be, which is to say a list of reasons someone going to war with Equestria would essentially be destroying themselves if not the entire world. Some of those reasons, such as ponies controlling the Sun and Moon and having Discord on their side, are perfectly sound. Where the letter struggles is when it starts listing headcanon elements as factual. For example, making guesses regarding the comparison of population and military sizes, Equestria’s alliances with other nations, and descriptions of potential logistical issues, all of which are complete guesswork on the author’s part based on their personal assumptions.

Is it good? Eh, not really. But it does have Twilight being… I suppose a “know-it-all” would be an adequate description, and that’s mildly entertaining. I’m not sure why the story was such a huge hit when it released, but who really understands the whims of the ignorant, unwashed masses?

This one is neither a great story nor a bad one. It lands about as squarely in middle ground territory as a story can. It’s an interesting concept, but seeing as every single person who reads it will devise a completely different list, it only has so much impact to me.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Excepting you newer kids, I imagine everyone here remembers when this became a big thing. It brought about a wave of spinoffs for nearly a year! But I didn’t add it to my RiL immediately when it was popular because I have a “only one story per author” rule. But now, three years later, I’m finally here. That time frame is just one more reason I need to get that list reduced.

For those of you new to the fandom or simply living under a rock (in which case, how’d you get a computer and internet access?), this story is set in the immediate aftermath of the Changeling Invasion. Fluttershy is alone with Twilight in her old tower library when she decides to ask the question: would it matter if I happened to be a changeling? Twilight doesn’t take kindly to it.

I can see why this story was so popular. It shows Fluttershy at her best without sacrificing her character, making her varying and appropriate levels of assertive, fearful, and caring. And it all comes down to a simple issue: will all changelings be condemned after the attack on Canterlot?

This story does a lot of things right. The characterization is spot-on, the writing is solid, and the whole thing is an exemplary display of the Show writing method. On top of all of that is an important issue that needs to be raised in any wartime scenario, not just a changeling one.

Overall, I am impressed. This story is everything it needs to be and nothing it isn’t, and age has not hindered its impact in any way. If for any reason you haven’t read it yet, there’s no reason not to now.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

PS: Why haven’t you un-cancelled Daring Do, Jaxie? :trixieshiftright:

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Siren SongWHYRTY?
I Forgot I Was TherePretty Good
InternPretty Good
Love Letters for a Girl I HatePretty Good

It’s Hearth’s Warming, and Cabinet Secretary Dotted Line thinks that is important. So important, in fact, that he’s personally locating every overzealous workaholic employed under him and outright forcing them to go home for the holiday no matter what their existing workload is. But to achieve this, he’ll have to make some sacrifices...

This was a delightful story in which a happily overworked government employee both reminds everyone and is reminded himself of the value of the Hearths Warming. It’s great that I was able to read this in the middle of the holidays, because it is a truly worthy Christmas story. I am particularly amused by the twist of the title, referencing a story about a mizer who won’t stop working for all the wrong reasons while being about a stallion who won’t stop working for all the right ones.

I’ve not much else to say. This is a tale full of wit, whimsy, and heartwarming coupled with great pacing and endearing characters, complete with a Celestia cameo that was expected in general but delightfully unexpected in manner. It works wonderfully for its purpose and is certainly one of the better Hearthswarming stories I’ve read on this site. If you enjoyed Whom the Princesses Would Destroy…, or just want a solid holiday-themed ponyfic, absolutely give this a go.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Whom the Princesses Would Destroy...WHYRTY?
Twilight Sparkle Makes a Cup of TeaPretty Good

In a startling breach of convention, this story determines that Nightmare Moon’s exile to the Moon was not a sudden, unexpected act performed by Celestia and the Elements in the midst of a heated battle. Instead, the Elements of Harmony turned Nightmare Moon to stone, and the exile came after. Upon seeing the title, I anticipated this to be the cliched story about Luna’s 1,000 year banishment and just what she was doing while on the moon. That’s probably the reason the story has gone entirely unknown for so long, too.

Instead, the story has Celestia watching as a tribunal of three mortal ponies argue over the nature and place of Nightmare Moon’s inevitable execution.

Needless to say, this was not at all what I expected, and that’s a very good thing. Despite this story being from 2012, I can safely say I’ve never seen this approach before. There have been one or two stories where Celestia defeats Nightmare Moon and then decides her fate, but never before has it been suggested that Nightmare Moon’s punishment was originally in the hooves of mortals or that her exile was Celestia’s act of defiance against said mortals. It’s wholly fresh and interesting and paints everything in a slightly different light.

My one and only complaint relates to certain points in the writing where the perspective shifts wildly. Near the end, for example, there is a brief moment where we get to see Nightmare Moon’s direct thoughts in the narrative, with no formatting cues or transitioning whatsoever. Bad form, that. But the writing was mostly good, so I consider it a minor issue. There’s also the idea that Celestia literally created a prophecy from nothing through her actions, which felt sort of tacked on.

But ignoring those two issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It’s a different approach to the whole Nightmare Moon topic, and given how old the topic is it’s nice to know some people out there do have different ideas. A shame nobody seems to have noticed this exists.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Dappled ShoresPretty Good


7,457 Words
By zaponator

Everything burns. — Joker

Starlight just can’t resist time magic, and this time she’s inviting Trixie along for the ride. Trixie is perfectly fine with this considering Twilight Sparkle most certainly would not be. What neither of them expect, however, is for Starlight to send them forward so far into the timestream that… well, let’s not spoil things, shall we? Although if you understand the concept of entropy, you may have a good idea already.

On the one hand, the concept here is nothing particularly new. On the other, this story does result in a touching moment. The whole thing is somewhat bittersweet, but perhaps leans towards the positive side. Provided you’re capable of accepting inevitability without falling into depression over it, that is.

What I most enjoyed about this story was zaponator’s interpretation of Trixie. Even if she doesn’t really do anything, she’s a lot of fun as a character. I’m not sure that she quite aligns with canon, but she’s close enough that I doubt anyone will think twice about it. Starlight was spot on, though.

My only complaint is that the whole thing feels… factual. As in the author made no attempt to review the implications of the story. This is fine on the whole, as it allows the reader to form their own conclusions, and I know some people prefer it that way. Heck, a lot of times I prefer it that way. But still, a little nudge wouldn’t have hurt.

Eh, consider it subjective.

Overall, this was a bittersweet story about two ponies seeing the inevitable firsthandhoof. While possessing a touch of entertainment in the form of Trixie, it’s a sobering look at reality and where we are all going eventually, in the most complete form of “all” there is.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
BlinkPretty Good

FloydienSlip contacted me a few times about this story, mainly to stress that it was terrible and I shouldn’t read it (a point reiterated in the description). That, of course, only made me want to read it more, so here we are. The story is set some ten years after the events of the show (but keep in mind this was released during Season 3, so it’s pre-alicornication Twilight). The Mane 6 have gone their separate ways, but Twilight gets a sudden idea on how to fix that. Each chapter has a particular member of the group thinking about something from the life of one of the others as Twilight’s invitations spread to each of them.

It’s not as bad as FloydienSlip insists. Neither is it a golden gem of horsewords (note: Google saas “horsewords” is a word now). It’s blatantly clear that this is the author’s first foray into fiction due to a lot of nonsensical elements in the story. The good parts were revelations about Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie, but before one accepts those bits of background one must also acknowledge that none of them have the character growth we all know of today. Their choices, particularly Rarity’s and Pinkie’s, will seem extremely out of character. And with what we know today, that’s true. But with the information FloydienSlip had on hand at the time of writing? It’s not so far-fetched.

Applejack’s backstory is just nonsense, though. I can’t imagine what made FloydienSlip think it was a good idea. I imagine they’re wondering the same thing.

Then there’s the ending, which easily qualifies as the worst part of the story. I think it’s meant to be metaphorical. If it’s anything, it’s unclear, and it leads the reader to think one thing. It took me a while to realize that if it was what I thought at first, why would Rainbow and Fluttershy bother with flying? So yeah, I have an idea of what’s really going on, but FloydienSlip keeps things vague enough that I can’t tell if I’m correct or if the author simply made some logic errors.

Another issue is the narration, which is… uh, something. I mean, every chapter is supposedly from a specific pony’s perspective, but then the flashbacks come and the perspective shifts to somepony else entirely. But then the flashback ends, we go back to the original perspective, and it’s implied that the perspective never changed. So Rarity is dreaming from the perspective of AJ’s parents? So Rainbow Dash is suffering from hallucinatory visions of Fluttershy’s childhood? Uh… how?

I’m also seeing what I’m quite confident are references to other stories in the fandom. Rainbow’s references are clearly related to Austraeoh and a random pony of no name or origin Twilight doesn’t recognize appears to wish her luck (Miss Sparkle, Psychopath, perhaps?). It would have been different if there was any sign whatsoever that these other fanfictions were canonical to this story, but instead they just appear to be throwaway references made for no reason at all, except perhaps to show off the author’s reading experience.

So… yes, the story has its rough edges. Quite a few of them, in fact.

But as the first story written by the author? At all? It’s really not as bad as all that. The writing is generally quite good and the fundamental concept behind it is one I can get behind. The directing is shoddy, but far better than what I would expect from a first-time author. The desire to give nods to other stories isn’t a bad thing at all, they just need to be done in a way that makes sense for the story they are in (and arguably not be so on-the-nose). And one can’t fault an author for having a limited knowledge of their characters when the knowledge they are missing doesn’t even exist yet, so we can’t fault FloydienSlip’s characters for being so firmly not what we know them to be today.

It is always interesting seeing an author in their original form, back before they learned what they were doing (as much as any of us can, at least). I for one am glad I went back to read this one, as it gives me a clear picture of the original talent of FloydienSlip and the areas in which they might have improved. Now when I read any future stories, I can look back on this one and see: Floydien has come a long way.

I’ll be rating this on the middle ground due to what I personally get out of it. But if you’re not like me and interested in seeing authors at their start when they were far from perfect, you’ll probably not get much out of this.

I think I just figured out what this author’s name is referring to. I wonder if his antlers pop off?

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
ChillPretty Good

This brief holiday one shot takes place six months after the events of the previous story with Babs Seed’s first Hearths Warming with her adopted mother Coco. A combination of mysteriously placed presents and bad dreams leads to Babs having some odd, dark thoughts.

This continues with Quillamore’s strange tradition of feeling affection for the abusive and foul. It’s basically about Babs missing her biological father despite the fact he’s a total monster who is now in jail for the wide variety of resoundingly bad things he did to her and Coco. As with the previous story, I can’t relate at all. The behavior simply makes no sense to me. But, also as with the previous story, I am aware that there are people in the real world who are like this. It baffles me, but it’s real, and so I can’t judge the story based on that (no matter how much I’d like to).

So what can I judge? I’ll take directing for 400.

The story starts out with Babs going through a nightmare about having a personal wendigo. It’s a strong start, both evocative and meaningful to Babs as a character. With how good the whole thing is, you’d expect it to be the centerpiece of the entire story, such that everything else builds off of what it gave us. Instead, it sort of just… goes away, earning little more than a passing mention here or there. Yes, Babs acknowledges that her downward emotional spiral gets its start there, but that’s more or less the end of it. I posit that the story would have had far more interconnectivity – a better sense of being a whole, defined piece – if the nightmare had been used as the driving factor of Babs’ emotions throughout the entire story.

Quillamore decides instead to give us a bunch of nonsense about a ‘perfect saddle’ Babs mysteriously finds in a store and becomes obsessed with because she finds a picture of her old, ruined family in it, then tries to play the whole thing off as some nonsensical ‘oops’. This wasn’t necessary. At all. The saddle was just… there, and entirely due to contrived means. I get why Babs would get so much out of it emotionally, but the way it all comes together cheapens the effect.

The dream had all the fuel the story needed to carry it through to the end. I feel that if Quillamore had focused on the dream throughout rather than forcing some illusion of manipulation into the mixture, the story would have been far more effective.

The story is by no means bad. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t really stand out as a story. It really just feels like more of the same, a tacked on extra chapter of the previous story rather than its own entity. It doesn’t distinguish itself from its predecessor in any way, and the overall message feels subdued. Overall, I feel like the author was going for a Christmasy story but forgot to include much of anything that could qualify it for the role. And if it wasn’t meant to be a Christmas-based story, which would be perfectly fine, I’d at least liked to have seen some overarching theme or purpose beyond more of what we’ve already seen for these characters.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
If You Give a Little Love...Worth It

Stories for Next Week:

The First Light of Dawn by Cold in Gardez
Discordian Troubles by monsterlord18
Hooves of Clay by iisaw
Do You Want Nightmare Moons? by Rinnaul
20% More Feminine by Henry101
Shine Once More, Before The End by NeverEatTheLemonsAlone
Changes by jmj
The Legend of Thunder by SparkBrony
The One Who Cuts Santa's Beard by Lonarion
How Not To Use Your Royal Prerogative by Novel-Idea

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXL
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXLI
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CXLVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXLVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXLVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXLIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXLX

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Comments ( 22 )

Drops of Jupiter is probably my favorite of the short stories of yours I've read so far, so I wouldn't mind seeing that one make it into a printed compilation.

The lack of a complete sequel for The Moon, The Flower, And The Door is a real tragedy; the concept is so intriguing. Sigh.

I’m in the same boat as you regarding the bookstore. My plan is to have a single short story collection weighing in at around 100k, hopefully including some stuff I haven’t finished writing yet... I need to work out the timetable.

We totally need to cross paths and BronyCon :eeyup:

Sometimes I wonder what I would do differently if I ever rewrote the old clunker you reviewed this week. I honestly haven't looked at it in so long that I could never answer that, since I hardly remembered what I did the first time.

One Thousand Years was my first MLP fanfic and my first actual fanfic in yeaaaaars before that, and honestly I'm surprised you think it holds up as well as you do. It came as a flitter of thought shortly after I watched what happened to Discord, and I decided to hammer out a story about it and toss it up. 2012 was a weird time, and I didn't exactly advertise the thing very well, so I'm not surprised it flew under the radar. I was actually mortified when you added it to the list of things you were reviewing. You're a madman for digging into my back catalogue, but either way I'm glad you appreciate it! And, as always, thanks for the review!

Author Interviewer

Aw man, Canterlot Carol is excellent. :D

Not to fire prematurely or anything, but I have a sneaking suspicion the story I'm reading currently will give Would It Matter a run for its money, and it was written 7 years ago. <.< We shall see.

What If Matter If I Was? is a mixed bag for me. The premise was super interesting, and Fluttershy was appropriately characterized, but I freaking hated how Twilight was portrayed. I nearly pulled my hair out reading her stumble around Fluttershy, barely able to contain herself, and I kept thinking, "Come on, there's like a million counter-arguments you could be giving. Why aren't you?!" The use of degrees to describe body gestures was pretty weird, too.

I'd say you should print Frequency, but that would take up over half the length of the collection by itself. Definitely include Of Angels, though.

I'm glad you got something out of "The Division Bell." I can't bring myself to remove it from the site, seeing as it is my first foray into fiction, but I certainly can't read it, either.

Thanks for the review!

And, for what it's worth, the character is named after my username.

I'm very glad that most of the issue with If You Need a Little Faith was with the plotting. Even when I wrote it, I noticed that the dream sequence seemed to be the standout, so I totally understand your issues with the rest. Thankfully, the technical aspects of it don't seem to be a problem, which is good.

And I really don't know why I lean towards Stockholm Syndrome as a plot device. Maybe because I find it more interesting when characters feel that way? But then again, many of the characters I like with similar backstories are (understandably) bitter towards their abusers, so I don't know. In any case, though, my planned IRL novel/Premiere Nebula tritagonist, Io, can't stand her abusive father and shields her trauma with rebellion and snark, so perhaps she'd be more to your taste.

That is far more positive than I was expecting! That story got a quite mixed series of reviews when it first came out. I'm happy you enjoyed it!

It was already high on my personal list, so I think it'll likely to show up.

Well, if Wanderer D's writer's panel gets approved, you might just find me there. :raritywink:

You are very welcome! I often like to go back and read authors' early works. It gives me an idea of where they started vs. where they are now. I get that a lot of people can't appreciate that as I do, but a lot of people don't spend a few hours every day reading/reviewing horsewords. See, I'm not a madman, I'm just ahead of the curb!

Now you've got me curious. Too bad I've already hit my two-stories-per-week RiL limit (one story of which came from your review blog, might I add).

Are there arguments Twilight could offer? Perhaps. Did she just get left to die, watch her family be brainwashed, had all her friends turn their backs on her, witnessed the pain and suffering of a loved one, see her beloved mentor struck down, and have her home town invaded? Perhaps. I think those things trumped logic by a large margin at the time. You can't write stories purely on logic. You should know that, Mr. Luna Would Murder Two Close And Perfectly Innocent Friends Out Of Fear.

I considered Frequency, but felt it was too... 'divisive' over its ending to warrant it. Of Angels is almost guaranteed to get in though, seeing as its one of my biggest hits and of great personal value to me.


That still doesn't answer whether or not your antlers pop off, though.

It might appeal to me a bit more, I must admit. I'm big on strong female roles.

Sure, you could shuffle it that way, but with Twilight I get the feeling that the author didn’t even try. Like, she was the “bad guy” who was meant to be in the wrong. It’s plain dishonest. If your fic is about two characters having a debate, you want to give both parties the strongest arguments possible, so the readers will be torn between the two. Most of the attention this fic got was a reaction to the question asked, and not on its actual merits, since the author clearly wanted you to agree with Fluttershy. Maybe I’m rambling, but I just wanted to point that out.

Except this was never intended to be a debate fic. Unlike you, most people don't write stories just to debate random things and spout philosophy. GaPJaxie was trying to make a point. Of course Twilight was shown in the wrong, she was supposed to be. There's nothing dishonest about wanting to convey a message, nor is there any obligation on an author to posit appropriate, logical, complex arguments against that message. Given the setting and the circumstances, the idea that Twilight would be able to logically debate Fluttershy at that time is far less realistic than what happened in the story.

Now, if the story was set a few years later, with Twilight having had an opportunity to get over things emotionally, then the kind of story you're looking for is possible. But that's not where GaPJaxie chose to set it, and it can be safely argued that the story is more effective for it.

If you're only reading stories because you want to see smart arguments that depict both sides equally, you simply aren't the right audience for Would It Matter If I Was?

Author Interviewer

We're very incestuous that way. <.<

Incestuous? :pinkiegasp: Are you my long-lost twin brother?

Can I be the evil one?

When I say debate I don’t mean some formal, structured dialectic where both characters take turns rebutting each other. It can be a casual, informal conversation where both sides are in disagreement. This was the case with Twilight and Fluttershy.

There’s nothing wrong with having a message, but there’s more wrong ways to do it than right ways. There’s a reason why someone calling your story “preachy” is a negative. If you paint your message in a black-and-white manner, where any disagreements with your position is supposedly wrong, then you won’t really learn anything. Having a “point” doesn’t automatically make something deep.

By the way, I disagree with your claim that Twilight would be unable to form any complex thoughts because of what happened. Yeah, she isn’t totally calmed down, but that’s not much of an excuse, considering how level-headed she is under stressful situations in the show. Plenty of good arguments can be made when you’re emotional. It doesn’t have to be perfectly logical. The problem is that Twilight came off as far too passive; if anything, considering the recent changeling invasion still fresh in her memory, the last thing she’d ever do is change her mind on them, which is what happened in the span of a few minutes.

Level-headed? Does "Want-It-Need-It Spell" ring any bells? Twilight is many things, but "level headed" in times of stress isn't one of them.

There are certainly wrong ways to deliver a message, but you claiming it is wrong only makes it wrong to you. There was nothing 'preachy' about GaPJaxie's approach, although I'll agree it was certainly handled in a black-and-white manner.

I wouldn't say Fluttershy's conversation with Twilight was 'casual'. 'Casual' implies unintentional and relaxed, and it was clearly neither.

Nor would (or did) I say Twilight was incapable of 'complex thought'. I'm merely saying she's burdened by intense emotions that overwhelm her logic and dictated her reactions. In fact, this plays in GaPJaxie's favor; yes, Twilight was calm when she acknowledged Fluttershy's point at the end of the story, but that was only because she became aware of the situation and forced herself to think outside her bias for a moment. I'll grant, however, that that would have been the perfect opportunity for her to start into forming proper debates. She might even have done so internally at that point; we aren't really given a look at her thoughts, just what she said out loud. Twilight is certainly capable of debating herself. But then I must grant that we don't get to know if she did, which one can argue is a flaw on the author's part. Except that would have stood out like a sore thumb from the rest of the story which was formatted entirely differently.

Ugh, now I'm debating with myself. Thing is, you want the story to be about a debate, which is fine. And yes, there is an argument going on between Fluttershy and Twilight. But the story takes a real approach to the topic – i.e., it plays out as such a situation would in the real world. You want it to have adequate arguments for both sides proving (or at least attempting to prove) that one side is correct, but most people can't be asked an important philosophical question out of the blue and have sound, well-thought-out arguments ready to go. In fact, most people would react as Twilight did. GaPJaxie chose to approach the subject from that angle instead of some idealistic dream world in which the characters have all their arguments ready to go at a moment's notice. The only way to satisfy your perfect debating dynamic and maintain the real-world aesthetic GaPJaxie is clearly going for is to set the story in a scene where the topic is known to be coming ahead of time by both sides.

So no, GaPJaxie did not meet your requirements for creating a story in which a topic is discussed in detail and a conclusion formed. It would be a very different story (and probably not as well-received) if it had been. So for your purposes, the story is clearly a failure. But for GaPJaxie's, it's clearly a success.

And both are fine.

Huh, when I said level-headed I was thinking of the season 3 premiere, where Twilight made some good decisions (like telling Spike to grab the Heart) while under immense pressure. Which is weird, because both that episode and Lesson Zero were written by the same person. Although in the latter Twilight created the problem herself and rationalized a bunch of craziness. But, okay, fine.

I agree with what you said at the end there. Some people just have different tastes.

The show can be self-contradictory at the worst times. In Season 3, she made some sound decisions in the midst of extreme stress and certain doom. In the Movie, she made a constant stream of terrible choices, right down to alienating her friends. In Twilight's Kingdom she abandoned everything she was supposed to do and any chance at thinking her way out of the problem in favor of just shooting lasers at it. In the Season 6 finale she got into a doomed scenario with Nightmare Moon and cleverly thought of a way to escape without having to so much as ignite her horn.

Her track record is all over the place, really.

Hold on. I gotta defend the movie here, because sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who loved it. The only bad decisions Twilight made were trying to steal the pearl and telling off her friends, though both these things happened towards the end of the second act as a tipping point in her frustration, so it was kinda understandable. Most of the bad things happened because of her friends; Twilight even spoke against their foolishness, like saying they shouldn't trust Capper or being distraught at Rainbow doing her Sonic Rainboom, which attracted unwanted attention. Even when Tempest boarded the ship she was smart enough to create that balloon thing and escape.

In my defense, I never said I didn't like the movie.

Twilight did make a few good decisions, I'll agree, and the majority of the bad elements stems from the total uselessness of the other princesses, which we certainly can't blame on Twilight (although kudos to Cadance for at least trying). What I didn't like was that the so-called Princess of Friendship only extends that trusting courtesy paramount to her current character and royal position to equines. Every other type of creature? Total refusal to trust. And while it's true Capper betrayed them, which arguably makes for a starting point for that distrust, her unwillingness to trust anyone else she encounters, especially the sea ponies who did nothing to warrant it, felt remarkably OoC of her.

Unless you distinguish between Twilight Sparkle and Princess Twilight Sparkle, in which case how did she regress back to her old form and keep the wings?

But I digress. I have a list as long as my arm of what was wrong with the movie, but I don't take the negatives too seriously considering I'm not really the target audience. It was fun if one just relaxes and doesn't think about what's happening – which, when I saw it in theaters, is exactly what I did. And hey, I enjoyed myself. Immensely.

Well, I'd put a word in for Frequency, but considering it's a novel unto itself it's probably not short-story-collection material. :P

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