• Member Since 27th Dec, 2011
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You'll find, my friend, that in the gutters of this floating world, much of the trash consists of fallen flowers.

More Blog Posts127

  • Sunday
    Bronycon Traditions

    I've been going to Bronycon since 2015, the year of the largest attendance record. The last one ever is less than a month away. We should honor it by following some of the strange traditions I've accumulated over the years.

    some of these are not actually traditions, but by me pretending they are, they become so :pinkiesmile:

    Escape Room

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    3 comments · 37 views
  • 1 week
    Rainbow Power

    So I'm watching this season of a cartoon. The six main characters each get their own individual episode where they must face a difficult decision, and find inner growth. At the end of each episode, they get their own magical glowing trinket to symbolize this character development. Once all six have their trinket, a major bad guy appears, and it turns out those trinkets are used together to unlock

    Read More

    8 comments · 99 views
  • 4 weeks
    Dear Princess Celestia.... I didn't learn anything!

    Cobra Kai is such a WEIRD show.

    let's ANALYZE its characters. moderate spoilers for season 1.

    Read More

    2 comments · 67 views
  • 4 weeks
    Golden Sky Stories: letting go of immersion

    I GMed another RPG session a few weeks ago. Once again, no anecdotes (for privacy) but I had some thoughts on theory.

    The game's called Golden Sky Stories, and it involves NO dice rolling...

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    3 comments · 61 views
  • 5 weeks
    I made a book cover!

    my promise ahead of time was, "You won't have the prettiest book cover at the Bronycon bookstore. but you will have the weirdest."

    Read More

    7 comments · 76 views

Forward and Backward · 11:23am January 12th

I kept deleting this draft several times over the past few months, because it seemed like something everyone else already knows. It's just redundant common sense. Will I delete this draft too? Read on to find out!

I went on about this once before, but I'll just repost the entire quote since the original author explains it well enough:

VONNEGUT: I guarantee you that no modern story scheme, even plotlessness, will give a reader genuine satisfaction, unless one of those old fashioned plots is smuggled in somewhere. I don’t praise plots as accurate representations of life, but as ways to keep readers reading. When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaningless of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. One of my students wrote a story about a nun who got a piece of dental floss stuck between her lower left molars, and who couldn’t get it out all day long. I thought that was wonderful. The story dealt with issues a lot more important than dental floss, but what kept readers going was anxiety about when the dental floss would finally be removed. Nobody could read that story without fishing around in his mouth with a finger. Now, there’s an admirable practical joke for you. When you exclude plot, when you exclude anyone’s wanting anything, you exclude the reader, which is a mean-spirited thing to do. You can also exclude the reader by not telling him immediately where the story is taking place, and who the people are—

INTERVIEWER: And what they want.

VONNEGUT: Yes. And you can put him to sleep by never having characters confront each other. Students like to say that they stage no confrontations because people avoid confrontations in modern life. “Modern life is so lonely,” they say. This is laziness. It’s the writer’s job to stage confrontations, so the characters will say surprising and revealing things, and educate and entertain us all. If a writer can’t or won’t do that, he should withdraw from the trade.

quotes taken from here

There's reasons to keep reading, and reasons to remember the story afterwards, and it's dangerous to mix those two up. One looks forward, the other looks backwards. I personally mess this up constantly, and have to consciously remind myself to keep them seperate, that one can't do the work of the other.

No matter what great wisdom or deep emotion or clever irony you may have to say to the world, none of that will motivate someone to keep reading by itself. If you ignore plot, even intentionally, it'll be boring, and literally no one will continue.

Likewise, one could have only plot that constantly thrills the reader to keep going, but with no truth or substance to make it memorable afterwards. I won't say who does that, lol.

Call it anticipation, or tension, or whatever. I liked how SirTruffles called it "promises to the reader" because you can still get away with breaking those promises, as long as they were initially believable.

Vonnegut himself didn't write typical stories (now that I've read a couple of them). He'd jump all over the place between characters and time periods, go on tangents, spoil future events, and self-insert himself into the world. It's avant-garde, and maybe confusing sometimes, but never boring because he'd always promise something will happen to the characters. Even when the plot thread seems so thin, it could tie up the whole package and support its weight.

When people review Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, they always notice that the macguffin - the stolen money - is discarded halfway through and becomes irrelevant (can you tell when I started writing this?). The original book didn't make this decision, it was just the movie. After caring about the plot of the girl and her stolen money, now you're given a new plot to look forward to. Call it a twist or trope subversion or whatever, but I think it shows how flexible that plot device was to Hitchcock.

Nobody remembers Psycho as "that movie about the stolen money" and everyone remembers it for the way it portrayed Bates.

Though still, I'm skeptical if the 4 or so basic plots are really all there are. I think there's more structures out there.

About 10 years ago I was in an artist alley for a convention, and a friend I was tabling with told me, "there's a difference between what other artists find interesting, and what the customers actually want to buy." And even in writing I guess that's true too. (and I make the same mistakes all over again)

Ideally you can combine both qualities to make something special.

It's a fun exercise to look through this frame at MLP episodes, even the terrible ones. M.A. Larson says that he'd always write scripts by coming up with a fun plot first, then afterwards figuring out what friendship lesson was learned (or in AJ's case, none at all). Not that this is the only approach to writing, but sometimes I'm convinced there's writers who start with a friendship lesson in mind, but completely forget to come up with an engaging plot. They just assume the lesson justifies everything else, and it'll be worth watching.

Let's take um.... "The Cart Before the Ponies". The younger ponies want something, but the older ponies don't listen to them for some reason. Twenty minutes later, the older ponies stop being idiots. That's the entire plot right there. There's no tension in this. The protagonists have no agency and must awkwardly wait it out, so you're not even given a chance to root for their struggle! Then the friendship lesson is learned and the entire fandom becomes wiser.

Everyone knows this episode was garbage, but it wasn't because of the peculiar shape of the racetrack (come on).

One of the most memorable storylines in the IDW pony comics was the 2-parter where Big Mac has one crazy day going through a slice of Ponyville life. There's babysitting and accidental romance, carnivals and dance parties, just a lot of silly vignettes. The only plot is that Mac is searching for nails to repair the gazebo... and that's all it needed to keep it interesting. It's simple and functional, and it still gave the writer freedom to do whatever she wanted along the journey.

So evidently I didn't delete the draft this time. Don't worry though, I can still remove it sometime after it's been posted. Lately I've felt bad and just wanted to delete all my blogs. I think even the "worst" story on the site is sacred, as a creative part of this fandom and subculture. But blogposts are the yellow mold growing over the artwork's varnish, not worth preserving.

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Comments ( 9 )

I honestly haven't thought about this in so mamy words before, I think, and it's really neat! I feel like it kind of... helps explain why I get depressed and I feel like I hate everything so often? I'm like "Ys was a great game" but then I think back on it and can't remember what it was actually trying to do or what it was good at so get sad.

I do think you do a friggen fantastic job with your blogs on this idea, though. So many of them have a single interesting thing - a music video, a chapter book, some weird question - and it makes it fascinating and memorable even once you move on from it and into the abstract advice. I wouldn't be able to remember Kishoutenketsu was a thing - and it is a really interesting thing I notice whenever I use it in an debate now - if it weren't for like, Sakanaction or Joint Security Area.

I'm pretty sure 90% of yellow mold is cheese, and covering everything in cheese just makes it better.

I'm glad you didn't delete this one. I've read the Vonnegut quote before, but even so, the idea is worth stating and definitely worth remembering.

I love this. Stuff like this helps keep me sharp.

And honestly, I think old blogs are great. I had a friend nuke all her stuff from orbit and it was the worst. The content in blogs can be just as meaningful as stories—sometimes moreso, because of the direct engagement of ideas & ensuing discussion.

I’ve considered deleting some of my objectively dumber blogs, but I also take them as a reminder that I’m not as fancy as I sometimes wish I was. I’ve struggled and been dumb, and sometimes I’ve done both at once in public—but this is my journey.

Or rather, this is yours. :coolphoto:

This is a good blog. Please don’t delete it.


Reading this makes me realize one reason why my current Writeoff story--which I can't identify till tomorrow--doesn't work as well as it should. It's something no one's brought up in the comments over there, and I've been focused on so many other aspects of the story, it's something that hadn't even occurred to me till I read this. So thanks for posting it!


blogposts are the yellow mold growing over the artwork's varnish, not worth preserving

Well, I suppose, if you think only fiction has value as art. :unsuresweetie:

… Maybe I'm weird. I mean, I've gotten more out of Odell Shepard's 'The Joys of Forgetting' than I have out of most fiction authors I've read. But on the other claw, maybe I'm not, because the comments section above me suggests you've made a direct and demonstrable impact with your words.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, everyone. Sorry I get all discouraged so often :unsuresweetie:

There's reasons to keep reading, and reasons to remember the story afterwards, and it's dangerous to mix those two up.

That's a great line. I'll make sure to steal it someday.

Actually I came to fan-fiction because I couldn't find stories in printed fiction that did both things. Most genre fiction focuses on keeping readers reading, but either isn't about anything but the plot, or has some sort of ham-handed message to beat you with. Most literary fiction goes out of its way to avoid entertaining the reader. I had concluded that it was just too hard to do both at once until I stumbled onto ponyfic.

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