• Member Since 29th Apr, 2012
  • offline last seen May 8th

D G D Davidson

D. G. D. is a science fiction writer and archaeologist. He blogs on occasion at www.deusexmagicalgirl.com.

More Blog Posts472


Whiny, Pouty, Slightly Drunk Author Post. Don't Read. · 6:08am Nov 7th, 2012

Seriously. Dude.

I know I'm not Shakespeare or Milton. I'm not even Stephen King. Heck, I'm not even Pen Stroke.

Still, I gotta ask; why does something like this do better that what I write?

As you began to sit down you heard a familiar sound of little hooves on the floor. you paused my game and looked down to see the little ball of fur that could make any day better with her simple appearance. A small mint green unicorn with a lighter shade of mint green mane that had a small white stripe ,and a horn separating it all, sat at the base of your feet. Her hooves on your socked foot and a expression that pretty much said "Hold me!" in it's own simple way. You smile gently and bend down holding out your hand for her to get onto. Her small body was no longer than your Iphone and she was about 5 inches tall, so picking her up was no problem. She gladly complies with a smile and you pull back up sitting in your comfy recliner. She ,instead of sitting in your hand all day, she trots off into your lap and begins to nudge your stomach with her nose.

This is from "Little Lyra and You" by Slayerbroman. It really is a cute story, and I think it sells itself largely on its unbelievably adorable cover art. Of the faves and upvotes it has, one of each is mine.

But, sheesh, would it be too much to ask the guy to edit his work before posting it? Look at that paragraph up there: we've got switches in tense, sentence fragments, numerals, misplaced commas, and general clunkiness.

At least my grammar is usually good. At least I strive to write introspective characters. At least I have Something Important to Say (TM). I mean, "Chronomistress" deals with a key problem of epistemology. "Brony Steve Makes Out with Fluttershy" not only has a feature box-baiting title (which failed to bait the feature box), but it addresses ethics and arguably undermines the fanbase. It also does something I have never seen another story do--it addresses the question of how humans and cartoon characters could interact if a brony actually managed to travel to the land of ponies (it posits that the cartoon is only a loose representation of the real Equestria).

But these tales slide into obscurity with little notice while poorly written but cute fluff gets popular. I won't deny it--I am experiencing jealousy, partly because Slayerbroman has done something of which I think I'm incapable: I might be able to correct his grammar, but I couldn't write fluff like his even if I wanted to. I lack the constitution for it. If I attempted a story like "Little Lyra and You," it would probably end with the protagonist deciding he's a pervert who can't understand how his mind can interact with the world of pneuma, and committing suicide. Or something.

I was going somewhere with this . . . actually, I think I'm telling you to go read "Little Lyra and You." It's really cute. Also, give "Brony Steve" a shot. It might depress you.

Report D G D Davidson · 472 views ·
Comments ( 4 )

"Cute" is a keyword there, yes you are quite bad at that, your characters are not cute. You don't make them make cute noise/expression or put them in wholly artificial Dawwww situations. Which is perfectly fine by me, but a significant drawback for lots of people I guess.

And then, I think your biggest obstacle to "popularity" in this website is precisely your biggest quality as far as I am concerned:

You strive in taking the reader out of his comfort zone. Your characters and situations are always "off" when compared with the brony mainstream. I love that because your deviations are always thoughtful and fully justified. Best case in point, your take on Time Turner, a thing of beauty :heart: :heart:
But the flip side is that your personnal interpretation differs so much from accepted fanon that it's too much to handle for many people.
They are uneasy with it, and thus they can't really appreciate your stories :applecry:

That's my take on it.


In this case, I think the story had four downvotes within ten minutes probably because people were saying, "Not another stupid wish-fulfillment fantasy about some stupid brony kissing Fluttershy." I can't entirely blame them, though I do think downvoters should leave comments. I will assume, because I don't know otherwise, that they actually read the story and honestly disliked it.

I have received not a single criticism for my depiction of Time Turner. I've had nothing but positive feedback on that story, and last I checked, it still had not a single downvote. Its obscurity is do largely to its size and the time it was posted. The Seattle's Angels increased its hits significantly, but they're as yet too new to have a great deal of influence.

I actually thought I was mostly in keeping with fanon in that story. I had Derpy as the clumsy mail-delivering single mom, though I carefully and deliberately refrained from romanticizing the deadbeatery of Dinky's father the way some other authors have. I had Colgate as a time pony yearning to be a dentist. I even had Berry Punch as a reprobate and I employed the ventriloquist fansave to explain the many voices of Bon-Bon. The only major difference from the usual was that I eschewed the Doctor Who crossover and made the time ponies drug-using Kung fu-fighters instead.

Man, this blog post meanders about the place. Almost reminds me of one of mine.

If you're damn serious about getting a story up into that floaty, boxy thingy, then I'd suggest using that story about RD hugging. Give it a title like "Operation: Hug Rainbow Dash". Make the coverart that picture of Pinkie in spy gear EQD keeps on shoving in my face (I think it's a season three leak, so it should be fine to use). If you have to put any thinking or heavy introspection in it, place it in the middle rather than the end, so that it's not the focus of the story. And overall, make it funny from the first instance. Keep it short too.

Expanding on that, here's a rough, untested and thoroughly cynical guide on how I'd go about getting into the feature box.

Step 1) Know your audience.

We're a mainly male fanbase built up around a little girl's cartoon. This leads to at least two types of stories that are particularly successful: Cute, cuddly stories about fluffy ponies and violent, testosterone-driven stories which are usually about either Warhammer or Halo. Or Fallout or Skyrim. Something where ponies spend a lot of time fighting, anyway.

My guesses as to why is because the first reminds us why we love the show; the second is because a fair amount of bronies feel the need to prove that they are 'real men'. Insecurities, hurrah.

Writing stories inside either of these two types will usually help your cause. Alternatively, if you want to do both, our fandom has created its own combination called 'fluffy ponies'. They usually revolve around the torture and mutilation of small, fluffy ponies. I take this as proof that there are no levels of hell in which our fandom is not already waiting with open arms.

Either way, find out what your audience wants and write something to plug the gap.

Step 2) Aim for the emotions (commonly called 'da feels').

It's easier to make someone feel sad than it is to write a tragedy. It's easier to make someone laugh than it is to write a heartwarming tale. It's easier to make someone clop that it is to write a romance. It's easier to make someone afraid than it is to write a successful horror.

I like to think that there are... scales in terms of writing difficulty. The previous paragraph listed some of them. Well, most of them. The funny and annoying thing about them is this: Fimfiction users respond better to the easier level. I'm not saying that a well-written tragedy or comedy will be unable to compete with stories in the lower rank; I'm just saying that the vast majority of readers here won't recognise the difference.

Write a goofy, dorky comedy with a silly name and synopsis and it should do okay. Do the same for a sad fic, letting the reader know straight away that it's going to be sad, and the average Fimfic reader should lap it up. You can draw an emotional response out of someone a lot more quickly and a lot more easily using the lower levels.

Step 3) Let the reader know what type of story it is

Don't be coy, clever or even vaguely artistic in your synopsis. Let the reader know immediately what sort of story they're dealing with. If your story's built around a twist on canon, mention it in the synopsis. If you're shipping AJ & Dash, mention it in the synopsis. If somepony dies within the first chapter of the fic, mention it in the synopsis.

In essence, make the synopsis the Tl;dr version of your story. Add some differences into your main story, of course, but mention all of the main elements within the synopsis, and make them as plain as day.

The other ways of making certain that the reader knows what they're going to be reading are the title and the coverart. Make the title personalised and pretty damn explanatory: there's a reason "pony verbs a noun" manged to camp inside the feature box. If you're going to have Twilight sobbing over Spike's grave after he saved Rarity from a pincushion accident, give it a title like "Tears on an open grave". If it's a comedy where Pinkie sneaks around giving everyone weird mane cuts, call it "The Pink, Phantom-Barber of Ponyville" or something. Make the title obvious is what I guess I'm saying. (Kinda like "Brony Steve [...]", except not about a topic that a regular fandom gripe.)

The last part of this is the coverart: For the love of Celestia, make sure you have one and that it's something good. The more explanative it is of what type of story you're telling, the better.

Step 4) Only ever one-shot until you get a readership bite.

Ignoring EQD for now, Fimfic is a straight up one chance game. Once your story's gone past the hallowed halls of the front page, it's pretty much dead. Second chances are few and far between in the ponyfic world.

So, no long shots. Build up your reader base with short, simple stories and then -- and only then -- make a bid for something longer. Keep it in a self-contained form, though, so that if it flops, it can be cut off without you losing anything. A successful long-shot takes either chance or perseverance. It's better to hold out until the chances are in your favour than struggle along with an unnoticed behemoth.

That, and it all comes down to the number of times you play the game in the end. Long fic == one chance; multiple one shots == many chances.

Step 5) Advertise your stories at the end of your stories.

Your reader's just finished your story, which means they probably find your writing tolerable enough. See if you can't tempt them into reading other instances of your work.

Warning: Do not do with Trollfics.

Not really a way to get into the feature box so much as it's a way to gain attention.

Step 6) Don't write too much.

The majority of Fimfiction's readers are scared of reading one story for too long. Never forget this.

Four K's about the maximum you can get before people start dropping off. The optimum's around three to two K. Most reader's don't want something long and complex because that usually involves thinking. Short and simple's the way to go.

Step 7) Ignore all of the above.

It's a poisoned chalice, man. And as someone who's had a sip, I'm telling you it's best to stay far, far away.

Of all the stories I've written, including everything inside my dumping ground of 'will not publish ever, stop asking', "Gummy is not suitable bathing apparatus" is the one I hate the most. I loathe it. And it's the one which ticked most of the boxes up above.

Did it get into the feature box? No; not really. It hovered about underneath it for a good while, though, and that was back in the days of only three places in the box. It's currently sitting pretty at around eighty likes and a thousand views, and it's probably the story most people know me for, assuming anyone recognises my name. And oh, dear lord, have I told you how much I hate it? I enjoyed the attention at first, I'll admit, but now? Urrgh. Hate, hate, hate.

"Make you feel better", on the other hand, received less than a fifth of the attention but remains my personal favourite. It's difficult to describe how much I love that story without it sounding masturbatory, so... I guess I'll steer clear of a description. I really like it, though: It's brought me far more satisfaction and personal joy than the more popular one.

Oh, and one last thing before I go drown my self-loathing in alcohol: None of these points will be able to match up to the sheer power of having your story frozen on the front page when the mods are asleep. Not one of them. Being lucky enough to get in on that dead page trumps any card in any deck.


What I mean by deviance from fanon is that it costs you with the "main" audience.

No one hated your Time Turner, he was great, but I think lot of people would have "preferred" a Dr Who, because they are comfortable with it and know what to expect. Your twist taxes the reader more, because it strays from the beaten path, and sadly only some reader (including me) preferred your version over Dr Who. :applecry:
You are not being nice to your readers, questioning their headcannon like that :trollestia:

But as you say, timing plays a decisive role in a story's prospect.
as Aquillo put it
"Being lucky enough to get in on that dead page trumps any card in any deck" :facehoof:

I kinda like how in his nice "Selling my soul for a like" list, you tick almost no item :rainbowlaugh:

Login or register to comment