News Archive

  • 1 week
    Vivid Syntax's "Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    (RCL NOTE: We’re attempting the hopeless task of choosing the fandom’s Single Best Story™ at a special panel at Bronycon.  Help us pick the competitors!  Details here.  Get your FINAL VOTES in, voting closes July 13!)

    If your reading is stale, TRY TODAY'S TALE!


    Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness
    [Slice of Life] • 7,389 words

    Ponies? Yeah, you hear a lot about them growing up in the minotaur homelands, and it isn't all positive. Actually, almost none of it is positive. They're different. They've got those weird pictures on their flanks and those little prayers they mumble to their princesses. Ponies are gentle, passive. They're not like us.

    Read More

    8 comments · 1,353 views
  • 3 weeks
    JumpingShinyFrogs' "School Tour" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    (RCL NOTE: We're attempting the hopeless task of choosing the fandom's Single Best Story™ at a special panel at Bronycon.  Help us pick the competitors!  Details here.  Voting is open until July 13.)

    Today's story comes out of the dark into the spotlight.


    School Tour
    [Dark] [Human] • 6,481 words

    I was looking forward to the school tour for a really long time! We were going to the beach, and I love the beach. I love the bus trip as well, singing and talking with my friends. But then we drove into a tunnel. I've never really liked tunnels, but it's always been fine because my friends were there. We always try to hold our breath the whole way through the tunnel, which is a lot of fun.

    Read More

    3 comments · 1,428 views
  • 4 weeks
    miss-cyan's "Now Hiring" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    We're grateful our job brings us to gems like today's story.


    Now Hiring
    [Sad] • 3,602 words

    Pear Butter and Bright McIntosh have recently passed. What remains of the Apple Family find themselves in the care of their newest family member. But they can't do everything to provide for the new foal on their own.

    An ad is placed.

    A position is filled.

    But loss is a thing that affects each individual differently. And new faces can be both a curse and a blessing.

    Read More

    2 comments · 1,411 views
  • 5 weeks
    Alphacat's "Brothers and Sisters" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story shows us what happens when the day meets the night.


    Brothers and Sisters
    [Slice of Life] • 64,160 words

    When Princess Luna goes missing, Private Lucky Break knows there's more at work than a simple breach of court protocol.

    For most, Hearth's Warming is an occasion to celebrate family and friends, a time for reflection and goodwill to all of Equestria's residents. But for two ponies, their relationship with the holiday is much more complicated.

    Read More

    3 comments · 1,404 views
  • 6 weeks
    AlexTFish's "Daring Do: The Opera" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    We'll make a spirited effort to sing the praises of today's story.


    Daring Do: The Opera
    [Mystery] [Slice of Life] • 10,016 words

    Diamond Tiara is excited to have a starring role in Autumn Blaze's new opera. She knows the Opera House isn't haunted, but if it were, she'd be ready to give any Opera Spirit a stern talking-to.

    Read More

    5 comments · 1,530 views
  • 7 weeks
    OfTheIronwilled's "Again" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is (a) well worth your attention.


    Again
    [Dark] [Tragedy] [Human] [Alternate Universe] • 1,792 words

    When she was young, Megan rode into Ponyland on the back of a flying pony.

    Or not. She doesn't know anymore.

    All she knows is that for the second time, a pegasus has crashed into her well.

    Read More

    2 comments · 2,067 views
  • 8 weeks
    bats' "The Thinkin' Spot" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    It's easy to spot why we think today's story is great.


    The Thinkin' Spot
    [Slice of Life] • 5,282 words

    Twilight's first Winter Wrap Up in Ponyville had a rocky start. Things took a turn for the better when she assumed control over the planning and organization, but after a stressful morning and with an all-nighter in front of her, she was afraid it might all be for naught. Luckily Applejack was there and knew Twilight needed a chance to take a break and recharge.

    She needed a visit to the Thinkin' Spot.

    Read More

    9 comments · 1,927 views
  • 10 weeks
    Jay Bear v2's "We're Eggspecting!" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story will crack open your heart.


    We’re Eggspecting!
    [Romance] [Slice of Life] • 4,874 words

    Silverstream and her husband Gallus are going to be parents! Everyone is so excited about their egg.

    Well…almost everyone.

    Read More

    11 comments · 2,445 views
  • 11 weeks
    The Seer's "After I Looked Up, The Stars Had Gone Away" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    You won't find today's story vanishing from your memory.


    After I Looked Up, The Stars Had Gone Away
    [Horror] • 6,738 words

    There is no such thing as a gut feeling, not really. If you suddenly start to feel afraid for no apparent reason, it's very unlikely to be anything serious. But it doesn't make it feel any better does it?

    Twilight is up burning the midnight oil again, when suddenly every sense she has tells her that something is terribly wrong. There can't be anything really wrong though, not in reality.

    Can there?

    Read More

    3 comments · 1,841 views
  • 12 weeks
    Lets Do This' "Friendmaker" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story looks in a mirror, darkly.


    Friendmaker
    [Drama] • 8,589 words

    "I am Friendmaker!"

    Twilight Sparkle is concerned that she may one day go insanely evil, as with Nightmare Moon or Daybreaker. So, knowing Twilight, do you really think for one moment she's just going to wait for it to happen?

    Read More

    8 comments · 2,475 views
Jul
5th
2019

Author Interview » Thanqol's "Do Not Serve These Ponies" [Royal Canterlot Library] · 7:03pm July 5th

(RCL NOTE: We’re attempting the hopeless task of choosing the fandom’s Single Best Story™ at a special panel at Bronycon.  Help us pick the competitors!  Details here.  Voting is open until July 13.)

Do not skip today's story.


Do Not Serve These Ponies
[Comedy] • 21,083 words

Lyra knows the truth. Lyra knows that a shadowy conspiracy dating back to the very dawn of Equestria is responsible for manipulating every major event for the past two thousand years. And Lyra does not care how many museums she has to destroy or how many transdimensional rifts she has to open in her quest to inform the public.

FROM THE CURATORS: Today's feature is a bit unusual — it's the first which has gone through two separate rounds of RCL consideration.  "I laugh more when reading Thanqol's stories than almost any other author's," Chris said in his original nomination in 2013. "Thanqol has a real knack for understatement, and for finding a straight pony for every situation. This is my favorite of his that isn't ineligible."  At the time, Do Not Serve failed to get through our voting process — but after several years and near-total RCL turnover, it was one of the stories which inspired a debate over how to fairly revisit decisions which new curators disagreed with.  Ultimately, once everyone had weighed in, we added up both old and new scores, and discovered that it had won majority approval.

Primarily, that was because — with the benefit of hindsight — the story's hilarity survived the test of time.  "I still look back on this story fondly as a mile-a-minute comedy that never wears out its welcome," Present Perfect said. FanOfMostEverything agreed: "Like Lyra, it throws itself into every insane moment of escalation and has a wonderful time while doing so. It's just pure fun."  But, importantly, it also didn't lack in depth. "It is centered on a very real core of the friendship between Lyra and Bon-Bon, which leaves it grounded just enough to not let the random aspect of the fics simply take over," Soge said.  It also played with early-season fanon in ways that now seem fascinating.  "There's a section where Bon-Bon wonders whether Lyra is a secret agent, which is an interesting foreshadowing of Season 5," Horizon noted, "and some clever extrapolation is made from Lyra's background in Canterlot."

No matter how wide-ranging our praise got, however, the story never stopped being funny and quotable.  "It's peppered with laugh-out-loud lines, imagery, and running gags — the Cone of Shame deserves special mention," Horizon said.  RBDash47 agreed, while also comparing the prose to one of the great comedic masters: "It seems like every other line has me cracking up ('Hello,' said Rainbow Dash. / 'Ah. And the oppressor shows her true colours. And it’s all of them'). The humor and style strikes me as being Adamsian without actually being a straight lift from Douglas Adams' work — it's got that same sense of wry wordplay and expectation subversion." Ultimately, as Present Perfect said, that made it stand out despite competition from tales both old and new: "This story proves that well-worn fandom tropes like 'Lyra's obsessed with humans' can still be used in original and highly entertaining ways."

Read on for our author interview, in which Thanqol discusses Shakespeare horror, collateral happiness, and Closing Statement.


Give us the standard biography.

  • Follow these methods:
  • Introduce Yourself. Begin the bio by introducing yourself, and always write in the third person. ...
  • Education and Credentials. List your education after the introduction sentence, including the name of any degrees you have earned and the institution you attended. ...
  • Notable Achievements. ...
  • Closing Statement.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

I looked at Grey Seer Thanquol, a loathsome rat-man who failed at everything he did in life and then blamed everyone else for mistakes caused by his own greed and stupidity and thought: ‘yeah, this guy gets it’.

Who's your favorite pony?

Princess Celestia is best pony.

What's your favorite episode?

"Fall Weather Friends".

What do you get from the show?

Well, it got me off 4chan, for which I will be eternally grateful.

I think the main thing it taught me is that people are dying to be creative if they’re just given a space where it’s okay to do that. There was never anything on the internet as welcoming to the creative impulse as the pony fandom. The show was good but there was also a certain vulnerability that came with admitting you liked it — once you’d crossed that line, then what the hell, right? Why not show everyone that fanfiction you wrote? Are the fellow fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic going to make fun of you?

What do you want from life?

To paint tiny spacemen. 

Honestly I’ve got everything I want from life right now, things are so absurdly perfect for me that it feels almost mean to discuss it.

Why do you write?

It’s a basic bodily function. I describe painting toy soldiers as my hobby even though I do way, way more writing in any given day. Writing is something I have done so constantly for so long that it doesn’t register as something I choose to do. Eat, drink, write stories on the internet. 

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

Everyone’s going to give you vague advice like "just practice". They’re all correct, but listen — I’m going to give you something real.

One: Your character’s likeability is due to three factors. How competent they are, how funny they are, and how motivated they are. The motivation is the key one that people miss! A character who’s just sort of drifting along is unlikeable, even if they’re extremely highly skilled or funny. If you’ve got a character who’s just sort of into something, consider making them OBSESSED with that thing instead.

Two: Pacing is all. Forward momentum is key. The worst thing that can happen to a story is it getting bogged down and no progress being made. You need a way to communicate a sense of forwards momentum even if not much is technically happening. If your story calls for someone to have a huge intense crisis of faith and then spend like 8 chapters brooding internally that’s cool — just put them on a boat or something so there’s a sense of forwards movement while they’re doing that. 

What inspired “Do Not Serve These Ponies”?

All of my stories I write for specific people. I think it’s a good habit — if you write a story to please everyone you’ll never know if you’ve succeeded or not, and every person who doesn’t like it strikes you as a failure on your part. If you’re writing a story for a specific person then you know for a fact if you have succeeded or failed and everyone else who likes it is just collateral happiness.

This is incidentally why all of my stories are of radically different genres. I wrote them all for different friends and shaped myself to the specific tastes of those friends. 

Do Not Serve These Ponies was written for a guy I know as AotRS Commander. I’d just finished Yours Truly, my big emotional shipping drama which was very much not his speed, so I committed to make it up to him by changing course entirely and going into hard comedy. I didn’t have much of a plan going in; I just wanted to make it be the kind of story that he would like. My friends are my inspiration!

Did you find it difficult making each successive plot point nuttier than the last?

I wrote DNSTP in like three sittings; it was one of those stories that just flowed from my fingers like water. It’s a comedy with a very strong internal logic, which meant that I was never in doubt about what needed to happen next. A lot of new directors in the film industry cut their teeth on horror movies for their first movie — a custom going all the way back to Bill Shakespeare. This is because while horror is formulaic, the power is all in the execution.

Comedy is the same. The actual plot of a good comedy is usually extremely straightforwards. The trick is always in the execution. It’s about rhythm, pacing, and steady escalation — the kind of practical writing techniques that nobody talks about but I’m obsessed with. Thinking of comedy as the same narrative style as horror helps a lot for figuring how you should approach it.

Are you working on any stories these days?

I am not working any solo pieces but, at the same time, my writing output has never been higher. My centre of gravity is and always has been play-by-post games on the internet. That’s what writing is to me! I churn out thousands of words in a dozen games; I’ve gotten so good at it, and everyone I game with just gets better and better. We’re all former ponyfic writers who have been gaming together for nearly a decade now and we’re constantly inspiring each other to greater heights.

I’ll return to solo writing one day when I’ve got something I really need to say. Same for my friends. Until then I’m keeping my mind sharp on wonderful games with wonderful friends. When any of us drop a story it’ll knock your socks off.

What is it that keeps bringing you back to FimFiction?

I’ve got hella backlog.

I finally got around to reading Austraeoh. Oh man, that was an intimidating entry on the Read Later list. But after I read the first chapter and instantly fell in love with it I was delighted because I knew that story was going to keep me going for ages. It took me seven months to get through and I loved every moment of it. I don’t think there’s ever been a story quite like it in the English language and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Good stories don’t age. FimFiction has a lot of them.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

With the end of the show in sight, I hope the one thing everyone takes away from this… singular, bizarre, fascinating miracle of a fandom… is that the real ponies were the friends we made along the way.

You can read Do Not Serve These Ponies at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

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Comments ( 16 )

Extremely potent and good interview from one of the best, oldest writers still kicking

Chris #2 · 2 weeks ago · · ·

ABOUT

FRIGGIN'

TIME

Chris #3 · 2 weeks ago · · ·

...Okay, seriously though: I am so glad that Thanqol is finally in the RCL. He's on the shortlist of both "Most Influential" and "Most Skilled" early-fandom authors, and it would've been a shame not to recognize that. Do Not Serve These Ponies is both a great glimpse into that era, and a damn fine story even absent any such context. Thanks to all the current curators for not letting this one fall by the wayside!

I am very much delighted to see this getting to the RCL, because it so very much deserves it, because it's freaking great.



I always feel a little glow of personal satisfaction on reading and re-reading Do Not Serve, since I was at least partially reponsible for Thanqol writing it, at least in the sense of me being the scuff mark on the summoning circle that releases the eldritch horror...

To expound further (and I think, slightly correct Thanq[1]), Thanqol had been doing some early drafts of Easy As Lying on the local ponythread; those first drafts were VERY different from what Easy As Lying eventually came out to be - it was, essentially starting off as a comedy, in the vein that Do Not Serve would later be. Thanq, bless 'im, decided that, having taken Easy As Lying in that story's particularly unique direction, that he needed to do a comedy as sort of replacement for Easy eventually not being the comedy that had been having me in stitches.

So a little bit later, Thanq had asked pony thread to pitch him an idea, with the promise of quote "fabulous prizes!" unquote.

Which was an entirely accurate promise, as it turned out!

(Spoilering for anypony who hasn't read Do Not Serve Yet.) So my suggestion was "... Okay... Lyra sees a shooting star one day, and becomes convinced it's humans come from space! All other thought other than finding and greeting the humans first, and (and perhaps getting them to make some robot arms...) is driven out, temporaily even overriding stalking Twilight[2]. She drags a resigned and reluctant Bonbon off on a short series of misadvantures as they head off.

Bonbon, at first dubious, gradually becomes convinced that this isn't just a shooting star, as they start to find bits of metal, and then eventually fragments of what can only be machinery, and there really has been an spaceship crashing, and that maybe (a bit like Twilight with Pinkie) Lyra's ideas aren't so far fetched after all, and they bond a bit more.

Finally, they find the spacecraft, badly damaged, and track down the wounded occupant.

The final kicker? It ain't a human..."

And Thanq, showing either great wisdom or insanity, decided that was what he was going to go for, and even made it the aforementioned comedy.

Had it been in my mind, it would have been a much more mundane sort of thing which would have involved some sort of big fighty-thing with a burly humanoid lava alien or something. Thanqol, of course, executed it SOOOO much better than I ever could; which is why he is a well-renowned pony fic writer and I am a Lich who designs tiny starships models. (Seriously, though, I could not possibly have written the idea myself, because while I can (with far more effort than it ought to require) just about manage parody and silly fight sequences, but deeper character stuff is simply beyond me, because I am inherently a one-dimensional person to start with...)

In fact, I think I need to re-read again, just because.



[1]Because I am both obessive enough with detail and have such a conveniantly google-able screen name (y'know, once you put "Aotrs" in quotes and google stops asking "did you mean 'actors'"), I will often go and google-search the old pony threads on Giant in the Playground to look this crap UP because i often have literally nothing better to do...!

*simultaneously high hoofs/fives Twilight and Mudbriar*

[2]As a histroical note, there was a running gag on ponythread at that time that Lyra was obsessively stalking Twilight for reasons.

Maybe I'm just emotional because I'm tired after a long day, but this interview really struck a chord with me.

The closing remarks have me legitimately tearing up, and the part about the nature of the show encouraging fans to share their own creative work with the world because the embarrassment can't get any worse once you officially enter into bronydom... Yes!

And the opening joke got me not once, but twice, before I realised I'd been had. "Oh no, that's a pity, they've left the original pro forma instructions in there. Oh NO!, wait, I never followed any of those instructions for my own interview, I feel so dumb now for not having OH WAIT I SEE." Extremely well played, there.

I'm going to follow Thanqol purely on the off chance that some day, maybe far in the future, they write something new. In the meantime, I wish you many happy years of painting tiny spacemen.

Do not skip today's story.

You can’t tell me what not to do; you’re not my real mom.

But seriously, your description of this story makes me think of

TConquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard
Rarity has conquered Equestria, but she is unsure how to deal with a cult led by Fluttershy and the cult's second-in-command, Twilight Sparkle, who seems to have plans of her own...
ChibiRenamon · 27k words  ·  281  18 · 2.4k views

, or any number of Aragon stories or even “Twilight Sparkle Wins a Free Salad”, the story I measure all random comedies up against. I look forward to diving in.

It's a real trip to see a story thumbnail with Ahuizotal on it before he got canonized in the show.


5084801
That looks like an interesting story, and I'm also a huge fan of Earthsong's work.

If we were to judge by upvotes alone the best stories in the fandom would be, in order
My little dashie
Past Sins
And finaly Fallout: Equestria

....me personaly id flip that list around and say FoE is number one but that personal prefrence, my little dashie is too sappy for me and i havnt read past sins yet (i know im a heretic, its overhyped)

theres alot of really great stories that dont get near the attention those 3 got too

equestrias changeling queen
change
of the hive
hard reset
just to name a few, and so many that could have been amazing if only theyed been finished
but alas they were struck down and nobody has come forward to take up the challenge of completing them

I can’t comment on the story vote thing

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5085055
If I'm not mistaken, you'll have to join our group to comment. Don't worry, membership is open. :)

I looked at Grey Seer Thanquol, a loathsome rat-man who failed at everything he did in life and then blamed everyone else for mistakes caused by his own greed and stupidity and thought: ‘yeah, this guy gets it’.

Man-Thing speak-talks the truth, yes yes.

There was never anything on the internet as welcoming to the creative impulse as the pony fandom. The show was good but there was also a certain vulnerability that came with admitting you liked it — once you’d crossed that line, then what the hell, right? Why not show everyone that fanfiction you wrote? Are the fellow fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic going to make fun of you?

Holy shit, he's right. Never thought about it like that.

Man, choosing a "Single Best Story™" makes it sound like the fandom's going to end and there won't be any more stories.

Which... well... isn't really gonna happen, but unless g5 is very good—good enough to revitalize interest— Bronydom may be winding down.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5090355
Fandoms for decades-old properties still exist. The fandom as we know it will shrink, but it won't go anywhere so long as people still enjoy the characters.

That being said, this is all being done for fun, and more likely has to do with Bronycon ending than the fandom. :)

Good stories don’t age. FimFiction has a lot of them.

A lot of things I've read on this site outweigh published fiction.

5084801
Mine is "Twilight Sparkle Punches A Baby" or this one story I forget the name of where the dead rise and Twilight goes on trial for murdering a skeleton with a spork.

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