• Member Since 12th Jan, 2015
  • offline last seen Sep 11th, 2021

Onyx Archer


A lazy turd of a writer that likes making stories where Sunset likes to listen to Punk Rock. Current Projects: Minerva's Den (working title), Retrograde

More Blog Posts29

Feb
3rd
2020

Elaborating on the SunLight Burnout · 11:40am Feb 3rd, 2020

Hey all,

As I said in my previous blog post, I planned on getting around to explaining the burnout on what was previously my OTP, SunLight. I've talked to a few people about this to make sure I have all my ducks in a row, so to speak. I wanted to make sure everything I say here was what I wanted to say, and that I could be as concise as possible. Still, it's gonna be a thing either way, so lemme explain.

At the end of the day, it comes down to several factors. These things have been plaguing my mind for at least a year now, and it took a lot of self reflection and looking at the fandom as a whole to really admit that I wasn't feeling SunLight anymore. This is going to get REALLY long. I'd supply a TL;DR, but that sort of already exists within the previous blog post... so... yeah. Here we go.

1. The Divide in SunLight:
Ever since the conception of the human world, there has always been questions about human counterparts to Equestrian characters. The fact that the world had, within its first appearance in the first Equestria Girls movie, established human doubles of beloved characters from the main series. This lead to a lot of speculating on things, like "what happened to Human Sunset?" or the more pressing issue to some: "Where is Human Twilight?"

This is where the fandom took the time to write up possible theories, which in turn lead to fanfictions being written about human Twilight, and how she could fit into things. This was, in a way, the beginning of the fractures forming in the ship, and the ship was barely even a solid idea yet. It took Rainbow Rocks to cement SunLight as a ship that people would actively start shipping more vocally, likely thanks to "The Kitchen Scene" from the aforementioned movie. I can only speak for myself and some others I've talked to, but this was the jumping on point for the ship for a lot of people.

However, in the same movie, via a stinger at the end of the movie, we saw human Twilight for the first time, dressed in a scientist-esc garb, talking to her dog about how something was weird about Canterlot High. She looked a little disheveled, wore glasses, and was clearly into the sciences. This is, from what I can tell, where the fractures truly started forming. We had a character with the bare minimum necessary for shipping and speculation to truly overlap, leading to the developing of what would become SciSet, and the beginning of the divide in the SunLight circles of the internet.

This only got worse when Friendship Games came out. Putting my feelings to the side about that movie (I plan to cover my feelings of disdain for said movie at a later date), this film served as the "true" introduction for human Twilight, who had long since been deemed "Sci-Twi" by the fandom. This was the first instance of where there was a prefix added to a character's name, due to the fact that up until now, it had yet to really be necessary. I attribute this to the fact that Twilight (the princess) is the main connection to Equestria character-wise, as both Sunset and The Dazzlings were "outcasts" to that world in one form or another. So it's for that reason (I think) that "Sci-Twi" became the agreed upon term to classify the new human Twilight should there be instances of overlap in any future media, canon or fanmade.

Of course, this new Twilight was also distinct enough a character (for better or for worse) from the original, and as such, took on a life of her own in the various works of fan labor. It's around this point where the divide in the SunLight fanbase truly formed, at least from my perspective. It lead to a lot of Sci-Twi x Sunset fanfics, to the point where SunLight as a ship, and as a "tag" of sorts, started to become a complete clusterfuck. The obvious reason for this was simply due to the fact that there were functionally two different versions of SunLight at this point (assuming you only count the three canon characters, and don't include the "Twiangle" in this either). Part of the reason people including myself actively use the term "SciSet;" the need for separate categories of the idea of "SunLight" were needed, which I will talk more on later.

From here on out, you could classify monogamous SunLight ship fans into a few distinct groupings:
a) People who ship Sunset with (Princess) Twilight
b) People who ship Sunset with Sci-Twi
c) People who ship both versions

You could break down those groups into even more smaller groups, but I'm keeping this simple for the sake of our collective sanity. Regardless of those smaller groups, it's lead to no shortage of headaches and some under the surface drama amongst shippers that share the "SunLight" banner. It's not something you see out in the open much, but there are actively disagreements happening from within the "SunLight" camp that I just... don't want to be part of anymore.

I have friends on both sides of the aisle that bicker. I was once on one side of that debate myself, as I actively just don't care for Sci-Twi much, and as such, am not a fan of SciSet. While saying that, I can also understand the appeal of SciSet, as there is more on-screen context for the ship outside of a scene from the second movie, and maybe a few other moments sprinkled across the Princess' appearances in the EqG sub-series as a whole. Sci-Twi ultimately has more of a presence in Sunset's day-to-day experience, and there is no "long distance" element to work around. Believe you me, long distance relationships are hard, no matter how easy it is for you to close that distance.

I'll be honest, one of my favorite fics on this website, if not my actual favorite, is Kamen Rider: Unicorn by Michael_Ravencroft. The aforementioned fic in question has SciSet in it, and I didn't really care because I read it more for the fact that it was really damn faithful to the spirit of Kamen Rider, a series I love dearly despite how sporadic I am with watching it. Did I like the SciSet? To be completely honest, no, I didn't. Like I said, I have issues with the character of Sci-Twi, and I just don't care for the ship itself partially due to that. But I could ignore it, and I think the SunLight community, more specifically the parts that bicker about which is the better form of SunLight, could learn to just look past a ship if the story's premise and writing is solid. It would make it less stressful to have interactions with fellow fans of the ship.

One of the benefits of switching to a ship like SunDagio is there is only one Sunset Shimmer and one Adagio Dazzle. There's no having to deal with a divide, or the bickering that is spawned by it. I can just enjoy something without having to argue with people about which version of the ship is better, because there is realistically only one version of SunDagio as a ship. Less dealing with fandom bullcrap makes a happier Onyx.

2. The Tagging Problem:
All of that said, I do think there is one thing that leads to some silent seething more so than the bickering on my end; the tagging system elicits more frustration on my end than any amount of bickering.

Of course, I'm not saying the tagging system is the thing truly at fault. That's like getting mad at the wrench someone used to hammer in a nail; it's a tool, and tools are not at fault if used incorrectly. And boy, do people in this fandom not like to use tags properly. Especially in this ship's case.

As far as image hosting sites like derpibooru are concerned, users are effectively 100% at fault if they tag something wrong, as they're the ones that make the tags that are used. If someone tags an unrelated picture of Rainbow Dash to, say, Adagio Dazzle's tag on that site, that's just someone being a moron, intentionally or not. On here (FiMFiction), there are obvious limitations to how tags work here. This is because the people who run the website created the tags, and as such, they are extremely limited. Heck, the tags are actively limited here to a set amount per story. This has a practical reason behind it from what I can gleam; sites like AO3 are filled with random custom tags that can, and have, overflowed to the point of absurdity. Hell, AO3 tags can have more words than a damn story synopsis on that site.

However, this site's tagging system, and all tagging systems really, have one flaw: they aren't idiot proof. Even highly controlled tagging systems like FiMFiction's still sometimes encounter people who just tag things wrong. This happens no matter what, but within the SunLight ship fandom, it's a nightmare that leads to what I like to call "tag baiting." Sometimes I'm sure it's an accident, but other times I'm sure it's intentional.

Due to the fact that SunLight comes in two distinct flavors, the tags could help avoid confusion when looking for a particular ship. Due to the fact that there are two different Twilight Sparkle tags, this means that there is a chance to mis-tag things. I can't begin to tell you how often I encounter SciSet despite actively not searching for Sci-Twi's tag. I've come across a good handful of shipfics that are tagged with the not-Sci-Twi Twilight Sparkle tag, but find out that, oops, the author is using Sci-Twi instead of Twilight. Sometimes this is excusable, like when you're dealing with an AU where the concept of Equestria doesn't exist. But those cases are usually tagged correctly, and there are cases when they just plain aren't. I can't even begin to truly describe how utterly frustrating it is for me without becoming so mad I might as well melt into a puddle of primordial soup.

Needless to say, however, this makes groups a valuable thing, but this is also an imperfect system, as adding stories to groups is a bit of a crapshoot. Groups are entirely reliant of things being found to meet the criteria of the group. When you add that with the layers of tagging system issues that spawn from both limited tag options and a limit to the amount of tags you can actively attach to a story, and you have yourself a system that collapses under the weight of it all. At least, that's my opinion on the matter. It just makes finding good new SunLight fics harder than it needs to be, which, in turn, leads to bickering.

SunDagio has less of these issues, which lead me to seek it out. Combine that with the fact that SunDagio isn't as popular as it was immediately following Rainbow Rocks, and you have yourself a much easier to manage shipfic pool.

3. The Lack of Creativity/Quality of Works:
If there is one thing that I've noticed about SunLight fans as of late, at least as far as the Princess Twilight variant of it is concerned, it's that fans of it tend to write very similar feeling stuff. A lot of the stories follow a set of templates as far as the relationship development is concerned. A lot of fics that have possibly good set ups just follow a cut and dry set of rules.

Sunset and Twilight like each other. They have to figure out a way to be together due to whole "living in two, different worlds" in the most literal sense. There's usually something about Sunset being unsure of herself going back to Equestria because of "what she did," and the fact that she has friends she doesn't want to just leave behind. If not that, then there's the "Twilight is a Princess" related "problems," be they time related, or even her casually shrugging off her duties to be with Sunset.

Honestly, I could go on for hours about how SunLight writers just tend to have issues coming up with ideas. Now, I'm not saying other ships are bastions of creative ideas. Really, it all depends on execution. You can make the most cliche, boring sounding story utterly captivating if you're good at writing. This of course, leads into a perceived lack of quality as far as I'm concerned. While I'm sure that if I were to just get over my issues with SciSet, I could probably find a bunch of high quality stories that are, technically, SunLight. But as it stands, a lot of the people who write SunLight of the variety I like, aren't very good. For every RadiantBeam, we have... well, I'm not going to give an example of crap, since it's not constructive to just give a vague "this is a crap writer" without being at the liberty to go into a seperate tirade of how to improve.

Writing romance is something a lot of people are just bad at, and I'm not saying I'm amazing at it either. I've got years of experience of being a shit romance writer, and while I won't actively share that shit, I'm sure if you dug around, you could find it. However, the fact that I feel like non-romance centric stories on this site that have romance in them tend to be a lot better about making it feel natural. Not all of them are good at it, granted, but most I find are okay at it.

Example: as much as I enjoyed Night-Quill's "Equestria Girls: Duel Monsters" fic, my god is the dude's romance writing laying it on waaaaay too thick. Probably doesn't help that I genuinely just dislike RariJack, but I genuinely dislike SciSet about as much as RariJack, yet it didn't stand out as out of place in Kamen Rider: Unicorn. I'm able to put my preferences aside if I feel the romance is solid enough, but if it's not, then we have an issue that I can't move past, even if it's a "me thing."

SunLight fics I've read over the past year have not been the most compelling reads ever, and it often made me lose interest in writing Pony stuff, because it makes me go "I could do better!" This leads to me over-thinking my own work, and being reminded that writing quality SunLight is a huge pain due to all of the factors involved. My hat's off to people who are able to keep track of it all, because I'm bad at keeping track of it all... despite being able to keep track of the entire plot of the Kingdom Hearts series and not be confused.

The "lack of creativity" I feel in SunLight is likely due to the fact that due to the fact that while Sunset is a character that has less things getting in the way of writing a fun story, Twilight comes with the canon's burdens. This means, at least from my perspective, that barring some obviously serious canon divergence/AU-esc stories, there's just too many things to adhere to for there to be room for a lot of experimentation. Back when the ship was younger, there wasn't as many possible narrative roadblocks getting in the way for writers to have to navigate. Stories had more room to try new things; authors had more freedom to explore uncharted, canon-plausible territory. While it's true that fanfiction doesn't prohibit you due to the fact it's made by fans, and with that, doesn't have hard rules, I do think the canon bares a certain kind of... gravitational effect of sorts on a writer's ability to... well, write. I believe this to be a big reason why the quality has dropped too. I think that the only writers that feel free enough to write what they want as the ones that don't care about canon. That, or at the very least are able to embrace the fact that the fanfiction status of things grants them a lot of creative license.

Sadly, I'm not one of those people. I get too involved in a character's "voice," and the further away from the canon influence you are as a writer, more at risk you are of flying off into bad writing habits. A lot of people who are able to ignore the influence of canon tend to lose track of the "voice" of a character, and that leads to the characters feeling "off," which in itself leads to the question "why even use these characters at all?" I'm sure there's a happy middle for some, but for me, the pull of the proverbial magnet keeps me from finding it for SunLight. As such, I just see a lack of creativity in the good writers, just bad writers with good ideas, or a bit of column A and a little column B.

This can also be applied to the quality of the fanart too. SunLight just has less quality fanart for the version of the ship I like. Fanart is less restricted than fanfics, because it's usually just an image or two, and doesn't really have to follow canon at all. That said, there is just... not a lot of non-SciSet SunLight these days, due to the ever growing popularity of SciSet. As I don't like SciSet, I feel like the art has suffered a lack of creativity and quality, just due to the fact that it seems like a lot of SunLight artists have either moved on to SciSet, or have moved on to other fandoms entirely. I can't really say much about fan art, since it's something that is easier to gleam the quality of at a glance than fanfiction. I'd say it's less affected than fanfiction when it comes to a lack of quality and creativity, but only due to the fact art is usually either well made or outright bad.

None of this isn't to say I haven't come across bad SunDagio, or less than creative uses of the ship. The writing and fanart for the couple is certainly not all amazing, but I feel like there's more room to grow, which leads into the next reason actually. That, and artists like raika0306 make up for the lack of overall quality art by themselves. I don't have a great example set aside for SunDagio writers, but most are at least "decent" in my experience.

4. Growing Disinterest In Writing SunLight:
It's no secret that I am bad at keeping my focus on one thing at a time. I often start working on things only to get complete side-tracked, which leads to delays in plans a lot of the time. But when things from all angles seem to be colluding to make me just not care anymore, it's super annoying, and in turn, I'm more easily distracted. After all, why actively work on things that no longer hold your attention, or don't really grab your attention to begin with.

The last time I genuinely really enjoyed shipping SunLight was right after Forgotten Friendship debuted. As I have said on many occasions, it's right behind Rainbow Rocks in my "Best of Equestria Girls" ranking. It had scenes where Sunset got to spend an extended amount of on-screen time with Twilight, and it lead to some really nice moments. It lead to Sunset and Celestia's first meeting in who-knows-how-long, and put to bed the shitty attempts I've read of the reunion scene in my mind. There were cute moments, and it was because of these moments that I was able to approach RQK about working on Retrograde as the collab project we'd been trying to figure out for a while.

Ever since then though, I found it increasingly more difficult to like the ship, and as a result, writing the ship became much less enjoyable. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy working on Retrograde, as I do. RQK, if anything, is good at keeping the story from going off the rails in terms of me overthinking things. Despite the huge amount of stress that can come from working on it at times, I really look forward to working on it when we have all our ideas for where to go with stuff sorted. But outside of Retrograde, every attempt at writing the ship has ended with me just getting frustrated.

I'm going to be blunt: I haven't seen Season 8 or 9 of the main series yet. I've been consistently putting it off because I didn't want to further complicate the writing process for myself. When I see a new thing for a series, I can let that completely screw with my ability to adhere to plans. This can usually be dealt with when there is only one sequence of events I need to keep track of, but with SunLight, I'd have to keep track of two seperate series' to get a feel for what to do. EqG content was usually a lot easier to digest at the end of the day, but keeping up with the main series, which I had been gaining a growing distaste towards for a while, just made keeping track of various variables a huge pain in the ass during the conceptual stages of stuff.

SunDagio, on the other hand, works within the realm of only one half of the franchise; I only needed to keep track of the events of the Equestria Girls content. This is made even easier by the fact that, in terms of timeline, Adagio (and the other two sirens) only has two appearances to work with. Adagio having such a role also comes with the added bonus of me being able to come up with more stuff for her due to the lack of conflicting information that could get in the way of a fun idea. I'm able to explore my headcanons for the Dazzlings and their heritage without having something tell me "you can't do that." It's like how Sunset's only backstory is a bad "soft-canon" comic that has basically been retconned away leaves me with the ability to explore her backstory as I see fit.

In short, I'm able to feel like I can contribute something fun and new to the fanbase of SunDagio without having as many loopholes and qualifiers getting in the way. I'm allowed to be more creatively flexible in a way that SunLight, at least in my view, doesn't allow. I don't have to ignore canon to the same degree I do with SunLight. I can just write what I want, and have more fun doing it.

In short, SunDagio gives me more motivation to actually write than SunLight has outside of Retrograde's orbit.

In closing:
Realistically, I still like SunLight. I'm not going to actively stop liking it or anything. I've just changed as a person enough to know that I like other things more, and right now, that thing is SunDagio. If quality SunLight fics were dropped on my lap, I'd read them. If by some miracle of miracles RadiantBeam and OverlordNeon were to collaborate on a SunLight project of some kind, I'd be all over that shit like white on rice. But right now, I want to look to other things, like SunDagio.

I'll be honest, I didn't use to like SunDagio. Back when the ship was new, I didn't really get it; I was too absorbed by SunLight at the time to care. But as time passed, as I saw good examples of SunDagio content (namely raika0306), I just started liking it more. Sunset's my favorite character for the series, and Adagio is probably next in line as far as strictly EqG is concerned. I started hoping the character would come back, and while I can't say I liked the song she came back singing, I was happy to see her come back. I was happy to see her interact with Sunset too. Sunset's Backstage Pass gave me a similar creative spark that Forgotten Friendship did. It was that spark that made me realize I was bitten by the SunDagio bug, and it took time to sort my thoughts on the matter, and stop being like "but SunLight tho."

So yeah, that's it really. Hope this was a decent enough read, and I hope it's not too all over the place. I'll probably link this blog post in the previous one. Maybe when I post Minerva's Den, I'll link this in the Author's Notes? I dunno yet, we'll see.

Until Next Time,
Onyx

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