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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!"

More Blog Posts462

  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIV

    My schedule has a problem. It’s one that’s been building up for a while now.

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    20 comments · 396 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIII

    I’ve decided that I’m going to take a minor vacation in August, if only so as to use up some of those vacation days from work before they’re gone in January. With this in mind, I figured I’d also not read anything over the course of those four days. Ah, but how to do that when they’re already on the schedule? I don’t want to push them back, it’s becoming more and more important to me to build a

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    5 comments · 356 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXII

    Wow, last weekend was a busy one. Family gathering was relatively small this year, for obvious reasons. Although I must emphasize the “relative” part; usually when there’s a big holiday like the 4th, we end up with 20 people or more present. This weekend was “only” nine, including me, my parents, and my brother’s family of six. That’s right, six. That boy is a glutton for punishment, I swear to

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    8 comments · 382 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXI

    My preliminary editing of the original fiction version of Guppy Love is all but finished! Soon I will have the entire story stored in GDocs and ready for prereading, which means it’s about time I started really looking for prereaders. I intend to ask the prereaders of the MLP version to come back to evaluate the changes, but I’d like to get a few others to offer a fresh perspective. I’m

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    16 comments · 368 views
  • 5 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCX

    Howdy, folks. I’m afraid I don’t have much to report this week. Well, other than the very real possibility of maintaining 2,000 words/day of writing this month. Feels like I haven’t pulled something like that off in ages. Pays that I’m finally cutting down on the video games again. It comes in phases.

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    4 comments · 372 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews CCI · 8:11pm April 9th

There’s hardly room for seconds when the seconds melt away.

I blame my cousin-in-law and Mojang for my most recent slump in writing. I had a few days where I had very little productivity. It was a break, but a mildly frustrating one. It was one of those things where every day I felt the urge to write yet the siren’s call of Minecraft refused to leave my ear. But yesterday I got back to it with a 2,000-word session, so hopefully that’s all behind me.

It dawned upon me while getting set up yesterday that I had started a lot of projects small and large, and I still definitely want to finish most if not all of them. My first priority is to finish my entry for the Parliament of Wizards benefit anthology. That needs to be submitted by the end of the month, so it needs my immediate attention. After that’s done I figure I’ll get back into Bulletproof Heart, because I’ve let that linger for way too long considering my new plans for it. I’m also working on a new horror, which I may take a call for pre-readers on since it’s a bit of a “re-imagining” piece and I’d like to get it right.

Then I need to finish my Guppy Love original fic-ification, four other short stories I started and never finished, and two more completed MLP stories that I want to convert to original fiction as well. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Far too much to be wasting five hours of my evenings playing Minecraft. Curse you, Notch!

Let’s stop wasting time and get to the reviews. I gotta get to work!

Stories for This Week:

"Teach Me Goodness" by Posh
Nature's Course by Arbutus
Wishes by Briarpelt
Morsel of Truth by Pen Stroke
Wheel in the Sky by LightningBass94
Marriage by QueenMoriarty
The Course of the Moon by slightlyshade
The Clientele of "La Maison Nuit" by Desavlos
This Story Sucks by JackRipper
Storm Vine by zalla661

Total Word Count: 158,104

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 3
Pretty Good: 2
Worth It: 4
Needs Work: 0
None: 1

Miss Cheerilee has made the questionable decision of leaving her admittedly perfect, happy life as Ponyville’s schoolteacher to pursue her education doctorate in Fillydelphia. But as sad as she is to say goodbye to all her students, one in particular is especially unhappy to see her go. Miss Cheerilee doesn’t know why Diamond Tiara is so horribly upset. Maybe the last essay of the year has a clue…

This is about as touching as it gets, folks. Much of it centers around Cheerilee’s last day in Ponyville and her struggle to understand what Diamond Tiara just can’t bring herself to say. The story ends up as something of a celebration of both characters, one for her pronounced effect on her students and the other for her growing self-awareness and drive to be better than what her heritage recommends. With a strong awareness and appreciation of the characters involved – major and minor – and solid emotional awareness, this story is about as good as it can be.

I am thoroughly looking forward to the sequel(s).

There’s not much else I can say about this. It hits all the right notes in exactly the right ways, shining a heartwarming spotlight on one of the show’s more underappreciated characters. By all means, give this a go. It deserves all the attention it has earned and more.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
...But It Often RhymesWHYRTY?

Nature's Course

12,825 Words
By Arbutus

Applejack invites Rainbow to visit the farm one weekend. Alone. This isn’t exactly unusual, as Rainbow is a regular there. But this time, AJ has something important to talk to her about, and she’s pretty sure she knows what.

The first third of this story gave me an intense sense of deja vu. Rainbow invited to Sweet Apple Acres alone, Rainbow rides motorcycle to farm, Rainbow helps AJ pick apples, Rainbow helps AJ make a pie… Those of you who know my bibliography are aware that this is inexplicably identical to how my AppleSet (SunJack?) story The Fourth Season began. I mean, seriously, it’s identical to the point of being a little creepy. Especially when you consider The Fourth Season was released 23 months later than Nature’s Course. Had I not written it myself, I’d think the former was stealing concepts from the latter.

To my relief and, perhaps, a bit of disappointment, the story eventually does diverge into its own thing. It ends up being about how Rainbow and Applejack have been enjoying an… active relationship in secret for a while now, and whether or not the way they’ve approached romance is the best. The story is startlingly evocative and visual, making it easy to visualize much of what is happening. This turns a bit steamy for the reader when it gets to the flashback about exactly how these two hooked up – and believe me, it had nothing to do with awkward date requests. They sorta skipped that bit.

If anything caught my attention, it was Arbutus’s talent for vivid description and describing so much through visuals. This is easily the story’s strongest point, and I’d recommend it to readers for that alone. The sex scene is, surprisingly, the most apt demonstration, as it manages to avoid showing any details whatsoever while still leaving zero doubt about what’s going on. Pornographic stories actually trying to turn readers on via graphic depiction don’t hold a candle to the heat this story achieves without truly describing a single naughty act.

And yet, somehow, Arbutus still manages to keep that scene feeling important to the overall plot. They may have made it longer than they really needed to, but I’m still impressed. However, I will note that the M-rating is absolutely earned.

For its ability to show so much with words, this story gets my nod. That it turns out to be a touching story of two frenemies trying to figure out the next step in their already heated (in more ways than one) relationship elevates it even higher. With a tale that never gets boring and a dilemma that is interesting in its own right, this has everything AppleDash or romance fans in general want. Absolutely give it a go.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
This One Time At Band CampWHYRTY?


1,801 Words
By Briarpelt

In this unusual tale, we get to listen in as an assortment of characters across MLP witness a shooting star a few years before the return of Nightmare Moon, and each makes a wish upon that star.

I suppose this could be considered an example of the unreliable nature of wishes. Some of those who make wishes get what they want in canon, while others never will. A lot of the wishes are obvious given the characters, others not so much. My personal favorites were Cadance and Shining Armor, the latter being a typical wish from an eager, smitten young stallion and the former almost certainly a joke relating to the nature of Cadance’s very existence.

On the one hand, I am unimpressed by the overarching nature of the story and how it so quickly marches past character after character, leaving us with little time to think on the consequences of each wish. The whole thing is so predictable as to be, dare I say it, trite.

On the other, if you allow yourself to stop and focus on each wish as it relates to the character making it (something the story gives you no time to do), you get a curious analysis of the nature of wishes. What of Fluttershy and Rainbow, wh most certainly get their wishes eventually? All well and good. But then what of Applejack, who most certainly doesn’t get her wish? Or if you want a real conundrum, how about Twilight Sparkle and Rarity, for whom it’s difficult to judge whether they got their wish or not? It is these questions, set against one another through the overall context of our story, that gives this one its edge.

Is it a good story? Debatable. Some may love it, some may hate it, and some may move on with casual indifference. I’m on the middle ground, which is why I invite you all to read it for yourselves and form your own opinions. Clearly, this is a story that will mean something different depending upon the audience’s perceptions.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

It’s Nightmare Night yet again. Only the festivities are over and everypony’s settling down for some much needed sleep. That would be easier if a little filly in a white sheet wasn’t knocking on doors at such a late time asking for something sweet to bite.

Holy crap, but I loved this. It has each of the Mane 6 reacting to this quiet but determined filly, none of them realizing that the logical solution is not the right one. Well, almost. One pony certainly has the right idea, even if she doesn’t know it.

The first part, featuring Princess Twilight, is legit the creepiest and does an awesome job setting the scene. I have to admit, it wasn’t what I expected, but everything I didn’t know I wanted. Each of the Mane 6’s scenes get shorter and shorter after that, which is a little disappointing but also perfectly understandable. For a time, I was wondering why this wasn’t tagged as a horror. Then we get to Pinkie’s part and I realize, oh, that’s why.

My only question is why none of them seem to know what’s going on. All of them have been living in Ponyville for a while, some all their lives, and yet they don’t know this happens every Nightmare Night? Does the filly only visit so many ponies every year? Are there not stories passed among the adults about what to do should this filly show up? Is this her first night showing up at all, and if so, why? There’s so much more to be learned about this concept, and… yeah.

This is the third story regarding the “truth of Nightmare Night” I’ve seen, counting my own. This is my favorite so far, by a wide margin.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

The world has changed. Twilight has her own kingdom, Applejack’s gone to found her own orchard, Rainbow Dash is a travelling Wonderbolt, Fluttershy has gone native… Aside from Pinkie Pie, nopony lives in Ponyville anymore. But for town librarian Spike, the most important change is Rarity, who practically disappeared from his life to go run her business in Manehattan. Now, three years later, he heads to the ugly, dirty city to visit. What he finds is far from what he’d been hoping for.

This is a gritty story, arguably grimdark, in which a Spike longing for the good old days gets railroaded by harsh reality and reacts to it poorly. It runs on themes of abandonment, domestic abuse, and suicide. As far as LightningBass94 stories go, it’s by far the most mature and powerful thing I’ve yet to read. Watching Spike’s rapid descent on the ugly streets of Manehattan is a riveting story that any sadficionado would ‘enjoy’, so to speak. In terms of writing, plot flow, and adult themes, it’s a solid story from beginning to end.

There’s only one catch. Because many potential readers need their “happy ending safe space” to forget about how the real world works, LightningBass94 went and made a much shorter, much less powerful ‘alternate ending’ just for them. I can’t describe how much I disapprove of this decision. It cheapens the overarching story’s impact, deadens the dominant themes, and weakens the story as a whole.

To be clear, I’m not complaining that a happy ending exists, per se. Had LightningBass94 ended the story on a happy note with no alternative endings available, I’d have been fine with it. It’s that the author decided to give the readers a choice in whether there is a happy ending that irks me. With the obvious exception of CYOAs, It should never be up to the readers how a story ends. Never.

But if we ignore that one issue, this becomes a stellar sadfic about a good dragon in an uphill struggle against cruelness and the grim reality of change. It manages to be emotional and atmospheric despite just how much goes on in its relatively short wordcount, and I am very much impressed. This is not the kind of story I ever expected to see from this author, and it’s easily the best by them so far. As long as you’re willing to accept the pain of a friendship turned sour and two characters making all the wrong choices, definitely give this a read.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Different BreedWorth It
I Missed YouWorth It
Be MineNeeds Work


2,725 Words
By QueenMoriarty

Princess Rarity faces the one fate that I see assigned her more than any other: an arranged marriage. In this story, she’s being married off by her father to Prince Rutherford of Yakyakistan as a means of ensuring peace and, apparently, preventing war. Rarity would have been okay with this. Rutherford’s not a bad sort, especially in comparison to the standards of his people. There’s just one problem: Rarity is deeply in love with career soldier Twilight Sparkle.

This is everything you’d expect from a story with this base premise. Rarity miserably preparing for a wedding, Twilight coming to visit her, they acknowledge their love, Rarity not wanting to back out of the marriage, and so on. Romance sadficionados will love it, I’m sure. Heck, I’ve got nothing against it, it’s just a story I’ve already heard countless times. And since QueenMoriarty knows how to Show a story, it’s certainly well written.

What gives the story a leg up on the oh-so similar competition, aside from being nicely written, is the ending. QueenMoriarty throws us a curveball with that conclusion, and one has to wonder what exactly it means for Rarity. All the romantics will surely interpret it one way, but I wonder if QueenMoriarty intended that or is providing some sort of red herring. After all, I’m not sure Twilight’s behavior throughout the story really fits the ending the romantics want.

I can see why there’d be calls for a sequel, not that I would expect or want one myself. I’d say this story ended right where it needed to.

If you’re tired of seeing Rarity married off yet again, I’d still encourage you to give this one a look. As far as ‘those’ types of stories go, this is certainly one of the better ones I’ve read.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Baby PicturesPretty Good
This Isn't WarPretty Good

One day, Moondancer goes to meet her friends at Donut Joe’s. A detour ends with her seeing Lemon Hearts in a… heated condition. And now? Now Moondancer can’t get the thoughts and ideas and images out of her head. Her work continues in a frenetic tidal wave as inspiration and confusion war within Moondancer, who is consumed in a chaotic frenzy of arousal and ambition.

This was… something. Yes, I’ll go with something. Moondancer’s thoughts are almost clinical in nature, providing a full perspective of her social awkwardness. That awkwardness only intensifies with each passing moment as she struggles to balance her studies with her newly discovered arousal. What begins as a fairly lucid tale gradually shifts into something that might be considered total insanity.

To be frank, it gets hard at times to understand exactly what is going on. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or not, but it does play well to the idea of Moondancer gradually going insane. It doesn’t help that the author writes dialogue using single quotes and makes no effort whatsoever to distinguish between thoughts and narrative. The conclusion makes an attempt to clear things up, but there are a lot of questions and uncertainty left behind. There is, at least, a sense that Moondancer has finally found some peace with herself, so that helps.

The story is a whirlwind of emotion and sexuality sprinkled in a mess of technical magical jargon the reader has no hope of understanding. I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. I can’t tell if the prose is intended to spice the already quirky story and build upon the craziness or just make slightlyshade sound smarter.

Ultimately, I came away from this one feeling more confused than anything. Maybe if I re-read it two or three times in an attempt to grasp the finer details that may be hidden amongst the antisocial tendencies and feverish sexual longings I would gather greater meaning in all this. As it is, I think it’s about Moondancer’s social and sexual self-repression and being overwhelmed by the discovery of something new and embarrassing. But I can appreciate the touch of wildness wielded by the author to demonstrate Moondancer’s crumbling mental fortitude. I think, were I to delve one more time into the contents of this story, I’d be able to grasp the full flow of her character arc.

So, what should you, the potential reader, take from this review? I’d say this is a story that belongs to those who are more… invested in what they read, who are intent upon analyzing what is being said and how in order to grasp the full intentions of the author. If you just want a quick, easy read for relaxation’s sake, this almost certainly won’t be for you. You’ve got to pay attention from the very first sentence or you may be horribly, irreparably lost. If you’re looking for a story that requires your full attention and – dare I say it? – actual thinking, then you’ll probably love this. The rest might consider staying well away.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

The world has gone crazy. Vinyl Scratch is a concert pianist, Octavia Melody is a famous DJ, Twilight Sparkle burns down libraries, Rarity is a farmer, Celestia and Luna are actually capable of defending themselves in a fight, and Chrysalis got reformed. Okay, only two of those things are confirmed by this story, but if Vinyl’s not a DJ and Octavia’s not a cellist, the rest of the world must be bonkers, it just stands to reason.

Anyway, this story starts with famed DJ 8-B3AT spotting a miserable-looking Vinyl Scratch trying to drown her sorrows in alcohol. Which, at Octavia’s place of employment, is not acceptable. So she goes over and tries to cheer the unicorn up. A few drinks later and… well, drunk ponies do drunk things.

This was curious. It readily defies all the expectations, from its setting to its results. In fact, the way the setting has been reversed should be an indication of where the story is going in the end. The story is ultimately about two ponies who find themselves in a situation where certain expectations make them think they have to do certain things, but it just doesn’t feel right. It’s an unusual route, and I thoroughly approve of it. Desavlos gets my respect for trying something so very different.

Alas, the story could use some tweaks. It largely travels way too fast. A great example is the first date. This scene alone could have been the big indicator of where the relationship was really going. With some attention to detail, a struggling attempt at conversation, and a healthy heaping of awkwardness, the date alone could have made this story. So what does Desavlos do?

They skip the whole thing.

Then there’s Fancy Pants having his last conversation with Octavia, which raises up the central issue of the topic from out of nowhere and in a manner so subtle that readers may not understand what the issue is in the first place. Octavia’s crying? Why is she crying? What the heck is going on? Point is, the author needs to slow down. We’ve had no time to really get to know this new Octavia and Vinyl, and as such we don’t understand their thought processes and whatever it is that is holding them back.

What the author is trying to present to us is great in concept. Heck, I’d go so far as to call it ambitious, and we all know I’ve got a thing for ambitious. But a gentler pace, with more time taken to consider character definition and development, is necessary to make it really shine. The story could also use some formatting, which is all over the place. I’m willing to put it on the middle ground, but that’s as far as it’ll go without some polishing.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Mysterious Misadventures of SassaflashPretty Good
Pinkie Pie's Foray into Absent-Minded TreasonWorth It

Sunset Shimmer wakes up in the hospital after suffering severe blood loss. The cause? One ravenously hungry Fluttervamp. Which is fine, because there are no vampires cuter than Fluttershy. That’s final, and also: shut up.

Like so many I’ve been reviewing lately, this is an entry in Super Trampoline’s Feghoot Festival, so we all know where this is going. As the entire story is nothing more than the setup for a potentially terrible pun, your mileage may vary. That being said, I was highly entertained by the events, which are depicted as strangely ‘normal’ despite being anything but. I gotta feel sorry for Mrs. Cake.

If you feel like being entertained with some nonsense revolving around a largely non-present FlutterVamp and a punny conclusion, then knock yourself out.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Labor of Love — Worth It

Storm Vine

83,997 words
By zalla661

After the events of the movie, Tempest Shadow isn’t sure what to do with herself. At the suggestion of Princess Twilight, she decides it’s finally time to go back to her hometown, reuniting with her family and friends.

I’ve only read one Tempest Shadow-related story up to this point, and it was… ick. Seeing this one, I figured I’d try again and hopefully land something better. Alas, what I got was only a marginal improvement.

zalla661 has a good base concept. Tempest returning home to make amends with her family is a pretty solid, if basic, premise that could make for some excellent slice-of-life and self-redemption material. But the author faces a significant number of setbacks that take this potential gem and crushes it to dust. From a frustratingly poor writing style to zero plot awareness, things gradually go from bad to worse.

Apparently, this story was edited by a companion of the author. This means that they both need lessons in basic English. We’ve got incomplete sentences, incorrect word choices, heavy repetition, and so on. These things come in various levels of severity, but by far the worst thing in the story is the author’s consistent habit of repeating the same information in multiple sentences in numerous ways, sometimes within the same paragraph. Let’s do an example at its most basic: using the same word. Here’s the very first paragraph of the whole story:

On a stormy night on the outskirts of the Hayseed Swamps and many days travel East of Dodge Junction was a village that was roughly the size of Ponyville. The village was like most rural towns, small wood and stone houses with a central pocket for a market and their town hall. It was a quaint little village without much to offer. What this town was well known for was its vineyards. The village was well known for its fine wines and massive grape vines that spanned for miles in a crescent moon around the entire village and was broken up into ten even vineyards.

Right here we see five instances of the word “village”, to say nothing for how the author feels obligated to tell us twice back-to-back that the town is known for its vineyards, because apparently the first time wasn’t enough. Oh, and you’ll never hear about the Hayseed Swamps again despite them apparently being a major nearby feature of the local geography. Also, in the entire story the town gets named one time, about midway through. It almost feels like everyone in the story, author included, just couldn’t be bothered to remember their own home’s name.

Then there’s the plot inconsistencies. Take one scene where Tempest apparently sleeps “well into the afternoon”, only to wake up and it’s morning and everyone’s having breakfast. Or how about how Tempest tells Captain Celaeno that she got a job offer from Princess Twilight and wants her opinion on it, only to have the exact same conversation in the very next chapter as if the first time never occurred? Or how about stating that Tempest’s magical blasts can literally rip apart whole airships in seconds only for them to maybe cause a few minor burns when used against other creatures? And how is it Tempest is asked by Maud (yes, that Maud) on a lunch date which becomes a gathering among friends rather than the date it was clearly meant to be and now Tempest is fantasizing about being in a relationship with Princess Twilight for no reason when Maud is practically standing next to her and she’s clearly interested in Maud but no wait now she’s interested in Captain Celaeno and does this mare have any respect for the girls she’s attracted to?

Let’s make Trixie the friend who convinced Tempest to go into that cave and get attacked by the Ursa Minor. Want proof it’s her? Go check, that’s very clearly a blue unicorn not-quite matching Trixie’s colors in Tempest’s flashbacks in the movie! Great theory, right? Oh, wait, hold on… that’s a colt.

Speaking of the Ursa Minor, let’s have Tempest get into a rematch with it, only as a proper Ursa Major! Because that totally makes sense and isn’t just fan-wanking a blatantly obvious and pointless idea. In fact, let’s waste three or four chapters on it.

Speaking of pointless ideas, let’s have Grubber and Captain Celaeno show up in Storm Fleet airships completely out of nowhere and for no reason whatsoever and have them help defeat the ursa! No, seriously, there is no reason for this. Even when Grubber leaves the ship afterwards to meet Tempest, no excuse is given for him or Celaeno magically appearing in the village. Neither of them state why they’re here. Heck, Grubber has barely what could be called a conversation with Tempest before disappearing from the story completely. So why bring him back in the first place, author? Were you under the misconception that someone out there actually likes the little idiot and would want to see him in your story, and so shoved him in there with not even a flimsy premise in hopes of getting some extra upvotes and views?

And speaking of flimsy, that Ursa Major destroyed whole buildings and significant portions of the town. And yet as soon as the fight is over, you’d swear that the event never happened. No mention of ongoing hardships for the now-homeless citizens, no struggle to recover a completely ruined grape harvest. Life just goes back to normal immediately, complete with a Nightmare Night celebration right afterwards. Oh, and the reason behind Nightmare Night’s existence is horribly misunderstood by the author.

Did I mention Tempest’s aunt Berry Punch is supposedly a drunk? Heck, in her very first appearance in the story she’s shown being completely smashed. At least until five minutes later when she declares she’s been sober for years and this instantly, miraculously becomes true and she’s not smashed anymore.

Hey, Tempest can’t use her magic for anything at all save blowing crap up, because that’s how broken horns work, until the next-to-last chapter when her horn functions fine without explanation or her even realizing it because unicorns always use their horns to do things without realizing it even when they haven’t been able to for years.

And on, and on, and on, and on. These are only the things that pop into my mind at the moment. I promise you, there’s a ton I’m forgetting. Point is, there is no sense of plot consistency and the overarching plot logic in and of itself is a chaotic mess, with the author regularly forgetting their own story’s history. I spent my time more frustrated than anything. The mistakes made here are basic.

Ultimately, this story was little more than annoying. I was very tempted to start skimming the material by about two thirds of the way through just to be done with it. zalla661 needs to learn basic concepts of plot consistency, linear progression, rising action, climax, conclusion, etc. Heck, just remembering the events of their own story from chapter to chapter would be a significant improvement. What this author needs is a strong, demanding, and patient pre-reader and/or editor who will tell them point blank “what you just did is terrible and this is why”, not one who just ends every reading with “cool chapter, misspelled this word, can’t wait for more!”

Bookshelf: None

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Stories for Next Week:

Origin Story by Kkat
There is Another Sky by Noble Thought
Of manes, wings and princesses by Midday Shine
A Night On Deck by Bad_Seed_72
The World's Executioner by kalash93
The Chicken Goddess by Mr101
Pros and Cons by Sharp Spark
Space, Intentionally Left Blank by GroaningGreyAgony
Rarity Dreams of Non-Electric Sheep by Kris Overstreet
I Feel Beautiful by LightningSword

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CC
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CCII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVI

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Comments ( 29 )

With the obvious exception of CYOAs, It should never be up to the readers how a story ends. Never.

The closest I come to doing this (and I will defend it) is for The Clarity of Darkness. It's a one-chapter story that has a second chapter marked as optional by virtue of its label: An Ending (For Those Who Prefer One).

Now, the second chapter is the canonical ending I'd always intended, but the story ends so powerfully with the first chapter that it clearly isn't necessary (though if I hadn't intended it, I'd have left a lot of the metaphysics out of the story). When Seattle's Angels reviewed it, Cerulean Voice saw it as "two endings" and I think preferred the second chapter not be present.

Maybe I shouldn't have titled the second chapter that? I dunno.

Ah, but what have you been doing in Minecraft?

Were you under the misconception that someone out there actually likes the little idiot


I will pull out the same quote as FoME did (EDIT: Trick Question's quote. Don't know why her avatar screamed FoME in my head...):

With the obvious exception of CYOAs, It should never be up to the readers how a story ends. Never.

I agree with what I think you meant, but it's not quite what you said. Providing two endings and letting the readers decide which one to accept is almost certainly a poor choice. But having an open ending that implies several possible endings yet commits to none of them is a time-honored and effective way to end a story. Of course, it can also be done poorly, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it.

On that story where an AU Rarity falls in love with a Twilight who's a soldier... I don't know why, but I've seen that premise pop up inordinately much. Why is it so often a solider Twilight?

Go check, that’s very clearly a blue unicorn not-quite matching Trixie’s colors in Tempest’s flashbacks in the movie! Great theory, right? Oh, wait, hold on… that’s a colt.

That totally means it was Jack Pot, right‽

Author Interviewer

I'm a sucker for anything Tempest, so thanks for saving me from reading a bad fic. :)

I’ve only read one Tempest Shadow-related story up to this point, and it was… ick.

This... this must be remedied.

The edgy hard-ass with a stick up their butt who needs to learn from Twilight how to loosen up and do the friendship has been a staple in the fandom for ages, but we now have a canon character for that instead of all the red-and-black alicorn OCs you could ever roll your eyes at. It would be a shame to let this opportunity go to waste!

I'd recommend A Break in the Clouds by Rambling Writer. It's short and sweet, and it features an uncommon pairing of characters that works rather well.

Rule #1 for zalla661 fics, never expect a master piece always expect mediocre at best. As sad as it is I'm a terrible writer, which is why I always feared pros like you and PA reviewing it! :twilightoops: I will endeavor to try harder next time!

Author Interviewer

Keep at it. :)

If it's an ending that's meant to be there and canonical, then I don't see any reason not to maintain it. That being said, had I read the story and seen that, I would have assumed you did what LightningBass94 did and created a whole new one to appease the whiners, and would have ridiculed you for it. So perhaps a note or something to explain your real intentions?

I'm a builder. I make structures, and roads to connect them. I particularly enjoy unusual and dangerous projects, like building a hanging tower beneath a cliff that can only be accessed from a tunnel in the cliff itself (finished that project yesterday). I tend not to make projects that are excessively big or put any effort in realistic designs, though; I want to make something neat and move on to the next one.

Time-honored and effective? So you've encountered this outside of fanfiction, in published works that have existed for centuries? Curious, I certainly haven't. Examples, please.

Not a chance, unless you think Tempest is at least twenty years older than Twilight & co, which I doubt.

Whelp, there goes my chance of building an RiL limit lead this week. Consider it added!

Regarding soldier Twilight, I... don't know. Best guess I can come up with is "blame Monochromatic".


...The Turn of the Screw? The Giver? The Lady and the Tiger? Or if you want to go more modern, Life of Pi and Fight Club both famously left it mostly or entirely unresolved what "really" happened. Open endings which ask the reader to choose how they'll interpret the story's events are a literary staple.

My complaint isn't about open endings, it's about actually writing out two or more endings, which none of those suggestions do as far as I recall.

Open endings are fine. They can be used to great effect. I have nothing against them and have used them a few times myself.

I was asking to be pointed to a classic story that has multiple actual endings, not ambiguous "we're not going to tell you the outcome" types.

Really? I haven't read anything by her, but my understanding of her most famous story was that Twilight was a librarian or sorcerer or princess of some sort. Is she a soldier in a lot of the other stories?

But that was the precise point I was making. You seemed to be angry about authors giving you a choice about how the story ends, and I replied to say there are multiple ways of doing that. In the case that the author explicitly writes out multiple endings, I agree with you, that's weak. In the case the author leaves the ending unresolved so that the reader can imagine it going multiple ways and pick the one they like best, it can be a very effective tool. The way you worded your complaint seemed to say you didn't like either type, and the fact that Chris interpreted it that way as well probably tells you it wasn't worded very clearly.

I'm not sure how you took what I said as defending the former. I said stories that imply, i.e., not explicitly state, possible, i.e., not existent, endings, and even used the term "open ending."

Also, I can see a type of story, even of the kind we both agree we consider weak, working. There was one like this I thought about writing way back when I first joined the fandom, and the difference there is that most of the story is different, not just the ending. That way, you're more or less exploring multiple AU versions of the story. I think for that to go well, you have to have the branching point be early in the story, so it's not just the ending that's different, and broadcast up front that you're doing it that way (or post it all at once, I suppose) so it's obviously not in response to reader complaints.

For instance, say I spend a chapter having Twilight & Co. going after some McGuffin, and when they find it, I write 5 chapters showing that the McGuffin has X powers and go to the conclusion of that arc. Then I write another set of 5 chapters where it has Y powers instead, which then completely changes what they do, so it's a very different arc coming to a unique conclusion. Then I can do the same for the McGuffin having Z powers and so on. I could see that working, because it's fundamentally different about how and why it's giving those multiple explicit endings.

Man, I'm cluttering up your comments section.

Even though I agree giving multiple actual endings to a story almost certainly isn't a good idea, I believe there is a famous case of that happening (and one I don't like). Didn't Dickens do that with Great Expectations? I'm not sure he published them as a single volume, but I thought he had multiple versions where Pip does and doesn't end up with Estella.

And now I've looked it up. He changed that based on feedback from a beta reader, so only one version was published, but since the original draft still existed, it eventually got out how it ended as well, and (I assume) editions with both endings eventually got published in the many years since. We know about both now, anyway. Dickens did revise the last line in a subsequent edition, but not in response to reader complaints. Many scholars think he should have kept the original ending. In any case, it's not quite the same thing, since he only intended to publish one ending, but has morphed into a "multiple endings" novel through no fault of Dickens.

I suppose I see what you mean. Going back to look at how I phrased it, I can see how people might misinterpret my meaning. I should have added to that caveat the possibility for open endings.

So yeah, my bad.

As for playing the long game like that, I don't see that working on the face of it. What would be the purpose of it for the overarching story? If it were handled in a way where the different endings feed off one another and give each other meaning, then I can see it working. I think the entire story would have to be built around these endings, giving them purpose.

A good, if non-literary example, is Bioshock Infinite, which arranged things so that when you die you are technically starting a new timeline with a new, if identical, character. It's a subtle trick and you have to really pay attention to be aware of it, but understanding it plays a crucial role in understanding the overarching plot, which was rich with themes of alternate possibilities and outcomes.

Undertale also works with these concepts, although you have to dig deep into the lore to understand it, and I'm still not sure if it's canon or merely a theory.

You're thinking of The Enchanted Library, where Twilight is a princess cursed to live forever trapped in a library in the Everfree. However, Mono also has a multi-story AU in which Rarity is the princess of a unicorn kingdom and Twilight is her personal bodyguard/romantic interest. I don't know if it's a first, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these "soldier Twilight" stories were inspired by it.

I've definitely seen others where Twilight was her bodyguard, and I'd like to think they were inspired by the Kevin Costner film, but that probably predates a lot of writers in the fandom, and that almost certainly wasn't the first use of that premise anyway.

To expand on it, since I'm no longer interested in writing it, there was a sadfic I read early in the fandom where Twilight is sitting by Celestia's grave and writes her one last letter. When Spike burns it, it flies up into the sky. That made me wonder: what if she got a reply? I could see writing either separate chapters or separate stories to look at multiple possibilities. Maybe the magic lets Celestia say one last good-bye. Maybe the magic transcends death, and Twilight can continue to communicate with her. Maybe Celestia isn't dead, and she's asking for help to get back from wherever she is. Maybe it's something else masquerading as Celestia to try gaining access to their world. I think it might be okay if the jumping-off point is at the beginning. The further toward the end it is, the more it feels like the author is waffling.

That's pretty neat, though. I don't know what that tower looks like, but I'm imagining something crazy cool.

I've tried structures/ buildings but never did too great with them. My preferred thing is to make real size US Navy warships, except they're flying instead of me having to deal with water, or to do mid-size spacecraft of my own design.

Not deal with water? But why not? I always thought dealing with the environment was all part of the challenge.

For example, I've decided to make a route that would lead to a new base. My chosen spot for the new base in on an island by a village. Using a little help from Pythagoras, the distance will be ~1160 meters. I've chosen to make the route as a tunnel at Y=45, i.e. below sea level. I will have to build most of that distance through an ocean. Not over it, through it. I am very much looking forward to it. Oh, sure, I could have a vastly easier time building above the ocean, but where's the fun in that?

...I'm gonna need a ton of potions.

Ya know, that's a good question. On small builds, I guess I'm fine with water mechanics, but on anything large there's a point where the excitement of building it and the tediousness of the work balance each other out, and the extra annoyance of the water changes that balance.

A tunnel system? Yeah that's fine. A 300m long, 50m wide warship with like 4 decks underwater? Oof. It's also easier to see if something looks wrong and to change it without the risk of losing interior work outside of water.

So it really has to do with the scale. Though, more specifically, the diameter of the build.

I suppose I can get that. The more complex the project, the harder it is to deal with the water. And I have to admit I've had projects that I had to give up because the overall scale was just too much (my three-times tried, never completed Tower of Babel being a good example).

Posh #29 · May 23rd · · ·

I got so caught up in all the fun going on of late (yay, plague!) that I never thanked you for this. I said as much in my RCL interview, but "Goodness" was a very personal and heartfelt story, and is the one work in my repertoire that I'm more proud of than any other. It's good to know that it resonated with you, as well.

I'm grateful for the review. Thank you.

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