• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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PaulAsaran


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!"

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  • Thursday
    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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    7 comments · 272 views
  • 1 week
    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 · 310 views
  • 2 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 · 326 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIX

    The past week has been one of highs and lows. The brief crash has led to me being two days behind on my reading schedule. The good news is that I’ve got a Vacation Week coming up in a couple weeks that I can use to easily make up the lost time. The bad news is that my current major reading project was scheduled to be finished the day before its review gets published, so I’ve no choice but to

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    7 comments · 364 views
  • 3 weeks
    Charity Stream!

    I usually save these kinds of things for my main review blog, but this one's time sensitive, so: my old friend Cerulean Voice is hosting a charity stream! Head here to get the details.

    0 comments · 81 views
Jun
4th
2020

Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVIII · 8:21pm June 4th

No reviews next week, folks. It’ll be a break week and, frankly, I need one.

Good news! As of yesterday, I finally finished the rough draft of that one shot I’ve been struggling to get down since mid-April. Now I’m debating with myself whether I should get pre-readers to help me make it better. I kind of want to, because the story is built off a classic, and I’d like it to be good as a result. At the same time, I’ve already devoted way too much time to the story. I need to focus on the other ones, the ones people already care about.

Buuut… I’m thinking about commissioning artwork for the story. If I do, then that’s extra time it’ll have to wait to be published anyway. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to let some people take a glance and let me know where things need improving. Thus, I’m opening up a call for pre-readers. I’ll take no more than three, because I want this done within the next few days, not the next year.

Some stats: the story is just over 30,000 words. It was originally intended as a horror, but it came out as something more akin to an adventure-drama (which is how I see the source material despite common interpretation, so maybe that’s a plus?). It’ll probably help to know the source material, but I don’t want to reveal that yet, so I’ll just say that having read the horror classics of the fandom is a plus. I’m not looking for critique on my wordplay, only on ways to improve the story itself.

I’ll be doing my first editing run today, which will also be when I move the story from Word to Google Docs for sharing. Once that’s done, it’ll be ready for whoever agrees to give it a look. I should also note that I’m not going to agonize over making it perfect, no matter how good I want it to be, because that’s how you never release a story. So here’s the plan: I’m going to commission some art. As soon as the art is done and ready for prime time, the editing stops and the story gets released. I’ve no idea what kind of timetable that creates yet, as I haven’t even chosen an artist, but I’ll be sure to announce it to the pre-readers once I am aware.

Alright, that’s enough of that noise. Let’s get to some reviews.

Stories for This Week:

The Featherblade Legacy by Mysterious Stranger
Tracks in the Sand by DwarvishPony
Royaltea by Hasty Revision
TCB: Humans are always alone by GrayOnBlue
Like I'm Gonna Lose You by WyngsTriumphant
To See You Again by Starlight Shadow
One Fine Day by MalWinters
Hope by Portmeirion
Man and Magistrate by TheMessenger
A Day for Spike and Twilight by Jetfire2012

Total Word Count: 88,951

Rating System

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


Sharp Wing Featherblade has a cutie mark in slaying monsters. Alas, nobody will pay him to do it, so he does part time jobs in the meantime. When a manticore appears in Sweet Apple Acres however, he sees the perfect opportunity to finally put his cutie mark to good use!

This was, at best, trying. We’re introduced to three OCs and are given zero opportunity to know them. The entire first third of the story is just setting the scene for the real story. Our main character is driven by thoughts so petty you wonder if he’s an adult or a child. And the writing is boringly direct and simple.

I look at all this and try to equate it to the last story I read by this author. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that all of this was true for Dr. McNinja does on an Equestrian Adventure. The reason I let it all pass before was because the webcomic on which that one was based on encourages it. It looked like the author was merely emulating the comic’s methods.

Now I realize that, no, the author’s just an amateur.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. The moral of the story is decent, relating to the necessities and reasons behind killing. Most stories I’ve seen (including some of my own) make killing in and of itself to be evil and morally wrong, but this instead argues that it’s the reason, not the act, that can be wrong. That’s something I can get behind far better. The manner in which Mysterious Stranger gets to that point is eye-rolling at best, but at least I like the intent.

There’s also Sharp Wing’s crush on Applejack, which never gets resolved. This was a thoroughly good decision, partially because the crummy writing style would have butchered any attempt at describing romance, but also because resolving it would be too easy a tangent and cancels out potential expansion material. There’s also something to be said for an author not taking that obvious route and letting things sit as-is, at least in this kind of context.

Then there’s the attempt at worldbuilding. I say “attempt”, because while Mysterious Stranger does bring the story to Zecora’s homeland and relate some Equestrian history, it’s all very simplistic and largely blown by in an effort to keep the story running at full speed. No attempt is made to truly give us anything of historical or cultural substance other than “cheetahs eat ponies” and “Celestia has a heart”. Still, I nod in approval at the try.

Alas, the negatives far outweigh the positives, and that is almost entirely due to the writing style of the story. While largely good grammatically, it’s still direct and sloppy. Mysterious Stranger has zero sense of ambiance. Events happen, one after the other, making everything feel rushed and letting nothing sink in. There’s no effort made to heighten tension or get into a character’s emotional state. It is, in a word, Telly. I couldn’t get invested in anything at all with this story.

There are more issues. Our protagonist is a shallow creature who decides he needs to murder a manticore for revenge for no reason except his own immaturity. Our entire adventure is caused by a pair of Dues Ex ghosts that have extremely weak methods of educating the living. The curse on Sharp Wing is cured before he actually does what is necessary to do so by the story’s own instructions. Again, a whole third of the story is nothing more than setting the scene. Our three primary OCs have very little characterization and sound the same in dialogue.

I could go on, but I think this is enough. Mysterious Stranger needs to develop their writing style a lot more before they’ll give us some quality material. Had I known what I do now about this author before, I might have viewed the last story very differently. I still see hope for this author, but it will require a good deal of work on their part to improve.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Dr. McNinja goes on an Equestrian AdventureWHYRTY?


Well, if that ain’t a kick in the feels.

This story is set in a post-apocalypse Equestria Girls AU. Pinkie Pie travels the desert wastes of Canterlot all alone. One day, she tries looting a train station only to discover a girl there.

There are a lot of unknowns to this story, such as how the world ended or even when. I get the impression that it happened before Pinkie was born, or at least a little after, as she seems to know of no other time but this post-apocalypse. At the same time, scavenging in the cities still provides a lot of necessities, such as food and water, so it can’t have been that long ago. Unless there’s just that few humans left in the world, that is.

But none of this really matters. The point of the story we are reading isn’t the world and how it came to an end. The point is Pinkie Pie and Sunset Shimmer becoming friends, something neither of them have had before. It’s also about Sunset’s constant struggle to find a way back to Equestria, but really? It’s more about Pinkie Pie.

There’s character and relationship growth, no small amount of drama, and a bittersweet ending. What it doesn’t have is the standard requirement for post-apocalypose worlds: the example of humanity as the greatest threat. Where most stories of this sort would have corrupt pillagers attacking and killing and raping and all that other Fallout/Mad Max-style craziness, Tracks in the Sand skips all of that in favor of focusing just on two girls learning to get along and trust one another.

I thoroughly approve.

Though the ending is… again, bittersweet (at best), the whole story works wonderfully. There’s not a single thing negative I can think of to say about it. Still, if you’re a Happy Ending Crusader, you may want to steer clear. DwarvishPony, you have my attention.

EDIT: A few days later, it finally dawned on me that this story may not have as sad an ending as I originally thought. It’s subtle, but there’s a clue in there that creates an open ending for readers to decide for themselves what the truth is. I simply love how DwarvishPony went about this; it’s smart and understated and leaves things wide open for speculation… if you can catch it. One more reason to thoroughly approve of this story.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


After Discord’s defeat in The Return of Harmony, Celestia arranges meetings with all the ponies who met Discord so that she can learn more details about his actions. Now it’s Fluttershy’s turn, and for her this is scary.

This is a curious story in which Celestia politely asks Fluttershy a few quick questions about her initial encounter with Discord over tea. We all know what this story is really for, at least on the surface, and it achieves the goal well. It’s Celestia’s plans to reform Discord being born, and while the scene isn’t anything spectacular, it is certainly interesting in its subdued kind of way.

What’s interesting about all this is how well the author seems to understand shyness. Or, more specifically, introverts. The entire opening monologue isn’t about Discord or Celestia. Instead, it’s all about the nature of shy ponies/people and why it’s so hard for them when extroverts fail to grasp their nature. This opener impressed me with its accuracy, describing examples that I have personally faced over the years.

And then the topic is dropped, never to be heard from again. It might seem pointless and a waste of valuable writing space.

Except it isn’t. By introducing the story this way, Hasty Revision makes sure the reader understands Fluttershy at a much deeper level than your average person can, and this sets up the entire story. It provides the distinct difference between not only extroverts and introverts, but that of Fluttershy and Discord. It plants the seeds of mutual understanding, the same seed that Celestia sees through the course of her conversation with Fluttershy.

Does this make the overall story better? I think it does. Some people might think I’m reading too deeply into it. They might see nothing more than a topic on shyness that has nothing to do with the coming conversation.

But for my purposes, this perceived extra layer of complexity in the story elevates it above the average.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


This is one of the most downvoted stories I’ve ever seen. I just had to take a look and see why. I wasn’t expecting a good story, I just wanted to sate my curiosity. What we get is a crappily written short about a random earth pony slaughtering humans in Africa while ranting about how humans are evil and not sapient beings and thus her actions are for the greater good. It’s every bit as stupid and bad as it sounds. Maybe even worse. After reading it, I perused the many comments. This all led me to an obvious conclusion:

GrayOnBlue is a massive troll who intentionally writes and says profoundly stupid things solely for the sake of pissing people off. I come to this simply due to how I honestly don’t believe there is anyone who really thinks or behaves like this. It defies reality and all sense of reason. It’s got to be on purpose. In fact, I fully expect the author to write some inane comment on this blog to maintain the character they’ve created. I can’t help but think that if anyone could possibly take this seriously and actually attempt to argue or even respond to this author’s behavior, they are the ones being fools.

And if I'm wrong and GrayOnBlue really does believe all that this story espouses? Well, that just makes it scary.

Whelp, curiosity sated. Let’s move on to saner pastures, shall we?

Bookshelf: Crackfic

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Rarity and Spike face an unknown threat at the Grand Galloping Gala. Yep, it’s Sparity. Those of you who hate the ship, turn around now.

This is a simple story in which Rarity comes to recognize what Spike means to her. I’d love to reveal the twist, as it is quite an annoying one, but I’ll hold off. The thing to take away from this is that it’s less about the OP enemy Rarity and Spike are facing and more about Rarity realizing the future is not set in stone. Oh, and there’s some gushing on Spike’s part that comes out of nowhere.

If you’re a hopeless romantic type, then you’ll probably get a lot out of this. To be honest, I was too annoyed by the OP-ness of the temporary villain and the twist to be invested in what was going on. The repetitive writing style didn’t help matters. I suppose Wyngs Triumphant’s overarching idea is decent enough, but it all felt a little too… forced, I guess? Like what I was seeing wasn’t real. And that’s due to a combination of issues.

I’ll put this on the middle ground, but it needs something more to be a great piece of Sparity literature.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Rarity waits outside a Wonderbolts Stadium in the rain, hoping for the slightest glimpse of the mare she loves.

I’ve never been one for the RariDash ship, but I’m always willing to give it a go to see if someone can do it right. In this rendition, Rarity and Rainbow were a couple three years ago but had to separate to pursue their individual careers. The story is… ‘rushed’ would be the best word.

We start off with Rarity alone. In the rain. With her house keys having slipped down a storm drain. Outside a Wonderbolts Stadium where she knows her lover is. But her lover might not love her anymore and oh come on, author, did you just throw in as many ‘bad’ things as you could to try and squeeze every drop of misery possible into the situation? Rarity longing for Rainbow Dash. Boom. That’s all we need. All that other stuff is pointless. Especially when all Rarity’s worrying about not being loved anymore is dropped like a garbage bag as if it were never an issue in the first place the instant Rainbow shows up.

So the start is over-the-top in its manner. I suppose we can let that go with just a slap on the wrist.

The real problem, I think, is that this story doesn’t focus as much on the romance as it should. Oh, yes, Rainbow and Rarity spend time together, but the vast majority of the story is in either the overdramatic setup or the “what” of it. Rarity and Rainbow go to a hotel with the Wonderbolts. They have dinner. They take a shower together. They agree to change things in their careers to stay together. The end.

Starlight Shadow, the best way to make a story like this work is to linger. Show us how Rarity and Rainbow interact at the dinner. Demonstrate for us how close they are as they’re walking to the hotel. Don’t just blow past these moments, they’re important! It’s fine if you want to set the mood at the beginning, but it means nothing if you can’t maintain it through what’s supposed to be the meat and potatoes of the story itself.

Alas, this isn’t what I was hoping for. Not bad in concept, but there are far better ways to achieve the same thing. I can think of one story right off the bat that does so. The rating couldn’t be more clear.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


The CMC borrow Twilight’s metal detector while trying to get gold mining cutie marks. This leads to them discovering a long-hidden note with a riddle. Time for a good ol’ fashioned treasure hunt!

Written waaaaaay back during the Great Hiatus between Seasons 3 and 4, this story mostly involves our favorite filly trio wandering all over Discord’s half-acre following clues in places most ponies have forgotten all about. The ending is a forgone conclusion if you just think about it in-context for five seconds, but that doesn’t stop the result from being touching.

I enjoyed this. It had the CMC doing typical pre-cutie marked CMC things without being annoying about it. From exploring decrepit barns to facing down giant spiders, it’s got plenty of fun little moments. It tops off with a nice little conversation between the Apple sisters. Canon has dented the story’s background, but only a little.

If you’re interested in the CMC doing CMC things and/or want a little Apple Family d’awws in the process, this will certainly do it for you.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Closing TimePretty Good


Hope

18,479 Words
By Portmeirion

Cheerilee and Big McIntosh broke up! This means that Fluttershy finally has the chance to act upon her crush for the big guy. All she has to do is talk to him. That’s it, just walk right up to him and tell him she… l-likes him. Which she’s going to do. Now. Right now. Riiiiight… now. ...oh dear.

All together now: 3… 2… 1…

D’awww!

The premise here is simple. Easy, in fact. The FlutterMac ship sells itself. Seriously, ignoring those trying to ship her with one of her fellow Mane 6, the only ones in the world who didn’t realize at the time of writing that this was one of the best ships ever was Hasbro. Kinda like how Hasbro’s the only ones who never realized that alicorn Sunset Shimmer is canon.

And yet, this story also has something going for it. Strange as it may seem, I am fairly certain this is the first story I’ve ever read that specifically addresses Fluttershy trying to ask Big Mac to be her special somepony. I’ve read some where they were already a couple, and some where they end up dating before the end, but never one that addresses this subject exactly. Which is odd; you’d think I’d have encountered a bajillion of these by now. As I said, the topic is easy.

Considering that this was written waaaay back in 2012, it’s quite good. Fluttershy is still in that overly timid phase from back before she grew a backbone, and that plays heavily on her behavior in this story. Indeed, Portmeirion’s character awareness is great throughout the whole thing. All of the Mane 6 get an opportunity to shine in some way, from Rainbow being an unwitting Fluttershy’s wingpony to Pinkie Pie being the best cheerer-upper in Ponyville. Even Rarity, who is usually depicted in these sorts of stories as going over-the-top with romantic advice, behaves in a way that is surprisingly situation-aware yet still in-character. I have nothing but approval.

There are two caveats. The first is that, seeing the subject matter, we all know where this is going. The ending is a certainty before we even start reading. This means that those going in have to be invested in the journey more than the destination.

The second caveat is that, in being true to Fluttershy as a character, the story moves slowly. There is no big push that makes Fluttershy get assertive and go after Big Mac, nor is there some big intervention from all her friends. This is about Fluttershy working up the nerve to talk to him all on her own. That takes time, emotional support, and a few false starts. While I applaud the author’s careful attention to our protagonist, I must also acknowledge the limitations: if you’re looking for some whirlwind romance and drama, this isn’t going to be for you.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. It’s a little slow, but makes up for it with strong characters, a solid appreciation for Butter Horse, and a warm conclusion suited to the ponies involved.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Change of SeasonsPretty Good


When Twilight and Spike receive a package with a sonic screwdriver, they know it must belong to Time Turner.

Another story relying on Doctor Who references. Excuse me while I roll my eyes. In its defense, the Doctor Who stuff is really just a catalyst for Twilight and Spike to be silly, the former through epic freaking out and the latter through poor self-preservation instincts. Then there’s the twist ending, which comes completely out of left field while doing an impressive job delivering the feghoot.

Overall, I find myself less annoyed than usual at this Doctor Who-themed story. Which is pretty impressive by itself. It’s a little fun, a little silly, and comes with a cameo you’ll never see coming. Worth my while, I’d say.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


EDIT: So I just got the news of what JetFire2012 has been up to of late. What a strange coincidence that this should come out the day before this review is to go public. Since I know feelings are still high on this matter, let me do a little disclaimer: this review remains unchanged from when I first read the story a week or so ago. My rating for it, and that of It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door, will not change because of these incidents. I am here to judge a story, not the person behind the story, and I adamantly refuse to change my stance on that. I will not take the time to reflect upon the author or what I think of the situation involving him. If the fact that this was written by JetFire2012 bothers you, you are free to not read the review.

And for the love of Luna and Celestia, please don’t turn my review blog’s comment section into a political wasteland. Most of us are here to get away from that stuff.

THE REVIEW:

It’s been a little while since Twilight nearly died from Horn Rot and her friends went on a grand adventure to find a cure and save her life. She’s decided to take a break and visit with said friends… except all of them are busy or out of town today. This leads to a rethinking of priorities, and she instead spends her day with Spike. This provides them the opportunity to discuss some very important aspects of their relationship.

To be clear, this is indeed another “Twilight realizes she’s Spike’s mother” story. And yes, those are common to the point of eye-rolling.

A Day for Twilight and Spike has two advantages against the competition. The first is a proper catalyst, that being Twilight’s near-death to Horn Rot in the previous story forcing Spike to realize what he never appreciated in her before. The second is the use of the scenario for some greater worldbuilding that the prior story hadn’t been able to get around to. Both work well to make this one a little more interesting. On top of those is the blatant hint at Fluttershy having more to do than what we know, essentially acting as a very subtle lead-in to Besides the Will of Evil (which I fully intend to read).

But there are still issues. For one, Jetfire2012 still has no idea how to use scene breaks. We randomly shift from scene to scene, sometimes with a clear transition and sometimes with no transition at all. The latter are jarring as hell. The author also still has trouble with Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, though it’s less noticeable than it was in the previous story.

Worst of all is that the story ignores any sense of storytelling flow. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a clear, linear cause-and-effect path for the plot. But no given scene feels more important than any other scene, and the lack of transitioning fails to convey any sense of pacing. To be honest, I was kinda bored for the first ~3,000 words, up to when it’s revealed that Twilight and Spike can converse in dragon speak. Given that’s roughly a third of the whole story, it’s quite the problem.

Still, I’m willing to put this on the middle ground. It’s got its interesting bits, I just think it could have been directed with a bit more finesse.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your DoorPretty Good


Stories for Next Week:

The Better Angel by ArguingPizza
Just Wanna Say... by Gpizano
Cheating on your Waifu by Czar_Yoshi
Sunset Sexytimes by shallow15
Trixie's Confession, Twilight's Shock by The Bricklayer
Tainted Love by WhiteRose
The Order of The Rainbow by TheEveryDaySparkle
The Importance of Proper Diplomacy when Engaging Rival Governments for the Purposes of an Official Treaty by Exilo
Faster by Einhander
Starlight Glimmer: Subject Stealing, Undeserving, Soon To Be Destroyed, Queen of MY Changelings by Dr Atlas


Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVII
You Are Here
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXII
TBD

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Comments ( 16 )
vren55 #1 · June 4th · · ·

While I understand why you’re saying what your saying regarding the Featherblade saga. Is calling them an amateur fair? I mean we are all technically amateurs

5276163
Actually, I believe Iisaw is a published author, but I do agree.

Oh, wow. Thank you for the generous review!

5276163
5276180
Not just Iisaw. There's a pretty wide range of skill on the site, from "working on publishing a book" to "published a book" to "makes a living from their books and speaks at cons."

That said, it is a declaration that I agree could use some context. Personally, I read it as in the context of the site, because professional authors, while existing on fimfic, are very much a minority. Even just in the context of fanfic, there's still a range from "just starting" to "experienced pro."

Thank you for your kind review! In hindsight, I've always regretted how little I drew the intro monologue into the rest of the story in a more concrete sense rather than just using it for tone and perspective. It's nice to see that it worked for you, even if I could have done more with it. I'm very, very glad that my description of shyness/introversion rang true. Writing "what you know" is never a guarantee of writing it well.

Thank you again for taking the time to read and review!

I haven't read "Tracks in the Sand," but from your description of it, it sounds really similar to "Girls' Last Tour." I wonder if it was inspired by that.

FlutterMac was the best ship in the early days, but I think FlutterCord works out pretty good, too. Just disappointed I didn't see any crazy draco-pony hybrid thingies in the finale. But other than that, it is nice to see a FlutterMac story get some attention.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Tracks in the Sand is so fucking good that I almost forgot to put 'good' in this sentence.

Not one for RariDash? This masterpiece will challenge your assumptions:

[Adult story embed hidden]

Even if it doesn't transform you into a RariDash shipper, CIG's gorgeous prose and nuanced character development will haunt you (in the best possible way!).

Tracks in the Sand is in my favorites and yes it really is quite good. Sunset and Pinkie make for a good duo.

5276163 5276180 5276258
For starters, I wholeheartedly reject this idea that anyone who isn't published in the 'real world' is an amateur by default. How good you are as a writer isn't dependent upon whether a publishing company noticed you or you're making money off your work. There are published stories that are just plain terrible, and there are stories on FIMFiction that are literary masterpieces. What makes the crappy story people buy to read better than the FIMFiction masterpiece?

What we define as 'amateur' is relative. And subjective. My own definition is admittedly broad; as a critic, I've come across a great many kinds of mistakes. Which means when I say 'amateur', I'm referencing a much more generalized set of writing elements that are hard to define because of their range. To me, it's not about making any one specific mistake so much as it is making a large number of them all at once. In Mysterious Stranger's case, it involved the lack of character growth, relevance, and distinctness, an overly direct writing style, an unawareness of the general source material (i.e. the clash of the main character against the world in which he lived, which I now realize I failed to mention in my review), over-focusing on the introduction, heavily contrived plot elements, and anything else I'm forgetting at the moment. If there were only one or two of these issues, okay, but all of them? That, I think, demonstrates an amateur.

5276355
Girls' Last Tour, huh? Never heard of it. Mayhap I should look it up.

5277232
I'm a shipper. I'll ship whatever. It's just not one that catches my eye, that's all. Still, I may read that one at some point; far be it for me to ignore a CiG story.

5276598
I'm more disappointed we didn't see Fluttershy with anypony at all.

5277469
I should have mentioned it’s an anime, not a story. A fairly short one, about two young girls traveling through a postapocalyptic city. Despite the heavy setting, it’s pretty much pure slice of life. It was voted one of the best SoL series the year it came out.

5277773
Well, now I'm even more interested. That sounds like something I'd enjoy.

5277783
It has a rather strange ending, in two ways, but I liked it, and the music was great too.

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