• Member Since 6th Feb, 2012
  • offline last seen 8 hours ago

Pegasus Rescue Brigade


Diminutive Equine Novelist

More Blog Posts83

  • 13 weeks
    Celestia's Academy Trading Cards

    So I commissioned a relatively large project that fans of Magic of the Heart might like to see.

    Read More

    5 comments · 207 views
  • 30 weeks
    Shipping and Handling Trilogy 10th Anniversary!

    Ten Years ago today, I published the first chapter of "Shipping and Handling" to deviantart, as fimfiction either didn't exist yet or was very, very small at the time. Meant to be just a joke fic playing with the dual meaning of the word "shipping", I hoped a couple readers would get a quick laugh out of it.

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    16 comments · 314 views
  • 40 weeks
    Trying to get back into the routine

    Hi everyone.

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    5 comments · 205 views
  • 55 weeks
    Various New Stuff

    Hey guys,

    I'm still here, though it's been a little while.

    You might remember a blog post about two months back where I mentioned I got a new job, and things since then have been a whirlwind of activity as I shifted my life to something entirely different than it was at the beginning of the year. Here's some of what I've been up to!

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    7 comments · 295 views
  • 64 weeks
    Short Stories are hard

    I see my strengths and weaknesses in writing haven't changed.

    I've always found it much easier to write a novel than a short story. Which seems a little weird. I figured it was because I needed more time to develop characters and do some worldbuilding, which you don't have much time to do in short stories.

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    9 comments · 225 views
Feb
8th
2021

Some Fun "Magic of the Heart" Trivia! · 9:10pm Feb 8th, 2021

THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR MAGIC OF THE HEART. DON'T READ IT IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK.


It's been about a week now since I posted the conclusion of Magic of the Heart, so today I thought I'd do something fun and give you a window into some of the behind-the-scenes development that went into writing a novel of that length and detail, as well as some fun facts about the characters you might not have realized based on the story alone.

Below, you'll find 30 neat bits of trivia about Magic of the Heart, and the S&H universe as a whole.


1. The story's title, Magic of the Heart, was a reference to the two previous stories in the trilogy. Ditzy, the matchmaker, worked with matters of the heart, and Dinky, the unicorn student, had a focus on magic. Since this story was about both of them, it seemed fitting to include them both in the title... while also making the actual concept of the magic in ponies' hearts the major pervading theme of the book.

2. The characters who were foals in Hocus Pocus received adult redesigns in this story. Of particular note was Honeydew, who spend the majority of the story letting her mane hang freely in its natural state, rather than keeping it tied up as she had in almost all of Hocus Pocus. This was meant to be a representation of her growth from the scared filly her parents had caused her to be into the passionate and independent pony her friends had helped her to become.

3. Dinky's ability to turn to smoke and then back to solid form is taken from canon, Sombra can be seen doing it several times.

4. All the shipping assignments in this book existed only to provide character development to Ditzy and the other shippers. They were written that way intentionally, so their contents would have some impact on the major characters. As for the characters being shipped (with the obvious, tremendous exception of Sparkler), they were probably the least important part of the overall plot.

5. Sparkler being Glow and Breeze's daughter was always the plan. When Sparkler first appeared in chapter 2 of Hocus Pocus, I already knew that was what I was going to do with her, and Sparkler's entire personality in Hocus Pocus wa written with that backstory already in mind, even though I planned to keep it secret until the third book. There is a line in Hocus Pocus where she states "I never knew my father, and my mother isn't the type to stick her neck out for other ponies," but that was the only hint I gave.

6. Every time the words "Magic of the Heart" were used in the story, in that exact order, I capitalized "Magic" and "Heart" to match the title. If I used a similar phrase, like "magic in our hearts" instead, I did not capitalize.

7. One of the illustrations in the story included a picture of Inkwell. It was very important that she was drawn at least once, since her cutie mark (which is visible in the illustration in chapter 6) was the only forshadowing that she was the heir of Ophiuchus. I wanted people to be able to see it, not just read about it.

8. Tango Trot was the last major character to be added to the story during the planning phase. Season 9 of the show was already underway when I came up with him, after S9E8, "Frenemies", included the song "A better way to be bad". When I listened to this instrumental version of that song, I immediately pictured it as the musical backdrop to a duel between Scuffle (at the horns/heavy percussion parts) and a smug, elegant Spanish pony (at the parts with string instruments). As that piece of music is, by definition, a tango, the pony that it inspired was named Tango Trot.

9. Again on the topic of Tango Trot, the entire reason I gave him precognitive abilities was so I could create the double meaning of "The fall of Canterlot is inevitable", late in the story.

10. Inkwell's group of friends was originally going to be four ponies, not three, with the fourth being a colt named Fiberglass. While refining the outline before I began writing, I concluded that Inkwell and Fiberglass's dynamic was so similar to Dinky and Scuffle's that it felt like I was just rehashing Hocus Pocus. Fiberglass was hugely downgraded to a one-off character that appears in chapter 5. The only reason he remained in the story at all was to give Clarity a character development moment, as she gradually got used to the duties of the Student Overseers. The colt was also given that name because his mane was pink, like fiberglass insulation.

11. The original plan for the story's main villain was much different. Early in the planning stages, (like, a couple years ago), Cosmic Glow was set up to reprise her role as main antagonist. She was going to pay off a new character, Wishing Star, to infiltrate the shipping company for her, and relay her the information she needed to sabotage it. Later in the book, she was going to find a way to steal the power of all four princesses and ascend to some kind of super-alicorn, while the new character, Wishing Star, was ultimately going to regret her decision to help Glow and be redeemed at the end. However, I eventually decided that Glow had neither the smarts nor the power to overpower the princesses; she's petty and mean, not evil, so Wishing Star was promoted from unicorn to Discord-like entity and made the main antagonist instead, which I ended up liking much better.

12. Top Percentile is actually a jab at the most common criticism on Hocus Pocus: the fact that the characters speak above their age level. I went "oh, you think Dinky and her friends talk like they're older than thirteen? How's THIS for talking like they're older than thirteen?" To be fair, I think I did a better job of making Inkwell and Portabella talk like thirteen-year-olds than I did with Dinky and her friends in Hocus Pocus.

13. Three particular scenes in this book were much, much harder to write than all the rest of it. Those three scenes are: 1. Ditzy and Watt's shipping assignment for Thorax. 2. Ditzy and Breeze's shipping assignment for Written Script, the one Ditzy sabotaged. 3. The meeting of almost all the protagonist characters in chapter 18 to discuss the final battle. If you think any of those three scenes turned out even acceptable, then I'm satisfied.

14. Scoville Scale was not in the outline at first, he was created on the fly when I realized that I needed a second navy character. Otherwise, most of Pip's scenes would've been entirely introspective, since the details on the Royal Equestrian Navy were not well developed since they were pretty irrelevant to the story. Also... he was just fun comic relief, honestly.

15. Honeydew is secretly kind of a nerd. I threw in a few references to this, namely her apparent great skill at the game of checkers, and the evidence that she reads manga. In my mind, she has some other fun hobbies like those, but they weren't mentioned in the book.

16. The minor character Seeker was the winner of a raffle to include a fan's OC. She belongs to Olden Bronie, who happened to win said raffle. He even helped design her moveset for her duel with Tango Trot.

17. When I wrote Hocus Pocus, I didn't originally plan to do anything with the fragment of Scorpio's tail that was left behind when the portal closed. I sure am glad it was there, though; when I went to create the outline of Magic of the Heart, it made an excellent plot-driving McGuffin had helped me bridge some difficult plot gaps, such as how Dinky was going to access the Realm of Stars.

18. The entire Lifesense subplot was created to give Honeydew a way to mitigate the effects of her impending blindness at the end of the book. In the very early planning phases, I had planned to have Honeydew's horn snap off at the notch instead, leaving her without magic in exchange for saving Scuffle's life, but I quickly realized, (as stated by Scuffle several times) that robbing Honeydew of her magic would've been an incredibly cruel thing to do to her character, and invalidated a lot of her character development. I'm MUCH happier with the route I took in the final story than with that original idea.

19. The illustration of Dinky's wraith form was the most expensive art in the book besides the cover, but it was worth every penny and more, and I hope I can get more art of that form someday.

20. The scene where Dean Script talks to Ditzy about her deep passion for fulfilling her duty to Canterlot and her students was written ONLY so it would be more heartbreaking when she died at the end. I was worried readers wouldn't be attached to her enough to care about her passing. Just one of my many evil tricks to stir up max emotion.

21. The Flicker arc in chapters 15 and 16 was one of the earliest parts of the story that I had formulated. The main reason it existed was to prove to the reader beyond any doubt that Scuffle cares deeply about Honeydew because of who she is, not because of the fact that she's very attractive. The scene where Flicker creeps into Scuffle's bedroom to try to seduce him was the important part of the Flicker arc, the rest was building up to that. Also, I just really wanted to use Scuffle's female alter-ego, Rosy Lace, again.

22. Cloudcover being a secret agent in Celestia's service was not my idea! It was a headcanon created by a friend of mine after reading Shipping and Handling. Cloudcover was easily the most boring character in that book, and no one really cared about him, save for that one friend who seemed to fall in love with him and show interest in developing him further. That friend isn't really in the pony fandom anymore, but his re-imagining of Cloudcover lives on.

23. Trouble the fox was named after the equally heroic Trouble the hawk in the "Lost Years of Merlin" series by T.A. Barron, one of my favorite fantasy novels as a kid. Even all these years later, I highly recommend those.

24. I had originally planned for Dinky to ascend to something called an Archwraith, which would've been like what the pony of shadows was in the show. The main reason I didn't do this was because Twilight and Starlight were able to save Stygian from his own darkness in the show, and I wanted to make sure that nothing (other than death) could make Dinky NOT be a wraith. So instead, I just gave her some magic wings and called it a day.

25. Animosity was originally going to be called Malice. There's no significant reason for that change, I just liked Animosity better.

26. I had originally planned for the cover art to be an action scene of Chapter 19, with Ditzy and Dinky sealed in a crystal, Dinky's friends on the deck of an airship, and Ditzy's coworkers and Sparkler standing on or flying around a tower of the castle. No artist was willing to draw something that complicated with 10 different ponies in it though, and that's probably a good thing; the current cover is less spoilery.

27. Tango Trot was a difficult character to write, since he was (intentionally) skirting the protagonist/antagonist line for most of the book. In the end, of course, he was a protagonist, but I hope his story arc turned out right.

28. Clarity's eventual outcome, becoming the new head of Equestria Speedy Shipping Services, was another plot point that's been around since Hocus Pocus. Her special talent and personality are perfect for it.

29. The signatures on Dinky's diploma are real, not computer generated. Spiral Script's is mine and Princess Celestia's is my mother's.

30. The Lullaby of Heart in the epilogue was the very first part of this book to be written. The whole thing came to me at once at work one day and I rushed to the break room to type it up. Writing it out was what I took as the signal to take the outline I'd been slowly formulating for three years and start actually writing the novel.


I hope you enjoyed this bit of background! I'm working on some of those Anecdotes of Heart I mentioned in my last blog post, but I don't have an estimate yet on a release date for any of them.

Thanks for reading,
~PRB

Comments ( 10 )

This was a nifty behind-the-scenes look at the novel. Glad you shared these tidbits with us.

Huh, lot of neat little things here! It's always interesting to see how stories come to us

Sometimes, it can start with a single thing that makes us happy.

I'll quite happily say I'm glad for the song as well!

I honestly loved the series, but I'm still wondering how the third story can fit with the show. Nice tidbits, though.

I love these trivia bits. I do agree that Dinky and Co don't sound like normal children, and even in this story they sound way too wise beyond their years(despite being geniuses) but that doesn't detract from the awesome worldbuilding and storytelling that you do. The whole entire world of magic you've created is wonderful, and I would LOVEEEE more detail into how things work.

5453387
Well, you might've seen that one of the projects I'm working on now is a Celestia's Academy course catalogue. That'll be a healthy dose of magic-related worldbuilding.

The criticism of Dinky and friends speaking above their age level always struck me as weird... I was actually 13 when you started writing Hocus Pocus (and I'm pretty sure I was 13/14 when I started reading it) and their speech just seemed normal to me, since that was pretty close to how I talked at the time.

Out of curiosity, did you have a specific melody in mind when The Lullaby of The Heart? I always tend to sing songs when I read them in books, and I found one that I liked for it, but I was curious if you had one in mind

5454458
Oh yeah, it has a melody.
I just don't have any way to communicate it in text alone.

...Also, there's a part of me that worries that I've stolen the tune from, I don't know, a church hymn from childhood or something, and don't realize it. I've sung it to myself so many times that I can no longer associate it with anything other than Magic of the Heart, but it would be embarrassing if it turned out to actually be (unintentionally) plagiarized.

5453391
Yeah, I saw. Can't wait for that!! That's exactly what I want!!

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