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Undome Tinwe

And I'll always find you, again and again/And I'll love every version of you/And you're never truly gone/As long as a part of you in me lives on.

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A Diamond With Infinite Facets: An Exploration of RariLight Alternate Universes · 4:28pm Aug 11th, 2021

For those of you who missed it, I have a Twitter account where I post nothing but thoughts about Rarity and Twilight. A lot of them are ideas for RariLight AUs (some of which I've written or am in the process of writing) or general thoughts about RariLight AUs. These Tweets are very scattershot and stream-of-consciousness, but I've made enough of them that I think it's finally time to sit down and organize my thoughts about what considerations go into making AU versions of Rarity and Twilight.

I'm not the first person to write about constructing an AU — heck, I'm not even the first to write about constructing a RariLight AU. Monochromatic's RCL interview (which can be found here), goes into how she constructed the alternate universe of The Enchanted Library, for example. These existing blogs have some amazing advice, and definitely influenced my own writing, but the ones I've seen are devoted entirely to analyzing the construction of a single AU which, while a very useful tool, also makes them more limited in scope.

In addition, while these blogs are useful even if you haven't read the source material, there's obviously going to be some assumption that the reader is already somewhat familiar with the source material being analyzed. As such, I will be attempting to write a general introduction to RariLight AUs that doesn't require any prior reading (though obviously I recommend all the fics I will be discussing).

A few caveats before we begin:

1. I will be focusing on the characterization aspects of RariLight AUs. The actual details of worldbuilding and aesthetics and plot structures are also interesting to discuss, but I'm not much of a worldbuilder, and I tend to build my plots around the characters, rather than the other way around, so I don't have any advice to give about AU plot construction. I also think that what makes an AU attractive — especially a RariLight AU — is how characters are portrayed and transformed in them, so that's what I'll be discussing.
2. I am not purporting to have the final say in how Rarity and Twilight should be written, nor do I even advocate for any one style to be the only valid way to write them. In fact, some of the advice and conclusions I give here would likely be contradicted by the very authors I discuss, and I would encourage you to find your own style and perspective for creating AUs, using this essay as simply points of consideration.
3. Three of my favourite RariLight AU fics are M-rated, and I will be discussing them here because I think they're fascinating to analyze. Crimson Lips is an AU fic in which Rarity is a sex worker, and while it doesn't have any sexually explicit scenes, it obviously discusses mature subject matters. The Sickness Unto Death and Demons and Desires contain sexually explicit scenes, which I won't be discussing, but for those of you who check out these fics, it's something to keep in mind. (EDIT: Crimson is now rated T, but I'm too lazy to go and add hyperlinks everywhere.)

With that said, let's begin!

Worlds of Pure Imagination: The Taxonomy of AUs

I'm going to assume that if you've made it this far, you understand the basic ideas behind what an Alternate Universe is and how they generally work. Broadly speaking, an AU is just any setting that alters canon in some way. This can be a small change (a world where Pinkie Pie is a pegasus instead of an Earth Pony) or a large one (a reimagining of MLP where the characters are all anthro gunslingers in the Wild West).

Strictly speaking, any fanfic that isn't 100% canon-compliant on every last detail could be considered an AU, but this isn't a very useful definition, so most of the time AU is used to refer to settings where there is some deliberate attempt to alter canon and explore some aspect that was altered.

TVTropes also gives a useful breakdown of different types of AUs, which will help us define the scope of this blog. Loosely speaking, we can break down AU fics into two categories:

Contextual Reassignment AUs: These are AUs in which the setting has been completely replaced, and can be thought of as transplanting the characters and maybe a few details of the world into a completely new setting, rather than changing the existing canon universe. This is where your High School AUs, College AUs, and Coffee Shop AUs reside.

In MLP, basically every humanized AU that isn't directly based on Equestria Girls is a contextual reassignment AU, and while I don't exactly have the most unbiased samples, I've noticed that RariLight AUs tend towards being humanized moreso than other ships/premises. Between the College AU of Demons and Desires, the Moulin Rouge-inspired AU of Crimson Lips, the vampire AUs of The Sickness Unto Death and Moonlit Waltz, a bunch of my own RariLight AU fics, and many more that I'll likely bring up later, RariLight shippers really seem to love making their ship into humans. I have my own theories as to why, but I'll be getting into that when I really dive deep into Rarity and Twilight's characterizations.

There are also a number of pony RariLight AUs, of course. Diamond Amidst the Stars and Long Road for Love completely reimagine Twilight and Rarity's place in versions of Equestria that are far more High Fantasy than canon, with completely different histories as well. The Sphinx AU of Monochromatic and Earthsong9405 and Monochromatic's La Princesse similarly propose an Equestria with a more traditional ruling family, of which either Twilight or Rarity is a member of, and where the other is a foreign royal. These fics place Twilight and Rarity in very different contexts compared to the show, in addition to changing the setting around them as well.

What Ifs?: These are AUs in which something about canon has been changed, resulting in a different world from what we know where the story takes place. This can be small (Twilight is actually Celestia's biological daughter but the plot of the show largely ends up playing out the same) or large (Celestia was the one who went mad a thousand years ago, and was banished by Luna).

Sometimes an AU will have one or more points of initial variation (as in the above examples, where we just change one event — Twilight's birth or the Banishment — and see what happens from there), but they can also be worlds that are almost exactly like canon but some fundamental aspect of the setting is different (e.g. Colors of the Soul, which takes place in an AU where ponies cannot see colour until they meet their soulmate, but otherwise the events of the show play out as in canon). Roleswaps also fall into this category, since they tend to be "canon, but these characters have their contexts switched."

I will also note at this point that some What Ifs have a point of deviation after the start of the show (like in AUs where one of the villains win). In this case, I will argue that in most cases, this will fall outside the scope of this blog, since you won't be reimagining the characters so much as just naturally evolving the canon versions through some different events, which is what every fanfic does anyways. Some of the advice may still be useful here, but it definitely won't be what I focus on.

As with all classification systems, there's always going to be outliers and in-betweens. The Enchanted Library was designed as a What If, but in many ways feels like a Contextual Reassignment, since Twilight's place in the world is fundamentally different, as is the way she interacts with Rarity. In this AU, Twilight is one of 4 princesses who were cursed by Discord and trapped in different prisons a thousand years ago, and in a present-day Equestria which seems very similar to canon except that it's ruled by Cadance's descendants, Rarity stumbles upon Twilight's prison and attempts to free her. It was constructed starting from the single what-if (what if Twilight Sparkle was a thousand-year-old ghost trapped in a library?) but spun off into something very, very different from canon, and yet with a setting that feels very familiar.

This is all to say that trying to force fics into fitting these categories or planning a fic around them is pointless, but it's useful to have the terminology, and also gives an idea about the variety of worlds out there for us to explore.

This World Is Not Enough: Reasons for Writing AUs

There are many reasons why people choose to write AUs. Most of them revolve around the fact that they want to have characters acting or interacting in a way that would be impossible in canon. It's hard to write a Meet Cute (the first meeting between a couple, usually with the implication that at least one of the characters begins developing feelings at this point) between Rarity and Twilight when they canonically know each other already, and neither was blushing, stammering messes during their first meeting. Or maybe, like me, they really like the idea of Rarity and Twilight swordfighting to the death, which is not something they would ever do in canon but would work perfectly in a more medieval AU.

They may also like certain aspects of canon, but dislike others, and want to reframe the context of a fic to keep only what they want to explore, without having to worry about the stuff they don't like. Maybe they like the idea of Twilight and Rarity as a couple of young professionals in a small town, but don't want to deal with the baggage of Twilight being a princess or Celestia's student. Or maybe they want to focus on the Princess/Commoner dynamic between the two, which is not something that comes up much in canon, so creating a world where both of them are caught up in court politics can force the issue.

Finally, AUs can also be ways to explore characters, by reframing them in a different context and exploring what changes about them and what stays the same. This, to me, is the most fulfilling reason to write an AU, and also something that every AU writer needs to consider even if they just want to write Twilight and Rarity having a cute study date.

Whatever the reason, AUs can be wonderful tools for playing out whatever idea you want to write but would be too far-fetched for canon.

A Lady By Any Other Name: Recontextualizing Characters

Now that we've established the basics of AUs, it's time to get to the meat of the blog: how to reimagine characters in a different context or setting. In an AU, your characters are not going to be the same as in canon, either because you've decided to deliberately alter some aspect of their characterization (e.g. a villain AU where the Mane 6 are bad guys), or because the world you've created provided different life experiences for the character, causing them to develop in a different way.

For example, Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard is a RariLight AU where the AU aspects of the setting basically boil down to altering Twilight and Rarity's characterization and seeing what happens to canon as a result. Twilight is made much more manipulative, and is also made a romantic, while still being the bookworm nerd we all know and love, and Rarity is given a streak of ruthlessness that leads her to conquer Equestria after being spurned by Blueblood. These are deliberate changes to the characters made by the author almost independent of the setting. Similarly, Rock the Carousel turns Twilight into a rebellious punk rocker with some anger issues, but keeps her scholarly attitude and penchant for friendship, and manages to weave an incredibly fascinating AU from that.

On the flipside, you have the Bodyguard AU, created by Earthsong and expanded on by Monochromatic, where Rarity is a princess and Twilight is her bodyguard. In this case, the differences in characterization are a direct result of their different upbringings. Almost all of the differences between the AU versions and the canon versions can be explained by Rarity having been raised as a princess (rather than just dreaming of being one) and Twilight being raised to be a guard. Rarity's snobbishness ends up feeling magnified because of her role, and Twilight's attention to detail as a scholar leads her to be a very analytic and thorough bodyguard.

Of course, no matter what approach you take to character building, creating an AU version of a character requires a good understanding of who they are, on multiple levels. After all, you can't take apart and rebuild a machine until you know how it works.

In particular, for an AU, it's important to know how much you can change, and what the point is where a character becomes unrecognizable, and stops "feeling" right. That's the death knell for an AU — if your characters feel like OCs with canon names tacked on, then it's going to feel wrong to read, and you might as well just write OCs.

So, what makes a character "feel" right? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that. You can't just write up a list of character traits, assign points to them, and say that a character is a good reimagining if they have at least X points.

Ultimately, it's going to come down to a holistic sense of what makes up the core of a character, and whether that core still feels authentic to the character. That being said, there are some considerations to take into account when reimagining your character.

Rarity: Superficial vs. non-superficial characteristics

The characters of MLP are well-developed and three-dimensional, which means that they have many facets to their characterization. These facets are often layered, with a character's current actions, personality quirks, profession, and circumstances being the product of underlying aspects of their character, which in turn can be further explained and broken down until you reach their core characterization. Understanding both the surface-level things that make a character recognizable as well as the fundamental thematic and emotional core which ultimately define them and everything in between is vital to being able to re-imagine them.

For example, consider Rarity. At first glance, she's a seamstress, the bearer of the Element of Generosity, a white-coated unicorn with a curly purple mane, with aspirations of high society and a posh accent.

All of these traits are negotiable.

Bodyguard AU and Diamond Amidst the Stars both feature a Rarity who doesn't make dresses. In both of these (and in most AUs), the Elements themselves don't exist, though Rarity herself might still be generous. In the former, Rarity is a princess who has far better things to do than fashion design, and in the latter, Rarity prefers the forge to the sewing needle, creating armour to protect herself and her fellow soldiers in battle.

The unicorn part of her character is contradicted in any humanized AU, up to and including Equestria Girls itself. EqG also doesn't seem to imply that Rarity desires to mingle with the aristocratic elite, and in fics like Crimson Lips she actively rejects them (though that one's a bit more complicated, since she did once aspire to be like them until some stuff happened that disillusioned her).

In many cases, Rarity's aspirations with respect to the crème de la crème of high society are simply never brought up, so while the trait might not explicitly be removed, it's certainly not present in her portrayal. Examples include The Enchanted Library, The Bridge Over the Neighgara, and Bifröst. Rarity in The Enchanted Library is too busy with the main plot of freeing Twilight from her prison to think about high society (a plot point which somewhat returns in the sequel). In Bridge Over The Neighgara, Rarity is an officer in the war against King Sombra, and has given up a lot of her dreams. Finally, in Bifröst, it seems very unlikely that Rarity ever cared for high society at all, considering she's a Viking who probably spends most of her time plundering them for loot.

Now, what happens when we look deeper? Well, Rarity has an eye for beauty, which ties into her skill in fashion, but that can manifest itself in other ways. In Diamond Amidst the Stars, Rarity still tries to look as fabulous as possible even while decked out in armour. In the Hall of the Mountain Queen's Rarity doesn't wear clothes, on account of being a giant dragon, but she certainly loves collecting beautiful pieces of jewellery for her hoard, and appreciates Twilight's beauty as well when she shows up to steal something from said hoard. Bodyguard AU's Rarity is still quite vain despite not making her own dresses. Though these AUs don't make Rarity a seamstress, they stay true to her underlying trait of valuing outer beauty.

Beyond that, even if Rarity doesn't possess the Element of Generosity, she can still be generous in different ways. The show has her giving dresses to others and giving money and opportunities to those who need them. Volunteer work also shows up from time to time in some AUs (e.g. Crimson Lips, where Rarity mentions in passing that she volunteers at a shelter). A Woman Worth Saving is an interesting case where Rarity's generosity is a recent development brought on by Twilight rekindling her better nature, but even then, she still possesses a desire to help others before this point.

Rarity is a unicorn, but she never seems to have much interest in magic (recall her disinterest in the titular spell in Inspiration Manifestation), which gives an interesting indication of her priorities. This ports over to even humanized AUs. For example, in Crimson Lips, where Rarity is explicitly not skilled at magic, and also looks down on it somewhat as a result of associating it with the elitism she tried to escape. In other cases, we can draw a tenuous link between skill in advanced magic and studying the sciences, and say that even in nonmagical AUs, Rarity's not big on science in most AUs (which, in RariLight AUs, is contrasted with Twilight's love of the sciences).

Finally, even if Rarity doesn't have aspirations towards high society, she almost always has lofty aspirations. Rarity is an ambitious mare, and this is often reflected in her AUs. Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard has her conquering all of Equestria, as an extreme example. Part of Rarity's character arc in The Bridge Over the Neighgara is re-igniting her hope for a better future, and returning to her the ambition she needs to take on Sombra with Twilight by her side. And in The Enchanted Library, Rarity's ambition is directed at freeing Twilight, a feat that is considered legendary by that AU's standards. Finally, Rarity in As Bright as Stars in the Open Sky... is the captain of a pirate ship who has devoted herself to fulfilling the romantic dreams of others.

So we see that even in cases where the superficial elements are changed, some core aspect of Rarity's character remains. These are negotiable as well, but it is much harder to change them unless you do a good job making sure her other aspects come out strong. In the Hall of the Mountain Queen really had to emphasize Rarity's pride, eye of beauty, and grandiosity to make up for her almost complete lack of generosity, though she's still mentioned to have done one somewhat selfless thing in her involvement in her father's death in her backstory (he was evil, and she helped make sure that Celestia and Luna killed him). The Lady and the Fae also goes hard on Rarity being a creature who greatly values beauty, since as a fae, she was hardly generous and cared little for high society, though she retains her general sense of ambition in terms of wanting to expand her territory.

We can go even deeper into our dive into Rarity's character to find the core aspects of her that really make her shine, and which can greatly enhance one's portrayal of Rarity and really make her feel like Rarity. This is where things get a bit more complicated, because not everyone will agree on what these core aspects are, and most people probably haven't devoted a ridiculous amount of time to studying a character in order to reach this point. To a certain extent, you're going to have to form your own conclusions about this one, possibly with the help of the analysis of others. These are optional in a way, but can really help you ground your vision of an AU Rarity.

One core aspect that I'm personally very fond of (and which Monochromatic has spoken about in her convention panel on Rarity), is that Rarity brings out the inner beauty in others. In the show, she was originally meant to be the Element of Inspiration, before it was changed to Generosity, and it truly shows in her character. Rarity lives to make others shine, and she loves seeing and bringing out the passion in others, which is why her dresses are always custom-made to reflect a pony's personality (as we saw with the Gala dresses). In the Sphinx/Arranged Marriage AU created by Earthsong and expanded upon by Monochromatic (e.g. in The Sphinx's Riddle), Rarity is a noble engaged for political reasons to Twilight, a noble sphinx from another kingdom. She connects with Twilight by showing an interest in riddles, which Twilight is very passionate about in this AU, and in bringing out that passion they form their first emotional connection. The Sickness Unto Death (a humanized gothic AU where Twilight is a vampire and Rarity is human) also has a great scene with Rarity encouraging Twilight to embrace her vampiric side and then celebrating it when she does.

Another aspect is that Rarity is willing to sacrifice for what she believes is right (which is honestly a trait she shares with the rest of the Mane 6, but given the whole Generosity thing, it's kind of more natural for it to come up with her). I've seen this tied into the notion of duty a few times, with things like the Arranged Marriage AU, or The Bridge Over the Neighgara, where Rarity is an officer in the military and is willing to sacrifice herself for the cause. Forsaken Shores has Rarity as an elven merchant who returns to her homeland to act as an ambassador when it comes under attack, giving up her safety and career in a more stable part of the world. Obviously, you don't have to make Rarity willing to sacrifice everything in all her stories, but just having a sense that Rarity is selfless can be a nice touch to make her feel more authentic. The Sickness Unto Death, for example, has Rarity willingly give up her blood to Vampire Twilight, and in The Art of the Duel, Rarity is risking herself to steal a rare book for some kind of higher cause.

Amusingly, Rarity's voice is one of the only superficial traits of her that seems to stay constant. In general, while there's no reason one cannot change her accent, there's rarely a good reason to, and voicing is one of the traits that makes a character very easy to recognize, even if everything else about them changes. You can get away with some very drastic alterations in characterization as long as you keep a character's voice constant. Beyond Mere Programming features a robot Rarity who is so nascent that the only way we really recognize her as Rarity until the very end (when she shows an interest in fashion) is from her voice and physical appearance being 100% Rarity. Heart Curves also really doesn't explore enough of Rarity's character for her to feel like Rarity outside of her manner of speech and the way she flirts with Twilight being very reminiscent of common portrayals of her.

Of course, a lot of personality is encoded in voice, which is why it's such a powerful tool for characterization, especially with a character like Rarity. The moment she speaks, we get a sense that she's cultured, and educated in a certain style of diction associated with class. Her terms of endearment ("darling," dear," etc.) coupled with her often-teasing tone give her a sense of confident flirtiness, which further fleshes her out as a character who is self-assured and willing to go for what she wants.

Twilight: The perils of wearing many hats

Another important thing to keep in mind is that characters' facets can change over time. Twilight Sparkle is a classic example of this. She goes from anti-social shut-in student to friendly neighbourhood librarian to newly-minted princess to teacher in the span of nine seasons.

Very few AUs are going to be able to capture all of these different versions of Twilight, and very few of them should even try. Twilight's journey is one unique to the plot of the show, and while one can try to reflect it in their story, trying to hit every single character beat is going to greatly constrain what you can do (also let's face it, this isn't exactly the kind of journey you necessarily want to do in a single fic, on account of it being a multi-season TV show character arc).

As such, most stories will focus on one of these aspects, with maybe a character arc that takes her to another. The most common and most natural choice is to start from Season 1 Twilight, whether this is the anti-social version from before she met her friends or the somewhat sarcastic but earnest friendship student who's still grappling with the insanity of said friends. The March Of Progress features a Twilight who has made a few friends, but still spends most of her time in her lab and can be a bit blunt to people she meets. Bodyguard AU exists in a similar state of having a Twilight who is blunt, and has friends, but is very focused on her work (in this case, both her studies and being a bodyguard to Rarity).

Crimson Lips has Twilight start out as the extreme of the closeted student, to the point where Celestia has to tell her to make some friends as in the show. On the other extreme, the Twilight in Diamond Amidst the Stars, despite being a princess and having friends, is very unsure of herself and her place in the world, on account of her ascension being more a matter of magic than friendship.

Meanwhile, La Princesse has a Twilight who initially seems like the detached, aloof version, and is like that to a certain extent, but we soon see her being quite eager and warm when she befriends Rarity, reminiscent of her later sincerity and positivity, which goes to show that you don't always have to write Early Season One Twilight even if you're starting with a Twilight who has no/few friends.

You can also mix and match from different time frames. The Unicorn In The Tower presents a Twilight who is both a leader with friends, and yet still feels lonely and detached and has trouble socializing because she's obsessed with her work.

One important thing to note as well with Early Twilight is that while she can be socially awkward and reclusive, she is rarely shy. In canon, at least, she is confident in her abilities and not afraid to speak her mind when she feels someone is wrong — her lack of friends is due to her thinking herself above such distractions, not being too nervous to go out and make friends.

This isn't to say you can't write a shy Twilight (The Arranged Marriage AU features a Twilight who is very out of her element living in a foreign country, which, combined with the fact that she's a noble with political value in this AU, makes her hesitant to speak for fear of causing trouble, and Demons and Desires features a college-aged Twilight whose youth makes her more awkward and uncertain than one might expect in an adult), but it's good to keep in mind that it isn't the only or even default choice (The March Of Progress and Bodyguard AU have the confident, snarky Twi we all know and love, as discussed previously).

Some fics also start with an AU Twilight that's a little farther in her development, though the circumstances that led to that development might have been different. The Enchanted Library features a Princess Twilight who already made friends, and who probably ascended by finding the Element of Magic (from what I know, the fics haven't quite revealed the full story of that yet). Similarly, RariTwi: Love is War has Twilight as a newly-ascended princess who has a few friends but is still coming out of her shell.

On the more extreme end, in Moonlit Waltz, she's a thousand-year-old vampire with enough experience and ability to be the Mysterious Knowledgeable One that she vibes hardest with the Series Finale Princess Twilight in all her Celestial glory. In a similar vein, Rock the Carousel has a Twilight who is very comfortable working a crowd, and has fully embraced her title of punk rock queen, and is friendly enough to really resemble a late-stage Twilight.

Even the show sometimes struggles to regularly portray all of the different hats that Twilight wears. When's the last time you can remember Twilight doing experimental science? Or spending an afternoon in a library doing research? The season 7 finale shows that Twilight still hits the books from time to time, but how often Twi continues to do science/research stuff in her late incarnations is up to interpretation, which means that it can be played with in Alternate Universes.

You can write a Twilight who spends all of her time working and is married to whatever job you give her (e.g. Bodyguard AU, where Twilight spends all her time either guarding Rarity or studying), or one where her studies seem to be so effortless that she's always done them in the past, and so can enjoy herself in the present (Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard has a Twilight who is clearly very well-studied, but seems to just be having fun with her complicated romance plans in the present-day, without any responsibilities).

You can also play up these individual aspects of Twilight for your AU. The Bridge Over the Neighgara features a very scholarly Twilight who sounds like a conspiracy theorist when she talks about secret ways to defeat Sombra (this fic takes place in the Crystal War Timeline). Meanwhile, Crimson Lips places a very heavy emphasis on Twilight being a student of Celestia, for thematic reasons that relate to her relationship with Rarity. Twilight is a very flexible character, and you can do a lot with just playing up or down various aspects of her characterization.

Another amusing example of this can be found in the show itself, in SciTwi. It's clear to everyone that SciTwi is a very distinct character from Pony Twilight. Some of the differences can be chalked up to a difference in age and maturity — Twilight has the confidence of an adult academic, while SciTwi is very much still discovering her place in the world, and also is thrust into the realm of magic quite abruptly. Others can be explained by the show focusing on certain aspects of what is core to Twilight more than others, like how SciTwi is an inventor and an experimental scientist, which is something that Pony Twilight is as well, but it's not something that comes up that often compared to how often SciTwi is seen making things.

This is a perfectly valid AU version of Twilight, and it's one that, in particular, a lot of college AUs will tend towards, since SciTwi has a closer backstory to a College AU Twi than Pony Twi (Demons and Desires is one example of this). Though, even with this, there are more self-confident College AU versions of Twilight, such as the one in The Undergrad and the Witch.

And of course, even within these versions, there are the variations that one would expect from AUs. In the Hall of the Mountain Queen and Twilight the Third feature the "clever rogue" variant of Twilight that plays up her inventiveness and quick thinking, with friendships as an optional side thing, while Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard has the "smug mastermind" version of Twilight that occasionally peeks through right when she's about to defeat a major villain with a plan. Moonlit Waltz and The Sickness Unto Death give Twilight a seductive aura that pairs interestingly with the dorky self that lies beneath it, and Bodyguard AU gives Twilight a soldier's mentality on top of her scholar's one.

As a final note, you may have noticed that I never once mentioned magic in this section. Despite being her Element, magic is a surprisingly superficial part of her characterization. Sure, in a world with magic, it'll be odd if she isn't a skilled mage, but outside of that, whether she has magic or not doesn't really seem to matter, since either way she'll likely find something to study, with science often showing up as a replacement for magic in non-magical AUs. It's her studious nature and dedication to learning that's core to her personality, not her powers as a mage.

Student Becomes Teacher: Making character differences reflect the universe

Characters do not exist in a vacuum.

Rarity and Twilight are moulded by their life experiences and the world they inhabit. Rarity's initial naivety about the nobility can be explained as a product of her living in Ponyville rather than Canterlot, and Twilight's absolute faith in Celestia seems to come from a product of being awed by her godly display of magic in raising the sun, and also being her faithful student for so long. Twilight never willingly goes out and makes friends until forced to by an external force (Celestia), and the gem-related aspects of Rarity's skillset are tied to her cutie mark story (one can imagine that if she had found some other way of realizing that she wanted to make things beautiful, she likely wouldn't have ended up learning to find her own gems, and wouldn't be spelunking as much).

Context can suppress and exaggerate character traits, alter worldviews, and result in characters reacting differently to the same situation or having different hobbies and talents. It's important to keep in mind that the changes in the character and the setting mirror one another.

Bodyguard AU's Princess Rarity is, well, a princess, and so her snobbishness gets pushed out even more and makes her spoiled, as would be expected from someone of that position with Rarity's disposition. She also doesn't have that same burning ambition that her canon counterpart has, on account of her becoming queen being basically expected, though she is still willing to do what is needed for her kingdom. However, she still retains her generous heart and desire to help others.

Meanwhile, Princess Twilight Sparkle in The Enchanted Library is much more reserved and hesitant to make friends, not because she's antisocial, but because she's been burned before by a friend and scared to be hurt again. The Bridge Over the Neighgara's Rarity is much more cold and ruthless on account of being forced to fight in the war against King Sombra, and Crimson Lips' Rarity no longer has aspirations of nobility because her backstory involves her openly rejecting them to pursue her career as a sex worker.

Moonlit Waltz's Twilight has a confidence that comes from her age, as does Rarity in In the Hall of the Mountain Queen. So on and so forth. The changes in a character stem naturally from the AU in most cases.

On the flipside, the opposite can also hold true, where the premise of the AU is that the character is altered in some way, and the fic shows the effect of this change on the world. The obvious cases are the ones that make them younger, like in College AUs, which makes them less secure in themselves (Heart Curves or Demons and Desires).

Other times, you have more explicit changes, like Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard, which very specifically alter Rarity and Twilight's personalities to be more ruthless, and also make Twilight a hopeless romantic with a thing for evil rulers, then shows you a world where this leads to Rarity conquering Equestria after being rejected by Blueblood, and Twilight forgoing assembling the Elements in favour of trying to seduce Nightmare Moon and stopping Eternal Night in that way. Rock the Carousel also seems to start at "what if Twilight was a punk rocker" and then evolves the AU from there.

Twilight the Third basically just gives Twilight and Rarity kleptomania and then gleefully takes you on a whirlwind tour of all the crimes they commit and how that leads to them leading very different lives on the run compared to their canon counterparts.

In short, creating an AU and creating an AU version of a character should never be done independently of one another, but how you let these two aspects affect each other is open-ended.

I Will Always Find You: Reimagining RariLight

If characters change in an AU, then by extension, their relationship dynamics must change as well. And that's where things get fun.

Some fics will choose to mirror canon relationships, but with a twist reflective of the AU. It's a bit hard to find examples of this for Rarity and Twilight in RariLight AUs, since canonically they aren't dating. Others, instead, will start entirely from scratch and let things develop however they want according to the story they've created for the AU.

Most fics will fall somewhere in between these two, taking some inspirations from canon, and letting some aspects come from the AU/context. Either way, it's very unlikely that a relationship will stay the same when moving from AU to AU.

Sometimes, the differences come from differences in personality. Twilight the Third has a much more flirty and confident Twilight, which results in Twilight hitting on Rarity and teasing her, rather than the other way around, as one would expect. This also occurs in Moonlit Waltz and Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard,

Other times, it's the shifting context that alters the relationship dynamic. In the Hall of the Mountain Queen and The Art of the Duel pits Rarity and Twilight as antagonists to one another, which obviously influences how they interact at first. Meanwhile, Bodyguard AU has Twilight as a servant to Rarity, which results in her having a sarcastic while still subservient attitude towards Princess Rarity, while Rarity has to be careful not to abuse her power over Twilight.

Again, obviously, both of these factors are in play with nearly every fic, rather than being all one or the other.

This, of course, also affects how you write a romance between Rarity and Twilight. I'm going to assume that, if you've made it this far, you have some understanding of why RariLight is literally the best ship in existence and the sole reason for humanity's existence. As such, I'm not going to try to justify why Rarity and Twilight might become a couple in canon, but to explain different ways they could end up together in an AU, and how they might relate to possible paths in canon (or not relate, in some cases).

Back Where We Began: First meetings, first impressions, and first steps

As I said previously, one of the major benefits that comes from writing an AU is that you have the unique opportunity to develop the relationships between the characters from the start. By now, nine seasons and multiple movies in, all of the Mane 6 have quite the rich history with one another, and their early interactions are very much set in stone.

The first meeting between Rarity and Twilight will always be that of Twilight getting pulled into a makeover against her will while trying to stop an evil goddess by a mare who's enamoured by the fact that she's from Canterlot, then later forging an iron bond of friendship with her when they have to fight said evil goddess. In an AU, however, you're free to write that first time however you like, to be as close or far away from canon as desired, so long as the characters still act like themselves.

You can follow the core of the first meeting, of Rarity being overly dramatic at a Twilight who is just confused and maybe a little annoyed, and create your own version of that. For example, in Crimson Lips, Rarity finds herself captivated by Twilight when they first meet, and responds by trying to play up the part of the Mysterious Lady, much to Twilight's confusion as she tries to figure out why this random lady is asking if she'll miss her when she's gone. Diamond Amidst the Stars also has a Rarity who makes a dramatic entrance during a siege, being absolutely fabulous while also promising to help repel the invaders, and a Twilight who is more concerned with said invaders than the beautiful stranger in their midsts, as alluring as she might be.

However, far more stories simply forgo that structure and do whatever they want. The Art of the Duel, In the Hall of the Mountain Queen, The March Of Progress, and Forsaken Shores use the tried-and-true premise of having them start out as enemies, possibly with sexual tension between them, while The Bridge Over the Neighgara has them as being on the same side of a war, but with Rarity mistrustful of Twilight when she appears in her camp.

In general, it seems more natural to have Rarity play a more active part in the circumstances of the first meeting, simply because she tends to be the one who's more ambitious and outgoing, while Twilight tends to keep to herself. Still, under the right circumstances, even this can be turned around.

Fics that significantly change Twilight's personality in certain ways can achieve this inversion easily enough. In the Hall of the Mountain Queen features a more adventurous Twilight, which puts her in a position to be breaking into Rarity's cave to rob her. Moonlit Waltz gives Twilight a thousand years of experience over Rarity, allowing her to be the confident one who can approach her, and Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard similarly gives Twilight a worldliness and confidence that provides her with the courage to come up with a complex scheme to seduce her.

Beyond Mere Programming, Forsaken Shores, and A Woman Worth Saving feature a more traditional shut-in Twilight, but put her in a position where she must make the first move. Rarity in Forsaken Shores is a prisoner of Twilight's family, so Twilight has to be the one to seek her out as a companion, and in Beyond Mere Programming, Twilight literally creates Rarity, which also puts her in the position of having initiated contact. A Woman Worth Saving simply has Twilight make the first move out as a thank-you gesture after Rarity helps her out, which is a good example of how the context of an AU matters in how the relationship plays out. The possibilities are endless, so long as they are consistent with the changes in the characters and their circumstances. As another example, in The Undergrad and the Witch, Twilight summons up Rarity the witch in order to bargain with her for what she needs.

As for first impressions, well, that's going to be heavily defined by the context of the first meeting. For the ones where they meet as enemies, there's obviously going to be some antagonism between them, though by the end of the first encounter they might end up having some grudging respect and/or repressed attraction for one another.

On the opposite extreme, some kind of love at first sight — or at least, desire to date at first sight — is also perfectly valid. Bifröst has Twilight immediately asking Rarity to take her away from her arranged marriage and Rarity agreeing after the two of them hit it off and find common ground quite quickly, and in In the Hall of the Mountain Queen, the two are likewise in a romantic relationship by the end of their initial encounter. 

There's an argument to be made that how quickly Rarity and Twi warm up to each other is more a question of length and pacing than anything. A shorter story will need to get to the point faster, while a longer story can take its time to have their relationship build up over time, which is why stories like The Sickness Unto Death and The Enchanted Library can start with the characters having a relatively neutral but respectful relationship, and build up to romance.

Regardless, as one would expect from a shipping story, there's almost always going to be some chemistry between them from the start, some spark that keeps them interacting and allows them to grow to love one another. The Sickness Unto Death, Crimson Lips, Rock the Carousel, and The Enchanted Library start with a fascination between the characters. Rarity is fascinated by Twilight in all four of these stories, wants to know more about it, and finds some aspect of her captivating (especially in Rock the Carousel, where she is positively captivated by her, moreso than in just about every other AU I've read). Twilight similarly finds Rarity interesting in some way and wants to spend more time with her. Beyond shared interests or goals, there's usually some initial magnetism that draws them together, a feeling of connection that gets built on later.

From this point on, the first steps will be relatively standard at the highest level. Twilight and Rarity will continue to encounter each other until they eventually fall in love and get together. The thing that brings them together, that furthers their bond, will depend on the story and on the individual interpretations of the characters.

Let Me Count The Ways: Reasons for romance

As Rarity and Twilight's relationship grows, one natural question that's going to come up is why they love one another. What is it that Rarity sees in Twilight and vice versa that makes them want to spend their lives together in a loving union?

Once again, the answer to this question is going to depend on how Rarity and Twilight are characterized, as that will determine both what qualities they possess, and what qualities they appreciate.

It's almost universal for them to find each other physically attractive, and to have that attraction driving at least some of their passion. After all, we're talking about a ship where one of the characters is Rarity. However, this is never a point that they fixate on. In just about every iteration, Rarity and Twilight tend to be more interested in qualities beyond looks, so this tends to only be a peripheral consideration that the characters occasionally remark on.

As with all patterns, there are exceptions, of course. RariTwi: Love is War and Rock the Carousel both regularly mention how attractive Rarity and Twilight are to each other, and how this often causes them to have trouble keeping a level head around each other.

Another common point of bonding is their shared wit. In basically every AU you can expect them to be trading barbs and retorts with each other, with varying levels of venom depending on their circumstances. Nonetheless, they will almost always recognize and respect each other's way with words.

Less exciting, but probably more foundational, is their shared appreciation of one another's virtues. Rarity and Twilight truly respect each other, and even if they don't see eye to eye ideologically, they always eventually come to acknowledge each other's core moral codes. Obviously, this doesn't apply to, say, a Villain AU, but even in AUs that pull their personalities far from canon, this still pops up. The March Of Progress has Rarity appreciating Twilight's dedication to science, while in Twilight the Third Twilight, for all her infatuation, does recognize that Rarity isn't a completely amoral thief and does have standards when it comes to who to rob.

Related to this is the concept of a mutual appreciation for each other's passions. As I said above, Rarity was originally meant to be the Element of Inspiration, which means that she both loves to draw out the passions of others while also having a great appreciation for those who are passionate about things. Similarly, Twilight respects dedication and knowledge, something that Rarity has in spades.

An interesting point to note here is that these central passions are rarely shared. Even in canon, Rarity doesn't care much for magic and Twilight isn't that into fashion. They tend not to be dazzled by each other's mastery of their respective fields of expertise, but rather are impressed by the dedication they show for that field. Rarity in The March Of Progress notes that she doesn't care much for the sciences, but she finds Twilight's fervour to be very enticing, and wants to have that same intensity directed at her instead.

Even if they try to learn each other's passion, it's more for the sake of their partner than their own love of the topic. The Enchanted Library and Crimson Lips both feature Rarity trying to learn magic, not because she enjoys it, but because Twilight wants her to, and it makes her happy when Twilight is happy.

That being said, it's a little awkward if there are zero shared interests for them to engage in together. You can write a fic that's just them kissing each other whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears, but that's kind of limited and you'll want to have things they can do together to build up their relationship.

Obviously, what these shared interests are is going to very largely depend on the nature of the AU. They can be things pulled from canon, or something that could only exist due to the context of the specific AU.

And that's where things get interesting.

I stated near the beginning of this essay that RariLight AUs tend to favour humanizations moreso than other ships. I believe that, to a certain extent, this is due to the space of shared interests that tend to make sense of Rarity and Twilight. In addition, this point of connection between them influences the ways they interact, as well as which roles or aspects of them are emphasized.

This is why I believe that you don't see a heavy emphasis on Twilight as The Mage in RariLight AUs, as one might with TwiLuna, for example. As stated previously, Rarity tends to have little interest in magic, and even in AUs where she's skilled in it, she usually develops this skill in service to some other purpose, rather than for the sake of magic itself (for example, in Diamond Amidst the Stars, Rarity's unique magic is more of an art form for her, and she doesn't really bond with Twilight over it).

Likewise, the things that link Rarity and Twilight together in canon tend to be very grounded things. Twilight respecting Rarity's business sense, Rarity seeing Twilight as a gateway to the upper class, shared appreciation of studying a craft and a love of reading, these are all things that map perfectly to a world without magic, and making the characters humans can help sharpen these aspects by removing secondary ones that aren't as relevant, such as studying magic, or mythic adventures.

Admittedly, the politics/monarchy aspect does have a tendency to also fall by the wayside (especially in College AUs), though fics like RariTwi: Love is War manage to keep Twilight's role as a princess, and Moonlit Waltz keeps her in a position of power and leadership as Luna's second-in-command.

A shared love of the arts is also a common point of connection for the two, because there's nothing quite as romantic as playing a duet together. This is another aspect that works just as well in Humanized AUs, such as in The Sickness Unto Death, where both play the piano.

Shared interests can also be approached from different angles by the two characters. For example, Risk of Ruin has Rarity and Twilight as card counters, but Rarity is in it for the thrill of the con and the performance, while Twilight is more interested in the mathematical aspects of the counting systems.

As a final, rather obvious note, the shared interest can also be the central conceit of the AU. Many an AU have been created with the question "what if both characters were into X?" Risk of Ruin has this central interest be card counting, while The Art of the Duel uses swordfighting as the central interest to bring the two together, and Twilight the Third gives them a shared profession of thievery to link them. A Woman Worth Saving and RariTwi: Love is War give them a common cause/job that keeps them together (investigative work in the former case, and running the student council in the latter case).

A Journey Along Roads Not Taken: Recontextualizing dynamics

And now we get to the final, most important, and unfortunately most nebulous part of the essay: writing the actual RariLight dynamics in an AU.

This is where things can get very diverse, since the dynamics that evolve are going to be a product of everything mentioned before: how you characterize each character, what the world they live in is like, and under what circumstances they meet each other. Even in non-AU fics, there are myriad ways to write RariLight, so it's really no surprise that the range is even broader in AUs.

I'm going to break down a few key aspects/considerations of RariLight dynamics that I've seen in fics, but I want to emphasize that this is a very holistic concept and that ultimately the development of the dynamic should be organic rather than trying to select options from these aspects. Granted, I still hope I can provide a good overview of the breadth of ideas that one can explore with this ship.

So, first of all, one way of writing RariLight AU dynamics is to simply write canon RariLight dynamics, but possibly with certain character traits more exaggerated or muted to taste. Bodyguard AU exaggerates both Rarity's dramatics and Twilight's "oh my god everypony is crazy" attitude, resulting in a dynamic where Twilight loves Rarity both because of and despite her flair for dramatics, finding them quite tiresome sometimes but also very endearing, which is very much how one could imagine a canon RariLight dynamic playing out. Crimson Lips has a similar dynamic, with Twilight humouring Rarity's dramatics while still being delighted by them (and having her moments as well, which Rarity also supports and is excited by).

In cases where the characters' relative positions are transposed but not their pre-existing relationship, power dynamics are also important to consider as well. Twilight is almost always going to be the one in a greater position of power, either because of her position as a princess or protégé to Celestia (who is almost always someone with power when she appears), or because of her superior magical abilities.

Rarity, however, tends to be the more socially competent one, which allows her to equalize this power imbalance by taking control in their personal lives/interactions and keeping Twilight off-balance, even if Twilight eventually manages to learn how to give as good as she gets. Diamond Amidst the Stars, The Sickness Unto Death, and A Woman Worth Saving are good examples of Rarity having control over her interactions with Twilight despite Twilight wielding more "power" in the context of the AU. That being said, in AUs that deviate a bit more from canon, such as Moonlit Waltz, Twilight can be the one in control without it feeling unnatural.

This dominance tends to extend to cases where they meet on equal ground, such as Risk of Ruin, Crimson Lips, and Demons and Desires. Rarity just tends to have a very commanding presence in general, and while Twilight can hold her own when needed, she's normally fine with Rarity taking the lead in social interactions. Obviously, they can also be pretty evenly matched too, able to perfectly keep up with one another and neither side giving ground in their battles of wits (e.g., RariTwi: Love is War, The Art of the Duel).

Of course, the natural corollary to this is that in AUs where Rarity gets to be the one with the power advantage, Twilight generally struggles to stay equal, and while their relationship can be totally healthy and loving and respectful, there's definitely a sense of Rarity being the "top" in the relationship and leading the dance. In the Hall of the Mountain Queen and its sequel are a good example of this. Bifröst ends rather early into their story, but I would imagine the dynamic playing out similarly from what little we see.

The big exception to this that I've found is the Bodyguard AU, where, despite Twilight being only a guard while Rarity is a princess, the dynamic definitely feels like Twilight being in charge and trying to guide a very dramatic and somewhat bratty Rarity. This is achieved by making Twilight much more assertive and giving her a military background, which allows her to stand up to Rarity and take control of situations when she wants to, which is often given that she's obsessed with protecting Rarity as part of her job.

Depending on the nature of the AU, Twilight's nature as The Planner and Rarity's as The Spontaneous One might also come into play. In every RariLight fic I've seen, Rarity has always been better at adaptation, while Twilight has always been better at planning (the most obvious example of this is in Twilight the Third since it's basically a Heist AU). Granted, since we're talking about AUs, just how bad Twilight is at reacting to a plan gone awry or just how little regard Rarity has for plans is a dial you can play with to tilt the power dynamics in whichever direction is desired.

In Twilight the Third, since it's a Heist AU, Twilight is allowed to be a pretty quick thinker when her plans fall apart, and Rarity tends to follow Twilight's plans whenever she's not actively working against her. This allows the power dynamics to be relatively equal at all times. Meanwhile, in The Sickness Unto Death, when Twilight has a plan to seduce Rarity, she is totally in control, but as soon as Rarity takes the initiative she ends up giving her the reins.

Beyond power dynamics, it's also important to consider how they support each other, and how or if they encourage character growth in one another. Rarity tends to be quite in tune with Twilight's feelings, and it's a common theme to have her get Twilight to open up to her and then coax her out of her shell, while still giving her comfort when she needs it.

The Enchanted Library is basically a masterclass of this, and the story is essentially about Rarity getting Twilight to trust her, while also giving her the strength she needs to confront her past. Also, Risk of Ruin has Rarity introducing Twilight to the glitz and glamour of Sin City as their backstory, and Diamond Amidst the Stars has Rarity help Twilight accept her role as a princess by being a sounding board and cheerleader for her, in addition to a battle partner. In general, this works well in College AUs, with Rarity as somewhat of the Popular Girl, and Twilight as the Wallflower (e.g., Demons and Desires).

On the flipside, Twilight also encourages Rarity to pursue her passions and to believe in herself. Crimson Lips has her teaching Rarity to do magic, and it's her faith in her that drives Rarity to keep trying. Twilight's faith in Rarity is a common motif, and also works really well in situations where Twilight is teaching Rarity something, which is also a popular dynamic since it allows Twilight to be patient and encouraging and Rarity to be playfully dramatic and flirty (see the lessons in La Princesse or the opening of Heart Curves).

Finally, another dynamic that can be played with is Twilight as a serious, straight-laced archetype, and Rarity as the rebel. Twilight as the goody-two-shoes who always follows the rules is a very popular aspect of her in AUs, which naturally leads to Rarity's playfulness and dramatics taking on a more daring and temptress-esque quality.

For example, A Woman Worth Saving has Rarity as a private investigator who flaunts the law, and Twilight as a by-the-books cop, and much of the story is about how Twilight encourages Rarity to rediscover her moral code, and Rarity teaches Twilight that you can't always follow the rules. Passion has Rarity convicted for treason and Twilight as the one who has to sentence her, for a more extreme example. And of course, Crimson Lips very much has Rarity rebelling from her upper-class upbringing and pulling Twilight along with her. In general, with this dynamic, Twilight will generally learn to loosen up, and Rarity may or may not learn to take things more seriously (Bodyguard AU will likely go this route, though Twilight does already know how to have fun and be less serious, and the focus is more on Rarity learning to be more responsible).

This kind of ties into the idea of Rarity offering Twilight a chance at freedom from a confined/repressed environment. Bifröst has Rarity saving Twilight from an arranged marriage, and As Bright as Stars in the Open Sky... has her offering Twilight a chance to follow her dreams and not be bound by societal constraints.

In some of the more out-there AUs, you can also have Twilight be the rebel, pulling a prim and proper Rarity into a less refined environment. Rock the Carousel is a perfect example of this, with Twilight having rejected Celestia to found a punk rock band, and pulling a refined Rarity into her lower-class world.

And there you have it. I could talk all day about the minutiae of Rarity and Twilight's interactions, and how they playfully rib each other but know when to be serious. I could opine at length about how Rarity's dramatics are somewhat performative, and she shuts them down when needed, but also appreciates Twilight playing along because it's fun. On the flipside, I could discuss how Twilight's dramatics are often very serious, and how Rarity acts as an anchor to help stabilize her when she's spiralling. These all come up commonly in AUs, but they're so universal and so fundamental and appear in non-AU fics as well, so I feel like that discussion would be less about reimagining RariLight and more about just writing good RariLight in general.

At the end of the day, it's all about having a solid grasp on the two characters, and figuring out how they play off of each other in the context of the AU. Oh, and making them kiss a bunch, of course. Can't forget that. While RariLight isn't always the most physically affectionate ship, who doesn't like a bit of smooching?

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: Conclusions and Final Thoughts

RariLight is, in my opinion, the most versatile and universal ship in MLP, and I think the breadth of AUs featuring this couple is proof positive of this. There is so much potential in these two characters, and it cannot be contained in a single universe or canon.

You can write grand adventures with plenty of action, or quiet stories about them curling up peacefully with a book by the fireplace. You can make them mundane humans, mages, robots, and everything in between, exploring the worlds of steampunk, cyberpunk, high fantasy, alternate histories, and even our modern world.

RariLight spans the public realms of politics and business, and arcane realms of magic and mystery, and the private realms of a young couple just trying to get through life together. They can be friends, enemies, lovers, or all three at once, but at the end of the day, they will always respect each other, and that's what allows their love to burn so brightly in so many different incarnations.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to RariLight, and as long as you're having fun, there's always something to learn, something to create, and something to celebrate in each new world that's created for them. I would encourage everyone to experiment with this lovely couple, and to check out the existing works both for inspiration and because they're all damn good stories.

So until next time, be fabulous, read lots of stories, and ship RariLight!

Comments ( 21 )

Exactly one week ago, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation for my ScD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I figured I might as well post my fandom dissertation as well, to celebrate the end of this part of my life's journey. It's been an amazing 6 years, and ponies have definitely kept me going more than once when it seemed like I'd never graduate. Here's to way more RariLight in the future, and to me actually getting my ScD in a couple weeks when I submit the required documents.

I'm actually:

Starting to sketch out a RariTwi AU based largely on The Three Musketeers, so I'm finding this extremely helpful!


no offense, this is a cool essay, but there are... like... a jillion better, more interesting ships than rarilight to dedicate even more than 5k to lol

You're right, my next essay will be on Sparity.

I do recall seeing a tweet from one of the EG staff—Ishi Rudell, maybe?—explicitly stating Sci-Twi, because of her differing life circumstances, was set up to be at more or less the same state pony-Twi was at the beginning of FIM. In essence, pony-Twi had a two-year head start on Sci-Twi in their journeys to friendship and social development.

Next you're going to tell me that Rarity is a social climber.

[copies and pastes into OpenOffice Writer; runs a word count]
10837 words.
Uh... Hm. Sorry about this, but while I am somewhat interested, I'm also not all that flush with spare time at the moment. I may or may not come back to this later, but would it be alright if I ended up skipping it entirely? Sorry.

Ah, congratulations, though! :D

A brilliant analysis of how to make both AU stories and romance work through the lens of the purple girlfriends. Thank you for it.

Oh, this is definitely not an essay for the faint of heart. It's written to be informative rather than entertaining, so I would not recommend it to anyone who isn't already very interested in the topic.

I think there's a bit of nuance to that point (Sci-Twi is aloof, but not quite as confident as S1 Twi, which can be attributed to age) but yes, that's a decent summary of her character.

OOoh! This was actually very well thought out, good job! I enjoyed reading :twilightsmile:

Aaaaand I got a whole bunch of raritwi fics outta it - I mean, you can never have enough, right?

*whistle* what an essay :o
Won’t get to it all in one go, but so far enjoying what I am seeing. Will definitely try to apply to my own AU ship, sontavia

This is the RariTwi AU analysis I never knew I needed - thank you!

And congratulations, Dr. Timwe :pinkiehappy:

Also, please add A Hoof-ful of Dust's Both Sides Now to your RIL list. It's a gorgeous take on the fake relationship trope that deeply delves into the Awkward Princess/Savvy Woman of the World dynamic.

Huh, already have that on my RL list. Will definitely move it up (given the description, I have no idea why I haven't read it yet).

Ah, thanks. :D
Though I'm glad it looks like those who are already very interested in the topic are enjoying it. :)

I'm not even currently much of a reader of RariTwi fics, but nonetheless I read and enjoyed this whole essay and I'm glad you wrote it. In-depth writing analyses: fun to read even when the sector of writingspace being analyzed isn't one I'm all that familiar with, apparently.

Also, I now have four of the fics you linked open in tabs, so perhaps I'll end up as more of a RariTwi reader thanks to this post. :p

Finally got around to reading this. Great job! And got a couple more fics to read later. Also nice to see mentions of my own fics. This did feel repetitive at times, but there are better ways to spend your time than editing this down, lol

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