The Pleasant Commentator and Review Group! 1,275 members · 151 stories
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Reviewed by AJ Aficionado

Words read: All of them (story incomplete)

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The word comedy brings a lot of different concepts to mind: misdirection, situational irony, slapstick, and that old reliable stalwart of the English-speaking world, toilet humor. But what comedy really boils down to in the end is a transaction of human (or equivalent) suffering for the amusement of others. It's not a pleasant idea, but neither is orbiting a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Our subject here today, Woebegone, follows the wake of destruction and misery left by the title-named character — a Generation 1 unlucky charm of a leprechaun hobo that destroys everything he touches due to a curse put on him by a witch. Predictably, Ponyville's nearly destroyed... again.

I suppose the most pertinent question to ask about a comedy is whether or not this is funny. I feel it is, once you get past the occasionally soul-hurting bits, but more on that later in the review.

The story wastes no time with info-dumping or explaining the brutal force of nature we're about to encounter. Our story begins showing us what he's capable of:

A loud groan echoed throughout the halls of Twilight’s castle and into her ears as the floor beneath her shook. All of the books on the table in front of her slid to the right, as though they fell victim to an invisible force. Now, Twilight is an expert on books and she knew for a fact that books don’t move on their own (no matter how alive some of them may seem), so something was definitely up. Or down, as the case may be, as books slipped off the table and plopped on the floor. Her tea saw its friends jump off the cliff and went to join them.

“No!” Twilight shouted as she grabbed the tea before it could spill. Twilight had solved one of her dilemmas. Now she only had about a dozen and two hundred more to go. All around her in the throne room, vases tipped over and rolled to her right and smashed against the walls. Banners and curtains all at once leaned toward the same wall the smashed vases collected on. Up above, the memory stones that hung from the chandetree intertwined and tinkled like a windchime.

“Twilight!” Spike clawed his way on the inclining floor down a hallway and through the door to the Elements of Harmony’s throne room. “What is happening? The castle is turning upside down!”

He's Discord without the whimsy. Worse, there's seemingly nothing he can do to stop the destruction he causes.

After meeting with Applejack and unleashing fecal devastation (or brown justice, take your pick), to the ponies shopping the Ponyville farmers' market with a broken sewer line to meet Fluttershy. You wouldn't hurt a hair on this mare's pretty head, would you Author? Would you!? :flutterrage: Interrobangs are fine, saith the reviewer.

She scooted the bucket closer to Woebegone as he looked on with his mouth open in surprise. “Would you like to feed Mr. Bear? He’d like it very much if you did.”

Woebegone looked at the bucket of fish as he twiddled his thumbs together. “Oh, I’m not sure if I should… I, uh…”

“Oh no, it’s completely fine, isn’t that right, Mr. Bear?”

Mr. Bear nodded.

“Okay, if you say so.” Woebegone picked up a fish from the bucket with his fingertips and held it as far away from his body as equinely possible as he turned to Mr. Bear. He recoiled in terror from the sudden flash of claws that snatched the fish from him.

“Mr. Bear!” scolded Fluttershy. “Where are your manners?”

Snapped from his excitement for food, Mr. Bear had realized how rude he had been and growled an apology to Woebegone.

This is some heartwarming stuff, Lost_Marbles. I commend you for taking the high road with Fluttershy.

I really have to praise the writing here. Aside from the fact that we have yet another story where paragraphs are indented and spaced (stahp!), the prose is excellent. Nice flow, narration that changes to suit the mindset of the subject being observed, alliteration, and even some clever foreshadowing — at least I think it's foreshadowing — like in this section here:

Woebegone took another fish from the bucket and handed it over to the bear who grunted it’s request and said “Here you are,” and “You’re welcome,” forming a psuedo-conversation with the bear. Then both tipped their hats. The experience of feeding a bear might have been an everyday thing for Fluttershy, but it was something new and exciting for everypony else, and seeing smiles on others’ faces as they got a chance to do something new always made her smile.

His face lightened and relaxed, as if all of his troubles were forgotten. The raincloud above Woebegone stopped raining and became a few shades lighter as he cheerfully repeated the routine, each time with a little more energy and cheer in his voice. The conversation grew longer with each exchange.

You can kinda see where this is going, can't you? But what about Fluttershy herself? How does she fare after this run-in with the soggy sadsack? She gets a coughed-up fishbone from Mr. Bear driven into her skull.

You are a bad, BAD MAN, Mister Marbles! Thankfully she got better...

Lest the presentation get too predictable, chapter three gives us a ground-level view of Ponyville from the eyes of Bon Bon, tsundere dream mare of the brony community. This chapter was loads of fun and featured my three favorite background ponies doing what they do best: freaking out. Some great Lyra-Bon exchanges too:

“There’s poop everywhere!” exclaimed the poop-covered Lyra. “There’s poop on the road and poop on the stalls. There’s poop on the produce, the houses, and the walls!”

“I get it, Lyra,” said Bonbon as she watched out of the corner of her eye the ponies in the street, stalls, and shops whispering and eyeing the poop-covered mare.

“I don’t think you do!” said Lyra two decibels too loud. “Poop was on the colts, and poop on the mares!”

“And there’s even poop in your filthy hair,” deadpanned Bonbon.

“So you do get it!”

“I smell it, too.” Bonbon pushed away Lyra then vigorously wiped the hoof she used on the ground. “Now stop rhyming and clean yourself off. You’re disgusting.”

It's remarkable how universal the headcanon is for those two, isn't it? Crude humor, but I laughed... hard. Shouldn't it be poop on the stallions though? Yeah, nitpicking. I have to complain about something. It's my job!

Pinkie Pie is in this too. And boy howdy did the author nail her character down to an art. When I mentioned the creative use of third-person narration to get into a character's head, this is what I had in mind:

So as she charged ahead taking out the trash and filing foodstuffs back to their shelves, she chatted with the green guy. He wasn’t much of a talker, and he talked so quietly too! She had to keep an ear facing him at all times. At least he was nice enough to offer to help, even if it was just carrying out the trash, but he wouldn’t touch the sweets because he claimed his hands were still wet. But they were dry! Why wouldn’t he give her a hand with her hot cross buns? Or her sweet raisins? Or even her plump melon bread? Oh well, he probably had his reasons. Likely it had to do with the little thundercloud that stared at him from the window. Its eyeless gaze weighed heavily on his spirits. "Stop it!" she yelled, and the cloud ran away.

It took some time, but all of the bags around and behind the front counter were taken care off. Then they moved into the kitchen, and wouldn’t you know it? More leaks! All of that drip-drip-drip was making her want to rip-rip-rip out her mane. The leaks only made things worse, as some of them fell on bags and smeared whatever label she had written on them earlier during the rush. Where was that plumber? She had asked Cheerilee to send for one more than an hour ago when she was in the middle of that breakfast stampede. She hadn’t forgotten. She wouldn’t. Oh, Ms. Cheerilee. As dependable as her, nopony can be.

Ooh! A haiku! And it rhymed! She’d have to share that with Cheerilee later. Of course, Cheerilee wouldn’t be able to enjoy it until after she sent that plumber like Pinkie asked her to do ages ago.

Not too hot, not too cold. A lot of people, myself included :ajsleepy:, tend to write her a bit too crazy. Struck a happy medium there.

We eventually get to meet the entire Mane Six and see their lives and property ruined by all of this chaos, and even get a glimpse of Derpy Hooves and the CMC. Rainbow Dash probably getting more of a glimpse of Derpy than she could have ever hoped for. :derpytongue2: Things were really coming together for a grand climax. I'd love to be able to read about how this fiasco finally ended. Alas, it does not. At 27,809 words, all of which I enjoyed, the story came to a halt on April 2nd. I encourage the creator of this story to keep it going, despite its tragically low read numbers to keep it going. It's a sad coincidence that a story about a creature with terrible luck should be the victim of it. Well, I'm giving this story a "must read" as well as a like and adding it to my favorites. There's really not much negativity I have for this fic; it crosses the line into "Dark" on occasion, but probably not enough to warrant a tag.

You wrote a good story, Petey! Take this review for what its worth.

Rinnaul
Group Admin

Might want to spoiler tag Fluttershy's fate, there.

And personally, that opening with the castle tilting reads pretty awkwardly to me. I think it's that it's choppy and lacks flow due to trying to be cute with things like "a dozen and two hundred more".

5927664
AJ! Thank you so much for the pleasantly pleasant review. I'm very happy that you enjoyed the story so much that you read the whole thing for the review.

I've been having a lot of doubts about my capabilities with a writer recently, and it's been severely affecting my output. While I do agree with 5927704 in respects about the clunky flow in some of the sentences (which is something that I've been having a hard time understanding. I've read that listening to how things sound when you read them aloud is a good way to feel how something flows. Something I should definitely put into practice more often), a lot of the examples you picked out even made me laugh a bit. It was like I was reading it for the first time. It gave me a little boost of self-assurance. With some reviewing and tinkering, I'm pretty sure I could smooth things out.

And just a little FYI - the first draft of the next chapter (Bumble, Stumble, Riot and Crumble) is almost complete, which means if I continue to sit myself down to write an hour a day every day, I should have another chapter up by next weekend. It's a lot more of a thrill-ride than the previous chapters, but I'm trying to keep things a bit on the comedic side.

I have one question about something you said in the review:

I really have to praise the writing here. Aside from the fact that we have yet another story where paragraphs are indented and spaced (stahp!), the prose is excellent.

What is it about this style of spacing that annoys you? Have I broken some unspoken rule in the unwritten rules of how to write fanfiction? I was under the assumption that spacing is a good thing and a luxury since with the digital format, physical space isn't an issue so paragraphs don't need to be squished together like they would in a physical novel to minimize paper used, production cost, and product size. Let me know what kind of spacing style is ideal with you (and if you could point me out to other sources that discuss this topic). If you could, that would be nice.

Also:

...even some clever foreshadowing — at least I think it's foreshadowing — like in this section here:...

:raritywink:

Rinnaul
Group Admin

5929983

What is it about this style of spacing that annoys you?

Double space plus indentation creates excessive white space, and is thus visually unappealing.

In this case in particular — though it might just be my phone — the indentation is uneven, as well, and that triggers my OCD nature.

5929994
I've noticed at times when I import from Gdocs that my indents are sometimes several spaces instead of a tab and screws up the uniformity of my spacing. I'll keep this suggestion in mind.

Thank you:twilightsmile:

5927704 I hadn't noticed it at first, but you're correct. Perhaps, I gave the story too high a score having come off a review of something I really didn't like. I took your advice and added a spoiler, for what it's worth.

And I still really loved this story. Dude earned his like and fave. Criminally underrated.

5929983 Rinnaul is correct. It's a garish nightmare. Seeing as you can never run out of internet, and indents were originally conceived as a way of saving the printing company some shekels on page space, I'd just space them. And you're welcome! Be proud of your fic. You did well.

5930220
Come back at it again and give it reevaluation if you'd like.

But if you had fun and enjoyed it (and shared it with others), that's what matters most to me. I think it's better to be more focused on entertaining than perfect. People loved the works of Honoré de Balzac because of the raw emotion and how he had his characters develop in his stories despite his clumsy writing style. Herman Melville was viciously attacked by critics because his writing style was quite liberal and experimental with the poetic techniques he used. (One critic said of his work "These discursions, these graces, this flowery style, festooned, twisted into quaint shapes, call to mind the arabesques of certain writing masters, which render the text unintelligible.") And if I were to say something pony-related - The Life and Times of a Winning Pony had an unfocused plot and inconsistent mood, and a border-line unlikable main character (one chapter the main character is talking about banging, then next she's burying her mom. At the end of it all, she comes out of it seemingly no different than she was before, and everything bad that happens because of her is just shrugged off and swept under the rug, and she doesn't learn or suffer any consequences from it because she's just so likable that no one can hate for long because that's how the story dictates it); but even so, it's one of my absolute favorites on this site and I've read it twice from beginning to end because I found it so entertaining.

Still, a bit of honest critique at making my writing more pleasing to the senses is still greatly appreciated.

5930239 No, no. It's fine. My initial reaction determines the grade I assign. It just isn't going to go all the way to Masterpiece unless they unanimously agree it's a "must read".

I agree in principle that you can lose something in the critical evaluation. This is why I'm not too dogmatic about stuff like interrobangs and I don't complain about Lavender Unicorn unless it's really egregious.

I made it about 60,000 words into Winning and stopped. It kinda wore out its welcome for me.

Rinnaul
Group Admin

5930239
5930267
Another one who couldn't get into Winning Pony. But my main interaction with it was via a different story (I think a Time Loop Trilogy side story?) that gradually became more and more a Winningverse offshoot, and as I recall, it was a combination of "wow, everypony in this AU is kind of terrible" and a nagging feeling of Sue-ness from Cloud Kicker and her family that eventually made me quit.

5930225 I have no idea why this got downvoted, but it is kind of funny that it did for some reason.

Rinnaul
Group Admin

5930504
Someone probably took "saving the printing company some shekels" as an antisemitic jab following the stereotype of Jews being greedy.

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