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The Royal Guards
Group Admin

The Royal Guard—March Gladness Edition

Hello, everyone, and happy Thursday! (Or, depending on your timezone, happy Friday! Probably Friday for many of you, in fact.) It’s time to do what we’ve promised, and deliver you our biweekly group post!

Every two weeks, we recommend six high-quality stories from a variety of authors and popular genres. From action/adventure to slice of life, from drama to comedy, from stories about ponies kissing to stories involving pink hairless apes, we feature a wide variety of stories so that every post has something for everyone.

We’re always looking for a tip-top tale, so if you’d like to submit your fic, here are some links you’ll probably find useful:

-The Royal Guard Group
-Submit Your Story!
-The Royal Guard's Official Handbook

Finally—and I cannot emphasize this enough—we are always recruiting. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a prereader, then don’t hesitate to send us an application. If you have any questions about the application process, please direct them to Prak.


AND NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO... STORIES!



ACTION/ADVENTURE



Lyra thinks Discord is an idiot for not thinking to dodge when the Elements of Harmony were about to strike him. Discord thinks this is the perfect opportunity for a game.

PR Recommendation: “Why did Discord just stand around and let himself get petrified? Why didn’t he just take a step to the side before the rainbow hit him? DannyJ treats us to an extended thought experiment where Lyra not only asks Discord these questions, but gets to test out her solution. Repeatedly.

The greatest strength of Just Dodge may be its protagonist. Lyra offers a smart and relatable perspective, largely untainted by her countless fandom-given traits, that lets the reader slip into her horseshoes with ease. The game she plays, both with Discord and with herself, never gets old despite its looping structure. Getting an answer to her question, and winning Discord’s game, is going to be tougher than she thought.” —BlazzingInferno



DRAMA



In the wake of the Canterlot Wedding, Fluttershy has to ask Twilight a very difficult question.

PR Recommendation:Would It Matter If I Was? has spawned no fewer than 56 spinoff stories with nothing more than the simple question of "Would it matter if Fluttershy was a changeling?" It seems that everyone on the site has an opinion, but at the heart of it all is a story which poses a simple question with a very complicated bit of subtext beneath it.” —Titanium Dragon



ROMANCE



Octavia Melody is calm, patient and longing to break the boundaries of class through her career as a musician.
Princess Luna is lost in the eddies of her past, struggling to belong in a new age that doesn't seem to want her.
A chance meeting after a disastrous gala gives these isolated souls a chance to find companionship and comfort. As Luna seeks solace in Octavia's soothing music, Octavia comes to recognize the princess's loneliness and fears. When it's your duty to protect other ponies' dreams, who protects your own? Octavia might just be willing to try.


PR Recommendation: “In my experience, very few stories are able to adequately give us perspective on Princess Luna's inner thoughts and demons post-return, without coming off as angsty or cliché. With Audience of One, PaulAsaran boldly tackles this delicate subject, and manages to give us such a real experience by showing us all how very out-of-place and secluded she feels in the days leading up to the Grand Galloping Gala and beyond. But she is not given the whole spotlight; sharing it with her is our favourite bowtied bassist, with a dynamic between the pair that could not be executed better with any other character. This is a slow burn, but don't mistake that for slow-paced, as the details of their meeting and subsequent relationship are given more than just due care, and the constantly developing plot and emotions will grip you. It's beautiful to read, easily succeeding to clench this usually-not-same-sex-shipper's heart.” —Cerulean Voice



COMEDY



Scootaloo ends up with her father's lunch by mistake. Reality is almost destroyed in the process.

PR Recommendation: ”Does anyone here remember The Addams Family? How much of the humor was derived from a very functional family who treated the horrendously weird as the utterly mundane? Daemon of Decay's collaborative piece with RainbowBob is kind of like that, wherein a simple conflict about lunch is magnified to humorous, apocalyptic extremes (and for those of you who wonder why Scootaloo's parents are never seen on the show... this fic suggests that maybe, just maybe, that's for the best).” —R5h



SLICE OF LIFE



Twilight couldn't remember ever having seen Princess Celestia get sick. That simply doesn't happen to alicorns. And yet there she lies, on her bed, delirious. If only she knew how to help.

PR Recommendation: “Princess Celestia doesn’t get sick. That’s what Twilight thought. When that thought is proven wrong, it takes every ounce of Twilight’s willpower to simply hold herself together in the face of the worst possible scenario: her not knowing how to help. Basking made me cry out for more: more exemplary writing, more of Twilight freaking out, and more bonding moments between Princesses old and new.” —BlazzingInferno



HUMAN



We all make mistakes.
Some are easy to fix. Some are not. Some create such turmoil in our lives that it seems we will be swallowed up by them.
When a wounded monster, like nothing anypony has ever seen before, wanders out of the Everfree Forest, Lyra Heartstrings, Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy get a lesson in what happens when we try to run from our mistakes.

PR Recommendation:”The biggest problem with writing about uncomfortable subject matter, such as that presented in Faun, is that you run the risk of the audience not enjoying the work because they just feel... well, uncomfortable. However, Faun averts this potential problem quite nicely by being too darned interesting to put aside. The backstory we learn about Lyra is a painful, but intriguing, take on her obsession with humanity, and the conflict resulting from her actions propels the story throughout its short length. Overall, if you're looking for a unique take on humanity in Equestria, then this story is a good place to look for it.” —R5h



Addendums



If you guys have any questions about our sitepost policies, or our approval guidelines, feel free to browse the handy dandy Official Royal Guard Handbook, and if you still find yourself lacking answers, feel free to ask Prak so that he can find the right person to give you what you need.



See you guys next time!

Most of these look cool.

5086572

Would it Matter If I Was?, by GaPJaxie

In the wake of the Canterlot Wedding, Fluttershy has to ask Twilight a very difficult question.

PR Recommendation: “Would It Matter If I Was? has spawned no fewer than 56 spinoff stories with nothing more than the simple question of "Would it matter if Fluttershy was a changeling?" It seems that everyone on the site has an opinion, but at the heart of it all is a story which poses a simple question with a very complicated bit of subtext beneath it.” —Titanium Dragon

But... really? This one?

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5086677
2,681 people can't be wrong :V

5086722

2,681 people can't be wrong :V

You might be surprised.

~Twi

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

A Lovingly Crafted Lunch was great, I'm glad to see it here. :D

5086722 Would it matter if they were? :trollestia:

5086677 Think of it as archiving for the sake of history. It's like how we still keep Holocaust relics around.

5086722
Did you really go ad populum on us?

I find it hard to believe there aren't better candidates to promote than Would It Matter If I Was?. This is a fic with over 2000 upvotes, spent nearly two weeks in the featured box, and had multiple spinoffs, fixfics, and parodies drawing attention to it. And this is on top of the drama storm that made the fic popular in the first place. But, even putting that aside, it is of questionable quality. The narration is awkward, clunky, and bloated. Seriously, the story could have been told in half as many words and been better for it. Using degrees with head tilting was beyond ridiculous. The characters are out of character. Yes, both of them. And the moral's hamfisted, psudeo-intellectual garbage, boiling down to "racism's bad." Good thing we had a fanfic there to tell us the answer to such an obvious moral that no one was struggling with.

There has got to be more deserving fics that didn't receive as much attention as this one that could use the signal boost here. All this really shows is that the Royal Guard has turned into a circle jerk of a few authors and their friends. We see the same few names over and over again in these posts, it's hard to not feel that way.

5086722 Yes, they sure as heck can.

5087257 I think highly of your point of view and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

5087384 Thank you kindly. Unfortunately, I don't have a newsletter.

I do write stuff with a fairly positive like-to-dislike ratio, though, if that's any consolation.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5087349
5086929
5087384
:V is quacking.

Like a duck.

I was being snarky.

I'm surprised people took me seriously. That wasn't the real reason why it was featured.

Let's be more serious here:

The reason why the story was featured was because it was interesting.

This is a story about trust between friends, as well as racism, and doing the right thing even after the changelings attacked Canterlot. Like Kits’ Who We Are, it personalizes the question of how to deal with changelings in society, in this case by having Twilight half-convince herself that Fluttershy is a changeling over the course of the story. It forces Twilight to confront the question of what to do about the changelings on a far more personal level than she had previously, and to actually think about the nature and consequences of her actions.

Would it matter if Fluttershy was a changeling?

Twilight isn’t even sure if she knows the answer by the end, though she thinks she knows what’s right.

The story also loves its ambiguity: IS Fluttershy a changeling? Did she use the Stare on Twilight to get her to back down?

It was a thought-provoking story, which is precisely why so many people read it.

I was making a joke about 2,681 people (it is based on a similar saying about Elvis Presley; apparently my references to 60s singers are lost on you kids :moustache: ). But the thing is, the story was popular for a reason, and it wasn't because some pony was showing a lot of tail in the cover art. It was because the story was something that people wanted to read and put in their opinion on. It generated a lot of spinoffs because people were interested in the question, and then people ended up going off into silliness after a while.

But the story really was quite interesting.

Next post's Drama story has under 1,000 views.

Sometimes really good stories get lots of views.

Sometimes they don't.

That's life. But we don't really pay much attention to that. Our goal is to pass and fail stories based on how good they are. We don't care about upvotes.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5087349

I find it hard to believe there aren't better candidates to promote than Would It Matter If I Was?. This is a fic with over 2000 upvotes, spent nearly two weeks in the featured box, and had multiple spinoffs, fixfics, and parodies drawing attention to it. And this is on top of the drama storm that made the fic popular in the first place. But, even putting that aside, it is of questionable quality. The narration is awkward, clunky, and bloated. Seriously, the story could have been told in half as many words and been better for it. Using degrees with head tilting was beyond ridiculous. The characters are out of character. Yes, both of them. And the moral's hamfisted, psudeo-intellectual garbage, boiling down to "racism's bad." Good thing we had a fanfic there to tell us the answer to such an obvious moral that no one was struggling with.

There has got to be more deserving fics that didn't receive as much attention as this one that could use the signal boost here. All this really shows is that the Royal Guard has turned into a circle jerk of a few authors and their friends. We see the same few names over and over again in these posts, it's hard to not feel that way.

First off, we don't really pay much attention to how popular stories are. Seattle's Angels is a group devoted to promoting low-viewcount stories; we're not. That's not our goal. Our goal is to promote the stuff that meets our standards.

Secondly, we show stories which are submitted to us and which pass our standards.

If you don't submit your stories to us, we can't possibly feature them. And as it turns out, the people who submit their stories to us are people who are, frankly, most interested in promoting themselves. As a result, we end up with a lot of stories from people like Pascoite, who is very active in submitting stories. We do have a guideline (not a hard rule) against featuring the same writer two posts in a row, but the reality is that when a highly-skilled, highly-talented writer submits a story to us once a week, and has, you know, like 50 stories, they're going to end up getting featured fairly frequently compared to most people. And sometimes, we end up violating the guideline because we don't have any stories approved in a given category save those by someone who appeared in last week's site post.

We DO try and promote stories from a variety of writers, which is why there is a backlog of Pascoite fics in our approved stories queue, along with a couple of other "regulars".

It isn't a result of some nefarious inside circle-jerk, though, any more than Equestria Daily's featured stories are. I get featured on Equestria Daily fairly often. Why? Because I submit stories to them every single time one of my stories is approved or rejected, and I'm fairly good at writing. I do get rejected. But I probably end up with a story on Equestria Daily once every month or two. Same goes for Pascoite and a number of other high-tier writers.

Consistently submitting stories - and consistently writing stuff that passes - makes for a lot of features.

We don't pass everything that Pascoite writes. We don't pass everything anyone writes.

But when someone submits stuff to us once a week, and they're good, they're going to get stories passed.

And given that it is a fair bit of effort to go through stories, if we happen to have already read a story, we're going to be able to give a decision on it more quickly.

Stories which have already been read and reviewed by multiple people are more likely to make it through the queue quickly because we don't have to do nearly as much work dealing with them. If three people have already read a story, then we can pretty much give an opinion of it on the spot.

Thus, a story like Would It Matter If I Was? is likely to get passed or failed quickly because we've all already read it.

I'm not trying to belittle your concerns. The Royal Guard talks about this stuff internally.

But it is a kind of unresolvable problem. If we went out hunting for stories, we'd probably end up with even more of a concentration of "stories by popular authors", because guess whose stories are most likely to be read?

The submission queue is an attempt to get around that issue. But it is only as useful as people make it be. If the only people who submit stories to the queue are Present Perfect, Pascoite, and myself, then what do you think the end result is going to be?

Just looking at stories submitted (not approved, but submitted) in January/February, there is a sequence which goes like this:

Present Perfect
Titanium Dragon
Noble Thought
Present Perfect
Nyronus
Titanium Dragon
Lost_Marbles
A.J. Vasquez
Present Perfect
Present Perfect
BlazzingInferno
MyHobby
Titanium Dragon
Lost_Marbles
Pascoite
CoffeeMinion
Nyronus
xjuggernaughtx
DrakeyC
Present Perfect

That's five stories by Present Perfect, three by me, two by Nyronus, and one each by Pascoite, xjuggernaughtx, Noble Thought, and BlazzingInferno. All of these people are people who have had stories featured by us before.

This is not some sort of conspiracy. This is every story submitted between January 22nd and February 26th. People who have already had stories featured by us make up 14 of 20 submissions. 14 of 20! That's 70%.

That's why we don't feature stories from a broad variety of authors - because most people never bother to submit their stuff to us. It's basically a small group of people who bother.

If you submit a story to us once a week, and are a prolific, high-end author, you're going to end up featured by us a whole bunch, simply by virtue of "who else is there?"


BTW: you have submitted one story to us, to the best of my knowledge; Life Among the Living. It is a Slice of Life story.

We get BURIED in slice of life stories. We already have like 10 slice of life stories approved for future site posts. As a result, we only very slowly go through slice of life stuff, because it is low priority for us.

Conversely, other genres end up being tighter in terms of submissions. Right now, for instance, we have a Drama story and a Slice of Life story lined up for our next post. Both of these are from "regular submitters". And of the remaining stories in the approval queue, I think every single one of them is ALSO from someone who has previously been featured in a site post. We end up with a backlog of them because we try not to feature them too often, and the net result is that the approval queue ends up ever fuller of these stories.

Right now our queue of stories to be read has 51 Slice of Life stories, 47 Dramas, 37 Comedies, 29 Romances, 29 Action/Adventure stories, and 4 (four!) human fics.

If you have a good human story, there's a good chance we'll read it within a matter of weeks.

If you have a good slice of life story, we might not get to it for months.

Cerulean Voice
Group Contributor

5087349

All this really shows is that the Royal Guard has turned into a circle jerk of a few authors and their friends. We see the same few names over and over again in these posts, it's hard to not feel that way.

We understand how and why exactly this viewpoint exists among people, believe me. It seems to me that people think we are choosing to feature these names over and over again because we like their general writing quality, and aren't judging their individual stories on their actual story merits. What's actually happening is that very few people who can actually write well actually bother to submit their stories to us. And believe it or not, we still reject many of these "few authors and their friends" on a regular basis.

One final thing is that a few of the really good writers never stopped submitting to us during our extended period of inactivity last year. As such, they have had a large backlog of fics in the queue for a long time. One writer in particular excels in writing Slice of Life so much that they still have fics in the approval queue from late 2014. Given that we're only featuring one story per genre per fortnight (and we're trying really hard to feature a diverse pool or writers, believe me), it's going to seem for a while like we're playing favourites. We're not.

Now I haven't actually read Would It Matter? myself, so I can't personally attest to its quality. That said, perhaps it might be worth considering that it's a good candidate for [Drama] not simply because it's a dramatic story on its own, but because of how much drama it actually caused? Even now, people are clearly still making drama out of it. Its name is practically synonymous with it now.

5088453
5088455
Forgive me if this question has been asked before, but have you guys ever considered the idea of users submitting other peoples' work to The Royal Guard? :applejackunsure:

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5088486
The reason why we don't do it that way is because we actually send out constructive feedback to the writers when we reject (or accept) stuff. An author getting an unsolicited "Your story didn't meet our standards and here's why" response from us might upset them, even though the notes are intended to be helpful.

That was the decision made by the guard some time ago. We do have an internal "emergency queue" of stuff which was suggested by non-authors, but we only raid that queue if we're desperate. Right now, we've got enough stories actually in queue that resorting to the emergency queue isn't necessary, and hasn't been necessary for months.

5088493
Alright, that makes plenty of sense. Thank you for the information. :twilightsmile:

5088412

The reason why the story was featured was because it was interesting.

And here I was under the impression TRG's goal was *cough* "highlighting the best quality stories in the community" *cough*

If a story is simply interesting because...why, again?

“Would It Matter If I Was? has spawned no fewer than 56 spinoff stories with nothing more than the simple question of "Would it matter if Fluttershy was a changeling?" It seems that everyone on the site has an opinion, but at the heart of it all is a story which poses a simple question with a very complicated bit of subtext beneath it.” —Titanium Dragon

Oh, that's right, there wasn't really a reason why it was accepted into the group. You spent your entire recommendation giving background on the story rather than saying its merits. You didn't highlight what makes it good quality, just that it has spinoffs and is controversial. No, we had to read the excerpt from your blog post on the fic where you supposedly listed why it deserves to be in, which is—spoiler alert—not a review. You summarized the story without highlighting what the story actually did well or why you enjoyed it.

While, on the other hand, there's plenty of reasons it shouldn't be included here. Perhaps it's because the fic itself falls flat on its face when inspected by anyone looking more than skin deep. That "thought-provoking" nature you're talking about was pure opinion baiting and was made moot by the author's own comment. Drama doesn't mean it was thought-provoking. Maybe it shouldn't be included because the characterization of both Fluttershy and Twilight is awful. Maybe it's because Twilight was simply in this story to be wrong, because she couldn't manage to put up any sort of argument against Fluttershy, despite how easy it should have been. Maybe it's because Fluttershy was a mouthpiece for the author, specifically highlighted by the fact that she talks at Twilight throughout the entire fic rather than to her in an incredibly preachy tone. Perhaps it's because the narration spends sentences upon sentences on fluff details, like head rotation, book position, and half-steps. Maybe it's because the moral was shoved down the audience's throat so forcefully there may have been an actual choking hazard. Maybe it's actually a combination of all those things that makes the story of not the "highest quality."

As for the circlejerk appearance, you have skipped genres before. It's easy to avoid the outward appearance of a circlejerk, simply skip over some of the repeat authors. While they might not be able to be admitted each month, when you see an alternating pattern of the same few authors, it gives that appearance that the group exists to just promote a select few. I don't really see a reason why someone would need to submit all 50 of their fics to a group, but it's on you guys to not include them. I'm simply stating how it appears to the rest of the site.


BTW: This has nothing to do with my story. I didn't even remember submitting a fic to TRG. I'm simply stating that one of this month's submissions is lacking in the quality department.

5088455

That said, perhaps it might be worth considering that it's a good candidate for [Drama] not simply because it's a dramatic story on its own, but because of how much drama it actually caused?

Well, that's certainly a creative use of the tag and gives more solid backing for its inclusion than the reasons given by the approver.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5088513
The single most important thing a story can do is be engaging. A story which engages the audience is something which they remember, something which sticks with them. It is something which involves them.

I've read thousands of stories on the site. I'm far more likely to remember something like "Would It Matter If I Was?" than some slice-of-life piece about two characters being cute together.

Engagement is one of the most important forms of quality that a story can have. If a story isn't engaging, then absolutely nothing else matters; a story needs to engage its audience or else they won't read it.

You can't stick a meter into a story and measure its quality. Quality is a holistic, multifacted thing which isn't easily reduced to a simple number. I've read stories which had very high-quality prose which ultimately bored me because there was nothing there to dig into, and I've read stories which had rather poor-quality prose which actually interested me. The latter wouldn't pass The Royal Guard's standards, but I'd rather read a story which has decent prose and excellent plot than a story which has excellent prose and a decent plot.

People who are good at both - like Cold in Gardez, Skywriter, Ghost of Heraclitus, ect. - are excellent writers because they can do everything well. GAPJaxie, frankly, falls into this category.

Prose-wise, this wasn't his best story. But interest-wise, it was very good at seizing the audience's attention and making people want to talk about and think about the central question of the story - would it matter if Fluttershy was a changeling? People had a variety of opinions on it, as attested to the many hundreds of posts arguing about it in the comments section, and the numerous response fics which had different takes on things.

Stories which evoke strong emotions will sometimes evoke strong negative emotions from a subfraction of people. That's how it goes. I'd rather see stories featured which evoke stroke emotions - and evoke strong negative emotions from a small subgroup of people - than see stories featured which don't evoke strong emotions at all.

We've already got the highest rated stories list on the site for stories that didn't engender much in the way of a negative response, but they're a mixed bag of bland cutesy stories and uncontroversial strong ones.

As for the circlejerk appearance, you have skipped genres before.

I don't think we've done that. Looking back through our approved stories queue, we seem to have all six genres every week.

The reality is some people will be salty about things no matter what we do. We can't make everyone happy, and unlike the RCL, it is not our goal to feature a different author every week.

Every group has its own priorities. Equestria Daily and The Royal Guard serve fairly similar functions - basically, trying to show off a bunch of stories which meet a certain standard of quality. Equestria Daily tries to post a story a day; we try to post six stories from a variety of genres once every two weeks.

Quality standards don't mean that everyone will like every story we approve of. That's just not going to happen.

5086572 What happened to the site posts for these?

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5088576
There's going to be a sitepost on Saturday.

The admins reorganized how they're doing siteposts, and during that process there weren't any from the siteposts being reorganized.

5088541
Movies like The Room and Cool Cat Saves The Kids also are memorable. Are they memorable for the right reasons? Engaging, such as evoking rage or laughter for the wrong reasons doesn't mean a story has quality. Is it important that a story engages? Yes, but that's a product of storytelling, characters, and plot. This story lacks in those departments. The plot's a rehash of an age old concept in this fandom, the characters were horribly done for reasons stated above, and the flow of the story felt like molasses because of how the scene was so poorly paced.

People who are good at both - like Cold in Gardez, Skywriter, Ghost of Heraclitus, ect. - are excellent writers because they can do everything well. GAPJaxie, frankly, falls into this category.

And we're going to disagree here. Jaxie doesn't fit this category. Unfortunately, you haven't provided reasons why Jaxie or their story fit into this category beyond it was engaging and got people talking. Reading through the comments you'll find criticism of the characterization to be commonplace as well as a ton of discussion over the nature of changelings. Only one of those would have been on Jaxie's writing and I wouldn't consider it a good point. I have stated why this story isn't good, citing that characterization and story flow were below average. On the other hand, we see you keep trying to back up your assertion that the story is good because it has comments, upvotes, and parodies/fixfics. Also a random appeal to the writer's credibility for some reason.

As a reviewer and a prereader, which of those has more weight to you? The actual story elements and how they form the overall narrative? Or numbers? Because right now, it's appearing to be numbers.

I really don't care if you personally like this fic, but if you're going to recommend it for a group that prides itself on quality, you're going to need more solid backing than "It has a lot of spinoffs and people talked about it a lot when it came out. Must be an engaging story."

I've already read all of these... >: (

Burraku_Pansa
Group Admin

5088615

And we're going to disagree here. Jaxie doesn't fit this category.

It's silly of me to come in and defend via an only tangentially related comment a guy I barely know, but I can be silly, I guess.

In my own opinion, Would It Matter If I Was? is markedly weak in many regards—I agree with pretty much all of your points about it. However, I don't consider it representative of Jaxie's catalog at large. If that's the only story of his you've read, I'd recommend you try others. If it's not the only one, you and I might just have gotten respectively unlucky/lucky with which we've read. My book, he's a genuinely good writer who happened to write something below par which got much more attention than it really should have, and that doesn't sour me on him.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5088615

Is it important that a story engages? Yes, but that's a product of storytelling, characters, and plot.

I hate to say this.

I really hate to say this.

But this is actually often wrong.

Ideas often carry things all on their own. In fact, a large number of works are interesting or important because of the ideas, not because they're actually all that amazing in terms of storytelling, plot, and characterization.

Given how important these things are, it really grinds my teeth to say this. But I've come to realize over time that my ideas about what made stories good weren't actually correct.

Storytelling, charaterization, and plot are all incredibly important. But the basic underlying idea of a story carries a heck of a lot of water. People are fascinated by Inception, despite the fact that it wasn't all that amazing in terms of plot, charater, or storytelling. The core concept of the setting - the world the story was set in - is really the best thing about that movie. And people loved it for it.

Would It Matter If I Was? is a story whose core concept is very powerful.

But on top of that, it adds in quite a bit of storytelling, characterization, and plot.

The story, like many of GAPJaxie's works, is rich in ambiguity and emotional subtext. Twilight pointing her horn towards Fluttershy, the ambiguity of whether or not Fluttershy is actually a changeling, the question of whether or not Twilight's freakout (and Fluttershy's own behavior) is reasonable, the question of whether or not Fluttershy used her Stare to make Twilight back down... a lot of this is subtext. Indeed, a large part of the reason why there is so much body language here is to subtly give the audience some additional information on character behavior, though I think it went overboard with it and obscured a few very important moments (like Twilight pointing her horn at Fluttershy, as well as Fluttershy's possible use of the Stare) which made some people miss some of this.

The story is meant to be emotionally complicated and not only ask Twilight the question, but also ask the reader the question, as well as lead them through why Fluttershy thinks her answer is right (and other reasons why she might be right as well).

You argued that they're out of character. Maybe, maybe not. But within the context of the story, in the more serious world that GAPJaxie thrust them into, where they might do blood tests for changelings or whatever, it makes a lot more sense in an emotional context. GAPJaxie is taking the show and casting it into a darker emotional space, which is not uncommon for stories like this.

A lot of people found it to be interesting. And a lot of people find the ideas examined by such stories to be interesting. GAPJaxie's execution on the idea was compact and did a good job of capturing a big idea space.

If you don't like it, that's fine. But I think that the story is quite good, and understanding why it is good is important if you want to write good, popular stories.

Is it the best thing he's ever written? No. I'd say that goes to something like Regarding the Need For Sex Education, Intern, or The Arbitrage of Moments, or the Dressing Room series, all of which are excellent. Love Letters for a Girl I Hate is hilarious as well, particularly the third chapter of it, which really encapsulates the ridiculousness of the other two.

But he's a top-tier talent on the site.

As for the blurb, if you think something like this is better:

A story rich in emotional complexity and ambiguity, Would It Matter If I Was? is a story which asks a very simple question: would it matter to Twilight if Fluttershy was a changeling? But this question has a great deal more complexity to it than it seems, both in the context of their friendship, as well as the question of whether or not it would be damaging to tear apart Equestrian society in search of hidden changelings, many of whom might be innocent of wrongdoing. The story asks more questions than meets the eye, including the question of whether the central question itself is a hypothetical question, or if Fluttershy has a vested interest in the answer.

Then so be it.

But the story didn't get in because it got 2,681 upvotes, nor did it get in because GAPJaxie wrote it.

The story got 2,681 upvotes because it was interesting, it asked an interesting question, and it engendered a strong emotional response from people.

5088541

I dunno. Wouldn't it have been fairly easy to send an e-mail to Jaxie saying the things that could be fixed before it gets featured? The story could easily be modified to read more smoothly, both in prose and characterizations. A story can raise any number of questions, but if it fails to immerse the reader, then in a way it fails as an actual story. As an author, I'm delighted to hear criticism on my stories, because then I can either go and fix them up if the fixes are easy or apply the criticism to my future works. I'm sure Jaxie would love to know where to improve, and the readers would benefit from the improvements to his writing.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5088731
We do this on occasion (it is called "Approval Pending") but we didn't feel it was necessary in this case because we felt the story was good enough as-is to go into a site post.

5088757 ....

Hold Would It Matter up against literally any of the other fics in this spotlight. It's in the minority, and that minority could most accurately be labelled as 'poorly written'. If we try to work out a rough idea of this group's standards based on averages, Would It Matter is nowhere near your standard.

It's a thought-provoking concept, certainly. But 'concept' is not 'story'. Half the spinoffs are written a billion times better than the original, and half of them make a point of mocking the original mercilessly. First =/= best. It's a fun headcanon, an interesting thought experiment, but the story is Not. Very. Good.

And hell, even the concept is hardly novel. Only the actual question is particularly original. The question of the changelings' culpability is ancient, and discussions of their compatibility with pony society could fill a hundred bins of any genre you care to name.

"Good enough to go into a site post" my fragrant ass.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5089355

Hold Would It Matter up against literally any of the other fics in this spotlight. It's in the minority, and that minority could most accurately be labelled as 'poorly written'. If we try to work out a rough idea of this group's standards based on averages, Would It Matter is nowhere near your standard.

According to my own ratings it is the highest rated of the four stories in this set that I have read (alas, I haven't yet read A Lovingly Crafted Lunch or The Gentle Night: Audience of One).

When we approved the story, we knew it would be divisive. Some people have very strongly negative reactions to the story. The main behind-the-scenes debate we had over this story was whether or not Fluttershy was in character. We decided it wasn't an issue.

Your suggestion that this is below our average is wrong. Frankly, we've approved weaker stories than this.

It's a thought-provoking concept, certainly. But 'concept' is not 'story'. Half the spinoffs are written a billion times better than the original, and half of them make a point of mocking the original mercilessly. First =/= best. It's a fun headcanon, an interesting thought experiment, but the story is Not. Very. Good.

Do you mean Reality Check's rather obvious (and ranty) attempted plagarism/cash-in which eventually resulted in him leaving the site?

Because that wasn't very good.

Suggesting Would It Matter If I Was? isn't a story is wrong. It is a story, with a complete arc. It has a beginning, middle, and end, a conflict, a resolution, character development... everything a story is supposed to have. Suggesting it is more of a concept than a story means you aren't capable of distinguishing between the two.

Which is okay! Not everyone can. But it isn't a valid criticism of the piece. And indeed, given this, and the fact that you probably can differentiate between them, it suggests that your dislike of the piece is coloring your ability to look at it in an objective light.

And hell, even the concept is hardly novel. Only the actual question is particularly original. The question of the changelings' culpability is ancient, and discussions of their compatibility with pony society could fill a hundred bins of any genre you care to name.

The particular execution of the story in question was unique. "What if one of the mane six was a changeling?" isn't a novel idea, nor is the question of whether or not there are good Muslims changelings, but the particular formulation of this story was indeed different, both for its focus and ambiguity.

Indeed, your suggestion at its lack of uniqueness fails to recognize a very central reason why this story was in fact an unusual entry in the genre: in most such stories, the story is centered around their friend being a changeling, and what that means for their friend. But this story isn't about Fluttershy being a changeling. This story is about Twilight, a normal pony, and her reaction to a hypothetical (and possibly not so hypothetical) situation. It isn't about the changeling. Almost all stories about changelings in pony society are about changelings in pony society, but this story isn't.

This is something that a lot of folks missed about this story, particularly in the parodies/spinoffs of the piece. This is most obvious in Reality Check's piece, but it is true in the vast majority of the pieces - they missed the original point of the story entirely.

The story isn't about Fluttershy being a changeling. It is about her friend dealing with the possibility of one of their friends being a changeling. It is a pony grappling with a moral choice having to do with a loved one, and whether or not something that makes their loved one different changes anything about their relationship with them.

5088721

But the story didn't get in because it got 2,681 upvotes, nor did it get in because GAPJaxie wrote it.

The story got 2,681 upvotes because it was interesting, it asked an interesting question, and it engendered a strong emotional response from people.

That's the entire point of the arguments, TD. You crammed in here just because of the feels. It doesn't provide practically anything else. You said it well yourself:

Storytelling, charaterization, and plot are all incredibly important. But the basic underlying idea of a story carries a heck of a lot of water.

Both are kind of sort of true, but not really. To have a good story, you need good characterization, fluid storytelling and a solid plot (no, not that kind of plot). However, here's the thing: the underlying idea doesn't need to be novel or supremely good. Hell, sometimes underlying bad ideas in the hands of good writes can spawn amazing stories. And no, by that I don't mean '50 shades of stupid'. I'm just saying that good writers know how to avoid the common pitfalls and nonsensical stereotypes

For almost a day, you've been trying to defend your position that the story you've added as recommended wasn't because it was popular or because the writer was good. It was added because the idea behind the story was new. One of the mane six being a changeling? Feels, man. Feels.

However, the entire concept isn't new. And neither is the way it was told. The same author has 2 more stories about changelings being members of Mane 6. <x> isn't a <mane 6 name here>, but it plays one on the TV, and this story is more or less the same. Even the recap of it would be extremely simple:
Flutters: "T-Twilight? What if I were a changeling?"
Twi: "Are you? ARE YOU?"
Flutters: "N-no. I mean..."
Twi: "Oh, ok. Then everything is fine."
The end.

And if you're still insisting that this entire concept of one of the Mane 6 is completely new, I'd recommend you read Solitary Locust by The Parasprite.

THAT is the story that should end up in here. In contrast, Would it Matter If I Was? is just a cheap play on feels, and nothing else.
~Twi

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5089664

For almost a day, you've been trying to defend your position that the story you've added as recommended wasn't because it was popular or because the writer was good. It was added because the idea behind the story was new. One of the mane six being a changeling? Feels, man. Feels.

That isn't what I've been arguing.

If you think it is, then you haven't been reading my posts.

Oh, I'm sure you think you have, but it is common for people to simply insert things in over what they're reading because of their preconceived notions about reality, which makes it difficult for them to address what is really going on. They believe they're addressing it, but they're not - they're arguing against a strawman of their own construction, but they don't even recognize that they're doing it.

Heck, you don't even recognize what the story is about, as evinced by your little conversation there.

The story isn't about Fluttershy being a changeling.

The story is about Twilight's reaction to the possibility.

This is a fundamentally different story from most "X is a changeling" stories. Heck, I'm an admin of that group. I've read (and reviewed) multiple "X is a changeling" stories.

The thing is, those stories are almost always focused on X being a changeling.

Would It Matter If I Was? is not. It is focused on Twilight (and by extension, society) reacting to a threat coming from an invisible minority, and having to come to grips with the fact that her initial tribalistic thoughts may be incorrect, because one of her friends - somepony she knows is a good pony - could very well be a member of said invisible minority.

Most such stories both explicitly make a character a changeling, and focus on said changeling and their struggle in society.

But Would It Matter If I Was? is not about that. It is not about the minority struggling against the majority. It is about the majority coming to grips with how to deal with the minority, when the minority might be closer to their hearts than they think.

5089680

Heck, you don't even recognize what the story is about, as evinced by your little conversation there.

The story isn't about Fluttershy being a changeling.

The story is about Twilight's reaction to the possibility.

That... doesn't influence my recap at all, and neither it changes my entire comment. Well, not really, no.

My argument was (and it still is) that the story in question was nothing more than cashing on cheap feels, because why not.

Your prolonged answer just adds more weight to my answer, too. Yeah, sure. the story could be a question about invisible enemy, a nearby threat, or whatever. Especially this is true nowadays, where there are plentiful organisations that might sneak into muindane lives of unsuspecting people and cause harm.

And with that, I'm getting back to my point: This story is nothing but cheap feels, and if you take that away, there's nothing else to it.
~Twi

5086572 5089593
I was going to stop replying since this was quickly proving to be quite pointless. I don't like repeating myself and seeing as how concerns and points over the story's quality are being rejected over the simple fact it was written by someone who is supposedly a good writer and the story caused controversy, it's probably not worth the effort to keep replying.

However, this is what's probably one of the most messed up things I could see from a group dedicated to quality, since one of its approvers is speaking on behalf of the group here.

The main behind-the-scenes debate we had over this story was whether or not Fluttershy was in character. We decided it wasn't an issue.

Not an issue? A character driven piece without an AU tag where you're praising its "deep", moral dilemmas over how Twilight would react to their friend having hidden an important part of her identity from her—the character being in character isn't an issue? Are you joking with me? You cannot claim to be a critic looking at quality when a basic facet of fanfiction is being ignored. This isn't a case of tweaking for an alternate universe. The story has a definite time it takes place. Fluttershy's character was bastardized for the point in the show this was written for. You mean to tell me it's excusable for season 2 Fluttershy to be cold and calculating enough to stick to her guns by forcing Twilight to the conclusion that she was a changeling all for some messed up headgames just to teach her a lesson—what, a week?—after she suffered some trauma? We're talking about the Element of Kindness here in the Elements of Harmony which supposedly represent friendship. This isn't an issue for you? This is excusable for a group that finds the highest quality stories on the site to promote them?

Of course it's excusable. I've already received an answer as to why this is being admitted. After all, the concept alone is all it takes. And supposedly because it was written by a good writer. I guess the name helps it get a pass too.

The Royal Guard has lost a lot of its standards if you're willing to ignore such glaring flaws, such as everything that has been listed in this thread (even by one of the group's admins) simply because the "interesting concept" of "your friend might be lying to you" is enough to let this story get on by.

5089722 For the record, before Tite-D comes back to start slinging mud again, I'd like to express my support for your tireless attempts to make him admit his mistake. You're one of the brave few who hasn't given up and left him to wallow in his smug, blissful ignorance, and for that I respect you.

5089593

According to my own ratings it is the highest rated of the four stories

I have now come to the conclusion that you are a soulless robot who only places value in numbers. Seriously, a like can mean anything from "OMG I love this thing more than all of the things" to "this was not entirely horrible". Joy is not a quantifiable value.

Frankly, we've approved weaker stories than this.

Is this group called the Royal Guard because it's an often-overlooked, supposedly badass but not-so-secretly mediocre collection of faceless mooks? Because if you're going to hold up a statement like that as a badge of honor, it's going to give off that impression.

Suggesting it is more of a concept than a story means you aren't capable of distinguishing between the two.

You're seriously going there. You're actually going to assume I can't distinguish between concept and story because of slightly awkward sentence structure. Granted, what I meant to say was "The story puts forth an interesting concept, but is not itself an interesting story", but assuming I have no understanding of literature and yet joined this group under the impression that it would help me find stuff worth reading seems like a bit of a leap. Probably your most forgivable leap in logic in this thread, but a leap nonetheless.

in most such stories, the story is centered around their friend being a changeling, and what that means for their friend.

Because of course there's no such thing as the secondary characters in said stories ever voicing their various complaints and philosophical dilemmas about the revelation that what they shared with a pony might not have even been real. This is definitely a thing that was only introduced in this story. And even if it was, that still doesn't provide an excuse for sticking this thing anywhere near a fic spotlight.

At the very least, you guys could have had the original summary be written about the actual story, instead of the reaction. If someone had bothered to nail down something defensible within the text itself rather than the vague ideas behind it, you might have a bit more of a leg to stand on.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5089722
I'm really confused. The story isn't about cheap feels. It isn't a feelsy story at all.

If you're going to complain about the story being cheap anything, it'd be about it being a story which poses a controversial philosophical question in the title/summary.

Calling it feelsy is very strange. It isn't even the story's primary axis of attraction. Yeah, it talks about Twilight's feelings, but feels and feelings aren't the same thing at all. A "cheap feels" story is a story intended to evoke an uncomplicated emotion in the audience.

Cheap feels is something like How To Preen Your Chicken or a graves fic. Not that those are necessarily bad stories, but they're a totally different genre.

5089790
We decided that Fluttershy wasn't out of character, given the context of the story.

I already explained why earlier in this thread.

I don't think I'm going to change your mind, but I did already address this.

5089842

At the very least, you guys could have had the original summary be written about the actual story, instead of the reaction. If someone had bothered to nail down something defensible within the text itself rather than the vague ideas behind it, you might have a bit more of a leg to stand on.

Please read my previous responses for my response to this.

I have now come to the conclusion that you are a soulless robot who only places value in numbers. Seriously, a like can mean anything from "OMG I love this thing more than all of the things" to "this was not entirely horrible". Joy is not a quantifiable value.

If it was impossible to differentiate between stories by quality, then there would be no point to the Royal Guard, Equestria Daily, the Royal Canterlot library, ect. in the first place.

Given you are arguing that it is possible to differentiate between stories by quality, this is a very strange and frankly rather nonsensical statement to make.

Granted, what I meant to say was "The story puts forth an interesting concept, but is not itself an interesting story"

I see what you're saying now. FYI, people do suggest that something "isn't really a story", and we do have to periodically reject "non-stories" from the Royal Guard, so saying that something isn't a story is something that we consider to be an actual complaint.

Anyway: you obviously didn't like the story. Several of us did, as did many, many other people. Obviously, you're in the minority there in terms of not finding it to be interesting.

I'm sorry you didn't like our selection for the drama piece this week. We aren't going to make everyone happy with every story we pick. Such is the nature of the beast. No one can; it isn't something which can be done.

Man there is an awful lot of salt in this thread.

Who gives a fuck? It's one story in a post from a bunch of people who volunteer their free time to read a bunch of stories to feature stories they feel that, according to a pre-agreed set of criteria, are good, or at the very least, worth reading.

This isn't some grand pedestal of the finest quality literature has to offer. I don't see why the feature of a story someone doesn't particularly care for deserves anything more than a shrug, and to move onto doing literally anything else.

(And for the record, I've never even read the story in question.)

5089862 Exactly, nothing more needs to be said.

5089867

Nothing More is a wonderful band.

5089862 In the least confrontational way possible:

The story stands out because the general consensus is that it doesn't deserve the praise that got it here, it's generally a lesser-quality piece than the others on display, and the summary has (once again in sharp contrast to the rest of the list) nothing to do with the prose itself and everything to do with the fan reaction. A large part of the salt also comes from the nonsensical and prideful answers of literally the only person defending this choice, which I'm half-convinced are specifically crafted to coax more salt.

In summary, we're not so much holding the group to an impossibly high standard, as we are expecting it to at least maintain semi-consistent quality within a single post. I hope this has either helped, or been frustrating in a mildly amusing way.

PS Love your work.

5089862 That's one reaction to be had but to be honest somebody has to care otherwise with that logic why not just delete this group?

The story is bad. To be honest I give my favlile very easily to people and even though the story was bad it wasn't bad enough.

Hardly feature worthy material of ANY KIND. It is at best mediocre.

All I see for getting it featured is "The idea", "The author".

If I may be so arrogant for a moment and bring in one of my own fics "Friendship Lost...".

It deals with the age old question of why did Chrysalis attack. It gives a sympathetic view of Chrysalis. It goes philosophical on friendship but again if I may be arrogant for a moment... I make it a purpose of mine to establish the philosophy behind the questions by actually putting a tangible link that keeps this story coherently linked enough to pass as a real story. All the while keeping the question relevant to the characters and reality and being faithful to them.

Gax himself admits that he is not exactly fond of this story. Also "engaging". Yea right... More like an ugly trend that even the author was overwhelmed by.

It was luck. Luck that it was Gax who wrote this, luck that it got the feature box, luck that it got enough flack by popular groups who overobssesed with a fanfic because it became "trendy" to do so. People were not engaged in the story... They wanted a share of the popularity.

Heck the "interest" you called spinoffs made the admins rile up because it was borderline PLAGIARISM. If disingenuous writing counts as "interest" then I am sorry but you are WRONG.

Even Gax didn't like it.

I have been in this site for over 3 years and I can guarantee you that not all the things on the box gain popularity and for the right reasons. This is one of these stories that got engaging not because of the story but because of the fanon, headcanon and other discussions that were made about a race featured for 4 minutes.

Now the story itself isn't quality because the seams that keep this story a story are showing around the edges.

This could very well be a blogpost.

I like this story's concept. I am willing to overlook the tearing seams in order to enjoy it.

But telling me that it is a quality work, that it needs to be featured here, when even the author himself despite how good he is admits "It's not that good"...

I think you made a mistake.

OH BTW since I am arrogant... Please read "Friendship Lost..." my story.

Again I am sorry if I offended anyone.
5089860
5089842
5089722
5089790 sorry I forgot to mention you guys.

5089925 No idea why you're mentioning us. We're all trying to forget that we wasted time trying to knock sense into Titanium Dragon.

Preemptive apologies if I mis-quote anyone...

5088412

The reason why the story was featured was because it was interesting.

No, it really wasn't interesting. Frustrating to read, had me going, "Wait, what?!" more than once, and left a sour taste in my mouth at the end.

Would it matter if Fluttershy was a changeling?

Yes, it would. I saved everyone time! :D

It was a thought-provoking story, which is precisely why so many people read it.

Probably not a few who also read it because of the author...


5088453

Secondly, we show stories which are submitted to us and which pass our standards.

Well, what are those standards? I've submitted twice and been rejected both times.

If you don't submit your stories to us, we can't possibly feature them. And as it turns out, the people who submit their stories to us are people who are, frankly, most interested in promoting themselves. As a result, we end up with a lot of stories from people like Pascoite, who is very active in submitting stories. We do have a guideline (not a hard rule) against featuring the same writer two posts in a row, but the reality is that when a highly-skilled, highly-talented writer submits a story to us once a week, and has, you know, like 50 stories, they're going to end up getting featured fairly frequently compared to most people. And sometimes, we end up violating the guideline because we don't have any stories approved in a given category save those by someone who appeared in last week's site post.

Actually, I submit here to see if my writing's improved and use it as a benchmark to my quality. That and I'm a stubborn bastard who tried thirteen times at theforce.net's archive and got rejected every time. :D

Right now our queue of stories to be read has 51 Slice of Life stories, 47 Dramas, 37 Comedies, 29 Romances, 29 Action/Adventure stories, and 4 (four!) human fics.

If you have a good human story, there's a good chance we'll read it within a matter of weeks.

Maybe I should try again soon, then.


5088615

Movies like The Room and Cool Cat Saves The Kids also are memorable.

I actually haven't heard of the second one. ;)

5089803

For the record, before Tite-D comes back to start slinging mud again, I'd like to express my support for your tireless attempts to make him admit his mistake. You're one of the brave few who hasn't given up and left him to wallow in his smug, blissful ignorance, and for that I respect you.

I was at work most of the day. ;) And to be honest, most all of what I'd like to say has been expressed far better and more eloquently than I could ever manage.

5089862 Well, we give a 'fuck' because we feel a subpar story got in. it's our prerogative to question it.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5090000
There's nothing wrong with asking "Why did this story get in? I didn't think it was very good because of X, Y, and Z" or "Your summary of this story didn't really give a good reason for me to read it" or whatever else.

Where it gets into problematic territory is where you see posts where people demand validation of their point of view.

There's nothing wrong with questioning the presence of a story. However, some folks crossed over the line into insulting people and trying to assert their dominance and exhibit their personal superiority. That isn't really a discussion, it is an attempt to "win", and it is unlikely to be very productive or useful.

It is impossible for us to post nothing but stories that everyone likes, because there aren't any. There is always someone who decides that they don't like a story for some reason or other. It doesn't hit them the right way. It offends their personal sensibilities. It conflicts with their headcanon. It goes against their personal beliefs.

Burraku_Pansa
Group Admin

5090000
(Oh, wow, your comment number is 5090000)

Well, what are those standards? I've submitted twice and been rejected both times.
[…]
Well, we give a 'fuck' because we feel a subpar story got in. it's our prerogative to question it.

It certainly is your prerogative.

Rather than defending the story, which I personally would not be able to take very far, I would like to remind you and others (maybe TD himself, to some extent) of something: TRG's general stringency is not only due to any set of standards but also due to its requirement that a story be approved by at least two of our pre-readers. If one pre-reader comes along and approves it, and a second rejects it (for something less concrete than mechanical inadequacy), then a third is required to come and give a final opinion. And it just so happens that the aforementioned scenario was the case with Would It Matter If I Was?—one pre-reader saw readily fit to post it, another felt otherwise, and a third came in with perhaps slight reservations but ultimately felt it was worth our featuring it.

My point is that while 5089860 may be making it sound very unanimous, we do have a process here that encourages the voicing of conflicting opinions, and in this case, conflicting opinions were voiced, as well they should often be. This is not true in many—perhaps most—comparable groups, and it allows us to combat human error by taking decisions out of the hands of any single person. No system is perfect, and so given enough time, mistakes in any system are unavoidable, but I feel ours is likely better about it than most.

Mind you, my own feelings about the Would It Matter If I Was? aside, I'm not calling the decision made to feature it a mistake. On top of it not being my place, collective subjectivity is the name of our game and it resulted in the piece making it through. Just as it's your prerogative to question it if you feel one of our picks wasn't up to snuff, it's our duty to feature things that not everyone agrees unanimously to feature—because a decision being left in the hands of a single person goes both ways, so a story worth featuring could easily get unfairly rejected without our mutual oversight. Ninety times or better out of a hundred, that's the system working.

Of course, by my logic, we could even further eliminate the effects of human error by requiring even more approvals before we feature a piece (which is exactly what we require if the piece was written by one of our own staff members, mind you), but if we were to do that, the time it takes for us to judge a piece would rise untenably with the number of judges. So we do what we can, and sometimes our decisions won't be unanimous or line up with public opinion. That's just the nature of our service.

Get what I'm saying?

Though, ah… We can be more stringent about blurbs in the future, certainly. Those, we have no defined guidelines for, and maybe it's time we make some.

5090051 Okay, if I seem a little 'testy', I regret and apologize if I come off too forcefully. I have a problem controlling my temper in real-life. I've gotten better, but it's a constant progress with me.

There's nothing wrong with asking "Why did this story get in? I didn't think it was very good because of X, Y, and Z" or "Your summary of this story didn't really give a good reason for me to read it" or whatever else.

Okay... Why did this story get in? I didn't think it was very good because both characters were mischaracterized. It was blunt in a bad way. Fluttershy was a mouthpiece for the author and Twilight folded like the Brooklyn Brawler against the Rock. It might have asked a question, but it also shoveled the answer into our brain. It had the subtlety of a brick through a window,

5090068

(Oh, wow, your comment number is 5090000)

Go, me. ;)

And I get the explanation, thanks. I think it's probably the best you can do. I still vehemently disagree with this being accepted, mind.

Burraku_Pansa
Group Admin

5090100

Okay... Why did this story get in?

As I tried to allude to, I really feel it's no more complex than that two pre-readers saw the story in a light through which they felt any of its flaws were less worth considering than they took its better points to be, and another pre-reader who felt differently was overruled by this literally-as-small-as-possible-by-definition majority. Would three other pre-readers reading it have come out with different opinions? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the pre-readers who read it were the pre-readers who read it, and they felt about it how they felt about it. And because each story is different and each pre-reader a human being, there's not very much we can take from the decision itself and apply to future decisions.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

5090100
You're allowed to dislike the story. Nothing says that you must like every story we approve. We are not the be-all, end-all of taste. Everyone has had stories fail that they thought were good enough, or pass that they thought weren't quite up to snuff.

That's how it goes.

It isn't like we can tell you you're objectively wrong for having different tastes.

Why did this story get in?

From earlier posts:

The story, like many of GAPJaxie's works, is rich in ambiguity and emotional subtext. Twilight pointing her horn towards Fluttershy, the ambiguity of whether or not Fluttershy is actually a changeling, the question of whether or not Twilight's freakout (and Fluttershy's own behavior) is reasonable, the question of whether or not Fluttershy used her Stare to make Twilight back down... a lot of this is subtext. Indeed, a large part of the reason why there is so much body language here is to subtly give the audience some additional information on character behavior, though I think it went overboard with it and obscured a few very important moments (like Twilight pointing her horn at Fluttershy, as well as Fluttershy's possible use of the Stare) which made some people miss some of this.

The story is meant to be emotionally complicated and not only ask Twilight the question, but also ask the reader the question, as well as lead them through why Fluttershy thinks her answer is right (and other reasons why she might be right as well).

You argued that they're out of character. Maybe, maybe not. But within the context of the story, in the more serious world that GAPJaxie thrust them into, where they might do blood tests for changelings or whatever, it makes a lot more sense in an emotional context. GAPJaxie is taking the show and casting it into a darker emotional space, which is not uncommon for stories like this.

A very central reason why this story was in fact an unusual entry in the genre: in most such stories, the story is centered around their friend being a changeling, and what that means for their friend. But this story isn't about Fluttershy being a changeling. This story is about Twilight, a normal pony, and her reaction to a hypothetical (and possibly not so hypothetical) situation. It isn't about the changeling. Almost all stories about changelings in pony society are about changelings in pony society, but this story isn't.

The story is interesting in part because we see all sorts of stories written about "the other" from the point of view of "the other". But this story was written from Twilight's point of view, as a member of normal society reacting to an intrusion by "the other". Most such stories are about the struggle the "other" has with the injustices and oppression of society, but this story was focused on a different angle, how the injustices and oppression of society can damage the people doing the unjust oppression, because people they themselves love may fall into the category of the oppressed. They don't know if they do or don't.

Not everyone agrees, of course.

But that was what I saw in it.

So, in part, all of the above is why.

Of course, I was only one of three prereaders on it.

Inquisitor M
Group Contributor

Urgh. I'd managed to avoid reading this until now, but finally something has given me reason enough to experience the legend.

It was... basically exactly what I expected. That cuts both ways, though. I think the quality of the presentation is poor enough that people concerns, as presented here, are valid; however, the fact is that raw quality is not the only reason a story gets picked for presentation by the Royal Guard.

Would I have passed it if I was still in the 'Guard? Not a chance. Do I happily accept that the idea alone is sufficient for someone else to pass it? Hell yes.

And let's be honest with ourselves: that is literally all there is to it.

And for anyone that thinks the Royal Guard is a circle-jerk of back-slapping positivity, you could not be more wrong. Ask Cerulean Voice how easy I went on his stories. Ask Titanium Dragon how I've been on his – or him on mine, for that matter. Even Prak and I agree on very little style-wise, even if we got on absolutely fine on a personal basis. I can appreciate why people might think it from the outside, but in reality it's pretty cutthroat.

This thread is fantastic. It portrays an entire array of human concerns, insecurities, and defense mechanisms that one can only find in an Internet argument. I might write a story about it.

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