Uncommon Dazzling Ships 233 members · 410 stories
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Hi everypony,

Welcome to our quarterly Author Spotlight! This month we have an interview lined up for you with Hopeful_Ink_Hoof, who has been on fimfiction for several years and has quite a few siren stories under his belt.

As a warning, this discussion might include spoilers for his stories.

So, Hopeful_Ink_Hoof, by my count there are eight stories to your name of unusual siren pairings, half of which are romantic. I think that's more than any other author on the site! What is it that interests you about crackshipping compared to ‘regular’ shipping?

Well, I've never actually thought about it in terms of "crackshipping" or "regular" shipping. That said, I suppose it's just because I like having as many options as possible. If we kept to what could possibly be canon in terms of romance, the possibilities become extremely limited. Especially with The Dazzlings. That would mean they would be limited to pretty much the characters from Rainbow Rocks, which in turn would mean missing out on a lot of potentially entertaining ships: such as Sci-Twi or so many other characters that were introduced later on in the series.

I also think that it may be because less common ships are more fun? When you write a ship that few or no one else has done before, you're not simply putting your own take or a new twist on something that so many others have done before. It's like a new territory. You get to explore the two character's personalities, maybe flesh them out a little more, and how figure out how they would play off each other and work (or not work) as a couple. At worst, you've at least tried a new romantic pairing, even if it didn't go ever well. At best, you've created a new ship that others like, and may want to explore the possibilities of themselves.

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6844299 I agree, I think not-crackshipping is more about situations where characters might get together or interact as friends, where crackshipping is more about how personalities might interact, and the situation has to be more engineered.

So you mentioned here that less common ships are more fun (and I completely agree!), but also then that if it goes well, others may want to write more for those pairings. Do you think there could be a cycle, where unknown ships get tried for the first time, then someone does it well, others pick up on it, and more gets written until that ships becomes no longer really uncommon, and we go off in search of something more unusual and fun?

That would be quite the ego-boosting feather in the cap, wouldn't it? Find or come up with a pair of characters that not many have put much consideration for or shown interest in, write a story of them together which becomes popular and people like, then watch as others take that pairing and write their own takes on it, and all with a great sense of pride due to being the one who can take credit.

But cynicism and minimal research has me saying no.

Take Brains and Brawlers, for example: the story which brought me to the attention of this group, and vice-versa. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on the pairing, but since its start, there have been few other romance stories written between Gilda and Princess Twilight, and none between Gilda and Sci-Twi. Considering the first chapter was posted in October of 2016, that means that no one else has written the pairing in over two and a half years. Although, it looks like no one has written Sci-Twi x Gilda shipping beforehand either.

Maybe if the fandom was younger and more active, it would be more likely. Also, it has recently been demonstrated that if there is a contest with a cash prize, people are willing to try and write in order to enter. Perhaps in that case, someone who came across one of the less common ships, like it, and decided to try and write their own take on it for the contest.

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6845796 While I haven't seen another Gilda x Twilight one, I know there's been things like Featherfall shipping Gilda with Sunset, which provides sort of another side of the same coin, so that might not be a bad consolation position?

The contest with cash participation award certainly went huge! If we could afford to do all contests like that, the fandom would be going for decades. I do hold out the hope that if someone gets the right pairing, it might still capture others' imaginations enough to write a few related stories. DagiShy managed half a dozen fan-written spinoffs or something off the back of one central story, though it hasn't really been repeated since.

As you mention Brains and Brawlers, I notice the two unusual ships on display there (Gilda x Twilight and Limestone x Aria) are very different in their dynamics - Twilight and Gilda are very much about opposites attracting, where the other two have chemistry because they're so similar. Which angle do you prefer to write?

I was actually thinking about this yesterday after watching Common Ground. Not only does it sort of tie to the answer in itself, albeit indirectly, but it also had me thinking about other relationships in the show.

I prefer writing from the perspective of "opposites attract." I think it's well know because it's easy to recognize when two people are opposites, and it quickly creates a dynamic that can be explored. Two people, who are incredibly different, yet the like each other. As they get two spend time together and get to know each other, the two of them get to find out more about each other and what they have in common. As a writer, we get to explore and build on this, finding this common interest between two characters who on the surface seem very different from each other. We even get to point out parts of these characters that may not normally be seen. As a reader, it gives more depth to the character and potentially fleshes them out further. We get to see these two characters learn about each other and grow closer together. We can understand their doubts and worries about each other, and feel as though their relationship is developing.

While having two characters who are very similar be together can be great, and can be entertaining when written right, it can also be extremely boring to read or write about.

I'm actually not very fond of Mudbriar and Maud Pie because of this. They're just too similar: both are introverted; both are socially awkward, especially with conversation (where Maud is very literal, and Mudbriar is very technical); and both have niche interest that few others relate to (rock and sticks). In and of its own, it's great that Maud found someone who so well understands her, who she can easily relate to, and who she is able to comfortably be herself with. From an entertainment perspective, it's kind of boring because there is no real noticeable contrast. A story that was only supposed to be about the two of them in a serious romance would likely fall short. Not impossible, but certainly not something I could write.

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6848229 I can absolutely see the 'opposites attract' approach leading to a more interesting story, eeyup. How would you approach that when it comes to characters being on different sides of the good/bad alignment? Is it necessary to redeem one so they're both good, or indeed corrupt one so they're both evil? Or can a relationship (romantic or otherwise) be shown in a believable and enjoyable way with them still on opposite sides?

With human Gilda I think you've got a handy way around that obstacle, as she hasn't appeared canonically in the EG world, so you can have her more as 'rough' than 'antagonistic.' Plus she's been redeemed on-screen since her first appearance, so you can show that side of her more easily. Whereas I'd think it might be tougher with characters like the sirens, who not only have been shown to already exist in the EG world as being bad-aligned, but have also gone up against the mane cast directly as antagonists.

Breaking this apart a little.

How I approach it is to have an evil or bad character being at least partially redeemed. Maybe not all the way to the point where people would think of them as "good," but at least not bad or evil. Maybe neutral with some snark? Looking through it, I have written more with Aria alone than the other two, and I think that's part of the reason. Because even if she's not being evil -- whether trying to live as a normal person or is actually trying to be or do something good -- you still have a character who can be angry, rebellious, and snarky. Yeah, she might do what she's told, but if she doesn't like it, she'll make it very clear. And yeah, she could save or help, but she'll also rub it in that you needed her to in the first place. Especially if it was your own stupidity that got you there. Although, I suppose with Adagio, you could play up the manipulator angle, making it so no one is ever sure if she is being genuine or playing them. And Sonata can show this childish side, which can cause others to lower their guard, giving her a better opportunity to strike unexpectedly if she wanted.

As for the broader question: it can be done, but the characters themselves have to be a little gray. You can't have one who is supposed to be an absolute shining beacon of law and order and pair them with a mass-murdering psychopath, then expect it to work out. The "good" person would need some moral flexibility, and the "bad" person would have to have limits or standards.

I can't find it, but there was an example on this site with Chrysalis and Twilight. Chrysalis ended up living in the castle with Twilight. She still planned to overthrow Celestia and hated Thorax for what happened, but she was also extremely protective about the Ponyville foals (the scene I remember best is a recounting that when a timberwolf had shown up and threatened one, Chrysaiis attacked the timberwolf and ate its heart). She was still mostly bad, but had shown some good and had gotten to be accepted among the ponies. For her part, Twilight points out the positive, and doesn't stop Chrysalis from scheming her evil schemes of revenge, but does step in before they can actually be enacted.

An off-site example would be a webcomic called Sidekick Girl. The main character is the sidekick of a superhero, and cannot be killed (although she can be severely injured). As a romantic sub-plot, she is in a relationship with a henchman. It's his job to help the main villain, stop the hero, and try to capture her. Then after it's all over, the two of them go on dates and such.

So it could be done, and has to some degree, provided the characters aren't too caught up in their morality.

(Edit on 5/29/19: found the story. It's titled Read Me Like a Book and was written by Carapace. Although looking at it again, it seems I did probably mix it with the Changeling Courtship Rituals you mentioned.)

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6850946 That Twilight x Chrysalis one sounds like the wonderful Changeling Courtship Rituals, but I don't think it is. I would definitely say a ship becomes increasingly hard to believe as you reduce the characters' moral grey area, yeah. Not to the point of being impossible, but it means the rest of the story has to work incredibly hard to counter it.

Which siren x mane character pairing do you think would be the toughest to make seem credible? I noticed last week, for example, when making a folder for the first Aria x Rarity story, that the only pairing we don't have a folder for yet is Sonata x Applejack, and I think that one would be quite a challenge :twilightoops:

For the sake of argument, mane cast there can include both Twilights, Sunset, and Starlight.

That's kind of a tough one. I could see Rarity, or the Twilights trying to work on something important, and getting exasperated by a bored Sonata Dusk either pestering them or getting into trouble. At the same time, I could see her being the one to pull them away from something if they've been working on it for too long, forcing them to take a break and relax before they have a melt down or something. (On a side note, I've been planning to write a Princess Twilight x Sonata story since I saw this picture by KaeMantis aka MustLoveFrogs) AJ could be annoyed by Aria's surliness,, but could also get caught up in rivalry against her kind of like she does with Rainbow Dash.

I suppose, even with SkycatcherEQ's story The Diamond and the Rough, I wold say Rarity and Aria. Rarity is the epitome of prim and proper, obsessed with etiquette and proper "lady-like" behavior, obsessed with fashion and would not be caught dead without her make-up. Meanwhile, Aria is this angry tough girl, who enjoys physical stuff and rebels against authority. Plus, she probably has to put up with a lot of that from Adagio.. Imagine trying to get away from a sibling you're annoyed with, only to end up bring around someone who takes those traits and turns them up to eleven.

....which, put like that may be why there's not much Aria and Pinkie romance either...

(edit: seems that last sentence was wrong. There's quite a number of Aria and Pinkie stories here)

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6854499 I agree very much with those thoughts on Aria and Rarity; Rarity would personify everything Aria hates in Adagio (and none of the things about Adagio that Aria admires), while Aria would personify most of the negative traits Rarity sees in Rainbow without the positives to go with them.

I agree about Aria x Pinkie, too, and I'd throw in Adagio x Pinkie as well (there's one Adagio x Pinkie story I'd recommend, since it's a great story, but I must say it never sold the ship for me). Ah, regarding the multitude of Aria x Pinkie romantic ones, they're all by the same author and they're part of a big extended continuity, so it may well be that characters have shifted away from canon somewhat.

So, going on that artwork you linked, it looks like Sonata will be shipping over to Equestria to meet the princess? If you don't mind answering a question about a yet-to-be-released story, how do you square away Sonata becoming a pony in Equestria rather than a siren? It definitely brings with it a lot of narrative conveniences, but the sirens-as-ponies stories often strike me as having a challenge explaining that detail.

Well there's not much to it yet. A broad general idea I am more than willing to share. And at the moment, if anyone wants to explore it, please, be my guest. The broader idea is that The Dazzlings return to Equestriia, but each is put with a different princess/kingdom/castle/ however you want to put it: Sonata is sent to Ponyville,, and is with Twilight; Arai is sent to The Crystal Empire, under the eye of Princess Cadance and Shining Armor; and Adagio is sent to Canterlot, being watched over by Celestia and Luna.

As for the question, I haven't put much thought into it before. Between pictures of the Dazzlings ponified, and stories like Justice3442's Love Call of The Sirens,, it jjust sort of seems as the default to me.

That said, if an explanation was necessary, it could easily be made in my opinion. With Shadow Play, we have a clear canon where the sirens never went through the mirror, but were instead thrown through a magic inter-dimensional rift. As such, the mirror would have no pre-existing information on them in its databanks, or however you want to put it. Additionally, their gems was not only the source of their power, but someone could also claim that it held their siren forms, and all information thereof. As such, its destruction meant not just the loss of their powers,, but that information as well. As such, it's possible that since it had nothing else to work off of, it would turn them into a pony as a default. Albeit with some possible variation to explain whey they aren't all the same kind or such.

That said, I don't necessarily have to keep her as a pony. You see, that particular artist has a bit of an AU, which includes some headc anons. One such head canon is that the sirens have limited shape-shifting. They are able to switch between their natural siren form and a pony-like form for them to use. While you can't see it in that particular picture, it's why you'll find that the ponfied sirens she draws often have vertical pupils and sharp, predatory teeth.

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6854781 Ooh, one rarely sees much pairing up of sirens and princess, that could be interesting. One could happily see Aria tearing the Crystal Empire to shreds :twilightsmile: Thanks for sharing!

Oh, I remember that artist (as you mention their teeth), they with the sirens being very tall and all very close to Sunset, I've seen some of their work before.

True, this would be the first trip through the mirror for the sirens, so we couldn't be sure what would happen, and especially without their gems as you say. I forget if there's an explanation given in Love Call of the Sirens, I vaguely remember Twilight showing up with them, but maybe not.

How would you recommend going about expanding character from what we see in canon? Aria, for example, doesn't have many details about herself confirmed, so writing from her perspective might be more of a challenge; any thoughts on how you'd develop her into someone you could write confidently, but keep true to how we see her in the show?

That's a bit of a tough question, because I don't actively think about it. I know I have, I'm just not sure how I started or made the decisions. It does help that we have a fandom and one that has done so much. Especially with the less prominent characters. That way, some people can look and see what others have done, compare them against each other, and incorporate some of it into their own work.

That aside, I suppose a good place to start would be with the broader concepts. What we know about the character already, and the broad tropes, stereotypes, and so on we can apply to them. Let's use Aria and The Dazzlings as an example. There are three of them, so we can start with the trio dynamic we've seen in other things. That's probably why she is seen as the strong and tough one, because usually one of the three roles in a trio, with Adagio as the leader, and Sonata as the goofball. Also, whether we consider them biological sisters or not, we can still use the sibling dynamic between them, with Aria as the middle sister. That also means we can use that dynamic in their interactions. For example, that would mean that she and Adagio are allowed to pick on and tease Sonata, but she will also get mad and protect Sonata if anyone else messes with her.

That said, i would like to reiterate it is something of a starting point. Trying to flesh out a character doesn't mean making them a bunch of stereotypes.

We also have to look at our own limitations and knowledge when it comes to a character. Like with the Fairy Gothmother concept we came up with that you're trying to write. I know nothing about music, and my knowledge of the punk sub-culture is limited to outdated pop culture stereotypes. As such, I could reference a scene where she was a part of it early on, mention how she enjoyed it (maybe even getting a mohawk at some point), or maybe have her express annoyance how certain parts have been absorbed into the main culture and commercialized, but could not actually write an accurate story about her still heavily involved in that lifestyle, or listening to that kind of music.

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6857422 I would definitely second the advice against making characters into stereotypes, or into characters we've seen before elsewhere!

Regarding limitations, I am reminded of PresentPerfect's words praising Crimson Lips, that the adage 'Write what you know' is often better phrased as 'Know what you write.'

What do you think is the biggest/most basic/most common/most frustrating mistake that authors have made in crackshipping stories you've read on the site? What's the one thing you'd advise them to focus on doing better? Don't worry about listing specific authors and stories if you'd prefer not to, it's ok to talk about it in more general terms.

When it comes to shipping, the most frustrating thing to me is when the characters aren't who they're supposed to be. I don't just mean a character acting in a way that's out of character for them, although that is part of it. I also mean when a character has their personality so stripped down that they seem to have none. That they could practically be inter-switched with any character ,and there would be no noticeable difference.

It's more prominent in clopfics, where a character will suddenly lose any and all personality traits once sex is brought up, or even before. Everything that made that character unique vanishes as they flirt or get to the sex, where they become mindless cock-hungry sex addicts.

However, I have seen it to a lesser extent with some romance stories. The author tells us who it's supposed to be, and some times gives us the physical description, but if the reader could switch the name with any other, and nothing would be different. I'm not talking about dialogue, either, but the way they act or behave.

For example: there was a story, categorized as a "romance," but was more of a dramatic character study where the main character had depression. As a character study, and a dramatic story, it was very entertaining. However, as a romance, it fell incredibly short for me. Because, regardless of what name the romantic partner was given, they did not have any personality beyond being the supportive (boy/girl)friend. Practically any character could be tossed into that role, and it would not change anything.

As such, I would advise others to try and keep the characters' personalities in mind, and try to have it come through even in small ways. Especially since their personalities is a large reason the characters would be interested in each other to begin with. For instance: I'm willing to believe that all seven characters know how to change a tire, but there is no way that Applejack (who is used to heavy, hard work, and could change a tire blindfolded) would change a tire the same way as Rarity (who would likely whine and try not to chip a nail), or Sci-Twi (who would look it up and try to do it exactly as directed). Similarly, all seven of them could easily be supportive girlfriends, but there is no way that blunt and rough sportsgirl Rainbow Dash would express that support the same way as hyper and fun-loving baker, Pinkie Pie.

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6860433 I definitely agree with that one as a concern, yeah. There was a debate on here a few months ago about the shipping interchangeability of Aria as a character with Rainbow, Limestone, Gilda, Ember etc, and it got me thinking about each character's unique points and how they can form key parts of a story, so that it's not 'Ship X with the serial numbers filed off billed as Ship Y.'

So, this may seem a slightly odd question, and obviously the answer can very depending on the story, but do you have any thoughts on where it's best for a shipping story to end? The ones popularly used are:

The love confession
The first kiss
The first saying of 'I love yous' within a budding relationship
The wedding

I mention it out of a curiosity to know how much of a new relationship we're actually interested in seeing, versus how much is just wanting them to get together.

The best time to end a shipping story is: before you get too bored with the story or frustrated with writing it, or just run out of ideas.

While that is true, a bit more seriously, it does vary, because it depends on how the story is set up. Especially in the case of longer multi-chaptered stories. Admittedly, it is somewhat subjective, but it needs to feel like it's something that actually gives a bit of a conclusion to the relationship and what has been set up beforehand.

Let's use the movie The Swan Princess as an example. Specifically, the musical montage of the main character and the prince meeting every summer. In it, the two don't like each other, and kind of fight, but at the end, when they're grown up, they fall in love instantly, and the prince declares the wedding.

If someone were to take that section, and try to write it into a story, starting with the parents coming up with the idea, and ending with the declaration of the wedding, I think there would be some disappointment and backlash. Because it would not be a satisfying conclusion. It would be a massive jump in our relationship.

On the other hand, with something like the confession, or the first kiss, the big focus is largely on the build up to that moment. We the audience get to experience the emotions of the perspective character, and their attempt to accomplish this. We get a sense of their feelings, their nervousness, their attraction, so that we're quickly rooting for them. That way, when it happens, we feel like something was actually accomplished. We are proud of them for going for it.

I think that's part of why those moments are such popular end points. Because they are big moments that people consider life or relationship changing. They mark an end of one part, and the beginning of another.

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6863322 Dividing it into sections and starting with the beginning of a section and ending with the end of a section makes sense, yep, that would be a sensible way to provide structure. Presumably it's quite important that an author finds the right change of section to suit the story - a story about the worry of whether a high school romance will survive college, for example, would be better finished at the end of college rather than with a wedding ten years after.

How important do you think it is for a shipping story to have equal focus (or close to it) on both characters? Excepting the natural limitations of narration perspectives, that is. Can a shipping story still work if it's obviously focused a lot more on one character of the pair? Or does that usually lead to the other being a shallow, broad-strokes version of a character, like you said about the 'emotional support girlfriend' in the depression story you mentioned.

I think I prefer having something closer to equal myself, but I don't think it's actually necessary. At the same time, however, as it is a shipping story, the shipping should be a large part of it, and so should the other character involved in it. As I said, that story was less a shipping story and more a character study. Referring back to that, the girlfriend was at the start, and at the end, but not really involved in a majority of the story. It was primarily about how the main character was suffering with this issue, and how it was affecting not just her romantic relationship, but all of them. Between that and the lack of personality for the partner, it just did not read as a romance or shipping story to me.

Let's use Jetto's story, Magical Girl Sunny as a counter-example. While the shipping is prominent, especially in later chapters, I would say that the time with Coco is closer to a third or quarter. She and the romantic interest in human Sunset are a large part of it, but the story spends most time with Sunset herself, during times like when she's fighting crime or meeting the human six, and with The Shadowbolts. At the same time, however, even before the later chapters, she felt like a fully fleshed out character, and while her importance to Sunset was not completely established, the reader could see the potential of a relationship between them pretty quickly.

While it's not labeled as Romance, I imagine that your own Fairy Gothmother will be similar. Whether platonic or romantic, Aria will be a large part of the story, but we will also be seeing Sci-Twi with her normal friends, and maybe trying to explore the punk culture on her own somewhat.

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6864160 I guess that's it, yeah, that there's a difference between a shipping story and a story with shipping in it. We tend to lump them all in together in this group, because we're mostly just grateful for what we can get involving uncommon siren ships.

Good point with the Fairy Gothmother comparison, I hadn't really thought about it in those terms, but yeah, it's definitely more about Twilight's exposure to Aria than it is about Twilight and Aria.

So, a general siren question: Clearly both Adagio and Aria are irritated by Sonata in Rainbow Rocks. And Sonata nearly gives the plan away to Sunset, and she doesn't contribute much other than backing vocals with Aria. Why do you think the other two keep her around?

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of to actually work with in canon to give a strong answer.

That said, it's likely a combination of things. The biggest and most obvious would be that they need her. From what we have seen, the three of them have to be together and all using their powers in order to use their gems for feeding. For all we know, it may not be possible for them to feed or use their powers if separated. I know it's a bit less common in headcanons, but it is a possibility. I've also previously mentioned the sibling dynamic between them, with Aria as the middle child. That would put Sonata in the role of the youngest. It also ties back to the part about them being able to pick on Sonata, but not allowing anyone else to. By that same concept, they would get annoyed with her, but still love her and want her in their lives.

There's also a bit of familiarity to it since -- whether it was of a millennium or not -- ever since their arrival in the human world, all they had was pretty much each other. As such, no matter how annoyed they might get with each other, they would rather stay together than have to face it all alone. If it has been a millennium, then that becomes all the more true since they've had to abandon all sorts of things through out their lives.

As an aside, the artist Frist had a bit of interesting headcanon, although I can't share directly it since it's in the description on an NSFW picture of a ponified Aria Blaze (which can be found on Derpibooru). In it, he comes up with the idea that all three of them contributes a different talent to their music. Sonata creates the tune, Aria comes up with the lyrics, and Adagio does the actual singing.

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6864247 Need but not want each other sounds a good angle, sure.

Which uncommon siren ships do you most wish there were more of? Are there any that surprise you in their absence, or indeed their popularity? I'm always surprised there's as much Adagio x Rainbow as there is, for example.

I would like it if there were more stories which shipped the Dazzlings with some of the newer "villains" like Juniper, Vignette, and Wallflower. I especially would like it if others would explore the Aria Blaze x Wallflower Blush dynamic. As you're already aware, I wrote a story with the two of them before (here for those who haven't seen it), and part of that is I think it would be interesting to explore. You have Aria, who is used to being in the spotlight, who stands up for herself, and is loud and opinionated. Then there's Wallflower Blush who is soft spoken and kind of gets pushed to the background. Juniper I think would go well with Adagio, with the siren being something of a mentor turned romantic interest. Adagio starts by helping Juniper learn how to act, and how to read and manipulate people to her interest. As it continues, Adagio starts opening up, and Juniper develops romantic feelings for her. And while I didn't intend it to be romantic pair-offs, I could by putting Sonata and Vignette together. Vignette helps Sonata with her online presence, making videos, and getting followers, and Sonata pulls Vignette away from her phone from time to time to experience the real world.

For Dazzling ships that surprise me with their absence: I would expect there to be more Flash Sentry. Not sure why.

I can't say any surprise me with their popularity. However, looking through the folder lists, some surprise me that they exist at all. As a serious one, there's a Sonata and Moondancer story, even if it's them as friends. The idea never crossed my mind. Less serious is that there is an M rated story of Adagio having sex with rocks.

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6867810 I had never thought of putting Sonata and Vignette together before, but actually that's something I'd be really excited to see!

I do like how Lucky Seven not only wrote a story of a pony having sex with rocks, but then went one further and made it Adagio, who has no rock connection in canon whatsoever. A less audacious author would have played it safe and gone with Maud, but he went all-out. Yeah, I'd have thought there'd be more Flash, too :rainbowhuh:

Thinking of your Twilight x Gilda story, how do you find writing a story is affected by one character being very well-known to the audience, and the other only having been seen a few times? Do you, for example, have to spend a lot more time showing the lesser-seen character to balance them out? Have to think about them a lot more behind the scenes, even if that doesn't translate to more 'screentime' for them on the page?

I ask because it could quite easily be applied to shipping sirens with mane cast members too.

I don't know if I would say a lot, but I do try to spend time with the character to get the audience to know them better. It does help to give the audience a sense of the character and what they are like. There's also more flexibility with what you can do with the less common character since they don't have as much solid canon, which means their headcanon's and people's perception of them can be more flexible. There is still some of that with established characters of course, but there is also a greater risk of doing something that hits out of character behavior. For example, I recently re-read FanOfMostEverything's story A Hearth's Warming Mandible, which is a look at Smolder, Spike, their friendship, and how she is coping with Ponyville and ponies. However, it was written in December of 2018, which puts it before the latest season. In it, there is a scene where Spike is trying to make Smolder feel better, mentions Garble as an example, and this leads to Smolder talking about how terrible Garble is. Fine for when it was written, but in light of what happened in Sweet and Smoky, ends up becoming very much out of character now.

The biggest effect for me however is that I need to do more work to flesh out the less used character. Some times that means minor things, and others, that means large and important.

Sonata gives us an example of a minor detail. In the movie, she makes a big deal about it being Taco Tuesday. This has lead to a narrow interpretation where she absolutely loves and is obsessed with tacos, to a broader one I like, which is that she of the three has had the biggest fascination with human cooking, has learned the most about it, and is the most skilled at it of the three of them. It's a minor detail, and often can be skipped over in some stories, but I do tend to include food and eating at some point in my stories (often multiple times), so it comes up eventually.

On the larger end of things: in Principal Cinch and The Unhappy Mother, the female referred to as "Burst" is Firecracker Burst.

This character was created as a repaint of the Twilight Sparkle blindbag figure, and has no representation on the show, to say nothing of Equestria Girls. That means all I have is the name, appearance and cutie mark to officially work from. So if I want to include her in another story, I will essentially have to work to create her entire personality from whole cloth. Which means coming up with some of her likes, dislikes, and motivations for her. Especially if I don't want her to end up being a Twilight re-color in the story as well.

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6869689 How much does that consideration for trying to spend time with the lesser-known character, to familiarise the audience with who they are more, influence the perspective choices for the story? Do you generally prefer shipping stories to regularly switch perspectives between the two main parties, or maybe stick to the same one for a whole chapter at a time, or not change at all?

As we're nearly out of month, I can add another question too, if you'd like, but if that's too much then by all means please leave this one unanswered: You mention needing to do more work to flesh out lesser-seen characters - once you've done that for the character for one story, do you then carry it across for when that character shows up elsewhere? Or approach them from scratch each time?

I prefer to write in the third-person limited voice, and to stick to one character if I can help it. However, I'm not so restricted that I won't switch to other characters if I think it will help the story and make things more entertaining. That is something I've done with Brains and Brawlers: often telling the story from the perspective of Twilight, but switching to Gilda if I have something that would be entertaining or that would otherwise not be shown in the story. Such as the scene between Gilda and Rarity. Although notice that it mostly stays in one character the entire chapter through. I'm not going to switch mid-chapter if I can help it.

Looking at Wallflower x Aria and Sour Sweet x Sonata stories, I think I kind of went toward the idea of writing the chapter from the perspective of the lesser developed character. That way, the reader is getting a sense of their thoughts and feelings as well as personality, progressing the story while also building that character into someone with more depth.

As for the question about character development: I don't start from scratch each time, but how much carries over depends on the story and how much of what I previously wrote I remember. For instance, I gave Aria a Jeep in Aria Blushing on the Beach and The Issue of Multiple Sunsets, and that's something I like because I think it fits her. So that is probably going to carry over to any other stories I write. However, in Multiple Sunsets, I also give Aria a set of scars around her wrists from multiple electro-shock therapy sessions. That is something that's only going to carry over in any sequels or such.

That is one thing you can get away with writing fanfiction instead of fully original fiction: being able to write multiple interpretations of the same character without it being a problem.

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6870590 Yeah, I think it's really just up to you and the story you're writing how much you stick to the same characterisation each time or mix it up.

Writing from the perspective of the less-seen character definitely makes sense as a way to balance it, if that's what you're going for, absolutely!

A final question, then: Are there any examples you can think of in which your siren characterisation differs from that you usually see in stories around here? I was thinking about it yesterday regarding how I write Adagio without the pride and vanity others often give her, and wondered if there were any areas you've found things like that too?

None that massively stick out to my mind right off the bat. I mean, between Justice3442's ongoing anthology, The Dazzlings Are Insane and many of Tethered Angel's own work, including Neighbors there's quite a spectrum to how they are written to begin with, and some of it has likely influence my own.

Although, as I think about it, there are some. For instance, several stories exist where Sonata is in fact a complete psychopath. Majin Syeekoh is an example of that. Although not necessarily bad, mind you. For instance, his story, Burnonomics does a decent job of having it be part of a dark comedy.

There's also a question of levels. Again, take Sonata Dusk. Most people give her some childish behavior to one extent or other, but it varies. Yes, there's a point where it gets noticeable, such as when she seems to completely have no idea about something I think she should, but it gets difficult to pin down exactly.

Honestly, this would probably be more observable from the outside. If someone who was used to literary analysis were to look at my stories and compare it to others, I'm sure they would find specific things I do that are less common in their characterization, but I can't really say so myself.

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6872758 Definitely different treatments depending on the tone, yeah, and how far each element is pushed. Syeekoh does innocent psychopath Sonata very well!

I'm afraid that's all we can fit in this month - Hopeful_Ink_Hoof, thanks for your time :twilightsmile:

Thanks for inviting me to do this. It's been fun, but kind of strange. Honestly, a lot of this is actually things I'm realizing more in retrospect and consideration after being asked than in the actual moment. It's been kind of strange to look at and study some of my own writing habits. Hopefully, realizing such will help me improve, and others will be able to pick up something that will help them improve a skill or two of their own.

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