Uncommon Dazzling Ships 234 members · 411 stories
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Hi everypony,

Welcome to our quarterly Author Spotlight! This month we have an interview lined up for you with Tethered-Angel, who has been on fimfiction for several years, with the last couple spent almost exclusively writing about sirens.

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

So, Tethered-Angel, as someone who has written both 'mainstream' siren pairings (SunDagio romance and SonAria friendshipping, for example) and crackships (AdArity, DagiLis) and various others, what differences have you noticed between the two in how you approach writing them, and how the audience respond?

Hey, Summer, thanks for having me!

Let's see, as far as writing goes, I don't think many people would disagree that the "mainstream" pairings tend to be easier to write. I'd say most mainstream pairings are born from some level of on-screen interaction, so there's already a sort of framework to work off of and that's part of what makes it popular in the first place. Shipping Sunset with Adagio, for instance, is fairly easy since they have similar backgrounds and, at least as far as Rainbow Rocks, had similar temperaments. As for Sonata and Aria, I don't ship them romantically but their interactions almost write themselves :rainbowlaugh:

Of course, while the foundation is nice, it can be a bit confining. There is a set way in which the characters have been shown to interact, and which readers would expect them to interact, even in an AU that has little to no bearing on the actual events of the movies or show. Of course, you can subvert that- I think the biggest obstacle to a successful SunDagio story is their own shared conflict, so if you can remove that I can easily see them becoming fast friends under the right circumstances- which was actually a fair bit of the basis for Down the Laundry Chute.

Crack ships are nice because you don't have to deal with any sort of drama or prior biases. Of course, the characters should still act consistently, but generally there's a lot more freedom. Personality matters, but so does context. Chrysalis and Adagio are both monsters, by pony standards anyway, but whether they see each other as rival predators fighting over the same hunting ground or partners that can compensate for the others' weaknesses is basically up to the writer's discretion.

Audience response is an interesting topic. It's fairly easy to get a lot of attention on a mainstream ship, on account of it being, you know, mainstream. And I think that's really the biggest hurdle. A very popular ship may get a ton of views and hit the Feature box for a few hours, but wind up with a worse view/upvote ratio than an unpopular one. Which is better is basically a matter of personal opinion, and of course both is ideal haha, but it's important for any writer to keep in perspective. The first hour or two can basically make or break a story's popularity, and it's just a fact that popular ships are going to have a better shot. But there's something really special about posting a story with a new or really uncommon ship, and seeing someone excited because their favorite ship finally has a story, or you've introduced them to a new idea they want to explore.

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7009418 Good answer! And I'm glad you mention Laundry Chute and the relationship with the conflict removed, that one is the best (only?) happy SunDagio shipping story I've ever found credible :twilightsmile:

Building from that, how do you think that affects bigger stories, like Neighbours, where shipping is a subplot rather than the driving force? How would that story have been different if you'd gone with SunDagio rather than AdArity? Do you think a more 'iconic' ship would have drawn more focus within the story?

Haha, thanks! I am actually a pretty big fan of that pair, I just can't get it to cooperate with canon.

Hm, that's hard to say. In general, I don't think it changes too much in a fic like that. I consider Neighbors to be a slice of life, focusing mostly on character interaction and personal growth. And of course romance can be part of that, but it's not really the main draw of the story. I never really planned for AdArity to happen, it just sort of did, and I was as surprised as anyone. Maybe more! But once it happened, I wanted to run with it. I think people enjoyed it, but I doubt it affected the popularity of the story much since it was never really advertised. Of course, if I'd gotten a bit farther with it and gotten the chance to put their relationship more in the spotlight, that might have been a different story, but I don't know if that'll ever happen now.

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7010500 I think those two are hard to balance without one outshining the other, but I agree, canon is the main wrench in the engine. Fair enough, yeah; I suppose Sunset moving in was a big part of the premise anyway, so it wasn't like she wasn't heavily involved in it already.

You mentioned Chrysalis before - I think you've written more Chrysalis x siren stories than anyone else on the site (I wish that weren't the case, since that number is two, but it is). Can you tell us more about how you see their interactions? Does it work better when Chrysalis and Adagio are very similar in temperament, or should Chrysalis be, say, more inclined to bluster, for contrast? I know in This Night Aria that Chrysalis is a ruler with an army, where Aria is a standalone assassin, was that a deliberate move to differentiate them?

Yeah, exactly that. A SunDagio romance might have progressed faster, given their proximity and the premise of the story, but at that point I probably would have just switched it to full romance. And, knowing me, thrown in the other two as a bonus haha. But that would be a very different story.

Haha, you might be right about that! But that's probably your fault for putting the idea in my head in the first place. Anyway, that's an interesting question. Chrysalis and Adagio do have a lot in common. Besides the whole supernatural, mind controlling, emotion-stealing monster thing. They're both cunning, ambitious, and flirty. Doesn't hurt that they're both pretty hot, and have some of the best songs in the series between them :rainbowlaugh: For what it's worth, I tend to put Chrysalis in the dominant position in her relationship with the sirens. Maybe it's because she came first, maybe it's because she's a Queen, maybe it's because she has an army and an actual castle, but she just tends to be a bit better off than them whenever I write them.

In Anniversary Gift, the two are living in Chrysalis' mansion. This is the human Chrysalis of course, so no magic. I figure she was either born into her money, and through luck or intrigue is the sole inheritor, or she is one of those crafty femme fatales who seduces rich men and arranges either a divorce or a death in order to end up with the wealth. I could see her being attracted to Adagio conventionally of course, but more for the rarity of a companion who can actually match her wit and cunning. Maybe they're using each other. Adagio gets to live the rich life and get showered in gifts, and maybe plans to do exactly what Chrysalis did and steal it for herself. Chrysalis gets a hot trophy wife who she can show off to her rich friends and, if she's lucky, maybe gets a touch of Equestrian magic on her side. But I think they would grow on each other. Adagio could be Chrysalis' Lady Macbeth (not that she needs one, but two heads are better than one), and I think if Adagio ever did manage to steal away Chrysalis' wealth, I think she'd still keep her around, half to brag and half because she likes her. Chrysalis would, of course, stay, because how else is she supposed to steal it back?

Of course, her Equestrian counterpart isn't quite so well off in this dynamic. She is, at the moment, missing both her horde and her castle, and Adagio's Equestrian form is much bigger, and powered by a much more accessible emotion. However, I feel like Chrysalis just has more drive. She's fully capable of downing Celestia when she's fully powered up, and if she's a Queen in the traditional insectile sense, I imagine she could eventually build herself another brood. And maybe Adagio loves her enough to give her that energy.

As for Chrysalis and Aria... that was more of a one-off experiment. I don't think they'd really work well together, though I'd be happy to be proven wrong. As for their roles in that story, yeah, Chrysalis was basically a queen at the height of her power, when she still had a kingdom and a people to rule. The sirens have never really had a kindgom, always being depicted on their own even in Equestria, and we've never seen any other sirens, so I tend to imagine them as wandering vagrants,taking what they want and owing loyalty none, so that's where the idea of Aria being an assassin came from. Plus it seems just the kind of edgy career she would go for. And I can see her falling for a powerful woman, both for the thrill of it and for the actual power granted by marrying into a high position.

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7011501Yeah, while there are several very, very good 'Chrysalis on her own' stories, like The Mother of Many Faces, I can't think of any great 'sirens with an army' ones, so that definitely seems the better way around of the two. What is it about Aria that you less sure she works paired with Chrysalis, when Adagio does?

Speaking of The Anniversary Gift, and comparing it with something like Down the Laundry Chute, I haven't seen many authors cover such a wide gulf in tone between stories. And I notice they both feature Adagio. Do you think writing both ends of the mature/cute spectrum like that requires a looser interpretation of the characters, to fit whatever narrative they're in at the time? How similar are the two Adagios there, and which is closer to how you see her on her own, without a story to be shaped around?

I don't think I'm particularly against Chrys/Aria, I just don't see much chemistry. The one I wrote was mostly for the sake of the pun to be honest :twilightsheepish: I guess what it comes down to is this: if I wanted to write Aria in that sort of master/follower dynamic again, I'd just write her with Adagio.

Haha, I do have a bit of an odd collection, don't I? I don't think it's too uncommon, I know a lot of writers like to keep an extra account to kind of separate their porn and not-porn, and a lot more who do it secretly. I've never cared too much, because I like the idea of being open and frank about sexuality and what I write. Maybe part of that is because I started with porn first, over on Deviant Art, so I never had to worry about shocking or offending a more wholesome following.

As for my interpretation of Adagio, I definitely lean more toward Anniversary Gift. Laundry Chute (much as I love it) was written for a contest, and so was somewhat shaped by the expectations of that contest, as well as me just wanting to challenge myself with writing something E rated, which i'd really never done. Anniversary Gift was written entirely out of self indulgence, based loosely on a joke/urban legend about a couple of rich guys offering to pay off a classmate's student loans if he let them beat the shit out of him. Basically, I took Adagio and Chrysalis, and gave them enough money to get away with whatever they want. Evil isn't about epic plans and world conquering, it's about small, petty acts and how you treat people in your power when no one is watching. Evil does what it wants, and has fun with it. Or at least that's my interpretation.

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7012748 Of course, yeah, it's hard to see what Aria might get from that kind of setup she couldn't get with Adagio. I hadn't realised you started out with porn, I see how it ties in more with the rest now. That's a nice thought - I think most authors write their headcanon versions of the characters for E and T-rated stories, and might then adapt them for M-rated ones (making Sonata more of a bimbo, Adagio more of a slut or dominatrix, that sort of thing), so it's quite sweet hearing that you did that the other way around to adapt M-rated headcanon characters for the fluffy Toy Story tale.

Going on the pairings from your stories we've talked about so far, do you think Adagio stands the best chance of happiness with Rarity, with Sunset or with Chrysalis?

Definitely! I dunno, I guess life itself is kind of R rated, and that kind of just translates into a lot of my writing. I don't like to talk down to people when I write, so that tends to find its way in. People swear, people think about sex, life goes on.

Ooh, tough choice. I think I'd have to say Rarity. None of them would be without their friction, but I think that would be the best one for her. Sunset is too set in her course as the Good Guy TM, and I think she'd be too stuck on the idea of changing or reforming Adagio to make a good partner for her. Chrysalis and Adagio are a very good pair on the surface, but I think they'd just end up enabling each other's worst tendencies. It might be fun for a while, but I think eventually it would go wrong, either because they and up turning on each other or because they end up in jail.

Rarity is a good match for Adagio. She's stubborn enough not to let Adagio walk all over her, but her goals aren't so fundamentally opposed to Adagio's as to make it unworkable as with Sunset. Rarity is a kind person, and likes to help people, but she also understands selfishness, and can accept it in others I think. I think being with her would help curtail some of Adagio's worst habits, without changing who she is fundamentally as a person, and I think Adagio could actually be interested in Rarity's dreams enough to throw herself behind them, and vice versa.

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7013637 Rarity definitely sounds a good middle ground between the two. I guess it depends what a happy life looks like for Adagio as to which partner will best fit that.

Do you think some pairings are better suited to M-rated stories, and others to E or T ratings? I know your two Adagio x Chrysalis stories have been worlds apart in tone, but the two stories which come closest to making SunDagio work I think are Pleasure Haunted by Fear and I Wanna Be Your Pony, both of which have their very mature moments, even if the former isn't full-on M-rated material. Of course, they're both outdone in SunDagio functionality by Laundry Chute, which is, again, a whole world away in tone, so maybe that's all nonsense?

Are there any pairings you'd definitely favour an M-rated story for, or definitely a more general-rated one?

Ha! True! I think of the three, Adagio would probably choose Chrysalis (based on how I wrote her in Anniversary. Canon Chrysalis is... kind of a hot mess right now, from what little I've seen of the last two seasons). However, long term I think Rarity would turn out to be a happier, healthier relationship if they could get past whatever the early drama.

I think Adagio as a character is rated T or above :rainbowlaugh: However if I were to write an E relationship for her, it would be with Rarity (Laundry Chute doesn't count. She was trying to bump up the rating literally the entire time). But the appeal with AdaRity, to me, is that they have shared interests outside of the whole good/evil thing. ChrysAgio can't help being evil together, and SunDagio can't help clashing over morality, but AdaRity feels like they can put that aside and find common ground. Adagio seems like she enjoys the finer things in life, much like Rarity. Clothes, jewelry, high society. Having better hair than everyone else. And Rarity is more than familiar with the occasional bout of pettiness or selfishness. They can just enjoy being drama queens together, and that's the angle I like to explore.

Compared to that, the other two strike me as more carnal. Adagio and Chrysalis are both a bit sociopathic. I feel their relationship would be viciously pragmatic. They'd use each other, with no apologies asked or given. Whether it be for sex, or for evil schemes, or even for feeding off each other as emotivores, they'd simply expect it from each other, and enjoy it. So I think the inherent conflict between them would lend itself more to T or M rated stories. Anything less seems like it would lose a bit of the edge that their dynamic just begs for.

Laundry Chute aside, SunDagio falls firmly in the M category for me. There are a lot of SunDagio stories out there, but few that really pull it off. Almost all of them involve reforming Adagio in some way, which is... fine, i guess, but after Starlight, Stygian, and literally every other EQG villain the idea has really lost it's appeal. Of course, most of those stories were written back when Rainbow Rocks was new, and the whole snap-reformation thing wasn't as much of a thing. Luna did it, but that can kind of be forgiven because it was the prologue episode. Otherwise, it was just Sunset, and I can't deny that the parallels of a reformed Sunset guiding the newly Harmony'd Dazzlings through the trials and tribulations of Friendship was an enticing idea at the time (Add in the whole Anon-A-Miss thing, which I admit has been a guilty pleasure of mine from time to time, and you had a convenient way to separate Sunset from her support structure and force her to look for help elsewhere). I think the later movies sort of buried the idea for me, what with Sunset's growth into basically the Friendship Ambassador and the slew of mediocre villains.

THAT SAID. I mentioned before that I have trouble getting SunDagio to work with canon. That mostly springs from Sunset's increasing maturation into the role of White Knight, and Adagio's perfect contentment remaining a Black Queen. Or King, I suppose. However the metaphor works better for you. Point being, they both value their roles as hero/villain, and would have a tough time working that out without one of them fundamentally changing who they are. But there is one exception, one dynamic that I think works with them, and it's why I like I Wanna Be Your Pony so much. That's the S/M dynamic. Now, I'm definitely biased here. S/M is something I've been fascinated in for a long time. Not just the sexual elements, but the whole dynamic of it, and that's definitely influenced my writing :twilightsheepish: But that said, i really do think it works for them.

Sunset is a goody-two-shoes. But she's not always been that way. She was a villain, and before she was a villain she was just kind of a bitch. She has a temper, and gets frustrated, and sometimes lashes out, and it's been awesome that they've been letting her do that more recently. It's part of who she is. Adagio, of course, is a villain, one of the best in my opinion. She's a schemer, so she never lets her guard down, and I imagine she's even on guard among the other sirens. Even if she does trust them, she's their leader, and a leader has to remain strong or else her followers will lose hope too. So an S/M dynamic would give them both something. Sunset gets to let lose, exercise her dark side a bit, and Adagio would only encourage it. Adagio would get the chance to let down her guard for once, be vulnerable in a controlled environment, with someone she trusts, at least enough to not take advantage of her weakness. How they get to that point is a bit tricky, but I think it works, and it's why that story is hands down my favorite for this ship.

Haha, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. But basically, yeah, that's why I tend to like them M rated. Even if you don't get explicit with it, it's not something that needs to be rated T.

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7015816 I agree about that being the one time SunDagio might stand a reasonable chance of working, yeah. That story is a pretty good illustration of how, when the narrative steps away from that sort of thing, and frames it more as a traditional romance and reformation, the ending ruins it.

What about Adagio and Twilight? I liked how Adagio used Twilight as a means to an end in Restless, playing on her insecurities in all the right ways. Could you see a more honest relationship working for those two? I struggle with Sci-Twi and the sirens, I can't see much about her they'd be genuinely attracted to (but many things they'd consider useful to be able to exploit).

Twilight and Adagio were interesting. i wouldn't say SciTwi (or prinTwi) have much chemistry with Adagio, but I kind of like the idea of Adagio and Midnight Sparkle. Partially because I enjoy the idea of her falling in love with SciTwi's alter ego, and partially because i like shipping hot villains haha. That's another one that was made for a contest, so it was mostly just an experiment in something different.

As for the other two, I think Aria would basically just make SciTwi her punching bag. Which would be entertaining to read, but not really make for good romance. Though I do like the idea of Aria dressing up as SciTwi to make fun of her and annoy her friends. As for Sonata... I think the anti-attraction would go the other way. Twilight is smart, and values intelligence. Sonata... isn't.

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7017057 I agree, on all counts. Twilight and Aria, in particular, I cannot see working. Adagio and Midnight could be a lot of fun!

We see so little of the sirens in Rainbow Rocks that numerous different interpretations of their backgrounds, their group dynamics, and even their personalities, exist across fanfiction on the site. How much would you adjust something like that depending on who you planned to ship a siren with? Do you fit the siren to the ship, or the ship to the siren?

For example, Adagio as a noble immortal might pair nicely with Princess Celestia, whereas Adagio the bitchy teenager might work better with Vignette Valencia.

I can never not think of the Dazzlings as immortals, or at least extremely long lived like dragons. Part of it may be the way they look, but mostly I think I just always got the impression that they were some kind of ancient threat even before Starswirl banished them. I suppose that could refer to their race as a whole, but the ones banished by Starswirl were explicitly shown to be the three we know, and they themselves confirmed it in the first lines of dialogue. I don't but into the whole "thrown forward in time" philosophy because it feels lazy and limiting, and as a general rule I think invoking time travel should be avoided.

I've read some great stories that set them as young/teenage/mortal girls. But for me, having them be long lived or immortal opens up so much more to play with. The ancient attitude is something different, interesting and mysterious. There's a whole worlds worth of experiences you can use to develop their personal history, and the world itself. The recently banished angle just makes them feel like Sunset Shimmer, take two.

They're easier to ship that way too. I can see them being able to move on from Equestria if their banishment is an old wound. They probably had their highs and their lows and learned to recover from some horrible setbacks, or to take joy where it can be found, that kind of stuff. In other words, basically capable of having a relationship. I can't see that if they're newly banished. Sunset chose to go to the human world, even if she got stuck afterward. But the Dazzlings were forced. They had no knowledge of what they were getting into and no say in the matter. I imagine they would be bitter for a very long time, if not downright disgusted by the human form. Following that with their summary defeat at the hands of Sunset, using the magic that was their last and only hope to go home, yeah I can't see them getting over that enough to get into a relationship anywhere near the timeframe of the show.

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7018928 Personally I think it's ok to suggest time travel when the one who banished them was the pony most associated with time travel, but... :twilightsheepish: I agree that immortality makes the dynamic between them a lot richer and more interesting, but I'd disagree about that making them easier to ship, apart from with each other or fellow immortals. Siren disgust for the human form might be an interesting thing to see them bond with Sunset-the-former-pony, or a visiting Starlight, over.

What about other personality interpretations, to suit a ship? Sonata's intelligence and awareness varies from story to story, as does her level of niceness. Aria's loyalty, too, and Adagio's vanity. How much would you play up or down attributes like that to suit shipping with particular characters?

Haha, well he's well known for screwing up time travel at least! Which I guess works, but eh, it's not a narrative element I like. But yeah, I definitely find ancient sirens more shippable, based on having more time to develop varied tastes and whatnot and to get over their whole defeat. And if I wanted to write characters that were like everyone else, I wouldn't be writing sirens :rainbowlaugh:

Sonata's always tricky for me. Like you say, there's two major areas most writers disagree on, namely her niceness and her intelligence. The latter is a bigger sticking point for me. She's not very smart. At best, she's terribly naive, at worst dangerously stupid. Not that she's worthless or a bad character or anything, but she is not bright. And actually, that's where a lot of the flexibility in the other area comes from for me. She's more of a yes man than Aria, so she tends to kind of follow along with whatever group she's in. If that's the Rainbooms, she definitely leans nice, if possibly a bit more chaotic.

Aria is probably the easiest to write. Basically, I take whatever bad emotions I'm feeling at the moment, ball them up, and give them pigtails. That makes her really hard to ship happily... but it also leads to some of my favorite shipping. Because, I dunno, she feels the most human as far as relationships go. I know I tend to unironically push "tsundaria" when I write her, because i really do think she loves her sisters bandmates, and I think that once you got past her shell, she'd grow the fiercest attachment. It would just take her a while to get there.

Adagio tends to be the most fun to write, and the most flexible overall, and I think that's because she's kind of the face of the Dazzlings and gets the most dialogue, if not that much more face time. I've already talked about her a lot, but I tend to like her as supremely confident in her looks and her ability. Even when she's not being sexy, though she usually is when I write haha. Otherwise, it depends what she's doing. If she's pursuing something, I tend to portray her as viciously pragmatic and even cruel, if the situation permits, but when she's not actively pursuing something she's happy to be lavished and taken care of. Kind of like a cat. That said, I also like humanising her a bit. She'll rarely, if ever, show it, especially when she's driven, but I think sometimes she does lose faith in herself and the mask slips, just a bit. That was my favorite part of Neighbors, actually. I like my later, more villainous portrayals of her better, but I did like cracking the shell a bit and showing her more vulnerable side.

Since I haven't had the chance to talk about the others as much, I really like Aria with Sunset, though a sort of nonromantic, carnal relationship with Adagio is also very fun. Sonata I like with Fluttershy, I think, though I don't really have any strong urge to ship her with anyone. Also, a bit of a dark horse thing for Adagio, but Adagio and Wallflower have a very fun dynamic for me. Usually as beguiling tormentor and hapless victim, but still.

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7022900 Of all the Equestria-Girls-only characters, other than the sirens themselves of course, Wallflower I think is the most unique, and could be the most interesting. I especially like how different and distinctive they made her design. I've seen a few stories pairing her with sirens, but there's a lot more there to be explored I think. I'd love to see a story of her rehabilitating at CHS along with the sirens, rather than with Sunset or whoever.

Whether crackshipping or otherwise, friendshipping, romance or porn, what do you think are the most important things to get right for a shipping story to work?

I have one story with her and Adagio over on Pastebin, and I really need to finish it and clean it up for FiM. It's not a romance, per se, but it's a pretty interesting relationship. If you're familiar with the play Be More Chill, it's like that, with an AI Adagio taking the place of Wallflower's S.Q.U.I.P.

I'd say the most important thing to get right in any fanwork is characterization. There's some room to play around of course, depending on the tone or type of story, but ultimately it has to feel like the character you're writing. Or at least feel like it could be. Ideally, you can capture the character's voice and the reader will know, from the first sentence, that that's who you're writing, but sometimes a caricature is enough. Though I'd say romance, as a deeply personal drama, is definitely one where you want to be as close to the character's true voice as possible.

Otherwise, compatibility. I definitely do not subscribe to "opposites attract." Some measure of difference is good, of course, to add that dramatic spice that makes a story actually interesting, but there has to be that core of something, like a shared history or mutual respect. A good relationship, or even a good friendship, is built on that. Granted, that alone can't sustain it, but that's what gives people a solid foundation to build off of, and if it's not there I really can't buy into the ship. No matter the author's intent, if they don't sell the compatibility all i can see is the looming misery on the horizon, and it really ruins it for me. That's why i can't stand RariJack haha.

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7024496 I remember getting the cliff notes on Be More Chill when Who We Are in the Dark was under construction, eeyup. That sounds an intriguing premise, and a good use for both characters - throws up some questions too, which will be interesting to see answered. I couldn't agree more about compatibility, and the argument that any possible ship can be a great one never held much water for me. I can't say I've ever read a RariJack story, but I've noticed very similar things with AppleDazzle - any chance of a long-term future for the couple seems reliant on them going in for the short-term and then realising they're bonded too tightly to separate. Which sounds like a recipe for either an unhappily-ever-after, or a divorce twenty years down the line.

How would you go about making sure a 'birds of a feather' relationship, rather than an 'opposites attract' one, still has enough tension, drama and conflict to be interesting, if the main characters largely agree on things?


There are plenty of ways to add conflict, depending on the pairing. Of course, the typical "get together" story basically provides it's own conflict- how the two characters meet, and what needs to happen for them to actually start dating, whether it becomes a longer relationship or a short fling, etc. But after that initial stage is where characters' individual personalities really get to shine. Hero/villain relationships of course are going to have their own drama. Take out the white cap/black cap conflict, a "good" character is probably going to have different priories or perspective than a "bad" one. Maybe Rarity gets in a fight with Adagio because Adagio sabotaged her competition in a fashion show, or tricked some drunk sap into buying them drinks. Maybe Sunset has to get on Aria for getting in a fight with someone or committing petty theft.

Of course, it's easy to have the ex villains be wrong, but you can turn it around the other way. Maybe Adagio is frustrated because Rarity volunteers them for some event, or lets someone take advantage of her generosity. Maybe Aria has to keep Sunset from sticking her nose in other people's business. I think that, in that kind of dynamic, the "villain" of the relationship can actually add a lot, being the one to protect their partner from their own good intentions or force them to step back when they try to spread too thin. Teach the goody-two-shoes how to be selfish, in other words.

Of course it's not all hero vs villain stuff. Adagio and Chrysalis, for instance, would have a lot of drama just in how they deal with each other. Both vying for the top, playing power games, plotting with or against each other, even if it's not harmful. I'm not too familiar with the Addams Family, but I'm imagining something like that on the surface. Affectionate battling. For other ships, I could see Adagio and Rarity get into heated debates about fashion or wine or the best coffee houses in Canterlot, stuff that stems from their shared interests. Sunset and Aria might be the competitive types, not unlike Applejack and Rainbow. I could see them getting super into some competition, like a (non magical) battle of the bands or dirtbike race, and going so far as to jokingly "break up" during their pre-game shit talking, only to thump each other on the back and get back together after the competition. Especially if they both lose and have to now team up to take down the victor haha.

And of course, following that, there's always the option of outside conflict. The rival from the last example, for instance, could stir the couple to work together to defeat them. Similarly, given EQG's setting, coming together to defeat an actual villain would work just as well. Added bonus if they try to recruit the villain of the pair, because then you get the interpersonal drama and the external threat. And of course, more mundane issues can be just as bad, if not worse. Adagio having to comfort Rarity after something horribly embarrassing happens to her, for instance, or Sunset losing her job and Aria having to get work to help pay for the apartment. External conflicts are fun because they can be as serious or trivial as you want, and either can work, especially if you push to extremes (It's the WORST POSSIBLE THING, they went to the coffee house for a date and they're OUT of creamer!!). But it's probably better reserved for either longer running stories, or short comedy/fluff type stories. If you're going for the drama or the romance, usually interpersonal drama works better, especially if it's a shorter story.

EDIT: I should probably stop saying "of course" before every point

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7027035 Of course you should!

How important to you is it that the three sirens stay together? I know things like This Day Aria and Two Monsters in a Cave feature just one siren, but I think I remember the implication being that the others are still out there and their paths will no doubt cross again and again. Do you think that's something they'd always be drawn back towards, or could a siren story still be satisfying even if there were no hope of a reunion for them somewhere down the line?


Huh, you know at one point I couldn't stand the thought of the sirens being separated. I definitely kept them together, and wasn't really a huge fan of stories that had them falling out permanently. Separation was fine, but I always hoped they would get back together eventually, especially since I did and still do headcanon them as sisters.

I think now I still like them together but I'm more open to them going their separate ways. I definitely hold to them being immortal... before Rainbow Rocks. After though, I'm open to the idea that they lost it, and from there perhaps go their own ways. In a way losing their immortality would let them finally grow up, become adults and live in the world.

Ideally though, I like the idea of them still being immortals, and being connected. Even if they separate, they follow each other's careers, if it applies, or at least stay in touch, especially in the human world. Equestria has other immortals, but I don't think the human world does. It's just them, and I think they would inevitably find each other again. And I'm a sucker for happy endings like that. Or rather, happy non-endings.

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7028449 I think them losing their immortality, if they had it to begin with, would be sad, and I think a story would really struggle to be satisfying when wrapped up with that idea of them being diminished like that. Especially when that's an issue lots of siren stories have to begin with :twilightoops: So I agree, I would keep them still immortal if they were in the first place.

Previously I asked what you thought the most important thing to get right was for a shipping story to work, and you said characterisation. To flip that around a bit, what are the things you most commonly see other stories (perhaps without being too specific about which ones) getting wrong? What's the easiest fix that authors most often fail to implement?

Oh, it's definitely sad, but I've seen it done pretty well. Leads to a bittersweet ending, to be sure, but satisfying. Especially for a romance. The siren falls in love with the mortal, and they get to live out their days together. It's sweet. But yeah, I'd rather see the partner grow immortal than the other way around :rainbowlaugh: That or just let them be the eternal playboys they were always meant to be, haha.

Hm, this second part turned out to be much trickier than I thought, so forgive the extended turnover time. The thing is, for every interpretation I've seen done poorly, I've seen someone else do well. Anything from lovable goofballs, to sadistic bastards, to sex crazed sluts, I've seen stories I like and stories I don't. So I think it more comes down to how well the author manages to justify those traits, or fit them into the story, more than any objective traits I could point out, for the most part.

I know I personally struggle with Adagio sometimes. I tend to ape a lot of Rarity's personality when I write her- more refined dialogue, flirtatious attitude, a taste for finery and aversion to dirt- to the point that the two of them sometimes become indistinguishable (and I've been called out on that once or twice, haha). But that's just me. I guess the most common issue I've seen (surprisingly so, now I think about it), is writers that want to make her very timid or weak. Not that she can't have moments of weakness, but from everything we've seen she's not the type to cower and beg when things go wrong. At the very least she'll put on a brave face. Interestingly, I see this most commonly in siren reformation stories, which is probably why I'm not a big fan. It seems like a lazy way out- basically changing her character beyond recognition in order to force the reformation aspect.

Actually, that's probably the issue. The really bad characterizations I tend to disassociate from the Dazzlings at all :rainbowlaugh:

The others I think tend to get off easier. Make Aria angry and Sonata dumb- boom, you've basically done it. Even if you reform them, they still stay the same more or less. If I had to pick things though... I think a lot of fics lean into the whole tsundere thing too much with Aria. I like the idea that she secretly loves her sisters and is just uncomfortable with showing it, but not to the extent that she gets super insecure and touchy-feely. As for Sonata, the taco thing. Like, whatever, it's a meme, I don't hate it, but if that's all there is to her, she probably doesn't need to be in the story. Even comedy bits- if the only punchline you have is "I like tacos!" then comedy may not be your calling.

I don't think I can give an easy fix, really. There are really two types of bad characterizations. Bad because it misinterprets the character, and "bad" because it doesn't match my interpretation of the character. The former is usually a fundamental misunderstanding of the character, at best, or just plain bad writing, and there's not really an easy fix to that. I guess keep practicing, and maybe look at what other people are doing with the character and see what people see differently. The latter, of course, is just a subjective disagreement, so there's no need for a fix or anything. Unless "change your mind and think what I tell you" is an option, which is sort of appropriate if it's about the sirens :rainbowlaugh: But no, that would be boring, because all the stories would be the same.

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7030777 I agree, most angles have been tried both well and not so well. I think stories using the immortal angle are harder to pull off, but better when accomplished successfully. I think with Adagio people often do have her being more prissy, and it's true that the sirens manage to deal with threats at much more of a distance than many FIM enemies, so they might be a little more averse to physical force. But Adagio also never hesitates in canon to grab things, whether it's Sunset's hand or the front of Aria's hoodie.

What's your process like for writing? How long does each step take, and what are the bits you find most rewarding?

Exactly. One of the sirens' greatest strengths, at least from a fanfic standpoint, is that they had enough presence to make an impact without having so much screen time as to lock them into a specific characterization. Unlike, say, Discord, who made a huge first impression but has kind of devolved over time with every episode he's in :facehoof: Before you could write him as a terrible villain, a reluctant reformation, or even an all powerful genie, but hardly anyone is even writing him anymore. On one hand I'm kind of sad we never got much from the Dazzlings, but on the other I'm kind of glad nothing happened to kill them as my muse haha.

Writing process... hm. I'd say I have two, based on whether I'm writing a longer fic or a oneshot. Either way, I tend to start with a sudden burst of inspiration- a title, a scene, a ship, something like that. Then I'll either write down what I have as a short note or outline, or keep turning it over in my head until I can actually turn it into a plot. For ships, that usually means "how do I make this more interesting than two characters making out," and sometimes "how do I make this work at all." Then, if I have a solid enough idea, I'll sit and try to get it out in one go. Sometimes I manage it the day of, more often it's a few days or a week or two, and sometimes I'll have an idea on the back burner for months or years before something comes of it or I throw it out completely, either moving on completely or folding the parts I like into another project.

For oneshots, that's about it. I get about 2-3k words in a night if I have a solid idea and am able to focus on it, and that's enough for most stories. Slightly longer ones may take two or three days like that, sometimes spread out over a week or two, but then it's pretty much done. The shorter stories usually don't require too much editing, technical-wise, and if a story is simple enough I usually won't run it by anyone, though I have a couple friends I'll hit up for longer things or if I'm hitting a block.

It's been a while since I've written a longer story (though what I mean by longer story is still only about 7-10k, so technically oneshot length haha), but those can take me a lot longer since I find myself getting distracted or losing interest, and definitely tend to need a lot more editing especially since I start to make a lot more mistakes after an hour or two of writing. The process is still similar, but I'll probably get a lot more help as far as pre-reading and brainstorming. I still tend to self edit for the most part, just because it's a bit more expedient than relying on someone else's schedule. Especially since most of my friends are also busy writing haha. As for Neighbors... basically the same process, repeated over and over, with the added difficulty of constantly rereading to make sure I kept plot details and characterizations straight.

So in short... lots of thinking about writing, and lots of procrastination haha. I'll usually get a day or three of intense writing, followed by a couple weeks of exhaustion and navel gazing before I can work up the nerve to do it again :trixieshiftright: Not everything gets posted here on FiM though, so it's maybe not quite as bad as it sounds :twilightsheepish:

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7032594 I agree, I think a short story needs a very different process to a longer one. Losing interest over longer periods is definitely a tough thing to address, and I really don't know what the best solution is. Write fast enough to get it done during that initial excitement surge, I guess, but that's easier said than done for most.

We know that Adagio brings the grand plan to the Dazzlings, and also the keen observations and analyses of their enemies. What do you think the main contributions from the other two are? Adagio has no doubt thought at times that she'd be better off on her own, so why do you think she keeps Aria and Sonata around?

For sure! I find having an extra project or two I can go back and forth between helps a bit, but it can also lead to project overload. One usually ends up the finished product and the other more as just a personal exercise that never gets published. Which is fine. Sometimes I end up going back and finishing them later.

I tend to think of the sirens as family. Not necessarily in the literal sense- they're magical creatures. For all we know they were literally born out of ponies' spite, like Windigos. But in any case, I like to think of them as connected at that level. They might snipe at each other, they might not always get along, but they care for each other in their own ways. No reason only the good guys are allowed to have friends, right? And nothing builds friendship like having the whole world against you.

It could be pragmatic too. There's safety in numbers, both in Equestria and the human world they were thrown into. Their magic may be more powerful when they work together, given its musical nature. If their gems are like the Elements of Harmony, they may need all three to function at all. Individually, it's a little harder to say because we don't really get to see them separated ever, or really in any context other than dominating the school. A lot of people, myself included, like the idea of Sonata being the one to take care of the house, or at least food for the group. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine Aria playing the guardian, protecting the others physically if need be, especially if they've been in the human world a long time. Adagio is obviously the leader, so she'd probably be in charge of like, day to day plans and minutia.

But that said, yeah, I don't think they necessarily have to be useful to each other. They may not get along too well sometimes, but all their bickering and infighting always had the tone of siblings or close friends, at least to me. It's telling that they're still traveling and singing together, even (months? years? idk, EQG time is weird) after losing their power.

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7035166 There's an optimum balance, I think! I'm again finding myself where there are so many projects to work on that I get stuck doing none of them :facehoof: Yeah, sometimes going back to them later with a fresh eye is just what you need, I'm glad you're able to finish them from there. Sonata being the carer for the others I can absolutely see. I'm less sure about Aria as the protector - I see the appeal, but I don't know how well it fits with Adagio being the handsy one in Rainbow Rocks.

Carrying on with Sonata, who do you think her best-matched romantic partner would be? Aside from the two forbidden in this group and not spoken of here, that is! I'm just looking through some of the featured pairings we've had here in the past, and there are some great Adagio ones and most of the best Aria ones. But Sonata to me is harder to match.

Fair enough :rainbowlaugh: I find Adagio to be more the type to let others get their hands dirty if she can. Plus, Aria was the one to do all the fighting in that episode with the Pillars of Equestria. Though if Adagio had to fight, I imagine she would be terrifying. Like a cornered animal- clawing out eyes and biting off ears, and putting those spiked heels to good use.

Huh, Sonata ships. She's not one I think about quite as much. I think I mentioned Fluttershy a few posts back. They seem like they'd be cute together, Fluttershy's shyness with Sonata's (mostly) innocent naivete. I could see them bonding over animals, or cute things. I was kind of angling for it back when I was writing Neighbors, but like Adagio and Rarity it sort of snuck up on me and I couldn't tell you why. I like the idea of them being in an acapella group together though.

I can see why people ship her and Pinkie. They have a lot of similarities. But uh, I don't think the things they have in common are necessarily their best traits. Namely, being hectic little balls of chaos. A romance between the two of them sounds just... exhausting. Though I wouldn't mind it in the peripheral of another story.

And finally, the (literal) dark horse ship: Vice Principal Luna. It's bizarre, it's out of nowhere, but I like it. It's somewhat inspired by a fic I read where Adagio and Principal Celestia hit it off, with Adagio being attracted to Celestia because she's a bit older, and Adagio (being immortal in that fic) having preferences leaning more toward mature women than high schoolers. I don't know that I like that particular pairing, but I like the dynamic of it, and that's where SoLuna came from. Actually, haha, it was the other contender for a spot in Neighbors (Actually, one of three. The third would have been with her own human counterpart). Anyway, I don't know that there's really any basis for a relationship there. Sonata's attraction to Luna would be more fetishistic, I think, in going after someone taboo like a teacher/authority figure as well as someone who at least externally looks much older than her. Luna probably wouldn't have much attraction to her, especially as a student, but if we take a more insecure, pre-NMM approach to her she might just be so starved for attention she'd take the risk.

Incidentally, I also have a somewhat flexible headcanon that the sirens have a deep respect for Princess Luna, back in Equestria. As the princess of the moon, it's likely that she has some connection to the sea and tides as well, and that would be pretty significant to any sea dwelling races. I could see them siding with her during her rebellion, especially if they respected her power and mastery of dark magic as Nightmare Moon (Though i can also see them being responsible for her transformation, given their particular brand of magic). Either way, it would be very interesting to see that dynamic explored.

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7035875 I think she'd be more like Sherlock Holmes, ruthlessly efficient and able to dance around their predicted attacks. Yeah, Aria was definitely the highlight of the Pillars fight, I was glad they gave her much more focus there. I like the idea of Fluttershy being puzzled by Sonata, like how Sonata is completely on board with the cute little animals, but just has no empathy whatsoever for other people. I could see Luna spending her days at CHS tearing her hair out over Sonata's constant antics, but then missing her the one day she's not in school. I could also see Sonata being the most likely character to try acting out the standard schoolgirl porn plot, because she thought that's how girls are meant to behave at school, and it's Luna who has to deal with that. Like Sonata's pretty convinced that Luna's just saying they need to go to her office to get Sonata alone for more nefarious purposes, and is difficult to persuade otherwise. While Luna is wide-eyed, frozen, and bricking it, just praying the girl will put her clothes back on so they won't get sued. I like the tide thought, that could be fun to explore!

As you've written NSFW stories with the sirens, how do you address their immortality in that? One presumes that if they've been around for thousands of years, they are presumably better at sex than anyone alive today - how do you convey that inhuman level of skill in the narrative and make their lifespans convincing?

Haha, I don't know that I'm a huge fan of the Sherlock style of fighting. Feels a little Mary Sueish, especially on characters like the Dazzlings who already have a lot going for them. I guess I can see the appeal of it, especially on a mastermind type character, but I'm personally more a fan of the mastermind who would lose in a fistfight, so they just avoid a fistfight. Seems to fit in with the whole mind control thing more.

You've got a more solid SonaLuna plan than I do :rainbowlaugh: That would make a perfect oneshot. Bonus points if it somehow stays PG :trollestia:

Hmm, well, I definitely make them a bit fucked up, haha, but then again I'm a fetish writer. That's kind of the point :twilightblush: But yeah, I think I focus more on odd tastes and personal appetites more than like, the "literal sex goddess" angle. Because that seems lazy and boring, and you gan only write "Yes! Yes! Oh my God, yes!" so many times before the audience leaves. But at the core, I tend to make them characters who know what they want in the bedroom. Anniversary Gift has very little in the way of actual sex- Adagio is more interested in the novelty of torturing Wallflower than with just fucking her. In Restless, Adagio goes after Twilight/Midnight Sparkle. Depending on her exact intention, she could have been interested in the dangerous and powerful Midnight, or the thrill of stealing Twilight from her lover. Or both. In This Day Aria, Aria is pretty much living on the edge. That whole situation was dangerous, both in a literal and an exhibition sense.

Sonata is the only one I haven't written porn about, I'm pretty sure, but she would probably be into novelty, like Adagio, but in a less structured way. Like an eternal hippie. Seduce the principal to recreate a porno? Sure! Sleep with an entire rock band to see if they're as good as the rumors say? Of course! Fuck your human world doppelganger? When else are you gonna get the chance! I don't think she's a slut, she's not going to go crazy if she doesn't get any for a few weeks or months. Maybe years, but you know, time flows different on an immortal time scale haha. But I think she'd be the most spontaneous about it, while Adagio would be the most deliberate.

Also as far as sexuality, I think they'd all be somewhat adventurous after so long, but Adagio leans more toward women and Aria is the most straight of the three. Sonata doesn't particularly care as long as they're interesting. That's just opinion though, and to be honest I'm pretty much just gonna write them all as lesbians because there aren't a ton of interesting guys in EQG. Though I do still have this niggling brainworm that wants me to do something with Adagio and Steven Magnet.

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7038851 Ok, so more exotic tastes than acquired skill, sure. I agree Sonata would be the one without reservations, the sort of thing that might get her in trouble from time to time, but on balance makes up for it.

Do you think the same dynamic has always existed between the three sirens, if they're long-lived? Obviously we only see a snapshot of it during Rainbow Rocks, but was Adagio always in charge? Aria always resentful, and Sonata always oblivious? Was there a time when there were just one or two sirens?

Hm, I think it would be pretty similar, all things considered. Even in the flashbacks, Adagio always seemed to take the middle position, so I think it's fair to say that she's always been kind of the leader. There might be times where one of the others had to step in for whatever reason, but I don't feel like it would be permanent. Sonata seems perfectly happy to follow, and I kind of find the others following her lead hard to believe. Aria does challenge Adagio, but I don't think she really wants to have the responsibility of being in charge. She never really proposed any alternative plans, or even really called out Adagio for anything.

Their whole dynamic really just feels like siblings to me. I don't necessarily know if that means there was a race of them or not. We've certainly never seen any more of them, but they do bear marked similarities to other creatures in the show, namely the changelings and the seaponies, but even more so the Windigos. However, their powers are shown to be related to their gems, so that leads me to think they are somewhat artificial. Maybe they were ponies or seaponies that found some cursed artifacts, or were created by some villain lost to history. My favorite headcanon actually has them created as a weapon by King Sombra, either to fight the ponies or the Windigos (the Windigos, being creatures of pure malicious energy, would be the perfect prey for the sirens, who specifically eat malicious energy). It's all speculation really, but I think I do tend to lean more toward them being unique. I like to think that if they were born or created separately, it wasn't very far apart. But Adagio would probably be the first.

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7039537 Ooh, I like the idea of them being created as a weapon to fight the windigoes, that could be a great story. Especially if Star Swirl had something to do with it, and his creations came back to haunt him. I guess him banishing them would be his attempt at mercy :twilightoops:

I'd taken it for granted that the three sirens all live together, but do you think it's feasible they meet up to hunt (and take over high schools) but otherwise then retire to their own places for the night?

There was some great content at one point with Starswirl and not-yet-evil Sombra being friends. It would be super cool to see them work together to create the Dazzlings for just that purpose! I had inklings of something like that at one point, but nothing's come of it yet. If I ever do a major story in the pony world, maybe that'll be it!

Ooh, good question! If they're moving around a lot, I think they would tend to stay in one place for the sake of expediency. Easier, cheaper, faster, etc. But if they're staying in place for a bit, or don't have any major plans, I can see them going their own ways for a bit. Maybe not too far, if they don't have a way to communicate or a set plan on where and when to meet up again, but splitting could be really useful for more complex infiltration missions. Or in towns where three pretty girls living together are definitely witches and/or lesbians. I kind of like the thought that, back when they had their gems, they were able to kind of sense each other so that they would always find their way back even if they were separated.

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7039616 Sirens as witches just hasn't been done enough! Maybe next Halloween that's the story someone needs to write. I remember referencing The Crucible in a story a while ago, maybe that needs to come out again.

Ok, final question: if a wealth of new stories came flooding in for one siren crackship, what would you want it to be? Whether that means something you've always wished there was more of, or something that would be fresh and new, something that might put the characters in a new light or something that might remind us why we love them that much to begin with. Something you'd love to see done well, but could also stand to watch being done badly.

I'm definitely not running low on ideas for future featured pairings or anything.

Adagio in a witch hat needs to happen!

Oooh, if I had to pick only one, I'd pick Adagio x Wallflower. I know, I know, it breaks the whole opposites attract, but it does feed into a nice predator/prey dynamic which I sometimes enjoy. Adagio molding Wallflower like putty in her hands. It's something I'd definitely read regardless of quality!

But to feed into it, I'd probably also say Adagio x Rarity and Sonata x Luna, as well as a more odd choice of Aria x Flash. I dunno, I just read one story with it and it kinda made me love the idea. probably because the story was just a big tease and made me want to read more of it! And finally, anything with Chrysalis, especially in the human world.

Wait, I lied, one more: Any siren and their human world counterpart. :trixieshiftright:

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7039694 I'd really like to see more Adagio and Wallflower, yeah. Of all the later EG characters, Wallflower is the one that really stands out as different. Storylines could do things with her they couldn't with anyone else. And she couldn't be further from Adagio.

There's one Aria x Flash story in particular that's great, yeah, I like that one a lot.

Human world counterpart shipping is something that still, somehow, is yet to be done properly!

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

Thanks, Summer, it was fun! Looking forward to next month's prompt!

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