• Member Since 8th Jan, 2012
  • offline last seen Dec 2nd, 2016

Butterscotch Cream

Everyone has a story. The question to ask is, what do you want others to read in yours?


Additional Tags: [M/M Shipping]
No matter what you see or through whose gaze you look, there will always be more than meets the eye.

Cover Image graciously provided by Kegisak.
[Dark]: "Serious" elements, but contains no gruesomeness.
Info on the story can be found here.

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 59 )

Just plain beautiful. Every word seems to carry power behind it. I usually tend to gloss over when reading stories, and have to go back a paragraph or two to take in what I missed with the first pass, but I was hooked through the entire story with this one... And even WITH that, it still hit hard reading it the second time. I love it.

Great stuff. Heartwrenching to the nth degree, but beautiful nonetheless.

Thanks very much you two :) The support means a lot. I don't know why my muses get inspired by such strange things. The next one I write will (hopefully - muses cooperation assumed) be lighthearted, and a comedy if I can pull it off! *hugs for both* I look forward to more work of yours Dapples!

Also, for other people, while I don't always reply, I really do read and appreciate all the comments I get. Criticism or encouragement are both appreciated.

I really like this story, it's beautiful.

I feel bad for Sledgehammer, I do understand where he's coming from.

This just made it into my favorite list :).

Keep writing!

This is fantastic.

Fantastic enough that I am now going to begin writing m/m fic reviews, just from the inspiration this gives me.

Very seldom am I moved to hate a character.

Sledgehammer was very well-written. I empathized with Fin during their interactions, because both of them are very firmly established and fleshed out. In this sense, I appreciate Sledge as a character while despising him as a person. The aim of every writer is to convey thoughts and feelings, and you have done a stupendous job.

I love your writing, and this is no exception. Keep up the amazing work.

You know, I'm a bit sad to say that I don't believe I've read any of your stories before... I'm glad that this was the first, and I'm glad I had the courage to read beyond the first chapter. Because I'll admit, it had me scared. I could tell things were going to get worse before they got better.

It had my heart pounding the whole way through, and even got me crying at the end. This is an absolutely beautiful story. Short, but as sweet as anything I could ever read. I felt deeply for each and every single character, even Sledgehammer in spite of his many flaws. Again I'm very, VERY glad to have read this, and I'm honoured that you asked me to make a new image for it. I promise to do my absolute best - everything that this story deserves.

I don't usually do a lot with complimenting. I often find that making fun of things is easier and more satisfying than being nice and doesn't leave me with the worry that I'm looking like a sentimental fool or something.

I read this on recommendation from Kegisak, and since I'd already read "A Love Letter," I figured this would be worth it. It most certainly was.

The thing I notice in both of these stories is the antagonists - Sledgehammer here and the father in ALL. You manage to wring pity and humanity (well... pony equivalent) into these figures, even though they do horrible, horrible things. It's no stretch that for many writers it'd be easy just to paint these characters as blackly evil, but you don't. And then in the end, when the protagonists can still feel pity and refuse to lower themselves to hate, I just like that.

Also, this has got to be my favorite fan-characterization of Derpy, even if she's r63'd, wears an eyepatch, and isn't shipped with the Doctor...

Wait. Brown colt, engineer... Oh you are one clever piece of work, you are.


I don't always (read: usually) reply to comments, not because I don't appreciate them but just because at least in response to my stories I tend to be very self-conscious. There's a fear in me that somehow I'll come off as conceited or proud or arrogant or... well, you get the idea. I love the comments I get, and I'm grateful for all of them. In a note, I asked Kegisak to thank you for me, but I decided I really needed to say it myself.

Thank you for your comments, both on this and ALL. They were very kind and more encouraging than I could really ever say. I could elaborate on that but I'm afraid that if I tried it would just come across as blabbering things people have heard a hundred times before. Just... please believe me when I say how much comments like that mean to me. I always look forward to reading people's comments, but especially when it's plain that people "get it," and understand. Thank you so much for this.

So... Good!

Amazing characterization, writing... everything... MY EMOTIONS! :raritycry:

So, yeah, this story was extremely good. Like, re-write-this-story-with-human-characters-and-get-it-published good. I can't really think of any criticisms that aren't super nit-picky... So, here's a nit-picky criticism. First, you devoted a lot of time to explanations of Finial's character. They certainly didn't obstruct the progress of the story, and they felt purposeful, but I feel like some of what was said in the narration could already have been inferred by an attentive reader. I mean, I got a great handle on Sledge's character and Klutz's character, and they didn't get quite as much narrative attention. The attention that they did get was deserved, thoughtful, and concise, and I kind of wish Finial received that treatment.

That's the only complaint I have. Did I mention how good this story is?

Normally, when I review a story, I don't shower people with praise, but this piece deserves it. The idea that Finial was stuck in this relationship for five whole years made me feel trapped. The idea that he couldn't go anywhere for help made me feel hopeless. His burgeoning friendship with Klutz made me feel light. Finial's final confrontation with Sledge made me feel terrified. The story's end made me feel free.

You are a damn good writer. Thank you.

This is very good story so far. Recommended it to all of my friends.

Thank you for this beautiful if heart wrenching story. Spousal abuse is a difficult subject, but I think you carried it off magnificently. I'll be following your work in the future.

I was crying at the end of chapter 3, but it was a good crying. Good job.

In the words of a commenter whose name escapes me for the moment...

My word. This was a wonderful story to read. I rather like your take on a male Derpy Hooves, a sort-of gentle giant type, soft-spoken with an unusual perception. And your way with imagery was a pleasure to read.

I will be sure to read this again sometime in the future.


Words can not describe the immensity of......You know what? I can't even find a word to describe what words can't describe. You sir have truly left me speechless. Well done

This was amazing. And so incredibly close to the reality of abuse. And beautiful in the end. Thank you for writing this.

Oh. My. God. First comment on one of my favorite writer's books/stories/fics/chapters.....

I love how dark and slightly depressing it is...and I (don't ask why) find Sledge and Fin's relationship...sorta hot? I dunno, but I REALLY could not stop squeeling....my mother was only a entertainment center away from me. I love all of your stuff. :heart:

I squeeled in excitement throughout this entire thing, even through the sad parts. But the epilogue? I came near crying... (Mother was still across from me...)

I need to re-read the epilogue over and over again....


My Mother was in a 5-year-Emotional abuse thing sort-of just like this....I was there for all of it. It was a horrible time and it left us crippled. Forced me and my 11 year old brother to move to a whole new district because we could no longer afford our beautiful house out in the country after he left. Now we live in a trailer. We regret nothing. Not one. This story truly hit home, I only wish my mother could've found someone to replace that awful man. She deserves a Klutz. I give this a 10/10 for REALLY getting a homerun.

Keep writing your beautiful stories, and please, take NumberNine99's advice, get this published with humans. I would buy two copies and put one in a timecapsule for the future to read. :fluttercry:

With your permission I would like to write a song based off this story

Hey - first, I want to thank you for the very kind comment you left. While I don't often reply, I really do read and pay attention to all of them. I'm really glad that you enjoyed the story so much. Comments like yours are very encouraging because they're something of a confirmation to me that the story is reaching out to people, and that's what I hope for. In answer to your other question though, I'm really flattered/honored that anyone would be inspired to write a song about it, so it feels a little strange to "Grant permission" for a compliment. All I can say is, thank you! If you want to, please do!

I can't remember how I found this, but I'm glad I did.

Not since My Little Dashie have I read any fanfic that has brought tears to my eyes so readily. You sir truly surprised me with this one. When I first started reading it I wasn't sure I was gonna like it, but I kept at it and got sucked right in.

Reminds me of a lot of things I've experienced in my life, the good that has passed and the bad that followed, and you captured it all expertly.

*applauds* truly fantastic story sir.

so far i like

must ..not... murder....mean...pony

another fic going on my damn good list great job

I've had this marked in my 'to read' list for a long time due to a lack of free time in my schedule, and I regret that I have waited as long as I have to read it.

This story, my God. There are so few writers, let alone fanfiction writers that can effectively portray such raw emotion and yet so much simplicity into a story. The characters just write for themselves, and their interactions and likeability are what makes us like them. Even Sledgehammer, the 'antagonist', is likable in his own way, despite going to such abusive extremes. Abusive relationships. Those are so difficult to write. This is the first fanfiction that I have ever seen where it isn't tacky or overblown, but real. The realism and yet the surrealism of the setting and characters (particularly Klutz) is what helps it work.

By the end of the first chapter I felt connected. The sheer poignancy left me sobbing by the second to last chapter. Hell, I'm still crying. I usually never cry reading fanfiction. There's just so much about this story that I adore, be that on an artistic or an emotional level. I love how you didn't just make a genderbent Derpy, but a full-fledged character that, surprisingly, I find even deeper and more captivating than the actual fanon mailmare herself.

I'm probably gushing at this point, but this story won't be easy for me to forget. You truly are a talented author, and I look forward to checking into your other works. I wish I could offer criticism, but I honestly can't think of anything. Still, thank you for writing this. This site needs more gems.

I'll admit: I'm among the majority who shun M/M pairing fics while supporting F/F ships wholesale. But then someone directed me to this fic, and wanting to break out from this double standard I decided to give it a read. Initially I was skeptical, not only with the matter of the relationship but also the bit of Rule 63 (fortunately it's a minor occurrence). However, after reading the first chapter, all I could say... feel, was...:heart:

What you've given us in this story is something emotionally exhausting and devastating but ultimately rewarding for those who continued reading. You didn't hold back on that Grim tag, and from my own understanding of abusive relationships, I say you got it pretty dead-on. Yet the moments of hope and recovery and eventual happiness really drove this story home. I'd say some more intellectual things about capturing emotion and interpersonal conflicts but frankly I'm left at a loss by this story's sheer quality and execution, and above all else, maturity.

Reading this, I thought to myself that you, the author, could replace all the ponies with people, set the story in an actual city, and this story wouldn't lose its effect. Hell, I'm wondering why you didn't do that; this could pass for a short story fit to publish in any literary magazine if not for the ponies.

With all that said, I must say I'm quite grateful I accepted the M/M factor and took the time to read this story. You have just shown me that M/M fics have as much right to recognition as any other kind of ship fics if handled by the right author (which you are quite frankly). Though shipping wasn't that central a point in this story, I now have confidence in being able to read other good M/M fics without being freaked out (so long as they're handled respectfully, again as you've shown).

I applaud you good sir and wish you all the best in future projects. It's tragic how stories like this don't get the recognition they deserve because of the M/M tag. Well I plan to rectify that on my behalf, so wish me luck in this endeavor, and always smile for reals!:twilightsmile:

Wow. What an amazing story. So heartfelt and powerful. It almost makes me want to ask how you know so much about this kind of thing. But I won't. Such things are private, and should be kept so.
I do have to admit, while I loathe Sledgehammer in the first couple of chapters, near the end, I can't help but feel sorry for him. Through his actions and the looks he gave Fin, he wanted to change, he just didn't know how. Most likely due to his upbringing, all he knew about love was take, not give. Only in those last moments, right before he hit the ground, did it maybe dawn upon him. What he had, and what he threw away. How lucky he was to have a stallion like Fin.
Still, this does NOT excuse his actions. Only maybe gives him a chance at redemption when he stands before the Celestial Parents( the Gods of this world in my headcannon) for judgement. If there is a pony Hell, he may have a chance of not going.

WOW I am overanalyzing this. LOL Just goes to show how good the story was. Great job, dude. I hereby bequeath unto you a mustache.

Also, is Klutzy supposed to be a Rule 63 of Derpy, or is he like her brother or something?

Wow, just fantastic. I haven't cried in years and years, but this story reduced me to tears. I was sobbing, I'll admit it. Every sentence was perfect. I was especially grateful that you didn't make Sledgehammer out to be completely evil, and even forced me to feel some pity for him. So many people make the antagonist of a story so completely evil, and they never even explain why.

So thank you for writing this story.



These feels of mine echo through time and space for eternity. You may have them.

I read this a while back, and it wasn't until this morning I registered for fimfiction.
However, I wanted to take this opportunity to finally tell you how amazing this story was. In terms of a complete emotionally-charged package, you hit the nail right on the head.

I don't think I could list specific qualities at this point that made it such a beautiful tale (having not read it in some time), but I figured I would let you know a project I'm working on and hope to finish by the end of this May:
I am working on a fully-scored orchestral composition that plays off the aesthetics of this story. My orchestration class will provide the perfect opportunity to perfect the instrumentation and form of the piece.

Thank you for providing the inspiration for this project.

So much D'aaawww and feels godaminit Butterscotch i should've read this fic a long time ago and its my fault that i didnt :raritydespair:

Now lets get to the praise part....Freaking loved it how the emotions of the characters were explained it was just brilliant and fantastic

Good Job :twilightsmile:

Holy shit, that was just... AWFUL! And by "awful", I mean painfully emotion-provoking, which is extremely GOOD!

I can't believe I actually CRINGED while reading, and not in the "oh look, another horribly written fic" kind of way! I need to read more of this now.

So, I read this story awhile back. I have some thoughts on it: the writing is pretty good, it does a good job of getting the reader emotionally invested, but the concept and themes leave a lot to be desired.

Let's start from the beginning. The protagonist is in an abusive relationship. There's a faint bit of genius in the story's title: "What Meets The Eye" at first refers both to the protagonist's eye injury, and to the dark secrets behind how the injury was caused. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that the protagonist's situation is inescapable, and he's in a state of despair. This is a situation which many people have been in, including people close to me, and I am familiar with the feeling of hopelessness that accompanies prolonged domestic abuse. As a premise, this is pretty solid.

What brings a change in the protagonist's life is the arrival of Klutzy Hooves, whom I will refer to from here on as Yaoi Derpy. Most of the story is concerned with the protagonist being rescued -- first mentally, then emotionally, and finally physically -- from domestic abuse by the story's beloved hero, Yaoi Derpy. It's a palatable story arc, and so is the prose, but it's only palatable: it doesn't digest well.

The story is written like it is trying to be something more sophisticated than it is. One of the biggest lingering questions that remains is: What did Yaoi Derpy see in the protagonist? Yaoi Derpy's messianic role in the story is undercut by his complete lack of character development: he doesn't grow with the protagonist; he doesn't learn with the protagonist; he doesn't change with the protagonist. All we know about Yaoi Derpy is what we observe in him, and he's already the protagonist's perfect lover in every way -- he's not a living, breathing character, so much as he is a statue, a manifestation of the protagonist's sad, hopeful fantasies. And like a fantasy, Yaoi Derpy swoops in, rescues the protagonist, falls in love with the protagonist for no apparent reason, and they live happily ever after. One possible interpretation is that the protagonist is a self-insert of the author, and that Yaoi Derpy represents some kind of ideal male partner: but the author did not stop to wonder why Yaoi Derpy would desire to be with them. The idea that the protagonist is a self-insert of the author is plausible, but has very sour implications, which I'll be getting to.

Similar to Yaoi Derpy, the story's antagonist -- Sledgehammer -- is not an actual character either. Sledgehammer's emotions and behavior follow the classic, almost-cliched cycle of domestic abuse, neither varying nor deviating along the way. There is potential for the story to somewhat involve Sledgehammer, perhaps redeem him somehow as he copes with the loss of his partner and reforms himself in the protagonist's absence. Sledgehammer is written with just enough heart, just enough emotions, that I interpreted him as not evil to the core -- merely an unfortunate victim of his own aggressive nature. Sledgehammer is not irredeemable as a character, and in fact begs for redemption -- but rather than address this complexity in the story's antagonist, the author kills him.

One possible interpretation for this is that the author is deliberately dehumanizing the criminal in a domestic abuse situation, painting them as not deserving to live at all. Another is that the author is expressing anger and frustration: perhaps the author, or a loved one, has been in such a situation, and the story was written as an expression of the despair and frustration that the victim felt. In this interpretation, the entire story is a silent plea to the heavens for an eyepatched Deus Ex Machina to rescue the victim from their abusive partner and bring them happiness and love forever (after taking the victim away to Ponyville, no less.) While I do not object to this kind of ragefic's existence, I believe that the author's literary talent deserves to be dedicated to a loftier goal: the ragefic genre is not starved for fresh contributions, however well-written.

On the subject of the story's genre: Since the protagonist's lover experiences no growth or development over the course of the story, I cannot rightly call this story a romance. There is another genre -- besides the ragefic -- in which the protagonist meets a ready-made, perfect partner who quickly falls in love with the protagonist. The difference lies in how the two story structures come to their resolution: in the ragefic, the protagonist meets a happy resolution of some kind; in the clopfic, the protagonist delights the audience by fucking somebody at the end. When I first read the story, I did not know what genre it lay in, but noted that it very much followed the pattern of a clopfic: the protagonist is romanced by an unsophisticated, ready-made "perfect partner," and grows closer to the partner with each successive page. (I was linked to this story by a friend, with little explanation other than that it was a very nice story, so I did not know what to expect from it.) I was very surprised that the story ended the way it did: quietly, chastely, and abruptly. It's possible that the author was originally writing this as an exceptionally deep clopfic, but got bored when they were supposed to write the sex scene at the end.

Whatever the case, I thought the story was very well written, and tried hard to be more sophisticated than the majority of the written work that this fandom produces. However, underneath the skillful prose and emotional stimuli, I found this to just be more fast food fiction: flavorful and easy to eat, but made me feel gross later for consuming it. It's sad, but sometimes, a story just doesn't have any more to it than what meets the eye.

tl;dr -- don't link me to random fanfiction

I normally don't reply, as most people who have watched me by now, know. Commenting makes me nervous - even when replying to positive reviews, a fact I've never hidden. Considering the nature of this comment though, I felt like not replying would somehow indicate I was ignoring it, especially as I only just read it this morning.

I gladly answer to criticism either with explanation, discussion or revision of my work where appropriate, but defending my work against an actual attack makes me feel awkward, uncomfortable and pathetic. No one wants to be the one who stands up for himself, for fear of fulfilling the stereotype of an arrogant artist who just doesn't want to change or improve, or has an overly high opinion of his own work and just gets his pride hurt when someone says something bad about it. At the same time, it feels cheap to sit there and say nothing or hope someone else says what you're thinking to spare you, so all I can really say is, that's not the case, and hope that my track record with people will testify for itself.

I feel I have presented the story I meant to adequately. Still, it's possible I'm just seeing things in my story that I want to see. Even if that's the case, though, many have seen in the story the things I intended to portray, as I intended to portray them, so perhaps other people have the same ideas I do.

Your delivery aside, I do not feel your observations are legitimate or balanced, and I'm sorry, I can't take your criticism seriously. I'm a firm believer in constructive criticism, both receiving and giving, and while I strive to do the best I can on each story, I do so with the realization that I'm not the world's best author, or some deific gift to the fandom. This review, however, was not constructive. I get the sense more than anything else that your perception of the story was deeply influenced by feelings other other than a true desire to do an editorial review.

I'm not sure why you felt the need to attempt insult at every turn. Judging by your TL;DR, perhaps you wanted to prove something to whoever linked you to the story. Perhaps you reply to every story you read this way - I don't know. While some people do make a practice of it, I don't consider that to be simply part of someone's personality, but a choice they make, especially when they feel they have ground to stand on. Either way, people will still read the story, and either enjoy it or move on as they like.

This story was not meant to be an exhaustive view of all possible situations. It does not explore every venue, nor every ending, as no story can no matter how circumspect. And, perhaps, it didn't end the way you wanted. The characters themselves were largely symbolic in nature, some requiring and representing change, some representing a constant, an inspiration for what people could be (both positive, and negative) to others. And as indicated at the end, it was the main character himself writing the story from his perspective.

I'm not going to go through your review and reply to everything. I don't feel that's necessary. I will defend this one point, though, because I view it as one of the more important things. Sledgehammer's character was never intended to be a throw-away voodoo doll for the exacting of vengeance. Rather, he was intended in himself as a message. In fact, I struggled over the choice of how to end the story.

I believe anyone can change for the better, no matter how far gone they may appear. That is something I believe firmly and deeply. Not everyone will, but I believe anyone can.

I wanted to show that Sledgehammer could change, and that while he was wrong and his actions despicable, there are deeper things at play in that situation. I wanted people to feel sympathy for him to a certain degree, while still maintaining the reality that what he did was atrocious. For those in Sledgehammer's position who perhaps have or will read the story, I wanted to drive home the point that change is not something to be put off. I wanted people to learn from him to take their chance to change before it's lost, because while we have the opportunity to change so long as there is breath in our lungs, we don't live forever. Some people will try to avoid change forever. That was my specific intention for him in the story from the beginning.

Sledgehammer is a fictional character who died. I would hope that for anyone in his position the outcome would be the more gracious redemption. Sometimes we see that more clearly when it's denied. While you may fault me for not expounding on that possibility, I consider it a good thing that you wanted to see him redeemed. I wanted others to feel that, because I did too.

I'm not trying to be malicious here or give a knee-jerk "you're wrong." I have a reason and a purpose for just about everything you commented on. I am trying, however, to tell a story I hope people will listen to, telling them what is possible, what they can be, and what they might be. I'm not the best, certainly not the most prolific and I'm not against improvement in any way, but I've done the best I can for now.


That's the funny thing about what meets the eye: If you take it at face value, you're probably going to miss a fair bit.

I'm rather inclined to disagree with your assessment. To be frank, I'm inclined to disagree with your premise. The author's intentions with a story - assuming you even have hit the mark with them,which is a pretty lofty claim at the best of times - are, I feel, ultimately irrelevant in terms of what the story IS. What matters in a story is what you, as an individual, take from it.

I was, as you might have noticed, commissioned to do the cover image for this story some year or so ago now. Now, I take my art very seriously, so I read through the story in order to get a feel for it and what I wanted to do. Usually, however, when I do that sort of thing my piece will still be at the forefront of my mind. With this story, however, in spite of knowing exactly what I wanted to do a bit less than halfway through, I continued to read. Indeed, thoughts of the cover image where behind me. By the end of the first chapter I had to get up and get some chocolate to calm my nerves so I could continue. This story moved me enough to make me forget why I had started to read it and to start reading it for the sake of the story itself. For some time after reading it, in the back of my mind I found myself thinking, what if I were ever in Finn's situation? Would I know it? Would I be able to leave? This story made me feel a lot of things, and think a lot of things. That, ultimately, is what I use to measure its success: It's ideas. It gives me a viewpoint that I had not considered before, and forced me to digest what it had to say.

As for your issues with the character, could you legitimately claim Klutzy to be a sort of gay Manic Pixie Dream Girl? No, I don't think so. Certainly you could accuse him of being static, but then, does everyone truly change all the time? We're hearing Finn's story, and Finn isn't privy to Klutzy's thoughts. Many times though he was demonstrated to have other motivations and interests, so he's far from a cardboard boyfriend. Same goes for Sledgehammer: He's shown to struggle with his emotions, and in the end he makes a very bad decision.

Ultimately I think you disagree with some of the choices here, and are assuming that those choices reflect on what the story is as a whole. You wouldn't have made a hamburger. Alright. Just because it's a hamburger though, doesn't make it fair to assume that it's fast food. It could be hand-made from freshly ground beef, with crisp lettuce and onions, and all that good stuff. You're letting the very surface of the story distract you from what it REALLY is. After all, sometimes when it comes to things like these, there's more than meets the eye.

I should start by thanking you heartily for your response, particularly where it concerns the behavior and fate of the story's antagonist. During outside discussions about the story, I noted that a friend and I also had differences of opinion regarding Sledgehammer's story arc and demise, as well as the possible reasons why you wrote Sledgehammer's character the way you did. Your response on this topic is very enlightening, and helps me to understand the reasoning behind the story's premise, themes, and creation.

I am particularly impressed by the lengths you went to in making Sledgehammer a living, breathing character. I accept that you made an effort to write Sledgehammer with more complexity in mind than his development and demise make him out to be. Your description leads me to think that Sledgehammer was conceived as a troubled individual struggling with alcohol abuse and emotions he does not know how to control. By the time the story starts, Sledgehammer has lost the battle with himself, and is now driven by uncontrolled intoxication and aggression -- thus, domestic abuse is the result of his character framework, not the premise of it. This supports what you said about Sledgehammer's fate: his story is a series of mistakes driven by emotionality bred with alcoholism, and his story concludes with him making a mistake too dire for him to fix. I accept this explanation, but am reminded that it was not the interpretation that I originally drew from the narrative.

The gap between your intention and my interpretation can be explained somewhat by the rank pessimism with which I initially approach anything posted on this site. In other situations I might even completely dismiss my initial impressions of a scene like this one, but I must note that a friend of mine -- the one who linked me to this story in the first place -- came to a differing conclusion as well. He maintained that Sledgehammer's death was written for a similarly shallow purpose: to permanently remove Sledgehammer from the protagonist's life, to provide the protagonist with closure and safety -- in other words, my friend opined that Sledgehammer was killed off to enrich the protagonist and make his happy ending happier. I disagreed with my friend's assessment, but in light of your response, I now observe that both he and I drew a different conclusion than you intended to convey in the story's climax. I do not know how many others have interpreted Sledgehammer's death the way you intended it to be understood, but unless a strong majority of reasoned feedback indicates that your execution of the scene was successful, I would humbly suggest that you re-evaluate the message you are transmitting to the audience with the antagonist's death.

Besides your excellent response to my criticism of the decisions you made regarding Sledgehammer and the story's climax, you brought up some other points which I will attempt to address. What struck me the most about your reply was the assertion that my feedback constituted an "actual attack." This perception I disagree with: When I set out to write about your story, I did so with the intention that my feedback would constitute a review. Having re-read my feedback, I maintain that I was successful in writing a review -- I might call it a harsh review, even a scathing review, but I would still call it a review. I stand by the reasons why I was so aggressively critical: they are as follows.

First, my review may have come off as harsh because I had no interest in stating verbosely what I liked about the story. Before I began writing, I took a short skim of the other readers' feedback, and quickly learned that almost any praise I could offer the story would be a re-iteration of something already said in another review. I concluded that the story had already received the praise that it deserved, and so I focused my review on the elements of the story that merited criticism -- but rest assured that my opinion on the story is not one of overwhelming disapproval. I both liked and disliked the story, but after browsing other readers' feedback, I chose to focus my review on what I disliked. Had the fates turned a different way for you and your story received an unduly negative response from the audience, I may have re-thought my approach in writing my review.

The second reason for my unrelentingly critical approach to reviewing your story was that I believed you could and would endure it. What I have observed of this fandom suggests that most of its members neither love nor tolerate a harsh critic. This attitude is wrongheaded -- for reasons I will get to -- but for now, I stress that I would not have been so caustic had I not thought you were an excellent author. This is because I believe that one hallmark of an excellent author is the ability to handle criticism rationally and gracefully, which, for the most part, you did. Had I reviewed a story by a less experienced, less talented author, I would likely have been more gentle in my criticism, both to keep from discouraging the author and to avoid an emotional backlash.

I have made my point that the review was not, in my opinion, an attack. There is something I wish to say about that kind of feedback, though, and about any harsh criticism, even attacks, you may receive. The norm in this fandom is that people lean heavily towards providing exclusively positive feedback, often to the point of ignoring the weaknesses in a written work and speaking only of the strengths. This attitude is detrimental, perhaps even toxic, to both the community and to the authors: taken too heavily, it can stunt an author's growth and the evolution of his work. Your story in particular I felt represented a risk: it has strong underlying themes that I expected most readers to be even more reluctant to criticize, whether out of obliviousness or misguided politeness towards the author's creation.

You may still hold that my review was an attack, but to that I counter: do not shy from attacks. Welcome those who would rip your stories apart, who would take out a narrative's entrails and throw them on display. Defend your works gladly and nobly, neither fleeing from a berserking critic nor dismissing him with a wave of your hand. (As a side note, I do not extend this expectation to your treatment of closed-minded brutes and other chafflings: if a reader savages one of your works on account of it containing homosexual themes, for instance, you have my blessing as you kick him in the face.)

I will close by saying that you were right that my "tl;dr" quip was trying to prove something to the friend who linked me to your story. It was partly to provide a humorously caustic finish to the already vicious tone of my review, but it was also to stress to him the way I absorb written work. He had actually showed me (and insisted I read) this story many months ago, and I still dwell on it from time to time, as I find happens when I consume any work of fiction that is at least decently authored. Art and media have a pronounced and lasting effect on my thinking, so I cannot help but be critical of what I take in, to an extent my friend may not have previously realized.

Again, I thank you for your response, and wish you the best in your endeavors as a maturing author. I am not sure whether I will return to read some of your other stories -- I rarely read this sort of fiction at all -- but I am very glad to have had this discussion.

I am going to echo the statements of others that Sledgehammer was, to me, not a two-dimensional throw-away baddie who dies to give the hero a happy ending. I very much saw him as a breathing, conflicted individual, and while I knew he was wrong, I could feel pity for him. I'd say the majority of readers did come away with that impression.


If a may offer a review to your review...

The problem with avoiding praise where praise is due, even if it's all been said before, is that the resulting purely-negative comments make the reviewer seem as though they dislike everything about it, which is just as potentially-unhelpful as a purely-positive review. Every reader comes from a different position, and you can't assume that they like one thing or another, even if everyone else does. By combining the positive and negative, you give an author a better idea of what worked and what didn't, from your perspective, instead of just the aspects that flopped.

As for the review coming across as an attack, I certainly got that vibe from it, as well. Partially because of its purely-negative delivery, and also because of the numerous assumptions about the author himself. Insinuating that the author was just angry about a particular type of person, or that the protagonist is a self-insert, or that the love interest was the author's "dream man", or that the entire story was just a "ragefic"... That makes the review personal, instead of based on the story itself.

You have the critical-ness and attention to detail that makes for informative and helpful critiques, I think. But by leaving out something that you think should be said simply because someone else already said it, you paint a picture that's only halfway done, and make it harder to truly appreciate and utilize what you say. And by insinuating things about the author, no matter how likely or logical it may sound to you, you steer the focus away from the actual story. And it's not all that helpful, anyway. Self-insert characters can still work just fine, as can a Mr. Right in some cases, and arguably, having personal experience in the subject matter can make a story deeper and more realistic. Telling someone not to include any of these things, either directly or through chastising them for having done so, isn't at all productive.

As far as my personal writing skill goes, I'm horrible at endings. So I'll just say "hope that helps".

MM - I'm working on a reply to your comment that's almost done, but I'm going to send it in a note because... well, it's really much too long to post as a comment and still consider myself a decent person. But, I wanted to comment here and let you know that I'm very grateful for your clarification, and it's cleared up a lot of things.

I really do try to take all criticism seriously when I feel it's from a source that's has taken the work seriously in some fashion. The only reason I didn't find it easy in this instance was, while thought out, it had the appearance of someone simply venting reasons to dislike it, and I didn't get the initial impression that you had really given the story a chance. This was largely in part due to the tl;dr, I admit, which combined with the overall tone of the review left me feeling as though you were more annoyed at your friend than concerned with the story to any degree beyond distaste. That impression in itself was what led me to feel that it was more of an attack than a review. Please understand, I'm not accusing here; I'm simply communicating my own perception to gain an understanding.

So far as I'm concerned, with your explanation - which I'll reiterate, I'm very grateful for - it's a lot easier to see the review as I think you intended it. We may not share the same idea of humor, but I can definitely believe you didn't mean it to be a damaging attack. And you're right, some people are shy to comment on things of this nature because... well, as you've observed, they're afraid of saying something bad about a subject that can be so personal and deeply emotional for people who've been involved in situations similar. That was specifically a major concern before I released the story. I'm really grateful for the people who are willing, and I'm not about to chew a person out for not liking this or any other story that I write, or a particular aspect thereof. What a person likes or doesn't like is entirely their prerogative, and I find nothing wrong with that, save that I hope and strive to avoid it being a direct result of poor writing on my part.

In my note, I'll go through and address the story and how it was written, which may shed some additional perspective on my design choices, but till then, thank you again for the clarification and the observations. Please know that I am taking it seriously, hence my, uh... verbosity, in the upcoming response. Thank you again, sincerely.

<slowly draws claws across a sharpening stone> I know the feeling...

I was listening to "Stay Away From My Friends" by Pierce the Veil while reading this. I fucking cried a lot. It's such a beautiful story. Props to you, Butterscotch. :twilightsheepish:

wow... i... i need to make a new group folder for this one. :derpyderp1:
serious stuff.

Second, how dark or sorrowed a story may be depends heavily on where the beginning is reckoned.

I'd say it depends more on where the end is reckoned, but the beginning is important too.

Yes, Klutz. Pick Fin up with your big, strong hooves and whisk him away to a better life.

I find myself pondering why you chose the genders you did for your characters, and also whether that is a question worth asking. In "A Love Letter", the genders follow pretty directly from what you were saying with the story, but does that imply that gender should always be significant in your stories? A part of me seems to think "yes," even though it seems like a strange and silly demand. Or perhaps I'm questioning why you R63ed Derpy? I don't see any real reason you couldn't have Fin be straight and Sledge a mare so Derpy could keep her gender, unless you intend to make a point by having a M/M relationship without the story being about the fact that it's M/M. That's a perfectly valid thing to do, of course, but it's hard to clearly communicate that it is significant that something is insignificant, so I can't tell if that's something your deliberately trying to do or just a theory that reads too much into things. I could even invoke Death of the Author and make it incredibly confusing whether your goals are relevant to analyzing your choices . . . but that seems a bit much. So I guess my question comes down to which point is better to make in the background: "whether homosexual relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships is not a question that should need asking," or "domestic violence can go either way"? Both are, after all, true, and both seem worth saying.

I certainly wasn't expecting Sledge to seem so vulnerable. After all this time, is Sledge now feeling a fear that he has never felt before, that Fin will leave? Does he still feel a strong attachment, despite what one might conclude from his actions and words, whether out of some residual affection, or a need to have power over another, or some other source? Just what does the world look like from behind Sledge's eyes?
Never before has a story tried to show me the abuser's side of the story, not counting rare instances of semi-serious stories involving comic violence (some of those maybe could be argued to count if I didn't specifically exclude them). Will you be the first?

No, not quite. But certainly more than usual, and possibly more than ever before.

From anybody else, I would expect no sympathy for Sledge. From you, I can't help but feel that the sympathy fell just a hair short of what I was expecting.

I seldom feel I can judge an author's character through their writing, but with you I can say that either you're a very good person or you fake it excellently.

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