• Member Since 10th Oct, 2011
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I'm older than your average brony, but then I've always enjoyed cartoons. I'm an experienced reviewer, EqD pre-reader, and occasional author.


Twilight Sparkle always wrote to Princess Celestia about her lessons in friendship. Sometimes, Celestia wrote back. Even if Twilight didn't know it.

Expanded version of the ninth-place winner in the /fic/ mini write-off "Just Over the Horizon."

Featured on Equestria Daily!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 43 )

We need a "soooo heartwarming" emoticon

Wonderful story, we don't get enough Philomena but the idea she's Celestia's Spike but with sage advice... Nice!

that was really good!:scootangel:

And then Philomena usurped the throne and rule of Equestria, declaring herself queen.
At least that's what Celestia told us she'd said, and with nopony else around who could communicate with a phoenix, Celestia became the Queen's interpreter. It worked surprisingly well, all things considered. :trollestia:

I loved it!

Aww. Such a sweet story. :raritystarry:

5301103 Sounds like a story you should write! If you like that sort of plot, here's a good one, though it's not Philomena.

Well done. Very touching. Perhaps a little too much with the master plans, though that may be simply because I don't see Celestia that manipulative. But very good indeed.

I particularly liked the decision to not give too deep feedback on Twilight's choice, since that would have given her the idea that she was being tested and graded instead of having free reins. It's something to bring up some ways down the line once it's certain that Twilight's on the right path.

5301347 Also, that story you linked was a good laugh. It's nice to see Trixie being clever. Though I half expected her to use bureaucracy to take over Equestria. And Celestia letting her do it so she could finally have her vacation.

I know it would have been a bad idea for Celestia to send that letter but, oh my gosh! Twilight would have cried so hard. It would have been beautiful.:twilightsmile:

I love how you brag about the number of EqD features you have like it's some kind of accomplishment and not just a reward for being banal enough to stoop to their way of doing things. :facehoof:

5299993 :pinkiesad2:
I always saw it as Pinkie crying tears of joy, even if her mane is straight, so that might fit.

5303521 If you don't think it's an accomplishment, that's your prerogative, but why does that mean you need to start judging people who do?

Considering every one of those stories has been good, I'd say Pascoite has every reason to proud of his work. It's not as if EqD declines a bunch of great stories for not fitting into some ridiculously arbitrary mold. If anything, there's bias in favor of crappy fics that might still appeal to some readers, and I think they've been getting better about that

Great job, as usual. One minor thing's got me curious: Celestia might have something to do in a few hours, but appears to be retiring for the night. Was this an oversight, or is she not planning to sleep for long? I think most people tend to think of "a few" as something like three or four, maybe five

I have never been so overjoyed.

*clears throat*
Er... Luna sort of returned that week...

5305271 Well, it happened the week before, it was an event with mixed emotions for her, and the argument could be made that she knew how it would turn out.

Add to that the fact that she wouldn't likely want to go into that in a letter to Twilight which has only a tangential relation to that, and it's not unreasonable that she'd say this.

Nice to see this fleshed out a bit. Great job with this, Pasco.

Pretty good, pretty good. Not much else to say, well done.

This story has a really intriguing characterization of Celestia. The tidbits about her own empty friendship journal and her comments to Philomena suggest she is quite lonely herself, which puts her unsent letter in a new light.


Because an EqD feature isn't about whether a story's any good or not, it's about it fitting into the narrow confines of what the pre-readers are looking for. If it was about seeking the quality, there would be a system similar to what we have here (where the best rise to the top and the worst are forgotten). Basically, as soon as you have a small group of people deciding what the "cream of the crop" is that's when you start running into trouble.

Also, when you have a pre-reader bragging that thirty-one of his thirty-four stories are EqD featured, you can kinda see the flaw if you squint hard enough.


In your opinion, they may be good. What I'm say is that there are doubtless countless authors who have much better stories who aren't getting featured because: a) they aren't an EqD pre-reader and know how to game the system; or b) catering to those pre-readers' prejudices of what a good story should be.

I've looked into those authors that frequently bitch about the pre-readers, and their stories are awful. FIMFic doesn't offer a better system either. It may keep out the worst 10%, but what rises to the top is more like a random mixture of the remaining 90% than the top 10% (kinda like Top 40 radio). EqD features may not be the best of the best, but they tend to be higher quality than whatever's popular here

I don't see much bias with the pre-readers. From my understanding, they each have their own tastes and pick stories from the queue that they're interested in (so the guy who likes sadfics will probably be the one reading a story where everyone Twilight loves dies, while the guy whose OTP is OctaScratch will be reading fics about that). They're looking more for objective problems, like spelling and grammar (which are serious issues in fanfiction) or poor story structure. Pretty sure the pre-readers hold each other to higher standards, as well. If they have any edge over other writers, it's that they know people who can help make their story better, rather than letting it through despite not being good enough

That was great! I'd love to see the day Twilight finally gets all those responses. There are plenty of times when she could've really used the reassuring words. The want it need it incident, for example, or the parasprite invasion, or when she became princess, or when Celestia sent her to the Crystal Empire as a test... and pretty much every other time Celestia showed up in the show. Knowing how much Celestia really cares about her would have helped so much, and saved Twilight a lot of worry and premature heart-ache.

5307135 So you'd rather that pre-readers didn't know something about writing? Can't have it both ways, chief. If EqD does such a bad job of posting good stories, show me a story featured there that has a poor vote ratio here. And you're really going for the popularity=quality argument? If that's all you want, you can already get it here. Live and let live. I don't get the free-floating anger.

Anyway, this is a story thread. If you really want to gripe about EqD, there's a group for that.

5308825 I've got a couple of ideas about that. Either that Celestia will save them up and give them to her someday, maybe that she sent them right after Twilight ascended to princesshood, or maybe that those were among the letters she sent back when Discord had corrupted her.

It's an interesting idea to think about. If you like it, why not write it?

5309615 Okay, I'll add it to my ever growing list of things to write. Maybe someday I'll get around to some of them.

Why had Celestia tried to read so deeply into it? It hadn’t even occurred to her to take Twilight’s words at face value. “Having more than your friends,” she’d written. Plural.

#shotsfired :rainbowwild:

But seriously, this was a good expansion of the writeoff version, and the area around the quoted section is a great breakdown of the letter (including lampshading the entirely legitimate interpretation of "friends" = "Spike + 1", as well as the slightly-less-legitimate-once-you-work-through-the-logic-out-loud stuff that I mentioned in the writeoff) and a nice opportunity to further define the subtext of the relationship. The more languid pace here, plus the added introspection, does a much better job for me of selling the turnaround to her :trollestia: response without actually making it feel :trollestia:ish. The new bit about letting her go is crucial to that and a powerful addition.

Sorry I never got back to you on the final third of the PM, but the tl;dr of it was that I tried to take your point to heart about critiquing/judging based on the story in my head. If a story fails in meeting its own goals, that's a problem, and if its goals end up in a place that leaves me not feeling it, that's also a problem, but conflating the two will produce unhelpful advice.

Glad I got to read the new one, and congrats on the well-deserved feature and featureboxing. :twilightsmile:

I'm glad there are stories like this that show Philomena a bit more. Considering how long phoenixes likely can live, I love the idea of Celestia and Philomena being this close rather than just "Princess of the Sun and that one pet she has". Your take on what we didn't see in the show (her reasons for responding in such a way) is done very well, and I think you definitely deserved your features.

Definitely a heartwarming story that can be appreciated, especially during this time of the year for us people of the Northern Hemisphere. :heart:

5310623 Our discussions regarding this story were definitely helpful. In explaining why I didn't think Celestia would necessarily jump to any of these alternate explanations, it made me reason through them. And that became a good way to expand the story. I still think it wasn't inevitable that Celestia would have come to these other conclusions, but it's not unreasonable for her to, either. I thought you might recognize our debate as Celestia's internal conflict before writing her first response. :twilightsmile:

I've struggled myself with how much to count against a story for things I would have done differently. Technically, even pointing out a misspelled word is saying I would have done that differently, but it's a perfectly reasonable thing to point out. On the other end of the spectrum, I've also suggested alternate ways of playing a scene to an author, and it's very hard to divorce that vision from whether it would make the story better to other readers, and even if that's the case, whether it's something fair to demand of the author, especially when it's a substantial change to the plot, characters, or mood. At the very least, I discuss it as a possible direction, which you did, and even though it's not necessarily in the sense you meant, something productive came of it, so... don't stop making suggestions.

Yeah, basically agreed. I think the key as a prereader/critiquer is to divorce "here's what's wrong" from "here's something that might fix it"; that way if my proposed solution doesn't match the author's vision, they can discard that while still giving weight to the issue I bring up. If there's something that genuinely needs fixing, then it's easy enough to back that up by highlighting the flaws of a section; and if I'm pointing out flaws that the author disagrees are flaws, then they know my suggestion won't be helpful out of the gate.

There's been some talk of "wise reading" over in the writeoff forum, too, which is giving me some useful things to chew on. I may start a thread at some point on how to provide good feedback, for the benefit of newbies, but also because feedback on critiques is a lot rarer than feedback on writing.

> even though it's not necessarily in the sense you meant, something productive came of it, so... don't stop making suggestions.

Roger. :twilightsmile: Hope to see you in the minific round, if the fun levels edge back into the black!

Simply wonderful :pinkiehappy:

I know this is possibly the most common sentiment possible but... I'd like to see more. Twilight has been through so many experinces and written so many letters, not to mention the ones her friends wrote in later seasons, there's so much more that I'd like to see Celestia's private musings on.

I'll just backpedal to the first bit: simply wonderful. :pinkiehappy:


To be honest, I don't actually care. I just felt like trolling Pascoite because of his smug attitude about his EqD popularity. :trollestia:

5315921 What exactly did I do that was smug?

Nice one. I liked Celestia's perspective here. This made me think of Ticket Master again from an angle I never considered before. I think the tears were pushing it a bit, but overall, this was a very enjoyable story with very real-feeling emotions. Good job.

5307253 Sadfic: Everyone Twilight knows dies horribly, then she realizes she doesn't exist and disappears... along with all the other universes... and it hurts. Alot. I mean, hurts like having your intestines removed through your mouth-level agony.


I wanna see someone write that as a comedy

Author Interviewer

maybe I'm just listening to the right music, but aaaaaa ;_;


On a more serious note: Celestia's reaction feels very awkward here. I get that you were going for the whole "motherly bond" between her and Twilight, but I'm pretty sure the show only implies a "teacher-student" relationship, and (maybe) a "motherly affection" that Celestia has for ponykind as a whole.

The idea that she writes out lengthy letters that she ends up never sending out is neat, but the way Celestia just breaks down is way out of place for me, especially given the context. A different letter from Twilight might have been a better choice, because the point of that episode's conclusion was wholly different: Twilight decided to make the right choice (based on what she believed were the circumstances), and Celestia bluntly offered the easiest solution instead, i.e "the friggin princess of Equestria is your pen pal, dummy! Just ask for more tickets!" One may write it off as just a comedic twist on a standard "moral", but in a way it's also part of how Celestia is acting as Twilight's mentor, which means she occasionally has to "troll" her student to educate her.


That said, perhaps the letter written in "Luna Eclipsed" is one I could imagine making Celestia emotional on this level. Sure, even in this case, I could imagine she would be pleased to know that Twilight is finally making friends and is willing to pass on the Gala to keep them all together, but the way Celestia reacts here is almost degrading. She is thousands of years old. I'm pretty sure she's had plenty of friends just like Twilight, so she's used to seeing them go through this process. If anything, I imagine she'd only get more proficient over the years at guiding her proteges toward the "right path" and would not spend much time crying over it all.

The concept of "unwritten letters" is the most interesting one presented here. The dichotomy between "what I want to write" and "what I need to write" is an excellent detail, although the way it's delivered is a bit too blatant for my tastes. Also, if we assume this level of familiarity between them, then Celestia worrying about "her image" feels out of place. Besides, how is saying "Why didn't you just say so in the first place?" any more "princess-y"?

Instead, like I said above, it makes more sense for her to choose the second version of her response because it is "the most educational." As for the lengthy and emotional response, the "lengthy" part feels like it should have had a greater focus, perhaps with an added implication that Celestia does this with other ponies close to her as well. This could be a sort of hobby for her where she writes out her thoughts in full length about those she knows, only to then condense her response into a letter that is, in her experience, the most appropriate for the situation.

That's my two cents. Other that all that, it's a decent read.


the show only implies a "teacher-student"

On this we wholly disagree. I'll leave it at that.


Fair enough. For argument's sake, let's say Celestia's affection for Twilight goes way deeper. That still makes it awkward how a silly scenario manages to make her cry her eyes out like this, not to mention makes her write in a style that is anything but what makes sense for a being of her age and wisdom. Even if this is the whole "my daughter is finally growing up" scenario, even if we can imagine that Celestia's most commonly seen exterior does not match her interior (which she reveals to us now), the emotional reaction is portrayed in such a jarring manner that I just can't take it seriously.

To be fair, overall, the premise does work. There are certain moments in life when a seemingly unremarkable event/experience can somehow open one's "emotional floodgates" and make them break down, similar to how Celestia does here. In that regard, you have touched upon an excellent concept that's worth exploring.

My problem is that the buildup and the "climax" itself feel unnatural. Every event feels like part of a very rigidly choreographed act: "here's the bit where she does something mundane", "here's the bit where the letter arrives," "here's the bit where she cries like a filly who dropped her ice cream", "here's the bit where we all get emotional," etc.

Terse writing is good, you can definitely tell a story in less words than I can, but "saying a paragraph with just one sentence" isn't the same as "cramming as much emotion and whatnot into every sentence as I can." Sometimes, you need that bit of "filler" in there to give the reader time to become immersed.

Well. That was perfect. I don't normally see such short stories doing so many things that I like. I'm biased, I suppose; this is the kind of thing I always wanted to see from Celestia, and what I always wanted her to be like. There will be those people who say we don't see enough of her in the show to know, but what Twilight thinks of her is enough. Plus she seems to have been a bit more open about a few things in season four, during the few times she's around.

It seems sad to me though, that Celestia would find it necessary to reel in her correspondence like this for fear of overburdening Twilight. I'd like to think she shows these to her someday.

I wrote a review of this story!

It can be found here.

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