• Member Since 30th Jan, 2012
  • offline last seen October 29th

Star Scraper

Physics Student, High-Powered Rocket Engineer, Latter-Day Saint, Writer, Vector Artist, and loves adorkable bookworm pony.


From Equestria to a world where unicorns are hunted and killed, Rarity's friends rush to her aid, only to find themselves quickly enmeshed in a great war. It is a world where Equestria fell apart in its early days, Hearth's Warming never happened, and an eternal winter night blankets the land under a permanent sheet of ice.

The Order of the Hatten Vanguard vindictively hunts unicorns and rules its citizens with an iron hoof. They claim that their ruthless tyranny is necessary for the survival of ponykind against the cold, and that only the extermination of all the unicorns will starve the winter of the magic that fuels it, and they may be right.

The Ceruleans claim The Order must fall, that its cruel reign is what brings the winter.

Both sides are willing to fight to the bitter end to bring the summer sun.

The world is a tapestry of the lives and deaths of heroes and villains on both sides, of leaders struggling to know what course will bring their dawn, of powerful secret societies with mysterious and ambitious goals, and where unthinkable new technology threatens to change the world forever. It is a world in turmoil, and a world in need of heroes of every kind.

It is a world apart from Equestria.

Chapters (36)
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Comments ( 66 )

Life is too short to not be.

Gotta make it worthwhile.

Have you ever seen any of Shakespeare's plays performed, or maybe just read them? This first chapter reads like Hamlet's epic monologue, but instead of waiting until act 3, when we've been won over to the story and its characters, we decided to skip all that and just zoom in on his head talking to us.

When I first took a look at this story, I tried to figure out how it possibly could've attracted so little attention. I've read your prose in the past and found it fine. But now that I've read it, I know why.

Twilight's exceptionally lengthy monologue is written alright, but it just doesn't belong in the prologue. This chapter is rather like walking into a intro to chem for non-majors class and having nothing but an exceptionally complex ochem reaction to balance. They say milk before meat, and they say it for good reason.

When I studied with brandon, he taught frequently about the pyramid of abstraction. In simple terms, it means that we earn the right to write about complex, abstract subjects in our stories by providing ample concrete details. I could barely even tell you why Twilight and Rarity were together, or where they were going--so far as I can tell, it was just a bit of painted backdrop so the spotlight could zoom in on twilight and she could opine for a few thousand words straight.

Or, from a craftsmanship perspective--think of your prologue as your best chance to grab your readers. This is literally the most eyeballs your story will ever have. What do you have to offer that's unique, that you can use to really grab people? Where's the drama, the danger, the risk? Twilight's lament here could fit into a story quite well--if we were 50k words in, and she'd just seen someone close to her die. You could earn the right to do something so abstract with the powerful concrete details involved in losing a good friend.

And what happens if you don't earn it? People lose interest. I write pony for a living and I couldn't keep going after that monologue, I'm going to tackle the rest of this chapter tomorrow.

I think I've gone on long enough, so I'll close with a summary. I think this monologue is great, maybe even insightful. But it belongs either in the middle of the story, after it's been earned, or maybe a freeform prose blog-post. This very first scene is exactly why you've heard so many storied writers say "kill your darlings." I can tell this is a darling of yours--if you want to share the rest of them with your readers, this one needs to find a new home.

I knew it wouldn't necessarily be the best for attracting as many readers as possible, but there are a number of reasons I decided to put this first.

Firstly, I wanted the very first thing to be the issue of the arc the story would close resolving - ie, the drama in the second half of the prologue is the 2nd most major arc, but only serves as a vehicle for the 1st and most major arc, the problem of meaning, by being a world that would make all of those issues concrete - but framing it in that way as to show that the main point isn't the drama of the world, but the higher issue that that drama is only an instance of.

Secondly, though kind of a subset of the first reason, to make it so when the story closes with something of this nature, it feels right since it started with something of this nature. It wasn't an action or drama that got hijacked by deeper concepts or only had deeper concepts pop their head in to say "hi" - it was about them all along, with the drama only serving to concrete that stuff out.

I thought it would kind of set the tone with that promise, so to speak, the role of a prologue.

Maybe I should've made it more accessible to readers who aren't so invested in this kind of thing, I dunno, or I dunno what a more satisfactory way to do that would be. But I think altogether the prologue sets the tone and promises pretty well.

Maybe I could've made it more interesting at a visceral level than only in high-concept ones - could probably emphasize better Rarity's solution, and that'd probably serve really well for later, too. But I'm not so sure what to do with it at this point since it's already published.

Maybe the solution would be as simple as reversing the order of the two halves, though. That'd have a slightly different flavor to it, but may actually be best, considering it'd put the more attractive dramatic aspect forward, and make Rarity's solution to existential dread more memorable since it'd be the end of the prologue, and since they're both in the prologue, may not make too much a difference in the hierarchy of "this is the main plot but this is an instance of the issues of the main plot".

It does slightly change the feel, though. Makes it less, "there's an overarching problem of meaning, and this is one example of ponies struggling with it", and more "here's something with meaning", almost as though it hints that being in a terrible world is the solution instead of a solution. But I suppose the argument could just as well be put in reverse.

Maybe I will reverse the order. Enjeweled Veil finishing her letter is more a dramatic ending, but honestly the juxtaposition of ending a scene with that, then ending the prologue with the two friends giggling instead, might have its own poignancy about it. Certainly seems to make me think, at least.

I think I will swap the order, actually. I'm loathe to change something already published, but it's not an actual change to content and it's the prologue so it's very important, so I may make an exception for this. Thoughts?

just popping my head in saying hi, felt the need to say this

I was easily able to read and understand StarScribes comment, but yours felt like I was reading something written in old English, I simply have no idea what you said. to put it simply your comment is not structured to be easily understandable

I probably don't write my best, writing that comment at 3:30 am about something extremely nuanced...

There were a lot of narrative reasons I really didn't want to just scrap that whole scene altogether, and the first of those will be apparent next week. But I do admit it doesn't have a lot of momentum nor offer a particularly sharp hook, unless the reader is explicitly looking for something deep about meaning. I do feel kind of bad not leaving it in the prologue to hook that kind of audience, but I think having a prologue with over 4k words might have been turning a lot of readers off, too.

So I've decided to make it a separate entry, as chapter zero. Hopefully that'll make more people willing to give the prologue a try, while not compromising too badly on things like establishing Rarity as a main character, where she finds meaning in life, and the largest overarching theme the story will eventually end in addressing with Twilight.

If the main OCs in this story were voiced, what would they sound like?

Which ones? Clover the Clever and Enjeweled Veil? Even though they've only appeared in the prologue thus far and this comment is on chapter 3, I'll assume you're talking about them since they're the only "main" OCs so far.

I do have a particular sound in mind, but the specifics down to the level of detail that differentiates different people's voices is a bit far on the difficult side of describing things. None of them fall into far extremes, really.

The tone and attitude behind a character seem to be the largest influence on what their voice sound like, at least to my ears.

Their personalities should give some hint as to their tone, then. Clover the Clever's being soft and feminine, yet having some gentle force behind it, if that makes any sense. It's the voice of somepony who's seen some crap but is still gentle and kind, yet has some core of strength and urgency in delivering her message, and the confidence of having stood strong through and against the end of her world.

Enjeweled Veil, as her text would seem to indicate, is rather bitter, but isn't hardened to the core. Just look at how much she loves and misses Lionheart.

I can say all that without spoiling anything because the next time you see her, who knows how much may or may not have changed about her, and in what ways. The next time she appears is chronologically quite awhile after the prologue.

Forget my criticisms of periods, there are some very serious plot problems in the second scene.

1. Twilight had no reason to think the book will bring back the dead. She was told about Alicorn trials, and that sending her friends inside could kill them. Having her think of the book at all right here feels entirely like the writer dragging the plot, not like sometihng that was set up. Throughout the scene characters speak as though the book is connected to raising the dead, though it never has been.

2. We weren't told anything about the book being dark magic when it was introduced, but Twilight and Applejack have a long diversion suggesting that it is. We have no reason to think this, so it reads as another 'because the author said so' kinda moments.

Forget all my minor criticism of the first scene, this right here is plot-breaking. If we don't buy the conflict, then we aren't going to see it through.


Luna said that armies would fight to read it if they knew the power that was inside. Do you think it holds those kinds of secrets? How to...


a long diversion suggesting that it is.

Obviously I should make it more clear within the text if you had this thought, but the ponies are told this will kill them and do horrible, horrible things they can't even imagine but also holds power that nations would fight for and you're surprised they think it might have some dark nature? It seemed so obvious to me I didn't think it'd need clarification.

That being said, some reshaping of initial chapters I've considered doing yet again would involve adding a lot more doubt on the nature of the book.

Yes, absolutely. Nations would fight over all kinds of things that have nothing to do with darkness or raising the dead. Nations routinely wage wars over water, over gold, grain, or oil. The book could have knowledge on how to, say, produce one of those resources more abundantly. It could teach how to refine iron. There is absolutely no reason, given the information we were presented where the book was explained, that any character would assume that it would be able to raise the dead. That's a leap across a chasm so wide I would've put down the book right there if a stranger had written it. Quoting the very scene I have trouble with, where Twilight makes completely unfounded speculation that you never set up before that scene, serves only to reinforce the point.

I don't think a powerful magic book that's described as killing you to read it and a major part in ascension to demi(?)-godhood is going to be talking about oil refining techniques.

If someone you love just died and there's this book the gods (or something approaching demi-gods, at the very least) have warned you about and told you is about ascending to their status and extremely significant to where armies would fight for it, it seems very obvious to me to wonder.

Add to that that they're talking about what they think Rarity might think who they know is out of her mind, and I begin to wonder how such a question is even had.

But I'll take it should be more clear.

At any rate, despite the nature of it, I do appreciate feedback, particularly if it's constructive. I absolutely hate to go back and make major modifications to all this a second time, but I've been throwing around a re-arrangement of things and I'll be sure to factor this into it.

I can't help but take passing thought at who you go over this with, though - what biases they may take into it and how they may effect opinions.

When I review a text, I use the same techniques my instructor taught me to use towards any rough prose a few years ago, now refined from many years of writing group. My editing friends are only really qualified as copy-editors. They don't look for flawed prose in the same way. They give general impressions. IE "this scene was boring." which you'll notice I don't give. I get specific and applicable, IE: "this plot element was not adequately established in the text." I'm not a copy-editor or a prereader, more like a story editor. It's a professional thing for me, my feedback doesn't get influenced.

Not that it's always going to be 100% objectively correct every time. There's not really any such thing in the artistic world. But it will generally be "this is how experts in the field have tackled things like this before" type advice. Ultimately you have to decide how much of that advice is worth taking. How hard is the change to make, how much benefit would there be to the prose, how much if any of your artistic vision would be weakened as a result? In this case I think the answer is that a small change would have huge benefit with no alteration to your vision. If you'd set up in the previous chapter during the _gigantic_ meeting scene, just a few lines where Twilight asked if this was the secret to immortality or bringing back the dead, then got a mysterious answer, having her come back to it now would be a rewarding payoff instead of a confusing non-sequitur.

RIP other AJ.
I hope other Pinkie gets better written this time. There was something about her that just made her a meh character to me. I'm looking forward to more Otherdash. The last version of this story had me really liking her character.

Perhaps a lack of insinuation of depth?

I think she's written better this time. But ultimately you'll have to find out :pinkiesmile:

I think I can safely say Spectrum has changed little. Heh, and now since "Frostpunk" has come out it's almost like there's a game now where you can play as her. Funny enough I haven't tried it, myself, despite the oddly, strikingly similar setting.

If you've ever read the book "On Writing," by Steven King, he repeats an old chestnut that is true in all prose writing. That chestnut is: Kill your darlings. I can see this chapter is a darling of yours, but I'm sorry to say you need to take it out behind the shed and put it out of its misery. If it weren't in the story at all, no reader would know. It relies on emotional investment with a character you introduced just to kill, investment that does not exist.

When I first saw this chapter, i thought about opening a google doc to make revision suggestions as I have done before. After scanning a few paragraphs, I realize the only suggestion is to remove it.

This is freeform poetry, a blog post about the nature of death. It's artistic, maybe even beautiful. But it isn't part of a narrative.

a) Writing is art.
b) It plays a role that it, itself, stated, aside from worldbuilding. This setup is very important so the ending isn't wildly left-field (and no, The Gardener isn't going to lift a hoof to save anypony, for reasons that are basically the most major theme of the story to explore), and some of the concepts it introduces will be built on later before that ending.
c) I'll probably go back at some point and add an arc for Gold Will so her scenes have more weight. That's why I'm not publishing the illustrations elsewhere and haven't submitted it to EQD, yet. I'd rather add those, first, among other things.

So while it's not maximized to be as smooth as absolutely possible, it does play a role in the narrative, one I'd argue is actually rather important but not apparent until it's published, and I've had a reader tell me it alone makes the entire fic worth it, so... I'm not Stephen King. But it's not like it's completely separate from the rest of the story, either, and it plays a role in the flow of narrative tension. As for the plot elements, I think of it as planting a seed that should be a great oak by the end.

But for what it's worth, this is the one chapter that I knew from the very outset you wouldn't like. I don't think any others are like that.

I think the best way I can explain how this chapter feels is to imagine Boromir's death scene from Lord of the Rings. Now imagine that the first any only introduction we have to him is a brief fight for the hobbits, then pushing his body off the waterfall. Instead of feeling emotional and moved by his sacrifice we would be watching the clock for when the scene ended.

Well, yes. The only value that scene had was the character, and the ultimately inconsequential worldbuilding trivia. As I've said, that's different from this, and I gave 2, if not 3 solid reasons why. And I could go on about why it's more than just pretty, but that would redirect the conversation a bit too much perhaps from the other two reasons.

I know you're excited but you're out Pinkie'ing Pinkie...

It's surprisingly easy when she's been shot three times, heh.

Finnaly we see the other side
Im really liking this story but some placements of sceans seem a lottle odd not bad just odd is this thing gona be hellas long if so you better not have bit off more then you can chew cus i love this so far and if you abbandon it ill be coming 4 u

Well, I've been working on it for like six years and the initial draft, at least, for the entire first book is already finished, so...

It's still a struggle to keep up, though, because there's a lot to do with the draft and I'm at college... Getting this next chapter out on time is going to be particularly challenging.

Why isn't there an OC/Clover the Clever tag?

You're only supposed to tag major characters. I don't think AU versions of mane 6 count as OCs? :applejackunsure:

Okay I am intrigued by the opening. Let’s see the rest now.

Damn depressing subject-matter, don't dwell on it too much or you will lose yourself to despair.

Didn't Twilight already have access to a perfectly functional time travel spell? It wouldn't be that hard to go back and leave a note before returning to prevent that from happening

The one from "It's About Time" could only be used once, and after that, the only other case of time spells was with Starlight Glimmer, and notice she's not here. So this is before she's been reformed, so she doesn't have a time spell she can use.

This is going to be quite the story at the rate its going, but i can see how Rarity gets HER Sweetie Belle...somewhat, it all depends on if that middle ground comes into play.

And now things are going to go horribly wrong

Apologies on the chapter coming a few hours late. It's finals' week, and I've been having some major personal issues in general, but here it is.

I have finally got around to reading this, and it is good, though I should probably go back to studying for my own finals. Good luck with your finals and I may try coming back to say more when my final week ends. I love how this story is going so I can’t wait to see the next chapter.

Comment posted by Star Scraper deleted Dec 18th, 2018

Thanks! Just out of curiosity, what parts about it do you like the most?

Seems that whatever beings were watching over events have decided to abandon the field for now.

Nice work, you've got us teetering on a knife edge here and I can't wait to see which way the characters fall...

All unicorns die (and presumably other spellcasters), the sun and moon don't move, half the world burns, half the world freezes, everyone dies.
The power structure dies, resentment results in war strife and conflict, winter continues, everyone dies.
War, during endless winter, when armies march on their stomachs. Eventually there's not enough ponies left to fight, raise food, and amidst the famine and the death there might be at least three ponies that can start the hearth's warming, and depending on how long their food runs out, they might die off just as summer comes. Sun and moon freeze in the sky, dead world freezes and burns.

No matter who wins, everyone loses.
1. Ponies move away again and this time make damn sure the other two tribes who they so hate can't follow
2. At last three ponies pull their heads out of their asses enough to spark Hearth's Warming.
But 2 would have happened with the first paragraph of the premise, and 1 doesn't solve the problem, it just means somewhere there'll be ponies that survive the above 'everyone dies' scenario.

I don't really feel inclined to read this, given that.

Interesting how it lacks the "tragedy" tag, isn't it?

Well, anyone who's read to chapter 12 knows something that's not so much a spoiler as much as it's not revealed until then, but the world's survived a thousand years in that state, so they're clinging on, somehow.

So many tangents, I'd dare call them random rants.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new city...

:fluttershyouch: Gods are so creepy. Always making you make choices, but never giving you any choices to make.

I'm deeply curious to see who my readers are siding with, here - what y'all think of each side of this.

Also I did plan for an illustration or two on this one, but alas. Maybe I'll get to that later.

Spectrum might need to hang, but our lovely medic has it right, Clover has it right.

Blood for blood is pointless. Revenge is hollow and tastes like ash. The only way forward for anyone at this point is in harmony and forgiveness. Even if the domes themselves will likely never embrace it the effort must be made.
Do better, be better. Victory at all costs is a victory not worth having.

Yada yada yada.

Wah wah wah, worse pony is complaining about being worse pony.

Seriously, Rainbow Dash is overhyped as hell. not happy that Pinkie came along and Fluttershy was left behind, but as long as the cocky puke was left napping, so much the better.

As for the story's timeline...I got lost with all the timeskips and Rairity's wallowing lasted...couple days? Weeks? Months? Hours?

The alternate world should be interesting. But instead of finding out what even happened in the past either in the AW or AU Equestria(seriously, what the FUCK do Windigoes have to do with Nightmare Moon or the Sun?!?!), we get chapters lamenting how the New World Order sucks, a nobody dying, and afterlife rambling with said dead nobody and God. Big whoop.

I don't need to be given a holocaust Victim's perspective of World War 2, when your story is about Wolfenstein's Nazis building robot attack dogs and sticking peoples brains in robots. It's the wrong kind of context.

Does Twilight ever get her horn back? Please tell me she does!

Have we ever established if this winter is because of windigos or another cause as seen in The Frozen West? I just don't remember any mention of day or night in the new world...

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