• Published 30th Sep 2019
  • 9,555 Views, 1,190 Comments

Alternate Beginnings: The First Year - Doug Graves

Seven years before Twilight Sparkle, a curious creature arrives in Ponyville. How will they react to each other and this strange new world?

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Comments ( 68 )

And so it ends. Well, this book, at least; the story picks up almost immediately in Year Two.

You did much better the second time can’t wait for year 2

This was a lot better with the look into the future. A nice way to end this series.

This was a awesome and adorable end to this part I hope part 2 is as good,and if you make any rewrites place tall me.?

I wish there was more

Now if I member right reason why you rewrote this at least one of the reasons is because you want to give it more of an adult Theme for those sexy scenes but it almost seems so you were nervous or you skipped over a lot of them only really touching on them when they first enter the relationship .

Could you imagine if we were late, and the sun didn’t rise when it was supposed to?”

Funny you say that; the sun will be late regardless.

“We’ll be able to stay up all night celebrating the sun and Princess Celestia’s totally awesome rule!”

Also unintentional divination - everypony will be forced to "stay up all night". Also, you won't be celebrating Celestia's rule.


I love this story, Doug Graves; you did an excellent job modernising the first story. I can't wait to jump into the sequels!

Missed thé first version of this book, but I'm really glad I experienced this one.
Any plans to continue thé re-writes?

are you rewriting any of the others...or at least doing edits to the older ones. Not to be rude, but I have noticed some rather eye-catching mistakes in this one. Weird spelling errors, a few weird grammar slips. I mean none were story killers, but they were there. Thus why I didn't bother pointing them out in their usage through the book. But, since the story is over, I just thought I'd make it a passing note. Also quick question, They cal RD Dam, and AJ mama? They call Doug, dad, but he's their sire? I just think it'd look nicer context-wise if you didn't mix and match. Is there a reason for the swip-swaps? Have a wonderful day, and good job finishing...and for a rather consistent schedule for the most part.


Not sure if it is nervousness so much as a desire to not replay the same scenarios. Sure, the characters would be growing more familiar with each other, and I do need to focus more on emotions and feelings rather than the blunt mechanics. Perhaps something for future books.

Blog Post!
Short answer: no more rewrites. I'll have a heavy editing/ minor rewrite pass of Year Two done... hopefully by the end of the week, and there will be an accompanying blog post when that happens.

Earlier in the book I made the dam / dahm distinction, but Mama seems more informal, and the terms are all fairly interchangeable. If you remember the more glaring errors, please PM; I do all my own proofreading, and it can be difficult to catch, even on a reread days later.

Maybe instead of just doing the blunt mechanics you can do more exploring their sexuality experimenting trying to things pushing to The bounds of the relationship or even fetishes just food for thought good stories though I was reading the follow ups in the next chapter books as well

I see your point but it just seem that there should still be a little conflict about the fact that while more humanlike there still did resemble ponies from earth.....but its a great story regardless

True.....sometimes its when things are the hardest to talk about that are the times you must talk bout them......though now that i think bout it that might actually be for a different kind of conversation.....*shrugs* oh well.

And sorry bout the multiple separate comments......i made them as i thought of them lol....actually dropping down to comment and then going back up to find where i was at.

I just noticed this.....if you were a mlp character youd have the perfect name for an undertaker pony

I meant you can see her falling for him deeper and deeper as the story goes along.

Thats a pretty kewl song.......aaaaannnnnnddddd now its stuck in my head lol

I-i have so many questions with this last chapter. Maybe i'm just slow.

Regardless, this was quite the interesting read and i'll happily see you in the next installment.

Most excellent.

Yeah i know what you mean....open skies i could understand.....remember doug and aj were interacting w him earlier right before doug went to raritys for the expedition that theyre just getting back from when the pegasi act like that

Good Game, no Rematch. lol

This was very enjoyable, an all around lovely read.

I'll probably wait to start Year Two after you finish your plans for it, whatever it might be.

I honestly didnt even know appends was a word....my bad...i shouldve looked it up first before just assuming you meant something else.

The way Neighsay says that and then how Celestia reacts....its probably bc i have a bias against Neighsay from other stories....one of the ones im reading he is directly responsible for the mc losing an arm

Then you need to fix all the dates bc they all say 993 D.S.

Ok who is Apple Baum? By the way its written it seems like shes Apple Blooms sister.....but she is refered to as a young mare which would seem to imply Apple Baum is older? But Apple Bloom is the first born in all of Herd Apple.

Shouldnt that mean that Nightmare Moon would be coming back just after Hearths Warming? If the yr changes Jan 1st that is.
Personally Ive never understood why irl the calendar begins when it does anyways......it would seem to make more sense if irl it started either on the winter solstice or spring equinox or like some pegan calendars do on Oct 31st or May 1st

First off, thanks for all the comments!
Day one of their calendar starts on the winter solstice, and every day after gets longer until the Summer Sun Celebration, when the 'sun' portion of the day is at its longest. The problem is one of semantics: what does 'a year' mean. In the same vein, what does 'a day' mean? Dawn to dusk? Dawn to dawn? Celestia is going off the prophecy: "on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape, and she will bring about nighttime eternal." Which is the thousandth year? She picks the wrong interpretation! Now, she probably should have had contingencies set up if it wasn't that way, but her potential actions are quite limited.

Applejack's second foal. She is considered 'older' than Apple Bloom because she got her cutie mark, which is the mark of an adult in their society and the transition of a filly into a mare (puberty).

Thats right :facehoof: i forgot the wording of the prophecy

That sux for Apple Bloom....i wanna ask more but i will find out in yrs 2-7. If i hadnt already been looking forward to reading them i certainly am now....im so invested in finding out what happens w Herd Apple. Thats the mark of a good story....you WANT to live vicariously through it lol

I have read every chapter. So awesome!

Not unless you are into the vomit, then re-eat the vomit mindset no.

I happen to like your writing DG. Too many times for me to count I've come across stories that obsessively add completely unnecessarily wordy exposition or even worse repeat an idea in the same sentence. I'm convinced they do it just to boost the word count.
Your writing style is better in The First Year then it was in Year One. Both are great though.
Since I can't write to save my life though I really shouldn't be saying anything about other writers and the way the write. Bc they still write better then me lol

So do I....men too. It's still like :facehoof: bc you just hope it's common sense to stay away from those types of landmines.

10201239 10201287
A PSA. If you reply to a comment anywhere other than the chapter it was posted on, the user does NOT get a notification. This is as old as the site and yet no one ever fixes the issue. :\

So, I debated writing my final thoughts on Ch 114 or here, but I decided to do it at the very end.
Reviewing a work, I always like to start with the positive, and a quarter-million words is no small chunk of writing! There is a LOT of world building herein. The few specifics I had qualms with, I commented on during the chapters they appeared, but they were mercifully few. There was some subtle RGRE going on, but it was refreshing to see it there, not played up as the main theme - outside of that mind bending moment at the end of CH 61 - but in a supporting role. This is so rarely done, authors wanting to put it front and center, playing up how different Equestria is, but you managed that perfectly without really needing to use the RGR's, it was done for flavor.

Now, for the bitter pill. I never read the original, so I can't compare it to this (perhaps I will and will amend my review at a later date?) The big problem I had reading this story was the pacing. The story seems to have two definitive acts; the first goes up to the fifties and the second picks up shortly after, with chapter 63. There are a few chapters in the fifties, which kinda feel like a transition from the first half to the second. In the first half, we have multiple chapters per day (in setting) often dealing with a particular focus or character, or event. There's a lot happening, and relationships feel VERY rushed. Him and Applejack became an item before the first day was even out! I'd like to pause here to point out 22 chapters for ONE DAY! Do I think you spent too much or too little time on day one? The events of what was going on were richly elaborated upon and enjoyable to read. The relationships just felt damn rushed. IMO, I'd condense some of the early chapters to make slightly longer ones in the 5~6k range, trying to focus on a theme. Just something to think on. Then, comes the second half. Once the Doug & Rarity mining arc is over, we get into the second half proper. Things start to feel a little more natural in terms of character and relationship growth, from here on out. The problem I have with these chapters is that things feel missing. There feels like there should be moments of narration, explaining that things are happening off page, some of these significant. Where you previously were dropping 22 chapters, each about 2k a piece, to cover a day; now you keep the same length of chapter, but start writing significantly fewer to cover daily events, eventually jumping weeks between chapters without a scrap of narration about the time in between.

This leads to two problems. First is a significant change in writing style. The way you do things in the first half is good - you need to work on more realistic character development - but the pacing of the chapters is like a cheesecake - dense, rich and rewarding to read. Then the second half is like angel food cake, soft, airy and easy to savor, but leaving you wanting more. Both are acceptable styles - in which more practice writing would not be remiss - but putting them together is just...strange. I don't know what you should do to 'fix' this tonal problem? Perhaps splitting this story into the first week and then the rest of the year might be the solution? Perhaps you should consider making a clear Act I and Act II? Either way, this story suffers from the shift in pacing.

That said, reiterating, you've got a very entertaining story. Christ, I read the whole thing in about six days and am writing a friggin' dissertation reviewing it...I apologize it got so long! All little pointers left on chapters aside, I think this is one of the better stories I've read on FiMFiction. In some ways it reminds me of Your Human and You, especially in the reception it's received regarding the main character. I think you've got a LOT of good advice in your comment section on how to improve this story further, and I recommend you use it. That said, I'd give this story a solid 'B' grade. It hooked me and got me to read a quarter-million words in less than a week, and that's frankly a daunting prospect for any story...but it's not without room for improvement, and I appreciate that. I look forward to reading more from you. Here's a fav and a like. Expect to see me commenting on more of your work.

-_Ƣ ~ Stay classy.

Ooh, long comment! I love these!

Re: RGRE - Agree with you on the other authors thing. Like you said, many of the differences are subtle and not focused on. They're just there, because that's how the ponies do things, and why would it be any different? I much prefer that sort of approach. (Obviously, I wrote it :P )

Re: Relationships - This is one area that, front and center, shows how different (at least this) Equestria is from our world, and it's intentionally rushed. It isn't just Doug and Applejack; recall how Rarity debated having a foal with Rare Find (which would have been two weeks or so after getting to know him) or Rainbow Dash thinking Fluttershy is dragging her hooves for taking ten whole dates to figure out her relationship. For us, it's rushing, and rushing something fierce - but for the ponies, who overall get along well with each other? (Excepting the inter-species conflicts we occasionally see in the later seasons.) It's more How Things Are DoneTM

I think, if I did things over again (oof, that hurts to say... but that's what editing is, and I've always had a problem with large-scale editing) I would include a bit more push-back from Doug after Applejack's initial proposal, and a bit more relationship building between all involved. Or giving Applejack more nefarious (greedy?) intentions.

Re: Chapter Length - Understandable. That's an artifact of my writing/publishing pace - this work was not pre-written, and you'll occasionally see comments incorporated into the next day's chapter. Other stories of mine (specifically Continuity Disrupted) have more chapters dedicated to each theme/episode, and it flows a little smoother.

Lots of things happen on Day One, especially new things, but it's a pace that once set is a little jarring to see thrown off. Day Two has twelve chapters. Day Three - one. Perhaps a definite 'act' change wouldn't be remiss. I think that also was because, around the chapter 60 mark, and definitely by 72, the main conflict has been resolved - they know what's happened, and now they are committed to moving past it. Perhaps the tonal shift is also because we are no longer following Doug around - instead, it's Rainbow Dash who takes the spotlight, and the theme is more about what happens next.

The... missing narration, or exposition, or describing what happens off-screen - I admit, that's a recurring problem of mine, especially because as soon as I write a paragraph detailing what happened in the days previous (because, sadly, every day cannot get 55k words devoted to it) I'll want to flesh it out into a whole chapter, or arc. I'll try to throw tidbits into the story talking about what happened (for instance, Fluttershy joins the herd, and there's the comment about her bedding Doug in front of all of them, even though we didn't get to see it), but not the paragraph or two at the start of a chapter one might expect. In my mind, normal interactions happen during these interim times - they work, chat, hang out - but that brings up questions like 'does Applejack know what Doug's world is like? How have they not talked about that kind of thing in the weeks they have known each other?'

Thanks for the long review! Nothing to apologize for at all, and I hope you enjoy the later books.

Just some thoughts on your musing...
Regarding the relationship part, I think if you pushed it out even say to a week, that would still be FAST and you could have a funny scene with Doug calling AJ out on it, and she gets flustered about how she thought she was taking her time! As for giving AJ nefarious reasons for going after Doug, that just doesn't seem very honest, now, greedy...that's another story. One can be honestly greedy. Look at Filthy Rich.

As far as 'large scale editing'/ re-doing, I don't think what needs done would require a drastic change. Giving Doug some time to accept the change and get to know the mares he comes to herd with, as well as his new home would really just require working on the pacing. Almost everything you wrote would just be recycled. Think of it as a small exercise and it will seem less daunting.

Well it took me 4 days to fully read this and I gotta say this was a great read for me in a while. I tried to read the original but it seemed too short for my liking so I read this rewrite and I wasn't disappointed at all props to you for creating an amazing story line I will be following for the next few weeks.

But I do have a curious question. Will you rewrite past years like Year 2 or 3 etc, to make them longer or keeping them the same


Rewriting Year Two+ is something I'm mulling over. It'll probably hit on a lot of the same themes as Growing Harmony (that I'm working on now), with more focus on the foals. It won't happen anytime soon, though. But once it happens, it would be closer to The First Year in length.

I just found your alternate beginning series and want to know which one do I start with do I start with this which I assume is a remake of your original one if I'm correct and then go each year what's the original series or do I start with the original and then come back and read this one. Sorry just noticed the number of chapters in this story did you combine all the previous years into one story that's another separate question?

Start with this one. It's a longer (and mature) version of Year One. Year Two continues immediately after.

Thanks looks really good. Going to start on this tonight and work my way through your series.

Lol I gotta remember that one. I've used that puntastically pundemonium....but I can honestly say punspeed had never occurred to me. Which is weird bc I absolutely love puns. Especially the really cringeworthy ones. Not that punspeed is cringeworthy but it definitely is groanworthy (which is a good thing).

How would there be an offhanded comment in an episode that ponies mature faster than we do....I'm pretty sure that there were no humans in mlp

10236484 Not humans persay but just mature faster in general. Anyways great story overall. Onward to the next book!

Hrmmm, where DID that librarian run off to with that glass?

I need to go back and read this story again bc I can't remember xactly what was going on here. However I think that at the time of Filthy's remark wasn't Spoiled Rich diehard anti-Doug? Bc if she was than I can't believe Filthy stuck up for Doug for a completely different reason, isn't Filthy Spoiled's bitch?

It isn't that she is so much anti-Doug, so much as she's a socialite who is looking to improve her and her herds social and economic standing by having the mares she/they has her/their eye on joining the Rich Herd. However, when Doug forms a herd with the mares which she/they had their eyes on, she doesn't like not getting what she wants and therefore her relationship and interactions with Doug are strained at best, and antagonistic at worse, as a consequence.

Also, Filthy isn't Spoiled's bitch but rather a partner who behaves in an ambitious alpha mare behaviorisms. She's also a socialite, who, whether through personal experience, or through academic learning, has realized that if she wants something, she's going to have to be proactive since nopony is going to just give her the things that she wants and behaving like Fluttershy isn't going to be advantageous towards the achievement toward that goal.

Wait until next yr and the yrs following. That's all I'll say.
It's a bit jarring btwn AB:TFY and AB:Yr2 bc Yrs 2-7 are original while First Year is a rewrite.

Are you going to finish the original story before you continue this rewrite of the series

Right now I'm focusing more on continuing the story. I'm (mostly) happy with the later Alternate Beginning years, and any rewrites would be more on word choice and flow than any substantive changes. Any scenes that I would add, like interactions between the mares and young fillies, would be duplicated by what happens in Growing Harmony and that's something I want to avoid.

Man, I can't believe I put off reading this for so long! Excellent work my friend! I will definitely check out the sequels!

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