• Member Since 17th Mar, 2018
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Freglz


The birds work bourgeoisie. Don't forget.

E

One night, on Hearth's Warming, Diamond Tiara returned to her hometown of Ponyville.

She'd hoped that some things might have changed.

She didn't expect somepony to change so much.


Part of the Jinglemas 2019 collaboration.
Written for LIGHTNINGinTHEdark, who requested a story about Diamond Tiara and Cheerilee.
Edited by Anon Y Mousse, Present Perfect, Cold in Gardez and Regidar.
Big thanks to Ara for the cover art.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 22 )

This was enjoyable. Something about this makes me want more though.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Thought that title sounded familiar! :D Yay, it's here!

Ah. Wonderful.

I went into Jinglemas happy to get anything at all. I did not, however, expect to get a story this good.

Thank you very much, Freglz!

Very enjoyable. There is a downside to things staying the same and a downside to things changing.

That was, wow. Very relatable. Kinda makes me think of the what-ifs of my life, but it wouldn't change anything, just more regrets.

It's been a stressful season. And this was the perfect heartwarming tale I needed, thank you for writing it!

Aragon #8 · Dec 23rd, 2019 · · 2 ·

Man, Fimfiction has like a million users, but we all really just hang in the same circles, looks like. First thing I thought of when I saw the description was "wow, I know literally every single person in there." Fond memories of when I knew nobody in the website came after that, which is thematically relevant to the story, I suppose.

Anyway! That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the description and the list of editors. Second was, "Uh-oh, that's a lot of editors." I'm friends with all of them, and I know that any single one of them going full-dive on editing would've been a good indication for the story (well, I actually have no idea how Anon Y Mousse is when editing, but fuck it, we're friends, I can just assume she's good based on nepotism alone) but so many at the same time? Too many cooks and so on, right. Feared it might be a case of "Five people do a first pass" rather than "One editor goes absolutely hamblaster on the story".

Kinda the case, sad to say.

So! To get this out of the way: I liked the story, and what I'm going to say is not a criticism of it, but more a commentary. What follows is the part of the comment that makes you go "Hrrrrrrmph" when reading it, and that's going to be annoying, so know first and foremost that I wouldn't give half a shit about stuff like this if I hadn't been engaged in the story in the first place. So like, that. Story's good, characters are good, I'll finish this comment with the good stuff so I can hammer home that the story isn't bad. I liked it!

That said, this story is rrrriiiight at the edge of beign really good, and the problem here is editing. I admit right away that I'm a bit psychotic when it comes to editing myself, I barely do it nowadays except for a very select group of people cause it genuinely takes me fucking hours, but stories like these deserve that take, sorta.

Cause the pacing is slow, is the thing. That's the big issue with the story, one that actively lowers the quality of the text overall. And when you look at the events that happen in the story, the pacing shouldn't be that slow -- this is a low concept story, based on exploring the, let's called "wrong side of nostalgia", or just "melancholy" if we're not trying to be poetic -- and for that the structure of the story is good. Intro, hook, exploration, conflict, resolution, emotional denouement. Check check check check check check. But that's at the macro level. At the macro level the pacing isn't slow.

At the micro level, though, that's where the problem lays. Here's what I mean -- let's take a random paragraph from the intro, which is where I feel this problem is more blatant:

Morning in Ponyville shimmers and shines, but there was something even more beautiful, Diamond Tiara thought: Ponyville in the depths of a midwinter’s night.

Granted, the sound of snow crunching underhoof was a little grating on the ears, but the sights more than made up for it. Firefly lanterns had been replaced by electric lamps, reminiscent of the kind she’d seen in the old-fashioned parts of Baltimare, their glow shimmering off the tinsel wrapped around their poles, the icicles under streetside awnings, the frost covering the ground itself. Strings of lights ran around banisters, hung above the main road in a colourful patchwork, like threads of jewels — rubies, sapphires, emeralds, crystal-clear quartz, and many more.

Such a thing only happened once a year. She was happy to see it again. Not that other towns and cities didn’t celebrate it in a similar fashion, but more so that there was… something inherently special about seeing her old home celebrate Hearth’s Warming. Timeless, in a sense, like knowing that no matter where she went, what she did, this place could and would never change. Not really, at its core.

And now let's take the thesis statement of roughly every sentence (using 'sentence' somewhat liberally, mind you) and let's see what every sentence actually says, the information it conveys to the reader.

[Ponyville is pretty] [Ponyville is pretty during winter]

[Ponyville is pretty] [Ponyville is pretty], [Ponyville is pretty], [Ponyville is pretty], [Ponyville is pretty] [...]

[Ponyville is pretty] [Ponyville hasn't changed]

Descriptions are admittedly tricky; a bit of repetition is needed to really sell the place. And I'm going to go and say that this example is a bit exaggerated because the problem is not that prevalent either, and I could absolutely see an argument where we defend some of the bits in these paragrpahs, saying that they're needed. There is a nuanced difference between "Ponyville is pretty" and "Diamond Tiara thinks about how it's pretty the same way it was when she was a kid", after all, and within the themes of the story, it's an important description.

Thing is, this is not an issue of these three paragraphs in particular, but rather in the story as a whole -- it's a bit reiterative. I found myself skimming some paragraphs because the same thing would be said in two, three different ways; always with enough nuance that they weren't LITERAL repetitions, but still not enough to make them distinct in a way that matters.

The effect it produces is that -- I mean nobody is anal enough to genuinely do this while reading, nobody thinks this way, but it's the sorta thing you notice subconsciously, and makes you think the story is going slowly.

In other words: story has to be tighter. There are entire segments (Diamond thinking about her boots comes to mind) that could be deleted; the entire intro before she enters the bar could be cut from the story and the narrative wouldn't suffer. There are bits where Diamond Tiara thinks the same thing two, three times in a row, feels like, and while repetition can and will be poignant if used well, this is more the 'overwritten' side of things, rather than the 'narratively impactful' side of things.

So yeah those are my two cents, really. I think this story is a good first draft, but it's a first draft still; most paragraphs need a bit of tweaking, it has to be a bit more streamlined to keep the pace up. Clarity and ease of read are two fundamental qualities of good writing, and reiterating certain points too many times work against that. Get one editor, give him a scalpel, and swish swosh swush out with it. You can probably delete one fourth of the wordcount here and the narrative wouldn't suffer.

Aight. So that's the bit that annoyed me, the writing at the micro level. That said, I liked the story!

I talked earlier about melancholy, though I think this is not quite it. The whole fuckery with Cheerilee and Big Mac and how the show sorta implied there was something there and then there wasn't, and then Sugar Belle appeared, is fertile ground for stories -- I like the approach here, how literal it is. Like, yes, it's exactly what the show did: sorta teasing sorta a game, then Sugar Belle appears, and we just never mention it again.

It's indeed the sorta thing that nags you if it happens, so Cheerilee being bummed but not outright jealous -- or at least not ONLY jealous, but rather a vague white-noise-sorta feeling where you're just generally in a mood -- felt pretty realistic and nuanced enough for me to appreciate it. It wasn't an on the nose GET IT SHE WAS IN LOVE YOU GUYS hammer to the face sorta drama, and that kind of restrain is what makes or breaks these stories, after all.

Likewise, Diamond Tiara was interesting! She comes off as in a bad mood rather than disraught in a melodramatic way, and overall that kinda like, subtlety, grounds the characters and makes them more relatable. The story is very low concept, and I like that it stuck that way. Cheerilee knows she shouldn't cling to the past but she does, and Diamond Tiara knows there's no real thing she can do other than generaly be there and cheer her up, and it's all in all a very human interaction. It feels much more honest this way, than having like, Diamond Tiara give her a big speech and solving Cheerilee's problems magically.

Or getting them together.

Like NGL halfway through the story I was going "if fucking Freglz solves these two problems at once by having the characters smooch, I'll whoop his ass to next Sunday." So not doing that was effective, and the lil' bait-and-switch at the very end was effective too.

Really, the characters were good, and the quiet low concept human conflict made the story. Very melancholic, very honest. The themes of times changing even if they don't -- Diamond Tiara grows up! Cheerilee cusses now! But at the same time, Ponyville looks the same! And Diamond Tiara's mother is terrible still! -- juxtapose each other pretty well. You can't come back home again, and even if you can, you don't. The things that stay the same are either unimportant, or terrible. The good things go away.

It's melancholic, really, but the story also implies that some things change for the good, even if we don't immediately realize. And that's a good message. It's a very sweet fic, is what I mean, and as I've said a million times already -- it feels honest.

So good job, really. Work on the editing thing, cause that's what jumped at me, and you're pretty much set.

And I think that's it? I think that's it. I've no idea how long this comment is, prolly way too long, but fuck it, here's a Christmas present I guess. Like a thousand words of me nagging you. Happy fucking holidays.

I cry now of course.

End is kind of sudden…

Short. Simp!e. Sweet. I liked it.

10000522
Ive been here for years and even before that as a lurker. I guess writing gets you friends more then reading, hah.

...Well now I'm sad.

This was a really good look at Diamond Tiara and Cheerilee reconnecting. Everything felt pretty relatable, and the resolution was nice. Now that Aragon brought it up, I will agree that it was wordier than it needed to be, though. Also happy that you didn't go for a shipping ending, because that would have been the worst.

10002530
Right? There are a good few people I feel like I know decently - Aragon for instance, and from the editors Present Perfect as well - but then I want to say something with that tone and remember "oh right, we've literally never had a 2-way interaction." :twilightsheepish:

Wow, I can relate to Cheerilee so well it's kinda freaky.

Tonight I learned I am post-show Cheerilee. Except I was never a teacher.

This is a wonderful story. I'm glad you touched on some unanswered (but important) questions like how Cheerilee really felt about Big Mac's marriage or Twilight opening up a competing private school.

And of course I'm an absolute sucker for Diamond Tiara fics. So… Thank you.

PS -- As to those above/below me complaining about the ending, I thought it was fine. Sometimes it's best not to drag things out. Sometimes a story just… ends, and that's what works. No story is ever perfect. Like Cheerilee said, if it's too perfect, it's trite and boring.

This was beautiful in a melancholy way,

Rather than a cliché romance, you show how it is possible to never be truly alone.

It's like watching "anyone lived in a pretty how town" get rammed and boarded by Cold Comfort Farm.

i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/176/280/98c.png
"Avast, ye lubbers--prepare to be punctuated!"

I'd enjoy seeing that. So of course I enjoyed reading this!

Sad yet absolutely heartwarming at the same time, amazing story.

Damn,. this is good. Great interaction between the two. A damned shame the show didn't do anything remotely approaching this good with Diamond Tiara.

Hello, I've posted a review of your story here. I hope you find it helpful. :twilightsmile:

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