• Member Since 25th Aug, 2019
  • offline last seen 6 days ago

paperhearts


AO3/graphitehearts

T

The summer holidays can't come soon enough for Smolder.

Finding it increasingly difficult to harmonise the lessons of the School of Friendship with her dragon nature, she wants nothing more than to kick back with her friends and to forget the tug-of-war battles raging in her heart and head.

What she gets instead is Headmare Twilight bringing forward her first assignment from the next term as homework. Paired off with one of the "Pillars of Old Equestria", Smolder finds herself having to spend a month with Meadowbrook, and writing up her resulting experiences and reflections.

But when they travel to a village trapped by a terrible curse, those experiences become profound and life-changing, for Smolder and Meadowbrook both.


Cancelled here; may be continued over on AO3

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 31 )

It’s good to see you bringing back a story. Your old stuff was top tier.

I’ll get to this and leave a comment when my computer isn’t being a bitch. 🖤

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Your old stuff was top tier.

Don't think for a second that I haven't worked out that roundabout way of saying my new stuff sucks, haha! :raritywink: Thanks, anyway, chum-o! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

10164453
Bold of you to assume your new stuff isn’t also top tier.

I actually do remember reading the original version way back when, and was always a bit disappointed when it both didn't continue and also vanished entirely from the site. So quite glad to see it back and ready to try take two at it. :twilightsmile:

10164713
Well then you do me a kindness indeed. I am thoroughly grateful that you've decided to give it another go, given the failings and vanishing of my first attempt. I don't take the decisions people make to commit time to my work lightly, so thank you very much! :twilightsmile:

Good golly, now that is how you open a story! I am so far beyond intrigued I can't see it in my rear view mirror.

10164763
:heart: Thank you so very much for the kind words, and for taking the time to read my work; I'll do my best to keep the rest of the story engaging too!

This is a really good start. I'm getting a feel for your Smolder, and the story hook has me intrigued. I'm already looking forward to the next chapter.

A few more specific notes, starting with structural elements:

Mentha Piperita is a classy chapter title, thematically appropriate to an herbalist. I haven't gleaned a particular connection between the chapter contents and peppermint, so I'm guessing that this is representative of what will be a running stylistic choice for chapter titles.

I like your divider. I wasn't able to tell which plant it is. But I couldn't help noting that the cover image uses that plant, and that each iteration colors a different leaf. I like that touch. I also wonder if this means the story will have 18 chapters, as there are 18 leaves.

I'm interested to see how well the stylistic choice of the enlarged first letter is going to work. (It was jarring for me this time, but only by happenstance of the particular word and font. The "I" in the default font is just a straight line. So when it was enlarged enough to break away from the rest of the word -- as this is the first chapter so I didn't know what to expect -- the line parsed as a design element. It took an odd moment to recognize it as a letter.)

It was the start of the summer holidays, and Smolder’s life was over.

This is an excellent first line. It grabs the reader and pulls them in. I immediately wanted to know more.

...and the frosty needles they left behind the eyes were a challenge worthy of a young and confident dragon such as she.

That is cool little point of characterization coming from an unexpected place.

Ember’s words hadn’t been necessary though—they had both known that Smolder had a far more important reason to attend.

Oooh, this screams "secret that will be revealed later"! :pinkiehappy:

How dare they take no notice of her concession? What was even the point of all these lessons when nobody was going to recognise her attempts to follow them?

Both entirely childish and yet a sentiment that is easy to empathize with. Most of us, I think, wish we received recognition for doing the right thing when there is temptation or opportunity to do otherwise. But we rarely get it because not only is the right thing usually expected, but doing the wrong thing is what tends to get noticed.

—she should try and put herself in the horseshoes (or feet, claws, whatever) of others.

I love little bits like this. It makes the dialogue or inner dialogue feel more genuine and gives it more character.

Smolder felt her nails press into her scales. “I was going to steal it, but I obviously didn’t. So you're welcome."

I kinda admire her honesty here.

"Thought better of it, eh?"

And I find the stallion's response so condescending that it's hard not to be entirely on Smolder's side.

“Now, Twilight. I enjoy a fais-do-do as much as the next pony,

I like that you are using Cajun terms here (and more than just the common ma chère). It adds authenticity to Meadowbrook's depiction.

I'll admit, I find Twilight's character a bit off, but there might be other things affecting her here than the obvious. And there are a few moments regarding draconic nature vs nurture that don't read well, particularly from her. The biggest example:

“A—Anyway,” she concluded with a cough. “This means I understand why things have been so hard for you, Smolder. You’re a dragon! I mean, being greedy and selfish and… well, mean, is in your genetic makeup.”

This honestly came across as a bit racist (specist?). Like something early Chancellor Neighsay would be saying. Twilight should absolutely know better, having raised Spike. And Smolder should be confident that the virtues of friendship are in her nature after the test from the Tree of Harmony.

“Oh, Twilight, I said introduced, not immortalised...

Oooh, I like her.

Meadowbrook began to chuckle. “Just a little joke," she said, drumming her hooves on the table. “It was funny, right? I’m not normally as quick as that.”

Really like her.

Meadowbrook looked to the sky and smiled. “Well, there’s always gonna be consequences to your choices, mon petit dragon. Twilight has a mind that this journey will be good for you, and for what it’s worth I trust her judgement. But you obviously aren’t keen, and it’s hard to learn things when you don’t have a mind to.”

Really, really like her.

Meadowbrook stopped and looked down at her. “Is feelin’ settled important to you, Smolder? Why that’s the second time now you’ve broached the subject.”

More promises of character building and revelations to come! :raritystarry:

“I call him Ned.”

I immediately flashed to discorded Rarity naming her rock Tom.

Holding out a hand, she pushed down her fears to where they belonged and smiled. “I guess I’m in then. Let’s go learn stuff.”

Excellent ending line for the first chapter!

10167473
Cripes, that's a comment and a half! Thank you so very much for taking the time to share so many of your thoughts, and for reading my story so far. I really appreciate it. :twilightsmile: I'm glad you've enjoyed the first chapter; I'll do my best to keep it entertaining.

and the story hook has me intrigued. I'm already looking forward to the next chapter.

That's certainly a relief to hear. My efforts have tended to be quite muddy on that front, so it was something I was definitely aiming to improve on for this attempt.

Mentha Piperita is a classy chapter title, thematically appropriate to an herbalist. I haven't gleaned a particular connection between the chapter contents and peppermint, so I'm guessing that this is representative of what will be a running stylistic choice for chapter titles.

Thanks very much! :twilightsmile: Yeah, I wanted to have a specific theme with regards to chapter naming on this story; there was a connection between the chapter and the title, but I might have made it a little too subtle. There is some scientific basis for the use of peppermint as a treatment for irritation and itching, as well as having some low level impact on depression and anxiety. I picked it as a complimentary name for the feelings Smolder is having throughout the chapter.

I like your divider.

Thank you! I wanted something that tied in with the cover image.

I also wonder if this means the story will have 18 chapters, as there are 18 leaves.

Who can say? :yay:

I'm interested to see how well the stylistic choice of the enlarged first letter is going to work. (It was jarring for me this time, but only by happenstance of the particular word and font.

It's something I usually do for the start of each chapter, but yes, on reflection I certainly agree about it being thrown by the font/word! I might switch it with an illuminated letter when I've got time to make one; if nothing else it would be in-keeping with the rest of the floral theme.

This is an excellent first line. It grabs the reader and pulls them in. I immediately wanted to know more.

I'll just reference back to my earlier point; again, something I traditionally struggle with, so have been working hard on improving that aspect of my writing. Glad to read that it worked on this occasion!

Oooh, this screams "secret that will be revealed later"! :pinkiehappy:

Yepyep!

Both entirely childish and yet a sentiment that is easy to empathize with.

For sure! I've always seen Smolder as a very emotive, heart-on-the-sleeve type of character, and I could see this aspect of her personality being extended to how she relates to others. It's a big challenge she's afraid of facing, and seeking immediate gratification and validation from others is a security blanket she really wants to have.

I love little bits like this. It makes the dialogue or inner dialogue feel more genuine and gives it more character.

Thanks again! I've fallen foul of muddying the narrative voice at times, so I'll take some points from your feedback here on the times when it has worked.

I like that you are using Cajun terms here (and more than just the common ma chère). It adds authenticity to Meadowbrook's depiction.

Ah yeah, I actually spent a decent amount of time researching Cajun lingo, phrases and customs. I wanted Meadowbrook to have more than a surface coating of cultural depth. I've amassed a sizeable index as a result. I've always held the belief that you should learn at least one new thing when you write a story. I'm certainly glad that it worked for you.

I'll admit, I find Twilight's character a bit off, but there might be other things affecting her here than the obvious.

I'll reflect on your feedback here for sure; I've probably just got the personality balance a little off—yes there are some aspects related to events not yet revealed, but to be frank I've always found that to be a poor excuse from a writer failing to convey that sense sufficiently within the story. Thanks for flagging this quibble—it will certainly be useful to me in improving my character/narrative craft, particularly because in this sense my error has given a false attribute to a character, and that won't do at all!

Really, really like her.

:pinkiesmile: I won't lie, that's incredibly pleasing to read and I'm overjoyed at your reaction to her. I spent a good amount of time crafting her personality and dialogue; to be honest, despite her role (limited as it is) in the show, there was surprisingly little source material to build from. The comics helped more than the show, in that regard, but I also did a fair amount of mind-mapping on her reactions to certain situations, characters and conversations. She's one of the favourite characters I've written during my time on this site, and I'm really, really chuffed to read that you enjoyed her.

I immediately flashed to discorded Rarity naming her rock Tom.

Haha, for sure. I quite like the convention of using standard human names for inanimate objects and pets in magical worlds.

Excellent ending line for the first chapter!

:twilightsmile: Thank you very much!

Honestly, that was such a gratifying comment to read. More than anything else, I love engaging with readers to find out what they liked and didn't like. It's something I enjoy about fanfiction, particularly when published in a serial format; it's nice interacting with people as things progress. I really appreciate your time in sharing your thoughts!

Take care, and thanks again! :heart:

10164474
Well, you can't spell paperhearts without bold.

Shut up. You can't.

IT WAS YOU!!!

I WAS SO SAD WHEN YOU STOPPED UPDATING THE LAST VERSION BUT NOW YOU'RE BACK!

Your Meadowbrook is so, so charming. All of her dialogue hits in just the right spot—serenity flows from every word she says. I'm really excited for what the future of this story holds. I'm loving the whole vibe of it; Smolder's internal conflict feels wonderfully teenager-y to me and I'm very excitedly waiting for your next chapter.

10172995
Guilty as charged. :ajsleepy: I'm so very sorry for causing the disappearance of something you were enjoying. That is something I've definitely been reflecting on since returning to the site. Hopefully the new version makes up for it!

And honestly, I wasn't expecting (of all of the stories on my previous account) this one to be the one people were missing. I've had a couple of comments/PMs to that effect since rewriting and republishing it; it gained so little traction the first time around it has taken me by surprise.

Thank you too for the kind words. I put a lot of time and love into Meadowbrook, and I'm delighted it has been paying off for readers. :twilightsmile:

Hope you're staying well!

It took longer than I expected to finish this story, but I’m glad to finally finish it.

I’m so happy that you came back under a different account and brought this story to life again. I’ve missed this story so much, and I was wanting to see where everything would go ever since I first read it.

Meadowbrook is my absolute favorite member of the Pillars. As I read the whole thing, I could feel her warm-heart and loving personality deeply touch my soul, and the way you kept her in character and the added sense of humor you gave her was fun.

Along with that, I also found myself deeply feeling the struggles and emotions that Smolder was going through, and I loved how you not only kept her in character, but perfectly matched and captured her as a dragon.

There are some errors I couldn’t help but find, and there’s a slight recommendation I couldn’t help but want to give, but other than that...this chapter was the perfect start to what will obviously be a big story.

I can’t wait to see where things’ll be going next, no matter how long the wait will be.

Also, would you like for me list the errors I found and give my recommendation on another comment or in a private messaging?

He continued to stare at her, the veins in his neck throbbing. For one moment, one delicious moment, Smolder thought he was going to do exactly the opposite and pick a fight with her. Her muscles twitched with painful anticipation, and her body was consumed by a heat she didn't think she could resist even if she had wanted to.

Then the stallion's eyes softened, and Smolder’s hopes fell. With a snort, he turned his back on her and sat down, moving the saddlebag to a chair further from her reach. Smolder’s mouth fell open. Was she now getting pity from a pony she had just tried to steal from? Could this day get any worse?

The sound of a pony clearing her throat reached her ears, and Smolder looked up.

In the doorway, wearing an expression that was definitely not one of pity, stood Headmare Twilight.

To quote Superman: the Animated Series Clark Kent, "You asked.":ajsmug:

Meadowbrook trotted up to the caravan and spread her forelegs wide. “So what do you think? I asked for trendy. He looks trendy, right?”

“Er, trendy?” Smolder blinked and shook her head. “He?

Meadowbrook’s ears straightened defensively. “All caravans are ‘he’s’, Smolder, it’s a very well known fact.” She placed a hoof on one of the large wheels. “I call him Ned.”

“That’s…” Smolder struggled to find the right word. “Exotic, I guess?”

“Oh, exotic! Oui! Isn’t it just?” Meadowbrook beamed at her. “That’s exactly the effect I was hopin’ for.”

OK I like this of Meadowbrook.:ajsmug:

10179614
Thank you very much for dipping back into it. Glad you enjoyed it again, and not to worry, it won't be going anywhere this time.

I'm certainly not precious about folk sharing any errors or quibbles they have found, or their own thoughts on what works/doesn't. Comments are fine, I'm a pretty transparent guy, heh.

10179907
Thanks! I have really enjoyed developing/writing her, so it's gratifying to read that you like this version of her. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work, too. :twilightsmile:

Here are the errors I pointed out and the recommendations I made:

The taste was helping her mood too. It had been a little over two years since Smolder had moved to Ponyville, but she had decided that there was still a lot to dislike about pony cuisine and customs. Strawberry and lychee milkshakes, though? Definitely nicer than a rough-hewn citrine, and the frosty needles they left behind the eyes were a challenge worthy of a young and confident dragon such as she.

just some snacking gems and the most precious of the trinkets she had collected over the last two years

I know that there’s no actual error in these two sentences, but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to recommend changing the time span from “over two years” to “a year since Smolder had moved to Ponyville, and a month since Cozy Glow was sent to Tartarus”, mainly because, if it had been over two years, Twilight would be ruler of Equestria and Starlight would be Headmare of the School of Friendship instead.

“I think of all the things it could have been, a misunderstanding is notone of them," Twilight snapped, her cheeks darkening.

The words ‘not’ and ‘one’ are crammed together and need to be spaced out.

Yeah, I don’t know why!" Smolder snapped. She kept her gaze on the stallion, smoke spiralling from her mouth. "But either way it makes me a pretty lame dragon, so how about you just get outta my face, huh?”

Quotation marks are missing at the beginning.

Smolder found herself laughing again, and this time the the hesitant sound was soon swallowed up by Meadowbrook’s richer chuckle. The earth pony pointed a hoof in the opposite direction, towards the marketplace.

There are two “the” words between ‘time’ and ‘hesitant’.

After a moment Meadowbrook nodded. “Of course, but it will have always have been the place that nurtured me, even if I choose to settle down elsewhere.”

May I recommend changing the sentence to this:

‘After a moment Meadowbrook nodded. “Of course, but it will always remember it as the place that nurtured me, even if I choose to settle down elsewhere.” ’

Meadowbrook looked thoughtful. “I guess so. Perhaps my roots didn’t want to move too far, eh? But I’m old, and from a different time, so forgive me my weaknesses. It’ll still be a fun trip though, je promets .”

I recommend changing it to this:

‘Meadowbrook looked thoughtful. “I guess so. Perhaps my roots didn’t want to move too far, eh? But I’m old, and from a different time, so forgive me for my weaknesses. It’ll still be a fun trip though, je promets.” ’

She grunted as Meadowbrook looped a foreleg around her shoulders, laughing. “So true, so true. I can see we are going to get along great, non? Ah, here we are.”

I’d like to recommend changing the ‘we are’ between ‘see’ and ‘going’ to ‘we’re’, mainly because it can fit Meadowbrook’s accent more and help things seem less repetitive since the term ‘we are’ is also at the end of the paragraph.

The only other thing I couldn’t help but note was that, at the ending, Smolder held out her hand like she was offering a handshake to Meadowbrook. I was wondering why you ended the chapter right there.


What do you think?

The dialog in this story crackles like aluminum foil. Not a bum note anywhere.
I really hope you finish this story as this site is stuffed to the brim with wasted efforts and half-baked ideas that never go anywhere.

10183472
That's incredibly kind of you, and I really appreciate you taking the time to read my work. I'm committed to finishing this story, though updates may be sporadic, so you don't need to worry about that. :twilightsmile:

Really glad to read you've been enjoying it.

I'm really enjoying the dialogue so far. The plight of Smolder is intriguing and fairly innocent adolescent stuff that's pretty lighthearted and welcome with everything going on lately. Your prose continues to be deliciously strong, vivid stuff. The potential for some world-building has me happy for more, too.

10184293
Thank you for taking the time to read this and comment! I really value your feedback. Yeah, I wanted to keep Smolder's conflict the stuff of adolescence (well, dragon adolescence anyway); the story isn't going to be tackling anything overtly dark or gritty (I mean, I don't think that's my strength either, to be honest). I worked super hard on the dialogue for this, so the fact that works for you is a massive relief, haha.

10180986
Apologies, I have been busy kicking about with other stories, so my attention hasn't been on editing/drafting this one. I'm getting on it now, though, so thanks for sending your thoughts through!

I know that there’s no actual error in these two sentences, but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to recommend changing the time span from “over two years” to “a year since Smolder had moved to Ponyville, and a month since Cozy Glow was sent to Tartarus”, mainly because, if it had been over two years, Twilight would be ruler of Equestria and Starlight would be Headmare of the School of Friendship instead.

I'll do some reflecting on this point for sure; I'm not particularly precious about ensuring that my work fits chronologically with canon episodes and content, and in relation to this particularly story it's going to have zero impact whatsoever, as Twilight/the school won't be reappearing (except, maybe for an epilogue scene). To be honest, I play fast and loose with the seasons themselves in terms of how much time each one 'covers'. Basically, I'm a sucky writer to read the work of if folk want stronger narrative consistency with canon material, haha. Obviously, Cozy wasn't around the first time I wrote this, and so that's an omission I didn't update. I'll reflect on whether any lessons/experiences/scenes will tie in with her appearances and amend if needed.

The words ‘not’ and ‘one’ are crammed together and need to be spaced out.

Quotation marks are missing at the beginning.

There are two “the” words between ‘time’ and ‘hesitant’.

Nice catches, thanks a bundle! :twilightsmile:

The only other thing I couldn’t help but note was that, at the ending, Smolder held out her hand like she was offering a handshake to Meadowbrook. I was wondering why you ended the chapter right there.

Because it felt like the best place to end the chapter, after playing around with it a few times; Smolder coming round to the idea and accepting the offer it the main drive of the chapter, and the final line from the original published chapter kinda felt more flat than anything else. Plus it's Smolder's story for the most part, and so the focus in that moment is on her changing her mind and leaving Ponyville. The gesture captured that enough for me, and the reader can be left to fill in the blank of Meadowbrook returning it.

Thanks for your thoughts and for the error grabs. I'll sort out those typos now! :twilightsmile:

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From the very first time I read the old version and saw this one, I have been absolutely in love with this story.

How okay do you guys think it would be for me to reboot it?

In this case, make it something entirely my own while making sure to pay homage to it and the author?

Would it also be alright for me to take inspiration from the first chapter for how things could start?

10354655
That’s something you would have to ask the original author.

10354656
I’ve emailed her about it, but so far she hasn’t responded. I suppose the best I can do is just wait, unless I find another’s way to contact her.

10354658
It's my understanding that the author may still continue writing the story (at least, it's not been ruled out as of yet), just not on FIMFiction (instead, Archive of Our Own seems to be the place to be for this).

10354658
They have an Archive of Our Own account that they moved to. It's listed in their bio.

10354655
I was made aware of this request/discussion, so I've just popped back to respond.

Yeah, fill your boots. Things have been picking up for me in terms of original fiction, so at the moment I've got no plans to write any fanfiction. Best of luck with it. I'm glad you enjoyed the story enough to want to continue it in your own way.

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