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Mike Cartoon Pony


Hardcore animation enthusiast who discuss it in video format. Also likes pastel cartoon ponies. They do that to people. And ghosts.

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Phyllis Cloverleaf, founder and leader of Canterlogic, prides herself on looking after everypony in town. You can never be too careful when it comes to defending yourself. Thankfully, everypony sees it that way.

Well, almost everypony. It pains her that one pony continues to hold out, to not only resist seeing the truth, but to endeavor for an impossible change, one that will endanger everypony by trying.

Phyllis has tried much to appeal to Sunny. It's never easy to help somepony who doesn’t see it as help. Perhaps, by approaching her not as the leader of Canterlogic, but as just another citizen of Maretime Bay, Phyllis might be able to get through.

Perhaps, a pony who really needs help might let it in.


An entry in Imposing Sovereigns III, using the prompt "Phyllis Cloverleaf/Integrity".

Thanks to hawthornbunny for proofing and editing the initial revised version of Chapter 2 (updated on Nov 13th 2021).


Featured on Equestria Daily, April 5th 2022.

Featured in TCC56's It Is Recommendsday, My Dudes.

Rated Pretty Good in PaulAsaran's Thursday Reviews.

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 29 )

An intriguing, thoughtful before/after with well-written characterization for both leads throughout. Kudos!

Exactly the sort of interaction and reconciliation I'd expect between these two, and you wrote it wonderfully. Bravo! :twilightsmile: :raritycry:

11034284
Thank you very much! It is still a Phyllis story more then a Sunny one, even if the text in the first chapter is fully about Sunny, it’s really about Phyllis. As we observe through Phyllis never internally acknowledging that Sunny’s words could have merit, and we interpret a lot from that. And the fic obviously uses knowledge of the film’s events to basically function at all, both in putting us ahead of the characters (spotting the truth of the cliff incident well in advance of the characters) and knowing what Sunny is feeling/thinking at moments where even Phyllis doesn’t. Still, a good fanfic can rely on the film to exist, no?

In any case, very happy you found the characterisation intriguing and thoughtful. Always want to make a reader think!

11034325
Thanks very much! The fic’s genesis is a bit of a mystery even to me, but showing how these two would interact, when they clearly know each other and have interacted many times in the past - despite basically never directing interacting in the film - was one of my top priorities.

If I had a second goal, it was to write a Phyllis story without Sprout, to see if there was anything I could work with there, just her. And, well, there was.

It both is and isn’t surprising a fic with these two hasn’t been done yet (it’s hard for Phyllis to make much of an individual impression when she spends almost the whole film either as a plot device for Sprout to bounce off of, or as the speaker for the film’s setup which Sunny fights against - Haven and Alphabittle, despite less screentime and dialogue, get more chances to shine individually and embed themselves in the mind as characters to want to focus on for stories), so I hope I set a high standard as the inaugural writer there!

Much thanks for your praise on the reconciliation especially, it’s never an easy thing to pull off (and frankly, I’m not sure I did that as well as I could have. But a good writer always aims to improve!).

The first chapter’s quite good, providing some excellent background for both characters. Phyllis having deeper history with Argyle makes a wonderful amount of sense, and the tragedy at Zephyr Heights is very well conceived.

But the second one… The emotional arc feels all over the place. Phyllis’s apology and returning the repaired picture both feel like they should be the emotional climax of the scene, but it just keeps going. And it drags itself into a review of the last act of the movie. Yes, Phyllis doesn’t know the details there, but the audience does, and the review feels like a slog as a result.

This does do a lot to flesh out Phyllis and her relationship with Sunny, but there’s a lot of bloat around that. Still, plenty of interesting ideas on display. Thank you for this, and best of luck in the judging.

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Hey, my first FoME comment! I've seen how great they are elsewhere, nice to have one of my own now.

It's fitting you mention the second chapter's bloat, because I was very much aware of this (and had already done a lot to mitigate it – Sunny's tale was originally close to double its current length, until I decided to have her start in right at the crystals failing, hoping by making her story about what she was feeling, not what happened, it would be justified), but I struggled to find a way to fix this while still having it flow organically. Perhaps the piece's origin (a cookie-cutter "Sunny and Phyllis reconcile after the movie at Argyle's grave" story I thankfully abandoned quickly) gave me undue attachment to them patching up the pieces, even as the first chapter, the prequel one, was proving more fascinating as I developed it.

I think the real sign of the bloat lies in Chapter 2 being 1,600 words longer than Chapter 1 – if it could not be shorter, it should still structurally be in the same ballpark. The release should not be longer then the buildup of tension, after all. I think I felt the thematic and character point of Sunny's tale – echoing Phyllis doing the same last time, with the same end result – justified the means, and didn't consider it would feel repetitive (well, I did, hence shortening it substantially, but you know). In fact, in writing the whole piece, the numerous echoes and contrasts, thematic and otherwise, became so important to me I perhaps grew too attached to scale them back. If I'd hit upon a way to go from Sunny accepting Phyllis' apology straight to her prodding the older mare about what to do with Canterlogic going forward, I would have. That probably would have been enough. Maybe I just need objective distance to try cutting Sunny's tale and see if that works.

The real kicker? When I was finishing this up, I realised that either of these chapters, with minute adjustments, could have been standalone stories (Chapter 1 more so, Chapter 2 would have required substantial changes). And I was this close to just making this story be Chapter 1. Perhaps publishing Chapter 2 at a later date, or as a separate fic. Or even just marking Chapter 1 alone as the contest entry!
Why didn't I? I'm not sure. Maybe I didn't feel confident in doing a non-happy ending. Maybe I felt readers needed to leave with more sympathy for Phyllis by seeing her admit her wrongs, rather than not even thinking of them despite the reader seeing them. Maybe I felt the lack of an emotional release from Phyllis in Chapter 1 needed the second one as a counterbalance. Maybe I feared backlash from presenting a protagonist who is wrong and mostly unsympathetic (not that that can't work, it very much can, I mean pulling it off correctly).

Regardless, on reflection and several days off writing it, I totally see why Chapter 1 made a bigger impression on you, regardless of its lack of bloat. Phyllis' cut-dry minimalism to her words and thoughts gives it a brisk efficiency that shows a lot without telling (hence why the Zephyr Heights tale came out the way it did, landing for you greatly). It challenges the reader far more, and that's rewarding and satisfying.

So, two ways I was partially aware of fixing Chapter 2's bloat (one by cutting the chapter altogether), and I got cold feet on them both. Oh well. Guess it happens! For what it's worth, I do feel driven to do a rewrite of Chapter 2, see if I can't improve it. The bloat is too ingrained to fully remove, but if 1,000-ish words is chopped off (mostly from Sunny's tale), it shouldn't feel distractingly bloated. I wrote Chapter 1 second, it's no wonder it came out better.

In any case, remarkably succinct, efficient constructive feedback (not a skillset of mine with this comment, as you can see :twilightsheepish:), nice even when it cuts deep. And the praise for the elements that did really land for you, that's very much appreciated. Hopefully this story will help me going forward in my future writing endeavours. Thank you, FoME!

Beautiful. You've captured Phyllis Cloverleaf at her full potential. Every implied bit of complexity in her motives, expressions, actions, and inactions is thrust center stage for in-depth study and a fantastic, mature resolution in the exact ways I hoped a fanfiction would give me.

Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

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Beautiful. You've captured Phyllis Cloverleaf at her full potential. Every implied bit of complexity in her motives, expressions, actions, and inactions is thrust center stage for in-depth study and a fantastic, mature resolution in the exact ways I hoped a fanfiction would give me.

Such kind words! Seriously, you just about made my day with your comment.

I'm not going to pretend I captured Phyllis perfectly, nor in a manner that fits with everyone's headcanon (lots of people paint her as far more greedy in making money, for a start, knowingly taking advantage of her fear-mongering). But as regards actually delving into what makes her her, why she does what she does, and how she would have viewed Sunny prior to and after the film's events, I sought for exactly what you said - a mixture of breaking down her motives and thoughts, forcing them into the spotlight, while still leaving plenty to implication. Don't want to reveal everything! Especially as regards both Phyllis' backstory with Argyle and the incident at Zephyr Heights - the more detail given there, the less impact they land with.

But I'm beyond delighted to hear this fic delivered exactly what you'd hoped for in a Phyllis character study. See, she's not just a plot device for Sprout/the film's segregation setup! At least, not in terms of what can be done with her.

And mature resolution, that's well appreciated too. I really wanted to strike a balance of Phyllis being able to step over her pride and admit she was wrong, feeling not stubbornness but regret and guilt she's trying her hardest to stomach down. Stoked that worked for you!

Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

No, thank you for enjoying it as much as you did!

11044289
Yeah! One of the first things I noticed was that Canterlogic products were all defensive, and she did help supervise the defenses when Izzy showed up. For better or worse, Phyllis is sincere in her motivation. Sprout stomping past the limits she set because he didn't care for the context of why they do what they do emphasized that (and a number of other psychological points) wonderfully. Every time I saw them onscreen I hoped a good fic would come along soon!

:twilightsmile: Phyllis really shines through in this story of yours. I like the notion that she is very much sincere in her desire to keep the ponies of Maretime Bay safe from the unicorns and pegasi she (unfortunately and erroneously) thought were out to get them and that she was shocked into this mindset.

She and Sprout are characters with potential, I think.

11070140
Glad you liked it!

Phyllis really shines through in this story of yours. I like the notion that she is very much sincere in her desire to keep the ponies of Maretime Bay safe from the unicorns and pegasi she (unfortunately and erroneously) thought were out to get them and that she was shocked into this mindset.

It was a tricky balance for me, making it clear that incident was a turning point for her, but not the sole factor, as that would be rote and unimaginative. And on a related note, that she is still a businessmare driven by finances. Without that, the story would come across as making excuses for her behaviour in the film and leading up to it. Certainly, it’s an unusual take thus far in the fandom - when she’s popped up at all, she’s usually still painted in a bad light, or a hang-on to whatever is being done with Sprout (and usually with reluctance on the author’s part, clearly as an obligation). Which, you know, I get, she’s given basically no unique agency of her own in the film, so she won’t stick in the mind much.

I still debate how well I hit this balance, but it seems to have worked for most readers, so I’ll take it!

11070291
You're welcome. I must admit I would not mind seeing more stories lean away from the overly negative portrayals of Phyllis, but that may be due to me running into a lot of those ideas over the past few weeks.

Nice! A more sympathetic portrayal of Phyllis. It makes her motivations and reasons for her prejudice very believable.

Deep down she wanted to believe Argyle, still has sparks of sympathy for their cause, but just needs proof. This is the kind of story we really could have used in the movie.

11124139
It can be annoying when any piece of media makes some characters sympathetic by throwing others under the bus, or making villains of them. I knew it would be a bit of a stretch to make the Phyllis we see in the film, the most active one against unity, promoting products against it and all, be somepony who once believed the opposite. The key came in the film's implication of her business front-facing persona – of course a company leader puts on something of a face for the public. Leaning into that, and what she might be like when she lets the mask drop, was the answer to making this angle work without it coming out of left field. That, and the story fully relying on the reader knowing things the character's don't from the future events of the film – always a nifty technique with any prequel!

In any case, glad it landed well enough for you to consider it head canon worthy for yourself! Always a nice thing for any author to hear. Especially when most fics with Phyllis in them, whether set before or after the film, write here even more thinly and one-note than the film did.

11124139
I kind of see Hitch the same way. He grew up around Argyle and Sunny. Their stories sounded great to him and he wanted to believe.

When he found proof that pegasi and unicorns weren't dangerous, he was able to let go of the fear.

This story is incredible!! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Not only did you manage to completely redeem Phyllis as a character in my eyes, you actually gave her a sympathetic backstory that expands on both her and Argyle’s past! If I could give this story a 400% Mega A++, I would. I’m looking forward to reading this again. At first I thought this would be an AU story in which Sunny listens to Phyllis and gives up on her quest for friendship and unity, but what I got was 4 trillion times better. It functions both as a prequel and a sequel, with the focus being on Phyllis rediscovering herself and what she lost, eventually rediscovering it with Sunny.

This should be an episode in the new series. If not, I’ll be mad. Outstanding job!! You should be very proud of yourself.

Rating: EXCELLENT!!!!

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This story is incredible!! I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Thanks very much! That was one of my man inspirations – both at the time I wrote the story and now, Phyllis had appeared in precious few fanfics, and usually either as a plot device to Sprout (much as she did in the film) or in an antagonistic role that flanderized her. So I was very consciously doing something that hadn't been done yet, making her sympathetic while still remaining true to her film depiction as an efficient, pragmatic business mare (her having a mask for the public was the lifesaver there, a point from the film whose expansion made the fic believable).

you actually gave her a sympathetic backstory that expands on both her and Argyle’s past!

I'm not surprised that's what most readers have latched onto, and I'm sure many wish there was more of it. But it very much is a "less is more" thing as regards the story's overall effect.

At first I thought this would be an AU story in which Sunny listens to Phyllis and gives up on her quest for friendship and unity

I can see that, though I suppose were that the case, I'd have used both the Alternate Universe tag and the Sad tag.

This should be an episode in the new series. If not, I’ll be mad.

Ha, I appreciate the vote of confidence, but even aside from this story being fully tied to a written fiction format, making it a difficult translation to a screen cartoon (in the focus on talking/thoughts over visual storytelling, though there is plenty of that here too), and not having nearly enough content for a full episode (22 minutes, anyway), the cartoon would never allow even the implication here of a pony dying from falling off a cliff, much less the suspicion that a pegasus pushed him off deliberately.

Outstanding job!! You should be very proud of yourself.

You're lucky to have not come across it in the first two weeks, before I made a substantial revision and cut that massively streamlined and focused the story. The minor net gain from Sunny recapping the end of her journey to Phyllis did not justify the nearly 1,500 words spent telling it.

I am proud of it, though. Oh, I can't ignore the imperfect authorial voice and tone modulation, writing tics I'm still working on, and I do need to find ways to tell stories faster with less description. But of the three Pony fics I've written thus far, this is the strongest, given the other two are Jinglemas contest entries that, while strong in characterisation and revealing in character depth, are still fundamentally feed-good fluff pieces.

Ahh the point where we as the audience can see the mistake made because we have knowledge the characters lack is painful, as it should be. As far as Phyllis and the towns ponies knew the Pegasus can fly and unicorns have magic, but we know the other pony had no way to save the citizen from falling, they just had to watch another pony plummet to thier doom. With out that one vital peice of info the situation looks so much worse.

This is the best kind of fic, it's in the spirit of the show and highlights a lesson people need to be reminded of. It's never too late to admit your wrong and change. I am glad we got an explanation for the townspony's death, confronted by a solider he panicked and there was tragic consequences. I never did feel Phillis and Sprout where evil, we often do the wrong thing motivated by good inetions. Most G5 fics do deal with Canterlogic and Phillis making a turn around and serving all ponies. When.it comes to the story trope of magic vs tech I always prefer Magitek as the superior solution rather than one being Op compared to the other. Why pick between a fireball and gun when you can make a Fireball Gun! Why not have your spell book on your Tablet computer? A smart watch that can scry with GPS!

So what I'm gathering up is this is before the movie at least her adult hood and basically Phyllis was trying to talk with sunny after her last attempt of her shenanigans of her philosophy so she told her about Argyle and her they used to be friends even though they're not now but there was still on good terms but then there was an accident it was nearby where Zephyr height is they thought that one of the Pegasus killed him but we never know what really happened to Argyle but she wants to reason with her that the Pegasus and unicorns are dangerous and that's why they had to prepare whatever they had to do not at War just to protect themself but Sunny refused to believe that Pegasus unicorns or maybe creatures are they are not the enemy that they still can be friends and usually she didn't wanted to do it but she banned Sunny to entering the factory and despite that she didn't wanted to being a bad term with sunny and she really miss Argyle so much as well to be honest I really think that should be Canon because that would explain why she's like that and the relationship between her and sunny starscout

“I never thought I’d see magic like this.” Phyllis was about to respond, when giggles and laughter reached her ears. Her eyes flicked sideways, observing three foals running past, having the playtime of their lives. A pegasus, unicorn, and earth pony.

Oh those kids

And now this is the aftermath of the movie and I got to say this was a pretty nice way for having sunny and Phyllis talking with each other having strong moment with each other even Phyllis apologized for all those things that Sunny has to go through she even told her what really happened to Argyle and despite all this happening Sunny still forgave Phyllis and that really brings a lot of closure for her again this was a really nice story and I really like how you write Phyllis to give her more character keep up the good work

This one was quite solid, fitting in neatly as a companion story to the movie itself - not a "fixfic," but a pair of scenes that expands canon and would not have been amiss in the movie itself. This excellently sets the scene for a great deal that happens: why Phyllis lets Sprout visit as a child, why Sunny seems to just get hoof-slaps for repeatedly breaking and entering, and why overall things just don't seem personal despite the direct clash of their ideals.

I see by the comments this went through some major edits? It all flowed very well for me with really no baggage, so the changes appear successful.

While I do view Phyllis as the secret 'real' villain of the movie, this story serves as very nice bookends. It's rare that a story which basically serves to expand an existing canon plot holds my interest, but this is it done right.

11338698
Aw, thanks for the kind words, buddy! "quite solid" is about right, I'm still green enough to writing Ponyfic (it's more a side diversion then an active hobby), and this is the only non-fluff entry I've currently written. It's about what I'd say as a reader.

a pair of scenes that expands canon and would not have been amiss in the movie itself.

Not the first time someone has said this, and while it's obviously the case that this could not happen onscreen in the same film, for content reasons, pacing and flow with the existing material, and being far too centred on characters talking and brooding for a visual medium, I know what people mean, that it seamlessly fits with how they've internalised the film's events, and expands unexplained points/relationships in a way that feels like something that happened, even if we don't see it. So I'm humbled! Obviously there's far more things fanfiction can do then just that, but it's an admirable goal to succeed at.

This excellently sets the scene for a great deal that happens: why Phyllis lets Sprout visit as a child

Not a takeaway I intended; in fact, even within this portrayal of Phyllis, given Sprout was what made her sever ties with Argyle fully, she's still very much against that. But it's not incompatible, by any means. Interesting that Phyllis came across a little softer than intended.

and why overall things just don't seem personal despite the direct clash of their ideals.

More so for Sunny, given prior to the first chapter, she knew nothing of Phyllis' past, with Argyle or on her own.

I see by the comments this went through some major edits? It all flowed very well for me with really no baggage, so the changes appear successful.

:yay: Then it did its job. Since that massive cut was done only 14 days into this fic's publishing, most of its views (over 2/3's) are from this improved edit, and outside of some legacy comments below, it's just a historical note by now. I still kick myself I let that baggage and wheel-spinning through in the first place, but it was a compressed writing schedule, getting too objectively close does happen.

While I do view Phyllis as the secret 'real' villain of the movie, this story serves as very nice bookends.

:twilightsheepish: The funny thing is, despite having written this, it hasn't changed my view of her in canon much. Which is one of many nice things about the possibilities fanfiction offers, of course – I can write a more sympathetic view without it being my default portrayal (not that I expect to write for her again). But given Sprout was a total product of her influence, that's a pretty accurate view to take. Even as she is reformed there and here, I still fully buy into her being an efficient, pragmatic businessmare, a view I felt (hope?) came across here, especially with the sentiments towards the end.

It's rare that a story which basically serves to expand an existing canon plot holds my interest, but this is it done right.

High praise, thanks very much! Sadly, G5's characters and world are so ill-conducive to organically generating fanfic, relative to G4, that it's mostly cute little fluff pieces, extrapolations of the inter-generation connection, and canon expansion stories like this that we can get. That's still true now, and it was even more true when this was published, all of 37 days after the film released.

But yes, I get the general aversion to fics just patching up undernourished canon aspects this transparently. Though perhaps because I never conceived of this that way, but just thought of a take on the relationship between these two that felt right for this story, that's why it transcended your resistance to such fics.

Much thanks again! Hopefully with the next non-fluff Ponyfic I write, I'll be able to build on the writing honed here, while doing something different enough to not settle into a rigid type and tone (honestly my biggest concern with creative writing).

11339532

Aw, thanks for the kind words, buddy! "quite solid" is about right, I'm still green enough to writing Ponyfic (it's more a side diversion then an active hobby), and this is the only non-fluff entry I've currently written. It's about what I'd say as a reader.

Too clarify, I do like using 'quite' a lot. The praise was not intended to be backhanded or guarded in any way. This was a good story.

:yay: Then it did its job. Since that massive cut was done only 14 days into this fic's publishing, most of its views (over 2/3's) are from this improved edit, and outside of some legacy comments below, it's just a historical note by now. I still kick myself I let that baggage and wheel-spinning through in the first place, but it was a compressed writing schedule, getting too objectively close does happen.

Cutting baggage is a thing I still have to do with every time I write. I find it helps to read it out loud, which kind of helps you go 'wait that sentence was a total non sequitur' and 'wow that sentence has five commas, let's work on it a little.'

11339826

Too clarify, I do like using 'quite' a lot. The praise was not intended to be backhanded or guarded in any way. This was a good story.

It’s fine, I knew exactly what you meant, it didn’t come across as guarded at all. I interpreted your “quite solid” as equivalent to my “pretty good”, which feels about right (that is how I would tier this story, for what it’s worth).

Cutting baggage is a thing I still have to do with every time I write. I find it helps to read it out loud, which kind of helps you go 'wait that sentence was a total non sequitur' and 'wow that sentence has five commas, let's work on it a little.'

Very true. In this case, it was more at the level of cutting a whole 1,500-word segment and making new bridging material (which seems to have come across seamlessly :yay:), but it’s for sure a thing at the micro level, and going back over a sentence slowly helps a lot. Certainly, it’s a skill you have from your stories I’ve read (I still remember how efficient and dense the Jinglemas Breezie story you did for me last year was :scootangel:).

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I still remember how efficient and dense the Jinglemas Breezie story you did for me last year was

Well, Jinglemas stories are conceived and written in weeks (days for the Breezies) so those are either a single-scene or fairly dense just as a necessity. >_>

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