• Member Since 18th Apr, 2013
  • offline last seen Aug 24th, 2013

Lyreaxiose


T

Dusk Crystal is a young unicorn living shortly after Luna is banished from Equestria to the moon. Equestria suffers from the still fresh wounds of the cataclysm. Dusk, a lonely student of Celestia, is sent to Tundragrov to learn about friendship. When she arrives at the city, she finds it under siege from inside and out as bitterness from old loyalties cause elements within the city to clash.

Chapters (3)
Comments ( 5 )

Welcome to FIMFic, and congratulations on your first story!

It caught my attention because of the premise. Historical dramas/origin stories are rarer and more of a gamble to write, because (aside from a few alicorns and villains and in-show name-drops) history is a big blank slate filled with OCs. You're being ambitious. That's good.

I found it slightly disappointing, then — and this is just my personal reaction; I'm genuinely ambivalent about whether it's good or bad for the story — that your heroine is such a close copy of Twilight Sparkle. (The name, the personality, the dragon hatched from the egg, the Celestial mission to go make friends, etc.) It puts the reader back on familiar ground, and it sets up a certain set of implications and expectations. If we're reading about Long Ago Kinda-Twilight, then we naturally should expect to meet the Long Ago Kinda-Elements of Harmony … and we don't. (We don't even see any of the characters from the Hearth's Warming play, which surprises me a little.) Dusk meets a unicorn who's closer to Pinkie than Rarity, and the story's not far enough along yet for her earth pony and pegasus friends to show strong personality traits.

You could go two ways with this to strengthen the story. You could play up the parallels even more, and make this a clear case of history repeating. Or you could kick the expectations away and make it clear from the beginning that this is nothing like the show's origin story. Personally, I think the story would be better served doing that, but as I said, running with OCs can be risky for readership. You have to establish strong and memorable characters early when you do.

These City Walls is a great example of good OC characterization; we see vividly what they're like under pressure. Despite my personal dislike of Dusk being a Twilight expy, your characterization of her in Chapter 1 after she meets with Celestia (and is looking for ways out of her mission) is also memorable; more of that, please! Gale is also fairly strongly characterized, because for the short amount of page time you give him, his goals and attitudes come through strongly. Aurora, to some extent. The others Dusk interacts with … not so much. We haven't seen what's important to them yet. Put them under pressure, and raise the stakes.

However, all of that may be a distraction if this is at its heart a story about Dusk and the Hive. (Is it? Do the ponies of Tundragrov ultimately play any role in that? I genuinely don't know, after reading three chapters.) You've got a great mythology building up, and dark dream sequences with a lot of potential — which I'd appreciate more if it weren't feeling like it were in collision with a totally unrelated story about Kinda-Twilight and the Kinda-Elements. A little editing and focus could help clarify what's important to the story, right from the start; and if it all is, then maybe we could get some hints that the two separate stories are woven together. (Dusk sees the other ponies in her dream? One of her friends disappears on a mission to the north?)

Anyway, there's clear potential here. If it was nothing but the thaumophage* stuff, for instance, you'd have the makings of some quality horror. There are moments of good characterization, and like I said, you're clearly ambitious with your basic premise. I think you have some excellent stories in you, but this particular one is going to need some polish to shine.

Best,

Horizon

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* Technically, from the Greek word root, that would be a magic-eater; thaumos means "miracle" and is often associated with spellcasting (as in the word thaumaturgy).

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First, thank you for responding and giving such detailed insight. I didn't start writing this with the expectation that it would be the best story, especially considering this is my first, but I wanted to write it down. Your feedback, I feel, will help me in the future, and it has given me a new perspective on the story that I desperately needed.

Yes, I was going for a parallel story to Twilight's. I hadn't really considered using the Elements, but that is something I'm now considering putting into the story. I have a general outline planned out with an ending already set, but I've been a lot more meandering in how I made it there.

I agree I haven't given some characters the time they deserve. After writing the first two chapters, I noticed a heavy use of dialog which I felt slowed things down a little too much, and I worried it might bore any potential reader too much to continue if I dwelt upon every character. During my planning sessions, I've actually considered several times to brush over the details of Dusk's time in the city and come back later, with a set of side stories, to flesh out her times there. The only thing which has kept me from this is that it wouldn't be good for the story if Dusk was suddenly in the company of several allies with no build up of what made them friends in the first place. I'll make sure, now, to give them more attention in the future.

As for the Hearth's Warming Eve characters, in my head, they were going to be a past event entering the territory of legend. I took away from the episode that they predated the split between Celestia and Luna by a long while. They'll probably pop up as they defeated the windigo in the past, but they won't be living characters.

I haven't really gone into how the Thaumophage will ultimately tie in, but I plan on weaving the stories together. It's not something I want to go into detail with yet.

The name Thaumophage was a rough creation on my part. I didn't like the sound of more properly translated terms, and wanted something besides the Swarm to identify them as.

If I might ask, what is your opinion on the prose? I've worried a lot about the pacing, the diction, and the structure. But, I'm especially worried I might be focusing too much on telling. I actually went into the third chapter determined to use very little dialog. I sort of lost the momentum towards the end, I felt. Does it flow well to you? Are there any glaring things you see which you think I should fix? I've been trying to use the present tense as I found it gives a little more to the action.

Anyway, thank-you again for your opinion, and I hope to receive more of such a constructive caliber in my time here at fimfiction.

> I'm especially worried I might be focusing too much on telling.
Oh man, show vs. tell is a minefield. Here's some thoughtful reading on the topic.

I think you're right, Chapter 3 did seem weaker. Telling's at the root of that, but telling isn't automatically bad. My rule of thumb for show vs. tell is that showing draws attention to what you're describing, and telling pulls attention away.

Let me pull a random passage out that's almost 100% tell, and see if that illuminates where it might be most useful fixing it:

She turns to Pan and asks the time. He tells her it's close to one. She thanks him and gets out of bed.

Bad tell. Summarizing dialogue via telling is extremely rare. If the conversation's that unimportant (and here I think it is), then skip it entirely. If there's vital information in an otherwise unimportant conversation, then tell what she learned rather than abstracting individual dialogue lines. ("It was 1 o'clock when she got out of bed.")

Using her magic, she quickly tidies the room up once more and makes for the door.

Good tell. Describing the act of cleaning would distract from your story; it doesn't advance the overall plot.

Pan starts to follow. "No." She cuts him off, and closes the door behind her.

Hard to say. "No" is your only dialogue in this entire section. As such, it draws a lot of attention to itself. I feel like there should be more conversation here if you're actually going to show them speaking. If you didn't show at all, the telling would probably be fine, but again, if it doesn't advance your overall plot it's probably best to wipe the whole thing out and skip to the parts that do.

She approached her twelfth day in Tundragrov.

Good tell.

In that time, Aurora had introduced her to many ponies including Glidell and Stone Works, the Earth pony under Faircraft.

Bad, bad tell. If you're going to include the "Dusk and the Kinda-Elements" arc at all, then these are integral characters to the plot. Spend time on them.

Dusk at first figured it would be wise to cast a wide net, but found it exhaustive work. She settled on Aurora, Glidell, and Stone Works, as their position made it the most prudent choice.

Okay tell, with caveats. The "show" alternative to the first sentence is having her talk to a lot of ponies unimportant to the plot, which would drag down your story. However, the exposition that she settled on her Kinda-Element Friends could be made through dialogue, or simply implied by the fact that you're showing us her conversations with them but nobody else.

It didn't seem to bother most ponies, as they rarely came back to speak with her twice.

You know, I think I changed my mind. Having her talk to unimportant ponies could actually be useful here. Showing her talking to city leaders or important folks once, and then having her try to talk to them again without success, could build up tension, give you opportunities for exposition of the city's status, and build up a sense of isolation. Then when we meet the ponies who talk to her more than once, we know right away they're special.

Anyway, when your instinct tells you that you're rushing through a chapter, you probably are. Scenes shouldn't feel rushed. If you're trying to hurry them to get to somewhere else, ask yourself why you're there at all: something that bores you to write will be boring to read. Time-skipping, or recasting the scene to pick something interesting out of it and showing that instead, are both preferable to a long string of tells.

Best,

H

This story has been reviewed by The Equestrian Critics Society

Story Title: Dusk Falls

Author: Lyreaxiose

Reviewed by: Errant

Dusk Falls intends to be almost a prequel to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It follows another of Celestia’s young students’ efforts to make friends in order to avert disaster at the northern city of Tundragrov, accompanied by her own draconic assistant. Set fairly soon after the incident with Nightmare Moon, the setup is perfect for a gripping story exploring the power of the magic of friendship throughout history. Unfortunately, the story is badly hampered by problematic writing, pacing and other mistakes.

Full Review

Score: 5/10

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Thank you for your review. I'll be going back to try and fix the bad parts you've mentioned.

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