Wednesday, October 19, 2011

6-Star Reviews Part 0: An Explanation

Okay, I know what the first thing I'm going to use this blog for is: an excuse to read all the 6-star stories on Equestria Daily.

I've probably read at least a quarter of them already, but many more I've skipped over for one reason or another.  Maybe the premise didn't interest me, maybe I was busy the night the story was posted and didn't have time to read it, maybe I just missed the post altogether.  Either way, I'm going to start going back and reading every one of the 106 and counting 6-star stories.

Of course, just reading a bunch of stories does not a series of entertaining posts make.  Something of interest to any potential readers must be included as well.  After all, somebody might stumble across this blog someday--can't have them getting bored, can I?  So I'll be discussing each of the stories in a few different ways.  I'm going to drop a tl;dr version below the page break, explaining exactly how I'll conduct my reviews.

Each review will start with pre-reading impressions: what I think of the description, anything I've heard about this story prior to reading, etc.

Then, I'll talk about the story itself.  What I liked, what I didn' know, opinions.  I'll try to keep it low-spoiler.

Then come the two bits which are probably most relevant to any readers: my star rating, and my recommendation.

Let's start with the star rating.  I'll rate each story between one and five stars.  Please note that these ratings are on a curve.  I'm doing all 6-star stories, after all, so I expect them to be high-quality.  These reviews would be pretty boring if every one of them ended in "Surprise!  It's a pretty good story!"  With that in mind, my rating criteria will be as follows:

  • : This story stands on its own as a work of literature, never mind as a pony fanfic.  If copyright laws weren't a thing, it could be commercially published.  I'd buy a copy, anyway.

  • : This story was well-written, interesting, and engaging.  It deserves to be 6-starred.

  • : There are some minor problems with this story, but it is still unquestionably a high-quality work.  I wouldn't feel that this story had been unfairly slighted were it not 6-starred, but I have no problem with the rating.

  • : Although this story still falls among the 10% of ponyfics which reside outside of Sturgeon's Law, there are significant and noticeable issues with the story or writing.  A good read, but not something I would have awarded the highest possible star rating to.

  • : There are significant, systemic problems with this story.  I do not believe it deserves 6-stars.

Based on this rating system, I expect to award a lot of 3- and 4-stars.  Again, please bear in mind what these star ratings denote.  A story that I'd 5-star in a heartbeat on EqD might only get 3 using this system.

Now then, on to the second part: my recommendation.  The fact is, not everyone likes the same kinds of stories.  Some folks only want to read episode-style stories, other people like sprawling adventures, some love shipping, some hate shipping, etc.  My recommendation is simply going to lay out what kind of readers might like this story, as in, "If you like dark humor and don't mind OCs, this story is for you."  I know that sometimes I, as a reader, have trouble figuring out from a synopsis alone whether or not a given story is for me.  It's my hope that offering a recommendation will help clear up for prospective readers whether this is a story they should read or not.

I'll begin my 6-star reviews on Friday, with the first story ever awarded that rating: Junior Speedsters Forever, by Pacce.  Let's get this show on the road.

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