Wednesday, February 15, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 38: Friendship Is...

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

>Decide to try and write a story for the February Write-Off
>Spend 12 hours since the prompt was announced working on said story
>Still less than 2000 words into first draft

I've got to be the slowest writer ever.  Oh, well; the fact is that without deadlines, I don't get anything done anyway.  Maybe I'll manage to get something finished in time, though to be honest I'm almost certain that my story will do poorly regardless.

Speaking of unfinished stories, my review of Cascore's Friendship Is... is after the break.

Impressions before reading:  Two incomplete stories in a row?  Although I was afraid this was going to become a trend, I looked ahead a bit; it seems I won't be encountering any more of those for a while once I finish this fic.  Among the additional tags, "episodic" seems promising, but "music" leaves me leery.  Hopefully the story won't be full of youtube links.

Oh, and while the cover picture's cute and all,  I don't like the way it makes Carrot Top look like she's got elephant hips.  That's not really an impression of the story, though.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A series of four episodic tales featuring various permutations of Spike and the mane six.

Thoughts after reading:  Unlike the two incomplete stories which I've previously "reviewed," I have no trouble commenting on this one.  You see, it isn't really incomplete at all.  The four chapters are each entirely self-contained, and bear no meaningful relation to one another.  What we have here are essentially four separate stories, and nothing about any of them demands continuation.

When I said above that the stories were episodic in nature, I meant that in the most literal way possible.  Although the first story lacks a little bit of both the humor and conflict which drive a typical episode (although it wasn't terrible, it came across as a little too warm and fuzzy even for its source), Cascore really nails the tone, pacing, and plotlines which are common to FiM in all the subsequent chapters.  I could easily see the general arc of any of these stories being utilized in a future episode of the show, if not some of the specifics.

The music was as I feared.  Throughout each of the chapters, the author inserts a youtube link every few paragraphs to "set the mood."  To his credit, the music selected is universally of the bearable variety--no screamo or Lady Gaga here.  Some of the musical choices were odd (the revelation that the ponies have been robbed is accompanied by a link to... smooth jazz?), others got annoying really quickly, and a few were dead links, but I can honestly say that this was one of the least frustrating examples of a story including musical links that I can remember.  Of course, that's the very definition of damning with faint praise, but it's really about as positive a thing as I can say on the matter.

Though to be completely truthful, the second music link in chapter four got a giggle out of me.  Still not a fan, but fair's fair.

Throughout the story, editing is pretty solid.  There are a few word swaps (affect for effect, shined for shown, etc.), but little else to complain about on the technical front.  The writing style was serviceable, but suffered from some of the same over-wording symptoms I talked about in The Logical Option.  Sometimes it got downright absurd, as with: "[They] all stared at Pinkie, completely baffled by what she just uttered from her mouth."  The stories as a whole were nowhere as bad as that sentence suggests, of course, but the compulsive need to tell the audience things that were already perfectly plain does crop up repeatedly.

There's also a very strange stylistic decision made in chapter 2, where segments of the story are rendered in script format.  I found the choice frankly bizarre and entirely unnecessary, especially since the scenes could have easily been rendered in the same narrative format used in the rest of the story.  Thankfully, this only occurred in that one chapter.

Star rating:    (what does this mean?)

Despite some workmanlike narration and odd stylistic decisions, the way the author captures the feel of an actual episode is absolutely remarkable.  And the music... well, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.

Recommendation:  Anyone looking for a few good episode-style (I really need to come up with a synonym for episode) stories would be well advised to give this a look.  The fics I've read that more perfectly capture the aesthetic of the show are few and far between.  My personal advice is to ignore the music, but that's your call.  I noticed that a lot of folks in the comments on the story page were raving about the music; if you're one of those people, then more power to you.

Next time: Spark, by Avery Strange


  1. I thought about writing something for it, but I haven't done anything yet. I've been busy with school, plus working on my original writing, so I haven't had any time for ponies (I haven't even seen the latest episode!)

  2. I still trying to decide if I want to write something for that or not as well. I should probably decide by this afternoon. XD

  3. Hate music in fics, hate script format. :| Let's talk about the writeoff.

    I am so there with you. I spent the first 24 hours trying to narrow down my idea, wrote about a page and then did no work whatsoever yesterday. >.< I can only hope that I can make up for it today. I'm a slow writer too, but deadlines and especially speed writing competitions really bring out my best. Usually.

    God I hope I don't screw this up. D:

  4. I'm already busy enough not getting anything done thank you!

  5. Same here. I'm a very slow writer. I get at most 4 hours a night, and even if I'm "in the zone," I'm lucky to get 3k words in that time. 2 days into my entry, and I have 1600 words. Oh, well.