I hope you'll forgive me if my internet presence is pretty limited until Saturday--like so many, I'm trying to avoid episode spoilers, now that the most recent one's been leaked through iTunes. In the meantime however, I've compiled some of my musings into something I hope is fit for public consumption.
Below, I've collected a few thoughts about stories which bring me a lot of enjoyment, despite a whole laundry list of reasons why they shouldn't. Take a look:
We all have guilty pleasures in life. Whether it's a food item, a book, a video game, a song, or whatever, it's not hard to come across something that you're embarrassed to admit you like. Heck, for a lot of folks coming here MLP itself probably qualifies as a guilty pleasure, and fanfics based on it doubly so.
For myself, I don't feel a lot of guilt over liking the show, nor over reading fanfiction in principle. However, there are a few stories that, for one reason or another, I like more than I care to admit. At the risk of destroying any credibility I may have, I thought I'd look at what it is I like so much about some of those stories.
Obviously, nothing below is recommended, exactly. That said, maybe some of you will find that you share a weakness with me. Or if not, you can laugh at my poor taste and feel superior to me. Either way.
With MLP fanfics, there seem to be two broad categories of stories which I'm inclined to like more than the analytic part of my mind tells me I should. The first is:
Stories which I read when I first entered the fandom
This one's only natural, I suppose. The first few episodes, the first few fanfics, the first few whatever, they're kind of special. They're new and exciting in a way that subsequent ones aren't. So, it's perfectly normal for me to have a soft spot for the first stories that I read when I became a pony fan. Like one of the very first stories I read, RagingSemi(nee HFPS)'s Severing.
The story's probably well-enough known that I don't need to summarize it, but here's the bare-bones version: Twilight needs to kill all the other Elements of Harmony to gain their power, all to complete some evil machinations of Celestia's.
I'm not a big fan of most grimdark, and OOC ponies is a real sticking point for me, so there's no logical reason I should even find a story like this tolerable. And on top of that, like most of RS's early stuff (since I don't read pony porn, I can't speak to his later writings) was barely edited. Yet, I did find it tolerable. More than that, I really liked it when I first read it, and subsequent read-throughs have not substantially changed the way I feel about it. What can I say? In a strange sort of way, Severing is special to me, flaws notwithstanding.
Then there's the second group of fanfics I'm prone to over-appreciate,
Stories which combine something I already love with ponies
Again, this isn't exactly an uncommon weakness. When you see a crossover with your favorite book, video game, or whatever, your first inclination is probably to be thrilled, not trepidatious. Sometimes, that means you end up getting pumped up for a story that's just not that stellar.
Take XFizzle's Equestria Hockey League. I love watching hockey, and here's a story about ponies playing hockey! It's chock full of those stupid puns I love so much! It seems like almost every background pony in the show at least gets a cameo in it somewhere! What's not to like?
Well, if we're being blunt, kind of a lot. Most of the jokes and references would go right over the head of a non-hockey fan (Trixie turning to face Ponyville's goalie and waving her stick in her face? Hilarious if you know about the stink over what Sean Avery did in the playoffs a few years back. Otherwise... not so much), more than half of the average chapter consists of play-by-play reporting of a hockey game (again, often fun and exciting if you're a hockey fan, probably pretty dull and incomprehensible if you aren't), and the writing I would describe as stolid and workmanlike. On top of that, the characters are often reduced to caracature for the sake of a joke. Sometimes (like with Trixie) this works for me, but when the main 6 are being used to deliver a particularly blunt Aesop about teamwork or whatever it can be downright cringeworthy. But what can I say? I love hockey! All the jokes and references work for me, to the point where I'm able to overlook the weaknesses in the writing and the niche appeal of the story.
So, there you have it: the way to my fanfic-reading heart. Feel free to tell me what terrible taste I have. Or share what your own e-literary weaknesses are, if you're brave enough. At the very least, as a reader you might want to take a minute to think about what stories you've read that you liked despite them not being terribly good. Knowing you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, after all.
Now if you'll excuse me, EHL just posted season 2, chapter 2. I've got some reading to do.