First, a few notes: I'm writing this post on Wednesday afternoon, and am simply going down the "new story" page in order. Each title below will link to the appropriate story. Just so we're clear, this is me looking for something interesting to read, not critically breaking down everything I come across in depth. Everything in here is just my opinions, even more so than usual: the whole point of this exercise is to look at how I as a casual reader discriminate based on first impressions, after all. Anyway, let's begin:
1. Torturing Gryphones 101: I got the idea for this from "Know Your Mare' by Overlord_Flinx. so thank you for the idea. This is what I thought would happen if the "voices" were gryphons, and got caught by all the villagers in ponyville.
- Will I be reading it?: Nope. Leaving aside the fact that the description seems tailored to be incomprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with the story it's inspired by, I've got no interest in diving into a story when the author can't even be bothered to spell his title correctly.
2. Eating Diamonds: A second person vorefic about you cutting apart and eating Rarity. Written in an hour to satisfy a challenge issued to me by a friend. It's a pretty poor fic, but I thought it was worth a chuckle or two, so I posted it here.
- Will I be reading it?: I was out the door four words into the description. I guess it's my own fault for not turning the mature filter on, but really: who reads this stuff? Based on the "I thought it was worth a chuckle or two" line, I'm going to assume it's a trollfic, but still. If this was written because of a dare by a friend, then good for the author; whatever you guys do for fun, right? But I just keep asking myself why this was posted for public consumption. Then I look at the two thumbs-up it already has after being up for less than half an hour, and I shake my head in bemusement.
3. The Coming Crusade: A routine salvage operation outside claimed territories seemed like the perfect way to score a quick payday. The best known trio of odd-job ponies find themselves far more than just a quick heist, but a treasure fit for royalty. But, just with any life-changing find a dark string is wrapped around their score... a string that threatens to drag the crew of the CM Crusader into a brewing conflict that could spread from one side of the galaxy to the other.
- Will I be reading it?: Hmm... a missing word or two isn't an auspicious introduction, and I'm always wary of AU stories. Plus, this one's incomplete. Still, I'll glance at the first few paragraphs and see if anything excites my interest.
- What did I think of it?: Poor formatting, and more misspellings in the first few sentences. Couple that with my earlier misgivings, and I see nothing here to convince me it's worth reading.
4. Maple Meets Equestria: This is the story of how the five Maple Heroes were transported to Equestria after their fight with the black mage. After they defeat the black mage, they wake up to find themselves in the middle of the Everfree forest, with little to no memory at all, knowing only their names. At the time of their fight with the black mage, Twilight Sparkle is on her way to Ponyville, where she soon learns of the values of friendship. The two groups will soon cross paths, but what happens from there will only be revealed in time.
- Will I be reading it?: Nope. The intro does nothing to convince me that there's anything of interest to a person, such as myself, who doesn't know what the "Maple Heroes" are from, and the rambling and repetitive sentence structure augurs ill for the story itself. Maybe this is one of those stories I pass over because it's a crossover with something I'm unfamiliar with when in fact it's really I'd love it if I gave it a try, but I think I'll take my chances not reading.
5. Bronycon 2013 : Bronycon 2013 is long very awaited event that many bronies plan on attending. There is also a special treat for everyone who attends this year. The Mane 6 will be arriving from Ponyville as guests and are available for autographs and pictures. But when a plan to attack them is discovered, Celestia acts fast to find the humans most suitable to protect the Ponies and the Elements as they face an unknown group, with infinitely dangerous possibilities..
- Will I be reading it?: The title was all I needed to read to convince me that this wasn't a fic for me. What's the appeal of a story about actual ponies showing up at Bronycon, anyway? Is it just wish fulfillment? Is it supposed to be funny (it is tagged comedy... among other things)? Is it a trollfic? I don't know. Whatever it is though, it's clear to me that I'm not the target audience.
6. Egg: There comes a time, when even Pinkie's infallible defense is vulnerable. What happens when her secret is revealed?
- Will I be reading it?: An overly vague description with a misplaced comma? Normally I'd probably give this a pass, but I'm getting tired of not reading things. I'll take a glance.
- What did I think of it?: The opening is frustratingly vague, and comma usage is clearly a weak point for the author. Then there's a long, fairly dull infodump, and then the pony responsible for the infodump breaks a Pinkie Pie promise, which apparently causes him to die on the spot. Then I stopped reading.
Hmm. This hasn't been a very productive trip so far. Hopefully something jumps out at me in the last few stories.
7. Pinkie's Secret Place: Pinkie felt she needed to do something special for her friends, so she decided to take them to her Special Place.
- Will I be reading it?: It looks like this is another "Pinkie breaks the fourth wall" story. Such stories are a dime a dozen, and few are really good. But it's short, and it already has 19 thumbs up and no thumbs down (compared to seven and three total ratings for the stories above and below it, respectively). Might as well give it a chance.
- What did I think of it?: I guess it wasn't bad, for what it was. But having Pinkie point through the screen to the reader is an idea that lost its novelty almost a year and a half ago, and this story doesn't really add anything new to the genre (I think at this point, it's safe to call it a genre). The writing was competent, but certainly not what I'd call good; there's nary a contraction to be seen, among other things. Let's put it this way: there's a place for this fanfic, and I feel no antipathy towards it for existing, but it wasn't something that I personally needed to read.
8. Stronghearted in the Desert: Oneshot. Gilda left Ponyville in order to escape her affections for Dash, not to nearly die in the desert, not to find an annoying little buffalo, and certainly not to fall in love with the buffalo in question. Knowing her luck, this buffalo proves to have tighter bonds to Ponyville's local daredevil than Gilda ever managed...will Gilda finally find the "right" type of love? Gilda x Little Strongheart. Yes, you heard me correctly.
- Will I be reading it?: Actually, that sounds kind of interesting. Yeah, I'll take a look, at least to see if this is going in a humorous direction or taking a "srs bzns" path (it's not tagged [sex], so I'm assuming it won't go that route).
- What did I think of it?: Unfortunately, the writing was a pretty major turn-off in this one. Passive voice is taken to ridiculous levels, and despite the competently-written description, this story's full of homophone mix-ups and simple editing errors which mar readability. I didn't get very far before giving up.
9. Princess Celestia's royal secret: We all have secrets, even royal princess's like Celestia! Some might wonder "How does she do all that work and still have a level head at the end of the day?" Well, find out in this tale about what helps drive the princess to do her work every day with a smile and what happens when all her responsibilities for the day are over.
- Will I read it?: Nope; this one has the [sex] tag. Sorry, not interested. Everyone's got their own tastes, and mine don't include erotic literature, never mind erotic pony fanfiction.
10. The Losing Battle: Time is running out for Pinkie Pie, the more time the group spend separated, the more danger creeps up on her, and the more this provokes her enraged counterpart. In this post-apocalyptic warzone, Pinkie attempts to meet up with the rest of the group, with knowledge that Rainbow Dash awaits her in the hangar. My first attempt at Grimdark and Sad genres. This is a fairly short story, I tried making it longer but I ended up dragging out scenes that were already long enough.
- Will I read it?: Er, no. I'm pretty sure more than 2000 words are required to tell a complete story which justifies dropping the ponies into a "post-apocalyptic warzone," and the run-on first sentence of the intro isn't exactly a promising sign.
...And that's the ten most recently published stories, as of this writing. I don't know about you, but I think looking at a fairly random sampling of fanfiction really puts some of the reviews I've written of 6-star stories into perspective. This is what "average" fanfiction looks like: some bad, some okay, and a lot of stuff with niche appeal, even within the niche that is that particular fan community. I don't know about you, but it really makes me appreciate some of the great, broad-appeal, and in some cases, professional-grade stories out there.