Monday, October 22, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 111: Yours Truly

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

Although I mostly restrict myself to fanfiction reviews around here, I'm going to branch out a bit and offer my review of Bud's Best brand Orange Dreamsicle Cookies: they taste exactly like dreamsicles, if dreamsicles were dry and crumbly instead of cold and creamy.  For a bargain bin find, they are definitely okay.

On second thought, maybe I'd better stick to what I know.  Below, my review of Thanqol's Yours Truly.

Impressions before reading:  Thanqol is an author whose stories I've consistently enjoyed, so it's no surprise that I read this one when it was posted.  Although I definitely didn't dislike it, I'd have said it was my least favorite of his stories to date.  So I'll be curious to see if that was strictly a relative comparison or if there is, upon further review, a good reason for me to prefer his other writings to this.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A series of letters between various ponies, mostly the main six, documenting the passage of years as they grow old, drift apart, drift together, and discover themselves.

Thoughts after reading:  Epistolary writing shares many of the same restrictions as journal writing when used as a narrative format: both must hold themselves strictly to a character's point of view (though with a series of letters, that point of view can shift from note to note), both can consist only of those details or information which the viewpoint character could reasonably be expected not just to know, but to actually write down, and both must hew closely to the character's viewpoint and preconceptions--there's no such thing as an objective observation in either format.  Because of this, it's rare to see either form of writing executed well; it's simply too easy to fall into the trap of forcing characters to communicate details about setting, background, or their own biases which just don't belong in such writing styles.

Yours Truly is a shining example in this regard, however.  Although some of Rarity's letters fall flat (a repeated bit of humor concerning Pinkie mailing out drafts of her letters, complete with her notes to self, skirts the line between self-aware humor and excessive goofiness, and for me it ended up falling into the latter category), the various ponies' notes do a great job on the whole of communicating both personal and setting-related events without ever straying too far from what those characters might actually write to one another.

Another thing this story exceeds at is balancing seriousness and levity.  At turns, Yours Truly is a love story, an adventure, a slice-of-life idyll, and the very definition of a random comedy.  For a story to be able to incorporate both the bleak despair of a life-threatening winter which the princesses are powerless to stop at one point, and Pinkie the Pirate grousing about how her pegasus crew refuse to walk the plank properly at another, and for neither to feel like an unwelcome intrusion, is a feat.  It's true that not everything fits together perfectly (a Whoovian nod near the end spoiled the mood of the last letter for me--I have nothing against the Doctor, but he was an unnecessary distraction in this case), but for the most part, Thanqol does a reasonably good job combining disparate elements throughout his story.

Some of the more meme-heavy moments were less than impressive in this case.  From the above-mentioned run-in with the TARDIS to Rarity's sock-related business ventures, references to the fandom abounded, and not all were terribly well-integrated.  The author has never shied away from such references in his other works, but here some feel like pandering, rather than integrated plot points.

I suspect at least part of the problem is the epistolary style.  Simply put, it's not easy to provide a lot of context through such writing, and while Thanqol does a surprisingly good job of conveying setting through this limited format, there's only so much he can do to smooth over such inclusions.  By their nature, letter-stories rely to a great degree on the reader to fill in the details.  In cases like these, perhaps it's just my own biases showing (though I know they're biases I share with many other readers, in this particular case), but I found the memes to often be jarring, rather than natural.

Speaking of readers filling in details, it didn't take me long to remember what I didn't like about this story when I first read it, but since it's major spoilers, I'm going to break out the tag again.  Don't click it if you don't want a significant plot point revealed.

Oh, also: shipping all over the place, if that's an issue for you.  Nothing that tripped my "this is stupid and contrived" mental wire (one advantage of a format which requires that one frequently skimp on setup: less chance of doing such a poor job setting up a relationship that the reader revolts), though readers who object to lesbian ponies in principal can consider this fair warning.

Star rating:  ☆ (what does this mean?)

Looking at the story as a whole, it's remarkably solid, considering what it is.  However, although it generally does a good job of creating a believable setting, Yours Truly regularly tosses out lowest-common denominator humor which doesn't mix with the hinted-at depths which define the world about which his characters write.  Sometimes it works, and the choices of where to insert levity are usually well thought out, but other times it simply falls flat.

And before people start asking: to be clear, the the bit in spoilers didn't particularly weigh on the rating.  I was just trying to point out though my own experience one of the potential flaws in open-ended storytelling, which is that alternate character interpretations can easily crop up, and can sometimes lead to very unsatisfying resolutions.

Recommendation:  This is probably the best fanfic of its kind that I've read; it's not easy to turn a collection of letters into a coherent, satisfying, and structurally sound story, but that's exactly what's been accomplished here.  Readers interested in seeing a well-executed example of such should definitely read this, and the shipping tag oughtn't discourage any but the most hard-line anti-shippers.  Some meme-heavy moments and a general lack of detail may discourage readers who tend to take exception to either, however.

Next time:  Allegrezza, by CoffeeGrunt


  1. "pegasi crew"

    Pegasus crew.

    Sorry. I usually just ignore typos and bad grammar because I can understand what's being said anyway (usually), but this is a pet peeve of mine.

    When you use a noun as an adjective, it should generally be singular. There are a few exceptions, like "arms" and "customs" and stuff, but pegasus isn't one of them.

    1. I would err on the side of caution and go with "crew of pegasusususes."

    2. Urg, fine. Stupid pegasus ponies, confusing me with their pluralizations and adjectivities and capitalizationlessness...

    3. Wait, didn't I already see this exact same discussion on an earlier comment thread? And I thought it was eventually decided that "pegasi" is an acceptable form of pluralization, despite the Pegasus' Greek origins, because screw it, it's been three thousand years and it looks like Latin anyway?

    4. Sorry, Chris, but I don't think I will ever be able to take you seriously now. I mean, after that mistake... =/

      Anyway! Good review for a good story. I don't really have much else to add other than the blizzard ending certainly wasn't the story's strongest point. But other than that, I remember enjoying it a fair bit!

    5. @ Kavonde

      I wasn't objecting to the plural of pegasus being written as "pegasi". Even the show does that, and I have no issues with the use of "pegasi" pretty much ever.

      I was objecting to the pluralization of the noun adjunct.

      ie. You have a cat army or a cat's army, not a cats army; you have a rabbit hutch, but not a rabbits hutch; and you have a fever pitch, not a fevers pitch.

    6. I recall that post. It still bothers me how silly that turned out after I wrote it, and how much more I forgot to add to explain it.

      In any case, you are incorrect Sessalisk. The pluralization of them is actually an old practice, and your our fellows in the British Isles (except, perhaps, the Scots, whom are the most quarrelsome polite people you will ever find; I suggest you brief a couple) use it quite often at this point.

      Consider for a second what does a noun adjunct actually do and you shall the pluralization of them isn't all that far-fetched, where their usage normally not being quite of the possessives but rather as a description of thereof.

      If this is helping clarity on the other hand is a matter of debate, I am aware that some people actively negate their validity, but I cannot speak for them.

      As a sidenote, enjoyable as always, Mr.Chris.

    7. On another note:

      "...because screw it, it's been three thousand years and it looks like Latin anyway?"

      This make me shuckle for how wrong and how right it is. Wrong, because this is just terrible reasoning, but right because this is exactly what was involved. This sort of thing is what makes me dismiss any rigid construction of language, or anyone who cannot explain why a rule works the way it does.

      And now, back to my shadows.

    8. "Consider for a second what does a noun adjunct actually do and you shall the pluralization of them isn't all that far-fetched,"

      I believe there's a word missing here, and that means I could be interpreting this incorrectly and shit, but if what you're trying to say here is something along the lines of:

      If you consider the purpose of a noun adjunct, then pluralizing them is not far-fetched.

      I would like for you to take your own advice and to consider what a noun adjunct actually does. A noun adjunct functions as an adjective, and adjectives do not have plural forms. (Inversely, you can pluralize all the adjectival nouns that you like — that is, adjectives that function as nouns.)

      You cannot have reds hair or uglys clothes. You have red hair and ugly clothes. Take that, Anne of Green Gables! You can take your non-poofed sleeves straight to Idlewild and grow horns or something!

      I am well aware that people do it anyway, and that language is an evolving thing, and blah blah blah, if I get all anal about this I'll become one of those people who gets all up in your shit for splitting infinitives or ending sentences in prepositions blah blah blah, but codwoggle it! THIS IS MY PET PEEVE.

      (So basically, the whole point of this reply was to say "no u". So there.)

    9. (I've noticed that people tend to gork with their noun adjuncts a lot more often whenever they have to work with an irregular or Greek/Latin-based pluralization.

      My theory is that it's acuz a native speaker who reads unicorns guards, donkeys guards or pegasuses guards would intuitively see it as bad grammar, but something with a less-common pluralization wouldn't be so immediately obvious.

      So really, I'm not so peeved that people are doing it so much that they don't realise that they're doing it.)

  2. I'm pretty much in agreement here, mindless toad that I am. This was a fairly solid story, but I probably would have been more inclined to have it as a five-star rather than a six. It does about as well as the story format would allow, but there were still a few pieces here and there that either fell flat or just felt empty.

    Allegrezza is next? Man, you've got a beast lined up. Good luck with that.

  3. (nothing but spoilers)

    Truth be told, I'm a little surprised you didn't mention anything about the Spike/Rarity arc. I felt like that part of the story ended way too abruptly, and not on a strong note at all. Rarity decided that she loved Spike, so she had a sleep spell cast on her, and that was it.

    I know she came to realize she was in love with Spike, but her decision was a bit too quick - when she wakes up a hundred years later, she's going to find that she has no job, no money, and her friends and family will have long passed on.

    Speaking of which, that's the part that bugged me the most - she just wrote a letter to Spike, then went to sleep. No letters to her parents, Sweetie Belle, any of her friends. When she wakes up, she'll find that they're gone, and she's never said goodbye. Plus, after her final letter, her name was only mentioned once. No one missed her, or worried about her, or anything. Instead, the Spike/Rarity arc happened, and then everypony else went on as if they never existed in the first place.

    That was pretty much my only complaint about the fic though. I absolutely loved the rest of the story, and the main arc between Twilight and AJ was beautiful. One of this story's strengths was time - something that's surprisingly rare in shipfics. With most shipping stories, characters usually fall in love with each other within days, and relationships just don't tend to work like that. Since this story is spread out over many years, there actually is time for the relationship to grow and develop properly.

    1. But that just speaks to Chris's point about open-ended narration. You're assuming she didn't write any other letters simple because they weren't presented. Who is to say she didn't write dozens?

      Don't get me wrong, I still agree that it was hard to swallow to the point of being almost absurd, just not for all the reasons you pointed out.

    2. This is patently weird. I could have sworn that there is a sequel out there somewhere that continues this particular story thread, but I can't find it anywhere - not on EqD, not on FIMfiction.

    3. There was, it was called Easy as Lying. It was fairly terrible and it can only be found through a link hidden somewhere in my DeviantArt. I'll link it to you here:

      It was actually a success for what it was; I wanted to write a nightmare, a story containing rage and confusion and disgust and leave the reader feeling worse for having read it. From that perspective, it was an enormous success, and the response I got from it proved to me I'd perfectly communicated that horrible feeling. It was equally painful and enraging to write and left me feeling furious until I started Do Not Serve These Ponies instead.

      I didn't release it to the community at large; I thought it was better marked as an experimental piece which I could learn from and move beyond.

  4. I have very fond memories of Yours Truly, but reading the review does show me where my bias lies. Maybe not bias, perhaps more of an evolution of taste.

    I can't say I ever liked the fan-meme stuff, but when I first read this it wasn't an issue, but if I read it now, I'm pretty sure it would grate on me significantly. I do remember that I had a similar reaction to Chris regarding Fluttershy, but it reminds me of a blog post I read when I started writing:

    If you're going to ship the main six with each other, you have to reasonable explain why what happens in your story is not directly congruous with what is in the show. succeeds in this department, by fundamentally changing the nature of the pairs' relationship, and thus justifying the apparent discovering of previously unexplored emotions. You may not buy the explanations, but that's a far cry from being pulled out of a story because you can't reconcile the logic.

    As for the Fluttershy incident specifically, it didn't fuss me, since being manipulative is never out of character for an emotional creature. After all, stories about ponies are stories about people, right? People are always manipulative, it's just a question of how much they do it and how much they're aware of it. So not only would I say that it wasn't out-of-character, but I'd say it was a logically sound extension of that character.

    I don't mind the shipping stuff here, mostly for the above reason. What does grate on me, however, is any time there is more than one pairing of the main six. There's a massive difference between an unexpected romantic engagement, and a sudden explosion of rampant lesbianism. For me, it destroys any connection with whichever shipping the author was initially going for. Luckily, this one was done so well it didn't break the story, but it was gratuitously unnecessary.

    I'm going to take that a step further, however. This is one of a ling line of fics that could have been dramatically improved by NOT shipping characters in it. A simple explorations of feelings and attachment would have been far more engaging that 'just another shipping'. However well Thanquol handled it, I would have enjoyed it more without the shipping. Not because I dislike shipping in principal, just that it too often oversimplifies a relationship, pasting over many important nuances that would make it a better story.

    As for the Spike/Rarity angle, that really did feel like lowest common denominator emotional manipulations.

    Next time on 'Inquisitor M Talks Trash': Alegrezza, or, that story I could not force myself to read for love nor money. This should be fun.

    1. Oh man, I am so with you on Alegrezza. I'm looking forward to Chris' review as the final nail in the coffin or the unexpected push to get me to read it. (I'm expecting the former, but Chris has surprised me in the past.)

    2. I agree completely on Alegrezza. I'm a music snob, and this was the first Octavia fic I encountered after joining the fandom. Surely, I would like it. I hated the first chapter, but it was so long ago that I couldn't say for sure why. I gave it another shot later on and skimmed chapter 6. Never picked it up again.

      By the way, I saw your FimFiction bio where you reveal that you're among the elder statesmen of the fandom. I'm right there with you, man. In fact, I'm a bit older.

    3. This is the only story on Equestria Daily for which I left a comment longer than a couple of sentences. As it's buried among hundreds of (mostly pointless) others, I'll repost a slightly edited version.

      I'm a regular reviewer at Ponychan, so I've got a lot of experience picking apart stories.

      Your biggest strength is that you convey emotion beautifully in your writing. There were definitely teary eyes, but to be fair, even poorly written stories have done that if their premises were strong enough. There are a few grammatical issues that popped up enough to be a little distracting, but some of them are excusable as dialogue, inasmuch as a letter constitutes dialogue.

      I took the plot and cut it down to a bare-bones outline, and it's actually quite short. I see two side threads: Rarity and Pinkie. Rarity's fizzled out too quickly, and ended rather abruptly and conveniently. Pinkie's was a little odd, and it was never clear to me whether she was committing actual crimes, and if so, why Celestia couldn't/wouldn't stop her.

      I include RD/Shy in the main plot thread since they're integral in inspiring Twi/AJ's relationship. Kudos to you for not taking the easy way out and having Dash die. I would have liked to see more of their story. This main thread was handled well, but was predictable. Vonnegut does argue against suspense, but there's a limit. The last letter was a nice gut punch from the standpoint that it's a treasured final memento for Twilight, but its failure to arrive on schedule was only a minor speed bump at the time. It's also strange that even though Apple Bloom didn't know the full extent of their relationship, she didn't at least know they had a deep-rooted friendship and correspondence. In the three days AJ had been seriously ill, surely Apple Bloom could have found a way to contact Twilight and have her there, instead of waiting until it was too late.

      Characterizations were done quite well, but AJ had a strange mix of formality and colloquialisms. You did hastily explain that Twilight knew she was smarter than most ponies assumed, but AJ must have had a reason for never trying to fight that perception. I'd see her letters gradually becoming more formal and sophisticated as she grew more comfortable with Twilight.

      Even so, this story is more about communicating emotional states than narrating through events, and as I've said, you do that beautifully. I'm really torn between four and five stars since I can't really justify either one on that coarse a scale, so I will respectfully abstain.

    4. So after reading the above critiques, there's a bit more worth discussing.

      It's interesting to note the differences of opinion here, insofar as they're more about interpretation than personal preference. I hadn't considered Chris's view that Fluttershy was being overly manipulative, and I kind of liked the way her relationship served as a vehicle for making the main one happen, by serving as an example that such a thing could work. So it didn't feel to me like an extra "what the hell" shipping thrown in; it was used as a justification for Twilight/AJ's romance, which is an element too often ignored in shipfics.

      InquisitorM's point about the lack of wrapping up Rarity's arc is well-taken. As Chris noted, much can be left up to the reader to interpret, so the absence of a letter saying such doesn't mean that none exists. But tip the scales too far to vagueness, and the possibility may never occur to the reader. Best to give at least a gentle nudge in the appropriate direction, in my opinion.

      Chris is spot-on that letters and journals can be particularly hard to do well. And of the two, journals are the more difficult. The writer must absolutely confine the contents to things that character would be aware of. At least language tends to be more formal in letters. So many authors absolutely butcher journal formats because they present what no reasonable character would put in a journal. Formal language, complete sentences, direct word-for-word quotes (which also kill many letter-format stories).

      And I'd like to point out again that the final gut punch was odd for me. By then, Twilight already knew all the information that the letter might contain. That misunderstanding had already been cleared up, and Applejack had already communicated anything that it said. Twilight just has a nice link to the past now, but nothing in the plot changes as a result. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I suppose the prevalent alternative would be to drop some bombshell in it that would leave Twilight all melodramatic and angsty, so perhaps I should be grateful on that count.

      I didn't really catch any meme references, but I doubt I'd recognize too many of them, anyway.

      For what it's worth, in the one small bit of interaction I've had with Thanqol, he seemed quite nice.

      Full disclosure: despite what I said in the posted comment, I voted four stars on this story, even though I felt it deserved more. It had already blasted well past the requirements for a six-star, so I wasn't going to affect that. I just felt that the few weaknesses present justified giving it that minuscule bump away from perfection, since its fate was already decided, a fate with which I was comfortable.

    5. Not because I dislike shipping in principal, just that it too often oversimplifies a relationship, pasting over many important nuances that would make it a better story.
      I don't really have much to add, but I wanted to highlight this as something I agree with. I'm not fond of romantic stories in general (they tend to bore me), but I've always had a special discomfort for the way internet fandoms seem to love oversimplifying nuanced platonic relationships into romantic connections/longings. Romantic love is the most heavy-handed shorthand for "these people care about each other", and in some cases that betrays laziness on the part of the author. That's always been the main reason I avoid shipping.

      As for this story, I read it when it came out and enjoyed it. I don't often read shipping, but I made an exception for Thanqol. It's certainly not my favourite of his fics, but I would rate it as the best shipping story I've read... not that that says much...

      I imagine it might, as Inquisitor said, work better without the shipping, but I wouldn't accuse Thanqol of oversimplifying any relationships to any major degree. The strength of the fic is in the slow buildup of Twilight and Applejack's very genuine, very believable relationship.

    6. Personally, moving a close platonic friendship to romantic intimacy only really irritates me when it seems to happen automatically, by default. Just because their friendship is so close they automatically become lovers.
      That is not how it pretty much EVER happens in real life. Either such feelings need to preexist under the surface and then be brought forth or something must inspire those feelings.

      This story breaks that rule with it's FlutterDash.
      The Sparity is believable, the TwiJack being inspired by the FlutterDash is arguable.
      But the FlutterDash itself is just assumed. And without FLutterDash, no TwiJack.
      And the only reasonable ship gets "put to bed" and never seen again.

      I agree that romantic love does NOTHING to enhance the power of the love and attachments between those 4 ponies and only serves to deepen pathos.

      Off the topic of shipping, I also dislike this story for it's unnecessary play on pathos via angst.

      First, the dragon sleep thing... STOP IT ALREADY!
      There is NOTHING AT ALL in canon that supports Dragons hibernating by necessity for hundreds of years.
      The dragon on the mountain was TAKING A NAP. It was intended to show the difference in relative perspective of time between a super-long-lived creature and short lived ones. In case no one noticed, they woke the dragon up multiple times and even had it move during it's nap time. This idiotic "Ooh, Spike's gonna go to sleep and everypony is gonna be dead when he wakes up!" bullshit gets on my nerves.

      As for FlutterDash, LOL. 99% of the angst in that one was so forced. There is no reason they couldn't make it work. Don;t any of the other Wonderbolts have families? Why couldn't their mutual love and maturation have drawn them back together instead of angst and internal conflict.

      And AJ's death. Yes, friends die. And distance makes a whole different slew of emotional reactions than closeness. I don't mind the exploration of this concept.
      My problem is twofold: 1: It makes it seem like they were only shipped to make it hurt more; 2: This is the single greatest and most important plot point in the entire fic. Why the hell is it at the end? I mean if it was in the middle, it would have been such an incredible source of character development and exploration of the story's themes. It in fact could have catalyzed many of the other story's events, such as Pinkie's crazy venture, Rarity not wanting to leave Spike alone (generosity AND motivation for actions? Oh,no, can;t have that...)and FlutterDash realizing their priorities.
      But instead it's at the end.

      I can't help but feel it's for the same reason as them being shipped in the first place as well as them being the sole arc at that point. Impact.

      Complain about Shy manipulating Dash?
      I don't lie being manipulated by an author with a story that places effect on reader above the story itself.
      I prefer integrity.

  5. The FlutterDash relationship in this never made sense to me, and I suspect that this and other parts of the story were written, as DPV111 speculates, first and foremost to manipulate the reader's emotions. But what's more upsetting to me is that this is yet another example of people misunderstanding Rainbow Dash's character on a fundamental level. I seriously doubt that even love would make RD so obsessive as to skip out of Wonderbolts training. There's probably hundreds of stories where RD has to deal with conflicting loyalties, but what most don't get is that loyalty is not obedience. Rainbow Dash isn't the element of loyalty because she's glued to the hip to her friends, in fact RD is very self-centered. Dash's loyalty is that, contrary to her instinctive drive towards awesomeness, she believes that true friends look out for each other. When her friends need help with something important, RD will be there.

    1. Yeah, but by the same token, if you take Dash's character as-is, there's no chance she'd even get into the Wonderbolts either. She's far too flaky and self-centred. In fact, I'd say as a character she absolutely would skip out on training for Fluttershy, because the idea that she might let her closest friend down would terrify her in ways she would be unable to cope with.

      No, I think the ship made sense in principle, it just didn't need to be more than a very close friend-ship.

    2. Personally, I see the Wonderbolts as a childhood dream/fantasy and a source validation for her.
      Realistically, if she found something she needed more and that mattered more to her, she would prioritize that.

      I think that if she had to choose between friendship and love over the Wonderbolts, she would. As long as it was a true and unselfish need.

      I just don't see why she should have to.
      It's like saying a soldier should desert because their spouse is lonely.
      It's idiotic.

    3. Yes, I agree with what you said above, but I do give it a little leeway because the style of the fic doesn't allow for much elaboration on exactly what is transpiring to cause the issue at all.

      That said, I'm now going to swing the other way (not like that, Chris). The author has to account for the format and content of his work. If the explanation cannot be reached in the format, then either something has to change, or the criticism accepted as valid. I still hold that the emotion of that relationship actually came through very acutely for me, but I really didn't examine it that deeply at the time.

      As I mentioned earlier, I can happily see the possibilities in terms of how it might work, and use my imagination to fill in the blanks. It's just a matter of how much onus you are willing to risk putting on reader interpretation.

    4. The other problem is, even assuming every single pony in Equestria is bisexual, you still need a reason for 2 of them to get together.
      Just because Mane 6 shipping is so common, does not mean everyone's gonna accept it as rote.
      Even if FlutterDash's relationship rings true in the middle, having a story that denies us any insight into the start and simply presents it as status quo is very very jarring.
      There is NO indication of why they are together.

    5. Yeah, I touched on that in my post above: "There's a massive difference between an unexpected romantic engagement, and a sudden explosion of rampant lesbianism." -Me.

      You just don't get to write 'rampant lesbianism' enough these days.

    6. I know, but to argue semantics, lesbianism isn't really an appropriate definition.

      ""even assuming every single pony in Equestria is bisexual, you still need a reason for 2 of them to get together""

      It doesn't matter if the entire mane 6 are gay, it matters why they are gay for each other.
      I'm a straight male, that doesn't mean I automatically want a romantic relationship with my female friends. In fact, I would probably entire avoid that due to the possibility of ruining the friendship unless I was completely in love with them.

    7. Ahh, yes, fair point. Within a closed group of 7, 2 couplings is extraordinary, 3 is just silly.

  6. This was rather unexpected. Every other forum, comment or discussion thread of my works I've seen in my relentless egosearching has strongly implied that Yours Truly is by far my strongest and most popular work. I certainly wasn't expecting the mixed sentiments from this review.

    But that's okay; it's a story I wrote for me. Anyone who liked it was collateral happiness.

    It's perhaps an unsatisfying explanation to parts of the story you didn't like, but I intended it to be that way; moments that didn't fit, things that didn't work, sequences inspired by my own memories and nostalgia. Some things weren't perfect and some things were. Some spur of the moment decisions left people feeling dissatisfied and angry. Some stories were only touched on in the vaguest of ways, and then lost.

    I had a long distance relationship and this story was my good-bye letter to that tangled, complicated and beautiful period of my life. It was a reflection on myself and the people I love and the barriers of the internet and language.

    Was it perfect? No. Was it honest? Yes.

    1. "I had a long distance relationship and this story was my good-bye letter to that tangled, complicated and beautiful period of my life. It was a reflection on myself and the people I love and the barriers of the internet and language."

      Well in that context, your story is beautiful and transcendent. If you want more criticism, though, I'll be happy to complain some more. :P

    2. And experienced as it is read it comes across poignant and conveys more or less what you intended.

      But viewed from a different perspective, held at a distance and examined piecemeal, I stand by my critique.

      Honestly I have no issue with the story or what it's about. I only have issue with how the canon characters were used and some of the plot choices.

      The longer I spend in the fandom the less I can take shipping seriously.

    3. Well, I can only speak subjectively, of course, but I'd say this sizeable quantity of 'mixed sentiments' is a good thing. We sure as hell wouldn't be talking about it so much if we didn't like it!

      On this blog, I think any shipping like likely to get this kind of reaction unless it very well done (rare), or bad enough to be discarded without comment (not so rare). As for comparisons, I'm afraid I haven't read any of your other works yet (although your above comment is making me consider Do Not Serve These Ponies).

    4. Do Not Serve These Ponies is unrepentant straight-up comedy, and gosh was it fun to write. It was a story that made me love writing again, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

    5. Wait, people in this fandom take shipping seriously?

    6. Shipping is serious business.

    7. Yeah, three bucks off if you're late.

  7. "Yours Truly" is basically a series of flash fictions. It gives you a quick, broad view of what happens to the Mane 6 over time, at the expense of depth. Mostly, this worked well--the parts about Twilight moving to Hoofington are what I remember most--but all the shipping fell flat for me. It was too much trying to wring emotions out of relationships that I didn't believe in in the first place. I would much rather read a story showing how a relationship developed between two ponies (why are these so rare?!) than a story that presupposes a relationship that runs contrary to canon, and then talks about how one pony feels when the other is sick/dying/etc.

    1. It's funny; most of the people I know who are into shipping, myself included, would much rather see an established relationship. Most shipfics are about relationships, if you can call them that, starting, and nothing else, after all. But this is the second time I've heard this complaint, and I find myself ever so slightly boggled by it.

  8. I can only speak for myself, but with romance (shipping or otherwise) integrated as part of a larger story, I enjoy it regardless of presentation.

    However, I am not wholly fond of nor blindly accepting of shipping. So if the story focuses on the shipping, or is in fact romance genre, I need the story to "justify" itself to me.

    When you have a drama that centers on romantic relationships, yet the casual, objective reader is given no real emotional investment in those relationships due to presentation, people like myself will be put off by the shipping and have even less interest in what the story is telling.

    You gotta make me feel the love before you can make me care about the loss.