Monday, February 11, 2013

6-Star Reviews Part 132: Tiny Wings

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

I don't have much to say about Games Ponies Play, other than that I was pleasantly surprised by how well the whole "two episodes which take place during the same stretch of time" concept worked out.  The repeated footage was used sparingly enough that it didn't feel like I was getting less than a full episode, and seeing events from a different angle worked nicely in a couple of spots.

Below, my review of DeadParrot222's Tiny Wings.

Impressions before reading:  The admittedly short description and tags don't suggest a lot of unique qualities which this story might possess.  Depending on what "bittersweet" actually means, this would appear to be either a story about Dash teaching Scoots to fly (followed by tragedy), or Scoots discovering she'll never be able to fly, followed by Dash helping her either learn how to do so despite her injury/disability, or helping her learn to be awesome at something else.  Either way, this is well-trod territory for fanfiction.

Of course, the reason many oft-repeated plotlines get used so often is because they're intuitive, and because they work.  I just hope this doesn't turn out to be a cookie-cutter fic indistinguishable from a dozen others with similar premises.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After Scootaloo gets her cutie mark, Dash offers to give her flying lessons.  But progress is slow, and what the pair discover is holding Scoots back is a bitter pill to swallow (metaphorically speaking).

Thoughts after reading:  It is kind of nice when my initial impressions are confirmed, insofar as it tells me that my suppositions aren't totally without merit.  Tiny Wings is indeed a variation on a theme that has been repeated in dozens of other fanfics.  Thankfully, it's more than just a vapid retread.

Part of that is simply writing quality.  Although this is a solidly edited piece overall, dialogue in particular is a strong point throughout the story; the author depicts both Dash and Scoots in various states of mental ease and duress throughout the work, and the way their tone and speaking style shift slightly to match their present state is very nice.  Their lines feel genuine and in-character throughout.  Good writing can make even the most tired of stories palatable

But this isn't really a tired story, because although it uses a common crises as its central conflict, it sets itself apart with several original interpretations of characters and events.  None are particularly jaw-dropping in their unexpectedness, but touches like Scoots' confrontation with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon show a unique touch is being brought to the story.

Unfortunately, some of these touches seem to fall by the wayside as the story progresses.  After said confrontation, Diamond and Silver never make another appearance, which seems odd considering the weight of their single scene.  Many other one-shot events seem to be passed over or forgotten as the story progresses, while a select few (a signed wonderbolts poster, for example) are carried through the story.  On the whole, the piece feels extremely disjointed at times.

I suspect some readers will actually like that about the story, though.  Although it is by any measure unfocused, and creates several red herrings out of apparent authorial oversights, this does have the benefit of giving the entire work a sense of reality.  In life, everything doesn't wrap up in a neat little bow, and there's something to be said for a story which will introduce an element or plot point, then drop it completely.  Nevertheless, the way characters and story concepts drift in and out of the story strikes me as excessive.

As for the ending?  I'll spoil it enough to say that it's a happy one, basically.  Still, it was an appropriate one for the the story; I was very pleased that there wasn't a massive deus ex machina to conclude a tale which had been, to that point, about learning to excel while working within one's own abilities.  That by itself makes this better than half the stories I've read with this plot.  Moreover, the story as a whole never milks its central drama for unearned angst, for which I was grateful.

Star rating:  ☆ (what does this mean?)

Although there's nothing earth-shaking about Tiny Wings, it's a sweet if rambling story with a solid concept and above-average dialogue.  Nothing wrong with that!

Recommendation:  Readers looking for a tightly-plotted, focused tale will not find that here.  But anyone looking for a sad but not full-on depressing story which captures its characters to a tee will probably be more than happy with this one.

Next time:  4 Conversations About 1 Thing, by Gofindnova


  1. I liked this story, but the main reason I remember it is because of the "Shine" spin-off. Damn, that story is depressing.

  2. I thought this was a pretty good one. Not the best, but still a very good take on this concept.

  3. Eh, while the dialogue was decent (“No girls, I mean permanently. Like, her doctor said she would never fly. Just imagine if somepony told you that your horn would never work, Sweetie Belle. Or, Apple Bloom, think about if you... uh... lost... your... bow?” XD ), the prose was kinda narmy at times. For instance:

    "Shaking under her friend’s verbal barrage, small, twin rivers of water began trickling down her obscured face. Dash let out a frustrated groan as her rage passed."

    If that isn't redundant, over-described telling, I don't know what is.

    Writing dialogue and writing everything else, apparently, are two completely different skillsets. As Ursula Vernon once put it:

    "In published work, obviously, everything has to be up to a minimum standard of quality, so you might have brilliant dialog with adequate…err…everything else, or vice versa, or adequate both, or brilliant both. But what really surprised me was the number of fics that I read that would have completely uninspired milieu, setting, plot, etc, just plain mediocre, even poor writing–and I would read it anyway, because as soon as somebody started talking, I was practically convulsing in my chair. Stuff that would make me pound on the desk and howl kind of funny, and it’s a very rare bit of writing, published or not, that can make me do that.

    And of course the opposite is true. Something that could be up to adequate writing standards otherwise that just gets annhilated as soon as one of the characters opens their mouth.(Forget the fan fic–George Lucas, I’m lookin’ in your direction…)"

    Unrelatedly, the whole time I couldn't stop wondering where Scootaloo's parents were and whether or not she was the town orphan or something. Like, if ponies around the town just take turns taking care of her or she lives off their charity, sleeping underneath a dumpster most nights, and eating their moldy newspaper and discarded leftovers.

    Just to elaborate, the kid gets majorly hurt while training under Rainbow Dash's supervision, then stays at Rainbow's place that same evening. Scootaloo's parents don't even drop in on her at the hospital or give her a go-ahead for the sleepover. At that age, parents should still be a big part of a child's life, but she doesn't talk to them, see them or even mention them once over the course of the entire story. It was really... strange.

    1. I just gave this story a shot and I was about to say some things about it, but you took the words right out of my mouth. Er.. I mean out of my keyboard.