Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 167

Usually, when I read a fanfic, I stick it out to the end; either it's short enough that there's no sense not seeing it through once I've started, or it's something I'm reading for a Fandom Classics review.  Or both.  Or I'm enjoying the story, and stopping early would be silly.

So, for those four reasons, I finish most of the fanfics I start.  But every now and then, there's one that does enough to convince me to pick it up, but which I end up dropping partway through.  Here's a look at a few of those fics, including how far I got, and why I quit.  Check them out, below the break.

The Early Life of Blueblood, by Macgyver644200 (apx. 2000 words / 5% read)

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The title is pretty representative: a series of scenes from Blueblood's early life.

A few thoughts:  I probably should have been ready for writing problems based on the description, the first sentence of which is "Of all the royal figures who lead Equestria, much is known of most of them."  But I like stories about Blueblood more than I can reasonably justify, so I gave it a try.  In addition to the expected writing problems, I also found highly overwrought dialogue, clunky exposition, and an unfortunate interest in promoting the minutia of an OC at the expense of the story itself.  That last problem might well have been limited to the first chapter (it isn't clear from the part I read if he's a major character in the rest of the story), but I'd seen enough in any event.

Recommendation:  If you love Blueblood fics (like me) and don't mind melodrama and construction issues (unlike me), this might be worth a look.  But it's definitely not for people who don't want to hear characters exposit their unique and quirky attributes back and forth.

Of Course, by Ravensdagger (apx. 2000 words / 5% read)

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A mysterious pony interrogates and murders a fellow Canterlonian, for unclear reasons.

A few thoughts: That's a description of just the first chapter; in case it's not clear, I didn't read far enough to get any answers to the fic's central mysteries, so I can hardly include them in my summary.  Regardless, this chapter was written in prose which tried to disguise its fundamental shortcomings with density, but only succeeded in using a number of questionable descriptors.  Meanwhile, I wasn't terribly intrigued by the premise; while I can certainly see interesting directions which a story featuring a vision of Equestria both bloody and vaguely Randian (at least, in its protagonist) could go, but it's hard to have a lot of faith in such a setup without some assurance that the author knows what they're doing with those themes.  That assurance wasn't present in the first chapter, so I dropped it.

Recommendation:  I didn't read far enough to tell if the payoff to the major alterations in tone and event from canon were well-used, so I can't really make a recommendation here.  That said, if purple writing isn't your thing, this probably isn't a good choice.

Seashell, by Winston (apx. 8000 words / 35% read)

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The diary of a royal guard whose been stationed to a remote beach, with only a single other pony for company.

A few thoughts:  This story does several things very well.  It does wonderful word painting, creating striking visuals which are effortlessly readable.  It also infuses its setting with the weight of history in a way that I greatly appreciated.  But the thing that really bothered me about the story was that it reads absolutely nothing like a journal.  Given that it ostensibly is a journal, that's an undeniable flaw.  Partly related to this was my inability to connect to the main character, and as a result, I found that I had more academic appreciation for the writing than I had actual appreciation for the story or structure.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for evocative writing and aren't too concerned about format, this is definitely worth checking out.  It just wasn't a story for me.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds pretty much like par for the course for a Ravensdagger story. The sad thing is those writing issues never improve unless his editors take it upon themselves to fix. He's notorious for getting others to do that kind of thing for him, which, y'know, is a great way to keep your writing from ever improving.

    Man, I'm right there with you on stories that kicked me out of immersion, even though they were quite good, because they purported to be letters or journals, yet sounded nothing like them, or at least had serious problems in their presentation as such. It's a shame when it could have worked beautifully as a standard narration, but it's undone because the author chose a format they didn't put enough thought in conforming to. Oddly enough, due to repeated minor infractions rather than a global mismatch of format, "A New Age" falls into this category for me, which the RCL inducted not too long ago.