Friday, April 28, 2017

Fic Memorability: a Quick Look Back

One thing that all great stories have in common is that they're memorable.  Whether you love them or hate them, great stories stick with you, key scenes and emotions remaining locked in your memory long after you've read them.

Of course, lots of terrible stories are memorable, too.  So I'm not saying that being memorable makes a story great; just that being memorable is one of the prerequisites to a story being great.

With that in mind, today I want to look back a bit at my old 6-star reviews.  Excluding Binkie Pie and Project Horizons, it's been more than two and a half years since I've read any of those fics, and I found myself wondering how well I remembered those stories--and whether the stories I rated highly stuck with me as well as I might have assumed they would.

So, I came up with a few categories which broadly describe how well I remember these stories which I haven't read in years, looked through the 6-Star Reviews By Star Rating page, and sorted the stories accordingly.  Head down below the break to see which fics stuck with me, and which ones... didn't.

Highly Memorable Fics:

These are stories which, just by me seeing the title, immediately called several scenes, quotes, and/or unique story elements to my mind.  I could provide a pretty good summary of the story off the top of my head, years after reading.


Memories of Those Friends Who've Gone Before Us, by WTFHIW
It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door, by Jetfire
Ditzy Doo and the Blustery Day, by uSea
Fallout: Equestria, by Kkat
The Rummy Business of Old Blooey, by Cloud Wander


Bubbles, by Anonymous
Sunny Skies All Day Long, by PhantomFox
Getting Lucky, by Chicken Vortex
A Study in Rainbows / The Hound of Ponyville, by Thanqol
The Old Stories, by Thanqol
Tonight I Shall Be Laughter, by Cloud Wander
The Worst Bakers in Equestria, by Bob from Bottles
The Contest, by Cold in Gardez
The Best Night Ever, by Capn Chryssalid
Tilt, by Passport-Clean
The Immortal Game, by AestheticB

Junior Speedsters Forever!, by Pacce
The Misted Stage, by Raz_Fox
Half the Day is Night, by AugieDog
The Vinyl Scratch Tapes (First Season), by Corey W. Williams
A Day for Spike and Twilight, by Jetfire
Progress (Early Chapters), by Andrew Joshua Talon
Interview With a Princess, by Hoopy McGee
Eternal, by Device Heretic
The Moonstone Cup, by Cyanide
The Somewhere Cycle, Volume 1: "Wander and Green Brier," by The Descendant
Background Pony, by shortskirtsandexplosions
The Vinyl Scratch Tapes (Season 2), by Corey W. Williams

Twilight Sky Over Canterlot, by Foxxy
Simply Rarity, by Somber
Shaman, by TheMechanic
Past Sins, by Penstroke
On a Cross and Arrow, by Conner Cogwork
Progress (Later Chapters), by Andrew Joshua Talon
Reading Rainbow, by Corejo

The Light in the Darkness, by zaptiftun
My Little Dashie, by ROBCakeran53
6 Angry Mares, by Jelly
Brotherly Bond, by Crash Jet

Pretty Memorable Fics:

With these fics, I remember what the story was generally like, and could tell you the story arc in broad strokes.  But I'd probably pass over some key subplots, and might not be able to tell you what I did or didn't enjoy about the fic without refreshing my memory a bit.


Tales, by George Pollock Jr.
Celestia's Teeth, by Abalidoth
A Cup of Joe, by The Descendant
4 Conversations About 1 Thing, by Gofindnova


The Truth About Pinkie Pie, by Batty Gloom
Tomorrow, by Jera
Tangled Up in Blues, by The Descendant
Two Ponies, by Twilight Snarkle
Off the Edge of the Map, by Daetrin
It's Always Sunny in Fillydelphia, by Bobcat
Blueblood's Redemption, by Geldon
Sparkle's Law, by AestheticB
Naked Singularity, by Cold in Gardez
My Little Denarians, by Chengar Qordath
For Those We Left Behind, by Drakmire
Bringing Up Blueblood, by InsertAuthorHere

Storm, by Kits
Twilight October, by uSea
Creeping Darkness, by Pen Stroke
Kindness's Reward, by Avery Strange
Blueblood Returns, by Geldon
Silent Ponyville II, by Jake Heritagu
Ponies Play D&D, by Lucres
Fluttershy's Poem / Pinkie Pie's Lullaby, by Aquarian Poet
The Silent Shore, by The Descendant
Forever!, by Chengar Qordath
Yours Truly, by Thanqol
Trains, Carriages and Airships, by John Perry
Shipping Goggles, by AbsoluteAnonymous
My Little Alicorn, by InsertAuthorHere
Sword, Hammer, Stallion, by Redsquirrel456
Our First Steps, by Mrakoplaz
Heart of Gold, Feathers of Steel, by NickNack
Summer Days and Evening Flames, by Nicknack
Dresden Gets Schooled, by Chengar Qordath

Ponies Discover /co/, by Slywit
Ah Ain't Got No Ack-cent!, by Conner Cogwork
Out in the Cold, by EsperDerek
Number 12, by Squeak
The Dread Chitin, by Carazor
Eso Si Que Es, by WTFHIW
The Blueblood Conspiracy, by Geldon
Silent Ponyville, by Jake Heritagu
Rest Stop, by John Perry
It Takes a Village, by determamfidd
Daring Do and the Shiny Crystal, by Unlucky Roll
Anthropology, by JasonTheHuman
Silent Ponyville 3, by Jake Heritagu
The Steadfast Sky, by The Grey Potter

Changing Octaves, by Pen Stroke
Stargate: Equestria, by Bosstone
Utter Madness/Happy/Burlap, by Lawnpygmy
Pony for Christmas, by Brookwood Bronco
Allegrezza, by Coffeegrunt
Hold the Line: Tales from Magic Kindergarten, by Wodashin
Substitute Harmony, by Blayze Kohime
Shipping and Handling, by Pegasus Rescue Brigade
Frigid Winds and Burning Hearts, by The Grey Prophet
The Pony of the Opera, by Miyajima
Antipodes, by PK

Somewhat Memorable Fics:

With these stories, I could only vaguely describe the fic; maybe I could tell you the main characters and/or genre, but at this late date, crucial story elements are completely absent from my memory.




Singing to the Moon, by uSea
Timelords and Terror, by Hephestus
Forever, by Bobcat
Vengeance and Fashion, by Tumbleweed
Sweet Apple Capers, by The RPGenius
My Faithful Student, by PhantomFox
Pony Psychology Series, by Saddlesoap Opera

Chasing Rainbows, by Phoe
A Summer Twilight, by Larathin Bradely
Catching Rainbows, by Phoe
Jack and the Ponies, by Moabite
Beyond Forever, by Bobcat
The Purple Menace(s), by uSea
Friendship Is..., by Cascore
Dreams of Midnight, by EsperDerek
What Do You Do With a Drunken Unicorn?, by Tumbleweed
The Sock Swap, by ProBono
Solar Flare, by Dragryphon
Silent Ponyville II, by Jake Heritagu
The Birds and the Bees, by theworstwriter
The Hiccups, by uSea
The Promises We Keep, by Pascoite
Tiny Wings, by DeadParrot222
Secrets and Lies, by Saddlesoap Opera

Constellations, by RPGenius
The Circle of Friends, by Kiyyik
Better Living Through Science and Ponies, by Penstroke and Batty Gloom
Crimps and Prance, by Conner Cogwork
Luna's Excellent Adventure, by Blueshift
Black and White, by Melionos
Feedback, by Kegisak
The Thessalonica Legacy, by Dashukta
Macintosh, by TotalOverflow
Semper Fidelis, by Bobcat
Moonspire Run, by TitanRising
Raiders of the Cutie Mark, by DJLowrider
Moonbeam, by Laurence Brown
Mines of Dragon Mountain, by Hephestus
An Old Guardspony's Last Duty, by BuffaloBrony
Daring Do and the Curse of the Lost Tomb, by Fedora
Transcendence, by Corejo
Icarus, by Tamar

Today, Tomorrow, and Forever, by Chopper's Top Hat 
Party of None, by Sparkler and Quill
The Logical Option, by ADriftingThought
Spark, by Avery Strange
Shades of Midnight, by Phoe
Cries in the Autumn Wind, by Sunset Rose
Moonlight Over Midnight, by EsperDerek
Dinky Doo's Father Revealed, by Roy G Biv
Common Sky, by Syrinkitty
Derpy's Bebop, by TrelaTyraelis
Daring Do and the Ivory Idol, by Fedora
The Vagabond, by Truthseeker

Unmemorable Fics:

Stories where reading the title and author left me drawing a blank, and I had to go look at my review (or at least, the cover art and description) just to recall the fic, period.





Rainbows and Sunsets, by Sagebrush
Carousel, by Vanner
Nocturne, by CupcakesNom
Thunder and Lightning, by Avery Strange


Memorial, by Buxton

A Colt's Best Friend, by Mister Clacky


Final thoughts:

To repeat what I said above, this shouldn't be taken as a list of which stories are better or worse; there are plenty of fics that are memorable for reasons that are unrelated to quality (When you remember that large segments of 6 Angry Mares are lifted directly from  12 Angry Men... well, you've basically remembered the entire fic) and/or entirely personal (A Day for Spike and Twilight is not, I would venture to say, a terribly memorable fic... but it's filed away in the same part of my brain with Dangerous Business, which is).  It's a list of what's stuck with me, for better or for worse.

I am a little mortified by the seven fics which fall into the last category.  I came up with three categories before I started sorting, but when I actually started in, I realized that I had no memory whatsoever of these stories.  As in, the best I could come up with was "Thunder and Lightning had to've been shipping, right?  I don't think Avery Strange wrote anything else..." or "Postal Blues must be a Derpy story, are there even any popular early fanfics about anypony else who works at a post office?"  In all seven cases, I actually had to go open my review before I had the slightest idea what the fic was about.  Considering that, in each case, I once wrote what amounts to a short essay about the fic in question, I find it worrying that these stories slipped my mind so completely.

The penultimate category, by contrast, is full of fics like Mines of Dragon Mountain, about which I remember the premise ("Dr. Who crossover starring the Doctor and Twilight"), my general opinion ("got too dark for its own good"), and not much else.  The top two categories are both comprised of stories which I'd say "I remembered" of, with different degrees of precision between the two; basically, I could talk about the Pretty Memorable (to Chris) fics in a conversation with someone who'd read them, but I could actually lead a discussion about the Highly Memorable ones (well, probably not a super detailed discussion), without having to go back and re-read the fic first.

Glancing through the list, I don't see any obvious patterns beyond "I'm more likely to remember fics I really liked/had strong feelings about."  Length didn't make as big a difference as I thought it might, genre doesn't sort out particularly heavily in favor or against any particular type of story, and so on.  

In conclusion, I don't know if this is nearly as interesting to anyone else as it is to me.  I think it'd be fun to compare with someone else who had read all of these stories years ago... but as far as I know, nobody else has read every 6-star fic (or at least, they were low-ego enough not to turn it into a whole big thing), so for now, I guess you can glean whatever you're able--if there's anything worth gleaning here at all--from what has or hasn't slipped my mind over the years.


  1. I think it's probably also a function of how many fics you've read. I mean, that's why I review stuff in the first place, so I can go back and find out "What the hell did I think of this one?"

  2. I'm trying to figure out if Ponies play D&D appearing twice means you found more memorable or more forgettable.

    1. It means that, by the time I finished copy-pasting all my titles in, my eyes were all but literally spinning in their sockets. Frankly, I'm surprised there aren't more accidental repeats.

      In the case of D&D, though, it's definitely "supposed" to be in the "Moderate" category. I can remember the opening very clearly, and could tell you the gist of each chapter.

  3. Of the six-star fics I've read, I think I'd rate all these about the same in terms of my personal recollection of them. Except for Timelords and Terror and Mines of Dragon Mountain. I remember those quite strongly.

  4. I find it interesting you remember Brotherly Bond far better than my story, for one reason: you reviewed them back to back, and the main thing you liked about mine was that what it did right was precisely what Brotherly Bond had done so horribly wrong. I might have expected that contrast would stick in your head.

    Personally, I don't have a very good memory for stories, and there are very few I can reconstruct just from seeing the title and author, and expanding to seeing the cover art and synopsis doesn't always help that much. The vast majority of what I've read is things I've reviewed, so I usually have to go back to my review to recall it. Even then, my reviews are mostly detailed stuff that does nothing to give a picture of the story as a whole, so unless I did some kind of wrap-up at the end, even that doesn't always help.

    You've been very kind to review lots of my stories (16, by the looks of it), but my one regret is that the story mentioned here is the only one in a format that gets a rating, as I only had the one 6-star (which was a very early and fairly rough story), and I haven't written anything that'd qualify as a fandom classic.

  5. There's a couple that I would be able to remember on my deathbed, and I have the memory of a... what was I talking about?

    Keepers of Discord (in your list)
    National Geographic Presents: Big Princess Week
    Five Hundred Little Murders
    The Destruction of the Self
    Cartography of War (because it parallels one of my favorite Bujold books, Shards of Honor)
    Past Sins (nach)
    Pinkie Watches Pain Dry (various reasons, one of which is the reading)
    Yes, Apple Bloom There is a Santa Hooves (also reading)
    Asylum (come on, update darnit)
    Lost Cities (of course)
    Small Town Charm (spiders, brrrr)
    100% Move, 50% Fire (about letting go...and watching it fall)