The second chapter of my fan-novel, Our Day in Disdain, is finished! (self.MLPLounge)

MLPLounge

4 ups - 1 downs = 3 votes

This is a MLP fan-novel I've been working on for over a year and a half. It's been in production for the better part of a year and I am finally happy enough with the story to start the writing process. The story is considered "Grimdark" and "Sad" according to the fandom's jargon, but it's also going to have it's fair share of happy, suspenseful, heartwarming, and bittersweet moments; so the genre tags shouldn't be what turns you away from the story. Please, enjoy!

Cover page

Chapter 1: A Groan of Tedium

Google Docs | Deviantart

Chapter 2: A Mare Called Dashie

Google Docs | Deviantart


Criticism is always appreciated, but nothing destructive please. Also, please be aware that there are a few pieces of criticism I'm not willing to take:

  • I'm aware that the rarity's line in chapter one about being "up to her horseshoes in work" sounds awkward, but there are no other horse puns I can make that sound as phonetically good as 'horseshoes' does.

  • The name of the main character, Dashie, will not be changed.

other than that, it's fair game. Criticize away!

30 comments submitted at 22:22:03 on Feb 3, 2013 by [deleted]

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 7 Points
  • 02:12:43, 4 February

Chapter 1

The characters feel really spot on, if set in a slightly darker/realer universe. The part where Rarity goes to look in the mirror at her disheveled visage was pleasantly slow and somber, and not the type of character moment you might see in an episode.

Sweetie Belle's initial selfishness and then humbled embarrassment also felt really natural.

Chapter 2

I really liked the part about the scents in the air, but it went on way too long. I think it should have stopped after the "Seasoned spice" part. Just enough to set the tone of a warm afternoon at the end of summer.

Sweetie Belle being able to smell faraway towns like Manehatten and Apploosa I feel are both improbable and overindulgent. (Especially being able to smell specific things from these faraway lands like urine, sweat, and sand)

Things seem to be overly descriptive in this chapter. Lines like "was a caress; like a quick, sweet kiss" to describe the autumn wind, or "almost as if to wave at the small filly as if she were an old friend" to describe the tree branches just take me out of the moment, and wait for the analogies to end before the story continues.

I did like Sweetie Belle's idea to buy a present. That was a nice aside to let us know what she's thinking.

So then these hooded ponies come up...

(This part is mostly in real-time as I read this, as opposed to being all written up when I've finished reading)

First, who's perspective is this from? Sweetie Belle's? Does she know what a seventeenth century guillotine henchman's hood looks like? Did ponies have a seventeenth century, famous for its guillotines?

>they moved in and out of the shadows

implies they were scurrying about, and being shifty, but I thought they were huddled in a circle, "standing around something in the middle of the alley".

Also, if this is from Sweetie Belle's point of view, I doubt she'd be able tell the different types of hoods they wear, but be unable to see them clearly in the shadows.

This part's really confusing me. I assume these hooded figures are up to no good, and will be part of the story later, but it feels like too much information is being put here with no context. For example,

> some had burlap masks that looked like they were made of pony skin.

What information is this supposed to give me? Are these ponies serial killers and, are they wearing pony skin? If the burlap only looks like pony skin, but is really burlap, then it paints these fellows in an oddly dark light with no buildup. Also, if Sweetie Belle's able to tell the difference between Henchman, Scarecrow, and Ski style masks, I don't think she'd mistake burlap for pony skin.

If this isn't from SB's POV, then it mostly just feels like inconsistent narration.

Moving on...

Since when is Orphan McGee leader of this outfit?!

I think your strength is in the slow, lighter character moments. Scootaloo being very impatient, and calling out that each possible pony could be SB was really cute.

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but saying things like "The name of the main character, Dashie, will not be changed." make it sound like "Dashie" is an attempt at an original character, and are being overprotective of the first draft.

"Dashie" is an established nickname of one of the main characters, and she has been called this in the show. It just seems a little weird that Rarity would lash out at SB for calling RD that.

Is "Dashie" the name of the character you thought up, and is the conversation between Rarity and Sweetie Belle just a way to handwave the similarity? Or does Dashie having a similar name play into the story later?

I think I'd have to read a third chapter (or just be told why) because everything's too confusing right now to give a more reasoned review.

Overall, the writing as nice, and the flow and pacing seemed fine. There's just way too many unanswered questions for me to be able to enjoy it right now.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -1 Points
  • 02:25:09, 4 February

>I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but saying things like "The name of the main character, Dashie, will not be changed." make it sound like "Dashie" is an attempt at an original character, and are being overprotective of the first draft. "Dashie" is an established nickname of one of the main characters, and she has been called this in the show. It just seems a little weird that Rarity would lash out at SB for calling RD that.

Keep in mind this story has been in production for almost 3 years, where as when it was first started the name "Dashie" was only used once. Then two years later in season three is was used only twice.

It's not an established canon name but it might be an establish fanon nickname. However, the whole point of chapter two was to set up the difference between the "mysterious" Dashie character and Rainbow Dash.

Moving on

>Sweetie Belle being able to smell faraway towns like Manehatten and Apploosa I feel are both improbable

She's not smelling faraway tows. She's smelling different scents in the wind. Have you ever been somewhere like a forest on a windy day? You can smell the trees, the dirt, fruit, etc. All depending upon which way the wind is blowing.

That's what's happening with Sweetie Belle. She doesn't have some super ability to smell, she's just getting little caresses of wind and scents from far away places.

But more importantly, that whole part was to establish the changing seasons. Namely, Cider is made predominantly in the fall and golden rods bloom around the fall.

>who's perspective is this from?

The story is in third person omniscient.

The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axes. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axis, with "subjective" narration describing one or more character's feelings and thoughts, and "objective" narration not describing the feelings or thoughts of any characters. The second axis is the omniscient/limited axis, a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. An omniscient narrator has knowledge of all times, things, people, places, and events, including all characters' thoughts.

So while sweetie belle doesn't know what the disguises were, the narrator and the reader do, so that was purely for description.

>What information is this supposed to give me? Are these ponies serial killers and

from far away burlap can look like skin.

EDIT:

>There's just way too many unanswered questions for me to be able to enjoy it right now.

That's how your supposed to feel right now. Not everything is set up and or answered yet. It's a novel length fanfic, is everything about the plot set up and explained in the first two chapters of a regular novel? No, it takes some time. Right now I just want people to focus on my writing style, description and dialogue and stuff, not exactly plot related stuff.

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 10 Points
  • 02:47:51, 4 February

Even if she was never called "Dashie" in the show, it's obviously a name very reminiscent of Rainbow Dash. The characters in your story even highlight that.

I'm not opposed to her having a similar name to another character, I'm just saying there should be a reason for it other than "that's her name".

Unless her having a similar name is a plot point that affects the story, it just seems out of place in a work of fiction.

For example, in the Big Lebowski, there are two characters whose last name is Lebowski, because one gets mistaken for the other, which sets up the plot and a whole chain of events. The similarities in names plays into the plot.

Conversely lets take... A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge learns to appreciate the Christmas season with the help of some ghosts. Except, what if instead of Bob Cratchit, he was named "Ebenezy Cratchit". Wouldn't that be confusing? Another character with an oddly similar name, for no real reason?

Like I say, I'm fine with her being called "Dashie", but I really think there should be a reason for it in the story.

>She's smelling different scents in the wind.

That's all well and good, and I'll even buy that she's able to smell scents wafting through the air from miles away, but I think spending so much time to describe the scents in the air just slows down the story. I got a perfect feeling for the atmosphere and time of year from the description of Sweet Apple Acres and their Cider scents.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -1 Points
  • 02:53:40, 4 February

>Even if she was never called "Dashie" in the show, it's obviously a name very reminiscent of Rainbow Dash.

That's the point. There's a reason she is called Dashie. As it has a big relation to Rainbow Dash. It's a big part of the story and one of the biggest twists of the story. Please don't press this any further because I don't want to spoil any more than what I already have.

>I got a perfect feeling for the atmosphere and time of year from the description of Sweet Apple Acres and their Cider scents.

This is where things get kinda dicey. I like the description and so have many other people, I think it just might be a difference of opinion and we should probably just agree to disagree about that whole wind thing.

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 5 Points
  • 03:05:59, 4 February

>There's a reason she is called Dashie.

Okay, that's pretty much all I needed to know. I'll be looking forward to how this resolves.

>agree to disagree about that whole wind thing.

Fair enough. I still think the "as if she were an old friend" bit about the tree, especially after we just got a thorough description of the wind, is a little too much.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 0 Points
  • 03:24:35, 4 February

Do me a favor.

Just so I know I'm on track with part 1 of the story, give me a list of all the questions you had while reading the first two chapters.

The purpose of this is mostly for me to know if I'm going in the right direction and what I'd have to do to have every question answered in regards to the main character so everything can be patched up.

A big problem I had in the first draft was that I couldn't explain who Dashie was quick enough, but I feel like I'm doing a good enough job now, but I'd still like a list just so I know I'm not stumbling around in the dark.

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 5 Points
  • 03:37:05, 4 February

Will do. I'm going to reread it from a more analytical standpoint so I don't miss anything that might confuse the average reader.

Also, if you need something else to listen to while I write those up, I've been listening to this song for the past few minutes.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 0 Points
  • 03:39:07, 4 February

Be sure to not over-analyze it too much. It's still only the second chapter.

And as for music, I've been listening to this song while working on the intro to chapter 3.

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 5 Points
  • 05:30:17, 4 February

Eh, I decided to drop the "questions they would ask" aspect of the analysis.

Right, so, like I said, I think your strength in writing lies in the slower, dialogue-based moments. You're able to find things for characters to do, and they act very naturally. (In the darker version of Ponyville you have set for them here, at least)

In more action-oriented parts, I found myself having to reread paragraphs because I lost who was being talked about.

Lets take this part where one pony has glass put into her eye.

>There were five, maybe six of them, but they moved in and out of the shadows of the alley and had their Cutie Marks and coats covered; so Sweetie Belle couldn’t get a good idea.

We go from SB watching from a distance, trying to see what's going on, to

>“I think she blinded me!” a female pony cried as she stumbled away from the group. “Dashie hit me with that bottle and blinded me!”

BAM! Someone gets a bottle in their eye with nothing beforehand to indicate the pony they were huddled around was even concious.

At first, I thought the pony they were huddled around had glass shoved in her eye, and Dashie was the name of the cult/gang members who did it. It should say something more along the lines of this:

>There were five, maybe six of them, but they were hard to see in the shadows of the alley. They had they were wearing cloaks (or coats) that covered their cutie marks, making it hard for Sweetie Belle to identify any of them.

(are the various hoods separate from the clothing covering their marks?)

>All of a sudden there was a commotion in the alley as the figure the hooded ponies were huddled over started yelling and flailing, and then the sound of glass shattering.

>“AHHHH! I think she blinded me!” one of the hooded mares screamed, as she stumbled away from the group. "Dashie hit me with that bottle and now I can't see!"

(The members of this group have always been described up to now as wearing hoods, so it's best to stay consistent so we know who's who) (Also, can she see out of her other eye, or was that one blinded from a previous bottle fight? If the former, she isn't "blind", technically.)

Now, to this line here

>The mare was clutching her hooves to her left eye, and Sweetie Belle could see a steady stream of blood flowing between them, delicately sneaking through the pony’s cerise body hair and landing in a small puddle on the alley floor.

You know what I said before about being overly descriptive, and how that can slow down the pacing in a book? This is doubly true for action scenes like this.

I'm more interested in the broader strokes, and what's going on, who's doing what, than I am in the details of how "delicately" the pony's blood is "sneaking". This is presumably happening all in a short amount of time, and it really takes me out of the moment when I have to get though these extra descriptions to get back to what's going on.

(Additionally, she seems rather panicked, and sounds like she's thrashing around in pain. "Delicately sneaking" brings up the image of her crouched down, being very still, or perhaps shivering, as the blood slowly drips down.)

>“Are you hurt?” Sweetie belle asked, reaching to to Dashie.

She was able to get close enough to "reach" to her, so was she able to see what type of pony she was? Can understand not being able to see exactly what color she was, being caked in dirt, but wings or a horn aren't easy to miss.

I know some mystery wants to be retained, but I still think Dashie needs more description as to her appearance so the audience has something to visualize. (Preferably, this information should be introduced when SB approaches Dashie.)

General body color, hair color, anything. Like I say, caked dirt, fine, but we need something to hold onto in our mind as to what she looks like.

That's about it, I guess.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -3 Points
  • 05:25:14, 4 February

Sweet Celestia you're taking an awfully long time.

My story's not that bad, is it?

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 8 Points
  • 05:58:24, 4 February

Wait... Did you downvote my posts? (Please say no)

I'm just trying to be helpful, man.

  • [-]
  • Leiden
  • 7 Points
  • 05:37:59, 4 February

I've just got a lot to say is all.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -2 Points
  • 05:42:57, 4 February

> decided to drop the "questions they would ask" aspect of the analysis.

God damn it, I specifically asked for questions.

More Comments - Not Stored
  • [-]
  • Jeroknite
  • 2 Points
  • 10:58:58, 4 February

Hey, I just want to say that...

A scent can not be carried that far unless the smell is very strong. Like paper mill strong. You will never smell the bakery from the next town over, because the scent gets scattered.