Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Thursday, June 27, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Vengeance of Dawn

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has a love-hate relationship with not only FiM Fiction, but my FiM Fiction neighbors as well. We're a jolly lot aren't we? I mean, it's hard to deny it with all the gore and, let us not forget, clop. Nevertheless, I did say it was a love-hate relationship. The reason being, there's always that one story that blows you away, yet everyone seems to have missed... Scipio Smith's Vengeance of Dawn probably isn't the word 100,000 word epic 10-out-of-10-deserving story that we're all looking for, but with some fixing it could be pretty damn close. Smith did one hell of a job establishing that the aftermath of Princess Twilight Sparkle's coronation isn't easy for her and her friends. This is really Vengeance of Dawn's spot to shine: the characters, canon and original, have realistic and challenging inner struggles which establish their personalities. To back up the great characters, the dialogue is excellent and every conversation feels organic and flows nicely. However, both have their hiccups and the writing is not exactly top notch. Even with these problems, Vengeance of Dawn is an enjoyable read.  

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Vengeance of Dawn by Scipio Smith  
Incomplete (Last Updated June 15, 2013) 

Twilight grew up and found her destiny, but there is one pony who feels embittered that it should have been her destiny, her glory.  Breaking Dawn, Celestia's former student, is convinced that she is the true Element of Magic and has been robbed of her honours, her fame and most importantly of the love of Princess Celestia without which Dawn is nothing. 

Rallying her old friends, Breaking Dawn sets out to bring Equestria's newest princess down and pass the final test her mentor set her all those years ago. As Dawn begins to wreak her vengeance, and Twilight struggles to protect her precious ponies from her elusive adversary, both these students of Celestia embark upon a dark path, paying no heed to the truth that a quest for revenge can only end one way. Read it here.  

Tags: Tragedy, Adventure, Alternate Universe 
Rating: Everyone 
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Vengeance of Dawn's strongest point is undoubtedly its dialogue. I enjoyed reading the characters' conversations because they elegantly showcase the story's characters. Not to mention the dialogue flows excellently and the lines feel organic and rich with personality. As mentioned, it does hiccup a bit in the later chapters when I start to see the infamous "wall of dialogue."  Try to avoid one character talking for an obsessive amount of time; it can be an immersion-breaker for your readers. One last thing while we're on the topic of dialogue: the majority of errors occur in the dialogue. I spotted multiple random line breaks, the dreaded ", typo, and most of all, questions ending with periods. 

I can easily say that Breaking Dawn and her friends are beyond the copy/paste ex-Mane 6. A few of the not-meant-to-be Mane 6 element holders don't obviously represent their elements and I like that. Even more to the point, Scipio Smith didn't me bang over the head insisting that these guys are the antagonists. Even Dawn, the villains hell-bent on getting  her revenge, has her own struggles with the blood on her hooves and thus, developing the characters even further.  

Vengeance of Dawn contains many flashbacks to the earlier years of Twilight's time at Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. I feared that this would the story choppy and difficult to read. Did it? Surprisingly not. It added a very nice narrative to the whole story; showing the reader the path that eventually lead to Dawn going for revenge. There were times when the flashbacks were rather choppy and transition badly, but they were fortunately few and far between. The flashbacks really saved the readers from some long explanatory dialogues.  

Now, some of you might draw parallels from the recently released Equestria Girls. I haven't seen it but I did see the similarities from viewing the trailer. Be advised if you are annoyed by those things, but originality is not my place to judge (from the critique point of view).  

The next could be considered a big problem, particularly for the more technical readers (writers than anyone else). Vengeance of Dawn, especially in the earlier chapters, has plenty of technical errors. I'm talking about run-on sentences, choppy paragraph breaks, the wall-of-text, and minor punctuation typos. They're hardly noticeable, but I couldn't help but point out that the writing can get pretty sloppy in some places.   

You know what? I liked Vengeance of Dawn. However, the characters, dialogue, and narrative (essentially the backbone of a story) act like a double edged sword, doing well in most places but hurting the story in others. Nevertheless, some of the narrative elements really backs this story up and with a little more polish, the characters as well. If you can get pass the technical problems, Vengeance of Dawn is a good story with interesting, down to earth characters. One last thing before I go, this should be the last review before the Fiesta Equestria 2013 convention and afterwards, my two week vacation to Guatemala. Reviews will be back in high gear when I return on the 18th of June. This has been Admujica, have a great weekend everyone and I look forward to seeing some of you at the con!  

Vengeance of Dawn gets a score of: 7 out of 10  
An overall very well done story with some technical problems  
Read it here.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Spoiler-licious-ness: Mini-Episode 3 - Reddit Replies: Any Advice for New FiM Fiction Authors?

So when I was first getting setup on the FiM Fiction scene, I thought I was going to be a writer like I've been in the past. To be honest though, I was so lost it was unbelievable. I didn't even know groups existed. So I set off to the one community I was similar with: the sacred lands of Reddit. Tiptoeing my way into the temple of /r/mylittlefanfic, I asked for its sage users. It's been nearly half a year now and even though I never took on my own FiM Fiction stories, I hold their advice near and dear. So without further ado, here's the edited version of the thread. Enjoy!  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Author Spotlight - ShootingStar Interview with Amacita

Good evening, fellow travelers of the interwebs. This one's going to be short so let's hop right to it. I posted my review on ShootingStar159's The Rising Stars about a month ago and revered it for its imaginative world building and fantastic storytelling. If you're looking for a great Starswirl story, The Rising Stars is truly the way to go. Little did I know that a few days after the review, ShootingStar's flagship story, Birthday Wishes, was featured on Equestria Daily. To put it in ShootingStar's own words: "So, that happened... :D" 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Everfree Courier

Human in Equestria stories. They float to the top of my inbox more than you might think. Kind of like the way my notes have somehow wandered off my hard drive for the last few days. Creepy if you ask me. I felt that DVAN56's Everfree Courier had several issues. The largest of these issues are the characters. Besides being straight up unnaturally unpleasant to each other, they often have "mood swings" and seem like clones. This is only exaggerated by the poor dialogue which is often predictable and linear. In a close second, Everfree Courier has many technical issues and weak storytelling. I really do hate negative reviews. I'm not just doing it to pick on you guys. Nevertheless, onwards to the review!  

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Everfree Courier by DVAN56
Complete (Finished Jan 17, 2013) 
The Everfree forest needs a package delivered and only a human can do it in these dark times. The man must fight his way through the lands of Equestria to Canterlot if he is ever to see his home again. Read it here.   
Tags: Adventure, Human 
Rating: Teen 

I believe Everfree Courier would benefit greatly from a proof-reader. There were multiple grammar and spelling errors. The strangest of all these errors was that Everfree Courier suffered from a strange case of switching tense while writing. While most writers write in past tense (for example: Jane tiptoed to the door and opened it carefully), this story switches between past and present tense, sometimes mid-chapter or mid-sentence. This rather large technical error confuses the reader and is bad writing practice.  

The next rather large technical issue with Everfree Courier is a little something I like to call the Diary Syndrome. When a story suffers from Diary Syndrome, it is like a diary, just listing off the events of the story and adding commentary here and there. The end result is something that is clunky and rather undercooked. It affects pacing, making the story skip through plot points and shortening the story overall.  

I believe that most stories that feature a post-apocalyptic Equestria really set out to tug at your heart strings. It's knowing the land and its people during better times that makes you cheer on the protagonists in hope of a "restoration to the land's former glory." I'm afraid Everfree Courier doesn't set the mood to really make the reader care. Descriptors are bland and linear, making it feel like not much attention was given to fully flesh out the environment.  

As said in the introduction, the character are not exactly this story's strength. They are a minor bit clone-y and aren't always consistent with their established personalities. However, it's not really the characters that are weak, but their dialogue. Dialogue is undeniably the strongest avenue to showcase characters but Everfree Courier abuses it. Conversations feel fake and extremely linear. Not to mention there is a lot of explaining in the story. These explanations aren't exactly conversations, but long lines of dialogue that explain a story element.  

I usually don't like to mention story elements and concepts, since these reviews mostly highlight story mechanics and the likes, but I felt this needed to be mentioned. Everfree Courier's storyline is disjointed and it felt like many of the story elements didn't need to be there in the first place. Not to mention the story slams on the brake too often to explain these overly complex elements that didn't do much to change the storyline. Remember, originality shouldn't be at the sacrifice of a good, clean story arc.  

This brings me to my next point, where is the story arc? I keep getting the whole epic journey sort of vibe but Everfree Courier is much too short to really make me feel like the characters really withstood a challenging ordeal. I really don't mean to compare, but take ToixStory's Freeze Frame for example.  It is clear that ToixStory fleshed out just want kind of hurdles his characters were going to have to face to reach their ultimate goal. The readers really get a taste of how they had to face the hurdles of the conflict at hand and each other as a team. I didn't feel that with Everfree Courier. Instead, it was just Get From Point A to Point B with one or two little setbacks. I honestly wish this story was a bit longer just to truly see how the character handle their day-to-day ordeals. Not to mention the characters didn't exactly change over this time. After all, a story is not about what happened, it's about what happened to the characters and how it changed them for better or for worse.  

In the end of the day, Everfree Courier has a lot of potential but just needs to full flesh out its dialogue and characters. If it bring its imaginative story elements and characters together into a more tightly knit storyline but also widens its focus to show the reader "the journey," I believe DVAN can really put something amazing together. I see a lot of potential with you DVAN, and I wish you the best of luck with your future ideas. This has been Admujica. You guys have a great weekend.  

Everfree Courier gets a score of: 3 out of 10  
Poor dialogue and characterization plague an already weak story arc 
Read it here.   

Saturday, June 15, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Of Age

You might be asking yourself “why?” I too am asking myself why I am doing this. This is what happens when you stay up till 5am in the morning with your Brony friends. For someone who is not of legal age to drink, I'd imagine it’s an equivalent to those not-so-sober moments. Anyways, it was at this moment that the chump I call my friend turned to me and said “Why the hell don’t you review any of the stories I like?” Turns out he only likes Paleowriter's Of AgeWell then. I knew the time would come that I would have to review a story with a like: dislike ratio of 80 to 1 without being requested to do so. Nevertheless, this one’s for you Eli. Of Age does a phenomenal job of capturing My Little Pony's characters, not only in the dialogue but also in the writing itself. The structure was pretty impressively done is very well written. The only problem I have with Of Age is the pacing. It's mediocre in the opening chapters. Even when you begin to realize this is a really slow story, it feels like the story is taking too long to get to its main conflict.  Nevertheless, I definitely recommend Of Age if you're looking for a good read. 

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Of Age by Paleowriter
Incomplete (Last updated May 13, 2013)
When Rarity writes to Princess Celestia inquiring after how dragons age, she gets a plea for help in reply. A war is brewing, and Princess Celestia thinks Rarity's the one to stop it. Now, still completely uncertain what her feelings for Spike are or if they're even plausible, she's off to meet with his distant relatives to negotiate a truce between the dragons and the sea serpents before the world gets caught up in their destructive clash. Read it here
Tags: Romance, Adventure
Rating: Everyone
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It's been two weeks. Two bloody weeks since I've done a review. Thanks final exams. Putting that aside, Of Age shines in its narrative and dialogue due to Paleowriter ability to capture Rarity's character. Pretty much every canon character is excellently done, I believe Rarity and Spike's characters shine due to the narrative. Their thoughts and personalities make an excellent narrative that truly "guides" the reader though the story.  

Like stated in the prior paragraph, the dialogue is absolutely fantastic. The fact that the characters never break character only supplements a beautiful balance of  organic and well-flowing dialogue. Conversations are natural and move very nicely. For the most part, I enjoyed the rich conversations in this story. 

Holy hell. Where are my notes? Ah yes! The excellent narrative is complemented by how well Of Age was written. The story flows nicely and is easy on the reader. Thoughts and internal conversations are expressed through the handy-dandy italic text. Much to my enjoyment, the majority of these "thoughts" never lasted too long nor made the text choppy.  

I was going to put this with the characterization paragraph but this might be considered world building. Nevertheless, the Sea Serpent and Dragon characters, even with their rather momentary appearances, were well fleshed out and their cultures are excellently reflected in their dialogue and actions. There is even a moment when a dragon talks to Rarity about their culture. Much to my surprise, the moment doesn't feel forced or cheesy in any way. Scratch that. Every world building moment in Of Age is beautifully done! Not only that but it is easy to see the differences in the conflicting cultures just off of how the original characters actPaleowriter expands on what we already know about the world, then slips it into the story without feeling forced or cheesy. That is what every fan fiction writer should strive for. Very nicely done, Paleowriter. 

Of Age obviously has a lot going for it,  but there is one major problem that could make many readers drop it. You see, Of Age starts off very slow and takes a while to get to its main conflict. Don't get me wrong, the conflict is introduced well and quickly captures the reader's attention. Partially because Paleowriter establishes very early on that things are not right very early on. However, the plot never really progresses until about Chapter Four. My advice to the reader: stick to Of Age for a while. It might take awhile to get moving, but the plot is very captivating and has its fair share of twists and turns.  

Believe it or not, I lost my notes on this story more than I feel comfortable admitting. It starting to feel like some kind of bad joke. Nevertheless, I can't say I wasn't disappointed in Of Age once I got over the slow introduction. Backed by it's outstanding dialogue, exceptional characterization, and well written structure, Of Age is a very enjoyable story. Pick this one up if you're looking for an epic adventure with some Sparity tossed in. This has been Admujica, have a great weekend everyone. 

Of Age gets a score of: 8 out of 10 
Exceptional characters and dialogue, very interesting plot once you get past its slow introduction 
Read it here  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

News Update - June 13: Well Played, Damn Flu Virus

A quick update for you beauties. Some of you already know that I've come down with the most annoying of all illnesses: the flu. I've had a sore throat, runny nose, and cough for the last three days. First, I don't find the time to make reviews, then I get sick. Good game, life. Anyways, I'll try to get my review of Paleowriter's Of Age done by tonight. Thanks for the support and patience. I'll see you guys later. 

Oh, and we're getting really close to 2000 views. Like woah. I love you guys! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Story News - Lethe [Story Update Coming Soon]

Good morning everyone. I have a little update for you. Preservation's Lethe was the first story I  reviewed and I definitely recommend you go check it out. Aside from some pacing problems, it is extremely well  written and the characterization is excellent. It got an 8 out of 10 back then. I was just informed that Preservation has rewritten it. Details after the break.