There is a lot to like in today’s story, but the protagonist is not one of those things.
No Quixote Here
[Comedy] [Slice-of-Life] • 13,804 words
Following a most unpleasant encounter at one of Canterlot’s great parties, Prince Blueblood decides that he is tired of everyone thinking that he is a lazy, empty-headed ponce. He decides the only solution is to have a grand adventure and reinvent himself, becoming the good, dignified, heroic Prince that everypony expects him to be.
The only problem is he’s a lazy, empty-headed ponce.
FROM THE CURATORS: “This story is an excellent illustration of the principle that tragedy + absurdity = comedy,” Horizon said — and we were all impressed by the balance it struck between the two. “Never do the more serious scenes feel out of place,” Chris said, “and Redsquirrel does a good job of keeping even the more serious moments of the fic full of gentle levity. … While deflating Blueblood is the comic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, it’s no less funny for that.”
We also appreciated the solid deconstruction of Blueblood’s character, which dances on the edge of pathos without ever making him truly sympathetic. “The interactions between he, Celestia, and Shining Armor all carry an air of realism that sells the entire fic,” Chris said. Horizon agreed: “The supporting characters’ reactions to Blueblood speak volumes.”
Read on for our interview, in which RedSquirrel456 discusses the comedy inherent in flaws, and what distinguishes Blueblood from the show’s other antagonists.
Give us the standard biography.
Well, I’m a standard 26 year old male living in Denver, Colorado. The place everyone wants to be right now, and yet the place where nothing really seems to be happening. I live with my family and my job provides plenty of time to write during the day, for which I’m very thankful. I’m not all that interesting. I like video games and computery things, and hope to one day make a game or a book of my own. Right now, I’m just focusing on making sure my family stays afloat in these turbulent times we’re having.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I was sitting at my computer many, many years ago. I decided I liked red squirrels, since they looked kinda cool. Then I needed a string of numbers to differentiate it from all the other “red squirrel” names out there. I’ve used it so much that the red squirrel has become a consistent theme wherever I name myself on the Net.
Yep. That’s pretty much it!
Who’s your favorite pony?
Hmm. I suppose I do have to answer this one… when it really comes down to it, I’ve always been drawn to Rarity. Her creativity, empathy, and moments of realistic selfishness and breakdown are all very relatable. She’s a creator, and I fancy myself one too, and I like to think she’s somepony to look up to. And yet, she isn’t perfect, and I’d say she’s among the least perfect of the mane six. And through all that, she still manages to be stylish, graceful, witty, and a good friend when the chips are down. Truly, she lives up to her namesake. Who can resist that perfectly curled coiffure, after all?
But in all honesty, Applejack is a close second. Heck, all of them are close seconds. Or even firsts, depending on my mood. I love all the ponies, but Rarity always seems to stand out.
What’s your favorite episode?
Pretty much the entire first season! I can’t pick a single one, but I think we all know what song I’m thinking of.
Winter Wrap Up, Winter Wrap Up~
What do you get from the show?
I get a strange sense of excitement about life in general. This whole MLP thing is still relatively new and original—a little girl’s show that can be appealing across the board? Outrageous! Wonderfully developed characters that lend themselves well to other works of art? Who’d have thought! Life lessons that aren’t bitterly cynical and can actually be applied to real world situations?! What kind of sorcery is this, anyway?
MLP started as a unique little niche and grew into a phenomenon. I get to feel like I’m part of something bigger, something I can make friends out of. Something I can share without shame. I get a show that speaks to the so-called “childish” parts of me, the parts that demand a good story with good characters. Not just well-developed, but morally sound, the stuff of dreams who you can always depend on. I suppose a good analogy is the enjoyment the little boy Andy from “Toy Story” got from his toys: a world full of heroes and villains where he could always take a stand, have friends, and never feel sorry about who he was.
What do you want from life?
Time to read and write without interruption. And time to tell people how much they are worth and should care for each other, because remember that one day you will die.
Why do you write?
To share stories, to tell other people who I am and figure out what I might be. To explore bits and pieces of myself I can’t in other media. To create worlds in my head and make them real for other people so they can satisfy that distant urge we all have to explore strange new frontiers. To make myself and others happy, even if only for a day.
To reach out and really, truly touch someone, hopefully.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
If you want to write, read and write as much as you can, in as many genres and styles as you can. Don’t give up, but be willing to listen to criticism; honestly, if you listen to it enough you get a feel for what’s truly constructive and what isn’t. The more you work the field, the better you’re able to separate the wheat from the chaff, both in your audience and in your own writing. Be prepared to go over your words with a fine tooth comb, and be prepared to toss out as many thousands of words as you actually commit to paper. Realize you will never write the perfect story and you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try—so don’t. Just write the best story you can. Get plenty of other people to help you with it, too. Other people, close people, friends even, we need them, and especially when we’re writing.
Above all… be prepared to write when you are completely uninspired and don’t feel like doing it at all. Often, so-called writer’s block is just inertia you must overcome, and like any job sometimes you just gotta buckle down and get it done. When you write, don’t think “this isn’t as good as this great author I admire.” Rather, think “how do I make people feel like they’re reading this great author I admire?” You won’t be able to look back years from now and say “Ah ha! Here’s where I wrote inspired, and where I wrote uninspired.” If the story and your writing is strong, it will all stand on its own.
Did you encounter any difficulties in meshing this story’s humorous elements with its more serious, sincere ones?
Quite a lot. As some people noted, the transition was a little jarring near the end, where Blueblood and Celestia swing back into their old hijinks after their heartfelt realizations. Some even found it a little depressing that Blueblood doesn’t suddenly become a great prince or Celestia doesn’t fully trust him with anything besides straightening guards’ postures at the end—but I think all comedy has an air of tragedy about it because many characters wouldn’t get into these humorous situations if they weren’t flawed in some way. Charlie Brown can never stop being a sad sap, because his life is always strange but only happy in the queerest ways; Lucy will always pull the ball away just before he kicks it because she’s eternally crabby. And yet, even those characters changed in some small ways as time went on. Maybe years down the road they will grow out of that, but here, in the moment, there are only seeds and hints of change. I hope, even in the middle of these weird interactions, people see that both Celestia and Blueblood are trying something new and are doing their best, but still have a long way to go.
Besides that, there’s a really cheerful epilogue to the story you should check out if the first chapter didn’t do it for you!
In the show, Blueblood is a one-note joke. How did you go about developing his character from that very thin starting point?
This part was much easier. When I saw Blueblood I saw him for what he was: a joke. He’s the ultimate stereotype of the rich loser. In that, I saw so much more potential for change. Blueblood is at the bottom of the friendship totem pole. He’s driven away the one pony who could make him happier than he’s ever dreamed and doesn’t even realize it. He’s a total dork, an idiot even, but that doesn’t make him a bad pony. There’s much more charm in somepony like Blueblood, because though he’s vain and a jerk, there’s no real malice behind it. Let’s face it, most of the villains we choose to redeem actually know they’re jerks and are mostly unrepentant. Gilda can’t take being confronted with her behavior and flies away. Trixie is, at best, sorrowful only because things spiraled out of control: she genuinely wanted to manipulate, heckle, and even hurt ponies just to be famous and only when she got in over her head and was saved did she apologize. Chrysalis is a love-sucking bug. Nightmare Moon/Luna? We don’t have much information besides the fact we know she tried to overthrow Celestia, so we might cut her some slack, but her driving motivation was selfish in the extreme even if she had some good reasons. She, too, knew that what she was doing was wrong and yet went through with it, nearly killing ponies who would save her life.
But… Blueblood? The guy doesn’t even seem to know what’s going on. He’s either terribly insulated or perhaps even stupider than even we give him credit for. Whatever environment raised him, it squelched whatever talent and empathy might have actually grown there. When Rarity attacks him, he’s only dimly aware that somepony is mad at him, not that he actually did anything offensive. That, to me, speaks volumes about who he could be on the inside, and who he could become with the proper guidance. He’s at the absolute nadir of friendship: when you’re despised by everyone and don’t even know why. It’s a totally blank slate for friendship to work on; teaching him the lessons of Harmony from the ground up instead of dealing with someone who knows they’re in the wrong and actively resists changing. Who was he before? Why did he become such an idiot? What could he be if he actually changed his priorities? Is keeping his mane clean and groomed truly a matter of national security? All that rich potential just speaks to me, I guess.
The important part was I started where the show left him: as a lazy, empty-headed ponce. That kept him grounded in show canon and made him more enjoyable to write.
Tl;dr version: I found his antics hilarious and kinda wish they’d bring him back so I write fanfic about him in the meantime.
Chris noted the “air of realism” which pervades your characters’ interactions, even when they’re at their most over-dramatic. Was this something you focused on in your writing, or a happy coincidence? On that note: how did you balance believability with exaggeration in this story?
I’d be putting myself on a pedestal if I said I totally meant every intelligent and thoughtful bit in the story to show up on paper. I just tried to write what I wanted everyone else to see in the story: a Blueblood who is finally getting some inkling of how incapable and alone he is in the world. He can’t help being funny because that’s just his nature, a dunce who we laugh at, but at the same time he’s a pony, so surely he has the capacity to see what’s really going on if the lesson is hammered home hard enough.
And hey, given his behavior at the Gala, I’d hardly call his behavior exaggerated! His whole life is exaggerated, and that’s what I loved about the idea. I had to take a pony who acted like the most extreme stereotype of an empty-headed fop imaginable, and then think about what that pony would be like if he were real! It was comedy that wrote itself. Give him just the tiniest hint of depth and he becomes a walking mess of a contradictory extremes, rather like Rarity (I don’t ship them at all what are you talking about).
Celestia was a bit harder, because I had to think about how she could run Equestria for thousands of years, yet so easily miss things like, oh, you know, her sister going insane. There had to be reasons why Luna’s festering anger was ignored and Celestia’s prominence only ever grew. Perhaps Celestia is just a tad arrogant, a bit too certain that her plans will always work out for the best because they usually do. I figured that was probably a fatal flaw of hers, being emotionally distant enough from some ponies that she misses little tells that give away adverse behavior, or even ignoring those tells in moments of hubris. She’d be so certain that everything will work out in the end that she becomes a bystander to her own machinations and does nothing. And poor Blueblood, like Luna perhaps, was one of those ponies she considered totally harmless… until he wasn’t anymore.
Basically, I just took a comedy and threw in some moments of humanity. It’s… a comedy with reasons behind it, I suppose, rather than being off the wall random like most funny stories.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Let us never forget that this was all started by a bunch of pudgy, vacant-eyed toys for little girls.
You can read No Quixote Here at FIMFiction.net.