Today’s story offers a glimpse at a lonely, desperate struggle in a world where every breath is an act of defiance against the darkness closing in.
And A Dark Wind Blows
[Dark] • 13,093 words
Was it a magical spell gone awry? An angry god laying waste upon a world that had forgotten him? A long and bloody war? An incurable disease?
Fluttershy couldn’t remember what it was that had turned the world to this. All she knew was that she had to survive.
FROM THE CURATORS: How does a 13,000-word story keep readers engaged with no dialogue and almost no character interaction? “Great post-apocalyptic landscape and a rich narrative voice,” Present Perfect said. Bradel appreciated the marvelous pacing and fine control of tension: “The single thing I think this piece did best is in varying the mood like it did.” And Horizon appreciated the “haunting beauty” of it: “The world around Fluttershy may be bleak and dead, but it’s a memorable and integral part of the story.“
However, this journey through a wasteland is very pony at its heart. “Fluttershy feels very much like Fluttershy, despite the setting, and the connection to her (departed) friends felt real,” Chris said. And it even won over some initial doubters: “I was going to write about how this story has its flaws, and how it didn’t have much to do with ponies … until the third act happened and totally invalidated my critique,” Benman said. “The ending completely and utterly works.”
Read on for our author interview, in which RazedRainbow discusses safety, tension, the unknown, and Fluttershy as a huntress.
Give us the standard biography.
To say that my life is an interesting one would be stretching the truth to its snapping point. I’m 21, grew up in a normal house with a normal family and normal friends in a normal South Carolina town. At one point I was a normal college student too, but then financial issues reared their ugly head, forcing me to go on hiatus and take up a most prestigious occupation: bus driver. It’s not the highest paying job, nor the funnest, but hey, a job’s a job.
Outside of work, I’m a man of many hobbies, including (but not limited to): hiking, rock climbing, and mediocre guitar playing.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
In short, I was trying to be cute. My first attempt at fanfic was a (very weak) attempt at a “character study,” focusing on some of the characters’ in MLP: FiM in the wake of Rainbow Dash’s death. Since that story was originally meant to be the fic I would forever be associated with, and was about “razing” Rainbow, I figured calling myself RazedRainbow would seem appropriate. Said fic withered and died; the name stuck.
Who’s your favorite pony?
What’s your favorite episode?
The Best Night Ever. I’m more of a fan of the ensemble episodes than the character-focused ones, and this episode shows why. Each one of the mane six has a moment in the limelight, and the hijinks that ensue when the night slowly crumbles around them are equal parts entertaining and believable. There’s not a single dull second. Factor in a couple of great songs and a satisfying resolution, and you’ve got a great episode.
What do you get from the show?
A half-hour of solid entertainment. For me, so long as the characters stay cute and fun, the animation stays great, the music remains catchy, and the episodes keep being entertaining, you won’t see me stomping my foot, ranting to high heaven about how the show is “ruined forever.” It’s a simple show that hits all the notes I want it to, and that is enough.
What do you want from life?
I want to be able to say it was a life well-lived in the end. Specifically, there’s nothing I want more than to say I had a positive, lasting effect on (at the very least) one person by the time the lights go out.
Why do you write?
I’ve always been a storyteller at heart. I wish I could put a finger on what exactly caused the storytelling bug to take hold of me; all I know is that it’s latched on tight, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing brings me joy quite like weaving a tale.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
For starters, I’ll dump the usual advice on you: read a lot, always strive to improve your story, and practice, practice, practice. There’s a reason you see this advice littered all over the place: it works. Yes, having an editor tear your fic to kingdom come is hard to watch, but once you put the pieces back together, you’re left with something far more beautiful than it was before.
Now, for some informal advice.
– Read everything you write aloud. This will not only help you notice technical errors you and your editor may have failed to notice, but it also helps the flow of your story. Certain phrasing may look fine on paper, but stumble about when read aloud.
– Outlines are a beautiful thing, especially when you are writing a story that stretches into double-digit chapter numbers. Know where your story is going, know what the climax is, know what the final scene will be, and know all this before you write the opening line. A story that wanders in circles is not one that will hook many people.
– Don’t be afraid to take risks.
– Trust your audience. Not everything has to be spelled out. Let your audience figure stuff out on their own.
“And a Dark Wind Blows” owes a lot to horror fiction, stylistically. Are there any particular influences you drew on when building this story?
The influences present here are drawn less from specific stories, and more from the genre as a whole.
I’m a big believer in the “Nothing is Scarier” trope. Sure, a grotesque monster can be scary, but to me, what really makes a moment tense and frightening is the threat. Jump scares may make someone scream, but tension is what truly stays with them, what makes them sleep with the lights on that night, and that was the key piece of horror fiction I was drawing from here.
One of the most striking elements of this story is its juxtaposition of safe spaces and dangerous spaces. What made you decide to use this motif?
It was all a question of atmosphere, really. The world presented in this is a very dangerous world, and the best way to have that come across is… well, make no place every feel truly safe. Sure, Fluttershy has her “safe” spaces in this story, as well as the “unsafe” ones, but the world is one that is so ruined that those two types of spaces tend to bleed together. What few bits of life are presented in this are surrounded on all sides by this wasteland, and the wasteland’s starting to infect. Even in the clearing outside her cave—her ‘safe’ house, if you will—Fluttershy feels like His eyes are watching her. Every step Fluttershy takes needs to be felt, and each paragraph needs to feel like it’ll be the last one to include a living, breathing, poetically waxing Fluttershy. The more a reader thinks that He is going to lunge out of the bushes at the next step, the better. The apocalypse is not a fun or safe place to be.
You’ve said that you originally intended for this story to be about Fluttershy hunting some sort of creature. Can you comment on how it became the story that it is, instead?
It started out being a story about Fluttershy hunting a creature simply because of the irony involved. Though that idea did not last long at all, parts of it stayed with me for Dark Wind, the main one being that Fluttershy is a lot stronger than she appears to be on the surface. Sure, Rainbow Dash can break the sound barrier with a flap of her wing and Twilight can cast spells that turn frogs into oranges, but when it comes to survival, I’m putting my money on Fluttershy, making her the perfect protagonist for a story such as this.
Other parts carried over as well—the theme of loneliness and survival, creating a large-yet-empty atmosphere, the prominent use of internal monologue—but in the end, this story and the idea that spurred it are completely different stories.
You’ve mentioned that you had a particular apocalyptic event in mind, in the backdrop for this story. Would you care to comment further on it?
Well, I won’t give away the exact cause because I might come back to this later, but this aspect of the story does tie in with one of my bits of advice: “trust your audience.” Though I did have a specific event in mind, I decided to sprinkle in hints at various types of causes. There are signs of a military conflict sprinkled around, yes, but there are also things that point to a much higher reasoning (the sun and moon are noticeably absent). I wanted the audience to come up with their own reasons for the apocalypse. Spelling stuff out can be nice at times, but giving readers something to think deeply about is far more satisfying. There is strength in the unknown.
What’s the one thing you’d like readers to take away from reading “And a Dark Wind Blows”?
Odd as it sounds, I want readers to come out of this with a sense of hope. The world in this story may be dark and full of terrors, but it’s still Fluttershy’s story, and her tale is one of finding light in the darkness.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Despite my inactivity, I am far from dead.
You can read And A Dark Wind Blows at FIMFiction.net.