Today’s story is, quite simply, poetry in motion.
[Romance] [Tragedy] [Alternate Universe] • 6,647 words
We were the summer-sunset-wind, warm and wild and untouchable.
We were rulers of a crumbled-down kingdom, prince-and-princess of the sandstone sky.
We were long-day shadows, stretching ourselves dark and blurry past our breaking points and more.
We were pulsing breath-and-blood, flowing fast through veins of buildings and wide-open spaces.
rebels rivals friends lovers runners…
Until that moment, that second, when it all fell away.
FROM THE CURATORS: “It’s about an adult Scootaloo and her boyfriend living a high-stakes life of parkour and not giving a f**k about anything,” Present Perfect said when introducing this story to us. And while there was some disagreement on how to summarize it — “It’s about two ponies who can’t live lives where they’re whole, and can’t survive being broken,” Horizon suggested — what we immediately agreed on was the gripping power of the prose.
“This piece marinates in style. It’s featurable for its narration alone,” Horizon said. Present Perfect agreed: “The words are thrown like knives, but they’re all on target and everything is just so tight. This is the first fic I’ve read since White Box that makes good use of textual gimmickry, and the effect is wonderfully kinetic.” That gimmick — lines with single words shifting the visual direction of the text — “was very well done,” JohnPerry said. “It never felt hokey in its execution, which is a feat in and of itself.”
But even beyond the surface flash, this found ways to delight us. “It packed an emotional punch with a very minimalist style,” JohnPerry said. “It takes the ‘Scootaloo as cripple’ idea and actually does something clever with it, and the characters are strangely engaging.” Though the Alternate Universe tag is well-deserved, that gave it the breathing room to build itself into one of the most approachably literary stories we’ve reviewed. “The author needs to get off this site and go write a Pulitzer-winning novel,” Present Perfect said, though we’re quite grateful for the ponyfic in the meantime.
Read on for our author interview, in which Stereo_Sub discusses invisible monsters, mutual catharsis, and nocturnal productivity.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m currently a student in Minnesota, but I was born in Chicago, spent my formative years in London, went back to Chicago again, then to Connecticut, and then here. I’ll probably be moving out to the west coast in about a year, too. As you can probably tell, I have a hard time staying still.
I started watching the show mostly due to the hype, got sucked in, and ended up marathoning all of S1 and half of S2 in a weekend. I wrote my first fic a few months after that, and it all just sort of spiraled out of control from there.
Other than pony and writing, I like cooking, rock climbing, stupid soundcloud jokes, tabletop RPGs, and unhealthy amounts of video games. I also like talking to people about those things, so if you’re interested and want to chat, hit me up with a PM or something.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Honestly? It was two words that sounded good together. The previous handle I’d used for other sites was pretty stupid, so I decided to go with something new when I joined Fimfic. I couldn’t think of anything meaningful, so I settled for something snappy instead.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Rainbow Dash, very closely followed by Twilight Sparkle. RD has my favorite personality and color scheme (very important) of the mane cast, while Twilight is one I identify the most with. She’s also the one with the lasers and demigod-like powers, so there’s that.
What’s your favorite episode?
I’m gonna be indecisive again. If you’d asked me before S4 aired, it would probably be “Wonderbolt Academy.” Now, though, it’s a toss-up between that and “Maud Pie,” who is also (totally coincidentally) my favorite background character.
What do you get from the show?
It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it’s cute … just a thing I enjoy, I guess. It’s something lighthearted and uplifting to watch when a lot of media seems to be focusing on the darker aspects of life. Not that I don’t enjoy that stuff too, but it’s still refreshing to have a change of pace.
What do you want from life?
Hell if I know. A job, a degree, a nice place to live, true love … those would all be nice, but at this point I’m still figuring it out myself.
Why do you write?
Recognition. Satisfaction. Pride in myself for actually completing something meaningful. (As those who follow me probably know, I have issues with following through). Getting the concepts and characters I think of out of my head and into a form where everyone else can judge them. And yeah, that’s a big part of it for me, I’ll admit: the judging, the feedback, good or bad. I write partially for myself, but also (maybe even mostly) so that others can be entertained. Or at least mildly interested.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
If you can, stay up late. A lot of my best work was written from the hours of 1 to 5 AM.
Write down all your ideas, even the bad ones. Most will sound terrible when you write them and still be terrible later, but a few won’t, and those will make it worth it.
Make friends. I wouldn’t be half as good a writer, or have written half as many things, if I didn’t have a group of awesome people encouraging, critiquing, and pushing me to do my best. Cheesy, yeah, but it’s true. Talk to people. Find some like-minded writers or editors. You’ll be better for it.
Don’t sweat the feature box. It’s not as big of a deal as a lot of people make it out to be. Plenty of terrible stories have been featured, and plenty of great ones have been passed over. At the end of the day, it’s really just a popularity contest, mixed with a bit of luck. Nothing more.
Read and consider criticism, but don’t take it to heart, and don’t feel as if you have to change everything people dislike. Things like grammar, spelling, etc. are obviously the exception to this.
Don’t make promises to your readers you can’t keep. Stories, chapters, collabs, whatever … it sets a bad precedent.
Lavender Unicorn Syndrome isn’t as bad as everyone says it is, especially if you’re writing something with a lot of characters. Overuse can jar, yeah, but two or three times every few pages doesn’t hurt anyone.
Steal shamelessly from what inspires you. If it’s awesome, it’s awesome, and if you like it enough you’ll find a way to put a spin on it that’s all your own. Note that I’m not condoning plagiarism (or even crossovers, since they’re notoriously hard to do well), but if there’s a particular theme or style of media you enjoy, don’t feel like it’s off-limits just because it’s been already done.
Listen to music for inspiration. Most if not all of my best scenes and best works have a song or two as their root cause.
Never agree to edit for someone in the long term unless you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. It’s an awful feeling to start combing through someone’s pride and joy and realize you honestly couldn’t care less about anything you’re reading.
If you’re stuck in a rut, consider signing up for some kind of writing class. Not really because of the feedback you’ll get (though that can be helpful, depending on the people), but because it’ll force you to start writing again. Even if everything you do is garbage, even if you’ll never touch any of it again, at least you got something out on the page, and I’ve found that sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to start the spark again.
If you write stories pandering to Fimfic’s teeming masses and gain popularity because of it, don’t get annoyed when very little of your followers appreciate your more ‘serious work’.
Similarly, if you write purely what you want to write, nothing more and nothing less, don’t be bitter if you stay relatively unknown. I’m not saying it’s impossible to get recognition putting out only the stories you truly love, but it’s something to keep in mind. I mean, hell, my first story was a terrible, terrible shipfic that somehow got me nearly the majority of my followers. I got lucky. Not everyone gets lucky.
What was the reasoning behind the non-standard formatting?
It was primarily inspired by Chuck Palahniuk’s fantastic Invisible Monsters, which also plays around with formatting in a lot of interesting ways. The ‘word waterfalls’, as one of my readers eloquently described them, are meant to represent kinetic breaks in the story. They all happen in situations where Scoots is rising or falling, physically or metaphorically, and (I hope) complement the story’s rapid, flowing nature.
Why did you decide to use an original character as Scoot’s counterpart rather than another CMC or establish foal from the show?
Funny story about that, actually. The story was originally meant to be about Scoots and Apple Bloom, with an alternate version of Dripshine fulfilling the role of the police detective. He was supposed to have a much larger role in the story too, acting as a sort of mediator to Scoots’ narration, but eventually I realized the story was more about the pair of them than Scoots and AB. I decided to cut out the middleman and make it wholly about Scoots and Shine instead, gave Shine’s character a retooling, and the result was the story as it is now.
I also hated dealing with Apple Bloom’s accent and mannerisms in dialogue. Same reason I don’t like writing Applejack very much, or RD (as much as I love her character). I tend to give characters very strong narrative voices in my stories, and if I feel like something is ‘out of character’ for a pony to say, it’ll bug me until I get it right. That’s a lot harder when you’re dealing with characters who already have their own noticeably established voices, like AJ’s southern twang or RD’s frequent interruptions and (relatively) limited vocabulary.
Are they running to something, or from something?
Depends on where in the story you ask. At the very beginning of the story, or even the beginning of their relationship, Scoots and Shine are both running to find themselves, each other, and their lot in life as a whole. As they start to understand each other better and their personalities begin to chafe as a result, running becomes a way to escape that growing divide, a kind of mutual catharsis. Near the end, I think you could argue either way. Scoots could be running from her past, from her memories of Shine, or from the city as a whole, and everything it represents. Or she could be running to find a new life, a new meaning for herself and what she stands for, pushing through to find something more.
Does popularity truly devalue an activity?
I wouldn’t say so. I mean, I write fanfic, a fairly popular past time, and I don’t have a problem with a lot of people being into it. It just makes the true gems of the lot stand out that much more, and fosters a sense of community, too.
Shine was a character the reader wasn’t meant to sympathize with because he held exactly the perspective you mentioned. He clung to the idea that his form of self-expression was somehow sacred, elevated above all others and only available to those who truly ‘got it’. In my opinion, that’s a pretty stupid view to have, and that kind of thinking is what fosters the sort of gross, circlejerky elitism that seems all too common in artistic communities in general.
Seriously, though. If you ever catch yourself growing irritated by the fact that there are a large amount of crappy, stupid, or just plain mediocre stories on the site, remember that your inspired work of literary genius is hosted on the same server as “Pinkie Pie Sucks A Hundred Dicks.” (which actually isn’t that bad of a story at all, not that I would know firsthand I mean what)
This is fanfiction. About cartoon horses. That doesn’t mean you can’t take it seriously, or let it affect you in deep or meaningful ways, but don’t get salty when others choose not to do the same. Writing is good for the brain and the soul, so there’s no reason to discourage anyone from trying it, however their efforts might turn out.
What is the meaning of a life?
I think that’s up to everyone to find out for themselves. For me, it’s the impact I make on others, and, by extension, the world. If I make people feel good, it makes me feel pretty good too, and if I can do that through something I like as much as writing, even better.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You can read RUN at FIMFiction.net.