The quality of today’s story will hit you right between the eyes.
Solving for Death
[Alternate Universe] [Comedy] [Dark] • 3,024 words
In a miscommunication gone awry, Starlight Glimmer has killed Twilight Sparkle with a fork.
Luckily for Twilight, Starlight’s already acquired a resumé in doing the impossible.
She’s totally got this.
FROM THE CURATORS: While the premise and the [Comedy] tag might suggest that this is a gimmicky crackfic, there’s a lot more than that going on. “This is a dark, dark comedy with a throbbing red heart of sincerity right at its core, and it’s that juxtaposition that makes the story for me,” AugieDog said in his nomination. Soge agreed: “From its fairly absurd premise, it builds into a genuinely funny dark comedy, but without sacrificing its heart or forgetting about characterization.” And Present Perfect pointed out that “it’s got enough polish to make it more accessible to people who aren’t as big on weird-idea fics.”
One of the elements drawing praise was the narrative voice. “The writing style was worthy of note, with an off-kilter charm that really helped the tone of the story,” Soge said. That also won Horizon over: “The subtle humor of the narration seems like an odd choice for a comedy,” he said, “but then it turns a corner into drama without shifting textual gears, and that slower pace seems brilliant in hindsight.” Meanwhile, Present Perfect enjoyed the prose. “There’s a real freewheeling spirit to the language here, with lines like ‘Twilight remained combatively dead’,” Present Perfect said. “And the relish fork is an amazing running gag.”
But the core strength here was the way it managed to reconcile some wildly different elements. “Glimmer’s blase-ness, Celestia using Twilight’s death to teach a friendship lesson, and Spike being the only sane dragon are all fantastically played off against one another, and the result is that the story’s various comic elements all enhance and reinforce each other,” Chris said. AugieDog summed it up: “It’s a tightwire act of a story, and watching the author pull it off just left me grinning.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Majin Syeekoh discusses tensile linguistics, quintuple Zs, and automobile muses.
Give us the standard biography.
Bleh, I hate introductions. They’re always so awkward. Well, whatever.
I’m a 29-year-old male born in California, raised in New Jersey where I live to this day… with a two-year stint in Florida.
That should tell you everything you need to know about me.
Oh, wait. I’m also a Gemini, ladies.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
Oh, man, this is a fun one.
So one time I was a teenager in middle school, and I had a reputation of being mentally unstable. Mostly because I was. So, being who I am, I embraced it wholeheartedly to the point of identifying with that online, attempting to call myself ‘Psycho’.
To my disappointment, it turns out that Psycho was taken and I wanted a handle without any numbers. So I started playing around with letter formations until I came across something that approximated psycho close enough for my tastes, which was Syeekoh. And then when I got into Skype calls after joining the site, it was decided by committee that the proper pronunciation of the handle I had come up with was not psycho, but Seeko.
And who am I to argue with the crowd?
The Majin part came later, after a fun RP session where I pretended to be Majin Buu and it was all sorts of fun (which I just said, apparently). I decided to append the Majin onto my handle because it kind of reflected how I felt that I was somehow hypnotizing people into reading my stories as opposed to them possessing any inherent quality of their own.
And that’s how you have fun with Impostor Syndrome.
Who’s your favorite pony?
, do I have to choose a pony? More importantly, do I have to choose just one?
Okay, I guess I’ll choose one, but she isn’t a pony at all. She’s a siren whose name is Adagio Dazzle.
She has a certain something about her ― I guess you could call it an X-factor, really ― that makes her stand out. The way she moves, the way she talks … you know she’s probably going to kill you, but she’s very good at convincing you that today is a good day to die. At least that’s how I interpret her as a character.
Also, she has great hips.
What’s your favorite episode?
This is a toughie. Blah … I don’t like these open-ended questions, I’m more of an A-B kind of guy, and this is an A to like quintuple Z question.
I’m going to have to go with the Season 5 finale, though. That interaction at the end with Twilight and Starlight makes me feel some kind of way, and it’s a good kind of way.
What do you get from the show?
And I guess this is an offshoot from the fandom, but sexy anthro art. Hell, I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I went into my Derpibooru faves one time and it was just swamped with sexy anthro art and then I just threw up my hands and went ‘well I guess I like anthro now’.
What do you want from life?
Right now, I’d like a witty answer to the question that doesn’t feel overdone.
For the future, I suppose stability and happiness would be a good start, no matter what form they take.
Why do you write?
Lots of reasons.
Sometimes I write for catharsis, so as to package up any negativity I feel and hope someone else finds it a positive experience.
Other times I write stuff on half-dares where it’s like ‘you don’t think [X] can be a thing? Well now here’s [X] as a thing! Are you happy with yourself!?’ and then people go like ‘oh god what’s wrong with you I didn’t mean actually write it’.
And then there are other times I write to try and push my limits, to see how much I can bend the English language and how a story is written and have it still be a legible, enjoyable story. It’s always nice to test the tensile strength of the medium every once in awhile.
But in the end I just write for attention because I desperately need people to notice me.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
I’m pretty sure I’m not the right person to ask this question to, and I’m almost positive that there are people who will be chomping at the bit to confirm that. But since you asked, I suppose I’ll give it the old college try (or something approximating what could be conceived as fitting into the set of attempts classified as a ‘college try,’ seeing as how I dropped out of High School in Sophomore year, but that’s neither here nor there).
I guess I could start with making sure you don’t try to take on more than you’re reasonably comfortable with. I have several ideas languishing incomplete because I just lost steam after they started, and I probably should get to writing them, but I honestly just don’t really have the energy.
Another thing I could bring up is make sure you take care of your body as well as your mind. I often find it hard to write after I’ve let my hygiene and food consumption slip for a few days, so yeah, keep on top of that.
Finally, ideas can come from anywhere. Literally anywhere. Keep your mind open for new story ideas no matter where you are, because you may be walking down the street and BAM! story idea in the face.
Although you should probably check to see if you were hit by a story idea or a car first. I have it on good authority that those two phenomena are difficult to distinguish from one another.
What inspired “Solving for Death”?
The main thing that influenced the story was “What if Twilight wasn’t fast enough to dodge the silverware at the beginning of No Second Prances?” so I trial-ballooned that question in a Discord chat and people found it amusing, so I filed it away for later.
What actually pushed me to write the story was when I confronted someone for commenting on my first published story on FimFiction. I was like “oh my god why would you read that I’m physically cringing so hard my bones might shatter from the amount of cringe I am cringing right now” and they were like “nah man it was funny plus your headcanon was really inventive”.
So that inspired me to take the end of one fic idea I had and Frankenstein it onto this story.
Writing is hard and often pieces from other fic ideas find better use in other settings.
… Guess I should have put that under the last question.
Somebody trying to be funny once said that nothing improves humor like analyzing it. So talk a little about your approach to writing comedy.
This is a wonderful question because I have a wonderful answer to this question that you have asked.
The wonderful answer to this wonderful question that you have asked me, because I specialize in absurdist humor is: I don’t, really.
I write logical renderings of extremely illogical scenarios that people find funny, and that’s an interesting balancing act all on its own because you’re dealing with characters that view reality in extraordinarily different ways clashing with each other and seeing where the dice fall.
You’ll notice that this is actually how most authors create conflict in stories, having characters with different interpretations of reality clash. I just happen to enjoy writing about that happen in an absurdly humorous manner, which I guess nullifies my previous statement where I said I don’t write comedy.
I guess it doesn’t feel funny to me because I’m too busy attempting to draw out a logical chain of events from a profoundly illogical scenario that I don’t really find it funny anymore.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that writing comedy is really like any other story, except it depends on what variables you decide to focus on. For a thought exercise, try to imagine what Solving for Death would look like from Celestia’s perspective, having to interact with the insane mare that has such a cavalier attitude to killing the Princess’s prized former student. Or god forbid Spike’s perspective where he’s just not having a good day at all.
It’d be super easy to imagine it from Twilight’s perspective, though.
Because she’s dead. Aggressively dead.
Was the terrific tonal shift in the middle of the story something you planned, or did it just seem the right way to go as the story developed?
I didn’t really see it as a tone shift when I wrote it, really. Like I said before, I don’t really focus on tone or how funny something is when I write. It felt more like a natural outgrowth of Starlight’s character to me when (SPOILERS) Celestia (had to raise the sun because the night had ended) and then Starlight said (no **** you the sun will not rise because I’m not done here). Because I had a unique look into the Starlight of this story’s perspective, I knew she was 100% serious and she was acting cavalier because she had 100% faith in her success, so it didn’t really feel… shift-y, I guess?
Looking back on it, I guess I could see how it could be seen as a huge twist for the audience in retrospect, and several people had commented on uneven tone in the draft I submitted to the Writeoff and when they made those comments I was just thinking NO SCREW YOU THIS STORY IS A BEAUTIFUL FLOWER THAT’S TOO GOOD FOR YOUR SINFUL EYES, then I came to a certain realization:
If multiple people are complaining about the same problem in your story, your story probably has that problem.
I probably should have put that in the author advice section as well.
So I looked back at the story, and I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t primed the audience at all for that sort of event to take place in the framework I had provided, so I smoothed out some stuff and displayed that Starlight cared about things and others’ feelings before this pivotal moment that you’re calling ‘terrific’ ― which I’m sure several people will lambast you for associating anything I write with the word ‘terrific’ ― and now I guess it looks like a terrific mood shift as opposed to a HOLY MOLEY WHERE DID THAT COME FROM moment.
This is the 88th story you’ve posted to FimFiction. Are you this prolific in other creative areas, or is there something specific about My Little Pony that gets to you?
It’s funny you ask this, actually, because I was going to say no until I remembered that I have a healthy repository of poetry under another username on another website, and there was a man there on that website. He is an Australian named Stu Hatton, and I feel comfortable using that name because he signed all of his poetry posts with that name and has also released a lovely book of poetry which I own a signed copy of.
If that man hadn’t encouraged me to keep writing poetry, I wouldn’t have had the confidence (bullheadedness) to publish my first story on this site, nor the other 87.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My back hurts. I’m tired. I have anger issues.
And I just want to thank every single person I’ve interacted with on and off this website, for better or worse, for making me a better person.
I’d like to thank everyone who lauded my stories and continues to laud my stories, because positive feedback is my lifeblood as indicated earlier, so keep it coming.
I’d also like to thank the lovely people who excoriated my work, whether by request or volunteering their own time, to inform me just how poor of a job I did when writing the stories in question, because I’d like to think they did it from a place of wanting me to improve rather than from a position of smug superiority (one can hope, at least).
I thank the people who I get along with and get to call friends because hey friends are awesome who doesn’t like friends amirite.
I’d also like to thank the people I don’t get along with or infuriate me on occasion because I get to practice the lesson that my father (may he rest in peace) taught me: that it is of utmost importance to learn how to civilly interact with people who you hate down to your very core, because you don’t get to choose who you have to deal with in life sometimes, and I’ve found it increasingly important as I grow older.
I’d also like to thank the Royal Canterlot Library for inducting a story with a pretty high “Goddamnit Syeekoh” density in the comments section. That tickles me pink.
I’m also eternally grateful that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic exists because us, the fans, have produced several decades’ worth of creative content that I enjoy consuming on a regular basis.
But most importantly, I’d like to thank the guys and girls that draw sexy anthro art because it’s super hot.
You can read Solving for Death at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.