Explore today’s story to find a hidden treasure.
[Adventure] • 24,563 words
In the last months of the great war, Daring Do is called to once again brave the jungles of the Tenochtitlan Basin on a vital mission. While deep in enemy territory, she begins work on a final book: a prequel. A story that will never be completed.
Here are the recovered fragments of that lost, unfinished Daring Do novel.
FROM THE CURATORS: Digging through FIMFic’s classic tales sometimes turns up real gems, like this multi-layered 2015 story. “This is the kind of Indiana Jones-ish, high-stakes, high-thrills adventure we should be seeing from Daring Do,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “That it’s got so much heart and so many excellent turns only makes it better.” And just like its heroine, it pulled off an ambitious plan with flair. “I’m a huge fan of how it leaps seamlessly back and forth between two narratives, three frameworks and three different writing styles without feeling disjointed,” Horizon said, “not to mention how the fragmentary Report 8 plays with the format to even greater effect.”
What we unearthed in our reading was a story that wielded its writing expertly from the details to the broad strokes. “The short, declarative sentences used during the fight in the torturer’s tent make the scene pop,” AugieDog said, while Present Perfect praised the characterization: “Its conception of Daring as a young archaeology student, learning hard lessons during her first world-saving adventure, is spot-on. A. K. Yearling’s appearance as a secondary character is brilliant.” Chris, meanwhile, praised how it tackled both theme and pacing: “The way that the geopolitical situation at the time of Daring’s mission adds bite to her observations about ponydom’s sense of cultural superiority makes this enjoyable writing, and the swashbuckling mix of action, sudden twists, and general pulpiness make the story entertaining on its own merits.”
We did debate the story’s general accessibility, given the outside framing story’s explicit reliance on Fallout: Equestria. “That’s the one thing I’ll disagree with Present Perfect about — I think that not having any familiarity with that universe would have a negative impact on one’s reading experience,” Chris said. But the vote that sent this to a feature came from Horizon, who hadn’t read that series: “I certainly feel like there was outside context I was missing, but after adjusting to the cold start in the first chapter or two, the story did an exemplary job of holding together on its own merits.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Kkat discusses dot connecting, villain reforming, and triple framing.
Give us the standard biography.
My name is Kkat. I am a fanfiction writer, and my two works are Origin Story and Fallout: Equestria.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
The name comes from my earliest days of tabletop roleplaying. “Kkat” was the last name of my first real RPG character.
Who’s your favorite pony?
I have always answered this question with “Rarity”. Her artistic struggles make her very easy to connect with. But I have to admit that Starlight Glimmer is giving her competition. The challenges she faces, without and within, as a reformed villain make her a particularly interesting character.
What’s your favorite episode?
“Crusaders of the Lost Mark”.
What do you get from the show?
At this point, the show itself is a pleasant distraction and escape from the stress of work (as Saturday morning is the middle of my work week). Occasionally, it will have an episode that is particularly moving or that has a moral which really catches my attention.
But most of what I get from the show is the very close and dear friends who I never would have met without the fandom, the wonderful fans and friends that I have gained in the Fallout: Equestria community, and the amazing works of brony content creators.
What do you want from life?
Contentment, friends and an outlet for my creativity that I can share with others.
Why do you write?
I have a strong creative imagination and drive to tell stories. I have found outlets for this in art, writing and roleplaying games. The last, being interactive, is the most enjoyable. But writing is where I feel I can share what is in my head with the most people the most successfully.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
I find that it is important to take some time to plot out major themes, events and other important notes you want in that story. (This applies as much to individual chapters as to the story as a whole.)
Think of it as similar to playing “connect the dots” — not only should you have a good idea of what the final picture will be, but you should also jot down on a notepad all the “dots” you want to be sure to include. Then, when you start writing, begin at the first “dot” and work your way towards the second.
Personally, I find it’s just as important to not have everything plotted out before you start writing. By playing “connect the dots”, you give yourself room for inspiration and creativity while you are actually writing. (For me, if I knew everything I was going to write before I started typing, I would get bored. By only knowing the key points to each chapter, the story becomes an adventure for me as well.)
There are seven other bits of advice I have to offer for people who wish to write:
First: Start writing. Regularly. The hardest part of writing is actually beginning. Once you’ve started, I’ve found, the words come more easily. But putting down that first sentence, or even just the title, can be the most daunting part of a day’s work.
Second: Keep writing. Even if you don’t like what you have written, your writing will improve the more you do it. The more you write, the better you will become at it.
Third: Write about something you love. You will find writing a lot more fulfilling, and a lot easier to continue, if you are writing about something you enjoy or care about.
Fourth: Read. Find authors whose works you enjoy and read them. Occasionally pause to think about what made writing work for you.
Fifth: Be familiar with some of the pitfalls that writers, particularly new ones, fall prey to and make it a point to avoid them. For example: know what a self-insert character is and what a Mary Sue character is, and put effort into making sure your characters aren’t either of those.
Sixth: If possible, find friends or other supportive individuals who will critique your work. This can easily be the hardest suggestion to follow, however. Don’t be dismayed or dissuaded from writing if you can’t find the response you are looking for. Continue to write; continue to improve.
Seventh: Welcome and listen to helpful feedback. Quality feedback and criticism are invaluable tools for helping you improve. But likewise, learn to ignore harmful feedback. You must learn to separate good critics from bad ones. Artists crave feedback, but you have a responsibility — to yourself, your art and your fans — to try to improve. And that includes both listening to good advice and avoiding bad advice that will do your work harm.
I will expound on that last one because it is so crucial:
A good critic will be encouraging (even if they think your writing is a hot mess) and interested in helping you improve. If someone is trying to help you, don’t allow yourself to ignore them. It can hurt to have someone pointing out what they consider to be flaws in your work, but we are often blind to our own flaws and need someone else to point them out. (This is largely why a writer should try to avoid being his or her own proofreader.) It is alright to choose to disregard their advice, but only after you have given it proper consideration. They might have insight that will make your writing better.
A bad critic is anyone who is trying to make themselves feel good by trashing your work, who is insulting or attacking you, who is playing to an audience for laughs, or who is primarily interested in promoting their own work. Even when the core of their criticisms are valid, they will be exaggerated or distorted in accordance with their goals — goals which are not your improvement. And the few kernels of good, valid feedback they might have is not worth poisoning your own perceptions or enjoyment of your work by wading through everything they say that isn’t.
In short: be a discerning shopper. You need useful feedback which will help you improve. Buy the best. Do not settle for the stuff that isn’t going to help from people who don’t want to help you. And don’t ignore the good stuff. It’s more precious than gold.
All that said …
These are by no means the only or even most important advice you can receive. So here are some links to some more great writing advice:
What inspired “Origin Story”?
The episode “Daring Don’t”. It was a good episode in many respects, but there were a few things that rubbed me wrong, and the introduction of Daring Do as an actual person who is also A.K. Yearling was difficult to swallow. Instead of criticizing the episode, I started trying to imagine a scenario that would make sense of it in an interesting and surprising way — one that would make a good story.
Why did you decide to tell the story in three distinct “layers”: the New Canterlot Republic looking back at Daring Do’s final adventure while she looks back at her first one?
The core of “Origin Story” is, of course, Daring Do’s first adventure. That is the story I conceived based on “Daring Don’t”. But while I liked the idea I had come up with, I hadn’t originally intended to write it. However, years later, I found myself revisiting the story as background material for a roleplaying game arc.
“Origin Story” was first written out not as a fanfiction but as a series of supplements that I gave out in a Fallout: Equestria tabletop roleplaying game. The second layer of the story was created to fully bring it into that world, and to set up the quest that the player characters would engage in. I was very pleased with how the two layers worked, and I feel the core story really benefits from the evolution.
At the urging of fans, I took the story and revised it a third time to be an actual fanfiction. In doing so, I created the New Canterlot Republic layer as a framing device that turns the story into a fully realized tale.
In the Author’s Note, you write, “‘Origin Story’ does not need to be considered canon to Fallout: Equestria by fans or authors.” What relationship do you feel to the body of work that has grown up around your original story?
I am always humbled and deeply honored that I was able to inspire so many to create so much.
What do you feel is the responsibility of archaeology to living cultures?
Archaeology is a fundamental method of discovering history. We cannot learn from the triumphs and mistakes of our past if we do not know what they are. If we do not have a solid grasp of where we came from, we move forward blindly. Thus, archaeology has the responsibility not only to uncover and teach, but to preserve so that future generations can learn from what was uncovered as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I hope you enjoy the story. Have fun reading!