Today’s story worries.
Under Layers of Dirt and Worry
[Drama][Slice of Life] • 3,598 words
It had been a long day of saving the world, and the usually perky pony wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed.
Unfortunately, somepony’s waiting at Sugarcube Corner.
Pinkie was fine. She just needed to sleep.
FROM THE CURATORS: As FanOfMostEverything points out in this week’s nomination (and Tangerine Blast alludes to later on in her interview), every idea has been done before; it’s the execution that matters. “The hero’s family grappling with the fact that one they love is risking her life is hardly a new idea in fiction; it’s who’s involved that makes this one shine. After all, Pinkie Pie as the imperiled hero? Maud as the hand-wringing family staying up past midnight waiting for her to get home? Now we’re getting somewhere.” AugieDog chimed in to praise the juxtaposition of the premise and the setting too: “It’s one of my favorite sorts of story, actually, the sort that the late, great comic book writer Steve Gerber called the ‘what do you do the day after you save the universe?’ story. This expands on that idea to ask, ‘what do the people around you do the day after you save the universe?’ and that’s a very effective question to ask, especially in the My Little Pony universe.”
A large part of the success of this particular execution of this particular idea has to do with the author’s character work. “This is a striking, unique portrayal of Pinkie, Maud, and their relationship, with some very interesting ideas at play,” said Soge; “Maud is an extremely difficult character to write correctly, but I think this author has done just the thing, and found a unique role for her in doing so. Her frustration at her own inability to ‘properly’ comfort her sister is relatable,” said Present Perfect; “Not only is Maud a hard character to write well, but Pinkie is, too, and the two of them interacting just about creates a third character who is also difficult to write well. Add Mrs. Cake to the mix as the quiet voice of experience, and the story pretty much hits all the character bases that it’s aiming for,” said AugieDog.
But good character work is not enough, and the curators appreciated the story’s other strengths. Horizon pointed out that “this has some lovely and memorable details, like Pinkie falling asleep in the tub, and it’s centered around a compelling problem rarely covered.” Present Perfect also enjoyed that “the source of Maud’s worry is something that’s rarely tackled in either the show or fan fiction.” And FanOfMostEverything summed things up well when he said, “The layers of nuance at work, the sibling bonding, and the resolution make this a much deeper story than its length would indicate.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Tangerine Blast discusses being like Twilight, the slow percolation of inspiration, and fresh perspectives.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a nineteen-year-old girl who is currently going to college at BYU and majoring in film. Or, well, trying to. It’s a competitive field. I have lived in the exact same house my entire childhood and only moved a town over for college. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and honestly, that and being a brony are my only two redeeming features.
Now, enough about real life. Let’s move on to my online life.
I’ve been into MLP since I was thirteen and started actively contributing to the fandom not that long after that. I did really basic art and fanfics all the way back in 2012 (please don’t read those stories I beg you I was thirteen) and got into the PMV scene in early 2015.
Things really started to kick off in 2016 when I released my first Hamilton PMV, which now has over 30k views, and met my full-time editor for fanfics, Shipmun, who now is one of my best friends and goes to BYU with me (which was a coincidence believe it or not).
I’ve placed in a couple writing contests, a couple PMV contests, and even got invited to join the Collaboratory (the fact that I haven’t had the guts to talk to them and participate ever is of no consequence).
Now I get paid to watch T.V. for BYU Broadcasting and that’s one step closer to working on the next Generation of ponies which is, of course, the ultimate dream.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
You know those “name generator” things where you put in your real name and it spits out an extremely generic “pony name”?
Who’s your favorite pony?
Pinkie Pie is, and always will be, best pony. There are so many reasons for this. I could write a ten-page paper on what she means to me. The Spark Notes version is that I look up to her. Her selflessness, her enthusiasm, her goal in life, all are things that I try to emulate.
The rest of the Main Six have goals they strive for and I love that, but Pinkie’s goal is what she already has. What she wants most in life is to make others happy and have people that care about her. And that’s exactly what she has. And she knows it! She’s completely content in giving to others and that’s beautiful.
What’s your favorite episode?
For a long time I’ve felt that the show caters directly to my interests and that trend continued into a feature length movie. I love the kind of adventure stories with a Big Bad and uncharted water. I would die for all of the Main Six and going back to them without other characters stealing the spotlight was my cup of tea. Cherry on top was Pinkie being one of the main focuses. The animation was captivating, the music was as good as it got, and the voice acting was the best it’s ever been.
I watched the movie five times in theaters the week it came out and a dozen more times since then. I cried.
What do you get from the show?
I’d have to say my entire personality. When I was a kid I was stuck up, bitter, and lonely. I didn’t have any friends and had no desire to even try. I was just like Twilight.
I was so much like Twilight that watching the show was a slap in the face. It was the first thing to get through to me that maybe being nice to people and letting others in wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe having friends was its own reward.
That set off a chain reaction of growth as a person. I became more friendly, outgoing, compassionate, happy. I started actually living life instead of just getting through it. I took the lessons to heart and learned to laugh, care, give, love. I started writing fan fiction and then went to writing workshops, conferences, minoring in creative writing. I made PMVs and now I’m majoring in video editing. I have friends I would die for, optimism about the future, a love of others that had never been there before.
Watching My Little Pony literally made me a better person.
What do you want from life?
To make a difference. To have walked and grown through life and then look back and be able to see your footsteps. May it be a physical creation or an imprint in someone’s life, I just want people to notice I was there.
Why do you write?
One of my teachers once said, “What you think about when you have nothing to think about is what you’ll spend the rest of your life doing.” I always and forever think about stories. Any chance I get, any time my mind gets a moment of rest, I think about stories. I bounce plots, characters, worlds, and relationships around until I’ve exhausted the idea to its fullest. The writing comes when an idea takes up space so long that it won’t leave me alone until I’ve gotten it down. As opposed to other forms of storytelling, writing is cheap, fast, and fun.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Do you. Fan fiction, and by extension most art, is a selfish process. You’re the one that has to reread this thing a million times, you’re the one that has to imagine all the details. If you don’t want to reread or rewrite your story a month later you’re doing something wrong. You should write a story you want to read down to the last detail. If you do this you’ll actually finish something and probably make a better story in the process.
Saying that, you should also get an editor. Because there may be a story you want to write and want to share but an editor will tell you if you actually succeeded in writing that story or if what’s in your head is blocking your view.
That’s very broad advice you’ve probably heard a million times so here’s something specific too. The main plot of your story should have a very real reason behind it. Coincidence can get characters around situations and scenes but you shouldn’t have the whole plot hinge on a coincidence. “They had the wrong pony because they just kept forgetting to ask for a name” is a flimsy plot. “They had the wrong pony because of literally shapeshifting and mind control” is a solid plot.
Of course, writing is its own experience so concentrate on doing you and everything else will work out no matter what silly advice people give you.
What inspired “Under Layers of Dirt and Worry”?
Oh gosh, let’s see. I think the initiating inspiration was the story B.B.B.F.F.B.R. There was a moment where Big Mac confessed that he’s always scared that Applejack will go on an adventure and never come back. I was like… man that’s such a good point. What do their families think of them running off and risking their lives? Of course I think I read that story three or so years ago, so it just sat in the back of my mind a while.
Then I found the story Triptych and that has a lot to do with the mental and emotional toll their adventures have on the Main Six. I really wanted to do the idea then but couldn’t think of how to do it organically until Maud moved to Ponyville.
Since the Mane 6 and the ponies closest to them are all kind of in this same situation, why choose to focus the story on Pinkie, Maud, and Mrs. Cake?
Partially because I’d never give up a chance to write Best Pony but really it was because of the episode “Rock Solid Friendship” that had Maud moving to Ponyville.
If one of the family members had already lived in Ponyville (like Big Mac mentioned previously) then this conversation would have happened in the beginning of their adventures and that would have undermined the Mane Six being completely comfortable in what they were doing. If it was a sibling that came in later (like, say, Shining Armor) I’d have to make up some reason on why they were in Ponyville enough for them to notice, get worried, and confront without the reason taking away from the story I wanted to tell.
Maud actually moving to Ponyville full time made my job much easier. She obviously knew about the adventures before but only now had the opportunity to see the immediate after effects.
Mrs. Cake honestly came in at the last minute. Everything else was written up but I had no idea how to end the story. Then the idea came from my editor that the Cakes had been dealing with this same situation for years, so of course they’d have their opinions too.
It kind of all flowed together because of previous canon set up and I think it worked out really well because of that.
What do you mean by the line at the top of your FIMFiction user page: “Sometimes you just want to hear your favorite story told a little different”?
This is a direct reference to the fact that all my favorite fanfics have the exact same plot: Find the Elements, defeat the Nightmare.
I could read this story line a thousand times and I’ve written it a couple myself. It’s the exact same story but just told a little bit different. The time period, or characters, or circumstances have been tweaked and now it’s an entire new adventure.
That’s all fan fiction really is in the end. It’s the same story that we love but it’s just different enough to give us a fresh perspective. I love that there’s so many ways to do this and I love that through everyone that writes fanfics I never have to let go of my favorite stories.
Do you tend to start stories with an idea and then pick characters who can best bring that idea to life, or do you prefer bouncing characters off each other to see what ideas spring up?
I definitely start with an idea. I usually have an inclination of what kind of feeling I want to explore or a “what if” scenario I want to lay out and then I pick characters that would bring that idea to life. Sometimes the characters and their relationship is the idea but if I just let them bounce off each other it usually only develops quick jokes. The good thing about MLP is the characters are so complex that it’s easy to find a good fit for any idea.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for reading my story. Being in the RCL has been one of my dreams for a while.