Today’s story will grow on you.
How To Dominate Your Neighbor’s Lawn
[Comedy] [Random] • 2,241 words
Even when faced with the rise of Tirek and the loss of her own cutie mark, Roseluck never fails to tend her lawn.
FROM THE CURATORS: The wordplay flew like grass clippings as we discussed this tale. (For example, AugieDog quipped, “Monomania is often a rich and fragrant source of humor, and this one’s got that in spades.”) But even though the fic started out as an entry to the Comedy (Is Serious Business) contest, it turned our head with some serious writing skills. “What strikes me about the excellent writing is the strong character voicing,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “Roseluck is not exactly a normal pony, but she’s very sure about what it is she wants in life.” RBDash47 agreed: “I think it’s a great example of how someone can take a background character with no real established characterization and run with it. It was a short fic but I feel like I have a perfect understanding of who Roseluck is and what she stands for.”
We found that drawing us into the story. “I love that this is told in the first person,” AugieDog said. “My favorite sort of craziness is the kind that’s presented as not just an everyday occurrence but as an integral part of a narrator’s life. By throwing us into it headfirst, the author just envelops us in the crunchy green madness.” And that led to a satisfying payoff. “This was definitely a lot of fun, especially Roseluck’s comeuppance, which is either a fantastic coincidence or laser-guided karma,” FanOfMostEverything said. “The fact that life goes on Ponyville in the midst of Tirek’s rampage says a lot about the town and its citizens, and the interplay between Roseluck and Lyra establishes the characters both thoroughly and efficiently.”
Some of the story’s technology provoked conversation, too. “I was impressed at how gas-powered lawnmowers are eased into Equestria by virtue of them being eldritch sources of dark power,” Present Perfect said, while RBDash47 countered: “I don’t know that I love gas-powered lawnmowers existing in Equestria, but otherwise I am pleasantly surprised.” That caused FanOfMostEverything to note: “You feed it the rendered blood of monstrosities long past and it then eviscerates anything that crosses its path. I’m pretty sure a gas-powered lawnmower qualifies as an eldritch artifact in our universe.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Wallflower Blush discusses eating candy, inflated guts, and satiated hunger.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a naked, hairless monkey glued to a chair behind a computer desk with one hand on the keyboard and a banana shake in the other. My favorite soda is anything that comes mixed with whiskey in a solo cup and I like watching sweaty men in tights wrestle over an inflated pig’s gut. Not much else to say.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s a memorable name of a fan favorite character. The fact that some other poor sob won’t be able to use it when I hardly ever log on leaves me with a deep sense of satisfaction.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Whoa Nelly from Canterlot Boutique. Somehow, in a vegan world of herbivorous ponies, one of the herd managed to attain critical mass off of a steady diet of salads and hayfry burgers. How does that even work?
What’s your favorite episode?
The Best Night Ever, hands down. Watching a group of neurotic ponies flub the biggest social event of the year while their nation’s head of state sits back and laughs leaves a big smile on my face. It also helps that I have a long-running headcanon that the seeds for Discord’s return were sown by that event.
What do you get from the show?
It’s a show about cute, fluffy animals doing cute, fluffy things. You may as well try to explain the purpose of eating candy. It’s fun to watch and I get warm fuzzies every time it comes on.
What do you want from life?
To take over the world, overthrowing every established political system in favor of a feudal empire with me at its head. You know, the little things.
Why do you write?
I can’t draw.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
No one believes that they can master the piano by reading a book on it without ever touching the keys, so why do you think that you can write like John Steinbeck without ever putting a pen to paper? The first step to becoming a good writer is actually writing something.
As for writing in a technical sense, I have a few tips for you.
- Get rid of your passive voice. Nothing grates on the ear quite like hearing ‘The door was closed by John’ when ‘John closed the door’ works so much better.
- Stop using so many adverbs. ‘John forcefully closed the door’ says less with more words than ‘John slammed the door’. Try sticking with the latter.
- I’m well aware that Rainbow Dash is a cyan mare. You don’t need to remind me every time you write a dialogue attribution. ‘“Awesome!” Rainbow Dash said’ gets the point across just as well as ‘“Awesome!” the cyan pegasus said’ with far less redundancy.
- Try trimming your prose a bit. You’ll find your story flows more naturally when it isn’t lugging around a hundred thousand words of baggage.
- Subtext is your friend. So much can be said by a character’s actions or dialogue that isn’t expressed directly to the reader. Believe it or not, your reader has a brain and enjoys puzzling out the things you imply rather than being spoon-fed the answers.
- Over-description is an epidemic on FIMFiction. Try keeping your descriptions shorter and more poignant rather than detailing every scratch and dent on the third button on some officer’s dress uniform.
I know that about half of those problems stem from trying to get a high enough word count to hit the feature box, so you should stop caring about that damn box. Hardly anyone looks at it anyways, and you’re ruining your story just to meet some arbitrary word count. Stop it.
What inspired “How To Dominate Your Neighbor’s Lawn”?
Ever been part of a homeowners’ association? I’ve never met a chairman of one who wasn’t a stick-in-the-mud about keeping property values up, and that often means having them come by your property at least once a week to make sure that you aren’t becoming the neighborhood eyesore.
Some of the ponies carry this attitude in their own way, and I thought it’d be fun to dial that neuroticism up to eleven and see where it leads. The lawnmower being sentient in Roseluck’s mind was just a bonus.
Was Golem 069 destroyed at the end, or is it still wandering Equestria in search of vengeance?
Rumor has it that it’s still roaming the world, searching for novice writers who rely on passive voice and adverbial phrases to satiate its hunger.
Do you usually enjoy writing this sort of random humor, or was this more of an anomaly?
For every joke that lands, I’ll have a hundred duds that sit in my drawer, growing mildewy among the dust bunnies. As much as I’d love to dig a few of them up and dump them on FIMFiction, my better devils won’t allow it. Instead, I’ve always relied more on absurdist humor to make up for the lack of snappy one-liners and sharp wit.
As for what I’d like to write, I’m a sucker for stories about good characters hitting hard times, almost managing to pull themselves through it, then failing because of a character flaw or some mistake they made earlier in the story. Sadly, enjoying something and being good at it aren’t mutually inclusive, and I can’t write something serious to save my life.
Is this the one Pony story you had inside you, or might there be more lurking about?
I have a million pony stories inside of me. Sadly, I’d first have to unplug the ethernet cable, open up Scrivener, and write them without getting distracted. There’ll probably be a few more, but they’ll come sporadically at best.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sure. Don’t do drugs, kids.