(Note: We’re looking to re-feature three of our spotlighted authors, in order to offer them spotlights on stories more representative of their writing! Our “Correct the Record” contest runs through Sunday, April 23. Weigh in with your votes and nominations on our FIMFiction thread. For a “ballot” with a compiled list of nominations and voting links, check this spreadsheet.)
Today’s story brings home the consequences of war.
Feeling That Way
[2nd Person] [Drama] [Slice of Life] [Tragedy] • 1,020 words
You’re drenched in sweat and ennui. She’s fighting the enemy, and you’re fighting depression. Stuck forever in a nowhere town, you try to rise above inertia, but you only end up feeling useless. You’re always feeling that way.
FROM THE CURATORS: When stories tackle challenging topics and perspectives, it’s all the more impressive when they stick the landing. “While war fics are often a hard sell, this one works by recognizing that,” Present Perfect said in Feeling This Way’s nomination. “The threat is nebulous and frightening, and since the idea of war doesn’t fit into pony society, the recognition of that makes this feel like a distinctly pony piece.” And he wasn’t the only one impressed. “This is certainly a great story, capable of imparting powerful emotion in so few words, subtle in its details, and yet very direct in its approach,” Soge said. “It walks that fine line between melodrama and genuine emotion splendidly.”
But this story’s main claim to fame is more unusual: This is the RCL’s first feature with the Second Person tag. “The use of second person strikes a very tight balance,” Present Perfect said. “Third person would have been too distant for the emotions to hit home, while a first-person narrator likely would have been too familiar, spending time contemplating what certain emotions mean. Instead, we’re fitted into this pony’s life in no uncertain terms right at the start, and get to live out the story through his eyes.” AugieDog agreed: “For me, the 2nd person works in the sense of the character talking out loud to himself, and I found it quite effective given the dry and dusty sense of madness lurking around the edges.” And even the dissenters, like Horizon, were impressed with the power of the story. “I’m not as sold as PP on the benefit of the second person here, but that’s not the draw,” he said. “The big thing right is the effective and efficient storytelling that is packed into the story’s thousand words.”
That quality of writing was apparent both in the large and small. “I love how it manages to paint a history so rich in details without actually being explicit about any of them,” Soge said, while it was its thematic solidity which impressed Horizon: “All of the beauty is abstract and environmental to contrast with the personal doubt and pain, nicely reinforcing the main theme. The wham line at the end of the mine-tailings discussion is delivered basically perfectly, and adds a sense of layered tragedy.” The overall effect, as AugieDog said, was a hard-hitting short story: “This is very much about being frozen in place, but it still manages to present the reader with an entire world and a couple of characters who have to live in that world.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Super Trampoline discusses olines, happy horse noises, and strap-on horns.