Monday, 27 October 2014

While I'm on a run of talking about fanfic...

...I might as well make a post I've been thinking about for ages: namely, how I choose the stories I read for Ponyfic Roundup. Obviously the current run are all taken from the "Outside Insight" contest finalists, but I usually prefer to cull my fics from a much wider range of sources. They need to be complete, but what else? Well, fulfilling these criteria, although they're (mostly) not absolutes, helps a fic to find its way up my list:
  1. On FimFiction. FanFiction is horrible and Google Docs is clunky.
  2. Under 10,000 words. Under 5,000 words is better still.
  3. Not clop. At least, not all clop and not clop for clop's sake.
  4. Not foalcon. This one is the only non-negotiable criterion.
  5. Not a trollfic. I find almost all of those boring beyond belief.
  6. By an author who isn't too Horse Famous already.
  7. Written in reasonably comprehensible English.
  8. Not a crossover. Yeah, I read "Fallout: Equestria". Lump it.
  9. Readable on a black-and-white, text-only e-reader.
  10. In the canon Friendship is Magic universe.
  11. Not a gorefest. The [Gore] tag covers a multitude of sins.
  12. Features Fluttershy. Or, to a lesser extent, Scootaloo.
I probably could have thought of some more had I not dashed this list off in five minutes, but it gives a reasonable idea. Note that this is just how I choose fics in the first place: actually rating them is another matter. That's very simple: I award marks on how much I enjoyed a story. MLP means escapism for me, so give me a light, fun romp over a savage allegory on the eternal nature of human suffering any day. Well, most days.


  1. Broadly the same criteria here, with the exception of (2) and (6). I actually like 100,000 word novels by known writers. I like being immersed in a world and its characters in an epic story, and having a known writer gives me the confidence to commit to the time it takes to read it.

    I still read short stories too, if they're good, but I almost never just pick up a story I like the look of with no prior connection or recommendation.

    1. It's not so much that I don't like long stories – I enjoyed the 119K-word "Integration" recently, after all – but more that I don't often have the time for them. I've settled into a rhythm of reviewing about five stories a week, but reading half a million words in a week is almost never going to be possible.

      The "not Horse Famous" criterion isn't a particularly strong one: I have stories by the likes of The Descendant and Blueshift on my Read it Later list, for example. But nobody new will ever become a known writer if they don't get that first chance of exposure, and I'd like to assist with that in my small way.

      So, I think the one big difference I have with you is that about half the stories on my 120-strong RiL list right now were added on spec, and in perhaps 30 cases I've never even heard of the author. Will it reward me? Who knows, but that's part of the fun for me!