Friday, 10 February 2017

Regrets, I've had a few...

And now, a post I wrote months ago and kept forgetting about. That's me all over.

Having published more than 20 stories on Fimfiction now, it's hardly a surprise that not everything has worked out exactly the way I'd have liked. In this post, I'll pick out three stories where I'd change at least one thing if I could rewind time. Don't worry: this won't simply be a "woe is me" exercise in self-flagellation, since I'll follow up next week with a companion piece talking about three stories I am happy to have written as I did.

Edit: in the light of Pascoite's comment below, I realise I haven't been clear. This is not a list of "my worst stories". It's a list of specific problems I have with those stories. None of these fics would come bottom of my personal favourites list. And no, I'm not going to tell you (at least, not now) which one would!

1. For an Angel to Pass
This choice is unlikely to surprise anyone. When I wrote this story, way back in the spring of 2013, I deliberately avoided explicitly identifying the POV character until right at the end. The snag with having done this is that, for readers who are paying any attention at all, the mystery is non-existent. I still quite like the story in itself, and most of my readers seem to appreciate it too, but if I were writing the fic now I would make it a straight slice of life piece and remove any mystery element. (You may notice that I haven't added the [Mystery] tag.)

2. One Hell of a Party
This I submitted to EQD way back when, confidently expecting to get back a one-line "Thanks, but it really needs work" response. Instead, the pre-reader generously provided a detailed list of comments and suggestions. I rebelled against their final and most significant suggestion in the end, and so didn't resubmit the story, because I didn't want the thing to be more than jokey fluff. I still don't, really, but I wish I'd at least pushed harder to see what would result. There is a silver lining: those comments have certainly made some of my later stories better than they otherwise would have been.

3. Sunset's Sales Snag
I'm irritated with myself in two ways as far as this fic is concerned. First, I apparently annoyed some of my readers by slapping an overly cautious [Sex] tag on it. While I suppose there's a case for said tag given an underlying theme, I feel happier with it gone. Second, the ending was dreadful, with a horrible choice for the name used at the end. The ending I have there now isn't exactly amazing, but it's better than it was. This fic has by far the worst thumbscore balance of anything I've written, and it didn't need to have. My fault.

Bubbling under: cramming too many characters into The 20 Percent Solution, having a subplot peter out in Where They Understand You, the pathetic yet irritatingly popular 11th entry in Friendship is Poetry. By all means yell at me in the comments to tell me where else I made a hash of things! :D


  1. So what you're saying is I should read all of these at once. <.<

    1. You've actually already read For an Angel to Pass. You gave it a C, as I recall. As for the others, One Hell of a Party has its moments but also has a lot of terrible puns ("Get Tirekt!" is one such). Meanwhile, Sunset's Sales Snag is inspired by a single very stupid joke (albeit one that I find amusing) extended to fic length, with a (still) very poor ending. So quite frankly, there are a lot of better stories you could be reading.

  2. Hey, I've read one of these! "One Hell of a Party" was pretty good. I don't know why you'd put that near the top of a list of your personal misses. I remember telling you it was a good story that needed a little polish, or a little Polish--actually, I'm average height and half-Polish. (I was your pre-reader.)

    I've definitely seen the same effect you did on that third one. I had a dark-ish adventure story with the occasional joke, so I erred on the side of caution and put a comedy tag on it. Then I endured lots of downvotes (actually, low star ratings, since it was still in that era) from people who were expecting a steady stream of humor. Then in another, I used the romance tag, because there is a relationship that featured prominently in how the story played out, but involved only one of the tagged characters. So readers hungry for Twilestia (or possibly TwiSpike) liberally applied the red thumb when they didn't receive it.

    1. I don't know why you'd put that near the top of a list of your personal misses.

      Oh, I don't. I still find it rather fun, actually. This isn't a list of "my worst stories", but rather a list of specific things about those stories that I regret. In this fic's case, it's specifically the fact that it was left less polished than it could have been that I regret – especially as, quite frankly, some of this was down to laziness on my part. It would annoy me less if the story had been a complete mess.

      a little polish, or a little Polish

      "Which two common English words change pronunciation when capitalised?" was one of my favourite quiz questions way back when. Most people I asked got polish/Polish fairly quickly, but an awful lot didn't get the second one: reading/Reading.

    2. Really? I have to think there are more than two, with the possibility of, say, a foreign name which lent itself to an eponymous product which is pronounced differently in English. Like leotard, for instance. To be technical, people name their kids crazy things these days, and I bet you can find names that are spelled the same as but pronounced differently than ordinary words. I know of at least one Female (pronounced Fem-Molly). But I think it's only fair to restrict it to widely recognized names, even archaic ones. Under that umbrella, I submit "job."

    3. I can't remember the precise rules, but I'm fairly sure personal names were excluded. Otherwise, there would indeed be a lot more than two. (I particularly like job/Job. Nice one!)

    4. Yeah, I figured person names might be off limits, but truthfully, place names are almost as arbitrary.