Sunday, 31 May 2015

Four things that irritate Logan in ponyfic

Since there's no new MLP:FiM episode this weekend, I thought I'd fall back on a tried and trusted alternative: whinging. My whinge this time is about fanfic. I've now been doing Ponyfic Roundup for more than a year, and certain things come up time and time again, even in some otherwise excellent stories. Some of these are plain errors: some are simply personal preferences. Anyway:

1. Royal Canterlot Grammar
Despite the plethora of guides freely available online, several of them aimed specifically at ponyfic authors, a very substantial number of people still make a complete pig's ear of this. If I had a dollar for every time I'd read "They cometh" or "We canst not" or "I beseech thou", I'd be... well, queueing up at the Post Office to change that big pile of dollars into pounds. But you get the idea.

Full Stop Before Closing Quotes Disease probably has a snappier name, and one that works on both sides of the Atlantic, but I can't think of what it might be. "This is not how you do direct speech." The blogger pointed out. This problem seems much less common in stories by British authors, but I don't know why; I'm sure American schools don't actually encourage their students to do this.

Edit for clarity (31/5 14:55): I'm irritated by examples like the one in italics, where the full stop should be a comma and the next word should not be capitalised. When there are two legitimate sentences – as in "This is correctly written." The blogger pointed to the sentence in question. – then there's no problem at all.

3. "Ah-speak"
Writing Applejack's dialogue necessarily involves some compromises. After all, the show itself had AJ using "y'all" in the singular in its early days. I don't usually mind too much how an author decides to write her speech, but I do find the substitution of "I" by "Ah" spectacularly annoying. If you're writing her dialogue halfway decently, it'll be obvious it's AJ speaking without doing this.

4. Non-canon spellings
Okay, this one doesn't really irritate me (though inconsistency within a story certainly does). But really, where there is an official spelling ("Manehattan", "griffon", etc) what reason is there not to use it? "I prefer it" is no real answer: you could use the same argument to write "Applebloom" in all your stories, and that one irritates the hay out of a lot more people than me!

I could go on, but there are limits to how much I want to complain about ponyfic. Actually, that's a lie: I'm just too lazy to write any more now. :P


  1. In American English, you're supposed to end quoted sentences with a period before the closing quote mark. Letting yourself be annoyed by this is silly, and pointing it out is self-defeating, because it's legitimate.

    That said, if I'm not using dialogue, I will put the period outside the closing quote, unless it's actually part of what's being quoted. Because that's only logical. :B

    1. "I think Present Perfect is having a brain fart," I said, cunningly demonstrating attention to how both Armerican and British English end dialogue with a comma if it is not the end of a sentence.

    2. Um...

      1. "This is absolutely fine." The blogger smiled as he spoke.

      2. "This is not fine." The blogger said, smiling.

      I'm only complaining about Type 2 lines here.

    3. It's worth noting that all this time, I've assumed you were mad about people putting periods inside quote marks for any reason whatsoever.

      This is just not understanding how dialogue works. :B

    4. Eep. No wonder it seemed a strange complaint! I certainly don't labour under the misapprehension that this:

      Rarity said, "Good morning".

      is how it should be done! Mind you, the very fact that it appeared that way to you underlines how poor a name FSBCQD is for what I was actually complaining about. :P

    5. I was just assuming it to be another vagary of British English that had escaped me. :V But seriously, just call it "poor dialogue punctuation", that's what it is.

    6. Well, if you're just talking about non-dialogue periods and quote marks, then I'll keep mine outside the quotes, thank you very much. That's one rule that I don't follow because it's British standard – I follow it because the American English method is dumb.

      You can quote me on that :P

    7. Gah, a real problem with Blogger is the lack of proper comment threading. I therefore have no idea which one of us you're addressing in your comment! But as far as I'm concerned, my complaint was specifically about full stops that should be commas, with the associated incorrect capitalisation that almost invariably follows. As in:

      "It's just plain sloppy." The alicorn said.

      Non-dialogue punctuation? Yep, certainly take it outside. As in:

      Rarity had called it "appalling".

    8. Yeah, I was addressing His Perpetually-Incorrect-Ness.

      If it's not part of the quote, GTFO of the quotation.