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Minor Characters ([personal profile] alicornucopia) wrote in [community profile] alicornutopia2014-04-13 08:06 pm

the wide wide world of equestria

<hattersgonnahat> hello #earthficcersunite I am in you, does anybody feel like listening to me complain about my creative writing teacher again, wait, don't answer, gonna do it anyway
<hattersgonnahat> you'd think the fact that you can in fact write many entire stories without magic and crap in them would indicate that it does not have to be considered a Core Writing Skill Without Which I Am Incomplete

Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 01:37 am (UTC)(link)
"I think I've got it this time, Spike!" said Twilight Sparkle. "I just know that my spell to communicate with other worlds will work this time! And I have just the application to test it! Remember those strange aetheric readings I was getting the other month? I have a wild hypothesis that they're from an another world where the ponies have built an entire communications network out of electromagnetic signal, if you can believe that."

"Electro-what?" said Spike. "Why don't they just use magic?"

"Beats me. A world with only earth ponies, perhaps?" She shuddered involuntarily at the thought, and was glad that Applejack or Pinkie Pie weren't there to ask what it meant. "But I'm glad I read that book on coding theory the other month; writing a spell to crack their network protocol is one of the hardest computing-magic things I've ever done. But now ... we'll be able to ask them ourselves!"

She groaned with effort and a magenta glow emitted from her horn as she cast the spell to open the bridge between worlds. A quill levitated and wrote on the parchment on the desk in neat script---

<hattersgonnahat> hello #earthficcersunite I am in you, does anybody feel like listening to me complain about my creative writing teacher again, wait, don't answer, gonna do it anyway
<hattersgonnahat> you'd think the fact that you can in fact write many entire stories without magic and crap in them would indicate that it does not have to be considered a Core Writing Skill Without Which I Am Incomplete

"Uh..." Twilight said.

"What does it mean?" asked Spike.

"I guess the pony on the other side is a writer? From my understanding of the network protocol, I think hattersgonnahat is a pseudonym." said Twilight. "What pound-sign-earthfissers are and some other things, I'm not sure, but there's only one way to find out ..."

She levitated another quill and wrote---

<intomystudies> Dear hattersgonnahat; do go on.

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
"It's working!" shouted Twilight gleefully. "But I don't want to attract suspicion that I'm from another world. I'll start by asking lots of questions based on what the other pony just said, like that spell I wrote to simulate a psychotherapist once. Hm, but I don't want to sound too automated; I'll put a friendly generic reassuring sentence before it."

<intomystudies> I'm not being sarcastic; I enjoy meeting new
ponies over this communications network. What do you mean by
worldbuilding exactly and why don't you put it in your

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 02:00 am (UTC)(link)
"Ugh," said Twilight. "I've already screwed up. Of course the intelligent life in this other world might not be ponies; I should know that after [the events of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls —the Editor]. But at least this—" Twilight hesitated; social-justice-minded critics had criticized the use of the word pony to refer to any sapient creature as irredeemably speciesist, but the fact was that Equestrian common had no better word. Things like that had implications for the success of the interaction; her translation spell wasn't good at smoothing over the gaps where different languages didn't have quite the same concepts. "At least if I'm reading them right, it sounds like this ... sapient creature is offering me almost exactly that excuse—"

<intomystudies> Yes, you will kindly forgive my autocorrect. But
what is earthfic?

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 02:16 am (UTC)(link)
"No magic ..." Twilight whispered in shock. "Well, at least that explains why they've built an entire communications infrastructure out of electromagnetic signals. Which is awfully impressive, come to think of it—I don't think we could do that in Equestria, and not only because we don't need to." She paused. "But it's convenient that I've met this writer of realistic fiction; I can find our about their world by means of asking about this—" she decided to just go with the word pony even if it might not have been accurate; creature sounded too disrespectful, "this pony's stories, without having to blow my cover."

<intomystudies> Sorry if I'm in the wrong channel; this is
actually my first time on this communications network and I don't
quite know what I'm doing. So what is your earthfic story about?

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
<intomystudies> What does the blind actuary do? I mean,
I would totally read a book that was only about calculating
insurance polcies despite not being able to see, but I read
everything, and I imagine you have something more in mind.

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 02:36 am (UTC)(link)
<intomystudies> I agree with you; research doesn't stop being
important just because you're writing fiction! What's the dog
character like? My eyesight is perfect, but I still depend a lot on my
baby-dragon companion Spike for so many things

"Aw, shucks," said Spike.

<intomystudies> you know, writing letters from dictation and such. I can only imagine
how much more important a faithful assistant must be when you have to
cope with a disability

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 02:49 am (UTC)(link)
<intomystudies> Oh contemptible autocorrect! Please bear with me

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 03:00 am (UTC)(link)
"Oh, no," said Twilight. "I'm terrible at this. And I can't maintain the link to the other world indefinitely. Eventually, the connection will die, not unlike [having to end a session of roleplaying because you have a dayjob and can't afford to stay up too late pretending to be a magical unicorn mare —the Editor]." She paused. "How do I recover from my obvious blunders, and still extract the maximum amount of information about this other world before I have to go? I think I have an idea—"

<intomystudies> No, wait---I really am sorry; I've been
practicing with an unusual earthfic-writing technique in another
channel, and shouldn't have tried to bring it here without explaining.
<intomystudies> You see, one thing that makes writing good
earthfic so challenging is that it's hard to explicitly write about
that which we're too familiar with; the background facts of our lives
are invisible to introspection, and our writing suffers from it
<intomystudies> we want to "show, not tell," but when
considering ordinary, "mundane" things, it's easy to fall into the
trap of doing neither

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 03:17 am (UTC)(link)
"They bought it! And maybe it's a terrible risk, but I am sort of curious how far I can take this—"

<intomystudies> Right. People like your teacher who pit
earthfic and fantasy literature against each other have it all wrong;
imagining other words is a complement to better understanding and
exploring our own; neither genre is intrinsically superior
<intomystudies> So if, as a writer who tends to do somewhat more
fantasy than earthfic, I enjoy talking to you as if I were, say, an
alicorn princess who is the protege of the God-Empress of the sun in a
world of ponies that I occasionally need to defend with rare artifacts
powered by the magic of friendship
<intomystudies> and ask seemingly stupid, crazy questions about
things "everyone knows" in your world
<intomystudies> I hope you'll humor me and play along, and
describe your world in as much rich detail as possible, as if I were
telling the truth and you needed to explain everything to me from
<intomystudies> it really is a powerful writing exercise
after you get used to it

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-04-14 03:30 am (UTC)(link)
"My universe is not a kid's story!" said Twilight [erroneously —the Editor]. But the resentment only lasted a moment when she remembered what she had accomplished. "But whatever; it looks like I've won the trust of this pony-analogue in this other world! I've got so much to—oh, no!"

*** intomystudies has disconnected. (Message: Leaving)

In her excitement, she'd lost, if only for a moment, the low-level focus needed to maintain the spell—and she doubted she had the energy to cast it again today. Perhaps she'd be able to find the same network in the other world again, continue her dialogue with hattersgonnahat some other time? Hopefully ...

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-11-15 05:41 am (UTC)(link)

several months later ...

"Hey Twilight," said Rainbow Dash, entering the library wing of [Ponyville Crystal Friendship Castle —the Editor]. Twilight looked up from her work with a look not so much like annoyance as sheer incomprehension; she had to remember the mundane physical reality around her before she could resent its intrusion into her studies. Some of her other friends, say, Rarity, or Fluttershy (definitely Fluttershy), would have apologized for the interruption. Rainbow Dash didn't notice. "I came to return the non-Daring Do book you recommended."

"Oh!" said Twilight, now aware enough to resent the interruption, but not resenting it, because if there was one thing the world outside her head was good for, it was sharing her love of reading with friends and hearing back about the results of said sharing. "What'd you think?" Twilight wasn't sure what to expect; Rainbow had descibed the purpose of her visit in her usual confident tone, which good have meant any number of things, from "That book was awful and now I'm going to justly complain about it", to "That book was great and I'm going to justly rave about it," to "I'm Rainbow Dash!"

"It was terrible!" said Rainbow Dash.

"What? Why?"

"It was nothing like the Daring Do books!"

"Rainbow Dash, it was exactly like the Daring Do books! I mean, it's not literally A. K. Yearling writing about Daring Do, but it's another popular writer working in the same very crowded, dare I say played out, subgenere of adventure novels."

"The protagonist is nothing like Daring Do! She's so&dmdash;somdash;"


"She lacks a certain jeh neh say-is kwoi."

"Je ne sais quoi," corrected Twilight. "But Rainbow," she added, changing the subject [for all the world as if she were a puppet in a throwaway collaborative storytelling session in which one of the authors is suddenly realizing that he's taking too much time on the introductory scene —the Editor], "do you ever think about other worlds? I mean real other worlds, not fantasy-adventure novels like Daring Do."

"But Twilight, Daring Do is real! We met her back in [My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season 4, Episode 4: "Daring Don't" —the Editor]!"

"I don't know what you're talking about," said Twilight. "Anyway, I'm a little even more distracted than usual because I'm actually in the middle of reestablishing a connection to an alternate world that seems to have a strange lack of magic; they've managed to build a sophisticated communications system out of some sort of electomagnetic technology which I was able to tap into once, a few months ago before—before—" a single tear rolled down Twilight's cheek.

"Still miss the old library, huh?"

Twilight sniffled and nodded. "Yeah." Then she shook her head vigorously and put on a determined look. "Anyway, I was worried that I might never be able to reestablish the connection, but after the good practice with trans-world communication duing [the events of My Little Pony; Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks —the Editor] and that similar time I chatted to that annoying little colt and one of his superheroine gaurdians, I think I'm ready to reinitiate contact with an old—well, I don't know that were friends, yet; it was only a few minutes. But there's a pony—uh, well, a probably-not-a-pony, whose world I want to learn more about, a writer, like A. K. Yearling."

This was sufficiently weird even for Twilight that Rainbow Dash actually looked a little curious. "You can watch if you like," said Twilight.

"Okay," said Rainbow.

Twilight took a deep breath, and, horn glowing with effort, watched in awe as a quill wrote out the cryptic words—

Welcome to #earthficcersunite on Freenode! Topic is "plot, theme, and characterization without magical ponies since 2011" set by hattersgonnahat on 8 November 2014

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-11-15 06:01 am (UTC)(link)
"There she is!" said Twilight.

"Huh?" said Rainbow. "All I see are a bunch of random *words*."

Twilight sighed. "I'll explain later," and began to write back—

<intomystudies> Yes, it's me again! Sorry that I've been away so long, because
<intomystudies> because reasons
<intomystudies> How are you? Why are you considering going to China?

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-11-15 06:12 am (UTC)(link)

<intomystudies> oh, I don't put much of my writing on the communications network
<intomystudies> too shy
<intomystudies> as for what I've been up to

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-11-15 06:23 am (UTC)(link)

[22:22] <intomystudies> oh, yeah. But she's really only into the action scenes. But she's one of my five best friends in all of Equestria
[22:22] <intomystudies> the Earth*
[22:22] <intomystudies> autocorrect is horse apples
[22:23] <intomystudies> anyway, you know
[22:23] * intomystudies is going to regret this
[22:23] <intomystudies> she's actually here with me right now; why don't I get her to log on to the communications network too on the other device?
[22:26] <ImRainbowDash> Twilight what is this I don't even

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-11-15 06:37 am (UTC)(link)

[22:27] <ImRainbowDash> my friend twilight is asking me to write on this magical paper that writes back. pretty weird if you ask me but im used to her craz

"Rainbow Dash, *no*!"


"She's from another world! She doesn't know that we're ponies!"

"... as opposed to?"

"I don't know! Whatever my Canterlot High friends are maybe! Just—try to follow my lead," Twilight said, frantically running search queries on another piece of parchment, looking for more information that would make her seem like a native, as she hoped the reference to the tropes repository had done a moment ago.

[22:28] <intomystudies> what my dear friend Rebecca means is that she really liked the action scenes in the new Stephanie Meyer book

Re: Pony Relay Chat

[personal profile] intomystudies 2014-12-28 03:45 am (UTC)(link)

several months later

It was shortly after one in the afternoon in an ordinary, undishtinguished dormatory room at an ordinary, unidistinguished American university, and history was in the process of being made; Harriet could feel it. After a moment of reflection, she decided that it was, on balance, unlikely that one could sense history being made; more likely the sensation of terrifying timeless reality building up behind her eyes was just a side-effect of sleep deprivation. But that wasn't important, just as attending classes this or the previous day hadn't been important. This certainly wasn't the first time one of Harriet's writing sessions had stretched over a timespan measured in dozens of hours, but never had the ideas in her head flown so smoothly into her fingers, the keystrokes raining heavily down upon the keyboard like silver droplets of liquid mercury, building—no, not building a world (the only legitimate work of a fiction writer, if one were to listen to Harriet's professors, but listening to them would have implied showing up to lecture, which Harriet hadn't), but reflecting the real one, recombining images of it into something beautiful and tragic and believable in a way that tales of unicorns and talking dogs could never be.

To keep from yawning, she drummed her fingers on the hardback copy of Fundamentals of Actuarial Mathematics sitting on the desk atop five pages of notes with her interview with the president of the local guide dog training association, admiring the sound. She really should get to sleep—she had been awake for some twenty-nine hours—but she wasn't done typing out everything that was in her head, and who could say if she would be in the same glorious headspace when she awoke? Then, about the protagonist's current moral dilemma, should he—

That was when the room exploded.

That's what it felt like, anyway, but when the terrible noise and light and heat and Harriet's scream of terror all subsided, she seemed to be unhurt, if quite shaken, and nothing she could see looked damaged. Warily, haltingly, she stood up, sputtering "Wh–wh–" as if working up the courage to voice a hypothesis about what had just happened (Was that a bomb?) but finding neither the courage nor any plausible hypotheses. She turned around—and found some hypotheses.

Lying on the floor, in the center of the room, looking no less shaken than Harriet and much more hurt, was a small, lavender horse, with wings, and enormous eyes, and a horn protruding from its forehead.

"Of course," said Harriet aloud. "I'm suffering from sleep deprivation! Or a stroke. And I'm starting to hallucinate. I should get to bed. Or maybe a hospital." She shook her head. "No, that's silly. Obviously I'm already asleep, and this is just an ordinary dream."

The pegasus-unicorn was leaking blood on the carpet from numerous wounds and long gashes all over its body. It was still conscious, though, and looking up at Harriet as if trying to speak. It made a noise that sounded like ironic chuckling, and then another that sounded like words. "Cntrlot heigh."

"Help!" shouted Harriet, looking to the closed door. "Someone needs to get this unicorn to the hospital!" She temored. "No—no—someone needs to get me to the hopsital. It's only—"

The horse spoke. "Hatters gonna hat?" it asked. One of Harriet's online pseudonyms.

"Yes," said Harriet.

"My name—is Twilight Sparkle," said the horse. "But you know me as Into My Studies. I have a ... consulting opportunity that I'd like to discuss with you. The fate of all the ponies in Equestria rests in your ho—in your hands."

Then they both passed out.