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105916 No. 105916
I'm not really even meaning to talk about the length of these stories, but about the content; however, it seems like "important" stories about Celestia's death or the return of Discord or what-have-you are disproportionately long rather than short. So when I talk about or make reference to "long" stories here, you should understand that I mean this certain kind of story, the kind that's about "important" events, which generally include but are not limited to saving Equestria from certain destruction, fulfilling a timeless prophesy, winning a decades-long war, etc.

I've noticed that almost all my favorite stories focus on what are, objectively, rather small events. Stories about the mane six, or perhaps one of the princesses, saving all of Equestria (or perhaps the entire universe) by defeating some timeless evil prophesied about since before the beginning of history tend, as a rule, to feel underwhelming, while "less ambitious" stories are often much more rewarding. (I'm too lazy to give examples.)

Surprisingly, I've even found that the worlds featured in expansive stories about universe-rending demons often feel much smaller than the worlds of some more focused, tightly-woven stories about everyday events.

What's up with that? It seems like the bigger a story tries to be, the more claustrophobic and sterile it feels. As far as I'm concerned, most big stories fail at the very thing—a feeling of the world's bigness—which seems like ought to be their main advantage over smaller stories.

Is there some reason for this? Is it because authors tend to spread their ideas more thinly in big stories, and they end up feeling less dense and less deep as a result? Is it because novice authors tend to bite off more than they can chew? Is this just a problem that novice authors have, or is it a problem inherent to writing long stories with epic arcs?

A good short story can effectively simulate the real world and make the universe in which it exists seem huge. If a long, epic story is written by an expert, is it possible to make its universe seem even bigger than that? Or is it a fallacy to think that longer stories have an advantage over smaller stories in this regard?

More generally: are there other inherent problems with "big" story plots, such as introducing unnecessary complications, lacking focus, etc. that can account for why a lot of long stories are mediocre compared to shorter stories? How can someone who wants to write a really good longfic avoid such pitfalls?

Are novice writers drawn to writing about big events rather than small ones because they think they're more likely to get noticed that way? because they think that only "important" events are worth writing about? because they lack creativity, or maybe because they feel pressure from the community to write about big, "important" events? Is it that stories about "big" and "important" things lend themselves to being filled with platitudes and cliches rather than actual insight, which shorter, more localized stories require?

Am I just completely wrong in my opinion that longer stories, at the non-professional level of writing, tend to be worse than shorter ones?

I'm really interested in hearing what everyone thinks, because for me this matter has gotten to the point where I just avoid long stories on principle. And not because I have a short attention span, either—I just can't help assuming that anything longer than a certain number of words is probably going to suck.

P.S. I tried to start End of Ponies a few weeks ago. I found the opening so uninteresting that I didn't care enough to finish the first chapter. Am I missing something? Should I try again?
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>> No. 105917
Because attention span

Which is also why I just answered the question instead of actually reading the post, like a good samaritan would do.
>> No. 105919
Many writers make the mistake of forgetting all of the proper build-up inbetween the beginning of the story and the climax while making things too obvious at the beginning. The mini-arcs that bridge each act should be stories in and of themselves, a mini-conclusion regularly provided to satisfy the reader's taste for closure.

Fo:E and Dangerous Business are two longfics that I greatly enjoyed. Fo:E makes excellent use of dynamic characters and objective; the beginning is just Littlepip trying to find her love interest in the sprawling wasteland, things come into focus and, before she can truly comprehend what she's entangling herself in, tries to save a dead country.

Dangeous Business, on the other hand, gives the reader some of the best characterizations of canon characters in the fandom and presents each one with a notable flaw. While the overall plot is working towards a goal immediately apparent in the beginning, it's broken up into three distinct parts, during which Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Rarity confront their fears and develop new skills. In essence, the aforementioned mini-conclusions. The inclusion of some very interesting and well-developed OC species also helps keep the reader occupied, since you want to discover their intricacies.

>P.S. I tried to start End of Ponies a few weeks ago. I found the opening so uninteresting that I didn't care enough to finish the first chapter.
The first chapter is a bit of a slog. The second a thrill ride that managed to keep my enthusiasm running for the next few hundred thousand words, the hope of a similar moment driving me to continue before puttering out. It's not a story that's easily accessible, I think.
>> No. 105921
I had almost the exact same problem, except I kind of liked the prologue with Rainbow Dash taking the filly to safety that kicked the story off. After that it transitioned in a jarring manner to a bleak future, where it took too much time trying to describe setting rather than giving me reason to care about what was happening.

A very similar thing happened in the bioshock crossover, Harmony. It opened with a prologue I liked, but then transitioned out of it to exposition that I couldn't bring myself to give a damn about.
>> No. 105963
I would reply with something detailed, seeing as one of my stories is under this category, but I do not feel qualified with the knowledge and/or skills to speak about the subject well.

However, I will state this:

>Are novice writers drawn to writing about big events rather than small ones because they think they're more likely to get noticed that way?

No, I didn't want a feature box or to be noticed. I wrote it because I wanted to write it.

>because they think that only "important" events are worth writing about?

No, only the idea I had that fell into that category felt like it was worth writing to me, because it was the idea I had.

>because they lack creativity, or maybe because they feel pressure from the community to write about big, "important" events?

I'll ignore the first and say I wanted to write it because I wanted to write it.

bottom line: can't say much about the subject as a whole, but I'm not a fan of the fact that I felt directly insulted reading this, and I will ask that not to be brought up cause it is a discussion about long stories, not a flame war.
>> No. 105967
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I've been giving some thought to this.

I think that certain people (especially fans of certain types* of anime) by and large have developed a high tolerance for "epic" - and I mean that in the most blase, superficial way possible. It's like a high sweetness tolerance. World-shattering power and huge things happening are common and base things in some stories, whether in text or displayed in images on a glowing screen. What stories that are epic can sometimes lack is at least one protagonist (but not too many), or at least one with any real depth. Characters you can relate to that face hardship and make decisions are what's necessary for it to be an epic in the first place. Just to give an example, in Lord of the Rings you mostly have the hobbits - creatures with no special powers except hiding from danger, which turns out to be one of the most important skills in the story. I'll let Bill Plinkett say the rest of what needs to be said about protagonists:

Where George Lucas tossed in nonsensical space politics and sleep-inducing lightsaber battles with droids that appear easier to kill than carpenter ants, fanfiction authors all too often put in a ton of fluff about god-level topics just to foist their own imagined pantheon or big-ol' world onto those of the show's canon. That will doubtless rub many people the wrong way, and rightfully so.

* Anime can have epic in it and not be an overload of empty epic. Just consider Akira; despite how it concludes with a psion creating a new universe, it initially gives focus to individuals who live in the out-of-control metropolis, and their emotions.
>> No. 105968
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Akira fucking sucked, though. The ONLY thing it had going for it was the setting, which they promptly did away with in favor of secret technologically-advanced laboratories and militarily-cordoned-off streets that made you forget that it's supposed to be a post-apocalyptic story.
>> No. 105982

To be honest, I think the answer is more evident than most people seem to think. The reason why it's easy to botch an epic story is because there's so much more world to build. Think about it this way: Have you ever had a DM who just fills the world with names and locations but forgets to give any context to them, or, even worse, elects to make every village the same as the last? This is poor worldbuilding, and happens all too often, especially when writers resort to common plot devices like defeating "a timeless evil as prophesied since the beginning of time".

Well, what makes a big world interesting? First, every location needs to feel unique. If I walk down the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, it's going to be a much different experience from walking down Wall Street. Indianapolis is fundamentally different from Saint Louis. Heck, even a small Midwestern city is much different in structure and culture from a small coastal city, and those are all examples from one country. The point is, every location needs to have its own flavor and culture, or else the world will feel like an old cartoon, the same background following the characters as they run around.

Second, every location needs to lend towards the uniqueness and feeling of the narrative. Following Nick's example, a world that removes its only identifying elements in favor of cliche and boring environments is a world that will quickly lose its luster. Needless to say, stick to the theme and design your world and adventure around that.

Third, and finally, you need to understand how politics work. Not just modern politics, but Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Early Industrial politics as well. Understanding the hows and whys of history assists immensely in developing and creating kingdoms and countries.

Typically I find that fanfic authors (ever-so-surprisingly) don't really put that much effort into worldbuilding, which is why their story usually turns out glat. The world is as much a character as the rest of the cast is, and creating a one-dimensional world will wreak as much havoc (or more) on a story's health as a poorly built character would.
>> No. 105991
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Naw, those other settings were awesome too. I beg to differ.

What appears on the surface to be a nonsensical clusterfuck of wanton destruction is actually a somewhat poignant allegory about drug abuse. The symbols are everywhere; Tetsuo just wants his power high and it turns him into a monster, the naive populace want their radical, supernatural change high and it destroys them. Let's not forget about the fact that the biker gang is called "the capsules" (and pop pills sold at that bar), the pants-shitting hallucinations that Tetsuo has, and how the mole on the exec council actually, literally OD'd.
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