Friday, June 14, 2013

Hoopy McGee's The Keepers of Discord

Discord is a fascinating character, as ponyfic has explored before. But just how does chaos incarnate stand being sealed in immovable stone for all eternity? (Assuming, of course, there's no Fluttershy around to bring him around.)

[Slice-of-Life] • 10,600 words
You'd think that being trapped in stone would mean that, if nothing else, I could get some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, it seems that Celestia has other ideas.

She has appointed these ponies... these 'Keepers', as she calls them, to keep me entertained during my incarceration.

Honestly? I'd prefer the boredom.

Hit the break for a few words from Hoopy McGee, and links to The Keepers of Discord out on the ponynet. Don't forget to grab your own ebook copy over at the Downloads page!

Where do you live?

Minneapolis, Minnesota in the USA.

What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)

I work in tech support, mostly working on correcting software issues, setting up PCs, that kind of thing. I'm currently going back to school to finish up a degree.

How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?

I was on some video game message boards back during season 1, and I kept seeing these pony screenshots and avatars all over the place. I decided to check out the show, and was instantly hooked.

Do you have a favorite episode?

It's difficult to chose just one. But if I had to, I'd say "The Cutie Mark Chronicles". It's a nice showcase of each of the Mane 6. And filly Twilight was too adorable for words. I'm also a big fan of "Boast Busters" because Twilight was awesome in that one.

Who is your favorite character based purely on the canon of the show itself? Would your answer change if you considered the fandom in its entirety (i.e. art, fanfiction, memes, etc)?

Twilight Sparkle is my favorite, but it's by a very narrow margin. I really like them all. If you consider the fandom in general, it would still be Twilight, but Celestia would be a close second. I consider the potential for her character to be completely fascinating.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It's my real name. Just kidding.

The "Hoopy" portion is because I'm a huge Douglas Adams fan, so I knew I wanted to be "Hoopy" something or other. "Hoopy McGee" just kind of fits, somehow.

Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?

I've been writing my whole life, though I wouldn't say that many of the early stories are any good. The stories I wrote then were usually just for me, or for friends and family to read.

I've written (and abandoned) fanfiction for Doctor Who and Discworld before writing pony stuff. Right now, I'm almost exclusively writing pony fiction, though I do have some non-fanfiction I'm working on as well.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I read constantly. Having a smartphone with e-reader capabilities has guaranteed that I'm never more than a few inches away from a book. This has eliminated what might have otherwise been my free time. When I'm not reading, I like to lament the fact that I no longer seem to have time to play video games.

Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?

I have many authors I like, but my favorite is Terry Pratchett. My favorite book of his is Small Gods.

There are a large number of good to great fanfiction writers in pony fiction. Too many to list them all, honestly. But the two I'm the biggest fans of right now are Skywriter and Ghost of Heraclitus.

Stephen King believes that every author has an "ideal reader" – the one person who they write for, the one person whose reactions they care about. Do you have one, and if so, who is it?

This may sound egotistical, but whenever I start a story, I'm writing a story that I would want to read myself. As it develops, that may change as I start thinking about how certain people will react to the story. Who that ideal reader is can vary depending on the story I'm writing (and sometimes it's still me).

For non-pony stories that I write, that ideal reader usually ends up being my wife. Unfortunately, she's not all that into pony fiction, so for any fanfiction I write, my ideal reader is basically my entire audience. I want to write a story that they will enjoy.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?

Have a good idea of where you want to go with a story. You don't have to have the entire thing planned out to the last detail before you start writing, but knowing how it's going to start, how it's going to end, and having a good idea of how it's going to get to the end will help you avoid mistakes and writer's block.

Develop your characters. Have a firm grasp on who they are and what motivates them before you even start writing your story. Write up a character bio if it helps. You really can't have too much detail. How did they grow up? Did they have siblings? What were their parents like? What do they like or dislike? What do they want, not just out of life in general, but right now? And so on. Basically, you need to know your characters before you can have any idea how they'll react to the situations you put them in.

Lastly, if something doesn't seem to work, change it. Or even take it out completely. Don't try to shoehorn something in that doesn't fit, even if it seems like a really cool/clever idea. Instead, take it out and put it in an inspiration file somewhere. Maybe that idea will work better in a different story.

What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)

A story will usually start out as a vague idea for me. Maybe a single scene, or a theme I want to explore. I'll kick that idea around for a while, usually while working on other things. Any ideas I have about it I'll write down in a text file so I won't forget them.

Once I think I have a handle on the story, I'll write up a quick outline, draw up a timeline (when things are going to happen), and then start writing.

Once the actual writing process starts, it's usually a chaotic mess until a coherent story starts to emerge. Then I edit and re-edit until I feel I have something publishable.

I've only recently started getting pre-readers and editors. So far, it's been a positive experience for me.

What inspired you to write The Keepers of Discord?

The comment that Discord made about being trapped in stone and how boring it was got me thinking about how completely horrible that situation would be. And it occurred to me that, no matter how terrible Discord had been when free, there was no way that Celestia would just allow him to suffer without trying to help.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing The Keepers of Discord?

I had the idea, started writing it, and immediately got stuck. I let the story sit idle for weeks until I finally came back to it. My initial draft was tossed without ceremony and I started up again. It went much more smoothly the second time.

When you set out to write The Keepers of Discord, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

I was wondering what it would take to reform Discord's character. Turns out I got it wrong. All it needed was Fluttershy!

Where can readers drop you a line?

My email is I also have a sadly neglected Facebook page that I visit from time to time:

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

This has been an amazing fandom to be a part of. The amount of music, art, fiction and animation that the fans produce on a daily basis is astounding. And the charitable works that the fandom gets involved in is truly inspiring.

Also, my readers have been nothing but supportive and encouraging to me, and I'd like to thank them for that.

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