View Full Version : The Fanfiction Forum E-zine ~ October 2008

Gavin Luper
3rd October 2008, 06:13 AM
~ The FanFiction Forum E-zine ~
October 2008


Les Paroles du Redacteur en Chef
Gavin Luper

Conversations with the Stars – Lune the Guardian
Lady Vulpix

To Be A Master

The Unique Predicament of the Fanficcer
Gavin Luper

Les Paroles du Redacteur en Chef
Gavin Luper

G’day fanficcers, readers and visitors, and welcome to the latest edition of the Fanfiction Forum E-zine! And yes, that does say “The Editor’s Words” in French – er – we think …

September was a busy month on the forum, despite many of us returning to school or university for a new year. There was plenty of activity in the main forum, and the Writer’s Lounge enjoyed another resurgence in activity. Both the Fanfic Trivia Game and the Quote of the Day Thread flourished.

Elsewhere, the Writing Contest was held again, to an enthusiastic reception. Submissions are now closed, so stay tuned for the results, which this month will come courtesy of two new judges, DragoKnight and eevee-shayna!

The voting for the next Hall of Fame nominee is also underway! Don’t forget to have your say on who should be the Hall’s second inductee for 2008 before the deadline runs out.

This month in the e-zine, we have heaps of riveting reading. Mistysakura goes on a quest for the mythical reader in what will be the first part of an e-zine serial; our highly respected journalist Lady Vulpix conducts an interview with the engaging Lune the Guardian; and Gavin Luper (yup, me) explores the nature of fanfiction versus original fiction.

There’s plenty to read and plenty to discuss, so please enjoy!

Conversations with the Stars ~ Interview with Lune the Guardian
by Lady Vulpix

Lady Vulpix: How long have you been writing?
Lune the Guardian: Hm. As far as I can remember, I've always liked stories... When I was younger I "wrote" stories in my head, creating characters and their stories in my imagination. But as for seriously trying to write, it probably happened around my junior year when I joined a writing workshop over the summer... five years ago.

Lady Vulpix: Is it safe you assume that you, too, imagine a lot more than you actually write?
Lune the Guardian: Yes, definitely. There are paths of existing stories that I imagine but decide not to write down. And there are random snippets of sentences or emotions that I sometimes get from experiencing something, which I don't quite put into writing. Then there are beginnings or endings of stories that I imagine but don't finish.

Lady Vulpix: What makes you decide to write a story?
Lune the Guardian: When I get an idea, if I like it enough and can see ways to expand it, I plan to write a story about it. It doesn't have to be that day, or even that year, but I will store the idea and build on it in my head until I think I'm ready to write it down. I've written a one-shot before by getting a random idea for the last sentence of the story that stuck in my head - and developed it into a whole short story.

Lady Vulpix: Cool! What story was that?
Lune the Guardian: Hmm, I might have shown it to you actually... It was about a horse named Wildflower. I still have the file. The last sentence was "She tasted freedom... and she ran."

Lady Vulpix: Nice ending. :) No, I haven't read that one.
Lune the Guardian: Ah, I could send it to you if you'd like. I haven't worked on it for a few years.

Lady Vulpix: Haven't you already spoiled it for me (and everyone who reads this)?
Lune the Guardian: Hm. Just like I got the last sentence first, for this story I'm more interested about the process of building up to that sentence. I'm not sure if everyone experiences it the same way though.

Lady Vulpix: Ah, then I guess it would be an interesting read.
What are you writing now?
Lune the Guardian: I'm writing a fantasy about a world where elves and humans have been at war for many lifetimes. In the current timeline of the story, they've reached a shaky truce, but it's nearly only a truce in name. The hatred on either side runs deep, and although many genuinely wish for peace with their enemies, there are many more who cannot forget what has happened in the previous generations of war. The storyline is told in 3rd-person and for the most part follows one of the main characters, who is an elf.

Lady Vulpix: I'd make a comment about that, but all I can come up with is 'wow'. We must be on a similar frequency.
Lune the Guardian: Hehe
Were you thinking of something like that?

Lady Vulpix: Not exactly, but the main theme is similar to my latest contest entry. I'm sure the story itself will be quite different, though.
Lune the Guardian: Yeah, probably. Because the story focuses a lot on the characters' experiences. Of course we are reminded of the theme, but there is also more concentration on the current sidequest(s) and characters' emotions.

Lady Vulpix: *Nods.* And that's what makes a story great.
Lune the Guardian: Haha, hopefully so. I'm still having trouble putting down words that I like. I have a bunch of pieces I want to fit together in a way that makes logical sense overall.
I don't want to write something in an earlier chapter that contradicts what I say later.

Lady Vulpix: That makes sense. So, how much do you plan ahead before you get down to writing?
Lune the Guardian: Right now I've probably planned pieces up to one of the climaxes of the story. I am struggling to think of the ending before I start on my second chapter. So pretty much, as far as the big picture goes, I guess I'd say I plan all the way. But the pieces in between can be modified to how I like it as I go along.

Lady Vulpix: What about character development?
Lune the Guardian: I plan their general characters from the very beginning. Then I try to find some events that will show their characters. I don't come up with everything at once, but when I write what they say or do in each chapter, I try to develop their characters according to my original model that I'd planned for them. Sometimes if it seems right, a significant event might change the character somewhat. But for the most part, the change still has to be plausible.

Lady Vulpix: Of course, coherence is important. Have you read many stories which contradicted themselves, or had characters do things they wouldn't normally do for no apparent reason?
Lune the Guardian: Not many, no. But sometimes in some points of some stories, even if as a whole they are good, I may doubt them a bit when something happens that seems out of character. I can't think of specific examples right now, but I know I've run across them.

Lady Vulpix: What kinds of stories do you like reading?
Lune the Guardian: I prefer fantasy-based stories, but I can enjoy pretty much any good story. I have no issue against realistic fiction. I prefer stories where the plot is more exciting than every-day life, but there are just some really good stories with very ordinary, believable characters that I like as well. I'm thinking of stuff like The Five People You Meet In Heaven. I don't purposely go out looking for non-fantasy stories, but if someone recommends them to me, I'll definitely read them. A good story doesn't only depend on its genre.

Lady Vulpix: That's quite an insightful answer. What about your writings? Is there any recurring theme or something you like writing about the most?
Lune the Guardian: I do prefer to stick in the realm of fantasy, and I have a tendency of using non-human characters, but I have written some short stories in a real-life setting before.

Lady Vulpix: I've noticed you have quite an original approach to Pokemon fiction. What are your thoughts on fanfiction in general?
Lune the Guardian: Hm... An issue I have with fanfiction is that no matter how great your story is, it's difficult to fully claim it for your own. Because you are either using a world, concepts, or characters that belong to somebody else. Right now I am trying to steer away from fanfiction in order to write something that I can claim for myself. There are so many amazing stories out there that should be credited to the people who wrote them, but it can't happen because the world they are using is copyrighted or something.

Lady Vulpix: Is that why you stopped writing Lune?
Lune the Guardian: It was an issue, but not a factor in why I stopped writing. I stopped writing because I realized the story had gone in a direction completely different than what it was at the beginning. I liked the essence of the earlier parts of the story better than the latter portion. And I thought about rewriting the parts I didn't like completely. However, when I decided that I was ready to write again, pokémon had actually progressed beyond my understanding - I cannot name all the currently existing pokémon now, or their attacks, and I can't even describe the new generation's gameplay. Lune was set in the Red/Blue/Yellow and Gold/Silver/Crystal generation, and during the time I was writing it, Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald came out... and all of the newer versions that I am not familiar with now. I feel that it is too late to rewrite my story.

Lady Vulpix: You don't have to incorporate all the new additions. It's your story after all.
But for that same reason it's your decision.
Lune the Guardian: That's true. But I'm afraid that people will expect all the new additions, and that some parts of my story will no longer make sense to people who have knowledge of future additions. Some things that were done could not be achieved with the existing "technology", if you will call it. Yet, if you factor in some new gameplay which people take for granted now, perhaps parts of the story where this new gameplay didn't use to exist, will no longer make as much sense or resonate as well.

Lady Vulpix: Ok. Are you planning to publish any of your works someday?
Lune the Guardian: Possibly, if I think it's worth being published. I don't know if I'll write something of that quality, but you never know.

Lady Vulpix: What about TPM? Will we get to see any more of your stories here?
Lune the Guardian: I don't know. I'd like to, but I'm afraid that I won't get enough vocal readers. There's nothing wrong with silent readers, but I'd like many sources of input so that I can consider different viewpoints in my writing.
There's also the problem where I am no longer consistent in posting chapters. In the beginning of Lune, I had many readers and posted at a good pace. But I think as I started to post less and less chapters less often, I lost a lot of readers.

Lady Vulpix: I can relate to both problems, but I'll gladly read and comment on anything you post.
Lune the Guardian: In that case, I might try to post something. I definitely want to keep up to your stories as well.

Lady Vulpix: Aww. ^_^
But this is an interview! I should be doing my job.
Lune the Guardian: Hehe.

Lady Vulpix: How does the input - or lack thereof - from the readers affect your writings?
Lune the Guardian: Hm. Mostly I still stick to my general plan, regardless of input. But sometimes there are very insightful comments that make me rethink what I want to do, with a character, for instance. Perhaps without realizing it I would write something out-of-character or unbelievable. In those cases, comments like that will be quite useful to me, and I would reconsider rewriting some existing or future parts.
Comments such as "I hate this character because he's a jerk" will probably not make me change the character, since I'd possibly intended that person to be a jerk. But comments stating something about the character that the reader got from the story, which do not coincide with my vision of the character, would get me thinking as to why the reader saw it their way. Then I might try to fix the character so that everyone can perceive it the way I'd hope them to perceive it.

Lady Vulpix: Does it ever give you new ideas?
Lune the Guardian: Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes in unexpected ways. I could be stuck on a particular problem which I'd not yet written about, and someone's comment might trigger a thought that helps me solve that problem.

Lady Vulpix: Cool. From a writer with a busy schedule to another, how do you juggle writing and everyday life?
Lune the Guardian: Hehe. I'm ashamed to admit that everyday life usually wins over. But I always keep my current stor(ies) in my head. They sometimes sit there, and sometimes progress. If I get what I think to be a significant breakthrough that I absolutely must add to the story, I will attempt to write that down immediately. Otherwise, my progress with writing a story is quite slow, although I do try to find time for it. Sometimes I set aside time for it, but other things come up that I cannot control.
But if I start to write seriously, I get a lot done at one time.

Lady Vulpix: :)
And how often do you read?
Lune the Guardian: My reading rate is inconsistent as well. Basically whenever I get a new book, I get excited about it and probably finish it the same day. But then I run out of books, and it might be a while before I find one to read again. Sometimes, though, I am in a reading mood even though I don't have new books. I take that time to revisit old books. Usually I have specific books in mind that I want to revisit, because I'd gotten something from them that I wanted to find again.

Lady Vulpix: Can you name an example?
Lune the Guardian: Hmm. Books I've re-read off the top of my head - Lord of the Rings series, Watership Down, Ender's Game, Harry Potter series, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and a lot more. Books I want to re-read that I haven't done because I've lost my copy - The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia series. I can't think of how to easily put into words what I get from those books. Usually it's a feeling. Sometimes it's just the author's style or language. A lot of the times I find the plot beautiful or ingenious. Or want to revisit the characters that I loved from the book.

Lady Vulpix: Ok... I'm afraid I'm out of questions to ask. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the readers and writers on TPM?
Lune the Guardian: Ah, I have no idea. I haven't been active on TPM for a few years. But from what I can remember, there are some really talented writers there and I'd just like to congratulate them for being so awesome. And to thank people like you for writing great stories for me to read. And also for being a really supportive reader. I do miss the TPM writing community and perhaps it's about time I tried to return there.

Lady Vulpix: That would be great. Thank you. :)

To Be A Master
by mistysakura


All screenshots courtesy of Pokémon Nightmare (http://www.pokenightmare.com).

The Unique Predicament of the Fanficcer
by Gavin Luper

It’s seven-thirty on a muggy summer evening. The smell of mint and well-cooked steak are wafting through the house; the stereo is pumping out the breezy tunes of Fleetwood Mac. Holed up in the spare room at the back of the house, I hear a voice from the kitchen gruffly shout, “Tea’s ready!”

Five minutes later – or maybe fifteen, I can never be sure – I make my appearance at the dinner table. My steak and vegies are cold; my older sister and her partner have almost finished their servings.

“Whatever took you so long, dear brother?” my sister asks, her regal brand of sarcasm close to Elizabethan. She looks at me expectantly as she doles out half a tub of sour cream over what remains of her potatoes.

“I got caught up writing Lisa,” I say.

The effect is instant. My sister rolls her eyes impatiently as if to say, ‘Isn’t that bitch dead yet?’ There’s nothing unkind about her expression, just bemusement.

Just as Stevie Nicks’ throaty vocals fade away on Gypsy, my sister’s partner turns to me.

“So, seriously, Kristian, when are you going to start working on that other novel you were talking about? Something you can actually get published and make money from?”

It’s the billion dollar question, and it’s hardly the first time I’ve been asked it. Tell someone you’re a writer and they expect great things. Tell someone you’re a fanfiction author on a pokémon forum on the internet and they ask you why you’re wasting all your time.

This certainly gives us, as fanficcers, a lot to think about. Where do we fit into the realm of people who call themselves “writers”? Are we as valid as them? As good as them? Will other people ever see us as true writers? And what should we do if we want to start branching out from fanfiction into the world of publishable original works?

There’s no clear answer to any of these questions – it may be that there are several possible answers – but I will attempt to offer my own, concise view on the unique predicament of the fanficcer, something that is rarely discussed or even mentioned in public discourses, let alone given any credibility.

Firstly, then: do we fanficcers even count as “writers”? Sure, we can throw some words together and make some generally coherent pieces out of them, but it would seem, at least to an outside observer, that half our stories are borrowed – or, indeed, outright stolen – from professional writers; and that it is those professional writers who possess the creative gene. Fanficcers are just uninspired, untalented impersonators of their favourite authors – or are we?

My response is no, but this is not purely to defend my own position as a fanfiction writer. While some fanfics I have read certainly appear to be little more than imitations of an existing anime or franchise, I have found many that engage me on the same level as any published novel would. The epic, dark quality of Timarelay’s 2001-2 work “Love and Sacrifice”, for example, had all the makings of a fantasy novel; and Mist’s massive TPM success story, “Lapras Valley High” garnered such an extraordinary following that it could easily have been reworked and marketed to a teenage audience. In cases like this, I feel that the general assertion that fanficcers are lacking in talent or writing ability is not only derogatory, but misguided in its understanding of what fanfiction can be.

Which leads me to my next point: we are not lacking in creativity. A common perception of fanfiction is that is steals elements of one author’s work and supplants it brazenly into another one. These elements are usually settings, back stories, objects, plotlines and, sometimes, characters. For example, my own fanfic, Lisa the Legend, is situated in a world that I did not design. Someone in Japan, perhaps the creator of the entire Pokémon franchise, drew up those maps of Kanto and Johto that I, and ten thousand other fanficcers, have boldly and unflinchingly used in our own stories. I’ve also used an Aipom, a Quagsire, scores of other pokémon and the physical character and name of both Lisa and the leader of the Elite Four, Lance. Did I create those things? No. Those creations belong to someone else. (Incidentally, I’ve never really felt the need to include a disclaimer before any of my fanfics; from a common sense standpoint, it’s pretty clear that I’m not claiming to have invented the franchise, and from a legal point of view, the presence of a disclaimer doesn’t change the fact that I’ve still used someone else’s ideas. (You can read more about the legal issues surrounding Fanfiction in mr_pikachu’s documentary (http://pokemasters.net/forums/showthread.php?t=17117).)) But the fact that I use some aspects of the pokémon world in my own work of fiction doesn’t (I believe) mean that I don’t have a creative or imaginative bone in my body; the same goes, logically, for every other fanficcer worth his or her salt. I may have borrowed Lisa from the beginning of the third Pokémon film, but it was my idea to give her an older, slightly staid brother named Tom; two sarcastic and bratty younger siblings; two secretive and mysterious parents; a home life in Ecruteak City; a love for basketball, dancing, rock music and legendary pokémon; friends like Gavin and Marina; and a determined, curious personality. The pokémon franchise did not invent those things; I did. And this is what all of us fanficcers are doing all the time in our fanfic writing. We borrow a starting point and we create our own characters, worlds and stories from that point. Our interpretations, our personal and societal contexts, our values, attitudes and beliefs – and, ultimately, our own original thoughts – shape something borrowed into something intensely individual and personal that an audience can find engaging. On TPM alone over the past six years, I have felt not only attachment to characters in fanfiction, like Sal from Lapras Valley High or Tom from The Azure League, but also deep intrigue in the plots and tales spun by my fellows. My experience – both as a writer and a reader of fanfiction – is that it is in some cases just as well-crafted and engaging as any original work. I find, then, that a given fanfic can be just as valid as a given piece of original fiction in terms of the quality of the writing and its success with a readership. To a large extent, the “borrowed” starting point of fanfics is irrelevant to the validity or quality of the writing.

I think it’s interesting, at this point, to briefly consider a broader theory on the nature of fanfiction. I have often thought that the initial stimulus for any person wanting to write fanfiction is that something happens – or doesn’t happen – within the canon that makes this person unhappy or discontented. Perhaps Ash and Misty should have got together, but they just didn’t. The fan then sets about amending this by writing a fanfic in which he has control over the anime series that he loves; in writing about Ash and Misty consummating their romance, he fulfils something he wanted to see happen but which remained unfulfilled in the anime. I believe this can be extended to other pieces, and while it may not apply for all, or even the majority, of fanficcers and their works, I think it may depict the initial springboard into the world of fanfiction writing.

The reason I’m mentioning this theory is to draw a tentative comparison between fanfiction and original fiction and how, in the words of one Doctor Evil, they’re “not so different”. Original fiction writers are treated as creating every word, every concept, that drips from their pens, but it could be argued that they are simply borrowing elements of the world around them (that is, Earth) and casting their own individual light upon them. Fanfiction writers do exactly the same thing, but they instead borrow elements from a world that, instead of being created by God or Spirit or Evolution, was created by an existing professional author. I am not defending fanfiction from a legal perspective, as there may be no such defence, but I am defending it from a literary perspective. Is there a fundamental difference in quality or validity between a novel about a boy’s relationship with his dog and an internet fanfiction about a girl and her Eevee? I believe there is none: the success of either piece would depend more on the individual capabilities of the writer and not at all on whether the piece was set in a “borrowed” or “purely original” world.

It seems fair to me, then, that fanfiction ought to be taken just as seriously by critics as original fiction is, though I doubt that this will ever be the case. After all, with the legal cloud still hovering over fanfiction, fanficcers have to deal with the fact that their travails are permanently unpublishable and that they cannot legally make any profit from them.

So if we want to take our fanfiction writing to the next level – publishing – what are we to do? Abandon our fanfics and focus on original fiction? If that is what you personally want to do, then I would suggest that is the right course of action. But if, like me, you cannot bear to part with your characters and your fanfic, then the best thing you can do (aside from enjoy writing it) is use it as a training ground for your future forays into original fiction. I find a certain freedom in being able to practice and experiment with techniques, styles and conventions when I know that what I am working on is not publishable. There is no professional pressure to write fanfiction: it becomes an activity motivated by pleasure and a keenness to improve. The only major issue that can arise in this case is whether or not to use a particularly clever idea in a piece of fanfiction on the internet (where anyone could, ironically, steal it) or keep it for a later piece of original fiction. Depending on the size of this idea, it could be incorporated stealthily into a fanfic and reused in a different manner in the later novel. If you think your idea is just too amazingly groundbreaking to share, then don’t. It might be a new concept or point of view or writing style that you want to keep close to your chest, and if you don’t want anyone else to use it first, I would suggest keeping it locked in a compartment in your mind (or notebook) until you are ready to use it in all its published glory. In the end, it all comes down to you as an individual writer and what you want to achieve with your writing.

But, until we make it to that illustrious level where our names are emblazoned across book covers and teenagers are stealing parts of our works for their fanfics, we remain unrecognised and underacknowleged fanfiction authors, perhaps the only people who believe we are not completely wasting our time, but revelling in, and learning from, the unique predicament in which we exist.

3rd October 2008, 06:00 PM
Good job putting that issue together, man. Did the interview spark your return to TPM, Lune? If so, I'm glad it did :) That was a great interview. It's interesting to see fanfiction from the point of view of a former fanficcer. I can tell you're still passionate about writing :) Will you be taking Lune in a different direction this time round? Also good article from Gavin. For a while, I had something in my sig that said "What is literature, but fanfiction of God's creation?" or something like that. So total agreement with your point there. The other thing that bugs me about the perception of fanfiction is: why is it that for so many people, writers exist to be published? Why is our work a waste of time if we can't get it published? Do we write so we can stick our name on it and get bragging rights? Don't get me wrong, I'm as interested in publication as the next guy and do mind people potentially stealing my works due to their lack of copyright. But publication sure as hell isn't about the money or the fame, which are both rather lacking unless you're incredibly lucky. For me, it's about getting my voice out there. And while TPM is not that big an audience, I know the people here, I care about the people here, and I can talk to you guys. I can't say that about the, oh, five people who might randomly pick up my hypothetical book in a bookstore. So, although "real" publication is cool, I don't think it's the only way or the be-all-and-end-all, much like university isn't the only way forward in life.

3rd October 2008, 06:50 PM
OOh interesting E-Zine. I've really just quickly read through stuff so haven't really read the interview or Gavin Luper's article. Though was good to hear Timarelays name mentioned. Such a talented writer would be interested to know what she is doing now days.

Interview - Seems more insightful than previous ones but really need to read it properly. Not familiar with the interviewee but will read it properly.

Loved MistySakura's "To Be a Master". Made me get all gooey over the first episode again, quite humourous and certainly look forward to more of it.

Not much else to say, will read through everything properly this time. Otherwise well done.

Lady Vulpix
5th October 2008, 12:09 PM
Great work, Gavin! You raise interesting points (as doesa Brian in his comments).The length of your paragraphs and nested parentheses made my eyes hurt, but it's still a deep and interesting article.

Ada's comic made me laugh. I hope she'll continue to make them.

And Karin... welcome back! :D

Chris 2.1
5th October 2008, 04:46 PM
What a great Ezine! A firm favourite. Karin's interview was really cool - and her fic idea sounds really, really cool. I plan a lot in advance too. The comicstrip made me chuckle, and I look forward to the way you convey fanficcery to Pokemon Training/the anime. That was very clever :) Gav, your article was so great. I don't let on that I write pokemon fiction, because that is the exact response.

Boss work :)

6th October 2008, 10:43 AM
Nice work. :)

It's true that when you ask people what they think of fanficcers, often you get the 'they are perverts' (some people tend to confuse slash fanficcers and fanficcers in general), but you also get the 'they are not real writers, they steal others' works'. I think unless the people read the work of a good fanficcer, their opinion won't change.

I like fanfiction because it offers most of the time an alternative take on characters, or their relationships, and the plot in general. I remember a few years ago, I came across a fanfiction short story on a character from the 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer' universe. In the TV show, the origin of the said character wasn't much detailed, it was actually quite vague and fans of the show who enjoyed that character had to use their imagination to fill in the blanks, so to speak. But in that short fanfiction story, somebody fleshed out the origin, and ended with how the character ends on the show. It was well written, and added a lot to the character. In one word, it was 'brilliant'.

So to me, I agree that a fanficcer is a real writer, worthy as much praise as an author who writes and publishes original work. Not saying all fanficcers are great writers, a lot of them don't add much to the story and characters they're borrowing and end up simplying copying without having an interesting take on anything.

I like writing fanfiction, I don't do it often, but to me, it's a nice way to keep the writing going and practice stuff, or try new things. The original work I might do, well, that I keep to use later or maybe even post at some point if I feel like it. :P

But anyway, good e-zine!

Lady Vulpix
11th October 2008, 02:53 PM
Now I'm intrigued, Cadmus. What character was that?

And also, do you have AIM/MSN/Y!M/ICQ/etc.?

11th October 2008, 11:31 PM
The character was "Glory" from Season 5. In the show, her origin was vaguely told, but in that fanfiction piece, they elaborated the idea and it still felt like it was part of the main storyline.