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mistysakura
1st July 2008, 10:47 PM
The Fanfiction Forum E-zine -- July 2008



Writer’s Block
a.k.a. what is mistysakura supposed to be writing here?

Hello all, and welcome to the July 2008 edition of the E-zine. June has been a quiet month, with final exams and internet issues tying down members, but activity at TPM is merely bubbling under the surface… The Fanfiction Hall of Fame (http://www.pokemasters.net/forums/showthread.php?t=17193) has been put up, where currently you can bask in mr_pikachu’s goodness (more figurines to come – gotta catch ‘em all!) Congratulations to Brian once again for his worthy induction. The Trivia Game has been necromanced for the umpteenth time (cue Bring Me to Life) and the results of the Writing Contest will be out soon. The suggestion topic (http://www.pokemasters.net/forums/showthread.php?t=17198 ) for the Silver Pencils is now open, where it has been noted that the Golden Pens and Silver Pencils have been switched due to the Aussie mods’ conspiracy for the world to comply with their seasons. For more moderator conspiracies, this issue will prove illuminating.

This month we have:


Conversations with the Stars – Wolfsong
Lady Vulpix

Moderators Are... (Part 1)
mr_pikachu

The Grammar Nazi – Me, Myself, and Irene
mr_pikachu

Enjoy!




Conversations with the Stars – Wolfsong
Lady Vulpix

Lady Vulpix: Tell me, how long have you been writing?
Wolfsong: For fun, pretty much since my freshman year of high school.

Lady Vulpix: Really? Was it something for school?
Wolfsong: Actually, it wasn't anything for school. At the time Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was my favorite show and my first project was a script for the show. It didn't actually work out, but, I found something that I enjoyed doing.

Lady Vulpix: Interesting. Was that the one you posted on TPM?
Wolfsong: Yeah. Although, I feel that my writing has improved significantly in the years since that was written.

Lady Vulpix: How so? Could you name some examples of how your writing has evolved?
Wolfsong: I've found myself trying be more descriptive. My main problem which is still an issue is that I tend to tell rather than show. It's something that i'm still working on.

Lady Vulpix: What are you writing right now?
Wolfsong: My main project is a CSI Miami story. I don't have a title for it but since it is a songfic i've been referring to it as Skin which is the song's name.

Lady Vulpix: What exactly is a songfic?
Wolfsong: My definition of a songfic is a story that is inspirired by a song. I've seen people include the lyrics in the song as well as just using it as a basis for the story.

Lady Vulpix: Ah, I've seen that done a few times. What's the connection between the song and your fic? Or is it something that will be revealed at a later time?
Wolfsong: The song Skin by Rascal Flatts is about a girl who has cancer. In my story, Calleigh gets cancer. I know its a touchy subject, but I've seen both the positive and negative outcomes of it.

Lady Vulpix: You have seen them? What do you mean?
Wolfsong: One my dad's side of the family, my grandmother and grandfather both had cancer. My grandmother caught hers early and although she had to have a kidney removed she beat it. My grandfather knew about his, chose not to get treatment and eventually it spread and he lost the battle. None of us knew, not even my grandmother until after...

Lady Vulpix: Oh, sorry to hear that.
Wolfsong: It's not your fault. It is a comfort to know that he isn't in any more pain.

Lady Vulpix: You said this fic is your main project. Are you writing anything else?
Wolfsong: I'm also working on a Lois and Clark story. I don't have an outline for this story. In fact, I only have about one scene done.

Lady Vulpix: One scene? That sounds strange. What inspired you to write it?
Wolfsong: Basically i got talked into signing up for a story challenge by one of my friends.

Lady Vulpix: Oh! What does the challenge consist of?
Wolfsong: The one that I signed up for you pick a table of 50 prompts out of several. Then, instead of the ones where you write a whole story for each of the prompts, you write a scene for each prompt. They can all add up to one story or be for several different stories. The main thing is your claim has to be in every one. Since my claim is a general one for the show, I have a wide variety of possibility. Just depends on how the plot bunnies cooperate.

Lady Vulpix: Wow, that's interesting. I'd never heard of that kind of challenge. Have you participated in other challenges before?
Wolfsong: Well, yes and no. The Skin story started out as part of one. Although, i'm probably going to end up dropping that challenge and focusing on finishing that story. I havent' made up my mind just yet.

Lady Vulpix: You've written stories based on both other people's characters and your own. Which ones do you find it easier to write about?
Wolfsong: Personally, I find it easier to write for your own. Most of the time, you know them better than the ones you're borrowing. I have an easier time pictureing how they would react in a given situation than another person's character. With fanfiction, I'm always wondering if you're being true to the character. I feel that unless it's an AU, it is important to be true to the character.

Lady Vulpix: AU?
Wolfsong: Sorry. AU stands for alternate universe.

Lady Vulpix: Ah, ok. Still, you do write mostly fanfiction, don't you? Is it because you like challenges, or is there another reason?
Wolfsong: Basically, it's because i like challenges. Also with some shows fanfiction can be a way of keeping a favorite character alive when the show has killed him or her off.

Lady Vulpix: Oh. Have you done that with any particular characters?
Wolfsong: Well, I may or may not have plans to do that. It just depends on how well Skin is received once its finished. Although I did come up with a better reason for the earlier conflict between Horatio Caine and IAB Sergeant Rick Stetler for my Skin story. I felt that the show's reason for the fact that Stetler made it his mission to destroy H's team was weak. With this story, I incorporated that reason into things, but Rick is going to be a good guy. Over the course of the seasons, I've grown to like his character.

Lady Vulpix: :) Changing the subject a bit, have you been reading anything lately?
Wolfsong: Yes, I have. I just finished reading novels on all four Indiana Jones movies, as well as the novel of Iron Man. Currently, I'm reading The Incredible Hulk. Once i finish that, I plan to read the Bourne Supremacy.

Lady Vulpix: And anything online?
Wolfsong: Well, I tend to read stories on fanfiction.net. That's actually how I've become a fan of shows that I didn't really watch beforehand. Some of my now favorite shows, I didn't start to watch until after coming across a talented author's story.

Lady Vulpix: Interesting! So you got hooked on the originals because of the fanfiction. Do you think that happens often with other people?
Wolfsong: I would think that would be the case. Once a few months ago, I had gotten a bad case of writer's block on skin, it was way back when 40 pages was as far as it had gotten. I got to talking with one of the author's whose works I admired and I showed her what I had at the time. Her response was one of the greatest compliments I coudl have received.

Lady Vulpix: Aww. I think it's great when that happens. So, does interaction with other writers normally help you improve your work?
Wolfsong: Yeah, they do. Sometimes some of them has had suggestions for me when I was stuck, or told me outright if something didn't work or a character was OOC - out of character.

Lady Vulpix: Ok, so... Will we see you around on TPM any time soon?
Wolfsong: I'll try to.

Lady Vulpix: Ok, one final question. do you have any advice for the readers and writers on the fanfic forum? Or anything you'd like to say to them?
Wolfsong: To the writers, keep writing. Don't let bad reviews, or lack thereof stop you from doing something you enjoy. Just becuase you aren't getting any reviews doesn't mean anyone isn't reading. I have a tendency myself to read a story and think I'll reply later and often times forget. To the readers, writer's do enjoy feedback. Even something as simple as I enjoyed the chapter is often appreciated. At least that's the case with me.

Lady Vulpix: Thank you.
Wolfsong: You're welcome. It was nice to talk with you again.




Moderators Are... (Part 1)
mr_pikachu


Who are the Fanfic moderators?
What do they do?
Do they have their own secret lair?
Can I be a moderator?
Do moderators really get their own modsticks?
What do they look like?
Why modsticks? Why not modguns?

These questions and others like them are not the sort you want to ask a moderator. Doing so pretty much guarantees that the answer to #4 will be "No. Now go away, you stupid, power-hungry newbie."

Nevertheless, it's understandable that Fanficcers would want to know why we have moderators in the first place. What's the point? There must be some reason for their existence. Let's face it, the administrators probably wouldn't bother appointing them if they weren't absolutely necessary. The admins are very busy people*.

*-Slackers.

The question remains, though: What are moderators?

Since we don't want people to embarrass themselves by asking silly questions like those above, I humbly offer a series of articles that, with any luck, will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about moderators!

Okay, most of the things you ever wanted to know.

...Some? A few? One?

Well, they'll tell you something.



Moderators Are Activity Coordinators

The most obvious part of a Fanfiction moderator's job is planning activities for the forum. If people don't have something to do while they're here, they won't be apt to stick around.

That sounds simple enough, right? All you have to do is think up a cool idea or two every once in awhile and put it into effect. Voila! Activity level up.

Simple? Hardly. Let's take this step-by-step.


STEP 1: Propose an activity.

Moderators have two choices with this. Oftentimes we'll fall back on an old activity, such as the Golden Pen and Silver Pencil Awards. These are each annual competitions that we're obligated to run, whether or not we have another idea waiting in the works. During our free time, we might elect to start something like a chain fic – a tried-and-true activity booster – or revive an activity that has been successful in the past, like the Fanfiction Writing Contests or this FanFiction Forum E-zine.

If we feel particularly daring, however, we might choose to fill the blank space in our calendars with a wild, brand new idea. Such things are always risky, but in some cases they wind up being huge successes. When the Fanfic Trivia Game began several years ago, it was hard to say whether or not it would garner any attention. It became one of the most popular activities around for awhile and, while it's a little stagnant at the moment, it still gets spurts of attention from time to time. On the other hand, the Fanfiction E-zine Organiser Contest was a catastrophe. You know you've made a mistake when several members register and then everyone quits at once. It happens. We learn and move on.

(Those of you who have been around awhile might remember that I started the Fanfic Trivia Game before being promoted to the rank of moderator. Just a tip for the ambitious among you... proposing an idea to the staff members, gaining their approval, and making the project successful shows that you care about the forum. Hint hint.)

Whether it's a classic pastime or a crazy experiment, every good activity has to have a point, a reason for people to spend their time on it. People write E-zine articles to speak their minds and let their voices be heard. They participate in Writing Contests to challenge themselves and earn the recognition of their peers; a similar theme applies to the Golden Pens and Silver Pencils. Chain fics are fun, lighthearted time-wasters. Leadership competitions offer valuable prizes for the victor – as we learned from the Fanfiction E-zine Organiser Contest, people don't find running the E-zine quite as appealing as being promoted through a Mod Contest.

Activities should be worthwhile, but they also have to be feasible. Sure, it would be nice to start a professional, in-print magazine specifically devoted to our fanficcers. While a hyperlink to your fic might be a bad reference for your résumé, citing an entry in a published journal doesn't look quite so amateurish. Of course, you have to find someone who is willing to collect submissions, choose the best ones, organize all of them into a proper format, print them, mail them to subscribers, recruit more subscribers, and do that again and again for every new issue. Further, many members of TPM, myself included, might refrain from giving away their home address, which takes away many potential subscribers. There's also the issue of cost. Who's going to pay for the ink, paper, binding, and stamps? Not me.

In order to find the best ideas, moderators have to pay attention to the forum. Yes, that's right. While you might think we seclude ourselves far away from the rest of the forum, in an ancient castle high on an unscalable mountain – I have a really cool room there, by the way – the truth is that we observe the forum constantly, watching for any declines in participation and seeking newer, better ways to get everyone involved. Random, off-the-wall thoughts may turn into our best ideas. The Fanfic Trivia Game evolved from a casual comment about factoids in fanfics, while the recent Fanfiction Hall of Fame only started because DragoKnight suggested a new category for the Silver Pencil Awards.

Assuming you clear these hurdles, you're free to move to the next step. No, it's not the fun part.


STEP 2: Plan the details.

So you've got your super-cool idea. Nice work. Now it's time to see why it sucks.

I'm serious.

Behind every initial plan is a myriad of flaws that could lead to its total collapse. The Fanfiction Hall of Fame, for instance, could have just been another category in the already-massive Golden Pens and Silver Pencils. As with any endeavor, though, we moderators debated its merits extensively before unleashing it upon the public.

What's the point of having "Most Missed Fanficcer," we asked, if the only honor was one temporary award that the person would never have the chance to see? Would it confuse people if that category allowed nominees from ages past while all others had to be active? For that matter, would such a special topic draw attention away from every other category and thus devalue the event as a whole? Wouldn't it be better as a separate project, uninhibited by any simultaneous events? If we're trying to make it really special, why not make it a really big deal and have an important thread to honor people who have won? Like a Hall of Fame, or something?

Such debates don't stop there. For weeks the four of us sparred over whether nominations would be open to all members or whether the moderators would select the candidates. We grappled over how to conduct voting; once we decided to use a public poll for maximum transparency in the process, we had to set a limit for the number of finalists and determine how to reduce their numbers if we received additional nominations. More debates ensued over what was important, what made a Fanficcer special, and who deserved the distinction of being in the Hall. Preventing members from winning more than once was a given considering the Hall of Fame's nature, but setting ground rules for nominations was not so simple. Individual words were still being contested even as the thread sat in my text box, waiting to be posted. (For the record, I voted against "initiatives.")

When we prepare a new activity, it's a constant process of rethinking, revising and refining. Rarely does anything work in its first incarnation. It's sort of like fic writing, really. Sometimes we'll completely scrap an idea even if we've spent months working on it. Several years ago we considered making a separate website for the Fanfic Awards; I had already done some programming when we decided that making people leave TPM to vote was a bad idea. More recently we discussed taking measures to prevent potential copyright infringers from finding original fiction on TPM and publishing it fraudulently. Unfortunately, there was no way to do that and still allow legitimate members to freely read them – and if no one can access the manuscripts, what's the point of putting them on a forum?

Most major activities are proposed weeks before they actually take shape. Many falter during the grueling evaluation process. Those that survive only face greater tests.


STEP 3: Promote, maintain, build.

It's one thing to find an idea, figure out how it could work best, and write a theoretical first post. It's quite another to muster the courage to post it and desperately try to get people interested.

The trickiest aspect of activity management may be the marketing process. It's not as though we can go around to fics other people have written and say, "Hey, post something for the writing contest!" For one thing, it would look really bad if flattered writers realized we said that to everyone. For another, shamelessly advertising in others' works would break our own rules. Not good.

To some extent, any thread has to carry itself. If whatever you've started is uninteresting then it won't matter how much you promote it. Nobody is going to waste their time watching someone yell at a brick wall. (Unless it's on Youtube, that is, but that's a topic for another article.)

Marketing, therefore, is a two-step process. The first step is to get people to the thread. If no one realizes that you've posted a fantastic new project, its quality will be irrelevant. The most important events warrant rare stickies – we don't want those dropping off the first page! In other cases we may sneakily comment on them elsewhere. The Fanfiction Hall of Fame was first advertised as "Project X" in the E-zine; the Fanfic Trivia Game has, at various times, been the topic of conversation in Smiley Town; and Writing Contests are easily advertised in our own fics ("come on, somebody else enter so I don't win by default!"). If your activity goes unnoticed, it will die before it ever starts.

The second step is to keep your initial participants involved. Related strategies vary widely from project to project, but almost all of them involve additional posts. At the end of a writing contest, we might make a special point of inviting participants to future contests: "We hope to see all of you again at the next Fanfic Writing Contest!" The Silver Pencils and Golden Pens are often a process of escalation, where we (truthfully) mention that each phase is even more important than the ones before it. Maintenance of the Fanfic Trivia Game requires only a post to keep the game moving, although it becomes more difficult when the person asking a trivia question suddenly vanishes. The E-zine on the other hand, is a much greater challenge to promote. We moderators often seek out individual members and beg for articles when we get close to the publication deadline. (Many times we moderators have frantically written short pieces in the last few hours to meet our quota.)

The simplest thing a moderator can do to promote any event, though, is just to get involved. What better advertisement is there for the E-zine than to see the esteemed Gavin Luper speak his mind? What about the excitement of competing against mistysakura in an intense writing challenge, or having a candid conversation with darktyranitar in Smiley Town? All the shameless posts in the world can't compete with giving a few minutes of your time. That, perhaps, is the most important part of being a moderator.




The Grammar Nazi – Me, Myself, and Irene
mr_pikachu


(The Grammar Nazi is not affiliated in any way with Nazi Germany or Adolf Hitler.)

One of my readers recently questioned me about an oft-overlooked grammar rule. The following is his message, slightly edited for print.


Oh Great Grammar Nazi, Esteemed English Expert, Lord of the Language, Tyrant of Typos! I, your humble reader, request but a few moments of your time. You see, Great One, I have a problem that, though horribly complicated for this lowly writer, would be no challenge for a king.

My question involves the use of "me" and "myself." Based on how I have seen it written, "myself" appears to be a more formal way of saying "me." Yet, as you have taught us, oh Grammar Nazi, many of this world's horrid fools fail to ever approach proper grammar.

I beseech you, my sensei! How may I correctly use these words?

– Self-unaware


Dear Self-unaware,

It is true that, in the presence of a moron, using "myself" in place of "me" or "I" might make you seem modest. When conversing with intelligent individuals, on the other hand, such improper usage may only convey ineptitude.

Many people who fear the appearance of narcissism or who simply don't know which one to choose will stop at nothing to avoid dreaded self-references. For whatever reason, they have deemed "myself" to be less direct and its use therefore slightly more innocent.

However, "myself" cannot be used in place of either "I" or "me." It is only appropriate as a second reference to oneself. For instance, you might say that "I gave myself a pat on the back," or you might explain that "I, myself, was not aware of the deception." Such phrases as "Jane, Jim, and myself went to the theater" are incorrect, as there is no prior reference to the speaker.

Any grammar elites reading this column may have known that "I gave myself a pat on the back" uses the word "myself" in a reflexive manner, as opposed to the intensive second reference in a phrase such as "I, myself." Other reflexive pronouns are treated similarly. For example, "themselves" cannot be used on its own, but it is perfectly fine in the matter-of-fact phrase "they, themselves."

Rather than use "myself" as a poor substitute for the primary self pronouns, you can try a simple trick. Just delete all other items from your list and see whether "I" or "me" is correct. If you can't decide just from looking at the new sentence, remember that "I" want be the subject of a verb, while "me" must be a verb's object.

By this rule, both "My mother and I bought an apple" and "an apple was bought by me and my mother" would be correct. First, remove "my mother" from both examples. In the first phrase, "bought" is an action verb that applies to "I": "I bought...." In the second, "was bought" explains the status of the "apple," relegating "me" to the role of a secondary object rather than the verb's primary subject.

I may do it, or it may be done by me. Remember that.

May all your sentences be active and none of your modifiers misplaced.

– mr_pikachu, Grammar Nazi


http://www.vgcats.com/super/images/080423.gif

Chris 2.1
2nd July 2008, 11:42 AM
Great work as usual :) I liked the Wolfsong interview; I always thought a Songfic was a fic told entirely through the medium of song, so the idea of an all-singing, all-dancing CSI Miami fic intrigued (and greatly appealed to) me.

"Agent smith you need to dust for prints!"
"While I do so may I have a breath mint?"

*cue song about fresh breath and its importance in solving crime*

*subsequently goes to write new fic*

I hope the moderator-based article wasn't suggesting that you are actively seeking NEW moderators. You four are cornerstones in this ficcery community, and you've all been cast in my new Songfic!

Houndoom_Lover
2nd July 2008, 01:20 PM
The comic!!! ^O^ I almost died from LAUGHING! That was- There are no words to discribe that magic! One again, I neglected to add anything to this e-zine. I'm so lame.

But this isn't lame! ^_^ Nice interview, chippin' good grammar learin' (Ruu, don't hurt me, I'm fuuunny), and Mod-fanfair! Yaaay! Go hug a Mod today!

Thought that comic...*snickers* Really made my day.

Lady Vulpix
3rd July 2008, 01:17 PM
Brian, your article about moderators made me laugh a lot, and nod a lot too. It was great! Only... part 1? You mean there's more of it?

And Ada, I loved the subtitle of the Writer's Block. :D

firepokemon
4th July 2008, 05:41 AM
Hmm not much to say about this one. Lacking something this time round. But I think that is just cause everyone is busy at the moment.

The Wolfsong interview was slightly weird, I can't stand CSI Miami simply because Horatio Crane is such a horrible character that its surprising that someone would love it so much as to write fanfiction on it. Is CSI fanfiction quite popular? I could imagine some slash fiction perhaps on the subject but I couldn't imagine anything else really. Simply because I find CSI relies so much on visuals. Mr. Pikachu's article on the moderators was rather good. Interesting process that you people go through, lots of Private Messages etc are there? And grammar nazi I should read but haven't really gotten around to it yet.

Hopefully the next E-zine has something interesting. I realise that sounds rather rude, but I just felt personally things were too rudimentary. But I also suspect, that TPM is just at the time of year, when people are away being busy. As you can see in other forums at TPM also being on the quiet side.

Charles Legend
5th July 2008, 03:20 AM
Hmm not much to say about this one. Lacking something this time round. But I think that is just cause everyone is busy at the moment.

The Wolfsong interview was slightly weird, I can't stand CSI Miami simply because Horatio Crane is such a horrible character that its surprising that someone would love it so much as to write fanfiction on it. Is CSI fanfiction quite popular? I could imagine some slash fiction perhaps on the subject but I couldn't imagine anything else really. Simply because I find CSI relies so much on visuals. Mr. Pikachu's article on the moderators was rather good. Interesting process that you people go through, lots of Private Messages etc are there? And grammar nazi I should read but haven't really gotten around to it yet.

Hopefully the next E-zine has something interesting. I realise that sounds rather rude, but I just felt personally things were too rudimentary. But I also suspect, that TPM is just at the time of year, when people are away being busy. As you can see in other forums at TPM also being on the quiet side.



Well unlike in WOF I'm not a reporter, besides I haven’t come up with anything to write about for the E-Zine as of yet, Sides it most likely well be rejected anyways...

Also Just because you do not like CSI Miami dose not give you the right to be rude to Amy about it, or insult her interview or this E-Zine again and I'll shove my Cue stick up your rear! ^_~

But of course the Mods are watching are every moves to be frank I think the mods are like the Men in Black, they know just about every thing we do on these forums, I wonder if they have a couple of UFOS laying around. and like there secret base is like Area 51 which is is known bout so secret only authorized people are allowed in to it, At last are the deep Mysteries of the Oreo Incident... LOL I'm Only joking or am I? ^_~

Anyways sorry about that, I thought Amy's interview was good, Brian's Article about the Mods was also good, but it may also be a completely fabricated document in which the Mods are trying to spread Disinformation, But of course Brian being The Grammar Nazi Knows all about Disinformation.. ^_~

And what's this I here the Mods actually admits there is a conspiracy going on?! O_o

Cheers, then my theory may indeed not be so Farfetch'd as I thought. ^_^

The truth is out there! ^_~

Wait this gives me an Idea, but would they Allow there most terrible and Dangerous Secrets to be reviled Perhaps not, I must Precede with utmost with caution if I'm to unravel the deep, dark and terrible Secrets of Kevin's Oreo Incident, again Perhaps not.

~Charles Legend

Chris 2.1
7th July 2008, 02:54 PM
I think what Charles is tryining to say is.......oh I have no clue.

Charles Legend
12th July 2008, 11:23 PM
I think what Charles is trying to say is.......oh I have no clue.

Chris, my joke was that both the government and the MODS both know the Methods Of Disinformation, you should know you were one not that long ago, that they both lie about stuff they want to hide the truth about, like Area 51 and the Mod board. Of course since Brian is TPM's Number one Grammar Nazi, he sees a lot of Grammar errors, which is to say he Knows all about Disinformation. ;)

Anyways that comic was funny, although if you think about it some guys do pick to play as a girl because most of the boy heroes designs suck...

~Charles Legend