PDA

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



mr_pikachu
1st February 2008, 05:44 AM
The FanFiction Forum E-zine
February 2008






Contents


Whose E-Zine Is It Anyway?
mr_pikachu

Conversations with the Stars – Lady Vulpix
mistysakura

Harry Potter and the Nature of Climax
mr_pikachu

Keeping it "Real"
Dr.McNinja

The Grammar Nazi – Objection!
mr_pikachu






Whose E-Zine Is It Anyway?
mr_pikachu


Welcome to another issue of the FanFiction Forum E-zine, where everything's made up and the points don't matter! That's right, they're just as real as Ash_300's postcount.

We've got a great issue lined up for you today, so let's get started!







Conversations with the Stars – Lady Vulpix
mistysakura


mistysakura says:
Hi Gabi, thanks for joining us today. How long have you been writing?
Lady Vulpix says:
I've been trying to write all my life. When I was little (3-7 years old) I thought stories were beyond my reach, so I wrote songs, then I started making comics and at 10 I managed to write my first story. I haven't stopped since then. I've been slow, but never stopped.

mistysakura says:
Hehe, that's funny because most people would find songs out of their reach. A lot of people go through the comics stage though. Do you remember what your first story was about?
Lady Vulpix says:
Yes, it was about a girl who went on vacation to an island with her uncle and found lots of incredible things. Croissant trees, for example.

mistysakura says:
Wow, that's imaginative. Have you always been rooted in fantasy?
Lady Vulpix says:
Hehe, yes. There was a time when I believed that was some sort of deviation, because my mum wasn't used to fantasy and kept saying those things were unbelievable. But I've always felt it was a part of who I was.

mistysakura says:
It's a shame that your mother thought that way... but did you read a lot of fantasy as a child?
Lady Vulpix says:
Yes, I read as much as I could. Especially Marķa Elena Walsh and Elsa Bornemann's stories. Then when I turned 10 my grandmother gave me a whole collection of books for my birthday.

mistysakura says:
Is there any feature of fantasy that has particularly captured your attention and made you a fan of fantasy, or has prominently featured in your stories?
Lady Vulpix says:
Hmm... I'd never thought about it that way. But yes, there is one thing that has always attracted me when I read and also featured in many of my writings. Mysterious characters. Characters with secrets which the reader can figure out as he/she reads.

mistysakura says:
In particular, Erin of Quest of Twelve?
Lady Vulpix says:
Hehe. Well, Erin is a given. But the fact that she has secrets is evident as soon as she appears. Pura, on the other hand, is more subtle (even if she has an unusually big mouth for her race). In the early chapters they both keep arguing because they disagree with each other's way of dealing with secrets.

mistysakura says:
Yes, I remember that. When you wrote these characters, had you planned out all these secrets already, or did aspects of their characters come to you as you wrote?
Lady Vulpix says:
I had planned all the secrets and some of their character development, but I did find out new things about them as I put the story in words, especially Erin. She gained more depth than she originally had in my mind.

mistysakura says:
Did this affect the plot?
Lady Vulpix says:
Not in any major way, the important events were set from the start, but there were several scenes that featured her and Timper which I hadn't planned in advance.

mistysakura says:
So you do a lot of detailed planning, it seems. When you write, do you have the plot all worked out already before you begin, even with a big project like Quest of Twelve?
Lady Vulpix says:
Especially with big projects. Otherwise, it's likely that I’ll never finish them. I can start a short story from a vague idea and then fill in the details, but I don't start typing something big unless I have a clear outline.

mistysakura says:
Ah, short stories. I recall your story in the recent Writing Contest did fairly well. What else have you written besides that and Quest of Twelve?
Lady Vulpix says:
On TPM, a chapter of the collaborative fic "Alchemist's Trials", which never made it past chapter 5 because 2 of its 4 authors left the board, a one-shot prequel to Quest of Twelve and my ongoing story at the Dragon Tamers Battle Range on the Adopted & Captured Pokemon subforum. Outside TPM, a large collection of short stories (most of them in Spanish but I also wrote a few in English), and a short novel (also in Spanish) whose digital version was sadly lost, but I still have the handwritten original. Also a few poems, but they weren't good. I just wrote them to get some things off my chest.

mistysakura says:
Fair enough. Do you prefer writing in English or Spanish? Does it feel any different?
Lady Vulpix says:
I like both. I choose the language according to my intended audience. Yes, writing in different languages is different, but not as much as it may seem. The effects I can achieve with the wording of a phrase are different, but the general feeling of the story isn't, at least not for me.

mistysakura says:
Would you like to get your stories in print someday?
Lady Vulpix says:
I'd love it. The shameful truth is I don't know what I'd have to do in order to achieve that, but I got some stories published in a local magazine years ago. I'm also a bit afraid of being torn apart by the editors.

mistysakura says:
That's great! (Um, about the being published part, that is. Not about being torn apart by editors.) I know you do judging for the Writing Contests as well; how are you finding it? (I see you haven't torn anyone's works apart, hehe.)
Lady Vulpix says:
No, I don't tear others' works apart because I know how it feels and I don't wish it upon anyone. And also because I believe that everyone who wants to write has the right to do so, and a chance to improve their work which can be lost if the author listens to destructive criticism. Still, I've been called a severe judge. And I guess I must be, since the scores I've given out so far were always lower than the other judges'. Or maybe we just use different scales. If I give a story a score above 50 it usually means I enjoyed it. I think that's the approximate equivalent of Brian's 70. But I still haven't answered your question.

I find it hard, actually. I love reading, but in order to judge you have to take the story apart to give each aspect of it a score, thinking of what could have been achieved and how much of it was managed. And, in general, the essence is lost in the process. Both when judging contests and at the Battle Range I prefer to read the story and enjoy it first, and then start rating it. And deciding on the exact score and which story scores higher than which is quite hard, especially because the stories tend to be quite different from each other, and in many cases they don't exactly fit the judging parameters. And sometimes I also have to make an effort to put my personal tastes and background aside in order to be fair.

mistysakura says:
That's quite true. It's hard to say which story is 'better' when all stories are art. Anyway, another of your many roles at Fanfic is chief interviewer; since the roles are reversed this time, I'd like to ask: how do you usually go about interviewing somebody? How do you pick who to interview?
Lady Vulpix says:
Interesting question. I pick whoever I can find online who's involved in the Fanfic forum in any way and hasn't yet been interviewed. I'm running out of subjects, so <hint>IF YOU'RE READING THIS AND WANT TO BE INTERVIEWED, GIVE ME YOUR AIM, MSN, ICQ OR Y!M CONTACT DETAILS</hint>.

As for how I go about interviewing someone, I ask them how long they've been writing, see what they reply and build up from there. Then I try to ask questions related to the person's activity at the Fanfic forum, and their own relationship with the world of literature, and finally ask if they have anything left to say. Only the first and last questions are standard. None of the others are planned in advance; my interviews are mostly reactive, so each one is different.

mistysakura says:
Oh really, eh? Well, on that note, do you have anything left to say?
Lady Vulpix says:
I thought you might do that. Ok. To writers, never let destructive criticism bring you down. You have the right to write and the ability to do so. There's always room for improvement, and you should seek it if writing is more than a hobby to you (or if you would like it to be), but don't believe anyone who tells you that you can't write: they don't know what they're saying. To readers (which should include writers too, because reading is a great help to improve one's writings and also because it's a great experience in itself), enjoy reading as much as you can, let the writers know you're following them and enjoying their work, provide valuable input on both the things you like and the aspect that could use some improvement, and NEVER make offensive comments: remember the author is a sensitive human being who's putting his/her soul in what s/he writes. And read my fic! Just kidding, read whatever you want to.

mistysakura says:
Yes, that's what interviews are for: shameless plugs. Thanks for the interview, Gabi! I really enjoyed that.
Lady Vulpix says:
So did I, so thanks to you.







Harry Potter and the Nature of Climax
mr_pikachu


WARNING: DEATHLY HALLOWS SPOILERS AHEAD.

Considering the nature of Harry Potter and the effect that it has had on the world of fiction, I believe it is an excellent case study for the finer points of writing. To that end, it seems reasonable to take a closer examination of an oft-mentioned yet rarely complimented topic: the final climax.

Those of us who have read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows probably remember the standoff between Harry and Voldemort. Perhaps you also remember the events immediately preceding the clash: Mrs. Weasley triumphing in a vicious duel with Bellatrix, and Voldemort's victory in the three-on-one fight against McGonagall, Slughorn, and Kingsley. While you may not recall the entire speech, you likely have some understanding of what Harry said when lecturing Voldemort. And for that matter, it would be hard to forget his suicidal march directly into the enemy camp.

But what about Voldemort's death itself? Was that such a big moment? Many commentators, some of whom are part of our own Fanfiction forum, say no. They make very valid points with which I cannot argue; whether they note that the whole duel took only one move (compare that with the strategic clash between Snape and the Heads of House) or that his felling was in the middle of a paragraph - hardly the ideal spot for a climactic blow - the result is the same. For a climax, that was extremely weak.

Some may lodge the counterargument that Voldemort's death itself was not the climax, but that Harry's resulting attainment of the third Hallow (the Elder Wand) was. This makes perfect sense from a structural standpoint. In its own way, it completes the struggle: Harry had just destroyed the final soul container (Voldemort himself is probably not a Horcrux from a technical standpoint), and the final Hallow completed his collection of acquisitions. Further, the Elder Wand smacked into his palm at the end of the paragraph rather than in the middle. This logic appears to work.

I disagree with both conclusions. And I do so on the basis that the final battle was not the climax.

First of all, let's face the facts. We all went into this book knowing that it would be the last of Rowling's seven. We all knew that Harry would have to kill Voldemort or vice-versa, presumably in a duel. Considering the dramatic action near the conclusion of each of the the previous six books, it would make sense to expect that the same style of successive conflicts would ensue during the seventh. And in a series rife with intense conflict, we could do little but anticipate that the decisive battle would be the focus of it all. Therefore, how could we guess that the fight would be anything less than the height of the series?

The first part of my argument is that this belief is based on faulty assumptions. Just because the early and middle stages of the series followed a standard pattern of rising and falling intensity does not mean that the deciding installment had to do the same. And just because we expect something to happen does not mean it will be given great weight. Harry Potter is quite possibly the greatest work of fiction in our age, so why should it conform to the norms of those works it has surpassed?

If we accept, then, that a franchise which includes epic battles does not necessarily have to use one as its ultimate climax, then we are also saying that the Harry-Voldemort duel does not necessarily fill the role. On the contrary, I believe that the brief fight took place during the falling action, when the conflict had essentially been decided and the series was rapidly drawing to a close.

Consider this. Going into the final battle, did anyone actually expect Voldemort to triumph? Harry had already died, which destroyed the second-to-last Horcrux in the process. Neville's actions surprisingly ended the last of Voldemort's defenses, and all he had left was his talent paired with the Elder Wand. Then, as the two combatants stared down one other, Harry explained that the Wand was in fact useless (provided that it recognized him as the master and not Voldemort). Given this unlikely yet unbroken chain of logical conclusions to which Voldemort had no retort, and considering how much closer than this Voldemort had come to killing his archenemy throughout the series - including when he was a defenseless infant! - did you really expect that the Killing Curse would work?

If the outcome was already decided as such, then it is laughable to suggest that the final move was the high point of Harry Potter. Our next question therefore becomes: What was the climax? I will pose three separate theories and give my analysis of the likelihood of each.

The first is that the climax was in the sixth book. Whether we consider it to be the outlining of Harry's mission or the death of Dumbledore, I consider this to be the most unlikely of the three scenarios. While some of us may dislike Rowling's writing style or consider Harry Potter to be overrated, claiming that it is such a bad series that the entire final book was post-climactic would be extremely difficult. (Although the collectivism inherent in the Horcrux quest does resemble the preliminary rounds in many Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfics, those obviously occur before the climax as well, so the possible lack of dramatic tension is a moot point.) Thus, it seems very unlikely that the climax occurred in Half-Blood Prince despite its nature as a turning point.

The second possibility is that Harry Potter's climax came during the second-to-last chapter, "King's Cross." This theory operates on the idea that the ultimate culmination of tension is defined by the assurance of victory. As Dumbledore explained, Harry's "return" would yield a "chance that he might be finished for good." This, in and of itself, is an innocuous statement. So there was a chance that Harry might be able to kill Voldemort. There was always a chance of that if the Horcruxes were destroyed! Why is this at all important?

In order to understand, we must take note of what happened immediately preceding this conversation. Harry walked directly into the enemy camp and was, presumably, killed. But even when he appeared to have absolutely no defense, he cheated death once more by the least likely of circumstances. I relate this to the stereotypical "if you don't do this exactly right, you fail" ending, like when a bomb technician must push all the limits by disarming an explosive in mere seconds. Even when we are presented with an exceedingly difficult scenario in fiction, we are so accustomed to improbable success that we fully expect it to work despite the ridiculous odds (or, more correctly, because of them). This, in turn, creates an atmosphere of invincibility. If the hero can survive despite the utterly overwhelming odds against him, why shouldn't he win a fair, one-on-one fight? Just as Voldemore assumed that the Elder Wand made him invulnerable, we were goaded into believing that Harry was unstoppable. Thus, once we realized that the Killing Curse had failed despite Harry's "death," and that Harry still had a chance to come back and win, the only obstacles remaining were a trivial snake and an equally nonthreatening wizard.

This is a tempting theory that is much more difficult to discredit than the first. But I disagree with it for three reasons. First, Harry was still not quite all the way to Voldemort; Nagini's continued existence also stood between him and victory. Second, the tension did not steadily fall after Harry awoke, as the war erupted once more once Neville rallied the resistance. While we have established that Harry Potter does not always follow the traditional standards, it makes very little sense to call "King's Cross" the climax when the action redoubled immediately afterwards. And third, the outcome was not clearly decided as even Dumbledore admitted there was only "a chance." Frankly, even if the result was perfectly clear we could say that the lesser consequences for each individual combatant and the intense conflict yet to broil keep this incident from being a true climax. So while there are grounds for considering this the high point of the series, I reject this argument.

The third and final hypothesis is that the climax is Harry's lecture prior to the last attack. The tension rises throughout this monologue, as we are aware that the fight draws nearer with every word Harry speaks. And the tension falls immediately afterward; the first sizable paragraph following this speech ends well after Voldemort has already died, and there are no further deaths or even threats for the remainder of the book. It also guarantees Harry's victory if we follow the previous logic that, immediately following his escape from death, he cannot be beaten if there is a chance he can win.

Since the greatest (and last) threat is extinguished through Harry's words and no alternative climax makes any sense, I am forced to conclude that Harry's monologue is the true climax of Harry Potter. If this is in fact the case, there is much we can learn for our own writing. After all, if the pinnacle of an action-packed series, book, or fanfic does not have to be the greatest action of all, then we are far less limited. And if it can be something as otherwise banal as a conversation, then all the boundaries may be cast aside. Anything, from a decisive explosion to a stroll down the sidewalk may serve as the pinnacle if we write it well enough!

A game of chess does not have to culminate in checkmate. If the match is clearly won 15 turns before the final move, then the official announcement of victory is irrelevant. So if the last fight is nothing more than a formality, why should it be the climax?







Keeping it "Real"
Dr.McNinja


Reality. We write to escape it's smothering rules. We create fantastical worlds that would make Einstein scratch his head in baffled confusion. We twist, bend, morph, test, and often break the rules that hold our own world together. And it's a lot of fun. Unfortunately though, most of us eventually have to face the...er...reality of...reality eventually. There is a point where the suspension of disbelief can no longer be maintained, a point at which it is possible to deviate from reality so far that the reader can no longer believe in the plausibility of your world. This applies most of all to Fantasy and Science Fiction works of course, where a little messing with reality is almost a requirement but even in more grounded worlds, one must keep in mind that, at some fundamental level, the world has to be kept "real" for the reader.

Now let me say this first, to avoid any confusion, just because a world has to be "real" does not mean that it must be "real" by our standard of reality. Your world doesn't have to work by our rules, it doesn't have to have all the laws and observable phenomena that we do. There can be things foreign to our understanding, things that affect your world in amazing ways. What is important though is that your world does have rules, and that within that world you are consistent with them. If a rock falls down when a character throws it it sure as heck better fall down the next time (unless of course, levitation or telekinesis or what have you is involved, more on that later). That's an extreme example of course, few people are going to randomly decide to have their rocks start flying up for no apparent reason, but the basic idea applies to other examples as well. If you create a system of rules by which your world works and stick with them, your world will remain believable even when fantastical things are happening in it.

For example, in The Phoenix Saga, magic is an integral part of my story line. If I had just had magic be some unexplained source of power by which people did incredible things, the purpose for its existence and the entire believability of the world I was making could have easily become impossible. The characters could just do whatever they wanted whenever I decided without regards to the world around them and any sense of drama or danger I would try to create would be undermined when anyone could do anything whenever I needed to get them out of a tough spot. With that in mind, I worked to make magic as much a part of the world as the people and things in them. In the Saga magic is essentially another element to the world, as important to Gaia as air or wind or water, indeed those who cannot see the magic flows in the world get a sense that something is missing, that everything looks fragile and incomplete just as we would if, say, we couldn't see any of the water in the world. Because it exists as part of the very fabric of Gaia, the magic has its own rules of what is possible and was is not. It is not some all-power superforce but at the same time it is a powerful tool. Which brings us to the next advantage of keeping it real: you get to mess with that reality.

In a world without rules, things that would otherwise be incredible simply become ordinary. Eldrich the Eternal flying around at Mach 3 isn't so impressive when Marty Stu over there can teleport at will and Mary Sue bends the fabric of time whenever she sneezes. By creating rules in your world and sticking to them, you create a situation so that when those rules are broken, they actually mean something. In most works of Fantasy for example, the main character has some ability that others do not, something that sets them apart from others. Whether this ability is arcane in nature or divine or what have you, its something the normal person cannot do and its what makes them stand out from the crowd and makes them of note. The main characters in the Phoenix Saga all share this characteristic. Cammie for example can touch the flows of magic directly and manipulate them to her will where most people are limited to certain areas or specialities. Lesalia by comparison has been granted divine abilities unseen even in the most faithful whereas Weslyn is tapping into some dangerous power that no one can explain yet. Whereas everyone else is stuck playing by the rules, these individuals can exist outside them to some extent, and thus they become interesting and special when compared to others.

Finally, a note of caution. You may have your rules in place, and have elegantly thought out the ways in which all of your fantastical elements work within your world and how and why your protagonists can break the rules, but there's no need to force all of it down your reader's throats. One flaw I have in my writing is a tendency for over exposition, explaining things a bit too much which can bog down readers. It comes from enjoying explaining ideas that I think worked well, but really, if those ideas work well they shouldn't need explaining, they just should be. While a reader might not exactly get every single one of your rules and their specifics, if they exist and you are consistent with them they won't have to. Instead, they will just be left with the sense that your world is believable, that while they might not understand everything they knowthat things work in a certain way and that that guy who just picked up a mountain and hurled it halfay across a continent is someone special and not Joe Schmoe from down the street.

By taking some time to truly understand how your world ticks, not only will you help your readers believe in your world enough to really get into yet, you'll also be able to let your creative juices flow as you decide just how your characters are going to mess up the rules to impressive effects. So don't forget to keep it real. Peace out.







The Grammar Nazi – Objection!
mr_pikachu


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

Let's shift gears for a moment and look at something a little simpler: the interjection.

An interjection, or exclamation, is simply a word or phrase that has no connection to the rest of the sentence. "Hooray" and "yippee" are stereotypical examples, as they serve no purpose other than to convey emotion.

Interjections can be used as either a whole sentence or as part of a sentence. As an example, you might say either "Yeah!" or "Yeah, we scored!" As you can see in both cases, the word "Yeah" has no real meaning beyond conveying joy. Interjections don't always have to be emotional, however; filled pauses such as "um" and "er" also fit the bill, as do words like "bah" and "cheers." Interjections may also contain more than one word, as in "Oh my gosh!" and other such phrases.

There are a number of different ways to include an interjection in a sentence; as long as you clearly separate it from the meaningful text via commas or dashes, you don't have to worry about much, as the interjection is wholly separate from the sentence.

It should be noted, however, that interjections set apart by dashes provide an exception to the rules of ending punctuation. Consider the following example.

As I took my first sip of beer – all right! – my friends grinned in approval.

See what happened? The exclamation at the end of "all right!" should have ended the sentence. But it kept on going, lowercase letter and all!

This is because interjections excluded in such a manner are treated in much the same way as quoted text. When you quote a complete sentence, your overall sentence doesn't necessarily end as a result. Take a look at this example:

When I beat the game, the main character yelled "All right!" and jumped.

Just as before, the conclusion of the inner sentence doesn't necessarily mean that the outer one is done. Don't forget that when you're planning your interjections – sometimes a good trick can keep your readers on their toes.


http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/images/Bushswear.jpg

Blademaster
1st February 2008, 09:48 AM
Wow... That was long. Way to put your noses to the grindstone, everybody. :D:yes:

(coughcoughMSN=Dark_Lord_Zorc@hotmail.comcoughcoug h)

Houndoom_Lover
1st February 2008, 10:35 PM
Haha...yay...I may an attempt to make an artical...*stares at the blank Document* Oh, well! These were jiggidy jammin'! ^_^ Way to go!

EDIT: I like to throw out that I enjoyed the Harry Potter and Climax artical greatly- she wrote that last book like she didn't know how to write. Its caused me to have to start re-writting my story based on it >.> So much...icky...I had to sort though. WHEN WAS NAGINI (sp? -,-) KILLED?! Why wasn't Voldemort ENRAGED?)

Lady Vulpix
2nd February 2008, 04:38 PM
I was afraid for the future of this issue, but it turned out quite good! I liked the way it dealt with some of the more subtle aspects of writing.

I liked Brian's analysis of the Harry Potter series, although I wouldn't call it the greatest work of fiction of our time.

The 'Keeping it real' article reminded me of a discussion I had with my fellow teachers after our last chair meeting, about what made a fantasy story good or bad.

Thanks again to Ada for interviewing me. Now, who wants to be interviewed next?

mistysakura
29th February 2008, 07:21 AM
Thought I'd comment before this gets shunted off to the archive. I really liked this issue, especially the analysis of Harry Potter. I'd never thought of the climax being anywhere but Voldemort's death. It makes sense that it was actually at Harry's speech, but still I thought Voldemort's death was more important than whatever ended that paragraph -- Harry getting the elder wand, I thought it was? I think that it doesn't matter so much that Harry gets the Hallows, than that Voldemort doesn't. Harry hasn't done any of this for himself. In the first book, the emphasis (as the Mirror of Erised pointed out) wasn't so much on Harry getting the Stone, as on Harry stopping Voldemort from getting the Stone. So I'd think Harry dealing the final blow to Voldemort would be more important than whatever happened afterwards. Definitely not middle-of-the-paragraph material.

I really liked Keeping It Real as well. Taking Harry Potter as an example, I like how she pointed out that magic doesn't solve all your problems when the bad guys have magic too. It did always bug me that the standard of magic that normal people could perform kept rising higher and higher though, so by the end it seemed everyone could indeed do everything (as compared to PS when apparently Devil's Snare was a good trap to stop the most powerful of wizards). Consistency is good.

Gavin Luper
29th February 2008, 07:59 AM
Shunting this off to the archive, then.

And ... oops. Didn't reply to this a month ago. The shame. Well, I actually really enjoyed this issue; it was cool to see the tables turned and Gabi get interviewed instead for a change. I admit, I didn't realise your interview process was so flexible; I'd just assumed you came into each one with a set of things to ask.

"Keeping it Real" made a very good point, too. And the discussion of Harry Potter - that was a discussion worth raising, I reckon, even if similar things have been raised on Mugglenet (I think). It does seem a bit odd that Voldemort's death happened so ... I dunno ... without such a big bang. On one hand, maybe Jo wanted to point out how underwhelming the physical death of a person could be. Then again, this makes no sense, as Voldemort's death really did signfiy the end of the threat posed to the protagonist ... so ... I've done nothing but confuse myself. I'm glad you wrote the article instead of me, Brian.

Um ... yes ... so look out for the March E-zine, coming to a screen near you - tomorrow!