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mistysakura
1st March 2007, 01:14 AM
The Fanfiction Forum E-zine
March 2007

A Brief Introduction
mistysakura

Hello all, and welcome to the March issue of the Fanfiction E-zine. Following the end of the Silver Pencils, February has been a relatively quiet month for Fanfic; however, the steady stream of new fics and fic updates have kept up its activity. The Writer’s Lounge too has had its share of posts, with discussions on constructive criticism, the revived Trivia Game, fic previews and the like. In addition to this, the mods are planning a new Fanfic event, so stay tuned! We would also like to welcome IceKing and Hinoryu into our fold, and I hope they enjoy their stay at Fanfic.

This issue brings to you:


Conversations with the Stars – Weasel Overlord
Lady Vulpix

Originality, Creativity and Pokémon
mistysakura

Additions to a Glossary for the Critique of Yu-Gi-Oh fanfiction
Master of Paradox

The Grammar Nazi – Closing the Deal
mr_pikachu

A last few words: Nitwit! Oddment! Blubber! Tweak! (And enjoy.)

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling ≠ me.



Conversations with the Stars – Weasel Overlord
Lady Vulpix

The Life of a Weasel

Lady Vulpix: I've noticed you have an excellent grasp of the English language (which probably isn't much to say coming from someone who speaks it as a second language, but I've seen enough to tell the difference). Have you studied anything related?
Weasel Overlord: Yup, I've done English as an A-level, and it's my degree at the moment. I'm doing English Language with Creative Writing.

Lady Vulpix: Oh, that sounds great! If only it was possible to get a degree in Creative Writing here!
Weasel Overlord: It's quite rare over here, to be honest. And I had to send off a sample of my writing to even get offered a place here. (Lancaster University) But it really is awesome! Everyone says that they can see an improvement in my writing, which is always nice.

Lady Vulpix: So I take it you have been writing for a long time, right?
Weasel Overlord: Oh yeah, since I can remember really. I did this horribly plagiarised thing while I was at school with characters stolen from Terry Pratchett, Brian Jacques, anyone I'd been reading at the time...it was awful! I dunno, it's just been the only thing I really excel at, to be honest.

Lady Vulpix: Oh... I had the feeling you liked Terry Pratchett. Some of what you wrote reminded me of his style.
Weasel Overlord: Yeah, I probably am very much influenced by him. Neil Gaiman too. ^_^ He's my idol, heh.

Lady Vulpix: Could you name some of your favorite books?
Weasel Overlord: In general? I'd say one of my favourites is Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett, as well as Night Watch. (I have a signed copy! ^_^ It's my baby, heh.) Urm, American Gods, by Neil Gaiman... It's hard to say really, I love far too many books, hehe.

Lady Vulpix: I know the feeling. So, what made you want to start writing?
Weasel Overlord: You know, that's hard to put my finger on, really. I'd always seemed to have a talent for writing, and I was a really early reader, according to my mum, so I guess it began with wanting to emulate the people I read when I was younger. Which was mainly Enid Blyton, oddly enough for people my age, heh.

Lady Vulpix: Enid Blyton? Sorry, that name doesn't ring a bell.
Weasel Overlord: Oh, she was an author who did all these ancient kids books. I think she was around in the war or something, but the characters were all called stuff like Mary Sue, or Mary Jane, and they all said "gosh" and "golly".
Lady Vulpix: Heh. Well, thanks for the info.


Weasel at TPM

What stories have you posted on TPM so far?
Weasel Overlord: Well, I've put up some of the short stories I did in Creative Writing, mainly for criticisms because we have to think of our portfolios now, and I wanted some feedback. But I've also posted up Warped and Broken, which is currently unfinished, alas. It's a three-part short story (or it will be once I've written part three, heh) and it's really quite gruesome, to be frank. But I think it's one of my better works so far, but as of yet, I have no idea how it's going to end, unfortunately. Oh, and some poems too. We've been doing poetry this term, it's hard.

Lady Vulpix: It is. Is it common for you to start writing something without knowing how it will end, or do you often plan a general outline first?
Weasel Overlord: I don't think I've ever planned a story, actually. I just write and it sort of...appears in my mind, it's weird.

Lady Vulpix: So the ending comes as a surprise to you?
Weasel Overlord: Mostly, yeah. Although I occasionally have a vague idea of what I want the ending to be, but in the writing that sometimes changes to be something completely different.

Lady Vulpix: What do you like the most and the least about your writing?
Weasel Overlord: Oo, that's a hard one! Er, I'd say I dislike my inability to be completely eloquent in my vocabulary. (think like Plantae's writing, I'd love to be able to write like him) But I suppose I like the fact that it's more accessible to readers. Or so I've been told, at least.

Lady Vulpix: So would you say using as many big words as possible is a good thing?
Weasel Overlord: Well, no, because that can make writing too dense to understand or unpleasant to read, and I wouldn't want that. But I think that using more original words sometimes could be better. Like, sometimes I find myself repeating words I've used too many times before, and then I have to search for a replacement...

Lady Vulpix: Ah. I'm sure that must happen to everyone.
Weasel Overlord: Probably, but it annoys me, hehe.

Lady Vulpix: Have you ever published anything?
Weasel Overlord: I did Journalism at college, and I had three articles published in the local paper, but other than that, no, unfortunately. I don't think I'm quite good enough to be published yet.

Lady Vulpix: Will you let us know when you do?
Overlord: Oh, of course. I'd probably be so ecstatic that everyone and anyone I can tell will know, heh.

Lady Vulpix: :) What is/are your favorite genre/s?
Weasel Overlord: Without a doubt, fantasy and science fiction. Although I think I prefer fantasy over sci-fi mostly. Can't beat a good bit of fantasy ^_^

Lady Vulpix: What do you think about other people's fics and stories on TPM?
Weasel Overlord: Well *looks guilty* I haven't read that many, to be honest... But I did start TPML a while ago, it's just catching up with it. I like Pokémon fics, especially Metamorphosis, and I like Darktyranitar's work too. The problem with Pokémon fics, I've always thought, is finding something new to do with the material...

Lady Vulpix: I've always thought the Pokémon world offered plenty of possibilities, but it's true that most people seem to go for the most obvious ones.
Weasel Overlord: I'd like to write my own Pokémon fic, but it's just finding the time and a fresh idea.

Lady Vulpix: Have you ever written anything based on someone else's creations?
Weasel Overlord: Aah, you mean fanfics I guess. Yes, I have. Mainly Final Fantasy ones, and they're not something the authors would like, I don't think... I also wrote a fanfic based on mine, Emotional Faun Chiko-sai and Vulpix.ck's characters from one of our RPGs as a Christmas present. That was fun!

Lady Vulpix: ... Ok, I guess all of that can count as fanfics. Sorry about that.
Weasel Overlord: It's alright ^_^ The RPG I'm writing now is based on a lot of books I've read, actually.

Lady Vulpix: You seem to be quite a perfectionist. How does that affect your work?
Weasel Overlord: Well, in RPG I don't allow myself to play clichéd characters, and I try to portray other characters as accurately as possible. (Because it's really annoying when someone OOCs your character) But in spelling and grammar-wise, I don't think I can be anything else, really. I find it hard, if not impossible to spell a word wrong purposefully.

Lady Vulpix: What do you do in order to portray other people's characters accurately?
Weasel Overlord: Reread their character sign-up forms all the time I'm writing a post. Constantly checking if their reactions are accurate, and since I talk to loads of RPers out of TPM, I usually just ask the creators, heh.

Lady Vulpix: Ok, time for the last question. Do you have any words of advice for other writers?
Weasel Overlord: Erm, let me think. Editing and reading lots is always a good idea. Editing is really important, and not just getting someone else to look at your work, either. If you constantly reread your own stuff, you'll see mistakes, things that don't make sense, grammar oddities and other stuff you'll have missed when you first wrote it. And you can never read too many other authors! Everyone is influenced by someone, after all.

Lady Vulpix: Thank you.
Weasel Overlord: My pleasure! ^_^


Originality, Creativity and Pokémon
mistysakura

Lurking around the forums, you'll often see the phrases "it was really original how you did this...", or maybe "this has been done many times; it needs a dash of creativity". Why are these two aspects so highly valued in Pokémon fanfiction? After all, if you skim the romance shelves at the local bookshop, they're practically identical, right? And all fantasy seems to use the stock races of elves, dwarves and wizards. Heck, if fanfiction is all about basing your own work on someone else's creation, in what sense can it be original anyway? Yes, originality and creativity can be elusive, but the quest to find them is self-rewarding.

Part of the reason for desiring creativity is the inundation of many, many similar Pokémon fics on forums, especially in the early days of Pokémon fanfiction. There were pages of trainer fics 'inspired' by the game, or rather, fics where people took the game plot, slotted in some character and gym names, changed things around a bit and called it their own. Also prominent were the stock shipping fics, inevitably with declarations of love by anime characters in the penultimate paragraph and a kiss in the ultimate. I do like these genres, but at the time a large proportion of their fics were most unoriginal. As you can imagine, people had better things to do with their time than read essentially the same fic a hundred times, so they started yearning for creativity, for something different. This might be done with details like new Pokémon and places. Or the plot could be different; instead of the protagonist training for gyms and saving the world from Team Evil in the process, perhaps the main character is journeying to find their lost Pokémon, or not a trainer at all, but a breeder or beautician or archaeologist. Characters too could be elaborated on instead of having generic 'Mary-Sues' who are always right and never lose a battle. The protagonist could be a rebellious Pokémon with a criminal past, with its trainer a quiet child who does not want to journey at all, but only wishes to be a poet. Thus original fics with creative authors have always stood out and are hopefully appreciated for their efforts.

However, especially for beginning writers, it can be difficult to be original. Using a generic plot device or stock character is often the easiest thing to do, despite not being of much interest to readers. For instance, have you ever been tempted to bring in a deus ex machina in the form of a mysterious ally with super-powerful Pokémon so your protagonist survives the next battle? Or a bumbling, clueless villain sidekick to provide humour and a change of pace in tense scenes, or a friend of the protagonist who solely exists to provide battle commentary? It’s often the simplest way to get your plot across, if you just want to get to ‘the exciting bits’. (Unfortunately, that’s not a good sign; if you don’t even find your characters and settings interesting yourself… you get the idea.)

Also, for those who find creating a plot difficult, the limitations of the Pokémon world increase the difficulty of exercising creativity. The premise of Pokémon is simple: there are a set number of creatures (151, 251, 381… who even keeps count any more?) and trainers catch them and battle against others for the title of Pokémon Master. You see it in the games, the anime, the TCG and every other bit of Pokémon merchandise. Since a fan’s scope of the Pokémon world is rather limited (everyone seems to be a trainer), when beginning writers decide they want to write fanfiction, training will most likely be their inspiration. And where to find information on being a trainer? Why, the games and anime of course, woefully underdeveloped worlds with cardboard characters. Unless one sets out to do something different with a fresh premise in mind, it is common to fall into the trap of always using what the games and anime have provided, without ever building on it. Therein lies unoriginality.

Yet all is not lost. From another perspective, writing Pokémon fanfiction actually forces one to be creative. Aside from the aforementioned motivation of standing out among thread upon thread of fics, the Pokémon world contains many ‘empty’ regions and unanswered questions. Many fanfiction writers take upon themselves the task of making the Pokémon world make sense, so that their story, in turn, makes sense. Questions which are asked range from the trivial, such as “who makes the gym badges anyway?” to questions on how the Pokémon society works, such as the options one has when one is tired of travelling and decides to return home. These all require creative answers. Even seemingly simple questions like “What is that meat in Ash’s burger?” can lead to significant consequences for a fanfiction world, such as the inclusion/exclusion of animals. In a way, once you’ve put your mind to it, the limitations of the Pokémon world are actually beneficial to creativity, because the gaps left by canon can be filled with anything.

However, some people feel that there are constraints as to how original one is allowed to be. For instance, some are compelled to stick to the ‘levels’ system whereby most Pokémon can only evolve after a certain amount of experience. Some people are criticised for not conforming to the ‘four moves per Pokémon’ rule, while others claim it restricts new tactics and combinations. This is a matter of personal opinion – one person’s priority may be to stay true to canon, while another might see portraying Pokémon realistically as being more important, therefore getting rid of mechanical attributes such as stats and levels. Some find it difficult to develop characters from the anime and turn them into three-dimensional beings, because of the initial flatness of the characters. Making them more complex and showing different aspects of their personalities may verge upon being out-of-character. Once again, the degree of creative license varies from writer to writer, and as long as the character does not become completely contradictory (e.g. a modest Gary), developing anime characters further is generally accepted. One way of showing different sides to a character without altering their ‘essence’ is through events which challenge their previous perceptions, or new circumstances to which characters may react differently. As long as the transformation is explained and not too sudden or bizarre, one can get away with quite a bit.

Originality and creativity: one depends on the other and both can boost the interest and complexity in a fanfic significantly. It’s not really about writing something that none of the six billion people in the world have ever imagined. It’s just about the will to break away from the usual fanfic mould, to mix some traditional elements to create something new (Team Rocket training school, anyone?) and to let the wackiest ideas fly, entertaining both yourself and readers. Have fun.


Additions to a Glossary for the Critique of Yu-Gi-Oh Fanfiction
Master of Paradox

The following is, for now, the final remaining entries in the glossary of terms useful for the evaluation, discussion, and criticism of Yu-Gi-Oh fanfiction. Feel free to send me suggestions for future entries - there's no way this glossary will ever really be complete.

Card Abuse Rule: Anyone who mistreats the cards in their deck in any fashion is automatically evil. Examples of mistreatment include throwing cards away, treating the monsters like expendable resources, and destroying cards outright. Ink-and-Cardstock Speeches come into play if the villain tries to defend their behavior. Oddly enough, burning cards considered "evil" is not covered by this, though any other attempt to burn a Duel Monsters card is. Show example: Zane/Ryo as Hell Kaiser quite literally throwing his cards into the line of fire when using Power Wall.

Enthusiastic Narration: The appearance of exclamation points outside of dialogue or sound effects.

Metal Men Can't Duel: The incompetence of robots, sentient AI, and other mechanical constructs when it comes to Duel Monsters. Usually, machines in fanfiction cannot duel worth a drat for whatever reason. If the story likes Heart Speeches, expect a long diatribe about how machines have no soul and thus have no Heart of the Cards. Note that if this were true, Yu-Gi-Oh videogames would be a waste of time to play. This rule does not apply to magical constructs such as Duel Spirits.

New Deck Dogpile: When a new deck theme comes out, expect fanfiction authors to swarm over it. This also applies to new support for old themes, such as Cybernetic Revolution's Insect support leading to a glut of Insect decks.

True Meaning Speech: Related to the Heart Speech, the character (always a protagonist) declares that their opponent has lost sight of the "true meaning" of Duel Monsters, and proceeds to explain what the game truly means (to them, but usually phrased in a way that indicates they, at least, don't see it as a matter of opinion). They then dismiss whatever reasons their opponent has given for playing as wrong; this part may come before the "true meaning". Just as unsubtle and irritating as a Heart Speech, but not quite as common. Jaden/Judai on GX is obsessed with these.

Wheeler Victory: When a character wins through the use of a luck-based card. Joey Wheeler did this more often than not; his only loss by his own chance-based cards was against Ziegfried. Related is the Reverse Wheeler Victory, which is when a player wins through the failure of their opponent's luck-based cards.


The Grammar Nazi – Closing the Deal
mr_pikachu

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

Now that we’ve begun exploring general punctuation, we can start looking the simplest concept: closing punctuation marks. But don’t be fooled; while these ideas seem straightforward, there are alternate ways of using them which you may not have realized.



The first ending punctuation mark is the period, or full stop. Periods are used to end declarations and commands. Here are a few examples of these.


Declaration: My username is mr_pikachu, and I am a moderator.
Command: Stop spamming, you fools.

Note that a declaration states something as fact (even if it is a lie, in which case the declaration is false), while a command tells someone else to do something.



The next closing mark is the exclamation point. This is usually used to end exclamations, as in the following example.


Exclamation: Wow!

An exclamation point can also end a declaration or command with great emphasis, as it is in the next sentences.


Declaration: That was an incredible play!
Command: Get me a soda!

Further, it can be used after an interjection. However, this is a more advanced concept that will be postponed for now, especially since it is used within sentences rather than at the end.



Finally, we have the question mark, which naturally ends a question. You can see it used as follows.


Question: What is your name?



In addition to these three basic marks, you can also use ellipses to end sentences in certain situations. When it closes a sentence, an ellipsis indicates aposiopesis, or speech trailing into silence. These can be used for either incomplete or complete thoughts.


Incomplete: We went to the store, and then…
Complete: I didn’t know you could do that…



These are the rules of closing punctuation, and they are clearly set forth in black and white. But let’s be honest. In creative writing, is there ever anything that is so simple and direct? Of course not. That’s why we have the concept of creative license. You can take the rules and bend them to your will, as long as you do so within reason.

You see, the best writers know the rules, and they also recognize when to ignore them. For instance, if you want to show anger, shock, sarcasm, or another strong emotion in a question, you may choose use a exclamation point rather than a question mark. Take a look at the following exchange as an example.


Jack: I just bought a yacht with our kids’ college fund.
Jill: What!

The latter sentence is technically a question, but Jill is so shocked at Jack’s actions that she’s not speaking in that manner. A similar technique may be used if you have a question that is really more of a command.


Command: Would you please excuse Alex from school today.



In short, closing punctuations marks can sometimes be changed according to the writer’s preference. But that doesn’t mean you should break the rules all the time or go to extremes; it should only be done when you really want to make a point about the sentence’s tone, and using marks that are obviously incorrect such as “!!!” or “?!” is never a good idea. Break the rules if you want, but do it sparingly.

When you use any of these punctuation marks, think about what you want to convey. Always remember that the goal of writing is to deliver a message. If the punctuation doesn’t fit the message, then your idea may easily be lost in your readers’ misconceptions.

mr_pikachu
1st March 2007, 02:12 AM
Awesome job on the E-zine, Ada! It looks great, and your article offered some interesting new perspectives as well. I loved Gabi's interview with Weasel, too... very deep! Wasn't expecting that. And MoP, even though that was only an addendum to your previous work, it was still intriguing. Great stuff!

(Dang it! My piece looks shoddy in comparison... What was I drinking when I wrote that slapped-together piece of crud? >_<)

Lady Vulpix
1st March 2007, 09:18 AM
Wow, great article, Ada! And good job with the compilation as well.

And don't bring yourself down, Brian. Too many people need to be told that kind of things.

Gavin Luper
3rd March 2007, 01:59 AM
Awesome work, Ada, this issue was a really good read. Good work by everyone on the other articles, too, they were all great - Ada, your article on originality was particularly engaging and very, very interesting.

And Weasel - I used to read tons of Enid Blyton's stuff when I was younger, so I know where you're coming from there. I think she was one of the greatest children's authors ever.