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Gavin Luper
1st July 2007, 04:56 AM
The FanFiction Forum E-zine
July 2007






Contents


Confessions of the Editor
Gavin Luper

Conversations with the Stars – The Arbiter
Lady Vulpix

The Name Game
Hinoryu

Fanfiction Writers I Have Known – Part 1
Master of Paradox

Yaoi – From a Fangirl’s Perspective
Weasel Overlord

The Grammar Nazi – Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law
mr_pikachu






Confessions of the Editor
Gavin Luper



My fellow citizens of the Fanfiction Forum,

July has crept upon us once more! For many of us, that means the energy and relaxation of Summer is ours to enjoy for a couple of months; for the Antipodeans, it means that a winter chill is moving in. Whatever season it may be where you live, kick back, relax and enjoy the latest edition of the Fanfiction Forum E-zine!

There is quite a lot going on in the forum at the present time. The results of the May Fanfic Writing Contest were recently revealed, with Weasel Overlord taking out first prize; congratulations to her and all the other contestants, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for another contest in the coming months. Also in The Writer's Lounge, Smiley Town continues to, well, "smile", for want of a better cliché. The Fanfiction Reviewer Organisation (FFRO) has also been enjoying a period of increased interest and activity, with three reviews published in the last week! Meanwhile, in the main forum, there has been a wave of great new fics over June, much to the delight of readers.

Most noticeably, however, July will play host to the annual Golden Pen Awards. The most prestigious of the Fanfic awards, they recognize the outstanding work that the writers and readers of Fanfic have produced in the past year. Be sure to check out the Nominations Thread, which is now up, and to get your Nominations in as soon as possible!

And of course, the beginning of July also means the publication of this E-zine's seventh issue. This month's edition is an absolutely huge one: Lady Vulpix returns with another of her brilliant interviews; our esteemed Grammar Nazi lays down the law of punctuation; Hinoryu broaches the topic of the Name Game; Master of Paradox gives a psychological analysis that's bound to get people talking; and Weasel Overlord dissects the provocative subject that is Yaoi fiction.

It's all here, and it's all for your reading pleasure. Please enjoy!






Conversations with the Stars – The Arbiter
Lady Vulpix


Lady Vulpix: So... How long have you been writing?
The Arbiter: As long as I can remember, really. I started writing short stories when I was in the seventh grade.

Lady Vulpix: What kind of short stories?
The Arbiter: I started out by writing Starfox fanfiction, oddly enough. For the earlier years, it was mostly fanfiction until I got to high school, when I began writing more original pieces.

Lady Vulpix: And when did you start posting them on the web?
The Arbiter: I believe it was also during high school. Fanfiction was, that is. My original works weren't published online - they remained on my hard drive.

Lady Vulpix: And where are they now?
The Arbiter: Still there; unfortunately, I never got the chance to remove them before my computer died. They'll remain in purgatory for awhile, it seems. I'm not sure if thats good or bad.

Lady Vulpix: I think it's sad for a story to go unread. Has anyone else seen them?
The Arbiter: No. I was very secretive about my writing. Almost as if I was ashamed.

Lady Vulpix: Why?
The Arbiter: It's a combination of lack of self-confidence (at the time), and the fact my ideas (again, at the time) weren't as thought-out as I would've liked them to be.

Lady Vulpix: When did you decide to start sharing your writings, and how did you reach that decision?
The Arbiter: It was a fluke, actually. My step-mother found one of my song lyrics and read it. She told me how good it was, and told me that I should start sharing it with more people. The thought of people actually enjoying my work came as a surprise though. Naturally, I would've had to adjust. That's when I began to focus more on poetry and song lyrics and less on short stories.

Lady Vulpix: Wow. So, how many stories and poems have you published so far?
The Arbiter: Stories? None. I've had two poems published, however. Nothing too grand - just one of those poetry compilations that publishers create just for the sake of making money off of idealist parents.

Lady Vulpix: Making money off of idealist parents?
The Arbiter: You can make a lot of money by telling parents that their kids are special. I believe those books are published in the hopes that parents will buy them knowing that their kids poem is on page 182 or something.

Lady Vulpix: Ah. And online?
The Arbiter: Online's another story. I've got a few in circulation somewhere. For the most part, they're unfinished.

Lady Vulpix: Are you planning to finish any of them?
The Arbiter: I'd like to, but most of them are ideas that, while being great ideas (to me, at least) at the time, have lost the spark that made me want to be a writer in the first place.

Lady Vulpix: Does that mean you're questioning whether you want to continue writing or not?
The Arbiter: There's no doubt in my mind that I want to continue writing. It's just a matter of coming up with ideas that grab me enough to write them.

Lady Vulpix: So, what are your plans for the future?
The Arbiter: I'm in college at the moment. If writing doesn't work out for me, I could always pursue a career in graphic design, which will be my major.

Lady Vulpix: How do you find inspiration to write?
The Arbiter: Inspiration is a tricky thing. Sometimes an idea, for me, sparks from things a mundane as waiting for class to be dismissed. Just the other day I thought about writing a story about a preacher's relationship with his gay son.

Lady Vulpix: Interesting. Are you planning to write it?
The Arbiter: I hope so; it's a really good idea. Dreams used to be a good inspiration for me. However, they've become so surreal that it's difficult to create a decent story from them.

Lady Vulpix: Maybe a surreal story?
The Arbiter: Perhaps. I thought about doing a story about a dream sequence, but I'm not sure when or where I'm going to execute it.

Lady Vulpix: So, will we get to see more of your writings in the near future?
The Arbiter: I believe so. I'm debating between Oeuvre and Academy at the moment. I won't do both because they're so similar.

Lady Vulpix: Okay... So, what advice would you give to other writers like you?
The Arbiter: Finish what you start, at the very least. Even if you think no one will read it, a story needs to be told.







The Name Game
Hinoryu

So as authors, all of us know how difficult creating characters is. However, for me, the hardest part is finding a name for them. And while I’m in a fit of insomnia and feel like rambling, I think an essay on naming would be nice.

With me, I'm incredibly fond of puns. When naming a character, first I find their nationality, and find a name from that language that generally means a defining trait about them. (Which is incredibly easy with Japanese characters.) Ryuuji of Battle Earth, for example. His name is written with kanji as 竜治, "Dragon Reign", though the same pronunciation with different kanji could be 'Dragon child', 'dragon heir', and so on. However, he was originally named Kazuki (火月 'Fire moon'), using a different kanji, but phonetically the same name as Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of Yugioh. (And also Kazuki Muto, the hero of Busou Renkin, who I admit heavily influenced Ryuuji.) I changed the name when I realized it was technically a female name with that kanji.

But then sometimes I check alternate meanings than what I originally intend too late and miss something. For example, Hisao of my Duel Academy R:2 is ‘永和’, literally ‘Eternal Peace’. However, had I been smarter, I would have saved the name for someone else, as an alternate kanji would mean ‘Ancient Thong’, opening up a multitude of Ojama opportunities.

However, while Japanese is the easiest language to pun names in, there’s still a way to do this in any language. There are online dictionaries of names and their meanings just about everywhere. The sky’s the limit, and don’t be afraid to break a few languages and make up a name as long as it sounds good.

But a few words of caution: Be original and creative. One of the biggest turn-offs in a fic is terrible names. Naming a character with a fire theme ‘Fire’ may work for the X-men, but it doesn’t really work elsewhere. Names are the second-most important part of a character, remember, so name them well. A good name would fit the character, their nationality, still sound like a name, and not be harped on too much.

My most important point here, though, I’ve touched on a couple times already, but I should just say it outright just in case. A name is, above all other things, still a name. It would belong to a person, so don’t name them something terrible or overly long. Generally, if I see a character named something ten words long, and more than half of them aren’t names but random words shoved in to make it sound shiny, my Mary Sue alarms start blaring and I hit the ‘back’ button at epic speeds.

And as a final note of caution, make sure your characters’ names fit their nationality. An American with no Japanese ancestry is not going to be named Aiko, someone purely Asian is probably not going to be named Egmont, and there likely aren’t any little Egyptian kids named René. A bit of research or two minutes on Google can give you good names that fit the nation, so it should be okay finding one that works.

But as I don’t want to end on a negative note, I’ll continue with some comments. Don’t be afraid to use utterly weird names for laughs. A name can be a source of great humor or even be good for a plot if you use it right. So use your imagination and think of something good.







Fanfiction Writers I Have Known - Part 1
Master of Paradox


Sociologists, psychologists, and a number of other specialities ending in "-ist" have split mankind in all its myriad forms down to a handful (as few as four) distinct personality types. While I can't split those participating in the act of fanfiction quite so cleanly, I've come to notice a number of different personality facets that one author or another has shown. The following is my attempt to name and pin down those personas.

Note that if you recognize yourself in this listing, I mean no offense to any given person; in several cases, I am one of these people. These archetypes are not based on any one fanfiction writer in particular. And whenever a gender reference comes up, I tend to go with male pronouns; while I've seen plenty of female fanfiction writers, most of the personal examples I've met are male, so that's how I think of them.

The Aspiring Professional: Many of us view fanfiction as a hobby, something to do to pass the time. Others are more serious about it, but admit that they'll never make money off of their writing. Not so the Aspiring Professional - they dream of one day being a published writer, of seeing their (nonfanfiction) work in bookstores or magazines. To them, fanfiction is just a sideline (or quite possibly practice for "the show"); no, they have more serious plans ahead of them. Their stories tend to be very, very long - novel-length - and have dense, multilayered plots. Quality is not an automatic trait for the Aspiring Professional, however; there are as many hacks as true talents in their ranks.

The Burnout: Writing fanfiction is just as taxing as writing nonderivative works, something that many outsiders don't understand. After a while, the writer may feel their creativity waning and lose their enthusiasm for the work. Sometimes they recover after a short break and resume their writing; sometimes, however, it burns deeper. The latter case is the Burnout, someone who has used up all the inspiration they had. Updates from one of these writers are a rare, almost blessed event; their stories update only on the scarcest occasion, perhaps once a year (if that). They continue to write, but it comes in short bursts, perhaps a page at a time. Some Burnouts recover and resume regular updating; some never do. Fanfiction sites are covered in the dead works of Burnouts who lost their touch altogether.

Decaying Superstar: This author made his name a long time ago, having written stories that captured audiences and hit the hearts of everyone who read them. His fans are without number, and everything he writes has an automatic readership; there may even be Disciples floating around. And he's still writing. But something happened at some point: he began to run out of originality. The characters in his latest story ring too familiar, as though he's written them a hundred times. The jokes are stale and turning staler; you've seen that plot before, and this time it doesn't work. The familiarity has become contempt. But the Decaying Superstar does not realize he has lost his talent. The fans are starting to grow bored... no, not just bored, disappointed... but he can't figure out why. Isn't it enough he keeps writing?

Disciple: At some point early in this author's career, they encountered a writer whose works struck a chord deep inside of them. They were inspired to begin writing themselves, and as they did, something strange happened. The works of a true Disciple read as if they borrowed their writing style directly from their inspiration; you could switch a chapter of their work with that of the author they follow and never tell the difference. Disciples do have a drawback - as they're aping a specific style, they tend to develop many of the same flaws, but they may not be able to copy their inspiration's strengths. If a Disciple is copying a Decaying Superstar, however, they may eventually become better than their source by default. This is not limited to fanfiction - "legitimate" writing has more than its share of this group.







Yaoi – From a Fangirl’s Perspective
Weasel Overlord


Disclaimer: To save your eyes and souls, there will be no examples of yaoi or anything that could be construed as ‘porn’ in the following article ^_^

You may be wondering exactly why I’ve chosen to write this article on yaoi, or as the fans fondly call it, Boys Love, or BL, and whether you actually have to read it, and, more importantly, will it scar your poor, innocent brain forever?

The fact is, I bet that most people instantly think “Eugh, gay porn!” I know my mum certainly does, since she actually said that to me when I went to buy some manga.

I’m writing this to set some misconceptions straight about yaoi, and to reassure you that yaoi is simply not another form of pornography for girls (or guys) who like to perv on two men getting it on (although, to be frank, some is, but I won’t go into details!). I’ll also take this opportunity to ramble on topics which probably aren’t related to this one at all. ^_^

Yaoi, most commonly pronounced ‘yaw-i’, as English speakers often have trouble pronouncing three separate vowels one after the other, comes almost entirely from Japan. The word itself is an acronym of the Japanese ‘yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi’, which roughly translates as ‘no peak, no point, no problem’, something which is much in evidence in yaoi anime.

The problem with some of the yaoi animes out there is that they simply have no plot. Some are just there to basically act as pornography, but then, the same can be said for any anime, really, and especially hentai, which I’m certainly not going to go into (cos it’s yucky).

However, some yaoi animes and mangas are much more plot-orientated, with the main focus being on the relationship and love between the two men involved.

Yaoi mangas such as Yellow and Fake revolve around police-type stories, and some such as Gorgeous Carat have a more historical take on things, and are set in beautiful places and times, like turn-of-the-century Paris.

And, as with any genre, there are many clichés within yaoi, although some of these are being challenged and actively removed in the more recent animes and mangas.

One of the main clichés is that of the ‘weepy uke’. The uke, translated as the ‘receiver’, is often androgynous and extremely effeminate in his appearance, usually with long hair and beautiful eyes, and a tendency to be overly emotional and to cry a lot, especially during *whispers* sex.

The seme, translated as ‘attacker’, is the dominant male of the situation, and he can most often be seen with large muscles, sporting moody frown and a highly defined jaw.

As all frequenters of the RPG board will know, the Weasel likes the bishies (ukes) immensely, and will play one at almost every opportunity, and as such, I don’t really mind the clichéd weepy uke; but these clichés get on the nerves of many fans, and can become immensely boring if they are used all the time.

Another issue many people have with yaoi is its place in the world of fandom. Many authors themselves are outspoken about their dislike of fanfiction concerning their work and characters, JK Rowling and Robin Hobb being the two I can think of off the top of my head.

I can imagine their shock if they ever came across some of the writing I’ve experienced before, which can only be classified as pure, plotless filth. And not even enjoyable filth, either.

But what was I talking about? Oh yes, fandom. Yaoi in fandom is often called slash, but the term is mostly used to describe male/male relationships between real people, such as the Lord of the Rings actors, or characters from Heroes. The actual term slash comes from the slash used to depict the characters involved in the relationship, Remus/Sirius, Harry/Draco, and so on. The dominant character is usually placed first, although personally I’m not fussy about that, and for characters in certain situations with certain personality traits, they are represented with an exclamation mark, like so: dominant!Remus, or film!Lupin.

And now that I’ve bored you with various definitions, here are my conclusions on the topic. Yaoi is lovely. You should all love it.

Nah, just kidding. There’s a reason many people don’t like yaoi, and it’s the nasty stuff that gives the rest a bad name. Yes, tentacle-rape (self-explanatory), non-con (non-consenting) and shota (underage boys), I’m looking at you. But just because there are some bad things out there, it doesn’t mean that the entire genre should suffer from it.

For many girls, the attractive thing about yaoi is that it’s two men. Two pretty men. Together! What more could you ask for!?








The Grammar Nazi – Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law
mr_pikachu


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

An apostrophe has two main uses in English. To put it briefly, it indicates the possessive forms of many nouns and marks omissions.

First, let's cover the possessive apostrophe. Most of the time, when you want to show that something “owns” something else, you will add an apostrophe and an “s” to the end, as follows:

I like my cat's paws.

The word “cat's” is the possessive form of “cat,” thus showing that the paws belong to the cat. Note that “cat's” is really just “cat” with an “'s” at the end. This is the typical way to write the possessive form of any singular noun.


But what if it wasn't singular? What if, instead of one cat, there were multiple cats? How do you express that change?

I like my cats' paws.

Simple, huh? If the possessor, so to speak, is plural, then you just put the apostrophe after the “s” rather than before it.

Note that it doesn't matter whether the possessed item is singular or plural. All that matters is the state of the owner.


Now, there are some tricky exceptions for the possessive apostrophe. The most common of these arises with singular nouns that end in “s.” How do you handle that situation?

It turns out that sources are split on the proper way to deal with such a situation. Some will say to simply place an apostrophe after the word. Others tell you to add an apostrophe and an “s” as you normally would. Still others say to use whatever form seems more appropriate in each situation. The two ways of handling this problem are given as follows; use whichever one suits you best.

I carried Ms. Jones' hat.
I carried Ms. Jones's hat.


A few possessive words omit the possessive apostrophe altogether. These seven exceptions are as follows: yours, his, hers, ours, its, theirs, and whose.

It can be unclear at first glance why there are any such exceptions, but let's take a closer look at them. For starters, we have the words “his” and “whose.” It would be exceedingly awkward to try to add an apostrophe to the latter word, and the former would look nearly as unusual. So both of those are explained. And naturally, if “his” has no apostrophe, it makes sense to leave the counterpart of “hers” alone as well.

Next we tackle “its,” one of the most frequently misspelled words in the English language. If we added an apostrophe here – say, to make the word “it's” – it would look identical to the normal “it's,” a contraction for “it is” or “it was.” So to avoid confusion, we use “its” for possession and “it's” as a contraction.

As for the final three examples, it is less clear why they should lack an apostrophe. However, in order to make life simpler for those of us who hate memorizing lists, it seems that they have been made exceptions just so we can group them with “his” and “hers” and say that all the generic pronouns lack an apostrophe for their possessive forms. On the other hand, more unique pronouns do have apostrophes to show possession: “one's,” “nobody's,” “everyone's,” “somebody's,” and so on all follow the typical rule.


Next we move to the omission apostrophe. This is a far simpler concept; basically, you use an apostrophe whenever you remove letters from a word. Such apostrophes are used in abbreviations like “gov't” (for “government”), in contractions like don't (as in “do not”). Note that in the former case, you typically do not add an apostrophe if the omission occurs at the beginning of the word, as in “'net” in the place of “internet.” (There are exceptions like “'90s” to abbreviate “1990s,” but these are rare.)

While it is not technically correct, some writers use apostrophes to mark other omissions such as heavy accents that cause parts of words to be omitted or just spoken poorly. This is generally accepted for the purpose of the reader's understanding, but writers should be careful not to overwhelm their readers with apostrophes.


One further use of apostrophes deserves to be mentioned here. Sometimes apostrophes may be warranted in forming certain plurals, especially when the words are exceedingly short. A prime example of this is in the pluralization of individual letters, such as “a.” If one were to write “as” for the plural, it could be confused with the usual word “as.” Therefore, it is generally acceptable to write “a's” for such plurals. (If the original letter is capitalized, as in “A,” adding an apostrophe is usually unnecessary.) Some sources consider it better to change the font, as in “as,” but it is not required.

Other examples include “ex's,” “no's,” etc., although most authorities would prefer to add an “es” rather than an “'s” in those cases. The apostrophe should only be used when the word would look awkward without one.

Finally, it is not considered proper to add an apostrophe to pluralize anything that does not end in a letter. Examples include numbers (such as “the 1970s”) and symbols (“#s”).


Most of the apostrophe rules are fairly strict, but there are exceptions that are open for debate. Some possessive words have unusual cases that look awkward when conveyed normally, and certain non-standard omissions just look better with an apostrophe. Even plural forms can use apostrophes. In general, use whatever works best for your situation. As long as you know the rules, you can determine when it's a good idea to break them.

mr_pikachu
1st July 2007, 05:49 AM
Another awesome issue of the E-zine. And this is a big one, too! o_o;

First of all, I liked Gabi's interview with the Aspiring Professional... I mean, The Arbiter. Never realized Grey's had his writing published, but somehow it doesn't surprise me. He's one of a few writers here who I've thought for awhile were good enough to have a shot at being published; the only thing that caught me off-guard was that he's taken that shot and it's worked.

The Name Game was a creative take on an oft-overlooked aspect of writing. Frankly, I visit some of the "baby names" sites myself when I'm in the planning stages of my original fiction, and it's interesting to see what the different ones offer. Never thought to do anything based on kanji, though... probably because I don't usually go for Japanese names. But considering definitions is a good idea that I'll have to keep in mind in the future.

I mentally inserted a few names into certain spots in MoP's latest analysis, to be honest. Even though we (well, I, at least) think about such categories of fanficcers quite often, it was slightly unnerving to see them given in such detail. I've got a few other categories that I'd like to see mentioned, but they'll probably be covered in part two. So I'm content to wait.

As for the yaoi article... now there's something you don't typically see in the E-zine! It wasn't as novel for me as it probably was for other readers, if only because I've poked around bad fanfiction sites enough to develop an intense hatred of them. But I did like how you covered some of the finer points, right down to the way yaoi is typically pronounced. No wonder everyone just calls it BL...

And finally, Gavin did an excellent job getting all these articles together. It's not easy to work with so much material and to make it fit into one cohesive document, so bravo to Gav! :yes:

Dragonfree
1st July 2007, 12:34 PM
Many authors themselves are outspoken about their dislike of fanfiction concerning their work and characters, JK Rowling and Robin Hobb being the two I can think of off the top of my head.
o.O Huh? J.K. Rowling has openly said that she loves Harry Potter fanfiction and is only concerned that there are X-rated fanfics that little children could stumble upon in search for Harry Potter material. Whoever you're thinking of, it's not her.

Heh, the "Fanfiction Writers I Have Known" reminds me of the Flame Warriors (http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/). Although I do think it's slightly lacking, since I can't really identify myself with any of them - mostly the Aspiring Professional, except I don't view fanfiction as a sideline. :P

Phoenixsong
1st July 2007, 01:39 PM
Yes, yes, yet another lovely issue of the E-zine. I enjoyed it.

Hmmrggh, the name game is quite a lovely game to play, especially when you're an etymology freak AND author like meself. Unless it's a minor character, a joke or I came up with the name before the details and it just stuck, there's almost always some sort of meaning behind the names. I admit I don't pick my Japanese names based on the kanji, just whatever little help my dictionary can provide, but still. Not that any of you would know who most of these people are as their fics ain't a-written yet, but it took me a while searching baby name books, baby name sites, old-fashioned thesauri, my mythology library and billions of other places to find awesomeness like Mikhael Ryou (YES HIS SURNAME IS RYOU ON PURPOSE SHUT UP), Danika Phoenix, Kuraku Asobi, Kerrin Namtir, Marnsey, Titania Goodfellow, Ron DiNio, Eltanin de Leusko-Roseo, Helena, Marion, Lord Sefulga, and even the characters in my current fic, Reinhardt Sterling, John Barrett and several others yet to be introduced. In my mind, Phoenixcharacters don't count unless they have awesome meanings behind their names. No sir, no they don't.

Hrm... am I a burnout or an aspiring professional? Both, and then probably a million things besides.

That clears up a lot about yaoi for me, too. Not that I thought it was all disgusting porno eye-burning horror, as any sort of romantic stuff can be written tastefully and enjoyably, I just didn't know much about it. If I weren't an emotionless asexual blob who doesn't care for romantic fiction of any sort, that might have convinced me to read some.

Actually, I think I have a submission idea for August's issue, so be sure to let us know when we can start shipping them in! Looking forward to the next issue!

Master of Paradox
1st July 2007, 01:40 PM
Gavin, I didn't mean for the article to be split into three parts just because I sent it in three PMs. I sent them like that due to the character limit on PMs. But if you found it too long otherwise, then I can understand.

Other than that, good issue.

Gavin Luper
1st July 2007, 10:37 PM
Thanks everyone for reading; and I forgot to say it before, but thanks to all the contributors - Lady Vulpix, mr_pikachu, hinoryu, Master of Paradox and Weasel Overlord - for sending in your articles, because they were all really interesting, and they made for an excellent issue of the e-zine. Cheers.

Master of Paradox: I understood that it was all one article, but we had a lot of articles and it was looking like being a very large edition. I didn't really want to leave anyone's article aside for a whole month after they all rushed to complete them on time, so I decided to break yours up into three parts, as it was the longest. The rest will appear in August's issue.