Now I’m just going to ramble for a bit about writing.
For me, good writing isn’t tossing fancy words everywhere. It’s using the exact word that you want. Sometimes this means a fancy word, and sometimes it doesn’t.
It depends on many things, like context and audience. I tend to write in pretty limited third person; in other words, the ‘camera’ follows one character at a time fairly closely. If I’m writing for a character that has a more simple and humble view of life, like, say, Commander Delia Shepard, she isn’t going to be dropping words everywhere that make SAT graders drool in ecstasy. If I’m in her head, I shouldn’t be getting all highfalootin’ either. That’s going to break the flow. Other characters can get more elaborate. Zuko, for instance, is a prince. He's probably had a good education. He's grown up around courtly scholars, and his life is in the upper echelons of society, so he can get away with fancier words... like, oh, echelon.
It also annoys me when people think more mature content automatically equals longer language. The best way, I think, to get a truly visceral punch, is to keep it SIMPLE. I’m just going to shamelessly point to some of my Star Wars fanfiction here. It's one of my favourite bits of writing I've done, even though it's a few years old. So let's take a look at a quote.
And Anakin was underneath, yes - but an Anakin that had been dead for weeks, flesh ashen and rotting, gaze distant and unfocused and the maggots bursting on his cheek like the white flowerpetals tossed over Senator Amidala before the casket was closed. But his hands would twitch and he would grab for her tenderly, dead and not-dead, unnatural. She had come too late.
Now, nothing in those three sentences is anything that you'd really see on an SAT vocabulary section. Maybe 'ashen,' but that tells you what it is even if you don't know the word: to be ashen is to be like ash. I could have dressed this up a lot more, but this is Ahsoka's head. She's a kid, a padawan, and has been canonically shown to be more inclined to violence and quick action instead of deep thought. It wouldn't have made sense for her to use long fancy words. To put it in ATLA terms, her using flowery language would be like Toph or Sokka using egregiously complicated vocabulary.
More importantly, I think it packs more of a punch to keep it simple. I didn’t say ‘larvae emerged,' I went with the most base language I could. Maggots bursted. Two very familiar words. That led straight on into a simile that helps to tie the entire story together by playing off of the themes of death and mortality that run throughout.
(There's also something deliberate I'm doing with that first sentence and all those fragments. Yes, it seems clumsy, but it's a deliberate choice to mirror Ahsoka's racing thoughts. Right now her head is a very chaotic place. It starts out with choppy introductory fragments and then suddenly you're caught up in that last bit, rolling along with great momentum before the end of that sentence. I think about this probably too much, and it's likely a subject for another article, but I just thought I'd point it out.)
If I had tried to dress it up and make it sound fancy, it would have created more distance with the reader. Maybe they don’t know the word larvae immediately. Maybe it seems cold and clinical to them. Maybe even a little nerdy. They would have had to take that split-second of remembering what a larvae is, or trying to figure out what type of larvae I'm talking about. But maggots? Maggots are disgusting. They even sound disgusting, with that double g, while larvae almost sounds pleasant (bordering on silly, if you pronounce your latin properly, with all the vs said like ws). Emerged can be used in good and bad situations: think about the last time you've heard the word, too. I know I usually hear it on the news: new situations emerging, things like that. It's usually read out by that newsreader who is in a position of authority and a little distant from you. Bursting, though, implies that something is being actively destroyed to make way. There’s a connotation of violence. And instead of the more abstract 'emerging', it's definitely dealing with physical objects instead of situations or ideas.
By keeping it simple, you lose that distance from the reader. You bring them into it. They know exactly what’s happening, and they can’t get away from it. The simile just drives the point home by referencing a scene which everyone who watched Star Wars Episode 3 has seen - Amidala in her casket, surrounded by flowers.
Except now instead of flowers, I’m telling the readers to think of maggots. Flowers are that pretty side of nature: spring, rebirth after death, fleeting beauty. Maggots are that ugly side. It’s hard to think of such a beautiful funeral, sad as though it is, becoming equated with food for worms. And yet that’s exactly what that little bit of fanfic does.
(Now, there's definitely a time and place for putting distance between you and your reader. You've just got to be careful with how you do it. If you're writing a very erudite character and sticking to third-person-limited as I do, the reader will be expecting that higher-level vocabulary. And sometimes, if your protaganist is doing a horrible thing but you still want the audience to consider them the protaganist, it helps to create a little distance. It's also useful for communicating when a character is overwhelmed, for example, by having the vocabulary subtly shift to these longer words; the character's confusion is reflected in that distance from the reader, and whatever confusion the reader is having over those high-octane words. But this is something you've got to be very careful and deliberate about. Driving away your reader on purpose is a very risky game, and I don't often play it.)
I really like juxtaposition and simplicity. There’s a lot of other things I can go back and point out just in that Star Wars fic. You can tell I’m a big fat English major nerd that I occasionally do this with my own work! And don't be afraid to do the same to your work, too! Even if you don't get comments, it helps to sometimes sit down, look at what you've written, and figure out what works - and WHY it works. English classes and literary analysis taught in schools give you this great toolkit to use. You should always feel free to pop open the hood and tinker with your own writing in the same way.
For me, I’ve gotten the biggest compliment ever on that same fanfic I've referenced throughout. Someone said that they were sure the story would stick with them for a long time. That’s what I like. I’m not out to give anyone nightmares, mind you. It’s the difference between the creeping paranoia of loneliness some games create and the WAUGH WHAT JUST JUMPED OUTTA THE CLOSET other games opt for. 'Jump scares' are fun but you forget about them quickly. You can maybe startle somebody, or make them temporarily feel good. Other people can provide you all the temporary highs and lows you want. Fanfiction’s ultimately all ephemeral, anyway.
But getting something to stick with a reader? Now that’s an accomplishment. Many professional authors can’t say that.
Maybe someone out there is trying to sleep and is busy thinking instead if they’re going to have maggots bursting like flowers out of their own cheek someday.
That’s a darn good feeling.
Fanon Review: The First in a Long Line by Fruipit Minnichi - Editor
I originally wrote this in late October...hmmm, I remember trying to see if I could find a Dai Li costume, but it turns out they only sell them for $100 or something ridiculous like - ahem, I mean today I'm reviewing The First in a Long Line by Fruipit on behalf of the Fanon Review Squad! Yes, this story provides us a wonderful interpretation of the origins of the Avatar cycle, down to the very spiritual roots. Let's take a look!
250px A normal day in the North Pole turns into one that will have unprecedented consequences on the future of the world, when a formerly bendless girl becomes the first to be able to learn all elements. But with this responsibility comes a great price, and will she be able to make the right decision for the world when the time comes?
Now here's a pile of wonderful ideas that I definitely would never have come up with myself! I've yet to see another author attempt to break down the cycle of the Avatar and create it from the beginning in such a believable way! Fruipit's fanon is one to look for if you're bored of after-war stories, that's for sure.
Plot - 8.7: I like the way the story is introduced, and so far everything seems to be flowing along very nicely. However, I think the antagonist side is not quite as developed as the protagonist side, for reasons we'll discuss soon. Speaking strictly in regards to the plot, I just think that more attention should go to the bad side to balance things out. Also, important details about the Northern Water Tribe customs are mentioned briefly, while they could be more in-depth to create a fuller story. But overall I don't have much to complain about here. Very nice!
Organization - 8.9: Fruipit doesn't give me much to critique here, either. However, very big things happen in each chapter, and I'm starting to feel like they're rushed somewhat. Because one drastic incident follows the next, the little time the author has to elaborate inbetween causes the flow to be the slightest bit choppy. I think that it would do well for organization if Fruipit could slow down a little and spend lots of quality time filling in those little yet important details. These can include more character interaction, more in-depth description of inner conflict, or even visual details. Just a little something to balance the intensity a bit between every chapter.
Creativity – 8.8: No shortage of praise here! I was extremely fond of Fruipit's analysis about the Avatar, especially when it came to the spiritual part. An area that could use some more of this creativity, though, is again the antagonists. I found nothing new on that end, and perhaps their pattern of behavior could be made a little less predictable. But overall I'm very impressed with the level of detail Fruipit gives to the spirits and their connection to the Avatar cycle.
Writing – 8.5 (x3): Fruipit makes sure to leave in most of the important details of her writing, and I overall found it a great experience to read. However, a recurring setback I noticed was the writing's tendency to rely on dramatic statements. This doesn't have much to do with visual description and it really affects the emotional side of things more. My guess is that the problem arises because authors tend to do a sort of "wrapup" that eliminates lots of quality description and replace it with a generalized powerful statement instead. The statement loses its intended impact, though, since it alone doesn't suffice for the needed elaboration. An example that comes to mind, in this case, is something like... "She had been through hell long enough. It was time to go to heaven." Very strong choice of words, no doubt, but it does two things. One, any short dramatic statement(s) is at risk of sounding somewhat cliche. Two, it doesn't quite capture the emotional state of a character fully when you leave it at that. It's like providing a summary of what they feel, and you always want readers to experience it in full. If someone had truly been through hell, say, then describe how that felt and how hurt and desperate it's left your character; you're basically giving the reader justification why it's been "long enough." I guess you could say that describing things like this is a constant proof of why your character should feel what they feel, in addition to making your readers feel it too. So in this fanon, many elaborate emotions were wrapped up in this manner, which is the main thing I'd like to see fixed. But that aside, Fruipit has taken a step further than many authors I've critiqued in emotional description. My praise doesn't falter here!
Character Development - 7.7 (x2) I saw lots of development in this fanon, but there were some things that I just felt needed more. The most prominent victim of underdevelopment, which I think you may have guessed by now, is the antagonist. To me, it sounds literally as if the enemy does everything he does for the sake of being evil. I'm not sure he shows any signs of growth, actually. It's very important that you portray the antagonist as the "bad" side, but equally as important that you keep them human. As of now this side feels like an incomplete character, only acting to cause our protagonists discomfort. Moving onto the protagonists, on that note, I loved the interaction described between them. Because things were a little rushed, however, the romance felt somewhat underdeveloped and not elaborated fully. I'd like to hear more about what makes the two protagonists feel the way they feel for one another, perhaps with more background story or personal reflection. What's described at the moment is mostly their suffering from being separated. Also, the visual descriptions of each of the characters is a little vague, and more attention to those details always does good for any story. But anyway, the issues I'm pointing out here mainly contribute to a more complete development, so nothing drastic. The emotions presented are very raw and powerful nonetheless, and I do hope that this fanon becomes active again soon.
Action - 8.3: I have to applaud the author for straying from using "he/she (insert element)bended" as a shortcut to describing the visual phenomena of bending, though I caught it once or twice. "He bent the snow outside" also counts as one, I guess I should point out. But that's hardly the focus here. Fruipit's reached a very nice level of action scenes, with lots of quality description and excitement. The deduction unfortunately comes from a shortage of one of two big components in a fight. The author's got the visuals down when it comes to weaponry and movement of the elements; it's the movements of who's using said weapons that's lacking. Reading an action scene in this fanon, we're told very clearly what's happening in terms of who's being hit by what, and which injuries result. Exactly what the fighters are doing to attack, however, is somewhat skipped. Each unique movement of an element, in this case ice/water, requires an equally unique movement of the body. If Fruipit could give the former the same amount of attention as the latter, I think her fights would be pretty much complete. Still enjoying what's there currently, though! Very nice.
Believability – 8.8: For the most part I can really see all this happening in the way Fruipit describes, down to the birth of the Avatar Spirit. The deduction really comes from some other random things, like how the antagonist acts in an unrealistically evil way, or how absolutely no one was aware of Inna's situation before the wedding or heard the commotion from the fight (maybe it's believable but that's just my opinion). But it's mostly because certain things could just use more elaboration, like usual. How the lovers escaped from the North Pole could have more detail, for instance. Anddd that's really all I can say here. Anyone'll buy the story, don't worry.
Overall Score: 8.44
My advice for Fruipit: I know you're capable of capturing those powerful emotions, so don't hesitate to lay them out for all they're worth! Don't limit yourself to a few powerful statements every time, and look deeper into your antagonists. And that's pretty much it! Looking forward to your next update.
Who should read The First in a Long Line? Lots of people hold creativity in high regards, so this story would be a great candidate for something like that. But general fans of Avatar itself should give this story a try, too, given its lovely interpretation of the Avatar cycle.
CHALLENGE: So you think you know our writers, huh? Can you tell us apart in the urban dictionary?
HAVE A FANON ARTICLE IN MIND? REVIEW? INTERVIEW? ADVERTISEMENT? OPINION? REQUEST? SEND IT TO THE EDITOR AND YOU'LL BE IN THE NEXT ISSUE!
As the editor of this wonderful sentinel, I figured I should do something readers would often find on an actual newsletter: reporting. This issue's topic? Something that I feel is a travesty on this Wiki's fanon portal, an enigma that we haven't been able to conquer or understand yet. Group fanons. A story written by multiple authors, even if it's just two. For a wide variety of possible reasons, some perhaps quite predictable, these sorts of fanons have not been the most successful on the Wiki. I'd like to start with one that hits close to home for me: the Our Story. This adventure began when yours truly created a blog post intended to be a writing room in which any Avatar Wiki user could contribute to, a place where the entire fanon community would come together and produce one magnificent story composed of our own individual ideas molded into a single legend. This worked for a brief period. I'd start a story with one comment and then the other authors would reply with their part… For six chapters, this was effective, but each time less and less authors would contribute. Before we knew it, we had a dead story on our hands. Since December 29 of 2011, not a single contribution has been made. Some have suggested continuing the story since, but as contributor Agent Slash put it, "I'm not sure if we could pull it off. It's been so long. Most of the original writers are a lot less active nowadays."
Unfortunately, it seems as though pretty much every other group fanon has shared a similar fate. More recently than Our Story, a community fanon known as AvataRPG was set to be written by a wide array of authors who would each write for their own character in a story following the adventures of Avatar Kyoshi. After the position of "leader" changed hands a few times, the project was abandoned without a single chapter to its name, even with 22 members on the "cast list." The most notable community fanon currently underway is Vortex in which a group of select authors would each contribute a character from their most noteworthy fanon. For instance, BlackMonkey submitted Shirou from The Avatar Rhythm. So far, no chapters have been published, but inside sources say the first may be on its way. Said one anonymous member of the group, "it's always just one person or something who holds everything back." Maybe that explains the hold up for not only Vortex but all group fanons as well.
Perhaps it's understandable why stories with over ten authors are struggling, but the problem is just as alive in fanons with as little as two or three authors. Take Avatar: Legends of Miyuki or The Lifebenders for instance. Between the two of them, seven chapters have been released and neither seem to be picking up any time soon. I too hit a speed bump in a two-author fanon, Fate's Cold Hands, which I co-write with Agent Slash. We just recently finished our fifth chapter after a delay of over a month. These apparent challenges are most likely the result of a simple lack of time. How are two people who may live on opposite sides of the world to come together on the internet and arrange meetings on an IRC channel? Well, Agent Slash and I may have discovered the solution. What we began doing was scheduling just a few meetings in which we would outline the basic plots for five chapters at a time. After that, we simply get to writing in our sandbox, finishing where the other might have left off. This method worked stupendously for our fifth chapter, and I am confident that we can successfully finish the series by using this process. You and your partner may want to consider a similar path.
Hey my fanon-folks! Nice to meet you! Today, Acer is back for good. Please, fasten your seat belts before a T-Rex attacks you or a mystical-poison spreads over your body.
Okay, going to the Fanon Bulletin.
Today, currently, we have an explosion on Fanon Portal. Let Fanonbenders bend it all and fix it; we must organize the competition-chain explosion to be more flexible, fun, but organized! Many thanks to Minnichi, one of our beloved fanon authors and the one who started the chain! Minnichi started her writing competition, and Omashu Rocks followed, with the continuation of their competitions; Master Ratava, MibuWolf, and Humble Imaginations. Just a note to you all, before you start a writing competition, take a look at your community; if they're busy, don't publish it.
And lately, I heard FRS has an open spot to everyone who's interested. If you're interested, I think FRS will give you a chance to be reviewer. And, let Fruipit, Kamigati, and Acer Indonesia wait!
And on this day, I heard that Avatar: Energy Saga has ended, but our discontinued fanon count is exploded. Yeah, I'm cleaning up the first 200 fanons, ruined by discontinuity and their author's inactivity. So fanon authors, don't let your fanon be categorized as a discontinued fanon! Tips for an author who's suffering writer's block, ask FL n FA for help! I noticed a lot of experienced users are FL&FA members now, so snag it fast! Ask them for help.
Per community consensus, fanonbending will written in alphabetical order. It makes a big change from last version, which to be honest, I am supporting because "Hey, there is a new nomination!" Apologize, and now, feel free to support! Chase Ultimate and ARG to be the third Fanonbending Master! Congrats to Fanonbending Masters.
Many thanks to Typhoonmaster and TheLoKnessmonster for applying in F.A.S Contest. Please help me with your thoughts about Elements of Life, the current advertisement. Hopefully, everyone will also help me in this case.
Fanonbenders are always opens to you whenever you want to join. But I apologize if you're not accepted yet. It's not because we hate you, but you need experience. Congrats to Omashu Rocks for being the latest Fanonbender. I hope you will use your rights and obligation as Fanonbender. To Snip101, don't give up! You can apply again whenever you feel ready.
This is it, now, Acer going off for good.
Fanon Urban Dictionary Varied
noun; Someone who swoops in to save the day, right when an author in need has run out of hope. The cries for help have been answered unsucessfully in the past, which only makes the ninja ultra cool when they show up unexpectedly in the middle of a thread with the solution. "My fanon page is in such a mess! There're so many red codes everywhere that it looks like a murder scene! Help!" "Oh no, what did you do to the formatting?! Lemme try...uh...hmm...just a little more...anddd nope. I got nothin. Um, make a new one perhaps?" *Dramatic puff of smoke reveals another user* "Here, allow me to try." *Disappears again* "(Gasp) I've been ninja'd! But that was SO cool!" "Yeah, and look at the fanon page now - it's beautiful!"
noun; That which is separated from a Ninja by a very fine line. These individuals appear super cool at first, until you realize that they butt into your threads in only the most random and strangely insulting ways. Their snarkiness is also highly contagious...and the original problem remains in the end. "The grammar in that last fanon was atrocious I should find an editor who can fix it if I don't have time. I can't believe how many periods they left out!" *Random puff of smoke reveals another user* "Allow me to help. But first, HAHA you missed a period in your comment right after you complained about grammar!" "(Ominous music) ...Oh yeah? How about all the periods your fanon is missing? Want me to call those out too? o_o" "Heheh..." *Disappears* "Darn right, ninjerk! Mwahaha! ...Aw dangit, I still need to find an editor for that fanon don't I?" Also see Godsrule.
noun; A mythical, creepy tall guy with no face in a black suit. He's viral on the internet as your worst nightmare, and he's known to stalk people from the shadows purposely to drive them insane. However, all Avatar wikians know that he's just mad because he was trolled by Koh. "Man, this is a creepy forest. Wish it wasn't nighttime." "Agreed! Especially with that owl hooting behind us. And all the shadows in the trees. And that random guy with no face over there. And - wait, WHAT?! (No-faced guy waves) IT'S SLENDER MAN! I'M GOING TO DIE!" "Sheesh, calm down. Slendy just likes hanging around us because Avatar Wikians know a lot about Koh the Face Stealer. He thinks we can help. Right, Slendy?" (Slender Man nods) "B-b-but...he..." "He thinks you're cool, don't worry. Didn't you notice him subscribe to your anti-Koh fanon the other day?" "Eh...who wha~?" "Gosh, at least act like he still has a face! You're just rubbing it in." "O-okay... Um, h-h-hey S-Slendy! Lookin' good! Well, I hate Koh too! S-so heheh, don't kill me... F-f-friends?" (Slender Man gives a thumbs up) "Okay...cool...yeah, I-I think I'm going to pass out." (Thud) "Ah sorry Slendy, she's just new here." (Slender Man shrugs)
noun; (Also see Suzon) A tragic condition in which an author comes up with dozens of epic ideas for a fan-fiction...only to produce one chapter before moving onto a new story and ditching the last. Many readers' hearts are ripped out each time. "This fanon had such a great idea..." "I know, right?! I can't wait for the next chapter. Seriously. He better give me my chapter. Now. Because I'm going to jump off a cliff if he doesn't give me my -" "Oh, sorry to disappoint you. I was actually going to say that the author just discontinued the story." "(Jaw drops) He must have Unichap Disorder..." "Uh, you okay there?" "(Sniff) H-huh? Yeahyeahyeah, I am. (Sniffle)"
adjective; Something that describes most fanon authors on the Wiki, especially when they flagrantly self-advertise their work in as many places as possible. "Call me shameless, but I have no regrets in spamming 50 users about my fanon and repeatedly posting a link to it in the IRC."
When is my review coming out?
phrase; A question that no member of the Fanon Review Squad ever likes to hear, especially when he/she is behind schedule and has tons of stuff to do. The phrase is usually brought about by an eager fanon writer who tries to phrase it as politely as possible, despite the fact that it will still tick off the reviewer no matter what. The reviewer may react with poise, at it is indeed his/her fault, or they may throw a tantrum. "Hey, I don't wanna rush you. I know you're super busy and all. And I'm sure something might have come up. And I know it says review dates are subject to change but… When is my review coming out?" "Oh, your review? Well I dunno… MAYBE IT'S JUST HARD TO READ A 27 CHAPTER FANON IN THREE DAYS AND WRITE AN ACCURATE REVIEW WHEN YOUR POWER'S BEEN OUT FOR A WEEK, YOU HAVE EXAMS COMING UP, AND YOUR DOG DIED! Does that answer your question?" "I-" "You what? Stutter! MAYBE THAT'S WHEN YOUR REVIEW'S COMING OUT! BLARGH!" (smashes glass object on ground)
noun; That horrifying moment in which a usually cheery author suddenly loses all traces of smileys and rainbows because you've pushed them too far. The disappearance of those adorable, keyboard-produced faces is an urgent indicator that you should run for your life immediately. (Note: take extra caution when this occurs around Ratavalous and Minnichitis-inflicted indivuals) "Haha oh, you! :P Stop it ~xD" "Aw, but you know it's all in good fun! Oh oh, here's another one: what's up with your mainpage? You trying to decorate it so much to hide something about your writing skill?" "Heheh...oh yes, all in good fun... :P ..." "I know, I'm so hilarious. And then there's the Dai Li. Like, who would be obsessed with the Dai Li? You act like they're the best thing in the world, but it's obvious no one cares -" "AHA. HA. HA. Quite the hilarious one, aren't you? (ominous music)" "...Is everything okay?" "Why yes, everything's just fine and dandy. I love hilarious things! Like how I love watching your subscribers list grow on your fanon - oh wait, you have no subscribers! HILARIOUS!" "............................................" (Too stunned to continue conversing)
Hi, fanon-folks. This time, I will present you another writing-from-me, which called The Acenglished Interview! In the inaugural interview, I will present you a to-be legendary writer, Annawantimes! Don't forget to bring pop-corn and anti T-Rex, before the Tyranthesaurus attacks you!
Going to the interview...
1. Hey, Annawan! How are you doing?
Good, thanks. :)
2. Good to hear. For anyone who doesn't know, do you have fanon? Can you tell us what it is?
I have a fanon called Child of the War. It is centered around a teenaged, Earth Kingdom boy named Jenju who loses his home and mother to the Fire Nation. His father disappeared after his home was attacked, and Jenju must search for him after he learns that his father has fled to Ba Sing Se.
3. Wow, sounds interesting. What things make you interested in writing a fanon?
When I first joined, I was reading several stories in real life that prompted me to write a fanon story. I've always liked to write, so I jumped at the opportunity to write my own story that people would read.
4. Do you have any people that inspired you in writing?
I have read a variety of genres of books and I really don't have a single favorite one, so I really don't have a favorite author in particular who inspires me.
5. How is Child of the War going? Do you still work on CotW?
I really have not done much work on the story lately, but I recently have began planning out the details of my next chapter. I'm not sure when, but I expect to resume work on the story soon.
6. Nice! I miss CotW a lot! And next, can you give us a little spoiler about next chapter? *evilly smiles*
Sure, no problem. The next chapter will be one of Jenju's final steps to getting to Ba Sing Se; he will have to find a way to get across the East and West Lakes safely. He will try to access the ferries that run across the lake, however, due to the Fire Nation's occupation of Ba Sing Se, they will be unavailable.
7. Ba Sing Se? Whoa... Will Jenju ever meet with his father at last?
That can only be answered when more chapters are released. :p He will encounter /a lot/ of problems in the city.
8. Hehehe... And last, do you have any message and advice for new writers?
Make sure you plan the main storyline before you start writing. It's best to have a clear view of the end in mind when you plan out the rest of the story.
9. Thanks for letting me interview you. What a nice conversation to remember. :)