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Catching Up (one-shot for FFQ Edition 6 challenge; G)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by AmericanPi, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    "Catching Up"
    A one-shot for the Fan Fiction Quarterly Edition 6 (August 23, 2016) Challenge
    by American--Pi​

    This one-shot is my response to the Quarterly Challenge from Edition 6 of the Fan Fiction Quarterly. The challenge was to write a fic that's only dialogue, with bonus points going to those who include no dialogue tags such as "he said", and/or include accents. I'm really happy that this one-shot is done because now I've completed every single Quarterly Challenge. Without further ado, please enjoy.

    "Dawn, hi!"

    "Hey Zoey - ack! Haha, hey, put me down!"

    "Heh, sorry. I just got a little excited there."

    "No need to worry, I'm really excited, too! I'm super glad to see you again!"

    "Same here! Ooh, I like that coat you're wearing."

    "Thanks! I really like your new hairstyle. It suits you well."

    "Really? I'm still trying to get used to it here, but if you say it looks nice I'm sure it looks nice. You're so much more well-versed than me in style, haha."

    "Trust me, your bob looks great on you."

    "Thanks. Wait, why are we talking about fashion? Haha, I wanted to ask you how was Hoenn."

    "Oh my gosh, it was awesome! So many things happened, and I can't wait to tell you everything!"

    "Awesome! C'mon, Dawn, let's keep walking. Are you excited to be in Sinnoh again?"

    "Yeah! I'm really happy to see you, and I'm looking forward to seeing my mom, too. How many badges do you have?"

    "Seven. I just need to beat one more gym leader, and then I can challenge the league."

    "That's awesome! Uh, the sign says that the taxis are that way."

    "Neat. You got all your stuff?"

    "Wait, let me check… yeah. Thanks for reminding me, though. I wouldn't want to leave anything on the plane!"

    "Heh, yeah. That wouldn't be ideal."

    "So how are your Pokemon doing?"

    "Great. I currently have nine Pokemon who I rotate in and out of the team, depending on who I'm battling, y'know?"

    "Oh, so Glameow, Gallade, Gastrodon, Lumineon, Leafeon, Mismagius… who else?"

    "I caught a Staraptor and an Electabuzz. And guess what my ninth Pokemon is?"

    "Ooh, what?"

    "I won an egg from a festival held by Professor Rowan, and it hatched into a Piplup!"

    "Oh, wow! Congrats!"

    "My Piplup reminds me of yours, really. The only difference is that he seems to want to evolve."

    "Ha, well, you know my Piplup. Always proud of who he is."

    "Glad to see that your Piplup hasn't changed."

    "Yeah. He's great. He really helped me in the Hoenn Grand Festival, which was definitely one of the best moments of my life."

    "Oh yeah, I saw it on TV! I know I sent in my congratulations already, but I'd like to congratulate you in person. You did so well! I'm really proud of you."

    "Thanks, Zoey. I'd like to congratulate you too, getting seven badges is no small feat."

    "Heh, yeah. I did struggle a bit against Byron - it was hard to get past his Steel-types. But the last gym leader shouldn't be too hard to fight considering how diverse my team is now."

    "I'm sure you'll do great. Who do you plan on fighting?"

    "There's a gym in Jubilife that just recently became official. The Leader is called Kahili, and she uses Flying-types. I think I'm going to battle her for my last badge 'cause it'd be nice to meet her."

    "Yeah, I agree! I've heard a bit about her in the news. She comes from a place called Alola, but she's done a lot of traveling. Good luck on your battle!"

    "Thanks. So how's your team doing? Any changes since I last talked to you?"

    "My Pokemon have been doing awesome. Just like you, I rotate my squad. You know about Linoone, but other than that, Quilava evolved into Typhlosion just a few weeks ago, and right before the Hoenn Grand Festival I also caught a really cute Swablu who's fitting great into the team. She gets along really well with Togekiss, and I'm working on a combo move with the two of them."

    "Ooh, I want to see it! Later, of course. Does it involve a lot of flying?"

    "Yep! It puts Togekiss and Swablu's flying abilities to good use. I can show you, if you like, once we reach my house."

    "Yeah, I'd love to see it! I'm sure your combo will work out great."

    "It's been coming along nicely, it's just that Togekiss needs to slow down his flying a bit to synchronize better with Swablu. You'll see when you watch them."

    "So what are you planning to do now that your Hoenn journey is complete?"

    "I'm actually not sure! I was thinking about taking a break, though. I already booked a ticket to Unova, but as a tourist, you know? They don't have Contests there, but I heard they have something called Musicals, and I want to check those out."

    "Unova, huh? Musicals seem fun. I wish I could go with you, but I want to focus on completing the Pokemon League challenge. It's just that I have seven badges already and I don't want to stop now."

    "That's okay! I'll try to come back to Sinnoh before the Sinnoh Pokemon League starts up. But if I can't, I'll definitely be watching the League on TV when I'm in Unova and cheering for you. And I'll video-call you too."

    "Thanks, Dawn. You're a really good friend."

    "You're a great friend too, Zoey. Video calling with you is nice, but seeing you in person is even better."

    "Yeah, it's been a long time! Remember back when we were rivals in the Sinnoh contest circuit? Those were some nice memories."

    "Definitely. We both learned a lot as friends and rivals, and I'm really happy about the way we've kept in touch even after went to different regions."

    "Yeah… oh wait, I almost forgot that I wanted to ask you something! After the Sinnoh League, I wanted to go to Kanto. I was wondering… d'you maybe want to come with me? There's a contest circuit there that you might be interested in."

    "That sounds like a lot of fun! I'll have to talk to my mom first, but I think she'll be open to the idea of me traveling through Kanto with you while taking on the Kanto contest circuit. Are you going to be challenging the gyms or the contests?"

    "I was thinking the contests, because now that I've tried both contests and gyms I've realized that I prefer contests. So we'd both be taking on the contests, but I think that'll work just fine because if we travel together we can exchange tips and encourage each other. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

    "Yeah, I think so too! Wow, there are so many fun things coming up in my life. First Unova, and then traveling with you to Kanto! I can't wait."

    "I can't wait either. Alright, there's a taxi right there. Let's get to your house so you can show me that combination."

  2. Bay


    This is very cute. Interesting you have Zoey try out gyms also and the both of them having some new Pokemon (of course you'll reference birds lol). I take it Dawn's Unova trip is also when she meets with Cynthia like in the anime (watched some of those episodes somewhat recent, they're decent lol). I like this!
  3. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Thank you! And yes, Dawn's Unova trip is exactly her appearance in the BW anime. :)
  4. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    I like this! I would like... never be able to write something using only dialogue, so props to you for completing the challenge!

    Overall you seem pretty comfortable with using only dialogue, but there were a few times when things sounded a little unnatural. Some stuff that caught my eye were specific phrasings ("I like that coat you're wearing" as opposed to "I like your coat"), a forced conversation shift (the segue from fashion to Zoey asking Dawn about Hoenn seemed abrupt to me mostly because you had her wonder aloud why they were talking about fashion instead of just having the conversation flow to the next topic), and things that don't necessarily need to be said ("Let's keep walking" stood out to me. It seemed oddly specific when I would think the natural thing would be to just keep walking I guess). I appreciate that these things give the impression of description and movement when you can't actually show those things, and believe me when I say I would doing the same thing if I attempted this, but they sometimes come off as a little stilted. However, you'll notice all my example are from like the first part of the story, and I'm happy to say it got much smoother once the introduction portion was over.

    I also really liked some of the little world-building details here. The alternate gym order and the introduction of Kahili were both interesting and neat, and the fact that you're setting up Dawn's future cameo (I don't watch the show so I'm just assuming this based on Bay's review) was a simple touch that made this feel a little more canon. They helped make this a cute little story!
  5. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Ah, Zoey and Dawn. Probably one of my favorite pairings in this franchise. And I have to say that the idea of these two catching up after all their adventures is really adorable! :D I love how the two of them are very clearly excited to see each other, sometimes even rushing to get their stories out and to tell each other everything that had happened since they last saw each other. And I do agree with Imaginative that it's a feat in itself to do all of this when you're confined to only dialogue. Like, we can't see Zoey and Dawn's body language; we can only hear their excitement as they ramble off onto deliberately placed tangents about fashion or their new Piplup and so on and so forth. So I definitely give you props for that!

    At the same time, I also have to agree with Imaginative that some parts felt ... odd. And I think I can see why. See, you've set up quite a challenge. Like I said just a moment ago, it's definitely not easy to convey an entire conversation (let alone scene) through dialogue alone. The reason why is because dialogue is normally only one part of a scene; you're missing the narration—and thus, the body language, action, and other bits that are normally considered to be the meat of a story. When you remove an entire element from prose, the general tendency is to use the remaining half to tell the story because that's the only mode you have. But the problem with this is that by doing this, you basically forget that you're not telling a whole story via dialogue but rather half a story while implying the other half through the conspicuously absent details.

    In this case, because you can't show where Dawn and Zoey are doing, nor can you share information through out-of-dialogue exposition, you end up having them say things that people wouldn't normally say. For example, folks probably wouldn't say "this sign says the taxis are this way" or "there's a taxi right there" if they're looking right at them. (They might say, "Oh! There's the sign for the taxis" or "Oh! Okay, taxis are this way," or if they're exasperated, they might say "there's a sign right over here that says taxis are this way.") Likewise, since Zoey seems to know about the opening of Kahili's gym, it seems odd that Dawn would suddenly break out the fact that she came to Alola (unless you take into consideration the fact that she's covering something the narration would probably have covered). The point is, a number of lines here seem awkward, but it's actually kinda easy to see why—because you're trying to fill the void that the lack of anything but dialogue has created.

    Long story short, it feels like the main snag with this fic is caused by one major thing that's simple to fix but will take some practice. All you really need to do is remember that the dialogue is half a story and that the rest of the story is told through implication. In other words, writing a story with only dialogue is a lot like writing a normal story (with all the elements in) but then isolating just the talking. The readers should (and usually will) be able to fill in the blanks themselves, but they should definitely have the sense that there's an entire other part of the story they're not getting. This lends to the mystery and allows the main point or ending to get some extra oomph, if you know what I mean. The practice comes into play because doing things like this is actually incredibly difficult at first, but it gets easier the more you experiment and learn how to build plot and present only what you absolutely need.

    Or in even shorter terms, it's a cute fic with a cute premise, definitely, but there're definitely points that pulled me out of it (all of which can be resolved with a bit more practice).
  6. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Thank you! This was quite a challenge, but I made a resolution to complete EVERY FFQ Quarterly Challenge, so I did my best. :D

    Thanks for pointing that out. Dialogue is actually the single part of writing a story that I struggle with THE most, so I'm glad that overall I did well. I agree, though, that some of the dialogue was a little awkward, like Dawn and Zoey said things they wouldn't say naturally. Of course, this is because I was trying to convey the background action through the dialogue, but you're right, the story overall would've flowed a lot better without the characters telling each other what's going on in the background when they already know. :p

    I'll admit that Kahili is only there because she's one of my favorite characters, so I'm glad that her mention wasn't out-of-place. And world-building was definitely something I kept in mind while writing this. I wanted this fic to stay as close to canon as possible while also having some interesting interpretations.

    Thanks so much for your review! :D

    Thanks! AppealShipping is one of my all-time favorite pairings, so it was pretty easy to just have them excitedly talk with each other. :)

    Thanks for the constructive criticism. I was DEFINITELY trying to convey through dialogue what Dawn and Zoey were doing as they talked, which, as you pointed out, led to some awkward dialogue. As I mentioned before, I struggle a LOT with dialogue - I have a serious tendency to have characters tell each other what they already know - so in a challenge like this, without the background actions, it was even MORE tempting for me to have the characters tell each other what they already know. I can definitely see what you're saying about making the dialogue feel more natural and have the readers fill in the blanks about what's going on in the background. :)

    I'm not quite sure what you're saying about Kahili though - Zoey mentioned that Kahili opened a gym in Sinnoh, and Dawn mentioned what she knows about Kahili, which is that Kahili is from Alola. I'm just not sure why that bit of dialogue was awkward, because to me Dawn was kind of just saying "Oh yeah, Kahili, I heard about her."

    Overall, thanks a million for your review. :)
  7. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant


    With regards to this, I actually kinda felt like it wasn't actually there to continue the conversation but rather just there to add a worldbuilding note. D: As in, it kinda felt out-of-place because the surrounding material implies that Dawn doesn't know who Kahili is, so it seems super-odd that she would bring up the fact that she's from Alola. That and it almost feels like it's only in the dialogue to share the fact that Kahili is from Alola and that she's the gym leader of Jubilife in this continuum because the way it was worded feels more like the characters are telling us who Kahili is, rather than each other (largely in part because Dawn's in on this). It'd make sense, of course, for Zoey to say, "by the way, I'm challenging that new Jubilife gym leader, Kahili," because that's more relevant to what's going on with Zoey, but to break out who Kahili is in canon and to have Dawn do it seems a little awkward because it'd be like either of them stopping all the action to bring up who Byron is, you know?

    No prob! Hope the clarification helps as well! o>
  8. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Ahh, I see. Thanks for the clarification! You're right, I DID include Kahili to world-build a bit (and, let's face it, I love her), and I can see why it'd be awkward for Dawn to just bring up that Kahili is from Alola. I can easily just have Zoey to name-drop Kahili and then move on. :)
  9. PhalanxSigil

    PhalanxSigil BONK!

    AAAAAAHHHHHH, this is the Quarterly I wanted to do so badly but didn't have time for! Oh well, let's take a look at one of the winners of the challenge, shall we?

    And yep, this is flat-out adorbs. There aren't enough fics like this on the site, so it's really cool to see something like this piercing the grimdark veil that often coalesces around fanfiction. And to do it with all dialogue and make it as earnest and sweet as it is just adds that nice little cherry on top. I'll admit, there's a bit of forced dialogue here and there, but the two characters haven't seen each other in person for a while, it seems, so there was always gonna be something like that present. To be honest, I was happy to see some "Um's" and "Ah's" and "oh yeahs" peppered throughout, as it makes the conversation seem more authentic. The two characters don't have the perfect response right away, so they need to think about it and add something to the conversation so it doesn't fall into awkward silence. I LOVE that little detail.

    Also, it was definitely a nice touch to comment on not only the presence of more than 8 gyms in a region in the Anime-verse, but also to introduce Kahili as a gym leader because she travels. Nice little touch there, if I do say so myself.

    Overall, this fic was adorable, it was really well put together, and if I'd seen more of the anime, I probably would have been able to completely picture the conversation happen in my head as I was reading. That's how good it was. Perhaps you could consider making more fics like this? You're pretty damn good at it.

    -Phalanx, out.
  10. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Y'know, Quarterly Challenges can be responded to whenever by whoever, so you're totally free to write something for Edition 6. ;)

    Thanks! To be honest I don't have too much experience with there being a lot of grimdark in Pokemon fanfiction, but I'm glad that this fic serves its purpose as something fun and light. I mean, darkfics are nice and have their place, but it's fun to have something light now and then. :)

    Thanks! Like I said before, awkward dialogue is something that's oftentimes present in my writing, but I'm glad that for the most part this fic didn't have that much awkward dialogue. And the little "um"s were added to make the fic more realistic, yeah. Because in real life people say stuff like that all the time. ;)

    Haha, thanks. I wasn't sure whether adding Kahili was a good idea or not, but I couldn't resist because I love Kahili. :D I'm glad you thought it fit fine, because canonically there are more than eight official gyms in a region in the animeverse, and Kahili travels a lot.

    Haha, maybe I should! After this and "Unrequited Love", I've discovered that slice-of-life fics, or at least fics where the characters have a nice conversation with each other, are super fun. I'll probably write something like that soon. :)

    Thanks a million for your review!
  11. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    This is a cute little one-shot and a neat example of dialogue-only writing. One of my favorite books as a kid was a novel written entirely in dialogue, which probably shaped my fondness for the style. You've chosen a good scenario to use it for, and overall I think you do a good job of getting across what's happening without using any narration.

    An exercise like this is a great opportunity to work on character voice, I think, and that's one area where I think this one-shot has some room to improve. Especially when there are no dialogue tags, you really want to be able to tell which character is speaking just from the contents of their dialogue, and I don't think I'd be able to tell, one line from the next, who's who in this story. Both Dawn and Zoey seem energetic and bubbly, but energetic and bubbly in exactly the same way as each other. Even two people with the same general personality will speak a bit differently, have their own mannerisms and constructions they prefer to use more than another person.

    You kind of picked some tricky characters to work with in that regard, since as far as I'm aware they're anime-only, and I don't know how easy it is to find scripts for anime episodes. It might be helpful to try practicing with video game canon characters, where you can easily look up their game dialogue to analyze. Practicing on a character like Looker, who has a very distinctive way of speaking, would probably be easiest. Looking at his dialogue, you can look for what kinds of words and phrases he uses a lot, whether he uses wordy or short sentences, even how his dialogue is punctuated, which affects its rhythm. If you can replicate a very noticeable dialogue style like his and understand how it works, then you can better understand more subtle variations in speech and how to get them across in your writing. Even just assigning some basic traits to either Zoey or Dawn, according to how you see their characters, and doing your best to stick with them throughout the story might help. For example, maybe Zoey goes heavy on the "um"s and "yeah"s, or Dawn has a tendency to speak in short, energetic sentences.

    In any case, the actual content of the dialogue here is perfectly fine; it's the kinds of things you'd expect two coordinators who are catching up after a while apart to be talking about. I liked the part where they're discussing Togekiss and Swablu's contest combination; it's a neat idea, and one that I think you get across very naturally. Overall the writing does a good job of showing the characters' interests and priorities, and it's all in all a cute, upbeat little story. Hopefully it was fun to write!
  12. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Thank you for your review! Like I said before I struggle with dialogue a lot, so I'm glad that you thought that overall the story worked.

    I agree with what you're saying here. Zoey's a bit more chilled out than Dawn, so I think I could have conveyed that better in her dialogue. I'll admit that as I was writing it was hard for me to keep track of who was saying what, so I agree with you in that Dawn and Zoey could use some more developed character voice.

    Hmm, you have a good point there in practicing with characters who have distinct ways of speaking. However, when I saw that the challenge was to write a story using only dialogue my first thought was a conversation between friends, and my favorite friendship in Pokemon ever is AppealShipping so I kind of just rolled with that. It's been a while since I watched the DP anime, and I think if I had brushed up on some DP episodes I would have been able to convey Dawn and Zoey's character voices better.

    Thank you! This story was a fun little exercise that was definitely a joy to write. Thank you once again for your review!
  13. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    I'm actually not sure how much critique I can offer about this story that hasn't been said before, but I feel it'd be remiss of me not to leave some form of response when I enjoyed it this much. As has been pointed out, Dawn and Zoey have almost interchangeable voices, and there's a lot of forced exposition where those voices dissolve entirely – “We both learned a lot as friends and rivals, and I'm really happy about the way we've kept in touch even after went to different regions” probably takes the award for the least natural statement in the fic – but it's still adorable, you know? And it's to your credit that it remains so appealing, even with its weaknesses. You're drawing a particular kind of relationship, suffused with a particular kind of excitement at being able to tell and hear what each other is doing, and you do it very well – and deftly fit in enough detail to sketch the outlines of a world with its own rules and logic, too. It just works, and in those few places where it doesn't, it's not hard to see how with relatively little modification it could. Super cute story, and for what it is, pretty well executed.
  14. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Thank you! I appreciate your review. :D

    Haha, I figured that there'd be at least a few moments of awkward dialogue in this considering how I've struggled with dialogue in the past. As I was writing this I totally didn't realize how awkward it would be for Zoey to tell Dawn what they both already know. :p And even I had to scroll back up to figure out who was saying that bit of awkward dialogue, so yeah, I totally get what you mean by Dawn and Zoey having similar voices.

    Thank you! I'll definitely keep all these reviews in mind, because eventually I want to rewrite this to iron out its awkward moments. Thanks again for your review!

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