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Creative liberties with your Pokemon fanfic

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by matt0044, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    I don't mean changes like Ice-types being weak Dragon-types so much as little things like the attack "Assist" being able to duplicate any moves from friend AND foe. Something like that so long as you keep it consistent in your story. Here are some of mine:

    I use TMs and HMs and they're used like CD ROMs in a device called a Machine Reader than can transfer knowledge of the move and even the power to use it into the brain of the Pokemon you aim it at (if they can).

    Pokemon retain their four-move limit but only because they lose the power to use a "deleted" move. They remember how to do it, they just can't do it anymore.

    Trainers tend to keep only six Pokemon as most can't be bothered to raise more than that at a time. (If it sounds like a way to make the writing less complicated for me, that's because it kinda is.)

    Anyone else?
  2. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    While changing how a move basically works is taking some creative liberties, your other examples sound more like headcanon - stuff that's pretty vague in canon that you've thought up your own interpretation of and use consistently that way in your work. It doesn't change canon, just expand upon it.

    I have lots of headcanon of all sorts, but the main creative liberty I've allowed myself is tacitly ignoring anime episodes and movies that indicate legendaries are only rare rather than one-of-a-kind (while otherwise writing in the anime-verse), since legendaries being one-of-a-kind is quite important to the plot of my fic and I started it before multiple legendaries started to be thrown around as casually as they are today.
  3. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    True but I don't think something like a "Machine Reader" was even alluded to in the games at all.
  4. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    That's pretty much headcanon. *nods* See, what Dragonfree means is you saw a hole in canon—in this case, how TMs work—and then you made up your own interpretation for how it works. Sometimes, the stuff you come up with isn't even eluded to in canon at all; the point is that you patched up a hole by taking a look at the surrounding canon and making up an explanation that fits.

    With that said, I've got enough headcanon to fill up entire books, so I won't get into that. With creative liberties, I share the same list about moves (and probably everyone does), but the most obvious creative liberty I tend to take is fantastically ignoring absolutely everything the anime has ever said about the storage system. (I prefer writing in the anime universe, but ngl, everything that series has ever said about the storage system is really, really stupid. I mean, seriously? Having it straight-up not work if you're from Kanto and traveling through Unova? Perchè, anime? Perchè?)

    That ... that's probably the biggest creative liberty I take besides the moves thing. But that's probably for reasons that would be obvious if you spoke to me for five minutes.
  5. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Adding something, whether it was alluded to or not, isn't taking a creative liberty, or at least not as I've ever understood the term. You're taking creative liberties when you deliberately choose to change reality (which in the case of fanfiction can be stretched to canon) - when things are or were actually definitively one way but you write them another way because that makes for a better story. When the meticulously researched webcomic Lackadaisy chooses to here and there draw a style of radio that wasn't technically popular at the exact time the story is set because those radios look cool, that's creative liberty (as opposed to when an author who doesn't bother to do research includes an anachronistic radio because they didn't know or care whether the radio makes sense there). When ridiculously research-happy Disney comic author Don Rosa discovers that three well-known historical figures were actually in the same place at the same time, and he writes a story where Scrooge McDuck happens to also be there and has some wacky adventure involving all of them, that's not creative liberty - he's obviously spinning something new onto history, but there are no facts he's choosing to blow off in the name of storytelling - as far as the evidence goes, it's perfectly consistent with what he's writing, even though obviously what he wrote is not what actually happened.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  6. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    I see. That makes sense. Really should've worded the title better.
  7. I'm working on a fanfic for the 98-01 time period of the Pokémon franchise. My creative decisions align the games with the Wizards of the Coast tcg:

    Trainers can use one Pokémon. Suits of battle armor, built from the PC in Computer Search allowed Trainers access to multiple Pokémon and battle supplements. At the story's beginning, all suits of battle armor are kept under lock and key by the Blackthorn Dragonmasters. The Dragonmasters have servants throughout Kanto and Johto that recover any scraps of battle armor found in the wilds.

    Humans are tied to Pokémon via a type of immune cell known as eocytes. These cells grant humans the ability to use watered-down versions of various Pokémon attacks. A human with fire eocytes would be able to channel their eocytes into a ball of flame. Pokémon act as familiars in that a human using their eocytes in battle without a Pokémon of their own runs the risk of destroying the lining of his or her blood vessels. The type of Pokémon that one forms a bond with is heavily influenced by the individual's eocytes. This has created a black market lymph node trade. Lymph nodes produce the eocytes, so people can go through a dealer to get a particular kind of lymph node, have it grafted in (possibility of rejection and overstimulation of the host's eocytes makes this quite dangerous) so that they may bond with whatever Pokémon they like.

    There's a business in Vermillion City that produces Monstershot: bullets treated to contain a Pokémon attack. Rather than poach wild Pokémon, the Thunder Marshal (Vermillion's Gym Leader) buys TM's and HM's wholesale and uses them to produce these bullets. The Thunder Marshal is sympathetic to groups that protest the use of Pokémon as weapons of war. That's his M.O. for producing Monstershot. The Dragonmasters are keeping an eye on the Thunder Marshal's business.

    The Gym Leaders have titles based on their preferred Pokémon: the Ghostlord, the Thunder Marshal etc. All earned through various challenges that test the Leader's ability to use his or her preferred type of Pokémon.

    Missingno is considered a PokeGod, as are the various "glitch Pokémon" from Generation 1. Folklore surrounding the PokeGods presents them as capricious spirits that abducted human children and left one of their own offspring behind. When the parents discover the changeling, it becomes an amorphous pink creature with beady eyes (a Ditto).
  8. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    I take a lot of creative liberties with the setting of Seafoam in Obsession. Since it's animeverse, the city is seen as being a small seaside town that's somehow connected to the mainland (since people drive there and Delia's tour group walks there). I have it so that it's technically an island, but just off the coast and connected by a bridge, and overall, since it has no real-world basis, I draw inspiration from the town of Seaside, Oregon. The latest chapter has them going to a tiny mall that's in that town (though I did play with it a bit by having it mostly closed in the off season, since I don't know if Seaside's mall closes). The merry-go-round is real, and there's a jewelry store just off the main room.

    Corbin's factory is set on what in real life is a peninsula jutting out a few miles away, though in real life it's Ecola State Park. There's a shuttle bus that goes around town, but it doesn't really go up there (which is a shame because parking is a nightmare). And the area between Seafoam and Viridian is based on the area between Seaside and Portland, albeit closer and flatter (in reality you have to go through the Cascade mountains). There are a lot of big mansions out there, so that's where Asaph lives, but there's also a lot of farmland and small towns (ie, Pallet, though Pallet never comes into play in the fic). There is a bus line that goes from Seaside to Portland, but it's a special ticket.

    Even with canon things, I play with them. Since on the show there's not only the town of Seafoam but also the Battle Frontier facility on an island, I have it so that Seafoam covers a lot of nearby islands, and that Articuno lives on one like in the games. I came up with a backstory for the Ancient Mew, connecting it to the mural shown in the first movie (since it's the same picture) via having the card made as a souvenir for an expedition party that had gone to the temple many years ago, and that Jirarudan is related to one of that party and it was passed down as an heirloom.
  9. PresidentYatchenko

    PresidentYatchenko New Member

    One of my biggest headcanon topics is the way the Pokemon world is actually governed. Basically, I view the Pokemon League as a trainer's organization and political party that's somewhat authoritarian.
  10. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    I make evolution similar to regeneration in Doctor Who. The Pokemon's body is reconstructed, healing wounds received in battle and altering their personality (but not completing erasing who they are and it does affect the Pokemon's development as a character. Like a once timid Pokemon evolving into a more confident Pokemon and how he can get to big for his britches) due to the changing chemicals in the brain affecting it. Unlike the Anime, I make an effort to explain and explore such an idea.
  11. SBaby

    SBaby Dungeon Master

    It depends. There are some moves where you can get away with it more easily than others. For instance, let's take a look at the FanFic writer's secret weapon, Metronome.

    Metronome can be used to do pretty much anything, because of the very nature of the move, coupled with the idea that 'you never know what will happen with this move'. Since this move can potentially do things that wouldn't have been discovered at the time (such as using an attack from another Region, even if the Pokémon has never seen the attack, and it would normally be physically impossible for said Pokémon to use the attack), it becomes an 'anything goes' move. With a little thought and creativity, you can literally make it do whatever you want it to do, and you've got a valid reason for it happening. I'm actually surprised that more people don't use this move as a plot device, because it's one of the best tricks a writer has.

    There was a point where I had a Pokémon use Metronome in a battle, and a misfire of the move caused the characters to be sent to an alternate dimension where they crossed over with another franchise. I'm not saying you have to do something extreme like that, but you could have it teleport everyone to another Region, or do one of a billion other things (reviving the dead, for instance). That's the nice thing about Metronome. You can do whatever you want to do with it, and it's hard to argue it. Some people might try to argue that the description only mentions attacks. But that's a weak argument, because the description is different for each Gen, and even Pokémon researchers will admit to not knowing everything about Metronome (after all, it's impossible to know everything about a move that you can't predict).

    The only thing I would say is this can be done once, maybe twice. But I wouldn't use it too often. If you start relying on it, then your Fic will become repetitive and predictable. But I'd say it's probably one time where you can get away with anything you want to do.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  12. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Probably because it's a cop-out. *nods solemnly*

    When you use a move that can literally do whatever you want, there's not really that much effort involved, for lack of a better way to put it. It is, essentially, the Pokémon franchise's resident deus ex machina, especially if it's used specifically to avoid plot holes. After all, wouldn't it be convenient if you had a move that fulfilled all your plot needs and worked exactly as you needed it to every time? You could have it be the move that helps the characters defeat the Big Bad in one blow, teleport to exactly where they need to be, revive a dead character ... you name it, Metronome can give you a shortcut for doing it.

    It's much more of a challenge to use a set of moves that actually do have a specific definition because then you're required to come up with a creative means to meet your end goals. You don't have the benefit of pulling whatever you want out of your (at the risk of being overly blunt) tail, so instead, you have to MacGyver a solution out of Tackle and Tail Whip. It says a lot more about you if you do that than if you use a move that can be whatever you want it to be even once.

    Of course, yes, it would be interesting to have Metronome backfire spectacularly, but that's really the thing. Metronome is a more interesting move to read when it fails in ways that don't add to your story or force your characters to make up for what damages it does, rather than provide your characters with what they need to advance in the story (regardless of whether or not they want to advance in that particular direction).

    This is also not a creative liberty because this is the kind of thing Metronome actually would do. It's not really suspending canon for the sake of your story.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  13. Starlight Aurate

    Starlight Aurate Just a fallen star

    That's sortof how I see it as well; I envision it as the Gym leaders and Pokemon League being in charge of everything that goes on. I vaguely remember reading something about it working like that in the Ruby/Sapphire series of Pokemon Special, but I don't think that they were quite authoritarian.

    I wrote that Faint attack could be used to actually remove the barriers from the Pokémon (Reflect/Protect) and then apply them to something else. In the games (at least in the third generation), Faint Attack could hit through those moves, so I took the liberty of allowing it to physically remove the barriers and apply them to something else (in my case, a wall of water to hold it back). Since nothing like this happened in canon (as far as I'm aware), I'm pretty certain that I'm just taking advantage of my freedom over this. I realized that it's probably a nonsensical thing to put in, but it didn't bother me so much at first because when I began writing, I wasn't planning on ever showing my fic to anyone. It's also not all that important plot-wise, so I just put it in.
  14. Missingno. Master

    Missingno. Master Poison-type Trainer

    My fanfic, 404 Error, is basically a huge pile of my headcanon regarding glitch Pokémon. I've also taken creative liberties with certain attacks, portraying them differently than they've been shown in the anime. For instance, Grass Knot is generally portrayed as the user psychically tying two blades of grass together and using them to trip the opponent. I never liked that, so in my Adventure of Adventureness series, I consistently portrayed Grass Knot as the user sprouting glowing green vines, and wrapping them around the opponent's feet to cause it to trip. Also, and this never actually happened in the series, but if the target was in the air, then the vines would wrap around the opponent and slam it into the ground.
  15. SBaby

    SBaby Dungeon Master

    You're kind of missing the point. Metronome isn't there to be the solution to life's problems or a 'Get out of Jail Free' card. It's simply there to be move that a writer can use as an adventure hook. Nothing more.

    Here's the thing. There's no guarantee that the characters really want to be wherever Metronome sends them, or do whatever Metronome does, or that they've ever heard of the planet they get sent to (going back to my alternate dimension story). The point of Metronome is to make the characters do something they would never do, or go somewhere they would never be able to go. It's similar to stealing from the party, but on a larger scale.

    Take Ash for instance. Say he has a Clefairy that knows Metronome. His goal is to win the League in that Region. So say the Clefairy uses Metronome in a battle (either because he told it to, or because it decided to do so on its own). He's transported to a new Region or world along with his Pokémon. Well, obviously, this new Region or world has nothing to do with his current goals. But he may have adventures and even stop an earth-shattering plot while he's there anyway. If you think of it in those terms, Metronome really stops being as important to the plot, and instead it becomes more about what the characters do after the incident.

    As for Metronome not being a creative liberty, well that's the point. You don't need creative liberties, because by giving writers access to a move that can do anything, the creators of Pokémon have invariably given us the ultimate creative tool.

    But it isn't about the tool or the means. It's about what happens afterward, what the characters do about it. It's about the protagonists facing the consequences of the action and growing as characters. That's what's important. Metronome's just a way to get there. What you do from there is up to you.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  16. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    So ... what you're talking about is somewhat irrelevant to the thread, isn't it? I mean, sure, you could do all of this with Metronome, but the thing is, this thread is about creative liberties—the situations in which writers need to suspend or play with canon in order to fit their needs. If you're not talking about Metronome in the context of "a writer can use it to do whatever they want," then ... this probably isn't the best place to talk about it.

    To put it another way, right now, you're referring to Metronome as plot development, not as a creative liberty. I was referring to the fact that if you did use Metronome to avoid needing to take creative liberties, then it's a deus ex machina. From an author's standpoint, it sort of is anyway. After all, sure, the characters don't know what will happen, but you know. And as such, you can easily use Metronome as a way of circumventing situations that would otherwise have needed explanation. Using it in this way tends to come off as a cop-out because Metronome is a very easy explanation for everything, whereas moves with definite functions are not. That's why I said it's a shortcut: because if you just had other moves to work with, getting to the same end result takes a little more creative thinking than just whipping out a single move and have it produce the result you want to move the story forward or fill in the details.

    In other words, the way you're describing Metronome is a concept more suited to a discussion for plot development, but for a discussion concerning creative liberties, it's not quite relevant unless you're talking about how it can be used as a deus ex machina from a writer's standpoint. And from a writer's standpoint, yes, it is a cop-out, not because it's not a creative liberty in canon but instead because it's a shortcut in storytelling. That was basically my point from the get-go: that using a move that's that unpredictable in canon to do whatever you want isn't as much of a challenge, which is why people go with other moves instead. Moreover, Metronome can't really cover everything. It can't, for example, explain away a lot of the examples people have mentioned that are creative liberties. It can really only deal with very specific circumstances in your plot unless you really do treat it as a deus ex machina-style event. Creative liberties—the ones we're focusing more on throughout this thread—deal more with the universe as a whole, rather than very specific moments.

    Or in shorter terms, the thread's about a meta concept, not an in-universe concept. Sure, Metronome's interesting from the characters' point of view, but that really doesn't have much to do with the subject at hand. Discussing it as an actual circumvention to creative liberties, however, would run headlong into what I was saying about how using one move to explain away pretty much everything risks taking away the challenge in writing (not to mention it'd mean that my response to your "you're missing the point" comment would be "actually, I understood exactly what you meant when you brought Metronome up in a discussion about creative liberties").
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  17. SBaby

    SBaby Dungeon Master

    Maybe I should rephrase, because using Metronome in the manner I mentioned is still taking creative liberties with a canon move. Metronome is unique in that nobody knows exactly what it will do at any point. We know this. Therefore, authors are able to do the craziest things with it.

    If a Trainer is in a spot, and their Pokémon knows Metronome, they might use it as a move of last resort. Think of it as a last ditch effort. They're probably going to be defeated, so they might as well try it just in case. It could even be the opponent that does it.

    This is where taking creative liberties comes in. As a writer, you can have the move do whatever you want it to do. Keep in mind, I was talking about extremes when I mentioned sending the group halfway across the world. That was over-the-top, and that particular situation was actually in a Pokémon D20 campaign anyway. All I'm saying is, you can do anything with it. If you can use something to do anything, you can think of things that the franchise hasn't thought of. And that's when it becomes creative liberty.

    That's why it's the writer's secret weapon. If you want to make a crossover Fic, or an alternate timeline Fic, creative use of Metronome is one of the easiest ways to get started with it.

    And it's not really a cop-out in those regards. Metronome isn't really a way out of a situation (calling it a 'get out of jail free card' was a poor choice of words on my part; honestly, I almost never even use the move in Fics). It's better used as a way into a situation.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  18. *sidesteps interesting metronome debate so the intellectuals can have it*

    This seems like the proper place to ask this question, but how do ya'll feel about off-region Pokemon with little-to-no explanation? Of course through writing the newest one I try to keep it as canon as possible, but having every non-Kalos trainer have to be gifted a Kalosian Pokemon is rather ridiculous when he/she could much more easily catch it. This question is actually the reason I got back on the forum you see...
    essentially six trainers from each region and each trainer has one Pokemon from each region on their team of six, then stuff gets messy post-journies

    Personally, I'm fine with off-region Pokemon because that's how the anime and the games sometimes operate *points at Black and White 2 vs. Black and White, then dramatically gestures at all of Kalos (90% of Kalos is off-region if you have't played yet btw)* But I know it's something of annoyance to some readers and writers when wild Blitzle end up in Johto, so what is your opinion?
  19. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Honestly, me? I don't care for it. There's a couple reasons. First because I think it's pretty easy to come up with an explanation for these kinds of things if you have to; I don't really think you have an excuse there. Second and more pressingly, though, I think that they're

    If it's really so important that your trainers have these particular pokémon, then you're perfectly justified in taking the time in-narrative to have them go out and track them down, even if it's a bit harder than jumping into the nearest patch of grass and running around for a while. But if you're not willing to do that, why not? Because it would be inconvenient for your story? You're essentially looking for a way to weasel around canon because it would be inconvenient for your characters to have to work for their pokémon, which is the very hallmark of a Sue.

    Canon dictates what it is easy for characters to accomplish and what is difficult. You can do anything in your fanfiction--literally anything--but some things will be more difficult than others. Kanto trainer finding a rattata? Easy. Kanto trainer finding a metang? Probably more difficult. But you just want your character to have the metang, not have to figure out how to get one to them in a plausible way. But if you're just going to hand your character things when doing otherwise would be inconvenient for them, where's the tension? I read stories because I want to see characters struggle to (maybe) overcome the challenges you lay in their way, not because I want to see things dropped in their lap. Fudging a bit to get your character that larvitar you so desire is a relatively minor offense, but it's a symptom of a mindset that's toxic to your writing. It suggests that you're more concerned with having things work out in your character's favor than having them interact realistically with the world around them, which again is the hallmark of Sueism.

    So overall it's not really the fact of the pokémon distribution being off that bothers me--species move around from generation to generation, after all, and there's plenty of reasons you might find a pokémon out of its usual habitat--but rather that this kind of thing starts ringing all the Sue alarm bells in my head.
  20. Creepychu

    Creepychu The horror

    I'd have to say I'm not too wild about it. Generally, I'm of the mindset that your explanations need to measure up to the liberties you take, so I wouldn't really have a problem with, say. a flock of Pidgey turning up in Hoenn or a pod of Wailmer turning up in the seas around Kanto because both species move around, fit both habitats well enough and have feasible means of getting there. On the other hand, if you expect me to believe a bunch of Snorunt can make it in Stark Mountain or Slugma start living in Seafoam island then I definitely expect a more thorough explanation than just a handwave.

    That being said, if you really can't think of a good excuse for getting the pokémon you want into your fic, then you should really start by asking yourself why you settled on those specific pokémon in the first place. If the specific traits of one particular species are really so essential to the story that you can't substitute it with anything that fits the setting better then you should already have compelling reason to involve it in the plot, in which case just write in that reason. If it's just there because you felt like giving your character that particular pokémon and don't have any particular plans for it, then you really should take a step back and consider if that pokémon even needs to be there in the first place.

    Well yes, having all your characters get their out-of-region pokémon just conveniently gifted to them would be silly, but the way you're presenting this makes it sound like the only options available are "turn up in the wild for no reason" or "gift" and that's just not so. The obvious third option here is to encounter them in the wild but have a reason for why the pokémon turn up where they do, and there really is no shortage of those if you stop and look for them. Pokémon populations could migrate, either on a more permanent basis (which is the explanation BW2 uses for all the new pokémon turning up) or seasonally (like bird pokémon migrating to warmer climes for the winter for instance), individuals might roam away from their natural habitat for individual reasons (like how Snorlax turn up as roadblocks even though they're mountain-dwellers by habitat), they could have been forcefully displaced from their native habitat by some significant plot point, or there may have been a breeding boom for a particular species that resulted in a population of them going feral (I've seen this used to pretty good effect to explain an Eevee starter). Beyond that, there's also the option of creating your own region, which is more effort but affords pretty much complete freedom in this. Thinking up reasons like this may be more work, but it makes for far more compelling storytelling and worldbuilding than just not addressing it at all, which is why I'm not a fan of leaving stuff like this unexplained, even in situations when it's technically not wrong.

    Well actually, 0% of Kalos is off-region, excepting the friend safari and the swarms. Other than those, every single one of the species you encounter is listed and numbered in the regional pokédex, meaning they have a native population in the region, the same way Pidgey are native to Johto, Slugma are native to Hoenn and Zubat are native to almost everywhere. Just because a species was introduced in a particular game doesn't really mean that they are canonically native only to the region introduced in that game and nowhere else. If that was the case, then absolutely no species whatsoever would be native to Orre or any of the spinoff regions, which would be some pretty weird canon to contend with. In BW2, it's explained to you at the outset that there has been a major shift in the local pokémon populations in recent years, which is why you're sent out to go map out the species in the region again even though the protagonists in the original BW ostensibly completed theirs not too long ago. Even the anime usually tries to explain it when species pop out where they shouldn't, though...yeah, explanations usually aren't all that well thought out.

    So to sum up my thoughts on the matter, little explanation for small or innocuous liberties usually works just fine, but if you're going to do it on any larger scale you should at least try to think of a plausible reason for why things are what they are. Also, running into the need to handwave in the first place may be a sign of a larger problem with your story.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014

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