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Fan Fiction Quarterly: Edition 1 (February 2015)

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by JX Valentine, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    [​IMG]
    Edition 1


    Welcome to a brand new feature brought to you by the Fan Fiction Mod team! Every three months we'll be putting up a new edition of this newsletter for you to enjoy. As we're just starting out, we're also welcoming any feedback about the format and the content inside. Do read and share your thoughts in this thread!

    Each edition of the newsletter will feature both a current fan fiction and one from the glorious archives. It'll also feature an interview with a section reviewing regular, updates on what's going on in the section, ~fun~ writing exercises and a writing prompt challenge! Phew!​


    Editor’s Choice

    Our first column deals with a staff pick: a single story published or updated within the past three months that we, your dutiful mods, feel is most worthy of your attention. It’s a tough pick, one that’s based on a variety of factors, including update reliability, creativity, and mastery of the basics of storytelling. In other words, set out to tell a good story, and you too might get a spot right here under Editor’s Choice.

    For our first staff pick, we’re proud to feature a fic that, for the past year, has maintained front-page status with high quality updates. Yes, we’re talking about:

    A Leash of Foxes
    by Cutlerine​

    From December 2013 to January 2015, A Leash of Foxes has been a familiar title for the regulars of the Fan Fiction forum, but with fifteen pages of posts and over 125 thousand words, A Leash of Foxes has finally come to its satisfying and heavily anticipated ending. But quantity doesn’t always equal quality, as some readers can attest, so does A Leash of Foxes hold up to the hype? According to this reviewer, absolutely.

    Some of you might be familiar with Cutlerine’s general style: heavily descriptive, nearly poetic prose that possesses a level of intelligence without straying into unintentional pretension. And despite being a Western, A Leash of Foxes is told in exactly that manner, with all of the vivid imagery and high language you would expect from Tolkien tied neatly with the bluntness and slight tongue-in-cheek manner of a Dungeons and Dragons gamemaster. In this case, Cutlerine set out to create a text-based game, and because of that, her style shines best. You really do feel like you’re reading an excerpt from the Zork script, and even if the story is no longer interactive, you can still see and feel that open-ended fantasy goodness only a 1980’s computer game can provide.

    I’ve already touched a little on the word “imaginative,” but it needs to be mentioned separately. Cutlerine has always done a great job of world-building. In all of her stories, while you are locked onto a plot, you get a sense that the plot is part of something bigger, like there’s this whole big world beyond the frame of the story. A Leash of Foxes is set in 1860s Orre, so right off the bat, the setting demanded a sense of bigness to the world. And boy howdy, did Cutlerine deliver. There are somehow-not-steampunk airships. There are bullets that set insect armor on fire. There are discussions on how to tan Krokorok armor that are actually a tiny bit relevant to the story. There are fantastic versions of Pokémon because no one fully understands what they are yet. There is an epic interpretation of a Mega Evolution involving a lot of action and fire. There are mercenaries and near-sapient monsters and everything else you could possibly want in a Weird Western. You have this big, expansive world full of all these little details, and even just reading it, it’s so much fun to explore and imagine this version of Orre.

    Without spending pages on the other things that make this story great (because, as with all of Cutlerine’s fics, doing so would spoil a lot of things, so it’s really best to just read it), the last thing worth mentioning is the fact that this was a text-based adventure. That meant that a lot of the things that happened were reader-prompted. For those not familiar with A Leash of Foxes, it worked like this: Cutlerine would post part of the story, readers would go through that part and then tell the nameless protagonist what to do, and then Cutlerine would write the next part of the story based on the commands each reader (or the consensus of readers) submitted. It goes without saying that this is an extremely difficult method of storytelling to pull off thanks to two basic problems.

    First, the main character is meant to be a reader avatar. They’re nameless, and for the most part, they have no personality. This is definitely detectable in Part One, when readers were still trying to figure out which direction to take the protagonist.

    Second and more importantly, while a good gamemaster has an idea of where a story is going to go, they can’t exactly tell their players what to do. That means the gamemaster needs to be flexible and capable of improvising and changing the story as necessary, but they also need to have a firm grip in the background on where the story is meant to go. So in the same way, Cutlerine was also limited by her readers’ responses, but she still dealt with that without hiccups for the most part. There’s one instance involving that aforementioned Mega Evolution that comes to mind, but other than that, every prompt got answered basically as the reader intended without making the story feel as if it was getting too derailed. So despite the fact that Cutlerine had to ensure that this story felt like it was open-ended and interactive to her readers, you still end up with a very coherent story wherein all the parts that are brought up are necessary. Every single bit that surfaces ends up being important in some way, either because the readers decide it’s important or because Cutlerine’s style makes it be important for five seconds and then flows smoothly back to the main trail of the plot.

    …Well. Except for the Cacnea sap. Sorry, Knightfall.

    With that said, even though the story is no longer interactive as intended, it’s still a fun read for fans looking for a high quality work full of fantasy, adventure, and just a little something different. Whether you’re a fan of Westerns or not, go ahead and check it out before it gets moved to the Completed Fics subforum.​


    Reviewers’ Feature

    In this part of the Quarterly, we sit down with one reviewer we feel has done an exceptional job within the past three months. We’re talking about reviewers who are active, give great advice, and generally interact with the community on a positive level. In other words, be an awesome reviewer, and you might have a mod stop by to say hi.

    This edition, we’ve chosen to interview:

    Creepychu
    A reviewer with a literary eye​

    Creepychu is a relatively new face to our community. Despite this, his repertoire for in-depth, thought-out posts is pretty hefty, especially when a fellow writer comes looking for advice and feedback. For Creepychu, a review isn’t just about pointing out commas and commenting on sentence structure. It’s also about getting in there and discussing plot, characters, and the deeper, overall meaning of the work itself.

    For examples of Creepychu’s reviewing style, click here, here, and here.

    We sat down with Creepychu to find out what makes him tick and, more importantly, how deep his analysis can go.

    Fan Fiction Quarterly: You're pretty known for in-depth reviews, but could you tell us a bit about who or what finally introduced you to the whole reviewing business?

    Creepychu: It was a combination thing really. I've always enjoyed languages, so I started doing them more seriously in high school, and I was attending IB so we had a lot of mandatory writing and critique classes. I was also fairly active reviewing at the time, so what I picked up at school started factoring into how I structured and presented my reviews. Started learning a bit about how lit. analysis worked and then I suddenly found I had a lot more to say about the stories I read.

    FFQ: Well, that certainly explains how you're able to pick up on more than just grammar errors! It's pretty clear that you structure your reviews like a literary analysis, especially where characters are concerned. Did you take skills you developed through reviewing into the classroom, or was it purely the other way around?

    Creepychu: It definitely went both ways. I was a lot more comfortable expressing myself in essays and assignments than a lot of the other people in my class and I think the obvious reason for that is that I just had a lot more practice with it because of all the reviews I did. When you spend that much time doing something you're bound to pick up some skills, even if you didn't come there with actual training for it.

    FFQ: Let's talk about your current skills. When you're on the forums, what makes you click on a story and keep reading? What types of stories are you drawn to the most?

    Creepychu: I'm honestly still trying to figure out why some stories draw me in. Writing by an author whose work I've already enjoyed before is something I always at least check, same for authors who wrote something that left me on the fence because I'm curious which way they've developed. If a story gets mentioned in conversation and sounds interesting, I usually also check it out. Beyond those, I try to make a point of checking threads that either have had very little attention or that keep popping up.

    As for what keeps me reading? I'm definitely a sucker for style. Fluent prose is just a pleasure to read. Other than that, strong openings, interesting premises, and enjoyable characters can all keep me going easy enough. More generally, what I look for is the places where the author went above and beyond. It's those little extra efforts that make the difference between an author who really cares about their work and one who's just going through the motions, and people in the former group always hold my attention a lot longer, even if they aren't as good on a technical level.

    FFQ: So if you stick around long enough to drop a review, even if it's full of constructive criticism, a writer can rest assured that at the very least, it caught your attention! From there, what goes into your decision to sit down and review, or do you try to review everything you read?

    Creepychu: Once upon a time I actually would review every story I read through, but since I've gotten more slow and deliberate with how I write, that's just not something I can manage anymore. I generally pick based on how strongly I feel about the story and what's in the thread. Some stories just strike a chord with me and I almost have to review them just to keep them from distracting me. I'm a bit more indulgent with those in that I like to take my time and really go into depth with them.

    For more normal cases, I base the decision a lot on what kinds of reviews they already have and how the author has responded to them. If I feel that other people have already covered the main points I wanted to hit with a story, I'm more likely to let the review lie. If I think something important has just been left out of the discussion or that it's overly one-sided, I'm more likely to jump in because I feel I can actually add something new.

    Author attitude also factors a lot. If they're really dismissive or defensive towards the reviews they get, I'd rather save reviews for people who actually want them. The only exception to this is if there's some really pressing issue that I think needs to be addressed. Conversely, if I see an author who likes to engage with reviewers and elaborate on their thinking and writing process it makes me a lot more interested in reviewing because there's a promise of interesting conversation in there. Beyond those, I always like to give priority to stories that either have no reviews at all or only get the token 'write moar' replies, because a lot of good writing gets lost in the crowd just because the author isn't that well-known or connected in the community.

    FFQ: How do you decide what to talk about in your reviews?

    Creepychu: I usually come in with an idea already since I make the decision to review based on interest. I also open up the whole thing in quotes and go through it, then pick out bits and pieces that look interesting to me as a kind of skeleton to work off. In general I try to start with my broad opinion about the story and then work through the details. It's straight essay structure for the most part; State, Elaborate, Exemplify

    FFQ: It's interesting that you mention that you're drawn to authors who engage with reviewers AND newer/less reviewed authors. Is there any particular interaction you've had with a reviewee that sticks out most in your mind?

    Creepychu: The author-reviewer interaction really is what makes reviewing for me, but I can definitely say there are a lot of...well, strong personalities. Though shamefully, it's the bad ones that really stick out.

    Let's see, I think the most awkward author-reviewer relationship I've ever head was the time somebody tried to get their mother to guilt me into recanting a review. This person had a pet crossover story based on Kingdom Hearts and Super Smash Brothers, which was essentially 50 chapters of copypasting different names into the same text template. A couple of reviewers (myself included) called him out on this. He got defensive and called us all names until a moderator deleted his posts and locked the thread. The next time I looked into the section, we had another locked thread, follow by six locked threads of the same title with increasingly accusatory Author's Notes directed at the 'stalkers' and 'trolls' before they all got mass-deleted and he got banned. A couple of his sock accounts later, I received a lengthy PM from his mother accusing me of being an e-bully who was TORMENTING A MINOR WHO HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG and that if I did not publicly recant and undo his ban immediately (I was a regular member at the time) I would be taken to court and my parents would hear of my behavior. I was assured that she had been in contact with a highly qualified legal expert who thought that she had a really strong case. They both vanished soon after, but it's definitely the most awkward response I've ever gotten.

    FFQ: Has this experience affected your reviewing habits? Did you learn not to engage with authors like these?

    Creepychu: I was very much in my quantity phase at the time, and it was honestly too absurd to take seriously. I think the real irony is I actually did take a pretty nasty tone with a lot of people at the time (angsty teenage phase, yay) and they could legitimately have called me out on my attitude, but somehow it was the one review where I was actually fully civil that somebody decided to escalate on me.

    The actual adjustment came more with growing up and getting enough distance from my early reviews to realize what a prat I was being. You start acting more respectful, you start recognizing people who give you respect back.

    FFQ: Ah yes, the beauty of growing up on the internet. Do you have any other advice for authors looking to catch a reader's attention? And any advice for reviewers looking to improve their skills?

    Creepychu: For authors, I'm always of two minds about giving this advice because looking for number of reviews feels a lot like missing the point of a review. However, the one rule of thumb is to get involved. Read and review other people's stories, comment on threads, start discussions with other people in your community; if people find you interesting (or even just see you around a lot), they're going to see your story and go 'oh, it's a thread by so-and-so, I wonder what that's all about' or they'll see an interesting title or banner on your profile and click it. Look for stories and topics you actually find interesting and comment on them; odds are that people with tastes like yours will gravitate to those same places and you'll end up finding the right kind of audience.

    For reviewers, my suggestion would be to be polite, but speak your mind. Especially when it goes against what other reviewers are saying. A lot of new reviewers are hesitant to get involved or speak up in a thread because they see someone they think is a 'better' reviewer has already commented. As a result, they either say nothing at all or they stick to only rehashing what other people have said. You should never do either of those things. Most authors - especially fanfic authors - love it when people show that they've paid attention to their work, and most reviewers really don't know what parts of their review will be the most helpful until they've put them out there. From an author perspective, I can definitely say that the thoughts that readers hold back for being 'weird' or 'stupid' are often the most interesting.

    And I guess for both, just remember to care about what you do whether you write reviews or stories and remember that both should be about the story first and foremost. If your ego or your opinions start getting in the way of talking about the story you're working with, it's time to take a step back and reconsider what you're doing.

    FFQ: That's definitely a lot to think about—and a lot of good advice too. I'd especially like to second that comment about not being afraid to speak up.

    This is a really good note to end on, so I'd like to thank you again for taking the time to sit down and talk reviewing with me, Creepychu. It was awesome to hear about your experiences and your thought processes in general, and we're really looking forward to seeing what you put forward in our community both as an author and a reader.

    Creepychu: Oh, you're quite welcome. I'm always happy to run my mouth on this topic and I'll certainly try to put it into practice this year. We'll see how it goes.​


    Blast from the Past

    In this part of the Quarterly, we take a trip back in time to examine a complete fic worth noting. Whether they were culturally significant to our fandom or just really excellent completed work, these are the fics your staff likes to call blasts from the past.

    First up, we’re taking a look at a comedy fic that happens to be both well written and significant. In fact, it paved the way for other comedy fics on the site and was a trendsetter in the Miror B department. Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about:


    One of the greatest things about The Retelling of Pokémon Colosseum is that it understands what kind of tightrope comedy is. When you have a genre that relies so heavily on evoking certain emotions in the reader, storytelling tends to have a built-in layer of difficulty in it. Not only are you setting out to tell a good story, but you’re also taking into consideration that your fic’s success hinges on the audience being on the same wavelength as you. And it’s very easy to screw up a comedy or a horror or a romance or what-have-you if the tone is entirely wrong. In comedy’s case, if you’re not funny when you’re clearly trying to be, it sometimes doesn’t matter whether or not your story is good. It will still carry that note of forced humor. Not only that, but you’re also playing with the audience’s emotions. You have to be aware that not everyone in your current audience is going to find what you have to say funny, and not everything you do is going to be funny five years from now when trends change. This is why random humor and parody don’t always work, especially if the writer doesn’t fully understand how to play to the audience’s emotions in order to evoke laughter all the time. In other words, just saying “spork” isn’t going to be funny to everyone now or five years from now (take your pick), but that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as a timeless comedy. You just need to know how to play to the reader, so to speak.

    As you can probably guess from that build-up, Retelling is one of those comedies. It’s a comedy that was funny back when its first chapter was posted, and it’s funny now. And it’s funny because it’s not just a random humor piece. It’s also a commentary and a story and, in general, a thing that sets out to do more than a string of gags. bobandbill’s sense of humor hinges on a combination of sarcasm, satire, and the idea that drunk and/or incompetent people are timelessly hilarious unless you’re writing a drama. It’s the kind of humor that made The Simpsons work for the first twenty years of its existence: honest, straightforward, and not liable to insult the intelligence of its readers.

    On its surface, Retelling is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. It’s a retelling of Pokémon Colosseum. Period. That’s it. You have Wes, who decides that it would be a remarkable idea to steal a device for Pokémon theft from his own criminal organization but then uses it to become a reluctant hero. You have Rui, the psychic who may or may not be the brains of the operation despite a possible concussion in the course of her kidnapping. You have Team Snagem and Cipher, two evil organizations who are fantastically pissed off at both of the protagonists and somehow find a way to be staffed by the most dysfunctional group of administrators ever conceived, despite their designs for global domination. All of the recognizable elements are there (plus some fan-created ones, including the unsurprising fan favorite Tom, the aforementioned lovable and lovably hilarious drunk, and Johnson, resident hilariously incompetent police officer). The story itself is recognizable, and actually, so are the characters. The Venus you see in this fic sounds exactly like the Venus in the games; she just shouldn’t be allowed to sing. Plucky Rui is still plucky canon-esque Rui, only with possible heat stroke in her initial scene. And Miror B? Exactly as you would expect in the games, only cooler.

    And that’s the point. While bobandbill doesn’t outright say that this is a parody, the whole point of the matter is to be a parody and comment on the games’ events. Take the Skarmory in the initial scene, for example. There are paragraphs dedicated to this one Skarmory you see in the opening cutscene. Why? Because it’s in the game. Yet everything that happens ultimately makes sense, including that Skarmory’s cameo. There isn’t really a deus ex machina. No one pulls out the Infinite Probability Drive and puts the universe on shuffle to get things done. It’s still the game, only expanded in a way that’s both lighthearted and funny.

    Speaking of expansions, as an expansion of canon, it’s a great example of it. Sure, you’re never really given the exact science behind how the Snag Machine works, and you’re never given the complete, unabridged childhood of Miror B. But where it counts, like the characters, the setting of Orre, the story of the source game itself … you get all of that in spades. And you get all of that in a more complete picture than you did in canon. Ever feel like you needed a better explanation for why Rui runs off with Wes to go save the world after he brings her to her grandparents? This fic tells you. Want to know what Miror B is like or why, even on a vague level, he’s with Cipher? This fic’s got a theory. And would you like to see highly detailed battles and climaxes hinging on the :3 face? You’ve got that too. If you’re a Colosseum fan, Retelling has everything you could want in a Colosseum fic.

    And if you’re not a Colosseum fan, Retelling has a cast of fascinating and hilarious characters running around an equally fascinating and hilarious depiction of Orre. So even if you’ve never owned a Game Cube in your life, this fic is most definitely worth checking out.​


    Events

    What’s up in the Fan Fiction forum for the spring season? Check below for all our upcoming events!

    February 1-14: Nominations for the 2014 Fan Fiction Awards will be accepted until Valentine’s Day. As of this writing, only one person has submitted nominations for the forum’s biggest event of the year. Let’s make this year’s awards just as interesting as the past few years. Take a few minutes to nominate today!

    End of February/beginning of March: Voting for the 2014 Fan Fiction Awards. Cast your vote to choose the best of the best from last year’s cream of the crop!​


    Try This!

    Who likes homework? Well too bad, you've got some! Don't worry, it isn't mandatory, but a little refresher never hurt anyone.

    We've supplied a few exercises to practice grammar and editing. These are arranged by difficulty level, so do whichever ones you feel most comfortable with - just follow the instructions and submit your answers in the thread! Feel free to discuss the exercises and how other people answered.

    Level One
    Homophones

    Fill in the gaps with the correct homophone!

    1. I saw ___ really great fics today, but they were ___ long ___ read in one sitting. [to/too/two]
    2. ____ ____ you this morning? I needed your help deciding what to ____ if ____ going to the party tonight! [were/where/wear/we’re]
    3. ____ or not I bring my umbrella is completely dependent on ____ the ____ decides to cooperate. [whether/weather]
    4. Moving to Littleroot Town ____ed everything. It had a big ____ on May’s relationship with her friends, who wouldn’t even help her pack her ____s for the move. [effect/affect]
    5. Everyone ____ for Cody wanted to ____ her into the club. [accept/except]

    Level Two
    Punctuation

    These sentences are lacking in punctuation you should fix that

    1. I always have three things on me my phone my wallet and a photo of Robert Downy Jr
    2. PokeRus has currently affected Celadon City Kanto Goldenrod City Johto Undella Town Unova and Lumiose City Kalos
    3. Everyone should wear shorts they are comfortable and easy to wear
    4. It was all for naught John fell over at the crucial moment screeching and crying as he crashed to the ground
    5. One Pikachu two Pikachu I felt dizzy as they gradually popped up and surrounded me glaring with their black beady eyes

    Level Three
    Less is more

    The following paragraph is ridiculous for more than just one reason. One issue is that it's just too darn wordy. Get to the point and revise the paragraph into as few words as possible!

    She stared deeply into the still, setting circular moon that shined with such intensity it made her eyes bleed in a very figurative sense. She then pondered deeply and decided that this was not the most interesting to do, and so she stretched her arms, yawned, stood up, yawn once again, yawned a third time, and started to walk down the wandering path that was approximately 1,827.2 metres long. Thump, thump thump, went each of her footsteps, for she was a particularly heavy walker and was wearing large, oversized steel-capped shoes. She felt that they would be good for kicking someone who might suddenly spring out of the dark spooky surroundings and act in a manner as to strongly suggest harm against a person or persons such as herself. That was also the likely possibility as to the reason that she had brought a weapon capable of several arrows, as well as a few sleek examples of such projectiles that were held in a long, rectangular capsule that hung over her shoulder (specifically the left one). ​


    Quarterly Challenge

    Looking for something to flex your writing muscles? Try this challenge on for size! In the following section, you'll find a writing prompt. Write one or more fics fufilling or related to those prompts, post your fics in the forum where they'll work best (Pokémon fics in the main forum, original fics and non-Pokémon fics in Non-Pokémon Fics, and shipping fics in Shipping Fics), and link to your finished work here! At the end of the Quarterly period, all of the fics will be gathered up and posted in an honor roll at the end of this column.

    1. All Fan Fiction rules apply to all fics. This includes the minimum length requirement, so all fics must be a minimum of two pages long. Additionally, please submit material appropriate for the Fan Fiction forum. Although NC-17 fics are okay in Shipping Fics, please do not submit NC-17 material to the challenge. Other forum rules likewise apply.
    2. If a prompt is an image, a quote, a song, or a video, it’s perfectly okay to be inspired by the prompt. What that means is you don’t need to include the exact quote or the song or the exact situation depicted in the image or video for it to fill the prompt. So long as the essence is there, you’re fine.
    3. If a prompt has multiple parts, your fic needs to fulfill all parts, not just a handful. There is one prompt per quarterly, and this prompt is designed to be pretty short in terms of its list of things you need to include. So don’t be too intimidated!
    4. The exception of rule #3 is the extra credit part of the prompt. Extra credit is exactly like what you remember from your tests in grade school: optional, but it’d be cool and a cherry on top to you if you did it.

    Have fun with writing and get your creative juices flowing, so relax, put your digits to your keyboard, and write whatever story the prompt inspires you to write! Good luck!

    This quarter's prompt is:

    Ah, love is in the air. Spring is here. Valentine’s Day is upon us. And all the couples of the world are already necking.

    That’s why, for the Spring 2014 Fan Fiction Quarterly, your mission is to blow off romance and write a fanfic about friendships. That’s right. Write a fanfiction about a perfectly platonic relationship between best friends. Highlight what it means to be friends and what those friends mean to each other. But whatever you do, do not make them a romantic couple in the end.

    Extra credit goes out to those of you who write a fanfic about a guy and a girl who end up being perfectly platonic right up until the end.​
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2015
  2. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    Whoo, this looks awesome, if I do say so myself! We haven't had anything like this (not since the Author Interviews from 2007), so it's really cool getting to see this showcase of SPPf's writers and reviewers. This was a really great idea, and Jax deserves a ton of credit for making it happen!

    I really do need to finish reading A Leash of Foxes - I had started back when it begun, and I regret falling off the wagon there, especially since it was such a cool concept. The same applies for The Retelling, especially given how much I enjoy Colosseum and expanding on canon and humour. I've gotta admit, I was a little too amused by the image Creepychu getting yelled at by some kid's mom, though it's comforting to know that so many fellow reviewers also went through a nasty phase in their teens. :x

    I'll let others do the Try This exercises (considering I wrote half of them XD) but I am really liking this prompt idea! It seems I am far more motivated to write when there's a prompt of some kind involved, and as someone who is often bothered by romantic sub-plots in non-romance movies and such, I'm excited about this one!

    Hope you guys enjoy the FFQ!
    ~Psychic
     
  3. Kutie Pie

    Kutie Pie "It is my destiny."

    It's midnight one in the morning and I'm trying hard not to squeal over this, because I think this is a wonderful idea. I think it'd be a bit odd to have editions get their own separate threads, at least from what I've gathered from the title alone, but if I'm wrong and this will constantly get updated, then by golly, sign me up for this newsletter! Now I can follow a newsletter outside of family, yay XD! I'm also glad that this will cover all fan fiction because I was starting to wonder if Shipping Fics was going to get over-looked for like the umpteenth time—I don't know why I get so uppity about that, whether it's because the section's just so quiet or what. *shrugs*

    Seriously, thanks so much for making this, this is amazing, and it was fun to read. (More fun than my family's newsletter XD, sorry Grandma.)

    Ooh, activities, I'm hyped! Gonna write them out right now!

    Am I doing it right?

    Level One
    Homophones

    Fill in the gaps with the correct homophone!

    1. I saw two really great fics today, but they were too long to read in one sitting.
    2. Where were you this morning? I needed your help deciding what to wear if we're going to the party tonight!
    3. Whether or not I bring my umbrella is completely dependent on whether the weather decides to cooperate.
    4. Moving to Littleroot Town affected everything. It had a big effect on May’s relationship with her friends, who wouldn’t even help her pack her affects for the move.
    5. Everyone except for Cody wanted to accept her into the club.

    Level Two
    Punctuation

    These sentences are lacking in punctuation, you should fix that.

    1. I always have three things on me: my phone, my wallet, and a photo of Robert Downy, Jr.
    2. PokeRus has currently affected Celadon City, Kanto; Goldenrod City, Johto; Undella Town, Unova; and Lumiose City, Kalos.
    3. Everyone should wear shorts, they are comfortable and easy to wear!
    4. It was all for naught. John fell over at the crucial moment, screeching and crying as he crashed to the ground.
    5. One Pikachu, two PikachuI felt dizzy as they gradually popped up and surrounded me, glaring with their black beady eyes.

    Level Three
    Less is more

    The following paragraph is ridiculous for more than just one reason. One issue is that it's just too darn wordy. Get to the point and revise the paragraph into as few words as possible!

    She stared deeply into the still, setting circular moon that shined with such intensity it made her eyes bleed in a very figurative sense. She then pondered deeply and decided that this was not the most interesting to do, and so she stretched her arms, yawned, stood up, yawn once again, yawned a third time, and started to walk down the wandering path that was approximately 1,827.2 metres long. Thump, thump thump, went each of her footsteps, for she was a particularly heavy walker and was wearing large, oversized steel-capped shoes. She felt that they would be good for kicking someone who might suddenly spring out of the dark spooky surroundings and act in a manner as to strongly suggest harm against a person or persons such as herself. That was also the likely possibility as to the reason that she had brought a weapon capable of several arrows, as well as a few sleek examples of such projectiles that were held in a long, rectangular capsule that hung over her shoulder (specifically the left one).

    The young traveler's eyes throbbed staring too hard at the setting moon, steadily growing bored thinking too deeply of uninteresting thoughts. Yawning in succession, the girl stretched her arms and walked down the long, winding path of absolutely nothing. Her heavy footsteps from her steel-capped shoes were the only other sounds until she harshly kicked a tree that ever-so slightly moved at the corner of her eye. The Sudowoodo cried out in pain, woken from its slumber, and turned to attack. She was prepared, swinging her bow from her shoulder to point directly at the Pokémon, a PokéBall well-placed at the tip of the arrow. It seemed impractical, but it was better than nothing.

    Well, that was fun. So there is no set word count for the prompt, yes? And I'm a bit sad we'll get these every three months, but I guess it's better that way in the long-run. Maybe if this all goes well, it can be bumped up to two months :3?
     
  4. Creepychu

    Creepychu The horror

    Aaaah, finally. I've been curious about what it'd look like put together ever since you mentioned you were doing this and it's looking good. I really hope this will be a hit because there's a lot of milage you could get out of this, and it'd be great to have regular features of interesting stuff in the café. The challenge prompt's looking interesting too and I've got a base idea I think I can work with, assuming I can get a satisfactory ending to it. Let's see if I can maybe possibly get something finished for a deadline for once. /o/

    On that note, I'll give the first set of exercises a stab, shooting straight from the hip so expect some embarrassing oversights.

    Level One
    Homophones

    1. I saw two really great fics today, but they were too long to read in one sitting. [to/too/two]
    2. Where were you this morning? I needed your help deciding what to wear if we're going to the party tonight! [were/where/wear/we’re]
    3. Whether or not I bring my umbrella is completely dependent on whether the weather decides to cooperate. [whether/weather]
    4. Moving to Littleroot Town affected everything. It had a big effect on May’s relationship with her friends, who wouldn’t even help her pack her effects for the move. [effect/affect]
    5. Everyone except for Cody wanted to accept her into the club. [accept/except]

    Level Two
    Punctuation

    1. I always have three things on me: my phone, my wallet, and a photo of Robert Downy, Jr.
    2. PokeRus has currently affected Celadon City, Kanto; Goldenrod City, Johto; Undella Town, Unova; and Lumiose City, Kalos.
    3. Everyone should wear shorts; they are comfortable and easy to wear!
    4. It was all for naught. John fell over at the crucial moment, screeching and crying as he crashed to the ground.
    5. One Pikachu, two Pikachu. I felt dizzy as they gradually popped up and surrounded me, glaring with their black, beady eyes.

    Level Three
    Less is more

    She stared at the full moon until her eyes watered, then got bored and got up, stretching her arms and yawning. She walked down the wandering path with a heavy, thumping gait, considering how good her oversized steel-capped shoes would be for kicking any attackers. She had also brought a bow for this reason, as well as several arrows, which she kept in the quiver on her left shoulder.

    Funny enough, the nasty phase is probably the most consistent thread among fanfic reviewers, at least in my experience. It seems like whenever you bring the topic up with someone who's been doing reviews for a while, they go 'oh yeah, I used to be like that too'. Could be a question that brings in some nice material for future reviewer features, actually. XD
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  5. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    I see what you did there.

    In all seriousness, this is a great way to give recognition to writers that deserve it. I'm also glad that good fics won't drop off the radar just because they're completed. The reviewer section is an added touch that will probably motivate me to change my review style a bit. :p

    I wonder if a section dedicated to newer writers could be implemented as well? :C
     
  6. Silawen

    Silawen Fanfiction Critic

    Wow, this is rather interesting. For me the reviewer segment was most fascinating to read, but those who know me would have guessed that already. Just getting a glimpse of someone else's thought-process while reviewing, even if it's someone I don't know and am not familiar with, is just great. Lots of things strike me as similar to what I do, yet at the same time Creepychu is quite different. Take the reason for reviewing, for example. Creepychu seems to review based on feeling and enjoyment. Does something capture his eye, then he might choose to review it. I, on the other hand, choose my stories based on which ones I think could most benefit from it. Curious how that works, doesn't it?

    I could never quite get into reviewing stories I enjoyed. When I read stories I intend to review, I am reading in such a critical and analytical way that I often bypass the storytelling aspect of it. I see them as characters in a story, not as people going through something. Or I see the way an author set up the plot, instead of events unfolding before my eyes. (Does that make sense at all?) So whenever I want to enjoy something, I have to turn that part of my mind off. Which means I don't really have anything constructive to say at the end of it.

    Thank heavens there are so many different reviewers, though! And I already can't wait to read the next interview. All of it was a fun read!
     
  7. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    Great job on this! Echoing everyone in hoping the Quarterly is here to stay and will boost activity in the Café (and that I'll actually check the mod forum to remember to contribute to it, whoops).

    I'm thrilled to be the first contributor to the Quarterly Challenge with [thread=641322]Jack and Gabriel Discuss Death[/thread]. (I'm not that fast of a writer; I just by a delightful coincidence happened to be about to post a fic that fits the bill anyway.)

    That's interesting. Personally, I read basically everything in a very critical way but I can enjoy it just fine at the same time - I note the stuff that could be better but I can fairly easily compartmentalize it away to a corner of my mind while I'm enjoying the story, unless the flaws are extremely prominent and distracting. My reviews of fics I like frequently oscillate wildly between criticism and giddy fangirling depending on the part I'm commenting on.
     
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    It's a bit of a time investment, but I suppose one solution would be to do two readings. One for enjoyment purposes and one for reviewing purposes. Either way your your comments regarding reviewing are interesting. I'm not a very analytical person myself, so I like hearing viewpoints from those who are.
     
  9. Silawen

    Silawen Fanfiction Critic

    That seems like a much more sensible way of dealing with it, haha. I wish I could do that. I just can't. I start honing in on errors and questioning everything once I decide to critically review something and it just takes the fun out of reading it. Stories I actually like tend to be met with very awkward reviews. I'm much better at criticism than I am praise and a two paragraph review filled with compliments is often harder for me than an hour-long concrit. Even if I really loved something.

    I've tried that in the past, but it generally doesn't work. For one, once I've critically read something, I notice those same errors on every read through. And if I really liked something enough not to read it critically, I often can't get myself to then give a constructive review after it.
     
  10. Terry93D

    Terry93D Active Member

    I definitely enjoyed this! It gave an interesting overlook on A Leash of Foxes, which I am now interested in reading, and it's a rather different choice to interview a reader rather than an author. The Blast from the Past was indeed something of a blast from the past as I remember taking a look at the Retelling months and months ago. One thing I might suggest for future edition is to give a spotlight and review to a new author's fanfiction.
     
  11. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Heeeeeey! Thanks for the feedback, folks! :D It's good to hear that this is a well-received shindig because aww yiss, things that will get people a-talkin'. That and it was loads of fun to put together. Going through all those fics ... sitting down and chatting with Creepychu (who is a fantastic conversationalist, by the way!) ... loads of fun, in general.

    To those of you who completed the Try This! so far: awesome job! I shall let the person who wrote that column this time around share her thoughts on how close to correct you are. I would myself, but it'd seem more appropriate to not take credit for the whole shebang. b)'')b

    Also, it is 1:30 AM, and this is a terrible excuse.

    In the meantime...!

    Haha, and now I'm kinda torn. XD It's true that these are designed to be put in separate threads, just because it'd be a lot neater and easier to find each new edition and the discussion associated with them. The alternative to the current model is to put a table of contents somewhere obvious in the first post a la chaptered fics, and that's something we could do if quarterly editions receive similar levels of feedback.

    Tl;dr, I'd have to think about this/discuss this with the other mods! D: But feel free to let me know which format you'd prefer (meaning this is a question for everyone!): all the editions in one thread, navigable via a table of contents, or each edition in a separate thread, with a list of links to past editions tacked at the bottom of the edition somewhere.

    Nah, I totally hear you. Shipping Fics tends to be overlooked so hard that some people don't even realize it exists. ;_; It really doesn't help that they have separate rules and a separate staff and tend to be considered more of a subforum of the Shipping community, rather than another (sister?) fanfiction community. But the more we can do to tie us together, the better the Serebii writing nebulous entity would be, imo, hence why there've been a few things popping up that encourage people to go post over on Shipping and vice versa. :3

    (I am also all for any other suggestions in this department! Got an idea for another cross-forum event? Hit up your local mods! But especially me because omg I want to be in the loop for cross-forum shenanigans.)

    I'm now curious about these family newsletters, ngl. You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :D

    There is no set maximum word count. 8D Just a minimum one, and that's more because there's already kinda a rule about that in the forum you're probably gonna want to post your entries in. (Shipping's more merciful, last I checked, but for the sake of consistency, we're basically saying, "We're all following the same basic rules for the sake of the organizers' sanities.")

    Haha, depends on how quickly the mods can find and write all the content without burning themselves out. 8D Luckily, we're also being merciful on ourselves by instating word count limits on the columns, so while Edition 2 will most likely be shorter than what you see here, it will also make us less likely to want to drink.

    This is a really neat idea, and we have just seen a couple of new fics from new authors pop up within the past couple of days. So! This is something we will seriously consider doing. :D Thank you for the suggestion, to the both of you!
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
  12. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    When reading this, the first thing that came to my mind was Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

    I really enjoyed this. I think it's a great idea.
     
  13. DarkerShining

    DarkerShining Well-Known Member

    Ooh, this looks interesting. Might be a good place for me to find some inspiration for new stories, and keep improving my writing skills. Kind of want to try writing something based on that writing prompt, if I can think of something to write, that is. I'll certainly be keeping my eye on this.
     
  14. TheCharredDragon

    TheCharredDragon The Noble Thief

    I really, really like this. Especially that interview section. And the writing prompt. XD Absolutely gone do it. If only I could think of what'll happen... Can only think of a hint at romance only to make it a misunderstanding between friends...but can't think of HOW.

    Never mind. As for the update thing... I don't mind either way as it'd mean less bookmarks on my browser. But mean it'll get a bit clunky once it starts getting many pages.
     
  15. Kutie Pie

    Kutie Pie "It is my destiny."

    I did a thing~

    It's for the quarterly challenge, and I feel good for completing it, lol. I had fun writing it anyway (because I love the two subjects so much), so I'm a bit proud of it.

    *conks out in chair*
     

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