Welcome to next edition of the FFQ brought to you by the Fan Fiction Mod team! Every few months we'll put up a new edition of this newsletter for you to enjoy. We're still 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!
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.
This time around, we’ve had our eye on a fairly new story that’s popped up from a returning user. We’re talking about:
by Spiteful Murkrow
by Spiteful Murkrow
When it comes to tried-and-true genres in the Pokémon fandom, it’s very easy to run into common themes. As in, you go into certain types of fics and just expect certain things to happen. For example, with PMD fics, you expect the main character to wake up and face the fact that they were a human turned into a Pokémon, and you might expect a heavy emphasis on darkness.
Fledglings is a different sort of PMD fic in that all of the things you’ve come to expect from the genre are straight-out not even present. To start with, the story focuses on Nida, a Nidoran who was born and raised in a world without humans. As in, she wasn't pulled in from another world and transformed. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The beginning might be a little slow if you’re expecting the dark and violent tones that the PMD genre tends to lean toward. What you get instead is a metric ton of worldbuilding mixed in with a little bit of slice-of-life fic and heavy character development. Humans have existed, but their absence within the world is explained through folktales laced with legendaries. The society has this folkish feel. There’s a lot of focus on family and character interactions. In short, you will feel like you’re observing this extremely rich culture full of living, breathing characters. So even if it’s not action-packed at first, it’s difficult not to fall right into Fledglings’ expansive world. (The fact that the Mystery Dungeons have a touch of that surreal, mystical flavor to back up the folktale air of the legends of Nida’s culture only really adds to how deep and fascinating this world is.)
Chapter three is where the story really picks up with the introduction of the island’s Protector (a concept unique to this fic), and from there, Fledglings really takes off as a unique PMD experience. The fact that the Protector is only a child aside (long story—fully explained and handled beautifully in context), the fic could have gone down the dark and war-torn path that a lot of other fics that include legends take. And thankfully, it does not. Fledglings avoids all of that darkness by maintaining the light-hearted nature of its beginning. We get to see the Protector questioning the world around him and behaving exactly like a child, and on the one hand, it’s funny (partly because of what the Protector is and partly because the Protector, like all the characters in this fic, feels genuine and real), but on the other hand, it never goes overboard. The situation may be ridiculous, but it’s not absurd. It’s steeped in legends, but it’s not violent or dark. It’s just a light-hearted, carefully constructed fic with promises of adventure and characters who are difficult not to love.
So if you’re looking for a PMD fic that isn’t like the typical PMD fare, Fledglings is worth your while!
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 Sike Saner. She's a returning veteran of the Fan Fiction section, and she hasn't just brought back her fics, she's gotten back into reviews, and in a noticeably big way as well, hitting pretty much all the fics that were nominated for the 2014 SPPF Fic Awards.
For examples of Sike Saner's reviewing style, click here, here, and here.
Fan Fiction Quarterly: When did you start reviewing fics, and why?
Sike Saner: Pbbbbbt... that would have been '05. Summer of that year. Basically I was a huge nerdwad and wanted to leave fanmail all over my favorite stories.
FFQ: Your style of reviewing is based on taking quotes of the parts you've enjoyed and commenting on each one - any reason for that approach? And how do you do it - do you copy bits you wish to quote as you read, or come back later to do that?
Sike Saner: They're all copied and remarked on as I come to them, and being able to do that is a big part of why I do things that way. My memory doesn't always like to cooperate; if I didn't take notes, I'd forget most of what I was gonna say.
Plus it lets me bring the author along for the ride, so to speak--they get direct, largely unfiltered reactions to their material. And jokes, oftentimes.
FFQ: You also mention comments with quotes you had like how you misread something (for instance, I recall a certain misreading of the word 'pastries'). Any comments you've made that stick out in particular for yourself?
Sike Saner: Oh god, the... what did they turn into again? Pasties? Panties? Anyway I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Let's do some digging...
Okay, I think this wins for recent misreads:
(Also, after a bit more investigation: it was panties. Given the context, I'm glad. "Pasties" wouldn't have been as funny.)Sike Saner said:
FFQ: It was indeed panties... Anyway! 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?
Sike Saner: What makes me click on it is usually 1.) seeing it spend a lot of time on the first page, 2.) seeing it pop up as an award nominee, and/or 3.) recognizing the author from previously-enjoyed works. What makes me keep reading is mainly a lack of external interruptions plus my attention span deciding to hold out like it used to. It certainly helps if the story's fun to read, though.
FFQ: On that note, what goes into your decision to sit down and review, or do you try to review everything you read?
Sike Saner: I'll reply to pretty much anything unless I'm really crunched for time or else I just cannot string my thoughts together for whatever reason. Sometimes if I do draw a blank like that, I'll come back to it later. Sometimes some of the goodies don't pop out the first time around.
FFQ: Maybe you've picked that up over the years. You've been a reviewer for a long time! What changes have you noticed in the Pokemon fan fiction community?
Sike Saner: There's probably more that I haven't noticed. I was sort of absent there for a couple of years--exactly what went on here during that time, I can't really say. But I do think the scene's a lot... mellower?? than it was back when I was hella active before. Less hype, less drama. It's matured a bit, I think, and in the good way. The real way, which doesn't involve becoming a boring arse.
FFQ: And how has your reviewing style evolved over the years?
Sike Saner: I think it's kind of come full circle, in a sense. Early on I didn't really filter my opinions at all, by which I mean I happily fanbarfed all over everything and gave absolutely no fricks what anyone thought of my taste or my enthusiasm. At some point, I started becoming kind of self-conscious about my replies, but I've gotten back to a headspace wherein I can respond to what I'm reading without much of a filter at all.
FFQ: Is there any particular interaction you've had with a reviewee that sticks out most in your mind?
Sike Saner: Apparently I once came within a hair's breadth of making someone change the face of canned cat food forever.
FFQ: Lastly, 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?
Sike Saner: I've generally had an easier time garnering reads 'n' replies for my own dren in places where I've actually taken the time to go around and read and comment on things myself. So try that first, I would guess. Spread your name around. Link to your stuff in your sig. Just try to actually reply to their stories rather than just posting something to the effect of "oh hey cool story now come read mine", ok?
With regards to reviewing... I'd say the main thing to keep in mind is to avoid censoring yourself. (Within reason. Don't be a bigoted a-hole. Keep your crits constructive. And if the author makes it clear they're not comfortable with certain kinds of language or jokes, keep that crap to yourself.) Whatever the material makes you think, whatever it makes you feel, go ahead and say it. Even if you don't have anything particularly critical to say, even if you don't have any praise to give, even if you have nothing to quote or nothing but quotes. Odds are, the author's going to appreciate what you have to say more than you'd expect. There's a reason it's called feedback.
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.
This time, we examine a completed fic with clear roots in a published and popular story, except with Pokémon thrown in. So basically, using Pokémon to make what's regarded as a good thing more awesome.
by Bay Alexison
by Bay Alexison
The story is loosely based on Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. If you’ve read that book, than you can easily see the same elements and basic premise in Bay’s drama fic. The main character (Bunny Spruce) is suspected of murder and goes on the run from the police, as well as a treasure hunt started by the victim. She’s also accompanied by a police officer (or the Pokémon version of one in a Jenny), and along the way they encounter a knowledgeable professor (Jacob) who is involved in that very murder.
But it's certainly no copy-paste job. The beginning scenes don't all parallel those in The Da Vinci Code, and this continues throughout. And as for the parts that bear a clear resemblance, there are still various aspects that have been dropped or changed, including relationships between the characters and additional characters thrown into the mix. There’s also a historical spin on the tale as well. While The Da Vinci Code focused on religion and the Holy Grail, here the story revolves around the Arceus plates hinted at through clues scattered across the region, and archaeology takes the focus. Bay has done well in giving this story her own twists, and it's clear she put a lot of work into it. (What you see in the link is a rewrite.)
And of course, there's the Pokémon. Scenes of escaping the police are arguably more exciting to read about when you have guns and fire-breathing dogs and birds with psychic powers. With Pokémon come Pokémon battles, and these are often fun and exciting to read, without taking away from the plot of the story. One action-packed scene even has a Sky Battle, well before Pokémon XY introduced that feature. But the inclusion of Pokémon is not just about being awesome - they're well polished characters in their own right, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone unable to find Balin the Ninetales cute at various parts of the story.
Then there’s the setting of Sinnoh as well. While some locations don’t have an obvious parallel, such as the museum where the story really kicks off, many in-game locations do feature. There’s Canalave Library, for example, the contest hall and mansion-like homes of Hearthome, and then exploration of the various less civilised landmarks such as the Lost Tower.
And underneath all that is a certain charm to the characters. Like with Balin, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find amusement in what Bunny ends up with for nicknames. If you want to see that mixed in with a Pokémon version of a popular novel, check this fic out!
What’s up in the Fan Fiction forum for the summer season? Check below for all our upcoming events!
July 1-31: Is November’s NaNoWriMo too hardcore for you? You’re in luck! From the same people who brought you NaNo comes Camp NaNoWriMo, a summertime edition of the classic annual event. The rules and the brutality of the challenge are still the same, but it’s set smack in the middle of your summer fun season! If you wish to participate in the challenge, be sure to keep an eye on Author’s Cafe for a new productivity tool that will be released just in time for your Camp NaNo fun! There will also be a special Camp NaNo thread for those of you who need a place to cry.
Now: For those of you who haven’t noticed, the Fan Fiction Awards’ results have gone up. Congrats to all the winners! And to everyone, although the 2014 awards have drawn to a close, don’t forget that it’s your hard work and dedication that makes this annual event interesting. Keep up the good work, and may the 2015 awards be even better!
Now: Looking for someone who can give your work a quick once-over? Don’t forget we have not one but two beta threads available! Our Author’s Profile thread doubles as a beta reader thread, so if you’re interested in helping out around the community, consider submitting a beta reader’s profile or editing your author’s profile to include one. Not interested in serving as a formal beta reader? Just looking for someone to give your work a quick once-over? Try The Open Beta Thread, our Review Game for before you post! The rules of this thread have been amended recently so that you no longer have to beta the work before yours to post, so now it’s easier than ever to get your work looked at!
Now: Completed Fics has just reopened its doors to posting! You can read more about this event here. But that's not all! Read a lot of fic and think you can summarize some of the completed ones? Check out the Completed Fics Catalog and submit your summaries so that your favorites can be catalogued for posterity!
Soon: Want to help out with the community here at Fan Fiction? We’re putting out an all-hands-on-deck bulletin for not one but two important changes coming to this forum! If you’re in the mood for giving advice, keep an eye out for an Advice for Aspiring Authors revamp development thread!
Soon: Keep one eye open on the Author’s Cafe this coming season because a big event is coming! What could they beeeee? The staff can’t give you any solid information right now, but we can say: 1) it’s for those of you who love a good challenge, 2) it happens every year, and 3) okay, yeah, it’s a contest. We can’t reveal the theme just yet for obvious reasons, but look forward to it!
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 help you practice with grammar and editing. These are arranged in difficulty levels - all you have to do is follow the instructions and submit your answers in the thread! You are free to discuss the exercises and how other people answered.
The Right Word
Some words have a lot of synonyms, but not all synonyms fit in every circumstance.
1. Ygritte’s cheeks were _____ from of the cold. Her hair was _______, kissed by fire. [ombre/rosy/auburn]
2. His eyes shone with excitement, and an earnest ______ graced his face. She couldn’t help but ______ - the plan was working. [grin/smirk/smile]
3. She ______ed through the park on her daily _____ with Spot, ____ing aside for the father with his baby stroller. [step/stroll/walk]
4. Dani finished her work that day _______ly. That night, as she gazed across the Tauros ranch, realizing how ______ it was, it suddenly seemed that this might not be such a bad summer job after all. [peaceful/quiet/silent]
5. He ______ed lovingly into her eyes. Suddenly, there was a mighty crash, and the two turned to _____ at what had caused the commotion. Once they _____(past tense) it, they couldn’t ______ away. [look/gaze/see/glance/stare]
Find and remove the repetitive parts to tighten each sentence.
1. The two boys laughed at the poor Ratatta who was paralyzed with fright, taking great pleasure in the way it was so scared.
2. They were in a dark, windowless room. There didn’t seem to be any windows or sources of light.
3. Thanks to the Potion, the Linoone was back in action and looked like it was ready to battle.
4. As much as he struggled, he couldn’t open the jar with his bare hands - it was way too tough to try and pry open by hand.
5. It seemed as though she had actually prepared a strategy, based off how she acted like she had a plan.
Purple prose is description loaded with fancy words and flowery language to the extreme - so extreme in fact that it gets in the way of what the story is actually trying to say. Your task here is to rewrite the paragraph through simpler synonyms so it becomes readable. (The excerpt is brought to you from a published novel!)
"Layer upon layer of pregnant clouds blanketed Palancar Valley, clinging to the mountains with tenacious arms and filling the air with heavy, cold mist. From inside, Roran watched as cords of gray water pelted the trees with their frothing leaves, muddied the trench around Carvahall, and scrabbled with blunt fingers against the thatched roofs and eaves as the clouds disgorged their load. Everything was streaked, blurred, and hidden behind the torrent's inexorable streamers..."
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.
Additionally, everyone who completes the challenge is guaranteed to get a review from at least one mod. (Usually, we'll just show up, but feel free to ask for a review request.) That’s right! Complete a challenge, get a review! So do your best and write! You can do it!
[spoil]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 to 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.[/spoil]
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:
Some characters are just talk, talk, talk. And this can sometimes be a problem because the story doesn’t get a word in edgewise! Wouldn’t it be cool if a story could get some peace and quiet?
Why, yes, it would! Your challenge for this quarter is to write an entire fic with no dialogue. That means no internal dialogue (thoughts), no external dialogue (characters speaking aloud), no narration that is technically still narration but we all know that it’s really a stand-in for a character talking (see A Leash of Foxes—sorry, Cutlerine!). No. Dialogue. Whatsoever.
How on Earth do you write a story with no dialogue? Body language, friends! Have your characters express themselves through expressions and actions. Make your actions big and loud! Make your characters doing things to show off those personalities! Do everything you can to tell a complete story without your characters needing to say a peep.
Extra credit goes out to those of you who write two or more characters carrying out an entire “conversation” using just body language and hand gestures.
The users below have successfully completed a Quarterly Challenge! Click their usernames to be taken to their stories.