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Fan Fiction Quarterly: Edition 3 (December 2015)

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Psychic, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    Edition 2

    Welcome to the third edition of the FFQ, and the last one created exclusively by the Fan Fiction Mod team! We have been posting new editions every few months, and apologize for the lateness of this edition. We’re excited to be opening up this project going forward, and hope you enjoy this one! Do read and share your thoughts in this thread!

    Each edition of the newsletter has featured both a current fan fiction and one from the glorious archives. Also included is an interview with a section reviewing regular, updates on what's going on in the section and a writing prompt challenge! Phew!​

    Editor’s Choice

    This Quarterly, we're featuring a promising newcomer effort that has been faithfully updated at a breakneck pace since this May. It is...

    The End
    by DeliriousAbsol​

    This is a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon fic, in that it portrays a humanlike society of Pokémon reminiscent of the Mystery Dungeon games. However, there are no rescue teams or a former human main character. Rather, it concerns a great war between three factions of Pokémon: the Darkness, an army of Dark-, Ghost- and Dragon-type Pokémon trying to conquer the world; the Heretics, Pokémon of other types hoping to stay on the Darkness's good side; and Outcasts, the remaining Pokémon, who have been driven into hiding.

    Cleo the Meowstic and Spark the Dedenne are members of the Guild that protects and oversees the Outcasts, and near the beginning they are sent off with an amnesiac Whimsicott named Mischief to investigate some unusual events. They are then quickly thrust into one situation after another, usually pawns forced to react to the whirlwind of happenings more than instigators of it, as they discover deadly sabotage of a village's water supply, sinister experiments with biological weapons, tantalizing evidence that there may still be tribes of Pokémon living in peace in the wild, and the mysterious emergence of a new type of Pokémon - Fairy-types - who might be the key to stopping the Darkness once and for all.

    The End shines in its cast of varied, likeable characters and the fluid dialogue and interactions between them. DeliriousAbsol has an ear for giving her characters distinct but natural voices that complement and sharpen their individual personalities, and they clash and conflict in realistic ways as the story proceeds. In particular, Enigma and Harlequin, two Darkness assassins sent after the protagonists, have a strangely sweet relationship and are possibly the most interesting members of the cast. The prose is otherwise sparse and minimalistic, and unfortunately plagued with occasional typos and spelling and grammar fumbles, but it is nonetheless stylistically solid and often quite effective and evocative when it needs to be, creating tension and unease in few words.

    Moreover, there are intriguing hints that all is not as it seems. Near the beginning, from our heroes' point of view, we are told that the Heretics are effectively an unhinged cult worshipping the Darkness in the hope that their lives will be spared for it - but the first time we actually meet a group of Heretics, they're normal, concerned villagers, quick to warn the heroes away from a poisoned river that they have been desperately attempting to block to prevent it from killing more Pokémon. They only become hostile when they find out that the heroes are members of the Outcast Guild, which they think might have been behind the poisoning - and they may be right: Cleo and Spark have never even met the Guild's leadership. These subtle hints, and others, give lie to the initially simplistic and black-and-white formulation of the premise and add humanity and nuance to the story, even as it avoids immediately rubbing the discrepancy in the reader's face and the characters retain their prejudices and preconceptions.

    All in all, it is an interesting and absorbing read that quickly makes you care about the cast and promises even more intrigue in the future - and luckily, in this case the future isn't far off! The story has 26 chapters up on the forums so far and is updated roughly once a week - and on FanFiction.Net it is already up to 55 chapters, ensuring updates will continue well into the future. Catch up while you still can!​

    Reviewers’ Feature

    In this edition, we sat down with starliteevee, a reviewer with a passion for fan fiction and helping people. Her style is all about staying positive, quoting as she reads and paying attention to the little things to create cohesive reviews. For starliteevee, it’s about being honest while remaining encouraging to writers of all stripes.

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

    Reviewing with compassion​

    Fan Fiction Quarterly: When did you start reviewing fics, and why?

    starliteevee: I want to say I started reviewing back in 2010, but I actively became a reviewer around August of 2013. I started reviewing fics because, well, I do like fanfiction, and I enjoy reading what interpretations other people have of the franchises their into (in this case, Pokemon). I admit that part of the reason I started reviewing was because I was about to post my own fic, and I figured that if I became a more active member of the fanfiction community and was giving other people reviews, they would be more inclined to check out my stuff.

    FFQ: That's a totally legitimate reason to start reviewing! It's how I started, and I think how a lot of people do - becoming more active in the community is definitely a way to get noticed and get other people to return the favour. 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?

    starliteevee: Often, I would initially check out stories that had either no or very few reviews. The stories that I prefer to read vary; I like small slice-of-life stories every now and then, though I am also a big fan of high fantasy and adventure. I like it when material differs from that of the anime, games and manga. I appreciate it when the authors take the extra creative step to make their plot more than the traditional journey fic, or when they explore the inner lives of people or characters who seem to not have a huge role. I also like fics that explore the concepts behind different Pokemon and how they carry out their daily lives.

    FFQ: It's great that you aim to review stories that haven't gotten much attention, that's definitely something writers appreciate. What goes into your decision to sit down and review a fic? Do you try to review everything you read?

    starliteevee: I generally try to review everything that I read. Part of it is out of a feeling of obligation. Sometimes when I'm reading, I'll suddenly think of something and then I'll want to write it down and let the author know. I know I appreciate it when people notice the little things when they give me reviews, so I try to do the same for them.

    FFQ: That's a pretty good rule of thumb. Your reviewing style seems to be based on commenting on quotes you enjoyed or empathized with. Do you collect quotes as you read, or go back to it later? How do you construct your reviews in general?

    starliteevee: I generally review by grabbing quotes and commenting on them as I read. I find that if I go through the chapter and then go back, I'll forget what I wanted to comment on. I will make a short introduction before getting into the review, then at the end I'll put a little summary and try to put more encouragement and wish them good luck in all of their future endeavours. (I kinda modelled it after the first review Negrek gave me, except I don't go nearly as in-depth as she does.)

    FFQ: I like that you specifically mention being encouraging in your reviews - getting a review can be really tough, and I'm sure writers appreciate that kind of positivity. (And hey, it's great to learn from fellow reviewers! I'm sure Negrek would be flattered to hear that.)

    starliteevee: Of course! I use to take any sort of criticism reeeeeaaally badly (but I was also a hormonal little brat), so I try to be as sensitive and kind as I can even if I have criticism to offer. And seriously, I felt like that first review she gave me just gave me a huge kickstart in the right direction. It was a very humbling experience, but I'm so happy I went through it. I admit that I'm not as well-read or knowledgable on the rules of writing or English language like some of the older members of our community, but I do try to help people improve their writing style and pick out any grammar flaws that I see. I also sometimes pick out things that I think have odd wording and ask the author if it was proper grammar, and then they would explain yes and why. So that's part of how I learn.

    FFQ: You don't need to be an expert, but practice makes perfect, and you start to develop an eye for little things like that. What other challenges have you come across while reviewing?

    starliteevee: I spend a good hunk of time thinking of how to word my conclusion at the end of the review so I can say what I want to get my point across but still be encouraging. Personally, I feel that my reviews can never be too flattering. So even if I haven't have much to give in the way of criticism, I'lll always try to be cheerful and kind to them at the end.

    FFQ: That's sweet and thoughtful! 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?

    starliteevee: Authors: Find a good balance between story-telling and description! Having details are good, but too much detail and you can easily make mistakes or lose someone's interest. Reviewers: Don't ever be afraid to say what's on your mind, but make sure that you're kind and encouraging to the end.

    FFQ: Good advice! And lastly, is there anything else you want to say?

    starliteevee: Thank you so much for including me in this! I'm so happy that I've found a writing community to be part of, and being in the FFQ makes me really feel involved.

    FFQ: You're absolutely welcome! It's been awesome having you (both in the community and for this interview), and we're excited that this makes people feel involved and valued!​

    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 four-parts-long Pokémon fic. It follows a well known canon character and explores their past as well as offering a theory for the existence of the Pokémon world, and if that isn’t intriguing enough, it kicks off in the middle of a war zone. Yes, it’s...

    The title works in grabbing your attention, and extends to chapter titles as well (‘Part 1: A Step-by-Step Guide To MacGyvering A Black Hawk’). The story follows Lieutenant Marcus “Sparky” Surge who begins stuck between a rock and a hard place in the middle of a desert, with the rock being a downed Black Hawk helicopter, and the hard place being insurgents looking to kill survivors of the attack. When he goes to try and retrieve parts to revive his transport in an attempt to get back to base, a chance encounter with an electric rodent changes the course of events.

    The kicker is the presence of the Pokémon is clearly something of a surprise to Marcus – this is the real world after all... and yet anyone familiar with the 1st or 2nd generation Pokémon games (and their respective remakes) will recognize the name of this main character as a Gym Leader. In the games, a NPC makes a throwaway comment that Surge had taken part in a nameless war, in which his Raichu saved his life. Purple_drake explores this part of the game, and as part of the reason Pokémon making for a good source for fanfiction is the exploration of such unexplained details – you have the foundation of the Pokemon world, but a lot left unsaid about the characters, history and Pokémon. But purple_drake then goes much further by also offering a theory for how Pokémon could exist in tandem with the real world – a conspiracy theory, if you will.

    A good plot still needs good writing to support it, but the story is very well rounded. Surge is well portrayed and is a character that’s easy to find yourself supporting. His interactions with his comrade in arms feel very real, and the short conversation at the start of the fic does well to give you a sense for the characters right off the bat. The cute Pikachu also shouldn’t be excluded from praise. Surge’s frequently growing thoughts and comments about it add an extra dimension to his character, while the Pikachu has this sort of nonchalance contrasts well with Surge's more serious character - understandable given the situation Marcus finds himself in. Nothing is overly-exaggerated either - each event feels realistic and each reaction in-character.

    The story is fragmented, in that there are clear skips of times and events between each part of the story. There’s a clear connection between each one and you don’t find yourself lost in the new situation, so there’s a good level of mastery in shaping the story like this and essentially cutting out any unnecessary aspects.

    That said, it would have been nice to have seen more on the full depth of the conspiracy and Surge's adventure. And luckily, there is! While this story doesn’t go into Surge becoming a Gym Leader, there is a bonus one-shot set up after this story’s setting as well. So if you choose to check out this conspiracy theory, don't forget to also read the extra material in there.​


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

    Now: This year's contest is officially over, so head on over to the official thread to check out the results! We had a lot of interesting entries this year by a bunch of fantastic authors, so every entry is worth a gander. Want to leave a review of your own? Keep an eye out on the main forum. Some of these fics may pop up there!

    December 16-22: Yuletide Madness, a free-for-all prompt-filling frenzy where everyone can be a pinch-hitter! Make someone's Christmas brighter by ensuring every name gets a fic! And remember, the deadline for Yuletide is December 23, so get your fics in!

    December 24-25: Yuletide story reveals happen super-early in the morning of Christmas Eve. Author reveals will be happening Christmas morning. Are you a Yuletide writer? Be sure to stop by the tree to check out your surprise! Not a writer? Stop by anyway for quality holiday fics!

    January: The nominations phase for our annual Fan Fic Awards begins! Gather up the notes you've hopefully taken throughout the year and nominate your favorites in our handy-dandy website, courtesy of Dragonfree. Haven't taken notes? Don't worry! The list of fics posted this year isn't as terrifyingly long as you might think, so take this time to read over as many of them as you can. You never know—maybe you'll find a new favorite! Also, keep an eye out for the annual sticky in the main forum for news and updates about when the voting phase will begin. Let's make this year's awards even more exciting than last year’s!​

    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.

    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:
    Write a holiday fic about a holiday that doesn’t exist.

    “Say what?” you ask.

    Well, dear reader, here’s the thing. The world of Pokémon is an endlessly fascinating place, with its own people and history and culture. Yet every December, we get an inevitable slew of holiday fics about Christmas, despite the fact that we don’t actually know if Christianity is a thing in the Pokémon world. (Yes, we’re conveniently ignoring that one time Ash Ketchum met Santa Claus.)

    So here’s where the challenge comes in. This season, it’s all about world-building. That is to say, your task is to create a winter holiday and write about it. But! It’s not quite as simple as telling us about your Christmas expy. No, folks, you first have to start with the culture of the Pokémon world. Take a good look at what’s already there. What traditions would sprout from a culture where myths about legendaries are a thing? What customs would come out of a society where practically everyone is a trainer? Or what about the PMD universe? What sorts of holidays would a human-less society have? Ask yourself these questions and more as you develop a holiday completely from scratch. That holiday must make sense within the context of the culture you’re writing about. In other words, you can’t just create a Spaghetti Day. You need to create a society in which spaghetti is extremely important first.

    But! This is a story challenge, not a headcanon challenge, and as such, don’t forget you’re writing a story. That means you still need characters and a plot; it’s just that your story should also center around this holiday you’ve created. Keep in mind that your biggest and final requirement is that readers should be able to understand what your holiday is about and how to celebrate it while enjoying a story about your holiday.

    Thus, you’re writing a holiday fic about a holiday that doesn’t exist.

    Still want a challenge? Bonus points go out to fics that create holidays that in no way resemble Christmas but are still very obviously winter-themed. Alternatively, bonus points also go out to fics that do create an ersatz Christmas that still somehow makes sense in the context of the characters’ cultural history. And for those of you who would like even more of a challenge, sparkly holiday bonus points go out to those of you who use a holiday other than Christmas as the basis of your winter-themed creation (that still makes sense in the context of the characters' cultural history).

    Last Quarterly's Winners:
    • The Teller, with Silence, a comedy that presents the idea of wordless Pokémon battles among the Elite Four. Each character comes up with a creative way to deliver orders without uttering a single word, and as a cherry on top, each character shows off their unique personality—and analytical skills, for that matter—through their actions alone.
    • Dramatic Melody, with Stationary, a dramatic little fic that builds tension via the characters' silence. There's a constant question not only of "who are these people waiting for" but also of "will this man reach out to this poor woman," but before you know it, you reach the final, heart-wrenching conclusion. In short, this fic sets out to tell a story via atmosphere, and that's exactly what it does.
    • American--Pi, with Released. How do you tell a fast-paced story without letting the characters get in a one-liner? American--Pi shows you how with this fic, which sets out to tell the story of Quacklin' the Farfetch'd. It starts off with a slice-of-life moment that outlines a day in the life of a Pokémon inside its ball, but things quickly turn violent and dark the moment Quacklin's trainer trades him to Calem, who promptly releases him. Although the abruptness of act II might put some people off, the idea of telling a story of this magnitude in a short amount of space with no dialogue was an ambitious one, and it's hard not to get into Quacklin's head fairly quickly.
    • JX Valentine, with This Is..., a tragedy fic that focuses more on emotions than story. While there is a plot (a zombie apocalypse in fact) going on in the background, it's really all about the relationship between the nameless protagonist and their Espeon, from their pre-outbreak idyllic life to the protagonist's post-outbreak descent into mental instability. It's not for the faint of heart.
  2. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    Previous editions:

    Edition 1
    Edition 2

    Try This! answers: For last edition! Well done to Creepuchu, starliteevee and Kutie Pie for your answers!

    Level One
    The Right Word

    1. Ygritte’s cheeks were rosy from of the cold. Her hair was auburn, kissed by fire. [ombre/rosy/auburn]
    2. His eyes shone with excitement, and an earnest grin graced his face. She couldn’t help but smirk - the plan was working. [grin/smirk/smile]
    3. She strolled through the park on her daily walk with Spot, stepping aside for the father with his baby stroller. [step/stroll/walk]
    4. Dani finished her work that day silently. That night, as she gazed across the Tauros ranch, realizing how peaceful/quiet it was, it suddenly seemed that this might not be such a bad summer job after all. [peaceful/quiet/silent]
    5. He gazed lovingly into her eyes. Suddenly, there was a mighty crash, and the two turned to look at/see what had caused the commotion. Once they saw it, they couldn’t look away. [look/gaze/see/glance/stare]

    Level Two

    Rearranging these sentences was perfectly acceptable! Here are some ways to remove the repetition.
    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.

    Level Three
    Purple Prose

    Kutie Pie did a great job dealing with the purple prose from Christopher Paolini's writing!
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  3. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    As usual, great job on the FFQ, even if it took a while to put together. I will definitely miss the FFQ in its current format, but I hope that its revival/successor will be similar and just as good (especially because I want to be a part of its team).

    The prompt looks really interesting, and I already kind of have an idea of what to write for it. I may not be able to write it for a while, though, because I'm working on some other things.
  4. DeliriousAbsol

    DeliriousAbsol Call me Del

    I was just browsing the forum, saw that a new quarterly was up and clicked it, totally not expecting my fanfic The End to be mentioned! Thank you so much for choosing it as the editor's choice! Very encouraging, and I'm chuffed to bits! =D
  5. ASCIInerd73

    ASCIInerd73 User of the Internet

    When does the fanfic for the quarterly challenge have to be done by?
  6. bobandbill

    bobandbill Winning Smile Staff Member Super Mod

    At the moment we're aiming for a February release for the next FFQ (see the planning thread for it!), so I'd say by then, assuming no delays. Of course, you can still attempt challenges afterward, but idk about the review rewards still being valid (otherwise we'd be possibly reviewing entries for any and all challenges, which would get messy).
  7. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    This was a lot of fun to read! The interview was entertaining, and that Editor's Choice did a pretty good job of making me want to read The End. :) I should go back and look at the ones that were posted during my lengthy absence from the forum, cause this is generally a neat concept.

  8. bobandbill

    bobandbill Winning Smile Staff Member Super Mod

    Getting in with an attempted entry for the writing challenge! Indicating at a holiday event in a drabble wasn't easy, especially as it first came about in answering another prompt. But despite a lack of detail, I'd say that an event like this at the start of winter doesn't exist in the real world. ;p Anyway, that's my attempt!
  9. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    My response to this FFQ's prompt: One Winter Awakening. I went for a feel-good holiday story featuring Articuno, because Articuno is my all-time favorite Pokemon. I had a lot of fun writing this story, and kind of used it as an experiment in certain writing techniques. I hope you enjoy. :)
  10. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Whelp, it took an awful lot of crunching towards the end, but I finally got out a response to one of these prompts. I knew as soon as I saw the prompt last month that I just had to take a stab at this and go a little crazy for worldbuilding. I will confess that a good deal of the inspiration behind the winter holiday in this one came from "write what you know", but I think it still came out as something memorable and distinct for the setting.
  11. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord


    I've been having a... Very rough last couple of weeks, to say the least, and the stress got bad enough to leak to here, and I decided to kinda focus on a distraction writing-wise to blow off some much-needed steam and wound up punting out an impromptu, very last-minute answer to this Quarterly's challenge prompt here.

    I'll probably revise and re-post the hell out of the thing when the revised version of a certain related story finally drops and next holiday season rolls around, but for now enjoy, and looking forward to those mod reviews if I'm not too late for those.

    (Speaking of which, does basing your worldbuilded holiday off silly fictional ones count for the bonus points? >:p )
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
  12. bobandbill

    bobandbill Winning Smile Staff Member Super Mod

    Posting to let you know, Umbramatic and Spiteful Murkrow, that the staff will get to your entries! It may take a while (in my case I'm juggling a bunch of projects suddenly, whoops) but just letting you know we haven't missed it.

    There's not much time left before the next FFQ is scheduled to come out! We'll see if it goes to plan, but even if there's a delay I don't imagine it taking much longer. So if you want to make an entry and get a mod to review it, time's a ticking.
  13. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Jax already informed me my entry was good to go for this Quarterly, but still thanks for letting me know regardless, and definitely thanks for letting Spiteful Murkrow know. If it helps we've both already gotten a nice non-mod review to tide us over. XD

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