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Fan Fiction Quarterly: Edition 6 (August 23, 2016)

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by AmericanPi, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    [​IMG]
    Edition 6 (August 23, 2016)

    Welcome to the sixth edition of the FFQ! We FFQ contributors have been posting new editions every few months. 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!

    Credit goes to American--Pi, Dramatic Melody, and Polipuff for writing this edition.​


    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 FFQ editors, 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 edition, we're covering a fic by a veteran but somewhat under-appreciated member of the SPPf Fan Fiction community. The fic is derived from a variety of sources and ideas, while still clearly being a journeyfic, making it an eclectic and unique story as a whole. We're talking about...

    Pokemon Moonlight Silver
    by FlamingRuby​

    This story is at its heart nice homage to the Pokemon anime, though it features an interesting concept that sets itself apart from the Pokemon anime proper. The whole story feels like it is set in the anime world, with the characters being in-character, the plots being reminiscent of many anime plotlines, and the funny moments being substantially derived from the anime's sense of humor. Despite this, it is unique enough to set itself apart from the anime continuity and establish itself as an alternate universe interpretation that entertainingly mixes the anime with the plot of various Pokemon games.

    Pokemon Moonlight Silver follows familiar anime faces Ash, Misty, and Brock as they travel through the Johto region and encounter friends and foes. It begins in a forest near New Bark Town, where Ash and Misty are engaged in another one of their silly arguments. Brock humorously settles the fight with his referee's whistle, and the three friends decide to camp for the night. This prologue successfully sets up the story as a journey through Johto.

    However, things progress a lot more quickly from there as the three traveling companions encounter one situation after another, similar to the structure of the anime while toning down the fillers. Thing may happen a bit too quickly for some people, but it is clear that Ash and his friends' journey through Johto is an exciting one that is never devoid of interesting moments. For example, at New Bark Town the friends encounter Kamon, the cold-hearted rival from the Johto games. Ash, Misty, and Brock, along with their allies Ethan and Lyra, successfully return the Totodile Kamon brazenly steals from Professor Elm. However, it is clear that they haven't seen the last of the thief. The fast-paced plot makes you wonder what Ash and his friends would encounter next, and there are many moments that capture the anime's sense of humor perfectly, such as Brock's funny songs.

    The best thing about this particular anime remix, though, is the fact that Ash, Misty, and Brock all have their own goals, character arcs, and rivals. Ash, of course, remains the main character. He pursues the Pokemon League challenge through Gym Battles, and competes with Gary Oak and Kamon. However, this doesn't mean that Misty and Brock are left without goals of their own. Misty competes with Casey, a familiar friend, in the Pokeathlon, the familiar sporting competition. Brock, on the other hand, competes with Bailey, a new face, in the Lore Stage, a series of storytelling competitions unique to this story.

    One aspect of the original series anime that many wish was improved on was the fact that Misty and Brock didn't really have any clear-cut goals - they were kind of just accompanying Ash. This isn't the case in Pokemon Moonlight Silver, which gives Brock and Misty their own paths to pursue. Brock especially is a lot more useful and active in this story than in the anime canon. He's still in-character, and his funny mannerisms are still there, but he's a lot stronger as his own character. There are moments where he seems too strong - he is able to Mega Evolve Pokemon and use Z-Moves - but overall Brock in this story is a lot cooler than his canon self, and the aforementioned mechanics are a nice nod to the newer Pokemon games.

    Though there are definitely moments in the story that pass by too quickly, Pokemon Moonlight Silver is, overall, a fun story that successfully balances plot and character development. It is an interesting, eclectic mix that includes many nice homages to various Pokemon media. If you're looking for an alternate-universe fic that also contains a lot of familiar Pokemon elements or a lighthearted and entertaining fic in general, then look no further than Pokemon Moonlight Silver.​


    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.

    In this edition we interviewed Negrek, an experienced writer and reviewer who is well known around the SPPf fanfiction community for her detailed and helpful feedback. She acknowledges that there are many reasons one might want to leave a review, and makes it a habit to check out many different fics to see if there is anything she can contribute in the form of a review.

    Examples of Negrek's reviews can be found here, here, and here.

    Negrek
    Reviewing with many reasons

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

    Negrek: Back in 2004, which was around the same time that I started writing fanfic. On FFN especially reviews are pretty much how you get to interact with authors, so if I wanted to make friends, that was more or less how I'd have to do it. It's how things worked.

    FFQ: Oh wow, you must be really experienced then. In what ways have your reviewing style and habits changed over the years?

    Negrek: My reviewing style hasn't changed a great deal, although I used to focus more on grammar/spelling/etc. nitpicks. These days I think it's usually more useful to spend more time on big-picture stuff and just mention anything particularly egregious. The things that I focus on have changed in my reviews, and some of my writing opinions as well, but as far as how I go about them there's not a lot of difference.

    FFQ: I wholeheartedly agree with you that it's a lot more useful and helpful to focus on the work as a whole. So these days, as a reviewer, what types of stories are you drawn into? What makes you click on a story, and what makes you keep reading?

    Negrek: I review pretty much the same stuff as ever, although I write more shorter reviews today, as opposed to fewer really long ones. I also used to do more request reviews. But I was considering opening up some of those soon anyway; it's not like I've grown to dislike the practice or anything.

    FFQ: Interesting, request reviews aren't exactly commonplace here on SPPf, so that could definitely be something all of us can look into. What goes into your decision to drop a review for a fic, and do you try to review everything you read?

    Negrek: What I'm drawn to as a reviewer isn't necessarily the same thing I'm drawn to as a reader. The stories I'm drawn into are usually ones that do something I haven't seen before or are particularly well-executed examples of stuff I've seen before. I also click on pretty much everything (since we don't have anything like summaries on Serebii); it's the first couple sentences that decide whether I'll stick around.

    As for what I'm drawn to as a REVIEWER, it's usually feeling that I have something interesting to say about the story. Or it might be that the 'fic makes me see something differently--it might be a particularly good example of a concept I'd been thinking about a lot lately, or it might be something I hadn't recognized before. Other than that, I of course try to leave reviews for stories I really, really enjoyed, even if I don't have a great deal to say, and for new writers who haven't gotten much attention as well. But if it's something that can go either way, it's a question of whether it will be interesting for me to review as much as if it would be useful to the author.

    So no, don't try to review everything I read, couldn't possibly.

    FFQ: Is there a particular interaction you've had with an author that sticks out in your mind?

    Negrek: I've had plenty of interactions with other authors, both good and bad. I've made plenty of friends through reviewing, and sometimes I get a particularly wonderful review that makes me really happy, but in terms of review responses I can't think of any that were particularly unusual off the top of my head.

    FFQ: No problem! I'm glad you got to make friends through reviewing, because that's a great reason to keep doing it. Next question: What advice do you have for reviewers looking to improve their skills? How about for authors who want to catch the attention of readers?

    Negrek: For improving reviewing skills, it kind of depends on what you want to get out of it. Like, leaving a review can be as simple as "hey this was a cool chapter, I was really glad Sandra finally managed to get a gym badge," and there's nothing wrong with that. If the idea is you want to show the author your appreciation, or make some kind of comment on what's happening in the story ("I'm really excited for seeing what the egg hatches into!"), you kind of can't go wrong.

    If you're more trying to improve in terms of critical analysis, then reading other reviews would be useful--it will help you pick up on the vocab people use and get a sense of how people go about dissecting media. But fanfic reviews are not just about slicing up a story and trying to make judgements about what's good or bad about it.

    For the most part, the way to get better at reviews is to write more of them, because a lot of "getting better" is just figuring out what you actually want to do with your reviews and then learning through trial and error what best serves that end. The skills that are most important for you to develop are going to depend on what kind of reviewer you want to be, and to figure out what that is you need to develop your own style, and to do that you need to write a fair number of reviews.

    As far as gaining more readership, the answer again is pretty much to write more reviews. Because, again, SPPf doesn't have summaries, the only way to get people to notice you is to put yourself out there directly and get active in the forums. Some people will feel obligated to review back if you review them; some won't. But even if they don't, leaving a solid review in someone's thread may get one of that person's readers interested in you and your 'fic. And even if you don't directly benefit from leaving more reviews, by helping to create an atmosphere in which more people are encouraged to review, you can indirectly benefit and get more reviews yourself by making reviews a more common thing. A rising tide floats all boats, and all that.

    FFQ: I'm sure all of what you've said will be very useful to many people - it was certainly useful to me, because I definitely garnered a lot of food for thought from reading your detailed responses. Thanks for all the 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.

    We're doing something a bit different with this edition. Instead of featuring a completed fic, we'll be taking a look at three notable one-shots that have been recognized for their excellence in prose, plot, mechanics, and most importantly, adherence to a particular theme. For this Blast from the Past, we'll take a look at three winners of previous SPPf one-shot contests!



    At the core of every romance story is not the parties involved but the relationship between them. A good romance story takes its time to explore how the relationship affects both parties and how both parties affect each other, all the while weaving a narrative that contextualizes and challenges this core.

    Following that, Knightblazer's "Moment Of Peace" is a great romance story. While being in a grimmer tone than what you'd expect from the genre, its exploration of the heavy relationship between its characters as well as its strong use of images and descriptions make it a fitting winner of the 2006 romance one-shot contest.

    The story follows Mewtwo's internal struggle with Mew's death, with the story pointing toward the fact that the former had a hand in the latter's demise. Knightblazer makes great effort in setting up the contrast between the two characters, but the story never forgets that it's dealing with a complex relationship. Using at times very concrete imagery and playing with several dichotomies such as light/dark and peace/chaos, the story brings the reader into the same state of guilt and pain Mewtwo is experiencing.

    While the mysterious atmosphere heightens the tension, the story does teeter over the edge a couple of times due to how vague parts of the narrative are. The readers aren't entirely sure what led to Mew's condition or Mewtwo's regret and is instead thrown into its aftermath right at the beginning of the story. While the air of mystery lends to the grim tone of the story, it does take a bit away from the narrative.

    But overall, "Moment Of Peace" succeeds in doing what romance stories do best—make readers feel for its characters and their relationship. It may not be filled with roses and chocolates, but it definitely stole the show in the contest.



    Legendary Pokémon are incredible subjects for stories—as all three of these winning one-shots show. The canon already gives writers with quite a lot to work with in terms of character and conflict, making them much more fleshed out than other species. But this also gives the writer a challenge when working with these Pokémon, seeing as they have a lot of expectations to live up to in terms of how they portray them.

    CHeSHiRe-CaT’s "Kitos Tragoudi" (roughly translating to "whale song") presents a very unique portrayal of the water legendary Kyogre, which explains why it won the Legendary Pokémon-focused one-shot contest back in 2007. Though fans are used to seeing Kyogre as a behemoth who quarrels with Groudon, CHeSHiRe-CaT chose to present Kyogre as a dying mother.

    Those two words are strange to associate with a legendary Pokémon, yes, but the story does great in setting the atmosphere, building tension and exploring the dynamic between its characters to make the situation believable. Apart from Kyogre, the readers also get to meet her son, Vusyiu, and his love for his mother makes the reveal of her death all the more painful. This leads to what is arguably the best scene of the story where his mourning outlines that of all of the ocean's Pokémon, highlighting that his mother was the mother of all of the Pokémon who live in the seas she created.

    While the story is great in several elements, it does falter a bit when it comes to dialogue. There are times when the mother Kyogre's words seem static, which while understandable given her situation, could have been lifted by a stronger treatment of emotions. There are also moments in the latter part where her slowing speech seeps into the first-person narration, and while that may be a stylistic choice, it does jar the reading somewhat.

    But that does not take away from the strength of "Kitos Tragoudi" in evoking emotion out of its readers. Portraying an otherwise destructive Pokémon as a loving mother was a big challenge, but CHeSHiRe-CaT pulled it off very well, making the story stand out in the Myths and Legends contest.


    Stories about the apocalypse are never easy to create; they all have to work toward an expected ending in unexpected ways. They have to evoke several emotions—fear, dread, hopelessness, desperation—while balancing the effort of portraying a narrative in a hurry, a story that hinges on the fact that it (and everything else) will end.

    "I Am Deoxys", duncan's winning one-shot for the 2008 sci-fi/fantasy contest, hits all these points seamlessly. The fragmented structure makes for a great way to build up to the end, and the last two segments with the scientist and Deoxys drives home the haunting tone that makes the story successful.

    Deoxys is presented as a creation capable of, and choosing to, destroy its creator, though presenting it as a product of misjudgement makes for a very chilling realization. The guilt that consumes the creator in his fragment makes for a great reveal, and while there may be a feeling that too much is left unsaid, there are enough elements brought up to piece together a great apocalyptic narrative.

    Though it was written for a sci-fi/fantasy contest, the strongest element of this fic is arguably its quiet, realist moments, which is seen in its first few fragments. The impending approach of the apocalypse never leaves the story, but duncan still finds ways to inject a lot of humanity in his characters through small moments that take the story to another level. There is a certain something to the image of a five-year-old girl simply waving to a teenager and the latter waving back amidst all the chaos and despair.

    All in all, "I Am Deoxys" makes sure you feel the intensity of emotions that each of its characters feel, and leaves you with a lot to think about—both signs of a strong and effective one-shot deserving of its contest win.


    Events

    What's going on in the Fan Fiction forum for the next few months? Check below for all our upcoming events!

    Now: The last Serebii Exquisite Corpse has been completed, and all the completed Exquisite Corpses have been posted in the Authors' Cafe. Thanks to all the participants for making the very first Exquisite Corpse absolutely exquisite, and now, all participants and the rest of the world can take a look at all the mayhem that has been wrought over the past couple of months.

    Soon: Want to help with writing next edition's FFQ? Check out the Fan Fiction Quarterly Edition 7 Planning Thread, which will soon go up in the Authors' Cafe. We always welcome writers, so if you're looking for a way to contribute to the Fan Fiction community then look no further.

    Soon: Like in previous years, a new Fan Fiction contest may occur later this year. Keep your eyes peeled!

    Soon: Keep your eyes peeled for the thread announcing the Third Annual Serebii Yuletide, which should go live within the next couple of months. The Yuletide is a fanfic exchange event where authors sign up to write fics for each other. If you're looking for a fun way to spice up your holiday season with some writing, then look no further. For an idea of how the Yuletide works, here's the thread for last year's Serebii Yuletide.

    November 1, 2016 - November 30, 2016: 2016's version of the famous international writing challenge for all novelists, National Novel Writing Month, is just a few months away. The premise of NaNoWriMo is simple: in the span of thirty days (the month of November), write 50,000 words. Traditionally those 50,000 words are a single original fiction novel, but many writers work on fanfiction projects, multiple projects, or a combination of the previous two. There will also be a special NaNo thread for those of you who need a place to cry.

    January 1, 2017: This is the FFQ Edition 7's projected release date! Edition 7 will be the last Fan Fiction Quarterly that I, American--Pi, will be in charge of organizing, so it will be an extra-long, extra-special Edition that will contain lots of extra awesome content. If you want to help with writing the FFQ, check out the Fan Fiction Quarterly Edition 7 Planning Thread, which will soon go live in the Authors' Cafe.​


    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 fulfilling 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 in the Quarterly Challenge Winners thread! All fics that have fulfilled a Quarterly Challenge will be rounded up in that thread.

    Additionally, everyone who completes a Quarterly Challenge is guaranteed to get a review from at least one mod. (Usually, they'll just show up, but feel free to ask for a review request.) That's right! Complete a challenge, get a review! And a great thing is, you can complete any Quarterly Challenge, no matter which Edition it comes from, and still get a mod review. So do your best and write! You can do it!

    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.

    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 fic that's only Dialogue.

    Yes, you heard me. Only dialogue.

    But no! You're saying. How can you possibly only have dialogue? It's impossible to only have dialogue! How can you make up a plot? How can you even reveal anything?

    Well, it's simple, really. There are three ways a character can be revealed and defined:

    - By the way other characters act and talk about and around them
    - By the way they act and speak
    - How narration describes the character

    Now, most beginner writers may just use narration to describe something, but a good writer uses all three. This challenge will make you burst out of your little narration bubble, and make you use the other two ways to shape a character.

    Also, the word 'said' is okay. Actually, most people find it very annoying if a character hammered, badgered, exasperated, shrilled, hypothesized, marvelled, or divulged every single time they spoke. Doing this at certain times may actually be useful, but keep it at moderation! That is key. Remember, too, that the reader can probably tell if a person screamed and yelled, based on how they talked.

    Oh, and before you open your word processor, here are some rules to follow:

    1 . No narration. At all. This doesn't include 'he/she/they said' (or any other substitutes for said), but do not describe what's happening using narration, that's part of the challenge. Bonus points are rewarded for fics that do not have any of 'he/she/they said', and any variations of it.

    2 . Bonus points for anybody who uses accents in their characters. (And extra bonus points for anybody who doesn't use any 'fake' words. For anybody who has read Huckleberry Finn, you know what we mean.)

    Type away!​
     
  2. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

  3. Poetry

    Poetry Dancing Mad

    Oh my god, this quarterly challenge is perfect. No joke, in the past few months I have literally been writing portions of dialogue-only prose in order to more clearly flesh out my character's individual voices, so this couldn't have come at a better time. Will definitely be participating in his one - I already have so many ideas.
     
  4. Kutie Pie

    Kutie Pie "It is my destiny."

    Ahhhhh I remember that first one-shot. I miss Knightblazer, I wonder what happened to him.

    So uh... question? When you say "no narration", that means you can't have something like "'Warble, warble,' person explained, leaning away" at all?
     
  5. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    You can have "person explained" but not "leaning away". Hope this makes sense! :)
     

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