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Working a Nuzlocke Challenge into a Fanfiction

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Chthonic Flames, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. Chthonic Flames

    Chthonic Flames DepressionEscapist

    I'm a huge fan of the Nuzlocke/Pokemon: Hard Mode comics, and think that it's a very cool concept to apply to a game which is pretty easy from my point of view (19, 2nd term in a German University ...) I also find it interesting reading through the fan-comics that have been posted on the site as well. Some of them have VERY good plot explanations that vary greatly from the original comic, and some of the art has even been surprisingly good.

    I've been toying around doing something similar, but I can't draw. I'm a writer, despite having long periods of inactivity because of the "real world" and having to do things to stay alive within it. So I've toyed around making a Nuzlocke-style fan fiction. It would kind of be a trainer journey fic, though the concept of losing a pokemon forever would be a huge plot device, and the story might even end suddenly if I wipe with my team, which has happened to me in-game several times.

    My question is really how to approach a trainer-style fic without slipping into the common errors that those fics tend to attract.
     
  2. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me Staff Member Moderator

    Just writing about your exploits on a game and following what happens there tends not to make for very interesting or well-structured fanfiction, even if you amp up the drama factor by having deaths. Good stories generally have a coherent plot structure where things are built up and come to a climax in a consciously crafted way: later happenings are foreshadowed, characters are given developmental arcs, and so on.

    In properly plotted fiction, character deaths tend to happen at moments where they are meaningful and have maximal impact, but in a Nuzlocke run on a game, there is every reason to expect the deaths to happen randomly and pointlessly, without any relation to what would serve the story best. In some cases they can correlate - if your first Pokémon dies because you take a conscious risk and you feel guilty afterwards, that translates pretty well into a story and can kick off a genuine emotional arc for the character - but in many they won't and the story structure will suffer. Perhaps most importantly, you'll probably continue playing your game until you either win or your entire team is wiped out, while realistically your character would probably have realized after the first couple of deaths that by training Pokémon he's needlessly endangering their lives and be unable to continue in good conscience. (Either that or the character is a psychopath who doesn't really care about the wellbeing of the Pokémon, which would be interesting but also call for him to behave entirely differently and kind of miss the point of real Nuzlocke runs.)

    And you'd have no control over the plot as a whole, either, since you don't know if you're going to have to make the fic end on an anticlimax. One thing that tends to make trainer fics less interesting is when they rely totally on the plot of the games, with no original plotline - but trying to add a plotline is kind of odd when you have no idea if you'll actually get to a point where you can wrap it up.

    Not saying it couldn't be done well, but there are a lot of elephants in the room when you try to make a Nuzlocke both make sense in-world and serve as a satisfying fanfic. You should probably think about those before you think about trying to defy normal trainer fic tropes (which, as I mentioned, would be kind of hard to do anyway when you can't actually plan your plot properly ahead of time).
     
  3. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    I'm planning to write a Nuzlocke 'fic myself, since I think it'll be a fun challenge--but I think you should definitely consider that it's going to be a challenge, relative to a straight-up journeyfic. That's because it's going to require a lot more improv than the typical fanfic, where, as Dragonfree said, you can lay out what's going to happen before it happens and structure everything else accordingly. At the very least, I would encourage you to not write as you play, but to put at least a little leeway between ingame happenings and when you put down a chapter--this will give you a little time to do that foreshadowing and so on. And don't feel like you need to really mirror the circumstances around pokémon deaths too closely: so your charmander dies due to a freak wild caterpie accident or something, say. You could relate the event exactly as it happened, and if you're deft you could probably get some mileage out of the cruel randomness of death, how no pokémon is safe, etc., but there are better places for you to use the charmander's death to actually make a statement. If you stay absolutely true to what happened in your games, I think you'd be ending up with a rather scattered fanfic. The farther you get away from your actual playthrough the better, I think.

    Also, be careful about how you intend to explain the whole Nuzlocke requirements in-'fic; I don't think I've actually seen one yet that didn't fall over at the slightest amount of scrutiny. Honestly, most of the best Nuzlocke 'fics I've seen are the ones that don't even try to explain the weird rules and kind of expect the reader to suspend disbelief over it--"This is a Nuzlocke comic, you know how this works, stick around if you find it entertaining."
     
  4. Klizcool

    Klizcool Undead Blasphemer

    By reading the last two bits of advice, you can clearly see that randomly murdering Pokemon isn't going to be easy. This is why I recommend taking your plot and make it normal, but base your character off of Paul from the Anime.

    Just like Paul, your character should release a Pokemon that loses a battle because it is weak. This will create a new world of Pokemon emotions towards their Trainer. He must also have the idea that a Pokemon who is defeated is too weak to be on his team. If defeated, your character mist become angry, while they must become insulting towards others if they win a battle. We know for a fact that not all trainers are righteous in their ways, and a trainers relationship with their Pokemon isn't always perfect or ideal. By creating an extremely negative character for us to follow, you create a brand new world of training Pokemon.

    But this idea also has its bad side. Not everone likes a bad character. It will be extremely difficult to make your story interesting enough to make readers interested in a story. You may find yourself struggling to apply the thoughts of a bad character to the reader and maybe yourself too. Then again, just like the Nuzlocke challenge, the harder the challenge, the sweeter the reward.
     
  5. Cypher DS

    Cypher DS Member

    I think Klizcool has a valid point - not all pokemon need to die to be removed from the story. Wasserbienchen had N forcefully liberate her Tirtouga wheras in-game it fainted in battle. There's room to be creative.

    That said, I think good character deaths come in two varieties. The first are long, meaningful sacrifices that are foreshadowed, or expected due to the character archetype (i.e. the wise, "Obi-Wan Kenobi" mentor who dies so that the hero-in-training can rise up). The second are random deaths that stun the reader by their swiftness and pointlessness. (Gunned down by enemy fire in a warzone.)

    Here are my suggestions for composing a story-based Nuzlocke:

    -Take lots of notes. Keep a record of what you caught on each route, when they evolved and the circumstances of their death. If a rival, gym leader or Evil Team commander was responsible for a death, consider how this would affect your protagonist's relationship with the character.

    -Cut lots. Feel free to ignore extraneous characters. Using standard Nuzlocke rules you're still bound to catch 30 to 40 pokemon. Don't feel obliged to include every last piece of box fodder in your story. Decide which pokemon had the most impact on your in-game progression and focus on them.

    -Personality wins! Nuzlockers have to think up nicknames for all of their pokemon in order to make each death more personal. As an extension, pokemon in story runs can have personalities or archetypes in order to make them more unique and memorable.

    -Read Lots! The Nuzlocke forums have a Featured Story Run section where the mods highlight exceptional written Nuzlockes. Study up on how other authors compose their stories and how they translate game events to points in a character arc.
     
  6. moonlightning

    moonlightning HANDLER <RETROTRET>

    I think the main problem is that if your Pokemon kept dying, you'd probably give up being a trainer. It's not logical to continue after four or five Pokemon die, unless your character is a psychopath. . .
     
  7. Dilasc

    Dilasc Boip!

    I know it's a month late a bump but... I am contributing to the discussion, I swear!

    As someone who's started a Nuzlocke tale, I can say the hardest part is playing the game. For me, the story is simple because I'm writing comedy/parody and am hanging lampshades on top of EVERYTHING. No, the trouble is the nuzlocke game that coincides with the tale.

    It's easy to fabricate a crit hax death but a lot harder to explain why my team got swept by a Dragon Dancing Altaria because I had no icebeam compatible Pokemon.
     
  8. Evil Quagsire

    Evil Quagsire Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny

    I wouldn't base a story on gameplay to begin with. BUT THAT'S JUST ME. If I were to do anything similar to a Nuzlocke fic, it would be set in a place where Pokemon battles are far more violent, and the protagonist has a damn good reason for engaging in them. And in this story, there would be no real way to make them a heroic character. I guess it would make for a compelling anti-hero story.
    Another route is making your character like Paul, someone who powerplays, ditching Pokemon when they fail him.
     

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