This is an addendum of comments made by Helen Szeto while revising this guide for net publication. This document is somewhat disjointed because the comments refer to points made within the paper itself. All comments made on this page are those of Helen Szeto directed towards me, Amanda Anderson.
Self-insertion fics have tended to fail when the author has suddenly (and inexplicably) altered the balance of the story i.e., pairing them up with a Senshi such as Mako-chan or Rei-chan or even Usagi-chan with no semblance of explanation or even a glimpse of reasoning. Brett Handy-san's Oh My God! has worked because his relationship with Urd develops over a period of time -- through Oh My God!, Too Good To Be True (A Ranma ½/O[h!] M[y] God[dess!] crossover), Who's a God, and through two more stories: an OMGod/You're Under Arrest! crossover, and an OMGod/Kimagure Orange Road crossover.
All in all, Handy-sama's relationship with Urd has had close to a year and a half to develop. In most self-insertion fics have tended to have the author, who have tended to be: 1) a North American high-school aged student; 2) a male; 3) unattached; and 4)endowed with reasonable (or superb) martial arts skills; drop into the world in question (possibly Juuban Tokyo (if discussing the Japanese Sailormoon) or else a non-descript Tokyo (if discussing the North American adaptation).)
A key point to remember about SI fics is that most people read the fanfiction stories because they want to read about the canon characters, and NOT the intimate details of the author's lives. College Life has worked because we are able to draw the lives of Haruka and Michiru into the campus life that Beans leads. You release enough detail to paint the setting of College Life and we are allowed to watch the interaction of Haruka and Michiru within that setting; there are no periods of time where Haruka and Michiru 'wander off the set' and the only focus is upon Beans.
Realism within the story. Nowhere within the SM-verse does it say that the Senshi are invincible -- they may carry themselves as if they are invincible; but they can and do get hurt; and they can and do get sick. We need but dig up the first season episode of Rei-chan ill, second season episode of Nurse Minako, the SuperS special of Haruka sick, SuperS season of Mamoru as a mind-controlled zombie -- the list goes on.
[Ed. note: This is in 3 parts that have been put into one section. The 3 responses will be divided by ---.]
Levar Bouyer has managed somewhat an interesting solution to the 'serial' story. He released BSSO [Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Orion] 20x series on a weekly basis after ensuring that he had at least three chapters/episodes completed (or in the final stages of polishing). He is utilizing the same method with BSSO 30x -- having releasing 301 some four weeks ago, he released 302 this week (Thursday) and I've had hints that 303-306 are near completion.
[Regarding switching stories while in the middle of writing a serial fanfic. In response to the quote by Jackie Chiang.]
Hmmmmmm....I think that one of the most interesting examples of switching stories has been with what John Biles' has released to the FFML [FanFic Mailing List]. As the author of Dance of Shiva, he has already begun to release another story within his mega-crossover continuity: Black Moon Rising; but after 6 chapters intermittently to the ML, he has also taken to writing a crossover between Marmalade Boy and Sailormoon: Marmalade Moon. Biles' as well as Chris Davies, have tended to have several story projects going at once. Chris Davies' T[ogether] A[gain]: 1996 has finally finished its' release to both the ML as well as the archives, but during the writing, we have also seen teasers from: Bubble Gum Chakram (A B[ubble] G[um] C[risis/Crash]/Xena/TA continuity crossover) -- two parts; Further Adventures of Sheila Tenkai -- two parts; The Infinite Future (A S[ailor] M[oon]/M[agic] K[nights] R[ayearth] crossover) -- one part.
In terms of your writing, we've seen the beginning of Heaven's Ruler, Deserving, Kittens, [The Trouble with Kittens] and Daimons [Memoirs of a Daimon] (over the last six months). Not to mention the two stories with Elizabeth 'Ophelia' Hegarat - Outer Senshi versus the Starlights and the Revenge of the Plushies.
Ahhhh...the sin of mass release. It seems that some of the newer fanfiction authors have seemed to get enthused at the thought of releasing some 10 or 12 parts at the same time. What's even worse, each of these parts tend to only be three to four KB in length which then means that each archive file would contain some thirty or forty parts (yes, I am thinking of a certain Ultra Crystal Knight who posted their series with some fifty odd parts and the final size reached only about two hundred KB).
The question of release in parts or release in whole have plagued many writers. Levar released BSSO in parts to the archives but released it intact to the rec.arts.anime.creative newsgroup. Ken Wolfe released the first half (in parts of four chapters) of Secrets to the r.a.a.c but never finished releasing Secrets to the archive after that (I know, because I picked up Secrets first from the r.a.a.c newsgroup but finished reading the story from the A/L [Artemis and Luna] zip files.).
Release in parts, but make sure that you follow some sort of timeline that will ensure that if you are writing a serial, then you'll be releasing (hopefully) something within the future months. It is so often that a good story is begun but there is no follow-up to the beginning chapters.
[will you be discussing Emotional Reality? as mentioned a priori by Jen Wand during the 'Haruka' threads of 1997:
"That's back to the concept of Emotional Reality, which is one I bring up again and again when analyzing fiction. We don't have to agree with everything a character does, nor does their situation have to be "realistic..." but if the emotions are real, we believe. That's the key to a successful character. WE must believe that (S)HE believes it. And it's the key to a successful work of fiction, be it a movie, play, book, or comic, be it realism or fantasy or sci-fi. It must be emotionally real."
A.f.s-m Article 18 of exactly 75 by Ms. Jennifer Wand on 1997/11/18
This concept of suspended belief (or disbelief) also applies when we _read_ fan-fiction. We are willing to ignore all of the physical and scientific trivialities that would demand that we question the 'basis' for the writer's assertations. In stories that have characters behaving OOC, we question the reasons why; if there is a logical disclosure of events that lead up to the OOC behaviour, we too, are willing to suspend disbelief to read the story.
I think that one of the best example's been Levar Bouyer's 'Innocence in A Minor'...
A clip from the 1997 Chicken Ball Awards ceremony by: Megane 6.7 and Robin 'Lunari' Seabaugh:
(J. Austin) Wilde: < flushing with embarrassment > "Oh." < straightening up to face the audience > "*ahem* Our last nominee for the 'Best Darkfic/Shockfic of 1997' is..."
< Kasumi (the axe murderess) walks off-stage >
Wilde: "LeVar Bouyer's 'Innocence In A Minor,' which enjoys the singular distinction among our Darkfic/Shockfic nominees of being the only non-Ranma 1/2 fanfiction to get the Chicken Ball nod from you, our beloved Fan Fiction Mailing List audience... Um... Ah..."
< Wilde looks around nervously, wondering what he's supposed to do without Kasumi present to keep things moving. The TelePrompTer goes blank. Crickets can be heard in the audience. >
Wilde: "Uh... Did I mention that it's a Sailor Moon fic? I guess if it wasn't Ranma, it had to be Sailor Moon..."
< there is continued silence from the audience >
Wilde: < uncomfortably > "Yeah... *Ahem* Ah, roll clip..."
Wilde: "Uh.... Roll clip please...?"
< Kasumi walks back on stage. She appears to be holding a bloody food processor sans the glass container. Her black elbow length gloves glisten with an unnatural wetness. >
Kasumi: < cheerfully > "I'm back. Did I miss anything?"
Wilde: "Um, we don't seem to be getting any response from the projectionist's booth. They must be having technical difficulties or something."
Kasumi: < grinning > "I suppose you could call it that."
Wilde: < looking down at the bloody cuisinart in Kasumi's hands > "So, ah, Kasumi-chan... Is there something you want to tell me right now?"
Kasumi: < blushing > "Oh my... Should there be?"
Wilde: < tactfully pointing to the gore stained cuisinart > "Would you please explain to me why you are holding a blood soaked kitchen appliance, and how this might relate to the projectionist not responding to his cue all of a sudden?"
Kasumi: < blushing even more > "Well... I suppose I *may* have had something to do with it..."
Wilde: "Go on..."
Kasumi: "Well... I don't know what came over me..."
Wilde: "Go on..."
Kasumi: < shyly > "Um... You see, the last nominee wasn't a Ranma 1/2 story, and I just sort of... Took it the wrong way and... Maybe got a little carried away and..." < meekly > "Pureed the projectionist and his assistants... A little..."
Wilde: < clucking mournfully > "Kasumi, Kasumi, Kasumi... You know it's exactly this kind of behavior that gets irate citizens of the mailing list complaining of a Vast Ranma-Wing Conspiracy trying to subvert and discredit the works of non-Ranma 1/2 fanfiction..."
Kasumi: < weakly > "I'm sorry..."
< Wilde turns to face the audience > "So what do you think out there? Should we forgive Kasumi and let bygones be bygones?"
< The audience roars its approval. Shouts of "We love you, Kasumi!" echo from the mezzanine. Soon a standing ovation erupts. Kasumi smiles and blushes with blazing warmth, still holding the bloody cuisinart in gore dripping gloved hands. >
Wilde: "That's what I thought... Ah! I'm getting a sign from the production engineers... Roll clip..."
Sailor Moon had reached a decision. Somewhere deep inside, a part of her howled in terror at what was about to happen, but she pressed on. "Yes, you'll have plenty of time to explain yourselves in the afterlife."
"Nani?" Ann's heart had risen so far: was it to come crashing down?
"Ai to seigi, seeraa fuku bishoujo senshi Sailor Moon! Tsuki ni kawatte, korosu yo!"
And then there was no battle cry, no words of power, just the sound of two beings being blasted out of the universe.
At about that moment, Mamoru came into the room, having heard about strange occurances. He looked at the scene and his mouth dropped in shock.
"Sailor Moon. What have you done?"
< http://csunix1.lvc.edu/~l_bouyer/ >
< applause from the audience. >
Wilde: "Why is it that I hear the shrieking noise from the 'Psycho' shower scene when I read this?"
Kasumi: "Because Usagi is a psycho?"
[Levar's darkfic is one of the few fics that not only has the lead character acting OOC but also to trace this 'descent' into madness.]
Keeping a writing folder
[Hehehehe...this is probably some of the most valued advice that one could present towards creative writing in general. In the current education system, young children are encouraged to keep a 'writing' folder to store their creations, and to keep the folder all throughout high school (and possibly beyond). Just like many writers will write vignettes and short-fics, keeping track of ideas will mean a development of style as well as concept.
Personally, I've kept most of my major writings, academic and otherwise in a box.]
Response to fanfics
[Heh! You know...I only respond to writers and stories that get a 'rise' or a response from me. Literally, if I may quote from Pluto-san:
"I wouldn't bother to make the time to see you."
or in the case of fic-reading: "I wouldn't bother to make the time to respond to you."
Fic-reading is time consuming and every writer is expecting a response; if I responded to every fic that I read, I'd have no time to do anything else. I probably represent the average fanfic reader. I read between eighty to a hundred different fanfics over a session. If a story is bad, I will have read it once and then it doesn't stick in my memory long enough for me to express my distaste. A good fanfic is something that catches my attention and holds it. Every fanfic that I've reviewed and/or sent comments to the author have had that 'something' that has hooked me to the story.
During the last summer session, I read close to 450 stories. I've sent comments to about ten to fifteen authors: which included: JetWolf, Pandora Waldron, Greenbeans, Jackie Chiang, Tim Nolan, Troy Stanton, Chris Davies, Ken Wolfe, Levar Bouyer, Victor Naqvi, Doug Helms, John Biles,...]
[Feedback is feedback. Stew Leonard's first rule of business (applies to fanfics as well):
If we are the customer of fan-fictional writing, then we can certainly register our dismay through our responses. We should take note that criticism (constructive and otherwise) should always been read in context and not disregarded.]
Recognizion for original ideas
[Plagiarism: that act or an instance of plagiarizing => 1. take and use (the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person) as one's own. 2. pass off the thoughts etc. of (another person) as one's own.
--Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition, 1995
There is a fair amount of material in the fanfic world which may be considered 'fair use' material but they can always be traced back to original stories (or original fanfics). If I may illustrate such instances, I look at the recent furor about a 'supposed' interview with Takeuchi-sensei with regards to Uranus having been a male in the Silver Millennium. In no interview to my memory has Takeuchi-sensei made this point, translated or otherwise. However, John Biles did make the SiM. Uranus a male: Marduk, in his epic work with Jeffrey Hosmer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Z -- something that is a partial result of the fact that Macross is cameo- ed in the story (as are a great many other classic anime).
Other concepts that have entired into the nigh- canonical status with regards to fanficdom: the Usagi- Rei-Mamoru relationship. Davies was one of the earliest (and still recognized) fanfic writers that felt that the relationship between these three was not fully resolved by the end of the first season. His stories which include the Raye Trilogy, as well as events in both the Panorama Interludes (cf. PI: 4: The Dance and PI: 3: It's all coming back to me) and finally, events of the Mega-crossover TA: 2937 have established a relationship between Rei and Usagi within his fanfic universe. I point to extensions of this relationship in works by Biles: in the Tokyo Senshi in Queen Rei's Court, Lemon Sherbert, as well as Dance of Shiva; works by Jeffrey Hosmer: Chibi Rei,; works by Ken Wolfe: Four Horsemen, Kiss of the Enemy, and Secrets. All three of these authors have directly as well as indirectly referred to Chris Davies for the background establishment of the Rei-Usagi relationship. They have collaborated with Davies in establishing timelines (Biles/Davies for an Arthurian timeline; Davies/Hosmer for the Cross-time Adventures of Athena and Sheila); as well as acknowledged Davies in their Author's notes.
These are only two of the more 'famed' nigh-canonical events that have formed a part of the backbone of SM fanfic writing. I will also draw your attention to works by yourself, Tim Nolan, and Jackie Chiang. Many authors will often refer to any and all of the three during authors' notes and afterwords. It is probably one of the most important points within writing that the writer acknowledge influences that may have entered into the writing process. I need only to point to the recent story Heaven help the Child and Happy Birthday Michiru! by 'Rapheala' (e- mail: email@example.com) with the extensive parallels to One Wish -- blanket recognition of all writers of Outer Senshi fanfiction does not mean that specific ideas have been recognized i.e., a child between Haruka and Michiru, or the fact that Michiru, for some reason or another, cannot carry the child properly...