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By AtkaSura Part of the The Hunt: Survivors of the Air Nomad Genocide continuity.

A while ago, I was struck with inspiration to write a canon-friendly story about the Air Nomad genocide and its survivors. I've outlined my idea to the best of my ability, but I feel that I am failing to do this story justice. I need someone to help me fill in the missing pieces and flesh out the story.

Most of this is still in a bare-bones story phase. Once I have that roughed out, I intend to flesh out the narrative with better descriptions. I am not confident that my writing can do this story justice, but I really want this story told. I could use any help I could get developing this story. I figure that if I provide a rough outline of my ideas written to the best of my ability, I could potentially create a spark of inspiration in someone far more talented than me. Maybe they could realize this story to it's full potential.

This is by no means a complete story, and it is not intended to be read as such. It will become disjointed or jump around in places where I fail to adequately turn my visions into writing. However, I feel as though these bits and pieces have potential to be so much more. It is my hope that you will form an understanding of the story and become inspired to help develop the characters and plot in ways that are beyond my skill. I'm not too sure about the title, either. 'The Hunt' is just. . . meh.

It should be also noted that I've only ever written academic papers, and any fictional writing has never been this extensive. I'm way over my head and testing my limits.

Just released

  • Received a wonderful piece of artwork from an incredibly generous artist (Nazgullow) to whom I am eternally grateful. It now sits proudly on the mainpage. The artwork was gained as a prize for my fanon An Oral History of the Hundred Year War: Tradition in Ty's writing competition.
  • Adjusted chapter numbers.
  • In the process of re-writing the Temple sections of Chapter Two and the village encounter in "6".
  • Recently fiddled with Zheng's section.
  • Commissioned a cover for the story, turned out great!

Storyline

General/simplified timeline of the overall plot (so far). Spoilers.

(Atka flashbacks/Jin pre-Sozin's Comet)

Lost Souls

  • Atka discovers Jin, the sole survivor of the Eastern Air Temple genocide.

Fire and Air

  • Admiral Zheng begins to question his loyalty to the Fire Lord, Sozin's Comet arrives.

Waking Up

  • Atka tries his best to bring Jin back to heath, but the trauma has left her broken. She has become withdrawn and detached, refusing to eat or speak.

Ghosts and Echos

  • The devastation sinks in as Zheng surveys an eerily still and silent Air Temple.

Some Wounds Never Heal

  • Zheng stands on the bridge of his ship, mulling over recent events. The sturdy iron hull shudders and groans beneath his feet as it cuts through the arctic waters.
  • Once Jin is strong enough to leave the igloo, Atka takes her into the nearest village to see a healer. Mid session, the village falls victim to a Fire Nation raid, forcing Atka to fight his way out while protecting Jin.

Preparations

  • Due to the close call and increasing number of raids on the South Pole, Atka decides that it is best to flee for the Earth Kingdom. He hopes that they will find safety and security behind the walls of Ba Sing Se.

Companion for Life

  • Jin begins to open up to Atka, but retreats back into herself upon seeing the remains of her Sky Bison (Umi) picked over by wolves.

Port Town

  • Atka and Jin's first stop in the Earth Kingdom. Zheng's ship is docked (possibly), Atka and Jin learn that the Fire Nation is actively hunting Air Nomads.
  • Possible encounter between Atka & Jin and Zheng; they pass by each other in the street unaware, or Zheng recognizes Jin as an airbender and does nothing.

Journey

  • Most of the story would take place during their journey into the Earth Kingdom, focusing on the hardships endured while evading the Fire Nation. I'd imagine the Fire Nation's hunt for surviving airbenders involved threatening or bribing locals for information, meaning Atka and Jin would be weary of everyone they encounter. They witness an accused airbender dragged out into the street and executed by firebenders.

Winking Spider-Rat

  • Atka and Jin spend the night at a shady tavern.

Hospitality

  • Atka and Jin find themselves under the care of a sympathetic villager who has a sudden change of heart.

Village Encounter

  • A sleazy man outs Jin as an Airbender.

Journey cont.

  • More of their journey across the Earth Kingdom. Unfortunately, I'm out of ideas here.
  • More bonding.
  • Give the characters a glimmer of hope, but mix in a healthy sense of dread.

The Stranger

  • Jin encounters a stranger in the marketplace.

City of Walls and Secrets

  • Atka makes it to Ba Sing Se, but is completely and utterly ruined.
  • Option A) Tragic: He is so torn over Jin's fate that he eventually snaps and is taken by the Dai Li. Ironically, the brainwashing gives him peace: no more Sura, no more Jin, no more war.
  • Option B) Happy: He lives to be in his 100s and catches a glimpse of the Gaang in the streets.

Character Development

I'm not happy with the ending from Atka's perspective. It's not as powerful/emotional as I intended. I plan to work on that soon.

  • Air Nomad Temple/genocide scenes. Although I already know how I want these scenes to play out, I've been putting off writing them. It's such a dark, disturbing moment, I feel that I don't have the capability to properly put it into writing at the moment. As of now, it's just a rough, rough, rough outline. Feels like I've butchered what scenes I have written.

I'm slowly editing this story and filling out sections. If you have any interest in this story, be sure to check back every few months to see if I've made any changes or let me know what improvements can be made.

My biggest issue is character development. I've never done it before, but I really want this story to be centered around strong character development. I'm just not sure if I could pull it off. I want Jin to start off strong and confident in the Air Temples with Tami, become broken by the genocide, and slowly rebuild to the point where she can crack jokes again. Same goes for Atka, I want Jin to be his support in overcoming the loss of his sister. I want them to form a bond over time; a father-daughter or brother-sister relationship that was hard-fought and tested. I just don't have the knowledge or the experience in writing that kind of story. 

Air Nomad Tattoo

Another interesting bit of character development I'd like to include eventually: Jin's tattoos were once a source of immense pride, but now they are a curse, a target that must be hidden away.

Jin experiences a flashback to when she first received her tattoos: Tami examines her in astonishment, asking questions like "can I touch it?" and, after running her fingers across the raw skin "does it hurt?" She holds her arm out next to Jin's, picturing a tattoo of her own, and pokes fun at Jin's newly bald head. The flashback triggers a panic attack and Jin proceeds to claw at her tattoos, hoping to tear them from her flesh. Atka stops Jin by firmly grasping her arms and pulling her into a tight embrace, etc. (I have thought this out in greater detail/ more narrative style. . . I just need to write it.)

Symbolic Necklaces

Jin carries Tami's hand carved necklace as a reminder of her 'little sister.' Because Tami died in the temple raid, her necklace is charred around the edges. However, I've recently had an idea regarding the merchant selling Air Nomad items at the end of the story. Something along the lines of this:

The merchant proudly held out a mala adorned with Air Nomad symbols. "What happened to it?" (Atka or Jin) asked, noticing the necklace's blackened, charred edge.

"Got too close to the campfire." The merchant replied coldly, hurriedly slipping the necklace back into its display.

Implying that he's selling goods stolen from dead Air Nomads. So, which is better: an undamaged Tami necklace with the above merchant changes, or a charred necklace belonging to Tami keeping the Merchant as-is? I can't have two damaged Air Nomad necklaces!

Atka and Sura: backstory

I haven't pinned down exactly how old they both were when Sura died. So far that hasn't impacted the story, but if I don't figure this out soon, I'll write myself into a corner. It's a pretty crucial point in Atka's life, so leaving it vague is not an option. Were they both adults, teens, or a mix of the two? As it stands, the best fitting solution seems to be that Sura died in early adulthood while Atka was in his late teens. Somehow, Atka ends up living in isolation for several years, far from any SWT village.

I bring this up because (so far) there's no mention of Atka and Sura's parents. I need to explain their absence during Sura's death, and there are a few possibilities.

  • Sura and Atka moved out and were living on their own, meaning at least one of them was old enough to do so. However, the SWT is very family/community based and I'm not sure if family members leave home during early adulthood.
  • Atka and Sura's parents were out visiting relatives in the North at the time of Sura's death. They return a few days/weeks later to a guilt-ridden son and a dead daughter. Atka can't bear the grief and leaves home.
  • Both parents are dead. I'm not a fan of this one. I mean, really? As if Sura's death was bad enough. . .

Flashbacks

I also intend to pepper the story with flashbacks of Atka and Sura, something like this:

*Paff!*

Atka's cheek stung from the traitorous projectile's impact. An icy trickle crept down the warm skin of his neck as residual snow melted, adding insult to injury.

"NOT FAIR! You can't bend my own snowball back at me!" Atka scooped up yet another handful of snow, furiously shaping it into a rough sphere. He wound back to throw, but the snowball promptly turned to water and splashed against his arm. "SURA!" His sister fell to the soft ground, laughing hysterically.

Story Development

I've been updating this Fanon in an odd, hard to follow fashion. I use the process of roughing out a chapter first, then building up, editing, and polishing from there. When I first wrote this Fanon, I had an idea of what I wanted the story to be but not how it would be written. I published what few chapters I had in their raw form so that I could receive feedback and gauge how viable the story could be. Since then, I've worked to flesh out those same chapters. Any other chapter not already published on this wiki will be not be shown in their raw form, but worked on in Word until they are completed. Then I'll publish the story in a more traditional chapter-by-chapter format. I am worried that my edits to existing chapters might suffer George Lucas syndrome and inadvertently break the story's flow.

However, I don't think I can carry this story alone. I'm not overtly confident in my abilities and the story is already falling flat in some regards (in my own opinion). I need someone to bounce ideas off of and to help me develop the story to its full potential. It's like I'm a Bryan Konietzko without a Michael Dante DiMartino. A co-writer, if you will. Unfortunately, this comes with a catch 22. In my experience outside of Fanon writing, I've found that those most eager to help often do not offer the help that I need, instead becoming a hindrance. I end up losing all control of the project to the partner and can't say 'no, let's not do that' without offending.

Writing Process

You might notice that the quality of writing in this fanon varies wildly. I'm working to smooth everything out, but I may have missed some spots. When I first write part of a chapter, I stick to the bare-bones basics of what is happening. I use simple sentences like "The firebender attacked Jin." This avoids breaking the flow of ideas/losing my place while thinking of the best wording for a sentence. I then go through and re-write the chapter with a better narrative, aiming to improve flow and word choice. That sentence becomes a paragraph. Finally, I polish and re-polish, looking for errors and improvements. This fanon is still mostly in the pre-polish stages (as mentioned above), though not for a lack of trying.

Under normal circumstances don't have to go through this frustrating, multistage process and can write the 'polished' result first, but my brain loves to play tricks on me. The more passionate I am about a subject -- if I've been thinking about it throughout the day and know with absolute certainty what I want to write -- the more likely it is that my brain will purge all of that forethought as soon as I touch a keyboard. My mind goes as blank as the screen. When my fingers lift off of the keyboard it all comes flooding back, only to disappear again upon return. I have to force through this block by writing simple things like "Jin saw the burning temple" instead of the gripping, well-written narrative within my own head. It's unfortunate, really, but there's nothing I can do. My brain also loves to selectively forget the descriptive and vocabulary I intended to use as soon as I reach that part of the story. For example: "Oh, you're thinking of the word 'despondent?' No, no, you want 'destitute.' I insist."

Rough Ideas

This is where I rough out ideas for future events. My process usually goes something like this: Think up an idea that flows beautifully to point where I can write it out perfectly in my mind, see every word laid out before me. Lose it all as soon as my hands touch a keyboard, stare at the blank screen in frustration, desperately try to piece together fragmented bits and pieces of the once perfectly structured sentence (while muttering "Aarg, I had the perfect descriptive word for this! What was it?! Blarrrgh!"), look at the butchered scene with dismay, try to polish it up, give up, re-edit. Rinse and repeat!

For simplicity's sake, I've moved the roughed out writing to a sandbox:

http://avatar.wikia.com/wiki/User:AtkaSura/sandbox:SotANG

Planned additions based on feedback

When I first roughed out this story, I was on the fence about continuing with the writing. I was on the brink of quitting altogether until I received some incredibly helpful feedback on my first draft. I'd like to thank all of those people for inspiring me to keep at the story.

List of people who offered some incredibly helpful suggestions:

  • nerys7, Reddit.
  • Derevko, Reddit.

Suggestions

I'm stumbling in the dark with this story and I'm relying on feedback for guidance. As I've said earlier, I've never attempted something on this scale and I am way out of my league. Every bit of feedback helps, be it pointing out an error (I tend to write cloths instead of clothes, for instance) or suggesting where the story should flow.


  • A very helpful comment I received on the direction the story could go. I intend to pull several elements from this suggestion, especially the one regarding the sky bison.


"The Beginning - I like the start. You're already setting Atka up to see Jin as his "second chance" to save his sister. The parallels are very clear and you set up the boundaries for his character development. Its somewhat unclear in the beginning whether you're starting with a memory/hallucination or reality. You should try to make it clearer which parts are his imaginings and what is reality. Perhaps a different use of italics? You have "Atka snapped out of it" and "Atka awoke with a start", both seem to indicate a return to reality, but which one? A slight rewording to clarify what's happening might help. There are small changes that might help the flow of the words for emotional impact, but that can come with later editing.

Fire Nation Capital - Well done. Very little I would change here, mostly add some descriptions of the surroundings to flesh things out.

Eastern Air Temple - I wouldn't return to the past so soon. I would think that revealing Jin's past and the attack on the air temple should be done slowly in flashbacks as we get to know Jin and bring her out of her shell. It feels like you're showing the reader too much of her too quickly. Let her personality reveal itself to the reader as Atka helps her heal. Let them get used to seeing her as she is now before you show them what she used to be like. I see its has asterisks indicating you plan on working on it more. As broken as Jin is when Atka finds her, she is not going to want to relive the attack for a long time. Not until she is ready.

Middle Summary - Finding the sky bison is a great idea. Likely something to occur not long after leaving for Ba Sing Se. I can see Jin just starting to try to talk to Atka, and having a first real moment of communication, then seeing the bison and retreating again into herself.

Misc - Great scenes. One thing I'd like to see is the Fire Nation zealots. It might be good to create a primary character from the zealots to follow. Having a POV from the zealots can help build some tension since the reader will know when an encounter is nearing as they've seen the other side. You can also set that character up for a reversal (ala Zuko). Where he is a young zealot (enrolled by his very pro-Fire Nation parents?) and see how he (similar to Zheng) becomes horrified at what the Fire Nation is doing. He becomes an unlikely ally. Also, you have setup a first person POV for Zheng. What are you going to do with it? If his only purpose in the story is to relate the news of the invasion to the Fire Lord, and we don't see him again, then that scene should be from a different perspective. If you allow the zealots to be present in the scene, then you can have the POV from our young recruit. He can see his own reluctance mirrored in Zheng's face.

The ending - Very sad. For both Jin and Atka. I was hoping that you would have Jin live (I'm a romantic) and simply remain in hiding without having children, or having non-bending children. I'll try to talk you into changing the ending. Especially if you add the young zealot changing sides. He could help stage Jin's death. Seems like a horrible ending for Atka to have him "fail to save" another person."


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