Hello again fanon portal-ers. Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Real life has been in a wee bit of a hectic transition lately, so that’s made keeping up with a lot of stuff rather difficult. Nevertheless, I feel that I have delayed this new review for a long time in particular. This is, in part due to my schedule and also due to the abundance of categories and scores involved, being another collection of one-shots. In the future, I shall do my best to see that my fanon reviews are completed within a reasonable time frame, so that I don’t find myself in the awkward position of publishing reviews for authors who have long left the wiki. Anyhow, today I have a collection of treats from one of the portal’s most consistent and prolific writers, Fruipit. They are a fairly diverse lineup of one-shots, with three focusing on Korra characters and two on A:TLA characters. In addition, one of them won a fanonbender contest last year, so we know right off the bat that we have some quality coming our way.
On a side note, there will be a departure this time around from my general reviewing practice, and this will actually go for all my reviews of one-shots from now on. The proper writing category will be struck from each of the individual reviews and included only in the final score. This is partly because that category has an ability to make or break a final score when dealing with shorter works, and I don’t want that to be a distraction from what really counts. I shall be releasing a separate blog shortly detailing how I go about scoring categories in general.
Fruipit likes to explore new territory with her writing. Many of her pieces are different from those you’d find elsewhere; she likes to be bold, take risks and show us things in Avatar fanondom that we have never seen before. These five are no exception. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
…the only thought that you care to entertain is that some things are worth dying for; this one is, by far, the greatest reason of all…-Aevum
Plot – 9.3: The plot of this story is absolutely genius. Not only is it inventively creative, but it’s just the thing to stroke the reader’s emotional bone well in the just under seven thousand words that they have with it. From the beginning, it’s easy to follow along with, even as the colorful background and descriptive language paint the scene around it. The role of the protagonist in the process is not as active as it is sometimes, but that fits mostly well with a story like this one. Some of the reasons why certain events occur aren’t always clear, but that honestly barely even qualifies as a distraction where this is concerned.
Execution – 9.6: Fruipit likes to write in the seldom-used second person for a number of occasions, and that fits well for the plot of this story. The flow of events is paced well, especially with the nightmare sequences that come up. Pivotal relationships between characters are shown and gradually unveiled, not merely told. Asami and Korra’s characters here are surely picturable and believable as themselves, in an alternate universe setting. Some of the transitions between the sections of the story could’ve been managed and organized better to flow more naturally. That’s not a major deduction in this work, though.
Proper Writing - Omitted
Creativity – 9.4: To be clear, the ranking of this category is not necessarily for the premise in general, but in what Fruipit chose to do with it. It is easily one of the one-shot’s brightest aspects. Some of the transitions that were cut short are probably some of the spots of unexploited room for creativity. However, that is far outshined by the story idea, the concept of the characters, the way that the plot seamlessly appears to fit itself together as though it were predestined, and there’s really not much else to say here.
Description of Action – 9.5: The portrayal and depiction of Korra and Asami within this world would not have been possible without the great use of language to accompany it. Not all of the language is among the strongest that I’ve seen on here, but the description throughout most of the piece manages to keep up with the quality level of most of the other categories on here. It’s part of what’s engaging about it and a constant reminder as to why we picked up this story to begin with.
Description of Setting – 9.8: Each of the settings of the story fits in with the overall tone, from the more innocent childhood of Asami to the twists and turns later on. What else is nice about the description here is that the words used to describe the setting fit really well with the place that the two main characters happen to be at any one point in time during the story. Other than that, the score in this category is pretty comparable to Description of Action.
Realism – 9.0: Well, one of the most obvious items to point out is that this story is distinctly supernatural in ways besides the Avatar-norm. However, we spend a good deal of time in this little alternate reality for us to become accustomed to it. To be clear, the story does take its time doing this for a one-shot. Ultimately, though, its neither the premise nor the setting that make the story believable. It’s the characters. They are what truly brings this story to life, and that’s the case with a lot of good stories. Coincidence? I don’t think so. One can definitely imagine this happening enough that it feels real within its fictional little world.
Character Development – 9.5: The showing of the strong character relationship is an impressive feat in this case, with one of the major characters remaining mostly silent throughout. Now, there are a couple of good twists that really shine through, but I’m not going to spoil that for anyone. They’ll just have to check that out for themselves. The characters were true to their personalities of their canon counterparts, but their roles were rather different, and I won’t say how. But seeing them as their canon selves and their fanon selves simultaneously was distracting at times. As I said above in the realism category, however, the characters were what really made this the strong story that it is.
Constructive Criticism: Well, with regards to this piece specifically I’m afraid that I don’t have a lot of advice to give you, Fruipit. You’ve written one of the all-around most distinctive one-shots on this website. So congratulations on that! Just keep writing. Practice makes perfect for any trade or art, and writing is no different.
To whom I would recommend: I have yet to see a single person walk away from this one-shot disappointed, and I think that pretty much sums it up. It was also the winner of the Fanonbender one-shot contest in January 2015, and it’s safe to say that was well-deserved.
See what goes on in the mind of one of the most unique antagonists of The Legend of Korra.-Inner Workings
Plot – 8.3: It’s a short story that captures basically an extended snapshot of Ming-Hua in her prison cell. Getting this chance to see through her eyes is a rare treat for sure. The bare concept of the plot was definitely a sound base to work off of. The deduction in this category comes from where it went after that. This story easily could have gone on longer, could have gone deeper and the end comes at the readers rather suddenly. Leaving an audience wanting more is good for a chapter of a series when there’s another coming around the corner, but not so much for a one-shot where this is all we’re left with.
Execution – 8.2: The opening to this piece was a little confusing. It’s not clear in the beginning paragraphs whether this is about her or the guards. There were some accompanying usages of “I” versus “they” that were unclear on the whole. And as I pointed out above in the Plot category, this one-shot could have really used some more material on the protagonist, her situation and even the setting around her that has come to be her new home and defines her present existence.
Proper Writing - Omitted
Creativity – 7.9: The idea for this story is creative on the surface, as it’s a story centered around a seldom-explored character. Some unexploited room for creativity that causes a deduction in this category include the water issue, which could have been described more, the guards that watched her regularly and what was going on inside Ming-Hua’s head throughout. In fact, what there is now could have been the basis for a much longer, more in-depth one-shot. The ending came fairly suddenly, and could have used a more detailed buildup.
Description of Action – 8.4: Since it’s a short piece with a clear focus there’s not a huge amount of actions in the story. What is there is described comprehensively, though not quite enough to paint the best mental picture in a reader’s head. Of course, there are some actions that do not require a lot of description to get the point across, and that always needs to be taken into account. An example is Ming-Hua’s spitting of the drinking water through the head of the boy who laughed. On the other hand, that loses a portion of clarity in the delivery. Did she freeze the water in the air when she did that or was it still in liquid form?
Description of Setting – 7.9: The setting of the story is inside Ming-Hua’s prison, and that is pretty clear. However, it might not be as clear if the reader had not already seen the third season of Legend of Korra, and that’s a given assumption going in. That’s not a reason itself not to describe the setting as much, though. In fact, it can be a good time to connect with familiar details to further build a connection for the reader. And then, there was also the similar issue with lack of clarity in some places that I pointed out above.
Realism – 8.2: This story was easy to picture happening in the Avatar world. However, there were some questions that begged to be answered, but weren’t. There was the boy who wanted to be a pastry chef, who seemed a little out of place. Serving as one of Ming-Hua’s prison guards is not a typical stepping stone on the career path to becoming a pastry chef, and with no war going on (that we know about) there might not even be a draft. Furthermore, the soldiers picked to guard the Red Lotus members likely would have been more elite, rather than a part-time teenager who might get an unrelated job once he left, which is the impression that was made.
Character Development – 7.8: Here we have the guards, one of whom wants to be a pastry chef but we don’t know much else about, and we have Ming-Hua. It’s nice to get inside the head of one of the antagonists this way, but at the same time, it leaves off like a lost opportunity. That opportunity, of course, to spend further time in her head and genuinely understand Ming-Hua even more than we did in the canon show. To be fair, some of the characterization was pretty good, and it beckons interest to dive in even further. If the one-shot were expanded, it could remain mostly about Ming-Hua, but also a little more about the guards, too, as characters develop through their interaction with others and there ought to be a solid foundation for that. Or even her reminiscing to her glory days fighting beside her three teammates would be good.
Constructive Criticism: You have an abundance of fantastic ideas for story premises, as shown in your Avatar works and the Frozen ones that I have seen. This is no exception. But to bring those to their best fruition, they have to be fleshed out. Inner Workings is one that could be fun to delve deeper into.
To whom I would recommend: Anyone who wants to read a short piece with Legend of Korra characters. Particularly fans of the third season.
To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them: to die, to sleep…-Nobility
Plot – 8.5: With this story came some quality time with Azula, focusing largely on her point of view. At the end of the day, it’s a simple story that rings similar to some of Fruipit’s other works, allowing us readers some craved extra time to spend with the more enjoyable characters from the canon show. The snapshot is what it is, but with such a piece the objective always has to be kept in mind. A short story is not merely a narrative that is shorter than another. If this is about Azula and more specifically her time in prison/mental treatment following the war, everything that happens in the short span of time we are given should follow a natural progression and center around a common point that’s introduced early and fleshed out as it goes along.
Execution – 8.0: The piece is told in a conversational, present tense manner. It suits the story well. However, the story revolves around what is going through Azula’s head at a time like this and much of it is shown through her interactions with others. Showing her current state via interactions would be a good tool to center around for much of the story if we were not getting inside her head. However, since you are centering the point of view around her and we get to know what she is thinking, it would be nice to know more about what she is thinking about where she is compared to where she was.
Proper Writing - Omitted
Creativity – 8.1: The premise is one that’s similar to many other stories, though it has its own unique flare to it. Aang’s interaction with Azula was the one that stood out the most out of all the other character presences, many of whom did more or less what was expected of them. Some of the setting begged to be expanded more.
Description of Action – 9.0: This is not an action-oriented story per se, more revolved around the interactions of the characters. However, the strong language that is exhibited does wonders to bring the scene to life, mostly in the second half of the story. Granted, some of the wording was unclear and there were parts that were more difficult to picture, but not an irredeemable amount.
Description of Setting – 8.4: Setting in this story is key, since it takes place in the same spot throughout. When push comes to shove, there is really the main character and the setting in this one. The language here is fairly decent for describing this, but a clear focus here would really set the tone more. More specifically, a description of what is in the room and what it is like there that shows how long she has been there based on what she notices and what her thought process is.
Realism – 9.2: The events of this story are easy enough to picture, as we were left with the impression that a lot of this would be more or less what happened in the canon show. It’s a given that that part is pretty realistic and believable. With that being said, some of the characters appeared to diverge, if not divorce, from their canon selves, particularly the Avatar. Aang had a strong interaction and some good lines in his conversation with Azula, but it left the impression that he was saying what needed to be said rather than what the Aang we know would actually say. You could tackle this in a number of different ways. Aang can even say his lines exactly the same, but with a little more flesh to make the image reconciled. Or it could be hinted that this is Aang as Azula sees him, and not necessarily how everyone else would see him.
Character Development – 8.5: Azula is front and center in this fanon. Fruipit’s portrayal of her exhibited here is direct, true to her canon counterpart and manages to go in depth. The only other character with reasonable significance is Aang, who does not seem as fleshed out as the protagonist. Furthermore, Azula could have been fleshed out even further by fleshing out the story from her point of view, rather than making a basic narrative centering around her.
Constructive Criticism: You’re creating some good writing here, but you could do better by using all the techniques that you’ve already shown you’re capable of employing here and elsewhere to make the best story you can, particularly in the revising phase.
To whom I would recommend: Anyone who is a fan of Azula, or a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender that wants to spend a little more time with its characters.
Korra doesn’t like sleeping. It’s not that she can’t, but rather, she won’t.-Sleeping Alone
Plot – 8.7: Here we get a further glimpse into the recovery of Korra following Book 3, and some quality Korrasami material. Even though the story is about Korra’s recovery, it centers around Asami, which provides for an intriguing dynamic. It makes for a great premise. What could have made it even better is focusing more on the development of the relationship between them, as this is a self-proclaimed Korrasami fanon.
Execution – 9.0: Doing a lot with a few words is a skill that cannot be underestimated in writing. Fruipit uses simple sentences to get her point across the majority of time in this one-shot, and the relationships of the characters with one another really do shine through. However, much of the focus was on the characters’ actions, with a little bit of emphasis on Korra’s feelings at times. It would help the reader to relate to their impulses more to have a little more emphasis on that for Korra, and a significant amount more for Asami, to balance it out.
Proper Writing - Omitted
Creativity – 9.0: This was a great idea for a story and a nice time and place to delve more into Korrasami. A minor deduction comes from the lack of a more warm and sentimental charm, which qualifies as unexploited area for creativity to some extent.
Description of Action – 8.8: The characters actions are described to a satisfactory level, and their emotions are portrayed pretty well. It is good, but not fully immersing.
Description of Setting – 8.8: You’ll find both showing and telling with regards to the descriptions at different times in this story. The setting is always centered around Korra, but seems to mix itself up at times depending on what is going on. For that reason, in this case the setting description is really not that separate from the action description, so the scores will be similar.
Realism – 8.9: The characters and the scenario were portrayed very well. Since there is a lot which occurs here that we did not see directly in the canon, it does seem like a stretch at times. But overall, it’s a very believable situation. One could almost picture it happening in a flashback of the upcoming Legend of Korra-based comics.
Character Development – 9.0: Both Asami and Korra are clear, three-dimensional and easy to empathize with. The main source for the deduction in this category is similar to that of the Plot, Execution and Creativity categories for this fanon. It’s missing some stronger development and emotional connection.
Constructive Criticism: Take a good look at the words and description you use to portray what happens. Decide what needs to be said and what needs to happen for the sake of the story.
To whom I would recommend: Fans of shipping one-shots.
To enjoy freedom is to understand exactly what was sacrificed.-Toy Soldiers
Plot – 9.2: One of the best aspects of this story was that it allowed us to get close and personal with one of our favorite canon characters. That makes it similar to Nobility through the chance for quality character time, but this situation is much more unique. Certainly a lot more grim and deep than anything that we all saw while watching the show. It was a little unclear where they were and at first, what was going on, but that’s not much of a distraction.
Execution – 9.3: Toph is totally spot-on in this. It’s funny, because this is not how we normally saw her act in the series, but one cannot forget that she had a handful of more vulnerable, emotional moments as well. This would appear to fit right in with those. The layout of the story included some words that were isolated from the rest, which gave an extra layer of dramatic effect. Granted, that effect declined the more and more it happened, which was basically every other paragraph. Given what Toph is going through, it makes sense to emphasize her feelings on the reality of war.
Proper Writing - Omitted
Creativity – 9.3: Despite what Toph is going through, Fruipit managed to make up a fun, enjoyable and spooky experience for us readers. It’s not the first story to focus on the costs of war, but it starts to go off and forge its own brand in Avatar fanondom.
Description of Action – 8.7: Toy Soldiers is a short story with one main point to get across. There aren’t very many actions, but what there is is described fairly. It’s not what stands out in this story.
Description of Setting – 9.5: At the end of the day, writing isn’t about the words that you use, but what you can do with them. Fruipit manages to build the image of what is going on as we read it, and does so in such a way that it sort of sends a chill down our spines as well. Some parts of the story and the setting that’s being presented were unclear at times, but those are basically nits.
Realism – 9.5: Not only is this easy to see happening, but considering all the places that Team Avatar went, and the fact that Toph proved she could feel ants on the ground and metal with her seismic sense, it leaves the reader with the impression that it almost had to have happened at some point. It might not have played out exactly the same, and the other members of Team Avatar do seem rather distant, but the scene and setting is realistic.
Character Development – 9.1: This story is about Toph. More accurately, it’s about this experience of Toph’s. There’s not much else to say. The other members of Team Avatar play a supporting role, and Toph gets a little more depth through this portrayal. In the end, though, it’s more about this event than it is her in general.
Constructive Criticism: Try to make things more clear and immersing. That’s all there is to say about this one.
To whom I would recommend: I’ll go ahead and say anyone. It’s powerful and it’s under 700 words. It’ll be worth the time that you take to read it.
Plot – 9.2: Well, this sure was an interesting collection. Fruipit has a knack for coming up for some good ideas for stories. To be clear, the overall scores are not merely designed to be an “average”, but a reflection of the quality. Everyone has some hits and misses when they write a lot, but one good hit is worth more than ten misses. Thus, it seems appropriate for this category in particular to give a score closer to the highest, rather than closer to the middle.
Execution – 8.8: You’ve proven yourself with a wide variety of different writing techniques that you now naturally have at your disposal as part of your literary arsenal. At this point, you’ll perfect yourself over time if you can keep a reader’s perspective in mind and try to make sure that everything is clear at all times.
Proper Writing – 7.7: Not much to say on this one, except always watch out for the correct form of the word you’re using and keep everything in the same tense when you’re writing it. Also, use “farther” when referring to distance and “further” when referring to anything else used in degrees. Like I said, since these are shorter works, assigning individual scores for this category didn’t seem appropriate. If you must know, Aevum would have been an 8.1, Inner Workings a 4.6, Nobility a 6.6 and Sleeping Alone and Toy Soldiers would have both been 10s.
Creativity – 8.8: All of these are pretty creative. Not everything is perfect, but with this handful of stories we can see that Fruipit is pretty consistent in her creativity, and that says a lot for her writing.
Description of Action – 8.9: Fruipit has a habit of gradual revelation with her one-shots. Some of the best language overall was in Aevum. Generally, it’s not always as strong as it could be, but it nearly always manages to get a point across.
Description of Setting – 9.2: She’s also pretty good at painting a picture for the readers, and she showed this throughout most of these stories here. There are parts that should be more clear and others where either more language or stronger description would make the read a more enjoyable experience.
Realism – 9.0: Most of these remained within the boundaries for realistic human behavior. If something is supernatural and set in an alternate universe, it’s hard to judge by the standards of its own world and the character interactions and actions are a more appropriate place to look. Above all, I would say that with a realistic story, every move has to be justified on its own merit, so that becomes a constant balancing act with crafting the story for its own sake.
Character Development – 9.0: Portraying character relationships has been a strong suit for Fruipit most of the time. That’s true for these, and I know it is also the case for some of the other works that she has written. Much of the time it starts small then becomes more revealed as the story goes along, and Fruipit is seasoned at managing this process. Oftentimes its either a lack of clarity or something in another category that also deducts from character development.
Constructive Criticism: Let me be clear on one thing. Even though I criticized a lot in this review, I still enjoyed reading all of these. The best thing to do now is take what you can improve upon with each piece individually and try to be aware of what you’re doing going forward. Lastly, take the time to revise and edit once you’re done with the writing. Just like with other things, when it comes to writing, (a lot of) practice makes perfect!
To whom I would recommend: Those looking for exotic lineup of fanon gourmet to digest. Aevum is longest by far but well worth it, and deserving of the contest place it won from a while back.