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The White Lotus Sentinel: Issue 29, 19 October

Issue 29: October 19, 2014

How to Host a Fanon Trivia Contest

Long ago, I posted a blog on here, my goal being to create a fun competition and to bring some attention to variety of fanon stories and allow some of the lesser-known ones at the time to share some of the spotlight. For a week straight, I posted questions from a selection of over twenty stories that I had listed in advance, and at the end of the seventh day I tallied up the final score and announced the winner. After the first blog's success, I made a second one and then eventually a third. Lostris, the winner of the first Fanon Trivia, I gave a userbox showing she was the Champion of Avatar Fanon Trivia. Bos, who won Fanon Trivia 2, got a userbox stating he was the Mad Genius of Avatar Fanon Trivia. Mage, the winner of Fanon Trivia 3, became the Fanon Triviabending Master.

Today, I definitely still call these events some of the most fun that I've had since making an account, and the high point of it all was the final night of Fanon Trivia 2, where I asked one question on every single story on the fanon portal, which was over 300 at the time, compared to over 1,100 now. It goes without saying that recent wiki activity was basically blocked off that night. As you can see, it went back to page 16 out of 37 in the comments section. Every now and then, people have asked me about these contests and when the next one is going to be. Unfortunately, since I work two jobs now, plus have real life in general, plus my various writing projects and other things that I do when I do have time to come on the wiki, there is currently no Fanon Trivia 4 in the works. Maybe if I feel up to it someday, I'll do it again, but I just don't see that happening right now.

However, that doesn't mean that nobody else can make something similar. It's not like I have a patent on the process or anything. Anyone can do one. You don't have to be an administrator or a member of a group like the Fanonbenders or the Fanon Review Squad in order to do something for the community and for the fanon portal. In fact, when I first shared my idea with users, I had only been active for two months and did not have rollback rights yet, nor did I belong to any wiki groups. But I did have to think ahead, since there's more to it than writing the blog post and reading a couple fanons. So, for now, I'd like to list a set of guidelines I've developed after making three of these blogs, for the benefit of anyone else who decides to give it a go.

  1. Prepare. Ideally, you should have all the questions you're going to use before you start the contest. If not, you should have as many as possible. Even though a typical contest is only a week, it's normal to spend weeks or even months gathering questions ahead of time. You do not want to have an ongoing contest and be scrambling to come up for more questions to ask at the same time. That is not a fun place to be. Trust me, I've been there.
  2. Keep track. You should be immediately able to answer any question about who answered a question and exactly how many points they have at any given time. It's not as daunting as it sounds if you organize it properly. Different ways of doing this work for different people, but what I did was I made a word doc of all the questions with the answers listed below it. I sorted them by story and I made the questions bold whenever they had been asked. Then I put the name of the user who answered it correctly down below, along with the names of anyone who had an incorrect answer and lost a point. On a separate sheet of paper, I kept tally marks. This allowed me to easily keep track of who answered what questions, who had how many points and how many questions I had remaining from each fanon story all at once. We all have busy lives that are not going to conveniently halt for a week when the contest is on, so the goal should be to have it go as much like clockwork as possible.
  3. Set a fixed time frame. The start and end date should be known from the start. I always chose a week. This way, everyone knows how much time has passed, how much time is left and they know it's fair when the contest ends, as it's not some arbitrary time when one user was ahead.
  4. Mix it up by time. Users on here all have widely different schedules on here and vastly different time zones, so to be fair to everyone, the questions can't always be posted at the same time of day. Lostris is six hours ahead of me by time zone, but she won the first contest and was the runner-up for the second. This neither hard nor time consuming if you're prepared and keeping track, as described above. Once you already have your questions, it's simply a matter of posting questions when you wake up, posting questions when you go to work or school, posting questions when you get home, posting questions before dinner, then posting them before breakfast, posting them in the afternoon, posting them at lunch, posting them at night, posting them when you go to bed. It's especially easy if you have some days off during the contest.
  5. Mix it up by fanon story. Having a lot of questions from fanons everyone knows is understandable, but including more fanons that don't get as much attention can help people discover more in the fanon portal, and that's really the point. Varying it up is the way to go. There were a certain amount of questions on each fanon, but I shuffled them together when I was posting them, bolding them in my doc as I described above, so it wasn't obvious exactly how many were on each story and people never knew which fanon the next question would be on.
  6. One point per question. I always had one point on for a correct answer and one off for each incorrect answer. I did experiment a little with variation, but for the most part I stuck by this. If some questions are worth much more than others, like 1, 5, 10, 20, etc., people won't pay any attention to the lower point questions and if someone gets a really high number by answering one of the higher-tier, other users may not feel like entering or participating any more.
  7. The questions should be specific, not too hard and not too easy. For instance, there shouldn't be a question like "In Avatar Guardian, what kind of bender is Katara," because Katara is a waterbender in Avatar: Guardian like she is in most every fanon that is based on the main canon universe. Likewise, the questions should not reveal any major spoilers that the author would rather you not let be known. Judging this is a case-by-case scenario.
  8. Users shouldn't be allowed to answer question on their own fanon, for obvious reasons. Of course, you can go around and ask other authors to give you questions and answers on their fanon (by email/IRC/another private channel so other Avatar Wiki users can't see). You'll find that authors are often happy to do this, as it's also more questions on their own fanon, and you don't want to run out of questions to ask. While you probably won't get enough for an entire contest this way, every bit helps, and it takes some of the preparing off of your shoulders.

White lotus tile icon Fanon Urban Dictionary


You believe in rigorous preparation.
You’ll spend the months before November carefully fleshing out characters, building worlds, and plotting your story.
On November 1, you’ll have an outline—or at least lots of helpful notes.


You believe in hardcore spontaneity.
You’ll spend the months before November stocking up on inspiration and mayyybe a vague idea or two (if you’re ambitious).
On November 1, you’ll have a blank document and your imagination.

Love the Fanon Urban Dictionary? Miss any definitions? See the complete collection here!

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A Different Kind of Fanon

Hey there everyone, it's me again, the linguistics lad, the conservative liberalist, the regionalist internationalist, the absolutely not omnipotent Sep0815! I am returned to the depths of this newspaper to, as the title hints, present you a different kind of fanon, one of which I believe no one has ever thought before, around here at least.

Well, to most of you people, fanon, or rather, fan-fiction (to me, too) means just enriching an already existing universe ...which, by the way, doesn't really exist in some universes, such as the one of Metro 2033, where the author has explicitely stated that he wants his readers to expand his universe. Just saying. No advertisment, I swear.. Help with such a fanon is not what I ask of you this time. There might come a time when I do ask for help, but not now. Though I could use it very well. And neither is help with creating a whole new universe. No, that I'd likely ask for in a blog of my own, or not at all, so... Well, you must be wondering, what AM I proposing here?

Well, I'll be frank. My proposal is something for people interested in languages, and most of all, for people who already speak or at least understand more than just one. So if you're monolingual, or don't want to learn any language other than your mother tongue, begone. And, to be honest, it is something for people who don't mind actively working with languages. So, if you're multilingual, but only use these abilities for rather trivial activities, or were risen bilingual, and don't use that second tongue, begone. This proposal is for multilingual people who want to work with languages. Or have to, that depends on the case.

What I propose is something time-consuming, and also something incredibly... boring, some would say. I'd rather say... labour-intensive. Basically, it's about translating (and perhaps also voicing) Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which neither truly adds to the universe nor alternates anything of the canon, so not fanon at all. But it's not about translating it into some small language nobody speaks though translating it into and voicing it in Tsez, with its 64 cases, would be interesting, it's about translating it into the one language to rule them all that roughly 800 million people speak descendants of. These descendants are spread from the Philippines to (Baja) California, from Tierra del Fuego to Québec, and their ancestor was the language of the educated population in Europe for centuries, and thus borrowed many vocables into dozens of other languages. It was almost the language to rule them all but then Migration Period happened. It's Latin. A dead language, I know, but still omnipresent 1500 years after its de facto death. In the previous sentence, there were at least three to four terms proving my point. Sure, this language wouldn't quite fit the Avatarverse, but, let's be honest, neither does this half French, half Latin and forty percent Old Norse Anglo-Saxon gibberish we call English. Now, you may be asking yourself, why Latin? Excellent question. Next question. No, seriously, I personally just find Latin, though quite difficult to learn, interesting as a language. Period.

As I said, a bloody lot of work. And that even after we'd be done with the translating! But it can be fun as well! I mean, we wouldn't have the problem with Aang killing Ozai, simply because there's dozens of vocables that can be used to express violently and willingly ending someone's life – necare, occidere and interficere, just to name a few. And the voicing – if we skip the huge problem of getting fitting voice actors – would be fun too, I mean, just think of how ridiculous it would sound if pronunced with- alright, I'll stop before I say something stupid that'd lead to a massive- nevermind. I'll just say that, with that pronunciation, Latin sounds a bit... interesting. Note: if you don't understand the IPA signs, check out the pages the links lead to, especially the examples and the sound file. Also, training that pronunciation would surely lead to some... interesting moments as well, especially if around friends or family or- yeah, you get the idea. Now don't let yourself be turned away by such fooling around, I mean, if you were interested at the start, don't despair now! For I have already tried to do some of the work Wiktionary did most of the work, actually., namely translating the opening sequence.
And please, forgive me (but remind me of) my mistakes in the following. I've only had one year of Latin, so I'm prone to these. A lot.

Now, the question is not what I think of my own proposal Well, I got to be crazy to think of doing something like this..., but what YOU think of it. Would you like to have this proposal become reality and work for it? As translator or voice actor makes no difference... but don't expect payment! Would you find it interesting but rather watch it from afar? Or will you like every one around here will, anyway just scroll on and forget this proposal ever existed?

Whether it is makes no difference, unless it's the first one – in that case, shoot me a message!

'Tis your most disloyal Sep0815, over out!

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Take a look at these handy sites!
NaNoWriMo website
Nano prep
Official Twitter

NaNoWriMo checklist

Greetings, everyone, and welcome to the very first WLS NaNoWriMo issue~!

Isn't it always fun having themes? Well, never fear, because we're also hoping to do a Halloween issue at the end of the month (dream big, I always say). But, that's of little consequence at the moment, because we're not here to join the Skeleton War. We're here to write.

As I explained a few issues ago, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It's an annual (and, technically, international) event that takes place during the month of November. The goal? Write a 50k novel.

Now, it sounds daunting, and I suppose it sort of is. That's why I've compiled a handy checklist. With NaNo only two short weeks away, it's more important than ever to not be thinking "oh my god what even is this how the heck do they do it omgomgomg help".

This is the help :)


NaNoWriMo checklist

1) Have a plan:(optional) Having a plan is completely optional. I went in there last year with "let's do romance and depression and lesbians" and came out with a 57k piece of complete crap that I take out to giggle at sometimes. This year, I do have a plan (due in no small part to the prodding of Sparkstoaflame).

There are two types of writers; planners, and pantsers. I am, usually, a pantser. I don't like planning (not because I hate it), but because I'm really lazy. I like how it feels more natural to me if I don't plan. That being said, there is something about planning that makes it easier to write. Without planning, I had the basic idea of "elsa + anna + evil queen + rebel group + stuff". With planning, I actually have a world built: "assassin!elsa + clone!anna + big brother!queen + dystopia".

On the NaNo site, they define both pantsers and planners, and theirs is probably far more useful than mine ^^" (see the UD for said definitions)

2) Have a friend:(non-optional) Okay, I'm going to stop with the optional/non-optional tags because, well, it's your story. The whole thing is optional. I'm using them to indicate things that are truly more important than others. You don't need a plan. Without a plan, you have no more or less chance at hitting the 50k words than if you have one.

That being said, I personally believe having a friend is non-optional. I would not have—absolutely would not have passed—if I didn't have a competition with Wordbender to see who could hit the 50k first (it was a tie, but I can guarantee that hers was of higher quality). It also helped to have a few other wiki-friends whom I spoke with off-wiki to encourage me, and me encourage them in turn. This year, it will definitely be collaborating with Sparks that does it for me (due in part to the theme of my story, and hers), though I can't not mention the other authors whom I met at my local write-ins.

3) Go to a write-in: Write-ins are there for you to go to. For me, it's meeting at my local Coffee Club ever Wednesday and Saturday and spending a number of hours writing with other people who also put their lives on hold throughout November. We engage in word wars, and have prizes and talk about everything under the sun (we had trained the waitstaff to not bat an eye at some frankly horrific discussions ^^")

4) Engage in word wars: Word wars are seriously the best thing ever invented for writers. Usually, at the write-ins, we host a number of word wars, with prizes given to the person who writes the most. The aim is to write more than everyone else within a certain period of time. For us, it's ten minutes, but when holding it online, times of an hour are better.

5) Forget about editing: Editing is the bane of NaNoWriMo. It's a waste of time and energy, and it causes authors to second-guess themselves and their stories. How many times have you looked at a sentence or paragraph and it doesn't seem to work, and suddenly you've lost half an hour, or an hour, trying to perfect it? You don't have time. Which leads me to my next point.

6) Know when to scrap an idea if it's not working: If an idea is causing you grief, or if it's not fitting in, no matter how much you love it, throw it out. I like to think of my stories as having their own personality, and sometimes they welcome ideas with open arms. Other times, they fight back. If a story is fighting, don't force it because, trust me, it will sound forced.

The other thing is if you're getting bored with writing something in particular, it's likely that the readers will also find it boring. You don't have to write chronologically. You can write in bits and pieces and random scenes and then tie them all together.

7) Hit the daily wordcount: Honestly, it gets easier the further you go along. The first few days were bad for me, and I didn't hit the word count needed (1,667 words per day). However, it didn't take long to get into the groove of things and start moving forward. I managed to write 12k words in one day (though that's never happened again), because I had gotten into the habit of writing and writing and writing (also, word wars and competition w/ Wordbender).


Now, of course there are plenty of other dos and do-nots when it comes to NaNoWriMo, but many of them are personal preference. I have a 'do not' write after midnight; I go to bed and start a new day fresh. That is most definitely a personal choice and doesn't make it any more or less easy/hard to write for the day. It might make a difference to some people, though. The trick is to find what is best for you as a writer.

Now, I'm going to leave with a few links to help you write. I personally love Wordbender's PlotNoWriMo series (and it's so helpful!) and I always try to read the pre-wrimo prep resources available online, and the 'in-the-middle-of-nano-and-having-a-breakdown' resources.

PlotNoWriMoWordbender's pre-nano prep playlist.
For Emergency Use Only – Basically a fun list of things you definitely need during NaNoWriMo.
Scheduling – A little more information on how scheduling can be catered to your needs.
Who am I? – A good questionnaire when you're questioning your characters.
World? What world? – In which someone tells you that original worlds aren't necessarily original, but that's okay.
Comflict. It's a thing – Wherein they tell you how to destroy create your characters and plot through internal and external conflict.
A big, meaty, plot-filled sandwich – Because logic and reasoning.

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How to discover the story you want to tell and write what readers will read?
Master Ratava

Hey guys, how are you doing? Last issue I've brought here an idea Henry inspired me to write about. ^_^ I think some of you have liked it, and then, I'm keep it going, ok?

PAUSE (Spoilers LoK S04E02): OMGOMGOMG TOOOPH <3 Short-haired Korra <3 That Leaf-Spirit sooo cute! <3 *Q*

On behalf of NaNoWriMo approaching next month... I choose to merge both of the topics I listed in the end of the first article about this theme.

How to discover the story you want to tell?

This is a little controversial, I don't believe we (the writers) actual decide it (by planning and scheming and meditating about it)... I believe (almost like a religion), that each story has the power in itself to "choose" its own writer-to-be. :3 That leads me to a way of reasoning on a very strange spot. "Would writers be able to actual plan a whole story from start till end?", "Wouldn't the story take over control of the writer and use them only as mediator to get on the (virtual or not) paper?", "How writers can try to be in more control of the story its shown in their minds?"... Some of these questions keep popping up and I feel quite uncomfortable in trying to answer them properly. Anyway, I don't know if my answers will please you (if you disagree, feel free to share your points of view)...

So, you will be led into the search of the plot core the story wants you to write. Maybe it's something to do with your past experiences, or a thing you just saw out of the window, down the street, or could it be a hypothesis a bunch of "what ifs" related to circumstances you see people surrounding you live. It really doesn't matter "what" it actual is, what means is the certainness you have about that specific theme. And the power it disposes the story to captivate the readers' attention so strongly that they will only set the future-book aside, when turning the last page (or at least the last one of each chapter before going to sleep.)

"But, you haven't answered HOW the hell am I supposed to find out the story I wanna tell!"

Yes, sorry. But I just told you that I don't believe in us choosing the stories. Anyway. An advice: don't mistake inspiration with plagiarism. Every piece of plot we plan to tell, had already been written before. And we do love some stories (movies, tv series, books, anime/manga, comics/cartoons, soup operas... whatever...) We do tend on reflecting those on our works. Maybe a character's physical, or psychological, description... or some other traits, that get them closer to our idol's ones... Or even the very same kind of world building... There are infinite forms of retelling the things we care about other stories. So beware the excitement of doing so. We'll not run away from it, it is barely impossible, but we can know when to stop and changing the direction so it will make the story more originally ours.

But remember the very first thing about writing, people will try to make you forget and think the second one is the first, so: write to yourself. Enjoy it. Make it the time of your life. Be satisfied about what's that you've written on those hours in front of the screen (or facing the white sheet of paper.) Make you time count. Because time is one of the two things in the whole world that will never be back to you (the other are the people we love that pass away.)

The second thing, people will try to get you believe it's the first important one is: you have to write for others, which leads us to the next topic on this article.

How to write what readers will read?

Knowing that you will be temped to change your beliefs about writing to yourself in the first place, and by saying that, I mean, editors and some readers do need you to make them believe you're writing to them, which can be true, but that might not be exclusively to them... ;D

INTERMEZZO: Well, I may be a little lost in here, because I'm writing this as I'm on facebook trying to make my beta-readers work ¨¨'

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Writer's Block

What is Writer’s Block?

According to Encarta ® World English Dictionary, writer’s block is: “An inability on the part of a writer to start a new piece of writing or continue an existing one.”

I beg to differ. I believe that writer’s block is essentially an unwillingness to write. Not inability, but refusal. Meagan Spooner has the right idea. She says, “Writer's block is just a fancy way of saying 'I don't feel like doing any work today.”

Writer’s block isn’t some evil curse inflicted upon us by the creativity demons. It’s a state of mind, completely within our control. The reasons for writer’s block are many, and varied, but I will tell you right now that the best way I have found to overcome it, is to keep writing. No matter how horrible it is, no matter how painful it is to pry the words out of your mind, don’t stop to second-guess yourself, don’t stop for anything. I can guarantee you, that half the time when you look back on what you’ve written, it won’t be nearly as horrible as you supposed.

What Causes Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is not the disease, it is a symptom. It is a blanket term for a number of ailments that could strike a writer. David Stewart Warner has a good list of these on his blog, from everything to poor planning and lack of focus, to self-doubt, to pure laziness.

I personally think the leading cause of writer’s block is fear, specifically a fear of writing badly. Anna Quindlen says, “People have writer's block not because they can't write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.” And don’t forget the simple and beautiful alliterative warning of Rebecca Jane “Over analysis leads to paralysis.”

Sometimes, we forget that the literary classics didn’t spring as fully-formed gems from the minds of their writers. At times like these remember the immortal, if slightly paraphrased, words of Ernest Hemmingway: All first drafts are crap.

Avoiding Writer’s Block

We would all love to avoid writer’s block completely. So, here’s some ideas on how that could work.

Know your characters. Outline your book. Live and breathe your story as you write it. Whenever you have an idea, jot it down. If you keep your mind somewhat focused on your story at all times –like looking through novel-hued glasses– there is a better chance it will continue to motivate you.

Accept that you will write badly, and that you will make mistakes. I refer now to a blog I wrote awhile back, and the mantra I shared there: First drafts suck. Get over it. And we can all take a page out of Jennifer Egan’s book, who claims, “I haven’t had writer’s block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly.”

Instead of focusing on the eventual finished product, give yourself manageable goals. Set a word count. Decide which scenes you will write today.

Set up a routine, and stick with it. Figure out the best time for you to write, with your schedule. Are you more productive in the morning, or at night? Do you work better with a time goal, or a word goal?

Overcoming Writer’s Block

You might be thinking, That’s great, Wordbender, but what if I already have writer’s block? Then you need to know how to overcome it.

Fanontastic Polls

Are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo

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