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The Ba Sing Se Times, Issue 55: 30 March

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avatar wiki's community newsletter

Discussion report
Announcements and discussion results:

User rights report

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From the editor

Hello and welcome (back?), community members of a wiki driven by people of varying ages, genders, races, IQs, motivations, health problems, PTSDs, prejudices, ambitions, destructive urges, and most importantly, literary skills!

We are sorry to inform you that the BSST is not dead. Ahem. May I repeat: the BSST is not dead! We, the extremely loopy and apathetic staff, have brought upon ourselves the grand task of informing and "spreading the love" on this wiki... But unfortunately for you (and us), you probably picked the wrong people for the job! Well, you didn't really pick at all, but... (cue wild applause here)

Thank you, thank you! Indeed, we are humble. Indeed, we are lazy. But, indeed, we can now say that we've finally run out of totally zany things to say!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
48px-5536602.png Chakomics
Chakrasandwich

Article 1: Introducing... an entirely new section and an entirely new contributor. Please welcome, Chakrasandwich!!!

Schnazzy music plays: She's just a girl and she's on fire. Hotter than a fantasy. Lonely like a highway. She's living in a world, and it's on fire. Feeling the catastrophe, but she know she can fly away...

Thank you, thank you for that warm welcome! I know, I am on fire aren't I? I should replace Katniss. Hello everyone, I am Chakras and I am here to present to you this new section called... dun dun DUUUUN... CHAKOMICS! A lovely new section of artsy pieces entirely devoted to make fun of other users, or just my interpretation of a user's profile image in a humorous or "inside joke" kinda way.

First up, I have a wonderful friend of mine, Typhoonmaster. One day when I was looking through the wikiactivity, I saw that he had contributed for 100 days straight. Since I hadn't talked to him for a while, I decided to pop a message on his message wall. And since I almost never talk about only one thing in a message, I decided to talk about how whenever I pictured him, I saw "this extremely masculine six pack and all that schnazz Mako". After subsequently seeing him in real life on Tinychat, I realized that he looked exactly. Like. Mako (well, maybe Mako's face was a bit more elongated). So he became my first subject to draw and here's how it turned out:


I added some personal elements to a picture of Mako, including Ty's signature headphones, RUCA shirt, and "I'm cooler than everyone" stance. But then one cold and rainy day (well, it was actually sunny where I was but who knows! It's always cold and rainy somewhere, maybe England), Ty, Minnichi, SifuHotman90, ATrueFireFerret, and I were all tinychatting together when a certain master of typhoons decided to piss anger a certain spiritual sandwich. So a certain Dai li agent, a certain firebending master, and a certain fiery ferret encouraged the spiritual sandwich to bomb/graffiti the picture. So I did.


And this was the final product. Some facial hair, wrinkles, random disease-like spots covering the face and body, a cigarette, devil horns, lightning, weapons, and sound effects add a nice touch, don't you think?

Well that's all the graphics I'll be showing today, I hope I can do more in the future and have a great day/night/meal!

Schnazzy music plays: Oh she got both feet on the ground and she's burning it down. Oh she's got her head in the clouds and she's not backing down. This girl is on fire! This girl is on fire! She's walking on fire! This girl is on fire!

48px-3403431.png The Avatar Headlines for Issue 54
PSUAvatar14

As we continue our search for answers about book two of LoK, we may have a break about another certain Search: Tumblr user jennyatsdcc has left this bit of information that may lead us along. Now, I know Tumblr fandom isn't always the most reliable source - but it should be noted that jennyatsdcc has been on top of these conventions in the past, especially with live-blogging them when possible. Thus, she does seem to be a credible source. With Gene Yang and the Dark Horse PR director there, I say we have a fairly good shot at seeing something....


For the Ba Sing Se Times, this is PSUAvatar14, signing off.

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Why You Should Contribute to the Ba Sing Se Times
Minnichi

I know, I know, this section of the BSST isn't my natural habitat. What's the fanon-rooted, crazy Dai Li agent-girl doing here that's not related to supernatural admin drawings?! But actually, it's because the main wiki isn't my natural habitat that I feel compelled to make this little statement.

When one wishes to reach the Avatar fanbase and isn't an obsessive, article-editing user here, where will one go? Will you know to check the recent wiki activity for all the new comments made on articles? Will you know where the forums are? Do you even know what the "Iar Sea" is? (IRC, internet relay chat.) As someone who hangs around the fanon portal 23/7 (my last hour is spent socializing with random users), it sure took me a while to find out where the peak of the "speculation" is in the fanbase. Most of the time we just look to those raging comments on character articles. But as fans, don't we all wish our opinions could *actually* be heard?

What many of us don't seem to realize is that you actually can become more than one of those "random internet commenters" who go into rambling, extensive detail on articles here. I see comments all the time that are long and thought-provoking enough to fill this whole newsletter. Instead of making a long, fancy speech with a comment that's surely going to be forgotten in a few days by even more comments, haven't you ever considered making it into an article instead? For starters, every issue of this newsletter is 'highlighted' so that all of the existing users in Avatar Wiki are notified. Then there's the fact that every issue is posted on the front page of Avatar Wiki for all to see. Finally, there's the fact that this is our official newsletter. Thus, the average person who doesn't actually edit on Avatar Wiki will view anything here as representative of the fanbase. Your words have a much greater and lasting impact here.

But most importantly, this should matter to users with complaints about Avatar. If you find serious faults with the show, what're you doing in those random comment piles? You really want to see a change? Where's the place that your opinion has the highest chance of being seen, let alone being considered? It's hard to seek out a thoughtful statement in a pile of random fan comments on every article. But it's not hard to go to avatar.wikia.com, look at the front page, see 'Avatar Wiki newsletter' on the side, and think, "Hey, I wonder what the fanbase has been up to!"

...Which brings me to mention this: The creators of the show itself probably drop by this site from time to time. Gene Yang has already stated a few times that he's hung around here for reference as he writes. Now these guys will definitely not go into all the forums and do all the crazy things that regular users do...but chances are, they'll find an 'official newsletter' made in the name of their show more intriguing than a bunch of random comments. This is all a stretch, but I'm just saying - you want your opinion heard? You really want to represent the fanbase? Whatever it is, you have a better chance with the Ba Sing Se Times.

I leave you today with a reminder that any user here can contribute an article. Just seek out KMP, our editor, email him whatever's on your mind, and it'll be published pretty much as long as it's anything legible related to Avatar news and speculation. It's that simple! So just think about it.

48px-4959997.png Another Year, Another Wiki
JediForJesus

Since the premiere of The Legend of Korra, the wiki has really grown. There has been more editing activity, more page discussion, and tons of new fanons. If you have just joined the Avatar Wiki in the past year (or so), you have hepled in the growth of the Wiki. In the past year, thanks to the LoK, the Avatar Wiki has been saved from complete inactivity.

I remember coming on this wiki about a year ago, just before Book 1 of LoK premiered. Yes, the IRC was pretty active, but it seemed like KFB, ARG, KMP, and 888 were doing most of the edits. Yet once the first episode of Legend of Korra premeried on Nick, it seemed like the wiki was almost overrun!

The new pages were created, speculation were starting, and it was estimated over 1,000,000 people watched the premiere. Speculation started to arise about who Amon really was, and many new Fanons were created. Blog posts were made stating the users' thoughts, messages were flying all across the wiki, and speculation was hiding around every corner.

When the two-episode season finale ared on Nickelodeon, the whole world gasped as Amon was unmasked as Noatak, Tarlokk's brother. The Equalists got ever stronger, but the time was coming for the downfall of Amon. Amon finally unmasked, Korra losing her bending arts, and finally, in a huge specital that took the nation by storm, Korra entering the Avatar State and recieving her bending arts once again.

Ever since the Book 1 finale aired, just about every user has been trying to find out when the premiere is. Now, I'm not going to say my speculations myself, but I do have some.

48px-5012809.png On the Debut of Season 2
Boomeraang squad

Korra Season 2? Or is it really just another Season 1? Now, first I would like to introduce myself, being that this is the first time I have ever written an article for our esteemed news letter. I am Boomeraang Squad. And now you know me! Getting to the point of this article, Season 2 of Korra and how I see it. Everyone has there differing opinions on whether or not season 1 was good, and it is not place to decide who is right and who is wrong, but I found that it was flawed. Nevertheless I did enjoy Season 1, and was excited upon hearing the extension Nickelodeon granted Korra. The nature of this article however deals with neither the pros nor cons of anything Korra related; instead it is a simple comment on the nature of Season 2. I believe that Season 2 can not be treated as a Season 2 and is essentially another Season 1. It boasts a whole new plot line with rather undeveloped characters (a result of the rushed nature of Season 1) and introduces several new characters that we know very little about. It even holds a new setting!

It is my opinion that while watching “Spirits” it is best to treat it as we did Season 1, a whole new world with unknown potential and mysterious new players. Those who liked and disliked Season 1 should not be expecting what they saw there, instead we are once again looking toward the future of the avatar world while left completely in the dark about what it will be like. I believe that is currently impossible to form any kind of opinion on “Spirits” due to a combined lack of information and that there is almost nothing to base the nature of the seasons plot on. Predicting how “Spirits” will turn out now would be like predicting in December of 2011 how “Air” would turn out. All we can do is wait in anxious anticipation for the next big thing to happen in the world of Avatar. Well I hoped you enjoyed my thoughts, this was Boomeraang Squad, hopefully you’ll see me again soon!

from the fanon portal
48px-4760310.png Do's and Don'ts of Fanon Writing
Fruipit

To celebrate recently acquiring Book 3 on DVD (after buying the first two almost three years ago) and the fact that my Easter Holidays begin this coming Friday, I thought I would have a little fun and write short (perhaps) segment about writing. Specifically, good writing versus bad writing. Now, good and bad is relative. I think Australian feta and capers taste good, but another person may hate it. The same goes for writing. So I'm going to stick with the ‘if the toast is burnt, it's bad’ metaphor that I may or may not have just made up then. I'm going to focus on a main point that turns good writing into bad writing; description.

I assume (well, I hope) that many of you know how to read. It is also an assumption that you like to read. The hopeful part is whether or not you've actually read a good book, such as George Orwell's 1984, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or even Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. These, in my opinion, are good books. Why? Because they are relatively easy to read (once you fall into the pattern the book sets; although I always get stuck when Gandalf catches up with Merry and Pippin in Isenguard after the Ents have destroyed Saruman's factory), and they contain lots of description.

Imagine reading the summary of a fanon, or having a look at the main page. The idea seems interesting, and the layout of the main page looks nice, so you click on the first chapter. You read it and almost cry because of the horrible grammar and punctuation. You don't understand the story because it's made almost entirely of dialogue, explaining what is going on. You read to the end of the chapter, and decide to never read fanfiction again because you are afraid of reading another terrible one.

See how dull that was? It was short and to the point – exactly what you don't want with a story. A fanfic should flow, and draw the readers in; it should make them wish for more time, because they don't believe they can put their computer, or phone down until they finish the story. A good story shouldn't even need a cliff hanger to keep people interested – the language should suffice. I am going to rewrite the previous paragraph, and hopefully you will be able to see the difference. For those who don't want to read my (if I do say so myself) awesome paragraph of… awesomeness.... there will also be a list down the bottom of ‘do's and don't's’ of writing.

Imagine, for a second, that you see a main page for a fanfiction. Imagine that it is bright and colourful, full of pictures and information (think Ratava-style). The plot is original and eye-catching; an amazing story, and you are ashamed that you didn't think of it first. You smile with apprehension, a giddy expression that makes the people on the train next to you cower in fear, terrified of the evil deeds you must be planning because no-one smiles like that for no reason. You click on the first chapter, a name both witty and charming. Your heart is beating double-time, the excitement causing your breath to hitch. Slowly, far too slowly, the page loads. You scroll down to the first paragraph as fast as you possibly can, your mind already brimming with ideas. Reading the first line, your eyes quickly devour the whole paragraph, and you can feel a strange feeling in your chest. No, it isn't love. Continuing onto the next paragraph, the shattering ache of your heart breaking becomes too much to bear, and you look away, tears springing to your eyes as yet another brilliant idea is slaughtered by dull adjectives and improper punctuation.

You know you shouldn't torture yourself further, but you have to know if the story gets better. You read and read, ignoring the screaming in your mind and the fogginess in your eyes as the tears make it hard to focus on a single line. The words become meshed together as the same word is repeated over and over again, as though the author has a vocabulary of a six year old. The end of the chapter comes swiftly – although it has taken far too long -, almost as if the author knows you are in pain, and wishes for it to end. You are done. Finished. Any hope held for the story has been stolen alongside your heart. You leave the page and clear your browser history, the stain of a story forever etched in your mind, surfacing only to torture you some more before it returns to the dark recesses of your imagination.

Did you see the difference between the two? If you're going to write, write a lot; no one ever complained about too much description, trust me (unless, like me, you got lost whilst adventuring through Middle Earth. It happens). Here is the list, and I hope it helps in at least one authors small scene – that's all I need, to know I have helped another author save themselves from the dreaded disease, inarticulitis.

Do's and Don't's of fanfic writing. (1) Please, if you're going to write in first person, tell us who you are. Also, try to keep the characters in character. If it isn't immediately obvious that the character you are speaking from is Katara, at least have her doing something that Katara would do. If you don't specify, it is almost assumed that it is an OC.

(2) Language. Mix it up a little; no one wants to hear that a “boring story was boring”. Boring is such a general word. I always have a thesaurus and a reverse dictionary in hand in case I have a mind blank. Same goes for speaking verbs; “he said, she said.” Add a few adverbs (guiltily, happily, grief stricken etc), and there are so many to choose from. Asked, retorted, yelled, cried, whimpered, murmured, whispered. The list goes on and on. This both prevents the writing from becoming dull, and gives the readers a little more insight into the characters emotions.

(3) Language leads us to probably the most important point. Description. Could you imagine how terrible the story was in the first example? What about the second? This is reason número uno to have a beta reader or an editor; as a writer, you can imagine what is happening. As a reader, who doesn't have your idea, plans and/or foresight, what should be an amazing scene, with flowing description and action may be reduced to just words on a page. Describe the characters thoughts and emotions (especially when writing in first person), and the actions they are doing.

(4) “Because” and “and” are connectors. It's a fact; however, they should not be used in the same sentence. There are many ways to connect sentences so it doesn't get boring. No one wants to read “and she did this, and I said this so she ran away because she said I was mean and I followed her because I wanted to apologise and she forgave me.”

(5) It isn't quite as noticeable on Avatar Wiki, however there are a myriad of Modern AU stories, particularly on FFN. If you decide to write a modern story, make sure to show where the original ends and the modern part begins. Many authors just have a little note at the top of the page, telling people it's a modern story. Can the characters bend? Is Toph blind (this is a big one)? Most authors don't mix bending with modern; they choose to keep the two separate, and believe me, this is a good thing.

(6) Show don't tell. The reader doesn't want to be spoon-fed everything – they want to try it out and make a mess. Figuratively speaking. So much more emotion and description can be conveyed by speaking of the characters facial expression, the way their voice sounds, and the physical reaction to how they feel. If someone is embarrassed, don't say “I was so embarrassed.” Spend a little more time describing the embarrassment; " Looking around at the empty faces staring at me, I felt my own heat up. The red contrasted spectacularly with my blue eyes, and for the first time since meeting Toph (who was currently in hysterics on the floor), I wished I was an earthbender; if only so the ground could swallow me up." See? I didn't say she was embarrassed, however the actions of Katara tells the reader what they need to know.

(7) Have fun. I've read quite a few stories in my time (read: about four months); however with some stories it's obvious the author is just continuing for the sake of finishing the story. The plot becomes sloppy, characters act OOC, and generally they take a darker turn, mirroring the authors own lack of inspiration. The same thing happens when the Block Bug strikes, and the author, no matter how hard they try, just can't come up with any good ideas and becomes frustrated. When the author is having fun, no matter the genre of story, it always makes it more enjoyable to read.

(8) Let the characters drive the plot. This ties in with the characterisation, however it isn't quite the same thing. If I want a scene between Zuko and Ozai about Ursa's whereabouts, I can't just have him be talking to Mai, and then dumping her, saying he's going to leave again. You need to foreshadow, dropping hints that Mai and Zuko are unhappy together, and that Zuko wants to find his mother.

The Fire Lord would not just leave his girlfriend to go on a quest to find his mother; in my opinion, it just wouldn't happen. A more believable plotline would be having Zuko become obsessed with his mother, to the point where he unintentionally pushes everyone away, and Mai decides to leave. Oath big point is that you can't have characters doing something because you want to do it. If your favourite character is Katara, and you want to get a tattoo and an eyebrow piercing, don't make Katara go and do it to herself just for the hell of it. Especially – and this is a big one – if it has nothing to do with the story. I read a spectacular one that had Toph get her belly pierced, and it ended up being a Checkhov's Gun for a scene about twenty chapters down the line. That's fine (and regarding the story, completely in character). I hope that helped – I had a lot of fun writing it – and I'm always available to look over a story (preferably oneshots as I don't have a lot of time) if anyone wants. Or even just advice. I hope you liked it, and have a great day. This is Fruipit, signing off~!

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Ad Report and a Rant on Character Development
Minnichi

Well hey, I'm just being honest with the title here! So these days the fanon portal's pretty much on the same level with the rest of the wiki when it comes to inactivity - but only when it comes to new fanons. The hot and popular fanons are still running strong, such as the next 'Energy Saga' (ARG's Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes) that has already nabbed 24 subscribers before its 5th chapter.

The only notable news today, aside from the usual reminder to vote on fanon nominations and fanonbending, is the fanon advertising contest results! Yep, we had a good 4 contestants last round, and our winner is none other than The lucky mango! He is indeed lucky today, and he now has bragging rights over an awesome userbox, glorification in this newsletter, and a step closer to an epic illustration from my deviantart.com pals (who I must remind you caused a craze of fanon competition in hopes of winning their art).

And now, onto the rant about character development! (Dun-dun-dun...) Well okay, it's honestly something I'm talking about casually, ominous music aside. But it's a recurring issue I've noticed in our fanon portal even for some of the more accomplished writers, if I could say so myself. A unique element of Avatar Wiki's fanon portal that I find very cool is that original characters are favored. As are fight scenes. It's a place that encourages creativity, and I love that - especially coming from fanfiction.net, where non-shipping stories are already a challenge to get any views, let alone OCs. But in the midst of this creativity, I notice that a lack of character development tends to accompany the fight scenes.

I would explain what happens to a fanon with a solid story, action, and little character development - but I actually discovered an astonishing connection to the canon show itself. So what are the effects of good character development? Well, I can confidently say that a story with more development than action will do just fine, considering any readers of my fanon have survived even through the non-violent chapters. But a story with more action than development can't accomplish this. A less obvious example of what happens is basically those fanons that aren't quite as popular as the authors hoped.

...But a much more prominent example is none other than The Legend of Korra. What are the reasons character development is so important? Well, remember all those things you said about A:TLA that LoK was missing? How you could really connect to the characters, actually feel for them, and understand what they do? That's all character development. As for the things you tend to bash LoK for - well, I've seen people just flat-out use the term many times. The Legend of Korra is piled with fight scenes, as we know. It was also graced with HD quality and beautiful animation that surpassed its predecessor. And yet...well, you know how the fanbase feels.

So why should fanons be any different? They're not. They're as much of a story as any cartoon, and so the same things that hindered LoK will do the same to your writing. Authors here may not realize what an impact character development has, but the reception to canon shows that this factor does matter at heart. If you're one of the many who find A:TLA more lovable than LoK, just ask yourself why before you write your next fanon chapter. This is important stuff! Things like being non-stereotypical, having a well-rounded background, displaying enough emotion, or even having a more thorough physical description should be prioritized before any action scenes. Character development is equally as important as a good plot, the way I see it.

...And with that, I think I may have just found the idea for my next writing contest! Unfortunately I'm sleep-deprived and probably can't handle one like next week or something, but it's definitely something to consider for, sayyyy...May. Better start practicing now, guys! Next target of improvement in our fanon portal: character development ;)

48px-4519186.png A New Fanon: Parallel
PreservationsWings

Different perspectives on a single occurence.

From the writers of Avatar Wiki comes a new fanon: Parallel.

In Republic City, the possibilities are endless.

Parallel is a series of one-shots, taking coinciding perspectives from a group of individuals, a few with relations, most unacquainted, and intersecting them in a common ending.

In a time of turmoil, the teenagers and young adults of Republic City are faced with ever growing, constant troubles.

Can the youth of this great city outlast the inevitable end? Or will the universe dictate differently?

The path of fate will collide for some, and divide others.

This is their story.

COMING SOON

Community fanons have come and gone, most failing in several different ways. With Parallel, we hope to change that record. This fanon will be like no other.

All early subscribers to Parallel will receive updates about added pages, as well as the first chapter delivered to their email inbox before the release! We hope to see you reading, and we hope you'll enjoy!

~The Parallel Team

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Fanon Review: Colours by Fruipit
Minnichi

It's been a while since my last review... I am officially ashamed. But, as the Fanon Review Squad still marks the first "fanon work" I ever did here at the wiki, I've gotta return to it sooner or later! Today my commentary revolves around a heartwarming oneshot called Colours, by author and local fanon interviewer, Fruipit.

Colours

This tale is written as a snippet from the Gaang's daily activities. Toph and Aang coincidentally stay up longer than the others one night - and the former asks a question that turns out to be much more complex than it seems. I'm very impressed by the author's handling and creativity as she crafts her response to such a question, and it's a short and sweet piece of work that was definitely worth the read.

The Scores

  • Plot - 9.0: As a oneshot, this fanon naturally doesn't cover a full-blown plot. However, the story fits its purpose very well. It doesn't feel out-of-place or shallow in any way, and I think the author handled it wonderfully. However, I would say that the progression that leads up to Toph's question could have been elaborated on more. Since the whole oneshot revolves around said question, it's critical to get in every detail of the events that precede it. We could hear more about her inner emotions, or even a part of her past that always made her curious about colors. Any extra reflection on her part would contribute to the story even more than it already has. Overall, I'm still impressed here.
  • Organization - 9.5: Nope, really nothin' much to say here! I'm only putting in a minor deduction for what I mentioned earlier; more emphasis on the progression that leads to the question leads to a less abrupt feeling when the question is finally presented. Currently, Toph's dialogue has background information that doesn't go much further than "curiosity," and I just believe that the detail could go a little deeper than that. But hey, what am I even saying? The organization in this fanon was pretty darn good.
  • Creativity – 9.0: Wonderful. It was a wonderfully creative way that the author presented each color, and I don't see many others being able to pull it off. Just one thing, though: I just felt like the emotions of the characters (again, tying sort of to the plot issues) could have gone so much further. The author started them off so beautifully, and I would love more than anything to see her expand that elaboration for all it's worth. These emotions go hand-in-hand with the concept of the colors, and tweaking them to match the level of creativity would just make this fanon all the more awesome.
  • Writing – 8.5 (x3): Hmm, seems like everything I write in this review's going to be something about emotions. The descriptions I already talked about earlier do actually tie to writing as well. For instance, the way I desire for the emotions to be "expanded" in this oneshot generally refers to the choice of words used to describe them. I notice that there are some powerful feelings being described, but are portrayed more simply than the mood calls for.

Random polls

So... Is Zuko really Ozai's son? What do you think?
 
16
 
99
 
46
 
20
 

The poll was created at 10:06 on March 31, 2013, and so far 181 people voted.
Still excited for that second season of Korra?
 
53
 
121
 
3
 
7
 

The poll was created at 10:06 on March 31, 2013, and so far 184 people voted.
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