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MibuWolf here, auditioning for the FRS. This is also my first fanon review, and it was lots of fun. Even with the extreme nerves from the sense of competition, haha. Best of luck to all the other candidates!
Since this is my first review, I will be explaining my system for categorizing everything.
First, I summarize the plot of the fanon in one spoiler-free sentence. More detailed summaries are usually posted on the main page, and there's really no reason for me to copy and paste. In addition, I put one sentence of my personal opinion of the fanon. And a tea review. It's always good to drink tea while reading Avatar fanon. There are three categories: Writing, Content, and Content Quality. Within these three categories, there are three more categories (listed below). Each category has an average score between the three subcategories, and in the end all three averages are averaged together for the ultimate grade. All scores are out of 10.
- Writing Categories
- Grammar/Sentence Structure/Sentence Fluency - This is the "nit-picky" stuff. Do you grammar good (proper tenses/forms of words, who versus whom, its versus it's, effect versus affect, etc.), are sentences organized in a way where they are not fragments or run-ons (unless used as an effect), and how easily sentences flow and can be read. These three things aren't extremely similar, but some people are weak in the grammar department, and it's not fair to pull a person's grade down even if everything else in the fanon is excellent.
- Typos/Spelling/Word Choice - Words make up a story. This is grading you on them. Typos are small docks off, but if it's clear that the writer has spelling issues, then more points will be docked off. Word choice is how colorful the vocabulary is, especially OUTSIDE of dialogue. Using the word "effluvium" is an automatic ten (just kidding).
- General Writing - Overall, how good is the writer at, well, writing. Everything not listed above, such as style, voice, etc.
- Content Categories
- Story - This category analyzes the general story of the Fanon. Looks at flow (moving from one event to another unchoppily), and especially how interesting or engaging it is. Even if I'm not a particular fan of the fanon, it can earn a high score in this category; how interesting it is depends on cliffhangers, scandals, etc. and is actually unbiased.
- Characters - How good the characters are, for lack of better phrasing. Looks at the creativity of characters, the development of characters, etc. Mary-Sues can't hide anymore...
- Genre - This category was hard to name. Depending on the Fanon, I will analyze the listed Genre and how well it is done. For instance, in an action I would analyze the action scenes, drama the drama scenes, etc.
- Content Quality Categories
- Creativity - Looks at whether the story is creative or not. Is it scandalous, or is it the same old same old heroic cycle with a Mary-Sue protagonist?
- Believability - Is what is happening really believable? I understand that these are Avatar fanons (Avatar, with a twelve year-old ending a war after being frozen in ice for 100 years), but is the plot believable given the "physics", if you will, of Avatar. Also looks at dialogue and how realistic it is for a character to say what they're saying.
- Overall Effect - How the fanon feels. What does it leave the reader thinking, feeling, understanding? Is there an underlying message, symbols, themes, or is it just some bloke on a purposeless adventure?
Today, I will be reviewing Journey and Return by Madam Subclause. While reviewing this fanon, I drank Good Earth Jasmine Green Tea. Usually I don't like main-stream tea brands like Good Earth, but I must say it tasted very good. Cleared out my throat of some of the gunk from my cold, and overall was an enojoyable tea for conducting this review.
Journey and Return is a tale of redemption featuring some of our favorite and (almost) forgotten captured baddies of the Fire Nation. I like to dip my toes in several different fanons around the Avatar wiki, and this one caught my attention early on with the intriguing plot and good writing. And here's the review:
- Grammar/Sentence Structure/Sentences Fluency: 9.0 - There are some misused punctuation here and there, not too severe. Sentence structure is good, but mostly uses commas to vary sentence lengths and structures, rather than making use of semi-colons, colons, dashes, etc.
- Typos/Spelling/Word Choice: 10.0 - Excellent. One of the reasons this is a favorite fanon of mine. No noticable typos or spelling mistakes, and the word choice is very nice and Britishness.
- General Writing: 9.5 - Very well done. The writing in present tense in Chapter Eight was very well done. However, the first seven chapters were a bit more iffy. Lots of "to be" verbs, lots of sentences beginning with subjects, but pretty well done, regardless.
Writing Score: 9.5... A
- Story: 9.5 - Omoshiroi. Very interesting. Theme of redemption with Avatar characters has been done before (as Subclause actually mentions on the main page), but it's pretty well done. Some plot twists are a bit choppy and hard to follow at times (other times, plot twists are very well done), but the story gets across one way or another and in the end it makes sense.
- Characters: 9.0 - Nicely done character development with the characters from the series, but some of the development of Subclause's original characters is sketchy, meaning not really there. OCs (all one of them... Mostly, I'm talking about a couple of side characters here and there) seem like filled in molds, but the characters from the series are very developed.
- Drama: 9.4 - Overall the drama is very well done. Helps to develop the characters, overall improving the quality. Serves its purpose and fits in, even if the "drama" dialogue sometimes seems a tad bit random and/or out of place.
Content Score: 9.3... A-
- Creativity: 9.5 - The theme of redemption is a bit repetitive and predictable, but Subclause adds in creative twists to a basic idea.
- Believability: 9.0 - Eh... This is probably the most biased category. The main plot/character detail of the fanon is a bit hard to believe. Of course, I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read the fanon. "Captain Shi"'s survival is a bit of a no-way. But all of the dialogue is believable and realistic, and people aren't going against the normal physics of the world or anything of the sort.
- Overall Effect: 9.5 - Everything could use more symbolism. But there is an overlying theme, as well as some symbolism and themes along the way. Overall, the series makes you think, but not as much as a book you'd read in English class, thus still enjoyable for many different audiences.
Content Quality Score: 9.3... A-
Overall Score: 9.4... A
Advice for Madam Subclause: Write more in present tense--your writing in Chapter Eight in present tense was remarkable, but don't go too far. There's a very careful equilibrium in present tense where, if you tip too far in one direction, the fanon could end up sounding really passive or poorly written. Like you said, you can't replace all the verbs with their past-tense conjugations. Also, I'd recommend developing Ren's character more, or in the future with OC characters. You introduced him, a main character OC, and yet he hasn't had his personality nearly as developed as "Captain Shi" or Jee. My final comment is that, before posting a chapter, it's always a good idea to have someone else look over your writing for confusing phrasing and missing explanations. Every writer falls victim to it: when something makes sense in your head but you can't really word it properly. Other than that, just try and remember what I said above.
Who would enjoy Journey and Return? Any reader who likes Zhao... And anyone who enjoys drama fanons and/or fanons that fill in the blanks left in the series, like oreos. Because Journey and Return is a double-stuffed oreo.