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So...tonight Minnichi signs in for her record late review! Brillianttt. This blog post is also the first to be related to that little note in my schedule about "apologizing ahead of time because of academic demands"... Indeed, school kicked off last week I'm already drowning in piles of Genetics and Organic Chemistry homework ^^ But in all honesty, it's the fanon-reading that keeps me sane. My savior this week was a story called Aang: Story of an Airbender by RuleroftheBisons97, on which I shall now offer my commentary. I've missed my favorite Avatar/airbender and reading this was definitely a bittersweet reminder of him.
This fanon deeply expands on Aang's life before the iceberg...and man, it gets really intense! The author truly brings to life the Air Nomads and gives us his own idea of how they lived. It's like we get to see the Air Nomads without them being extinct and all...you know...'cause it's before the comet anddd...ahem. You get to see a cool and ALIVE Air Nomad society, end of point! Go read it ^^
- Plot - 8.4: The plot appeared simplistic to me at first, but it grew and only grew further in the later chapters. There's a wonderful setup of protagonists, antagonists, and everyone inbetween. In no time, I wanted to see what happened next! Only thing is that the simplistic thing does become an issue in plot clarity, so it shoud still be improved. "Simplistic" is created because the plot was unclear in the beginning. We're only told of Aang's daily shenanigans and don't really have a sense of the bigger picture yet. It gives off an impression that the story's only going to talk about Aang's uneventful life before the iceberg, and only when you read further do you realize that there're crazy traitors and stuff. It's good to have shock value by making the dark problems appear later, but the reader should still have a clear sense of what the story will focus on from the start. It's a little misleading at the moment, and I would suggest expanding more on the antagonist side in the early chapters - or anything to hint that the story is everything but simple. I don't want people turning away from this because of that misunderstanding. It's a great plot that needs to be heard!
- Organization - 8.9: I don't think I was ever confused in this fanon, but the only deduction is directly related to the plot issue I mentioned. Since the true plot was made unclear, it also counts as an organizational issue. Another minor deduction, however, comes from a slightly abrupt manner in which new characters are introduced. There are a whole lot of them (especially antagonists) who come and go, and they fly by a little too fast for us to understand their purpose in the story. Even if these other characters are minor, the fanon will quickly turn confusing if they're not given the detail they need. Other than that, nice setup! The author has lots of good planning going on here.
- Creativity – 7.9: This section was hit a little harder because of the fanon's strong connection to the show's references to Aang's pre-iceberg life. Many times it directly quotes canon flashbacks of the Southern Air Temple, so that decreases the amount of ideas that the author came up with himself. It's perfectly alright to do this, but I'd recommend not relying too much on canon quotes; make them more of your own story. Also, the way the antagonists behave tend to be a little stereotypical. More elaboration on their backstory may fix this (that is, more than you've already provided). I know that it's very tempting to use "common lines of evil people"...I mean, they became common because they're so good haha. But as they've unfortunately been overused, think of a way to reword them. In particular, avoid having characters "smile evilly to themselves" or thinking that "everything was according to plan (while smiling evilly)." Sometimes it's the very fact that you just leave things at "he smiled evilly" that makes it sound so stereotypical. It doesn't become unique until you define what "evil" looks like on a person; every person is evil in a different way, after all. For example, someone's eyes might only "flicker slightly with amusement" when they successfully infiltrate something - while another person may very well have a "large smirk stretching across their face" as soon as no one's looking. The point is to specify, and evil will sound as creative as you want it to... Okay, I'm overusing the word "evil" haha. Ignore my ramble and read this creative fanon, guys. Moving on!
- Writing – 7.7 (x3): The first and most critical thing to fix right now is repetition. Without thinking twice, I can tell you right now that "Roar!" needs a synonym. I find this matter to be very urgent and strongly suggest not to save the improvement for later chapters. Appa's voice has not once been described by anything other than "ROAR!" or "he roared." The repetition also expands to descriptions of antagonists (smiling evilly), fighting moves (which I'll elaborate on soon), and often sentence structure as well. I applaud the author for having a pretty good grasp of grammar, but repetition can deter readers just as much as bad grammar. The true greatness of the story is sometimes overshadowed just because of this; it starts to sound dull despite a constant change of events, all due to a select group of repeated words. Point being, synonyms must be introduced here. Sentence format could also be changed up a little, but that's a minor suggestion. The other issue in this fanon is that I have a very vague sense of setting as I read; scenes are hard to visualize. So this falls under the official "naming" category of deduction that's common to my reviews. I'll recite it again: show, not tell. "Temples", "fields", or "mountains" are nothing more but names until you describe to us what they look like. Just think of it this way: there are thousands of temples/fields/mountains that exist, so what makes the reader know how to imagine yours? Same goes for every kind of expression described in dialogue, in which you have to show the literal facial features of "anger," "confusion," and "sadness" to go beyond the names and create a real picture. So I think that all of the deductions in this category can be tied to a general lack of description; repetition and names are usually the result of using short, sometimes one-sentence descriptions, from what I've seen. This story has many great qualities, but improvement in these areas would make it easier for other readers to see that.
- Character Development - 7.0 (x2) The writer has nicely set up an interesting group of characters, but their personalities tend to go one-way. Aang and other canon characters are immune to this since they have their roots in the show, but most of the OC's traits only correlate with their designation as protagonist or antagonist. In other words, the good guys will only say/do things that show how right and just they are, while the bad guys will only say/do things that show how evil they are. "Good" and "bad" should not be used as the basis of personality; rather, a characters' personality should develop in a way that results in it being good/bad. I'm not saying you should go through everyones' life story to show us exactly how they became what they are, but that their unique personalites have to be shown to us. Knowing each characters' inner feelings and philosophy is what tells us that they're not just the good guys and the bad guys; they're people. So to sum it up, all of the OCs - both protagonist and antagonist - need to have fuller, more in-depth personalities. This will make them stand out as unique individuals and will also aid in believability. And last thing...what do they look like? I'm especially dying to know in Mia's case. Physical descriptions would be a pretty good thing to include. That aside though, there was enough characterization for me to feel genuine hate for the antagonist heheh. Their personalities can be elaborated on more, but the characters are definitely real!
- Action - 7.7: Just following my weekly routine of deduction here (I should be criticized for repetition too!)... "(Insert element)bending" has got to go.I believe about 80% of bending-related action in this story is described with "he/she (insert element)bended." For example (I'll try to use another one this time), saying that "AvatarRokusGhost won a ton of fanon awards by writing" is probably vague. (Oh hey what's up ARG? Just mentioning you here :P) Writing, like bending, can be anything in the world unless you specify how it was done. Naming the action alone almost doesn't tell us what happened at all. So here goes again: show us how the element was bent - how it moved and behaved - and you won't have to tell us what kind of bending it was at all. Also don't forget to elaborate on the body movements involved with bending. I know that the (insert element)bending term is probably a great shortcut and that's probably why it's so common, buttt...refrain! Everything else with the visuals of the action were pretty good aside from that, though.
- Believability – 7.8: Most of the believability issues came from a shortage of explanation, I think. Lots of new ideas, but not enough backup. Such as the idea of having two Avatars: not much is said about how the spiritual system works and why it's a "who's worthy" issue instead of an automatic decision. Same goes for the Air Agents, who were a pretty cool group but still seemed a little hard to swallow with the blunt way they were introduced. Also sports like sky bison polo could have more elaboration on the rules or maybe more details on their history in the culture (the show's pretty vague about that too so you'd have to come up with the details on your own) But all in all, I could see this happening.
Overall Score: 7.78
My advice for RuleroftheBisons97: Go through your fanon and find anywhere you can implement synonyms, and just go more in-depth with your characters and the world around them. I look forward to seeing how this turns out - and oh by the way, I still hope Afiko dies ^^
Who should read Aang: Story of an Airbender? Anyone who likes Aang should give it a go, or anyone who's interested in Air Nomad culture. Action lovers wouldn't be disappointed either!