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The Ba Sing Se Times, Issue 60: 1 February

Minnichi February 2, 2015 User blog:Minnichi

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Ba Sing Se Times Banner

Discussion report
Announcements and discussion results:

  • The 6th Fanon Awards council has been chosen by the administrators.
  • The annual User Awards will begin this month.

User rights report

48px-5047861.png From the editor: The show must go on!

Hey, Avatar Wikians! It's been more than a year since we've gathered here at the newsletter. Today I have to deliver the sad news that our beloved editor, KettleMeetPot, has stepped down from his position and wishes me to carry on his legacy, and the legacy of The 888th Avatar before his. "I shall explain my motives for resigning later..." he says. Well, I'd like to tell Kettle that it has been a pleasure working as his Minnion and coding student. But just as the Avatar Cycle goes on, so must we! Even after the Avatar franchise airs its last episode, there is much to talk about in this lively community.

So for those of you new to The Ba Sing Se Times, what are we all about? Well, this newsletter is the place for you to broadcast anything and everything you want related to Avatar! Whether it be your opinion on the hotly debated ships of LoK, your debut as a fanon author, or even professing your love for the Cabbage Merchant, the BSST is a surefire way to make your voice heard. We are Avatar Wiki's oldest newsletter, and we want you to help us publish!

Today, I take up editorship alongside our two trusty deputies, Water Spout of the mainspace, and Omashu Rocks of the fanon portal. We're excited to be back in the newsletter business and wish to see all your faces with us in the next issue! So yes, the animated show is finished. But are we finished? No! Our show will go on. Our community will thrive. And we will continue to laugh, cry, hug, argue, write, and fight wars over our opinions of Avatar to our heart's content! Don't be scared to give the BSST a shot. We'd love to hear from you, and it's time you get out of those forums and make a real statement of yourself here. Want to be heard? Want to be a part of the show? Let's go!

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Editing 101: How To Be Involved In Mainspace
Water Spout
This is it. The final stretch to The Legend of Korra before the second series of the franchise comes to a close. There have been many ups and certainly many downs, but it has definitely been an amazing two years. With the finale looming, one questions remains. What happens next? The creators have already expressed their intent to take a break after this series and although we can expect new comics here and there, for the most part, there will be nothing to do.

Well, except edit.

What kept the wiki alive in the years following the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender was a constant stream of editing to build a comprehensive encyclopaedia of all things Avatar. There were new articles, new users, new groups, and just an overall sense of growth in the community. I certainly hope that the same holds true in the coming months.

Over the years, the wiki has experienced many changes. There have been overhauls and new policies that I still have trouble comprehending. New ways to be involved meant less necessity to edit and with that, the wiki experienced a significant decrease in editing. I think that's a shame and I urge every user to be involved in editing in one way or another! Even the tiniest revisions make the biggest changes!

That said, I am more than aware of many reservations that can discourage users from editing. The layout can be overwhelming if you're not familiar with the editing interface and it can be frustrating seeing other users revert your changes. But that is part of the process! Editing is so satisfying and without a doubt my most favourite part of being part of this wiki.

I've had users here and there ask me: “Water Spout, how can I become a great editor?” To that, I would lean back on my seat, take a sip of my Diet Coke, and respond: “Well, I would go and ask Lady Lostris because I don’t know.” In all seriousness, editing is great once you get the hang of it and you’ll never find your groove if you don't start! With that, I've compiled a list of tips and tricks to remember when editing:

  1. Familiarizing yourself with policy will save you a lot of grief. The policies are there to keep the wiki from imploding and knowing them is very beneficial. Among the most common errors users make when editing include adding incorrect categories, uploading low-quality images, and expanding articles with extraneous information.
  2. Quality is better than quantity. In fact, don't ever worry about quantity. As I said above, small edits often make a big impact. If you don't have time to write massive paragraphs, then no need to do so! Browsing articles to rewrite awkward sentences and correct elusive typos is very helpful, and not something many users end up doing.
  3. Find your style. Individual editors will have distinct styles of editing that they have developed over time. As you edit and edit, you will eventually find your “niche”, so to speak. Don't force yourself to make new articles when writing from scratch is not something you enjoy. If you have a knack for narrative, try working on the episode transcripts! Insightful? Try your hand at writing character personality sections or expanding relationship pages. The great thing about Avatar as a franchise is that there are many different aspects with which you can involve yourself.
  4. Realize that it's a learning curve and a collaborative effort. One of the most frustrating things about editing is seeing your contributions reduced to nothing because other users disagree or fail to find it noteworthy. Don't let that discourage you from continuing to edit! Talk to users and see where they're coming from and try to find a common ground. The great thing about editing a community-based encyclopaedia is the fact that you get to work with a plethora of different writers, each of whom has a different writing style and perspective. Use criticism to grow as a writer and improve! I guarantee that every single user in this wiki has had at least one edit reverted. Mistakes are part of being human and disagreement is bound to happen when you put more two personalities in the same room (just remember to keep civil).
  5. Have fun! Admittedly, this article might seem like a not-so-gentle prod to the butt to edit, but really, I just want everyone to see what makes editing so great. Have fun with it! Don't force yourself to write things you don't want to write for the sake of writing. At the end of the day, you decide what to do in the wiki because it is your experience. Make the most of it!
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EDITOR
One Does Not Simply Bring Back the Dai Li
Minnichi
If you know anything about me, or would like to know pretty much the only thing you need to know in order to say you know anything about me (tongue twister!), it's that I, Minnichi, am the number one, most fabulously obsessive fan of the Dai Li. They're the reason I wrote fanfiction in the first place, thus the reason I eventually found my way into the wiki's fanon portal and later jumped into all sorts of crazy newsletter shenanigans! Anyway, to the main point: I, the most die-hard Dai Li fan you'll ever meet...am traumatized. TRAUMATIZED. By no other than Book 3 of The Legend of Korra. I feel as though no words can truly capture my disappointment with the Dai Li's portrayal, but I will try my best nonetheless to describe it below...

I have to admit that I was thrilled at first. You have no idea what indescribable joy lit up my eyes when I first saw the emerald uniforms flashing across the trailers. You can even ask Lady Lostris what kind of enthusiastic insanity I was spamming her with during my reaction (i.e. "This is the best news I've heard all year, it just made my day zomg :'D" etc.) I'd thought that I would never see my beloved agents again nor would ever know what became of them after Sozin's Comet. All of the heartache and longing was finally eased as they reappeared in blazing ninja-glory in the latest, high-def animation.

But that joy was not to last.

My happy-bubble was burst almost immediately when it occurred to me: First of all, how on earth did they come back? I was expecting an explanation, every passing episode in modern Ba Sing Se - and it never came. It eventually dawned on me, horrifyingly, that there was no explanation. They were gone one day, anddd ta-da, here they are again. What?! Wait, didn't they betray the Earth Kingdom for Azula and get kicked out of the Fire Nation, rendered homeless? Whose bright idea was it to let them back into the very city they turned on? Who could've even found them to ask them to come back? This stuck out like a sore thumb to me, though sometimes I theorize that the corrupt new monarch had heard the stories of them being able to single-handedly control Ba Sing Se and found them a useful addition to her tyranny... Even so, the Gaang had made it quite known that they're some of the most terrible guys on earth. At which point did they lose touch with Ba Sing Se enough to let the Dai Li waltz right back into power?

Secondly, and worst of all... What happened to the Dai Li's infamous power? Literally - for a group that could supposedly control all of Ba Sing Se by itself, they sure put up a lame fight (or nonexistent one) when the city rioted following the death of the queen. I've never known these guys to panic in the absence of a leader; they work as a group and make their own decisions who to follow, from what we've seen, so couldn't they have pulled it together and worked out a plan at least instead of well, vanishing completely in the absence of the queen? Aside from that, I find issue with how easily Zaheer's group got around in Ba Sing Se. Zaheer's group is about as outnumbered as Azula's trio was in the previous series. Azula, powerful as she and her friends were, knew better than to try fighting the entire organization - so why should Zaheer's group be any different? This is either a gross, unrealistic inflation of power the writers have given to Zaheer - or a lame lack thereof on the Dai Li's part. What happened?

Third of all, have the Dai Li given up brainwashing in The Legend of Korra? Since they've never been a fan of morals anyway, I figured that getting the airbenders to cooperate with them would've been far easier had they used their old tactics from A:TLA. What made them stop brainwashing, and why?

Finally... It seems like the Dai Li disappeared just as randomly as they came back. We never see nor hear anything about them again after the Earth Queen is killed. The same vanishing tragedy that broke my heart after Sozin's Comet has struck yet again, only this time it left me with even worse scars than before. What I witnessed in The Legend of Korra was a sad, watered-down version of the dark, epically powerful Dai Li I once knew, and we have more unanswered questions than ever.

So, what do you think of the Dai Li's portrayal in LoK? How do you think they came back? Where are they now? All we can do is speculate amongst ourselves, because the show itself will never tell us. As much as I love the Dai Li, it has come to my sad realization that one does not simply bring them back to the screen. Ultimately, I now prefer that they hadn't come back at all.
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DEPUTY
What The Legend of Korra Could Have Used: A Lot More Nothing
AvatarRokusGhost
So, with The Legend of Korra concluded, we see the completion of the second full-length Avatar cartoon series. Like many, I found it to be enjoyable and like many, I was disappointed at times. As I look back at the four seasons of Korra, I can safely say that I will remember them differently than the three seasons and Avatar: The Last Airbender. That isn't just because it took me over two and a half years to watch them from start to finish, whereas with A:TLA I watched The Boy in the Iceberg to Sozin's Comet for the first time in less than two weeks.

Actually, there are many reasons for it, and a lot of the reasons I can give I've already heard said to death by others, so today I want to focus on one reason I will recall Korra differently than the original Avatar. That is, The Legend of Korra could have used some more nothing. If by nothing you think that I mean that it was perfect and nothing should be changed about it, that is far from the truth. By nothing here, I mean moments where nothing happens. Yes, believe it or not, I am indeed making a case for filler here, a word which almost always bears a negative connotation. In a recent interview, Bryke commented that they preferred the shorter seasons of Korra as they could keep the story moving forward at all times. As much as I greatly respect the geniuses that they are, I must respectfully beg to differ with they way things turned out.

With twenty episodes per book versus twelve, one still has a story to tell and a plot to uncover step-by-step. When one has more episodes, though, it gives us a chance to spend more time with characters we adore, and we don't mind if not every step is as directly related to the main plot as the next. Even as the series ended, the fandom was hungering for more episodes, but Bryke managed it perfectly that way. To some extent, we found consolation in the comics, such as The Lost Adventures with the "scenes we missed." On the other hand, the comics, particularly some of those that have been released more recently, have not been as spellbinding as the show they were based off of. Now, don't get me wrong, it is possible to go overboard and if a show drags on too much, it becomes an issue. Some shows have unfortunately gone down that path. Fortunately, Avatar has not.

However, there are times when this off-handed fun can be beneficial in moderation, and there were times when this could've helped The Legend of Korra to become a fuller, better television show. One of the episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender that I will always remember is Tales of Ba Sing Se, which was the first part of a very clear interlude between City of Walls and Secrets and Lake Laogai. This gave a revealing snapshot of each character it explored, and also the debut for "Leaves from the Vine," one of the most memorable tunes in the show. One of the most prevalent flaws in the earlier seasons strung from the character development and romantic theme of The Legend of Korra, particularly for Mako. While it may have seemed like he needed a personality transplant or change in attitude some of the time, maybe what he really could've used was a good "Tale of Mako" to show another side of his character. For this reason among others, I spent over two years wondering if there would ever be a "Tales of Republic City" episode about the new Team Avatar, but alas, that was never to come.

What was lacking in The Legend of Korra was not large-scale fight scenes or climactic confrontations. These appeared in every season. Set aside for a second, Sozin's Comet, Siege of the Norths, Crossroads of Destiny. What about The Fortuneteller, The Painted Lady, The Puppetmaster? In the lattermost, while fighting the Fire Lord was absent, the character interaction was eloquent, the action was simple, but intriguing and the dark, chilling setting was perfect for around Halloween, when it was originally released. Meanwhile, in The Painted Lady, we got to see the struggles of Fire Nation civilians who have been hit hard by the war just like the Earth Kingdom civilians we'd seen for the past two seasons. Then, in The Headband (I know, it's love it or hate it for some) we saw a different side of life in the Fire Nation and got a few nice laughs.

When one pictures a war that lasts for a hundred years, it's obviously dealt out far more impact than can be seen in a relatively shorter season, and gradually, the filler adds up to show us what the heroes in Team Avatar are up against. This painting of a picture with worldbuilding in Avatar: The Last Airbender gave it a much fuller feel than Korra had at times. To quote another user on here (one who is relatively inactive now) it's the little things that we treasure. Likewise, we can find them taken for granted by us sometimes. But they helped shaped memories of this universe that will last us a lifetime.
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I'm Disappointed in the Finale, and I Hate to Even Say That Much
Mageddon725
The finale of the Legend of Korra marked not only the end of a series, but also the end of the Avatar franchise on television, at least for the foreseeable future. This was to be the last hurrah for fans of Avatar, and we were all expecting an explosive, powerful finale.

So why am I so disappointed?

The final two episodes had action, emotion, and characters in spades, and yet I can’t help but feel as though it’s missing so much. In this article, I want to go over, in my opinion, what crippled this finale and what it lacked. Please don’t hate me. My initial problem with the finale—before I even started to analyze it further—was that Korra didn’t reconnect with her past lives. This was something that had been an issue since Book 2, and I expected, perhaps naively, that it would be resolved. I had hoped that this thread we were given to follow would’ve panned out to something. It was not to be, however. Korra never reconnects with the other Avatars, and she never really reaches any kind of spiritual awakening. Instead, we get a short conversation with her and Tenzin about how she’d grown as the Avatar. I initially would’ve included this as a positive, but I realized after thinking about it that her conclusion wasn’t exactly accurate. She said she went through everything so that she could learn to be compassionate, but that doesn’t fit Korra at all. It implies that she wasn’t compassionate to begin with, and that just isn’t true. Even that moment between the two of them was ruined when I realized this; any attempt at realization or spiritual awakening wasn’t going to be forthcoming. Even worse, it was decided that Korra’s big problem, that her ordeals solved, was not being empathetic enough.

If a lack of spiritual closure and meaning wasn’t enough, we then had characters thrown by the wayside in favor of plotlines and characters that didn’t deserve the spotlight. Case in point: Varrick and Zhu Li’s wedding. Don’t hear what I’m not saying; I love Varrick. He’s quirky, hilarious, and devious, and he’s one of my favorite characters in Legend of Korra. But a pairing that was virtually nonexistent until the finale should not have been the focus of the ending. We needed to see Team Avatar together, really together, but that never really panned out. Instead of showcasing them as a group—much like the finale of The Last Airbender did for the original cast—we get Mako and Korra having a fairly muted few words, Bolin not even getting involved, Korra and Asami riding off into the spirit portal for no damn reason, and Naga nowhere to be seen (seriously, poor girl was largely ignored for two seasons). They didn’t feel like friends; they didn’t feel close. Instead, we see the wedding of two characters that were largely uninvolved until the tail-end. I’m still on the fence as to whether Prince Wu was necessary or not (much like the show, I suppose), but at least he had an arc.

Now, onto the antagonist: I’ve made it no secret that Kuvira is one of my least favorite villains in the Legend of Korra (here’s looking at you, Unalaq), and Omashu Rocks and I have had several discussions on her merits as an antagonist. So when the finale rolled around, I couldn’t wait to see her fall. It’s just too bad that we got about half an hour of a fight with a giant mech that, by all counts, shouldn’t have been able to bear its own weight. Most of the “fight” was wasting airtime trying tactics that didn’t work because the mech suffered from what I like to call “female titan” syndrome. It’s this thing where an antagonist is able to pull solutions for problems that should cripple or kill them out of nowhere (something the female titan in Attack on Titan was fond of doing). Balloons with paint? Brilliant, Meelo! Oh…wait…the mech had some windshield wiper fluid handy for that. Trip it up? Awesome, Bolin! Nope, it can just stand up (how, given its mass and size, no one knows). My point is that this portion of the fight was uninteresting and took away from what could’ve been a great clash between Kuvira’s forces and Korra’s allies. Admittedly, the actual fight between Korra and Kuvira was phenomenal when it did finally get there; Studio Mir’s animation was a consistent highlight in any bending sequence. However, even this was marred by Kuvira’s sudden admission of inadequacy and the done to death “I was an orphan” shtick. Her revelation did nothing to endear me to her plight or make her an interesting villain; it just seemed contrived.

Contrived. That word has been rolling around in my head as I’ve dissected this finale, and it saddens me. Hiroshi Sato’s death was one of the bigger offenders in this regard. When the reintroduced him in Book 4, I knew that he was going to help in the end, and he was probably going to die.
Click here to keep reading!
I’m all for him getting a chance at redemption, but they needed to do it in a way that didn’t seem like they needed emotional death scene fodder.Now, here’s where it gets dicey (i.e. I get torn apart by shippers). Korra and Asami going off into the wild blue yonder was contrived no matter what side of the fence you’re on. Worse, however, is that it distracts from some potentially good moments all in favor of “SHIPPING!!!!”, and I believe its inclusion took away from some of the moments we needed to see but didn’t get to.

I could name countless unanswered questions at this point: Why is Naga nowhere to be seen? What’s the deal with Bolin and Opal? Jinora and Kai? Who are Su and Lin’s fathers? The finale doesn’t seek to provide any sort of closure, and that’s perhaps my biggest issue with it. It doesn’t feel like a series finale; at best, it’s an adequate season finale. To leave so many questions unanswered (quite a few important ones, I’d say) is to do a disservice to loyal fans that have followed this series since the beginning. It’s not enough to say “we might get comics!” The fundamental questions should’ve been answered, and the series wrapped up in a satisfying way. Neither of those happened, and it pains me to say it.

The Legend of Korra did not send this series off with the dignity it deserved, and I am disappointed.

FROM THE FANON PORTAL
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DEPUTY
Fanon Awards,
Here We Come!

Omashu Rocks
Fanon authors, readers, and critics alike: lend me your ears! The time has come for us as a portal to come together, celebrate all of our work in the past year, and to crown 2014's best fanons! That's right, the Avatar Wiki Fanon Awards are upon us yet again!

Come one, come all, to participate in the fun, engaging, competitive, and rewarding process that will be the Sixth Fanon Awards on our beloved portal. The Fanon Awards Council has been chosen, so be sure to send your congratulations to the following outstanding users:

These five excellent contributors to the fanon portal have a very important task ahead of them: to not only oversee the Fanon Awards but to select the preliminary nominees. According to tradition, the Council will decide on a handful of candidates to receive the various awards such as Outstanding Romance Series, Outstanding New Series, Best Villain, Outstanding Illustrator, Best Animal Character, the very prestigious Outstanding Fanon Series Award, and many more!

Your job? To nominate the rest of the candidates and then ultimately vote for each category's winner! By the end, only a few stories, characters, and authors will claim these titles. They could be your favorites, or better yet: you!

The Fanon Awards are the best way to discover new stories, find out which rage you should catch up on first, see which author's to follow, and get your own name out there. You have the freedom to nominate any fanon you see as worthy, and everyone, regardless of experience, age, or any other factor will have one vote and an equal voice, so make your voice heard.

In other news, January's Featured Fanon Series was Ghosts of the Past by Katherine Rebekah, an intriguing Alternate Universe in which Katara and her friends deal with reality, faith, and each other. The Featured Article was the first chapter of the second book of AvatarRokusGhost's series, Dragons, Sieges and Volcanoes.

The current month's Featured Fanon Article is the comedy one-shot, our chemicals, they react by Sparkstoaflame. There is no current Featured Fanon Series, which is why I urge everyone to check out the nomination and voting process.

If you're looking for more ways to either get involved in the fanon portal or show off your talent, try entering a monthly Writing Contest hosted by your very own Fanonbenders, Fruipit, AvatarRokusGhost, and myself. We'd love to see even more entries and authors taking part in the fun.

That's all for me this issue. Until next time, I'll see you around the portal.
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Fanon Interview: Crossfire by Omashu Rocks
Fruipit
Well, isn't this strange? I know, I know, I usually don't put interviews in the newsletter, although for this one, I made an exception. Crossfire, the latest project by former Review-Squad member, Omashu Rocks, truly deserves any and all attention it can get (plus, this interview is beyond ridiculously late). So, using fancy IM technology, I had a sit down and asked OR a few questions. And then proceeded to fangirl slightly. Anyway, you don't wanna hear about me—you want to hear about Nalia, Crossfire, and exactly what goes on in Mr Rocks' head ^^"

So, how are you doing?
I'm doing well. How are you?

I'm just swell. Thanks for asking :) So, to kick off, let's discuss the easy stuff: this whole idea, where did it come from?

I read an interview with Bryke in which they were asked why they had the new avatar be a woman, and they replied that strong, female characters were among the most popular in A:TLA, citing Toph, Katara, and Kyoshi. I agreed, and then I thought perhaps headstrong female leads were absent from the fanon portal. So I created a female protagonist infused with my sense of sarcasm and wit, which would become her most defining characteristics, and around her I built a scenario to depict a side of the war that hasn't been told before: a sympathetic view of the Fire Nation soldiers.

"Infused with [your] wit". Is this why there are a lot of sexual references? Why do you use so much?
Nalia's sexuality, among other things like her temper, exist for mainly three reasons: entertainment, to create a more dynamic and intriguing character, and to show that she's not some completely innocent victim. She's no angel, and I don't want readers to forget that when they start to feel bad for her.

So, we're going to see a lot more of this attitude?
Ten times more attitude, my guarantee or your money back

Aha I'll hold you to that. So, just taking a step back here (but there will be some more on that later), what are your inspirations—for both the story and Nalia?
I've been called out before for some similarities to the video game Assassin's Creed, and some of Nalia's stealth techniques can definitely be traced to that. As for the plot, I really look to other stories where strong women are reluctantly forced into some heroic position, like Katniss. The twist I add on is that Nalia is forced to be the villain, but try to keep asking whether or not Nalia is just an evil person to begin with, and Nalia's personality is definitely inspired at least somewhat by the Queen of Sass, my sister.

Hmm, now I think about it, I can definitely see the similarities with AC. It reminds my of the type of stories Agent Slash writes. So, you use a lot of references, but how much of that comes through as symbology? I notice that the character's names usually mean something.
Agent Slash and I have worked together on fanons before, so it's possible he's rubbed off on me.
Or you rubbed off on him?
There was probably a bit of both. In terms of symbolism, characters in this story typically represent a different sin. We have lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, envy, and all their friends.

Okay, so, which character is which sin?
It's typically minor characters who will represent one of the Seven Deadly sins. Nalia and her partner Jirou are more or less a combination of all seven, which you could say makes them very "deadly"

Ha ha punny. Speaking of Jirou, how did you think of him? His name, his character?
Jirou was born out of a need for more than one main character, but I ended up really enjoying writing for his relationship with Nalia. I don't remember why I picked the name, to be honest, but I knew I wanted someone equally as aggressive and equally as strong to come in as the clear superior in the team and knock down Nalia a few pegs, only to have her bounce back and show him a thing or two. I tried to have two massive forces butt heads to balance each other out, fighting fire with fire, so to speak.

Does he fear or respect Nalia? Or is it a bit of both?
At first her certainly has no respect for her, and I don't want to get into any spoilers, but I think I make a point of the moment he begins to view her as more of an equal (and with some fear as well).

How old is he?
He's in his upper twenties, while Nalia is 19. His age is uncertain because all knowledge of anything in the fanon comes from Nalia's perspective, so whatever Nalia doesn't know, no one knows.
So, how old is Ming?
She's like 12 or 13 or something.
Aha so you don't know?
I never had Nalia tell us, so I guess it doesn't really matter… unless I did, in which case I forget and couldn't care less

Oh, fair enough then. She's a lot younger than Nalia being the point. Will we ever see/learn what happened to Ming?

Yes, but I will not say whether Ming herself makes an appearance or not

Spoilers? Okay, sticking with Ming—did something happen in the girls' past to make them so different?
I love the questions you ask because you're really getting at some of the deeper themes the series will expand upon later. Trying to avoid spoilers, I'll tell you that the way Kun and Malva (their mother) raised Nalia and Ming were very different. Kun didn't train Ming like he did with Nalia. Ming was much more sheltered, and she never had the rebellious spirit her older sister does.

Ahh thank you. It's very easy to think of the deeper stuff when it's a story that really grabs out at you :D So, we're going to learn more on their mother?

I didn't want to reveal everything about Nalia's upbringing from the get-go, which is why most things about Malva (including her name) have not been mentioned. There will be plenty of flashbacks/reflections later on.

Does it have something to do with Nalia's nightmares? I get the feeling that they are more than what they seem.
You mean does her childhood have something to do with her nightmares?
Well, her history.
Her nightmares are an effect of the great inner turmoil she is experiencing. Every value that her father worked so hard to instill in her has been pushed or broken, but she's only doing it to save her sister. The moral dilemma is eating her up on the inside.
And we'll learn more about those through the flashbacks, yes?

Sometimes it will be through flashbacks, other times it will be through subtle/casual references to Nalia's past. It all depends on how much she chooses to reveal, which is a clue in and of itself.

Ahh, and to whom she chooses to reveal her past? What would you say your greatest weakness is in writing? And your strengths?
I've been told I'm pretty good at keeping up the suspense, which is definitely one of my main focuses with Crossfire. On the flip side, sometimes I get so caught up in excitement I get careless with grammar and I'm too pumped to read it over haha

I noticed that Minn is your beta/editor. What strengths and weaknesses would you say she has when looking over your work?

Her strengths are her unmatched skills in writing that we are all well aware of. Her busy schedule does often take up most of her time, however, but I understand that.

You said one if your own weaknesses was not reading over carefully all the time. Is this the biggest challenge you face when writing?
I don't have the discipline people like Ty and Minn do.
What do you mean, 'discipline'?
They have the patience to calm their excitement and look over their work a few times before publishing. I have trouble doing that.

Huh, that's an interesting way of looking at it. So, I just thought back to the characters, and I have to ask; who is your favourite?
Honestly I don't think there's a character who isn't morally deplorable so I'll go with a waterbender who will be introduced later in the series.
Aha do you like the morally deplorable ones?
I think it's hard to root for them, but once you realize the story isn't about heroes it becomes easier.
Really? Is that just because they aren't the 'heroes' that everyone loves in a story?
Nalia isn't your typical protagonist, I would say, unless your typical protagonist gets a rush from killing innocent people.

No, she isn't, but that doesn't mean she isn't a protagonist. Is Jirou as morally corrupt as she?
I think he's worse. At least Nalia sometimes pretends to care

Really? Huh. So, he's going to remain a major/main character?

He's essential to the plot right now.

Hmm, I'm all intrigued >:D Will he and Nalia continue their relationship? She was very conflicted.
Ha, there is no relationship.
They have a sexual relationship.
Well that question will be answered next chapter
Oh no! You aren't going to kill him, are you?
My apologies, I meant the question of where there relationship stands would be answered. As if I'd reveal that, pshhh.

Ohhhh. Got it. Heh. Well, just on that topic for a moment, you write rather explicit references, however the actual scene was rather mild in impact. Why did you structure the scene like that?
I'm glad you asked. I'll say again that the entire story is told from Nalia's point of view. She chose not to be very detailed in her account of the scene.Remember that she wasn't exactly thrilled with her decision.

No, but she still went through with it. Ah, there's another question; why?
For the exact reason she explained in the chapter: lust. One of the Seven Deadly Sins. She just had a raw attraction to Jirou and a sexual tension that needed to be relieved.

And she just acted on it, and tried to ignore the consequences... You complained a while ago about writing the sex scene, but I found that chapter to be one of the best. Why was this?
It was the most difficult scene I've ever written. The biggest challenge was that Nalia is a woman, and I was supposed to be writing a sex scene from a woman's perspective. It made me rather uncomfortable, and it wasn't something I enjoyed writing, so I'm glad it ended up being one of your favorites.

Do you think she naturally had a disposition towards violence and acting out, even before her father died?

Well that's the big question the whole series. Was she simply forced into a position that required her to become a violent person, or are there traces of an inherent evil around her?

You say that is the big question of the series, and yet one of her 'proudest moments' was putting an injured animal out of its misery. Why?
I don't really see how the two are related. She isn't feint of heart. That's not debatable. In her mind, she was doing the animal justice.

Ahh, but that show that she wasn't the heartless killer that she has become. She put the animal out of its misery, thus has a heart. She didn't allow it to suffer. She was kind to it, in short. So, moving on. Why do you love this story (because it's obvious from the writing that you do)?
I love writing face-paced, action-packed stories, and getting to do it from the perspective of the Sassmaster is an absolute treat.

Did you do a lot of planning before you began writing this?
Yes! I did so much more planning than I've ever done for a fanon.

Have you finished the planning? Do you know how it will end?
I have everything planned out.

So, what's in store for the readers?
Lots of twists and turns, a few shockers hear and there, and plenty more sass, tears, triumphs, and failures from Nalia.

Tears? Darn, now I'll have to keep reading. You've written a few other stories before, but what's different with this one? Personally, what makes it your.... Masterpiece?
I've put so much more planning into this one than I did my other popular series, Avatar Brek, plus it's a lot more unique. Avatar Brek was yet another fanon about a new avatar learning the four elements. This one has its own appeal.

Political Animals was another of your more well-known stories. How do you think your writing has changed over the years?
I think any teenager is going to become a better writer after another year to mature and practice. I've probably just become a more intelligent person in general since I joined the wiki, so everything my vocabulary to my structure has improved, I'd say.

What's the current word count on this? And why did you stop uploading it on FFN?
I have not the slightest clue what the word count is, and I'm not a fan of FFN. I find it too hard to upload chapters and it confuses me easily

You've planned this out, but are you still hit with writer's block?
I never have writer's block because I know where the story is going, but sometimes I'm simply not in the mood to put my thoughts down on paper

What do you do to get rid of that feeling?
I listen to music that connects to Nalia's story.

What sort of music?
It's usually a country song about a redneck woman kicking ass. Like the "theme song" for the series, "Tornado" by Little Big Town.

Do you expect that to change?
Not any time soon.

Now, Crossfire was nominated for a number of awards in the fanon awards last year. How did you feel about that? And the people who nominated you?
I was very pleased and appreciative that the fanon was received well. You know I treat it like my baby so to see it do that well was really incredible.

Is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Yeah. Thanks for putting up with all my delays!

Have an opinion to share, Avatar news to spill, or a fanfiction to rave about? Write for The Ba Sing Se Times today!

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Life After 'Air' and Writing in the Real World
Wordbender
Is it a newbie? Is it a veteran? No, it's WORDBENDER, here to do a little catching up and offer advice to any writers determined to take on the big world of publishing.

I'm not going to lie. When that final chapter went up, when the comments died down, when Air ended, it was a little hard for me to breathe.

Okay, I may have (really, really, REALLY) wanted to work that pun in, but it's still true. An era of my life was over. This fanon and the experience of sharing it with all of you here on the Wiki wound up inhabiting a part of my soul. It was like taking an unexpected, life-changing detour on a painstakingly planned road trip. My stay here was awesome while it lasted, but eventually, I had to continue the journey toward my destination.

The road goes ever on. Other projects sprang up like billboards. New characters hailed me down new detours. I could breathe again.

The wonderful -if sleep-deprived- Minnichi asked if I would be interested in writing a kind of 'Where is Wordbender now?' piece. (Not quite as catchy as 'Where's Waldo?', but give it a few years.)

What's Up With Word?

Plenty.

Last fall, the magazine Bards and Sages Quarterly published my short story 'To Slay A Dragon: Being an Instructive Guide as Related by the Misadventurous Knight, Sir Roland Springsfield'. (Apparently, I have a secret love of ridiculously long subtitles.) At the time, I didn't realize B&S held an annual Reader's Choice Awards. I wound up Author of the Year for 2013. Even more awesome, my story will be re-published this month in their anthology and I get a chance to participate in an Author Q&A session during their eFestival of Words (August 24). I won't be reduced to begging or anything, but you could totally stop by. (Please? Please?) I'm not going to act tough. I've never done something like this before -at least, one where I'm not both interviewer and interviewee- and I'm terrified. I wonder if corny jokes would break the ice...

Other than this publication and a few story rejections, most of my time since 'Air' has been spent revising my children's novel, Rodney and the Gonjii, about two brothers who find a monster in their attic. The (hopefully) completed manuscript is with a few critique buddies and their fine-tooth combs as I type. Once I get their feedback, I'll be scouring the beaten paths on the hunt for that wild and unpredictable creature known as the Editor.

I had the opportunity to co-host a few podcasts for a site called Author's Think Tank at a writers conference. Both the co-hosting and the conference-attending were awesome experiences I'd love to do again. The podcasts have yet to be published online, but I'm looking forward to it and fervently hoping my voice doesn't sound as terrible as it seems to on the answering machine. (What is with that? Do they have a special voice distorter reserved just for phone messages or what?)

Between this, and my book review vlog on YouTube, that about covers what I've been up to lately.

Now For the Advice...

When people find out I've written fanfiction, they ask whether or not it's a good idea for someone looking to be a professional author. It used to be that writing fanfiction was seen as a very strange hobby -if not unethical- when it was something you'd rather not mention to the wrong people. As the Age of the Geek has grown in popularity, we're seeing easier acceptance for things that used to be weird and nerdy. (Like cosplay. Seriously, who doesn't want to cosplay?)

My understanding is that a past of fanfiction writing is not going to hurt your credibility. Many writers get their start in fanfiction -and no, not just E.L. James and her erotic Twilight fanfic. (Ugh.) Meg Cabot, who used to write Star Wars fic, thinks it's a great way for young writers to learn how to tell a story. S.E. Hinton indulges in Supernatural fanfic and Cassandra Clare wrote the LotR fics The Very Secret Diaries. Orson Scott Card, R.J. Anderson, even Neil Gaiman has written no less than three published fanfic-type works, and he has something beautiful to say about it:

“I'm not sure where the line gets drawn – you could say that any Batman writer writing a Batman comic is writing fanfiction. As long as nobody's making money from it that should be an author or creator's, I don't mind it. And I think it does a lot of good.” (Source)

If you want to write fanfiction, write it.

It won't make you money, it probably won't make you famous, but it will be a story you're passionate about, and passion is key in writing. The opportunity to write about something you're obsessed with is a great way to learn to bridle that energy and use it for good instead of frivolity. Plus, writing is writing, and practice makes perfect.

I learned a few things about myself and my writing while working on 'Air'. Every single one of these fanfiction-founded skills is going to help in a professional capacity.

  1. One of the biggest is that I truly suck at note organization. I am not kidding. It's a miracle I could keep everything in that story straight. (I'm about to experiment with a giant cork board and index cards, so cross your fingers.)
  2. How to work with a deadline. Very important skill, you big writer wannabes.
  3. The benefits of networking (even if I haven't quite mastered it yet). No one's going to read your story if no one knows about it. On the flip side, most people won't read it if you drop messages about it every five minutes or in inappropriate places. Start with conversations. The best way to network is to make friends.
  4. Succinct writing. It was fanons that finally drove the 'less is more' lesson into my brain, and the importance of maintaining your audience's interest.

If you're truly interested in improving your writing with the fanfiction experience, use the Wiki's many great resources to the fullest. They really will help, even if it's painful or disheartening sometimes. I know Minnichi has written about how to improve action scenes. The fanon reviewers are usually full of great advice on not only improving your story, but your writing as a whole. You just have to remember to listen to their critiques and not take it as a personal attack.

[On a more specific note: Do not dismiss any story advice Lady Lostris gives you. If she gives you any editing and revising suggestions for your story, use it. At the very least seriously consider it. I am not joking. If I could steal her from fanons to edit my novel, I would do it in a heartbeat, because I know she would find every single flaw, inconsistency, illogical decision, unsatisfactory story arc, and uncharacteristic reaction there might be, which believe you me is everything you want in an editor.]

I don't believe writing fanfiction will hurt your credibility, but it won't do much to build it, either. Your fanfiction -no matter how awesome, how clever, or how well-written- can't be considered publishing credits.

This is the part of the journey where I caution you.

Let me lead with: I love fanfiction. Writing 'Air' and putting into words my own obsessive habit of outlining further adventures for favorite characters is a heaven for the writer and the fangirl within. I don't regret it for a second and I wouldn't change it for the world. Fanfiction is a great way to find yourself as a writer, or to kill time, or to obsess to the max over Avatar (or any other, though albeit slightly less awesome, fandom).

Just don't get carried away. It's an easy trap to fall into. If, like me, you have a desire to be a professional writer, you should think about moderating your fanfiction. Let's use myself for an example.

I wrote a story that I loved. I fell in love with more than one character and decided what happened to them after 'Air' ended.

  • There were some couples I wanted to see get together (Toph and Haru).
  • There were some characters I wanted to see grow up, find themselves, or fall in love (Roh-Roh and Ursa).
  • There were a few characters I wanted to see start an A-Team/Leverage style backroom service (Iroh and the staff of the Jasmine Dragon).
  • There was one character whose adventure didn't get near enough attention and who may have possibly been a member of the Order of the White Lotus (Lady Ursa).
  • I wanted to know what happened to Sokka's original sword and how it changed the course of a young man's life. (This one I'm not giving away. I'm holding on to this insane optimism that I can still write this fanon).

See what I mean? See? Just in the time of writing 'Air', with my brain in giddy geekery overdrive, I had brainstormed, outlined, or even semi-plotted five separate fanfictions. (In case you're curious, that's three serials of undecided length and a three book, 'Air'-sized epic.) These mentioned are only the ideas that made it to the Serious Consideration stage. And these are only the Avatar stories I wanted to write! During the fanon fever, I had ideas for a Treasure Planet continuation and a Once Upon A Time alternate universe. The well of ideas was never-ending.

Like I said, if you want to write fanfiction, write it. But if you want to write, at some point you're going to need to decide which is the more important project to you. And that's okay. It's okay to want to be the author of tons of fanfiction. It's also okay to want to be the author of original work. Any story idea you come up with, original or fanon, is going to sound fun. You're going to want to write them all. There's a good chance there won't be time. (I've already come to terms with the fact the OUAT AU and TP continuation will never happen.) You could, of course, be much better at time-management and dual projects than I and therefore obtain the best of both worlds. Yes, I am very jealous.

I know from firsthand experience, it's painful to walk away. From this place (which I totally need to hang out at more), from characters, from a comfortable genre. Some story ideas don't want to leave you alone. As painful as it can be, sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do. Now my head is filled with future Rodney story lines and brainstorming for original pieces.

I may decide in the future that I need to take a breather and immerse myself in some pure fun. I'm actually really, really counting on it. This is why I'm saving that story about Sokka's space sword. The thing is half outlined already. That's a little tougher to dismiss than just the seed of an idea.

I'm not here to shame you into abandoning fanfic for original work. My journey merely brought me down this side path. Maybe yours did too.

Now before all you 'real writers' decide to jump the fanon ship, let me just remind you that while writing fanfic might not give you publishing credits, it does help build a reading audience. In other words, don't decide to bail on your half-finished story and leave a bunch of disheartened readers. Take your time. And while you're here, do a little multi-tasking. Use the opportunity to improve your skills. See if you can cultivate yourself some fans while you're here. People who like you and your writing are going to stick with you if they can.

As for the journey? This is just the beginning. You have time to have fun, to figure out where you're heading. Spend as much time here as you want. When it's time to leave, you'll know. Until that time comes, this community is a great place to help you find your feet.

Write! Get reviews! Listen to feedback! Read! I'll be working on that reading bit myself. My To Read list is full of great fanons I need to check out, which means I'm going to stick around for awhile.

See you around the Wiki!

Word out.
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New Fanon Illustrator in Town!
DaiLaiHeping
I'm a Japanese illustrator who is massively inspired by the art of my homeland, being the main style of my work, i.e. Woodblock prints. I really enjoy design covers for books and comics for all ages, so why not put that to good use? I've been around the Wiki for a while, but now I'm now part of the Fanon Illustrator Insignia, and am hugely excited to draw up some covers and designs for your Fanon stories.

I'm a big fan of dark stories and character pieces, and it's what I look for in most of the Fanon's I read on the Wiki. It's also something I like to illustrate, the point where a character has or is going to cross that line of villainy or insanity - faces and expressions, and dark silhouettes. The time on each illustration really depends, from 4-5 hours, to sometimes a day or two, if much detail is required. If this sounds like the kind of Fanon you write, don't hesitate to request my services at the Illustrator Insignia. Remember that I'm open to draw for any author and any type of Fanon, so just come on by and sign up!


To check out my work, visit my Tumblr page here

Thanks Ba Sing Se Times for the opportunity to advertise myself!
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EDITOR
Fanon Review: My Meathead by Fruipit
Minnichi
Greetings, Fanon Portal! It's been a while for all of us since the last time we gathered together for our community newsletter, The Ba Sing Se Times. I've returned to resume my responsibilities in the Fanon Review Squad, and today I'm proud to feature one of the most terribly delayed, yet wonderful pieces of writing there is on the wiki. My Meathead is the lovely work of Fruipit, our voracious fanon portal editor and newest addition to the Fanon Review Squad itself. It is one of countless works she has to offer on Avatar Wiki, all of which I encourage you to check out if you want to know what it means to be a good writer ;)
He fixed it
This oneshot explores the emotional journey of Toph, from the suffocating days of her childhood to the breathtaking moments of her prime. There are a lot of things that loneliness can do to a blind, young earthbender through the years, and you'd be surprised to learn what it takes to get through it. Let's see how Fruipit takes on the challenge of capturing this on paper!
The Scores


  • Plot - 8.9: The plot is evident despite the style of this oneshot being abstract. Toph's life is changed drastically by the people she experiences it with, and Fruipit leads us through the emotional years with stunning, heart-wrenching detail. I'm in love with the premise of this story, though I would encourage the author on the other hand perhaps to stick to a more obvious central idea from the beginning. I picked up a bit later than what I'm used to that it was about Toph's loneliness being filled with love. I believe that the story would be better tied together if Loneliness were alluded to earlier, otherwise it can come off as more a collection of random statements about angst. That's all I can say here; otherwise, nicely done!
  • Organization - 9.2: Despite no names ever being addressed directly, and despite the abstract presentation of Toph's years, this oneshot is remarkably clear in its direction and purpose. In fact, I love how the author can lead us confidently through it all without ever needing to state anything directly. That's not easy to do. Again though, the only thing I'd say could improve with clarity is a greater tie-in of the central idea from the start. It's critical to keep your readers on track from the very beginning, as those first few lines are the judges of whether or not to read the rest.
  • Creativity - 8.7: Fruipit's presentation of Toph's inner consciousness is always wonderfully creative. While we authors may assume that writing for canon characters is unoriginal, the truth is that they're merely an even greater challenge to be original. What can authors add to canon characters that the show hasn't covered, yet stay true to their personalities? It's a challenge that one should not underestimate, and one that Fruipit meets with flying colors time and time again. The only reason for a deduction here is the vagueness when it comes to the reasons for Sokka's split with Suki and his growing affection towards Toph. I thought some elaboration here would have made it stand out as more original and less purely shipping a pair together. How a relationship develops is what I think really sets apart a shipping story from the others, and I'd like to see more of it here.
  • Writing – 9.3 (x3): This is one of the hardest writing styles to pull off if you ask me, and Fruipit has simply nailed it! To be subtle yet crystal clear at the same time is still a phenomenon in this oneshot that I can't get over. She makes readers see purely by feeling the story... Whoa, it's almost like she's pulling a Toph on us by having our eyes closed yet being able to experience the world all the same o_o It's quite a feat, and so awesome that I think I'll go read it again after reviewing this. Now the only place I think could use a little tweaking is again, making sure all the details flow together from start to end. We should be able to follow any point in the writing back to a strong, central direction, and I feel that sometimes it delves too much into Toph's pain itself that it strays just slightly. Make sure all the pain can be tied together and never lose track of your clear, confident pace of events.
Click here to keep reading!
That's quite a minor thing for me to call a flaw though, as no strays were notable enough to disrupt my wonderful experience. Let's have a round of applause for one heck of an author!
  • Character Development - 8.9 (x2):Toph's development throughout the story was simply...beautiful. That's the first word that comes to mind. Her growth into a strong, hopeful young woman is covered by the most qualified author to tell the story, I'll say! The places where I find any lack of character development are, however, anywhere related to romance. I do keep in mind that the story has to keep a level of vagueness due to its style, but there are certain bits of chemistry between Sokka and Toph that I believe could've been explored more despite this. In romance we still need the 'why's' of why one person would feel anything about another, perhaps not literally but more an indication of why these two are right for each other and no one else. In this story I feel more like they just fall together, and the explanation has more to do with how Toph feels about being together or not rather than how it happened. The latter is what I'd just like to see more of, but aside from that I'm still in awe over the author's characterization prowess.
  • Believability – 8.8: This... This is really how I can picture Toph's life and feelings along the way. It's remarkable how much effort gets put into staying true to the character we know and love. The emotions and the dark past are incorporated seamlessly. As for the deduction: Again, anything without much elaboration, especially the why's of romance, becomes less believable. It's always going to be a thing you have to put more effort into explaining, as you're trying to sway readers towards a pair that conflicts with the canon one they have in mind. Try to talk just a little more about what sets Sokka apart to Toph and vice versa, personal things that only they would see in each other to love each other. Other than that, everything fits wonderfully!
Overall Score: 9.03

My advice for Fruipit: Just keep a firm eye on the central idea of the story, and delve into the romantic develops a bit more. All that aside though, you've impressed this Dai Li agent!

Who should read My Meathead? Anyone who dare says they are a fan of Toph.

Polls, polls, everyone loves polls!

What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming Fanon Awards?
 
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14
 
22
 
11
 

The poll was created at 00:33 on February 2, 2015, and so far 49 people voted.
Who was your favorite villain in The Legend of Korra?
 
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7
 

The poll was created at 14:12 on April 11, 2015, and so far 32 people voted.



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