In Kindergarten, the sweet 100-year-old motherly woman who called herself your teacher forced you to participate in a weekly satanic ritual known as "Show and Tell." If your school was anything like mine, that is. Then again, if your school was like mine, you got a day off for mourning when Barack Obama was elected president.
Anyway, I will be learning you today about how to correctly write fiction. Unfortunately,
day care "Kindergarten" has put you at a disadvantage. You see, the word "and" makes Show and Tell a conjunction, which is wrong... at least in writing. There should be little to no "telling" involved. Your writing should be all about the showing.
"The city was dirty and poverty-stricken, inhabited only by the poor, sick, and orphaned."
What's wrong with the above sentence? At first glance, maybe nothing. Sure, it's not the greatest writing you've ever seen but would your eyeballs bleed if you read that in a fanon? Would they? Actually, they should bleed. I'm not a huge fan of capital punishment, but it should be sentenced to literary death.
The problem with my sentence is that it tells you straight-up what the city is. The creative part of your mind does nothing when all you read is the Encyclopedia entry for Detroit (kidding, no offense Detroit). Jokes aside, a good writer would show us the city so that we can "see" it for ourselves, as if we're right there with the characters witnessing the same scene they are.
"A scrawny, dark-skinned boy in tattered clothing wheeled a cart carrying his dinner, a dead street rat, passed the wheezing old man huddled in between two dark green dumpsters."
Again, what I wrote wasn't necessarily brilliant. I'm not winning any Pulitzer Prizes, but the second sentence is infinitely better than the first. You may be wondering how I could even compare them since they aren't saying the same thing, but wonder again. I am saying the same thing, except I'm showing you instead of telling you. In the first sentence, you are told that the city is poor. In the second, you can infer the poverty of the city through carefully selected details described, and you can imagine the sight as if you were there. You were shown the poverty.
Another way to show and not tell is by invoking the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. If you're like Varrick, you have a sixth sense called fashion, but that's beside the point. What you can do as an author is transport your reader into the fanon.
Let's say I'm writing a first-person narrative story, and the main character is in the midst of a fight with a Firebender. I could say "I glared at my deadly opponent as I panted to catch my breath before he shot another blast of flames" or I could show you what's happening:
"I had to ignore the mixed taste of sweat and blood and fight through the piercing pain in my chest to barely evade the intense blast of flames, the heat suffocating me as it signed the tips of my hair."
In the second sentence, I never told you directly that the protagonist was tired or out of breath, and I never told you that her opponent shot a fireball at her... yet you knew it happened and you could imagine it happening. I'm not literary genius, and the sentence isn't going to be published anytime soon, but I was still able to invoke the five senses. You can imagine the taste (and smell) of sweat and blood, gather that the pain in her chest is the same one you feel when your fighting through an intense workout, feel the heat of the fire, and smell the horrid stench of burnt hair. None of those things could have been found in the first sentence, which was merely a statement of what happened. When your righting fiction, stating what happened doesn't cut it. You're not in Kindergarten anymore.
Fanon Urban Dictionary
Mac 'N Cheese
- noun; a dish consisting of cooked macaroni pasta and cheese.
- noun; the invaluable manna of fanon writing. The priceless phenomenon that fuels an author to write from 10 pm to 4 am. The most fundamental ingredient, and the basic constructive unit, from which all good fanon writing derives from."
- noun; an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine.
- noun; an author who has communed with the omnipotent Bryke. The fanon creations of a Prophet, whether they be locations, characters, or themes amazingly come true when the Canon is revealed in the show or comics. "Oh my goodness! For the love of Aang! I wrote Mako and Korra's breakup in my story before it happened for real! I knew it! I am such a prophet!"
- noun; the ensuing pandaemonium that follows the creation of fanon-art by one of Minnichi's acquaintances (minions) on DeviantArt. "The exquisite shading...the beautiful characters...the awe-inspiring ambience...where'th can I find one of these portals into the human soul for my own fanon?"
- noun; the change in characterization of a dynamic character, who changes over the course of a narrative.
- noun; an unimaginative Urban Dictionary entry name.
- noun; a vital scoring section in FRS Reviews.
- noun; the life and blood of a fanon, and all fictional writing for that matter. Character Development is the magic potion that turns rabid Mako bashers into the next generation of fangirls drawing Mako in the margins of their math homework. Character Development can make or break a story.
- adjective; When a author of a fanon attempts to somehow communicate to the reader. "And then... she approached the briefcase, slowly, to find that it was... EMPTY?! Can you believe that?" "Huh, that's weird. It's like the story is trying to talk to me." "Hey you! Yeah you! Reader! You look pretty tonight..." "What?! This is getting creepy!" "Take your heels off..." "Ahh! Mommy!"
Love the Fanon Urban Dictionary? Miss any definitions? See the complete
I was at the mall trying to buy a pretzel at Auntie Anne's, and a mom and her kid kept staring at me. I did the polite thing, acknowledged their stares by waving and giving a friendly look. The kid, who wore one of those ridiculous rainbow hats with a propeller on top, whispered something in his mom's ear. She seemed to decline whatever it was he asked for, but after he started to throw a fit, she apparently gave into his demands.
They walked directly to me.
"Hi," said the mom. "Is it alright if my son takes a picture with you?"
"As a part of your new job descriptions, you are obliged to wear these uniforms at all times," said Minnichi. "Since I'm in charge around here, we will be doing things my way."
She held up the green robes.
"They are made of the finest material, lightweight and strong, waterproof and fire repellent. The golden insignia on the sleeve symbolizes your rank and authority. It is a rare privilege to wear these garments, so I expect you to carry yourselves with the utmost responsibility."
She held up a green lamp shade with a yellow piece of yarn coming off the top.
"This is will be your hat."
After the coup placed the Laogai Inquirer in power, many things changed around the office. The hallways were a lot quieter...and darker. All of the lightbulbs were replaced with eery green phosphorescent torches. All of the secretaries were given new name tags.
Monday morning, I walked through the revolving doors and swiped my card.
"Good morning Janet. Back to the old grind, eh?" I greeted the secretary working the lobby.
"Hello, Agent Typhoonmaster. Janet does not exist. I am Joo Dee. Welcome to our wonderful headquarters! There are many things to do for the Laogai Inquirer, including writing articles, editing coding, and formatting pages. The work here is so fun and enjoyable, sometimes I wish I could stay at the office all day!"
"Yeah...right. Well, you have a good one, Janet. Erm, I mean Joo Dee."
I made a conscious note to myself to use the back door every day from that point on.
I noticed other things, too. Instead of the regular office music, a continuous loop of the Avatar soundtrack, a new type of inspirational music took its place. It wasn't really music so much as it was a spoken word kind of...speech, given to us by a Peace Orator.
"Welcome to the Laogai Inquirer. Here we are productive. Here we stay on task. Inside these walls there is no such thing as procrastination. Here we are productive. Here we stay on task. Inside these walls, we meet our deadlines. Here we are productive. Here we stay on task."
Even the bathrooms changed! Instead of normal lights, a single glowing candle flickered in front of the mirror. It rotated around on a circular track and made it difficult to wash my hands. Worst of all, they replaced the foam dispenser with green liquid hand soap.
AvatarRokusGhost found it hard to assimilate to the new data plan policy. Since Laogaizon doesn't support the iPhone, he couldn't play any Candy Crush. He simply wasn't the same after that, and I felt bad. I offered him a pack of Mentos, but he said they were merely breath fresheners and that they would only make matters worse.
Omashu Rocks took the change the hardest.
"These Communists think of everything, don't they Ty?"
I looked up from my paperwork "I guess so...What do you mean?"
"Just look around us. There are spies everywhere, watching, waiting." He pointed to the camera in the corner of the ceiling. "I see you there! Don't act like you don't hear me!" He stood up.
"Umm, OR I don't think you should - "
It was too late. He went up to the camera, ripped off his agent's robes, and revealed a flaming bald eagle tattooed to his chest. "Land of the free, home of the brave!" He shouted into the lens.
Over the intercom, a monotone voice sounded "Agent Rocks, please return to your station."
"How about I return to my station when you give me back my dignity as a laborer? I demand an 8 hour workday, raised wages, and added benefits! Don't think I won't bring this to court!"
Rock gloves fired from the walls and latched unto his hands and feet. Chains projected out of the floor and grappled around his shoulders and arms. Then, the chains dragged him out the door, through the hallways, and into a room called "Human Resources."
That image of Omashu Rocks, shirtless and screaming obscenities which I will never repeat out loud, was the last thing I ever saw of him.
"I'm sorry to impose on you, sir, but it isn't every day we get to see a real, live wizard. My son is a huge fan of Harry Potter, and he'd love to get a picture with you."
The guy in front of me wore horn-rimmed spectacles and spoke with a lisp.
"Ma'am, his robes are obviously hacked or stolen off of another wizard's body. His gloves are made of rocks. Since when do wizards even grapple in hand to hand combat? Don't even waste your time with this noob. By the looks of him, he can only perform remedial conjuration or destruction magic at best."
I didn't know whether to be mad at that statement or not, so I simply ignored the cretin.
"Actually, I'm not a wizard. I work for the Laogai Inquirer, and these robes are the new uniform."
"Can my son take a picture with you anyways?"
So it's come to this. Made fun of by the nerd equivalent of Craig and Eric on Drake and Josh, forced to wear full-length robes in public, and asked by a mother to take a picture with her son who wore a propeller hat, and, on further inspection, crocs.
Faking my smile for the picture, I wished with the deepest part of my heart that the good old White Lotus Sentinel would come back.
Will Minnichi's Dai Li takeover last? Will AvatarRokusGhost make the switch to Laogaizon? What exactly happened to Omashu Rocks in "Human Resources?" These questions and more will be answered in the next installment of WLS-...I mean Dai Li Headquarters!
Reviewing- A Reviewer's Take
Looking at the title, many of you are probably thinking, "Man? Another article on commenting? I know that already!". I know you do, because there have been several articles over the months about why you should review. It makes the author feel good, it gives them great input and feedback, and lets them know that people are following and reading. But, today, I'm not going to talk to you about reviewing from the perspective of an author. I'm going to talk to you, reader to reader.
When I think of commenting, I think of little, well, comments. People saying, "Oh, nice job!" or, "Such-and-such line was my favourite!" When I think of reviewing, I think of the Fanon Review Squad; a detailed opinion of a story. Now, as an author, I prefer those ones for the reasons outlines above, but even the little ones are meaningful. Or, rather, they can have meaning, if you give it. And, honestly, who wouldn't?
There are literally hundreds of comments on here, saying little things like, "Loved it!" or "Interesting!", but these have no meaning. There's no way for an author to really respond to it, which is a huge shame because I find the readers can sometimes be more interesting than the story. Just look at the comments on one of Minn's latest chapters. These comments have meaning (my personal favourite is Ty's).
So, meaningful. How do you make a comment meaningful? It's simple, really; just be honest, and be you. The positive consequences of commenting can be far greater than what you expect, if only you be yourself. Going off on a little introductory tangent here, I'm a female. You all know that (I hope). However, on fanfiction.net, I don't have my gender on my profile. After leaving a little comment on someone's story about her characterisation of Toph, I had to go and double check that it was indeed the case when this perky author replied with a, "Hey, girl!". That little comment was the catalyst for, currently, 9 months of friendship and still going strong.
| Click "show" to continue reading!
|I find it truly amazing, not only the quality of work you can find in the fanon-sphere, but the quality of the authors; one tiny little comment led to this writer being a huge part of my life, and I actually have absolutely no idea how this year would have played out without her. I think I'm better for it. And she's better for it.
So, next time you leave a review, just remember that. It's not just for the author, but for yourself as well. You see all the effort going into the forums - imagine how amazing the fanon portal would be if people talked about the stories like that.