Issue 16: April 14, 2013
Avatar: The Sole Woodbender is returning after seven months of inactivity. I the author, suffered a long drought of inspiration to write the sixth chapter. For weeks on end, I would only write a few sentences until I finally pulled myself together and completed the chapter.
It was published on March 27. Now, 18 days later, there are two, new chapters out, with a chapter eight in the process of being beta-read and chapter nine halfway completed. In just a month or two, Cycle One:Air will be completed and ATSW will be a quarter of the way finished. Isn't this just fantastic news?
So please, pop on over to the main page and give my fanon a read. Comments and subscription are greatly appreciated.
ARG and Minnichi: Thank you for being awesome beta-readers. Without you two, ATSW would've burnt to the ground a long time ago.
My Readers: Thank you for being such deidcated and amazing readers. I couldn't ask for better fans.
Until next time,
HenryJh 98 (Blogs • FOTH • Parallel) 17:54, April 14, 2013 (UTC)
The first time I came on this site as an anonymous lurker was before I had even finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. I looked for information about the show, carefully avoiding spoilers of episodes I had not yet seen. After Sozin’s Comet, I started commenting here and there and then began writing a fanon. Then, once I had written some fanon, I began reading some and before too long I was sucked into this world of editing, Avatar and fanon which I have been happily trapped in ever since. A lot of users on here have similar stories. Indeed, it would be quite difficult to find an active user on here who, the instant they first clicked on one of our pages, immediately decided to create an account and be just as active as they are today.
Somewhere along the way my lurking days came to an end and I began to involve myself more in the community and the site as a whole. Many writers have come and gone in this time, having arrived under the same context I did. Doing it right, and making the time spent here meaningful, has not always come easy to some. Writing a fanon is something one only gets what one wants from if they’re doing it for the right reasons. Fanon writing, like any other type of writing activity, is about flowing out a story that you believe is inspiring and taking others along with you as they read your work.
If you’re wondering what to write about, the answer is simple: write what inspires you. If writing it is too much of a chore and not something you look forward to doing, you may need something new to write about. Ask yourself: Am I a fan of this story? Picture yourself for a moment reading it instead of writing it. Would you keep reading? Are you interested in knowing what happens next? Can you feel the joy, struggle, pain, emotion and conflict of your characters? You have to know you’re inspired by something if you are. If you’re not sure whether you are, then you’re not. This isn’t something that can be ambiguous. Don’t give up if the answer’s no. It simply means that you’re not inspired by what you’re doing right now, not that you can’t be inspired elsewhere. Either you need to tweak what you already have to better suit you, or you can find a new idea with some aspect of Avatar that stuck out to you most when watching the show.
Having a grand idea formed inside your imagination is one thing. Bringing it to life through words is the next step, and that part takes a lot more work. It may be hard to find time sometimes, as you have a busy life. We all have busy lives on here. It’s not about finding time: it’s about making time. The day is not going to come when your schedule completely clears up and you have as much time to craft your story as you need, because there will always be other things on some level. This is not to say that those things should be ignored, but to be in it for the long-haul, writing has to have a place to coexist amongst them. Frequently, the idea of writing becomes much simpler and more fluid after one has already begun it than before when one is still trying to squeeze it in.
When is of course, only part of the equation. There is also how and what. Sometimes, we need a change of setting. I actually write quite a lot in the traditional pen-to-paper method and later type it into a word doc because I get some of my best ideas when I’m not looking at a computer screen. Some write a whole chapter at a time and some write bit-by-bit or scene-by-scene. You can even write out of order if need be. Do whatever works for you. That part is not one-size-fits-all.
Perhaps one of the worst mistakes to make is not writing because you worry it might not come out the way you want when you do. Just like anything else, writing requires confidence. What’s the worst that can happen? If it’s really as not-so-great as you fear, then remember that no editor, reader or anyone else has seen it yet. If the worst comes to pass, you can tear that page up, burn the pieces, and the only person who ever laid eyes on that unholy abomination of a draft was you. Of course, more often than not, this won’t be the case and it’ll turn out better than you expect. But it doesn’t have to be perfect when you first write it. Write with the heart and revise and rewrite with the mind. The editing process can turn a rough piece with a great deal of error into a refined work of writing.
Another crucial element is accepting feedback. A dangerous knee-jerk reaction is to get defensive after we’ve become so inspired by something and put so much effort into making it. Just like with different kinds of food, though, there is often a difference between what tastes good and what’s good for us. We may prefer the sweet feeling of praise over the bitterness of criticism, but the criticism is what tells us where we need to improve. Make peace with the fact that you’ll always have room for improvement. Even after you improve and correct what you’re doing wrong, you’ll still have room for improvement. No one doesn’t, so get used to it.
Some commenters may say things like “great chapter, I love the character development here” and others may say “it needs better character development.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that one user is right and the other is wrong. It’s like Iroh said: “It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.” For that reason, it’s also a good idea to read other’s work on here and get a feel for their writing and leave your thoughts in a comment for them. And if you’re stuck or in a jam, whether it’s with your story or something else, it’s okay to ask someone in this community. There’s no need to be reluctant. Believe me, you don’t lose any points by doing so. Remember, no matter who another user is, they’re someone with room for improvement, just like you.
Well, that about wraps it up for now. You’ll find my article for this issue was more pathological than logical in some areas. I made no mention of sentence structure, grammar, description, tenses, word choice or any of the other finer nuts and bolts of writing. Perhaps I’ll write another article for those. We’ve featured some detailed articles of a similar nature in this newsletter before. By no means do I deny the importance of such things, but if you ask me, all that’s easier to learn once you’re on the right path with the right attitude.
|| Fanon Urban Dictionary|
- noun; Something that Typhoonmaster has grown fond of utilizing in order to quell disputes. When the WLS Line War becomes too violent, a monstrous wave of water basically floods headquarters and gives the two editors something else to be distracted with. "Thou shalt not introduce dashed lines to this issue!" *Clang* "Well, the newsletter can have solid lines over my dead body!" *Clang* "Perhaps that can be arranged, then!" *Clang!* "The only one who's dying today is -" *Rumble* "What's that sound?" "OH MY SPIRITS, it's the typhoon! RUN!" "Hurry, we have to get out of here and save the issue before it gets flooded!" "Yeah, let's go!" (A figure in the background secretly smiles to himself)
- interjection; What everyone subconsciously thinks to themselves when they read "ARG," the acronym for AvatarRokusGhost.
- noun; An occurance that usually happens during the midst of a casual IRC conversation. People chatting may find themselves interupted by a Ferretantrum, a profane outbreak of swearing, excessive fangirling, and intentional caps-lock. This phenomenon is caused by the death of random, obscure anime characters. People have no idea what the Japanese names mean or why they appeared in the main chat, but by then it's too late: the Ferretantrum is unavoidable.
- noun; A common trend for older users who go inactive on the Wiki and retreat to the IRC. "I've worked my butt off editing and expanding this Wiki for 3 years now! It's about time I entered retirement!" Retired users spend most of their time socializing, hanging out, or playing wolfgame or boardgame on the IRC. All the new users out there should try to sit down with a retired user sometime: they have tons of stories to tell about the good 'ol days.
Love the Fanon Urban Dictionary? Miss any definitions? See the complete
Let's face it, hardly any fanon on Avatar Wiki is instantly popular, and most stories may never have more than a few consistent readers. Many other fanons simply never gain any traction at all for whatever reason. When this happens, it's understandably frustrating and possibly a hit to one's self-esteem. It is very possible that the writer of this fanon may lose interest in continuing and cease work, putting the story on permanent hiatus.
This occurs all the time on the fanon portal. An author with less readers than he or she had hoped for determines that it's best to give up on a particular fanon. This decision sparks a debate between two types of users: those who possess the "never give up" mentality and think the writer should move forward and those who think it is a practical choice to let the fanon go. The same battle rages in the mind of the author undergoing this decision, as it can be a tough one. Essentially, it's all centered around one question, that being "Is abandoning my fanon a cowardly act of surrender or a logical move that's better in the long run?" At least, that should be the question running through one's mind. If instead someone is thinking "I started publishing a whole four days ago and I only have one reader! Fooey! I give up!" then that author is wrong. Discouragement from a lack (or supposed lack) of readers is not a good enough reason to get flustered and quit. With that attitude, a writer will be starting and leaving fanons day in and day out, look no further than the multitude of authors on Avatar Wiki who have started a whole array of different fanons but never moved past chapter three on any of them. What I'm trying to say here is, don't just give up, because as the cliche goes, quitters never win.
However, I do take the somewhat unpopular position that, in some cases, it may actually be the right decision to put down the pencil, and I plan on defending that position in this article. When I ponder this option, two scenarios come to mind, which I will discuss later. First of all, for an author to be considering throwing in the towel, it probably means their fanon isn't very popular. I would then advise said author to only think about quitting further if they've already had an FRS review, tried to advertise in this newsletter, and have been writing for a substantial amount of time. If this author can check each one of the previous boxes, then I would give the green light and perhaps even encourage abandonment given one of these scenarios:
1) "I have been working on my fanon for quite some time, and after little to no success, personally take no pleasure in writing it anymore. It feels like a chore to complete each chapter, especially when I know my hard work isn't going anywhere. With that in mind, I don't feel like I have to keep writing if I don't even find it enjoyable. In the end, I believe that I'm really writing for my own amusement, so if I have come to dislike writing, and this is just a website, it makes sense that I should simply stop and give myself a permanent break."
This may sound like giving up, but it isn't. In the end, scenario #1 comes down to whether or not an author is writing for his/herself or their readers. I personally feel that I write for my own enjoyment. I like telling the tale of my characters. However, because The House of Angkara hasn't been going anywhere, even though I was really excited about it in the beginning, I'm slowly losing interest. I do not believe this is simply "quitting." Those who would dub me as a quitter should consider that I, or any author, should not be judging those who are deciding to stop writing when they no longer take personal pleasure. Since this is merely a fun website, and no one here is authoring their fanon to make a living, writing should be primarily for the fun of the writer, and therefore the writer has every right to stop if they aren't have fun.
2) "I have a better idea for a fanon in mind, but I don't have time to write both. I've talked to several other users about my idea, and they all said they'd be much more interested in it than in the plot of the fanon I currently write. I don't want to have to finish this story all the way through before I get to start writing a fanon that I will both enjoy more and believe will be more successful."
The author who finds him/herself in scenario #2 may even have created the main page for the prospective fanon and received a lot of comments hinting at intrigue and anticipation. If that is the case, I see no problem in taking the risk of ceasing the current fanon to try out the new one. It's like an adventure. Of course the author doesn't know what's in store for the new fanon, but they won't find out by continuing to write the lame one that no one cares about. I found myself in that exact situation when I wrote my very first fanon, which I shall not name because of how ashamed I was of it. I decided to leave that story in the dust and move on to another story, Avatar Brek, and it turned out to be a great decision. Not only was Avatar Brek much more fun to write, but it had many more readers, good success in the Fanon Awards, and was even a Featured Fanon for a month. I never would have been able to say that about my first fanon, and I'm glad I didn't wait until I had finished that train wreck to start Avatar Brek.
In conclusion, I do endorse the idea of abandoning a fanon, provided that the criteria I laid out is present and the hypothetical author is experiencing either one of the scenarios. If the user likes writing in general and takes pleasure in writing their own fanon, then I would highly advise planning out a new story and maybe even creating the main page to test potential readership before sending the original one off into the sunset. If everything is done right, an author could really boost their Avatar Wiki writing career by cutting off their fanon's food supply and watching it die. If it's any further consolation, I am heavily considering putting The House of Angkara to an end and replacing with a new fanon that I have been planning out. It worked wonders the first time, so I may just try it again. Feel free to post your thoughts in a comment. I'd love to engage our readers!
This is Omashu Rocks telling you to know when to fold 'em.
Part of the Elements of Writing Series
When asked how long the written answers on the quiz should be, my English teacher always answers, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Shakespeare's quote about poetry can be applied to any type of writing, especially fanon. Writing is a form of communication, and communication must be clear and concise. When speaking to someone, your words have to get the point across. Slurring and mumbling speech leads to a confusing conversation, and nothing is understood. Similarly, in writing it's important to be efficient in getting the idea across to the reader. It's easy to write an average sentence: writing an efficient sentence is a different matter. I've come across many instances of authors editing for spelling and grammar, but they forget about fixing for sentence wordiness and efficiency. In this segment, I'll explain a few ways to be simple, yet elegant in your writing.
Linking Verbs: First of all, there is nothing wrong with using a linking verb. In fact, we use linking verbs all the time in daily speech: that's probably why they are so common in writing. Linking verbs, by definition, do not express an action. Instead, they tell more information about the subject. A few common linking verbs are "is," "are," "was," "feel," and "seem." Most sentences written using a linking verb can be rewritten using an action verb. Let's take a look shall we?
Example: "Korra was focusing her mind and attempting to meditate."
This sentence makes use of the linking verb "was." Now let's rewrite it using action verbs.
Example: "Korra focused her mind and attempted to meditate."
Here's another example:
Example: "Mako felt irritated, and was about to yell at Hasook."
This sentence uses the linking verbs "was," and "feel." Now let's use action verbs.
Example: "Irritated, Mako almost yelled at Hasook.
Action verbs decrease the length of the sentence and leave ample room for more adjectives and prepositional phrases. These examples illustrate the basic concept of eradicating linking verbs. But, they are extremely simple examples, so it might be more difficult to notice with larger, more elaborate sentences. Just try to apply the skill to your writing and see what you can do! Writing with action verbs not only clears up the sentence, but it facilitates the flow of words. Now, don't go eliminating EVERY linking verb. Linking verbs are useful in dialogue, and a linking verb here or there is fine; however, a long string of sentences containing linking verbs becomes overly wordy and a struggle to read. Reread your writing and pay attention to clarity of meaning. If you can't understand it, then you're reader probably can't either. Bottomline, take the extra effort to be efficient and concise: your writing will speak for itself. :)
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