Friday, October 17, 2014

Podcast and Fan Fic Pet Peeves

First, because I know you've all been waiting.... the new podcast is up: Ni-ju kyu, Oetsu. The title is my attempt at combining the number of our podcast 29 (ni-ju kyū, in Japanese) with the character Oetsu who CONSTANTLY does this kind of number rhyming thing with his name in the current chapter of Bleach. We also review Fairy Tail, Toriko, and Ao no Exorcist (even though I wrote that one up as well.)






I have to say, for us, this podcast is pretty darned articulate, and since we forget to sing the spoiler song, there's 50% less annoying singing!

All wins, in my opinion.

I also wanted to report on my fan fic class at the Loft, which was part of the Youth/Teen Writers' Conference. The nicest thing about the conference is that it's free, which means that attendance is huge. There were probably about 25 teens in my class, which means there was a TON of energy. It helped that I started class with a "what's your fandom?" question that elicited some squee when people heard their own favorites mentioned. I also said before we started that this was a no shaming class, so you know, if you wanted to confess to still reading some One Direction bandom fic, no one was allowed to laugh TOO loudly at you.

The thing that I decided to do since everyone seemed keyed up to share was to ask them what THEIR list of fan fic pet peeves were. I got some interesting results.

NUMBER #1: grammar/spelling errors.

So, for all you grown-ups who think that the next generation doesn't give a toss about language because they're texting all the time, you would be so very, VERY wrong.

NUMBER #2 (and actually some other ones later could fall under this one): Tagging, Get it Right

The complaints for this one including being surprised by a fic that started out moderately dark that then took an unexpected left-turn, "Mature" rating that wasn't hot enough, and similar things.

We did discuss how hard "tagging the dark" can be when you're posting as you write... since you might not notice how dark something is getting. But, a lot of the answers boiled down to: get a beta reader and listen to them. I learned that there's apparently a beta reader/writer connection place on Tumblr called "Writer's Halfway House", which among its many tips, will connect writers to beta readers.

NUMBER #3: Self-insertion/Mary Sue.

No surprise there. Mary Sue has been disliked since the very first fic of its kind was penned. HOWEVER, I did point out that there's nothing wrong with Mary Sue especially when you're young and first trying things out. My very first piece of fan fiction (which happened to be my very first piece of fiction, period) involved Han Solo rescuing me from my dreary life. Nothing wrong with that... IF YOU TAG IT.

Which, by the way, was pretty much a solution to a lot of problems: tag, tag, TAG.

NUMBER #4: Weak endings/Didn't stick the landing.

Far more problematic, especially given the way a lot of fic gets written--which is to say, on the fly. We talked about general strategies, especially the idea of outlining or starting with an actual point. (Not required, of course, particularly for drabbles and such, but if you want to have a strong ending, you need a strong start. A strong start is far more certain when you have a THING you want to say, a point, a theme, a thesis, if you will.)

NUMBER #5: OOC for no reason

If you're a fan and you're writing to other fans about beloved characters, for goodness sake try to keep the characters IN CHARACTER. This lead to a side discussion about the point of AUs. Some people suggested that Alternate Universes were good for focusing on character, because you're taking them away from the world and it's about the core of what makes them who they are. I suggested that this can also be the pitfall of Alternate Universes, which I tend not to like, because more often than not they feel, to me, like original fiction with the names stuck in just to trick people into reading it--but that may be harsh. I have been burned. But, I've also been pleasantly surprised. One of my favorite fics is an AU involving Renji and Byakuya were it all starts as a sleazy hook-up in a bookstore's back closet and they're entirely human, living in the modern world.

NUMBER #6: Spearbearers made of cardboard/OC (original characters) who are flat

I felt particularly capable to talk about how to do original characters right because more than once I've gotten complimented on my original characters in my fan fic. (I suppose this skill comes from inventing characters for, well, novels, but still.) The answer, in it's simplest form is: treat all your characters as human beings. No human being has only one characteristic. We are all interesting, even the vile ones have something about them that is redeeming and charming, etc.

NUMBER #7: Evasion of plot

I was very surprised and pleased to hear this one come up. What is meant by "evasion of plot" is two things, 1) a tendency of fan fic writers not to go for the gold. They'll get to what should be a very painful moment and they back away out of a desire not to hurt their babies. But, what ends up happening is that the reader feels cheated of a bigger moment, a bigger payoff. And, 2) the similar, if different, problem of the author being coy with information that really just needs to be said. It's the whole 'why didn't they just say that earlier' problem. Or it's something that the reader should have been told, but is instead held back in the wrong-headed assumption that this makes the story more dramatic. The solution to that was: yeah, don't do that.

NUMBER #8: Fucking up the fucking

Yeah, we went there. There were a number of very interesting complaints about sex in fan fic. Firstly, the teens in my class do NOT want you to use inappropriate lubes. Please, people, do your research. A quote from class: "Peanut butter? JUST NO. So much NO." Similarly, do not break the laws of physical possibilities, which we labeled "parts doing the NO." I recommended the classic fan fic resource: Minotaur's Sex Tips for Slash Writers.

My students also really craved sex scenes that skipped all the purple prose of "his alabaster skin" (guilty as charged!) but to the excision of actual feelings. We discussed, actually, the similarity between writing a good fight scene and writing a good sex scene. I told them that in a fight, what you want to concentrate on is a singular point of view and remember that a fight isn't just about the dimensions of the instrument, what part goes where, and for how long (like sex) and that it's actually a highly emotionally charged event (like sex.) So parts are important (like sex), but ultimately it's about feelings (like sex.) So make sure your fight scenes aren't gratuitous either. Make sure there's a reason for the fight and for the sex.

Similarly, we discussed romance and how they want it to be so much more than love at first sight (which this generation firmly believes is crap.) They also absolutely hated when a write had a gay man who spent any time wondering "when they turned into a girl." They found this offensive on so many levels it wasn't funny.

Foreplay was discussed as both something that could go on too long and that there sometimes wasn't nearly enough of. So we ended up spending a lot of time discussing ways in which we could work to make the romance and sex feel REAL. I said that, even though part of the appeal of fan fic is its fantasy element, there is some value in considering real life situations while writing about sex. It can make sex cute, funny and resonate more deeply when you take some time to try to add the people parts of sex that make it awesome--an example I used is consider breaking up the hot and heavy action with the classic... and now the cat has wandered in and is sitting on someone's butt or staring at you from the dresser. This makes the moment (potentially if you can pull it off) funny and real feeling.

NUMBER #9: The art of the Summary

We didn't get to this one because sex and romance ate up the majority of our class period, but people want better summaries from you, oh fan fic writers everywhere. Please take some time to figure out how to best summarize your fic. (This may be something that Rachel and I can spend some class time teaching because I believe it's an art that can translate to original fiction skills, as it's the same one that you use when you write synopses for agents and editors.)

Those were the major ones. We got kind of specific, like "wanton" versus "wonton" but obviously that falls under grammar and spelling. Likewise, there were a lot of specific questions about sex, which I fielded like a pro, that ended up as part of the list which I combined into a giant #8 above.

Yeah... we had to shut the door. No only were we screaming about lube, there was just a lot of general excitement to get to talk to someone about this sort of thing--not just the sex parts but the whole "oh and this drives me insane" thing.

So I would say the class went well. It'll be interesting to see what the various evaluations say.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Demon Stuff

Mason and I will have a podcast once I'm back from teaching at the Loft's Youth Writing Conference today, but while you wait impatiently for that, you can read the newest chapter in the School for Wayward Demons that Rachel Gold/Calish and I are writing: http://entertheunseen.com/01-07-ben-takes-a-side-job/

In the aftermath of Theo's capture, we learn some interesting things about this strange new world she's stumbled into...

That's all for now, unfortunately.  I need to prep still, but I'll have more to write about once I'm done with class.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Link Salad Days!

I am so amazing and busy, you can hardly keep up with me, can you?

Today is Tuesday which is my super-duper productivity day. I've posted a new installment over on Wattpad :http://www.wattpad.com/76031780-unjust-cause-part-26-choices-made. In this chapter, Alex thinks she's got everything figured out. So, of COURSE, the universe throws her a curveball... in the form of one Spenser Jones.

Also, Rachel Calish/Gold and I have updated our School for Wayward Demons, which you can read here :http://entertheunseen.com/01-06-everyone-catches-up-to-theo/. In this chapter, the demons finally catch up to our cheeky thief, Theo. Will she manage yet another daring escape? Tune in to find out!

I reviewed a couple of things up on MangaKast, too, in case you were curious about how I felt about the latest Ao no Exorcist chapter (61) http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/ao-no-exorcist-61/ or its spin-off Salaryman Futumashi Okumura Yukio no Aishuu http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/sorrows-of-the-salaryman-exorcist/, which, in my opinion, has the best tag line in the history of strange manga tag lines, ever: "This is my seriousness!"

Okay, wow. Impressed yet?

If not, you should know that I also taught the Loft's Open Pages class on Fan Fic last night at the Savage Public Library last night. Savage! Savage, Minnesota, which is somewhere down there with the other suburbs like Apple Valley and Burnsville. I did find it last night. Drove right to it, thanks to Google Maps, in fact. The crowd was tough, though not 'savage.' I had two students, which was twice as many as I expected. In fact, in case of disaster, I'd brought along my Japanese to study. One of the librarians decided to stay and.... I guess add warm bodies, but I find that the addition of an adult can make things awkward sometimes. Though, tbf, I was plenty awkward on my own. I had a HELL of a time speaking. Like, words... I stumbled, very uncharacteristically, through my own introduction, but I managed a fairly decent recovery (I think.)

Because there was an adult (beyond me) present, the two kids took some warming-up.

Teenagers, you know.

Plus, the whole point of Open Pages is that the class is supposed to self-direct, so I intentionally come under-prepared, with the idea that if the consensus is "We want to talk about how hard plotting is!" then we do that. But, mouths stayed firmly shut in the presence of another grown-up, so I had to run though that list y'all gave me of 'fan fic pet peeves." Luckily, my teaching style (chaotic good) lends itself to interruption and discussion, so going through that list seemed to spark thoughts, etc., and by the end there was a lot of chatter among the three of us. Also, one of the students boldly asked for time to write, so we spent the last half hour doing just that.

I never know with these things, but it felt, to me, ultimately, successful.

Probably that means I bombed.

I'm constantly surprised by why teens take a class on fan fic... and the levels that they come in at. Like last night, I had one student who didn't entirely seem clear on the concept. When it came time to write, she needed much more than a prompt. She seemed confused as to the point of fan fic, event though we'd been talking about it for about an hour. I explained that some people use fan fic to fill in the corners of a story--the bits you don't get to see, but might like to. So, for instance, if she wanted she could try writing about two of her favorite characters doing something mundane, such as grocery shopping or shopping for shoes. She seemed to thinks this was silly, since most of the time the heroes were in a life-or-death situations. When would they have time to shoe shop? I said, see, that's kind of the point. To take them out of the the plot and see what they're like in their ordinary life. But, then again, I said, not everyone likes curtain fic. So, maybe instead, I suggested, you could do a fix-itabout something that bothered you in the story that you wanted to change or write something that happened after canon had finished... like the story of what Harry Potter is doing with his life after school.

Finally, she seemed to settle on something, but it was kind of baffling to me, especially in comparison to my other student who not only instantly started writing, but also said that they had a FanFictionnet that they'd been active on until they forgot their password.

So... two VERY DIFFERENT students.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

We're Late.. And Early

Because you've all been waiting with baited breath... MangaKast 28 has been posted: http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/28-were-late/



It's called "We're Late" because Bleach and many of the others came out yesterday afternoon. However, because we waited (I had to work last night) the fan translations of Shingeki no Kyojin (SnK/Attack on Titan) came out so I reviewed those as well. In this podcast, Mason and I discuss Bleach, Toriko, Fairy Tail, and Shingeki no Kyojin. There is silliness with interjections of the occasional thinly-thought (what if Grimmjow is actually under the hood of “C” compulsion, has Eren been eaten before, etc.)

So, you know, if it's your thing... it's there for you.

The Hunt is ON...

The newest chapter/installment is up on the School for Wayward Demons (and Misfit Witches) which I'm co-writing with Rachel Gold/Calish is up on our website: http://entertheunseen.com/01-05-the-hunt-is-on/

In this episode, we get a sense of the wheels that Theo's little b&e started turning... and now the question is, who will get to her first?  The good guys, or the ones I'm fairly certain want to kill her!


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

So Much Writing to Read!

It's Tuesday, so there is a new Tate installment: Bringing Balance and Force in which we learn the TRUE mission of the demon Internal Affairs agents. Dun-dun-DAAAAHHHHH.

There is also new story up on my co-writing project with Rachel Gold/Calish called "Demons, Demons Everywhere" and is the introduction to the character of Erin.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Thursday Chapter! More, More, MORE.....

You know, if the universe rewarded people who wrote a LOT of fictional content, I'm fairly sure I'd be eligible for SOMETHING. :-)

Today, on offer, is the second chapter of the project that I'm doing with my fellow writer Rachel Gold/Calish and the artists Mandie Brasington and Alexis Cooke, the School for Wayward Demons and Misfit Witches. This chapter is called "Lily Has No Choice: entertheunseen.com/lily-has-no-choice/ and introduces demon-hunter, tracker extraordinary (retired) Lily, who is a character from Rachel Calish's book The Demon Abraxas. (There might be other cameos too....) :-)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

DOUBLE-STUFF Tuesday!



I have a lot to announce today. As usual, I have updated my work-in-progress on Wattpad. In this installment, the werewolves are getting restless and the demons discuss fate vs. freewill. www.wattpad.com/73575290-unjust-cause-part-24-demons-and-fate

A number of people have been curious about how Wattpad has been working for me. I have to say that it's gotten better. At first, I have to admit to being disappointed by the number of people reading. I'd had higher hopes that Tate's name would draw a bigger initial crowd. But, now that I'm fairly established (this is my 24th installment, which means there's AT LEAST 24,000 words up--I believe there's probably closer to 30,000 or 35,000 because my first few installments ran longer that a thousand words,) I'm pleased with the number of hits I'm getting. People seem to be slowly continuing to find me, too. I've been keeping up better on FB and Twitter and Tate's blog, so I think that's helped when people go looking.

At any rate, I still think that it's not a perfect model. I wish you didn't have to log-in to leave comments or kudos, and I wish more people were willing to critique me, like my colleagues do on AO3 with my fan work. That being said, Wattpad works really well for me and my needs, however. As I've said, what I need most of all is a reason to keep putting words on the page, and Wattpad is making me do it weekly. And I'm getting just enough feedback to make the whole thing seem worthwhile.

So, that's Wattpad...

My other big announcement today is that my friend Rachel and I are launching a website/serial novel WITH ILLUSTRATIONS by artists Mandie Brasington and Alexis Cooke. The main site is here: entertheunseen.com and you can read the first installment here: http://entertheunseen.com/a-very-small-heist-of-epic-implications-01-01/.





So... this is another grand experiment. If you go to the website, you can see that you can follow us on Facebook and Tumblr. We've also put up a tip jar.... something I've never tried before. We're also going to be going on a fairly aggressive publishing schedule: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays--though Saturday may be bonus content like more art or a podcast of the previous chapters.

The story is going to follow four characters, an ensemble cast. Rachel and I wrote a lot of the chapters together, but ostensibly we've divided the characters between us. She had Theo, a thief and a shapeshifter, pictured above with some of the forms she can transform into. She's also got Kitty, a half-demon with mommy issues. I'm writing Gabe, a lost soul who can see things other people can't...





And Erin, a very special demon-spawn who has had an insanely awful life....



Anyway, it's been a very interesting process to work not only with a collaborative writer, but also with artists.

Generally, though, the site is new and probably has some bugs yet. So, if you go there and you see a problem or just have general comments or complaints, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I'd like to make this experience as pleasant and intuitive as possible.

Okay, that's the general news! Have a great Tuesday!