ljlee: Queen... er, Lady Misil (misil)
Departures on AO3
Departures on FFN

Spoilers for The Promise Part 2 )

In the end, Departures was a case where being challenged creatively forced me to respond, well, creatively, and I was able to stretch beyond my comfort zone as a result. I'm very grateful to the prompter, and if her reaction is any indication I think she liked it, too. It was a good experience, if not always easy.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
Once in a while I just glom onto someone's archive and go through it with the dumb determination of a housecat dismembering a beetle. No doubt this is a horrifying event for said person, suddenly inundated with overly long and often nitpicky comments from some stranger they don't know from Eve, so I understand if I don't get replies. No doubt the author is busy turning off her email notifications, hiding under the bed, or moving to Timbuktu. (Random example is random. I'm sure it's a lovely place.)

For the past few months my victim has been one meltinglacier (Lynn), who has posted numerous short stories for fandoms including Teen Titans, Harry Potter, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. I've gone through her ATLA archive and found some real gems. I won't do a full profile since there's no longer story to serve as a flagship title and because the author is probably in Timbuktu by now, but I did find three stories about Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee that I particularly liked.

Life Lessons, Saving Face, and Airhead show the author's talent for psychological exploration )

I found meltinglacier/Lynn's archive really interesting with lots of good stories and a few outstanding ones. It's a great pleasure of archive-trawling when I discover stuff that I wouldn't have otherwise. And now I can recommend these stories to my friends, and tell them to scare the author with comments from strangers. How's that for psychological horror?
ljlee: (mai)
This was originally part of the Fire Nation culture essay, but it was off topic enough that I decided to expand it into an essay of its own. 

If you're going to hate her, for the love of God hate her for the right reasons. )

In sum: It's perfectly fine to hate Mai. I just wish people would hate the character Mai who was actually in this show called Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not the imaginary show that was cancelled after Book 2. There are valid reasons to dislike Mai, but "cold and uncaring" and "lazy and whiny" are not two of them.
ljlee: (Default)
* Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] fairladyz2005 for being kind enough to look this essay over prior to posting. Her comments and insights made it a much stronger work.

Ah, Fire Nation, Evil Empire of the Avatar series. What to say about your war-mongering ways and colonialism, your racism and destruction of whole cultures, your red-and-black décor that screams evil in such style?

In which I try to make my point with fart jokes and shipping rants )
ljlee: (Default)
I am making a number of small changes to the Shadow of the Dragon King as I write the last chapter of Part 1. I thought I'd document the changes as a reminder to myself and to give information to others.

1. What Was the Place Called Again?

For some reason the island where all the action begins was Zhoran in the first chapter, then became Azhoran the very next and stayed that way. It is now Azhoran in all instances, or at least it had better be.

2. And Where Was It?

Originally I called (A)Zhoran the island at the southern end of the Fire Nation archipelago, mostly because I wanted to put it in some out-of-the-way corner. Then I came up with the later travel sequence with Zuko trying to get home, and decided to place it to the east instead in the chain of islands between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom. (See also map.) I never really changed the location in the first chapter, though, so I went back and did that.

3. Wait, When Is This Taking Place? 

At first, in Chapter 2, I set the time at early summer, then decided to change that to late spring. That came from Zuko and Sa Ye's conversation about the date she expected to have the baby. Not a terribly important point, but I just wanted the consistency.

4. How Old Are You, Dear?

From that same conversation with Sa Ye, I set Mai's age as one above Zuko (due to lines from the show that indicated she was 17 when Zuko was 16), but it seems the official Nickelodeon character bio places her at one younger. So I changed that.

5. The Hyphens Have It

As long as I was re-uploading the chapters as .odt files, I fixed the hyphens as well. You know that annoying thing fanfiction.net does with the hyphens, shortening double hyphens into a measly single hyphen? Turns out that doesn't happen when you upload an .odt file, and a decent word processor will consolidate the double hyphens into a nice-looking long hyphen--which will show up as such on the site.

Having made the transition from coding HTML by hand in a text editor, I highly recommend writing stories on OpenOffice or LibreOffice and saving the documents as .odt for upload. Word processing features like spellcheck are pretty convenient (you can simply right-click and add the words the dictionary doesn't recognize by default), and especially if you exchange files with a beta-reader for comment, features like notes in the margins, edit tracking and highlighting are all but indispensable.

6. A Question of Organization

Another slight change I made was to group the first ten chapters into Part 1: Dragon Dreams and the next ten chapters (or so) into Part 2: Shadows. It's possible that the last few chapters of Part 2 will be split off into a third part, Flames or something, but I'm not decided on that yet. The whole thing is still one story, but the first and second half of the story have different ambience and happen in different places, hence the separation into parts. I guess I could make Part 2 into a sequel, but then I'd have to come up with a new title and that's a pain. Besides, both parts were always planned to fall under that one title, even in the early stages of the outline when the second part was like two chapters long.


On a side note, when I downloaded the full story for editing it turned out to be 130 pages by word processor. Since this was between the dates of March 13 and July 9, that comes down to 130 pages in four months. I was ridiculously obsessed with the story for the first few chapters, and poured out more words during those weeks than is sustainable or desirable. That pretty inevitably resulted in temporary burnout, a couple of months during which I couldn't bring myself to touch the story. Now that I'm back on it, hopefully I can take it to the finish line at a steady pace.
ljlee: (cute)
Since things keep slipping my mind, I thought I'd make a list. This way hopefully I'll be shamed into writing. :)

Current:


Shadow of the Dragon King - My mega-long political drama leading up to the ill-fated war meeting and Zuko's exile. So seriously procrastinating on this; will start editing the newest chapter today for upload.

Everybody Loves Ty Lee - A series of short stories that all involve Ty Lee. This is my "break fic," the one that's my go-to when I want to get away from writing other stuff, but of course I'm procrastinating on this, too. Sigh.

Future: 

King and Lord (working title) - Inspired by FairLadyZ2005's story Kings' Crossing, I want to expand the parallels between Zuko and Kuei into a short three-parter. I need to research the symptoms of PTSD and Qing palace ceremonies for this one.

To Steal a Bride - Inspired by discussions with FLZ about a possible Iroh/Xian wedding story, since the two are married by the time of Iroh Meets His Match. (Incidentally, the "match" in the title is not his wife.) To Steal a Bride will be about Aang ritually bride-napping Katara. I posted the results of the research for this story on Eskimo bride capture here.

Scorned (working title) - This is about Mai breaking up with Zuko post-series. Inspired by a discussion with Kimberly T. about her story A Zutara is Worth a Thousand Words. I came to realize I can't really conceptualize Mai apart from Zuko and decided to remedy that. In some ways it explores the same theme as Amy Raine's Prisons of Choice, and revolves around Mai making a different choice. The Firelady in Scorned might or might not be Katara, but it won't matter since I'm not going to give her a name; a small act of karmic balance to all those Zutara stories where Mai is shipped out on a bus never to be seen again. :P
ljlee: (Default)
Romance Should Be Comforting: The "Comfort" View of Romance
 
 
Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.
- Carl Reiner
 
 
At San Diego Comic Con 2008, Avatar creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko aired a short film/slide show composed of mostly Zutaran fan art, poking fun at the the idea of Zutara and giving airtime to some other pairings, too. It was the joke short Avatar Book 4: Air, Chapter 1: Forbidden Love, and if you have not seen the epic awesomeness that is the video then you must. (Please be aware some of the pictures are a little racy and might not be safe for work. Also, if you have your sound up, it's very noisy!) 
 
I was particularly intrigued when Sokka showed up and basically said that Zutarans are doomed to failed relationships. )
 
ljlee: (Default)
I have the best boyfriend in the world. How do I know? He's the one who got me hooked on Avatar: The Last Airbender. I ended up getting way, way more into it than he ever did, but he was the one who got me started by introducing me to the show.

A few months ago, I had not finished Book 2 yet when I searched for relatively spoiler-safe Avatar posts and noticed a strange word, "Zutara." I put two and two together and realized that there were people who shipped Katara and Zuko. Evidently a lot of them. I called the boyfriend and reported this amazing fact, and he burst out laughing.
 
"Yeah," he said. "There was a little something between them." )
 
ljlee: (Default)
In the first part of the post on relationships in Avatar: The Last Airbender, I discussed how relationships played a role in the change and growth of Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph. I continue and conclude the discussion with a great deal on Zuko and Mai, and a bit on Azula and Ty Lee.

Reason 2: Relationships (definitely hazardous to Zutarans) )

So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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