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I've written a new update for Legends of the Dragon King, my retelling of ATLA as Zuko's story. This particular update is adapted from S1E03 "The Southern Air Temple," the one where Zuko duels Zhao. I've put in a few things that I fancy are clever, which probably means it's confusing to anyone who is not me. Basically a "read over and see if it makes any sense" job, though all comments are welcome. I promise it's not Zuko or Fire Nation apologia--and I'd like to know if it comes across that way--but Zuko is obviously an unreliable narrator at this point. The update clocks in at 4,041 words.

The other planned update is more specific to Legend's prequel Shadow of the Dragon King and will be posted to Stories from the Shadows, the OC-centric short story collection. I've written a post-Shadow dialogue between Azula and my OC Cheng as a follow-up to Azula's "slut" scene and the investigative and intrigue plots in Shadow. It's probably not unduly confusing, but I'd like to know if it has the desired emotional effect. It doubles as a sneaky sequel announcement (I believe I also discussed this project with [personal profile] attackfish, the one with disabled lead characters) so I've been holding off on posting, but between being asked about a sequel and restarting work on Legends I feel ready. The dialogue is 1,105 words long.

I'd been forgetting just how much fun fanfic is. Once I got started I wrote literally through the night, and the sheer joy of it was incredible after my long dry spell. I used my personal anxieties and Important Real World Responsibilities as an excuse to keep myself from just playing around, and I didn't even know how much I needed to. And then I followed this urge to get started and it was like ahhhh. It felt right.
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The final chapter in the Shadow saga. I had been going over and over the events of this chapter for over a year, and it took quite a bit of fiddling but came out mostly as envisioned. I had a feeling as though I had come home to find it an unfamiliar place, much as I felt with Chapter 18 (the Agni Kai chapter) except more intensely: This was what I had dreamed and worked toward for a long time, and the shape of the thing and most of the trappings were what I'd expected. Yet I found myself seeing with different eyes, ascribing meanings I had not thought of before, and for that reason it felt different. Maybe it was better, I don't know, it certainly felt deeper.

Scene-by-scene account )
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This post is about Chapter 20: Letters and Final Interlude: Making Up. I'll go scene by scene, using the labels I used in Scrivener.

Letters )

Making Up )

Wrapping up the OCs' stories in "Letters" was the wind-up for the final chapter, when the action would rise a little again and finally tie up the long-running thread between Azula and Zuko--for a while, that is, until their paths crossed again in the show.
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Chapter 19: Voices may be the most ambitious thing I've ever written in terms of sheer scope, not to mention the length. I mean, almost 20,000 words (19,629 to be exact) for what is ostensibly a single chapter? Here's to hoping I never do anything like that again.

Let's see if I can make the notes just as long-winded )
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My long Zuko-centric fic Shadow of the Dragon King was posted in its entirety some months ago, almost exactly two years since I posted the first chapter. I'll be posting belated notes for the third and final part, chapter-by-chapter this time because I kind of lost control of my word count. I'll be using the scene labels that I used when writing the fic in Scrivener.

Chapter 18: Respect

Scene-by-Scene Breakdown )
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Notes on point of view and rewriting )

I'm still somewhat partial to the original version because I wanted to show that even monsters have motivation beyond "I want to make the hero's life miserable," but I think the final cut fits better into the story. For posterity, here is the original:

Original Azula scene )
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
There's always a sense of completeness and a sense of strangeness when things come back to the beginning, right where they were supposed to end up in the first place. There's fulfillment, sure, but at the same time it's different from what you imagined, and the familiar is no longer familiar.

On the tragedy of Sado and the triumph of his son )

Zuko's story as I depict it in Shadow is a composite of Sado's and Jeongjo's stories--both the disgraced prince and the resilient boy, and ultimately the strong king who overcame a legacy of violence and trauma to create his own legacy of forgiveness and compassion. Maybe it's naive of me, a political fairy tale, but I've never been averse to creating my own comfort when I need it. Besides, Jeongjo the Twenty-Second King of Choson, Lee San the son of a murdered father and grandson of his father's killer, already showed us that it's possible. He showed it in the most eloquent way possible, through the course of his life as both a man and a king.
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I have taken many liberties with the excerpt in Chapter 18 of Shadow of the Dragon King, both for space and for relevance to the story. Since I don't want to mislead anyone on the historical record, though, here is a full translation of the scene(s) I used:

Full translation with notes )
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In Chapter 17 of Shadow of the Dragon King, as well as the side story A Night's Work, I used the era name Ji Lian for the Era of Avatar Aang. I got the idea from the Avatar Wiki page on the History of the World of Avatar, which claims that the mechanical calendar in Wan Shi Tong's library shows the Avatar Cycle. According to the wiki (and the ATLA Annotations Tumblr), the current era of Avatar Aang is Yang Wu/Ri Wu (氜武) and the previous era of Roku was Zhuo Guang (焯光), while the next era of Avatar Korra will be Chun Tai (淳泰). The first letter of each era name uses the radical corresponding to the "home" element of each Avatar.

I totally disagree with that theory, and here's why. )

Conclusion: While the letters on the third ring of Wan Shi Tong's calendar probably stand for years rather than eras, I still liked the idea of era names for the different Avatars and came up with Ji Lian (刏連, severed continuity) for Avatar Aang. "Ji" has the air radical qi (气) so it fits the Air Nomad Avatar, while "severed continuity" symbolizes the disturbed continuities that characterize the reign of this Avatar: The genocide of the Air Nomads, the long absence of the Avatar, and the century of war that wrought irreversible changes on the world.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
My Ridiculously Long pastfic, Shadow of the Dragon King, is about 75% posted with the recent upload of Chapter 17: Games. That concludes Part 2 of 3, so it's time for another extended fanfic note. Since I talked about the overall conception and planning in the extended notes for Part 1, I'll stick to chapter-by-chapter commentary here, centering around the stuff that won't be obvious to readers. Spoilers for Part 2 abound, naturally.

Chapters 11-12 )

Chapters 13-14 )

Chapter 15-16 )

Chapter 17 )

So those are some of the things that were going on in my head when I wrote these chapters. Just four chapters more and the whole story will be done, yay!


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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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