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!
ljlee: (Default)
In a long-ago fanfiction.net forum post about why people write fanfic, I remember my answer being "because I can't not." For as long as I can remember I have been trying not to be a writer and my family has been trying to keep me from that path. Fanfiction was a compromise where I could keep fiction writing as a strictly non-monetized hobby. Besides, when I really like a particular story I get obsessively into it. I watched Crimson Tide 17 times, for instance, and when I like a game a lot I tend to clear it twice or more, usually four times or more. Fandom participation was a good way to work out that kind of obsession.

Shadow of the Dragon King was also born of such obsession. )
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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. :)


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.


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)
This is the author interview with Amanda, conducted via e-mail. Thanks for the interview, Amanda!

Interview with amanda91 )
ljlee: (Default)
The second Featured Fic is Three Years at Sea by [livejournal.com profile] amanda_violet and her other works, most notably her Avatar 500 stories. Amanda's fics are archived at her fanfiction.net profile and [livejournal.com profile] amanda91_fic.

Three Years at Sea is a series of short stories about Prince Zuko's exile, starting from the immediate aftermath of the ill-fated Agni Kai and following him through his journey all over the world for the Avatar. Zuko is his surly and difficult self, yet you really find yourself sympathizing with the character. Partly there's the obvious pathos of his situation, but where the writing truly shines is in bringing out the nuances of the character: The enormous challenges he faces, both external and within himself, his obvious flaws and his astounding inner strength, all brought out through his life at sea and how it shapes the boy into a young man, for better and for worse.

Three Years at Sea was the story that helped me make sense of Zuko's character. )

amanda91's Fanfiction.net profile and [livejournal.com profile] amanda91_fic, her LJ archive
Three Years at Sea: A series of shorts about Zuko's years in exile
amanda91's Avatar 500: Widely varied short stories, each 500 words or less
Interview with amanda91
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)
When I become a fan of something, I tend to find fanfiction as interesting as the canon work. It's kind of like reading the comments to an article to find out what other people thought, but it's even better because much of fan fiction is better thought out than most site comments. Like all good fiction, good works of fan fiction have a creative vision and good execution, including structure, characterization, and use of language. It's the pleasure of reading good blog comments and reading good stories rolled into one, a communal and creative activity at the same time.

I've talked about some of my own fanfiction at length here and will continue to do so, but I'd like to talk about other fan stories I've enjoyed, too. These stories caught my interest, inspired me, and gave me new insights not only into Avatar but into writing and sometimes life in general.

That's why I'm starting a new series, Featured Fics. First up: Crown Prince Chronicles. )

FairLadyZ2005's Fanfiction.net profile - with stories in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Transformers/Beast Wars, Blakes 7, and more.
Avatar: The Last Airbender fan fiction:
Zuko: Crown Prince Chronicles - A "missing moments" series of funny, insightful, and touching stories about Zuko and friends
A Long Night - The Avatar benders' equivalent of socks on doorknobs and falling plaster.
Call Down the Heavens - The anti-bender rebellion begins with tragic consequences, and hope amid the wreckage. Author interview Part 1 and Part 2
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In Part 1 of this essay on Avatar: The Last Airbender as a political story, I discussed attempts to resolve the crisis of a worldwide war unilaterally, from the Earth Kingdom side. In that part and Part 2 I talked about the reasons why the attempt failed, and indeed that maybe it was best that it failed--because the solution had to come from inside the Fire Nation. Until a viable alternative rulership presented itself, outside intervention might have done more harm than good. Then I said that such an alternative existed in the Fire Nation due to the history of anti-war dissent starting from Roku onwards, and that the internal movement to end the war found its focus and leadership with Prince Zuko, both Sozin's and Roku's descendant, finding his conscience and his destiny.
So all the pieces are in place, and the goal is clear: Zuko would become the new Firelord, replacing his father and vanquishing his sister. He would then end the war and bring peace. His uncle and his Order of the White Lotus cohorts would retake the city of Ba Sing Se, something crucial to stabilizing Zuko's rule. Dissidents to the new Firelord holed up in the world's greatest fortress would be a headache and a nightmare for Zuko, and risked splitting his nation apart. And most crucially, the Avatar Aang would neutralize the current Firelord Ozai.
Reasons I Love Avatar 4, Part 3 (in which we ponder kinslaying for fun and profit) )
ljlee: (Default)
Part 1 of this essay on Avatar as a political story talked mainly about the Earth Kingdom and its political attempts to end the war, and the root causes of that failure. Here in Part 2 I will discuss another effort to end the war unilaterally from the outside, specifically the coalition invasion in "The Day of Black Sun." Then I will discuss the Fire Nation's internal anti-war movement and how it was suppressed ("The Avatar and the Fire Lord," "The Headband," and even brief mentions of Book 1 episodes like "The Storm"). Based on that, I will discuss how internal regime change was the only real solution to the war from the start. I will also ramble on about Zuko again, so brace yourselves for that.Reasons I Love Avatar 4, Part 2 (in which nothing goes according to plan, and that's a good thing) )


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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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