Issue 3: November 5th, 2014

The Future of the Fanon Portal

So, we're five episodes into the fourth and final season for The Legend of Korra now. Very recently the creators Mike and Bryan stopped on here and answered some of the questions that their wikia fans submitted, rewarding some of the users, both present and not-so-much, for all their efforts that they put into this site and this community all these years. Although we don't know the exact date of the final episode yet, the show is set to wrap up sometime in December. So will end the "Age of Korra", which reigned from early 2012 to late 2014. Next year will be 2015, which shall mark the tenth year of both Avatar and Avatar Wiki. People are undoubtedly wondering what's next for Avatar Wiki and the fanon portal. What will it look like next year? Well, none of us can know for sure, but what we can do is look at how it's been in the past and what it was like during similar times. As many long-time users like The 888th Avatar will tell you, wiki activity follows a life cycle. It's practically an exact science.

For those of you who haven't heard this story yet, here is how it began. Long ago, around the time of the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, love of Avatar met love of writing. Together, they conceived something. Was it a boy? Was it a girl? Why, neither. It was an online community. The fanon wiki community grew in size and number following the conclusion of the show it was based on. Nearly a year later, a debate ensued between 888, Thailog and several other older, now mostly inactive users. Following this epic debacle, the fanon community fused with the canon Avatar Wiki, creating something comparable to the Avatar. At least on a good day. On a bad day, it may seem more like something along the lines of Unavaatu.

Our young "Avatar" grew up during the lead-up to the theatrical adaptation of the animated series, and we all recall how that turned out. Despite this disappointment in the summer two years following the end of the series and one year following the merger, activity on the wiki did not slow down at this time. In fact, most users who remember then look back to the wiki in the latter half of 2010 and the whole of 2011 with nostalgia, despite almost nothing new being released on the canon side of things. The Legend of Korra was a long way away, and The Promise wasn't released until early 2012 either. But the community remained active during this era of wiki-renaissance, there were regular newsletter issues from the BSST (the WLS hadn't been founded by Master Ratava and Rassilon of Old yet), there were two Fanon Awards ceremonies, the User Awards were created, there were seven fanon admin elections and the entire fanon portal was restructured toward the end of it.

However, traffic to this site was still much higher during times when Korra was airing and it would be naive to say that there won't be a drop in activity once the series is over. While Bryke has not confirmed that they will never do another show based on it and they said the universe keeps managing to pull them back in, which gives some of us hope, they said they are taking a break for a while and moving onto other projects. Thus, we are on the verge of entering yet another time with nothing new on the horizon. On the other hand, there was some benefit to having a time like this for the fanon portal. During the long hiatus between the two shows, many after-the-war series were created and some from 2011 were similar to those from 2008. There was less disruption to what fanon could do, so it took the time to flourish. Also, things won't be quite as dead on the canon side as they were a few years ago, since the comics and video games are going to continue to be made for a long time to come, and they weren't as much of a presence in the time before Korra.

White lotus tile icon Fanon Urban Dictionary

The numerous pen-names authors publish under, moving to a new one each time they read their stories and dislike it.
"Omg that story sucks I can't ever move past the shame!" "Uh... it has like, a hundred favourites...." "Nope, it's dreadful. I must start anew. Re-create myself. Again."

Read and review: the initials at the bottom of stories that are almost guaranteed to have "deals" in which one can trade x number of reviews for faster updates. Not proven to work.
"Ttfn, lovelies! R&R!" *next chapter* "Reviews make me smile!" *chapter after that* "If I get ten reviews, I'll update a day early!" ".... umm... she doesn't actually have a schedule...." "Hush! I need to know what happens next!" "*sigh* R&R, man...."

Sadistic: —see also: sparkstoaflame
adj. deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.
"So, I'm reading this amazing story and like, I thought it would get happier because it started out so sad but it didn't!" "How do you mean?" "Well, like, it starts out with the character's parents dying and the character has all these mental problems because of it, and then the author decides to burn her in a fire and she forgets the love of their life and-" "... sounds like a bit of a sadist if you ask me..."


Love the Fanon Urban Dictionary? Miss any definitions? See the complete collection here!

An Interview With Death (in two parts)

Part the First: Sparkstoaflame
1) Okay, first of all, how are you?
Not bad. You?

2) I'm fine :P Thanks for asking! Now, as this is a Halloween issue, I have to ask; what is your favourite part about Halloween?
Getting on a sugar high >:D well, actually, no. A bunch of people and I've had a tradition since fourth grade to play this Wii game, Super Smash Bros Brawl? Anyway, we play that and try to, like...kill each other. (okay not kill but I can't think of a better word right now o_o)

3) So you don't go trick-or-treating?
No, I do, but it's not the highlight of the night.

4) I think it's interesting that the first word you think of is 'kill'. Do you think about killing people often?
No, I don't ;p But in case you haven't noticed yet, I do have violent tendencies when I write fanon. Such as having killed off at least one of my main characters in every single multi-chaptered story I've ever written...which you oh-so-kindly pointed out to me in my blissful obliviousness.........*stares* But I don't have urges to kill people in real life! I swear, I'm really nice and like...normal...

5) What influences your decisions to kill your characters?
Well, for one (and this is purely on a selfish basis), I find death scenes very entertaining to write. Because death isn't limited to just one way know, dying. There's so many different possibilities to explore, and from there, there are so many different reactions and repercussions that the death may cause. And I've always been interested in the concept of death, anyway, because it's can consider it as absolute, or do you believe in something after that? What are the consequences of holding either of both beliefs? What impact does it have on the people who were close to the person who died? How does each individual react? I just have a lot of questions (?), and each have multiple answers. So I like exploring that. (And for me, it makes for a good plot device, and also, character development sometimes, if developed well.)

6) Do you ever cry when writing your own death scenes? You seem very emotional about everyone else's ;)
ugh, well, they're worth getting emotional over xD But for my own, umm...not for the majority of them. ^^" I did feel more melancholy than usual writing Akna's, though, in Stars of CS. And in retrospect, that's also the one I like best out of all the death scenes I have written, so that probably says something...

7) But you don't cry? You kill these people without a thought!?
........D: What do you want me to say? That I feel like I've killed one of my best friends? that I look back on it, I wrote most of them at some ungodly hour of the morning...*ahem* And hey! I put a lot of thought into...erm, planning to kill people. Lots and lots of it. : <

8) Who was your favourite character to kill and why?
Well, I loved writing Aang's (and Anna's, by extent), because that was literally...a needless death, so to speak. But I think it spoke volumes about how the perpetuator, Azula, was a) pretty insane and b) literally willing to do whatever it took to achieve her...ya know, "perfect painting." Which shows that (of course, this is all my opinion) it can be really dangerous to just mindlessly pursue perfection; not just to yourself, but to other people. So character development and I just like insane!Azula. ;p
Haha so you admit it! You like killing people for the fun of it!

9) Why choose death as a way to develop their characters?
(IT'S FUN) Like I said before, there are thousands of different directions you can take from death. And I think it has more psychological impact than a couple other...I don't know, let's call them devices, for development. In the end, it's simply that I'm interested in the various effects death has on different people, and I write about what interests me.

11) What is it about death, and death scenes, that are so effective? And, so emotional?
Well, first of all, I think that the "effectiveness" of deaths, and their emotional value, depends on a figure's views, again. Does this character believe in the absolute, or if death is only like a "stepping stone"?

And then you can take it from there, because those two questions branch out into even more questions and...well, feelings. Reaction to death is very varied, and different in every person. You never really know what to exactly expect. How devastated might someone be? How does the closeness of their relationship, whether it be friendship or enmity, affect it as well? But in the end, you can always expect some sort of reaction, because...well, if you don't react in any way, whether it be sadistic happiness or crushing sadness, to death, then what are you? To me, it just boils down to our human nature. We see the word death and it's automatically like, *tear* because we've been taught (and in some cases felt) it's a thing to mourn.

But anyway, reaction is key, really. It's, "blurred zone" (I don't know what to call it I'm sorry D:) in the reactions that are, what I think, make them effective. You can't expect two characters to react in the same behavior, and the unpredictable factor kind of contributes to it. (Or you can expect them to react in a very set way, but if they break that mold, well. ;p)

12) How do your own beliefs about death influence how your characters react to it?
I mean...I try not to let them influence my characters? Because my characters aren't me, and thus they don't necessarily have the same belief system as me. Sometimes I'll pick around and research a certain culture if need comes to be, but generally, I try to keep an open mind and think of different ways, that pertain to each character's personality, of how they may react to the death of a person close to them or not.

13) What was the worst reaction you've added/thought of adding? In your opinion.
Erm. Well, I mean, there's a suicidal reaction in one of my earlier stories. o_o I think that Korra going batshit crazy after Asami's against ummm what's her face Anyu (totally didn't forget my OC's name for a second there), in Excelsior was definitely one of the worse ones, know, she kind of unhinges completely and just totally gets set on revenge. [Which I actually kinda thought was reflected a bit in to a (granted, rather lesser) extent in "Venom of the Red Lotus," after she thought Zaheer killed her father.] But also in Streetlight Walls (which is non-Avatar), because she just like. Thinks that she'll be happy, then feels nothing, then everything kind of falls into pieces from there.
Haha what's the worst reaction you've had from writing a death?
well, actually, IDK...give me a moment to check... hmm others have said "hot fucking shit". Also, "[...] But I'm horrified nontheless. I haven't read a story so horribly wonderful(or should I say "a story so wonderfuly horrible?") in a long time.

In a way, I'm sort-of glad that you've ended this the way you did; not settling for the typical happily-ever-after or coming up with a mediocre ending to make it more believable. Sure it's not everyones' cup of tea, but boy you don't shy away packing those punches(feels). I feel like I just downed a tall glass of bacardi in 1 go. If in case you haven't tried bacardi (which I encourage you NOT to), it tastes like gasoline(or how I think gasoline would taste like if I ever drink one)."
but I think your reactions will forever be my favorite

14) What's your *favourite* response? (and what stories are these on?) (and aww (^^#) why my reactions?)
lol those were on streetlight walls. All caps lock. emoticons. and I can't help but crazily laugh at them, I don't even know why o_o maybe it's because I know you. OH WAIT
"Pft. Was that it? I didn't even cry. *laughs hysterically* NOPE. NO TEARS AT ALL. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. Who the hell is peeling all these goddamn onions!?" "Which means that we are (completely) at your mercy, again. Would you believe that I'd double checked the tags after reading this chapter, I'm clutching in this small sliver of hope that this will have a happy ending."

15) What would you say to people who want to write a death scene but don't know how?
hmm.....................Practice? ^^" Just......Do it. You never know you can't do it until you've tried. And if you tried and you've thought, "Wow, this is crap," then keep on trying. Keep it, and then approach it a different way. For me personally, it's also kind of trial and error. I tend to agonize over death scenes in my mind and try to work out every detail (reaction, how, why, when, where, etc.) before I put them down on paper, whatever. Although this can get very tedious and I'm sure I'm 129% more psycho in the head because of it. (Oh, but definitely try and get a writing buddy. There's nothing better than a good writing buddy to bounce ideas and techniques off of, really. And you're not limited to talking about death scenes, either. :p) There's really no secret to writing these things, in my opinion. Try to develop your own style; refine it. ;p Search up techniques, if you have to and you're really in a rut. There are plenty of articles out there, I'm sure, about this kind of stuff.

16) Okay, what *shouldn't* people do when writing a death scene?
Don't do a death scene without a purpose. Because then what's the point of that? You write one to fulfill your sadistic urges and nothing else? "Oh, Mako died because I hate his eyebrows. : >" But no. That is not a valid reason. a) I don't understand how you could ever hate Mako's eyebrows, because they are the most redeeming quality he has, b) again, what purpose does that serve?

If you want to get him out of the way, send him off on some wild goose chase or something. Just don't kill him, because a meaningless death is the worst kind of death, a.k.a. like a deus ex machina. It just strips away all the meaning, and death is all about meaning. So don't ever kill characters for the sake of killing characters. Give a legitimate reason. Does it advance the plot in any way? Does it provide as a pivotal point for major character development? (Unless you're writing crack, in which I will say, go right ahead!)

17) Oh, um. Wow. Is there anything else you want to say?
ummm...This has nothing to do with writing death scenes, but don't ever be discouraged if you don't get any, y'know, reception. As in reviews, or comments, or whatever. And what I mean by this is, people will tell you all the time "oh don't write for other people, write for yourself". And alright, that's true. But, you know, we can be pretty big attention hogs. Who doesn't really want people to read their work, at least initially, and get feedback? (I think this sums it up nicely: ME: *wants people to read my fanfic* ME: *sees people are reading it* oh no *sweats* don't do that) So like. Don't sweat it. You'll get feedback in due time, and it doesn't always have to be in words. Just write, and have fun writing. Why else would you write in the first place?

So my point is, it doesn't matter how much feedback you get (...or lack thereof), just keep on trying. And then you'll get better, and more experienced and whatever with language, style, etc., etc. And everything will sprout from there. (That's all o_o) (did that even make any sense)

Yes that did. Thank you for being interviewed :) np :D it was fun~

Part the Second: Minnichi
1) How are you?
Hai there! I'm well-rested from a 4 hour nap, the night is young, and I'm totes ready to take on the next all-nighter. *Gives thumbs up* How about you?
I'm pretty awesome. Procrastinating an assessment to question you, so... :P Oh, Procrastination Nation. One of my favorite places! Dangerously addicting.

2) Okay, so, you've probably been made aware that it is Halloween, yes? So, I have to ask; what do you love most about it?
Yes indeed! Well actually, Halloween isn't normally something I pay much attention to every year nor dress up for, but in general I just like how colorful everything turns when any holiday season hits the stores :P Oh, and also the overwhelming abundance of discounted candy that suddenly appears.
Hooray. You on sugar. Just what we need. As if Halloween wasn't already scary enough D:
Getting an excuse to look either totally ridiculous, terrifying, or a mixture of both and not get funny glances in public is always fun though!
Do you go out and dress up, or just parade around your home in a Dai Li outfit?
No, me on sugar is a fun Dai Li agent. Taking the sugar /away/ from me, that's what you should be scared of o.o Well, I'd totally go for the parading if I actually had a quality Dai Li uniform. (Still learning how to work that sewing machine). I would parade both indoors and out with that epically cool uniform, who said I'd only go about it in my house?
You go trick-or-treating?
Used to. It's been a while... I buy my own candy now!

3) xD fair enough Okay, so, Halloween, though-
OH OH. I love making Jackolanterns. Just throwing that in there. Anyway yes, Halloween! XD Yes?
Murdering poor innocent pumpkins! D: Do you think about cutting a bloody swath in vegetables often?
They were dead the moment they were cut from their vines and left to rot in that vast pumpkin patch down my street O_O Totes not my fault they were cut off from their roots, it's an honor for them to be decorated and rot in style, I say :P I'm doing them a favor for their injustice! It's because of people like you that they're killed!
Well actually, I plan on smashing my jackolantern before it rots /too/ much and making a pumpkin pie. See, not completely wasted! Others would just trash them, mine gets the honor of being a delicious dessert :D I may be evil, but I never make death pointless ;) Which is kinda morbid, but well, yeah. *Whistles innocently while Yuhan glares at her*

4) I don't believe that you don't make your deaths pointless. So, prove it. Why do you kill people? What influences your decisions?
Hahaha, best question ever! The thing is, I try to view death as a consequence, not a goal. If it's in there, that's because it had to be - and no, "because someone has to die" isn't a good reason. In my case, it's circumstantial such as the stakes at play, the people involved, just things that coincidentally contribute to death being the likely outcome.

One example is Azula and traitors versus Zuko and traitors. If an author were to write for Zuko handling rebellions against him as Fire Lord, ordering death or anything terrible upon their loved ones would be considered more the author's personal want for it because for him that's out of character. One would raise an eyebrow though, if Azula was written to just let a traitor go peacefully without doing something horrible to them. Hint: My fanon has Azula :P

I think the most important factor is just looking at the story's environment in context though. If you know it's the type of setting, like a war or something, in which death is quite common, then you have to consider the reality and not exempt your characters from the same risks as other casualties

Overall it's just circumstances, which will always vary from fanon to fanon. It's a tough call to define when death is the most "realistic" option, but that's what I try to do.

In SHiE's case, it wasn't a matter of "HAHA OH YES Yuhan is so going to hate his life it's so awesome!!!" during any death planning that motivated me to introduce those traumas to him, but more like: "In a cold, cold organization that's cruel and heartless with a leader who kills people on the spot (Jet), an agent with dangerous inside information about the city will certainly have a very crappy time trying to get out and go noble".
... You are positively evil. Please tell me that you cry.
Yes, yes I do.

I actually did tear up writing the first death scene. It's the only time I cry though, when I first feel it :P Afterwards the revisions make me so used to it the feels give way to the amusement of watching others cry instead...ahem... Moving on xD

5) Oh dear. When you read death scenes, do you usually cry?
...I'll admit that they have to be written very, very well for that. There was this one author on, MasterFirebender84 - also one of my earliest death mentors - who specialized in such scenes and practiced them regularly. He made it a challenge to create the one oneshot that would finally shed an actual tear from me.

I will feel the emotions, but it takes a lot of them before they turn to tears. Oh, a Niagara Falls-face book for me is The Book Thief, I'll throw that out there. I got a lot of inspiration and kind of tried to figure out what it is Markus Zusak does with his descriptions that tear your heart open so easily. It naturally came down to being really good at making readers like the characters (thus, losing them is painful) and really, really capturing truly that horrifying reaction from the ones left behind. I don't think any other piece of writing has Niagara Falls-faced me like The Book Thief, to this day.

6) So, how much experience have you had killing characters? Is it something you just do for fun?
Well actually... Just two. If you look closely, you can actually notice the growth from the first death in SHiE, the one at the very beginning, to the second, the infamous one in the middle

The beginning one actually was less thought out initially, I was attempting my first fanfiction ever and in fact was in the "let's kill someone" mindset and justifying it with the Dai Li being cruel enough for that to be realistic anyway. It was the only time I thought death before the why. As the story progressed however I made a point to give it more meaning, and now that one death has become a much bigger influence than I'd actually planned for.

The middle one was not for fun whatsoever, nor was it fun at some point to rage over the agony of not getting the feels right. It's a relief when you finally manage to pull it together correctly, that's what I'd describe it as. Death scenes are actually quite intimidating to me o_O

And it's because when you remember that hey, a person is *dying* here and you have to capture the real seriousness of it all, you realize it's really REALLY hard not to sound like you're just milking the tortuous "his soul shattered into a million pieces" descriptions just for the heck of it. It's easy to write flowery, emotional descriptions of those moping over death, but difficult as hell to make your readers feel them too. Or even to make yourself feel them, as the first reader who needs to believe it.

7) Why death scenes? What makes them so powerful in a story (or so "let's not do that again")?
Regarding the why, as I said it's circumstantial. What I believe is that great stories with deaths aren't made so because of the deaths, but because the plot has the extremes and the highs and lows in variety, that sometimes inevitably calls for them, of a great story - if that made any sense. Also, I think death compliments love to become the two universal things that affect people the most.

I believe that nothing else receives such fear, dwelling, extremes, such peaks in emotions in general as those things that are influenced by death or love. What creates a lot of their power imo is also the fact that they're both things that don't tend to happen a lot. Something that is both rare and extremely emotionally respected, yet so mysterious and uncertain, is probably going to be very pivotal in a story. The moment they happen multiple times without originality is the same moment you take away that rare, once-in-a-lifetime factor.

8) What's the fallout if it's done incorrectly, do you think?
Mmm, well, it's hard to call a definite standard of "incorrect," but if it were me personally I would say that an author's blown it if they themselves can't feel what they're trying to describe. Powerful stories imo are those that can replicate the feelings we have in real life. Anything else may be good writing, but if it doesn't capture the way emotions are working in the real people reading it, then there will be no connection.

And as love and death are kind of fueled and strengthened by stronger connections between people, losing that factor is, in a way, pretty much taking away what makes them powerful in the first place.

Well, there's always the possibility of an author being a psychopath who doesn't feel but can understand the emotions of others, there's always that. (Hey you never know XD) Understanding how peoples' emotions work is the key in general. The story setting, characters, and setting may be as imaginative and bizarre as it gets, but I believe that at the core of every unforgettable story is still a constant element of realism: human emotions. Love and death are pretty much shortcuts to targeting them, hah.

Bah, there really is no "incorrect" per se. But there is definitely the possibility of not connecting to your readers and making your death scene/love attempt appear unnatural or meaningless to them, which doesn't do well for interest since people like reading what they can connect to, so I think it's safe to leave it at that instead.

9) So, what are some helpful hints with getting people to connect, and make the readers feel the emotions the author wants them to feel?
Hm, I think it makes a lot of sense to go with "If you can't relate to it, find someone who can." There are many things in a story that are easy to make real because you yourself have felt it before and can write straight from the raw emotions of your memories; the connection's still made because other humans don't feel them differently than you. If you know how to describe how your own anger feels, for instance, chances are you're describing how it feels for many others too.

The challenge is remembering though that while the emotions stay constant, the reactions to them vary from person to person, so you'd have to consider the character you're writing for at some point and what's in line with their given personality. What I find helpful is creating a hypothetical emotional challenge and just placing each type of character you know in that situation, and thinking out how each would react so you can have a personal mental reference to behavior patterns.

For things you have never experienced yourself, though, I think it's crucial to find something, somewhere, that's got it down. Either a story that's captured it, or even an account from someone in real life reflecting over their feelings about the kind of trauma you want to write. You use what you yourself know about emotions from experience, and learn to understand the ones you haven't experienced, and you're all set for any connection-building needs, I say!

And actually, a simple one is just: read. Read all the most awesome novels and works of writing you can, and you'll enjoy it for their epic-ness anyway! The more ways you yourself have been the one falling for story characters, the more ways you'll also see how to go about doing it.

10) So, what do you read that helps you with your writing? I haven't had time to read as much as I used to, but I really don't think my level would be anywhere near its current without the countless stories I've read in my lifetime; In elementary school, it was hundreds without exaggerating. I believe every single book will leave an impact on you, so the more the better. It's a collective influence, I would say. So... I guess my answer is: everything. As much as I can ^^

The world of books offers a collection of the great variety of emotions, personalities, and philosophies that exist out there, so the more you've read the more you know about people, really. At some point I would also say you can pick up the select group of things you notice in every book that stands out that tie them together, no matter how else they differ. Since the books that stand out are based on your preference, that right there is what's going to make your definition of "the best writing," which is unique only to you and will ultimately create your writing style. So answer 2 for this would be, it helps me to read anything that I personally find amazing, because that will always improve and inspire me as an author. Oh, and read The Book Thief. :P

11) So, you read a lot as a kid?
Yes... My parents contributed to an obsession with the Accelerated Reader program in because you're given a spiffy trophy for earning enough points from online quizzes for an approved list of books. Books could be worth anywhere between 0.5 to 50 points each, the higher numbers also correlating with the longest novels. I won the trophy for 500, and eventually left elementary with 900 points, so yeah, I did my fair share of reading as a kid @_@

12) what is the best/worst response you've ever had to killing someone?
Hmmm... The best response? XD Actually, bless his soul, I think Mageddon725's reaction made one of my proudest moments as an author. There was just something about how utterly desolate this one death in the story made him and how it just drained his hope for a happy ending that really told me I'd hit the emotional nail on the head. He forgot the story was even continuing for a moment in the despair... (Hi Mage, sorry 'bout that :P) Although ARG's R.I.P. speech in memory of the deceased comes pretty close to the best, too XD I just love when the peers you look up to are feeling the story exactly the way you imagined it!

Actually - I remember your reaction too. Dangit Frui, this is a tough call xD Though short and sweet, the fact that /you/ (points to collection of emotional-torture mastery) dropped your jaw and basically went "...YOU DIDN'T. NO. D':" really stood out to me. As for the worst response... I think it's those who focus more on trying to predict what happens next rather than the death itself.

Like all you hear is "I knew it would be this way!" instead of anything regarding the emotions and their impact on the reader - or really anything about connecting to the story at all ^^" This isn't to say that they didn't feel the emotions, but it does make one wonder if you wrote them poorly enough to be overshadowed by the obsession with predicting the plot.

13) What advice do you have for people who might want to write their own scene of killing a character?
1) Find a good reason for that character to die. Life is very valuable to people, so the loss of life should feel valuable as well. Whatever you do, make sure that death is important to the plot in some way.

2) Be in touch with both the dying character and those who are affected by the death. Know exactly how they feel to make those last seconds of life really count. The last thing you want to do is have someone pass on without an emotional trace. Even if it's a character who's indifferent to death, you should know how to elaborate that phenomenon and have a purpose for them being that way too.

3) Feel it! The feels, the feels...

(and yeah that's pretty much it)

14) What shouldn't people do when writing a death scene?
Have multiple ways that death could have been avoided. Trust me, the readers will know if it was unnecessary, especially if you're targeting a character they like. And of course, going on a killing spree in general. It really makes for a lesser impact the more you kill people and makes you look more like a morbid murderer cackling in the background as you toss carcasses back and forth.




  • The next contest prompt is NaNoWriMo! Good luck!

AWC: Halloween

Halloween. Ah, halloween. The only time of year that you can dress up as your favourite Disney Princess and wander around the streets and not be judged (and not have the police called because you're scaring the neighbours).

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to wander around the streets. I was sitting at my desk (well, my head was sitting on my desk. I was technically sitting at my chair), mentally counting down the moments until midnight and I could start my NaNoWriMo story, rubbing the circles under my eyes. I should have been working on my pragmatic assignment, but I couldn't work up the motivation. AvatarRokusGhost was thrumming softly on the table with his fingertips, and I would have thought he was asleep if it weren't for the movement..

We both sighed at the same time, as though our exhaustion would flow out with the breath.

See, the thing was, we both liked Halloween. He was dressed up as a viking-warrior mix. He had a shotgun and surprisingly bright purple pants. I was, naturally, Elsa. I had bought a pattern for $5 earlier that month and had spent my time making the costume. We had a bucket of candy in the middle of the table, but neither of us had touched it.

Neither of us really felt in the mood for it—halloween. The cobwebs in our office were real and we hadn't quite figured out how to get rid of the green lights, left over from her time Minnichi overthrew the newsletter. Also, creepy music; I think OR had left a mix tape of George Strait, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and rants about some politician in his home country. I don't know. It was sort of echo-y. Sort of... lonely.

Blinking slowly, I lifted my head up.

"Hey, ARG," I said, cocking my head. He gave a grunt in response, looking at me. "I know what this is missing." Of course, I was talking about something other than our empty in-box. Apparently, it used to be overflowing with submissions but now all it contained was a cockroach. The creature looked far too happy there, and so both of us left it.

Turning back to ARG, my only response was another grunt; nevertheless, I wasn't deterred. I knew he was interested, in his own way. We were just to tired to really make it sound like we cared.

"Where are the trick-or-treaters?"

He frowned at me, and there was an unsettling feeling in my stomach. After all, we'd bought all this candy and we had no one to share it with.

Standing up, we made our way to the front door, decorated with strategically-placed spiders webs and a fake hand, already grasping the knocker.

With a scowl, ARG flicked the front light on.

Suddenly, we were inundated with people. Some I recognised—Lady Lostris hadn't bothered dressing up. She did bring Kejeli out of his cage. Unfortunately, he was the less terrifying of the two as she swept down the streets in a blazing typhoon of fury.

"HOW DARE YOU HAND OUT SUB-PAR CHOCOLATE?!" she cried, and in a strange display, was actually giving the people in the houses candy. I surreptitiously kicked the kit-kats and snickers into the corner as she marched past, Kejeli padding along behind her. I guess they tag-teamed with the horror, because not five houses down, he was roaring at a poor new resident who had stuck horrifyingly low-quality pictures of his Korra in his front yard whilst she took their candy.

"ARG," I whispered, awestruck. "This is just what we need."

My eyes swept over several people who had begun to make their way up our path while his widened in understanding.

We grinned at each other. This would cure our loneliness.

As soon as the trick-or-treaters knocked on our door, we flung it open. Patiently waiting out the "trick or treat"s that came our way, we smiled demurely.

Well, I smiled demurely. ARG was eyeing the candy they already had—bright colours and strips and I think a couple were glowing. He was smiling hungrily.

My eyes raked over the costumes. Someone had dressed up in full Kyoshi attire; it was a rather stellar effort. I just wish the dude had shaved his whiskers first. At least they had been painted white, too. Someone else had come as a mosquito, and I was suitably impressed with the level of detail he added to his costume. There was even a bit of blood hanging from his... sucker-thing.

"Hey, nice costumes, guys!" I said, grinning. "Mind if I snap a picture?"

The trick or treaters looked at each other, shrugging. I walked back into headquarters, beckoning them inside. ARG closed the door behind them, trying to do it silently but, you know, halloween. All the creaks and heavy-door-slamming included.

Of course, they seemed sort of oblivious until we had travelled the entire length of the building and had found ourselves in the row of cells (I don't know what they were used for. I asked Minnichi once and she gave me an "ask Lostris" look and I just- nup. Not happening).

"Authenticity," I said. "It's halloween, after all."

ARG hadn't followed me down, so it was a bit of a struggle to lock them in. I finally managed to with help of an appropriately-placed sneeze and the flash from the camera.

They weren't too happy, understandably.

I found ARG in the meeting room, going through the candy bags. I was content to leave him until he began cackling maniacally and starting stringing up candy in patterns of three.

"ARG!" I cried. "That isn't your candy! Stop using it to feed your Candy Crush obsession."

He just gave me a look. "You just locked two trick-or-treaters in the dungeon," he told me, and I looked away. What could I say to that?

I was spared the chance to stand awkwardly without a retort by another knock at the door. Now, these people I recognised, and I couldn't help but grin.

"Hi, all!" I said as I opened the door. "Happy halloween!"

KMP, dressed as a kettle and holding a cast-iron pot to store his candy, just looked at me. Behind him was someone dressed as a ferret—unsurprising—and a... tap? "Hey, FireFerret. Water Spout."

"Fruipit," KMP grabbed my attention by using a pragmatic alerter. I got the sense he was fishing for something, but I couldn't really tell. "You should be trick-or-treating with us."

I shrugged, smiling. "We're trying to get out a halloween WLS," I told him. "How's the next issue of the BSST coming?"

He scowled at me. "It would come along better if you stopped fraternising with the enemy."

I sighed. "Look, it's halloween. Can't we just have a truce for the day? Do you want to come in for some pumpkin pie or something."

If anything, his grimace became more pronounced. "Going full American, are you? Abandoning your Australian roots? You disappoint me, Fruipit."

I rolled my eyes, and looked his costume up and down. He didn't need to say anything, and with a slight grumble, pushed his way past me.

It was far easier to get this lot into the cells. Water Spout was effectively helpless with his costume, and Fire Ferret had just received a notification telling her she had another follower on tumblr, and so was distracted just in time for us.

Now, KMP, he was the problem. I had watched Tangled often enough to know how dangerous a frying pan—or in this case, pot—was. Eventually, ARG wrestled it from him while I took pictures. I could pretend that it was because I wanted the flash to distract KMP, but really, it just looked ridiculous with them having at each other and I wanted to keep the memories.

"Now, work! Work, slaves!" ARG cried, slamming the door shut. The lock fell with an ominous click, and ARG and I brushed off our hands.

"Toph shelf," I said, and we shared a fist-bump.

The rest of the night progressed much like this. We were a little wary when Thailog came around, wondering if we had seen 888 or KMP because there was a coding issue with the Votes for Deletion page. ARG and I just shrugged.

"If we see him, we'll let you know," I said.

Our methods became a little less refined as the night progressed. The cells were filling up, and we were actually getting somewhere. There was a guy dressed like Winston Churchill, a cigar hanging from his mouth and a type of weapon in his hands. We didn't want to take any chances, so we just grabbed him and shoved him in the cell with someone dressed as Roger Ebert but carrying a book, and wielding a pen as though it were a sword.

It was getting close to midnight, and we were just about to go to bed, when a final knock at the door came. ARG and I looked at each other. We really didn't have a lot of space left, but we couldn't discount the opportunity.

As soon as we opened the door, we jumped them.

There was a scuffle, and some rather drunken swearing.

"Gosh dangit!" someone, a girl, said. I couldn't see much because there was a tassle in my face and the smell of underage drinking potent in my nose. I still recognised that voice anywhere. "Gerrof me!"

"... Minn?" I asked, standing up. "Wha- what are you doing here?"

She ignored me, pulling ARG off OR. "Trick or treating," she said, levelling a glare. "No one else was home."

My eyes widened and met ARG's for a brief moment. The action wasn't missed by Minn or OR, and the dressed-up president stepped forward.

"What did you do?" he demanded. Scary OR is scary, I though, grimacing as my stomach rolled. I turned back to ARG, but he was stuffing his face with candy was was unable to respond. Minn moved foward, pushing me out of the way. Even in the foyer, the pitiful cries of a few of the louder um.... prisoners.

She rounded on me, eyes blazing. "ARE YOU INSANE?!" she shouted, rushing off towards the cells. It was kind of ironic considering I had a sneaking suspicion that she was the one who built them in the first place.

"Minn! Wait!" I called after her. Unfortunately she was a marathon runner, and the only exercise I got regularly was walking from my desk to my fridge. Well, wheeling. The fridge was next to my desk.

She, naturally, ignored me, and I slid to the floor in an unfit mess of tears and hyperventilation.

When she returned, dozens of users in tow, I couldn't look at them. They marched past me, taking their candy in silence. Soon, only Minn and I were left. She kneeled down in front of me and I sniffled.

"It just gets so lonely here sometimes," I mumbled. "After you left it was like..." I let out another sniffle and didn't finish.

"Frui..." she sighed, "you can't kidnap people to work for you."

I looked up at her. "We were going to promote a couple as deputies!" I argued weakly. "They'd be allowed to wander around!"

She rolled her eyes. "It doesn't work like that. They have to actually want to do it. Maybe just... get the word out that you're looking for people to work for the Sentinel."

"Why'd you have to go?" I asked, not looking at her.

"You know why," she told me, smiling.

And then she was gone, and I was alone.


ARG wandered up to me shortly afterward, muttering something about scary presidents and election day. I don't know what he and OR talked about, but I didn't want to, either. We both let out a breath and looked at each other.

We both knew.

Finding new deputies would be terrifying.

❉ ❉ ❉ ❉


Hello, WLS readers! I speak to you today simply as an FRS reviewer presenting my submission for this issue. Kudos to our newsletter's two co-editors (and also my fellow FRS reviewers) for keeping this show going! Today I'll be rambling about the awesome work of an awesome author, namely Excelsior by Sparkstoaflame. She very much deserves this newsletter feature, and I invite you all to join me in fangirling over her authorship!

She can't—she refuses—to live in a world where the girl with emeralds for eyes is dead. So she makes a bargain with a monster of a spirit, who takes away everything she has in return for an empty soul.

This gem of a fanon is...breathtaking, to say the least. That's the first word that comes to my mind, and I'm sure it won't be the last that comes to yours once you read it! Let's see what this fan of Sparks has to say about the writing.

The Scores
  • Plot - 9.0: The plot is genius. I love the combination of both canon and the author's own ideas, and the story never fails to give an honorary tribute to the familiarity of the show. What I believe was missing some elaboration was the relationship between Vaatu and the alternate universe ordeal. He's a very central part of the story as the sort-of antagonist and cause of many terrible things, and I'd like to hear more about his side of things as well as the details of his demise. I would also like to hear more about the connection between the universes and why some memories transfer over despite Vaatu very purposely wanting to torment Korra by keeping them out. The concept of the universes and Vaatu's power in general I think is what's missing the most elements here, but overall the plot was a refreshing burst of emotion and creativity that one doesn't see every day! Love it.
  • Organization - 7.5: This is probably the one area that took away most from the fanon's potential. I love the abstract style that Sparks has going on, I really do, but there comes a point where both the scene and sentence fragments can clutter up the chapters and create a disruption in the emotional flow. I would advise the author to let the readers experience a complete thought every now and then, something that lets their feelings go full circle to really make the most of the impact you have on them. The ideas and the descriptions themselves are amazing and overflowing with quality, but breaking them apart to this extent can interrupt the feels more than you think.
  • Creativity - 9.2: Excelsior's creativity was its selling point, if you ask me. It put a twist on things that really wowed me, and I simply have to applaud the author for that. The only places I can think of where the creativity lacks a little are the details of Asami's death and again, the lack of elaboration on the whole alternate universe thing. I understand that some things are better left vague to fit the style of the story, but having big things happen without much discussion makes for a less unique idea. The two examples that come to mind when I say this are how and when Korra arrived in the new universe, and how exactly Asami fell into the pit at the end of the UnaVaatu events. The two events are a bit too major to happen as plainly as they did - and I don't mean their execution, but how they were introduced - and I would like more elaboration on what exactly led to it. Other than that, this author has a golden imagination brimming with brilliant ideas. Ya don't wanna miss it!
  • Writing – 9.0 (x3): This writing is phenomenal. Reeled me in from the start, and I didn't take a single reading break til I was all the way through and getting ready for this review! Wow! Now, since this is a review I'm going to have to pick at some things, but before we get to that the author should just know that I'm officially her huge fan. Anyway, the deduction stems mainly from the fragmentation that I mentioned earlier, which really can throw off the reading experience when used to a certain extent. Aside from that though, I noticed that there are such nice buildups of emotions that end up getting dispelled somewhat by the use of oddly casual summarizing terms; to list some examples, there was one that described Korra as a "selfish jerk" in the first chapter and then another instance where an intense moment of interaction was summarized as "last night's make-out session." I think that the intensity of the scenes these terms described should better match the word choice, as you don't want the effect you created to be lessened. But in a nutshell, Sparks isn't an author you'd want to forget in the fanon portal! Watch out for this pro.
  • Character Development - 8.7 (x2):I love the interactions between the characters, but there was one particular element that I found really odd that was missing: how Korra and Asami ever became an item in the first place. I believe that what they had in the past is just as important to describe as anything in the current. It's like you feel how strong the love is but you aren't quite told what made it so invincible; what is its history? I want to know more about the promises and secrets shared in the past than just the snippets of quotes and memory fragments in italics, and I feel like their relationship is missing that little piece to feel complete. Keep in mind that this critique is very much pickiness on my part though; I'm pretty sure there aren't a lot of authors who can pull of character development like this one!
  • Believability – 9.0: I can see all this happening without much problem. My deduction comes from that simplicity I mentioned about things "just happening," like Korra waking in the other universe or Asami falling into the pit. If left unelaborated, you leave those things much room for readers to question, especially if they preferred another outcome. Be careful not to have an ending that "can't be sunshine and rainbows" just because you willed it so; making it realistic is more than just making sure it's not sunshine and rainbows, but explaining exactly what took away the light and how it was inevitable. You should be aware that there also exists a parallel "not every ending has to be doom and gloom" to avoid, so sufficient elaboration on the why's is key to making sure whatever level of "happiness" you choose for the outcome feels natural.

Overall Score: '8.79

My advice for Sparkstoaflame: Let the readers see your complete ideas every now and then and tone down on the fragments, and always be careful of your word choices. You're one heck of an author!

Who should read Excelsior? Fans of Korrasami for sure, and anyone looking for inspiration to write about the grief of losing your soulmate :'(

FRS Review - Sparkstoaflame's one-shots, by Sparkstoaflame: Part 1

Hey there. ARG here, ready to review Sparkstoaflame's one-shots, by Sparkstoaflame! Already well-known on here for the consistent quality and creativity in her work, she selected a tremendous variety of material in what she chose to submit for review. Following in the tradition set by Fruipit's first fanon review, I will be reviewing each one-shot individually, as well as together. These have been a blast for me to read, but I while I have my ideas down, I haven't quite finished reviewing all of them. Having two jobs and having gotten sick once or twice this season hasn't helped. I thank Sparks for her patience and having delayed her long enough, and coinciding with the WLS issue release time, I decided to divide her review into parts and release Part 1 now, which will include In Pursuit of Perfection, Breathe and Our chemicals, they react. The yet-to-be-released Part 2 will comprise of my evaluation of Answering Machine, When You Come Home and the collective scores of all five one-shots. In fact, this may be for the best, as twenty-four categories and scores is already fairly long for an article/post, let alone fourty-eight. With that said, let's dig in!

In Pursuit of Perfection

Wherein Azula is a famous painter, Aang gets unwillingly dragged into all the chaos, and Zuko tries to play matchmaker but fails, horribly.

Plot - 9.3: Here we have an AU story in a place very much like the real world where Azula is a talented artist who strives toward her art in the same manner in which the Azula we all know strives toward her firebending. Meanwhile, Zuko is her well-meaning sibling, Ozai is putting constant pressure on Azula to crank out more masterpieces and Aang is another art enthusiast who develops an unlikely relationship with our protagonist. This is an unfamiliar setting in more ways than one. Besides the obvious change of scenery, we never found Azula meeting Aang at the height of her craze, and Zuko wasn't on good terms with Azula at the same time, but such deviations are to be expected from AU. The pace of the plot sped up and slowed down at times, but it was in relatively careful moderation and not once did I click away from the page.

Execution - 8.9: This starts out like a second person piece where the reader is being spoken "to" by the author and gradually introduced to the version of Azula in the story. Then, at one of the stylistic "breaks" that have come to characterize Sparks's writing, it morphs into a more standard present tense narrative, with the voice of the piece and the main character firmly established. Even if you're not used to this sort of change-around, it's a good transition into the greater story, where most of the turning points are handled in good progression. However, other parts didn't quite fit as much. For instance, several paragraphs later the story says "to be honest" during the narration to emphasize a point. As said before, I have nothing inherently against that, but while at the beginning it was a smooth intro, here it was more of a reminder that we're being told a story and a knock-back to reality. In the end, it's not whether a particular writing technique is good or bad, but whether it serves the story at the time it's employed.

Proper Writing - 8.5: It's pretty clear that Sparks knows how to write and is pretty versed on the rules of writing. Reading through her work it's not very often that I come across a hiccup or bump in the road. Almost every writer has some slips with grammar/spelling/etc. when writing something the first time around, but it's essential to iron them out later on, such as with misplaced commas and punctuation. Commas should pretty much never come in the middle of a continuous phrase or statement. The majority of the piece was spotless though.

Creativity - 9.2: Inserting familiar characters into new scenarios is pretty common, but it's another thing entirely to take it in an appropriate direction that both takes us somewhere we've never been before and fits the characters we recognize from the show in that situation so well. This one-shot is pretty creative in its own right. It has twists and turns that will knock the wind out of the reader. My reviews are of course spoiler-free, but you won't regret reading it for this. It's not the most original of ideas, as I've seen more creative ones out there, but it doesn't disappoint.

Description of Action - 9.1: The statements in motion about what's going on in the story are neither the most complex nor the most simple. Rather, they have a fairly visible amount of description and these statements come alive mostly in the way that they're woven together in relation to one another. Most of the description, such as when we're getting to know Aang, was spot-on and not too much or too little. The deduction came from places where this style seemed to break and run-on sentences either stretched overly long or left the reader with a dangling uncertainty. This can be fixed through wrapping everything together a little more closely, so the piece as a whole flows well.

Description of Setting - 9.7: For someone who knows absolutely nothing about the field of professional art or painting in general (in her own words), Sparks succeeded in fooling me. Her words made me feel right at home in Azula's environment. As a well-known writer's meme goes, "show, don't tell". On the other hand, there was a couple times where she told in a place that showing would have been more beneficial, such as when she described Azula as being sociopathic. Telling at the right moment and for the right purpose can be fine, but there wasn't any extra impact that came along with it, and there was no real reason to outright tell the reader when you're already so good at showing. In face, you did show it, too, but you told it first. It may sound like I'm nitpicking, but being straight-out told something so pivotal and so early in the story takes a lot of the fun away. Like I said, you're already well-versed in showing instead of telling, so essentially what I'm asking is more of what you're already doing elsewhere.

Realism - 8.9: This was pretty believable, not from an "everyday" standpoint, as the characters did not all behave like normal people would ordinarily act. However, it's a fact that a lot of people are not normal, and they are just as real as their typical counterparts. Furthermore, the characters match up pretty well with their counterparts in the show, so it's not difficult to picture them standing side-by-side. The deduction of this category comes from some parts that weren't as believable, such as how Aang accepted being dragged into Azula's sphere so easily. Despite what should have been clear warning signs for him, he seemed to adapt to his new role unnaturally quickly.

Character Development - 9.0: To sum it up, Azula is the star of the show. This is her story. And yes, Aang comes into the picture too, and stays in there as much as she will allow. Zuko wasn't as important later on, but with Aang we got his initial thoughts on Azula and her art and then he went to a deeper level later on. But the most fascinating character of all with the best development is of course, Azula (refer back to the execution and creativity sections.) Most of the other characters weren't really much of a presence. For instance, it would have been nice to see more of Zuko. WIthin this environment in contrast to Avatar: The Last Airbender, he was further along in maturity, and that should naturally translate into trying to be more of a positive presence in Azula's life, despite how dangerous that may be.

SCORE: 9.08

Constructive Criticism: Play up your strengths, keep describing and wrapping thoughts together the way you're already doing, and double-check everything again at the end.

To whom I would recommend: Anyone who wants to read a story about Avatar: The Last Airbender characters and is open to a unique take on them.


By this point, my beheading will only be a mere technicality.

Plot - 8.9: That first sentence on the page made me raise an eyebrow from the start, and the plot kept my attention the whole way through. Granted, this was a shorter piece, but still, mission accomplished in that regard. There was an uprising against Fire Lord Sozin during the early years of the war and they didn't do so well, as they're on the way to their beheading, one at a time. The setup is not completely original. On the other hand, it's an interesting way to catch a glimpse of who these members of the Phoenix Rebellion were, and it goes without saying that the essential tension is present.

Execution - 9.5: For a story about a character approaching their own death sentence, I must say, this is well-executed indeed. Heh, executed, get it? Alright, enough of the bad puns, let's get on with the fanon review. After the setting of the story is introduced, the characters are introduced one-by-one. The announcer introduces them, we see them for a time and then their sentence is carried out. Our narrator is behind them, taking a step forth each time. The story is dark and rhythmic and that seems perfectly appropriate. The minor deduction was that some of the characters it felt like we didn't know well enough. Sure, the piece is meant to be on the surface level. The only reason I brought this smaller point up was there wasn't much else to deduct for in this category.

Proper Writing - 6.9: There weren't an overwhelming amount of mistakes, but I did notice some, basically with hyphens and spaces. There was another with the form of one of the words which it felt should be "seeing" rather than "see". Since that might've been intentional and the word preference there was potentially subjective, I can overlook that one. Still, these errors stand out a little more when the story is shorter.

Creativity - 8.7: This kind of story with characters slowly approaching their own death is one that has been seen before. The backstory around the beginning of the Hundred Year War and the personas of the individual characters stood out. So even through this type of story itself isn't the most creative, Sparks does a good job making it stand out with her own perspective and style.

Description of Action - 8.8: The setting is where the power lies in this story as there's not a whole lot of actual action taking place. Most actions that the characters did take was described well, though.

Description of Setting - 9.5: One of the best things about Sparks's writing - and this is neither the first nor the last time I bring this up while reviewing these one-shots - is that none of the words or sentences feel like they're standing alone. No words are wasted, and that is something which embodies and defines good writing. Each of the words and phrases works toward a common goal and is connected. And in Breathe, the atrocity of the Fire Lord's government and the reality of impending doom resonates throughout. Repeating familiar phrases was a nice touch for this story. There were only a few things which didn't quite add up. For instance, if this is the time of Fire Lord Sozin and Crown Prince Azulon, how does the narrator know that the war will last for exactly a century?

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