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Part IV

One of the most interesting examples of switching stories has been John Biles' releases to the FFML. As the author of Dance of Shiva, he has already begun to release another story within his mega-crossover continuity: Black Moon Rising; but after 6 chapters intermittently to the ML, he has also taken to writing a crossover between Marmalade Boy and Sailormoon: Marmalade Moon. Biles, like Chris Davies, has tended to have several story projects going at once.

Chris Davies' Together Again: 1996 Chapter has finally finished its release to both the ML as well as the archives, but during the writing, we have also seen teasers from: Bubble Gum Chakram (A BGC/Xena/TA continuity crossover) -- two parts; Further Adventures of Sheila Tenkai -- two parts; The Infinite Future (A SM/MKR crossover) -- one part; and numerous teasers.

One might argue that both Biles and Davies are epic writers (Andrew Huang refers to a Biles as an epic ^_^) but even series writers and prose writers will often have several story projects continuing. Certainly, Amanda 'Greenbeans' Anderson has not only seen the beginnings of a new mid-length prose work, but also the release of Deserving, The Trouble with Kittens, and Memoirs of a Daimon. As well, the release of several shorter vignettes: with Elisabeth 'Ophelia' Hegarat - Outer Senshi versus the Starlights and the Revenge of the Plushies.

Professor Washuu will be giving a brief lecture on some rudimentary concepts within fanfiction writing and the different formats of the stories that appear within various archives.

I'll describe epic, vignette and prose within the context of the writings mentioned. Epics tend to be long stories, measuring in size from one hundred pages (standard format) and up. Recognized epic stories include: John Biles' Dance of Shiva, Ken Wolfe's Secrets, and Tim Nolan's End of the Beginning. Epics are not only recognized single stories, but the impact they carry, tend to span over several stories. All three epics mentioned have stories that form part of the greater diaspora that is the world these writers have created.

Biles' Dance of Shiva has four major storyline fusions: Bubblegum Crisis, Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, as well as Mobile Police Patlabor; this does not include the numerous cameos and minor roles that other anime stories play. It also pulls in stories from his own works: including Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Z, and Ranmapunk 2033.

Ken Wolfe's Secrets is the temporary conclusion of his five story set -- which included: The Four Horsemen, Frozen Time, Kiss of the Enemy, and Under a Cloud. Wolfe has weaved a complex universe which is set within the anime context. Establishing the Senshi that we know and love, he has proceed to look at differing aspects of their lives and the effect that being a Senshi has exacted.

Epics tend to carry more of a moralistic bent than other stories -- with underlying themes and recurring events. Epics can be either in the form of prose (with different distinguishing features) or else poetry. Popular themes always include: life and death, love and hate ... classic themes. Epics are interesting to read, simply because anime is a wonderful vehicle to explore the emotions -- the plentiful archetypical heroes (and heroines) and villians play out the different stories within life.

As epics become the stage for a storyteller, vignettes are a diametric opposite. Vignettes are short 'glimpses' within a continuity or a character study. They allow a brief glance into a character's motives and thoughts -- but enough that we develop a sense of what drives this character.

Poetry and prose tend to be relative terms in fan-fiction writing. Prose entails structure (including punctuation) to sentences, and paragraphs. Poetry can also be structured, but not always. Classical poetry has tended to embody structure, i.e., iambic pentameter, but modern poetry has stepped beyond these limitations.

Even when a writer temporarily stops working on a main story and instead chooses to write a different concept, it does not mean that the main idea has been abandoned. Working on a new or different story means that the author is given an opportunity to view an idea in a novel situation, perhaps leading to a 'link' into the original story. For example, Davies had sent out a teaser of a SM/MKR story in February and that formed a basis for Infinite Future -- a story that is perfectly at home in Davies' SM universe.

Why do I refer to it as being Davies'SM-verse? Every author's view of the events within Sailormoon (regardless of whether it is the original or the North American version) differs. Davies has taken key events within the five seasons and presented an 'alternative' to the canon -- something that has spawned a mega-crossover: Together Again (or as Davies sees it: My Personal Anime Crossover From Hell). Similarly, other authors have taken different views towards character behaviours and relationships.

  • Stay in character, or give a good reason why.

    Anderson writes:

    Unless it is a parody fanfic or taking place in an alternate universe, the characters should be acting as expected. To have Ami suddenly becomes a flirt or Haruka being timid without a good reason will turn people off from the story. It's much like giving your own characters the names of the Sailor Moon characters when you don't have them performing in expected ways.

    One of the hottest debates that has been raging in the newsgroup and 'Net community has been the concepts and importance of recognition of plagiarism. What does plagiarism have to do with characterization ? Much! The beginning of the 1998 year saw a flurry of news threads that were dealing with not only the plagiarism of a well recognized Sailormoon Fan-Fiction site: A Sailor Moon Romance; but also the plagiarism of a fairly known fan-fiction author: Jennifer Wand.

    Professor Washuu pulls out the dictionary:

    Plagiarism: that act or an instance of plagiarizing => 1. take and use (the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person) as one's own. 2. pass off the thoughts etc. of (another person) as one's own.

    --Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition, 1995

    How can I claim that someone has plagiarized Ms. Wand? I cannot state this lightly, however, the 'suspect' in question: Anya Romanov had initially claimed to have written Reaching for Your Star prior to the release of Ms. Wand's work: Yaten's Love Song; later, that claim was retracted in preference for a claim of authorial and creative priority, as in, Ms. Anya had written the ideas prior to Ms. Wand, and thus, she asking for a removal of Yaten's Love Song from the major SM fanfic archives.

    Even before the 'mud-fest' in the newsgroup occured, I had read a copy of Ms. Wand's story, Yaten's Love Song (hereafter referred to as YLS) from the archives for A Sailor Moon Romance in March. I would stress that in the view of the international common law, the first published and time/date stamped copy of an original piece of writing (regardless of origin -- i.e., fanfic or original story) will be held as having author priority and concept copyright seniority.

    An example might be, I could write a story about Haruka dying in a car crash -- spectacular drive off a cliff...into a sea of fire...and whatnot. And Michiru could suddenly decide to pitch herself into the same sea (because she couldn't bear to be separated from Haruka). No matter how cliché the story, if I print out a copy and sent it back to myself (via the postal service) then the sealed copy would have a date and time stamp on the top. This is also known as the Poor Man's Copyright. Similarly, when we extrapolate these rules into 'Net-publishing and posting, we look at the time stamps for posting to the newsgroup and/or to web pages. Regardless of the actual dates for writing and synthesis of concepts, Ms. Wand had a copy of the story on her site, for the sake of comparison on an equal footing.

    Comparison based upon one piece of writing (or even, one story) is insufficient. Ms. Anya has only one other piece of writing posted at any archival site (or web-site for that matter): Sailor Moon Z. Of note, there are four known series which include the title: Sailor Moon Z. The recognized series include: Sailormoon Zodiac by Janelle Jiminez; Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Z by John Biles and Jeffrey Hosmer; Sailor Moon Z by 'Oscar Martinez' -- the infamous writer of Artemis' Lover -- a single story that started the MiST history of anime fan-fiction.

  • Be your own man/woman.

    To get a fair indication of the storylines written of; what styles have been used; what plot holes remain gaping wide...I suggest reading the available fan-fiction through the archives, sites, and downloads. "Tuxedo" Will Wolfshohl mentions that a potential fan-fiction writer should read at least 25 fan-fiction stories before embarking on a journey of writing. Reading not only fan-fiction but 'non-fan' fiction will mean that you are not only absorbing writing styles and ideas of what draws you to a story (if reading 'regular' fiction) but also to see how ideas are developed.

    No author writes in isolation; this is true for fan-fiction as well as others. No driver would ever enter the road without familiarizing thenmselves with the vehicle and road conditions; the story is both, to paraphrase McLulhlan, the medium and the message. The way that you tell the story is just as important as the story that you tell. An excellent example is Chris Davies. His Together Again stories are not only written in a script format (film-like, complete with entrance and exit instructions to the scenes) but also in a reverse order.

    One might question whether Davies has spoiled his story if he starts from the very end... I would say NO! Davies has established his universe in such a manner that we know the general details of what has transpired, but none of the specifics...making for an intriguing story when he does get around to writing the 'past' so-to-speak.

    <= Go Back to Part III || Continue to Part V =>

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