Author has written 25 stories for Super Smash Brothers, and Freedom Fighters.
(QUICK NOTE TO PEOPLE I REVIEW (they won't see this)! SOMETIMES I AM HARSH, IF I POINT OUT PROBLEMS WITH YOUR STORY IT MEANS I THINK YOU SHOULD WORK ON THEM, NOT DELETE THE WHOLE STORY! IT MAKES ME FEEL BAD TO REVIEW A STORY AND SEE IT GET TAKEN DOWN THE NEXT DAY!)
This profile is a rough draft of essays related to fanfiction, which don't fit into any particular story. I may often times end up talking out of my ass. I may often times fail to write in an effective essay style. It is mostly for me to put my thoughts down, though I may attempt to polish and rework these essays over time.
WHY I LOVE FANFICTION:
Fanfiction. What does that word invoke in the mind of people? Fat sweaty geeks in the basement of their mother, obsessing over the details of some old show they appear to take way too seriously. We do not have a positive image. Normal people, we are told, do not care about the romantic interest of minor characters in a work of fiction. Normal people, we are told, do not care about the "what if"s and "what happened next"s that fanfiction so frequently delves into. Normal people are far too busy with their regular lives to devote so much time and attention to the non-canon supplements and possibilities that are left open to interpretation from canon sources.
And yet, I contend, if anyone is an avid reader and fan of a work, fanfiction is only a natural hobby. What makes writing it a less ideal hobby than golf? What makes reading the "what if"s of a professional work of fiction any more demeaning than reading that work of fiction from which the fanfiction was spawned? Do the professional Halo books deserve scorn? Why then are they often times held up as one of the best book series based on a video game? Do the Star Wars novels deserve scorn, when the Thrawn trilogy easily launched the Star Wars expanded universe and likely did as much as, if not more than, the original movies to turn the franchise into a mainstay of science fiction?
Halo: Fall of Reach, and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic both owe their existence to written stories based on their established universes. Mainstream fans owe some of their most critically acclaimed works to what was, in essence, fanfiction.
While this may answer the question of why fanfiction shouldn't be scorned, it doesn't quite explain why I love it.
What do I really want? I want an expanded Harry Potter universe. I want the Star Wars universe to keep expanding. I want to see the stories I love continue to grow as its fans point out the subtle details and expand on WHY things are happening the way they are.
I love Harry Potter, and I've read the whole story several times, watched the movies, and read plenty of discussion about what was going on. Now what? I want to know what happens to Albus Potter. I want to know what happened with the founders. I want to know just what happened during the 20th century that caused the wizarding world to be the way it was. As a fan, I am fascinated by the opportunities there are here.
I love Fire Emblem, and I've played the games multiple times. I've read plenty of discussion about the stories, which are, admittedly, ridiculously stupid. But Fire Emblem has so much to it that is interesting and fun. The universe is there, why rely on the bland cliche stories provided in the game? Why not take that universe, with all its potential, and make something amazing?
And that's where fanfiction shines, and that's why I love it so much. The universes I love never die, they evolve, and they change, and the greatest stories become centerpieces around which a whole world can exist.
ON HARRY POTTER COMMENTARIES/HARRY POTTER READS HARRY POTTER:
It's a fun enough concept. It really is. The thing is that tons of people have done it. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't do it. That means you have to know what your competition is doing and beat them out.
This is where you have to avoid some of the common pitfalls that make this genre fail hard. I am going to list the top (abstract number) most annoying cliches in "Harry Potter reads Harry Potter" stories!
1.) Everyone completely agrees with Harry Potter, and is entirely sympathetic with him the whole way through.
Seriously, is that good writing? What if I wrote a story where the hero is always right, and everyone always admits the hero is right after the hero gives a brief explanation? Would you honestly want to read that?
No, stop lying, you wouldn't. So why would I want to read your commentary if it's just a group of Harry's friends sitting around him, and after every single line they say "Oh Harry! You were so right! I can't believe how terrible that person is treating you! You did your best! We love you because of the great things you are doing! Even when you make a mistake we completely understand! Let's give you a blowjob while you keep reading this story to us!"
I don't need to read about Harry Potter being given a blowjob! That's not why I read Harry Potter reading Harry Potter. If I wanted that, I'd go to my local market and buy some lemons.
2.) People know what is going to happen way before any reasonable person could guess.
Great examples of this include: "There's a cat reading a map? That MUST be McGonagall!" "Vanishing glass? That must mean accidental magic!", "Green light? That must mean you survived the killing curse!", and "Your scar hurt when you looked at him? He was obviously Voldemort!"
You know hindsight is 20/20, and you read the book. You shouldn't let that influence your characters. I know it's difficult, but writing a good Harry Potter reads Harry Potter story is like writing anything else - freaking difficult.
But let's look at each example I gave, and explain why someone shouldn't be able to guess it so easily.
Owls, rats, snakes, and plenty of other creatures have demonstrated magical ability. A cat reading a map might not even be an animagus, it could be a witch's or wizard's familiar! Think about how many of your so-called friends own cats. How many squibs become crazy old cat ladies? This IS a possibility that shouldn't be so easily discounted by witches and wizards! McGonagall might very well be the only cat animagus (considering how small the community is, she could easily be the only one in Britain). I can cut you some slack for McGonagall. Still, it's like people guess it when the only thing mentioned is that there was a cat. They didn't have any other thoughts on the matter, as soon as they heard the word cat, they thought about McGonagall.
Do I need to go into a rant about how vanishing glass can mean all sorts of things? For one, it's the title of the second chapter. As far as readers are concerned, Harry might very well know he's a wizard. It could be accidental magic, or it could be a magical object that does some kind of trick. It could be someone else who knows how to do some kind of trick. Hell, it could be some muggle magician doing some kind of slight of hand and causing the illusion of a vanishing glass! There's all sorts of possibility here! When has someone ever been able to read such a random title and then guess what the chapter would be about?
A memory of green light doesn't need to mean killing curse. First of all, there's floo powder, which creates green flames. In fact, we learn about floo powder before we learn about the killing curse, and so there was good reason back then for the astute reader to think that green flash was a reference to the floo network being involved in what happened to Potter's parents! But even then. Let's say we dismiss floo powder. Okay, so Harry has the memory of a bright green light. Why does that need to mean he was hit with the green light? His parents died. We know his parents were killed. Why shouldn't the green light just be a memory of his parents being killed? Of course, I wouldn't be outraged if people worked out that Harry was hit with the killing curse. It just bugs me that they immediately have it all worked out the second they read about Harry seeing a flash of green light. It's like they didn't even have to think about it! They already knew!
3.) People demanding explanations mid-sentence.
"Who are they?"
"I'm getting to that."
"Why can't you tell me NOW?"
Seriously, you're reading a book. The book is going to explain things. How about, instead of wasting so much time interrupting the reading of the book, you just pay attention and let it be explained to you?
Now, if someone doesn't know what a car is, that's fine. If someone has no idea what all this muggle technology is, that's fine. If someone wants to know what happens next, well, then why are they preventing the reader from reading what happens next?
It makes a character sound whiny when they want everything explained to them in simple terms, refusing to let the book reveal things dramatically. If you want your character to sound whiny, then go ahead.
4.) Everyone's emotions being as unstable as a coked up teenager on her first period.
One paragraph Harry is feeling bad about something. The whole room is full of despair! Oh, it's like the world could just end at any moment! Oh how could Harry possibly live with the fact that he needs to do homework? Oh he has homework and quidditch practice! What will he ever do? How did he ever survive? The world is a cruel and hopeless place!
The next paragraph a joke is told. The whole room fills with laughter. Truly there has never been a joke so original and spot on! Nobody can help themselves! The most stoic and hard-nosed professors are rolling on the ground, wetting themselves, at the pure greatness that was Harry's quip.
The next paragraph Harry and Ron smile at each other. Oh the power of friendship! Oh what a glorious thing it is! They'll be friends forever! They look at each other and smile! They reassure each other that they've always been best mates, and that they're not going anywhere! It's such a heartwarming tender moment!
Seriously? Come on. Not every event, good and bad, needs to have your readers taking it to the nth degree. It's hard to read a chapter that way without emotional overload, at which point none of it means anything. The high points in drama aren't high points if every single point is forced to its extreme. Eventually, what's supposed to be the climax is just the same as everything else. It all becomes banal.
5.) Every possible bit of tension is resolved by a bland explanation as soon as it's brought up.
Oh, so you see these very different people. Oh wait, no, they all have the exact same belief set as you do. Oh, everyone was just trying to be good. Is there a misunderstanding? Let's go into simple explanations (that aren't canon compliant) about what we were REALLY doing.
Draco and Ron can be best mates! All it takes is a couple lines of them talking!
Severus and James are bros. They just needed to read Harry Potter together, read the first few paragraphs, and then talk to each other for a few minutes. That's really all it takes!
Slytherin himself would get along swimmingly with George Weasley.
Bellatrix and Molly would be BFFs if only they could talk to each other for five seconds!
It's effective when you have two enemies who really aren't very different. The thing is, that only remains effective if they're enemies. Once they become friends -- especially if they become friends in such a contrived manner -- there's really nothing deep or poetic or beautiful about the situation. You just have two people who had a misunderstanding and are now pals. That journey makes for a good story. Once they're pals, you've wasted your dramatic storytelling potential.
If, over the journey of reading this story together, James and Severus become pals, then you're doing something. But it has to be something that takes place throughout the story, it can't be some contrived few lines in the first or last chapter.
6.) Characters completely miss the point of the book!
Which means the person writing the Harry Potter reads Harry Potter story doesn't understand what's going on. I notice this in the same places, especially when there's irony, sarcasm, or hidden motives.
A great example occurs in the first chapter of the first book. When Mr. Dursley is talking to Mrs. Dursley. The excerpt is as follows.
"Their son -- he'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't he?"
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.
"What's his name again? Howard, isn't it?"
"Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me."
"Oh yes," said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. "Yes, I quite agree."
Now what's happening here? Mr. Dursley is hoping that all the weird events don't have anything to do with the Potters, and hopes that the name he heard was the incorrect one.
So he's starting up this fake line of conversation fishing for an answer. He's hoping to hear that the boys name is Howard, or Harvey, or anything but Harry. When Mrs. Dursley tells him the name is Harry, his heart sinks horribly, as his fears are confirmed.
How do people interpret it? They interpret it as Mr. Dursley not knowing Harry's age. Now, while this isn't a crime, it still outrages people. They're outraged over something that's blatantly incorrect. Mr. Dursley knows Harry's age, he's just starting this line of conversation trying to be casual. Trying to get information without his wife becoming suspicious.
They also interpret it as Mr. Dursley actually thinking Harry's name is Howard. While Mr. Dursley isn't entirely sure about the name, he does think it's Harry, he's just not quite sure. He's really just hoping to get a different answer.
So people start interpreting this scene way too literally and thinking all sorts of terrible things about it.
7.) My mom. Seriously guys, stop putting her in your fanfiction. It's getting distracting. I'd like to read ONE Harry Potter fanfiction where I don't suddenly feel compelled to fap.
ON SLYTHERIN HOUSE
Oh man. This is the pit of fanfiction right here. So many people have so many thoughts on this matter. So many people's ideas are blatantly false. In fact, I almost suspect, after reading the fanfiction here, that the majority of Harry Potter fans have no idea what the actual point of the story was. I'm also beginning to wonder if they even know what the plot was.
Slytherin house. They're the bad guys right? WRONG! Now, to be fair, J. K. Rowling didn't exactly do a very good job at the end in getting her point across. You see, the idea was that Snape and Slughorn and the Malfoy's were supposed to come around at the end and be good guys, and help fight the death eaters, and prove that Slytherin can be heroes too. The problem is that every single one of these people comes around for selfish reasons. Even in their "redemption" they are greedy conniving assholes.
You can agree or disagree about that, of course. Some people think Snape was just a big ol' softy on the inside. But you can't deny that it's easy to take all three of their stories and reduce it to greed. Snape: wanted Lily. Slughorn: wanted to be comfortable. Malfoy's: wanted to remain together. Did any of them care about the greater good? No. They were all selfish. Their selfish interests just happened to line up with what the good guys wanted.
So at the end we hear "Let it be known Slytherin did their part!" and we have to wonder. Did they really? The house was forced to leave Hogwarts during the battle. The house did nothing, really.
But we still have that message, Slytherin isn't all bad, now is it? Slytherin isn't all bad; but in saying that, aren't you saying that it is, in some little way, partly bad? There's a bad side to Slytherin that the other houses don't have?
You see. Peter Pettigrew is held up as the example that Gryffindor can have bad guys in them too. The thing is, Peter Pettigrew was about as much a Gryffindor as my left hand is a virgin. Did Peter ever have courage? No. Did Peter ever have nobility? Honor? No.
And that is an interesting point. Considering that people choose their house, there really aren't any qualities that are inherent to any house. There are smart people in all four houses. There are brave people in all four houses. There are ambitious people in all four houses. There are loyal people in all four houses. So then, really, it's all just dressed up. It's just a school competition. And yet this simple school competition has grown adults saying things like "all dark lords came from Slytherin."
Where am I going with this? Well, how is Slytherin house used in fanfiction? It's used incorrectly, almost always incorrectly, because people associate Slytherin with Machiavellian power politics. Eleven-year-olds aren't Machiavellian.
Whenever I read a story, and someone says: "You let me borrow something? You're far too trusting! How did you ever have become a Slytherin?" I gnash my teeth.
Whenever I read a story, and someone says: "This six year old is so cunning. She can manipulate people around her to bend to her will with her voice alone! What Slytherin traits!" I groan.
Whenever I read a story, and entire series of dialogue is spent where two people go back and forth saying "Oh, how Gryffindor of you!" "Oh how Hufflepuff of you!" "What a Ravinclaw thing to say!" "Oh well that's just a typical Slytherin thing to do!" I want to go rape babies!
I'd like to explain what Slytherin attributes actually are. What they actually mean. And why that house can easily be just as good as the other three houses. (Legitimately just as good, as in, not more inclined to do evil in ANY WAY).
Slytherin, according to the hat, is: "cunning... use any means to achieve their ends", "shrewd... ambition", "pure-blood... cunning".
Now then. We can toss pure-blood, because that's just quite frankly false. Tom Riddle was not pure-blood. Severus Snape was not pure-blood. The hat is wrong here.
Cunning, use any means, shrewd, and ambitious. Let's actually paint a picture of people who might fit that role.
Cunning is derived from the Middle English "connen" which means "to know". It's current use means "Marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness". It's secondary meaning is "Executed with or exhibiting ingenuity".
A cunning person is someone who can figure out your secrets. A cunning person is someone who can hide his own secrets. A cunning person is someone who can read between the lines, and find patterns that other people wouldn't have found. A cunning person is someone who can invent new solutions to old problems, and find their way out of tricky situations. The traditional animal for cunning is the fox. The fox is stealthy, and always aware. It avoids making foolish decisions. It is deceptive in that it hides itself from predators and finds ways to get what it wants.
Use any means is straightforward. If there is a goal to be accomplished, then you use anything and everything at your disposal to get it done. This is quite similar to the Hufflepuff quality of hard work. If you're willing to use any means, then you're willing to put in the hard work, and effort. However, there's an extra connotation to the phrase "use any means". Someone who uses any means is someone who will go outside of the lines. They will bend and break rules. They will find any advantage they can and exploit it to its fullest. Someone who uses any means is someone who will break conventional morality for the sake of completing the goal. We might consider this kind of person a utilitarian, in that the ends justify the means.
Shrewd is derived from the Middle English "shrewed" which means wicked. It's current use means "keen awareness, sharp intelligence, and often a sense of the practical". It's secondary meaning is "Disposed to artful and cunning practices; tricky".
A shrewd person is always alert, knows what's going on around them, and is not easily fooled. A shrewd person knows how to apply their knowledge to the task at hand. It's almost the same as a cunning person, the two are very much alike.
Ambition is derived from the Middle English "ambicioun" which means "excessive desire for honor, power, or wealth". It's current use means "An eager or strong desire to achieve something". It's secondary use is "Desire for exertion or activity; energy".
An ambitious person wants to do something. An ambitious person wants to achieve something. An ambitious person has the energy and drive to go out and make their dreams a reality. Sometimes these dreams are self-centered, other times they're altruistic. If you want to cure cancer, you are an ambitious person. If you want to start up a hospital, you are an ambitious person. If you have any goals you are demonstrating ambition. Because, quite simply, that's all ambition is. Ambitiousness is the setting up of goals and working to achieve them. That's it.
So what is the ideal Slytherin, based on the values held by the Slytherin house? The ideal Slytherin is the person who wants to leave a mark on the world. The ideal Slytherin wants to do something to change things. Not only does the ideal Slytherin have a burning desire to make a difference, but the ideal Slytherin has an idea about how to go about actually doing it. The ideal Slytherin would be aware of what other people think. The ideal Slytherin would know what tools are needed, and what skills are needed, to get the job done. The ideal Slytherin would divide his long term objective into small manageable goals, and subdivide these into tasks. At this point, the ideal Slytherin would identify which goals must be achieved before other goals could be, and finally this Slytherin would do everything in their power to accomplish what they set out to do.
So now, if people were actually sorted based on their attributes and skills as they were at the age of eleven, you would get the responsible and practical kids being sorted into Slytherin. You know the type, the older brother who had to grow up because dad was never around. The one who made sure everyone else got what they needed, and did whatever it took to ensure the family stayed together. That's your picture of Slytherin, as defined by traits. Not a single lie needs to be told to fit the role. A person doesn't need to practice deception or manipulation to fulfill any Slytherin value.
And so people in Slytherin tend to become successful. So what? That would only be because people with an ability to set goals and stick to them tend to be more successful! You don't have to be a backstabbing conniving asshole to become successful. In fact, you are less likely to be successful if everyone hates working with you.
Famous people who would get into Slytherin based on traits alone: Ash Ketchum (Pokemon), Calvin (Calvin & Hobbes), Lisa Cuddy (House), Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Don Quixote of La Mancha (Don Quixote).
ON THE SORTING HAT:
It is our choices that matter. The sorting hat will take our choices into account. Correct?
Well, maybe that's true for Harry Potter and a few select other individuals, but is it REALLY true that a person can sit under the sorting hat and dictate to it which house they will go to? Does a student get his or her pick of all four houses?
We are given no good reason to think so. Go back and reread the segment with Harry underneath the hat. Think about the people in each house that doesn't belong, and ask yourself how they got there.
Harry Potter has the traits to let him be good in any of the four houses, and the hat pondered this. Harry jumped in and said "Not Slytherin", at which point the hat decided he should be in Gryffindor. Does this mean it was Harry's choice? Perhaps Harry never would have been placed in Slytherin, and the hat was simply amused at the boy's fear of going there. It is entirely possible the hat would have placed Harry in Gryffindor naturally.
Throughout the book series he demonstrates more Gryffindor traits than Slytherin ones, he never has ambition of his own. He's decidedly not clever/shrewd in how he handles problems. He's reckless and jumps to conclusions. He lets other people define his destiny for him.
We have no reason to believe the hat would have sent Harry to Hufflepuff or Ravinclaw had Harry requested such things.
Let's look at other examples of characters going where they don't seem to belong. Hermione Granger should be Ravinclaw. Peter Pettigrew doesn't actually seem to belong anywhere. Percy Weasley should be Slytherin. Albus Dumbledore should be Slytherin.
We have a lot of examples of characters going to the wrong house, if their traits were the sole deciding factor. While Hermione demonstrates bravery, she really is a bookish know-it-all. She is obsessed with learning, and the sheer amount of classes she takes is mad. How can someone like that not be in Ravinclaw? Well, she does demonstrate bravery as well, it's just not dominant.
Peter Petigrew is a disloyal coward with no keen intellect and no ambition to do anything great. Really, he just exists. Whatever house he was in he would have made look bad. Maybe he was placed in Gryffindor because that was the only place he had a chance of not screwing up. He screwed it up anyway.
Percy Weasley was an ambitious character. He wanted to get a high position in the ministry. He wanted authority. He clearly wanted to raise his own status and prove that he wasn't "just a Weasley", or perhaps prove that a Weasley could be just as good as other more wealthy families. We know he made sacrifices in his family life to advance himself at work. We know he dedicated himself to a "great" cause. He never really demonstrated courage in this, it always just seemed to be his loyalties and ambitions that changed. Though I'm sure someone would say "it takes true courage to admit you were wrong." I'm not saying Percy doesn't have bravery, I'm just saying he demonstrated a lot more Slytherin traits.
Albus Dumbledore, especially in his younger years, seemed to be a purely Slytherin student. He wanted to be great. He wanted to change the world. He joined up with Grindenwald and they had the idea that they would fix everything. He was possibly one of the most ambitious characters of all time. He was certainly clever, and knew how to hide things from people. It seemed like nobody could keep a secret from him. He always did whatever it took, even if there were horrible sacrifices to be made. He was the model of "the ends justify the means." Every single Slytherin trait is perfectly demonstrated by Dumbledore.
So if Harry Potter is not good proof that our choices determine where we go, these four other examples seem to provide a better example. So why did they all go to Gryffindor instead of the houses they belonged in? Well, maybe it comes down to choice. That doesn't mean anyone can choose any house.
The hat has sorted many thousands of students. How likely is it that every single one of those students only fit into one house? At some point, the hat would get someone who could belong in two houses. The hat clearly can't put that person in both houses, and it would be disingenuous of the hat to put a student in one house even while that student shows he or she belongs in a different one. At this point, what is the hat going to do?
The hat wouldn't let a pure Slytherin choose Hufflepuff. But, the hat might let someone with many Slytherin traits choose Gryffindor IF that student could possibly be in either of the two houses. The hat might let Hermione choose Gryffindor because she is brave, and while her first house should be Ravinclaw, she's just brave enough for the hat to allow her the choice between the two houses.
So how does the sorting hat actually work? Does it just send you where you belong? Does it send you where you belong with a bit of a choice in the case of your having two strong attributes? Does it always in every case send you where you choose? Does it use some other method?
We've already shown that it doesn't always necessarily send someone to the house they belong in. I also think it's unlikely that any student can simply choose any house. Let's face it, Slytherin is not a popular house. Nobody wants to go there and be labeled a dark wizard. If you go to Slytherin you're going to be unpopular with all your friends who go to the other houses. Hufflepuff is also a very unpopular house, as it's labeled the house for "everybody else". People would rather be in Gryffindor, which almost seems like the dominant big brother for Hufflepuff. People would rather be seen as smart, or brave, or even --God-forbid-- ambitious, before they're seen as "everybody else".
If any student was allowed to choose any house, Gryffindor would have far more students than Slytherin or Hufflepuff. Ravinclaw would likely have the second largest number of students. I don't know what order Slytherin and Hufflepuff would be in, but they'd be extremely low. I mean, would you want to be in either of those houses? I'd leave, wouldn't you?
As far as I can tell, the numbers are fairly even across the board. There's no way every student gets a choice. If some students get a choice, they must at least be limited. If you're given the choice between Hufflepuff and Slytherin, then tough luck.
Then again, if the numbers are too even across the board, it starts to look less like the hat is focused on traits. Can we really say that there are just as many people who demonstrate bravery as there are who demonstrate ambition? Can we say there are just as many kids who are defined by their intelligence as there are defined by their willingness to do hard work? Maybe the hat bends the rules slightly to ensure there's an reasonably fair division of students going to each house?
It's something to think about. It's certainly better if you put some thought into this, instead of just assuming it's all traits or all choices.
ON THE SMASH MANSION:
The Smash Mansion is an inherently brilliant idea. Simply put, if you're going to make any kind of drama that involves such a large number of people, it is unrealistic to try and spread such a drama out over large locations throughout your universe. Unless you're trying to create a sprawling epic the likes of which would make Homer jealous, you should try to bring a common setting into your story. The Smash Mansion serves this purpose wonderfully. It allows a person to focus on other aspects of their story instead of trying to figure out the logistics of it all.
That said, the Smash Mansion isn't going to be a perfect setting for everything. Obviously if your story deals with war you should be on battlefields and not in a lush mansion (unless, of course, it is the effect of the war on the prosperity of those in the mansion). If your story deals with school then your school would probably serve as a replacement for the mansion, though the effect is similar. If your story deals with typical comical and dramatic situations then a mansion is your safest bet.
And moving from the general sense of WHY we see so many stories with the Mansion, we must move to the question that so few appear to have pondered. What would such a mansion look like? How tall would it be? How wide would it be? How many rooms would there be? How large of a kitchen, or a dining room? How much space needed for entertainment or storage? What shape would it take? What kind of grounds around the mansion would there be? How about the fencing, or walls, to keep intruders off of those grounds? What kind of servants would be there, or would everyone take care of themselves? Would there be grand archways or doors? Does it give a sense of 19th century royalty or a 15th century ironfisted king? A beacon of modernity or an old timey plantation? Is it meant to be larger than life, or homely?
In thinking about these sorts of things we realize most stories that include such a mansion have simply put the words down with no thought. Is the mansion two stories? Three? How deep is the basement? You'll find often times people simply move from kitchen to their room as simply as though these locations were separate entities, and they merely teleport from location to location. Often times it appears the author is simply thinking about their own house, only with some magical extension that fits all the rooms for characters.
Having been in what could be boastfully called a "mansion" of the early 20th century, I would say there is some credence to the concept of a mansion as simply a larger house with more rooms, however these rooms were rather jumbled. There were two kitchens. There were two hallways that served only to go to rooms, with one bathroom to be shared by those rooms. There was a large stairway and a smaller one on the other side of the mansion. There was something of a study and some other connecting rooms that don't make much sense to me as far as I can recall. It was something like a larger house, sure, though I can't remember where everything was located. Still, it wasn't even enough for 20 people to live in for any period of time, and many of us were forced to sleep in tents in the large back yard of the mansion.
Having played sims games and turning cheats on, I sought to make a mansion that would fit 35 people reasonably. This is when you realize just how much damn space it would take if every single one of those 35 had their own room, especially if that room was complete with a bathroom. Honestly it probably quintuples the amount of space required when you move your beds from everyone being in one large room, to everyone having their own room and bathroom.
So the one way I decided it would make sense, would be for a tower to be on one corner of the mansion, with a spiraling staircase that would go off to 8 rooms per level of the tower. you'd need 5 stories at least, but when you consider that the normal mansion would likely be 3 or 4 stories you suddenly realize this tower doesn't really stick out too noticeably, and might even make the mansion look more appealing than some large square.
I've worked out two distinct floor plans. One using the sims, and one using MS Paint. I think I prefer the one using MS Paint, simply because I had more space to allow for things outside of the mansion and plan for them. The sims one was 5 stories up, 4 stories down (which was as much as the game could handle). The MS Paint one had the tower, with 5 stories up, the main body was 4 stories up, leading to a separate location that was personal for the owners Master Hand and Crazy Hand. It had I think 3 stories down, which then led to secret passageways. There was also a dug in barracks to either side of the road that approached the mansion, where alloys/polygons/wireframes would stay, and a network of gardens, supply sheds, and outdoor entertainment. Along the outside was a large wall that would keep everything separate from the outside world, with a giant gate that you could probably drive a house through.
In both cases, the outside of the mansion looked more like a castle, with a taller and more imposing look, while the interior was designed with a more modern and yet comfortable relaxing mood. Both cases proved one thing in my mind. You can't write about things happening inside of a Smash Mansion unless you can get a picture of what that mansion would look like. I don't think everyone needs to write a complete floor plan like I did, but you should at least know where places are relative to the grand hall. If that grand hall is extremely tall you should understand how that affects the second (and possibly third) floor and how much space you are removing from them. You should understand where people's rooms are in relation to each other, so you know if Link has to go running up and down stairs and through halls to get to Zelda, or if she's just across from him. You should know how long a walk it should roughly be to go from the entertainment room, with it's large TVs and collection of games and activities, to the outdoor pool. You should know if there's a diving board, and if that pool is going to affect the placement of things in the basement.
Basically, I think authors should be more responsible when creating a story inside the "Smash Mansion", and create a sense of it all being the same place, instead of simply writing rooms as their own locations and not getting a sense for the concrete reality behind the words.
I'd like to start this portion by stating that I know there is a difference between parody and satire, and I know there are more than one kind of satire. The aims of a specific work obviously trump any general rule, especially if you hear about that general rule from some guy on the internet. For the purposes of this site, satire and parody must be treated similarly (there is after all, no satire genre in the menu), and so that is what I will do.
What does a parody aim to do? Make fun of something, right? If that's what you think and that's what the readers think, then that's what it means. Classes are taught on the matter and you can find countless variations of explanation on the internet. Everybody has their own subtle details to tell you, but you must never forget one crucial fact: a word means what people think it means. Thus parody, with all the discussion cut away and left to it's bare bones, simply means making fun of something.
So parodies exist to make fun of stuff. The question next is, how do we most effectively make fun of something? What methods might we employ to make the reader want to read? What methods might we employ to make the reader get the "point" of the parody?
There are a few schools of thought on the matter, and an author must be aware of these schools of thought when deciding which method is best to employ for their particular work.
The Exaggeration Method:
Basically, this is Stephen Colbert, or Saturday Night Live. This is the over the top, balls to the walls, throw everything and the kitchen sink into the fray, and then try and one-up it. A critic of this method might say you're being too blunt, making your "point" too noticeable. The positive side to this method is there's no real question what it is you're making fun of. The downside to this method is making fun of something is all you appear to be doing.
When you write political satire, for example, it is often better to label your right wing opponent as somebody who drives around burning down hospitals that practice abortion, beating gay people with a bible, and actively fighting to make the death penalty legal for all minor infractions of the law. There might be perfectly reasonable explanations for stances people take, or perfectly understandable situations behind an action somebody takes. A parody using this method would undermine or completely ignore those. The entire point is to undermine the argument of your enemy. You present the target as a flat, two dimensional strawman who exists solely to be knocked down.
It is certainly the easiest method to use. It is also the most certain to gain you a following. People like to see a bad guy knocked down a peg. People love to see their own views emulated in what they read and watch on TV. If you consistently write fiction attacking "stupid fanfiction writers", or consistently write about "the retarded government" you're going to get more and more people that are drawn in and continue to read, happy to see their views being repeated.
Just because it's easier doesn't mean it's easy. I should point out that people are often drawn into a few serious mistakes when using this method, and those mistakes will prevent your point from being effectively made, and they will often lose you the following you are trying to gain.
When you set someone up as the target of your parody, take care not to make them overly ridiculous in EVERY aspect of their lives. You're not writing a clown, you're writing an enemy. You need to think of this target as a villain. If you make that jerk who's whining about unions require a diaper and unable to dress himself, and you put lipstick on that jerk, and you have that jerk constantly spitting up food, and you make him always try to hit on girls but always get turned down; then you'll end up making your jerk villain come across as no threat at all. Suddenly we're watching our heroes beat the "evil" machinations of a mentally handicapped guy.
That isn't to say you can't have really stupid people, but at some point you need to make those stupid people either into a credible threat (there are just so many masses of them), or else have a big bad guy behind the scenes controlling them. Maybe even both.
When you write your heroes, they must still be human. You can't have one person who's always right fighting the follies of everybody else in existence. This fits into more broad rules about fiction, but it should be reiterated when talking about parodies. Just because it's a parody doesn't make it an exception. If your hero comes across as a Mary Sue, your readers will stop being interested. What happens is your parody that is meant to make fun of one idea turns into just another long annoying rant about some "obvious" correct way of thinking. You basically turn into a parody of yourself. There need to be more reasonable people in this world than your hero, and there need to be faults for your hero to overcome.
Of course, parodies of this exaggerated sort can get away with random asides and outright tangential crap. That isn't to say that you can get away with only doing those things, or over doing those things. If the only thing you're doing is creating wackier and wackier extremes, and topping it with more and more random confusing situations, then you're not writing a parody. What exactly is it you're making fun of at that point? Yes, it is fine to have your giant monkey terrorizing the city get eaten by an even larger banana. However it isn't fine to simply move from that to a flying squirrel that gets hit by an airplane which then explodes into a creamy assortment of pastries which get eaten by the moon and then Pluto gets jealous and turns into a shoe which gets mistaken by a camera. At some point it just turns into a five year old scribbling on the wall, and we all lose interest.
I'm sure there are other mistakes that get made in these sorts of parody, but those are the big ones as I see it.
So in the end, you use this method if there's something you don't like and you want to make fun of it. You use this method if you want to play (or combat) the ideological zealot. You don't use this method to try and prove that one person or way of thinking is correct. You don't use this method if you're trying to effectively show the nuances of a situation. You don't use this method as an excuse to do anything and everything you can for a cheap laugh. If you want more "silly" and less serious thought, then exageration is for you.
The Thoughtful Method:
I'm not exactly sure what to call this method, but I've heard it described as something "created by a fan of the thing he is parodying". This is Scream, or Terry Pratchet's Discworld. When you use this method it isn't designed with any particular "enemy" in mind. You're not playing to people's hatred of something, you're playing to their enjoyment of it. You can once again get a pretty good following by using this method, but it usually requires a bit more effort or understanding to pull off.
Everyone who watches horror movies knows how the soundtrack can give away who's about to be the next victim. Everyone who reads fantasy knows that elves tend to come across as being perfect at everything. Everyone who reads romances knows about that big jerk in the beginning, going out with the girl who the hero wants. That kind of stuff is obvious even to people who aren't fans. Did everybody know that the sound of horses walking was created by beating coconuts together, and this was considered more realistic to audiences than the actual sound of horses?
It's that kind of research and understanding that is required to make a good parody using this method. Anybody can try and make a Star Trek parody, but if they're only using basic stuff that everybody knows ("I'll solve this troublesome situation with technobabble!", "KHAAAAAAN!!!"), and skip over the stuff that the real fans know about ("I stop existing when I go through this teleporter, they actually disintegrate me!", "Q, we've got to stop sleeping naked in the same bed") then you're going to start alienating that fanbase you're trying to gain. The best way to create this parody is to show the audience that you're one of them. Make them understand that you're not a malicious outsider trying to destroy the things they enjoy, but another fan who likes to point out the silly mistakes and inconsistencies.
You can't write this kind of parody without either doing serious research into the subject, or being a fan. The best person to point out all the problems with Star Wars is a Star Wars fan. Someone who watches lots of slasher movies is going to be able to point out all the cliches. Without knowing about the cliches, you'll never be able to effectively subvert them. A good parody of romance would point out how ridiculous it is that all these families seem to have feuds with each other, and how romances only ever seem to occur between such families. A good parody of romance would thus say "not a single family in this city seems to like each other, and that's why it's called the city of love."
Of course there are problems that can be made when attempting this kind of parody, and I think the problems often stem from the author not quite realizing this is the kind of parody they are (or should be) aiming for with their work. I've pointed out the biggest mistake, in an author failing to show knowledge of the subject matter. There are others though.
A big problem, and which is shown in movies like Epic Movie in particular, stems from the fact that people don't realize when they should be using it. The real inconsistencies of a genre or series get ignored in favor of making the bad guys and good guys into enormous caricatures of themselves. Suddenly it's just giant exaggerations on both sides doing wackier and wackier things. This may seem like it's just a failed exaggeration parody, but when you think about it, there's no way for Epic Movie to work as an exaggeration parody, because there's no real target to exaggerate. This is why Scream is more effective than Scary Movie 4, one realizes it's made to enjoy cliches and mistakes, the other seems set on using an incompatible method.
Then you run into the issue of showing too much love for the thing you're supposedly parodying. There are the Star Wars parodies that simply recreate the original movies, but with a few small points where they point to something that is wrong and laugh. You can't just rip something off, wink to the camera every once in a while, and call it a day. It can appear like the author is so busy enjoying the fact that they're creating a parody of something, that they forget to actually work on calling out the things they should be. Yes we get it, you're absolutely in love with Dr. Who and think he's amazing and think the show is amazing. Damn it that doesn't excuse your parody for ignoring all the ridiculously stupid and downright harmful side effects caused by the actions of the self-righteous Doctor and his latest harpy. Even the show turned the Doctor into a kind of bad guy from time to time, so a parody of Dr. Who shouldn't fail to notice his flaws.
In the end, I think this method isn't used as often as it should be. It can be poorly done if the author fails to do the research, but then I don't think it should be done if the author needs to do so much research. Parodies like this are best left to the fans.
The Hellfire Method:
This is Mark Twain. If you haven't read Mark Twain's satire, and you don't understand what this means then you need to go to the library right now. This is when you hate something. This is when you are actually fighting what you perceive to be evil. Where exaggeration chooses an enemy and shows stretched out exaggerated versions of them, this method shows them for all their subtlety. This is what somebody writes if they're trying to honestly show why slavery is a terrible system, and racism is wrong. This is what somebody writes when they're trying to point to things that are really happening, and when it becomes more serious than simply making fun of it. This is the battlefield.
If you're going to write this you're going to need to research. This is probably the most difficult type of parody to write. When you parody something in this style, you need to treat it like you understand it. You need to point out the justifications, and the perceived legitimate reasoning. You need to treat the subject like it is serious.
Then you turn the screw, and then you turn it again. If you've ever heard the story of the frog in the pot of water, that's what this is. This parody requires us as readers to be brought into the story perceiving whatever is being parodied as normal and right. It is only through a long story arch with complicated characters that we can arrive at the end, where we then realize after all our travels that what we had perceived to be normal was absurd, and what we perceived to be right was damn foolish.
The point arrived at never needs to be explicitly brought to our attention by the author. A successful parody of this type will have made its point merely by bringing us along for the ride. There is not explicit part of Huckleberry Finn where we realize that slavery and racism are wrong. It is through the journey that we come to see Jim as a real person, and not just as a stereotype.
You don't need to set your parody in the real world, fictional and fantastic settings will still work. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court is another Mark Twain novel that decries the inhumanity and injustice of kings, nobility, and the established Church, while still doing a good job showing the very hypocrisy of authoritarians who denounce any or all of those things. It is a brutal attack on the power of establishment. It does it all in a silly fantastic world that never feels entirely real.
As for mistakes that can be made while using this method? Well it's always possible you can fall into creating an exaggerated stereotype as your enemy, which isn't a failure in and of itself, but it would be a mistaken way to try and apply this method. To be most effective, a parody of this nature needs to understand what it's attacking, and never stretch the position of it's enemy into something different. Remember, this method is effective by showing what it attacks to be normal and right at the beginning, and only then chipping away at the foundations.
In summary, you can use any of these methods, and there are likely more out there. Whenever writing a parody it is important to understand what method you plan to be using, what it is you plan on parodying, and what the "point" behind the parody really is. In making fun of something you should understand it, and then exaggerate or dissect it accordingly.
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