Sakura's "How to Write Fan Fiction"
Sakura Kiyashiki and Nagisa Shiota lounged outside on a lilac blanket overtop the springy lawn in front of the local Library. Nagisa sat with his knees folded under him, leaning over to write down instructions for Sakura's homework assignment in her favorite purple, spiral-bound notebook. As for Sakura, she lay on her stomach, kicking her feet behind her, with her chin resting on her folded arms. Her mouth was pulled into a crooked-yet-cute expression of annoyance.
"Nagisa," she said with a sigh of displeasure, "why do I have to do homework and studying on a day like today? Aren't days like this meant for playing?"
Looking up from the notebook, Nagisa glanced at his surroundings. The weather was warm and breezy, and the sun would have been almost too bright if the pair had not been sitting in the shade of an aged cherry tree. Incidentally, the tree was in full spring bloom. Several others like it made up the border between the sidewalk and the Library lawn. Indeed, everything seemed to be flowering, from the weeds in the grass to the gorgeous blossoms of bellflower growing against the Library wall.
"You're right," Nagisa smiled; "today is too nice to stay inside and study. That's why we're working outside, remember? You won't get out of your work just by saying you want to play. Besides, I thought you hated spring."
Sakura rolled onto her back, wearing the same expression of irritation. "Yeah, I used to hate spring," she shrugged. "Summer, too. The rain and the humidity mess up my perfect hair." (Just for show, she flicked a thick strand of her pink hair.) "But the other kids said I ought to like spring a little since it's the season of the cherry blossoms. My name means cherry blossom, after all. And recently, I discovered there is a pretty good reason to enjoy spring."
"Oh, and what's that?" asked Nagisa, placing the notebook next to Sakura's head. "Your assignment is all written out now, by the way."
Sitting up suddenly, Sakura caught Nagisa's blue eyes and looked into them with a strange ferocity.
"I'll tell you what I learned about spring," she grinned mischievously. "It's the season of love! It's the time when romance blooms and everybody becomes enchanted by the nectar of passion!"
Nagisa couldn't help laughing a little at the younger kid's enthusiasm. "That isn't like you, though," he observed. "You've never seemed interested in things like that, for yourself or for other people. What's got you so excited?"
"Romance for me?" asked Sakura. "Please. I'm still too young for that. I have to wait till I'm fourteen to fall in love. That's when all the girls in manga fall in love. However, just because it's not my time yet doesn't mean I can't fantasize about pairings! Pairings are everything! In manga, anime, and real life, too!"
"Oh… so this is about manga?" Nagisa inquired uneasily.
Sakura had loved shoujo manga ever since she had started skipping school a few months back. She spent a lot of time at home or in the library, reading manga, watching anime, and posting on internet forums. The young girl talked about these interests so avidly that Nagisa sometimes grew tired of hearing it. Much to his chagrin, Sakura continued these activities even after returning to school. The most extreme thing she did at this point was write fan fiction, but Nagisa feared that Sakura would one day end up cosplaying in ridiculous outfits.
"I told you I write fan fiction," the girl carried on, oblivious to Nagisa's subtle cues of discomfort. "Well, my first story was just a bit of adventure. My next one, though, is going to be all about love and romance! I'm hoping that the spring season will bring me some inspiration! Nagisa, you're older than me. Well? Is there any young romance blossoming in the E Class?"
Scratching his chin, Nagisa considered the question. "I don't think there's any real romance," he ventured. "But Bitch—I mean Jelavic-sensei—seems to really have a thing for Karasuma-sensei. Sometimes the girls tease Okuda-san about liking Karma-kun, but she always says nothing is going on. A lot of us like to work in pairs—like me and Kayano—but it's not like we're all in love or any—"
"Brilliant!" exclaimed Sakura, leaping to her feet. "It sounds like there's lots of love blooming in your class! I need this material to help get me inspired for my fan fiction! Nagisa, will you help me write a short story about the E class to prep me for my real story?"
"Uh… writing isn't really one of the subjects I tutor," Nagisa stammered. "Why don't you… just write it yourself…?"
Sakura picked up the purple notebook along with her textbooks and harrumphed loudly. Nagisa could tell the girl was going to make a big deal of his refusal and become difficult. As expected, she began to walk away with her nose in the air, leaving Nagisa and the picnic blanket behind. The boy wondered if he should stop Sakura. Halfway to the Library entrance, she turned back to look at him.
"Fine then!" she shouted irritably. "Don't help me! See if I care! I'll write a story about the E class all by myself. Just you wait! You'll have to deal with it whether you like it or not!"
"And… now she's mad at me," Nagisa sighed, wearily running a hand through his blue hair. "I have a feeling she's not going to let this idea go very easily."
The following day, Nagisa went to school just like normal and listened to Korosensei teach the different subjects. That day, Korosensei wanted to have a special lab period to introduce some concepts of chemistry. As it stood, Manami Okuda was the only one who actually understood the subject. The classroom had been set up in the usual way, until Korosensei whisked around the room in a blur. In less than sixty seconds, the desks had been pushed together to form tables for seven groups of four students each. The tables were set with all the instruction handouts, beakers, chemicals, gloves, and other supplies that were needed. Korosensei's speed never ceased to amaze the kids of the End Class.
"This will be a two-part lab, class," the odd teacher announced in his usual high, cheery voice. "Today you will be setting up the experiment, which must have at least one day to sit. We will examine and analyze the results of the reaction tomorrow. Instructions are listed on the handouts, but before we get started, let's have a quick review of chemical reactions and the reagents you are working with today. Be sure to take notes!"
When the short lecture ended, everyone got started on the experiment. Nagisa picked up the instruction handout and started preparing the materials.
"Looks like we're in the same group, Nagisa-kun," said Kayano, joining her friend and smiling shyly him. "Karma-kun and Manami-san are with us, too. It looks like there are several tasks to divide up. How should we split it up?"
It was decided that Kayano would label the four glass jars used in the experiment, and then each group member would follow the mixing instructions individually for their assigned jars. The samples of iron and a cup of water would be added to all but one of the jars, and some required adding salt or bicarbonate soda. When that was done, Karma would make sure the lids were secured on the appropriate jars while Manami and Nagisa would clean up the table.
All was going according to plan, until Kayano accidentally dropped one of the jars on the way back from the sink. Nagisa bent down to pick it up, but he slipped on the spilled water and tumbled to the floor. Karma offered him a hand up, and Nagisa gladly took it. The redhead grabbed two towels off the table, tossed one to Nagisa, and swiftly mopped up the water with the other, all before Kayano could even move.
"Karma-kun, you're such a gentleman," Kayano said gratefully.
"Sure, when I want to be," Karma replied in his usual cool manner.
Nagisa smiled appreciatively at the redhead and returned to the experiment. He mixed the bicarbonate soda into his jar.
"This is going to be an interesting reaction," Manami said thoughtfully, finishing with her jar. "I bet it's a rust reaction. I think I also know which jar is going to show more rust, but I won't spoil it for you guys."
"You're always one step ahead of us in chemistry," observed Nagisa. "Why do you love it so much, Okuda-san?"
"Well," Manami considered, "because… because when you think about it, nearly everything can be boiled down to chemistry. Life only happens because of complex reactions. Even love can be said to be a chemical reaction."
"What made you bring up love?" asked Kayano, sounding strangely nervous and looking quickly away from Nagisa.
"Huh?" said Manami, pretending not to notice Karma putting the lids on the jars right next to her. "Um, there's no reason. I just thought of it suddenly. Yep, no reason at all!"
"PERFECT TIMING!" cried a shrill voice.
Everyone in Class E stopped what they were doing to and looked for the owner of the excited exclamation. They saw her standing at the entrance to the classroom, clutching a purple notebook and looking around with gleaming eyes. Most of the class recognized her as Sakura Kiyashiki.
"I am a writer of love stories!" she announced. "I was drawn to this class for its strong presence of ROMANCE! That scene a minute ago was perfect! Karma giving his hand to little Nagisa, who had fallen! And yet, the green-haired girl is desperately in love with Nagisa! Plus, the nervous fascination that the glasses-girl has with the redhead! This is all PERFECT MATERIAL!"
"Sakura!" Nagisa exclaimed in surprise and outrage. "What are you doing here? How did you get here?"
"Idiot Nagisa," replied the pink-haired girl harshly, "I obviously followed you. I picked up some tailing tips from a manga about a female stalker! Isn't that great? Anyway, I've just been waiting for the right time to reveal myself. Then this chemistry nerd said something about love, and so, I hereby make my grand entrance!"
"Excuse me, my dear," said Korosensei calmly, "but you are interrupting class."
"A MONSTER!" screamed Sakura, noticing the teacher for the first time. "What the hell are you?!"
Korosensei whisked over to the girl's side and placed a tentacled hand on her head. "Now, now," he chided her gently, "someone so young and lovely shouldn't use slang language. I know my appearance may be unusual, but I am this class' famous five-star instructor, KOROSENSEI!"
Sakura looked torn between repulsion and grudging respect. "Alright then," she agreed at last. "I'm sorry for interrupting, Korosensei. But a first rate teacher like you will understand: I'm here for academic reasons!"
"You are not!" said Nagisa, a little angry despite his attempted self-control. "Don't tell lies, Sakura-chan. I know you're here for 'inspiration' for your story. I already told you to just write by yourself!"
"A story?" mused Korosensei. "And by the way, isn't this the little girl you tutor, Nagisa-kun?" The octopus-creature gave one of his mischievous trademark laughs. "Heuhuhuha! Nagisa-kun, the girl you tutor would like to write a story. But she isn't yet twelve years old! How is she supposed to produce quality writing without any guidance?"
"K-Korosensei," Nagisa stammered, "s-surely you're not saying…?"
"I am indeed!"
(Korosensei vanished to the edge of the room long enough to grab a chair, and then he whisked it under Sakura so that she was sitting comfortably.)
"Nagisa-kun," the teacher continued, "it's your job to help Sakura-chan write her love story. Don't you want to be a teacher when you grow up? Well, we teachers have to instruct our students even when we don't particularly feel up to it. After the lesson today, I want you to help her. I, in turn, will help both of you, if you need it."
"Y-yes sir," Nagisa murmured, knowing that stubbornness was futile.
Korosensei took Sakura's notebook and, in approximately five seconds, wrote half a dozen writing problems. "Sakura-chan, please sit there in the back until class is over," he told her. "You may work on those comprehension questions if you don't wish to listen in to our lectures. Needless to say, I can't have you distracting or pestering my students, but… you have my permission to observe for the rest of the day! That should give you some good story material with which to work."
"Yes sir!" cried Sakura happily. (She quickly shot a smug glance over at Nagisa.)
"Aw," Karma teased, "it looks like Nagisa-kun has a little disciple."
Nagisa sighed heavily. "I guess I have no choice."
After class adjourned, Sakura pulled her chair up to Nagisa's desk so the two of them could work on writing together. Korosensei, sitting behind the front desk, had volunteered to stay and supervise the makeshift tutoring session. He told everyone else they could go home, but several students lingered behind, amused by Nagisa's dilemma, and curious about the idea of a love story. They were especially curious because Sakura had requested a class roster, so she was almost certain to include some of the other kids in her writing.
"Now, I've already got the storyline decided," Sakura said matter-of-factly. "I don't need you trying to give me your plot ideas, Nagisa. All you have to do is correct the mistakes and suggest changes in the rough draft I scribbled down during class. And if I get stuck, you can help me write out good sentences."
The other kids giggled, and Karma said, "This is a little girl who knows exactly what she wants, huh? You had better not get in her way, right, Nagisa?"
"Alright," the blue-haired boy said to Sakura, "show me what you've written so far. I'll read over it and tell you the mistakes as we go."
Smiling, Sakura opened the notebook and put it in front of her tutor. As Nagisa read, he started to look increasingly uncomfortable. He even blushed a little.
"Sakura," he muttered, "you keep referring to my character as 'she'. You do know I'm a boy, right?"
"The story flows better if you're a girl," Sakura said dismissively. "Besides, if you were a boy, your already dangerous relationship with Karma would become homoerotic."
"How do you even know such a word?!" exclaimed Nagisa in exasperation.
Maehara, who had been standing close by, also seemed to be blushing slightly. "Sakura-san, you shouldn't talk about that sort of thing in front of everyone," he stated. "And besides, absolutely nobody in this class feels any kind of homoerotic love. Isn't that right, Isogai?"
Isogai, Maehara's closest friend, agreed emphatically. "That's correct! None of us at all. Ever."
"Hmm," Sakura whispered. "I will have to add a chapter later about Isogai and Maehara. They are the best friends who might just be love interests..."
"And also," Nagisa carried on, "I'm not 'frantically conflicted' between Kayano and Karma! Stop writing stuff like this! Even if it were true, wouldn't that make me and Kayano girl-on-girl love in your story? I thought you were going to avoid homoerotic stuff!"
"Be careful, Nagisa," Sakura grinned. "If you sound so frantic, everyone will know for sure that you really are conflicted and in love."
Korosensei suddenly appeared right behind Nagisa. His tiny eyes scanned the open notebook in front of him. He chuckled and then lightly poked Sakura to get her attention—she had been staring at Maehara and Isogai.
"Let me help get you guys started," Korosensei offered. "First, there's this sentence here. 'Nagisa was feeling uncomfortable as usual since she was good friends with Kayano but wanted to be more than friends and also was thinking about Karma at the same time while watching him from across the room.' This is what we call a run-on sentence, my dear. Even with correct punctuation added, it's too long to be one sentence. Try rewriting it as two or even three sentences. You have to be careful with the way you structure sentences so that they flow and make sense grammatically. How about this? 'Nagisa felt uncomfortable because, though she was close friends with Kayano, she wanted them to be more than just friends. Also, she was thinking about Karma while she watched him from across the room.'"
"That's much better," Sakura said gratefully. "Plus, my story is a little longer now. Thanks."
Nagisa understood what Korosensei had done, and he started to look for similar errors in flow or grammar. He found one soon enough.
"Sakura-chan, look here. You wrote, 'Nagisa… Was in love.' I don't know if you realized it, but you made one sentence into two by capitalizing 'Was'. It would be fine as 'Nagisa was in love', or, if you wanted to add the space, 'Nagisa…was in love.' Don't use a capital letter unless it's the start of a name or a new sentence. There's this, too: 'she told him so the next day.' It should start with a capital, like this: 'She told him so the next day.' Remember, if you forget to capitalize the start of a sentence, it looks sloppy, like you don't even care about your writing. The same is true if you forget to spell-check."
Sakura nodded and said, "Good catch, Nagisa. I didn't realize it until now, but I misspelled 'passion' as 'pashun.' It's when I'm describing Chiba-san's feelings for Hayami. I'll fix it."
The girl erased the misspelled word and corrected it, ignoring the exclamations of the embarrassed Chiba.
"We aren't passionate lovers, you know," Hayami stammered, her face bright red. "We just happen to have a lot in common. We're friends. Everybody else is hyperactive and talks too much, but with Chiba-kun, I don't have to worry about that stuff."
"Say whatever you want," Sakura replied dismissively. "You two are still lovers in my story."
Pausing a little lower down on the page, Sakura read the place where she had used a familiar but confusing word. The sentence in question was line of dialogue spoken by Bitch-sensei. It said, "Oh, Karasuma-san, your so sexy." Sakura realized that the sentence was wrong. She quickly corrected it to, "Oh, Karasuma-san, you're so sexy."
"You fixed it all by yourself," observed Korosensei, patting Sakura's head approvingly. "Always check to be sure you have used the grammatically correct form of a word. It's not always just 'your' and 'you're' that cause confusion. There's also words like 'lie' and 'lay.' You wrote that 'Nagisa lied down on the grass to watch the clouds.' That's actually not quite right."
"What should it be, then?" asked Sakura.
"To lie down is to recline," replied the octopus-creature, "and to lay is to put something down. 'Lay' is also the past tense of 'lie', so if you want to say someone reclined, say that they 'lay down'. For example, 'Nagisa lay down on the grass to watch the clouds.' Saying that someone 'lied down' or 'laid down' is incorrect. 'Laid down' is only used to describe someone laying down an object. When it comes to tricky words like 'your' and 'lie', it's best to look them up to be sure you've used them correctly. These days, all it takes is a Google search."
"Man, this is kind of hard work," Sakura said in mild surprise.
"I'm sure it's difficult now," Korosensei answered in an encouraging tone. "As you practice writing, though, you'll become better at it."
"Korosensei, what about this sentence here?" asked Nagisa. "It says, 'Manami felt out of place and awkward around Karma, she thought there was no way he would ever like her.' It's incorrect to have a comma separate two pieces that are complete sentences by themselves. So it should be split into two. 'Manami felt out of place and awkward around Karma. She thought there was no way he would ever like her.' Right?"
"This is a good opportunity to bring up a handy tool in writing," Korosensei replied. "Splitting the sentence into two would be one way to deal with the problem, but another way is to use the punctuation mark known as a semicolon. ( ; ) The semicolon is used to separate two fragments which could both be independent sentences, but which depend on each other for greater meaning. In other words, if the two would sound better together, connect them with a semicolon. 'Manami felt out of place and awkward around Karma; she thought there was no way he would ever like her.' Now the sentence is correct without being split apart."
"I think we're almost done," Nagisa said with a sigh. "Let me read through the last scene and see if I find any more common errors. Here's one thing. Paragraph breaks can be tricky. Depending on the style of the writer, it may or not be the right time to start a new paragraph. Still, there are a couple of rules you need to follow even when taking style into account. For example, start a new paragraph whenever a different character begins dialogue. You have Karma and Manami both talking in the same paragraph."
Sakura fixed the mistake, beginning a new line for Karma's dialogue. "Anything else?" she inquired.
Nagisa smiled. "Just remember to use proper punctuation. This passage, 'With her eyes closed Nagisa felt nervous', needs a comma. 'With her eyes closed (comma), Nagisa felt nervous.' Here, too. 'Though she's usually quiet she's talking a lot today.' It should be, 'Though she's usually quiet (comma), she's talking a lot today."
Smiling, Sakura filled in the punctuation marks with her mechanical pencil. Then she sighed and leaned against her chair, satisfied. She looked at Nagisa and, after a brief hesitation, gave him a quick hug.
"Thank you for your help." For once, Sakura praised him. "You're a great tutor and a really nice guy. Thank you, too, Korosensei. I'm going to read over it so I can see the finished product." Sakura began to read.
It was spring. The cherry blossoms were in bloom and all the birds and animals were falling in love. Spring fever had come. It was effecting humans, too. Nagisa Shiota was one such human. She was a kind and capable girl with blue hair. As she walked to her classroom, Nagisa thought of the two people she had begun to love.
Karma was a smart, strong boy with red hair. He was also a good friend to Nagisa. He was a smooth talker, making almost anything sound interesting. Nagisa relied on Karma during school trips and group activities. However, the redhead was also the "bad boy" type, and being with him could be dangerous. Nagisa had a crush on Karma, but there was a reason she couldn't tell him how she felt.
"Hello, Nagi-chan," said Kayano Kaede, Nagisa's closest female friend. "Let's walk the rest of the way together."
Nagisa smiled and nodded, but stayed quiet. Kayano was the reason she could not tell Karma how she felt. It was because she also had feelings for Miss Kaede. The two girls had been friends since the day they both joined the E class. They worked on homework and assignments together. They walked to and from school together. Kaede often complimented Nagisa on being a strong, intelligent girl. She also loved to play with Nagisa's hair. As for Nagisa herself, she thought that Kayano was the cutest, prettiest girl in the school.
"Good morning, you two," said Karma in a cool voice. He started walking beside them. "What do you think that octopus-creature will teach us about today?"
"I d-don't know," Nagisa stuttered. She looked from Kayano to Karma, feeling frantically conflicted.
Soon, the friends reached their classroom. They said hello to their other friends including Okajima, Okuda, Kanzaki, Sugino, Chiba, Terasaka, Hayami, Maehara, and Itona. Class started. The topic was biology. However, our blue-haired heroine could not concentrate. Nagisa felt uncomfortable because, though she was close friends with Kayano, she wanted them to be more than just friends. Also, she was thinking about Karma while she watched him from across the room. Nagisa…was in love.
More people than just Nagisa had fallen in love. Ryunosuke Chiba felt a passionate love for Rinka Hayami. He always acted quiet and calm on the outside, but on the inside he could never stop thinking of his orange-haired girlfriend. The two of them had a lot in common. They enjoyed the same activities, such as shooting air rifles and BB guns. Hayami loved Chiba, but lately she hadn't had time to hang out with him. She felt unsure about how to start up a conversation with him.
While Hayami thought of Chiba and Nagisa thought about her two crushes, Manami Okuda was thinking about someone too. Okuda was a shy, pretty girl with glasses and long, thick, and braided hair. She loved chemistry, and she was almost as smart as Karma. Speaking of Karma, Manami was watching him with her violet eyes. She wanted to talk to him. She wanted to hold hands with him. She kept quiet, though. After all, Karma was so cool, and Manami felt like she was just a nerd.
After class, the wonderful teacher, Korosensei, had an idea.
"My dear class," he said enthusiastically, "it's a beautiful day outside. The sun is out, yet you all seem sluggish and awkward. I propose a picnic! We'll all eat together outside on the lawn! This will also give you all a chance to get through your insecurities and talk to each other."
Everyone worked together to make some sandwiches and fruit salads with ingredients that Korosensei had brought. They also made some delicious pink lemonade. Then everyone went outside and spread blankets and sheets over the soft, green grass. All the students and Korosensei began to relax. Jelavic-sensei and Karasuma-sensei were with them too.
Irina Jelavic got ready to sit down on the grass. Suddenly, she realized there were a bunch of ants crawling all over the place. Karasuma told her not to worry. He went to the classroom and walked back carrying a wooden chair for Irina. This way, the insects would not bother her. Karasuma carried the chair as it were as light as a feather. Irina noticed that the outlines of his bicep muscles could be seen through his jacket sleeves.
Irina swooned. "Oh, Karasuma-san, you're so sexy. I want to be all alone with you."
"Please," Karasuma said in his gruff voice, "don't talk about that in front of the children. Let's enjoy this picnic. I have to admit, the fruit salad you made is a simple dish, but it's lovely."
Nagisa lay down in the grass to watch the clouds. Karma came over and lay down beside him. As they began to talk, they didn't know the chemistry expert was watching them. Manami felt out of place and awkward around Karma; she thought there was no way he would ever like her. Then she realized that there was no way to know for sure unless she tried. So, with a shy smile, Manami lay down on the other side of Karma. The three of them chatted about the clouds and the springtime, and their awkward feelings wore off.
"Hey, you three!" Kayano called. She was hiding something behind her back. "I made something for us. Close your eyes."
With her eyes closed, Nagisa felt nervous. She felt Kayano place something light and soft around her neck. When she opened her eyes, she saw that it was a necklace made of little blue flowers. Kayano had also made one for Karma and one for Manami. Before Nagisa knew what was happening, Kayano had kissed her lightly on the cheek.
"Kayano," said Nagisa with a lovely smile, "you're someone very special to me. You are too, Karma."
"I usually like to do something cool," said Karma. "But sometimes I enjoy picnics. I'm glad we can all be together like this."
He reached out and took Nagisa's hand with his right and Manami's hand with his left. Nagisa started in surprise, and Manami blushed as red as a tomato. Karma just sat there looking cool. Kayano laughed as his self-satisfied expression.
"Everybody is getting along so well," Nagisa noticed. "Even Chiba and Hayami look happy. Hayami is making conversation. Though she's usually quiet, she's talking a lot today. Karasuma-sensei and Bitch-sensei seem to be getting along, more or less. But you know who looks happiest of all?"
"It's hard to tell," Karma replied. "Who do you think it is?"
"The happiest person here is Korosensei," Nagisa stated. "It's spring, and everybody is falling in love. But Korosensei has the greatest love: the love of a teacher for his class."
Sakura finished reading and said cheerily, "I think it's pretty good work."
Korosensei blew his nose into a tissue, apparently moved by the story. "It's wonderful!" he sobbed. "A tale of young love! Angst and insecurity solved by the fresh air of springtime and the brilliant idea of the teacher! That ending is especially good."
"Ending?" repeated Sakura. "That's not the end of the story. It's just the end of chapter one. I haven't even got to any of the good parts yet!"
Nagisa knocked his head against the wall in exasperation. He wondered if and when Sakura's spring insanity would ever end.