-Writing The Next Dragon Warrior.
One night, January 18th actually, I just had the urge to write. Writing is usually my relaxing therapy. Quite a bit of my writing is to forget about the stress of every day life. So this would probably be a short story of a peaceful place. But along with peace there had to be comfort. I had recently played around in my mind the joke ideas of combining movies. One of them ended up leading to Kung Fu Panda/The Next Karate Kid. I had seen Kung Fu Panda with my friends over the summer and instantly fell in love with it. More than any movie I'd seen before. It only seemed natural to me that I'd write a story about it. Based solely on the titles I thought up "The Next Kung Fu Panda" or "The Next Kung Fu Kid." I decided to apply the title idea to the story I wanted to write. Ok, so a kid who wanted to learn kung fu. Peaceful place? The Peach tree of Heavenly Wisdom! and the comfort? Po! There was the idea of my story
I figured this would end up being like any of my other story ideas. I'd write a few paragraphs, expand each line a little more, and with any luck I might even finish it. It would be a couple pages long. A few of my friends would read it and if I said it was ok, maybe my family too.
Never, did I think it would be read by so many people, let alone people in other countries, be over 20 chapters long, and above all, be liked.
I had heard the term "fanfiction" before, mainly used by anime fans at school, but I just considered it stories by wannabe writers. Therefore I never referred to my writing, even if it was about a movie or show, as "fanfiction." I'd soon find my self not only calling what I wrote "fanfiction" but proudly proclaiming my self "a fanfiction writer."
The very same night I wrote a few lines of my story, I was searching online something about the Kung Fu Panda book "The Secret of The Scroll." I began searching through the book online but when I couldn't get to the part that talked about how Shifu took in Tai Lung, I put in "Tai Lung back story" into the Google search engine. The first article was from a site I hadn't heard of. When I clicked it I came to my first fanfiction story ever, "Love Struck Snow Leopard." (Thanks Sindalstar!) After reading the first few lines I realized this wasn't something from the movie, but I liked it. (I learned a new word: drabbles) After finishing this story I soon read other stories on the site of humor, family, adventure, romance... Some of it had been some of the best writing I'd ever read. So this is really fanfiction. I couldn't believe this many other people wrote stories about Kung Fu Panda like me. Then for the first time I took in the title of the site. - unleash your imagination. It suddenly hit me that this is what I needed. A way to get my work out. Motivation to get my work out.
A few days later I wrote the first paragraph as a short flash back explaining how Jo ended up at the Peach tree, but after seeing the short film "Secrets of the Furious Five" I took the idea of Po's lesson and expanded it into a whole Summer Training Camp. I began to realize this was going to be too much for a mere flashback. So I expanded even more. The first Paragraph became several paragraphs, now the Prologue. Then even more chapters were made.
I named my character "Jo" after my middle name and my pen name on the site (without the "e" at the end) and also because it rhymed with "Po." I later made his middle name Dakota. I always feel like all characters have to have a middle name mentioned, even if it doesn't make a difference. Now came another hard part for me. What kind of animal was Jo going to be? I resisted the urge to make Jo another panda (or red panda), but this meant I couldn't name the story "The Next Kung Fu Panda" without it sounding stupid. And not wanting to sound like I was completely basing it off "The Next Karate Kid" I also didn't name it "The Next Kung Fu Kid." I eventually stuck with "The Next Dragon Warrior" which in the end made the most sense out of all the choices.
For a while I couldn't decide whether to make him a rabbit like the rest of the students in the short or something different. I eventually went with what turned out to be a more opportunistic choice; A badger. One reason I love badgers is the fact that some people consider them harmless, but they can be very capable of defending themselves. This ended up being the very same reason it was a suitable animal. At the same time I didn't want Jo to be raised with this badger instinct so I gave him foster parents. Like with Jo, I had a hard time deciding what animals to make them. I originally thought sheep or wolves but decided on foxes. I made there last name "Crevan," the Irish word for "fox." Since then, some of my friends have asked if I had Jo adopted as a homage to Po's and Tai Lung's similar lives, but in truth, it wasn't.
I felt like there had to be more to the story than this. Jo's conflict currently seemed mainly man vs. self/surroundings conflict. I wondered if I should add a man vs. man conflict in the story. Jo was supposed to feel isolated and shunned. Maybe I needed someone to make him feel that way. But here I began to wonder again. Did I need to give Jo a rival? Was it really necessary? I decided for it and, again, a very opportunistic decision, and ended up being a very important decision to the plot. So I invented the character Park. (kraP spelled backwards)
Park began to form from two very real people in my life. The first I'll call Nathan. I met Nathan during my Freshmen year of high school. He was the new student and also on my bus. The second day of the new school year we ended up sitting next to each other. Somehow I'll never remember he got on the subject of his family and how his parents were divorced, his father is a drunk, and his mother's side of the family hates his family for reasons unknown "My grandma didn't even call to ask how my first day of school went". Being a natural person I took pity on Nathan which ended up being a terrible move. Nathan soon started hanging out with our clique on the bus and no sooner had that happened than he became a straight up creep. I started to wonder if he made up the whole story about his life. He started making fun of me for the stupidest things and once he was deep enough into my clique he shunned me right out of it. Every couple of days he would tell me his inevitable "Go kill yourself," "Go hang yourself," "Go cut yourself," "Go slit your wrist," "Go jump out a window," "Go play in traffic," or (the one I mentioned in the book) "Go jump off a cliff."
The second person I'll call Logan. Logan, I met back in 8th grade but we never officially became friends until my sophomore (his freshmen) year. Over about a year, we realized we both liked writing so we occasionally exchanged works.
In all honesty I was never completely impressed with his writing. His first story idea sounded ridiculously similar to "The Chronicles of Narnia" and his second idea sounded to similar to "Quest for Camelot," but I could tell it had potential so like any good friend I gave him my critique, which he usually ignored. But then, some time during my junior year I began to notice more and more how Logan loved to insult me. It started out as jokes but soon it got to be offensive. Then it spread to our critiquing. At the time I had told him my idea of starting a story on this new site I found, and he immediately gave me this "yeah right/seriously?" look then said something like "Joe, it's impossible to make a fanfiction story good. No one is gonna want to read that." But I ignored him and kept up with my story he actually gave me a nice review once but has since lost all interest and support in my story. But I persisted with my dream and writing and even began to work it into the plot of my story.
And so Park became a character based off these two guys, a creep and a dick.
I wondered if Jo needed more friends. True, Po was more of a friend than he would ever need, but I worried whether or not it was that realistic. One of my writing friends expressed the same thought. I was already thinking about the idea of Lucas, but when the 9th chapter came around I also added Dew. Both Dew and Lucas were based off real friends I had, each of which I credited in their middle names.
I began to worry about what would become of my story. After Jo meets Po where would that lead?
After I had gotten a lot of praise on chapter 6 the story seemed to slow down. Three weeks went by and I hadn't gotten a single review on any new chapter. Had my story already jumped the shark? I still persisted.
Fight scenes became common in the story and (as I've mentioned) I realized they were a difficulty for me to write. And every time I wrote one I knew I'd have to outdo in the next one. In the end, amongst a bunch of brainstorming daydreaming, I felt I'd acomplished what I wanted too.
I continued to take occasional risk with the story, but there were still several parts where I was afraid I might be, as they say in movies, "nuking the fridge"
* Tai Lung's "counterattack"
* Po's suggested death
* My fake ending
* The use of the word "Crap"
* The staff piece "exploding"
I was surprised to see the traffic on my story never lessened during any of these parts.
Due to Jo's occasional prayers in the story, I've gotten some questions from people inquiring my religion and whether or not I believe in God. The answer is "Yes." I am a Christian, and while I would love to go into my testimony, that's not what my fanfiction story is about. If my story was completely centered around God I would have put it in the "Spiritual" genre. I'm not trying to convert people on this site. Just to entertain readers from what is my point of view.
The focal point of my story comes down to a saying I read by Hollis Conway, "You never make it past what you aim." People, don't stop going after your dreams. Don't let others tell you you're not good enough. They're not the ones that control your lives.
I've taken many wise sayings I've heard in life to use, like Jo, much of it has helped me. That's why this entire story is dedicated to the "Po"s of my life,
C. S.- Always made feel like I wasn't so different, or that I was different for a reason
J. H.- Always went out of his way to make me feel included
T. F.- Always cheered me up when I needed it. And also aided me quite a bit in the writing of this.
While I do wish this story could get as much fame as a published book, I am happy with the turn out. I can't say it enough; Thank you so much to all of my readers, reviewers, subscribers and friends on ! I couldn't have done any of this without you!
I hope you all have enjoyed reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Joe "Po" Navark