Well, here I am, sitting quietly atop the third year anniversary of Contradicting Mission with much to reflect upon. In truth, I don't remember what it was that sparked its original conception; I would simply walk home from school each day, poor, carless soul that I was, and would wonder and scheme not plots but simple, idle ideas that were meant for myself and only myself.
These personal, private schemes were the inner-most skeletal structure of CM.
Contradicting Mission was both a personal experiment, as well
as my reply to every generic fanfic out there. I have been
reading DBZ fanfiction for a good six years or so now, and have,
surely, read just about every 'typical' fanfic in existance. So,
pooling all of my own personal pet-peeves into one, large lists
of 'Don'ts', I started CM off with those standards. Of the
No Romance. I admit, it was a biased, personal decision. But I despise romance, and I consider it a farce. It is not written as an expression of care and concern between to people. Rather, DBZ writers either obsess over it, making the characters unable to think about anything other than the character the author wants to force them to like ("Though he had only known her for a day, he felt a strong urge to protect/love/kiss/have dreams about/talk to/kill for her." Bleh.) or they use it as a plot device (ie, having a character's beloved killed, so that they can advance in power another transformation or two.) To me, romance is a very fickle subject that only tends to lead to extreme out of characterness (ie, Vegeta being gentle and kind when around Bulma, which is, excuse my language, a steamy load of shit; another example would be for Gohan to suddenly behave 'cocky' or 'arrogant' when defending Videl's honor or some horribly monsterous other misconception.) Indeed, I refused to even add the almost required addition of "the sassy, independant chick who can take care of herself" which can be found in every (mark me, every) fic that involves a different location than earth.
Easiest way to solve this problem: Don't even include a female character. Aeesu-jin are entirely without gender, and though there might be some dispute about Eesei, there is no denying that love and romance played no part in my story.
No Super Saiya-jins. I did eventually break this rule, in the last few parts of CM, but that was after I felt sufficient time had gone by without. (The Super Saiya-jin was only featured in two parts. And 2/41 is not bad.). I think Super Saiya-jins are over-done, especially in action/adventure genres. They appear, basically, as frequently as the author feels like it. Always with their "golden auras" and the "teal/aquamarine eyes" and always, even if it's Gohan, they end up "smirking" or being random badasses. I got fedup with it. So, to avoid getting pinned down under such an area, I simply made Super Saiya-jin's impossible.
No Super-ultimate-unstoppably-powerful Villain. I was tired of the villain simply being stronger than the hero. Yes, having a superior antagonist does make it easier to have a plot... a very simple, 'every-DBZ-movie-plot', that is 1.)Bad guy/s come and are stronger than the protagonist/s 2.)Protagonist finds a way to win, either through a period of time spent training, or transformation or fusion or some technique or through the sudden and timely enterance of the author's other favorite character to help out. 3.)Protagonist/s then defeat the enemy, often with a lot of smirking and clever one-liners, usually ending with everyone passing out from exhastion in the end, followed usually by an epilogue taking place a week or two later showing either some random, not-very-funny scene, often involving 'bit players' like Roshi or Oolong ect. I managed to avoid this 'typical bad guy' by creating Henning. He wasn't stronger than Gohan in the least. He was simply very, very lucky.
The Variable-element Character. Always in fanfiction, there are two sects of characters: The Good Guys and the Bad Guys. A character can either stay Bad, where eventually his miserable, vile existance is ended by the Good Guy/s, or at some random turning point a Bad Guy will change his ways, see the light, ect, blah, and join the Good Guys for the rest of the story. So Joru came to be. He was never truely bad, egotistical, yes, maybe a bit cowardly, ethnocentric, but his intentions were not truely evil, while at the same time no where near Good. Throughout CM, he dipped in and out of "Good" and "Bad", staying with his brother, while unable to keep himself from helping Gohan at certain intervals though in the end, he finally decided to stay loyal to his brother over all else.
In-Depth Character Development. I could never stand it when the writers refused to explain a character's deeper thoughts. Sure, it could be explained what was on the top of their heads, minute to minute thoughts ("He assumed-" or "He mistakenly thought-" or "He realized-") But none of it was pick-them-apart-with-tweezers explanations of why. What goes on underneath their skin. What small memories spur them into action? What thoughts go through their heads to push them into doing things they would not nomally be mentally or physically capable of doing? None of this "he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly and smiled" crap, which in no way furthers plot, sparks interest, or helps a reader (or writer for that matter) to better understand the character. I refused to cop out and slink into the steriotypical character traits of "if the character is truely evil, he does not feel fear or regret!" or "when the protagonist is stronger than anyone else, he has nothing to worry about!"
I think it was partially by following these Don'ts that CM became as marginally successful as it did. By avoiding such common fanfiction traits, I left room for more surprises. (Surprise, by the last five or so parts, was the major element I was aiming for, to the point that I was going as outrageous as I could. It burned my stamina and scortched my conscience to the point that I almost ended the entire series prematurely by simply having the entire planet destroy itself, thus having the entire contradicting mission have been an absolute failure and the entire world ending. Fitting, wouldn't it have been? Fortunately, my beta, Rebecca W. -- the only girl in the universe who knows what I'll be doing ahead of time in my series -- convinced me to take a small break and think it through.)
And in the end (this I was very pleased about) I managed to by-pass the entire "hero gets strong, hero destroys enemy, hero saves the day", by not having the hero, Gohan, destroy any enemy. At all, really. He did nothing to bring about the end of the story; he just happened to be there when it happened, because I honestly don't believe that just because one person is the strongest he is the one that always gets to stop the fighting and end the threats and so on and so forth. Sure, some of the time but not every single time. In fact, in the end of CM, the only truely 'wicked' character, Heng, didn't die at all. No one killed him. He lived on. And yet more ironic, it was Heng who saved the day in the end, both by destroying the Tahch-jin and by reinstating the temporal ban on transformation, right in the nic of time, too. My entire point was to make things happen that weren't expected to happen. To keep the reader on their toes.
I have my own reserves about CM (especially the earlier parts, which I wrote when I was only fifteen, with only my scruples to guide me but not much talent to back myself up) but I am deeply proud of it, if only because it lasted me for three years now, rounded the turn over fourty parts, and was completed with a perfect degree of finality. I have no intention of continuing it.
Well. There's that, then.
Of all, I need to thank a few people:
First of all, I need to thank my beta, Rebecca Waesch, not only for all the (utterly strange) art she's since drawn for me, and for reading over each part of CM and picking at it to keep away the worst of the typos. For letting me bounce off ideas, and keeping me from making too many... rash... decisions.
Also, Gohan's Girl, author of Dragon Ball: Saiya-jin Team, for staying up all night discussing normally un-thought-of aspects of DBZ and it's players.
Daughter of Chaos, for being a long-time email friend, inspiring writer and talented artist.
And Mike Steele, whose utter madness was responsible for driving me out to create my own website, and continually offering technical support for its maintainance. (His crazed person aside, naturalich.)
It goes without say, of course, that I owe a lot of CM's continuation to all the people that reviewed and sent emails egging me on; I don't know if I write for them or to spite them, but despite which, they were by far the fuel which burned my fires of productivity.
Thanks, everyone. It was a blast. Let's see if Variation Elements can keep up to par.