Kataang or Zutara?
This argument has come up a lot, what are your opinions about Kataang and Zutara? Which pairing is more likely? Do you think they're age differences really matter? Everyone's invited! Keep it respectful, though.
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AFreshlyPickedPlum

May I ask why? Why is it that a simple thing like a boy being younger is gross, but things like threatening an girl or betraying her kindness are considered touching or the basis for acceptable romance?

I don't know. Honestly, that's just my personal opinion and instinct. I'm not saying that it's wrong for Aang to crush on Katara. I'm just saying that even in my social life, when there is a couple with the girl being the older, I do not favor it. I don't hate it, it's just not my favorite. I'm not asking anyone to change their opinion, I'm just expressing mine since this is, after all, supposed to be a peaceful vote, not a shipping war zone. I wish that people would stop trying to PROVE to other people why their ship is the best and try to change other people's opinion. Everyone has their own opinion and they have a right to have their own opinion. I find it saddening when a hardened Kataang is being overloaded with hate mail just for their beliefs (or vice-versa). Another thing that bugs me is when people begin repeating themselves in order to make their point. I think I have seen the age issue multiple times throughout this forum, as well as its retaliation, which points out that both Aang and Katara are mature way beyond their years. This also shows how some people can overreact in response to a point made against their ship.

In response to your second question, I personally find this touching because it can show how much a person can change as a result of being shown kindness. Also, it shows how a scarring childhood can create such evil in a person's adult/ young adult life. I like this aspect of Zutara because it shows that Katara had the determination to change Zuko for the better, and that she was willing to accept him and give him a second chance, in spite of the hurt that he had caused her. Again, I am tolerant of both ships, and I am open to a friendly response. But please, be respectful of other people's opinions.

5/23/2011 #301
flawsmadebeautiful

I too believe in both ships. Nobody yell at me, I am a honest Kataanger and a devoted Zutarian. I write both but in my own opinion I write zutara much better, but I find that I think Kataang looks better on camera. I hold nothing against either ship, I read both ships. But I generally write them depending on the idea and plot of the story and set the pairing as what I think fits it best and does it justice.

5/23/2011 #302
Fullmetal Catalyst

I wish that people would stop trying to PROVE to other people why their ship is the best and try to change other people's opinion. Everyone has their own opinion and they have a right to have their own opinion.

A reasonable request. Sometimes, however, people are trying to prove certain points within the show or the show's characters. Some aspects of a relationship would not happen. I believe I know Zuko's character reasonably well, and some arguments that support Zutara simply detract from his struggles in a huge way. I also believe I know Aang's and Katara's characters rather well, and I've seen more than one Kataang argument that bewilders me with a lack of logic.

The opinion thing has come up before. I understand repetition may bug you, but this needs to be said. Everyone has the right to have their own opinion of the show. Everyone ALSO has the right to have their own opinion of someone's opinion. The right to have an opinion is sacred, inviolable, but the opinion itself is not sacred by any means. Furthermore, there is a distinct difference between opinion and interpretation of character/show that is sometimes blurred by debaters on either side.

Another thing that bugs me is when people begin repeating themselves in order to make their point.

I can only speak for myself, but I only do so when a) newcomers have not read more than the last five or ten posts or b) when the people I'm speaking to continue to willingly ignore it. It's not fun, I don't really like it either, but sometimes it has to be done because it's a very solid piece of material.

As for the age thing, I find it a ridiculous "argument". The writer-creators of the show strove to show that age didn't matter. If age did matter, then I would question those who want Katara, a 14/15-year-old girl, to be at the mercy of Fire Nation politics.

I like this aspect of Zutara because it shows that Katara had the determination to change Zuko for the better, and that she was willing to accept him and give him a second chance, in spite of the hurt that he had caused her.

From a pure fandom standpoint, I agree with you, and there is a lot of potential within the imagination here.

From a non-oneshot writing standpoint, there are a LOT of things that need to be worked around. A writer needs to be very, very aware of what he/she is tackling and the issues inherent in it. For example, Zutara "fluff" is extremely difficult to handle, because Zuko and Katara just don't have a fluffy relationship. Said writer also needs to ensure that his/her plot and story environment are strong enough that such a relationship would happen, e.g. what's Mai's take on all this? Etc. Doable, but I believe such things SHOULD be taken in account.

I don't have a problem with Zutara. A couple of my best friends are die-hard Zutara defenders. I only have a problem when it's horribly written...which, due to the fine line between IC and OOC, tends to happen with the vast majority of the stories out there. It's possible to make a Zutara relationship work, but most writers appear to be more concerned with THEIR picture of the characters than with who the characters actually ARE. (this happens in just about every ship, by no means only Zutara) As such, a number of people who love the canon characters get ticked off.

It's fine if the writer in question doesn't concern him/herself with these things...but then he/she should hesitate to complain if he/she gets jumped on by staunch canon defenders.

5/23/2011 . Edited 5/23/2011 #303
heza08

I'm new to the discussion. Hi all!

Said writer also needs to ensure that his/her plot and story environment are strong enough that such a relationship would happen, e.g. what's Mai's take on all this? Etc. Doable, but I believe such things SHOULD be taken in account.

How much you have to take into account, though, depends entirely on where you've picked up with the story. You don't really have to deal with Mai's reaction to anything unless you're trying to write S3 Zutara. At that point, yes, she's definitely a factor if you want the story to make sense, as are a lot of other things--Aang's infatuation, Zuko's CoD betrayal, etc. I think that's why capture fic is so prevalent. It's easier from the standpoint of getting around these things. S1 Zuko has fewer influences, and his goals are pretty straightforward. He's easier to re-purpose for the storyline at that stage and has fewer marks against him in Katara's eyes (not having been tied to the tree yet or betrayed beneath Ba Sing Se). And the "capture" effectively forces Katara and Zuko into close quarters, sans Aang.

I'm not a purist, though. I pay as much attention to canon factors as I can, but the appeal of fan fiction for me is the exploration of different scenarios. I don't want to tell (or read) the exact same story in a slightly different way or just from another character perspective. I want something major to change, and I want to expose characters to a new situations and see how they react. That's what I love most about fan fiction--the diversity. It's like an Avatar multiverse: Worlds where Kya never died, worlds where Zuko was captured by the Water Tribe, worlds where Yue and Sokka got to be together, worlds where Iroh kept the throne....

That might actually be another reason I favor Zutara from a story-telling perspective. Kataang happened, and I liked the way it happened. For me, while you can explore the nuances within that story and you can tell about what might have happened later on, there's really no point in telling it a different way. For me. Because I'm satisfied with the way it played out. Zutara, on the other hand, by virtue of being feasible only in an AU situation, has more potential, in my opinion, for new storylines. It didn't happen, so you have to tell it any other way that what actually occurred, and for it to be good, you have to be creative and thorough in the execution. The challenges and the breadth of the canvas appeal to me.

And I still think that a good writer who knows and loves the show can explore these scenarios and still keep character personalities intact.... more or less. I had a discussion with a fellow writer once about how all fan fiction begets OOCness to some extent. Events shape character and if you change those events, you sometimes change the character. Of course, if you're more nature than nurture, you could argue that some parts of personality will always be present, no matter the reality the character is subjected to. I think if those bits are kept true to the character, despite whatever other AUness is going on, the new version can thrive in a recognizable way.

I won't pretend everyone feels this way. There are a lot of readers who hate any change at all, there are readers who don't mind complete overhaul of personalities as long as the plot is going the way they want, and there are readers who fall somewhere in between. We're all on a Canon Continuum. It takes all kinds, I suppose, and if there's a reader market for it, then it's going to get written. Nothing we can do about that.

I read this whole thread. I'm not going to get into the opinions of opinions of opinions thing... but I will get into my take on the age deal.

As for the age thing, I find it a ridiculous "argument". The writer-creators of the show strove to show that age didn't matter. If age did matter, then I would question those who want Katara, a 14/15-year-old girl, to be at the mercy of Fire Nation politics.

I've dated younger, so I'm not going to quibble about the age differences between Katara and Aang vs. Katara and Zuko (because they're really pretty much the same difference). Nor will I suggest that girls mature faster than boys and therefore, Zutara makes more sense than Kataang.

I will say that I think relative age of the couples plays a part in my shipping preference. I'm an older reader (and I like some element of romance in my reading), I have more adult tastes, and I don't relate all that well to young kid romance anymore.... I'm pretty much mid-teen and up, now, as far as what I enjoy reading. Jaded old person, I guess.

But my point is that you can do more with Zuko, as he's aged in the show, than you can with Aang (within my personal comfort level). I love Aang, I do, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable reading fic where he's exploring his sexuality at his age, even toward the end. Yes, there's future fic, which is fine, but I have the same trouble with (a lot of but certainly not all) future fic that some people have with forced non-canon couplings. The personalities seem to shift quite a bit under the guise of them having been "aged." That's true. We do change with age, but it's one of the reasons I prefer stories in the current time line. People have different interpretations of how each character might have turned out given several years.

But that's not even what I wanted to talk about with regard to age. I've seen many times in this thread statements to the effect that "age doesn't matter." And that sort of hits me as unfair to the show. I should allow that those statements might have been made with regards to dating relationships, only, but it still sounded odd to me. Was that not a big part of the show for anyone else? For me, a huge factor in my respect for Aang and his allies were their ages... the fact that they were doing all of these truly awesome things; dealing with such profound loss, fear, and hope for the future; fighting like adults, often with adults; making life or death decisions; shaping the destiny of the entire world; and doing it all as kids, with the same awkward uncertainties, self doubts, and confusion that all kids have. To me, age mattered a lot, and I get starkly reminded that they're just kids all the time in the show, like in "The Guru":

[On to the Council of Five meeting, where Katara and Momo are present.]

General How: General Fong's base will serve as the launching point for the attack. In exactly two months, the army and navy will invade the Fire Nation

on the Day of Black Sun.

[Momo jumps on the map and begins knocking over the pieces.]

Katara: Or we could send in Momo to do some damage! [Chuckles.] Sorry.

General How: All we need is the Earth King's seal in order to execute the plan. [Sends the scroll across the table to Katara.]

Katara: I'll get these scrolls to him right away. Thank you, General How.

There she is, a Master Waterbender, the Avatar's representative at a war council, sitting with all of these hardened military men, planning a war, and suddenly, you're reminded that she's a kid. This adult world isn't hers, she's not ready for it, she's sometimes inappropriate in it, but she's been thrust into it and doing the best she can. That, to me, adds power to the story and everything they've been through and are trying to accomplish. I think it's dismissive to say that age doesn't matter at all. True, their ages didn't prevent them from accomplishing their goals, but their ages made those accomplishments even more amazing.

5/24/2011 #304
Mrs Pettyfer

Well heza08, I have to say I agree with pretty much everything you said, lol!

How much you have to take into account, though, depends entirely on where you've picked up with the story.

I agree fully with this. The 'capture' is done a lot in Zutara fics but it does eliminate other issues you'd have to address. Like you mention..Mai, for one. They aren't canon until S3 so technically we don't know where they stand beforehand, as it isn't mentioned. And at that point, I don't think Aang and Katara are anywhere near romance. Like you said, it gets Katara and Zuko alone...which is a start. Like in The Hunger Games, when two people are forced together (Katniss and Peeta), it gives the writer an opening to present moments where romance can flourish. But at the same time..S1 Zuko is much more hot tempered..and well, sort of mean, lol. His mind is set on capturing Aang, and at that point he doesn't respect Katara (like he does in S3) so actually getting them to the point of falling in love would be very difficult.

That's what I love most about fan fiction--the diversity.

Same here. =)

Events shape character and if you change those events, you sometimes change the character.

This is something I've really started to look at while writing, because I think you're right. To me the characters are both nature and nurture. Part of what makes them who they are is the things that have happened to them, their experiences, etc. And I think there's personality traits that will be there no matter what. When writing a fic, especially AU, I think some adjustments should be made to their character. If Kya hadn't died, Katara wouldn't be the exact girl we know her to be. When judging how 'in character' they are in fics, I think readers should take into consideration the events and aspects of the 'world' they're putting the characters in.

Zutara, on the other hand, by virtue of being feasible only in an AU situation, has more potential, in my opinion, for new storylines. It didn't happen, so you have to tell it any other way that what actually occurred, and for it to be good, you have to be creative and thorough in the execution. The challenges and the breadth of the canvas appeal to me.

I agree as well. It's a challenging ship to pull off, but most certainly quite interesting.

But my point is that you can do more with Zuko, as he's aged in the show, than you can with Aang (within my personal comfort level).

Yes I'm with you here. With romance, I personally don't feel comfortable reading about Aang exploring sexuality. Not when I have the image of how he is in the show. Not even looking at his age..just him in general. There's just some characters that don't interest me romantically. To be honest, I don't want to read about any of them having sex or those ridiculous lemon stories. Blah.

5/24/2011 #305
Amira Elizabeth
For me the one who has the least romantic appeal is Zuko. I didn't like the character. In fact, if not for Mai, I would have sworn he would have ended the series not in a romantic relationship. Romance stories featuring him are just blah. Out of the three males (even Aang being as young as he is) Zuko is the least interesting romantically. In fact most of the romance based stories turn him into something that he isn't - a suave, almost prince charming type. Or he's uber brooding and needs healing. But he's never the dork who could barely converse with a girl or they guy who until Mai even noticed noticed girls. Which given his age kind of made him a non-romance material (considering his younger couterparts were definitely thinking about romance). In terms of fan fiction, I think there is a line when it stops being fan fiction and starts being original stories with recognizable names slapped on. I like Avatar. The world Mike and Bryan created. And it's become almost this dirty thing to prefer stories that respect the opinion of the creators and their characters and relationships. Honestly I think this need to twist, warp, and AU everything to death is what has dropped the quality of avatar fan fiction. You can't find a good decent Gaang story because there are forty thousand high school AUs, fanon ships, and a billion and one ways make Zuko walk on water. Again, the bulk of the stories seem to be leaning more towards original fiction with the characters names slapped on.
5/24/2011 . Edited 5/24/2011 #306
AFreshlyPickedPlum

I can only speak for myself, but I only do so when a) newcomers have not read more than the last five or ten posts or b) when the people I'm speaking to continue to willingly ignore it. It's not fun, I don't really like it either, but sometimes it has to be done because it's a very solid piece of material.

Thank you for enlightening me to some of the reasons why some topics get repetitive. I believe that the first reason is plausible, and acceptable. As for b, I think that the best way would be, not to repeat the entire post, but to refer back to a previous post in which you addressed the same or a similar topic.

A reasonable request. Sometimes, however, people are trying to prove certain points within the show or the show's characters. Some aspects of a relationship would not happen. I believe I know Zuko's character reasonably well, and some arguments that support Zutara simply detract from his struggles in a huge way. I also believe I know Aang's and Katara's characters rather well, and I've seen more than one Kataang argument that bewilders me with a lack of logic.

I also believe that it is fair to express your opinions, just as I have, but that there is a fine line between free expression and ship evangelism. I especially dislike when an argument from either side either does not make sense and was only made to make a statement, or when a long, drawn-out post is made solely for the purpose of pointing out every single fault in the other ship in the harshest way possible. That, to me, is wrong and should be outlawed universally.

5/24/2011 #307
heza08

S1 Zuko is much more hot tempered..and well, sort of mean, lol. His mind is set on capturing Aang, and at that point he doesn't respect Katara (like he does in S3) so actually getting them to the point of falling in love would be very difficult. S1 Zuko is difficult to muster sympathy for, I'll grant. And to keep Katara's goals and motivations intact, there can't be anything between them until he's gone through his metamorphosis. There were several pivotal events that spurred that, things you miss out on if you start in S1. At the same time, if you rush Zuko through his metamorphosis, then you lose all that intensity he had through the first season and his angst from the next two seasons. So you're right. In some ways it's easier, but in some ways, it's hard to do well. I think the key there is to not rush it. If Kya hadn't died, Katara wouldn't be the exact girl we know her to be. When judging how 'in character' they are in fics, I think readers should take into consideration the events and aspects of the 'world' they're putting the characters in. I think you have to know a character really, really well to be able to fiddle with their personalities that way, to understand how pulling out different threads is going to change the tapestry of their lives. I think it's a great exercise from a character study perspective.

To be honest, I don't want to read about any of them having sex or those ridiculous lemon stories. Blah. I'm not going to lie. I'll read a good lemon. I like them in the context of a good character-driven story, though.

5/24/2011 #308
AFreshlyPickedPlum

At the same time, if you rush Zuko through his metamorphosis, then you lose all that intensity he had through the first season and his angst from the next two seasons. So you're right. In some ways it's easier, but in some ways, it's hard to do well. I think the key there is to not rush it.I believe that the best way to portray Zuko's metamorphosis would be to simply start the story after it happens. I realize that it is hard to keep an even pacing whe you are rushing to get chapters up and trying to move the story along, and, honestly, it is a tedious thing to write. So, in my opinion, the best way tho show this would be to make the story a sort of epilogue.

5/24/2011 #309
heza08

For me the one who has the least romantic appeal is Zuko. Well, different strokes and all that... In fact most of the romance based stories turn him into something that he isn't - a suave, almost prince charming type. Or he's uber brooding and needs healing. But he's never the dork who could barely converse with a girl... I also don't like suave-Zuko fic. His awkwardness and inability to do anything right, even when he was trying, was a huge part of what I found charming in the character. I wouldn't enjoy a fic that perfected him.

5/24/2011 #310
AFreshlyPickedPlum

His awkwardness and inability to do anything right, even when he was trying, was a huge part of what I found charming in the character.

Ditto.

5/24/2011 #311
Amira Elizabeth
If it wasn't for other issues that I have, I might agree as well. But Zuko IMO doesn't hold a candle to Aang in terms of charm.
5/24/2011 #312
heza08

If it wasn't for other issues that I have, I might agree as well. But Zuko IMO doesn't hold a candle to Aang in terms of charm.

Well, I also like Aang. He has a wonderfully gentle, sincere, and happy personality. While Zuko was always entrenched in either mourning his losses or clinging to the only path he saw to his own future, Aang was able to live in the moment most of the time, which is really saying something, considering how much loss and uncertainty about the future he had to bear. At the same time, though, Aang also has some fantastic flaws that make him just as interesting and layered.

5/24/2011 #313
Mrs Pettyfer

In fact most of the romance based stories turn him into something that he isn't - a suave, almost prince charming type.

Omg I hate that. Or Katara being a sex driven w***. It's true a lot of Zutara fics make both of them very OOC. It takes a talented writer to pull it off.

His awkwardness and inability to do anything right, even when he was trying, was a huge part of what I found charming in the character.

Me too. I cracked up in The Beach with the shell and ice cream. :P

So you're right. In some ways it's easier, but in some ways, it's hard to do well. I think the key there is to not rush it.

Yep, that's the biggest issue I see with Zutara romance stories. Authors getting impatient. Especially dealing with S1, rushing just won't work. I read one, The Hunter and the Prey and it was a really good 'capture' Zutara fic. Zuko was a bit...harsher...but it was still pretty good.

5/24/2011 . Edited 5/24/2011 #314
Amira Elizabeth
Katara herself isn't that romantically mature. She's awkward and lacks confidence. People forget she spent her tweens and early teens in an isolated spot with no males her own age but her brother. I don't quiet understand where people get this notion that she is romantically wise and mature. Maybe it's cause she has b***. But heck, I know some folks with b*** who are far older than Katara who still aren't romantically mature.

And thank you for saying something nice there about Aang, Heza. It's few and far between, IMO, in this fandom. And on here.

5/24/2011 . Edited 5/24/2011 #315
Fullmetal Catalyst

Welcome, heza!

First off, I agree with you on a lot of counts. As for the age issue: I think that the age matters precisely because it doesn't matter. Or rather, what these kids do despite their age makes their accomplishments all the more impressive. But yes, most references to "age matters/doesn't" here should be in terms of romance :)

How much you take into account is a trade off. Zuko's a very tough boy to love in Season 1, with all the stunts he pulls. But in Season 3, you have a lot of additional situations to work around. Mai, Aang's death and rebirth, Zuko's betrayal, etc. Crossroads of Destiny provides a decent balance - the capture fic is potentially another good point, if it's done very very carefully. My personal preference with any story (but particularly with non-canon ships) is that it not be just about the romance. Rather than read someone's fantasy about Zuko and Katara, I'd like to ALSO see some chapters about how Aang tries to get her back OR goes after a new Waterbending teacher, then how Sokka goes to his father in desperation, culminating in a large-scale naval battle between Hakoda and Zhao, with Zuko maybe defecting because of Katara's influence, or maybe he goes permanently to the Fire Nation because Katara drives him away.

Much has been made about the fact that it takes a talented writer to pull Zutara off. I think it takes a talented writer to craft such a story around Zutara that he/she doesn't alienate every non-Zutaran. Same goes with most ships, but Zutara is generally considered the most controversial. So.

Now, said writer doesn't need to write anything other than a shipping story if he or she so wishes, but to me it shows hesitance, an unwillingness to step outside of a narrow boundary. Because romance almost never happens in a vacuum. There's almost always something happening around it. You show me what's happening around your romance/what's affected by it, and not just two names on a page smooching, and you're a hell of a lot more likely to get views from me. And, of course, it starts with the summary :)

5/24/2011 #316
AFreshlyPickedPlum

Well said! :)

But unfortunately, I am not good with summaries, as you can see by the two fics I have up.

5/24/2011 #317
Fullmetal Catalyst

Katara herself isn't that romantically mature. She's awkward and lacks confidence. People forget she spent her tweens and early teens in an isolated spot with no males her own age but her brother.

Not to mention that her brother had a bit of a male-superiority complex for a while. I won't make the argument because I don't see a point, but it could be contended that Aang brought out her romantic side - or rather, her ability to think in that direction.

I don't quiet understand where people get this notion that she is romantically wise and mature.

"Unleash your imagination" is the battle cry I believe fits here. It comes from the same place that all character shifting comes from - wishful thinking to suit one's story ideas. Although, to be fair, the story ideas DO need to be aired out, then the characters' IC-ness assessed. Have to take the risk in the first draft instead of hesitating for fear of going heavily OOC.

I mean, Katara's no total idiot, either, but she's also 14. Even ignoring the rest of her background, if she were romantically wise and mature in the show I'd scowl at the writers. This is one case where I'd say age, taking away all other factors, probably does make a small difference.

But unfortunately, I am not good with summaries, as you can see by the two fics I have up.

Haha, given my recent attempt at a new fic, summaries might be all I'm good at, so I envy you ;)

But when I'm talking about dumb summaries, I'm talking about the ones that include a "GO ZUTARA" or "KATAANG ONLY" at the end. When I read something in the summary that signifies it's a pure shipping fic, my eyes are more often than not moving to the next one. One-shots and personal recommendations being an exception. Just how I roll.

5/24/2011 . Edited 5/24/2011 #318
AFreshlyPickedPlum

Ah, I see. But it still doesn't improve my summarizing skills. I'm not even good at them as homework assignments.

5/24/2011 #319
Mrs Pettyfer

My personal preference with any story (but particularly with non-canon ships) is that it not be just about the romance.

YES. Straight fluffy romance stories bore me. I actually prefer action/adventure..maybe some violence in there...lol and then romance. Build the romance into the plot. I think it actually makes the romance stronger and more enjoyable that way.

And you're right..it does start with a good summary. And title, I think. What hooks me on a story is: reviews (because I've found really good stories DO have a lot of reviews), ships, summary, title. This is all at first glance, that is. The first chapter is obviously what hooks me once I start reading. If it's a completed story, I cheat and read the last few lines. Because I like knowing if it ends well or not..haha.

I think people try to overthink summaries. Sometimes something short and simple is the best way to go. Mine are almost always a quote from the actual story. :P

5/25/2011 . Edited 5/25/2011 #320
Fullmetal Catalyst

And you're right..it does start with a good summary. And title, I think. What hooks me on a story is: reviews (because I've found really good stories DO have a lot of reviews), ships, summary, title. This is all at first glance, that is. The first chapter is obviously what hooks me once I start reading. If it's a completed story, I cheat and read the last few lines. Because I like knowing if it ends well or not..haha.

Another thing that hooks me is, believe it or not, the original publish date and most recent update. If the 4th chapter has been posted a year after the 1st, I can reasonably assume that this author updates infrequently, and I don't like to be left hanging. On the other hand, 13 chapters in two months says something much different. Or whether the story is complete or new, which sometimes affects the reviews and sometimes does not.

I look at all those hooks as well, but summary is what really grabs me the most. When I read a summary, I think, "What's interesting about this snippet, and why does it make me want to read the story?" I think that writing a summary merely reverses the question. Maybe it's a devastatingly cool quote, maybe it's a chain of events, maybe it's a mention of certain character interactions.

I think people try to overthink summaries. Sometimes something short and simple is the best way to go. Mine are almost always a quote from the actual story. :P

Haha, I'm cursed with being unable to do short and simple (case in point: every single post I make on this forum). Quotes are generally a really solid way. There's a risk that without the context it might lose some impact, but the benefit of being a really solid hook far outweighs that.

Another thing I look at is the word count of the story. Out of curiosity, what chapter lengths do people tend to prefer?

5/25/2011 #321
Mrs Pettyfer

This is funny but I never look at word count, but rather how long it takes me to scroll to the bottom of a chapter! haha Now I typically like "long" chapters. Maybe around 4000-6000 words. Which is about how long each of mine are when I'm writing a novel. When a short story or say series of one shots, they're typically in the 3500-5000 range. :P I can't stand super short chapters unless I've been told it's a series of flashbacks or something. But if it's supposed to be a 30 chapter novel, I prefer them a bit longer.

What say you, Cadmos? :P

I think titles are sometimes hard to come up with, actually. I'm writing a HP novel, my version of 7th year, and buddy it took me ages to come up with a title. Ended up going with Forces of Destiny, which sounds super Avatar-ish but once I heard the score Forces of Destiny by Two Steps from Hell it sealed the deal for me.

5/25/2011 . Edited 5/25/2011 #322
TigerShadow

But when I'm talking about dumb summaries, I'm talking about the ones that include a "GO ZUTARA" or "KATAANG ONLY" at the end. When I read something in the summary that signifies it's a pure shipping fic, my eyes are more often than not moving to the next one. One-shots and personal recommendations being an exception. Just how I roll.

And often, those are the fics that Amira was talking about--original writing with recognizable character names slapped on. There may or may not be terrible grammar or simply way too much purple prose.

I'll read a good fluffy romance oneshot if it's got "humor" as a genre and is actually funny...it's probably because I get stressed out very easily and I need a little bit of humor. But lemons...I've never read one, mostly because the idea just sickens me. I'm sorry, but there's really no need to turn everything into this fiery, passionate, wild sex night. If that's your thing, go for it. More power to you. And if it's simply an included scene in some action/adventure story or something, that might be worth a read. But straight lemon...ugh.

The best Avatar stories have an in-character Sokka in them.

5/25/2011 #323
heza08

Amira:And thank you for saying something nice there about Aang, Heza. It's few and far between, IMO, in this fandom. And on here. If you want to start a conversation about something Aang-centric, then I'm happy to participate.

Mrs P: I read one, The Hunter and the Prey and it was a really good 'capture' Zutara fic. Zuko was a bit...harsher...but it was still pretty good. I read all of Hunter and the Prey. I was ocassionally bothered by the OOCness, but the storyline was sufficient to keep me interested in it. Still, I didn't especially think it was true to the characters. Also, I have to admit to being one of those who was disappointed in the ending. But with almost 1800 reviews, it proved amazingly successful as a fic.

Cadmos: My personal preference with any story (but particularly with non-canon ships) is that it not be just about the romance. Rather than read someone's fantasy about Zuko and Katara, I'd like to ALSO see some chapters about how Aang tries to get her back OR goes after a new Waterbending teacher, then how Sokka goes to his father in desperation, culminating in a large-scale naval battle between Hakoda and Zhao, with Zuko maybe defecting because of Katara's influence, or maybe he goes permanently to the Fire Nation because Katara drives him away. I agree, but with exceptions. You think of what makes good Zutara based on a non-Zutaran perspective. Zutarans have different opinions on what's satisfying for them in a Zutaran fic. I haven't been writing Zutara that long compared to most of the other writers on the site, but I have figured out that there's a delicate balance you have to strike if you want to keep readers happy. You have the group of Zutarans who, like you, want their romance surrounded by plot... but then you have that other group that wants them to fall in love and get it on by Chapter 3. To be successful at Zutara (from a Zutaran perspective), you have to have plot for group 1 and work in just enough of the token Zutara moments that group 2 doesn't get bored (but lightly enough that group 1 doesn't get sick). And that's tough--especially when forcing in some of the moments can make you feel like a sell out. Much has been made about the fact that it takes a talented writer to pull Zutara off. I think it takes a talented writer to craft such a story around Zutara that he/she doesn't alienate every non-Zutaran. Same goes with most ships, but Zutara is generally considered the most controversial. So. Well... I'll say, yes, that's true. It would take an exceptional writer to make a non-Zutaran like a Zutaran story. I doubt I could manage that. However, you have to consider the intended audience. Zutaran writers aren't writing for non-Zutarans. They're writing for Zutarans. So I'm not sure, if your goal is to entertain Zutarans (who have very specific requirements), it's wise to write with the goal of impressing non-Zutarans (who, frankly, aren't likely to click on your fic anyway). They're two different audiences. Now, said writer doesn't need to write anything other than a shipping story if he or she so wishes, but to me it shows hesitance, an unwillingness to step outside of a narrow boundary. Because romance almost never happens in a vacuum. There's almost always something happening around it. You show me what's happening around your romance/what's affected by it, and not just two names on a page smooching, and you're a hell of a lot more likely to get views from me. And, of course, it starts with the summary :) I don't think it shows hesitance if the writer writes a shipping fic... if that's what they intended to write and that was the audience they were trying to draw. It's just like mainstream romance. It's about the romance. Outside plot is secondary. It's a requirement of the genre. You don't skimp on the romance in favor of a complicated storyline about politics or magic or what have you. But I do think you need to make it clear in the description what you're intent is. The are audiences for both styles.

On summaries, I've been thinking I need to rewrite mine. I'm actually in the middle of an S1 capture fic, and I've gotten several reviews that start off with "I don't read capture fic, but..." and then they talk about how they're suprised that the fic goes beyond the obvious insta-love, capture plot. But the summary doesn't convey that at all. Still, I'm not sure what to do with it. A quote from the story is an interesting idea. There are several quotes reviewers have picked out as favorites...

On word count, I think I prefer the same as Mrs. P. For the chapter fic, I've written anywhere from a little over a thousand to more than 8K. Chapter length isn't really something I think about. I do get comments from readers that they like the longer chapters. I'm only really bothered by chapter length when a chapter is so long that I can't read it in one sitting or so much shorter than the surrounding chapters, for no obvious reason, that it looks out of place or like the author was rushing or posting just to post.

Mrs. P: And you're right..it does start with a good summary. And title, I think. What hooks me on a story is: reviews (because I've found really good stories DO have a lot of reviews), ships, summary, title. This is all at first glance, that is. The first chapter is obviously what hooks me once I start reading. If it's a completed story, I cheat and read the last few lines. Because I like knowing if it ends well or not..haha. There are also a ton of absolutely wretched fics out there that get updated often and are reviewed over and over again. So I haven't had much success in finding fics based on review count. Review quality, on the other hand, does tell me a thing or two. If the reviews are several insightful paragraphs, that means more than 400 "This is sooo Good! zomgs!" or something comments. I actually picked up my current reading list from some of the LJ communities' rec posts. So there's that too.

Btw, Cadmos, are we allowed to start a separate thread specifically for talking about Zutara fic, as far as the pitfalls, strategies to improve it, the inherent complications in the romance, etc? I'm still interested in discussing that, but since we have Kataangers in this thread, I thought it'd be better to take it to the side.

5/25/2011 . Edited 5/25/2011 #324
AFreshlyPickedPlum

This may seem a bit random, but do you guys have any tips for getting more reviews? I want people to review with their honest opinion, so that I can actually improve myself and my writing. I want to know what other people think, and incorporate that into the story, instead of wasting my time writing something that only fits my interests.

5/25/2011 #325
heza08

So I glanced at your fic, and on a skim, they look pretty decently written, so theoretically, I think you should be getting a fair number of conscientious reviews. My advice (and this is general advice and not necessarily specific to you) is to:

1) Write in a fandom with a lot of readers. G.I. Joe has 111 stories. Inception is a lot better, with more than 2500, but that's still a far cry from, say, the ~29,000 in Avatar. So if your goal is exposure so you can get a lot of feedback on your writing, pick a fandom where the writers are more prolific.

2) Pick a sub-genre within that fandom that's popular. Honestly, I picked Zutara because I wanted the feedback. I wanted to see if I could hold an audience and tell a story. Zutara had a very large reader presence. At the same time, I sucked, and Zutarans, maybe because they have to automatically suspend disbelief for their own ship, seemed to be more tolerant of mistakes. But if you're honestly just looking for numbers, then go where the numbers are greatest. But even then, be sure you're writing what you know and what you're comfortable with and entertained by.

3) If you're really looking for constructive criticism, consider getting a beta reader. The most important feedback I've gotten was during my brief association with the world's greatest beta. I don't think he's on the site anymore, and I'm currently engaged in a soul-crushing search for a new one, but it's definitely worth it if you find one you mesh with and whose advice you think is sound.

4) Ask your readers for specific feedback. Readers like to share their extensive expertise. So if you have a question about something you did or want to know what they think of the pacing or the characterization, let them know you're looking for comments about that kind of thing.

5) Update often. Regular readers tend to review more often if the updates are frequent. If you forget about the fic, the readers will forget about you and their excitement for the fic dies down. They'll catch it later, probably while they're distracted, and then might or might not review it. They're more likely to review a chapter if they're still on fire from the previous one.

6) Do your best to provide quality from the get-go. Readers are more apt to help writers they can clearly see are trying.

5/25/2011 . Edited 5/25/2011 #326
Amira Elizabeth

While solid advice, sadly it leaves a lot of readers out. I have no interest at all in Zutara. In fact many Kataangers don't. There are a lot of folks who want to read more canon based stories. However they just don't bother to ask or inquire anymore because there is never anything there. And new stories are not written. We tend to reread old favorites because no one is producing anything. And if you want a reader base that is appreciative and will give good reviews, look to folks like me.

5/25/2011 #327
heza08

Well, my advice was aimed solely on what I believe likely to generate the greatest number of reviews. I wasn't trying to preach on what was best for the readers; that would be an entirely different set of advice. I also wasn't suggesting everyone should always write Zutara, that was just my own example. I'm just suggesting that, if the what the writer wants is the most reviews possible, the writer should pick a well-populated fandom (possibly not even AtLA), figure out where the numbers are in that fandom, and post in relation to that.

5/25/2011 #328
Amira Elizabeth
I get that, but that's kind of just making the issue worse. I'm an artist. I get critiques and comments. And then one day someone said I would be way more popular if I drew Zuko fan art or Zutara fan art. Well, I'm not a zuko fan or a zutara fan and I don't draw for popularity. If you are creating just for visibility...well, yeah go ahead write something for a popular fandom or ship. But then again I'd rather have 5 faithful reviewers and fans of my work then a whole mess of folks going:"OMG!!!Zutara4ever!!!!!!"

Cadmos, can we discuss how lopsided the fan fiction is for Avatar

I'm fully prepared to be the forum meanie...LOL. I'm in IV therapy twice a week for 3-4 hours on a stretch. And I read a lot of fan fiction. Most of it isn't deserving of it's popularity or the reviews it gets. Most of it is the same 3 story ideas rehashed over and over. And most of it is zuko centric and Zutara centric. And I gotta say. It's alienated a whole bunch of potential readers amd reviewers. And if that is a harsh commentary than so be it. But its true. And sadly it's not going to change. But i have hope. If I read something good I will tell everyone including links to it in my LJ, twitter, dreamwidth, forums, etc. Something get me reading and excited about what's going on in it, I will talk it up to the hills. Word of mouth gets reviewers too, recs, etc. /p>

5/25/2011 . Edited 5/25/2011 #329
AFreshlyPickedPlum

@heza

Thank you for your solid advice! I am working on a fic for Artemis Fowl, which has a HUGE number of fics. I wanted to start out kind of small, to learn the ropes of fanfiction. I usually write original stories, but a close friend (and my beta) told me that I should try this site. So I'm slowly working my way up to the bigger fanbases, but I also find that it's harder to get noticed in those larger ones as well. You would need to be exceptional in order to attract attention. But as a writer in general, do you think that you could quickly give me an opinion, for self-improvement purposes? :)

5/25/2011 . Edited 5/25/2011 #330
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