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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Fullmetal Catalyst

In recent months, this forum has seen numerous discussions on what it means to write Zutara fanfiction. Because of the nature of Zuko's and Katara's characters, because of how their relationship plays out in the show, and because a late-series canon Zutara relationship would've required the splitting of not one but TWO canon relationships, it's not a very easy ship to write within the boundaries that canon sets.

I think the title says it all. Use this thread to discuss writing Zutara fanfiction...and perhaps AU stories in general. What problems does the author face? What complications do certain character friendships or romances present? How can you avoid or overcome these issues without compromising the integrity of your story?

And on another note: which audience will go for which story? What kinds of things do certain audiences jump on? Is there ever a time where you must choose between reader appeal and quality of story? How can you minimize the loss of either?

(While the original focus of this thread is on Zutara, other ships are welcome. I would ask that canon ships, however, get their own thread, for they are a bit of a different beast.)

5/28/2011 #1
Mrs Pettyfer

Thanks for posting, Cadmos. I'm working on an AU Zutara and was struggling with how to..pull it all together.

Anyone ever read The Hunger Games? (Cadmos, I know you have. :P) Well, that's what I'm doing. Hunger Games meets Avatar world. For those of you not familiar, basically the AU world I've created is one where the Fire Nation controls everything. No longer four nations, the 'avatar world' is now known as the Fire Nation. The world has been broken down into provinces. (Example, the Northern Water Tribe is now called Province 9) Each province sends forth one boy and girl every year to battle it out. 24 kids, 1 winner. That sort of story. :P

Now where I'm struggling is writing the Zutara in this. Sort of hard to fall in love with someone you have to kill. I'm trying to keep everyone in character, but at the same time I've adjusted them slightly because the "world" is much different in my story than it was in the TV episodes. Both Katara and Sokka for example are much more fierce because well, they have to be to survive.

If anyone is interested in the story, it's called The Black Games and I'd love input. I'm just nervous about writing such an AU and violent story. :P I've found alot of Zutara readers want fluff and romance..and well, my definition of romance differs from most, lol.

So I'm curious Zutara readers, do you prefer reading stories where it centers around canon? Or do you prefer post canon, or are you willing to try AU? I used to be hesitant on AU stories myself until I read Love Thy Enemy.

5/28/2011 . Edited 5/28/2011 #2
heza08

(Thanks Cadmos!)

Mrs. P:

I skimmed The Black Games. It looks interesting. I'm hesitant to read it too closely because I haven't read past the first book in the Hunger Games series, yet. Will your fic spoil me for the later books? Or is it totally different?

In any case, I think that AU fics neatly dodge most of the problems inherent in Zutara. No Aang, no pirate incident, no betrayal. All you have to deal with is their own personalities (which might or might not be exactly the same as they were in the show) and the whole enemies-from-birth aspect, which, face it, is a really highly visible plot in the romance genre anyway, so it does get successfully dealt with all the time.

I like some AUs. Honestly, it just depends on how well the AUness connects into the Avatar universe. Like, high school fics are AU, and while they seem to have large audience appeal (especially, I'm assuming, among junior high and high school readers), the universe itself is absent (only the characters have been used) so it doesn't appeal to me, individually (although, there have been exceptions).

In your fic, Mrs. P., I would assume the most difficult part is going to be massaging the character personalities so that they're still recognizable and yet account for the adjustments in their character histories. Second, how *do* you fall in love with someone you have to kill? I mean, if you aren't going for love at first sight, then how do you even get them close enough (without drawing blood) to make any kind of connection?

I think a fair number of readers like fluff, but I also think there's a huge market in Zutara fic for angst (I mean, come on, it's ZUKO), as well as hurt/comfort, which I think your fic probably has a lot of room for. My readers for my S1 fic who regularly review seem to have specific preferences - some go nuts over the sweet little moments and others comment on the lost moments, the endearments gone wrong, and the angsty self reflection.

As a reader, like I said, I can enjoy AU stories as long as they "fit" into the AtLA universe (or are really well written). I can enjoy post-series fic if the characters don't lose the personalities I've become attached to as they grow up. But I also like fic that picks up somewhere right in the middle of the show. I think what I don't like about any of these brands of fic is the over-done storylines. I'm not much interested in the "Zuko must marry Katara to keep his throne," "Zuko captures Katara in S1" (even though I'm writing one), or "Katara is a slave" (haha, which I'm also writing) stories UNLESS they have a really interesting, unique story point in the guts of the overdoneness that draws me in or are just beautifully written (which is also fairly unique in fanfic).

Honestly, in my current fic, what I'm most struggling with right now is pacing. How to keep the "realists" happy with a slow-burn romance, while also appealing to the insta-love Zutarans. And that seems to go hand in hand with the story vs. romance focus. To develop a slow-burn you really have to give a lot of focus to plot because the romance (devoid of any insta-ness) absolutely has to be driven by outside events, which in turn, are driven by the developing romance via character choices. But then, too much plot gets boring for those who have come for the romance, and I'm tempted to think that when you're searching out "Zutara" fics, specifically, it's the romance you're more interested in, otherwise, you'd probably just be looking for general AtLA fic. So I think Zutarans come to the fic with expectations. I will say that I'm surprised I haven't gotten any out-right flames. Despite obviously flaws in my summary, it's apparently effectively off-putting to Kataangers and Maikokians (?), so they're not even stumbling in to bash it. And the insta-love folks, while grumbling every now and then about how long I'm taking have been surprisingly patient. I'm going to venture a half-baked theory about that. Given that insta-love readers probably have a strong need for immediate gratification, I think they might wander in, immediately recognize how complicated the prose is, how long the chapters are, and get discouraged really early on, abandoning the fic just for trying to wade through the prose, before they have a chance to be offended by the romantic pace.

I'll admit that I hate the first half of my fic--partly because I feel like I've grown as a writer, and now my early chapters seem almost incomprehensibly purple to me in comparison to the later chapters. But it's also partly because I felt pressured back then to include too many very stark and gratuitous Zutara moments (now I have enough readers encouraging the slow pace that I feel comfortable doing it my own way). At the time, I didn't have a very clear idea of what I wanted the relationship to look like (I was just trying to develop my prose and I wanted to write Zutara), and now that I've settled on a course and I've given it a lot of thought, those early moments are so bungling to the fic. They're out of place and inappropriate. Most of them will have to be removed for the rewrite or really down played. I do worry about losing fans of the fic when I do that. What I might do is take them all out and give them their own one-shot series (sort of like DVD extras).

I have stupid, cutesy one-shots (I was so stoked the other day when I noticed that someone had mentioned one of my shorties in a fic rec on LJ because that's one of my benchmarks as a fic writer--to be publicly rec'ed). But my only other multi-chapter WIP is an AU universe where the Fire Nation and Southern Water Tribe were closely associated and then, waterbenders turned from respected advisors to enslaved tools/pets. I'm trying to keep the personalities intact, but it's really hard, given how I've set it up--Zuko entirely under his father's tutelage and Katara growing up as a slave. I'm not going to worry about it too, too much, though. It's going to be a weird fic (omni POV, present tense) anyway, with short vignettes and artsy-type writing (sort of in the same vein as my The Things They Wear short), which is sort of my attempt at emulating the style of Tempest in a Teacup.

Also, Mrs. P:

I picked up the Immortal Instruments book: Clockwork Angel. I've seen you talk about that series. Should I read Clockwork Angel first, or should I start with the (chronologically) later books in the series that were written first? Or does it matter?

5/29/2011 #3
Fullmetal Catalyst

(You're both welcome!)

@ Madame Pettyfer:

As a suggestion for backstory, Iroh didn't fail in his siege of Ba Sing Se, and that's how the Fire Nation took over. Iroh could be an interesting addition, IMO. Perhaps he enjoys the spoils of his conquest, or maybe he is starting to regret what he did.

I think an obstacle with writing Zutara here is that (as heza brought up) you have to figure out how Katara and Zuko, children from different Provinces but also different Nations, would avoid killing each other on sight in a game of Last Man Standing. You have a counter to the Fire/Water issue, though: in the Games, all civilization is stripped away (or is it?) and there are a lot of external influences that don't matter.

You should not worry too much about keeping Zuko and Katara in character as far as the show goes, because it's not the same universe. Rather, you should keep them in character as far as the events of your own universe dictate. Perhaps these Games, not hunting the Avatar, are how Zuko seeks to win his father's approval. Let's say Iroh DID conquer Ba Sing Se. Does Zuko consciously revere him from the start? How do Zuko and Katara meet? Is he basking in the Fire Nation's glory, or is he being kicked like an abandoned dog, or somewhere in between? How does he react to meeting her?

There will be hostility, there will be violence, but don't worry about it, and don't worry about your readers. Plenty of Zutara readers want pure romance, but there's a fair chance you'll hook a number of non-Zutarans and even part of the HG fandom.

The only real dilemma I see is, who'll be Katara's male counterpart? An OC, or her brother? Some might see an OC as sliding past the issue, but Sokka might be an insurmountable obstacle.

Will the Avatar feature in this story?

@ heza

I mean, if you aren't going for love at first sight, then how do you even get them close enough (without drawing blood) to make any kind of connection?

This led me down an interesting line of thought. Perhaps they can draw blood. Perhaps they can fight each other, and try to kill each other...as long as the violence itself doesn't get personal (i.e. "face of the enemy"), they can still form a bond. Part of the likelihood of connection will depend on why they've entered the contest and what they plan to do. Is Katara killing because she wants to survive or because she wants revenge or because she enjoys the bloodlust it evokes? Is Zuko killing because he thinks he's better than they are or because he's desperate for his father's love or because Firebending is becoming addictive? Etc, etc.

Honestly, in my current fic, what I'm most struggling with right now is pacing. How to keep the "realists" happy with a slow-burn romance, while also appealing to the insta-love Zutarans. And that seems to go hand in hand with the story vs. romance focus. To develop a slow-burn you really have to give a lot of focus to plot because the romance (devoid of any insta-ness) absolutely has to be driven by outside events, which in turn, are driven by the developing romance via character choices.

I'm not really sure how to advise, and I'm not the best advisor anyway seeing as I have yet to post any of my stories, but...Don't sacrifice any of your fic's quality in order to satisfy the insta-love craving. I understand there's a need to appeal to audiences and I admire your ability to grab both sets of people, but if there's a risk that it could compromise some of your story quality...and insta-love, particularly between Zuko and Katara (in ANY setting), can very easily do that.

Go with the pace of the plot. As long the romance flows logically, whether that means really quickly or really slowly, it'll do its job in appealing to people, and those readers who would prefer it to flow illogically aren't helping your writing.

And to be honest, I don't know what's considered a lot of reviews in the Avatar fanfiction world, but in the other two fandoms that I read, 400+ reviews is incredible. Something about your 17 chapters is grabbing people :)

But then, too much plot gets boring for those who have come for the romance, and I'm tempted to think that when you're searching out "Zutara" fics, specifically, it's the romance you're more interested in, otherwise, you'd probably just be looking for general AtLA fic.

Unfortunately I guess I have to agree. But too little plot and the story is no different from a hundred (or five hundred) other Zutara fics. It's a fine balance, I guess.

And with that in mind, what kinds of Zutara fics (S1 capture, S3 reconciliation, post-finale, total AU, etc.) require what kind of balance?

Zutara readers: What do you look for? What deviations from that (what you're looking for, that is) will you accept?

5/29/2011 #4
Mrs Pettyfer

Heza and Cadmos, thank you firstly! I really appreciate having another opinion on these things. =)

Will your fic spoil me for the later books? Or is it totally different?

No, it shouldn't spoil you at all. It's different enough from the Hunger Games. There's a death I'm planning to write in BG that's similar to one in HG, but you wouldn't know if you didn't read HG. :P If I mention it in an authors note, it'll have spoiler tags. =)

Second, how *do* you fall in love with someone you have to kill?

Yes, this is the toughest part for me. Right now I'm trying to think of traits of Zuko and Katara that will help them accomplish this. Zuko's honor is very important, and Katara has a weakness for helping people (even if she has to kill them). So I'm thinking there's going to have to come a time when they have to ally themselves together for a greater purpose (to take down Azula, perhaps). If Katara saves Zuko's life, I think his honor will stop him from killing her right then and there. He'll feel like he 'owes' her and that might be enough for them to spend time together. I'm thinking one of them has to get hurt helping the other...and so the other feels indebt. Or something like that.

How to keep the "realists" happy with a slow-burn romance, while also appealing to the insta-love Zutarans.

You know, I wrote a Draco/Hermione for Harry Potter which has some similarities with Zutara. Well, S1 Zutara. Because Draco and Hermione HATE eachother. They're huge enemies..and I flat out told the readers in my first authors note if they wanted a fast romance, this wasn't the story for them. I said I wanted to make it realistic and that would take time. I expected a lot of hateful reviews but honestly, they were really happy I went in that direction. Even the ones who want a quick romance were pleased. I think you just have to stick with how you think it should go, and the pace you feel makes the best story. In the end it makes the story stronger, and the readers will be happier.

Should I read Clockwork Angel first, or should I start with the (chronologically) later books in the series that were written first?

It doesn't matter, really. Clockwork Angel is part of the Infernal Devices series that takes place around the late 1800's. Then there's The Mortal Instruments series, which is more present day. You can read either series first. The author suggests reading City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass..and then Clockwork Angel. So the first three Mortal Instruments books and then the first Infernal Devices book. (The fourth MI book just came out, City of Fallen Angels) There's a few characters you'll see from both series, but the plots are different in both series and don't spoil anything. =)

As a suggestion for backstory, Iroh didn't fail in his siege of Ba Sing Se, and that's how the Fire Nation took over. Iroh could be an interesting addition, IMO.

Yes, Iroh is Zuko's mentor in the games. =) As of now the backstory is that Sozin used the comet (at a younger age than he did in the show) to take over Ba Sing Se and Omashu. Then over the years the Fire Nation was able to seize power over the other cities, since everyone sort of lost hope after Ba Sing Se fell. Roku was killed in the Avatar State, so there's no Avatar.

Perhaps these Games, not hunting the Avatar, are how Zuko seeks to win his father's approval.

That was my thinking. And since Azula is in it, he wants to prove that he can beat her. In my story, the winning province gets to nominate and vote on their tributes the next year, rather than a random drawing. So the Capital won the year before my story takes place, and Ozai decides to overrule the people's votes and chooses Zuko and Azula. (Because I'm keeping his hatred for Zuko, and he's that smug about Azula and believes she'll win)

How do Zuko and Katara meet?

I'm thinking they'll officially meet before the games start. During the training practices or something. See, Sokka was selected as male tribute but Katara volunteered--so Sokka didn't face death alone. So the games has 2 pairs of siblings, which is really rare. Katara and Sokka already gained attention for that reason from all the tributes, including Zuko and Azula. Zuko is also a little baffled and (he wouldn't admit it) interested in Katara because of the love she shares for her brother. Zuko doesn't understand that, because he knows Azula would never volunteer to be with him. So I think she already grabs his attention before the games start, even if subconsciously.

The only real dilemma I see is, who'll be Katara's male counterpart?

Whoops, already answerd that! lol But yes, I decided Sokka would be chosen and Katara volunteers. The odds of both being selected seemed too unlikely to me. Originally Katara was selected and Sokka volunteers, but I thought it would work better into the story with Katara volunteering. And she volunteers for Yue, by the way. =) Who happens to give her a very special gift. Not the mockingjay pin, haha but something very useful that will come into play later on. ;)

Will the Avatar feature in this story?

Nope. Since Roku was killed in the Avatar State, Aang is a normal Airbender. He's another tribute. I'm keeping two Air Temples, so the Airbenders are sort of a dying race. But two still exist. I didn't think it'd be fair for someone to be able to bend all elements in the games, and having the avatar around just made things more complicated. Plus without the avatar and the fall of Ba Sing Se, it made it easier for the Fire Nation to gain control because the rest of the world sort of gave up.

I do however have a plan about the cycle coming back together..though it's iffy. Too spoilery though, so I can't say my plan on that. :P

I'm not looking forward to killing the characters off..which obviously has to happen in this type of story. *sighs* I already know the top 3 tributes and final ending. I might write that now, actually, while it's fresh. haha

Is Katara killing because she wants to survive or because she wants revenge or because she enjoys the bloodlust it evokes?

Mostly to survive, because that's been her whole life--surviving. Her anger is geared more at the Capital rather than the tributes. There will be a revenge kill though. Southern Raiders Katara will make an appearance, lol. Plus I think being in that type of environment changes you a little. You become what you have to to survive. But yes, Zuko and Katara will have a fight. And blood. You can count on that. :P

But then, too much plot gets boring for those who have come for the romance, and I'm tempted to think that when you're searching out "Zutara" fics, specifically, it's the romance you're more interested in, otherwise, you'd probably just be looking for general AtLA fic.

See I think you have to find the right balance of the two. I personally prefer a story with a good plot AND romance woven into it. I don't want the romance to be the main plot, but a piece of the bigger picture. I think you really have to take the time to figure out the plot first, and then as you write, the romance really does just fall into play. It pushes the characters where they need to go, it helps them grow, it gives them comfort, etc.

But that's a different genre of a story. That's like..those epic stories, lol. Epic adventure/romance is VERY hard to pull off because it takes a lot of skill, time, and talent. Wren Sharpbeak wrote her version of book 3 in a sort of episode style and I was blown away. Romance is there, but the feeling from the show is there too. It's excellent. Wish she'd update though!

5/29/2011 #5
Fullmetal Catalyst

If Katara saves Zuko's life, I think his honor will stop him from killing her right then and there. He'll feel like he 'owes' her and that might be enough for them to spend time together.

An interesting question (also in the original show) is which honor will win out - the honor that leads him to betray Iroh in CoD and help slay Aang, or the honor that leads him to catch his falling lieutenant in The Storm and leave his home behind during Black Sun. One is true, one is false. I foresee this being a fun read :D

Zuko is also a little baffled and (he wouldn't admit it) interested in Katara because of the love she shares for her brother. Zuko doesn't understand that, because he knows Azula would never volunteer to be with him.

I was thinking about that when I was reorganizing my bookshelf and came upon Hunger Games (of all coincidences!). Katniss gets assistance from Cinna and Peeta in drawing attention to herself, but the very first act is one that defines her and sets her apart. I wondered how that would come out in yours, and it sounds like a very good way.

I'm not looking forward to killing the characters off..which obviously has to happen in this type of story. *sighs* I already know the top 3 tributes and final ending. I might write that now, actually, while it's fresh. haha

Curious, now that I think about it. We know that in the show, almost no one dies - Zhao and Jet, and Aang for a short time. There are plenty of nameless dead troops and such, but nothing is shown. BG is going to have rather explicitly stated (or shown) deaths if HG serves as a reference.

My question is: how easily do people die? All it takes in HG is an arrow here, a knife there, a bludgeoning over there. In A:tLA, we've got people flying a hundred feet into solid rock, we've got kids handling fire, we've got people breathing in oxygen and casting out lightning...So, are we going to lose half the tributes in the first exchange, or will they form distrustful packs as they try to take out people they've targeted? (I guess in other words, what's the timeline of the story, haha)

But that's a different genre of a story. That's like..those epic stories, lol. Epic adventure/romance is VERY hard to pull off because it takes a lot of skill, time, and talent.

I think there are some couples in fiction that lend themselves very well to a pure romance. I feel that Zutara, due to the natures of their characters, doesn't work as well as some other ships in a pure romance (although I don't think ANY Avatar ship really works THAT well in a pure romance...). I don't feel that Zuko and Katara would be a romantic couple in a vacuum -- they'd need some sort of series of events to change their initial impressions. As such, well, you don't have to go for EPIC stories, haha, but I think it's a disservice to the individual characters to put them in just a romance.

Even a book like Graceling, which is all about a single character's growth/development, has a bit of an epic quest feel to it as a result of having a defined, well, quest.

So what I think I'm trying to say is, I don't think it's that different. Epic adventure/drama/mystery/horror/etc. with a romantic subplot is indeed its own genre. But I think even the romance-first stories should have a VERY strong quest element to it, particularly in fantasy settings like Avatar. Otherwise, we run the very real risk of just writing the same stuff that's been written by romance writers for decades, no matter what ship we sail.

5/30/2011 #6
Mrs Pettyfer

An interesting question (also in the original show) is which honor will win out.

I'm thinking the honor that allows him to leave home will be Katara's window. Once he lets his guard down enough to let her in, the chips fall into play. And I think once you experience something to this extent with someone else, it leaves a mark on you. Their experiences together have to be enough for them to overlook the reality. (only one person can win) And be enough for them to consider sacrificing themselves in the sake of the other. So really, I have my work cut out for me with writing these "experiences" lol.

Katniss gets assistance from Cinna.

Took me FOREVER to figure out who was going to be the Cinna in my story. And Effie. Any guesses? :P

How easily do people die?

I was thinking about this. Because you're right, in the Avatar world they can withstand almost anything. But at the same time, that's probably for the sake of the show. Same thing with movies. You see someone fly into a wall 100 feet and think 'okay, they would NOT survive that.' But they do, because it's a movie or book or show. So I plan on keeping some of the general toughness of the kids, but I want it to be realistic at the same time. The first exchange, we'll probably lose 1/4 of them. I think these guys will last longer than the HG characters simply because they're not your average humans. Bending has to be taken into account.

I've got 16 out of the 24 that are names you'll recognize..the rest are OC's. :P

Is the book Graceling good? I've heard it is.

5/30/2011 #7
Amira Elizabeth

But that's a different genre of a story. That's like..those epic stories, lol. Epic adventure/romance is VERY hard to pull off because it takes a lot of skill, time, and talent. Wren Sharpbeak wrote her version of book 3 in a sort of episode style and I was blown away. Romance is there, but the feeling from the show is there too. It's excellent. Wish she'd update though!

It had the potential to be something interesting. The problem for me with that series is that Aang was just awful. He was silly, naive, and honestly often seemed there just to make Zuko look good. I know a few people Zutarian, canon-shipper, and non-shipper alike who didn't like it for that reason. And that is I think one "pitfall" that needs to go away. If you are writing an AU with Zutara (or any fanon ship) and you make Aang a murdering butthole (I have to stop hanging around my god-kids) and completely rewrite the story from moment one or from say when Aang loses Appa and goes crazy then that I think could be legitimate. You aren't trying to stick to the Ava-verse. And the audience is going to be given the idea that the characters are not what they are used to in some or many ways.

But the common thing I see a lot is that folks just demonize the rival. I read one the other day where Aang and Katara conceive Tenzin and then Aang for some reason is a j*** and abandons Katara and his child, thus paving the way for Zuko to step in and become Tenzin's dad. And it was awful. First, I don't ever see Aang leaving his child or being so terrible to Katara. Second, I think Aang would excel at fatherhood and want to be a dad. The demonization of Aang was done solely to not only make Zuko a better person for Katara and be all honorable and noble, but also to make sure that Zuko was a better father-candidate for Tenzin.

And at that point, just do the honorable thing and kill Aang off. To me, unless you are writing an AU - out and out character butchering is unnecessary, lazy, and doesn't really make one a good writer. Like I said before, I read a lot. And that "pitfall" is a big one and it is one that I think is a big turn-off to a lot of people (shippers and non-shippers alike).

It tends to make the romance a bit less believable when the only means of making it happen is to vilify the rival.

And high school AUs for any ship. Make them go away.

5/30/2011 . Edited 5/30/2011 #8
TigerShadow

But the common thing I see a lot is that folks just demonize the rival.

I can't stand that, honestly. I think it's really stupid to do that--it's one of those situations where you turn it into original work with recognizable names in there. Demonizing the rival to fulfill some sick pleasure isn't good writing. It's basically a writer not having enough good, true reasons as to why one person isn't right for another.

On TV Tropes, this is referred to as Ron the Death Eater, in contrast to Draco in Leather Pants. In the case of the former, a heroic character with a few faults gets all of said faults flanderized to make the character evil, usually so that his love interest can wind up with the person that the author wanted them to. The latter is when an anti-hero or a villain is treated as a sympathetic, abused Woobie, whether they actually are or not. This then flanderizes the character's good traits until this anti-hero or villain is turned into the hero, whereas Ron the Death Eater is when the hero is turned into the villain. Obviously, these came from two Harry Potter characters, Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy--the former of whom is flanderized by Harmonians into a thuggish, moronic, abusive r*** and the latter of whom is flanderized by fangirls to be this perfect, sweet and kind man who is really abused and bullied.

The parallels between Potter and A:TLA fandoms are similar. There are insane shippers on both sides, some of whom are canon Nazis and cannot accept any non-canon relationships or content in general lest it be contrary to the show, and some of whom ship their fanon pairing with such a ridiculous passion that they aren't even reasonable anymore. Two characters are commonly flanderized into something they're not--Ron/Aang is turned into a heartless, abusive j*** and Draco/Zuko is turned into a perfect, sweet Prince Charming. And both fandoms have the authors and the reasonable fans wishing that the loudmouth fanbrats would just shut up and move on.

Unfortunately, it doesn't tend to happen that way.

5/30/2011 #9
Mrs Pettyfer

^Oh gosh. Ron is treated worse than Aang. Authors are horrible to him in Draco/Hermione fics. I mean yeah, Ron is jealous by nature but he isn't an abusive psycho. I wrote a long Dramione and made sure I didn't make Ron the bad guy. Because he isn't. :P Though I do think Ron would react a bit harsher to Hermione falling in love with Draco than Aang would to Katara falling in love with Zuko. Just because Ron is more aggressive, jealous, and holds grudges until the end of time..compared to Aang.

5/30/2011 #10
heza08

Realistically, I see Aang wanting his friends to be happy, whatever that means for them or for him. I think if Katara obviously was in love with Zuko and vice-versa, he might be angry for a while, a bit bitter, but I think he'd step aside, try to be happy for them, and maintain friendships as best he could. But a crazy, cruel Aang just isn't believable.

So, that does raise a really good point about the base assumption for every Zutara fic: you have to get the girl away from Aang... The ones I can think of off the top of my head are 1) the story starts early enough that she doesn't realize how Aang feels and never reciprocates his crush, 2) she and Aang drift apart/want different things post war, 3) Aang dies, 4) in AU fic, she never meets him in the first place, 5) she realizes she feels like Aang is more of a brother to her... Any more?

5/30/2011 . Edited 5/30/2011 #11
Mrs Pettyfer

Same here. I think Aang puts others before him, and if he thought Katara was truly happy with Zuko (or someone else for the matter) and vice-versa, he'd be happy for her. Or at least he'd try. I wrote a one shot where Zuko and Katara are getting married, but it's in Aang's point of view. I tried to keep it how I imagined he'd react to that sort of thing.

I think your list is pretty accurate. Even in AU, they could meet and still not love eachother because it all depends on situation, age, experiences, etc.

By the way, just started reading your fic. Zuko is already cracking me up, haha. "I'm not a barbarian; I have no interest inWaterbenders." Lmao And you've captured Zhao nicely as well..I find he's a tough one to write that gets hardly any credit.

5/30/2011 . Edited 5/30/2011 #12
TigerShadow

Authors are horrible to him in Draco/Hermione fics.

Try the Harmonians. It's where the trope even got started...someone even described Ron/Hermione as "a failure of the American education system."

I wrote a one shot where Zuko and Katara are getting married, but it's in Aang's point of view. I tried to keep it how I imagined he'd react to that sort of thing.

I tried that, too, but I got bored with it. I finished, but it was pretty bad, so I scrapped it.

I always think about them drifting apart/wanting different things post bellum, mostly because that's just easier to write. You couldn't have had that and still relate it to the canon, because it would be AU and therefore non-canon. That's the fun part about AU if it's done right...you don't use the canon, but you do manipulate it to your various nefarious whims. :)

5/31/2011 . Edited 5/31/2011 #13
Mrs Pettyfer

Oh I won't even read a story if it's labeled Harry/Hermione. I hate that ship...makes me sick. Do you read HP over here or at HPFF, TS?

5/31/2011 #14
TigerShadow

Over here. I consider it a good source for fanfiction, being the most popular fanfiction site on the Internet. That's not to say you can't find good fics anywhere else, but it's pretty convenient. Of course, according to Sturgeon's Law, ninety percent of it is crud, but it's pretty great to find the ten percent that isn't.

I also write a lot for Harry Potter. I'm into a lot of other things, but I draw a lot of ideas from Harry Potter that I can't get anywhere else. Of course, now I'm writing a Sonic the Hedgehog fic, but in the meantime I'll try and get some stray oneshots published.

What about you? Do you do both?

6/1/2011 #15
heza08

Even in AU, they could meet and still not love eachother because it all depends on situation, age, experiences, etc.

I don't know. Aang popped out of that ice berg in love (or at least in "like-like", so... Katara, on the other hand, took a little longer with hers. I think, unless something is really drastically changed with Aang's circumstances or Katara is totally different, he'd be immediately smitten. Katara may or may not eventually reciprocate, depending out it turns out. But a think, as long as Aang is there, you almost always have to deal with some kind of feeling from him.

By the way, just started reading your fic. Zuko is already cracking me up, haha. "I'm not a barbarian; I have no interest inWaterbenders." Lmao And you've captured Zhao nicely as well..I find he's a tough one to write that gets hardly any credit.

Yeah, I was getting along with Zhao and then I went and killed him. Now I need a new villain. Thanks for reading, btw. Let me know if you have any tips on how to handle the Zutara aspect.

6/1/2011 #16
Mrs Pettyfer

I consider it a good source for fanfiction, being the most popular fanfiction site on the Internet.

Noo! Go to HarryPotterfanfiction.com. They actually have people who validate chapters over there and oversee the stories. That way you can't copy other stories or HP itself. They have quite a bit of HP fics over there..and good ones at that. That's where all mine are. :P

I don't know. Aang popped out of that ice berg in love.

Haha that is true. I should say on her part at least. But part of what brings them close is the circumstance of Katara finding him in the ice in the first place. Their situation is sort of set up to bringing them closer. In AU that can be totally different.

Let me know if you have any tips on how to handle the Zutara aspect.

Biggest tip? Just not rushing it. You've done a good job so far, but a lot of authors get too excited and BAM they're in love. I personally don't like lemons in stories because they make me cringe--and the characters are so young--but I've read that you plan on doing those. So I guess I'll have to get over it, haha. Do you plan on bringing Toph into the story? And Suki? Also, about how long do you plan on making it?

New villain..definitely go with Azula. She makes the best villain of all. :P

6/6/2011 . Edited 6/6/2011 #17
heza08

Biggest tip? Just not rushing it. You've done a good job so far, but a lot of authors get too excited and BAM they're in love. I personally don't like lemons in stories because they make me cringe--and the characters are so young--but I've read that you plan on doing those. So I guess I'll have to get over it, haha. Do you plan on bringing Toph into the story? And Suki? Also, about how long do you plan on making it?

New villain..definitely go with Azula. She makes the best villain of all. :P

Yeah, there's going to be some additional snogging and one strategically placed lemon. I guess you could technically skip over it. I do plan on bringing in Toph. I've already written her into some future chapters. I'm not so sure about Suki. In my story, Yue didn't die, yet she's still betrothed... so, I haven't quite decided what to do between Suki and Sokka. I think it's necessary to bring in the Kyoshi warriors, but I'm not sure if she'll be Suki-as-girlfriend upon entry.

I plan on making it pretty long. I'm almost to chapter 20, but I'm probably a quarter through the plot... if I keep all the elements that I'm planning on. People keep dissing the pacing of the plot because I'm not including enough time-passing chapters. So to do all I want, I'll have to find a way to pass the time, and I'm afraid it'll all get very boring.

Anyway, yeah, Azula is the new villain for now. I'm contemplating giving her a partner, but I'm also afraid I'll be crucified for doing it.

6/10/2011 #18
Mrs Pettyfer

I personally couldn't stand Yue/Sokka. *ducks and hides* I'm not even sure why. Well, I think it's because I prefer how Sokka saw Suki as an equal and quite literally, someone who could kick his butt. lol With Yue, he went into 'I have to protect you' mode. Helpless females irritate me, I suppose. So for Sokka, I did prefer Suki. I liked their relationship and I liked how Sokka learned to realize girls could be warriors too. So I'd be pleased if they get together, haha. That's my two cents.

Good, I like long stories. =) Reviewers can be harsh. And impatient. Don't let it dictate your writing because your story will be stronger if you stick to your guns. I think your pacing is quite good, actually. Especially dealing with season 1 Zuko and Katara, you really CAN'T rush things. Because they're both so difficult to work with in the first place. Zuko has his honor and Avatar to go after, while Katara is stubborn and fiesty. I think readers should realize with a S1 Zutara that it's going to take some time.

Ahh I'm not sure about Azula and a partner. I personally find her the type of character to stand alone. Though her interaction with Chan was quite amusing during The Beach. Honestly I don't think Azula is vulnerable enough for a relationship, lol. She's way too emotionally unstable, haha.

6/10/2011 #19
heza08

I wouldn't have Sokka and Yue together, but I do have to ask myself how quickly he would have gotten together with Suki if Yue had still be available to pine over and not safely in the sky, instead. I would, to some extent, like to show them getting together... but I'm not sure I could 1) do it with any satisfaction given that it's a Katara or Zuko POV (it would all have to be sideline observation stuff, and I'm afraid Suko fans would be upset by the lack of depth there), and 2) really keep up with yet another side plot considering all I'm going to have going on... but we'll see.

Most of the reviewers aren't griping about the pace of the Zutara but the rest of the story. Plot-moving chapters don't focus on the Zutara enough... but I still get complaints if I gloss over a non-Zutara scene to get back to the Zutuara because it looks like things moved to quickly. So, I feel like I'm either to fast or too slow, but never exactly on target. But that's a pacing problem with my writing, I guess, and not a pitfall for Zutara in particular.

I wasn't planning on giving Azula a romantic partner--just a partner in crime, aside from Ty Lee and Mai, another someone on staff whom we've met before. I don't want to say (because I don't want to give it away and because of aforementioned crucifixion) but I can PM if you're interested in weighing in on it.

6/10/2011 #20
Mrs Pettyfer

Hm yes, if Yue was still available...I think her looks would grab Sokka's attention at first. But I think the fact that Suki would surprise him, would interest him..it would be enough for him to put Yue to the back burner. Suki is pretty too, but she has more substance (to me) than Yue. She interests Sokka on another level. A woman fighter, someone who challenges him, someone who doesn't need protection--not just another pretty face. But I do see what you mean because it's Zuko and Katara's POV we're in. I don't know if you plan on having Zuko join the group, but that'd probably be the time you could bring in Suki. So yeah, it'd be a sideplot romance.

I think you've done a good job moving the plot and keeping Zutara in there. I really like how you've actually sort of shown the Zuko transitions we see in the show. He's slowly falling from his graces. He starts off as a prince who orders everyone around..and now he's a wanted fugitive and on the run with ANOTHER wanted person. Are you basically re-writing seasons 2 and 3? Will we see the final battle?

Okay..I'm better with Azula and another partner in crime..well, maybe. Depends who it is, I guess, lol. PM me! I'm curious to see who it is.

6/10/2011 #21
heza08

I totally get what Sokka sees in Suki. I will admit that I sort of like his fawning protector act with Yue for some of the same reasons I like his tutelage under Master Piando. For such a slap-stick, clueless character, it's nice to see him in some truly chivalric moments.

But I don't want to put him with Suki just because that's what happens in the show and it's obvious. I'd like it to make sense within the story, too, and I don't know if I can manage to show enough of it. But Zuko is going to be traveling with the Gaang for a while, so he'll see it and Katara will see it. But I'm not sure that Zuko would give it much thought, so his POV might be pretty devoid of it. Katara, I suppose, will notice it more. Mostly, it'll likely just be general behavior observed but not commented on, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions.

I'm going through my own version of the show, leading up to the final battle, which presents it's own implications. Aang will still fight Ozai, Zuko will still fight Azula. So I'll have to not show the battle with Ozai, since neither Zuko nor Katara will be there. Some events from the show will still be there. The White Lotus still exist. They'll still go to Ba Sing Se for something...

6/10/2011 #22
Mrs Pettyfer

Ah you got to show the Ozai/Aang showdown! lol You could write the final battles in several points of view..sort of like how one would 'watch' the show. That's the only time I personally swap points of view in a story--when I'm trying to convey something big in different places. Or show what's going on in different places. I think this sort of view changing can be effective if it serves a purpose. For the sake of a battle, I'd say it'd be successful. :P

6/10/2011 #23
heza08

Yes, multiple viewpoints can be used to show what's happening with other characters in different locations... but this story is from two first-person POVs: Katara and Zuko. Suddenly switching to multiple POVs during the final battle for the sole sake of dealing with something I haven't figured out how to deal with within the confines of the structure I've set up for the story from the beginning seems like lazy cheating. If I'd been writing from different viewpoints all along, then I'd have no problem doing it, but I've been sticking to just Katara and Zuko, when it would have made sense if I were doing multiple viewpoints to have gone ahead and shown Aang and Sokka by now.

Also, *this* story is about Katara and Zuko, so I'm not sure I even want to show the battle between Aang and Ozai. I think I might rather just show what Katara is dealing with in not knowing what's going on elsewhere while she and Zuko are engaged in their battle, and how she finds out what happens to Aang when all is said and done. If I were writing general A:tLA fic, then I would show everything, but I'm writing Zutara, and I think suddenly switching around to different locations and events that aren't directly affecting them would break the momentum I'd be building with their scenes.

*shrugs*

I'll figure it out. I've got a while.

6/11/2011 . Edited 6/11/2011 #24
FiveSecondsOfCrazy

I totally understand the confusion thing. I'm actually trying to write a Zutara storywithin the realms of the show's reality. It starts shortly after Ember Island Players (although that episode isn't really covered well in it and probably should be editted to be addressed) and, with what I have written at the moment, goes until the night after the beach-party-gone-bad thing. It mainly focuses on the characters confusion, Katara about Aang and Zuko, and Zuko about Katara and Mai. In what's written, Aang spends a little time dwelling on whether or not Zuko is a threat as far as Katara is concerned, but he decides her friendly gestures are a positive sign. I actually just wrote the scene where Katara is trying to explain to Zuko what exactly she feels.

I have yet to decide exactly how the story is going to end. Originally I was going to have a heartfelt conversation between Katara and Zuko about why they can't be together, but that kind of ending makes me sad. =( I figure it out when I get there, I guess... At this point, I'm writing for ME. Readers/reviewers are important to me, but I refuse to write a sell-out fic. I know if I end my Zutara without them getting together, I'll have many mad reviews and possibly flames. I don't want to disapoint readers, but I don't want my story to turn AU in the last paragraph. Does anyone else know how to balance that?

By the way, if anyone is interested in looking at the WIP I have so far for betaing purposes, I would love you forever.

6/16/2011 . Edited 6/16/2011 #25
Mrs Pettyfer

At this point, I'm writing for ME. Readers/reviewers are important to me, but I refuse to write a sell-out fic.

That is very good to hear. An author I love once said that the characters "write" the story, not the author. Meaning once the characters are established and you know how they work, the story begins unfolding.

Does anyone else know how to balance that?

That's a tough question because I think with stories, everyone is different. For me, I already know my ending before I start. It makes it easier for me to write because I know where I'm going. I try to plan a lot of chapters/scenes out beforehand because I don't write as well on the fly. I end up having to go back and change things and it gets messy. :P As far as balancing, I've seen many Zutara's where they don't end up together and it wasn't flamed. What typically earns flames is when the ending is unexpected. Not just unexpected, but if the road you're traveling down pretty much seals the deal on Zuko and Katara getting together and then BAM Zuko dies...well, yeah people will be angry, lol. But I think the tone of the story sort of sets up the ending.

Surprise endings are nice sometimes, but I like to be able to at least 'sense' the general ending based on the tone of the story. If it's light hearted and fun, I expect a happy ending. If it's dark and twisted, I'd expect a not so happy ending. But every story/writer is different, you know? I think finding that balance is part of setting the right tone of the story.

6/16/2011 #26
heza08

I've seen many Zutara's where they don't end up together and it wasn't flamed. What typically earns flames is when the ending is unexpected. Not just unexpected, but if the road you're traveling down pretty much seals the deal on Zuko and Katara getting together and then BAM Zuko dies...well, yeah people will be angry, lol. But I think the tone of the story sort of sets up the ending.

I agree. I think readers gather reasonable expectations as the story goes along, and your responsibility is to meet those expectations as much as you can within the scope of your particular story. There are always going to be those readers who, even if you say upfront, "this is not a happy ending," will be shocked and dismayed that it's not all firecakes and butterflies at the end... but for the most part, your sane readers will see something not so bright and shiny on the horizon and steel themselves for it.

Mrs. P. is right. It's when the story just randomly ends sadly after an upbeat and positive storyline that people feel cheated or betrayed by it. Some writers do it because they don't really understand the concept of setting and maintaining tone, but I've seen others do it just for the shock value because they think that's what makes a good story. But if you want to surprise but not confuse your readers, you really have to do unconventional things that are still in keeping with the overall tone and reality of the story.

In the original outline of my fic, Katara and Zuko both died. There was no conceivable way to get them together the way I had it set up, so I decided to go with a Romeo and Juliet ending. But then a minor plot shift occurred and suddenly, it opened up all these other possibilities for them... so now, they don't die and get a Happily Ever After, instead. :D

Anyway, keep plugging away. I'm sure it's all going to work out.

6/16/2011 . Edited 6/16/2011 #27
Mrs Pettyfer

But then a minor plot shift occurred and suddenly, it opened up all these other possibilities for them... so now, they don't die and get a Happily Ever After, instead.

Do they?! Yay! lol That makes me happy. I hate sad endings. I'm one of those people who reads the back page before buying a book. Lmao

6/16/2011 #28
TigerShadow

I do that, too. I didn't think I would ever read the Harry Potter books, so when the last book came out, I read the last few pages of the epilogue (I didn't care enough to make a deal of it, but I was mildly surprised when Harry and Hermione didn't get together). Then, about a year and four months later, I started the series; knowing how it ended probably affected how I shipped the characters.

I did something similar with my summer reading book; I found the first few pages boring, so I skipped to the last chapter. And I read the last pages of The Last Olympian and Mockingjay because I didn't intend to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians (I did) and I don't intend to read The Hunger Games.

6/16/2011 #29
Mrs Pettyfer

I read the end of Mockingjay too and I have to say, it's prolonged my reading. I'm not saying the ending has to be all sunshine and rainbows but...man. It's a harsh ending, lol. I still have to finish the second book. I just don't like the direction it's been going after the first book. It was strong enough to stand alone in my opinion without becoming a trilogy. It did however, inspire one of my Avatar fics. Setting up kids to battle it out in an arena? Very Avatar. lol

6/16/2011 . Edited 6/16/2011 #30
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