Author has written 7 stories for Hunger Games, and Pokémon.
"We walk in the dark places no others will enter."
– Anla'Shok credo (Babylon 5)
Once upon a time there was a kid with a head full of stories. Awkward stories with overpowered characters, an unfocused plot and all too many adverbs. Many trees were tragically killed as those stories were written and rewritten on paper.
Until the kid, one feet into the adult world now, realized she'd stumbled upon a story worth sharing.
It was about other kids murdering each other. Or, to be fair, how impossible situations break or make us. It was about monsters and heroes, and everyone in between.
And that's how it all began, with the Hunger Games. I cared little for the love triangle and very much for the politics, the perverse power of propaganda and terror, the impact of traumatic events. I wrote about people, survival, rebellions and dictators. Suzanne Collins' world is a wonderful sandbox and the research I had to do to write my stories has made me a wiser person.
The best praise I can give a story is that it made me think.
Easier Said than Done - Pokemon
When I was a novice teenage writer, I wrote a pokemon story I never showed to anyone. An epic Journey tale. It was terrible, but like most terrible things you pour your heart in, I'm fond of it. Today, I have rewritten it, and behold, it now actually has a plot!
Summary: Two best friends begin their Journey, their minds filled with dreams of freedom and adventure. On the fifth day their starter pokemon are stolen by a talking gengar. That's when trouble begins.
Or how two ten year olds run away on a journey and get in trouble because they're convinced their parents will drag them home if they don't pretend everything's going according to plan. It's about navigating friendships and figuring out who you are (aren't all stories?). And pokemon. Lots of cool pokemon who are characters in their own right.
This story is 37 chapters and roughly 140k long. I plan to update once a week. I'm currently working on the sequel.
1 - Showdown: No Holding Back - Hunger Games
Twenty-four teenagers, willing and unwilling, are thrust in the 63rd Hunger Games. The Gamemakers have set the scene: a televised arena of stone, ice and creepy holograms. Behind the scenes, Capitol sponsors send money to whomever they find the most entertaining, leaving boring tributes to their tragic fates. Every single teenager, and most of all the trained Careers, knows they must not only survive, but also offer their audience a riveting show.
The second part of Showdown follows the victor. It explores Capitol politics, President's Snow grab for power, PTSD, mentor-relationships, and finishes with the Rebellion.
Showdown's characters are all my own (it's not a SYOTS). Canon mentors, President Snow, and Caesar Flickerman have minor roles that become more major after the Games end.
Edited in 2015. Showdown was the first piece of writing I exposed to public scrutiny, and my first foray in the Hunger Games universe. After writing Checkmate, I wasn't satisfied with some aspects of Showdown, most notably the Careers' characterization and the 'it's a televised game' aspect. There has been some major upheaval, especially in the arena chapters. It's much better now, go read it :D.
2- Checkmate - Hunger Games
I'd finished Showdown and didn't know what to do with my life anymore, so I decided to write a story featuring Hunger Games that weren't Games in the traditional sense. Checkmate is a story of rebellions, of cracks in the system that expand day by day, over decades. In my head-canon, Katniss put fire to a pile of kindle built by generations of rebels before her. She was the spearhead of the rebellion, and Checkmate is about the spear.
The central characters is Mags, District Four victor extraordinaire. She's lived through everything, and she knows what's up. Checkmate's aim is to paint the history of Panem, from just after the Dark Days up to and including the Second Rebellion, by living it alongside Mags but also Plutarch, Finnick, Paylor, Alma Coin and other major and minor character's.
Mags was first and foremost a mentor. You'll see that every victor has a tale, every system has its secrets, and yes I am quite proud of my monster of a story.
Checkmate: Behind the Scenes. Because Checkmate is over 600k long (and deserves to be edited, but I can't bring myself to do it), and even I try to keep the filler to a minimum, but some filler, even when it doesn't quite fit in the story, is still worth a look. So in Checkmate BtS it goes.
3 - The Career (one shot).
The first Hunger Games had one big flaw: the tributes wouldn't kill. The horror was there, but not the entertainment. The victors were broken and pathetic. After Vicuña's brother died in the Games, Vicuña decided no innocent in her District would ever be reaped again. The Games would be for girls and boys like her: those who had nothing to lose and would not regret their victory. She'd give the Capitol the entertainment it sought if that was the price to pay. She was the first Career.
'The Career' is about Hell being paved by good intentions, how the Games evolve, who the Careers are, and why Mags is a very special kind of Career (it's also an offshoot of Checkmate, but it's stand-alone).
4 - SYOTS Writing for Dummies - Hunger Games
I got tired of reading stories held together by a bunch of good ideas and crap execution. I got even more fed up with authors who blame lack of conflict or poor characterization on 'the submitters' who 'won't review if the author is mean to their characters' because come on. So I thought hard about writing and tributes and arenas, and what made me say a story was good or wasn't. SYOTS WfD is all about turning advice into something fun to read and enlightening for beginner and confirmed writers alike.
And after writing a few chapters, I realized I should take my own advice. So I edited Showdown.
5 - Legacy of the Darkest Days: the origin of the Hunger Games (oneshot - for now)
Why the Hunger Games? Of all the things the Capitol could come up with, they picked Hunger Games? Was it vengeance, politics, chance? Was in intentional, or did something go very wrong? Was there an actual long term plan besides murdering kids? Why were people okay with it?
A long oneshot about the Dark Days and how they gave birth to the Hunger Games.
Easier Said than Done (Book 2): this time with bonus psychic abilities, Team Aqua/Magma shenanigans, and interfering alakazam. After writing 80% of the story, I realized I needed to rewrite and rework a whole bunch to be able to wrap it up properly. So, I'm doing that.
SYOTS Writing for Dummies (continued) : maybe, eventually, there will be a chapter 6. An actual story-like chapter. Not a lazy list like chapter 5. Something about character arcs, and maybe abandoned stories. Or something else entirely.
Legacy of the Darkest Days (continued): so now we have the Hunger Games, as in the arena and the twenty-four reaped tributes, but it's nothing compared to the weeks-long Hunger Games of the later decades. When did all become a show? When did things such as 'bloodbath', 'angle', 'sponsors' become central to it all?
A short guide on avoiding unlikable over-the-top characters
And on figuring out if that nasty reviewer has a point or if they're just bashing on your perfectly fine (original) character.
Mary Sue: name originally given to an author self-insert. Now more broadly used for an overpowered character (male or female) who hogs all the attention in a story and has no real challenge to overcome -also called 'pampered protagonist' out there on the web-.
How to know if you are in danger of writing a Mary Sue? I have written my own "rules" because, in order to avoid Sues (or turning canon characters into Sues), most internet guides would have you make boring characters instead of interesting and special non-Sueish heroes. And because many people throw around the word "Sue" for original characters they dislike.
Mary Sue rules:
0) Ask yourself honestly: is this story about the plot, about character growth and overcoming obstacles, or is it about showing how awesome your hero is, and bashing characters you dislike? If it's the latter, you most certainly have a Sue.
Now, if it's a hero loads of people love, and you're bashing characters loads of people dislike, a well-written Sue story can still be very popular ('SuperHarry' trope, anyone?).
1) Sue/Canon-character-turned-Sue is much more powerful (or wealthy, or smart) than the antagonists and therefore winning is no challenge (often wrongly shortened to 'Sue has no flaws').
Heroes traditionally have to sacrifice things to get their way. Heroes should be special. They also should face villains/situations that are at first glance even more powerful or there is no conflict. It's hard to root for someone who doesn't have to break a sweat to get their way.
2) People become idiots/pushovers around her because otherwise they'd not need Sue's help.
If to make Sue shine you have to make the other characters weak/stupid/cliche or out of character, you're doing it wrong. If she's the only one to notice something obvious, there is a problem. If no-one ever contradicts her, if they let her walk all over them, if people immediately trust her or think she's important for no reason except the fact that she's Sue, you've lost the realism and often the reader's interest.
In the same way, if everyone becomes hateful bullies, mistreating her for no reason, it's ridiculous. Be careful with "tragic pasts". These should never be slapped on just for sympathy points and, please, research trauma and abuse, as well as its consequences on people, before writing about it.
3) She's always the right person in the right place at the right time.
Some situations require an impulsive and aggressive hero to tackle, others require patient planning and subtlety. If you make your character aggressive, subtle, impulsive and patient you have a coherence problem. You should throw big stakes-filled trouble at your characters, and make them tackle situations out of their comfort zone. You should allow them to fail, to face consequences, to be wrong. That's where they'll grow.
4) She's special because she exists, not because she does anything truly noteworthy. Everyone important must either love or hate her, or at least talk about her.
If everyone says a character is a great person and/or awesome, you have to show them *being* truly good and/or awesome. That's a label you've got to earn. Not treating people like dirt is not 'good'. That's normal. Don't make everyone else treat others like dirt to make your normal character look good in comparison.
If you notice that every antagonist hates (but still grudgingly respects) Sue and makes their life all about hating her (but being ineffective at making her life truly difficult), rethink it. If everyone who dislikes her is evil/stupid/a deluded liar, rethink it. In the same way if people let Sue get away with everything because she's just that special, there is a problem.
Whatever you do, a story must be interesting. If half your chapters are Sue monologues and people discussing Sue without any major character development or plot advancement, readers are quickly going to remember there's a whole internet full of interesting things out there.
5) Readers can't relate to Sue.
This one is maybe the hardest, because it's subjective, but there are some constants: a likable character (hero or villain) has motives and aspirations people can understand. Good protagonists struggle and don't always get their way. They're not always right. Their actions have consequences (flaws 'count' only if they penalize the character. Otherwise, it's not an actual flaw) and they have fears, insecurities and feelings (that aren't overblown. Too much angst is a turn off). Everyone should have something they care about, something to lose, and something to fight for. And if they're a traditional hero, have empathy and do their best to treat the people around them well.