Author has written 52 stories for How to Train Your Dragon, My Little Pony, Frozen, Corpse Bride, and Lion King.
Hi, I'm Cke1st. That's pronounced "See kee first," as in "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). I came up with it while thinking of ideas for a custom license plate. You can Google "Cke1st" and find my personal web site, which is full of stuff that I've dreamed up or written.
I am a Christian, model railroader (N scale), sci-fi fan, amateur naval historian, guitarist, bassist, writer of song parodies, one of the ten best submarine songwriters in the country, computer geek, fanfic author, wargamer, game designer, moderator of the Pirates page on www.pojo.com, database programmer, Nerf-gun geek, and NASCAR fan (go Carl Edwards!) (now that Jeff Gordon has retired).
My top 5 movies are How to Train Your Dragon 1, The Ten Commandments (old), The Sound of Music (old), Fiddler on the Roof, and The Princess Bride. I also like Frozen, Cars, The Incredibles, Corpse Bride, HTTYD2, Star Trek (TOS and TNG), Kelly's Heroes, Star Wars (episodes 4-6), Monty Python, and old Looney Toons.
My favorite games are Tanki Online, OpenTTD (Transport Tycoon Deluxe), and the Civilization series. I went very far in Farmville (I specialized in hundreds of exotic trees) until they took away some of my FarmCash in a game crash and wouldn't give it back. I told them, "Fine - if make-believe money means more to you than a real customer, then enjoy the make-believe money, and I hope you choke on it." I've tried dozens of Facebook games, liked some and hated others, but at this point, Tanki and fan fiction are taking up all my spare time.
The three best things are to point someone to Jesus, to teach someone something they didn't know, and to make someone laugh.
I love the Bible, babies, dogs, anything to do with trains, most kinds of music (especially Christian rock, classical, bluegrass if they play it fast, and Andean folk music), puns, ironic humor, the sound of a Marshall amp cranked up to 11, cheeseburgers and fries, pretzels, fried chicken, the smell of a bakery, and stories with happy endings.
I don't like slash, lemons, bullies, vandals, people who threaten to kill me if I disagree that theirs is a religion of peace, guitars that don't stay in tune, sound techs whose solution to every problem is "Turn the bass down!", liver, green vegetables (and most of the ones that aren't green), people who think their health problems are interesting to talk about, almost all politicians, Microsoft, televangelists who tell lies in the name of God, and people who think they're entitled to other people's money.
Why is "How to Train Your Dragon" so awesome? One reason is that it contains so many plot threads, all perfectly interwoven with each other. Consider these common plot lines we know and love:
To you, the readers, I promise you this:
I ask this in return:
HTTYD stories I want to read:
Stories I won't read:
Thank you, Zach T., for the hand-drawn picture of Toothless that I'm using as my avatar. You're more awesome than you think, dude.
My favorite characters are Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, Captain James T. Kirk, Elsa (from "Frozen"), Emily (from "Corpse Bride"), Toothless, Bugs Bunny, R2-D2, Lightning McQueen, Bilbo Baggins, and Willie & Joe, the soldiers from Bill Mauldin's war cartoons.
The most interesting villains are Darth Vader, Captain Hook, Smaug, and Sarah Kerrigan (StarCraft).
If I had three wishes, I would wish (1) that I could fly, (2) that I could talk as well as I write, and (3) that there was no such thing as Alzheimer's syndrome.
My guilty confessions:
I look at things like maple trees in the fall, or tropical fish, or sunsets, and I realize how much God loves us. He didn't have to make those things so beautiful, and they would work just as well if they were more plain; He made them that way entirely for our enjoyment.
Q: How many sopranos does it take to change a light bulb?
Q: How many altos does it take to change a light bulb?
Q: How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?
Q: How many basses does it take to change a light bulb?
For those of you who are following "Snart's Saga" and are curious what the main characters look like, these are their character sheets:
Name: Hildi (Brunnhilde)
Some facts about the stories I've published so far (as of Feb 09, 2016):
The first story I wrote: Snart's Saga
My longest story: Lightning and Death Itself (over 254,000 words)
My most popular story: Lightning and Death Itself (over 577,000 hits)
My three most-reviewed stories: Lightning and Death Itself, Hiccup's Bride, Dimmadreki
My favorite story: Man in the Middle
My only crossovers: How to Train Your Pony (HTTYD and MLP:FIM) and A Mixed Movie Review (HTTYD2 and The Lion King).
My best surprise: that "Hiccup's Bride" was so popular. I never imagined that a story that pairs Hiccup with an OC would draw over 300,000 hits and become my #2 story.
My worst surprise: that "A Nadder's Mystery" was such a flop. I tried to make it as good as any of my other stories, but I've written one-shots that have drawn more interest than the Nadder story's 10 chapters. "Growing Together" and "The Hideous RuffleTuffleback" didn't do as well as I'd expected, either.
Why do I write fan fiction?
I’ve written over 50 stories on fanfiction dot net, almost all of which are from the “How to Train Your Dragon” fandom, with a few “Frozen” fics, one from "Corpse Bride," and two HTTYD crossovers as well. I’m writing this, not because I think millions of people want to know my thought processes, but to encourage anyone out there who is thinking about writing his/her first story, but is holding back for some reason.
Like many authors, I started with a shameless self-insertion, because I wanted to vicariously experience what it’s like to train and ride a dragon in Berk. My very first story, “Snart’s Saga,” was based on a classic example of the Marty Stu. It began as an extended daydream, and I started writing it down to appease my own ego. But by the time I’d written 12 chapters, I realized that, even though the main character would turn most people off, my story line might intrigue a few of them. So I rewrote the main character, removing his unrealistic awesomeness and making him more believable (and changing his name so it didn’t sound like mine). I was right; people liked the story, and some of them even like the new and improved character. So I kept on writing it, and I’m still writing it (101 chapters so far).
A second reason to write fanfics is to expand the canon and explore aspects of the story that the movies left unexplained. I started by guessing at the thoughts of the dragons, which led to two early stories, “The Change” (which I actually posted before “Snart”) and “The Killer.” I’ve cranked out many stories of that kind, which are fully compatible with the canon, but which give a dragon fan a better understanding of what’s going on in the minds of his/her favorite characters.
A similar kind of story tries to guess at future events. I like those, especially the ones that speculate about Hiccup and Astrid’s relationship, and they can be a lot of fun. Just be careful to keep your characters in-character.
Then I started asking, “What if?” That’s a dangerous question for an author to ask, because you usually can’t give a short answer. Make a change, even a small change, in what actually happened in the movie, and you’ll find that all kinds of things will also change as a result. This kind of story tends to rewrite the entire movie, from the moment you make a change until the end (which might turn out to be quite different from the movie ending). My first real “what if” story was "I Won This Thing;" I followed it with “Did Anybody See That?” which is my 3rd most popular story and has passed the 100,000-hit mark. I’ve done a few others as well, like “Heather Together” and “Frozen Together.” This kind of story is probably my favorite kind to write. One word of warning: if you’re thinking of changing the movie’s time line, then before you write one word of story, you’d better think up a very plausible reason why your change could have happened, or the fandom won’t accept it.
A similar motive for writing fanfics is to fix something that you think is broken. If there’s some aspect of the movie that you think was handled wrong, there may be a temptation to see if you could do it better. I wrote “Bewilderment” because I don’t want the Snowy Bewilderbeast to be dead at the end of the second movie. That movie gave me enough clues to concoct a reasonable explanation for why my theory could be right, so it’s not a total fabrication. "Telling Them Apart" got written for very similar reasons.
Yet another motive, and count your blessings if you encounter this one, is when a bunch of readers ask you to write a sequel to something you’ve already written. You may think the book is closed on that story, but at least give the idea some thought. Your words have touched people and made them want more, and that’s the supreme accolade for a fanfic writer. Well, almost; the supreme accolade would be if Dreamworks or Disney called you and asked you to write scripts for them. But the supreme accolade you can realistically expect to receive is your readers shouting, “Encore!” It’s good to make them happy if you can. If you can't manage a sequel, then try an epilogue, or maybe an alternate ending.
A related concept is the challenge – a reader sends you an idea for a fanfic that he/she would like you to write. That idea might be your style, or it might not. If it isn’t, don’t force it or you’ll wind up with an inferior story. Thank the reader politely for his/her interest, but explain that this isn’t a story you can wrap your head around at this time. If you CAN use it, be sure to give the reader a credit in an author’s note. To date, I’ve written exactly one story in response to a challenge: “Dimmadreki.” I’m very choosy about the stories I write; most readers’ ideas just don’t tickle my fancy. It’s probably because of my peculiar brain, dear.
Then there’s what might be the most questionable motive for writing a fanfic: you see someone else’s fanfic, and think you could tell a better story based on their concept. I confess, I’ve done a few of those. In fact, my most popular story, “Lightning and Death Itself,” is based on one of the oldest and moldiest concepts in the fandom, the Hiccup-to-dragon transformation. If done well, this kind of fic can be as good a story as any other; if done poorly, everyone will recognize it for the shameless rip-off that it is. Lots of people do this, so I know I’m not the only one. When you see multiple stories popping up all over the place about (for example) dare wars, or the characters watching themselves in the movie, you know the idea didn’t randomly pop into all those authors’ heads at once. In my own opinion, it’s best not to jump on a bandwagon like that unless you’re sure you’ve got something original to say on the subject.
Finally, there’s the story idea that won’t leave you alone until you write it, even though you think it won’t be very popular. Those aren’t common. I’ve had only one so far; that was “Hiccup’s Bride,” and it has become my #2 story, to my complete astonishment. It's based on a concept that a huge chunk of the fandom will reject outright, pairing Hiccup with an OC instead of Astrid. “No one would want to read this!” I kept telling myself. But the idea literally gave me no peace until I sat down and wrote it. I gave it my best shot, a lot of people like it, and it might be the story that shows my writing abilities in their best light.
Incidentally, I’ve found a secondary reason for writing any particular story that occurs to me: sometimes reality stinks, and it’s nice to be able to create my own story where the ending is just as happy as I want it to be. Call it escapism if you want; I don’t mind. Everybody needs an escape now and then. Some escape with drugs or alcohol or gambling or sex; I escape to a world of familiar characters that I create with my own fingers on a keyboard. It’s a lot less expensive than the other escapes, it doesn’t break any laws, it hurts no one, I never get a hangover or an STD, and (perhaps best of all) I can share it with others when it’s done.
The bottom line, for every story I’ve written, is that two things have to be there before I even start. It has to be a story I’d want to read, and it has to be an idea I believe in. I could have written a dozen stories in response to reader suggestions and challenges, but they all would have wound up being low-quality and not very interesting. That’s no criticism of the ideas. It just means I can’t write well if I don’t feel strongly about the story. I guess I’ve become a compulsive writer, but I don’t write just anything. I want to leave a legacy of good stuff on this site, so if I ever meet another fanfic fan in real life, they’ll be glad and not dismayed to find out who I am.
Over the years, several reviewers have asked me for advice about writing better stories. I take this as a high compliment. My usual writing advice goes like this:
Only write stories that you feel strongly about. Don't write something just because you think the fanbase will like it. I strongly recommend against writing stories with a subject that's trendy, like dare wars or the cast watching themselves in the movie, until you've written a few fics and know how to tell your own story. My most popular story, "Lightning and Death Itself," is based on an old and much-used idea (the dragon!Hiccup transformation), but I put my own spin on it and told a story that a lot of people wanted to read. I'd suggest that you read the previous part of my profile, "Why do I write fan fiction?" to get some ideas here.
Make sure the text flows. That means it goes easily from word to word, sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. My chosen method for this (and my "secret weapon" for good writing) is to read it out loud. If it sounds wrong, then I rewrite it until it sounds smooth.
If you struggle with spelling and grammar, get a beta-reader to help fix any problems there. This is critical. Many readers will stop reading after the first chapter if a story is badly written, no matter how amazing the story concept might be. Learn from your beta-reader's suggestions so your writing improves with time.
Edit and re-edit your work over and over again until it's just right. Don't tell yourself lies like "It's only fan fiction; it's not worth much effort." If something is worth doing, then it's worth doing well.
If you're unsure if your stuff is any good, ask a friend to read it first. They'll level with you. When I first started writing, I read my stories out loud to a very patient group of friends. When they started asking for more, that's when I knew I wasn't producing drek. It gave me confidence to keep going, and eventually gave me courage to put my stuff out for total strangers to read.
Listen to your reviewers. If they all say a chapter is too short, try to make the next one longer. One complainer with an attitude shouldn't be able to ruin your day, but if more than one says the same thing, it's probably true. They may make suggestions for future plot lines or future stories, and some of their ideas may be quite good.
Practice, practice, practice! Your first stories may not be that good, but they can be learning experiences. Once you know what not to do, you'll do a better job with future stories.
Finally, don't be afraid to take risks if you feel strongly about your story. For example, one of the big rules of the HTTYD fandom is that Hiccup ships with Astrid and no one else. Many readers won't even touch a story that pairs him with another girl. But I had an idea for pairing him with an OC, and I couldn't get the idea out of my head. So I wrote it and posted it, just to see what happened; maybe it would get a few hundred hits if I was lucky. To my complete astonishment, that story ("Hiccup's Bride") became my second-most-popular story ever, and has gotten over 300,000 hits. It has also spawned two alternate endings and a sequel. On the other hand, I've written stories that were complete flops, in terms of hit counts, but I'm still glad I wrote them. At the end of the day, it's not about the hit count; it's about the art of storytelling.
I hope this helps. Write on!