Author has written 21 stories for Ranma, Naruto, Stargate: SG-1, Oh My Goddess!, and Warhammer.
Update - 1/19
Now that we've accepted the fact that, yes, I am horrible with deadlines and am afflicted with a severe case of author ADHD, let's pretend for a moment that life isn't trying to kick me in the jimmy and that I'm going to publish something this year. And if you happen to have a decent paying job that doesn't involve powder blue nitrile gloves, send it my way. Until then or MageOhki starts paying me to write lemons from his lottery winnings, here's some ATA4. Yes. IT LIVES.
Twelve years ago.
"Where we going, Daddy?"
Genma Saotome looked down at his son and the wide blue eyes that stared up at him in question as they walked along the dirt countryside path. The Saotome patriarch adjusted his pack and favored the boy with a stern, but tender countenance. "Master Honsho. He'll help teach you how to fall."
"Fall?" A young Ranma blinked, suddenly staring at the same path upon which they walked. He too had his own pack and occasionally struggled to maintain the pace his father had set. "But falling hurts!"
"Falling only hurts if you don't do it right," The father explained patiently as both rounded a bend on the trail and the trees around them. "Falling without getting hurt is the first lesson of Anything Goes, son."
The boy nodded, his determination renewed with the explanation. Besides, who wouldn't want to fall without getting hurt? He had fallen several times playing, and that was never any fun. His eyes returned to his father, who had taken to cleaning his glasses off upon the white of his gi. "Does Master Honsho live all the way out here?"
"No," Genma corrected, returning the lenses to his nose and wrapping their wire supports around his ears to ensure a slip-less fit. "First, we're going to visit... a friend."
The boy's mouth formed into a silent 'Oooh'. While Ranma didn't notice the slight hesitation in his father's explanation, he did notice the modest house just becoming visible beyond the bank of trees they had been winding around for the past hour. To Ranma, it was just a nice looking house nestled in the countryside. Of course, Ranma didn't have the life experience that his father carried, who knew it to be completely at odds with the environment around them. It stood out, unnaturally so, as if somebody had lifted a Meiji period residence and simply dropped it upon the parcel of land before them.
Ten minutes and an easy hike brought them across the clearing and up to the unnatural house's door. Ranma simply looked around curiously at the architecture while Genma steeled himself for the meeting. Unlike his son, he had been advised of just who he would be talking to. His hands raised rap the sliding door's frame only to be stopped by a soft, feminine voice.
"You may enter."
Genma frowned, but complied with the advisement, sliding the door open and stepping inside. Ranma followed, his head on a swivel as he took in the lavishly appointed interior. A light haze hung across the room and he picked out the scent of cloves as his eyes traced over statuettes and porcelain of every manner. The furniture was all wood, which meant nothing to Ranma aside from the fact that it was well padded and-- His observations stopped as he came upon the central couch and found a woman lounging upon it. She had red eyes and absolutely pale skin. His father had already found the woman as well, noting that she looks so frail that a stiff wind would more than likely break her. A languorous smile inhabited her face and she too another drag of the long stemmed opium pipe, allowing it to drift from her mouth like a lazy fog.
She may have looked incredibly fragile, but that state only lent to her beauty, as did the black lace, full length dress that wrapped around her curves enticingly. The bottom lacy garment was split to the thigh, allowing a pale leg to be exposed to open air and to any that might wish to admire it while the top exposed the entrancing curvature of the woman's breast, ending in spaghetti straps that hung about the shoulders. Her neck was wrapped in a lace choker and her midnight black hair bound by several antique pins that trailed red tassels from their ends. On any other day, Genma might have considered getting to know the woman better. On any other day, he was also certain that his Nodoka would have approved of such sordid debauchery. He was a manly man in her eyes and it was only right that he expressed that measure of himself by taking mistresses, so long as his heart remained hers. But such thoughts were purely academic, because today was not that day, and Genma knew it. With that thought firmly fixed in his mind, he decided to get down to business.
"Names are not important here," The woman cut him off gently, maintaining the lazy smile. She shifted along the couch propping herself up onto a pillow. "Nor are contracts, written or otherwise. Nor is your business is with me, but Hitsuzen itself."
"I'm Ranma!" The black haired boy blurted, already excited to be in the presence of the weird lady and all her stuff. "Are you a martial artist, too?"
"Not now, son," Genma glanced down, urging his son to silence. Instead, the woman's smile increased fractionally.
"A martial artist? No," The woman shook her head, sliding off the couch and kneeling to the boy's height. Genma's face turned worrisome as the disconcerting female's attention turned upon his son. "You may call me Yūko, and I grant wishes."
The pony tailed child's eyes suddenly widened and he blurted the first thing that came to mind. "I wish for--!"
A single, delicate finger found its way to his lips. "Only adults may wish here, Ranma-kun."
Yūko let a small chuckle slip from her lips, drawing back to her full height, but still looking upon the boy with amusement. "But I do require a martial artist such as yourself for a task."
"What kinda task?" Ranma wondered aloud, staring up at the woman and oblivious to the slight change in his father's attitude. Genma had subtly shifted his weight, ready to intervene personally if necessary. No, the woman wasn't a martial artist, but she was dangerous in some nebulous way, that much was certain to him. Until her intentions could be further discerned...
"I have a friend who will need watching while your father and I talk," She explained, glancing over her shoulder. "Mokona?"
Motion caught Ranma's eye with the word and the young martial artist watched as a small black creature bounced out from around the hallway corner. At first he wanted to label it a rabbit with the long ears as its principle identifying feature, but it had no fur to speak of and its black body entirely too round for any normal rabbit he had ever seen. Its face seemed to be curled into a permanent smile and its forehead was adorned by a single blue jewel. Ranma cocked his head, staring. "What is it?"
"Mokona," She addressed the round creature as if it were a person. "This is Ranma. Ranma, Mokona. Please show our young guest around the house, please?"
The bejeweled rabbit nodded and bounced over to Ranma, nudging him. The boy stared, then looked back up at Yūko. The woman smiled charitably at him. "Mokona would like you to follow him."
The black nearly gelatinous creature bounced, then bounced away, disappearing into the hallway. Ranma watched it go, barely held in check until his father also nodded. With that silent permission, his son was off and running through the house chasing Mokona. Silence lingered between the remaining pair for a moment before Yūko herself broke it. "Sakana referred you, I believe. Something concerning your son?"
"Her... fortune to my wife," Genma began tepidly, unsure of how to proceed. "I normally don't indulge in such matters, but..."
"Of course," Yuko nodded gently, returning to her couch. "I have found her visions to be quite reliable, though you would already be aware of that. It would also be the reason you are here, now."
The Saotome patriarch simply nodded. "She foretold that he will not see his eighteenth birthday. She said he will be consumed by shadows, afraid and utterly alone. As his father, I will not allow that to happen."
"Indeed," The pale woman acknowledged in a vaguely interested tone. "And to what lengths, Genma Saotome, are you willing to go to; to ensure that outcome does not take place?"
"I've been training him," Genma shook his head, finding a plush seat across the woman for himself. "Much sooner than I would usually dare, but..." His voice trailed off for a moment before his attention focused directly on the woman. "I would do anything to spare him that fate."
"Anything?" The martial artist recognized the lilting in the utterance of the single word question, a subtle advisement that the terms of her assistance may very well hinge on that very condition. Even so, he had already been given some idea of what to expect and nodded solemnly. Yūko held him with her red eyes. "Very well then. Know then that the price is three fold, such is his importance to Hitsuzen."
Genma merely nodded. "Whatever is necessary."
"Truly, but do you speak for your wife and son as well?" For the first time, the lazy smile disappeared and a serious visage bore back into him.
The implication was clear, but he had made this trip, fully aware that what he was asking would not be cheap by any means and the fact that such bargaining might include his wife and son was, at this point, merely a formality. "I... I do."
"So be it. The first price is yours," Yūko nodded, rising back up from the couch and crossing the living room to an armoire. She pulled open one of the drawers, withdrew a booklet, and handed it to Genma. "It must be followed to the letter."
"The legendary Cat Fist?!" The Saotome flipped through the aged book, his eyes widening, unable to believe the new found fortune in his hands. The technique itself had been whispered in martial arts circles for decades, but to actually... A frown began to surface across his face as he began to process the steps, happening finally upon the last page. He looked up from the booklet to Yūko, then back down to the text, realizing the price he was to pay for the first time. "Eh... Everything?"
The pale mistress nodded, completely serious. "Everything. The second price shall be paid by your wife. She will lose her fondest desire for him, to be exacted one decade hence. Both shall affect him and thus be his price."
Genma Saotome, co-heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, simply stared at the booklet in his hands. Even though it represented the physical manifestation of the price he was to pay, all three now weighed upon him heavily now. His price was to torture his son; to repeatedly throw his only child into a pit of starving cats. His wife's price... Genma felt his insides grow cold. He had a pretty good idea of what that would be, but how both would in turn affect their only child...
"I... Is this absolutely necessary?"
"If your son is to see his eighteenth birthday," Yūko replied softly. "Were it within my ability to lessen the cost, I would. I am merely a tool of fate and destiny, however, and Hitsuzen wraps tightly around your child." She paused with a sad smile. "But you have already made your choice, haven't you?"
Genma Saotome simply nodded, watching as the black rabbit thing rounded the corner, followed by his gi clad son with a smile on his face. The martial artist fixed that smile in his mind, and nodded once more.
"Yes. Yes I have."
Chat with me!
Not every time. Not all the time. But in most cases, the following should serve as a guide on how not to fail at writing fanfiction in nearly any genre you care to tackle. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but if you have to ask yourself if you're that exception, then you probably aren't and should defer to the advice below. For those who have stumbled across this before, I've edited this introduction to be a fraction more professional in nature and slightly less abrasive, but you can still blame my overuse of the word 'fail' on DCG.
1) Your summary fails. It really does. This is the hook, your foot in the door. Avoid asking your readers questions here and avoid references to other parts of said fic. "What if Ranma fell into the world of Mario and saved the princess?" HE'LL EXPLODE INTO GOOEY CHUNKS AND SHOWER THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM WITH CRIMSON RAIN, DROWNING TURTLES AND PLUMBERS ALIKE IN A LAKE OF MARTIAL ARTS CARNAGE. Seriously, don't give your reader a chance to answer that question themselves. Next time you read a summary that's formed into a question, please remember the above reply. Secondly, such summaries impart no useful information to your audience. Likewise, "Continuing from part five, review my ass please" is similarly annoying. Hey genius, I didn't read part one. What's that about again? Convince me I should take the time to read chapter 1 before even considering part five. Be creative, give them a little bite of what to expect. Most entertaining is "I'm bad at summaries." The amount of fail in that statement could light Crystal Tokyo for a couple hundred years and encourages nobody to read your fic.
2) Your Grammar/Spelling fails. This is a direct indication of how much you care about your fic, and therefore how much we as readers should care about the fic. Every time you fail miserably at this, Chuck Norris kills a kitten. What's worse, you know you're failing and release the fic anyway. Don't cry when you get reamed by your reviewers. Why you aren't molesting the spell/grammar check function at a minimum is beyond me.
3) Your Plot Bludgeons fail. What is a plot bludgeon? You know, those pieces of information you impart on readers so obvious it hurts to read. An example of one I recently encountered-- Ukyo was really a flat chested man, unwraps himself to reveal that fact and say, "heheh, I can't believe I keep fooling them!" ...And i would have gotten away with it too if it hadn't been for those darn kids. Okay, so you want to get a point across to the reader. Great. But very rarely is there call to light your plot point up as a huge neon lit Las Vegas strip sign. Learn subtlety. Weave it naturally into the story. Ranma is a genius! Great, but tell me a story about it, not as an outright fact. Exceptions do exist, though most don't apply to you anyway.
4) Your obscure plot fails. Big rule... The more obscure/complex your plot is, the more it needs built up through detail and story telling. Likewise, the more important an event is in that plot, the more attention you need to pay it. Glossing over critical events is not allowed. Zap! Ranma is a female permanently now and feels suicidal. Huh? What? Ranma got mad and killed his father for all the injustices visited upon him. Whoa there, Tex. Might want to tell us what triggered that rampage or what led up to the critical events that you insist require only one sentence of explanation. If you have something weird going on, your readers might like to know some basic information... Like who, what, why, how, where, some history, motivations, etc...
5) Your Dialogue fails. (revised!) This mainly pertains to the structuring of said dialogue, not the content. The Pope will visit you tonight and rape your keyboard if you ever post a page full of dialogue without framing and context again. Don't assume your reader knows who's talking. Tell them who is talking. If you're feeling frisky, tell them how that character feels when they're talking. maybe the expressions on their face. What they're doing. Characters never just "said" anything. They never should just "reply". Dialogue is like a picture... It needs a frame if you're going to hang it on the wall properly. Of course, you could just nail it up there, but that's why you fail.
6) Your Shallow characters fail. Believe it or not, not everybody has read your favorite series. I KNOW! It's tough to swallow, but it's true. Take a moment to tell us a bit about their appearance. Detail their mannerisms though story telling. Sure, you can assume that if they're reading in a certain section they probably have at least basic knowledge of the series, but frankly that's a poor excuse not to embellish your characters with detail and depth. Sure, everybody knows who Optimus Prime is (did I just use him as an example? Yeck), but your story will fail less if you paint him in color instead of black and white.
7) Your short chapters fail. Hardcore. Mainly, because they give you very little space to impart critical plot and/or knowledge to the reader, forcing you to condense a lot of information into a short blurb. This normally leads to failures 2 through 6. Similarly, you drag out scenes that really should be combined into one flowing work. For example, watching Ranma wallow in angst for several short chapters while not really taking the story anywhere is not fun. It's like watching an episode of Dragonball Z once a week. It's excruciating.
8) Your derivative plot fails. Wheee! Ranma loses his memory after being locked as a female! Most readers are not opposed to this on average, but before you go thinking you're Stephen King, remember two things: He's dead, and assume it's been done before and buy a six pack of originality down at the corner 7-11. Your story/chapter needs a hook, no matter how good it is. Just because it has been done doesn't mean you shouldn't try your hand at it, but do your research on the competition before you just dive right in.
9) Your reviewers fail. Actually, no they don't. They're entitled to their opinion. Don't get defensive and don't argue with them because you're inherently insecure about your work. Self-confidence is required when facing your reviewers and actually debating their opinion on your work is bad taste. Honestly, why did you even bother posting in the first place? If you're writing for enjoyment, they shouldn't matter anyway. If you're writing to improve yourself, take notes. Nothing says insecurity and ass like a running review war. Yes, reviewers CAN be wrong, but so what? Arguing with them is a waste of your time anyway.
10) Your Alterverse fails. What do you get when you strip your main character of his canon personality, kill off all the supporting cast and send him off into another crossover series? You get one big bucket of suck. Any story where you can replace the main character with the name "Ed" and not know the difference automatically fails nine times out of ten. Do yourself a favor and assume you aren't that tenth time. Why did you even bother choosing that character and series to begin with if you were just going to piss all over the story and abandon it next chapter? Ha ha ha! Ranma doesn't have a curse, lost all his memories to the neko-ken and has been training with Bruce Lee in the cyber-wars of 2010! O.o' Of course that's ridiculous sounding, but its amazing how many aspiring authors totally divorce the characters from their original canon so completely. The sooner you accept the fact that you should scrub these fics from your hard drive with a brillo pad, the better.
11) Your Cause and Effect fails. Logical continuity will save plots that have no right being saved. Even yours. Thinking things through to their most logical conclusion is the hallmark of a well written story; as opposed to just going with a theme that sounds good and plowing though cause and effect like a semi plowing through a 30 car pile-up. When you're writing up a plot device, think the consequences of that path through and write the story around those consequences. Outlandish plot points are fine toward this end. You want Naruto to be a sexy demon slayer? Great! But think over. How you get there will make or break your fic, and generally the most easily explainable means toward that end are the best ones. Ask cause and effect questions at every stage of your fic. For every decision your character makes. For every action that happens in their proximity. Treat them as real people. How will they react? The more you have to justify those reactions and the more outlandish they sound, the more you are failing at it. This failure not only runs hand in hand with Fanfiction Failure #4, but has far reaching consequences in other failures at well.
12) Your plot vehicle fails. Because you obviously don't know how to drive. Stories are divided up into vehicles and destination, and one without the other is absolutely worthless. In fact, reading this particular failure to execute is like salting your eyeballs and dipping them in vinegar; something that can be avoided with some good ol' common sense. Harry Potter the magical girl is not a plot in and of itself. It's a way way to get to your plot. How Harry Potter becomes Queen of the magical girls is. That's your end destination, and everything in your fic should revolve around getting there. Fics without an end destination have a shelf life before your readers become as tired of reading it as you are of writing an endless, go nowhere exercise in futility. Your reader base might laugh at first, but all you've really done is sentence them to a slow, lingering death; though this can be reversed by simply remembering where you're going. Fics without vehicles, however, are always immediately fatal, mainly because how you're getting to that end plot makes no sense what-so ever. You tried to insert BS instead of substance in your point A to B plot, and it's a failure strongly related to number twelve. Harry Potter the magical girl queen is a laudable goal, but if you can't substantiate a way to make that happen, its best you leave that one to the big boys and girls.
13) Your Characterizations fail. Didn't we already visit this one? No, we did not. Characters are the lifeblood of your fic, and since your plots are obviously bleeding out, let me impart a bit of wisdom concerning them. KNOW YOUR GODDAMN CAST. Simply doing so is what will set you apart from your failing brethern, giving your fic an ever so slight chance to win. Canon will tell you everything you need to know about them: Their likes, dislikes, general disposition and best of all- repeat after me kids -how they will react to any situation you write them into. Not only does an authentically written character lend credbility to your story, knowing how they will react in regards to canon is solid fanfic gold for your readers. Even when you OC the hell out of the cast, this rule is vital just so you have a baseline, since you will at least know what you're doing to a given character when you take the mary sue torch to their ass. Building realistic characters also requires a grasp of Rule #11... Good character behavior plus cause and effect go hand in hand-- to the point where the story plot points will all but write themselves because you did your job as an author.
Fanfiction Failure Metarules for Writers
Things to look out for as an author to help you win more than fail at fanfiction.
Fanfiction Failure Metarule #1-- Readers will absolute love a completed work but will invariably pick apart and inadvertently attempt to destroy it if given a hand in its creation. Be especially wary of open forums and chat channels in this regard as they usually have opinionated folks who haven't ever written anything or anything in nearly forever. Either have a healthy self image or screen your pre-readers carefully to avoid this failure.
Fanfiction Failure Metarule #2-- The phrase "...that's just another excuse to (plot device)." indicates you are dealing with a person of below average insight as to how fiction is written. These people should not be allowed to influence your work in any way because everything is a means to an end and is therefore "an excuse" to achieve that end. For example; "...(plot device) is just another excuse to lock Ranma as a girl." This is an empty statement attempting to hide behind factual expertise; a bludgeon used by particular readers that don't get their way or don't approve of your plot. It contains no value beyond personal opinion and should therefor be treated as such.
Fanfiction Failure Metarule #3-- There is no impossible in fanfiction. Every once in a while you'll run into that anal retentive plot nazi that will say it simply can't be done like that. It doesn't matter what 'that' is because 'it' simply can't be done and they are, of course, the foremost authority on such matters. Normally this advisement is made by people that don't know they're closet creativity thieves; people who don't realize that their favorite series usually has either plot holes you can drive a death star through or that same series has Lucky God martial Artists, Flying airships, and springs of drowned Asura-zebra-octopi-phoenix-yeti-bulls. Sadly, their disagreements usual come down to little more than opinion of what is in reality- say it with me -magical bullshit. As such, these people should be given as little creative share in your work as possible. All that said, there is a difference between the broken ideology of "can't be done" and the more realistic "shouldn't be done". Consult the Rules of Fanfiction Failure for a head start on those.
Fanfiction Failure Metarule #4-- "It's been done before!" is never an excuse not to do it again. Some of the best works you will ever read in fanfiction "have been done before" and it's still amazing how these will be the first words out of reader's mouths when running an idea past them- even though they absolutely HAVE to know somewhere in the back of their mind that this is an empty statement, because half the fics they enjoy "have been done before". Don't take this one personally. It's reflex. Smile, nod and continue writing anyway with Rule of Fanfiction Failure #8 somewhere in the back of your mind.
Fanfiction Failure Metarule #5-- Fanon is not a sin. That's right folks, its time to drop the rosaries and stop going to those cleansing ceremonies because contrary to what you have been led to believe, fanon is not the end of the world. What is the end of the world is not knowing the difference between fanon and canon. Even if you don't know, your readers will and there's a good chance that your fic will deserve the smack-down heaped upon you even as your pitiful cries of "no flames" go unnoticed in the fic summary. Fanon often personalizes a fic and can- and I stress can -make it better than the original source material, but like Fan Fic Failure #13, knowing what you're doing to canon before you rape it at the alter will make or break a fic.
Fanfiction Failure Metarule #6 -- Do what they tell you not to or shouldn't. Who are 'they'? They are the know-it-alls of fanfiction; even other authors. This particular rule is a close cousin to metarule #3 and has served me well over the years. They tell you not to put specific dates in your fic? Do it. They tell you that writing about X will only cause problems. Go for it. Not only will you set your work apart from theirs as unique, your readers will appreciate you tackling subject matter others are afraid to touch. Trusted prereader advice should always take precedence over this rule, but always keep it in the back of your mind. Asking yourself 'why' somebody advises against certain material is half the battle whether you take their advise or not.
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