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09 September 2010 @ 03:21 am
Can't Get Back To Sleep  
*ahem*

Dear, People of the Internet Who Are Still Writing Alternate Book 3: Fire Stories;

Before I get started, let me say the following:
-- I am not opposed to Book 3 rewrites.
-- Most Book 3 rewrites (probably 98%) are not the "targets" of this blog post. Specifically, I only know of five stories that are guilty of what I'm about to complain about.
-- I'm not trying to pick on anyone, which is why I'm not linking to stories or name-dropping fic writers. That doesn't accomplish anything.
-- This is not the sort of thing that is exclusive to the Avatar fandom. In fact, I've been in fandoms where this sort of thing is much worse.
-- I always come into these alternate Book 3 rewrites on the chapter specifically highlighting Sokka's Master whenever I google for Piandao-related stories on ff.net which is why I'll be using Sokka's Master as my example. Well that and it's Sokka's Master. <3 But this is something I'm sure can be said of many episodes which are included in a handful of Book 3 rewrites.


So, anyway...


I don't care if (some) authors reference specific episodes that they want to keep in their Book 3: Fire rewrite by adding small bits of the episodes to their stories. I understand why this is done. Authors need to give readers an idea of what they're keeping and, by the process of elimination, what they're not keeping. Authors need to give readers a timeframe for where they are in their alternative Book 3 season--pre-Awakening, pre-DoBS, post-DoBS, pre-finale, epilogue, and so forth during each new chapter so you can establish your timeline. More important, I realize that, when someone does a rewrite, they often have to change certain things about each episode to suit their story. I'm all for making changes as long as they make sense within the context of your story.


Why do a handul of you feel the need to copy entire episodes verbatim? Why devote huge portions of each chapter of your story to word-for-word blocks of dialogue and action sequences that you have stolen from the episodes? Not only is that lazy writing, it is plagiarism. If you can't quote large blocks of text from a book, even if you give credit, why would you think you could do this for television episodes or movies and not be called out for it?

Almost as important, and more to the point of effective storytelling, it's completely impractical. Most readers will scroll right past a chapter that amounts to a transcript of an episode. That's what we have our DVDs and illegal downloads for. We don't need you to illustrate something we've seen at least a dozen times already. I don't care how well you write (or think you write), you're writing is a dreadfully poor substitute for the awesome animation, acting, music, martial artistry, visual effects, and overall presentation that watching ATLA provides us with, so you're just wasting everyone's time when you could be telling us some really cool things about your alternate season 3. If you have things that are happening that are contrary to canon, these are the things you should deal with in your story. Your readers need this information.

It's okay to write in bits of dialog or small scenes from the episodes. However, you should have a really good reason for doing this. By "good reason", I mean it should be something that is necessary to tell your story, and not just something you've thrown in there because you felt like it or because you wanted to pad your chapter's word count. Also, the sum of copied material you jacked from an episode should not take up anymore than twenty to twenty five percent of each chapter's total content.

If you want to preserve elements of episodes that you enjoy, then, by all means, feature those episodes. But you should show the reader things about those episodes we wouldn't see if we were watching them on our televisions/computers. Such things like how your OCs or Zuko (who always seems to be a member of the gang in these rewrites) are affected by the events of episodes like The Painted Lady or The Runaway are key to your story. How these characters themselves impact what's happening around them are important details we need to know about. I would think that, if Zuko were a member of the group when Sokka's Master was written, some of the story might have been different. For one thing, I doubt Zuko would just sit around in the hot summer sun all day long and complain about being bored because Sokka wasn't there to make sarcastic remarks.

If you must rehash things like the duel between Sokka and Piandao because you just can't not have that in your story, please work it from a character POV or bring your own unique perspective to the scene rather than just giving a play-by-play of the same action that can be seen by merely viewing Sokka's Master. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that most people who bend Book 3 until it breaks to suit their personal Head!Canon will mostly try to preserve Sokka's Master because they seem to really like this episode and they seem to love Piandao. But there are ways to write elements of Sokka's Master into your Book 3 rewrite without plagiarizing Tim Hedrick's screenplay.

I'm not angry about this, just sad and disappointed.

As an aside, I'm left asking the obvious question: If Zuko is a member of their group, why would Sokka need to go to Piandao when he can get sword lessons from Zuko?



It's 3:21 am and I doubt this even makes sense. Oh well. :/
 
 
 
go make some new disaster: atla - the order comes knockingali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
This is also a gigantic pet peeve of mine! Although I didn't realize it was quite this extensive of a problem.

Personally, while pushing through the covering-the-second-half-of-S3 epilogue I'm working on right now, I've been including as few "alternate" versions of canon scenes as possible. Sure, things went a little differently at the Sun Warrior city, but if none of those differences are important to the plot then I'm not making my readers (or myself) slog through my retelling of that episode.

This is fanfic! The entire audience is intimately familiar with the canon! Shouldn't we be taking advantage of that -- their knowledge of what happened in the show -- to help keep our fics as tight and interesting as possible?

BAH.

:|
SCplushulala on September 10th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
This is also a gigantic pet peeve of mine! Although I didn't realize it was quite this extensive of a problem.

It was so bad in the Tenchi fandom. -_-; It doesn't seem like a huge problem for our fandom. Then again, the only exposure I get to fan fiction these days is the stuff I read from my f-list and from my searches for all things Piandao. So, I don't know... But five plagiarized stories is five stories too many. :/

One of these fics had over fifty glowing reviews. I'm a little sad no one seemed to care that the entire story thsu far had been mostly plagiarized, but I'm not surprised.


Personally, while pushing through the covering-the-second-half-of-S3 epilogue I'm working on right now, I've been including as few "alternate" versions of canon scenes as possible. Sure, things went a little differently at the Sun Warrior city, but if none of those differences are important to the plot then I'm not making my readers (or myself) slog through my retelling of that episode.

Your efforts are appreciated. :)

One of my biggest Beta gripes is that too many rewriters or AU writers cover material from episodes when they don't need to. I always have to tell them this information is not required, that it isn't even interesting and just weights their story down.


This is fanfic! The entire audience is intimately familiar with the canon! Shouldn't we be taking advantage of that -- their knowledge of what happened in the show -- to help keep our fics as tight and interesting as possible?

You'd think so. Past the whole Copying Entire Episodes thing, how many fics have we read where someone tells us that Katara has brown hair or Zuko has golden eyes or describes in great detail the Fire Lord's robes or Zhao's uniform? It's just incredibly tedius to read these things.

But, you know, when someone Beta'd a story of mine two years ago, the first thing they said was that I needed to describe what Zhao looked like and I was like "Um, why?" It wasn't like I was writing him as a teenager or child. It was Admiral Zhoa. If I talk about Admiral Zhao, anyone should automatically know who he is and what he looks like. So, I don't know... It's weird.
menamebephilmenamebphil on September 9th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Because Zuko is A: really shitty at swords, or B: a really shitty teacher.

Duh.
SC: Happy Piandaoplushulala on September 10th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
Oh, you. >:D