A COMPANION TO WRITING SAILORMOON FANFICS - Part IV
One of the most interesting examples of
switching stories has been John Biles' releases to the
FFML. As the author of Dance of
Shiva, he has already begun to release another story
within his mega-crossover continuity: Black Moon
Rising; but after 6 chapters intermittently to the
ML, he has also taken to writing a crossover between
Marmalade Boy and Sailormoon:
Marmalade Moon. Biles, like Chris Davies, has
tended to have several story projects going at once.
Together Again: 1996 Chapter has finally finished
its release to both the ML as well as the archives, but
during the writing, we have also seen teasers from:
Bubble Gum Chakram (A BGC/Xena/TA continuity
crossover) -- two parts;
Further Adventures of Sheila Tenkai -- two parts;
The Infinite Future (A SM/MKR crossover) -- one
part; and numerous teasers.
One might argue that both Biles and Davies are epic
Huang refers to a Biles as an epic ^_^) but even series writers and
prose writers will often have several story projects
continuing. Certainly, Amanda 'Greenbeans' Anderson has not
only seen the beginnings of a new mid-length prose work, but
also the release of Deserving, The Trouble with
Kittens, and Memoirs of a
Daimon. As well, the release of several shorter
vignettes: with Elisabeth 'Ophelia' Hegarat -
versus the Starlights and the Revenge of the
Professor Washuu will be giving a brief
lecture on some rudimentary concepts within fanfiction
writing and the different formats of the stories that appear
within various archives.
I'll describe epic, vignette and prose
within the context of the writings mentioned. Epics tend to
be long stories, measuring in size from one hundred pages
(standard format) and up. Recognized epic stories include:
of Shiva, Ken Wolfe's
Secrets, and Tim Nolan's End
of the Beginning. Epics are not only recognized
single stories, but the impact they carry, tend to span over
several stories. All three epics mentioned have stories that
form part of the greater diaspora that is the world these
writers have created.
Dance of Shiva has four major storyline fusions:
Bubblegum Crisis, Sailor Moon, Tenchi
Muyo, as well as Mobile Police Patlabor; this
does not include the numerous cameos and minor roles that
other anime stories play. It also pulls in stories from his
own works: including Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Z,
and Ranmapunk 2033.
Secrets is the temporary conclusion of his five
story set -- which
included: The Four Horsemen, Frozen Time,
Kiss of the Enemy, and Under a Cloud. Wolfe
has weaved a complex universe which is set within the anime
context. Establishing the Senshi that we know and love, he
has proceed to look at differing aspects of their lives and
the effect that being a Senshi has exacted.
Epics tend to carry more of a moralistic
bent than other stories -- with underlying themes and
recurring events. Epics can be either in the form of prose
(with different distinguishing features) or else poetry.
Popular themes always include: life and death, love and hate
... classic themes. Epics are interesting to read, simply
because anime is a wonderful vehicle to explore the emotions
-- the plentiful archetypical heroes (and heroines) and
villians play out the different stories within life.
As epics become the stage for a
storyteller, vignettes are a diametric opposite. Vignettes
are short 'glimpses' within a continuity or a character
study. They allow a brief glance into a character's motives
and thoughts -- but enough that we develop a sense of what
drives this character.
Poetry and prose tend to be relative
terms in fan-fiction writing. Prose entails structure
(including punctuation) to sentences, and paragraphs. Poetry
can also be structured, but not always. Classical poetry has
tended to embody structure, i.e., iambic pentameter, but
modern poetry has stepped beyond these limitations.
Even when a writer temporarily stops
working on a main story and instead chooses to write a
different concept, it does not mean that the main idea has
been abandoned. Working on a new or different story means
that the author is given an opportunity to view an idea in a
novel situation, perhaps leading to a 'link' into the
original story. For example, Davies had sent out a
teaser of a SM/MKR story in February and that formed a basis
Infinite Future -- a story that is perfectly at home in
Davies' SM universe.
Why do I refer to it as being Davies'SM-verse?
Every author's view of the events within Sailormoon
(regardless of whether it is the original or the North
American version) differs. Davies has taken key events
within the five seasons and presented an 'alternative' to
the canon -- something that has spawned a mega-crossover:
Together Again (or as Davies sees it:
My Personal Anime Crossover From Hell).
Similarly, other authors have taken different views towards
character behaviours and relationships.
- Stay in character, or give a good reason why.
Unless it is a parody fanfic or taking place in an alternate
universe, the characters should be acting as expected. To
have Ami suddenly becomes a flirt or Haruka being timid
without a good reason will turn people off from the story.
It's much like giving your own characters the names of the
Sailor Moon characters when you don't have them performing
in expected ways.
One of the hottest debates that has been
raging in the newsgroup and 'Net community has been the
concepts and importance of recognition of plagiarism. What
does plagiarism have to do with characterization ? Much! The
beginning of the 1998 year saw a flurry of news threads that
were dealing with not only the plagiarism of a well
recognized Sailormoon Fan-Fiction site: A Sailor Moon Romance;
but also the plagiarism of a fairly known fan-fiction
Professor Washuu pulls out the
Plagiarism: that act or an
instance of plagiarizing => 1. take and use
(the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person)
as one's own. 2. pass off the thoughts etc. of
(another person) as one's own.
--Concise Oxford Dictionary,
Ninth Edition, 1995
How can I claim that someone has
plagiarized Ms. Wand? I cannot state this lightly, however,
the 'suspect' in question: Anya Romanov had initially
claimed to have written Reaching for Your Star prior
to the release of Ms. Wand's work: Yaten's Love Song;
later, that claim was retracted in preference for a claim of
authorial and creative priority, as in, Ms.
Anya had written the ideas prior to Ms. Wand, and thus, she
asking for a removal of Yaten's Love Song from the major SM
Even before the 'mud-fest' in the
newsgroup occured, I had read a copy of Ms. Wand's story,
Yaten's Love Song (hereafter referred to as
YLS) from the archives for A Sailor Moon Romance
in March. I would stress that in the view of the
international common law, the first published and time/date
stamped copy of an original piece of writing (regardless of
origin -- i.e., fanfic or original story) will be held as
having author priority and concept copyright seniority.
An example might be, I could write a
story about Haruka dying in a car crash -- spectacular drive
off a cliff...into a sea of fire...and whatnot. And Michiru
could suddenly decide to pitch herself into the same sea
(because she couldn't bear to be separated from Haruka). No
matter how cliché the story, if I print out a copy and sent
it back to myself (via the postal service) then the sealed
copy would have a date and time stamp on the top. This is
also known as the Poor Man's Copyright.
Similarly, when we extrapolate these rules into
'Net-publishing and posting, we look at the time stamps for
posting to the newsgroup and/or to web pages. Regardless of
the actual dates for writing and synthesis of concepts, Ms. Wand had a copy of the story on
for the sake of comparison on an equal footing.
Comparison based upon one piece of
writing (or even, one story) is insufficient. Ms. Anya has
only one other piece of writing posted at any archival site
(or web-site for that matter): Sailor Moon Z. Of
note, there are four known series which include the title:
Sailor Moon Z. The recognized series include:
Sailormoon Zodiac by Janelle Jiminez; Bishoujo
Senshi Sailor Moon Z by John Biles and Jeffrey Hosmer;
Sailor Moon Z by 'Oscar Martinez' -- the infamous
writer of Artemis' Lover -- a single story that
started the MiST history of anime fan-fiction.
To get a fair indication of the
storylines written of; what styles have been used; what plot
holes remain gaping wide...I suggest reading the available
fan-fiction through the archives, sites, and downloads. "Tuxedo" Will
Wolfshohl mentions that a potential fan-fiction writer
should read at least 25 fan-fiction stories before embarking
on a journey of writing. Reading not only fan-fiction but
'non-fan' fiction will mean that you are not only absorbing
writing styles and ideas of what draws you to a story (if
reading 'regular' fiction) but also to see how ideas are
No author writes in isolation; this is
true for fan-fiction as well as others. No driver would ever
enter the road without familiarizing thenmselves with the
vehicle and road conditions; the story is both, to
paraphrase McLulhlan, the medium and the message. The way
that you tell the story is just as important as the story
that you tell. An excellent example is Chris Davies. His
Together Again stories are not only written in a
script format (film-like, complete with entrance and exit
instructions to the scenes) but also in a reverse order.
One might question whether Davies has
spoiled his story if he starts from the very end... I would
say NO! Davies has established his universe in such a
manner that we know the general details of what has
transpired, but none of the specifics...making for an
intriguing story when he does get around to writing
the 'past' so-to-speak.
Continue to Part 5 »