Actually, I think that picture sums up the whole attraction/repulsion dynamic in a suitably banal way.
Actually, I think that picture sums up the whole attraction/repulsion dynamic in a suitably banal way.
Anne Shirley, the beloved and iconic red-haired Canadian girl from the Anne of Green Gables books, is a writer. She never becomes a career journalist or novelist or anything like that, but that's besides the point. She's a writer.
( "But your folks ain't like real folks anywhere. They talk too much and use too high-flown language." )
Montgomery had even more to say about writing in the Emily of New Moon books, but I didn't much care for that series.
10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.
I'd modify that. A lot of us are into nuanced portrayals of good and bad, wherein outright love and outright hate of a character isn't really the key reaction. This is one thing that did really excite me about anime (and carries over into Fire Emblem)-- principled antagonists who aren't merely "bad" people. And honestly, there is some really successful fiction, like The Crying of Lot 49, wherein deep emotional investment in the characters isn't really... the point. Oedipa Maas is something of a successor to Nick Carraway, but the reader probably doesn't identify with her the way they're invited to identify with Nick. But, yes, generally speaking, a successful book is one wherein the reader takes a deep and personal interest in the characters. Harry Potter didn't get to be so popular because the magical meta was well-constructed, after all. Character love and character hate in the Potter fandom is a thing to behold... even of some of them seem to be reading Bizarro Land copies of the books.
And, in a worst-case scenario...
But the reader of the "Deerslayer" tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.
I've read books like that, oh yes.
11. They require that the characters in a tale shall be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.
This was the rule that made me sit up and take notice. It's an awesome rule. I've held for years that the writer ought to know what their characters will do in an emergency, but that's with cheat sheets and pages of character ruminations and all kinds of background info. To have all that communicated cleanly to the reader so that they know that it's right when the by-the-book character gets flustered and the sensation-seeking screw-off buckles down under pressure, that one character copes by deliberately focusing on one static moment at a time and another processes it all on autopilot... that's impressive. That's something to aspire to, if not as a main goal than at least as some secondary or tertiary goal in the back of the brain. I like that idea. A lot.
#8: They require that crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader as "the craft of the woodsman, the delicate art of the forest," by either the author or the people in the tale.
Obviously, this is another smack at Fenimore Cooper, but the point is valid. Let’s translate it into Fire Emblem terms: crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader as “the skill of the tactician.” Don’t lay something utterly moronic out in front of the reader and pass it off as specialized acts of genius. In the case of Fenimore Cooper, Twain was appalled by an episode in which an Indian Native American diverts a stream to find the tracks of the person he’s trailing... preserved in the stream-bed. Preserved? Under rushing water? Seriously?
As for fanfiction, well... I seem to recall a fairly recent Tactician!fic wherein the Tactician advised Lyn that the dull edge of a blade wouldn’t damage her much. That’s a great way to never make it to Caelin. Also, successful “FE gameplay” tactics to do not translate into remotely plausible narrative action. They just don’t. And I recommend that everyone read this if they haven’t already.
#9: They require that the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.
Fair enough. I’m quite partial to the not-impossible miracle at the end of Josephine Tey’s The Franchise Affair. The groundwork for a potential miracle has been seeded throughout, so the event isn’t a gross violation of the novel’s world, and the miracle itself is embodied in the mundane person of a Danish hotel proprietor.
As for the other sort of miracles... Nathanael West has something to say about that in Day of the Locust:
Although the events she described were miraculous, her description of them was realistic. The effect was similar to that obtained by artists of the Middle Ages, who, when doing a subject like the raising of Lazarus of the dead or Christ walking on water, were careful to keep the details intensely realistic. She, like them, seemed to think that fantasy could be made plausible by humdrum technique.
Key words being “seemed to think”-- in short, that doesn’t necessarily work to make a miracle "reasonable" to the reader.
Ten and eleven tomorrow-- two of my favorites in the list.
#5: They require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.
Oh, baby. Let’s break that one down...
“[T]he talk shall sound like human talk,”
Ever read dialogue that was utterly unconvincing, and you came away thinking, “Nobody talks like that!” Just listening to a range of actual people speaking-- students, academics, lawyers, priests, tradesmen, ballplayers-- helps immensely with this. For period pieces, recourse to period documents (not just letters and diaries, but snippets of transcribed conversations) is helpful. Yes, some people talked with flowery flourishes in, say, 1862. But colloquial speech back from back then sounds remarkably familiar. And just because we may hear Jacobean English as grand Bible language doesn’t mean that there wasn’t Jacobean gutter speech. We just don’t always recognize it.
“and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances”
Another important point-- compare the public addresses of Abraham Lincoln with the “lowbrow” stories he liked to tell in private... or
Churchill’s public statements versus his private witticisms. Or the phrases of the Declaration of Independence with what Jefferson liked to say about his enemies... no, wait, the Declaration is full of well-phrased pot shots. The same character can have very different modes of expressing himself/herself, depending on whether the scene is a courtroom floor, a battlefield, or a bedroom.
“and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader”
All good points-- unless a character is meant to be irritating as hell, digressions are not welcome. Example: a mystery novel I picked up out of
boredom at my grandmother’s house. It was set in a tea shop in Charleston, SC. The shop assistant would, at no apparent cue, go off on info-dumps about tea varieties. I love tea, and I neither learned anything of substance from these digressions, nor did I enjoy them.
As for “interesting to the reader,” I suppose this is where the recommendation for a beta reader comes into play... but I am an author-offender
who throws ‘fic unbeta-ed into the world. Sorry.
“and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.”
#6: They require that when the author describes the character of a personage in the tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.
OK. Few things aggravate me more in a story than when a character depicted as “brilliant” is, well, not brilliant. I don’t mean geniuses with no street sense, I mean master plotters who can’t plot their way out of a paper bag, eloquent diplomats would couldn’t resolve an argument over pizza toppings, FBI agents who apparently never took basic training, and physical scientists who confuse silicon with silicone.
No. No. NO.
And I don’t mean a fanfiction G-man or physicist or diplomat needs to be vetted by an actual G-man, physicist, or diplomat to pass. But some degree of real-world familiarity helps with this, far more so than just, well, reading other works of fanfiction. Knowledge of how people actually operate in real life is one of the best tools in a writer’s toolbox. It’ll help keep your prodigies brilliant, your seducers seductive, and your madmen certifiable.
#7: They require that when a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven- dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a negro minstrel in the end of it.
[Friendship’s Offering was an illustrated literary magazine of the day. And seven dollars was a fair amount of money back then!]
Wait. Didn’t we just agree that a character might express themselves differently under different circumstances? Not quite the same thing-- note emphasis on switching in the middle of a paragraph! A character ought to have a distinctive mode of speech, based on their background/upbringing/class/etc. Queen Victoria is not going to be lapsing into Cockney flower-seller speech... not unless she’s trying to be funny. A Cockney flower-seller might learn “proper” speech then lapse out of it at times, but context is what makes this convincing. If characters are doing a conversational about-face, there ought to be a reason, implied or explicit, for it. There’s code-switching, and there’s just plain sloppy writing.
You can, OTOH, make good dramatic devices out of these sorts of inconsistencies-- in The Alienist, Caleb Carr’s team of detectives analyze a letter written by their target and determine that he’s an educated individual who is pretending to be unschooled. They figure this out through the target’s own sloppy mistakes. Again, a lot of it comes down to learning how people actually operate. You don’t need a natural “ear for dialogue”-- get out a notebook and pen and jot down what the funny, brilliant, crazy, or dull people around you actually say.
Rules eight and nine tomorrow...
They require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
But what about the zombies, Mr. Twain? Under which category do they qualify? Seriously, can anyone think of a work of fiction, fan or professional, which fell afoul of this particular guideline?
But this detail has often been overlooked in the "Deerslayer" tale.
Oh. Yes, so let’s just consider this to be Twain’s way of expressing disgust with Cooper’s means of characterizing... everything. Moving along... unless someone actually can think of an example wherein this is a problem.
They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.
OK. This is not quite the same thing as “Law of Economy of Characters,” which arises from the constraints of movie budgets. But dramatically, this one makes perfect sense. Ever read a story in which a slew of characters were introduced in a chapter and then nothing happened with any of them? Or a story in which some character swanned in, was described in minute detail, and then had no impact on anything thereafter? Or an otherwise good “tale” marred by a really annoying and intrusive character who didn’t fit the tone of a piece... and who turned out to be an avatar of one of the author’s friends?
One of my favorite Gundam Wing stories, “Sweets for the Sweet,” was harmed by just this-- a deluge of author-friend cameos near the end of the story. Not to say a friend-insertion can’t be done without harming a particular story, but it’s as risky as playing with matches down at the oil refinery. Why are they there? What purpose do they serve? Is there any way you can accomplish that purpose using only canon characters?
Also, no fair introducing an orphan or kindly old man for the sole purpose of killing them off because you want some pathos but can’t bear to harm the main cast of characters (original or media-derived). Yes, I realize professional works do this, but it’s cheap. Hell, it works best in black comedies where the audience is in on the joke, IMO. “I gotta kill someone and I can’t harm my darlings” does not equal an excuse for getting a saucer-eyed child or senior citizen out of Central Casting.
When Orwell had a bomb fall in the street in 1984, he blew up a faceless prole and had Winston and Julia see, not the whole of the “dead personage,” but a severed, bloodless hand. That worked. Likewise, in Michael Demcio’s “Rhyme and Reason,” once touted as the longest fanwork in existence, he originally was going to have the protagonist (Chip) identify the victim of a library bombing by ring or some other cliched detail, but he wisely backed away from that angle and allowed the protagonist only a glimpse of the sheet-shrouded victims. In retrospect, the story had plenty of problems, but he didn't do that. So, yes-- even dead characters need an excuse for being there, and if the excuse isn’t enough... don’t go there.
Rules five, six, and seven are interconnected, so we’ll cover them in one go tomorrow.
Anyway, I don't know about you (really, I don't), but when I write something that's going up on public display, I want it to be the best I can write. Not the best Fire Emblem fanfiction around or the best any kind of fanfiction ever, but the best I can do with that story at that moment. Otherwise it goes in the slushpile in the deep recesses of my hard drive where I hide the Marth/Melissa pr0n.
And maybe I do want to get something published some day. Anyway, consequently, I've spent a lot of time thinking about writing and reading about writing and writing about writing. It's what I do for fun. Well, that and give public talks on the Russian space program (betcha you didn't see that one coming).
So, having come across Mark Twain's so-called rules governing literary art in the domain of romantic fiction, and having enjoyed them greatly, I figured it was worthwhile to have a look at them and see how they apply to amateur fiction, if they apply at all. Tonight we cover:
#1: That a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.
Anyway, Twain uses this first rule as a springboard for some later rules, and as he doesn't define his terms, we have to guess as to what he means by "accomplish" and "arrive." Whatever he means, it's the opposite of what the Leatherstocking Tales do. :)
This is followed immediately by:
#2: They require that the episodes in a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it.
OK. So a "tale" (I'm thinking he doesn't mean flash fiction here) is constructed of episodes that develop it so that the tale "goes somewhere" and, in doing so, "accomplishes something." I think we can translate this to mean that a story has a plot that follows a recognizable structure (conflict-climax-resolution, argh), whose denouement evokes something in the reader-- preferably the feeling the author intended. I'm not going to argue with that; it has a pedigree in Western Lit going back to Aristotle, and that's because it works. Yes, you can subvert it or invert it or chop it to bits, but it helps to know beforehand what you're turning inside out and why.
Now, since I'm agreeing to run with #1 and #2, a violation of #2 in particular would mean that a narrative is cluttered with episodes that are unnecessary and don't develop the plot-- filler, if you will. Or perhaps subplots that don't reflect back on the narrative in any meaningful way. An unsuccessful sequence of episodes leaves the reader screaming, "Nobody cares, get back to the main story!"-- or, worse, they're dying to get back to the subplot because the main characters are bland and/or unsympathetic.
One of the great unfinished Utena fanstories, Alan Harnum's Jacquemart, has so many damned plot threads running that it's obvious why Harnum couldn't finish it-- he's admitted that he'd bitten off more than he could chew. A good plot-subplot structure should be as elegant as a molecule of DNA or collagen, and Harnum ended up with what looks more like Grandma's yarn basket after my cat got into it. This doesn't invalidate his effort-- what there is of Jacquemart is compelling and sometimes brilliant. But the various episodes of the narrative didn't cohere.
Now, a short story/one shot doesn't necessarily need any subplots, but if you're writing in a smaller framework, than working toward your end as concisely as possible becomes even more important. Basically, the shorter the word count, the tighter the focus. Which brings us to flash fiction. Do drabbles have to arrive somewhere? How do you go anywhere in the space of 100-500 words? Well, a good piece of flash fiction still evokes something in the reader, so I'd say that qualifies for going somewhere and accomplishing something. I think we all know at least one favorite drabble that "arrives somewhere," no matter how sparse the word count.
Rules #3 and #4 tomorrow!
Slate magazine, which has degenerated of late into a flurry of 'articles' like "I hate pie and you do too, admit it," still coughs something worthwhile up on occasion. Frex, this week we got "How Not to Write a Book Review" by Robert Pinsky, which jumps off the sad tale of the allegedly lethal review that John Wilson Croker gave to Endymion by John Keats. It's one of those moments in literary history that, in hindsight, might be reduced to "Wah, Croker was stupid and Keats was a genius, so nyah." This is probably easier to say with a straight face if the speaker hasn't read Endymion.
Then again, Croker didn't actually read Endymion, either, and confesses to it freely in his review, which brings us to Pinsky's core argument: a review in good faith should have three components:
1. The review must tell what the book is about.
2. The review must tell what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.
3. The review must tell what the reviewer thinks about what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.
Reviews that address #1 and #2 while scurrying away from hitting #3 are, therefore, failures as actual reviews. Someone who spends all their time on #3 without bothering with #1 or #2 is likewise deficient as a reviewer. And someone who doesn't bother with any of the three points is a rogue operator. This, in a nutshell, is why pure snark (which describes Croker's review of Endymion pretty well), is such a destructive mode of operations. Snark doesn't have to turn its back on all three rules, but it usually does.
Likewise, some other famously devastating reviews-- Mark Twain's takedown of James Fenimore Cooper and George Eliot's condemnation of an entire genre of 19th century novel-- are operating outside the rules. Twain pretty clearly doesn't care what Cooper thought his books were about; he's more interested in what contemporary critics think Cooper's books are about. It's a reaction not just to the text Cooper wrote, but to everything Cooper came to represent. It's funny as hell, but it's not really a good-faith review of the works. Eliot makes some suppositions about what the "lady novelists" intend in their mind-and-millinery books, and but in the end she doesn't actually care-- the broad menace posed by silly lady novelists matters more than what any one specimen of lady novelist might actually think. But the reviews are amazingly entertaining, and because we "know" Twain and Eliot we're in their corner, even if Twain's essay in particular has come into criticism for its bad-faith qualities.
[Twain didn't think much of Eliot, either, FWIW.]
So, in the end, two of the most famous critical essays in English lit are models of How Not to Do It. But what if they were? What if they operated within the good-faith boundaries? I'll let Pinsky have the last word on it for those who didn't click the links:
"In a sense, Croker cannot be blamed for being unpleasant, or mistaken, or for attacking a beloved figure: Being wrong in judgment and doing wrong as a person, it can be argued, are both within any reviewer's rights. In a book review, even the greatness of Keats and the poignancy of his life story are beside the point. Even John Wilson Croker's introductory confession might be tolerable if somehow, despite not reading most of John Keats' book, Croker had managed nonetheless to follow the Three Golden Rules—instead of ducking them. That is unforgivable."
Anyway, I was planning to write an essay-thing on plot to complement the ones on structure, but then Things Happened as usual and I decided to write about this instead.
( Fire Emblem, meet the Lifetime Channel )
Anyway, this is of course all my opinion, offered as free advice, etc. Happy writing, and if someone writes that Ilyana story I might even read it.
I don't get Starz, so I haven't seen and likely will never see the new Camelot adaptation, but I read a review or three because the idea of the latest New and Different spin on the Arthurian legend might have been interesting. What Starz actually is broadcasting sounds pretty dire, and given that I enjoyed that 1990s Merlin miniseries with Martin Short in it, that's saying something.
But the whole issue of HOW to adapt King Arthur and his posse is eternally interesting... to me, anyway. Because, of course, his golden age falls to ruin-- and in many versions, the seeds of this disaster are quite literally sown by Arthur himself when he fathers a child upon his half sister. Sometimes he's been tricked or enchanted, sometimes he just doesn't know who this attractive older woman is... and I'm sure some adaptation of the myth somewhere has an Arthur who knows it's wrong but doesn't care. And in versions that ignore the Mordred angle to concentrate on the Lancelot/Guinevere end of things (a far less interesting plot thread, IMO), the same issue of Arthur's culpability comes into play. Does he know of the dalliance but passively condone it? Is he blissfully unaware of his wife's affairs? Is he just too damned busy being King Arthur to even realize what's going on?
It's all very tricky, and it's part of the reason I've never seen or read a version of the Arthurian myth that is 100% satisfying. If Arthur is utterly flawless-- perfectly noble, perfectly brave, perfectly honorable-- the decline of his kingdom feels hollow. Or perhaps his alleged success prior to the decline feels hollow: if he's so wonderful, why doesn't it work? Yeah, yeah, other people aren't as wonderful as Arthur. OK, so then you have a painted plaster hero surrounded by corruptible humans (who are usually more interesting by far!) like Gawain and Tristan. I just find that rather dull. Also, Mr. Perfect still slept with his sister and had wife issues, and if Arthur's the blameless victim in all of it... bleh.
On a mythical and a literary sense, it works better to have Arthur not be perfect, to have the ruin of Camelot brought on in some measure by the hero-king's own failings at home. But then, how far do you take it? Where does a conception of Arthur cross the line from "tragic hero" to "dumbass who had it coming"? It rather sounds like the new!Arthur in the Starz miniseries is deep into the "dumbass" territory, which frankly sounds rather repellent. I'm all for subversion and deconstruction, but this "whiny manchild" Arthur doesn't catch my fancy.
I guess the best version of the myth is still Monty Python's heh. It succeeds completely in what it was trying to be, which I can't say for any other Arthurian variation out there. And at this point, I've watched and read rather a lot of them.
Thoughts and recommendations welcome.
This has irked me for years, but since darling raphien mentioned something about "a sinking ship," it's time for a reality check. Or at least some perspective.
Stop bitching about how fandom is dying. You know how inviting it is to join a fandom when all the regulars are already pissing and moaning about how everything is now not-good and used to be sooooo much better? Not very. And y'all were pissing and moaning when I showed up late to the party in '09 (that's two years ago, people), and from reading the then-extant archives on the FFNet fora, I already knew at the time that the pissing and moaning had been going on for a couple of years.
So that's three or four years of the long, slow, demise of the Fire Emblem online fanfiction writing community. And yet, the writers and stories keep coming. Is the fandom what it used to be? No. Review counts and such are down by any quantitative measure. The day of the epic long-form story seems to be at an end for this fandom. But a lot of what was "so great" in those days really isn't all that good in hindsight ("Fourteen Days" is crap, sorry) and a lot of the shorter pieces were totally out-of-character (bad Kent/Sain slash-- also crap), but that's the fandom you came into and stuck with. Of course you liked it better then-- it was fun!
Now, take off your rose-colored mirror-glasses and ask yourself why anyone would want to join a fandom where the old-timers are constantly screaming about the end times like it'll never be 2005 again. Damn, people. You're lucky anyone who came in the door from 2007 on stuck around. So stop dragging up personality conflicts from a Very Long Time Ago-- it doesn't help. Stop gazing misty-eyed at the fandom days of yore, because in your blindness you're stepping on the feet of writers who would like to be a part of the fun but have to wonder if there's any fun to be had.
After all, these old-time fans are so bloody miserable about everything. Why join them?
This has been brought to you by the Committee to STFU.
That said, both the overall "fandom" of those who write and the specific fandom communities have rules. Some of these are modeled on professional literary and scholarly guidelines for behavior, while some are peculiar to fandom.
A) A person takes a story about Innes from the FE section of FFNet, rewrites it (somewhat) to be about Marth(!), gives it a similar title, and posts it on FFNet under their own name. This person runs afoul of plagiarism standards however you want to define them.
B) A person takes a lengthy fanfiction, makes some bizarre changes and insertions with promises of more ambitious changes to come, and posts it in the same fandom on FFNet under their own name. This person might possibly be engaging in some bizarro performance art, but it sure looks like out and out plagiarism.
C) A person reads a story, likes it, and writes a very similar story involving their own favorite characters. Theft? Well, it made the author of the first story uncomfortable and they expressed their discomfort. It is their right to do so. Does this act of flattery-by-imitation put them in the same class as Thieves A and B above? Does it mean that all their new works need to be greeted with suspicion, as all new works of Thief B will be?
D) A bunch of people simultaneously post bizarre crack stories featuring similar elements of plot, theme, and characterization. They're all in on the joke, but what does a newcomer make of it? Is this sort of thing common in the fandom? Can everyone join in the fun?
E) A semi-regular to a contest comm posts a 'fic that is damned close in structure and content to a meta piece that one of the other contest regulars published quite some time ago. These two writers do not really talk to one another outside of the contest comm, but the meta-writer's posts are unlocked and free for anyone to come across.
In my opinion? A and B are clear-cut cases of theft and have been exposed and brick-batted accordingly. Future works by them do need to be greeted with suspicion. C is far more problematic and I would personally answer No to both my own questions. I think this is a sincere case of not knowing the ropes and does not need to be handled with virtual baseball bats to the head. D is of course the Crackwood fiesta we all had a while back.
As for E... as the meta-writer in question, I appreciate that someone alerted me to the borrow (the 'fic seemed familiar to me at the time, but I didn't realize I might have been the source material). I haven't contacted the writer in question and I don't plan to unless I see them doing something of that kind again. There was a long gap in time between the meta and the 'fic, and they might have read my piece and forgotten it... or not read it at all and it's a coincidence. I personally try to credit people when a specific idea inspires me, but I'm not a zealot about it. Maybe I should be. Maybe not.
My point? The ropes of fandom are sometimes closer to invisible trip wires. Tread carefully.
Anyway, since I am out of ideas in general at present (or rather, out of energy to turn ideas into anything solid), here's some compare/contrast of FE3 vs FE11 to illuminate why I like one of the most despised games in Fire Emblem. This has nothing to do with sprites, battle animations, unique color schemes, reclassing, dismounting, or stats. It has to do with characterization, something else people found lacking in FE11.
( In which I bang on about my favorite FE game... )
Anyway, I know that one's reaction to a game does depend heavily on frame of reference and expectations, but I really shouldn't feel so... apologetic... in liking FE11 or its hero. The remake took something I liked and improved upon it in ways that clicked with me (mostly in characterization). And I still like FE11!Marth-- depressive, poetic, snarky, nerdy, and intermittently vengeful-- better than any other Lord of my acquaintance.
Also, raphien ? I'm 99% convinced of your Theory of Ephraim now, right down to shoving away Tana as a deliberate act. Too damned many coincidences on display here. Too many.
( Meta only gets you so far... )
Anyone who's hung out with me for a while probably has a sense of what's coming in Part IIIB. That is, the ne plus ultra of Canon, What Canon?
( A roundabout defense of gen fic )
Whew. That was good to get off my chest after ten long years. Next time we'll cover Part III: Canon, What Canon?
Part One: A Closed Circle
I started reading FE7 'fic long before playing the game out of a combination of boredom and desperation. Writers I enjoyed, like shimizu_hitomi , had FE7 (and FE6) works that looked promising, and the simple fact was that Elibe fanworks outnumbered Archanea fanworks by about three orders of magnitude. So I got a taste of the prevailing fan-take on the FE7 gang long before I actually sat down with the source material.
( In which I tl;dr about FE7 fiction )
Stay tuned for Part Two: When Pairings Eat a Fandom
Food. Characters in stories gotta eat. Archanea and Valencia have almost no detail regarding food up until FE12, wherein we learn that Caeda can cook and that Linde has never seen wild strawberries. Also, there's that scene in FE11 where the old woman is fleeing Altea carrying what looks like red delicious apples and a baguette of white bread. Hello, anachronisms... unless Altea is so well-off that commoners eat nice fluffy baguettes. And maybe that is the case, which would explain why everyone seems to hate Altea.
Ahem. History geek that I am, when I started writing for FE I decided that Archanean cuisine would be strictly Old World (Pre-Columbian contact) food. That means no potatoes, or sweet potatoes, or corn, or Lima beans, or tomatoes, or other things we mostly take for granted as, well, FOOD. Also, no chocolate. Or vanilla.
First off, Archanea is not a great landmass like Magvel, or Elibe, or Tellius. It's an archipelago, with a "mainland" surrounded by islands. Fake!Europe feel aside, a comparison to Japan might not be unwarranted. That doesn't necessarily mean everyone eats fish, though. Great Britain is an island, and what are they known for? Beef.
( Nation-by-Nation Breakdown )
I'm hungry now. -_-
Hah. Looking back, at some points I address an imaginary audience, cross-referencing other essays that also weren't posted.
( I don't care if he's immortal, it's still gross. )
( In which I hate on 'fic cliches circa 2008 )
( In which I again blame Gundam Wing for everything )
( In which I take aim at an overused plotline )
The year these were written, I was working full-time, traveling cross-country for work, and going to school in the evenings. I burned off ALL my excess energy in SSB and Pokemon Pearl. It was my way of staying sane.
( Take one... )
( Take two... )
There was more, believe me, but I think this was enough.