Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fandom School (7th period): Engaging in a Respectful Debate Within the Fandom

Happy New Year's Eve! It's also a Wednesday, which means that it's time for Fandom School. (As I went to write this post, I noticed that I hadn't posted since last week. Sorry!) The subject is connecting with other fans, and the topic is fandom debates.

Every good fandom involves lots of discussions, and some of those discussions become arguments. Unfortunately, arguments can soon turn nasty and get out of hand. Here's how to get involved in a debate while avoiding the aforementioned chaos.
  • Pick a fandom. If you want to compare fandoms or discuss a crossover, you may choose multiple fandoms for your discussion.
  • Pick a platform. Do you want to just write a post on your blog or social media account, or will you post in a community/group for your fandom? Or perhaps you'd rather communicate in a forum? There are many other options, but those are the main ones.
  • Pick an issue. What do you want to discuss? Do you want to weigh in on a debate prevalent in the fandom(s), or is there something within the fandom that you believe need to be addressed.
  • Pick a stance. What's your opinion? Also, are you trying to convince others, or do you just want to share your views?
  • Follow the rules of the forum/community/social network/etc that you are using. Most groups have their own rules and guidelines that you have to follow. However, following these usually is not enough to avoid debate.
  • Think about how you want to express your view. Always think before you speak.
  • Avoid flaming. Flaming is "a hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users, often involving the use of profanity" (Wikipedia). Remember, however much you hate/disagree with others, it is never okay to insult them. People are entitled to their own opinions.
  • Acknowledge the other side. Concession and refutation is an essential part of any debate, but it's especially important in fandoms, where people can get really sensitive about their obsessions. Also, try to see things from the opposition's point of view. Maybe you'll even change your mind!
  • Don't assume everyone needs to agree with you. Saying something like "Johnlock should totally be canon and anyone who disagrees isn't a true fan" is a surefire way to get people angry. Remember that it's okay to agree to disagree.
  • Don't bash other people/fandoms. Just because you hate something doesn't mean it's terrible or that the people who like it are terrible. You can point out the flaws in a book/movie/TV show, but you need to be very careful about how you go about it (i.e., remain objective and focus on specific instances rather than hasty generalizations), and it's generally not a good idea unless you're also pointing out that book/movie/TV show's good points as well.
  • Know when to stop. Some people just won't agree with you, and that's okay. You can't beat an idea into their heads.
So, there's the general framework. Also, keep in mind that you may not want to get involved in every debate. Some debates are so heated that you might want to stay out of them. Make sure not all your time spent in the fandom is time spent arguing. Don't forget the merits of plain old discussion. And of course, fandom works (fanfiction, fanart, etc.) are also welcome.

With all this in mind, go to your fandom and get started debating! Have fun, and remember to be kind to everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fandom School (6th period): How To Create an OC

Hello, everyone! Today is Christmas Eve, but it is also a Wednesday, which means it is time for Fandom School. Today's subject is roleplaying, and the topic is how to create an OC.

First of all, what is an OC? It stands for "original character" and is a character you created yourself, as opposed to a character that already exists in canon. An OC is not the same thing as a self-insert, nor is it the same thing as expanding on a minor character. An OC is totally yours. OCs are used in both roleplay and fanfiction.

What do you need to keep in mind when making an OC? Well, first and foremost, you need to be careful. Avoid making a Mary Sue at all costs. You also need to make sure your OC is appropriate for the setting you are using him/her in. If you're in a Camelot (Merlin) roleplay and you create a modern OC, your OC had better be a time-traveler with a very good reason to be visiting that time period. You'd probably be better off creating someone who fits in. There are a few categories you need to cover when creating an OC: name, appearance, and personality. You may also want to include these categories: strengths and weaknesses, backstory, and relation to other characters.

Keep in mind that not every roleplay accepts OCs, and some people won't read fanfiction with OCs. But don't let that stop you. Go for it! Now that I've given a basic overview of how to create an OC, I'll show you the profiles for my OCs.

Google+'s Fandom Family
This is a roleplay community where we are all one big, happy family. Click the link to see my profile.

You. Are. Divergent.
A roleplay community based on the "Divergent" series. Click the link to see my profile.

Target Practice
In this short fanfic about why the stormtroopers are terrible shots, I created an unnamed male OC. He's the instructor of Stormtrooper 101, and he's really strict.

When Justice Is Treason
This Wholock fanfic in which the Master and Moriarty team up also features three OCs: Melinda Raven, Kaitlin Raven, and Violet Verner. Melinda is a dangerous, black-haired, criminal computer hacker who helps the Master and Moriarty. She carries a purple laser screwdriver and a gun. Unlike her sister, Kaitlin has a conscience. A redhead, she's good with technology, and she helps the Doctor and his friends. Violet, the sisters' brown-haired cousin, is in the morally grey area. She's an expert spy, and she tells the Doctor and his friends that she's the best source of information, but she warns them that "any information you give can and will be held against you or sold to the highest bidder".

Friday, December 19, 2014

Channel 5 (Merlin fanfiction): Chapter 16

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Arthur and Merlin walked into the bar, holding hands.
"Ah, the happy couple," the bartender exclaimed, noticing their approach. "What can I do for you?" he asked with a smile. 
"Something special," Merlin said. 
"Oh?" The bartender raised an eyebrow. "What's the occasion?"
"Well, it's been a week now since we met, so we figured it was time to commemorate the event," Arthur said with a smile. Merlin nodded, beaming. 
"A week ago... Say, were you in that kissing contest last Friday?" They nodded. The bartender looked at them for a moment. He turned to Arthur. "You're the one what ran away!" Arthur nodded sheepishly. "And you still got the guy?"
"'The guy' is standing right here," Merlin pointed out, a little frustrated. "And if anyone was doing the 'getting', it's me." Arthur nodded. 

"So, what will you have?" the bartender asked. 
"I actually don't drink," Arthur said. The bartender looked at him incredulously. "My friends dragged me in here because they thought I needed a bit of fun."
"Well, this is a good place to have fun," the bartender conceded. "So, Merlin, what'll it be?"
Arthur looked at the bartender, then at Merlin, then back at the bartender. "You come here often?"
Merlin rolled his eyes. "I'm going to ignore the fact that you used the most clichéd pick up line in all of history." Arthur smiled. "But to answer your question, yes, I am something of a regular here. My mates think it's funny to get me drunk."
"Is it?" Arthur asked, curious. 
"Maybe a little," Merlin admitted sheepishly. 
"He's absolutely adorable when he's drunk," the bartender cut in. Arthur looked at Merlin curiously. Merlin nodded. "So, what do you want this time, Merlin?"
"Surprise me," Merlin responded with a smile.
"And you?" The bartender looked at Arthur.
"I'll have whatever he's having, minus the alcohol." The bartender nodded and left to make their drinks.

"You know what this means?" Merlin asked.
"We're in for some very strange drinks?" Arthur suggested.
"Well, that too," Merlin said with a chuckle, "but I meant your father. We'll have to talk to him."
Arthur cringed. "Yes, we did agree to that, didn't we?"
"Don't look so wounded, Arthur, I'll be there with you. He can't be that bad."
"You'd be surprised."
"Tell you what, though," Merlin said, rubbing circles into Arthur's hand, "I'll take you to see my mum after that. You'll love her!"
Arthur brightened up a bit. "But will she love me?"
"She can be a bit protective, but after that, she's really sweet."
"What, like you?" Merlin gave Arthur a quick kiss before he could go on. "Just as long as she doesn't kiss me. That might be a little too sweet." They laughed, and the bartender arrived with their drinks.

"I'll leave you boys to it then," he said with a knowing wink, walking away.
Merlin looked at the strange concoction. "I'm almost afraid to try it."
"Hey, it was your idea!"
"You didn't have to get the same thing as me!"
"What, am I not allowed to copy you?" Merlin rolled his eyes and began tickling Arthur. Arthur tickled back, until somehow they ended in an embrace. After a passionate kiss, they turned back to look at their beverages of dubious content. "How about we drink them at the same time?" Merlin nodded. "3-2-1!" They downed their drinks, then each looked to see the other's reaction. Merlin had a look of surprised confusion on his face, while Arthur was trying not to gag.
"Maybe it's the lack of alcohol," Merlin suggested.
"Or maybe you just have a horrible taste."
Merlin rolled his eyes. "So, now that we've had a drink, wanna dance?"
"If you want, but I'm getting you drunk before we leave this bar. Got it?"
"As you wish," Merlin said with a smile. They walked onto the dance floor, holding hands, and saw Mordred. Arthur smiled a little. "You know him?"
"Sort of. I met him here on the same day we met. I danced with him a while before I saw you." Merlin shrugged his shoulders, satisfied.
Mordred walked over. "So I take it you succeeded, then?" They both nodded. "Well, I'm happy for you. Now, I've gotta go. I just met this girl called Kara, and we've really hit it off. Bye!"
"I thought you said..." Arthur was confused.
Merlin shrugged. "I guess he swings both ways. Now then, let's dance!"

And dance they did, until late into the night. Arthur continued with his mission to get Merlin drunk, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. Arthur then understood what the bartender had meant. Drunk!Merlin was like a little puppy, snuggling close to Arthur. They had a good night, and when the time came to part, they did so with the sad smiles of people who love being together and can't wait to see each other again. And they vowed that tomorrow, they would face the terrifying Mr. Pendragon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fandom School (5th period): Why Is My Show On Hiatus?!

I'f you've read How To Survive Hiatus and this post showcasing hiatus-induced madness (or if you're in, say, the Sherlock fandom), you know that hiatus is awful. It drives people insane, makes them lose interest in the show, and generally causes chaos. So why do it?

Here are a few reasons why producers choose to put a show on hiatus:

  • Natural between-seasons break: name one show that films continuously and never takes a break. Did you come up with any? I thought not. (If you did, let me know in the comments; I'm curious.) All shows take a break in between seasons. This break can last from weeks to months- any longer than a few months, and it's a proper hiatus.
  • Demand for actors/actresses: take Benedict Cumberbatch. Everyone wants him. And I'm not just talking about the Cumbercollective; he's being cast in all sorts of amazing movies and TV shows. He can't film two things at once, so he has to take a break for other things.
  • Time required to write: episodes can take a long time to write, especially in the case of Sherlock. 90-minute episodes require a lot of thought, effort, and time. After all, you wouldn't want them to hurry and give you a bad product, would you?
  • Time required to film: a typical episode takes longer than a week to write, so you can't air a new episode every week with no breaks. That's simple math.
  • Complications: take Doctor Who for example. Every time an old Doctor leaves, a new actor has to be found to be the next Doctor. There was a break between the end of series 4 and series 5 (with a few specials, but not a regular stream of episodes), and I suspect it was because BBC was looking for someone to be the Eleventh Doctor. (I don't know if that's the reason. Does anyone know?)
  • Lack of interest: if a show becomes unpopular, it may go on hiatus or even be cancelled.
That's all I got. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Justified or not, hiatus still stinks. It'll be worth the wait, though.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Real Father Christmas (Doctor Who fanfiction): Chapter 3

Chapters: 1 2 3

Dear Santa,
I'm probably too old for this, but what the heck, it's not like anyone's gonna stop me. That got the Doctor's attention. He didn't get many adults writing letters to Santa, and he usually tossed them away, but this time, for whatever reason, he decided to keep reading. It's hard to say exactly what I want for Christmas. Then why was this person writing? I'm known as the king of flirting, and I've had lots of relationships, but they never quite seem to work out. I mean, I have fun and all, but it always feels like something's missing. No. The Doctor didn't do relationship advice. His significant others always ended up dying or disappearing or something, so he didn't feel qualified to give advice. He almost threw the letter away, but something compelled him to keep going. All I really want is someone to dance to Glenn Miller with. Wait, Glenn Miller? That sounded familiar. And maybe some mistletoe, too. I know you probably can't help me, but I figured I'd ask just in case. I'm really lonely. Even if you can't get me a date or anything, you could at least find me someone to spend Christmas with. I don't want to be alone.
Jack Harkness

The Doctor did a double take. Jack? No, it couldn't be. Maybe there was another Jack Harkness. The Doctor shook his head. Not likely. Well then, he would just have to give the man what he'd asked for. 
Jack Harkness was sitting at the bar, when Glenn Miller's "String of Pearls" began to play. A person waltzed over to say hello. 
"Hey there, doll." Jack turned around to see the Doctor and blushed. "Um, I mean hi, Doctor."
"You know, I don't think I've ever seen you blush," the Doctor commented with a smile. 
Jack shrugged. "So what brings you here?"
"What, I can't just come to see you?" Jack raised his eyebrow. "Fine, I'm here to dance." Jack looked at him quizzically. "With you?"
Jack looked even more confused. "Why in the universe would you do that?"
The Doctor smiled. "You wrote a letter to Santa, did you not?"
Jack blushed again, opening his mouth in shock. "You intercepted Santa's mail? That'll put you on the naughty list for years!" The Doctor laughed uproariously. "What's so funny?"
"I can't be on the naughty list; I write the naughty list! And it's my job to read Santa's mail; I am Santa!"
"You're kidding me!"
"Nope!" the Doctor said with a cheerful smile. "Now then, how about that dance?"

They danced to that song and many others, all by Glenn Miller. "How did you get all those on the playlist?"
The Doctor shrugged. "The DJ owes me a favor." When the songs were over, the Doctor gave Jack a mischievous look. "Now then, I believe you requested mistletoe?"
"You don't have to..."
"Ah, but I know you want me to. Don't think I don't notice. I can't say I reciprocate; I love Rose. All the same, I figure you deserve a kiss under the mistletoe."
"You'd do that for me?"
"Just this once," the Doctor said sternly. He pulled a sprig of mistletoe out from his jacket, and they kissed. It wasn't particularly long or passionate, but Jack loved it all the same. It was sad he knew he never had a chance, but at least he got this. 

"So, I understand you're free this Christmas?" Jack nodded. "Well then, I know just the place to take you to."

After eating Christmas dinner at a wonderful restaurant Jack had never been to, they went to a live Glenn Miller concert. "That's the beauty of a time machine: you can experience the past."
"Is that how you do it all in one night?" The Doctor nodded. 

"Oh, I almost forgot," he said before he dropped Jack off. He pulled out a neatly wrapped present. 
"But the dance was my present!"
"Well, you get another. Go on, open it!"
Jack ripped open the present with all the eagerness of a child, but he grew confused when he saw what was inside. "But I already have a vortex manipulator."
"Not one like this, you don't. I enhanced it with Time Lord technology. Makes for a smoother ride. It's also more accurate about getting you where it's supposed to. Though I modeled it on the TARDIS, so I'm actually not sure about that last one." They laughed. "Anyway, enjoy the gift. And have a merry Christmas!"
"You, too," Jack said, smiling as he walked away. Some days, Santa really loved his job. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Real Father Christmas (Doctor Who fanfiction): Chapter 2

Chapters: 1 2 3

Dear Santa,
I am twelve years old. I would like a red bicycle, please. Red is my favorite color. I want a bicycle because I want to travel. I want to see the world. Mum says I can't travel very far with a bicycle, but I don't know how to drive and I'm too young anyway. So a bicycle it is. Thanks!
Rose Tyler

The Doctor read the letter and smiled. Rose seemed like a sweet little girl. He wanted to take her to see the world, the universe even, but not just yet. Maybe when she was older? He did a quick search to see what she'd been up to this year to be sure she made the list.

As he'd suspected, she was a sweet little girl, albeit rather stubborn. All the same, she was definitely on the nice list. The Doctor ordered the elves to make the best bicycle they possibly could ("It has to be absolutely fantastic!"), and that they did. He placed it under the tree with a special note. 

You've been a very good girl, Rose. Of course you can have your bicycle! I told my elves to make a really good one for you. I hope you like it. And I sure hope you get to travel the world. Maybe I can take you for a ride in my sleigh some time- but only if you're really good. See you next year!
Santa Claus
The next day, a little girl jumped for joy and rode her bicycle all around the neighborhood. It wasn't quite a worldwide travel, but it was a good start. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

9 Reasons Not To Skip Nine

Hello, Whovians! As you all (hopefully) know, it's a solemn rule not to skip Nine. I must confess, I actually started with Ten, and it wasn't until the middle of Season 5 when I went back to see Nine. I have not regretted that decision. Some people think Nine isn't as good as the other Doctors, but I think he's fantastic! If you skip him, you're really missing out. To make sure I covered everything, I rewatched all of Season 1, basking in Nine's greatness. Here's what you're missing out on:
  1. His cheeky, sarcastic personality 
  2. His ridiculousness 
  3. His smile 
  4. "Fantastic!" 
  5. His anger 
  6. His determination 
  7. His MacGyver-type solutions 
  8. His way of empowering people 
  9. His dancing 
So, that shows you why the Ninth Doctor is absolutely fantastic. I really hope you take the time to watch (or rewatch) Season 1 so that you can see his awesomeness. I really miss him, and I wish he could have got another season or two.

What are your thoughts? Did you watch Nine, or did you skip him? Do you like him? I certainly do, and I hope you can all appreciate him, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Channel 5 (Merlin fanfiction): Chapter 15

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Fortheloveofcamelot has entered the room
Destined2Bqueenofcamelot has entered the room
Imthegreatestwarlock has entered the room
Lady_of_the_Lake has entered the room
Fortheloveofcamelot: How are the ratings?
Destined2Bqueenofcamelot: Great! And your views are climbing. I suspect in a few episodes, we'll reach our goal.
Imthegreatestwarlock: Does that mean the show will end :(
Destined2Bqueenofcamelot: Not necessarily. If you both have the time, you could keep going.
Imthegreatestwarlock: :)
Destined2Bqueenofcamelot: By the way, Vivian is really upset. She's seen the show, and she didn't know until now that you're homosexual.
Fortheloveofcamelot: I literally told her that up front. Guess she didn't believe me. Oh well.
Imthegreatestwarlock: Have you got the next episode's script ready?
Lady_of_the_Lake has sent you a file: "Episode 4 script"
Fortheloveofcamelot: Great! Let's get started.
Fortheloveofcamelot has left the room
Imthegreatestwarlock has left the room
Destined2Bqueenofcamelot has left the room
Lady_of_the_Lake has left the room
Arthur and Merlin sat at a table across Elena and Mithian. "Hi, I'm Arthur and this is Merlin."
"What, I don't get to introduce myself?" Merlin asked with mock indignation, punching Arthur lightly on the arm. Arthur punched back.
"Next time, you can introduce the both of us."
"Fine," Merlin said, sighing.
"I'm Elena."
"Hi, I'm Mithian," Mithian said a little nervously. "I hope you don't mind me asking, but um... when did you find out? That you were... you know... gay?"
"I've known practically all my life," Merlin said with confidence. "When I was a little kid, the boys would do cute things for the girls, and I would do cute things for the guys. When I got to be a teenager, my friends talked about being attracted girls, and I realized I didn't feel that way about girls, but I felt that way about boys. I asked my best mate Will about it, and he told me it meant I was gay. He explained what that meant and told me I was still his friend. Then he kept trying to set me up with his friends."
"Did you hook up with any of them?" Elena asked, curious.
"Well, I tried once, but... it didn't work out," Merlin answered, his expression souring.
"But what about you, Arthur? When did you know?" Mithian asked, quickly changing the subject.
"I'd been through a lot of failed relationships with girls, and I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. I asked Elena about it,"
"And I told him he was doing everything right."
"But then she asked me how I felt about the girls I'd dated, and I realized that I hadn't actually loved any of them. She asked me how I felt about guys, and I described what I thought was friendship, but she said that was what love was. She confessed that she was a lesbian and explained what it meant to be homosexual. So she's the one we owe this meeting to."

The waiter came by to take their order. "Hi, my name is John and I'll be your server for this afternoon."
"I'm Elena, and I'll have the steak."
"I'm Mithian, and I'll have... Oh, I can't decide. Surprise me."
"You won't be disappointed," the waiter said with a smile. "Now then, what's for you, young man?"
"I'm Merlin, and I'll have the pizza margherita."
"I'm Arthur..."
"Merlin and Arthur? That's like destiny!"
Merlin chuckled. "Like we haven't heard that one before," he said with a smile.
"What will you have, sire?" John asked jokingly.
"I'll have the chicken," Arthur said, not looking at the menu.
"Destiny and chicken, hm. I'll be back in a little while."
"Destiny and chicken?" Arthur asked when he had left. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
Merlin shrugged. "Could be worse."
"That can be your ship name!" Mithian suggested enthusiastically.
"What? No?!" Merlin and Arthur yelled simultaneously.
"Come on, it's great!" Elena insisted.
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Destiny and chicken. I'll be destiny, you be chicken."
"Why am I chicken?"
"Because you're afraid of your father."
Arthur sighed. "There's got to be a better ship name."
"I'll ask Gwen."

Several hours later, Merlin and Arthur were sitting with Lancelot and Gwen at Camelot Diner.
"Remind me again why we picked this place?" Arthur asked.
"Because my brother works here," Gwen reminded him. As if on cue, their water appeared. "Hi, Elyan! We were just talking about you." Elyan looked worried. "Don't worry, all good things."
"Right. So what will you have?" The rest of the table ordered, and then it was Merlin and Arthur's turn.
"We'll have the chicken," Arthur said.
"With a side order of destiny," Merlin added, smiling. Elyan raised his eyes.
"I don't think destiny is on the menu, but I'll see what I can do. Destiny and chicken, hm? Will that be all?" They nodded, and Elyan left.
"What was that about?" Lancelot asked. "Did I miss something?" He looked at Gwen. "You promised to give me all the details!"
"I didn't know about this!" Gwen insisted, just as confused as Lancelot.
"Do you have a good idea for a ship name?" Merlin asked.
Gwen shook her head. "It's not like you two need one, anyway."
"What about Merthur?" Lancelot asked.
"Merthur. I like it," Arthur said approvingly.

A few minutes later, Elyan returned with a chicken and a small cake shaped and decorated like Excalibur. "Does this count?" he asked. Merlin beamed.
"It's brilliant. I'll thank you with my tip."
"As will I, sir Elyan," Arthur said with a mock bow.
"Thank you, sire." Elyan delivered the rest of the food and drinks.
Gwen smiled and looked at Merlin and Arthur. "So, how goes it? I want all the details."
"Gwen!" Lancelot admonished.
Merlin rolled his eyes. "It's all right, Gwen's a friend, I have no problem sharing. As long as you're okay with it, Arthur?" he asked, wrapping his arm around his boyfriend.
Arthur shrugged. "Why not?"

Countless stories and details later, it was time to go home. Arthur pouted. "Do I get a goodbye kiss?"
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Yes, you clotpole," Merlin answered, kissing Arthur.
"Yes, Arthur?"
"What is a clotpole?"
"An idiotic, annoying person. Like you!"
"Better be careful, I could put you in the stocks for that!" Arthur teased.
"This isn't Medieval England, you dollophead!"
"What is a dollophead?"
"In two words? Arthur Pendragon."
"You really do come up with the most ridiculous words. Like 'clotpole'. Really, Merlin?"
"Oh, I didn't invent that one. Shakespeare did."
"Ah, then I have the wonderful Bard to thank for your ridiculous nicknames for me."
Merlin nodded. "I hate to go, but we can't keep talking here forever."
Arthur sighed. "Until next time, dollophead."
"Hey! That's my word!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fandom School (Supper): How I Entered The Fandom World

Normally, I do lunch after 2nd period in Fandom School, but I forgot, so here it is. Today, I'd like to discuss how I became a fangirl (or fanwarrior, whatever you want to call it).

As it was for many other people, Harry Potter was my gateway fandom (i.e., the fandom that introduced me to the world of fandoms). My Mom read the books to me (and my younger brother and older sister) when I was a little kid. I have since reread the books many times and seen all the movies. I still love Harry Potter, not only for its own merits, but also for the fact that it introduced me to the world of fandoms. 

My first fandom that I really got into was Doctor Who. Ironically enough, it wasn't until after I moved from England (I was there when Doctor Who was just starting up again) that I came to watch it. I fell in love instantly. I watched every episode and soon wanted to find a way to communicate with other fans. 

My Google+ account (which had mostly been dormant) became a place to share my thoughts about fandoms. I also started reading fanfiction. 

The next step in my journey through the fan verse was when I began writing fanfiction. By this point, I was in a number of fandoms, mainly Doctor Who and Sherlock. At first, I shared my fanfiction on Google+. Then, I got an account on (I also have an AO3 account.)

Then, my Mom suggested I make a blog to share my fanfiction. And thus, The Vortex of Deduction was born. Now, my thoughts about fandoms are shown in an organized way for everyone to see. 

Another notable event was when I got a tumblr ( As any of you who are on tumblr (or have seen screenshots of legendary posts) know, tumblr is full of fandoms. It's also a little bit crazy. But, it's a whole lot of fun. 

Shoutouts to fandoms:
Harry Potter, for being my first fandom
Doctor Who, for being my first major fandom
Sherlock, for being my favorite fandom
Supernatural, for the awesome gifs
SuperWhoLock, for the ridiculous posts that show up on my dash
Disney, for coming up with great movies
The Giver, for making a movie that's actually faithful to the book
Nerdfighters, for decreasing WorldSuck and being awesome
The Fault In Our Stars, for showing me that sad stuff happens and it's not always okay
The Princess Bride, for giving me a satisfying happy ending (spoliers!)

Any other thoughts about fandoms? What was your gateway fandom?

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Real Father Christmas (Doctor Who fanfiction): Chapter 1

Chapters: 1 2 3

One cold night, a little girl prayed to Santa. She got what she thought was a policeman, though she quickly learned that wasn't the case. The strange man, who called himself the Doctor, left, promising to return in five minutes.

The girl, Amelia Pond, sat outside, waiting for the Doctor. Five minutes later, true to his word, he came. "Doctor!" Amelia screamed, running up to hug the man. She pulled away a few seconds later in confusion. "You're not the Doctor!" she said to the old man.
"I am."
"But it's only been five minutes!"
"For you. For me, it's been much longer than that. You'll see your raggedy man later, but for now you have me. And besides, you did pray to Santa."
"How do you know that?" The Doctor smiled. The child gasped.  "You're..."
"Yes, I'm Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas."
"But how..."
"It's a long story."
"You've got a time machine. You have all the time in the world."
The Doctor sighed and smiled. "Fair point. Let's go into your room, and I'll tuck you into bed and tell you all about it."
Amelia nodded. "I like that idea."

They walked into the house, and the Doctor began making hot chocolate. "I'll have you know, as Santa Claus, I'm excellent at making hot chocolate," he said. "I'm sure you're cold from sitting out there so long."
Amelia nodded and took a sip. "Are you still a picky eater?"
"Hm? Oh, no, that was just because I'd just regenerated. I've regenerated again since I last saw you." The Doctor thought for a moment. "Actually, now that you mention food, I'm getting a bit hungry." He made bacon, toast with butter, and beans. He was still hungry after that, so he had yoghurt and an apple.
"I thought you hated all those things?"
"New body, new mouth, new tastes. Now then, get in your jammies, and then it's story time." Amelia obeyed, and soon she was lying in bed, listening to the Doctor's story.

"It started when I was in my ninth regeneration - I'm in my twelfth now - and I'd just rescued a bunch of elves from their home planet before it blew up.  I couldn't just set them loose in society, but I didn't know of any uninhabited planets for them to go to, either. And besides, they needed cold temperatures to survive.

"Then I remembered a man I'd met, St. Nicholas. Well, he wasn't officially a saint when I met him, but he became one later. Anyway, he threw bags of gold coins into the shoes and stockings of those who left them out for him. It was a great way to help out people in poverty.

"I decided to do what he'd done, only across the whole world, except with toys and other objects. I had the elves set up a workshop at the North Pole, where they could put their superb manufacturing skills to use. They were a highly advanced civilization. But of course, I still had to find out what people wanted. It was then that I came up with the idea of Santa Claus. 'I need a person for this to be about, someone for the people to focus their attention on,' I said one day at the North Pole.
'Why don't you do it yourself?' one of the elves asked.
'I can't have people stopping to get excited about seeing Father Christmas while I'm trying to save the world, can I?' I explained. I mean, can you imagine the chaos? I can't very well save the world if everyone's stopping to take a picture!
'Father Christmas? That sounds like a good name,' the elf said.
'Yes... now who's going to be Father Christmas?' I wondered. Countless elves raised their hands, but I shook my head. 'It can't be an elf,' I told them, 'you all look the same. No offence.'

"So, I went to visit an old friend who owed me one. I got him to be the figurehead. He's the one people know of as Father Christmas or Santa Claus, but I'm the one who does the real work.

"When we arrived at the North Pole, I  explained the setup. For each child, he gets a letter from them, with their name, address, and wish list. He passes it on to me (I stop by periodically), and I use my TARDIS to run background checks to see if he/she is naughty or nice. Naughty children recieve a lump of coal. Nice children recieve at least one of the items on their wish list. If a child is nice, my friend sends the wish list to the elves, who make the gifts. Then, the elves wrap and tag each gift (or lump of coal) with the name and address of the person it belongs to. Every Christmas Eve, I come to take the gifts and deliver them to the right homes. I use the TARDIS to make sure I get everyone in one night."

"That sounds like so much fun!" Amelia said. "Can I come?"
The Doctor sighed and gave a sad smile. "Your future is with your Raggedy Doctor, not with me. You must wait for him."
"But why?" she wailed.
"He needs you. And you need him."
"Please? Just one trip."
The Doctor sighed. He sat in silence for a while, deep in thought. Finally, he spoke. "Some Christmas between now and when your Raggedy Doctor comes for you, I will take you with me to deliver the presents."
The child's face lot up with joy. "Oh, thank you, Santa!" She ran up and hugged him.
"You know, I'm really not a hugging person."
"I don't care," the girl insisted, hugging him tighter. She kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"Until next time, Amelia Pond."
"Goodbye, Doctor!"

Lightsaber vs. Sonic Screwdriver: The Use of Weapons/Tools In Fandoms

In every good fandom, there comes a time where there is a need for a weapon or a tool. But which one to use? This post examines various fictional and real weapons and tools used in fandoms.

  1. Lightsabers (Star Wars): like a sword, but with light. The "light" is formed of plasma. The lightsaber is dangerous and difficult to wield, but in the hands of a Jedi, it's a formidable weapon. See this post for more information about lightsabers. Coolness rating: 10/10. Dangerousness rating: 10/10. Usefulness rating: 8/10.
  2. Sonic Screwdriver (Doctor Who): like a screwdriver, but a bit more sonic. When the button is pressed, it emits a light and a buzzing sound. It can't wound, maim, or kill, but it is a useful tool. It can unlock doors, intercept signals, operating machinery and computers, and many other things (as listed on the TARDIS wiki). However, it doesn't do wood. See this post on what I would do if I had a sonic screwdriver. Coolness rating: 9/10. Dangerousness rating: 5/10. Usefulness rating: 10/10.
  3. Gandalf's Staff (The Lord of the Rings): a staff used by Gandalf for casting spells. "You shall not pass!" Coolness rating: 8/10. Dangerousness rating: 9/10. Usefulness rating: 9/10.
  4. Andúril (The Lord of the Rings): the sword used by Aragorn. It was broken into 6 parts, but then it was reforged. Coolness rating: 7/10. Dangerousness rating: 8/10. Usefulness rating: 7/10.
  5. Sting (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings): Bilbo finds this sword that glows blue when Orcs are near. (We discover later that it's actually more of a letter-opener because it's so small.) He puts it to good use, then gives it to his son, Frodo. Coolness rating: 6/10. Dangerousness rating: 8/10. Usefulness rating: 8/10.
  6. Mjölnir (Thor): Thor's hammer. Very good at smashing things. Can only be held by those who are worthy. Coolness rating: 8/10. Dangerousness rating: 9/10. Usefulness rating: 9/10.
  7. Phaser (Star Trek): like a stun gun, but more powerful. Can stun, heat, kill, or disintegrate living creatures. It can also damage shields and cut through walls. Coolness rating: 6/10. Dangerousness rating: 8/10. Usefulness rating: 10/10.
  8. The Neuralizer (Men In Black): slightly larger than a pen, this device wipes a person's memory for as long an amount of time as the user chooses with just a flash of light. Afterwards, the people who were affected are highly susceptible to suggestion. Coolness rating: 9/10. Dangerousness rating: 8/10. Usefulness rating: 9/10.
  9. The Point-of-View Gun (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy): when fired, this weapon forces anyone in its path to understand and reveal the shooter's thoughts. Coolness rating: 8/10. Dangerousness rating: 4/10. Usefulness rating: 8/10.
  10. Blue Shell (Mario Kart): a bomb that explodes on whoever is in first place, taking out them and anyone else in the vicinity. This slows them down enough that you have a chance of getting ahead. Coolness rating: 5/10. Dangerousness rating: 8/10. Usefulness rating: 8/10.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Use The Force (or the Mind Palace): Chapter 4

Chapters: 2 3 4

(Note: this chapter, like the other chapters in the story, can be read as a standalone. It's more of a collection than a series.)

Oswin Oswald was sitting in her room, waiting for her soufflé to rise, when there was a knock on the door. There was no way she was opening it; not for one of those bloody Daleks.
"Hello?" A man's voice, hesitant. Not a Dalek, then. Clara sighed and opened the door, closing it quickly once the man was inside. She studied him, wondering how he had made it past the Daleks. By all rights, he should be dead by now. He was tall, with curly black hair and sharp cheekbones. He took a moment to look around. "This isn't my mind palace."
"It most certainly is not."
The man looked at Oswin. "Fascinating; I'm in another person's mind palace." Oswin shook her head, but the man was unfazed. "Mind if I have a look around?" Oswin thought for a moment, eyeing this strange man with suspicion.
"You could tell me your name first."
"Sherlock Holmes," the man said, shaking Oswin's hand.
"Oswin Oswald."

Sherlock nodded approvingly, and began looking around the room. "You've been here for, let me guess... a year?"
He nodded. "I figured as much from the way you've made yourself at home." He kept exploring and found the oven.
"No, that's..." He opened the door. "...another ruined soufflé. Thanks." Sherlock bowed his head in apology, then perked up in interest.
"Wait a minute. A soufflé?"
Oswin nodded. "Not that I'm any good," she sighed. "I keep burning them. I dropped one once, when the Daleks came."
"Yeah, big metal things that yell 'EXTERMINATE' and try to kill you?"
Sherlock shook his head. "Where do you get the milk and eggs?"
"Hm?" Oswin turned around from another soufflé that she had started to make.
"Milk and eggs are quite perishable. You can't be using the same supply you started with, and you'd have long since run out, anyway. So, you're getting a fresh supply of milk and eggs. Where?"
Oswin frowned. "I'm actually not sure." Sherlock frowned, clearly unhappy with this explanation.

"Say, Oswin, how did you survive the Daleks?"
"I ran to this room and locked myself in."
Sherlock raised his eyebrow in disbelief. "I didn't see any sort of security on that door. Well, besides a simple lock that I'm sure the Daleks could blast open easily."
"Oh," Oswin said, confused, as if she hadn't considered this before.

"And this mind palace?" Sherlock asked, gesturing to the room.
"I don't know what a mind palace is, but this certainly isn't it."
"I know a mind palace when I see it," Sherlock muttered under his breath.
"This is my home."
Sherlock paused for a moment as if considering something. "Oswin, would you like to come with me?"
"You're a complete stranger and I'm a total screaming genius. Are you out of your mind? Why should I trust you?"

Sherlock sighed. "Your name is Oswin Oswald. You traveled here as a junior entertainment officer on the starship..." he looked around, "Alaska. You have been making soufflés for a year, while the rest of your crew has gone missing, likely taken by the Daleks. You're incredibly intelligent, and you're also good with technology. You're either an extremely talented hacker, or you have some sort of back door for the technology all around you. You survived the Daleks, you have access to technology, and you make soufflés. None of it adds up.  Something is definitely wrong here, and I don't think you'll like my theory. Keeping that in mind, I suggest you come with me so that I can help you. Any questions?"
"So you're a total screaming genius, too?"
"Obviously. Now come on; we haven't got all day."

They arrived in a mansion at the top of a spiral staircase. "Now listen," Sherlock said warningly, "don't ask what happened and why things were 'wrong'. The point is, I saved you from it. Now, you are here in my mind palace, and I intend for you to work. You said you were a genius?"
"Absolutely," Oswin assured him.
"Good. I am a consulting detective, which means that I help the police  solve crimes. This mind palace is where I go to think. Usually, I need to be alone to think, but sometimes two minds are better than one. Should I require your assistance, I will visit here and call for you. You should be able to hear me."
Oswin nodded. "And my soufflés?"
"You certainly like baking soufflés. What are you, soufflé girl?"
"I've always wanted to be called that," she admitted.
"Yes, I'll get a kitchen set up so you can bake soufflés to your heart's content."
"Is that all, Mr. Holmes?"
"Please, call me Sherlock."
"Okay, Sherlock."
"To answer your question, yes, that is all. I expect to see you again."
"You, too. Thank you, Sherlock."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fandom School (4th period): How To Find The Best Fanfiction

Hello, and welcome again to Fandom School! If you read fanfiction (check out the page with my fanfics or my post about different types of fanfiction), chances are, you don't read just anything that comes your way. You skip over the awful ones, and if you start a fanfic only to find an appalling lack of grammar and abundance of Mary Sues (see Emily Ecrievane's post about fanfiction if you don't know what a Mary Sue is), you're out of there in a heartbeat. You want to read the awesome fanfic, not the awful stuff. But how do you tell which is which? There are a few things you can do before you even click the link to read a fanfic. This will serve as a guide to readers, but fanfic writers can also use this to make sure their fanfic will catch people's attention and get read.

  1. Use the filters. This shows you only the fanfics that have your criteria. What you can filter depends on what website you're reading fanfiction on. AO3 allows you to filter these terms: any [general search terms], title, author, complete/incomplete, single-chapter/multi-chapter, word count, language, fandoms, rating, categories, characters, relationships, additional tags, hits, kudos, comments, and bookmarks. allows you to filter these terms: any [general search terms], regular/crossover, fandom, time range [update date/publish date], genre, rating, language, word count, complete/incomplete, and characters.

  2. Read the title. A good title is an indication of a good fanfic. The more interesting and original the title, the more likely the fanfic is to be interesting and original. That being said, a good fanfic could have a bad title and vice versa. 

  3. Read the summary. The point of a summary is to give you an idea of what the fic is like. A good summary will give the reader an understanding of the fanfic's plot without giving any spoilers. A good summary will also convince the reader of the author's competency. If a summary says "I suck at summaries" or "I don't know, just read it" or "yeah, that's about it", or anything like that, the reader will wonder if the fic is actually any good and will likely abandon it for a more promising one. Also, if the summary has any spelling or grammatical errors, there is very little chance that people will read it.

  4. Look at the tags. At least on AO3, you can give your fic additional tags, which will help the reader understand what the fic is about. Sometimes, tags just reiterate what's in the summary, but sometimes they involve things not mentioned in the summary. And in some cases, they enhance the meaning. For example, if you see a fic that has the warning "Major Character Death", you might not want to read it, but if you see that it is also tagged "Canonical Character Death", that might change your mind. Tags might include trigger warnings for various things. They could also just provide amusing commentary on the story.

  5. Read the warnings. On AO3, a story can have any or all of these warnings: Major Character Death, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Rape/Non-Con, or Underage. An author can also say that no archive warnings apply or choose not to use archive warnings.

  6. Read the ratings. There are a few rating systems, so here's a chart comparing the most common ones.
    MPAA AO3 Meaning
    G G K Intended for general audience 5 years and older. Content should be free of any coarse language, violence, and adult themes.
    PG n/a K+ Suitable for more mature childen, 9 years and older, with minor action violence without serious injury. May contain mild coarse language. Should not contain any adult themes.
    PG-13 T T Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.
    R M M Not suitable for children or teens below the age of 16 with non-explicit suggestive adult themes, references to some violence, or coarse language. Fiction M can contain adult language, themes and suggestions. Detailed descriptions of physical interaction of sexual or violent nature is considered Fiction MA.
    NC-17 E MA Content is only suitable for mature adults. May contain explicit language and adult themes.

  7. Read the categories. AO3 has categories based on relationships: F/M, M/M, F/F, Multi (multiple types of relationships), Gen (no relationships, or they are not the main focus of the story), Other (e.g., threesomes). If you don't want to read slash, you can choose not to view M/M or F/F stories. If you don't want any relationships, you can choose Gen.

  8. Read the pairings. Does it have a ship you like? One you hate? If you don't like the ships listed, you probably won't like the fanfic. However, if a fic lists your OTP, you will probably want to read that fic.

  9. Look at the statistics. How many hits does the story have? Kudos/favorites? Comments/reviews? High numbers increase the likelihood that a fanfic is good. Low numbers may mean a fic is bad, but it could also just mean that it's undiscovered.

  10. Read the comments/reviews. Warning: if you do this, you will probably get spoilers. However, you will get a good sense of if the people reading the fic like it or not. Positive reviews make a person more likely to read a fic; negative reviews may turn potential readers away. Also, does the the author respond to comments? If he/she does, that shows interest in the readers and indicates that the author cares about making a good product and ensuring that other like it, too.

  11. Read the author's note(s). The notes an author has left may include useful information. For example, the author might warn that the fic will be updated sporadically. Or, they might say that the fic is abandoned. The notes might mention the author's stance on derivative works. They could include all sorts of information that the readers may want to know before reading the fic.

  12. Pay attention to the author. Is it an author you know? If you see that a fic is by an author you know and love, you will be more likely to read it. Inversely, if you've read a terrible fic by a certain author, you won't want to read their other fics. Also, the author's name itself matters. Is it interesting? Relevant? If it is, you'll be more likely to read the fic. A boring or irrelevant pen name may turn readers off.

  13. Read the first few sentences. Are you interested? Does it seem like a good fanfic? It doesn't have to start off spectacularly, but if you don't find yourself wanting to read more after the first few sentences, it probably isn't that great.

So, with that in mind, what should authors do to make sure their fanfiction gets read?

  1. Come up with a good title. Before publishing your fanfic, think carefully about the title. If your work is incomplete, make sure you know enough of where it's going to pick an accurate title. Also, do a preliminary search to see if there are other fics with the same title. Try to pick a title that nobody else has used yet.

  2. Write a good summary. Make sure it covers the main idea(s) of your fanfic, but doesn't give too much detail. Makes sure it's interesting enough to capture your readers' attention. It doesn't matter how good your fic is, if people are falling asleep reading your summary, they won't read your fic.

  3. Be sure to add all applicable tags. It's all well and good if you write an amazing fic, but if people can't find it, they won't ever know. Also, see what tags come up when you start typing. Make sure to use the well-known tags instead of a variant name for the same thing.

  4. Give your fanfic the appropriate warning(s). Fear of the unknown is strong. Don't choose not to use archive warnings; it will likely hurt more than it will help. Don't say no warnings apply if warnings do apply; people will get upset.

  5. Give your fanfic the appropriate rating. Don't rate something lower than it really is; readers will be scandalized when they get more than they bargained for, and they won't want to read any more, nor will they read any of your other fanfics. Don't rate your fic too high, or people who would otherwise read it will shrink away in fear.

  6. Choose the appropriate categories. Again, this is a way for someone to find your fic. It's also a way for someone to decide if the fic is for them.

  7. Choose all relevant pairings. Right up front, let people know who's getting together with whom. This will help readers decide if your fic is for them.

  8. Look at your statistics. What kind of stories get more hits, comments, and kudos? Write more of those. What kind of stories get fewer hits, fewer (or more negative) comments, and fewer kudos? Write fewer of those.

  9. Write author's notes. If you have anything you feel like your readers should know that isn't included in the summary, warnings, or tags, then you should include it in an author's note.

  10. Choose a good pen name. When I joined, I made the mistake of signing in with my google account. Yes, it was convenient, but it gave me a pen name from an email address I made when I was 10 (or however old I was at the time) which is slightly embarrassing and completely irrelevant to the fandom world. When I joined AO3, I carefully considered my username, deciding on "vortexofdeduction" to match this blog, my tumblr, and my twitter (well technically, my twitter is @vortexdeduction because @vortexofdeduction is too long).

  11. Maintain your integrity as an author. One bad fanfic listed under your name could stop others from reading anything else by you. On the other hand, if you become popular enough to gain a good reputation, more people will read your stories.

  12. Write a good first few sentences. You have a short time to hook your readers in and make them want to continue. Don't waste it on pointless chatter or dull background. Start with something to shock or surprise your readers, something to fascinate them, something they will remember. Likewise, write a good last few sentences. You want to leave the reader with a good, lasting impression. Yes, the stuff in between matters, but the beginning and the end are the most important parts of your fanfic.