Category Archives: Fan Fiction

Some really bad @neilgaiman fanfic.

I thought I’d lost this, but it turned up when I was looking for something else. And now you too can read it!


 

“Oh crap“, said Despair.
“Mwh?” said Dream, hardly bothering to open an eye.
“Oh. Destruction is back,” said Desire. “Who asked for that?”
“I knew he would be back,” said Destiny.
“And he’s puked all over the carpet,” said Delirium.
“Somebody shoot me,” said Death, holding her nose.
“Well, if THAT is your attitude,” said Destruction, “I’m blowing this joint!”


Short and sweet.

#IceCrownChallenge, or ROFLstomping for charity (@ArcaneRatsel)

One of my very good vague acquaintances, Arcane Ratsel on Twitter, organised a charity event for the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide. After a pointed look from Ariciel, who still occasionally reminds me of that time in Shattrath on the elevator, I took her into Icecrown Citadel to basically paint it red. This is her story. It is picture heavy, so proceed with a thought to your bandwidth.

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A sunny day in Redridge

A sunny day in Redridge


 

“So. Which of the soldiers do you think is cutest?”

Nægling looked at Ariciel with a strange frown on her face.

Cutest?”

“Yeah.”


Honestly, if you didn’t know her better, you’d think Ariciel’s eyes light up because someone is shining a torch in her ears. Also, she loves winding people up. Especially a rewarding paladin such as Nægling.

Seanan McGuire on fanfic

Edit: The universe is trying to do my head in. I still don’t know how I silly-walked into Seanan’s piece on Fanfic, but only after I published this, I noticed it was from 2012. Way to go, necro-threader… And then, in my LJ feed, up pops this post by Seanan. On the subject of Fanfic. Really? What’s going on?

So. Seanan McGuire, writer of many many books of Urban Fantasy, whose soul linked sister is Mira Grant for purposes of the Undead, has written a piece on FanFiction and she loves it. Basically, writing FanFic is a training ground for the real thing, and it’s a good way to train. I have always had the knack of running conversations between people in my head, but until I started playing WoW, I never actually wrote them down. (Though I have written of all things Travian fanfic about the eternal struggles between the meat-loving Gaulish footmen and the vegan druid riders. If you must know, search for my LJ. I stopped writing that because Travian sucks as a game). Seanan is right that it doesn’t teach you to build a world, but it does let you practice on characters. As for settings, that is what my new series, The Algernon Expeditions, is there for. People will wander round Ipswich wondering where Algernon University actually is.

Seanan points out that Fanfic gives you the freedom to write what you want, and never care about whether there’s an audience for it. O yes. I once got a whole bunch of material from Diane Duane as preparation for a writer’s workshop at the UK Discworld Convention that unfortunately got canned because Life happened to Diane and Peter Morwood, and they were unable to attend. One of the things that I remember is that A.C. Doyle told you to think on what you are writing for: Money, pleasure, or art. And that influences your writing. Seanan writes for money. Which is not to say that there’s no art or pleasure to her writing, but if her books don’t sell, then her cats don’t get fed, and they will eat her. So in the back of her head, there is constantly the thought of “Will my fans like this?” and she can’t risk alienating a huge swathe of them. Me, I write mostly for pleasure. My own pleasure, that is. Which means that somewhat egoistically, the person who really has to be pleased with my writings is me, and anyone else who enjoys my witterings is a side benefit. Now I do aim for sellable quality in my writings, because I want to be a professional-quality writer even if I’m currently strictly amateur. But what I cannot do is allow these stories to become anything more than a vague “gosh, I ought to write a bit more Ariciel, haven’t done that in a while” type thing. That would make it Work, which would make it a source of stress,  and that would make it Not Fun Anymore.

Finding your voice, as Seanan says, (Note that I am avoiding the “Seanan points out” phrase here because that would echo with the previous paragraph, and unintentional echos are bad), is very important to your identity as a writer. My day job involves writing technical documents that have to clue people up on shit they need to know. I spent loads of time finding it out, and if I mess up the write-up, my friends and colleagues will have to waste their time finding it out for themselves. Writing, in my opinion, is the vehicle that transports my thoughts into someone else’s head. So I need that vehicle to be, variously, a heavy goods vehicle, or a convertible with the hood open, allowing you to take in the scenery. Pretty phrases be damned. If I need you to understand why the heroes are running, then I need to tell you it’s a long way from the Valley of Heroes to Stormwind Harbour. As a result, you won’t find much flowery language in my writings. (I hope). I’m fairly business-like in my fic, and conversely, display a little sense of humour in my technical docs.

I agree with Seanan that fanfic is an expression of love for the source material. In some cases, quite literally. I have a whole section (Snippets) on here of stories I wrote where I nicked other people’s characters for my own vile purposes, simply because I liked the characters and wanted to play with them a bit. In Arwen’s case, this grew to some 20K words, because after Thunderpetal, I wanted to check in on my characters to see if they were OK. With your fellow fic writers, you can do that more or less with impunity and as long as you don’t go round claiming them as your own, they will usually like it.

Which brings me to Seanan’s last point: Her characters are feeding her, and for reasons of Copyright and Story Integrity, she can’t allow people to mess around with them. There are very sound legal reasons for that. Everything about Toby Daye Seanan writes, has to be her own work, and not that of some unknown fic writer. Even the most vague idea that ends up in someone’s fic before it arrives in Seanan’s work, is potential dynamite. I would love to know Terry Pratchett’s opinion on my little Ariciel/Angua piece, but I can’t have it. Terry, and Seanan, can’t take the risk of me claiming ownership (and money) for something of mine that somehow ended up in their work, even if they had already thought of it long before I ever did.

Eyes I dare meet in dreams

A while ago, I asked someone what would happen if ever she met the characters she wrote. Her words were: “They would murder me. To death.” So I thought on it and 2600 words just happened…


 

It was the middle of the night, and the Chronicler lay fast asleep, safe in his home. A light shone, voices were heard.

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What have I added to the WoW Universe?

There’s this trend in FanFiction that you have to be completely faithful to the original setting, and not put in anything that the Creator would not. This is no doubt inspired by the many fics that include new gods, dragons where no dragons should be and the offspring of creatures that would at best be different species, and at the worst have a distinct predator and prey animal relationship.

I’m not in much danger of doing that, actually. My stories are mostly about people. I tend to stay away from the big events. The Blizzard characters in my fic tend to be innkeepers (Saelienne), trainers (Mathrengyl Bearwalker, Grif Wildheart), medical staff (The ladies at “First to your aid” in Dalaran) and the like. The main reason for that is that I like to be free. If I write a story about Varian Wrynn as an old man, and Blizz kill him off, then where would you be?

Still, I do have a few things that I have put into the hands of my characters that don’t exist in the game. Here, based on nothing but my hazy memory after a hard weekend’s work, is an incomplete list.

Qrovna: In my stories, Qrovna is a drink enjoyed mostly by the engineers of Exodar. The active ingredients are Skethyl-berries, amazingly 110% alcohol by volume, and a big dash of cynicism. It is basically a cure for Life. The name comes from a Usenet thread where people were applying ROT-13 to the names of various Linux distributions, and speculating on what those words might mean. Qrovna is the ROT-13 for Debian, and one of the respondents thought it sounded like something vaguely Scandinavian distilled from potatoes and Diesel oil. I adopted it more or less as such. You do not delicately sip Qrovna. You toss it back in one go, trying to avoid any of it touching your taste buds.

The Belltower and Rifle inn: English pubs have a tradition of being named “The Thing and Other Thing” – “The Fox and Hound”, for instance. Draenei engineers are perennially grumpy people, having to deal with industrial grade stupidity day in, day out. The sentiment is often expressed after a particularly fine example that the engineer wishes to climb up a bell tower with a rifle, and permanently fix a few people’s problems for them. This is expressed in the name of this well-hidden secret inn on Exodar. You need to be a fully-maxed-out engineer to enter it. It is the only place Mareva calls home.

Yeti fur sleeping bags: In-game, people just curl up on the cold hard ground. Ariciel makes sleeping furs lined with the fur of Hillsbrad mountain yetis. They are marvellously warm, incredibly soft and almost large enough for two people.

The rooms in the Stonefire Tavern in Ironforge: In my stories, the Stonefire Tavern is rather more up-class than it is in-game. It’s got several dozen rooms, most of them strikingly similar to hotel rooms you may find on Earth. They have showers, designed and built by the Ironforge Gnomish Network for the Implementation of Thermal Energy, IGNITE. In the Crown Room at the very top is a ten-foot-wide round bath made of gold that due to the efforts of Mr. Griggin Steambender will fill up with bubbling hot water in under a minute. One of the receptionists, a Mr. Smolt, bears a striking resemblance to the host of QI.

Stetson’s assassin’s crossbow: For plot reasons, I needed to have Stetson shoot someone from a great distance. I settled on a range of 250 yards, which is actually more or less what an Earth crossbow can do. Treating it more or less as a sniper rifle.

Steambender’s Relaxing Steam Bath: O dear… Griggin’s re-invention of Loyly – better known as the Sauna or maybe a Turkish steam bath. It has two settings – one nice and warm, with a nice bracing cold shower afterwards. The other setting is “STERILISE”, which is to be used to get rid of the buildup of skin flakes, and whatever else may drop off a Dwarf when cleaning. Quite capable of boiling a Dwarf alive, and for that reason the control is outside under a lid. It is not to be used when people are in the bath. Guess what happened. Interestingly, the machinery was re-purposed when Griggin moved to his present home in Stormwind. Its fearsome nozzles are pointed at his front door, and during the zombie plague, he was able to use it to great effect against unwelcome undead callers. He has never yet used it against double glazing salesmen, but logic suggests it would work quite well.

The castle of Caer Bannog: The Redridge home of the main character of these stories – Bannog of Caer Bannog. The castle is not named after him, he (and his great-uncle, and his great-grandfather) are named after the castle. Bannog’s job as the second son is to go out into the world and win renown for his home. The name is, of course, taken from a certain movie. Caer Bannog is small, home-like, but still built as a fighting castle, not as a mansion for some lord or other. The men and women of Caer Bannog are generally friendly, level-headed, and practical people. Gerrig the Ancient, son of Garth, built it with a good eye to the difference between Inside and Outside, and ease of maintenance. It has a secret tunnel under the moat to a nearby small cave, that leads to an inconspicuous room inside. That room can be turned into a tiny little hell of fire if anyone unwanted finds the tunnel and gets through it. The tunnel can also be flooded in an instance. A later addition to that tunnel is a modified Steambender’s Doorstep Sanitiser. Griggin has also installed a hugely over-powered Optimal Prime OP-5000 steam and water pump, and a beautiful bathroom.

The Optimal Prime line of water heaters and steam pumps: Today’s yoof may think that I have named this after Optimus Prime, of Transformers fame. I have not. In fact, both Optimus and my heaters are named after the Optimus kerosene stoves, the favourite of many a camping trip. You light the things by putting a flammable paste into a little cup, setting that on fire to heat up the element. Then you pump like mad to pressurise the fuel container, turn on the tap, and an evil jet of yellow flame shoots out to set your tent on fire along with its occupants who then run round screaming in the authentic camping experience. Griggin’s OP range of heaters were invented by him and Marvin Sprocket, who by accident found out that you can use the crystals un Un’goro Crater to heat water, more or less forever. The current top model, the OP-6000X (Experimental upgrade from the OP-5000), can supply a small town with hot and cold running water.

Steambender’s Kill-and-obscure smoke bombs: These are very useful if you are a rogue in need of a quick getaway. A metal ball with a Big Red Switch, they will explode with a fierce bang that may or may not be fatal to anyone near. Then, they cover the area in a blanket of smoke that you can only see through with a matching pair of goggles. The first model of these was made with a ten-second fuse, which caused some confusion. You see, gnomes, having only eight fingers, make all their calculations in octal. Given that the numbers eight and nine do not exist in the Gnomish numbering system, this led to customer dissatisfaction when used by those who expect those numbers to be there. So now, they have four second fuses.

The Darnassus Temple Choir: Is there any religion in the multiverse that does not at least produce music? I think of music as one of any church’s redeeming features. So there’s a choir in the Darnassus Temple of the Moon. They are amazingly good, able to sing the most complex pieces, with a beauty that freezes the heart, and drops it to the floor in shimmering crystals. They are routinely sent out into the world as goodwill ambassadors. They have a more than casual relationship with the Stormwind Male Choir, who live in Stormwind Cathedral, and are in the same league for quality. Lirael, one of my characters, is one of the star sopranos in the Darnassus Temple Choir.

So. There you have it. My additions to World of Warcraft fanon.

Just a bit of serious

Some of the best stories, webcomics and other things start out as a bit of fun. Just one joke that needed to be told, just a funny story. A way to kick back and write some lovely therapeutic smut with no literary value whatsoever. One prime example of this is the webcomic Looking For Group. (Google it). It started out with a definitely-not-a-blood-elf jumping into the world determined not to be evil, a definitely evil undead warlock determined to be as evil as he possibly can be, a hot babe priestess not-a-troll… And it was very silly, and it was very good. Another prime example is a story I’m now checking regularly for updates, called “Diary of a Mad Gamer Chick”, about a girl gamer (For the Horde!) who suddenly finds herself a Human (crap) in Stormwind, hungering for Orc and Troll flesh in a decidedly X-rated way. And it’s loads of fun, so you keep at it. Giggling your way through the drawings, through the stories. And then, before you realise it, something happens.

You start to care about the people in there.

There’s all these little throwaway lines between the jokes and the smut, and somehow, in your head, it joins together into a back story. So you write a bit more about that. And before you know it, it’s epic. And by that time, it’s too late to stop. Happened to me, too. I started out with the idea of a warrior and an elf girl, the stereotypical damsel-and-warrior-hero type story grabbed by the scruff of its neck and given a good shake. I like playing with people’s expectations and shaking them up. And then the whole story somehow happened. Ariciel got a family she was looking for. Bannog found that he loved this strange Druid enough to overcome his preconceptions. Then Bannog got a home, and it was under siege. And then his little sister, originally simply a secondary character, developed a personality and set off in search of knowledge, and love. The Steambender gnomes were originally meant as something for Ariciel to bounce her racial prejudice off, because a character needs flaws to look real. They turned into a real family. Mareva, originally entering the story as a way to draw out the difference in sexual ethics between humans and elves, told a little shred of her history, which then needed to be documented as well. And all that. It turned into five hundred thousand words (as close as wc can make it) of WoWfic. I have one more big story left to write, maybe two. One, I’m not sure I have the heart to write. Maybe later.

These stories have been, at times, the only thing standing between myself and destruction. They are immensely important to me, as they have been protecting my sanity by providing a place where I can go to reclaim my mental energy, by entering a world like mine, filled with trouble, but with one important difference. I know it will turn out right, because I will make it.

I think the Redridge Chronicles will always be my place of refuge whenever I need to be alone for a while. The setting is rich enough that I can always find some place that I haven’t written about yet. Whether anyone actually reads them? It’s nice to see the occasional flurry of hits meaning someone is reading the story. But ultimately, this is where I go when I’m in a place where I don’t want to be, and need the strength.

As a side effect, it turned me into a creative writer who still sucks, who will never stop sucking, but who sucks at a more advanced level now than he did in 2008, when i started this.

Thunderpetal part 17: Meditation

Part 17: Meditation

Master Shang Xi took Thunderpetal and Huang to a cave at the end of a shallow pond. They entered, and the Master sat down on a stone. He made himself comfortable, and looked at Huang.

“Thunderpetal has named you his most trusted friend,” said the Master. “What will you do for him?”

Huang looked at the Master. “I will do what must be done to bring peace into his Self.”

Shang Xi’s eyes wrinkled. “That is good to know. Léi-shēng Huā-bàn?”

“Yes, Master?”

Shang Xi pointed at Huang. “Kill him.”

Clearly, drastic methods are called for here. Honestly, it looks a bit like throwing the child away with the bath water, but then again, I am not a mystic Master like Shang Xi.

Well folks, it’s the last chapter. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Special thanks go to Jaelynn Evershade, who never failed to hit the “Like” button on my posts, and to Lindsey Batdorf, who made the beautiful title picture. Which means that I’ll be hiding away for a while while I produce the next story.

Until we meet again,

Menno “Bannog” Willemse

Thunderpetal part 15: The hut on fowl’s legs

Part 15: The hut on fowl’s legs

Bieslook’s little voice spoke up. “There’s a witch in our house. Like Baba Yaga. Her house didn’t have any doors or windows. She flew around in a great big cooking pot.”

“Yes dear,” said Lenna. “Be quiet now. We’re trying to think.”

“She could only get in or out through the chimney,” said Bieslook.

You know what it’s like when you’ve locked yourself out of the house. You just need to imagine you’re a burglar. Or ask a handy ten tear old.

Thunderpetal part 14: Cum mortuis in lingua morta

Part 14: Cum mortuis in lingua morta

Thunderpetal’s face fell. Master Windstrong laughed and slapped his back.

“There are two kinds of people who come to talk to me about kites,” he said. “The first kind are interested in flying, and they will ask all kinds of questions on what bambu to use, where to get the rockets, how to shape the wings. Then they go away, and come back, freshly healed of broken bones, and then they ask me how to build proper kites.” Master Windstrong chuckled to himself. “I do not see many of them, but they give me great joy. I recognise myself in them, broken bones and all. The other kind, they simply want to go somewhere.”

No matter what else Google comes up with when you stick this title in, it means “With the dead in a dead language”. Things are about to get slightly disturbing. Oh. And Thunderpetal is finding out about a novel and interesting way to break his neck.