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Author Topic: Fanfic? Fanfic's for dorks! Give me that.  (Read 1542 times)
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Tongue Luck

Starship Captain
« on: 10-07-2004 02:15 »
« Last Edit on: 10-07-2004 02:15 »

It was June. I was too hot to sleep and too tired to do anything productive. So began my torrid love-hate relationship with fanfiction. By the beginning of July, I realized that, with a few notable exceptions, if you've read one shipper fic, you've read them all. I decided it would be fun to do a tongue in cheek deconstruction of some of these ship fic conventions.

Yes. I really know how to have fun.

I got started, was in the zone for about one night, and then got bored and abandoned it. I recently dug the thing back up and convinced myself (with some help) that it was post-able. Here goes...

How to Write a Shippy Futurama Fanfic

You may start your ship fic in one of three key places: Planet Express, Fry and Bender's apartment, or Leela's apartment. No matter where it starts, it is highly recommended to give each of these locations at least one scene somewhere in your fic. For the sake of convenience, let's start this one at Planet Express. That way, we can account for the supporting characters and put Fry and Leela in the same place at the same time.
(establishing shot: Inside the Planet Express building. Fry and Bender are watching All My Circuits. Bender is drinking beer. Leela is sitting at the conference table in the next room, doing a crossword)
(cut to the TV)
Calculon: Oh, Monique. I can't hide my feelings any longer. I love you!
Monique: Oh, Calculon. You don't have to tell me that. After all, we're married!
Calculon: Oh, Monique. That was just so I could fool the government. For, you see, I have been living here illegally! You started out as my ticket to a green card, but you've become much, much more.
Monique: Oh, Calculon! I'm so glad to hear that. I love you, too! But you may have to find a new wife, for I have only one week to live.
Calculon: Oh, God. Why? WHYYY?
(cut to Fry and Bender on the couch)
Bender: Bwahahaha! Take that, Calculon! Good luck loving her when she's a zombie! (pause) Hey, Fry, what's wrong? You usually love All My Circuits!
Fry: Oh, nothing. I've just got a lot on my mind.
Funny that Fry should mention his mind. In fanficland, Fry and Leela seem to be thinking all the time, and the lucky reader is privy to quite a few of their thoughts. It's a very handy trick. You can force
character development without having to resort to subtlety!

Fry's mind: Leela and I were married once. For about five seconds. What I wouldn't give to be married to her for good, or even just dating her, or even for some indication that she might love me back! Well, I might as well give it another try.
Like his counterpart in the show, Fanfic Fry should ask Leela out pretty early in the chronology of the story. The exchange can be cheesy as hell, as long as it gets the desired effect. Fry needs to feel sad, and Leela... Well, she's enigmatic, but we'll get to that later.
Fry: Hey, Leela! You want to go see a movie or something?
Leela: No, I can't tonight. I need to take Nibbler to the vet.
Fry: Aw.. Then how 'bout tomorrow night?
Leela: Sorry. I think I'm busy all week. (turns her attention back to her crossword) Hey, guys. What's an eight letter word for "bereft of one's love"?
Fry (quietly): Me. (leaves the room sullenly)
Bender: Ooh! Ooh! I know! Bender knows! Ooh! Stupid skintube who doesn't know how to take no for an answer and mopes around the apartment all the time like a loser!
Leela: That's not eight letters. (the rest of it sinks in, she sighs) Oh. Poor Fry!

The word was "lovelorn," by the way. Crossword puzzles will be just as lame in a thousand years as they are today. Now, to business! If you're writing a shippy fanfic, Hermes and Amy must immediately be
converted from their usual selves into wise, benevolent romantics who want nothing more than to see Fry and Leela finally hook up. This may be counterintuitive, since Hermes has never given any indication of caring one way or another about the ship, and Amy is generally passive aggressive toward Leela and just as indifferent about all that shippy fun. However, if you're going to the trouble of including these supporting characters in your fic, you might as well use them to your advantage! I mean, deep down, all the characters are dying to see Fry and Leela to ride off into the sunset, right? Of course they are. Canon be damned!

(new scene: Fry is pacing up and down a hallway, which happens to be the hallway outside of Hermes's office, muttering to himself)
Fry: Why do I have to be so stupid? She'll never go out with me. But what if she did? If I could just have a chance, I'd--
Hermes (opens office door): Great swan of Milan! What are you doing out here? Go stomp around somewhere else! Some of us have paperwork to do.
Fry: Okay. Sorry, Hermes. (starts to walk off)
Hermes (expression softens): It's about Leela, isn't it?
Fry: What? Who told you?
Hermes: Nobody has to tell me! It's obvious. I've been in love, too, you know. I can tell from the way you look at her!
Fry: Well maybe. She doesn't love me back, though.
Hermes: Maybe not when you two started working here, but I think she's been coming around lately. I don't think she even realizes it herself, but she definitely has feelings for you. Sometimes I see her giving you that same look you give her.

Note how Hermes starts the scene painstakingly in character. He acts cranky, whips out a "sweet something of someplace," and mentions paperwork. Once this is established, he can spend the rest of the scene as Bland Supportive Man, riding the impression his first few lines have given the reader. If used well, this trick allows you to be completely out of character without getting angry E-mails about it. Now for the Amy interaction. You should go about this one a little differently. She can be out of character from the start, as long as you include a few key details. She needs to mention Kif, she should discuss or at least allude to having dated Fry for a short time, and she absolutely must have at least one instance of her slang (spluh! seems to be a fan favorite, so we'll go with that one).
(cut to Leela, sitting on the couch with a mug of coffee. Bender has left and the TV is off. She is absentmindedly tracing the top of the mug with her finger, staring into space, deep in thought)
Leela's mind: Maybe I should've agreed to go to a movie with him. I've used that "taking Nibbler to the vet" excuse twice already. Fry must think Nibbler is the sickliest animal ever. No, he probably hasn't noticed. He's not the most perceptive guy in the universe. He is sweet, though.
(enter Amy. She sits on the couch next to Leela and stares into space with her for a few moments.)
Amy: Hey, Leela. Having fun watching the blank TV screen?
Leela: (sighs) Fry asked me out again.
Amy: Oh. What did you say?
Leela: What do you think?
Amy: You know, you really should give him a chance. I think he feels the same way about you as Kif does about me. If I hadn't given Kif a chance, I'd still be a serial dater.
Leela: I thought you liked that.
Amy: I did. But I like this better. It's nice to date someone who's sweet and dependable and cares more about me than getting lucky.
Leela: I don't think Fry would be like that.
Amy: I think he would.
Leela: Well, he got sick of you pretty quickly!
(pause) Sorry. That came out wrong.
Amy: No, you're right. He did. But he spends more time with you than he ever did with me, and he still worships the ground you walk on!
Leela: Do you think he's... in love... with me? Not just as a passing infatuation or just being attracted to my body?
Amy: Spluh! If it was just physical, he'd still be with me!
Leela: (laughs halfheartedly)
Amy: Look, just think about it, okay? He's totally devoted to you, and he deserves a chance.

That's as far as I got. If I don't get flamed to death by a mob of angry shippers, I might pick it up where I left off. Get your torches ready.

Urban Legend
« Reply #1 on: 10-07-2004 02:32 »

Ready your pitchforks guys! I'll hold her down and you guys can kick her!

nah i'm kidding. Your essay/story was funny.

Urban Legend
« Reply #2 on: 10-07-2004 04:09 »

    That was brilliant.
    Did you actually write this story?  Because it sounds exactly like the openings to several of FM:TLZ's higher-rated fics.  I think, though, that you'll find the task harder after you get through the opening scenes, as the shipperfics tend to branch out into a few possible plotlines:
  • Some sort of disaster/mishap forces the two together/tears them apart.  (The Impressionable Mind)
  • Fry does something remarkably stupid yet impressive, which happened about 8 times on the show and never really got him anywhere.  (A Second Chance)
  • Leela arbitrarily decides, after four fucking years that she loves him, often in a dream sequence of some sort.  (Lookin' for Snu-Snu in all the wrong places.)
  • The author does the smart thing and leaves it in the background for most of the fic (though I don't think that counts as shipper.) (Perfumed by an Unseen Censor)
Hope this helps, and keep up the good work.

All fics referenced as examples are hosted at Futurama Madhouse: The Leela Zone, the best webpage in Denmark.

Space Pope
« Reply #3 on: 10-07-2004 06:50 »

Tongue Luck, you actually did a really great job breaking down the formulaic shipper fic (although yours is actually funnier than most others, seeing as how you're mocking the absurdities and inconsistencies). I must admit that currently I'm writing a...er...shipper fic (which you can read on this board someplace or other), and I try to avoid using a lot of those cheats (especially the Amy one, which isn't really that hard when you think about it).  Also, while I consider myself a shipper (more like a closeted one...who doesn't really like drama that much (if that makes sense)), I hate the melodrama that's apparent in all Fry/Leela fics (the first two mentioned by Nerd-o-rama contain a lot of that, although I actually enjoy certain portions of "A Second Chance" ). If I could give anyone writing a shipper fic any advice, it would be the following:

1.) Try to squeeze in as much humor as is humanly possible (as long as it doesn't ruin the mood of the fic). I try to do this (mostly unsuccesfully), and it really creates a more enjoyable fic for the reader.

2.) In my experience, script-form is funnier than prose. Prose just screams "drama", while the script form offers more opportunities for gags (the only gags that come out of prose are usualy character internalization or observation gags).

3.) Try to keep it different from other shipper fics (that is, come up with a semi-original idea in the vast world of similar shipper fics). If yours doesn't follow the usual plotline of a Fry/Leela fic, people will most likely remember you for it.

4.) Avoid using a lot of mushy, ooey-gooey dialogue (for example, in the part of the fic where Leela finally tells Fry she loves him, avoid using corny lines like, "Oh Fry, I've always loved you! I've always loved you!" ). Really, stuff like that makes me want to wretch, unless the rest of the fic is good.

5.) Don't use any of the other conventions Tongue Luck mentioned, especially the Amy/Hermes stuff and too much character internalization (I know the second one is hard, but you have to try to avoid having your characters thinking every 5 minutes).

Eh, but what do I know? I've never even  finished a fic (although I'm on my way). Let's get Tongue Luck or JBERGES in here!

Seriously, though, TL, you bring up a lot of interesting points.

Urban Legend
« Reply #4 on: 10-07-2004 06:55 »


*Bump's Tongue Luck further up list of favourite people.*

Bending Unit
« Reply #5 on: 10-07-2004 08:51 »

Uh oh. (Glances anxiously at recently begun fanfic)
(forced cheerfulness)I have to go now!

TL, that's both true and hilarious! A great combination! Think of all the shipper hearts you've smashed irrevocably on to the cold hard ground! (Slides Fry + Leela pin into pocket)And Gorky, nice analysis and very good advice.

Bending Unit
« Reply #6 on: 10-07-2004 10:12 »

Hahaha, I love this, it's hilarious! I have nothing against shippy fics, but pointing out the clichés like this is brilliant! Keep it up!

Urban Legend
« Reply #7 on: 10-07-2004 10:30 »

Well I produced my really shippy fic nearly four years ago so there were less shippy precedents back then.

Never the less very funny ideed TL as much of it is very true.

@gorky. i do believe you are right that script writtne pieces tend to be more humourous adn prose tends to be more drama like. However it would be unwise to say that all should be written in script form. I for example prefer to write in prose because it comes more naturally (I find it is more difficult to describe places in a script form than in prose or in other words I like descriptive metaphors).

My personal advice would try to write something you yourself would enjoy. Writting for other peoples approval makes the whole process less personal. Also do not force a style, it can easily be seen when the writter trys to write in a style that does not suit them.

Those readers who say to you that fan fics should be just like the show then to shove it up their backsides. If the writter was doing a script for the show fine but these are fan fics which is the writters personal interpritation of their beloved show. Fics should have crittisms if they are poorly structured or written but not if they are too dramary or mushy.

Finnally, something I learnt to late. Make sure your proof read your and get someone else to as well.

phew sorry about that. Seems i went into a little bit of a rant.
Starship Captain
« Reply #8 on: 10-07-2004 10:31 »
« Last Edit on: 10-07-2004 10:31 »

Kind of unpleasant, but then that's just my opinion.

Fanfics - and mibbe 'shippy' ones especially - aren't really designed to be deconstructed (taken apart by the intellect) like this. It reads as though you're laughing at a dog for not being able to play chess; it's just not capable of doing that.

A bit of fun, visceral feelings, and general playing around - _that's_ what a shipper fanfiction pooch can do!

« Reply #9 on: 10-07-2004 11:47 »

TL, I blame you for getting me in  trouble in English lab for laughing at this and not doing my work! I started laughing at the title and haven't stopped since. I insist you continue. I'll give you candy to continue. I''ll start working on a list of more cliches once I'm home from school, so I'll be back...

Urban Legend
« Reply #10 on: 10-07-2004 16:09 »

My work’s being classified as shipper?  Since when? 

It reads as though you're laughing at a dog for not being able to play chess

I'd say it's more like laughing at a person for not being able to play chess; and as a dork, I am all for that.  TL isn't making fun of shippers and the shipper genre as a whole, Marcus.  In fact, I'm pretty sure she's a shipper herself.  What she is making fun of is the archetype that so many people have followed obdurately without trying to do something new.  And in truth, it is very accurate.  I find it to be a great satire TL, and I hope to see more.  Additionally, as Shaucker said, I was already laughing by the time I read the title.

As for advice for the people that apparently want it, if you want a shipper fic to be more or less canon, keep it subtle.  Nothing too big at once.  While Fry’s love for Leela is easy to convey, the inverse is a bit tricky, and should develop over time through the small nuances and interactions the two share as friends.  It should show the reader that the feelings are there, but shouldn’t knock them off their chair with large pink hearts fired out of a military issue love-cannon. (Heh, love… canon… get it?)  Subtlety; a slow build; this is what brings everything together.
Kif White

Bending Unit
« Reply #11 on: 10-07-2004 16:56 »

Lots of good points being brought up here. The stab at stereotypical shipper fics is pretty accurate, I also agree with most of the points brought up by wu_konguk and JBERGES.

The script vs. prose argument has always been simple for me: comedy = script, drama = prose. I don't think there's anything wrong with writing in the latter and going for a more dramatic styled story at all, and the author has every right to take on the show in his or her way. However, I don't like it when drama is taken too seriously, and there's basically no jokes at all in it. As interesting as a story can be, this is still Futurama, and there should always be at least some attempt at humour within, and I don't just mean the odd bit of recycled character-based humour or couple of jerkass lines from Bender either.

As for the Fry-Leela shippyness issue, I'll just quote what I wrote in a kind of 'guide to writing Fry' article I posted at The Groening Fanworks Central about Fry's relationship with Leela...

Fry's unrequited love for Leela means he often doesn't know how to act around her, and his attempts to get closer to her will often be countered by rejection. The fact that's she's also his captain means he'll often get told off by her for acting stupid, and he considers her to be overly harsh towards him in both these areas. What initially started out as a case of Fry just wanting to get with Leela evolved over time into something beyond just attraction, and despite his advances being pushed away, Fry has remained perseverant throughout the show's run. He not only considers Leela to be physically attractive, but loves her personality and looks to her intelligence and more emotional side too. Leela has shown signs of liking his sweetness and boyish charms, but doesn't like the fact he's an idiot basically. He's been the only man around her though that is always there for her, and has gone out of his way to prove to her how much he cares for her, be it playing a holophonor, spelling her names with the stars or staying with her non-stop for weeks while she was in a coma talking her back to the real world. His attempts at impressing her have ranged from mediocre to fantastic, and he considers her friendship to be one of the most important things in his life, even if she doesn't reciprocate his feelings. He also wants her to love him for who he is, rather than change himself to somebody he's not, as shown in Parasites Lost. Their overall relationship has got many mixed views from fans and writers, some tending to see more there than there probably is. Realistically speaking, I don't think it's a good idea to read more into the series finale's final moments than is there. While they have no doubt grown closer over the years, there is still nothing between them at series' end. Fry probably inched a notch closer, but the ending gave no more indication of anything further than the endings of The Sting or The Why of Fry did, and I think many Leela-Fry shippers tend to see things that aren't there because it was the last episode. One of the most common mistakes I've seen in Futurama fiction is Fry and Leela hooking up far too quickly over basically nothing, generally in a single chapter of a story that takes place over maybe a day. Because of both their personalities, I don't see them hooking up that quickly, even after the final moments of the last show. I'd suggest any writers tread carefully if they are at all planning to have Fry with Leela in their fic as to how they do it.

That about covers it I think...

Urban Legend
« Reply #12 on: 10-07-2004 17:40 »

Originally posted by JBERGES
My work’s being classified as shipper? Since when?

As I qualified in my original post, "shipper" is too strong a word for anything you've written.  I was using you as an example of someone who used a Fry/Leela subplot in his story, but didn't make a big deal about it.  Come to think of it, it didn't really come into play except in the first and last scenes.

Still, a wonderful story which could be (theoretically) episode-worthy with a little tweeking.

Space Pope
« Reply #13 on: 10-07-2004 17:54 »
« Last Edit on: 10-07-2004 17:54 »

Kif White brings up an interesting point. The relationship between Fry and Leela developed over the course of four years (although it only became prominent in seasons 3 and 4, really). Many fics (and I am more or less guilty of this) tend to get Fry and Leela together over something that's rather simple (really, very few shipper fics, if any, end with Fry and Leela not getting together--just getting closer to developing a romantic relationship). Anyway, while this can make for an enjoyable fic, it really is unrealistic when you consider the fact that Fry and Leela never got together per se even after a four-year long friendship. But hey, like Marcus and wu_konguk said, fics aren't meant ot be deconstructed--they're just a fan's interpretation of the show and its premise.

Anyway, something that I forgot to mention earlier, something that is very difficult to accomplish in a shipper fic, is Leela's characterization being just right. You don't want her to appear too open to Fry's feelings, but without her opening up a little, your fic ceases to exist, in most cases. My advice (that even I find hard to abide to) is to open her up a little, but don't have too much of her internalization on her feelings towards Fry (again, a lot of times I'm guilty of this). This usually makes for a lot of sappy stuff that, again, while not bad in some instances, really should be used sparingly if at all.   
Tongue Luck

Starship Captain
« Reply #14 on: 10-07-2004 22:57 »
« Last Edit on: 10-07-2004 22:57 »

Neat! I sparked an interesting discussion!
Originally  posted by wu_konguk:
Those readers who say to you that fan fics should be just like the show then to shove it up their backsides. If the writter was doing a script for the show fine but these are fan fics which is the writters personal interpritation of their beloved show.
I personally prefer fanfic that strives to captures the style and humor of Futurama, but I agree that it shouldn't be compulsary. Everybody has their own stuff to bring to the table, and bring they should. I like to think of it as varying degrees of the, "When Ron Weiner writes an episode, you're going to see some outdoor streetdancing," phenomenon. I mainly take issue with deviation from the show when...
1) It borrows heavily from the mass of fanon cliches. If you're going to stray from canon, you'd better make it your own. The "personal interpretation" argument doesn't hold water when everyone's interpretation aligns with precedent set by earlier fics. Why eschew the show's conventions if you're just going to turn around and conform to a whole new set of conventions?
2) The characters don't act like themselves. After 72 episodes (though not every episode has every character, I know), the characters' personalities and idiosyncracies have been established pretty damn well. Change the tone, cut down on the science jokes, turn up the romance, make every other line a pun... Do whatever it is that seperates your story from the show and the rest of the fanfic community, but don't go raping the characters. When the characters stop acting like themselves, you might as well change their names and reclassify your fanfic as an original short story.
3) It's poorly structured or written. Preach it.
Originally posted by Marcus:
It reads as though you're laughing at a dog for not being able to play chess; it's just not capable of doing that.
I'm sad that we don't agree, because that's one of the funniest analogies I've read lately (and by far the eeriest--I just had a conversation about things I'd command a super-intelligent dog to do). However, I don't think it quite fits. A dog is a living thing with its own volition a narrow range of abilities. A fanfic is a thing created and controlled by a person. It's completely capable of being in line with the canon, or at least staying in character and out of the realm of dull rehash, if the writer has the talent and puts his mind to it. Or, you know, pretend I said everything JBERGES said. He got it better'n I did.

I hope some aspiring fanfic writers come in here and read all the posts. Gorky, wu_konguk, JBERGES, and Kif White all had some genuinely good advice to balance out my sarcasm. It made for some interesting reading, and I bet it could be really helpful to people who are knee deep in the writing process and unsure of where to go. You guys rock. As do Venus (whom I choose to believe is coming for me with a pitchfork and a heart full of spite), Nerd-o-rama (who totally nailed why I stopped at that point... three roads diverged, man), SlackJawedMoron (who inspired me to lick a shoulder. you can't say that about a lot of people), Layla50 (good luck on your story... it has a lot of potential), becky (whose art made me say "Dude!" in a public computer lab, which made everyone look at me funny), and Shaucker (whose art spent about two weeks on my desktop... until my computer quit working and I was relegated to the public labs). Thanks for the kind words. And Marcus rocks, too. I was kind of hoping for some criticism, and he had a good point.

I'm glad some of y'all liked it. I guess now I have to pencil "TLZ Refresher Course" into my daily schedule until I figure out where to go with this.
Kif White

Bending Unit
« Reply #15 on: 10-07-2004 23:14 »

I just have to add this one point: as a writer, I feel that characterisation is the *most* important thing there is. Humour is, IMHO, the bottom of the list, though still neccessary. Storyline and plot is very important too, as is continuity and consistency. Capturing the feeling of the show depends really... I think drama stories that warp things a bit can still feel very much like Futurama, it depends how they're pulled off. But, in the end, they all come behind characterisation. Without that, a fic is nothing. It's a tricky thing to pull off and keep consistent, but it's just that important to do.

Space Pope
« Reply #16 on: 10-08-2004 06:45 »
« Last Edit on: 10-08-2004 06:45 »

I agree to an extent, Kif White. I think that, for the "perfect" fic (or rather, something that you truly enjoy, because "perfect" is subjective), you should sit down and think about what made some of the great episodes of Futurama great (the "greats" in most peoples' lists include: "The Luck of the Fryrish", "Jurassic Bark", "The Sting", and any other funny/heartwarming or just out-and-out funny episodes), and try to learn from their example. I don't mean that you should copy what came before you, just try to see how you can mix consistent characterization (a toughie; believe me, I know), great humor (and really, if you just can't write comedy (it really is harder than drama), ignore this...do what you're capable of or enjoy doing), and a strong storyline together, and your result is a fairly interesting script, at the least.

Urban Legend
« Reply #17 on: 10-08-2004 06:50 »
« Last Edit on: 10-08-2004 06:50 »

Saying you can't change the characters is not the entire choice. As with real people, these characters are shapped by their experiances. I would agree that you can not just suddenly have a characters acting totally differently to how they are shown in the show. If you want to change characters then create cicumstances that would help this change come about.

I think one of the best examples is in Kif White UoM. Due to the events in the story the characters changed over time, some more than others, and you believed it because you could imagine those events changing people in that way.

Now in some ways I think newer writters have it easier and in some wyas harder. Now that the show is over they do not have any source materail how ever they also do not have to fear some of their ideas be contradicted (or played out in a different manner as with the whole Leela being a mutant).

So basically if you think "hmm what if I revealed this about a character" then you should not be afraid to do so as no one can really contradict you. Of course this is a doubled edged sword and can lead to errible fics (I am also a huge Tenchi Muyo fan and while some fics based on the show are amazing others are just terrible, mostly the lemon ones (Lemon means erotic fan fiction) but i don't think futurama has gone that way yet).

Oh and thanks Tl. You also rock.

On a final note using popular music is another thing i see quite alot in shipper fics (which i am very guilty of)

edit- Now i am not aware of any Futurama fics that have done this (not that i can remember anyway) but prevention is better than a cure.
Little pet peev but please for the love of all that is good do not do self insertion fan fictions especially the ones where one of the characters falls in love with you. i know I said fan fictions are a personaly thing but if you submit it then there is a high probablity that it will be laughed at. Save us and yourselves from inherently bad fan fictions.
Starship Captain
« Reply #18 on: 10-08-2004 08:46 »

Originally posted by Tongue Luck:I'm sad that we don't agree, because that's one of the funniest analogies I've read lately (and by far the eeriest--I just had a conversation about things I'd command a super-intelligent dog to do). However, I don't think it quite fits. A dog is a living thing with its own volition a narrow range of abilities. A fanfic is a thing created and controlled by a person. It's completely capable of being in line with the canon, or at least staying in character and out of the realm of dull rehash, if the writer has the talent and puts his mind to it. Or, you know, pretend I said everything JBERGES said. He got it better'n I did.

Pfft, agreeing all the time is for losers...  smile

Thanks for your reply, though - you're v. respect-worthy, lady  smile

I always think there's something vaguely masterbatory about writing (doubly so for fanfics... and, actually, trebly so for _shipper_ fanfics), very much a personal fantasy. Or, if you prefer, it's like your first attempts at songwriting/poetry - excruciatingly personal, the sort of stuff you do before you learn how to generalise your thoughts/feelings for a wider audience.

As writers develop/gain experience, of course they can develop on these beginnings. But I'm not surprised that there's a bit - even a _lot_ of a naivity about a _lot_ of shippy fanfics; it's in their nature as a vehicle for folk initially trying writing or expressing their fantasies in story form (2 different things).

People who enjoy and have a talent for writing will develop it in the ways outlined above (outlined by folk with that talent experience  smile) anyway, but those who don't deserve the knowledge that they were brave enough to share a private thing without having it picked at.
Tongue Luck

Starship Captain
« Reply #19 on: 10-09-2004 00:31 »

[Homer Simpson]Look, all I'm saying is, if these fanfic writers didn't want people picking apart their stories and saying they suck, then they shouldn't have tried to express themselves creatively.[/Homer Simpson]

No, seriously, you once again bring up a good point, Marcus. I did try to take people's feelings into account a little. I made a point not to cite any stories or authors by name, to only make fun of things that popped up a lot--that were in TLZ's public domain, so to speak--instead of expanding it to things from specific stories that I thought were dumb (these, I think, would be closer to the excruciatingly personal stuff you described), and, though I did say some mean things, I tried to keep the tone light-hearted and playful. It's not, like, step one in some grand plan to change the face of fanfiction forever. I just wanted to a bit of fun with the inexplicable fanon stereotypes that don't quite mesh with canon. I also think it could potentially be helpful as sort of a "Don't Do This" guide to people who are just starting out and trying to distinguish their work from the masses. If not, some of the dialogue from the other people in this thread could work that way, so at least something good came out of it.

I think I am going to continue, but I don't want to go squashing people's private fantasies or anything. Would it help if I put a, "This is not a personal insult. It's not supposed to be taken too seriously," disclaimer of some sort at the beginning?
Starship Captain
« Reply #20 on: 10-09-2004 08:35 »

Your thing, your rules  smile I don't think I'd do a disclaimer, but that's just me; mibbe just bear readers' reactions in mind when you're proofreading/editing/whatevering it?

'Fanon' - hurray, I learned a new word today!

Space Pope
« Reply #21 on: 10-09-2004 09:21 »

Muhahaha! Do not apologize Tongue Luck! It was a hilarious look at Shippy fan-fics, which I've never really liked anyway.  big grin

Bending Unit
« Reply #22 on: 10-09-2004 19:57 »

Originally posted by Tongue Luck:
becky (whose art made me say "Dude!" in a public computer lab, which made everyone look at me funny)
You're welcome! And I hope I didn't cause too much problems  wink But thanks!

I agree with M0le. Don't apologize! People should know you're not being serious about this (at least not very), so I don't think you need a disclaimer. I just hope you'll write more soon!  smile

Space Pope
« Reply #23 on: 10-10-2004 00:56 »

I'm not so pompous that I can't laugh at myself.

*perma-bans Nerd-o-Rama*

^is joking

Urban Legend
« Reply #24 on: 10-10-2004 02:01 »

Hehe...I'll have to remember to pay more attention to whose fics I reference from now on.  If it makes you feel better, I picked yours out of the dozen or so on TLZ with the same problem because it was the highest rated.  Overall, an excellent story as far as shipper fics go, albeit with kind of a random twist that I missed the explanation for the first time I read it.

From Kryten's fic:
Curse your dreamy eyes, Paul Newman!
say what now

Bending Unit
« Reply #25 on: 10-10-2004 22:00 »

OK, I love shippy fanfics. But I thought this was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. Especially mentioning the whole "wise, benevolent" Amy/Hermes change, which has always ground my nerves a bit. Loved it.

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #26 on: 10-11-2004 18:47 »

So after all this wonderful debate, I am left with one thought and one question:

This, despite enjoying shippy, is one of the funniest satires I've read in quite some time.


We're not getting anymore, are we.   frown

Space Pope
« Reply #27 on: 10-11-2004 19:55 »

TL, I'll have to say that was one of the funniest things I've read ... and I bet your didn't expect it to be picked apart like it was.  I want you to finish it, so I can write a shipperfic based entirely off of your "guide".  Satire is fun.
Tongue Luck

Starship Captain
« Reply #28 on: 11-17-2004 03:47 »
« Last Edit on: 11-17-2004 03:47 »

Whoa, has it really been over a month? I'll admit it; I kind of put this on the back burner for a while. And by "on the back burner", I mean "in a tupperware container in the back of the freezer obscured by boxes of chicken pot pies and popsicles". Then I started feeling guilty, like one of those negligent parents (you know... the ones who put their kids in the freezer), so I started writing a section Sunday night and just now got it done.

Well, that was fun. So, Hermes has given Fry a vote of confidence and Amy has made some progress convincing Leela to give Fry a chance. The next logical course of action would be to get them to talk, right? Wrong! If they hash things out this early, you won't have nearly enough room for all the requisite melodrama. Plus, that amount of setup would probably only lead to a sweet, if slightly ambiguous, 4ACV-ish ending at best. And that's the last thing you want. When you start shipping Fry and Leela, you automatically enter a binding contract agreeing to throw all ambiguity and nuance out the window. So, it's time to send them home to second guess themselves for a while. You can either transport them there with no explanation whatsoever, or you can cram in a quick and random one. Let's go with the latter, shall we?
(Time lapse. Amy and Leela are still on the couch, but now the TV is on)
Linda (voice from TV): Thanks to the power of love, the peaceful inhabitants of Granola 6 are engaged in brutal guerilla warfare.
(Fry enters looking anxious, walks over to the couch)
Fry: Hey Leela. I was wondering... Well... The vet's office is kind of boring... And you go there so often, you've probably read all the magazines in the waiting room by now... So maybe I could keep you company?
(Amy elbows Leela)
Leela: Well...
(enter Farnsworth)
Farnsworth: Mediocre news everyone. I've just remembered that today is No-Package Day, an intergalactic holiday. Everybody hurry home so I don't have to pay you.
(Leela quickly leaves, Amy gives Fry a look of understanding and pity and then leaves)
Morbo (voice from TV): Foolish Granolians, crippled by their dependence on love. I will destroy them!
Linda (voice from TV): (giggles) They're destroying themselves just fine without your help.
(Fry slumps over, miserable)
Farnsworth: When I say hurry home, I mean now, not next week! (shuffles off, muttering unintelligibly. Occasionally, a phrase like "nuclear radiation" or "tax exempt" is audible)

Now that you've sent your characters home, you can fit in those obligatory apartment scenes. These are a godsend. They're perfect for stalling the narrative when the plot is threatening to rear its ugly head. If you're writing a shipfic, you should strive to do this for as long as humanly possible. You mustn't let the reader forget what's important. The plot is merely set dressing for Fry and Leela's moping and mental gymnastics. Hell, it gets in the way more often than not. So, we'll put the storyline progress on hold for the moment and follow Fry home.
(establishing shot: Robot Arms Apartments)
(cut to Fry's messy closet-room. Fry is laying on the bed, surrounded by various unsanitary props)
An apartment scene is a hotbed of internal monologue, so let's make the most of this opportunity to study some subsets of mindspeak convention. First and foremost, as far as his mind is concerned, Fry is not Fry but Phil (or Philip if you're in the mood for some ostentation). This may seem weird initially, but it actually makes perfect sense. After all, everyone thinks in the second person using a name that hardly anybody calls them. If you don't, there's something wrong with you, and there's no reason to bring your abnormality into your fanfic.
Fry's mind: Dammit, Phil, why do you even bother? Did you see how fast she left? She was thrilled to get away from you.
Sometimes he suffers from the sort of deep depression that can only be fully comprehended by teenagers with raccoon eyeliner and Winamp playlists that're two-thirds Dashboard Confessional. You should take this route if you want your fic deemed "meaningful".
And who can blame her? Look at yourself, Phil. You're pathetic. Your life is such a mess that it sometimes gets hard to breathe. Maybe you should succumb to the sweet embrace of death. Who would miss you? Ten bucks says it'd be a week before anyone noticed you were gone. Leela probably wouldn't even come to your funeral. (sigh) But no life means no Leela. Better stick it out. She's worth it.
Sometimes he's resentful. You should take this route if you want to acknowledge the antishippers' concerns.
But is she really? Yes. She is. But why should she keep turning you down? Zapp, Alkazar, Adlai, Chaz... It's not like she has the highest standards. Why should you be a special case?
Sometimes he momentarily finds hope. You should take this route if you think Fanfic Fry is toeing the line between sympathetic and insufferable, as he tends to do when left unchecked.
Maybe because you're the one she's going to end up with. Remember what Hermes said? Maybe she's scared of how much you mean to her.
Whatever route you take, it'll eventually lead to self-pity. Strangely articulate self-pity.
No. You mean nothing to her. She barely puts up with your friendship. She wouldn't want anything more. You're doomed to torture yourself, pining for someone you can never have. The only place where she'll return your affections is in your dreams.
(sighs, turns off the light, goes to bed)

(new scene: apartment 1BDI. Leela is sitting on the edge of her bed, thinking up a storm)
Leela's prolonged internal monologues are far less open-ended than Fry's. For starters, they're not so much internal monologues as internal dialogues. A diagnosis of borderline Multiple Personality Disorder is the key to proper mindspeak technique.
Leela's mind: What was Fry thinking, trying to get me to go out with him after I'd already turned him down?
Leela's mind: Don't pretend you didn't want to say yes, at least a little bit.
Leela's mind: Of course not! I was thrilled when the Professor came in and kicked us all out.
Leela's mind: Because you were so nervous! Your heart was pounding so loudly, you could barely hear what he was saying!
Leela's mind: It's just as well. It was probably something idiotic.
Leela's mind: Come on, Turanga! Oh, yeah. Follow the Phil(ip) Rule with Leela, as well. In her mind, she's Turanga (or Toronga if you're in the mood for a solecism). Why don't you give him a chance?
Why indeed? Shippers and antishippers have debated this question for eons, attempting to make sense of a canon where characters don't wear their thought processes on their sleeves. Your shipfic ought to provide some sort of answer to this eternal question. Leela's schizoid mindspeak is an ideal place to get it out of the way, especially if you've squeezed some setup into Fry's internal monologue.
Leela's mind: Well... Maybe I'm afraid of getting hurt. Zapp, Alkazar, Adlai, Chaz. Every guy I date ends up making me feel terrible about myself.
Leela's mind: Fry won't do that. He's special.
Leela's mind: But that's the thing. He is special. What if it doesn't work out? I'm no good at staying friends with my exes, and I don't think I could stand to lose his friendship.
Leela's mind: It will work out. You guys are meant for each other.
Leela's mind: But--
Leela's mind: He loves you.
Leela's mind: But--
Leela's mind: And you love him!
Since Leela never pulled an L word during the series, and since so much of shipfic is an outlet for fans' frustration over what they consider unfinished business, you should drag as many declarations of love out of Leela as possible. How about we try for four? One to her own psyche, one to some third party, and two to Fry himself. We're in the middle of #1 right now. Time to get back to it.
Leela's mind: No I don't. He's just... Fry.
Leela's mind: Turanga! Be honest with yourself. You think about him all the time, he brightens your day just by being there, and you wouldn't be able to bear losing him. If that's not love, I don't know what is.
Leela's mind: Okay. Maybe I love him. But what should I do about it?
Leela's mind: Aks him out next time you see him.
Leela's mind: No! I couldn't!
Leela's mind: Yes. You can.
Leela's mind: Okay. I will.

Of course, she won't.

The plot will get some forward momentum next section, I promise. And it'll take less than a month, I half promise. See you then!

Urban Legend
« Reply #29 on: 11-17-2004 07:32 »
« Last Edit on: 11-17-2004 07:32 »

*Giggle, snort etc.*

Now, I'll be honest: I don't generally don't read fanfics of ANY kind (the only exception being JBERGES' excellent offerings).

Therefore, I doubt that I'm appreciating this as much as some of it's readers. But, dammit, if she hasn't nailed the stereotypical shipper perfectly.

Also, anything that makes fun of angsty chumps will always drag a chuckle from me.

So, with my chuckle dragged from it's cell, manacled and hurled to the floor at the foot of your throne, my sense of humour is completely at your mercy. You, madame, are an excellent satirist, a most rare and valuable talent. Make sure you use this skill for good, not evil.

Urban Legend
« Reply #30 on: 11-17-2004 10:38 »

Here's some I thought up of:

One early morning in Robot Arms Apts.  Bender wakes up Fry.

Bender:  Hey, meatbag!  Wake up!

Fry: (mumbling, then waking):  Wha...wha... Bender!  Why did you wake me up for?  It's only 7 am!  You know I don't get up until noon!

Bender:  Don't you remember?  Today is the Monster Space-Ship Expo!  And we have to get there by 8!

Fry (getting out of bed):  You'd think I'd remember something like that!

Unbeknownst to Fry, he's wearing Leela's nightgown.

Bender (shocked):  Fry!  You just wore Leela's nightgown to bed!

Fry (walking into the bathroom):  Oh, Bender.  You're just yanking my chain! 

Bender:  I ain't kidding you, skintube!  Look in the mirror.  (Bender secretly takes a picture of Fry in Leela's nightgown.)

Fry (looking in the mirror):  NNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  I am wearing Leela's nightgown!  How did this happen?

Bender: (chuckling evilly)  If he only knew how wasted he was last night at Amy's party!

Here's another one:

Bender and Fry are on the couch watching TV.  Fry gets up to go to the bathroom.

Bender:  What's wrong, skintube? 

Fry:  I've got terrible indigestion!  You never should've dared me to drink that robot oil yesterday!

Bender:  Ehhh, you're such a wimp!  Now let me watch some TV!  You don't know how to have real fun!

Fry goes into the bathroom and throws up really loud.  Bender gets annoyed by it, so Bender changes the channel and Sanford and Son is on. 

Bender:  Geez!  How long can a human puke!  Can a robot watch the Nostelgia Channel in peace?

Bender turns up the theme song to Sanford and Son at a deafening volume to drown out Fry's vomiting. 

Both of these stories I wrote will be in both of my future fanfics.  The first one will be in the beginning of "Cult 55".  And the other will be at the end of "The Road to Fanzipar".

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #31 on: 11-17-2004 11:03 »
« Last Edit on: 11-17-2004 11:03 »

Sometimes he suffers from the sort of deep depression that can only be fully comprehended by teenagers with raccoon eyeliner and Winamp playlists that're two-thirds Dashboard Confessional. You should take this route if you want your fic deemed "meaningful".

That is too perfect. 

Well, this was definitely worth the wait.  I especially loved the part about using first names.  That cracked me up, and is so undeniably true.  Please don't make us wait long again, okay?

Urban Legend
« Reply #32 on: 11-17-2004 11:49 »

Tongue Luck, if you haven't yet, check this out.
I suffers from the entirely different problem of being intentionally dramatic, but in terms of style, pacing, diction, and just plain writing quality it blows past 99% of the competition.

That said, another great part.  I see you did what most of the ficwriters do and temporarily avoided choosing a plot by not having one.  You also figured out the key flaw to all shippiness: for 72 episodes, we have no idea what any characters are actually thinking, except maybe Fry, who's too honest to conceal his emotions.  So these little internal mono/dialogues bug the Hell out of me.  Especially when he starts thinking like a 14 year old chick looking for the Nyquil.  Or worse yet, using reason.

Another common problem that you used without pointing it out is that shipper writers hardly ever put in any decent jokes (see my link for an example of how to work in jokes properly.)  It's a comedy, for Christ's sake, not your damn Livejournal.


Excellent points all around.  I'd rant/praise some more, but class is almost over and I'll look funny if I sit here typing for another 10 minutes after everyone leaves.

Space Pope
« Reply #33 on: 11-17-2004 15:42 »

It's funny, but, for no apparent reason, I was thinking about this thread the other day. Nice to see an update.

And, on that note, what a great update it was. Again, your satire is perfect. As I was sitting here reading this, I kept thinking to myself, "My God, have I read this stuff somewhere else before?" (which goes along with the "most shipper fics are pretty unoriginal or formulaic" comment that myself and others made earlier). I mean, you pointed out how time lapses suddenly, how the crew is very rarely together (Fry and Leela are too damn solitary in the shipper fic word), and even the "Phil/Turanga" thing, which bugs the hell out of me. Your dialogue, being satirical, is still pretty funny, if only for the intentional melodrama, and your comments are so true. Keep it up...this is pretty funny stuff. And fun to read your commentary, as well.

Urban Legend
« Reply #34 on: 11-17-2004 16:09 »
« Last Edit on: 11-17-2004 16:09 »

Too solitary, eh Gorky?  Aren't you the one who left Bender at home in that fic you're writing, without so much as a short aside into what he's doing?

Nah, I'm just messing with you.  Yours makes sense plotwise, although ignoring Bender for any length of time means you miss out on a lot of jokes.  Please, keep going.

And Tongue Luck, might I make a few suggestions?

1. It's about time for a lame "plot twist." Come up with the worst one imaginable, either involving someone's imminent death or Fry-on-Amy action.  Although you might consider leaving that out, as that's the only place where anyone even tries to be original.

2. Leave every other character out of the fic entirely, except for one male (probably Bender) and one female (probably Amy...not like you have much choice) for one conversation each, in which you pretty much recap the internal speeches.

3. At some point, make repeated and useless references to a shipper episode of your choice: favorites include Parasites Lost, Time Keeps on Slipping, The Sting, and Love & Rocket.  Especially consider negating the endings of the first two by Leela finding/figuring out what exactly happened.  In fact, stick with those two, because people screw with the 4ACV ones because they don't understand how the endings could  not end up with them together.  (Personally, I think Fry was gradually getting there throughout the season...but shipperfic writers are too impatient for that.)

Wow, that went on longer than expected.  Just passing on my observations.  Again, good job.

EDIT: Hey, I didn't realize this influenced Layla's fic.  Now I feel slightly dumber for whoring it in my last post.  That said, it seems your advice has been put to very good use, TL.

Bending Unit
« Reply #35 on: 11-17-2004 16:19 »

Great job! This is just so much fun to read and I'm really glad you're continuing it. Frankly, it's eerily familiar to me, because I've read so so many of those kinds of fics.

I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to writing(except my own) but the one thing I can't stand is when people actually talk to their brains, and their brains respond. Like you said, it's schizophrenia. And it makes me crazy. Of course, the introspection talk makes me want to pull out the red pen and start slashing my own work... smile


Urban Legend
« Reply #36 on: 11-17-2004 16:33 »
« Last Edit on: 11-17-2004 16:33 »

Like deja vu, TL; I swear I've seen most of this stuff before.  I'm loving this.  It's like Mystery Science Theater, except I have to read it!

Whatever route you take, it'll eventually lead to self-pity. Strangely articulate self-pity.

Keep up the good work, little Kameleonaonapu'uwai  big grin. And remember, I'm the only one who's allowed to take random month long breaks!

PS:  Kurt:  What. The. Hell. Seriously.
Tongue Luck

Starship Captain
« Reply #37 on: 11-19-2004 18:31 »

SlackJawedMoron - Well, thank you kindly. I'm glad to have imprisoned one of your chuckles, since you've filled a freakin' dungeon with my laughter.
KurtPikachu2001 - Thank you for embodying the thread title. Fanfic is for dorks.
Kloudes - I love you for liking that line. I got thiiiis close to cutting it out in every stage of the editing process, but there was something about it that I couldn't quite bring myself to kill.
Nerd-o-rama part 1 - Nyquil... Reason... Livejournal... Hee! Thanks for the rant/praise. Believe it or not, I actually do have my plot somewhat planned out, though I'll admit that the plan got a lot more concrete once I allowed myself to stall a little. I've had the ending in the back of my mind from the start and the pre-ending (conflict resolution, I guess you'd call it) planned out since shortly after I dug the thing up and started thinking about it again. Now I basically know what the middle is going to look like, too. Yay! I'd also had it in mind to address the lack of jokes as part of a broader rant later on, but maybe I should give it some attention on its own.
Gorky - How spooky! How 'bout you think about ol' Tongue Luck happening upon a briefcase full of money? I'm glad you, and others, are bothered by the name thing. That makes me twitch.
Nerd-o-rama 2.0 -
1. Duly noted. My current plot plan isn't particularly twisty, so I'll consider that.
2. Duly noted. I already had some conflicting ideas about what to do with the supporting characters, and now I'm more confused.
3. *goes to yahoo, types in mail password, opens notebook, opens my fanfic notes from October 13th, copies, pastes* "I should mention more episodes. All the bloody time. Both shippy episodes and inconsiquential ones with little to no ship content." "Shipfic writers seem personally affronted by the bittersweet endings to the season three shippy episodes. They do their best to try to 'fix' them somehow, even though it would ruin everything if it were really to happen this way. I should consider 'fixing' one of these episodes, as long as it's in a hilarious way." I'm not sure if I'm sticking with it, but it's cool that we're on the same page.
Layla50 - Schizophrenia makes you crazy, eh? What a weird coincidence! Anorexia makes me hungry.  wink Thanks for the kind words. I've skimmed your thread a couple of times. You're a talented lady. Thanks to N-o-r's tireless pimping, I'll be giving it a more thorough look soon enough.
JBERGES - Damn! Now I'm not allowed to pester you when you take too long getting a chapter out, am I?

Bending Unit
« Reply #38 on: 11-19-2004 21:28 »

Thanks TongueLuck, You've got talent too. Good satire is hard to find and harder to write.

N-O-R: Gee, don't feel bad for pimping my fanfic. Saves me the trouble of having to do it.  wink

Urban Legend
« Reply #39 on: 11-20-2004 15:50 »

Those I wrote were just coming attractions to my new fanfics. 
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