The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: January 14th, 2000

The Spirit of the Senshi & Other FanFic Notes

By: Xqmrp

I will start this piece off with a confession: I am a late-comer to the Way of the Odango in more ways that one. I am older than the average SM fan, being the ripe old age of 41. I cut my anime teeth on Astro Boy and Speed Racer over 30 years ago, when Japanese anime was regarded as little more than cheap import cartoons to fill in air-time. I discovered Sailor Moon partway through her ill-fated run on the USA Network and somehow managed to tape all 65 of the available episodes before the show was cancelled as a Dark Kingdom-style present to her fans in Christmas 1997. Like many of us I rejoiced when the Senshi found new employers at Turner and Time-Warner on the Cartoon network and once again copied all 65 episodes. I got to see all the stuff USA cut out to make room for more 'USA High' ads got the 17 episodes from a young lady in Canada then taped the same episodes off Cartoon Network even got the end of R and the last three seasons in subtitles.

Why mention all of this? In large part because I have read recent Lemure files bemoaning the demise if not the slowdown of SM sites all over the Web, including some of the larger and better known ones. While it is indeed true that there has been no new manga or anime on our favorite Senshi and her friends in over two years, the spirit of Sailor Moon will not die as long as several things take place.

First, while many fans move on to other anime stories, there are new fans coming in, exposed to SM through Cartoon Network or sites they find on the net. They may be inspired enough to build their own shrines to the Senshi maybe not in as great numbers as we have been used to, but they will still be there for several years to come. And there are hints of a renewal of interest, triggered by the release of the three movies in the US commercially. This will certainly result in more new Web Sites and new interest.

Second is one other topic that has been a hot-button on this forum, fan-fics. As the author of a series of fan-fics based upon Sailor Moon, but with different characters, I feel that our fics also keep the Sailor Moon spirit alive. Whether the fic uses the established Senshi we all love so much in new adventures, a mix of new and old or all new Senshi, the spirit of Usagi, and her friends live on.

Obviously, it helps to be able to do different things with the characters. The one big weakness to doing an SM-based fic is that if you use the Senshi, you HAVE to stay within the characters' personalities. Sometimes, this CAN limit your story-telling. As has been noted in other Lemure files, new characters allow you to explore the Realm of the Senshi a bit more.

For instance, one lesson we all have drawn from Sailor Moon is 'Courage of the heart is often the greatest courage of them all' and this theme shows up in many SM-based fics. While it is true that many fics follow the SM formula to a degree (and in truth, mine does to a great extent), the formula has obviously worked if so much was inspired by a manga that grew into a world-wide phenomenon. To use my fic for an example, the Dishwashers started off as a loose group of friends connected by an Internet Chat room. After their early battles, they are sent to Tokyo to fight alongside Eternal Sailor Moon and the Senshi (the fic is set AFTER the defeat of Galaxia). First, they have to tussle with the Senshi themselves. In their second set of adventures, they have gone off on their own again fighting a new enemy, and having one new Dishwasher Senshi join the team. While the stories are based upon the citizens of Sailor Moon Universe Chat and Forum, as well as some real life situations, the stories have gone on for almost two years now, and a third book is being planned out.

This new Senshi appears to be something of a pioneer. I have checked and while superheroes with disabilities are nothing new (Batman was a pioneer, obsessive-compulsive, remember, or Charles Xavier of the X-men) there are hardly any who are mentally retarded. And this young Senshi is a embodiment of the Senshi spirit in real life.(I work in the group home the real life young lady who inspired the character resides in).

My work and her character has allowed me to mix in real-life situations, like what might happen if a Senshi was forced to transform in front of parents or even employers. The Moral: Real-life super-heroing isn't all its cracked up to be, especially if you have to try to sneak out of work during a meeting or school to answer call to meet the new crisis!! Thus is one way to approach the challenge of fan-fic writing.

Concluding, I was asked to help write a Fan-Fic Author's Guide for the Unauthorized SMCD Site. The words I wrote still apply.

I guess the first important consideration when writing a fan fic is to answer the question: "Who will read my fic?" Several fics have died partway through because the author either did not have a target audience in mind....of were discouraged enough by the seeming lack of response to stop writing. If you know who will read your work to start with, it is easier to craft your efforts toward the audience you are expecting to read your work.

To help this along, it is ideal to have a story already in mind....BUT, I have seen several good fics that could have been GREAT fics but the authors did not fully develop the story before writing it and posting it. Things like character development, a believable ending, and plausibility of the plot are critical but often overlooked factors here. I will be the first to admit looking at my earlier efforts in the Dishwasher stories that I was short on some of those the story has moved along, the plots and subplots have gotten more intricate so I have to be careful not to leave too many dangling plotlines for the next story.

BUT whether your story is simple or complex, you MUST have a good tale to start with. The most appealing characters mean nothing if they have to play roles in a poorly conceived and written tale. And that is an approach you must take: "Will the character be believable in this situation?" If Mercury was to say "I won't study today...I am so far ahead I can relax." would that be plausible to the reader? Usagi/Serena on the other hand WOULD be believable if she said "Big test tomorrow afternoon...I'll play Sailor V today and study tomorrow morning" If you are writing a SM-based fic you MUST know your characters to make them believable. Unless it is part of a plotline, nobody would believe a cowardly Jupiter....

The characters have to be in some way appealing to your readers. Here I will take some slings and arrows for this next statement, but if you are portraying the main character in your fic, sometimes it is NOT always the best idea to have the story revolve around you. Some authors can do so as their stories are written in such a fashion that while their characters are the main ones in the story, it seems like a story told by an eyewitness. I have seen others, though, that read like monuments to the ego of the author...where everything surrounds the author/main character. I have tried to avoid doing that in the Dishwasher series as I always saw Tuxedo D as a support character, not the 'star' of the fic...and in fact had considered killing him off partway through...(as shown in Chapter 19), but readers insisted he live, so I had to rewrite part of the story. As an addendum.. a good author should listen to the readers...they can tell you if you are going well, or getting off-track with the story...especially in a multiple-part story....

Don't be afraid to rewrite what your story as you go along...I have rewritten stories several times to correct plotlines, or introduce new plotlines, or even to incorporate a new idea (mine or suggested).

The last word of advice I can give is 'Have Fun!!!' This is not brain surgery, so enjoy your labor, have fun with it. If you truly enjoy what you are doing, it will show in your writing and make your readers more anxious to read the next installment.

I apologize for what seems like an advertisement for my fic. I merely wished to use it as an example to those who may wish to try their hand in writing. And many thanks to Naoko-sama, for without her creativity and dreams, a lot of us may not have tried our hands at writing,

Thank you for your time

Comments on this article can be sent to: Xqmrp.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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