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Legacy's Fic of the Month - January: 'Dragon Days' by Gastly's Mama

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So, I missed December with how busy I've been writing both my fic as well as the Christmas contest fic, so I didn't have time to do another FOTM until now. But the wait will undoubtedly be worth it because this month's edition will feature one of the most -- perhaps THE most -- popular author in all of Bulbagarden's writing community... Gastly's Mama!

After recently completing perhaps the most popular fanfic of BMGf's recent history, Gastly's Mama is now working on a new project, titled 'Dragon Days.'

For those who haven't taken a look at this awesome author's newest full-length work, Dragon Days is the story of Lance. It looks at the popular Dragon Master in a completely new light, GaMa says. It's perhaps a little darker than previous stories he has written, but all in all, it is more of the same superb writing that we've all come to expect from the King of the Writer's Workshop.

I had the great opportunity to pick Gastly's Mama's brain, and here are some of his thoughts regarding Dragon Days, Rival's Story and the Writers Workshop in general:

Legacy: Gastly's Mama, you are the author of perhaps the biggest/most popular fic on the Writer's Workshop in recent history, what are your thoughts about the success that 'Rival's Story' had?

GM: Well thank you very much. Slightly off topic, but at the moment I’d rate it the third most popular after both your The Power Inside and Ryuutakeshi’s Son of Earth (if he ever resumes it!) Anyway, the thing about the popularity of Rival’s Story was that it was gradual, there was no sudden burst of readers, it was like two or three more people started reading it every chapter until it had a huge number of people reading. There was even one point where I felt like no one was reading it and I almost gave up but I stuck with it because I thought it would be a shame to give it up after I’d already put so much effort into it.

Legacy: What do you think it was about 'Rival's Story' that made it so popular?

GM: In all honesty, I’m not exactly sure! I guess it was just an angle that people were interested but hadn’t been seen before, at least on BMGf anyway. I’m sure, like me, all of the big fans of the original games have thought ‘I wonder what that guy’s up to when I’m not around’. Several of my readers have said that they’ve always wanted to play a game from the point of view of Blue so I guess it’s a case of a simple idea that connects with a lot of people. Obviously, there’s also the little matter of making the things that Blue gets up to when Red’s not around interesting too!

Legacy: Now, your current work, 'Dragon Days'... for people who haven't read it, or even heard about it, how would you describe it to people?

GM: Well, to give it quite a basic description, it’s the story of Lance. It’s very different to Rival’s Story though. Lance is a very different character to Blue, he’s much more impulsive where Blue is more scheming and the writing reflects that – things happen more suddenly in Dragon Days. It’s also a lot darker, Lance didn’t have as happy a life as Blue did.

Legacy: Why should people take the time to read it?

GM: I think if you’re interested in Lance as a character it’s a take on him that you probably haven’t seen before. If you like stories that are a bit dark and you like anti-heroes, that’s the kind of thing that I’m going for in this fic so you should give it a read and see if you like it!

Legacy: How do you think 'Dragon Days' stacks up against some of the other fics on the WW?

GM: This is always a question that I find difficult to answer. Basically, I’m not sure. There are some really good fics in the Workshop, more than when I started writing Rival’s Story (which was a long time ago now). I think it has the advantage of being known as the follow up to Rival’s Story but that doesn’t make it good that just makes it known. Back when I started Rival’s Story there were only two or three fics which I considered the big ones, which were your Savior’s Legacy, The Prophet Jerematic’s Cherish the Moments and I think one other that I can’t remember right now. Nowadays, there’s tons and I think Dragon Days is a lot further down the list than it would have been.

Legacy: Where did you get your inspiration for both 'Rival's Story' and 'Dragon Days'?

GM: Blue’s story is just something I’d been interested in for a long time. Just the fact that he seems to be on more or less the same journey as you and yet seems to be experiencing things differently seemed really interesting. As I thought more about it, I thought the fact that Oak, in the games, seems to show some bizarre favouritism against his own grandson and although in RBYFRLG it’s easy to think that Blue is a dick, you can definitely understand why that might be.

As for Dragon Days, I was about 50 or 60 chapters in to Rival’s Story and I started thinking about what I’d want to do afterwards. I definitely wanted to write another story. I had considered doing Rival’s Story II, the story of Silver but I kind of went off the idea and then Ryuutakeshi asked if I’d be alright with him doing it so I said fine. I thought a little more and I realised that Lance goes from Elite Four to Champion, which to me, doesn’t seem like a promotion and I thought that that story had some potential.

Legacy: Talk a little bit about some of the strengths and weaknesses that you think your story offers, or strengths and weaknesses that you as an author have.

GM: I don’t know if this is like having an inferiority complex or anything but I find it much easier to talk about my weaknesses than my strengths, so I’ll do that first. One thing that I always struggle with is description of characters, I get so overexcited with describing what they’re about to do that I forget to describe what they look like unless it’s something particularly relevant (like Lance’s red hair and cape). As I’ve been able to identify this weakness that means I can try and get rid of it but it still slips my mind from time to time.

As for strengths, I guess my main strength is consistency and that just comes from obsession. I think if you read my fics you won’t find many glaring inconsistencies and with the exception of Red’s transformation from a cardboard cut out to an actual character in Rival’s Story, characters don’t generally change too much or for no reason. I think part of this is because I obsessively plan out an entire story before I start writing it, so I always know where I’m going and I always add foreshadowing. I doubt anyone has ever read anything by me more than once, but if you did, you’d notice little things hinting towards things that don’t happen for a very long time.

Legacy: What is the best part about being an author in the Writer's Workshop?

GM: It’s got to be the community. There’s so many fantastic people active in the Workshop and that’s what makes it a great place to be. Writing is the biggest passion in my life and it’s great to talk about it with a group of people who are not only likeminded in that sense but also like Pokémon which is probably my most consistently loved game! It’s great that people are always eager to read each other’s fics and give good advice as feedback. Generally speaking, people aren’t too mean to each other here and that’s really nice too. I think it has kind of a family feel to it, I know quite a lot of people in the Workshop to varying degrees and that’s a really nice environment to be writing in.

Legacy: What advice would you give new authors, or authors here at the WW who perhaps don't have the viewership that they want?

GM: Well, I think if people knew my full story on this front there’d probably be a lot less awe and a lot more empathy because I can see writers feeling like I felt every day. The first story I ever wrote here was called ‘Battle for Hoenn’ and it did not get a good response at all. Then I wrote Rival’s Story and that didn’t get a good response either, so I gave up and that was the worst decision I’ve made on BMGf ever. Thankfully, some months later, I came to my senses and I started it again and got a few faithful readers (The Meme-er, The Golden Tyranitar and our newest mod, Ryuutakeshi, who was the most encouraging of all), I think you were reading too but you didn’t comment as frequently so at the time I sometimes forgot. Anyway, my point is, it took me a very long time and a lot of writing to get Rival’s Story to the point where everyone in the Workshop had heard of it, it wasn’t easy.

So my biggest pieces of advice to increase your readership are:

1) Stick with it – don’t give up on your story so you can make something better! Keep writing it and make this story better instead! You started it because you saw something in it, so keep going. Also never ‘put it on the shelf’ for a new project because, in my experience, things that get put on the shelf never come off the shelf and then you’ll never be able to build up a respectable readership. There’s a mod in the Workshop who’s particularly guilty of this and to that mod, don’t be mad at me because you know I’m talking about you, the fact that you know it’s you I’m talking about just means you know it’s true!
2) Don’t be afraid to advertise – there’s nothing wrong with asking people to read your fic! People seem to be embarrassed about doing this but I don’t see why, of course you’re going to advertise!
3) Don’t obsess over readership – I know this isn’t easy but if you obsess over numbers of readers and constantly compare yourself to others, you’re going to be constantly disappointed and you’re going to feel like giving up even more!
4) Be patient – Like I said earlier, there was no moment when Rival’s Story was suddenly popular – it was a slow thing. More and more people just started to read it. Don’t expect a sudden explosion of readership because I have never seen that happen.

Legacy: Talk a little bit about how you have become one of the Bulbagarden's most respected authors?

GM: I think with me it was sort of down to respect begetting respect. People respect me because of how popular Rival’s Story became. It went from fairly popular to popular to incredibly popular because people started reading it because lots of people were reading it, meaning even more people read it. It sounds kind of silly but that’s the way things work! Also, if people respect you, more people respect you. If people know ‘this guy’s well respected around here’, they also respect that guy. Basically, I owe it all to the people who supported Rival’s Story by commenting on it even if the reviews were hardly anything, particularly in the early days.

Legacy: Out of all your works, which one has been your favorite to write? Why?

GM: It’s hard to say really. One of my favourites to write was Are We Heroes because it was something I’d never written before. I tend to prefer writing in the third person and past tense but I thought first person present tense really lent itself to that story. I also really enjoyed the ‘trust no one’ aspect of that story. Roots, too, was very enjoyable to write. I think I’d rank both of them above Rival’s Story or Dragon Days.

Thank you very much for the fantastic interview and thank you even more for choosing Dragon Days to be your fic of the month! It means a lot!

Thank YOU, for the interview GaMa! Now for my brief review of Dragon Days:

Overall, this is just another fantastic work done by one of Bulbagarden's most fantastic writers.

The alternation between 'Youth' and 'Maturity' throughout the story gives a very unique persepective to the plot, which I find very enjoyable. The grammar, flow and level of description are all top notch, as we have all come to expect from GM.

Overall, this is a dark (not overly so) and unique look at one of the Pokemon franchise's most intriguing characters.

For those who have not checked out the story, I would fully encourage everyone to take a look. My overall grade for this fic is...an 'A-'

Here is the link: Dragon Days [Chapter 26]

Also, for people who don't often follow fanfiction, please come on into the Writer's Workshop and take a look around. We have so many amazing, talent authors, including Gastly's Mama and more!

This has been another edition of Legacy's Fic of the Month!

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  1. Lugion's Avatar
    Cool. I'd been wondering when this would be up.

    It's also somewhat odd to think that Gastly's Mama wasn't a popular writer in the past. XD
  2. Legacy's Avatar
    Yeah definitely. GaMa is a WW legend!
  3. Kars's Avatar
    need to catch up
  4. Gama's Avatar
    Thanks again for choosing Dragon Days as your Fic of the Month, Legacy and thank you for the first time for the wonderful review. It means a lot.

    And, Lugion, for me it's the other way around. It's funny to think that I'm a popular writer now =P
  5. Lugion's Avatar
    I guess it's just me being relatively new, then. :P


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