Advice for Aspiring Authors - An Old Rant Revived

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  1. #1
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    Talking Advice for Aspiring Authors - An Old Rant Revived


    First of all, I shall state that I am in no way, form, or fashion, bashing, flaming, or otherwise exhibiting anger towards anyone. What I have to say is purely in the opinion of many good authors I know and have befriended.

    These pieces of advice are simply that. You don't have to take any of the advice aside from this first section.

    It's recommend that fics:

    - are at least a page long in MS Word, WordPerfect or Claris Works. This dissuades SPAM.

    - avoid script formatting. This also dissuades SPAM, adds support and "stuffing" to the fic, and gives greater readability.

    - are double-spaced. This entire post is double-spaced between the paragraphs. Use this form of organizing your paragraphs, or use tabbing of some sort. To have one chunk of text blinds the reader, so... yeah. *cough*

    - are as original as possible. Even if you're writing a journey fic, try to stray from conventional JF ideals (oustide even new characters, Pokémon, and league aspects).

    As I think of more recommendations, I'll add on to this thread. Others may also offer their advice to this sticky topic.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    It is in the best interests of an author to make his own plot and his own characters. This practice ensures creativity on the part of the author, and furthers his works from plagiarism.

    Asking others to give you plots and characters is a lazy habit to get yourself into, so don't do it. It denies you the ability to actually jump into the character's mind and leave him in the same condition he was when the creator made him, and it denies you the ability to actually sculpt your fictional world.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


    Tips to good writing skills:

    1. Description is everything. It develops your characters. It develops your plot. It makes the story interesting.

    2. Use your keyboard properly. Don't type in chat-lingo or leetspeek unless it's in dialogue (when people speak) or in humour.

    3. Punctuate. Use commas, colons, semicolons, apostrophes, anything your sentences need to be grammatically correct. If you don't how to use a piece of punctuation, then learn to. It's a necessary piece to the puzzle of writing. ^_^ Also, spaces around punctuation are a good idea, too. all sentence punctuation takes a space after itself, and quotes and parentheses take one before they begin and after they end (though it's really situational whether you put the end-of-sentence punctuation inside the end quote. Put the end-punctuation inside if it's dialogue, and outside if it's a "lingo" word).

    4. Don't rely on grammarcheckers and spellcheckers to proofread for you. Spellcheckers only ensure that all the words in the document are in its dictionary, not that it's the right form of the word, and grammarcheckers tend to be highly illogical.

    5. Save to a disk. It allows you to pick up where you left off should you need to leave in the middle of writing a chapter. It gives you a hard copy of your fic. It ensures that you're writing in a word processor, which is key to proofreading and good composition skills in general.

    6. Proofread before you post your chapter. It's better to have all of the mistakes caught before your readers catch them for you. ;)

    7. Don't use exceedingly longs strings of punctuation such that they stretch out the page. Three to six periods makes a good ellipse (pause), and more than three or four exclamation points/question marks is superfluous. ;D If it's one thing that's more annoying than Richard Simmons it's stretched out pages because there are a hundred exclamation points in a row in the middle of the page.

    8. Don't add lots of formatting to the text. Leave it simple.
    Making the text an unbearably bright, absurd fontface just beckons your readers to run the other direction.

    9. Don't use smilies to convey thoughts and feelings unless deemed necessary, and don't use the Pokémon icons in place of typing out the names unless you're aiming towards a humour fic. If you feel a smilie will add to your fic, use them in severe moderation. Remember that emoticons were created to replace saying "I'm happy" or "OMAE O KOROSU!!" if you want to use smilies. ^_^;

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Tips on making your own characters:

    1. Think of where the character fits in the plot, then decide if he or she needs development. Sometimes characters are best left flat, static paper dolls set up to further the mood of a scene, while the most familiar to stories are dynamic and round. Development is not always necessary, but should be done for majour characters.

    2. Description is always your friend. I don't know how many times I've said this at Pojo, but throughout the repitition, the phrase remains to retain its meaning and purpose. Description is what makes a story interesting. Simply stating that Satoshi has black hair and brown eyes, and that he wears a blue Pokémon jacket over a black shirt and a pair of jeans and sneakers isn't exciting. Spice it up like this:

    There stood a ten-year-old boy, his hair black as night, hidden partially beneath a red-and-white baseball cap branded with the official logo of the Pokémon League, tousled by the light winds surrounding. This impish wind tugged lightly at his blue jacket, embroidered on the back by a white Pokéball, which he wore over a T-shirt almost as black as his hair. His legs were covered by a pair of fairly tattered jeans, his feet by a pair of beaten up sneakers. His gaze came from dark amber eyes, set upon something off in the distance. His small ears strained to hear, almost as if he knew that something was coming.
    ^_^'''

    3. Make sure that your characters aren't perfect in a story where perfection doesn't fit. Every character needs at least one teensy little thing about them that isn't quite right, and Achilles' heel, per se. It's often that I've seen characters with several weaknesses.

    But what is truly hard to play off is using a weakness as an advantage.

    Example: A boy has an explosive temper. While this is horrible for dealing with his friends, his enemies had best beware.

    There are also Rising Stars-type scenarios, where the character has a superhuman capability that is, in itself, a true weakness.

    Example two: A young girl has the ability to fly without assistance of any contraption, just by her own levitation; however, she's afraid of heights.

    Example three: A boy is immune to pain and injury, basically immortal. But he can't smell, touch, or taste.

    4. Make sure your character isn't two-faced when he or she shouldn't be. Be consistent throughout your writing, and make sure that your character keeps his or her personality throughout.

    5. Make sure that your character *has* a personality befitting of his or her background. It's highly unlikely that a little kid that came from the slums and had to live on his own is going to be friendly towards others of his kind, nor is he going to be haughty. It's also unlikely that a youth of high birth is going to be friendly around her lessers, or that she will be willing to do menial labour. But I know there are always exceptions to stereotypes. In fact....

    6. Try to avoid using strereotypes in your main characters. It adds flavour when you think up your own personalities.

    7. Don't make your character immortal unless that's the point of the story. It's just annoying. -_-;;; XD

    8. Try to avoid using the anime/manga characters from your anime of choice should you be doing a fanfic. Seeing them someplace they shouldn't be isn't all to enjoyable to most people, though cameos are amusing from time to time, and they can even be used to add to the plot.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Tips to a good plot:

    1. Try to avoid using the classic Journey Fic archetypes. They tend to be boring without proper plot-twistiness, and are the closest to plagiarism you can get when writing fanfiction. Using the anime characters is the second closest.

    2. Make sure that the plot doesn't move all too slow or all too fast. If it goes too quickly, then you deny your story description and development, and if it goes too slowly, then you're giving it too much, or you're trying to avoid getting somewhere. If you don't know where to go from the current point of your writing, then don't write. Wait until you know what to do with it. Fillers are some of the most useless pieces of literature ever written. Just ask me. XD

    3. Don't do a plot that someone else has done unless you are parodying it with absolute permission. Having lots of stories with the same plot is boring, annoying, and stupid, not to mention plagiarism.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


    I hope this has helped anyone who has needed it. Anything I forgot can be added by others.
    Last edited by Kurai; 31st December 2002 at 02:31 AM.

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  2. #2
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Just a quick note in passing, I don't think that it's quite fair saying that using the anime characters in fanfiction is plagiarism and bad, given that the basic IDEA behind fanfiction is to write new stories for the characters or universe you are writing for.

    Originality is all fine and good, but in the domain of fanfiction there's nothing wrong with telling the continued story of the heroes of the fandom you are writing about.

    For example, I would much rather read a "Fifth Year" harry Potter fic than read a "New student in Hogwart ten years in the future" one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

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    The Ash Defender Togepretty's Avatar
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    I agree with Damian.
    Yes, some people prefer new trainer fics, but the majority of pokemon fanfiction is about the characters from the show.
    I don't believe using the characters from the show means someone lacks creativity.
    I don't want people coming here thinking that they might not be welcomed because they aren't being "original" with their story. Let's not make this a new trainer fanfiction forum.
    All stories are welcome, be they trainer fics, shipping fics, future fics, dark fics, etc...
    I don't want authors to feel like we are judging them before they even post a story.

    That's all.

    :)
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    is a Disney freak Tigrin's Avatar
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    Nice tips. I highly suggest to everyone (and I mean this with the best possible respect) to learn how to write before you attempt to. It's painfully obvious if you don't. Learn the basics of grammar, at the very least. But there are certain sort of "rules", for lack of better word, to writing. Do not, for the love of mercy, make your whole story one paragraph. Learn how to use paragraphs appropriately. If it's a new topic or different from the previous train of thought, make a new paragraph. Dialogue can be counted as new paragraphs, as they deviate from the topic of the previous paragraph... for example, some people have a tendency to write dialogue like this:

    "Come on, Pikachu!" Ash cried, hand clasping his cap on his head as he made a mad dash for the cover of the woods. Pikachu was at Ash's heels, panting as he tried to keep up with his trainer. "Pi pika pi!!" Pikachu cried, distraught. Lagging behind came Misty and Brock; Brock was clutching a stitch in his side, and Misty's face was contorted in a vile expression of fury. "ASH, I'LL GET YOU FOR THIS!" She screamed at his back, waving the toasted remains of a bicycle.

    I wrote that out of the spur of the moment, work with me. See how that's one big block of text? I wrote like that before I learned how to write dialogue. Here's how it should be formatted:

    "Come on, Pikachu!" Ash cried, hand clasping his cap on his head and he made a mad dash for the cover of the woods.
    Pikachu was at Ash's heels, panting as he tried to keep up with his trainer. "Pi pika pi!!" Pikachu cried, distraught.
    Lagging behind came Misty and Brock; Brock was clutching a stitch in his side, and Misty's face was contorted in a vile expression of fury. "ASH, I'LL GET YOU FOR THIS!" She screamed at his back, waving the toasted remains of a bicycle.


    New paragraph when the speaker changes. :P Get it, got it, good.

    Also, about the Journey fic things... those are so overdone. I disagree about using anime characters, though. You see, we have original characters and then we have canon characters... in the Pokemon context, the canon characters would be Ash and his particular Pikachu or something like that. Original characters can vary; you can have a fic that's all canon characters and then your own original Pikachu character or something, or you can create an original trainer representing you - a persona. Persona stories are overdone. If I ever read a Pokemon fanfiction I'd want to read canon fics... fics dealing with canon characters in the canon universe, either in a prequel or sequel sense, or even on elaboration of the original, official story. This is the same feeling I have towards other fanfiction; I like to read them because I liked whatever the original was in the first place, and want to see some sort of continuation of it. Alternate universe fics are okay, and crossovers can be funny, but more than anything I hate the kind of fics that are just a play on the author's whims; like the massive amount of Lord of the Rings fanfictions that star Legolas and some girl who's supposed to represent the author, or fics where the author or the author's persona and their buddies just happen to land in the canon universe somehow.

    Might take a peek at some of the Pokemon fanfiction later just to see what's up, but I don't write Pokemon fanfiction... I'm not sure if anyone would be interested if I were to post my other fanfiction...
    Last edited by Tigrin; 1st January 2003 at 09:17 PM.

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    That's what we have a non-pokemon fiction forum for *points at the sub-forums above* :)

    I'm sure some of us would be interested :)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  6. #6
    Cheery Psychopath ShadowDino's Avatar
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    Yeah, I hear you Tigrin, it irritates me when an author inserts herself in a fic with one of her favorite characters (Sorry for the generalization, but I have yet to see a male author insert himself into a fic with anime characters). Can't they get some kind of originality? I mean, even putting in original characters that pop-out out of nowhere aint subtle

    Of course, rabid fangirls in general irritate me...ugh, point out ONE obvious fault in a character and they hunt you down...bunch of...*trails off*

    "You tried your best, and you failed miserably! The point is: Never try!" -Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Sometime though original characters are necessary, you have a role in the story and there's just none of the main anime canon characters that can fill it.

    I'm especially thinking of major epics here, there's just no way to use only the canon characters, not without going majorly out of characters, or utterly cliché (IE, "Giovanni is out to do something evil, take 3598470594579032485709234857").

    Original characters are not wrong, as long as you are careful to make them believable characters, and to not put them in a center stage position. The core heroes should be, as much as possible, the anime's cast. But the support cast and vilains including some new characters is in no way wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  8. #8
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Damian Silverblade
    I'm especially thinking of major epics here, there's just no way to use only the canon characters, not without going majorly out of characters, or utterly cliché (IE, "Giovanni is out to do something evil, take 3598470594579032485709234857").

    Unless it's a funny parody. Even then be warned. But I've read some very funny fics about Gio's much-failed attempts to take over the world. Think about his speech in the comics when he's thinking about the Giant Slowpoke, and use that. *g*


    But the support cast and vilains including some new characters is in no way wrong.
    Hence my passion for Jirarudan *salivate* *ahem* Oh, sorry

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    むげんポケモン Altomare Latios's Avatar
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    By the way, if I might add. All authors also need a "style" of writing. Everything can be mimiced above, but style is what makes an author unique and different from everyone else.

    So how would you develop a style?

    1. Read read read!
    Though a fear may develop that you may copy your favorite author's style, don't worry about it. It's very helpful for you to have a crutch than to walk with broken legs. I once heard the only reason why Japanese people draw so good is because in kindergarten, they were told to draw a square (a crutch) or something of that matter, where as in the US, the teacher just said draw something ("Draw what?" "Just something"). Reading helps you develop style, but it also helps if you read a lot and different types of reading.


    2. Write what you think
    I had known an RP guild on AOL called "Alto Mare". Everything about it was through your heart. Technically the starter had a good reason to put that philosophy up. If you write what you think, it makes not only easier on you, but it'll develop your style even further. It's kind of like talking to people about a message you want them to hear. Say a comet was coming to earth and you were the only one to know. Would you tell people what they want and earth would be wiped out? Or would tell people what they need to hear and earth would have a chance?

    In otherwords, you'll be distracted from thinking and you won't either sound very good or won't get very far. Your English teacher wants you to write your opinions versus sucking up to his or her thoughts.


    3. Vocabulary check
    This may not be a problem, but look, we speak English. Make sure you're using the words in their right context or otherwise, it'll be your own personal code. Another thing is, don't use huge hard words that no one understands. If I flabbergasted you with operose utterance anon you elect be discountenanced whereas you won't comprehend to a shooting match I accurately aforementioned. Did you even know what I just said? Probably not. Also, avoid repetition of words unless it's... well not boring. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address has good reptition in it:

    "...The government of the people, by the people, for the people..."


    That's about all I have to say, for now. If I repeated something, oops.


    By the way, that odd sentance was: If I amazed you with hard words then you would be confused because you won't understand a thing I just said.

  10. #10
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Altomare Latios
    I once heard the only reason why Japanese people draw so good is because in kindergarten, they were told to draw a square (a crutch) or something of that matter, where as in the US, the teacher just said draw something ("Draw what?" "Just something"). Reading helps you develop style, but it also helps if you read a lot and different types of reading.
    I don't understand that, how does conformity lead to one's own style?

  11. #11
    Jellybaby for your brain! Mew2Too's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Blackjack Gabbiani
    Hence my passion for Jirarudan *salivate* *ahem* Oh, sorry
    Really? Jirarudan as a villian? I've been messing with the idea of making him a good guy. The only thing better than a villian is a reformed villian. In my JTC fics, I plan to constantly use that theme of redemption. It happens with Mewtwo, with Jirarudan (maybe), and I think it might definitely happen with Giovanni eventually. To a degree, it even happens with my character. I can't say anymore than that, although I will say this--

    You don't have to make your villians just plain bad! Sometimes, it works great to have your villian start out as a sort of grey character, and then develop him into something truly evil. And remember, a hero can become his own worst enemy. He doesn't have to be brain-washed and go destroying Tokyo to be a "bad" guy. It adds more depth to a character take one little stumble into pride and arrogance, have something bad happen as a result, and have the hero reform because of it. And maybe his character even becomes stronger. (I mean his moral character, not his physical strength.)

    Just some advice. It just kind of bores me when peeps pull a Stan Lee. "A character is just bad because he's bad." That would work in a world that's perfect, believe it or not. The hero always wins because the bad guy is just bad. Even the worst villians don't start out as purely evil. There are things that happen to them to make them that way. A villian becomes more real if you give him that depth.

    Just somethin' for your mind to chew on! :)
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  12. #12
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    I fully agree! If you see my site, on my Theories page, I prove why he's not a villian. But he was in the role OF villian in the movie, which is why I gave it as such here.

    He's no more of a villian that Molly Hale, really, but both were in the role of villian, and were, in a sense, defeated.

  13. #13
    Master of Shadows
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    Going back to the Ash vs. Other Trainer debate I have a few things to say.

    As perhaps one of the most rabid readers of Pokemon Fan Fiction I have noticed a few things.

    When people use Ash, the story is normally very limited. Its Ash Misty and Pikachu saving the world, or Ash Misty and Pikachu helping a new trainer (normally author insertion) or and AAMRN. That's fine, but you eventually the plot tends to wear a bit thin.

    However there are a few exceptions. If the author is good enough, he or she can manage to create a good Ash FanFiction. Some classic examples are Pokemon Master and Pokemon Revolution.

    The reason the above fics are so excellent is because they've taken Ash, and turned him upside-down. They've basically created a new person with the name Ash. They've given Ash a new personality.

    Original Trainer Stories tend to be better written as well as being longer in length. The characters are better mapped out and then personalities are more vivid.

    When a fic about Ash is written, people tend to assume that people know what he looks like and his personality. An author writing an OTS doesn't have that luxury so they tend to describe their chacter(s) a bit better.

    Lastly OTS tend to be longer lasting then stories just about Ash-tachi. If you go to FF.net you'll see the majourity of stories are AAMRN then if you sort them by length you'll see that the stories even out so that stories containing Ash are evenly divided with stories that are about other aspects of Pokemon.

    This is just my view on the subject but I'm sure that if you look around at the pokefics you'll tend to see that OTS have more depth than the majourity of Ash Fiction.

    ~Deki

    (Note: I'm not trying to Bash Ash here. One of my favourite Poke Fics is Pokemon Master. I'm just trying to show that Ash can get boring after awhile.)
    Hey Come Visit my Website. Its full of well written Pokemon Fan Fiction.

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  14. #14
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    There are good OTS. However, they are, generally speaking, in a minority compared to the Crap-written OTS.

    IE, anime or game plot basically told with the author self-inserted as the main character, and no originality into it. There's some good OTS stuff, but lots of bad stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  15. #15
    Master of Shadows
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    Default Heh

    Funny you should say that. It's been a long time since I've seen a really bad OTS. Bad Ash stories on the other hand are everywhere. Check http://bmgf.bulbagarden.net/FanFiction.net or how about The Pokemon Tower.

    The Pokemon Tower is a fairly good indicator since they don't take just anything (there are rules) and there are a tonne of authors.

    Also, if you don't believe there are that many good OTS stories take a look at my website. You may be suprised.

    ~Deki
    Hey Come Visit my Website. Its full of well written Pokemon Fan Fiction.

    The Pokemon Library

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