• Hey Manzai,

    Sorry that it took so very long to reply. My life has been really hectic lately, plus I was out sick for four days. I got around to finishing reading what you have so far. Heh, I was expecting you to have completed one section and about to start another, but it literally ended mid-sentence. By the looks of this chapter, it seems like you’re up to your usual standard. You have a real mastery over description of action/fight scenes.

    It was also nice and new to get some background of the war going on when the refugees were being told why they had no escorts, as so far all of the focus has been on Zhengyi, Wu and the Hei Chaoliu. We didn’t know as much about the war before other than it was going on and it was between Ba Sing Se and Omashu. Same with the look at the rebels and their motives.

    Juan Qu’s defense of why he didn’t do search parties was also pretty compelling to read. It allows one to feel for all the characters, major and minor. It also makes the world seem more realistic. Interesting that the sandbenders have their own language, but in the show everyone from every part of the world spoke the same language from the Foggy Swamp Tribe to the Sun Warriors, with no accents or dialects or anything. (Granted, this is from a Nick cartoon show, but still, after taking a course in linguistics, I noticed that.)

    I learned a couple of new words today - “hamlet” and “ululation” - which I had had to look up in the dictionary. How did you come up with the names of the locations you used in this chapter, like Shi Wan River and Bu Shai Basin? Same with Earth King Jinling’s name.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I noticed these while I was reading:

    “...when a geyser of sand exploded just to then left...” Then should be the.

    “The sand was soft under his feet, but it was s loose...” You forgot the o in so.

    Also, you used similar words kind of close together on a couple occasions, like bed and wagon. Some synonyms and rephrasing couldn’t hurt. Aside from those small little things, it’s all phenomenal!

    How’s everything else going with the original story planning and the teaching certification? I got a TESL certificate so I may teach English as a Second Language overseas at some point. I’d also like to write original stories in the future. Had a couple ideas, but haven’t gotten very far with them yet.


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    • I'm fine to delete this if it's too public even here. Since you didn't have email-contact enabled, I didn't know how else to send this.

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    • Ooops, that's why I didn't get back to you in so long. I mean I was busy too but I kept checking my email thinking it was now linked to my Avatar Wiki account, but I guess not. I didn't think to look at my Avatar Wiki stuff until yesterday. (I went in and checked "enable email from other users" under preferences. Is that what I was supposed to do?)

      Sorry, I meant to warn you it ended in mid-sentence. I thought I wrote something about that when I sent it. Oh well.

      I liked how the opening action scene turned out. It's very closely based (you could say copied) from a scene in this old Western movie called "Stagecoach" where Indians attack a covered wagon. It's from 1939 and it treats the Native Americans as pretty simplistic bad guys, but it's very well made. I watched it for a film class in college and i remember liking that scene. That's what gave me the idea for the whole chapter--i thought of that scene which led to me creating the rest of the scenario of the chapter. Actually, since the movie's so old it's in the public domain now so you can look it up on youtube if you want to see the scene. In this chapter some of the tertiary characters are named for characters in the movie, like Juan Qu is Chinese for "Curly" (in reference to hair--i don't think that's a name or nickname in China), which is the name of the coach guard in the movie.

      The war becomes more prominent as things go on. I have plans for like a B story that goes over several chapters as Wu exploits the political situation. It's just starting here as he meets with Ji-Ji the Loser (named after a character in a Dario Argento movie, btw, just because I like the name).

      I had watched a documentary on the Gobi Desert when I was writing this, and some of the stuff Juan Qu says about the dangers of the desert came from that. Like the thing about thousand foot high sand dunes. They said something like that in the doc and i remember scrolling back to reference that because I didn't believe it. Part of the point of the chapter is to have Zhengyi live with the sendbenders for a while and learn sandbending, so in order to have that happen I couldn't have him just get rescued right away. And having the team separated creates more tension, but I did it for plot reasons and then created a justification aftewards. But as long as it's plausible I guess it's good.

      I don't particularly remember why I decided to give the sandbenders their own language. I think it was just to make them more alien, and add to the communication barrier between them and the settlers. It probably does make them stick out more, but I did always think it was weird on the show too, that everybody spoke the same language. I remember when Azula becomes Fire Lord and refers to herself as "Fire Lord" rather than Fire Lady, (which is what all the fanon authors were calling female fire lords up til then) I thought "Oh, the language they're translating from must not have the same gender-differentiating significance". I have a little bit of an interest in languages, (you can probably tell since i'm dropping words like "ululation") but it's just a general kind of interest. But anyway, I don't know why that was my takeaway from Azula becoming Fire Lord. You think of weird things when you start to read that much into something like Avatar.

      I'm probably putting a bit of my own spin on them, but in my story the sandbenders are a blend of Native American, Bedouin or Tuareg, and Uyghur. And the settlers are sort of cowboy-like, a Western movie having been the inspiration for the chapter. Like I think I gave Juan Qu some cowboy-esque speech patterns (I think he calls Su "ma'am". Well, I guess that's not cowboy by itself, but if you image it with a cowboy drawl it sounds very cowboy-like :) )

      In fact, here's a rundown of the rest of the chapter: The guy who yelled stop was the sandbender chief, who realizes Zhengyi is the Avatar and thereupon orders him freed. He's one of the only sandbenders who also knows the "common language" (whatever that would be called) and he can talk with Zhengyi. His son also knows a little, but not as much. The chief has his son teach Zhengyi sandbending over the course of several days while they criss-cross the desert, waiting to come upon another group of settlers. The sandbenders resent the settlers for encroaching on their land, so they raid them for resources in retaliation. The settlers think the sandbenders are savage and violent, which is exacerbated by bariers of culture and communication (it's a whole cowboys and indians thing), so they're in this protracted feud. Because of that, the sandbenders can't just ride up to the main setlement at the oasis and drop Zhengyi off or they might be killed. Meanwhile, Su is fretting over Zhengyi at the oasis but they spend so much time there that Cai Fa shows up, but she figures out Zhengyi isn't there, so she just decides to lay low and bide her time. But right after she arrives Wu's hunters catch up to them and start wrecking-up the settlement looking for Zhengyi. The rest of Team Avatar helps the settlers fight them off, but since they were referring to Zhengyi as the Avatar, it corroborates Su's claim so Juan Qu realizes he really was the Avatar and he does then put together a search party (which I'm sure I will refer to as a "posse," because cowboys). Cai fa has revealed herself in the fighting, but she actually helped out team Avatar and the settlers (she doesn't want innocent people hurt, she just wants Zhengyi dead, and she figures Team Avatar and the settlers are her best chance). So they decide to take her with them but only if she goes tied up, as a prisoner. The posse finds the sandbenders at Si Wong rock (which they consider sacred, so the settlers turning up there is that much more of an affront). Zhengyi tries to get the sides to agree to a truce (a la Aang in The Great Divide), but Juan Qu and the chief both say they can't forgive the other and a fight breaks out. Cai Fa frees herself in teh confusion, grabs her bow and fires at Zhegnyi. She nicks him in the shoulder, but the chief's son, who is now Zhengyi's friend, stops her with a big sand-avalanche, and then makes a big display of sandbending to get everyone's attention and stop the fighting. He appeals to his father, and the rest of team Avatar backs him up, saying that the two sides fighting almost got the Avatar killed. So the two sides now finally make a tentative peace and Juan Qu and the chief shake hands. The last "shot" is Cai Fa popping her head out of the sand dune that the chief's son dumped on her.

      I enjoyed getting to use "ululation" correctly. That's one of those cases where even though it's an obscure and difficult word, there's nothing else you can write there. That's the only term for that noise. I've read advice articles on the wiki where people say shorter, more concise words are better, but I'm like, what am I supposed to say? "Then the sandbenders all started making that Xena noise."

      The names in this chapter: Shi Wan is kind of generic. I probably thought it up in a hurry when i was writing chapter 4 (you may recall the town Heng lives in is "Chen Shi Wan"). Shi means ten and wan means like curve or bend, so Ten Curves River. Chen means "jewel", so the town is the Jewel of Ten Curves River. Bu Shui Basin is slightly more playful, but I also probably just thought of it because i needed a name. Shui means water and Bu is a negating prefix in Mandarin, so it roughly means No-Water Basin, (although I'm sure that's not the proper way to construct that phrase in Mandarin). Jinling's name is also just a reference to his role. Jinling means a prohibition or ban on something (not like the protagonist'd surname--unfortunately I made things slightly confusing by giving Zhengyi a name that's also an english word). That's in reference to his ban on all these things he thinks are wicked, which the Hei Chaoliu exploits so they can be the only source for all of it. (Actually, I guess I shouldn't say for sure since I haven't written any scenes with him yet, but he does show up later and I imagine this actually being a big part of his personality. Like I described him as sanctimonious in the intro to the first chapter or something, because he thinks if he can create a society devoid of all vices then his side will have moral authority in the war and the spirits or whoever will grant his side the victory--Wu then exploits this by feeding the king's judges and ministers information on dai zhiwu supplies without getting caught because he controls most of it, so he can control the evidence they find around it, etc. Since eliminating vices like dai zhiwu is the king's biggest priority, he rewards Wu by making him basically head of the equivalent of the drug enforcement agency, and he can then turn the drug supply on and off like a tap.  He can allocate as many resources as he wants to catch rival gangs, but he can make sure he never gets caught. And, more importantly for story reasons, he can personally command a security force which basically works like a private army, and then parlay that into an actual military position.  Now if that sounds implausible, it actually happened with opium in 1920s Shanghai with a guy named Du Yuesheng. He was in league with Chiang Kai-shek's government and went from being the biggest dealer in the city to Head of the Opium Suppression Bureau, while still selling opium. It's a fascinating story.) Phew! Well, that's the long version of how Jinling got his name. I figured i might as well tell you that, since who knows when I'll get that far in the story. That's basically the rundown d Wu's plan and he does it mostly so he can get an army to place between himself and Zhengyi.

      Actually, those three names are some of like the most generic i've done. Usually I do something like with Juan Qu or Ji-Ji where their name is some obscure reference that almost no one could possibly get, and then are translated into Chinese on top of that. It's actually a bit of a problem for me since it makes the story take slightly longer to write than it would otherwise. I should just make a list of like 50 stock Chinese names and use that, but this giving everyone a meaningful name is just a weird compulsion I have, and I find it to be pretty fun. And actually, now that I think of it it probably does help me keep track of the characters too, but it still probably isn't worth the trouble. I'm sure I'll keep doing it though.

      I don't mind you catching those typos. It's quite helpful. Hopefully I would have caught them when i proofread the chapter prior to posting it, but even in my finished chapters I always find a couple. So at least now I know exactly where two of them are.

      Unfortunately I haven't made much of a dent on either writing more Heir of Ban, either as an original story or as a fanfic. And I didn't follow up on the teaching certification since we last talked. I got into a small debacle with my insurance company that took several days of lunchtime phone calls to settle, but I was able to work it out in my favor a few days ago. But I did put other things on hold in order to settle that. The other thing is, I started taking a class at a local place--i guess it's like an improv comedy theater company--but the class I'm taking is on how to write & perform stand-up comedy. People who don't know me are usually surprised when they find out I do stand-up comedy, but actually I've been doing some form of writing and performing jokes since i was about 12. I wrote stand-up jokes long before I started writing fiction and it's always been a big interest for me. I did stand-up performances at like my school talent shows and stuff, but since I got out of college I haven't really persued it. After I graduated I got into kind of a funk and I stopped writing jokes, which I used to do regularly, but taking this class gave me a kick in the pants to write down my backlog of jokes and try and start going to open mics, which I enjoy and I find exciting, but unfortunately it eats up even more of my Heir of Ban time. Stand-up is more writing intensive that you might think, especially because you have to write down anything you even think might work as joke, because you have to try a lot of different jokes and you never know what will work. I'll tell you this though: when I'm writing jokes and I start to get bored and want to procrastinate, Heir of Ban is what my mind goes to.

      I'm still going to try and get the teaching cert though. I have yet to apply to the program but I still intend to. What language is your certification in? Is it actually Chinese, because I feel like you said something about studying Chinese before. Where would you go to teach?

      What kind of original stories were you thinking of? I'd take a look at them if you have anything to show as of yet. Speaking of that, I just read this article on BBC news about some properties being licensed to have published fan fiction put on Kindle, which would be sold like normal ebooks and give the authors a portion of the profit. I don't really know what to make of the whole thing, but here, i'll put a link:  I'd do a blog post or something about this on the wiki, but I don't even have time to write my story right now.

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    • Whoops, that's me. Took so long writing it I got timed out. Didn't that happen to me before?

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    • Sorry aboyt taking so long to reply. That was quite atrocious of me :/

      Wow, that's pretty cool. I'm a wee bit of a history buff myself, so I'll likely check that out. I visited China back in 2007, and have been planning to go back eventually. I've been planning an article on fan fiction/original fiction for a WLS issue soon, so I'll make use of that link. Thanks for showing me that :)

      Btw, your fanon's been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series - here, and I think it's very well deserved. Good luck. I have a few original stories on my mind right now. My primary one is sci-fi like, but focuses on a typical suburban setting at the same time. It's either YA or MG, but it's very dark and laid back at the same time. I'll let ya know when I make more progress on it.

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    • It's okay. I took me a while to notice your reply, obviously :) I'm still not getting notification emails, but I've started checking this thread every so often.

      Thanks for the congratulations on the fanon award nomination.  It would be great to win those. Btw, have you seen the picture minnichi's friend made as my prize from the epic battles writing contest she did a while back? I think i added it to the character pages for Ti Xi, Wu, and i think also Chapter 1. I think it looks really cool.

      By the way I also started reading Dragons, Seiges and Volcanoes. Just the first 2 chapters but I like it so far. You write action scenes very well too.

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    • You're welcome. You certainly deserved those nominations. I noticed you were nominated in the 5th Fanon Awards and the 1st Fanon Awards, so I guess your writing style brings some continuity with it. And yeah, I saw the prize you got, pretty good depiction of Wu and Ti Xi. I must say, Wu came out pretty much how I picture him (especially his stare and the rest of his facial expression.) Typhoon actually had another contest recently and I got a prize for third place again. Sent in the details and haven't heard back yet, but the artist is really talented, and I know something like that must take a while to create. I believe Wordbender mentioned something not too long ago about doing another similar contest.

      Thanks for checking out DSV. Glad you think that about my writing. Do you think you could leave a comment next time?

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    • Oh, and by the way, we restarted using the fanon advertising page again. I just signed up. If you want to join the rotation, you might want to now, since it's booked all the way until April.

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    • Yeah. I had to wait a long time to hear back from Minn, but I didn't realy mind. I had given up on getting it and then she emailed me out of the blue one day. I hope you get yours, because the artist he lined up for that contest has some awesome work there. I read your one shot too, it was cool. I left a comment -- I'll try to leave comments on DSV too. I was just looking at it when i got a spare moment. I actually read most of those two chapers on my phone.

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    • I saw, thanks for that. I wrote that one-shot a day or so before the contest ended, but I had it in my mind long before that. The rules said it had to be under a thousand words. When I finally do get the pic, I was going to get another picture lined up for DSV, with two characters this time.

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    • A FANDOM user
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