Yo, it's Rex. I'll start off with my own personal anti-disclaimer. If you have EVER used my name as your own screen name, I will wish nameless horrors upon you and someday stab you dead. I created the name; I use it in everything. Have some courtesy and use your own imagination for once.
-- ABOUT ME
I'm a college grad with no idea what he wants to do with his life. I've been reading fan fiction since middle school and feel very well acquainted with the fandoms I traverse. I'm a creative writing major, so I tend to know what I'm talking about when it comes to storyline design, character creation and writing in general. Unfortunately, I'm not too well versed in writing myself because my creativity is less than stellar. That said, I like to leave lengthy reviews on the stories I read, whether I like them or not. I feel that most writers are here either for their own amusement or to get better at writing, so I do my best to help with the second choice. My reviews are always opinionated to a degree, but I feel they're generally in the ballpark. I do my best to make my criticism constructive, but if you disagree I sincerely apologize. It is never my intent to flame. (Unless it's really THAT bad.)
-- WHAT I READ
Harry Potter: While I think the series went haring off in the wrong direction after the fifth book, I can't deny that Rowling's world and characters are some of the most delightful fictional creations I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. Harry Potter fan fiction tends to be the best of the bunch simply because Rowling has given its authors such an incredible world to work from. This is the first fandom I read from, and tends to be where a great percentage of my favorites come from.
Golden sun - This was one of my favorite RPGs in my youth. It's so old that there isn't much in the way of new content, but the characters in this story and the world are still incredibly impressive. It's impressive the amount of shipping that goes on in this fandom considering the relative lack of romance in the game entirely.
Fire Emblem - This series is the cream of the crop when it comes to turn based strategy games. Unfortunately, it tends to be a genre that is almost entirely devoid of games in the first place. I'm a huge fan of the game boy advanced releases, but not so much of the Wii editions. They're completely fine from a game play standard, but the story and characters felt lacking in comparison.
Riviera - Essentially a dead world at this point. Atlus tends to make great little one shot titles like this one, but they don't tend to continue their series either. That said, Riviera was a great game and I appreciate the people of Atlus bring the game across the Pacific. The fandom is less than impressive, but the game was great.
Tales of Symphonia - Another great RPG from my youth. I enjoyed this game greatly before I lost my taste for JRPGs. I tend to gravitate more towards Bioware and Bethesda's offerings now a days. That said, ToS was a great game with a great story and great characters. I don't think anything in video game history has shocked me quite a deeply as the Kratos revelation (which I won't spoil for you here).
Zelda - I don't trace back to this fandom much anymore. I haven't been impressed with a Zelda game since Twilight Princess, which no doubt springs from my hatred for the Wii (which is causing the death of gaming as we know it). In any case, most of the fics in this fandom are only good if the author is good. With a few glaring exceptions, the storyline in Zelda games tend to be less than stellar.
Skies of Arcadia - Probably the best RPG in video game history, no exceptions. An incredible world, great game play, interesting characters, this game had it all. I think there will always be a piece of me that wants to be a blue rogue.
Harvest Moon - Not a fandom I read much anymore, but I had some good times with this game. It's not particularly exhilarating to play, but it is peaceful and relaxing. I'm fairly certain I'm still in love with Karen on some level. Kind of ridiculous since I think that Tsunderes are stupid.
Bleach - A fairly recent addition to my fan fiction tastes. I watched through the soul society arc when this show was remarkably popular, but dropped it when they started in on all the filler arcs. Recently, I read the manga through to the winter war. I generally liked the characters and the world design, but the tendency for the fights to get more and more DBZesque was starting to annoy me. I like characters getting stronger just as much as the next person, but there just comes a time when it all needs to end.
Naruto - Honestly, I've been reading this fandom for a long time. I haven't watched a shred of the anime, but I've read a huge chunk of the manga. Naruto is very similar to Harry Potter in my opinion. It has a fantastic world, a large number of relatively uninvolved but named characters, and an idealistic main character. It's always fun to read a Naruto story that kicks things down a few notches on the idealism vs realism slider. I generally tend to like more realistic stories in fantastic world anyway.
-- THE TWO MOST DEPRESSING STORIES IN THE WORLD (SPOILERS AHEAD)
This is all purely opinion based and I don't expect almost anyone to agree with me. Nevertheless, nothing puts me in more of a melancholy mood than thinking about Kingdom Hearts and the Golden Compass series.
Kingdom Hearts: I loved both games more than I'm willing to say. You'd think that a Disney/Final Fantasy hybrid would fail miserably, but it worked out astonishingly well. Every once in a while I'd get annoyed with the childish antics of the characters, but the farther I worked my way through the story, the more drawn in and impressed I became. However, what it all comes down to is that I've beaten both games. I loved the game play of both games and I've tried several times to replay Kingdom Hearts II (since playing one after the improvements in two has proven impossible) but it just doesn't work. I know the direction the game is headed, I know what's going to happen and I've realized I can't stand to be super fail beginning game Sora for even a moment.
Whenever I think of the series now I get either the Hollow Bastion theme or Sanctuary stuck in my head and I'm instantly taken to the beach Kairi is stuck on all by her lonesome. Both songs are awesome, but they just remind me of how it seems the series is over, perhaps permanently. I know that another Kingdom Hearts game would instantly draw me back into the world, but I don't know if I could take another ending where Kairi gets left behind. Regardless of ships, the girl deserves to be with her friends, not stuck on an island while she knows they're fighting for the fate of the world.
To be honest, I'm confused as to why Sqenix has decided to focus more on the handheld renditions of the games. Both of the console games were insanely good and sold equally well. On the other hand, I haven't played a single one of the handheld games and I don't know a single person who has. While I've no doubt that my friends are not an accurate cross-section of the population, we all tend to be nerdy as hell. If there's a game we haven't played, it either wasn't publicized enough or simply wasn't good. As much as Sqenix loves rehashing dead series (Final Fantasy anyone?) you'd think they'd jump on the chance to release a game with such a large fan base.
The Golden Compass: I shouldn't even have to explain this one and honestly I don't expect any argument here. They found their true loves, defeated god, and basically saved the world. How are they repaid? They're separated for the rest of their natural lives with only the hollow promise of a reunion in the after life to tide them over. I know that love can fade with time, but two kids like that willingly separating themselves for the good of the world? They deserved better than that. They deserved to be together and I deserved an ending that wouldn't still pull at my heart strings. I can still get that picture in my mind's eye of the gate between worlds closing between them for the last time. God, it's like a dagger to the heart.
-- THE BEST STORIES I KNOW
These stories are the cream of the crop. They are literally the best stories I've come across in my decade of reading fan fiction. If you haven't read them yet, you owe it to yourself to enjoy them.
Time Braid - ShaperV created a masterpiece here. He took a character I didn't like too much and added a stunning amount of depth and character growth. This isn't even taking into consideration the huge amount he added to the world of Naruto. To my knowledge, his primary plot was completely uninspired by canon and remains one of the most incredibly awesome things I've ever read. I won't spoil anything for you here, but you should definitely go read it.
Brutal Harry - There's a lot of good fan fiction in the Harry Potter universe, but this is quite possibly the best. There are plenty of stories out there where Harry is REALLY abused, but few of them where Harry responds to it realistically. This is one of those few. This Harry is NOT your canon Harry, and for that I am thankful. Canon Harry would never have been able to deal with the opposition that LordsFire puts in front of him. This Harry is driven, focused, nigh emotionless and powerful as all get out. Canon can't really compete with him, but that's alright. This story isn't about Harry vs Voldemort, it's about Harry vs his demons.
Nightmares of the Future Past - Viridian/S'Tarkan really has issues finishing stories. If his writing wasn't so ridiculously good, I'd probably complain more. The story here is your standard "Harry goes back in time to fix everything" plot. However, once again Viridian's incredible characters rise to the occasion. While Harry's future knowledge does make him strong, it very much does NOT make him invincible. While most future Harry fics like things to stay the same, this one starts changing things just as soon as Harry does. The story is basically unrecognizable after it hits the chamber of secrets. It means that all the preparations Harry has made for the future are incredibly necessary. In addition, this story might have the most awesome Neville ever, and that's saying something.
Hope - Jeconais is a fascinating author. An easy ninety percent of the fan fiction I like can be characterized by the author making the story more realistic. Jeconais on the other hand does very little in the realism department. In fact, his stories might be even more idyllic than canon, which is saying something in the Harry Potter universe. That said, I cannot bring myself to hate this fic, no matter how much I may try. There's very little in the way of conflict in this story, and Harry has very near god like powers. Put bluntly, it should NOT be a good story. However, there's just something to be said for feel good fan fiction. The entire fic consists of Harry's life just coming together and you can't help but feel good for him. This story is not on this site (to my knowledge), but can be found on fanfic authors dot net. Said site is chock full of (mostly) good fics.
Sleeping with Girls - Remember when you were growing up and anything was possible? When magic was real and your brain hadn't quite given up on it? Remember all those little wishes you made where you wanted to be sucked into all the fantastic worlds you read about? This is a story about that... and how it can all go so horribly wrong. A megacross of mega proportions, Sleeping with Girls takes an OC and gives him an interesting power. Every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in the bed of a different female character before looping at the end of the week. Think it's all just fun and games? With my penchant for liking stories that make things more realistic and a main character who literally has NO super powers? Not a chance in hell.
One Small Kindness, The Lie I've Lived, Taking Control, Team 8, A Black Comedy - I limited the stories I'd actually write a snippet for to five, but I've got ten stories here. On top of that, all the stories on my favorites list are worth at least a cursory glance. If you've read the above you've probably got a handle on my tastes, so you should mostly know what to expect: serious stories with good characters, careful examination of their fantasy world, and incredibly impressive writing. Some of the stories are better than others, but all of them managed to catch my interest in some manner.
INCOMPLETE STORIES: Writing fan fiction is a remarkably time consuming process that offers nothing to its writer save whatever enjoyment they derive from the writing process and interaction with reviewers. It's an undertaking that can seem almost devoid of any compensation. As a result, fan fiction has a horrible tendency to end up incomplete, no matter the quality or quantity of the writing in question.
I understand this, really I do. That said, there is very little worse than getting into a fan fiction writer's awesome story only to have it come to an abrupt jagged end. It's just as bad as reading a book with the last hundred pages missing. It feels unfair and utterly devastating.
It's one of the reasons I review as frequently as I do. Reviewing is a way us readers can give back to the writers who are dedicating their spare time to such a seemingly empty past time. Even if they write for their own amusement (which I'm certain all of the best do), every author appreciates hearing from those who have enjoyed their writing.
ENDINGS: Let's face it. This is the reason most of us are here. When our favorite series ended, we simply weren't content. We'd lived with the main characters, walked miles in their shoes. We understood their ins and outs, why they acted the way they did, how they'd been hurt, who they loved, and how they lived. These characters were our pen pals.
And then they just up and left.
We'd grown accustomed to their words. We liked reading about how they triumphed over the odds, how they'd saved the world and gotten the girl, their trials and tribulations on the way there. The end of the story left us with a degree of emptiness, regardless of whether we viewed it as good or bad. The reason we came here was to sympathize with like minded individuals. Better yet, individuals who weren't content to let the story end. These individuals picked things up where our pen pals left off and kept telling us their story. We may not agree with all of them, but we are all alike.
Unfortunately, stories really do have to end. A good ending brings tears or joy to our eyes, a smile to our faces and a song to our hearts. We are drawn here to reminisce, to share these feelings with others who felt the same. A bad endings brings rage to our hearts, a rictus of fury to our faces and tears of anger to our eyes. We are drawn here to rage, to share our anger with others who felt the same.
As you can see, endings are tricky things. Good or bad, the story is just never enough. No matter how life is going, there will always be individuals drawn into a good story, who would much rather live it instead of the life they lead. For these individuals, an ending will always be a thing of sadness, regardless of how artfully the author pulled it off. No matter how many years the series persisted, how many seasons the writers managed, or how many pencils the artist snapped, it will never be enough. You don't just read a good story, you LIVE it.
WRITERS WHO ARGUE WITH FLAMERS: As stated, most of the best authors write for themselves, but they all like to receive reviews as well. Reviews are just a small way to know that you aren't writing to an empty abyss, that there are people who read your stories and enjoy them. However, for every two readers who enjoy a story, there's one who utterly loathed it and can't help but share with the class.
I'll be honest, I don't know how common flaming is. I've never written a story and I don't browse reviews, I browse stories. As such, I don't know whether there is one angry review for every ten positive ones or ten angry reviews for every one positive. Regardless though, I DO notice when an author throws down a five hundred word author note bashing that one reviewer who just couldn't leave well enough alone. And you know what? The reviewer who wrote that review noticed as well and he is just GLOWING with devilish satisfaction.
Here's the thing. Flamers are the trolls of fan fiction sites. It really doesn't matter what they're writing, it matters that you RESPONDED to it. They're just like bullies in real life. They pick on you because you hate it and tell them so explicitly. Better yet, you tell them PUBLICLY in front of all your friends and compatriots. It's even better when you try to get your other reviewers to spam their inbox. Hell, they probably have a spontaneous joygasm when you refuse to write another chapter because of the hate.
If there's an iota of truth in their angry review, change your story or don't. Their input is either valuable or worthless. If it's valuable, use it. If it's worthless, ignore it. Either way, telling the flamer that they angered you is just letting them win.
To be honest? On and off. The problem I have is the only type of story I'd be interested in writing would be an epic length, either for Harry Potter or FFTA. This would be a huge commitment of my time, and I'd never be able to live with myself if I gave up halfway through. Frankly, I'm just not sure if I'm willing to put in that kind of effort towards something that may end up feeling like a chore. Perhaps my feelings will change, but until that point, my stories will remain as snippets on my hard drive.
Feel free to PM me with any questions or comments. I love to talk fan fiction with people, and I don't know anyone in real life who will.