Fantasy Fanfiction That's Less Than Fantastic
I’m not original—never was. That’s why fanfiction has always appealed to me: you already have an idea to start with, you just need to take it and work with it. When I’m in a particularly good mood, I say that my creativity lies in combining and twisting pre-existing ideas rather than creating my own original ones. The rest of the time, I say I have no creativity. I don’t stick with a whole lot of my ideas—most of them end up being abandoned a few chapters in—but there is one major exception: a “saga” of stories that are almost original while at the same time borrowing from dozens of series. It will take a while to explain, but should you have the time, I would be honored to share with you the story of my story.
As you may have guessed, all throughout my childhood one of my most key interests has been the Bionicle series. I have spent a lot of time thinking about things I could do with the Bionicle story or the concept of it, and one was to combine it with the ever-popular Pokémon series. (Please understand, I was 12 at the time this idea occurred to me.) The concept was simple: it was Pokémon, but the Pokémon were replaced with Bionicles. I made a text-based game based on this idea and posted it here on BZP; people could join, collect Bionicles, and have them fight each other. Since I was not a Premier Member, I needed to get someone else to start this up for me…and soon afterward, that person said he couldn’t keep up and had the game shut down. At the time, I was furious. In truth, this was a wonderful blessing.
I could have just restarted the game, but for some reason I thought I had to rework it into something new before doing so, or else I would get in trouble. After some thought, I did what (to me) was the logical evolution of the concept: the player would still fight and collect Bionicle Pokémon (or would Pokémon Bionicles be more accurate…?), but rather than sending these creatures to fight each other, one would fuse with the creature to obtain its armor and abilities in order to fight. (Again, please keep in mind that I was 12.) I decided to name these creatures “Bioni-Spirits” for some reason, and the humans who fused with these Spirits were dubbed “Bioni-Lords.” (“Bioni” for “Bionicle” and “Lord” as in “master.” Essentially, a “master of Bionicles.”) I reformatted the text-based game and prepared to restart it, this time able to do so myself…and that’s when I got the idea to turn this concept into a story.
Since I was 12, the story was set to be very simple. I would just call it “Bioni-Lords: The Epic,” and a Bioni-Lord based on me would go on a quest mirroring the events of the game and end up fighting some cliché villain because he was, in fact, “The Chosen One.” (I. Was. 12. It may seem like I’m overemphasizing this, but I feel the need to do so because of how ridiculous these ideas are.) I didn’t know how long it would take to write this story, so I decided to serialize the chapters one-by-one in the Epics Forum, and since I had seen several other stories who had allowed readers to submit their own “guest star” characters, I said I was open to this as well. So, I began writing Bioni-Lords Book 1.
Oh, what a literary atrocity those early chapters were! Terrible grammar, overly simplistic, poor characterization, virtually no setting at all! I’m amazed that even one single person committed to wading through just one of those chapters! Yet someone did! People came and people went—I’ve never had a particularly large group of readers at any point in time, but there have always been at least a few, and I encouraged them to submit characters, design their own Bioni-Spirits, and even send plot ideas. The thing is, though, I have a tendency to procrastinate, and I suffer from a severe case of writer’s block. Bioni-Lords Book 1 began in June of 2005. Its first version wasn’t completed until August of 2008.
As you can imagine, I developed greatly as a writer over those three years, and made massive adjustments to the story as I went on. I also took some time to go back and rewrite the story, although it wasn’t my main focus (since I was working on serializing Book 2 at the time), and I’m sure it still requires a lot of work. Also during that time frame, I expanded the scope of Bioni-Lords: rather than having Bioni-Spirits based solely on Bionicles, I started to design Spirits based on characters from a variety of other fictional series, and my readers did the same. In a sense, Bioni-Lords has become a “fanfiction of everything”—something that you can throw things from all manner of sources into (although they’re not all used in the story itself). The plot was also influenced in this way—I became a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts video games, and through that came to like the Final Fantasy series, both of which have fairly convoluted plots that I have attempted to emulate. (Usually, however, it only ends up making things confusing.)
The “Book 2” I mentioned earlier was started in March 2009, and I just put the Epilogue online during November 2011. It might have taken only two years rather than three, but it was actually longer than the first one. (Maybe this means I’m improving!) The second book still mirrored the general course of that game (which I had abandoned by this point), but I extended the primary plot and added a second one, alternating between the two. (It may seem repetitive, but the reason is based in the society of the world—all Bioni-Lords are expected to journey across a string of islands, and Book 2 focuses on the son of Book 1’s main character taking this journey.) Right before I started serializing Book 2, I decided that I needed to add some flavor to the titles, and since I had developed a thing for Japanese media, I decided to use Japanese words as titles for future Bioni-Lords Books. For example, the second book ended up being called “Bioni-Lords Book 2: Sekai”; “sekai” is the Japanese word for “world”, and Book 2 expands the world of Bioni-Lords (mainly by introducing a new Atlantis-style continent). I had matured by this point, so I’m in no hurry to rewrite Sekai like I was with Book 1, but Sekai still has its problems…
This is where my openness to reader input exceeded my skill level. There was so much stuff that I had to try to fit into Sekai! It became a real problem later on, when I was asked to include some new characters who were (supposed to be) very powerful and important…that didn’t exactly happen. In addition, I didn’t do the best job at spacing the secondary plot, and I probably should’ve tried integrating both plots a little better. Also, the son of Book 1’s main character ended up a little…lackluster. He needs more character development. Not his girlfriend, though—I really enjoyed using her as a character, and I think she was well-received. I also introduced a new character who is (supposedly) the strongest person in the world…but she’s so goofy that you can never take her seriously, and she never seems all that interested in helping out. (She easily could have defeated the final villain of Sekai all on her own. Instead, she waits until he effortlessly knocks out almost every other character in the entire book before finishing him off.) But forgetting all that, I love something else born of this book that I feel deserves its own paragraph.
This requires some in-depth info. To enable the fusion that creates a Bioni-Lord, when a Bioni-Spirit is defeated it transforms into a glass Orb filled with a spark of energy. Humans usually use these Orbs to fuse with Spirits, but there is a technology in the timeframe of Sekai that lets people pull the Spirit out of the Orb, convert it to data, and store it in a watch-like device. (For the record, this idea was submitted by a reader. I can’t take credit.) While thinking about this, I began contemplating the uses of these empty glass orbs…what if they still contained some residual power from the Spirit? What if a maniacal glass-maker collected thousands of such orbs? If he were to melt them down into shards, and then place these shards on a robot skeleton, would that robot have the powers of all those Spirits? An android with a nearly unlimited range of powers, powers that came from a unique source, thus making it almost invulnerable to conventional means of attack…the uber-powerful, fan-favorite mechanical menace that I affectionately refer to as “Project Stained Glass.” Stained Glass has seen a few variations, each one granting it an even wider range of powers, and while it has been incapacitated a few times, it has never really been “defeated”…and probably never will. I fully intend to somehow incorporate Stained Glass in the original stories I plan to eventually write and, hopefully, sell, as it is perhaps the only (more or less) original entity in the Bioni-Lords Saga.
I’m sure we all remember the server crash that made BZPower inaccessible for a portion of 2011, something that obviously delayed the conclusion of Sekai. But, thankfully, BZP did come back, so I wrapped up Sekai and began prepping my readers for Bioni-Lords Book 3: Kako, a process which began in the last chapter and epilogue of Sekai. The villain who was defeated in Book 1 showed up, said he was sorry and all, and revealed that he is the uncle of Book 1 (and the saga’s) main character. Book 3: Kako (“kako” being the Japanese word for “past”) is a flashback to 20 years before Book 1, the timeframe where this villain/uncle and his brother were on their standard journey, so that we can see how a polite teenager turned into the world’s most hated villain. Plus, I figure this will give new readers and excellent place to jump in. I was very eager to begin writing it, and it’s been a fun experience thus far.
I started serializing Kako in April, and it seems to be doing about as well as Books 1 and 2. Unfortunately, I have not been able to acquire any new readers as of yet, but my returning readers continue to provide me with helpful feedback, and I am very grateful to them. While I did try to keep out a flood of reader-submitted content (like what happened in Sekai), I did commit to collaborating with a few choice comrades, and I’ve gotten just about all I need out of them. To be honest, I have no idea how long it will take to write and serialize Kako, but I’m uncharacteristically optimistic that I can make it one of my best (and perhaps most original) stories yet. (More so than its predecessors, at least.) I’ve also given thought to what will happen after Kako, God-willing—but I’m cutting this part out since I don’t want to reveal my plans to my readers just yet. Sorry guys, but I have to try my very best to surprise you! How else will I gain your respect?
Bioni-Lords has come a long way, due in no small part to the input of readers, and I’m rather proud of it…though, at the same time I’m embarrassed for putting so much time and effort into mere fanfiction. As of the update to this piece, there are over 1500 Bioni-Spirits, two websites I’ve made (using free, simple site builders) to serve for reference, over one and a half thousand notebook pages that record the Books and some short stories, and around 4 and a half megabytes of data on my computer used for storing Bioni-Lords data.
It probably goes without saying, but if you have not seen the Bioni-Lords Saga thus far, I would like to ask you to take a look at Kako and provide me with some feedback—even if it is negative. I know that my stories need a lot of work, but if no one tells me what is wrong with them, how will I ever improve? Kako is still far, far from over, and I believe that provides me with plenty of time to fix it before it ends, so long as people are willing to share with me how they think I should best proceed. I know that I won’t actually get to do much with this story due to its nature, but I believe it to be a sort of warm-up that will allow me to hone my skills for the day I do, hopefully, develop a degree of originality. If nothing else, I feel obligated to bring this story to a complete close, as it has come to mean a lot to me over the years. There is no way I can forget about Bioni-Lords, and no way I can completely move on until I complete the eventual Book 5 I have planned, and I deeply, truly hope that I am able to learn something along the way.
Is there a moral to this story? Do you mean Bioni-Lords or this memoir thing? Either way…I don’t really know. Honestly, I just hope I did a decent job of explaining the whole thing—exposition has never been my strong suit (something else that causes many, many problems). If you take something from this, then I’m glad; either way, I thank you for your time. We all know that it takes time and effort to become a writer of great skill—I’ve been working for years and I’m still not there. Of course, I was 12 when I started and I’m only 19 now, so…there’s that. On the other hand, I’d like to think that starting early will have benefits later on. It’s too soon to tell, but I hope and pray that I’ll get the chance to find out. Until then, you know where to find me: sitting in the Epics Forum piecing together words and references, trying my best to craft an endearing tale about a land where all of our fantasies can gather.