(NOTE: For those who don't know what this is series of blog posts is, please check out the introduction here.)
Continuing the "Looking Back" series, today I will talk about my top four favorite stories from the Shikaverse. Four may seem like an odd number (although it's actually an even number*), but that's because I wanted to talk only about the stories that I actually, genuinely enjoyed writing or thought were good, rather than picking out enough stories to fit an arbitrary number like five or ten. I just happen to have four favorite stories from the Shikaverse.
Anyway, let's begin this list with:
#1: Dimension Hoppers
Out of all of the fanfics I posted on BZP, Dimension Hopppers is the one I am most proud of. Its experimental nature -- two first person narrators, -- was a big challenge for me and I am happy to say that it worked splendidly. In fact, it worked out so well that I haven't tried that again, for fear that I will either repeat myself or fail to do it right again (although I have not ruled out doing another story with two first person narrators in a future story entirely).
Three of my favorite characters from the Shikaverse -- Isarot, Kiriah, and Darranas -- were introduced in this fic. There were a lot of cool settings in this story as well, such as the Almighty Ones' warehouse, World's End, and Ehlek's ship. It also expanded the Shikaverse significantly, giving more characters, locations, and ideas that have heavily influenced later fics (such as The Ghost King's Tragedy and the Dawn Duology, for example).
#2: An Unlikely Alliance**
This is one of my favorites because it's the first epic I wrote that I think was actually good. It's not nearly as good as Dimension Hoppers, to be sure, but I did enjoy writing it and it really was a big turning point for my ability as a writer. It's the epic where I first developed what I call the Three Draft Formula, a formula I still use for epics and novels to this day.
Another reason I like this fic is because it serves as a good ending to the Shika Trilogy, resolving a lot of plot points from the past two epics and answering a lot of unanswered questions. It proves I can end a trilogy satisfactorily and without leaving any important questions or plot points dangling needlessly. Yeah, AUA is not my best epic, but the lessons I learned from it will be highly useful if I ever write another trilogy at some point in the future.
#3: Glatorian Chronicles #9: Reluctant Allies
I consider this short epic to be the best short epic I've written. The two protagonists, Ackar and Kiina, are well-developed and distinct. The plot is very focused and doesn't go off into any random tangents (except possibly for the frozen village scene, which maybe could have been cut without harming the story's plot).
Xocion, the Element Lord of Ice and primary antagonist of the story, was a fun character to write for. Shame I didn't get to do much with him. I would like to write a short story or something about him, but as I am getting close to done with the Shikaverse, that seems highly unlikely unless I get an idea that I absolutely MUST write no matter what.
Out of all of the Shikaverse stories, Paranoia was the only true horror story and the only horror story I've ever really written. Despite that, it received a lot of good reviews when I first posted it. I even reused its setting -- an alternate universe where Brutaka takes over the universe using the Mask of Life -- in Dimension Hoppers I enjoyed it so much.
This short story cannot be found on BZP anymore, due to the deletion of the Archives. I still have it saved on an external flash drive, but I don't think I am going to repost it. As much as I liked it, there is a reason it's number four on this list and not number one. I've thought about rewriting it, though, if only because I think I could do the idea better now that I've come so far as a writer.
That's it. Next post in the series will be about the Shikaverse's themes. You know, stuff pretentious literary types like me like to talk about .
*Yeah, I made a math joke. Yeah, it kind of stands out. Yeah, I probably shouldn't be drawing attention to it with this note. Yeah, I know starting every sentence with "Yeah" is getting annoying. Yeah, I'll cut it out.
**Like Paranoia, An Unlikely Alliance cannot currently be found on BZP due to the deletion of the Archives. However, you will soon be able to read it once I repost it in "The Shika Trilogy Omnibus" in the Epics forum, which can be found here.