Endless Summer: Final Thoughts
At 7,000 words on the dot, The Wish of Haruhi Suzumiya is the final product born from the series of fan fiction posts that I wrote at the end of August. The series itself was a neat little project that I came up with, tying to the theme of Endless Summer, a two-week event correlating to the events of the Haruhi series’ Endless Eight.
Looking back now, despite my seemingly spontaneous planning of the posts themselves (ironic considering the series itself dealt with the planning process in the first place), I stuck to those outlined principles and ended up with the final product that I posted yesterday. Let’s take a look at each step again and see how each part impacted the story that I eventually wrote.
It Starts with an Idea
In Part 1, I discussed that complex stories are born from a single concept or idea. My original idea was sparked by Endless Sumer, and my lingering fascination with the writing potential behind the magical girl genre, and Madoka Magica in particular. Combining the two ideas together on a whim, I settled upon an Endless Eight/Madoka crossover, which grew from a single premise to a seven thousand word story. Quite fantastic!
Laying Down the Stakes
In Part 2, I laid down some guidelines and restrictions for my story, which gave the writing process a sense of direction. It is through these particular restrictions that really gave the story its own uniqueness.
7,000-word limit: I wrote this entry for the sole purpose of submitting a story to Anime North’s 2012 fan fiction writing contest, and I ended up at the limit exactly. As the first of hopefully more drafts, the first edition of this fic will provide a nice guideline for the pacing changes that I may attempt in subsequent re-writes, something that fan fiction writers should do more of.
Only one Madoka character: I ended up choosing Kyubey as the sole character to be featured in the story, and I feel that I made a good choice in hindsight. The latter steps in the process lend very well to using Kyubey, since he’s the one that can turn girls into puella magi, something that I wanted to explore with the cast of Haruhi.
Inclusion of specific lines: This one was actually a bit harder to pull off than I had initially though, specifically due to the pacing issues that resulted from the 7,000 word limit. The original Endless Eight is approximately 15,000 words in The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, and inclusion of all of the scenes that featured those lines, as well as the modified scenes affected by Kyubey’s presence, resulted in a bit of a struggle to incorporate certain scenes in a seamless manner.
AJ’s mini-vignette: I was greatly satisfied by the way Emily’s scene fit so nicely in the end, as the calmness of the scene itself was a nice contrast with the intensity of the climactic scene that came before it. In essence, it replaces the final scene in the clubroom between Kyon and Koizumi in the original light novel, but this particular variation lends itself well to Kyon/Haruhi shippers, something that I definitely had in mind when I tossed in the final paragraphs. I personally ship Kyon with Nagato, but even I could appreciate the cuteness of the scene itself.
Unleash the Genius
The thing about brainstorming is that you can get a lot of interesting ideas, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use all of them. When I tried free-writing for this story, I came up with some really neat ideas, but some of them fell by the wayside, such as the concept of witch barriers forming from Haruhi’s emotions. I couldn’t find a way to incorporate that within the 7,000 word limit. I even went so far as to have the witch barrier form and disappear “off-screen,” and focus more on the idea of magical girls and walpurgis night, a witch that doesn’t even need a barrier to begin with.
The Madoka references were such an awesome idea that I put them in whenever I could. I included theCharlottemask, but even made further reference to Mami when Kyon points out that the mask looks like it was trying to bite Nagato’s head off. Somewhat less subtle was Nagato reading Goethe’s Faust in the final scene, a reference to something that Madoka also referenced. I smell an Ice-T “Yo Dawg” meme lurking about somewhere.
15,499 repetitions was the coolest concept to write. Even though I used the exact same numbers as Endless Eight, I replaced them with magical girl-related events, such as witch barriers causing the 2 incidents where the bon dance didn’t happen, and the variations on Mikuru’s magical girl powers required another mini-brainstorm session.
I think I may have deviated slightly in this step. Instead of using source material to get information on canon details surrounding concepts, I ended up using the source material to research the dialog between characters. I watched some episodes of Madoka again to get a sense of how Kyubey talks. The fine line of emotionless logic is hard to traverse, and I think that I was a little too matter-of-fact with Kyubey’s prose.
As for the Haruhi characters, I confined myself too much to the structure and dialog of the original endless eight, that during moments that didn’t involve Kyubey, it read exactly like a carbon copy of the anime’s script. I was a bit disappointed in this regard, and it dawned on me that there wasn’t anything I could do about it due to the nature of the loops. Kyon’s speech to Haruhi in the climax was a variation of the first novel. I really enjoyed trying to extrapolate Kyon’s dialog in the first novel to the fifth, and trying to incorporate the character development since then. It was a neat little experiment.
It’s All About Theme
I mentioned in this section that theme comes from the story itself, and the actions that the characters take. However, I realized that in strongly following the plot of the original Endless Eight, the resulting theme that was developed was very much similar to that of the original story as well. In the light novel, Nagaru Tanigawa emphasized the idea of luck playing a big role in the SOS brigade’s ability to escape the endless summer, and I ended up accepting this idea, and playing off of that idea in the final scene of the fic.
However, I didn’t fully give up on the idea of wishes, and even though it didn’t grow into the theme I wanted, I still answered the question I asked in the original post.
“What kind of wish would a God make, and if you had the chance, would you let him or her make it?”
Well, Kyon didn’t let Haruhi make that wish, and decided that Haruhi didn’t even need to make a wish. A god doesn’t need to make a wish because they can will their desires into reality anyway. Kyon ended up convincing Haruhi to fulfil her subconscious wish to be able to spend the last day of summer with her friends helping them finish their homework, something that was stuck in her mind the entire summer, but was unable to realize it herself. In writing this fic, I married my own theme with that of Nagaru Tanigawa’s, and writing it felt even more natural than using my own theme alone.
Outlining is Optional
I love writing outlines, and with the difficulty trying to incorporate all of the restrictions and ideas that came before it, I also loved throwing my outline out the window. What ended up happening here was that I emphasized the structure of the original Endless Eight, and as a result, leaned a bit too hard on the original’s plot points. I did incorporate the Madoka elements into certain parts, and they didn’t come into full realization until the middle and latter half of the story.
In a way, following the original outline is, in essence, the same as following an outline for the fic itself. This is usually what happens when you try to write a fanfic that tightly follows the events of canon.
Just for fun, here are the new modified plot points:
1. Kyon hears Kyubey’s voice on the way to meeting Haruhi
2. The SOS brigade goes swimming, Kyubey hints to Kyon the possibility of the loops.
3. After the SOS brigade plans out the rest of the summer, Kyon and Nagato discover a grief seed.
4. The SOS brigade goes to the bon dance, Kyubey is absent.
5. After the cicada hunt, Kyon gets a distress call from Mikuru, who became a magical girl after saving Koizumi and Nagato from a witch.
6. Kyubey reveals to the group that he intends on turning Haruhi into a magical girl/
7. While stargazing, Nagato reveals to Kyon and Koizumi the nature behind Kyubey’s species. They decide they need to stop the loop and prevent Haruhi from making a wish.
8. The rest of the summer is spent as normal, but the threat of Walpurgis is near.
9. On the 30th, SOS finishes their activities, and Walpurgis Night appears before Kyon has a chance to remember what he needs to do.
10. SOS fights Walpurgis, Kyubey offers Haruhi the contract of granting a wish and becoming a magical girl.
11. Kyon tells Haruhi that she has the power to grant her own wishes, and that deep down, she feels that summer isn’t complete without finishing summer homework with her friends.
12. Kyubey, Walpurgis, and everything magical-related is willed away from existence by Haruhi, and she remembers nothing. They spend the 31st finishing their homework.
If it weren’t for the planning process, I wouldn’t have been able to write The Wish of Haruhi Suzumiya as straightforwardly as I could. The final product, still a young first draft, will probably require small tweaks with regards to writing mechanics (spelling, grammar, etc.), but the main ideas and concepts are very much set in stone, and don’t require any further modification.
That’s the real value of pre-planning. It gives a sense of structure and shape to your story without actually spoiling the experience of writing down the details. It forms the pillars of the main ideas that you want to communicate in a story, and with regards to fan fiction, it makes it a lot more readable, and it makes yours stand out from the rest.
Fan fiction, by nature, is generally written by amateur writers, and as such, the overall quality is a lot lower than one would expect in the published world. That doesn’t need to be the case, as the fan fiction writing process is no different that of writing original fiction. And having taken huge strides in learning how to write from various sources, I’ve come back to the fan fiction world with a newfound sense of excitement to learn even more, and to share what I have learned with others.
By no means do I consider myself the be-all end-all resource to writing fan fiction in anime, but I would like to take an approach where readers of this blog can get to grow along with me as writers.