Top 5 Best Fanfictions I’ve Ever Read

I have now written not one but two posts about bad fanfiction, so in order to reassure everyone that writing and reading fanfic can actually be a rewarding experience, I thought I should give a nod to some of the good ones. I’m not going to lie, you have to wade through a lot of mediocre slush to find a well written fic in a fandom that you like with a coherent and original plot. When you do, it’s so worth it though. So I’m going to give you all the benefit of my extensive fanfic reading and share my top five favorite fanfictions I’ve ever come across. Hopefully you’re part of at least one of these fandoms, and if not then maybe I can point you toward your new favorite story. Hope you enjoy!

5. The Lines That Lie Between by RadientWings

This story is a Vampire Diaries Klaroline fic. (That’s Klaus and Caroline, for those who don’t know). It includes most of the Original family members and a few other characters from the main series. There’s a lot of Klaroline ship out there, but this one is unique because it’s set in an alternate universe in which the Forbes family children are sent away for a minimum of ten years as personal servants to the members of the Original family. When Caroline’s turn rolls around, she replaces her cousin as Klaus’ servant and…complications ensue. This story does a great job of letting their relationship develop naturally without rushing it. If you like romance fics, especially slow-burn, read this one. Even if you’re not a fan of The Vampire Diaries, you really only need a passing knowledge of the show to understand this fic.

4. The Last of the Guard by thatmasquedgirl

This one is about one of my favorites, Green Arrow (The Arrow TV show in this case, but if you’re a fan of the comics you might still like this). Unlike the others on this list, this is a one-shot instead of a longer series, so if you’re not feeling a longer chapter fanfic at the moment this is a great one to go to. Somewhat unusually, Roy is the center of this story, and the story follows him trying to join follow his dead father’s footsteps by joining the renowned Green Arrow Guard, which our favorite billionaire-turned-vigilante is the leader of. I especially liked the dynamic between the team members in this one, and the possibility of Oliver’s vigilantism as common knowledge in the city. You could probably still understand this story if you’ve never watched Arrow, but it’ll have more impact if you’re at least somewhat familiar with the show.

3. The Black Games by Mrs Pettyfer

The Black Games was recommended to me by a friend, and it was every bit as good as she said it would be. This isn’t exactly a crossover since it only has characters from one universe; it’s more of a Hunger Games AU using the characters from the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV show. If you have at least a passing knowledge of how the ALTA universe is set up and how the Hunger Games work, you can read this one. Katara is the protagonist of this story, and the story follows her (and almost everyone else from the ALTA universe in one capacity or another) as she tries to make it out of the arena alive, and along the way develops a relationship with a certain moody honor-driven prince. If you’re a Zutara shipper, put this on your to-read list. Bonus points: this fic is the fist installment in a trilogy. I’m in the middle of the second one now.

2. Painted Angels by WinJennster

Another recommendation from a friend that absolutely lived up to expectations. This one is a Supernatural fic, but it’s almost completely different from the show, so while things will be more significant to you if you’re in this fandom, you can definitely still read it if you haven’t watched the show. This is an AU Destiel (Dean and Castiel, for those who don’t know) fic set in Baltimore, Maryland, in which Dean and Cas are regular guys instead of a hunter and an angel. Regular guys who were very much in love a number of years ago, and are now seeing each other again for the first time, years after the the dissolution of their intense previous relationship. What’s cool about this story is that it starts out with two timelines, one in the present day and one in the past, so that we don’t see how things initially fell apart until they seem like they could be coming together again. Read it, even if you’re not a Destiel fan it’s  wonderfully written.

1. The Wolves in France by RobFromTheRich

Definitely my favorite fanfiction I have ever come across online, this one is an Inglourious Basterds fanfic about the Basterds mission in Nazi-occupied Europe. The story tells you pretty much all you need to know, so you don’t have to have seen the movie to read it. (Although if you haven’t seen Inglourious Basterds, what are you doing? Go watch it). We get to see a lot more of the Basterds’ team dynamics and their individual operations that weren’t included in the film. It follows the story of the movie more or less, but diverges in some places. I don’t want to spoil too much, just read it. I actually teared up reading this fic.

I hope you enjoy all these recommendations, and after you give them a read make sure you leave a review to let the authors know what you thought of their stories. Happy reading!

8 More Things I Never Want to See in Fanfiction Again

A while ago I wrote a post called Eight Words and Phrases I Never Want to See in Fanfiction Again, full of cliched descriptors and crutch phrases I’ve read way, way too much. As cathartic as it was to vent my frustration over some of my writing pet peeves, that was only scratching the surface. I’m back with a whole new list of hated fanfiction phenomenons. These aren’t all words and phrases, but they’re all irritating. Read and take heed; if I have to see these in more stories I’m going to get a serious case of writer’s rage. Can anyone relate? (Pronouns variable in these examples.)

  1. “Sending shivers down her spine” – Yeah, yeah, this one’s a classic I know. It’s been around since kids used to listen to half hour horror radio shows on weeknights. But you can come up with something 0.0005% more original than that, right? Why not say “sending shivers up her spine”? We’re subverting expectations already.
  2. “Bloodcurdling” – This is another awesome word that’s been worn out through overuse. Curdling is what happens to milk when it goes sour. Pause for a moment and think about that happening to your blood…ewww. That’s not even creepy, that’s just gross. But I bet your eyes just skip over it now because you’ve seen it so much.
  3. “Sickening thud” – Okay, this one isn’t even just in fanfiction; it’s in fiction in general. Everything lands on hard surfaces with a “sickening thud,” whether it’s your unconscious best friend or a stupid sack of flour. This word pair doesn’t even have any meaning anymore. It’s the writing equivalent of that whoosh sound they play in reality TV shows every time something even remotely dramatic happens.
  4. Refusing to continue the story unless you get a certain number of reviews – Okay, who exactly you do you think you are? You’re writing ONLINE FANFICTION. The only people who even read this stuff are the ones who are so aggressively nerdy they’re willing to put time and effort into creating non-canon offshoots of TV shows and movies just so they can get a fandom fix in between episodes or seasons. We’re basically fandom addicts. If the internet was a physical place, fanfiction writers would be the people hiding out in abandoned buildings smoking bowls of OTP (for those unfamiliar with fanfic lingo, that’s one true pairing, not a drug). I count myself among those people, by the way, I mean I am writing a ranty blog post about all the things I’m sick of seeing in fanfiction, which embarrassingly reveals just how much fanfiction I read…whatever, we’re not talking about me right now. We’re talking about you holding your story hostage until at least forty people break down and beg you to continue it. Get over yourself. If you don’t care enough to finish the story on your own, I guarantee no one else does either.
  5. “Luscious” (Specifically as it’s used to describe kissing) – Imagine a kissing scene, but not just any kissing scene. I’m talking a full-on romance movie climax kissing scene. It’s in the rain, and there’s mood lighting, and the light of the full moon is still shining through the streetlights, and they just poured out their hearts to each other, and they run to each other and meet in the middle of the inexplicably deserted street and embrace in semi-slow motion and their dewy lips meet perfectly in the middle, isn’t is just so…luscious? Pardon me while I gag.
  6. Character bashing – This is my term for when writers take characters who are nice or at least neutral in the source material and turn them completely despicable just because they don’t like the characters. It’s fanfiction, write what you want, but you can do better than some hamfisted evil characterization that comes totally out of left field just so you can make everyone else hate the character as much as you do. Give the source material some modicum of respect, please.
  7. Beating people over the head with your ship – WE GET IT. THEY’RE YOUR OTP. WE’RE ALL VERY HAPPY FOR YOU. BUT PLEASE CAN YOU WRITE SOMETHING OTHER THAN EIGHT PAGES OF LUSCIOUS KISSING SCENES.
  8. “Summary sucks but the story is better” – No it isn’t. If you can’t summarize your own work then you don’t know what you’re doing, of that I am confident. How about this, instead of making excuses about how terrible your summary is and begging people to read your story anyway, you could just, y’know, write a better summary.

Bonus tips: The enter key is a thing. Spellcheck is a thing. And for the love of all that is holy, pick a tense and stick with it.

72 Things I Learned in Philosophy 101

My school year ended a week ago, and on the last day of class my philosophy professor stood up and read us a list of what he hoped to have taught us this semester. I believe philosophy often much be done together, so in the spirit of sharing wisdom, I’ve decided to reproduce the list for you here.

72 things you (might have possibly) learned in this course

1.There are two kinds of people: those who see the Grand Canyon and those who take Selfies in front of it.

2. The only thing better than having a boyfriend with a tiny house is having your own tiny house…in New York City….1,000 miles from your boyfriend…with his stupid tiny house.

3. Sometimes your couch can kill you.

4. Sometimes your couch has to kill you before you realize that you’re alive.

5. Thoreau had three chairs in his house, but if he had thought more about the prospect of Robot-Romance he would have had four.

6. All deep human goods require vulnerability.

7. Sometimes it’s more important that someone said than what they said.

8. Comprehension and focus aren’t merely intellectual virtues.

9. “Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy… Understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times.”

10. We have a lot to learn from Socrates…which is annoying, because he is a real jerk.

11. Living in a tiny house will not save your soul.

12. Faith is the middle ground between fundamentalism and ironism.

13. Some things are intrinsically good.

14. Living well requires that we treat intrinsic goods as though they are intrinsic goods.

15. The Last Man lives to sleep.

16. Some Christians live to sleep.

17. Some Christians are Last Men.

18. Owning a safari costume doesn’t make you a hunter.

19. The most terrifying prospect for most of us is coming-off as cliché.

20. Clichés often express life’s deepest truths.

21. God loves you.

22. Marriage isn’t easy but it’s good.

23. Recipe for a meaningful life: Everyday, try to say one important and true thing in a way that someone can truly hear it.

24. Recipe for heartache: Everyday, try to say one important and true thing in a way that someone can truly hear it.

25. It might be possible to live a good life without also living a meaningful life, and that tells us something about the meaning of life.

26. A person almost certainly can’t live a meaningful life without also living a good life, so there Todd May.

27. Your actions might be pre-determined by events that precede you.

28. Your actions might still be free.

29. You have come to deeply enjoy meeting with your fellow discussion group members.

30. You will likely never meet together again.

31. If you understand why it is that you enjoy meeting with your fellow discussion group members and why it is that you will likely never meet together again, you understand two deep and important truths about human beings.

32. Conversation makes room for awkward silences…

33. Your professor is not funny.

34. “Note to self: talk to her, explain it does not hurt, they are not sad, but actually happy, given what their prior conditions were like: they chose, are glad, etc.”

35. David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

36. It’s way easier to just wear the costume, because…you know…lions can eat you.

37. Unless we learn to turn off our phones we will never have any conversations.

38. Sometimes we have to doubt before we can believe.

39. Our lives would be radically different if we simply paid attention.

40. Paying attention is really hard.

41. Many of you didn’t hear the last thing I said.

42. “Selfie” is a metaphor for that thing that makes it really really hard for us to be honest and loving and thoughtful.

43. A Selfie is also literally a thing that makes it really really hard for us to be honest and loving and thoughtful.

44. The most important questions are rarely the most interesting.

45. What does it mean to love your neighbor?

46. Premise 1: The World is full of evil and suffering.

47. Premise 2: If the World is full of evil and suffering, then God does not exist.

48. Conclusion: God does not exist.

49. Validity doesn’t entail truth.

50. Peter Singer makes a clever argument, but he doesn’t change lives.

51. If you see a group of people drowning, and one of them is wearing a clown costume, you have a duty to save him first.

52. Sometimes philosophers say really stupid things.

53. Sometimes the difference between getting an A and getting a B lies in whether you show-up on time.

54. Sometimes B students learn more than A students.

55. Sometime soon, just for the hell of it, you should risk getting a B in order to learn something.

56. Sometimes the occasion calls for a curse word.

57. Audio recordings make your voice sound weird.

58. Your voice really does sound weird.

59. The claim that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God” is…well… complicated.

60. We have a moral duty to see and appreciate that life is complicated.

61. You can’t think properly about life unless you think properly about death.

62. Some Christians wish they could push the fast-forward button on life.

63. That’s blasphemy.

64. Your possessions don’t necessarily define you, but they probably do.

65. “But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”

66. Most of us are educated beyond our obedience.

67. Suffering wreaks havoc on our Euclidean minds.

68. Suffering is an important part of the story, but it’s not the final word.

69. “I am guilty before all people and am the least worthy of all people.”

70. It’s possible to know everything I just said, without knowing anything I just said.

71. The last thing I just said is the most important thing I’ve said.

72. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and wisdom aims at living well.

 

 

MLK Day and Why Ferguson Matters Video

Hi everyone!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day to all! I hope you all had a pleasant day off from school and hopefully got rest and had fun. I spent the day wrangling unicorns and fighting off a massive troll invasion that threatened to overrun the planet. Jk, I watched Netflix and ate pizza. And if I actually knew of a unicorn I could never wrangle it; I’d want to watch its majestic beauty roam free through the wilderness…of the suburban Midwest.

In all seriousness though, take a moment to consider why this day is a national holiday. King accomplished some pretty amazing things over the course of his life, but unfortunately his work remains unfinished to this day. Racism is alive and well in American culture, which isn’t something we should tolerate as “just the way it is.” King inspired people to speak out against an age-old injustice. Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that our society still suffers from those same injustices. Last week members of the Ferguson Commission came to our campus to speak on this issue. If you’d like to see that conversation, check out this video. And if you think that racism is dead, you might want to read up on that. We’ve got a lot of work left still to do.

Thank you, Dr. King, for your efforts to make this country a place of safety and freedom for all its people. Hopefully one day we can do your work the honor it deserves by finishing it.

 

Weird but Awesome Ways for Wheaton To Arrange Chapel Seats

Hi people!

It’s a new semester here at Wheaton, and the protests over Dr. Hawkins’s suspension continue. As I type this I’m sitting in in the hallway in front of the administration offices. I also wasn’t in chapel today, since we had a demonstration on the steps followed by a pray in in the entrance hall of the chapel building. There are videos of that going up on social media soon if anyone wants to see them; just search for #reinstateDocHawk.

Anyway, one of the other distinctive things about today’s chapel is that it was the first one of the year, which means everyone was trying to figure out how they did this seating this time. For those who don’t know, Wheaton students have assigned chapel seats that change every semester, and each semester there’s some new way they chose to arrange the students. On the first day of the new semester, everyone starts getting to know their new chapel buddies, trying to figure out why they were placed together. In my time at Wheaton so far, chapel seats have been arranged alphabetically by the name of the high school you went to, by initials, and by home state (which meant all the international students were in the front few rows, and I, being from Texas, was way in the very back). I don’t know exactly who decides what the new chapel seating arrangement will be, but it’s got to be exhausting to have to come up with something every time, so I thought I’d help that person out. So here are some crazy cool ways Wheaton could arrange chapel seats in the future.

1. Love Language

Just imagine standing in the balcony and looking at all the different chapel sections expressing love to their neighbors, who are predisposed to reciprocate in just the right way! All the words of affirmation people could give each other kickass compliments, all the gift giving people would have holiday lists three miles long, all the quality time people could hang out and do cool things with their new friends, the acts of service people could help each other with homework and errands, and the physical touch people could have a giant cuddle party while listening to the speaker. Get on that, person who arranges chapel seats.

2. Favorite Genre of Book or Movie

This way there would be no awkward forced conversation on the first day while you try to find something to talk about with someone you have probably never met before. You would already have something awesome in common that you could chat about before chapel starts, and you could get recommendations from all the people around you for your shared favorite genre. Just imagine the fangirling. It would be epic.

3. Building You Spend the Most Time In

You could organize by major, but where’s the fun in that when we can relate to each other with the random placement of our classrooms. Obviously the conservatory students would all be together, which is kind of no change for them since they all basically live in the music building anyway. The theology, communications, and psychology majors could all walk up the hill together from the BGC in a giant pack, reducing the risk of someone crossing the street alone and being hit by a car. And most of all, we could all bond over the totally quirky, nonsensical way our buildings are designed. Fun for everyone.

4. Average Number of Hours you Spend Per Week on Netflix

Not only would this provide good match-ups with you and your chapel buddies in terms of introversion/extroversion, but it would give you a perfect excuse to hang out outside of chapel if you’re so inclined. Everyone you sit with would have seen at least some of the same things as you, and have a long list of new shows you simply have to see.

See, perfect ways to organize chapel seats and make friends. Now I just need to figure out who’s actually in charge of deciding this.

Things I Learned From Coloring My Hair

Hi everyone!

It’s officially 2016, and now that the new year has begun I’m here to announce that I will be getting back on my once a week posting schedule. My apologies for disappearing recently, but now that life has become a bit less hectic, I will be back every Monday, with occasional Book Club Wednesdays. This week I’ve been reflecting on hair, and I thought I’d share some of those reflections with you tonight.

Just before the beginning of this school year, I got my entire head of hair dyed bright lavender. Before that the most intense thing I’d ever done to my hair was a highlight/lowlight, and I had had the same long, blonde, straight hair since I was in middle school. I liked my blonde hair and lots of people said the color suited me. So why did I change it? It wasn’t so much because I really wanted to have purple hair as it was because I wanted to make a change. A crazy dye job is something I’d always wanted to try at least once, but I still deliberated it for months before I finally worked up the courage to do it. I was terrified that I’d end up hating it and I kept wondering if I would miss the blonde hair that had become standard, almost trademark for me. But once I finally did it, I was so glad. Not just because i liked the way it looked and it gave me an excuse to switch up my style, but because it helped me be less afraid of change, even if it seems drastic.

Why am I sharing this now? Because the new year has me thinking about the future and new opportunities that may or may not come along, which reminds of the fact that I’m going to graduate school in a few year’s time, which means I actually have to start being an adult and making big decisions. This year might bring about a big change for you. It could be a new job, a new city, a new relationship, a new interest, or just a new hair color. Maybe  it will mean saying goodbye to something or someone you thought you’d have forever. My wish for you in 2016 is this: whatever this new year brings you, new or old, don’t be afraid of it. Life happens, things change, and that means you lose some things and gain others. You won’t be the same person a year from now that you are today, and neither will anyone else in your life. So don’t think of change as a bad thing. Life goes through stages, and sometimes you have to move on before you think you’re ready, but you must.  It’s okay to be scared, but you have to live today. Yesterday already happened.

Book Club Wednesdays: Guts by Chuck Palaniuk (Read at Your Own Risk)

Read this if: You are a masochist, you like really disturbing stories, or are just too curious not to.

Chuck Palaniuk’s “Guts” is the first in a collection of short stories called Haunted. It’s definitely not as well known as Fight Club, but a few weeks ago I stumbled across a reference to the collection, and the fact that this story in particular has been known to cause people to faint during live readings. Full of morbid curiosity, I eventually couldn’t resist and looked up an audio track of Chuck reading the story. It was so unlike anything I’ve ever read, I’m not even sure into what category it falls. It’s not quite comedy, it’s not erotica, and it’s definitely not horror in the way that we usually think of it, thought it combines elements from each of those genres. If you, like me, cant’ resist the temptation to click on the link above, just know that it’s not for the faint of heart, weak of constitution, or those who enjoy calamari. It’s explicit in pretty much every sense of the word, so if you are easily disturbed, proceed with caution.

Once you get past the initial shock, I think this story exemplifies what an amazing writer Chuck Palaniuk is. He does an incredible job of taking relatively mundane activities and making them into really engrossing stories. If you’re wondering what kind of person writes something like this, Chuck wrote an article revealing his thoughts on the story which I found very intriguing, the last few paragraphs in particular. As freaky as the story is, it’s also very well-done, and I will be buying the whole collection to add to my library.

If there’s a book you’d like me to read and review for a future episode of Book Club Wednesdays, feel free to leave it in the comments below and I’ll put it on the list. Happy reading!