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What do you want to see/not see in a Worm fic? (aka, everything I think is wrong with the fandom)

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Anarchy, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Anarchy

    Anarchy Fourth Champion DLP Supporter

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    This thread serves as a few purposes, and will be split up into three parts. First part is just going to be my observations on the Worm fandom from my point of view (and will mostly just be a rehash of stuff I’ve been saying for years now). Second part will be my thoughts on crossovers, and third part will be the meat of this conversation, pure Worm fics.

    Alright, first part. The Worm fandom feels like it’s in dire straights. I’ll be up front and say that I think it’s because there’s not enough good writers. There’s not much you can actually do about that, since it’s not like you can force someone to write.

    When I brought this up a few years ago (probably like 2013 or 2014), it was mostly chalked up as growing pains of a new fandom or whatever. But it’s 2018 now, and nothing’s really changed. You’d think by now that there would be some sort of widely acclaimed epic. Think Wastelands of Time, or On the Way to Greatness, or even A Black Comedy.

    There are a few okay stories, and a few that I think are extremely overrated. Like, Cenotaph reminds me a lot of a jbern story, in that every seems to love it, but as soon as you step back and actually look at it, it’s not good at all. If you take that story and but it in the HPverse, it would be a completely unremarkable indy! story. And truthfully, I don’t think what fandom a story is in is an excuse for lazy trope ideas. I think part of the problem is from the major communities that are actively writing these stories. SB barely has a quality filter, and pretty much as long as it isn’t smut, it’s allowed, and people will gush over it. So lots of shit gets past.

    The fandom really needs some pillar, something to point at an go, “That. That’s what a good story looks like.” Right now, we just have a bunch of Harry Crows, and a few unfinished gems in the rough.

    Onto the second part. The Crossover Conundrum. I don’t know what the fascination is with crossovers. I’ve read a lot of them. I’ve tried most, at the very least. But, I still don’t think I’ve seen a single one that’s actually benefited from being a crossover. There’s still so much untapped potential in just pure worm stories with canon!Taylor, since there’s just so few stories that actually keep her the same and explore different scenarios. Basically, I just think if that the story can’t justify its purpose for being a crossover, it shouldn’t be a crossover.

    Most recent example, Ring-maker. There’s really no reason this is has to be a crossover. They’ve got Taylor speak in Sindarin, she starts the story already having 3 rings of power and each one gives a list of arbitrary powers, which is also open ended so the author can keep adding ones whenever the narrative calls for it. Like, what’s the point? They also flirt with the concept that their crossover power isn’t an actual cape power, but something to make them a superspecialsnowflake.

    A Cloud Path does the same thing, the whole cape-but-not-a-cape thing. And it suffers from the same syndrome of that it can’t justify being a crossover. I like the story more than most, but it gets sidetracked with the crossover stuff when it could just all be done within the Worm universe. Hell, I’d probably even rate it a 5/5 if it wasn’t a crossover.

    Onto the third part before I get sidetracked too much. There’s just so many things that people seem to do wrong when it comes to Worm. And the strangest part is that it doesn’t really feel like there’s a “right” but when you just read something, you can see when it’s the completely wrong way to go about something.

    I guess I’ll mention the alt-power stuff first. This shit is all over the place. I understand why people do it, but it’s the kind of shit that the HP community tried to grow out of years ago (though obviously there are still flagbearers, or newbies who’ve only just discovered that kind of story now.) I don’t mind stories that are written as “exercises,” like what if Taylor had Lung’s power or whatever. But it’s shit where Taylor just gets a random bunch of powers for the sole reason of trying to power her up. Like, give her flight for no reason, or super strength, or randomly just make her hotter because reasons. That’s the same shit we see in HP where Harry starts doing high level wandless magic, or is suddenly a metamorphmagus simply because the author wants them to be and it will be relevant exactly once in the story, or he’s a shadow elemental or some shit. I just don’t get why so many people are writing shit stories like that when there’s still plenty to explore with her canon powerset, Fuck, do people not remember how the story ended? The slow burn with her power where she actually turned out to be OP as fuck despite not launching lazer beams or bench pressing cement trucks.

    Anyways, it just seems like there’s so many things people are falling back on that we’ve long outgrown, but without the quality filter on SB it just sticks and propagates. For example, there’s the whole “stations of canon” thing that I guess is a thing in every fanon. In HP, it’s Harry having his first potions lesson, or the lesson with the unforgivables, or the Yule Ball.

    In Worm, apparently we have the same shit. Except the different is that most of the moments aren’t actually that relevant to the canon plot. Like we have Taylor’s first night out always coming across Lung, and then coming across the Undersiders. Like, this still happens even when Taylor ends up with the Wards or with New Wave, and even when her power is completely batshit OP. And then you have the inevitable scene with Danny and whether Taylor outs herself or not, and always some sort of conclusion with Sophia. Like, none of these things are all that interesting. Like I’ve said, so little of the universe has been explored, just do something, anything that is different.

    Really, there’s a lot to explore, and you don’t even have to go out that far on a limb. Come across Faultline instead of Tattletale, beat up some Merchants instead of the ABB. Spend as little on the school situation as possible. Explore her power, but do it in a reasonable way that doesn’t completely break the narrative.

    Alright, that’s enough of my monologue. So I turn it over to the people who managed to skim through it. What do you want to see in a worm fic? What do you not want to see?
     
  2. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    What I would say isn't that SB is full of bad writers or lacks quality control (I dislike the notion of forbidding fanfics because they don't meet your standard, whatever that is) but rather that it is full of like-minded writers, many people who like the same things, which is normal for forums, really. It's kinda what a forum is, a place for people who like the same things to meet. DLP is no different. I like SB/SV, I browse it quite often and I found many a fun story there, Worm or something else. The issue with that is, well, SB is also the place where most of Worm fanfiction is written. SV is basically the same and it is the difference between Pepsi and Cola (barely any, if at all). That means, one type of stories is dominating the worm fanfic sphere and I would agree in saying that that trend isn't necessarily to the better of the fandom.

    As such, I would say that the alt power Taylor story at its core is not to blame per se. I like its inherent potential. Heck, I still try a few now and then, like an abused wife, thinking this time it won't hurt me (even though it very much will). I think anyone had that thought, the "what if Taylor had X powers", since the powers that are available to the character are giving them access to many options open to them, and it should be exploring these new options that makes for fun/compelling scenes or interesting character interactions.

    It IS an interesting premise, at its core. I don't count Taylor as having the power set of a different source material as a crossover, btw, even if Taylor in the story is "technically" not a parahuman but a whatever that crossover thing is. That's still fundamentally an alt-power story, with a different flavor.

    Crossover for me is one or more characters from one setting going to another or blending settings. That story where Twilight Sparkle ends up in Worm is a crossover, Taylor being able to forge LOTR rings is not, imo.

    The problem that I see, that you also partly addressed, is that most of these alt power stories, for whatever reason, all follow the same blueprint, which is where the like-minded authors thing comes into play. For better or for worse, the authors on SB/SV, bless their hearts, really, really like the typical alt power formula. The one you described, the one I also have complained a lot about.

    You know

    - legal battle about Sophia and joining the Wards with Piggot/pressganging Taylor into the Wards
    - sending Sophia to the Simurgh zone or juvie
    - "bitches three" and immense focus on the bullies
    - power testing with the Wards
    - joining the Wards (usually kills the story)
    - starting the story in the locker
    - Lung fight (done too often)
    - Clockblocker yelling bullshit at Taylor's amazing new powers (done to death, was maybe mildly amusing the first three stories, not so much in the next 500)
    - Clockblocker cracking a joke and Vista hitting him for it (scene is in almost every alt power fic, word for word also murders Vista's characterization. Sometimes Assault and Battery stand in for this.)
    - Danny using the word kiddo (kiddo was maybe used twice or three times in Worm, one of them by Tattletale. Fanfiction would have you believe it's every third word out of Danny's mouth)
    - Danny making a lame joke and Taylor going "daaaaad"
    - Danny and Taylor teaming up to fight crime (this usually kills the story)
    - lots of Danny screen time in general
    - Glory Girl's aura causing the incest (means that a power can neatly solve the conflict and that's lame)
    - Glory Girl is a mindless berserker who thoughtlessly charges everyone the second she thinks they're a criminal
    - Brandish is the worst person in Worm
    - Greg has powers and becomes an important character
    - Taylor being super judgemental of the Undersiders for being criminals (putting the Undersiders and Taylor in conflict is difficult to do since we love them as a team due to canon and few people could pull it off without making Taylor a self-righteous asshole)

    Most of these, in some all of these, are beats used in almost every alt power Taylor story. And I would like to add that there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, it's fanfiction, basically write what you like and have fun with. The problem is, that since the main hub for Worm fanfics is mainly producing and celebrating these stories, they are dominating the fandom. I wouldn't have a problem with that if these were among the many Worm fics out there. The problem is, that for the most part, these are the only Worm fanfics out there and reading these same things over and over again is just not fun or engaging. At this point, my favorite authors could team up and try to write a story following this blue print and I am not sure I would like it, having read what must be hundreds, because I am a glutton for punishment and a thirsty Nemrut for worm fics. I am not going to pretend that I didn't have my guilty pleasures among these or that I didn't write alt power Taylor fics myself, but it is a bit concerning if the whole fandom mainly produces one type of fanfic, and that would be a problem no matter what that one type is. HP fanfiction wouldn't be what it was if every fic written had been like Black Comedy.

    Trends come and go in fanfiction, times where one type of story is popular and inspires a lot of people to try their hand at it, and that is fine and normal. Only in Worm, the alt power trend has been dominating since day one and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. It wasn't just one cycle but rather the only cycle. We get a few exceptions here and there but for the most part it's this, the vast majority of stories are alt power stories.

    As such, with so many stories doing the same few things, they kinda become indistinguishable, as they share so many scenes with slightly different paint jobs or flavors. Taylor may have drastically different powers but since they all aim for the same scenes, well, by nature there can't be much differentiation between them. That is one failing I see in many alt power fics, that they are so similar.

    The other is, well, is that the ability or superpower doesn't make for an interesting character. Basically, if you take away the powers, are you left with an interesting character? Canon Taylor, definitely. Most fanfic Taylors, not so much, unfortunately. In canon, the powers are a tool used to explore what kind of person Taylor is. She gets to use bugs and insects and has to find creative ways to make due with that in a setting where plenty of people are well defended against it or have no defense at all and how she balances that ability and that perception on her. It's all about giving her options and restrictions. When she uses it and most importantly, when she doesn't. Taylor doesn't take it out on her bullies in any way shape or form, even though she could get away with it very easily. That says a lot about the kind of person Taylor is. She also later on uses her powers to carve our someone's eyes and rot off Lung's crotch. She also forces them into the mouths of young heroes who were only trying to protect the innocent but were still in her way of doing good things.

    Those two aspects, of not harming the defenseless and civilians and also going all out against dangerous, vile criminals in extreme situations , and against heroes at times are what defines Taylor. One of the most fun scenes in Worm was in the bank job. Taylor absolutely refuses to let innocents come to harm, as she is a sweet, good girl who rarely does anything wrong. Her solution to ensure that everyone was safe, was to scare and intimidate everyone with black widows, i.e. one of the worst things you can do to someone that is not physically harming them, to plant big, poisonous spiders on them. Doesn't that say so much about Taylor and what a fun, interesting character she is? The type of person she is, both her strengths and shortcomings?

    Taylor is seen as this vicious, monstrous cape at some point, simply because her ability is conceptually horrifying. Very few people can handle being swarmed by insects and spiders. It's traumatizing by nature (not going to lie, I would die even if not a single of those things were to bite me). Barring the very few people who can survive an all out assault with them like Lung, most people won't walk away with multiple wasp stings and poisonous spider bites and Taylor has to be creative on how to use them in order to not kill anyone. Or with Alexandria, how to use her powers particularly ruthlessly in order to harm someone who can't be physically harmed, but who she believes is going to kill the people she loves. It's about her dealing with her reputation and coming to terms with and at times, not quite understanding how scary she can be or how horrifiyng insects can be because she views them fundamentally different thanks to her powers. her powers facilitate interesting character dynamics, explorations of her person and interactions with others, it is definitely not about just doing cool or efficient things.

    All that works because Taylor is the kind of person who would do all of these objectively horrible things to some humans and never to others but she also needs a good reason to do so. Panacea has arguably one of the strongest and most versatile powers in the setting and you can find a lot of stories where a Panacea with a different mentality and less ethics can do wonders with it, missing the point of Panacea who is, as a person, uncreative and bound by self-imposed rules and restrictions. She simply won't use her abilities to their fullest potential until she changes a lot and even then there are a lot of limits. Taylor as a person is someone who can get a lot of mileage out of anything as she is creative, brave and ruthless enough to come up with things under pressure. Give her any power and she would shine, which is part of the appeal as to why there are so many altpower Taylor fanfics.

    Most alt power fanfics waste a lot of time exploring the powers though, what they can do, and how amazing they are and how far reaching changes they can have, when it should be about Taylor (or whoever gets the powers) and the hand that those powers give to her. There are no training montages in canon, on how Taylor tries to practice with her powers and there is a reason for that. At most we get her trying to weave the costumes or collecting bugs in preparation, or Taylor trying something new while in a difficult situation, like using her bugs to see once she is blinded. It is not really that interesting what the powers can do but rather, how Taylor uses them, when she does, when she doesn't and why/why not.

    So by following what is a checklist for must have scenes and a focus on the powers and not the character who wields them, many of them seem similar and lose steam and get abandoned, because once those scenes are checked off, well, there isn't really anywhere to go. Again, there are exceptions, and there is nothing inherently wrong with doing it like this but if it is the only, or rather main influx of stories in the fandom, well, that's a bit of a pity.

    People get sick of the stories and since there are no others, people trickle out of the fandom.

    A solution, to me, would mainly be more writers writing different kinds of Worm fics. For that, Worm really needs to become mainstream, so that more and different people, with different likes and interests enter the fandom and contribute their things. There is no issue with SB/SV covering mainly alt power fics if there are other sites/forums out there covering other types of stories, only there aren't and that's not on SB/SV but rather on the people who don't write, or the fact that Worm is really only known in a few small circles. Maybe when the actual books are out and people can stumble on them in stores or when there is a show or whatever, will be the time when we get more varied types of stories. When the fandom increases in size and with it, getting an influx of new authors who will try many new things.

    Mainly, write new stories and hope other people do the same. I don't know when the books will be released, or even if they will be at this point, but I really, really hope they will.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  3. Paradise

    Paradise Seventh Year DLP Supporter

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    Holy shit lmao. Read this when I first woke up this morning. I've been saying this for weeks in IRC, just not as incoherent or well together. My major complaint with Worm, is how they love this one characterization of Taylor, y'know the one of a suicidal teenage girl. Literally the most frustrating thing in the world. I like Taylor as much as every worm fan but holy shit how do you not get supremely annoyed by her sometimes.

    The other thing is, if the story isn't Taylor-centric it doesn't do nearly as well as a Taylor-centric. Some of my favorite fics are non-Taylor centric or genderbent Taylor (Dust In the Wind, Marahal, etc) but those fics rarely get the recognition that Taylor-centric ones do and are often forgot about in favor of a Taylor-centric one.

    Also the massive AUs where in the fuck are they? I know even in HP there aren't a lot there either but there are a couple. In Worm I can think of two? Divided and that one where Nilbog got loose. That's it, and the Nilbog one is dead iirc.

    And actually a couple authors agree with the majority of what you said I can't put my finger on their names right now will do some research later and figure out who they were

    The reason for most of these is my major compliant that exists about SB, I like SB don't get me wrong its more fun and laid back then most forums and whatnot, but its a massive fucking hugbox. They don't criticize bad stories they just ignore them, if a story has like one good element they wank it to death, see Taylor Varga, okay start of a story, people really liked the dense updates and slow pacing. Its several hundred thousand words at this point and the plot is practically non-existent

    Will probably make this more coherent and add more substance tonight.
     
  4. Mutton

    Mutton Unspeakable

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    All Worm fanfic is fanfic of fanfic at this point rather than if the original piece, which explains a lot about how the writing community has grown
     
  5. ASmallBundleOfToothpicks

    ASmallBundleOfToothpicks Professor

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    I think the simplest way to explain the fandom is that it's inbred. First of all, it's a minute fandom when compared with something like Harry Potter. There aren't enough monkeys on typewriters to really push the limit on what can be done. To this day, more fanfiction about Harry is written in 24 hours than Taylor gets in a week. It's also centered almost entirely around SpaceBattles, which means there's a limit on how often someone can offer a new perspective on things. Worm as a fandom isn't going to grow as fast as HP did.

    Another interesting thing is the number of X-Overs, and my guess is that it's a way pulling in people who might not be interested in Worm, but like the X-Over element. It's also a pretty quick (lazy) way of handling alt-powers in the writer's own head. Again, since it's such a small, localized fandom, this strategy spread quickly, since writers generally like people reading their fic. That said, X-Overs is kind of SpaceBattles' thing.

    I do agree with Nemrut, that there is a formula to a shitty X-Over Worm fic, and the closest thing I could find to a 'Patient 0' is Banshee, by blackhole1. In terms of hitting every annoying story arc element, it's batting pretty close to 100.
     
  6. Heather_Sinclair

    Heather_Sinclair Minister of Magic

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    What do I want to see? Easy.

    I don't care about x-overs, alt-powers, CYOAs, all the other things that one might do to make it easier to write their stories. There are "good" (see: readable) stories using every one of those elements. I'll read pretty much anything as long as it isn't the exact same story I've read a hundred times already.

    The trouble is that people just want to experiment with an idea for a few thousand words and then leave it. There's no thought to plotting or outlining. I don't know how many stories are started with "I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going with this... etc." That's a perfect way for me to click right out of the page.

    Originality (semi-originality) is what I look for in any story that I'd follow on a regular basis. This is why I don't even bother to read anything that isn't past 10k words, sometimes 20k. Usually , by then the author has gotten past experimenting with some new Alt-power or whatever, and they start getting to the meat of the story... if they aren't the type of author that spends 100k words to get through the first day that is.

    I'll pick it up around then and see if it's something that I want to read.

    And what is it with these 500-1000 word chapters? I've seen longer author's notes or replies to questions. "Here's 300 words of my new story. What do you think? I'm trying to grow as an author, so be harsh... but not too harsh. Read and review! Don't forget to watch the 78 youtube videos I embedded in the narrative. They tell the story so much better. Oh, and don't forget to listen to the music while you read as well. It sets the tone better than I can write it. Don't forget to follow all the links I put in there also. Isn't writing background information boring? It totally ruins the story. Just click that link and you'll know all you need to about the character and their power. Isn't my Inviso-text totally cool?"

    Kill me.

    What's wrong with the fandom? The same things that are wrong with all the other fandoms. It's pointless to bitch about it unless you're willing to offer something for people to look up to.
     
  7. Anarchy

    Anarchy Fourth Champion DLP Supporter

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    I agree with a lot of this. I don't think there's anything inheritantly wrong with altpower fics. Heck, I'm currently working on one myself as a side project (tinker!taylor, will likely go nowhere). My main problem comes from the fact that her canon powerset still has a lot of potential to be explored but people rarely try. I mean, I could see going altpower route on a fandom that's been around for 10+ years and the canon powerset was stale, but it's not. Hell, most stories never even get far enough into the story to actual consider the events that happen after leviathan, or after the S9, or the ultimate endgame, which might be another issue, is that canon is long. It can be daunting, so people just explore the one idea and leave it at that.

    I also agree with your observation about the why. The power doesn't make the person, the person makes the power. That's why the canon characters are so interesting. I don't really want to read about people who are defined by a list of abilities.
     
  8. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

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    The whole point I think of Worm Fanfic is to avoid the canon rehash. I don't know if you've read it or not, but I've read plenty of aborted locker fics where she has the same canon powerset. The reason its not so much time related at this point is a lot of the fics are contained on SB. And they get a lot of traffic so something that would have taken more time to evolve its kind of been put into a pressure chamber. So you've got rapid expansion on ideas that people like.
     
  9. Triliro

    Triliro Second Year

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    For me, the biggest problem that worm fics/fic writers have is that most all of them are attemtpting to be AU but just end up doing the exact same things that happened in canon, they lack creativity. At this point, worn fics usually follow a simple pattern:

    1. Taylor gets new power
    2. Taylor fights Lung talkt to Armsmmaster
    3. Taylor struggles with hero/villain
    4. Random interruption about the locker
    5. Exact rehash of canon events that happen as in canon regardless of any changes the ff author has made

    The Worm fandom lacks needs to step away from the stations of canon, at this point every canon rehash you could dream up has happened. Worm authors seem to totally lack creativity and/or originality.
     
  10. someone010101

    someone010101 Groundskeeper

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    The fixation on the start of Worm strikes me as strange. It's Winslow, bullies, Wards, Undersiders, Danny and an undestroyed Brockton Bay. Anything after Arc 8 is totally undeveloped. How about a story about Weavers time in the Wards. Or maybe Theodores Grand Quest to destroy the Slaughterhouse 9. How about an AU where the Morrigan took off? Or - what if Defiant had killed Bonesaw. Or a divergence during the Warlord Arc. Or maybe Scion just doesn't go crazy. Or Alexandria throws Taylor into the Birdcage. I kinda wonder about Welds journey after he left the Protectorate.

    Instead: Emma, Sophia, Madison. And Danny. Reaaally.

    I also agree with most everything else but, well, whatever. The Worm fandom has enough fanfics I like, I've devoured far to many bad ones. It's stagnating a bit, but it's still ok. And I'm not going to write the great new Worm fic, sooo.
     
  11. DrSarcasm

    DrSarcasm Unspeakable

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    Personally I think that part of the problem with the large amount of mediocre fics comes from the issue of flexibility--mainly, that HP is far more flexible than Worm.

    In HP, everyone has access to roughly the same abilities. Some may be more skilled in it than others, but a standardized education means the same 'powerset.' Not being locked into a single set of abilities allows the focus of the story to shift away from what and how the wizards are fighting and more to why. In Worm, you are locked into a single set of abilities (though Tinkers get a bit more leeway). You have to be creative in how you apply those moves, which is why we get the training montages. A character in Worm learns how to use his powers by going out and 'patrolling' or by practicing in an empty warehouse. A character in HP could learn how to use magic just by going to Hogwarts, or by traveling the world to learn necromantic curses in Egypt or spirit-walking rituals from Native Americans, or by finding a textbook with spells scribbled in the margins, or a thousand other ways.

    On top of that the stories have very different starting points. Harry Potter starts his wizarding life very conflict-neutral. He has a remarkably healthy mindset, has friends who like him and the fame of being the Boy-Who-Lived to make him important, and a life made easy by having protective authority figures who are looking out in his best interests. It isn't until he goes looking for trouble in the form of Malfoy or the third floor corridor that he starts to have conflict. Yeah, Voldemort is out to kill him, but he doesn't become a real threat for four books.

    Taylor on the other hand starts the story in a really, really bad way. Her mom died recently, her father wasn't around to support her, her one best friend turned on her and psychologically tortured her for a year and a half, a massive distrust of authority due to willful and malicious ignorance of her ongoing issues, absolutely no support structure, a superpower that actively turns others against her (the conflict seeking nature of the shards + villainous-seeming creepy bug powers + inherent weakness of bug powers requiring a ruthless mindset to be effective), a poor financial situation and a home in a gang-infested city, no authority figures to protect her if she makes a mistake and gets captured and drugged into the Merchants, massive depression and self-worth issues from her aforementioned torture and attempted murder, the Endbringers, future!Golden Morning, Cauldron...

    Any story that takes place in Worm will have to tackle at least SOME of those issues, which means that we have to sit through the same storylines again and again with the Trio and Shadow Stalker and Tattletale and so on and so forth. Plus the number of characters we get to see get actual personalities is very slim. We see the Undersiders, a little bit of Dragon and Armsmaster, a few bits and pieces of characters like Assault and Miss Militia. Apart from that, we are lucky to get a character description to go with a name and powerset. We have no idea what the motivations of the characters are--most of the people we get to see are under stressful combat situations, so if you want to add a personality to say Aegis you have to basically take the Daphne Greengrass approach and make it all up. We have some of that issue in Harry Potter, but the Death Eaters are united by a cause that can substitute as a personality and Harry isn't likely to spend enough time around Michael Corner to need to develop his character (whereas Taylor might talk to Laserdream if she went an alternate route, which would need one).

    I'm not supporting these types of stories, just why I think they tend to propagate so much.
    ----------

    I would like to see a lot less power exploration though. Natural triggers in Worm are supposed to naturally know how to use their powers, so there shouldn't have to be all of this training time. Training montages tend to kill the pacing and the stories as well. For comparison, two Alternative-take-on-the-Gamer OC Worm fics, A Bad Name and The Paragamer.

    A Bad Name currently sits at 72k words. The character has joined the Merchants at roughly the time of the original story start and has gotten all the way through the alliance against the ABB. He's done his training in short descriptions of what and why, then gotten back to the plot. He can fight well enough to be a tough opponent to others but still taken down by the Protectorate, he doesn't bother with unnecessary training of skills like Computer programming, and the plot has been moving steadily with well thought-out characters and actions.

    The Paragamer sits at 150k. About 110k of that is him at his foster family's while learning about his power. He gets beaten up by common thugs, he has next to no offensive power, he has spent most of his time leveling botany or flirting or math, and he hasn't taken off for Brockton Bay since he decided he should about fifty thousand words ago.

    One of these is a joy to read, the other is a chore.

    I would like to see authors take some lessons from shows like One Piece. There are a lot of characters that are also locked into a single power, but they get to be clever with it. Each new power or move isn't planned out ahead of time, and they are very clearly a direct result of their power being used in a new way. Luffy has exactly one seemingly useless power--he's made of rubber. Yet he manages to figure out how to use that elasticity to make ultra-strong punches, he can pump his limbs to increase his bloodflow and heartrate into super-speed, he can blow air into his bones to make his body parts the size of a ship... One power, used creatively in the moment, which is exactly what Worm was originally about. Can't directly poison the armored dragon? Use a bug that carries another bug that is dipped in hallucinogenic to press against the unarmored mucous membranes of his eyes. Can't harm the invincible woman? Shove bugs down her windpipe until she suffocates.
     
  12. Mishie

    Mishie Fat Dog

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    Honestly to me it seems like the simplest way to sum up a major issue is the fact that far too many people focus on the powers instead of the people that use them. They jerk off to how awesome and cool they are and how high the ratings have to be because they're the best, and end up ignoring the shit that actually made Worm interesting. And the worst part is? People fucking love it. They love reading pages upon pages of Taylor thinking about her power and how awesome it is and how tragic it is that she's got such a good power, instead of anything that's difficult to write such as basic human interactions.


    Edit: Something important that I forgot about, and I feel that way too many people also ignore, is the fact that you can't trust a lot of the details when it comes to powers. Like sure you can figure out the basics of them pretty quick, but trying to test out any details safely is a complete waste of time since shit like being in a stressful situation or not using your power enough can cause the shards to fuck with things. Like of the million plus words of Worm, I honestly can't think of a single time that Taylor figured out something important about her power when she wasn't fighting someone.
     
  13. Methos

    Methos Seventh Year

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    Delete post, didn't notice it is only worm fics
     
  14. ctaynton

    ctaynton Muggle

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    I think part of the problem is that the Worm world is also confining. You've got impossible to kill Endbringers, all but impossible to kill Scion, and villains with incredibly cheaty powers all waiting to menace your delicate character study. A lot of authors feel the need to address all of these pretty much insurmountable plot elements in their story and it's quite difficult to do that with a Taylor that doesn't end up looking a lot like canon.

    I also think that Worm canon is more wed to Taylor's perspective than Harry Potter's world is to Harry Potter. Maybe it's the first person perspective, maybe it's that she's much more of an active protagonist, but I think it's easier to imagine Harry's world without Harry than it is to imagine Earth Bet without Taylor.

    As an aside, I think there're definitely good worm fics, even if most of it is overly formulaic. Just like there's plenty of canon rehashes of HP. I'm not sure if there's really a big difference proportion-wise if you tkae into account all the HP and Worm fics posted.
     
  15. ASmallBundleOfToothpicks

    ASmallBundleOfToothpicks Professor

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    The other problem no-one has really mentioned is the breakneck pacing of Worm. Despite being wordy as hell, and somewhat ponderous in how the story is told, the actual timeline is absurdly tight. There just isn't enough free space without going fairly AU, if you just want some street level supervillainy.
     
  16. Anarchy

    Anarchy Fourth Champion DLP Supporter

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    Ok, these last few replies are exactly what I'm talking about. Like, I can't tell if you're actually making excuses as for why things are they way they are, but that's what it seems.. There's apparently this perception that the storyline is rigid and that you must go from Lung to Leviathan to S9 to Coil to Noelle and not deviate at all. No one's actually going to complete a fic that spans all the way from her first night out, hit every bullet point all the way to Scion. Nor do you have to. Your endgame can be whatever you want it to be. That's the joy of fanfiction. You can write whatever you want. So why do people just keep writing the same thing as everyone else? I am firmly of the opinion that there is much more you can do with the fandom than what we've seen.
     
  17. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    It does seem that the best way to write a Worm fanfic is to handwave away the Scion plot. Keep the Endbringers, since they are integral to the tone of the setting, what with unstoppable monsters periodically just showing up to wreck cities every few months but have Scion be gone. Just left or had a heart attack or whatever.

    And even the Endbringer stuff, maybe have that only in the periphery of the story. Like an Endbringer attack happens to another city and the indirect impact that has on your setting and characters.

    Otherwise, yeah, trying to hit all the canon plot points is extremely difficult and quite often pointless.

    There are so many things to do though. You could write about parahumans in Africa and the situation there, with countless warlords warring for territory, ever shifting balances of power and the likes. Sure, you'd need to do solid research for it but should be worth it, to write a story about I dunno, a person there whose town/village/city gets targeted and they try to defend it or they get drafted as child soldiers. A "what if" story on Miss Militia perhaps, if she had been recruited by such a group for example and her trying to survive in there.

    Could write about a normal member of law enforcement or military, how they feel and live now in this world where guns, at times, aren't particularly effective any more. Could see a short story on that.

    Always liked the idea of Taylor of staying with the Undersiders after killing Alexandria or maybe not giving herself up at all, how that would have gone.

    The Undersiders as a whole, all being put in the birdcage could also be fun. Them taking over and carving out their place. Also good for crossovers, imo, feel like you could throw the Undersiders at a lot of settings and have fun with that.

    Could have a story maybe focus on warfare in general, with parahumans and tinker stuff. Think there was a china vs us kinda story with a focus on Glory Girl but don't think that went anywhere.

    Could write a story on maybe how Parian and Foil lived during the two years Taylor was in the Wards, how they managed to get by in BB. Imp after Golden Morning.

    Dunno, just a few things thrown out but there are a lot more possibilities out there, other than Taylor tries to do canon again but this time she has the power of all the x-men or something.
     
  18. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros.

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    Basically what Anarchy said in his most recent post are my thoughts on the matter.

    People breaking from station's of canon would fix a ton of problems I have with Worm fanfiction. It doesn't even take huge changes, just enough minor ones can have incredible impact on the story line to throw it all askew if you think it through.

    Like something as simple as Alt-Power Taylor fics? Worm canon should almost never play out exactly the same way. It's not just Taylor has different powers, canonical triggers are tied to your worst days and by extension your character. How do you deal with conflict? What are your first instincts in a fight? How do you treat people?

    One might even say that having a different power means having a different character, and I'd pretty much agree with that. If you have a different trigger but exactly the same character and story, you're doing something wrong.

    Another thing I agree with is just ignoring the big bads of the universe. It's too massive in scope to tackle, hell even canon didn't get it right. Far better to keep things local and small scale. People feel this need to fix all the problems of the universe when they don't have to. Your protagonist does not need to be literally Jesus.
     
  19. ASmallBundleOfToothpicks

    ASmallBundleOfToothpicks Professor

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    It's not so much that we're making excuses, but we're trying to make sense of why the fandom has evolved in this way. The overwhelming majority of fics are alternate power Taylor fics, with the basic premise that everything is the same as canon, but Taylor gets a sweet new power.

    The problem most writers run into when they plot something like this out for Worm, is that even if you ditch the Lung fight, it doesn't really change anything. Taylor has very little impact on the reasons stuff happens in the first couple arcs of Worm. The Travelers still accept Coil's offer to help them, which locks Brockton Bay into a Leviathan fight. Bakuda is still brought in by Lung. Then Coil assists his investments, the Undersiders, in surviving long enough for Armsmaster to show up and put down Lung. The Bank Job still goes off, because Regent and Bitch aren't very bright, ending up with the Undersiders getting away while Coil gets Dinah. Bakuda is still going to go after the Undersiders, since she needs to make a name for herself on the people who stole from Lung. Bakuda can't really win against them if Regent is still on the team. Bakuda has to get away, since the Undersiders are unwilling to keep Bakuda around and Grue won't let them kill her, for fear of escalation from the other gangs. Bakuda then goes on her rampage in the most chaotic stupid hissy fit in canon (Yes, Grue is an idiot too). That means the villains are going to ally to take her out. Then Leviathan happens. It is a chain of dominoes going over, that Taylor had nothing to do with- except be along for the ride.

    That said, it's no mistake the best AltPower Taylor fics are either massively AU, like An Imago of Rust and Crimson, or they figure out something else for Taylor to do, like A Change of Pace. But then you don't really get to have Taylor interact with Tattletale or Grue, who are somewhat fan favorites. Hell, it's not like joining the Wards stalls everything out either- I may not think that Banshee was an amazing story (though it definitely had some high points, like Taylor driving around with Hookwolf on the hood of a car, mulching zombies), but it didn't stall out until it left the Worm universe behind. What it really comes down to is that most writers who start on a Worm fanfiction just aren't very good. It's their first try and then it peters out. This isn't to excuse them or apologize for them, it's a statement of fact. The fandom isn't big enough to get stuff on the level of The Unforgiving Minute, or A Black Comedy. If you want to fix that, write something on that level.

    Remember, for a while Ack was considered the best writer in the fandom. His work is legitimately awful. Consider that for a moment. I mean, it's kind of baffling to me even today, since EarthScorpion started writing Imago around that time, The Laurent was starting Split, and for all its faults, A Cloudy Path is still better than everything Ack has ever written.


    Look, if there's one thing that reading fanfiction has taught me, it's that people aren't great writers over all. It's also taught me that good writer can take an awful premise and make it really enjoyable. The problem is that the Worm fandom is too small to hit a critical mass of good writers like Harry Potter, Mass Effect, or even Naruto where they can drag the general quality up a bit because everyone is copying them.

    Yeah. To be fair though, it's kind of inherited from canon.
     
  20. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros.

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    Except I'm not even arguing from a technical writing perspective. I'm not criticizing them for telling instead of showing, or using too many adverbs, or inconsistent characterization - I'm criticizing their lack of imagination.

    It's the exact same fucking thing as HP fanfics insisting on stations of canon (Troll - Befriend Hermione - Stone - Snake - Tournament - Horcrux Hunt).

    If you're changing just the most superficial things about the story, but the chain of events is the same, congrats you're not writing a story. You are a glorified copy-paste machine.

    Here's the problem with your line of thinking. You are assuming 1) That a story MUST start where canon starts. 2) That a change must be DIRECTLY impacting Taylor. 3) That authors CAN'T just make Arbitrary changes (to a degree).

    Not to toot my own horn, and I don't think my story Resonance was particularly good, but it at least never followed any stations of canon because it broke all three of those rules. The premise is literally just "Behemoth attacked BB instead of Leviathan and Taylor triggers during that event". Canon might still pan out roughly the same (in that Coil will still do his thing, the EBs will do their thing, and the S9 their thing) but it doesn't matter, because I've changed the dynamic entirely by delaying her trigger by a few weeks and focus on the changes than what's the same.

    That's what it means to keep worm street-level. Focus on the trees, not the forest.

    Bad writers copying good writers doesn't raise the quality, they just shit on a good idea with bad writing. Worm's bigger problem is the almost hivemind-esque approach the writers have. There's always one story in the meta and god forbid anyone come up with anything new while the meta is meta. I blame SB/SV's site configuration more than anything else for this as it allows popular stories to dominate the front page far more than somewhere like FFN, which in turn means that everyone starting a new story is just copying that one story. Hence, less ideas, hence my criticisms.
     
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