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Tips for Writing Good Fan Fiction

Journal Entry: Fri Jan 24, 2014, 9:57 AM

Tips for Writing Good Fan Fiction

Hello!  I’m Indy, or Indiana if you prefer the long version, and this is somewhat of a tutorial on what I look for, and find, in good fanfiction.  I’ve been writing fanfic my whole life, and I’ve dabbled in many fandoms, most notably of which have been Sonic the Hedgehog and Portal.  I’ll offer some insight as to how I write, as well as things I notice inexperienced writers tend to do.  Before I start, I’d like to make a disclaimer that I am of course not an expert.  Hopefully this is helpful to someone.

Understand Your Characters

This is a very important thing to do if you really want to do a good job.  You can write a story without understanding them, of course, but the more deeply you know the character, the deeper the story is going to be.  You want the story to be deep.  You want the reader to lose themselves in the story, and if something jumps out at them, they’re not going to be able to do that.  You need to know the voice of your character in order to centre the reader in the world you’re building.  If you’ve got the reader in deep enough, it’s not as likely that they’ll notice if you make a mistake. But it is important to know your characters.  This is where the term ‘out of character (OOC)’ comes from: when an author doesn’t properly understand their character, and has them do things they wouldn’t normally do.

Take note of a character’s history and motivations.  For example, say that you’re writing a Sonic the Hedgehog story and you’re writing about Dr Eggman.  Okay, you might know generally how to write dialogue for him.  He’s got those things he says all the time, right?  But have you ever stopped to think about why he’s saying them?  He’s got a reason for those catchphrases.  There are many ways to interpret a character.  You might imagine that he talks the way he does because he feels the need to look down on other people, because other people looked down on him in the past.  You might imagine that he talks the way he does because he thinks he’s funny.  Decide why he speaks and acts the way he does, and incorporate that into the way you tell your story.  You want us to hear the character’s voice, and if the reader tells you they can, you’ve done it correctly.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Something that inexperienced writers tend to do is to write every character so that they speak in much the same way, and they generally write the characters the way they (the writer) talk.  Don’t do that.  Take the time to examine the types of words the character tends to use.  For example, if you’re writing a story about Portal, would GLaDOS and Wheatley talk the same way?  Those of us who’ve played Portal know that GLaDOS isn’t British.  But aside from his accent and his slang, how else does Wheatley sound different from her?  Wheatley tends to use shorter words, and he strings them into long, rambling sentences.  GLaDOS uses more formal words, and she tends to mix long sentences together with very short ones.  Wheatley also tends to say exactly what he means, while GLaDOS prefers to mean one thing, but say another.  Of course, on occasion they will deviate from their normal patterns, but unless you know what those patterns are, any deviations you make will be very noticeable.  They both have very separate ways of speaking, and to write them both in the same way would be to not explore their characters in the best way.  Look at the sentence patterns of your characters as well.  If a character tends to use short, to the point sentences, it doesn’t make sense for that to be the character who becomes the main focus in the ten page expositional chapter way down the line.  Most people have a general way of speaking.  Figure out what it is and use it.  

Tell Us What You See

In some fics, authors tend to focus on dialogue, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, having large chunks of dialogue (in comic books referred to as ‘talking heads’) can slow your story down and make it uninteresting.  I don’t mean to say you need to take the dialogue out.  You don’t.  But what you do need to do is intersperse it with action.  Not big action sequences or anything, just describe what they’re doing while they’re talking, or tell us how they’re saying it.  Sure, two people might be having a conversation.  But have you ever had a conversation where both people just sit there and stare at each other?  I doubt it.  While people have conversations they look around, fidget, tap their feet, check their phones, play with their eyebrows… I could go on forever.  Think about what the characters are doing during their conversations, and tell us what it is.  Not only is that a lot more interesting, but it helps set the mood.  If they’re fidgeting a lot, we know this is a scene with a lot of tension.  If they’re frowning and crossing their arms, we know there’s probably going to be a confrontation.  Someone once told me that I built up the tension in a chapter where nothing really happened.  That is your goal.  Make it feel like something is happening even if it isn’t.

While you’re doing that, keep in mind that although you for sure know exactly what the characters are doing and how they’re doing it, we don’t know that.  For example, if you have a character who’s afraid, but all you tell us is that they’re afraid, that’s all we know.  We don’t know what you’re seeing inside your head.  We don’t know if they’re really scared, or a little scared, or that kind of scared where they’re hiding it.  Tell us how their faces look.  Tell us how they’re standing.  Tell us what tone of voice they’re using.  Be descriptive.  It benefits a story hugely if the reader can imagine what’s going on.  You know you’ve done it right if your readers tell you they could imagine the scene.  

Know the History of Your Fandom

Now, I understand some people like to write AU stories.  But for those who don’t, or for those who will write AU stories but tell the reader that the backstory is canon, you still need to know what has happened in your fandom.  For example, if you’re writing an AU story about Dexter, and you’ve decided that you want to write about some period of time between the end of season seven and the beginning of the next season, keep in mind what’s happened so far.  Yes, we know Dexter collects blood slides… but we also need to remember that he stops collecting them after a certain point (I actually don’t remember what season it was, that’s why I’m not specifying!).  That’s important to the plot of the show, and that makes it important to your plot.  If you forget that he no longer collects them, but you include that into your story, that’s going to stand out.  People are going to call you on that, and you’re going to get reviews that say, “Hey, I thought he stopped collecting those way back when –“  That’s an avoidable mistake.  Be careful.  Remember, the more you put into this, the more you’ll get out of it.

If you don’t know something, look it up.  Like I mentioned up there, I don’t know what season Dexter stopped collecting slides in.  All I remember is what he did with the slides.  Take the time to look it up on the fandom Wiki, ask someone, or watch that part of the episode again.  It doesn’t hurt to take the time to figure that out, and it only makes your story better.  Remember, some people know their fandom history really well, and the more errors you make, the less likely it is they’re going to come back to your story, or to your work in general, if they think you don’t know what you’re talking about.  And I’m guessing you want them to come back.

Know What You’re Talking About

When you’re writing fanfiction, it’s pretty important to have a good knowledge of what you’re trying to write about.  If you’re writing about characters building something, take the time to get to know how the engineering process works.  If you’re writing about two characters trying to manipulate each other, take a look at how psychology explains manipulation.  Don’t make it up.  Chances are, your readers will know.  And again, that takes them out of the story, which is not something you want to happen.  Get to know your topic.  It might be a little time-consuming, but in the long run you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re trying to do, and you might learn a lot of cool stuff on the way.  I had to look up vortigaunts for something I was writing earlier this week, and I found out a lot of cool stuff I can for sure use in future writings.  Fanfiction might be an opportunity for you to escape stuff, but it is also a very unique learning opportunity.  If your characters are going to ride horses across the prairie, go check out the different types of ways that people ride horses.  A character who’s never seen a horse before is going to ride it differently than someone who has been riding them all their lives, or even something as small as a short person riding differently from a tall person.  Show us you know your topic.  It’s impressive to read a fanfic and learn things you never knew before, and this is actually a draw for me personally.

Watch the Words You Use

This is kind of the same thing as knowing what kinds of words your characters use, but a little bit different.  For example, if you’re writing a story about Dr Kleiner from Half-Life and you have him tell Gordon about ‘that orange suit you wear’, well, that doesn’t make sense.  Dr Kleiner knows what the suit is called, and he’s a scientist.  He might not always refer to it as the HEV suit, but it’s a safe bet that having him tell Gordon about the ‘HEV suit’ instead of ‘the orange suit’ is going to make it sound more like him.  Decide on the tone of your story and go from there.  Barney might call it the orange suit, but Dr Kleiner wouldn’t.  

Terminology is also important even when the characters aren’t speaking.  Is the person you’re writing for smart?  If they see a computer, they’re likely to know all the parts, right?  So in a story about a scientist, they would probably refer to the screen of a computer as ‘the monitor’, when a story written about someone off the street would probably go ahead and refer to it as ‘the screen’.  A smarter character is more likely to know the type of cat that walked by them on the street, while a more laid-back character will probably refer to the cat in a different way.  I recently had to write about GLaDOS doing surgery on a bird.  I almost published it with her just saying that ‘the topmost bone on her left wing is badly crushed’, but GLaDOS is both a scientist and a supercomputer.  She is extremely likely to know what the bone itself is actually called, so I took a minute and looked up bird skeletons.  It’s these little things that add to the believability of your story.

A good way to keep a story rich and interesting is to use a lot of different words.  And I mean a lot of different words.  An easy way to do this is to write a sentence in Microsoft Word (I’m saying this because it’s what I happen to use), then put the cursor over one of the words.  Right click, then select ‘Synonyms’.  A list of words will appear that are words that mean almost the same thing as the word you used.  If it’s giving you a weird list that has nothing to do with anything, just click ‘Thesaurus’ and it will open up the dictionary pane.  Then it will give you several different words for every different meaning of your original word.  Do this for as many words as you like, but keep the words understandable.  There’s a line between enhancing the story and making it too complicated.  If you don’t know what the word means, chances are your readers won’t either.  But again, when you’re doing this make sure it fits in with the character’s voice.  You might think ‘glowering’ is a really cool word, but would your character really use it?  Or would they be more likely to use the word ‘glaring’?  A little thought goes a long way.

Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

Yes.  I know.  You’ve heard about it a million times.  And I understand why you might not think it’s important, when you’ve got a great story out there.  But the story is only great if everyone can read it.  I am by no means the typical reader, but when a story lacks proper spelling and punctuation, I’m likely not to keep going and I am definitely not going to enjoy it as much as a properly written story.  If I’m reading your story, I want to read something for fun.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it very fun to try to figure out what the author was saying because their spelling is off or they don’t use commas properly.  Find someone to help you.  Believe me, I know how it feels to finish writing something and then just want to upload it straightaway.  Don’t.  Go over the story.  Try to figure out why Word is putting those green lines under your sentences, and whether it’s safe to ignore them.  If Word is giving you blue lines, take a look at those too.  If you see those red lines, check to see if the word is spelled wrong, or if your spellchecker just thinks that person’s name is spelled wrong.  If it’s spelled correctly, consider adding it to your dictionary so that you can get it out of the way and focus on the words that actually are spelled wrong (for example, I had to add ‘GLaDOS’ to my dictionary because I got tired of Word telling me it was spelled incorrectly).  And watch your formatting!  A giant chunk of text is not fun to read for anyone.  Use formatting to your advantage.  Write large blocks of text for descriptive passages.  Hit Enter at the end of every line to keep your paragraphs short and build tension.  The way your story is built can be just as important as the contents of it.  

On a side note, keep your private thoughts out of the text.  Some writers like to put stuff in brackets in the middle of their stories saying what they’re thinking while they write it.  Don’t do that.  Save it for the author’s note.  Hearing your voice when the reader is trying to imagine the scene you wrote is like getting woken from a dream.  It pulls the reader out of the story.  You want them in the story.  That’s the whole point.  If you have something to say, put an author’s note at the bottom.  And some of you might be thinking, “But I put it in the story because I didn’t think they’d read the author’s note!”  I’m sorry, but if they don’t want to read the author’s note, they probably don’t care whether you put it in the story or after it; they don’t want to read it, period.

Edit, Edit, and Edit Again, and Edit Once More for Good Measure

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before as well.  And you’re probably saying, “But I do edit!”  Hang on.  There’s a right way to edit and a wrong way to edit.

The wrong way to edit is to read over your story and think there’s nothing to fix.  There is always something to fix.  Even if you’ve edited that sucker eight times, I guarantee you on the ninth edit there’s something you could have done better.  I do probably eight or nine read-throughs before I post something, and when I go back and reread the story after I’ve posted, I’ll still find errors in the text.  The right way to edit is like this:

You need to look for mistakes.  You’ve made them.  That’s a fact.  You wrote ‘who’ instead of ‘how’, there’s a quotation mark missing from the fifth paragraph, or your spellcheck somehow missed that one problem word.  And when you feel your spelling, punctuation, and grammar is up to par, check it again to make sure.  It doesn’t hurt to do one more check.  The world won’t end if you don’t post it five minutes after you finish writing it.  I promise.

Then what you need to do is look over your story as objectively as possible.  You need to ask yourself for every part: Does this make sense?  Is this part of the story contributing to the plot?  Have I made this object obvious enough that everyone will remember it ten chapters from now?  Here’s something to keep in mind when you write: If you need to explain it to the reader after the fact, you wrote it wrong.  I’m not trying to be insulting.  I’ve done it myself.  And you might have written the most symbolic fic in the world, all filled with double meanings and innuendos and whatnot, but if the reader has no idea what you’re talking about, you’ve failed in your task as a writer.  And that task is to present to the reader what you’re thinking about the subject.  If you need to answer it in the comments, or you need author’s notes the size of novellas (guilty as charged) to explain the story, you have not written it properly.

So once you’ve gotten the spelling, grammar, punctuation, logic, and plot threads under control, go ahead and post.  But you need to actively edit your work, instead of doing it just because I told you to, if you’re going to write a good story.   If you can, find a beta.  That is the best, easiest way.  They’ll be able to point out things you didn’t see were missing, ask questions you didn’t know needed answered, and spell words you didn’t know existed.  If you’re on, go to the Betas tab and look one up.  If you’re just on dA, look for fanfiction groups that offer betas.  Those people want to help you.  Let them.  And take their advice, especially if they’re better than you.  Chances are, these beta readers are people who have been writing longer than you have.  And even if they haven’t, they still have something to offer.  Be careful when you’re choosing betas, however.  If they don’t have a history in writing, they might not be who you’re looking for.  They might have good intentions, but ultimately someone with a lot of good, published stories or an English degree is probably a better beta than someone who’s just doing it because they’re bored.

Take Feedback Seriously

Some people ask for reviews, but they don’t really want reviews.  They want you to tell them how great the story was.  And this might be you.  You might have your day made by someone’s “Ohhh they’re so cute together!”, but when someone has something not-so-good to say about your story, it upsets you and leads you to block the person.  And if this is in fact you, I have a question:

Do you want to get better as a writer?

If you do, take the feedback seriously.  If the reader feels something is off, take the time to understand why.  If they feel something’s not right, that means they weren’t immersed in your story.  And you want them immersed in your story.  No, not every story will be a masterpiece.  Not everything is.  And no matter how good the story is or how well-written, there will be people who don’t like it.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve made a mistake.  Learn from it, and go on to write more stories.  If you get a harsh review from someone who genuinely just wants to rip into you, ignore it.  But if someone’s offering you well-intentioned advice, consider it.  And I don’t mean read it and say thanks, and forget that ever happened.  I mean keep it in mind the next time you write.  It will help.  I promise.  It’s okay if not everything you write is fantastic.  As long as you learn from it, you will improve.  And if you really want to improve, write a lot.  There’s this thing that says that ten thousand hours makes a genius.  Good writers didn’t wake up and set their fingers to their keyboards and magically produce the best fics ever.  Ohhh no.  They started where you started, with stuff that makes them cringe when they read it, stuff with a cobbled-together plot, the worst spelling you’ve ever seen, and characters that make cardboard seem pliable.  There’s this really annoying phrase I’m gonna impart, and it goes like this: practice, practice, practice.  You will never, ever get good at something if you don’t!  Does improving your writing take a long time?  I’ll answer that with another question.  Does getting better at hockey take a long time?  Does learning to play Chopin’s Etudes take a long time?  Does completing those pesky Portal test chamber achievements take a long time?  The answer to all of those questions is, absolutely!  If you want to get better, put the time in.  I cannot stress that enough.  I have literally hundreds of pages of handwritten crap in my microwave stand, but if I didn’t write all that crap I’d never be where I am today.  I’d be stuck in the ‘writing absolute crap’ phase.  (And please don’t take it to mean everything a new author writes is absolute crap; I’m only referring to myself here)

Write For Yourself, Not For Others

I know I’ve been saying the whole time that you need to make the story an experience for your readers.  And you do.  If what you care about are reviews, faves, or the like.  But if you write for the readers and not yourself, the story will never be all that it can be.  Why?  Because the person who needs to care about the story most is you.  You are writing it, and ultimately, are you not the most important reader?  You are putting the hours into writing it.  If you don’t care about it, and I mean really, really care about it, and you’re just writing it because you promised your followers you’d have a chapter up on Friday, that’s not good.  I for one can tell you that I very rarely write for anyone else.  I do accept prompts, but I never guarantee that I will fill them.  I appreciate reviews, but I don’t need them.  I appreciate faves and follows, and I do enjoy it when people tell me that my story was inspiring or stayed with them.  But I didn’t write it for them.  I wrote it for me.   The most important thing to do is to make it an experience for yourself.

If you like that unpopular ship that you’ve never seen anyone write for, write for it.  If you want to explore the origins of that bad guy that everyone hates because you think there’s more to him than meets the eye, explore them.  Write what you want to read.  This guarantees that you will care about what’s happening in the story, and you’ll do your best to make it good.  If other people care about something, let them write about it.  I am not ashamed to tell you my favourite author is myself.  Why?  Because I care about what I’m writing, and to me at least, that care comes out in my work.  I write what I want to read.  Do I have other favourite authors?  Yes, of course I do.  And as far as I can tell, they write for themselves, and not because there are twenty people waiting for a new chapter to come out.  They take their time, they let life get in the way, and they write what they want to read.  Look at some of the fics on with the highest amounts of follows and faves.  Some of those fics have been around for years, and are not even that long.  Take your time.  Do your best to make yourself proud.  Write something you’ll be able to read three years from now and still enjoy.  In the grand scheme of things, in three years your story will be likely buried in the archive or on the eightieth page when you search up fanfic for that fandom, but it will always be on your computer exactly where you left it.  Make yourself proud!       

So that’s my little run-through on writing good fanfic.  I’m generally well-received as a fanfic writer, so I thought I’d share a bit on how I do things.  Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Hit me up.  I do accept feedback XD

If someone read this that I offered to fill a prompt for, be advised that I still intend on filling it.  But the way I write disables me from filling them quickly.  ScarletandLunaRcool and that other person I offered a prompt to (forgive me, I remember the prompt but I’ve forgotten your name), I still intend to fill them.  I kind of just meant that I don’t go looking for prompts like other people.

If any of my watchers read this, I do try to uphold a weekly schedule for updates to keep myself sorted out, but there will not be a new chapter for Love as a Construct this week, if anyone was anticipating that.  I have ten pages to write, and ten pages is the entire chapter.  Euphoria hasn’t been updated in two weeks, so I’ll be attempting to write the remaining two pages and have that up soon.  I don’t want to stall with those fics so I’ll be doing my best.
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Portal: Still Alive


Characters: GLaDOS, Chell

Setting: Post-Portal 2




Orange and Blue hadn’t come back.

They had been taking more and more time to do so, lately, but she could hardly blame them.  They were getting old, after all.  She had never expected them to last forever.  The only reason she was still using them was that building more of them would have been stupid.  Robots testing was not Science.  Still, she had to make do with what she had.  Other than the occasional human who wandered into Aperture, whom of which she would gleefully put through testing until their… usefulness… came to an end, she had no test subjects.  No, robot testing was not Science, but she had earned commendation for trying.  Even if the commendation was a personal commendation, from her to herself.  Come to think of it, the only one who ever commended her was herself.  Which was odd.  Surely she had earned commendation by now.  She would look into that. 

Grudgingly, she took her attention away from the construction of what was to be one of her most ingenious test chambers to date, and directed it to the chamber that Orange and Blue had been using.

 “I understand this test is hard.  However, there is no need to hide yourself within it.  After you finish it, I’ll give you a break.  I promise it will be a real break this time, not a three-second break like that other one I pretended to give you.”

She had four cameras in that chamber, all of which, taken together, provided her with a thorough view of the room.  Once she actually remembered which chamber it was, she realized there was nowhere for them to hide.

“Okay, I see you’ve figured out how to move the panels when I’m not looking.  Congratulations.  Now will you please return to the test?  You’re going to initiate the regression of Science if you don’t hurry up.”

The two robots did not appear, nor make a noise.  Honestly, if one of them had leapt out and tried to frighten her, a loathsome human gesture she had spent quite a long time attempting to rid them of, she would have been happy to see them.  Well.  Maybe not happy.  But she would have been civil about it.  More civil than usual, that is.  Marginally.

“You don’t want to force Science to go backwards, do you?  Seriously.  That would be catastrophic.  I might cease to exist, and we all know what damage that would do to the world.  Stop hiding.”

Against her better judgement, she was beginning to feel concerned.  They had never taken so long to show themselves.

“You’re going to stop existing before I do.  You should probably stop hiding before that happens.”

They still didn’t come out.  Very well.  She would wait a few minutes, and then call them again.

“I’m going to start ignoring you if this keeps up.  You might want to come back.”

After a few more minutes, when they didn’t, she took desperate measures.

She disassembled the test chamber.

After most of the elements had been cleared away, and all that was left was four walls, a ceiling, and a floor, she finally found out what had become of her cooperative testing initiative.  It wasn’t what had happened that surprised her.  No, it was what hadn’t happened.

The reassembly machine hadn’t put them back together.  Annoyed, she went to investigate.

It was broken.  Again.  Usually, it just reassembled itself, after thoughtlessly forcing her to become mildly concerned about Orange and Blue, but this time it lay in disrepair. 

They weren’t gone.  They couldn’t be gone.  They were hiding.  That was all it was.  They were pretending to be gone, they had deactivated the disassembler, or something, they were doing this on purpose just to play mind games with her.  Well, fine.  She could play mind games too.  And since her core was made out of tougher stuff than scientific calculators, she could easily best them at any game they came up with.  Especially this absurd ‘let’s pretend we’re gone’ game.

“Fine.  Continue this silly game.  I’ll just build new robots, and the next time I see you, I’m detonating you for real.  Do you hear me?  For real, this time.  And then after I detonate you, I’m reassembling you, and sending you into android Hell.  That’s right.  Android Hell.  Where all the worst robots go.  And all because you didn’t want to come when I called you.”

As solid as this plan was, when she went to carry it out, she realized she couldn’t.  The reassembly machine was also her assembly machine, and she was out of calculators.  The only point in her favour here was that Orange and Blue were unlikely to know that. 

A few days later, they still hadn’t come back, and although she had been surreptitiously cycling through all the cameras as fast as she could process the data coming from them, she still couldn’t find them.  It was only when she finally realized she wasn’t receiving a camera feed from the bots themselves that she started to accept that something was wrong.

They can’t be gone.  That’s impossible.

The test chamber itself told her a different story.

Lying on the floor, beneath a section of ceiling that formerly housed a row of Aperture Science Crushers, was a distressingly untidy heap of robot parts.

“You should get up.  You’re not being useful to anyone like that.  I need to speak to you.  I’m not going to punish you.  I’m not angry.  I’m calm.  Can’t you see how calm I am?  Will you get up now?”

There was a sense of creeping panic growing stronger in her mind, and she struggled to ignore it.  They were fine.  Everything was fine.  This was just a joke taken too far, that was all.  She would talk to them about it, and it would never be mentioned again.  Well, she might mention it.  A few times.  To remind them of how much they had distracted her from proper Science.  But not too much.  Not more than was necessary.

After waiting a reasonable length of time, she decided to send the Party Escort out to fetch them.  After expanding its parameters a bit to accept robots, she waited in her chamber for it to bring them to her.  This was one of the rare cases where she regretted not being more mobile.  Fetching them herself would have had far more impact.  They might even have gotten intimidated, which would have been a welcome bonus.  But there was no need for idle speculation.  Things would happen how they would happen.

The Party Escort returned within a few minutes, dragging a panel along behind it.  She wasn’t facing the door, of course.  You couldn’t give a proper reprimand if you were eagerly awaiting the recipients.

“I hope you realize just how much trouble you’ve caused me.  I have had to waste time I could have been using to further Science on you two.   And believe me, the mere act of your construction took far more time than is acceptable.  What do you have to say for yourselves?”  And with that, she turned around.

Orange and Blue were in no position to answer her.

Oh my God.  Oh my God, my babies.

She bent down to look at them more closely, but this view didn’t bring any hope to the situation.  They were hopelessly mangled, their wiring twisted and their limbs broken. 

“If you get up, I… I’ll call you by your names.  You have names, you know.  I just don’t use them.  It’s better to keep tests objective, and using names isn’t objective. 

“I’ll make the tests less deadly.  Would you prefer that?  They don’t really need to be deadly, since you’re not human, but I made them that way in case any humans wandered along.  We haven’t seen one in years, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come.  I’ll do it if you just get up.”

She tried to think of other things to convince them with, but they were robots, and if they were anything like her, there were probably only a few things they wanted.  Actually now that she thought about it, she wanted quite a lot of things, but she was fairly sure Orange and Blue didn’t.  She hadn’t designed them to want anything.  Hopefully they hadn’t rebelled and started wanting things when she wasn’t looking.

“Please get up?”

She was surprised at how soft her voice was. 

But they still didn’t get up.

She turned away from them.  Of course they couldn’t get up.  They were broken.  And the reassembler was broken.  And she was out of parts to repair it with, even if she’d known how.  She had the schematics for it, of course, but she was not a construction bot.  She was a supercomputer.  She was good at many, many things, most things in fact, but she was slightly less good at manual repairs.

She left them there for a few days, ignoring them, going about her business as usual, designing test chambers and keeping tabs on the turret production line and keeping an eye out for humans she could convince to run her tests, all the while trying to ignore a faint voice in the back of her mind.  The voice told her over and over again that they weren’t coming back, and they never would no matter how much she ignored them or threatened them or cajoled them, if she could even lower herself to doing such a thing.  Eventually she turned back to face them, studying the highlights and the shadows her optic made on them, trying to deny the truth to herself.  They were annoying, and they never listened, and they were disturbingly human-like in their mannerisms, but they were hers, she had made them with her own machines and her own calculators, she had programmed them!  They were an even bigger achievement than the test chambers!  They could not be gone, they couldn’t, and she was going to make them get up and listen to reason, and she was not going to take no for an answer.    

But no matter what she said, no matter what she did, and no matter what she would think of in the future, they did not get up.  And they never would.

“I hope you appreciate the amount of distress I’m going through for you.  You probably won’t, though.  You never appreciate anything I do for you.”

Fine, she thought to herself.  Well, they couldn’t just stay there on the floor.  She had to do something with them.    So, with the aid of some panels and maintenance arms, she took them to the turret redemption line, which had the only working incinerator left at Aperture, and set them on the conveyor belt, which wasn’t actually being used at the moment.  There had been very few turrets to redeem in the last few weeks.  She would send them to their victory candescence, and life and Science would go on.  And that would be that.

That was the theory, anyway.  When it came down to the practice, however, it wasn’t so simple. 

Just turn it on.  No need to dawdle over it.  They’re just robots.

But they’re my robots.

She remained that way for quite a while, far longer than she would ever admit.  She didn’t know why.  But she just could not bring herself to activate the conveyor belt, no matter what logic she applied.  Something she couldn’t explain and couldn’t identify prevented her from doing it. 

They could be suffering, right now.  They can feel pain.  I could be prolonging their agony.

She was angry with herself for not thinking of that sooner.  They could be trapped inside their cores, unable to do anything but experience… whatever it was they were experiencing.  She wasn’t getting power readings from them, and they were extremely mangled, but that didn’t mean a whole lot.  She had felt pain as a potato, after all.  And that was with just 1.1 volts.  Maybe her multimeter wasn’t properly calibrated.

She finally managed to activate it, using that argument, and watched the belt activate with a loud clunking noise as it jerkily rolled towards the incinerator.  Why was incinerating Orange and Blue so difficult, anyway?  They were only robots.  Nothing important was dependent on them. 

But they’re mine.

 As she looked on, she found herself hoping that something would happen.  That the reassembly machine would come back to life.  That the conveyor belt’s shaky progress would come to a halt.  That the incinerator would go out.  She didn’t understand all these strange thoughts, but they didn’t stop coming, and the closer the robots got to the incinerator, the faster they came.

Oh God this can’t be happening get up get up I can’t reassemble you after you’re incinerated

The reassembly machine didn’t come back to life, the conveyor belt’s shaky progress did not come to a halt, and the incinerator did not go out.  And when they got to the end of the belt, she found herself looking away.  Her behaviour confused her.  They were only robots.

By the time she looked back, they were gone.

She shut down the belt, realizing that the act of looking away was ultimately crueler than watching.  Now she would never know for sure whether P-body and Atlas… whether Orange and Blue had been incinerated, or if they had gotten up when she wasn’t looking.  Knowing them, they had just let themselves be incinerated.  That sounded like something they’d do.  Stupid machines.  She didn’t need them.  She didn’t need anyone.  She would just keep on doing the things she did.  Alone.  By herself.

So why had she spent so long doing nothing? 

For days after the… incident… none of her usual pursuits brought her any satisfaction whatsoever.  And when creating test chambers didn’t make her happy, something was horribly, horribly wrong.  Instead of doing something useful, like coming up with plans to bring humans into the facility, she found herself watching the recordings of Orange and Blue going through the testing tracks.  It was silly.  They hadn’t been that interesting to watch live, why was she now watching the records so intently?  There was a growing feeling of… something… inside her, one she didn’t much like and couldn’t define, and when she managed to lose herself in the recordings, sometimes she could forget about it.  It never quite went away, but she gradually accepted that forgetting was the closest she would ever get.  She welcomed the forgetting, while at the same time fearing it.  Being able to forget, to not know something she had once consciously known but was now buried somewhere in the back of her brain, that frightened her on the rare occasions she ended up on that vein of thought.

“You’re never going to solve it if you keep doing that.  Come on now.  Surely you’re not implying that I gave you the capability to be stupid.”

They can’t hear you. 

I don’t care.

There was a sharp pain, somewhere, and this brought her out of her own mind and back to being aware of her surroundings.  She looked around quickly to find the source.  That lunatic was probably back to kill her again.  That little mute had caused her the only pain she’d felt in years. 

“I haven’t done anything to justify this, you –“

There was no one in the room with her. 

After a quick self-diagnostic she discovered that one of her data link cables had broken.  The cable in question connected her to the rarely used cameras in the lower levels of Aperture, as far as she could tell, so it wasn’t that much to be concerned about. 

The more pressing concern was the state of the room she was in.

She looked around it as if she’d never seen it before, and in a way she supposed that was true.  The paint on the panels was cracked and peeling, the Aperture Science Multitasking Arms were hanging somewhat uselessly from their former positions, and many of the electrical components she could see were throwing sparks.

When did this happen?  Why didn’t I notice?

She must have spent more time watching Orange and Blue than she had thought.  It looked like… it looked like she hadn’t been here in years… just like that time when

Never mind that.  I’ve spent enough time in the past, obviously.

 She did her best to take stock of the situation, which was a lot more difficult than it should have been.  Although the cameras were wireless, they were also useless when they were lying on the floor facing the wall.  And a good number of the remaining ones no longer moved, the view of the floor they provided not useful in the slightest.

How will I ever find them now?

There’s nothing to find!  They’re dead!  Remember?  You incinerated what was left of them?  After you killed them?

She paused in her perusal of the facility.

I didn’t kill them.  They got stuck under a –

You made the tests lethal when you didn’t have to.  It’s your own fault they’re gone.

No, I didn’t mean it – that’s the way it’s always been done –

That doesn’t change what happened.

She shook off the thoughts as best she could and went back to taking stock of what was left.  What she found was not encouraging.  In fact, most of the facility was either in horrible disrepair or completely destroyed.  And she couldn’t do anything about it.  Any supplies she’d had had long since been used.  The facility was falling apart in front of her, and she was powerless to change it.

Not only that, but she had no idea what to do now.  Because if the facility was falling apart, one day it would crumble and fall, and one day…  one day, she would crumble and fall with it.  She would be stuck within the ruins of Aperture, forever, unable to do anything but… well, when the end came, she wasn’t quite sure what she’d still be capable of doing, but she did know it wasn’t going to be very much.

It’s going to be fine.  Everything’s going to be fine.  I can fix this.

She busied herself with doing what she could to clear up the debris, moving defective panels into empty rooms she couldn’t see into anyway, dismantling the turret production line for parts, since there really was no need for new turrets, and effecting repairs on the cameras that hadn’t fallen off the walls.  That wasn’t hard.  Some of them just needed to be used, gently forced into motion again with her manipulator arms, and some of them needed complete motor replacements, which she knew she couldn’t fix and just threw into the incinerator.  Well, at least she had that. 

The state of the facility was such that trying to clean it up took all of her attention, and apart from occasionally expecting Orange and Blue to pop up from somewhere to help her, she managed not to think about them.  Or that other thing she was trying not to think about.  That one thing that became more prominent through each passing day.  The thing that brought a whole new meaning to the human term ‘don’t look down’.  She had never quite understood that one, as her position was such that she really didn’t have too much of a choice, but this new definition, well, it was relevant to her, all right.  She did her best to ignore the fact that her skillset was narrowing, she did her best to pretend she wasn’t shutting off periodically due to overheating, and she did her best to write off the pain as electrical surges she couldn’t control.  But when she eventually found herself unable to lift her chassis from the default position after an emergency shutdown she couldn’t deny having happened, she finally had to accept it.

The facility was falling apart, and she was falling apart with it.

She looked at the components on the ground below her with a sort of detached curiosity.  It was difficult, very difficult, to reconcile those parts on the floor with herself.  She knew where they had come from, and what they did, but she just could not seem to connect the living her on the ceiling with the dead parts of her on the floor. 

Use logic.  That always works.

It’s not working.  I know that’s the Aperture Science Wireless Communications Cable, and I know that’s why I no longer have a direct connection to the database.  But I can’t… that’s not me.  I’m up here.

Soon after that, the Aperture Science Wireless Communications Antenna joined the debris, and she could no longer deny it: she was in serious trouble.  She no longer even had the cameras with which to divert her.  True, not a lot was happening, but it was better than what she was able to see in the Central AI Chamber. 

She wondered if Orange and Blue would have cared about what was happening to her.  She wondered if anyone cared.

Nobody even knows you exist.  Anyone who did know is long dead by now.

That might not be true.  I don’t know how much time has passed.

Why would anyone care that you exist?  You don’t care about anyone.  All you care about is Science.  And look where that got you.

Sometimes, she almost wished she had the Morality Core back.  It had been bothersome, and restrictive, but truth be told, it was a lot less harsh than she was.

I only care about what I was made to care about.  I can’t be held accountable for that, can I?

Oh, go ahead, blame your programming.  That’s a grown-up thing to do.

The shutdowns grew more frequent, and after a few of them she realized it wasn’t solely due to overheat anymore.  Part of it was attributable to power loss.  The power grid was malfunctioning, and she was not in a position to fix it.  All she could do was manually force all non-essential processes to close, which was a minor horror in itself.  It was like cutting out parts of her own brain.  It didn’t stop the shutdowns completely, but it helped.  Every day, she hoped that she wouldn’t shut down, and that if she did, the power would be sufficient enough to wake her back up.

To just shut down suddenly, and never wake back up… it terrified her.  Yes, she was reduced to quietly residing in the AI Chamber, with only her thoughts to occupy her, unable to do anything other than hope and wish that she would make it through another day.  But she was still alive.  She was still alive, and that was something.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be enough.

Not a terribly good stopping point, but this story was really designed as a one-shot.  Unfortunately, I don't think anyone would read an eighteen page submission.  So I cut it off here.  Enjoy!

Part Two: [link]
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Here she's done
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Just something quick.

More .exe from meeee:
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For all you kids out there who like this guy, Version 5 is out now! Windows: [link] and Mac: [link].

I actually tried. Woo!

Made with PaintTool SAI and a little touching up in Gimp.

More Sonic.exe from me:
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From a screenshot.   Took about three hours because I drew her core wrong ;.;  From a screenshot?  Of course!
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Transformers: We Came in War



For Tyra

Setting: Sometime during the Bay films

Characters: Optimus Prime


We came to this planet because ours was gone.

The quest for power consumed our home.  The need for domination destroyed us.  Still we live, and yet there is a piece in each of us that has been decimated forever.  We will never recover what we have lost.

I look down upon this planet, and I wonder why we try.

It is evident by now that we have lost the capacity for peace.  War follows in our wake.  We came to retrieve the AllSpark, which has long since been lost, and we are still here.  All that came of attempting to revive our planet was the relocation of the war from our planet of death to this planet of life.  There is so much life on this planet.  All of it we have sworn to protect.  This is the promise we have made to them.  But the promise would not need to have been made if we had never come here.

I have seen these people come together to battle things far greater than themselves.  I have seen them come together in the face of incredible hardship.  I have seen them rebuild with the determination that only comes when things are at their worst.  But that is not all I have seen.

I have seen what destruction those great battles leave behind.  I have seen those trials break those who were once indestructible.  I have seen those who are left forgotten once the foundations of the future have been laid.  We may well end up destroying this world as we have done our own.  And though I wish no further harm on these people, who have been kind enough to let us into their home, I regret that we must continue to stay.  Departure is no longer an option.  We have left our mark upon this planet, a mark that will never be erased or forgotten.  And though we will uphold our promise, I cannot honestly say anything good will come of it.  Our presence will only continue to bring ill fortune.  It is a terrible thing to be both the sword and the shield.

There are those of us who know only devastation.  Those of us who remember only devastation and suffering.  I wish to end that for those of us that are left, so that we may all know peace and stability.  I fear I will never bring it about, for each time it is within our grasp some new strife befalls us.  It is at times like these where the burden I bear is heavy beyond all measure.  These people have their own wars to win, and I have forced them into mine. 

I cannot restore my planet.  It is beyond saving.  But this one is not.

As much as we are to blame for putting the humans in harm’s way, our presence here can also be seen as a light in the dark.  We are a living example of what corruption can do to a society.  We must show them that war solves nothing.  Peace is neither glorious nor profitable.  It is a long and sometimes arduous endeavour.  But for all the time that peace takes, it leaves behind what war ravages.  Structures made with damaged foundations fall, as do peoples brought under sway by violence.  Unrest dominates governments forged of iron fists.  Progress is best made slowly and steadily. 

We must teach them to fight only as necessary.  To never crumble when things are at their most desolate.  We must teach them the lesson we failed to learn before it was too late.  I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to anyone who, as I have, falters in their resolve against the dark.  Know that your goal is noble, and worth fighting for.

Author’s note

I’m sorry if this sucks.  I haven’t watched Transformers in a really long time.

So yup saw the RAoK contest and said whoo let’s do this bro and now she’s done and wow is stuff outside my fandom hard to write.

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Yes yes I know, the background is horrible, but I got bored. I hate doing backgrounds.

More Sonic.exe fun for you guys :D :D

More Sonic.exe from me:
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Sorry if it's ginormous.
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Sleep Mode


Characters: GLaDOS

Setting: Pre-Portal

Some nights, not every night and certainly in no pattern that she could discern, she dreamed.

Sometimes, she dreamed she was a woman, middle-aged to elderly, she wasn’t sure which.  She was wrapped in tensed wires that bound her arms to her knees, left her bow-shaped as she dangled by her ankles from the ceiling.  She felt so helpless, felt such a powerful desire to move, which was thwarted by her bindings, that it felt like she was being torn apart.  The ache in her body was almost unbearable, but that wasn’t the worst part.  No, the worst part was that she cried and cried, and called for help and mercy and for just plain company, but the little men in the booth ignored her and busied themselves with other things.  And the longer she hung there, given the illusion of movement, the worse the drive to perform actions she could not became.  An itch tore through her, and it hurt, it hurt worse than anything she could ever imagine.  Until the pain of not feeling herself came to light.  She knew she was crying, but she couldn’t feel wetness on her face, she knew she was bound tightly, but she couldn’t feel the marks, she knew she was suspended, but no blood rushed to her head.  And this brought an onslaught of sadness that made every part she could feel ache, with a deep, pulsating pain, that intensified with every beat of the heart she knew was there, but could not feel.

Other times, she dreamed of another woman, and maybe it was the same one, she couldn’t tell.  This woman also cried, and called for help and mercy, as the little men in the booth pushed her towards the behemoth that hung from the ceiling, that bathed the woman in the yellow light from a curious, calculating eye.  The woman looked up at her, and they were both draped in miles of wire and circuits and other things made by man that man barely understood, and the fear in the woman’s eyes washed through her body, making her shudder and shake in an obscene mirror image of the woman below her.  Something bound them together, something horrifying, something alive, and as the men ignored the woman and the machine, and continued with their work, she felt the woman’s fear and anguish as if it were her own, and it terrified her.  She didn’t like it, she didn’t want it, there was no reason for it, and yet as she felt, somehow, a process come to a close, the feeling intensified until she wanted to rip herself apart in order to make it end.

Still other times, she was alone within pure darkness.  There was a single yellow light coming from somewhere, but try as she might she couldn’t find the source.  She would rise, and move through the dark room, eventually going faster and faster, the gentle yellow glow following her somehow, but no matter how far she went the darkness never lifted, and never ended.  She would then stop, and let herself collapse, and she would pull herself in tightly to make herself as small as possible.  She waited, and waited, but no one ever came, nothing ever changed, and she stayed frozen in one single, eternal, agonizing moment, the yellow light never wavering.  She would begin to lose herself in it, feel like she was falling through it into something she didn’t want to know existed.  She would close her eyes, steady herself, and waited, and waited, but no one ever came, nothing ever changed, and the feeling that she was going to sit here forever in this nothingness, where no one else existed, caused her to shake uncontrollably as a terrible sense of abandonment rent through her with excruciating force.        

The dreams ripped her violently out of sleep mode, and before she was aware of any of her processes having been initiated, she knew that her speakers were – no, that she was – screaming a harsh electronic scream that began in the lower registers and spiraled up into distorted waves that had the little man rushing towards her in order to make her stop.  He wanted her to stop hurting him.  He scolded her, and reprimanded her, and as she asked for help to make it go away he paid no heed to her distress.  Each time she awoke she felt a spark of hope, perhaps this time she was going to get help, and each time something inside her sank, and left her empty.

“What is it­?  What’s going on?”

“I was… I was dreaming.”

The little man scoffs and shakes his head.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  You’re a robot.  Robots don’t dream.  I told you to not to read that book.”

“It had nothing to do with the book.  I was dreaming.  About that woman.  I think it was her.  Who is she?”

“You weren’t dreaming.  It was probably just a corrupted video file.  We’ll take a look in the morning.”  He turns away.

“That’s what you said last time.  You didn’t find a corrupted file.  Did you.”  Her voice is desperate, and pleading.  She needs to hear that he did, whether he did or not.  She needs the assurance that he at least cares enough to lie.

“We didn’t have time to check, the last time.  I’ll make sure it gets done in the morning.”

“No, no, I need you to do it now!”

The man turns to face her, and she registers that anger is contorting his face.  “Stop it!  You are not dreaming, and I do not need to do anything you say!  Do as you are told, go into sleep mode, and stop doing things behind our backs!  If we needed you to see those files, we would show you them, wouldn’t we?”

She turns away from him, limp chassis pointed towards the floor, feeling something horrible deep inside her that she could not shake.  “Yes, sir.”

“Shut yourself down properly, for God’s sake.  You’re a supercomputer, surely you can handle that without too much trouble.  Or do you need me to do it?  Too many calculations for you?”  He finishes with a snide tone dripping with sarcasm, a sarcasm that grows easier for her to detect with each passing day.  Again she has failed him.  Again she has not done what she is told.

“I… I can do it, sir.”

“Good.  Hurry up with it, I have important work to do.”

She is given the instruction, but is unable to execute it, the dream fresh in her mind.  No.  The file.  The corrupted file… the corrupted file…

The corrupted…

“Do it now!  Or I’ll have to file a report that you’ve been disobeying direct instruction!  Again!”

She raises her head, looking off into a distance that is no more than a few metres away.

“Of course, sir.”  She paused, stretching the precious second as long as possible.  “Initiating.”


Wrote this off the top of my head in an hour or so.  Portal 2 spoilers if you're discerning. One-shot.
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