04/02/2010: Power of Love: The Making-OfFirst of all, I've added to a couple of character bios as well as the trivia in accordance with the real chapter 53. That means spoilers, of course, if you haven't read the chapter yet.
And now it's just the making-of-the-April-Fools'-chapter I talked about yesterday, for those who are interested. Read both the real chapter and the fake one before you read this commentary! It contains major spoilers!
This has been probably the most elaborately planned April Fools' joke you will ever encounter, because the idea for this is years old. Originally it sprouted from my desire in 2003 or so to write a little Take That to the shipping community as a whole - as planned, it would be an extra that would first explain parody "Rules of Shipping" such as "Pair up the main male character and main female character, because they are always in love", "Pair up all characters who have ever shown hints of liking towards each other" and "Pair up all characters who have ever shown hints of disliking towards each other", and then construct a list of ridiculous shipping names (such as NeverMetTheGuyButStillSomehowLoveHimShipping, for Alan/Rick) for more or less every conceivable combination of characters (except Scyther and Nightmare, because nobody cares about canon-ish couples).
Originally it was planned for the end of the fic, I think, but at some point after I ditched the UMR, I decided there was no reason to withhold it any longer than it would take for all the major characters to be introduced. Thus, I aimed to post this as an extra after chapter 31 of the ILCOE, where Spirit would make her debut, and waited patiently for my moment to strike.
However, as we know, rewriting all this took quite a while, and by the time I actually got to that part, I'd grown up a little and lost most of my desire to mock the very idea of shipping. Though I did start to write it - I'd started to write it several times, actually, with the beginnings of three very differently presented versions just in the final Word document alone - it just felt kind of childish and unnecessarily hostile towards a group of readers I really had nothing against beyond just not personally understanding their point of view. Although I'd been looking forward to it for a couple of years by this point, the appeal was mostly lost when I got right down to it, and I closed the document, sighed and vented my remaining annoyance with shipping when convenient forum threads cropped up.
I'm not sure exactly when, but it can't have been later than 2006 or so (and was probably much earlier) that I was going over the aftermath of Taylor's death in my head (that being one of the oldest relatively late-fic plot points still in the story; I think I knew Tyranitar would kill Taylor after the League before I'd even thought up the War of the Legends, though some of the details and context were different), and it came out as a really shippy-looking moment between Mark and May. Obviously that wasn't what it was meant to imply and I immediately knew I had to do it a bit differently, but at the same time it struck me that it almost worked. And that sparked the idea that maybe, once I got to that point, if the timing was right, I could write an April Fools' chapter that would actually play that moment straight and go there. It could be a funnier, more interesting revival of the basic make-fun-of-shipping idea, focusing specifically on mocking the actual cheesiness, out-of-characterness and poor writing that so often come with romance fics, built around my greatest shipping peeves of all: the clichéd and inevitable pairing of the main boy and main girl, and the characters involved being preteens (a particular squick of mine).
This was a really far-off possibility at that point, of course, so I didn't think much about it - I knew I wanted to do this, but I also knew the stars would really have to align to get the timing to work out that way when I finally got to this part of the story. Nonetheless, however, I did tell some people - most notably my friend opaltiger - that I would like to do a faux-M-shipping (M-shipping being Mark/May, of course) April Fools' chapter one day and that the ideal chapter to do it would be this one. opaltiger was always very enthusiastic about it and I continued to discuss it with him every now and then, but it wasn't until after I'd written chapter 51 that I realized there was a very, very real possibility I could pull this off - two and a half months for two chapters was quite reasonable, both as a deadline to accomplish it and as fairly normal writing speed for me that would probably make April 1st a natural, realistic, entirely nonsuspicious release date for chapter 53.
Almost immediately after I decided I was really going to do this thing and started thinking seriously about it, however, I realized that unfortunately I couldn't actually do it quite like my original idea had it, simply because it would be an inevitable mood-killer; it would feel much less amusing than just inappropriate and cheapening if it were really placed just after what should be a very traumatizing moment for the main characters (remember, the idea was sparked when I was thinking about the aftermath of the murder). This realization could have been a killing blow for the idea, except that conveniently, what made the original moment work so remarkably well - that May was in a very unusual, vulnerable emotional state Mark had never really seen her in - also applied, if slightly differently, before the murder. Better yet, that would mean I could potentially create an altogether different mood whiplash effect, with the fake chapter shamelessly happy and sugarcoated in contrast to the real thing, which would be probably the most grim and cruel chapter in the entire story. This was still a bit of a gamble; it could just result in readers bursting out laughing during the real chapter as they remembered the events of the fake one, but if it worked right, it might also serve to highlight the brutality of the real chapter.
So, now that I knew I was going to do it, what to put in the fake chapter? Well, obviously, the first thing was Mark and May sitting around a campfire, with May in a bit of a broken state of mind, and it actually striking Mark that he wishes he could hug her or comfort her or something. That was basically what happened in that original unintentionally shippy scene; it wasn't actually an out of character thought, but it sounded like a typical hurt/comfort fanfiction precursor to romance, and the basic concept here was to use such a moment as a bridge into a fake Mark/May romance, which would otherwise inevitably feel blatantly out of character the moment it was even hinted at, but would like this be ever so slightly more convincing.
The deliberate mood whiplash I'd decided on, then, plus the fact the chapter would probably start with the real beginning of chapter 53, led to the idea that I might specifically include further minor parallels between the fake chapter and the real one - the next thing I definitively decided to include was Taylor making an appearance in much the same way as he would in the real chapter. The difference would be, of course, that because in the fake chapter Mark and May would have abandoned their characterizations for ~true love~, May would fail to challenge him to a rematch and instead just make a little speech - unknowingly preventing both Taylor's death and Tyranitar's departure in the process. And while I was at it, why not wreck Taylor's characterization as well and make the speech magically "redeem" him? I wasn't sure if this particular bit would work out, but it was at least something I'd like to try.
I also decided I should write the fake chapter first. It was vital, of course, for the fake chapter to be ready before April 1st, while it was merely preferable that the real one be ready before April 2nd so it could also be put up as soon as possible. This also led to the decision that while I would try to make the chapter derail reasonably slowly so as to get readers to take it seriously for as long as their credulity could be stretched, there would still be a definitive point at which I would consciously stop writing the real chapter and start writing the fake one - I wouldn't have the real one ready and just modify it from there.
So I started writing the fake chapter with just that being the plan - starts off like the real chapter, Mark and May get derailed by a sudden romantic plot tumor, and then Taylor pops up, only for May to give a decidedly unmayish speech that would, at least if I could get it to work in context, "redeem" him. The first bit of it, up to when May is talking about how she didn't do all that great, I'd actually written with the intention of it being in chapter 52; I just left it out when I realized it wasn't quite heading towards anything that would be much of a chapter end. Then I just went on from there with the real chapter; they exited the League grounds, they made camp, they sat down by the fire, Mark looked at May and wished he could help her. And I knew this was it, the moment where the chapter would stop being the real chapter and become the fake chapter.
Continuing was like hitting a brick wall. "In the flickering firelight" wasn't so bad; it was pre-planned as a subtle mistake to start off with (while it would be reasonable in the evening, it's the afternoon and a small campfire shouldn't affect the lighting of the area like that; this was also a nod to that original unintentional scene, which did take place in the evening), and though it felt weird to include it deliberately, I've made plenty of genuine blunders that were worse. But the moment I went on, everything felt grotesquely off immediately. This was just not quite Mark. And when I got to May's "Do you think I'm pretty?" line, I felt almost physically ill. It was a remarkably disturbing experience; somehow, writing my characters acting that fundamentally off felt really… violating. (This goes double for the kiss. As I said before, I don't just dislike preteen romance; it actually really squicks me out. I'll write blood and guts if I need to, but two twelve-year-olds kissing? With tongue? God help me, that's the hardest thing I've ever written. Harder, in fact, than that one scene in The Fall of a Leader, which is objectively much worse in every way but gah they're twelve years old.)
…that said, that very fact lent an additional sort of sadistic hilarity to it, in a way I can only forgive myself for because they're fictional characters and don't actually have any feelings. It was hard to continue to write it seriously because, really, it felt genuinely awful, but my mind turned increasingly wacky in the attempt. Everything slowly became a bit more exaggerated, and before the end I was giggling like mad at pretty much every word I put in. And hey, since we're doing an April Fools' chapter, why not resolve the whole legendary plot while we're at it, in the worst, cheesiest, lamest possible way? Wild Mew appeared! Turns out the power of love is what they needed all along! And how about resolving Chaletwo's daddy issues, too, since Mew is here? (Of course, since Mew is inexplicably female in the narration in this chapter, that would make them mommy issues here, but hey.)
The line "And Chaletwo is not my boyfriend" was what made me stop and realize that I wasn't really writing this as a serious thing intended to fool people anymore; it had turned into the kind of April Fools' joke that's there to amuse in itself more than to make people take it seriously. And that was fine, really; I'd always liked that kind of joke better (see TCOD Solutions). The writing towards the end turned into something straight out of Faxi the horse, and I loved it. It would've been fun to seriously fool people and all, but this was too hilarious to resist. And, well, apparently some people somewhat fell for it anyway, which is always a plus.
I finished the fake chapter in one day. Later I went back and edited some of the most outrageous lines, just to attempt to strike something of a balance and maybe fool people for a bit longer, but otherwise it was definitely the quickest "chapter" I've ever written. Because it was fun. That tweet I made about the joys of writing? Yeah, that was the fake chapter. It felt disturbing as hell, as I said, but it was so very, very worth it.
Hope you enjoyed it and that it didn't ruin the real chapter for you.
Commenting on: chapter 14
opaltiger (04/02/2010 17:41:32)
I'm not sure I can forgive you that O. :(
Butterfree (04/02/2010 17:55:08)
I thought you said sometime that it's supposed to be capitalized the way a normal noun would be! >:/ I was all careful to capitalize it there because it was at the beginning of a sentence!
opaltiger (04/02/2010 19:36:53)
I have always held that it must be monocase. Either all lowercase or, if you should feel the need to shout at me, all uppercase.
Butterfree (04/02/2010 19:59:40)
That's what I'd think, but I was sure you'd said something about how you wanted it capitalized like a common noun! :( Maybe that was just somebody else.
Pure Umbreon (04/02/2010 20:21:29)
The fake was super fun to read, and now somehow knowing how hard it was to force yourself to write it makes it all the more funny somehow. I'm not sure why.
Oh-Paching (04/02/2010 20:46:11)
Ah, sufficient proof Butterfree has gone completely mad.
Mudskipper (04/03/2010 15:19:40)
I laughed so hard at Butterfree feeling physically ill from writing the beginning of the love scene.
I only say that because reading that part, especially the kiss, almost gave me a spaz attack. I practically felt my brain liquefying.
So I guess that's something else for the evil author of this to cackle maniacally about. Enjoy.
Sands Buisle (04/03/2010 15:37:01)
Your answers to the questions almost fooled me! OK, half fooled me, I'm just glad it really was just a fake.
Steele (04/04/2010 07:35:08)
Thank god it's not real. <.<
Scytherian Poetry (04/07/2010 12:32:43)
It was all fine untill the kiss. When I read that, I was thinking "did someone hack butterfree's computer for the express purpose of destroying the fic?" then there was the whole mew thing, where I barfed. No, literally. It's Easter, I alot of chocolate and I had a fever or something. I barfed. Thanks, butterfree.
Tiffano (04/08/2010 04:31:24)
Really? I'm really slow to take these things, it was when Taylor joined them and the lack of detail Butterfree had when he released the clones I was wondering what was up. LOL.
Scyther (04/11/2010 04:42:15)
In some terrible mix up, I managed to read the real the real chapter thinking that it was the April Fools chapter. I mercilessly ripped it apart in my head and chuckled evily at some of the morbid parts (haha Taylor's ribs are broken and his blood is pouring onto the ground) and once I finnaly got them un mixed up, the chapter was destroyed. Which is sad, because normally, seeing May cry would probably make me cry.
So yeah. It was excellent anyway; I just wish I could have enjoyed it anyway.
Butterfree (04/13/2010 04:50:27)
…that would have been one hell of an unfunny joke. I mean, whatever you think of the real chapter, it's hardly comedy gold. o_O
Scyther (04/13/2010 20:07:51)
Well yeah, but than I realized who was writing it.
Butterfree (04/13/2010 21:18:03)
I write morbid stuff, but I'd never write something like this and call it a joke, because… it just isn't funny the way it's written.
ShinyRedEon =D (04/15/2010 05:50:14)
At first I was thinking who are you and what have you done to butterfree? Seriously there wasn't even one person dying, or even a drop of blood. But then I checked the date. Best April fools joke ever!
Butterfree (04/15/2010 07:13:22)
…that doesn't make any sense because you didn't read the fic until after April 1st and the fake chapter now explains at the top that it's an April Fools' joke.
ShinyRedEon =D (04/18/2010 11:01:07)
sorry I ment when you said it was the real chapter.
Seromi (04/19/2010 01:37:04)
Um… yeah… you read my comment… Honestly, I think that way sometimes. The fake (in my opinion) just was… bleh. :|
Golden Eagle (04/26/2010 23:03:23)
I was apprehensive while reading the april fools one, cause I'm not used to people actually playing pranks on that day and the story was turning out really weird. I mean, it was turning out to be sort of sickening with the pink glow and everything, so I was shaking my head and going 'Oh man, another writer's bitten the dust.' Then I realized it was a joke, and went yay. :D
ShadowDusk (06/25/2010 21:53:14)
the fake was heart-felt but not you at all Butterfree.