“How can I be sure my latest story meets the requirements of ASJ fanfic?”
How often have I been asked that question?
Well – approximately never.
BUT, just in case I ever AM asked that particular question – I have decided to provide, free, gratis and for nothing, a tool to help fellow scribes answer it.
No more fretful chewing your pencil!
No more disconsolate drooping over your keyboard!
Simply ensure your stories comply with these few fail-safe rules – and you can dismiss any fear of disappointing reader expectations forever.
These guidelines have been compiled after copious research.
Research involving close questioning of not one, but two – count them, TWO – cats for their wise opinions.
One of the feline consultants was actually half-awake for at least part of the interview.
So without further ado – simply score your current work in progress against:
The Foolproof ASJ Fanfic Checklists! **
(** Patent unlikely.)
1) Your story has introduced Jedediah “Kid” Curry.
Have you described his eyes as:
a) Startlingly blue
d) Blue AND suddenly cold
e) Unbelievably blue
f) Unbelievably blue and suddenly glacial in their coldness
g) Steely blue
h) Glinting blue
i) Cornflower blue
j) Cornflower blue – AND crinkling in amusement as he laughs at the wit of the heroine
k) All of the above.
l) Shining like precious Ceylon sapphires amidst the burnished gold of his lush lashes.
Answer (a) is obligatory. If you have omitted this – add it immediately.
Answers (b-j) – all score 1 point each.
Answer (k) – Wow! Take a gold star.
Answer (l) – Steady the buffs! Take a cold shower and tone it down a bit, woman!
2) Your story has introduced Hannibal Heyes.
Does he have:
a) Melting dark eyes.
b) Eyes of a rich chocolate brown.
c) A wicked dark-eyed look.
d) Eyes so inviting a woman could plunge into their depths and drown.
e) A wicked, dimpled smile.
f) A charming, dimpled smile.
g) A wicked, charming, dimpled smile.
h) A wickedly, charming, dimpled strut! (Bathing HH only!)
i) Dimples so deep a (presumably different) woman could plunge into their depths and drown.
j) A smile which melts the heart of the heroine.
k) A smile which melts the chaste resolve of the heroine.
l) A smile which melts the ice-cream of the heroine.
Score one point for every one of (a) to (k) you have included.
Answer (l) – Hmmm? Ice-cream which would then need licking… Hey! Keep it PG!
3) In your story – does Kid Curry:
a) Take a lush bubble bath.
b) Swim nekkid in a creek.
c) Tear his shirt revealing a tautly muscled chest.
d) Remove his shirt, revealing…well, same old, same old…
e) Spill his ice-cream over his hot torso.
f) All of the above.
g) None of the above – but Hannibal Heyes sure does!
Score one point for every one of (a) to (e) you have included.
Answer (f) – five bonus points.
Answer (g) – twenty-five bonus points. (Hey! Any Kidette complaints will result in penalty points!)
4) In your quick draw scene for Kid Curry, does he draw his gun:
b) Very fast
c) Unbelievably fast
d) Incredibly fast
e) “Ain’t NO ONE that fast” fast
f) I don’t have a quick draw scene
Answer (f) – Well – here’s a sharp pencil. Get on with it!
Answers (a) through (e) all score zero.
It’s a trick question. Kid NEVER draws his gun. Everyone knows ‘the gun leaps into his hand’!
5) In your partner scenes, how many of the following phrases have you included?
a) “In unison…”
b) “The partners held a mute conversation…”
c) “The partners exchanged a glance…”
d) “Kid rolled his eyes…”
e) “Heyes rolled his eyes…”
f) “Kid gave his partner ‘the look’…”
g) Heyes pushed back his hat…
h) Heyes dropped his hands to his hips…
i) Heyes gave a slow shake of the head…
j) Use of ‘whatisname’ and ‘the other fella’ joke…
One to Three – Are you sure you are writing ASJ fanfic?
Four to Six – Passing Mark.
Seven to Nine – Good effort. Well done!
All ten – Excellent! Take a gold star!
6) Time to introduce your villain. Is he:
a) A mean outlaw. (Includes subsections for kidnappers, thieves, rustlers, bandits…)
b) A crooked sheriff.
c) A bounty hunter.
d) A villainous banker / businessman / railway owner / cattle baron.
e) A sadist with a grudge. (Can combine with any of the above.)
f) A strangely under-motivated individual.
g) A sadly misunderstood individual…
h) Hey! He’s a cog to turn the plot between bath scenes, okay! No need to get clever. KID – take your shirt off…!
i) An alien from the Borg mother ship…
No right or wrong answers …
IF you have chosen options (a) (b) or (c) – go to question (7).
IF you have chosen option (d) – go to question (8)
IF you have chosen option (h) – you don’t need this checklist, you already know what your readers want, huh?
IF you have chosen option (i) – take a short break, you are suffering from bunny overload.
7) It is generally accepted that the greed motivating outlaw / bounty hunting / crooked lawmen villains is directly correlated to their need to raise huge sums of money to pay for cosmetic dentistry. How many of the following does your bad guy display?
a) Crooked teeth.
b) Missing teeth.
c) Tobacco stained teeth.
e) All of the above.
The correct answer is of course (e). ‘The stench of stale whisky’ may be substituted for halitosis at will.
8) RICH villains sheltering behind their wealth and a veneer of respectability can presumably ‘rustle’ (pun intended) up the funds to keep even their dentist’s happy. How many of the following does your prosperous bad hat display:
a) The glint of a gold tooth revealed by his sinister smile.
b) The glint of perfect veneers revealed by his sinister smile. (These would be the veneers of respectability referred to above.)
c) A cynically arched eyebrow.
d) A richly embroidered vest (waistcoat if writing this side of the Atlantic).
e) A richly embroidered verbosity when speaking…
f) Fine tailoring.
g) Snowy white linen.
h) Immaculately manicured hands bearing a single signet ring. The cruelly tapered fingers tighten menacingly, as his fiendish mind plots and schemes…
i) A really, really, REALLY big cigar. (Though, as Freud reminds us, sometimes a cigar IS just a cigar…)
j) A large white Persian cat…
k) A large white Persian rug…
l) A large white Persian…(Hey, he’s a villain! You think he can’t get round green card rules for his henchman?)
m) All of the above.
Answer (m) is probably pushing it a tad. Aim to be ticking off five or six maximum.
9) How dim are your villain’s henchmen:
a) Dim enough to have conversations where Kid / Heyes / the heroine [not to mention the reader] can overhear the plot.
b) Dim enough to need the villain to recap the plot out loud at regular intervals.
c) Dim enough to tie either Kid, or Heyes, or both up loosely so they can get away.
d) Dim enough to indulge in a little time wasting gloating – allowing either Kid, or Heyes, or A. to come to the rescue.
e) Dim enough to have you considering whether to change their names from the traditional: Hank, Frank, Zeke, Deke, Clint, Squint, etc…to a more descriptive: Sleepy (always on guard duty), Grumpy, Gloaty, Smelly, Whiney, Doc (struck off!) and Doh-doh-dopey.
Answers (a) through (d) are clearly necessary!
Answer (e)…Y’know what? That could work!
10) Your villain (as opposed to his henchmen) has been too clever for you.
You have come to an impasse in your plot. What is the best way to cover it and move on?
a) “With a single bound …Heyes was free!”
b) “Suddenly, from nowhere, sprang a cougar!”
[Sub Header – Two hours later]
“Sheesh, Heyes!” the newly freed Kid shook his head. “If I hadn’t seen what happened back there – I’d never have believed it!”
d) Run a steamy bubble bath for each of the boys…Divert the reader by a little unbuttoning and soapy torso revelation…
e) [Hurt/Comfort stories only] Shoot Kid in the fleshy part of the leg. With a blowpipe. Carrying a poisoned dart. While his other leg is savaged by a ravaging wolf. And while his arms are suspended from a tree. A tree hanging over a ravine. A ravine with a raging torrent beneath. A raging torrent full of alligators. Oh – and by the way – Kid’s shirt falls off.
Another trick question.
NONE of you ladies would EVER reach such an impasse!