Subject: [FFML] Re: [Fanfic][Ranma] Cursed
From: Bert Miller
Date: 11/12/2006, 11:38 AM
To: Richard Lawson
CC: ffml@anifics.com

For whatever reason, I'd never read this one before.  Thanks for posting it.

Richard Lawson wrote:
I still get requests for one particular fanfic, though.  I wrote "Cursed" 
over a decade ago and immediately didn't like it.  It had a major plot hole 
  
Not sure I spotted any major plot hole.
and I was never really able to adequately capture the mood I was trying to 
portray.
<clip>
and tightened it up a bit.  I still am dissatisfied with it, so any and all 
suggestions y'all might have would be quite welcome.  There's just something 
fundamental that's missing from this, and I can't quite place my finger on 
it.
  
Well, my initial thought after first reading is that it goes on too 
long; I'd suggest closing at
the end of Ranma's visit to the Nekohanten, perhaps reworking the final 
four paragraphs
of that scene a bit.  It doesn't seem to me that the scene in the dojo 
with Ryouga and
Akane really adds much, if anything.  While it is certainly possible to 
have Akane's
reaction be the tragic focus of the story, the last scene doesn't really 
accomplish that,
but doesn't have much, if any, other purpose, either.
He sat up and looked over at his father. He currently took up a lot of the 
floor space. Ranma grumbled to himself; why Pop would spend so much time as 
a panda remained an utter mystery to him.
  
Sort-of plot hole, I suppose; Genma spends a lot of time as a panda 
right from the beginning of the series.
He opened his mouth to do the latter when all of his anger drained away.  He 
did not want to get into another fight. He slumped his shoulders and sat 
down at the kitchen table.
A kitchen table, rather than a dining room low table, struck me as out 
of place, but clearly this is minor.
The rest of the family arrived, including Ranma's father, still in panda 
form. Ranma snorted in disgust. Pop ignored him and drank some tea, a 
somewhat difficult task without opposable thumbs.
  
Might want to change that detail to "nibbled some bamboo", given where 
you're going.
Hinako-sensei came in and everyone settled down. She smiled brightly. 
"Today, we continue our study of the Shi Jing.  Everyone open your books to 
page two-seventy-four."
  
I suppose this might be considered a plot hole, given that Hinako is an 
English teacher,
not a Chinese lit teacher.  Still, no real reason to use Hinako here; 
you could use any
unnamed teacher for this scene.  I like this scene a lot, though; you 
should definitely
keep it.
Again, though, Ranma just couldn't build the necessary enthusiasm to 
actually carry out the plan.  Not to mention that Hinako was probably the 
only teacher in school who could actually stop him if he tried to leap out 
the window.  With a deep, heartfelt sigh, Ranma looked back at the text.  At 
first the words refused to come, but then they snapped into place and Ranma 
began to read.

"Solemn is the ancestral temple in its pure stillness.
 Reverent and harmonious were the distinguished assistants.
 Great was the number of the officers.
 Assiduous followers of the virtue of Wen.
 In response to him in heaven,
 Grandly they hurried about in the temple.
 Distinguished is he and honoured,
 And will never be wearied of among men."

Ranma felt herself getting more and more into the poem. She could almost 
hear the music, feel the harmonics of the other singers as they joined in 
the song.  She began to move on to the next stanza when Hinako interrupted. 
Ranma looked up at Hinako, blinking, not quite getting what Hinako was 
saying.
  
Very, very nice piece, and the follow-on paragraph is very nice also.

Ranma blinked at Akane, then looked down at the poem.  She'd been reading 
the translation, not the poem itself, hadn't she?  The poem was gibberish, 
she didn't know any Chinese.  Well, maybe a phrase or two.  Like that part 
there.  And that part.  And maybe that line.  The more she stared at the 
poem, the more she understood until suddenly the entire song was crystal 
clear.
  
Heh.  I like it.
Cologne's eyes dropped to stare at the table top. "The legends say that the 
curses of Jusenkyo are irreversible and permanent."
  
Maybe this is the "major plot hole" you mention, given that the series 
gives us to understand differently.
If so, there are ways to finesse:  have Ranma remember being told this 
by the guide; or have Cologne
add the phrase "..one the change in attitude has begun."
Ranma leaned forward onto the table, holding his head in his hands. The 
horror had given way to something worse: absolute despair.

Cologne spoke softly, sadly. "I will try everything I can, Son-in-law. I 
want my great-granddaughter cured. I had been grooming her to be my heir in 
the Amazon tribe. Now her whole ambition is to chase birds and mice. I will 
try to bring back the Shampoo we both knew. If I succeed, I will use the 
same techniques on you." Cologne looked up at me. "Will you let me?"

Ranma fought back the urge to say no. "Please try. Even if later I say I 
don't want you to, ignore me and change me back anyway. I'm giving you 
permission now to use whatever force you need to." Ranma lifted his head and 
looked into Cologne's eyes. "Please."

Cologne nodded. "I understand. I hope I can find a cure." Cologne grimaced 
and looked down again. "I am not optimistic. The legends speak of no cure, 
and many have been tried over the centuries. I quite frankly don't even know 
where to begin. For now, I will take Mousse and Shampoo back to China and 
see if any of the others in my tribe have greater knowledge."

The sound of a horrified shriek cut through the restaurant. The shrieking 
continued, and Ranma stared at the ceiling. "What's wrong with her?"

Cologne sighed. "Do you remember how you felt, back at Jusenkyo, when you 
found yourself in a body that was not yours?"

Ranma gulped, remembering the horror and hearing it echoed in Shampoo's 
screams.

Cologne jumped down from the table. "I had better try to calm her down. I 
will let you know if I find a cure." She paused, and looked him in the eye. 
"Good luck, Son-in-law." She left the dining room.

Ranma sat there long enough to hear Shampoo shriek again. Then he leapt to 
his feet and fled the Nekohanten, carrying the sound of Shampoo's horror 
with him.
  
As I said above, this would actually be a good place to stop (or, at 
least, would be with a little
rework to sharpen things).  Say, ending on "...fled the Nekohanten, 
knowing that she'd be haunted
by the sound of Shampoo's screams forever" or some such.

As the story stands, the focus is on Ranma's dawning horror and despair, 
and not at all on Akane's,
so the most you could accomplish in the last scene is to use Akane to 
sharpen Ranma's feelings.
Akane's behavior suggests that at some level that's what you were trying 
to do (make us watch
Ranma become aware of how Akane views the timid him), but I don't think 
it works.

This entire story could be told from Akane's POV, and that might be a 
better story, but it would
certainly be a different one.

On the other hand:  to me, the best parts of this story as it stands 
consist not in the bits where
Ranma is aware of what's happening, but in the bits where the alien 
personality peeks out and
Ranma is NOT aware.  I think you could take the scene where Ranma is 
singing Chinese
poetry in class and wrap another, very different, story around it.  You 
might have Ranma
oblivious and tell the story through Akane's POV, or you might not, but 
add more scenes
where truly alien behavior peeks out from inside Ranma:  i.e., Ranma 
DOES help Kasumi
cook, and whips up a 2500-year-old Chinese dish; at various points 
during the day, Ranma
pauses to perform odd, brief ceremonies:  singing to the dawn, offering 
rice to the Sun,
ritually purifying herself, etc.  Most probably the climax is completely 
different, but I think
you have the germ of a very absorbing story in a completely different 
direction here.




             .---Anime/Manga Fanfiction Mailing List----.
             | Administrators - ffml-admins@anifics.com |
             | Unsubscribing - ffml-request@anifics.com |
             |     Put 'unsubscribe' in the subject     |
             `---- http://ffml.anifics.com/faq.txt -----'