1292: Alone in the Library – One ShotPosted: January 6, 2016
Hey folks! I’m flying solo this week on a little oneshot that’s just, honestly, not that bad.
What is it? Well, it’s Alone in the Library.
*Looks around at the empty riffing chamber*
Okay, that got a little real on me.
It’s not a good fic, for sure, but it’s one of those fics that gets that coveted “mostly harmless” award from me. It’s still a stinker and I’m going to be tearing it a new one, but it’s no Jedi’s Destiny.
As always, the thing that caught my eye was the summary. This one is a bit more subtle, but let’s break it down:
“That’s what happens when I sit here for too long in silence, my mind takes over.”
On the surface level, everything is spelled correctly and the author used the correct form of “too” which is no small feat for a fic author. However, there are some warning signs. There’s the incorrect pronoun it starts with, the unnecessary quotes, the fact that it isn’t a summary but rather a vague statement meant to add misterie!, and it’s also kinda pretentious. Not great signs, but not damming. Gotta dig a little deeper here.
Sitting alone in a library; to some it’s a fantasy, a dream.
What kinda sad life are you living that you fantasize about sitting in a library!? It’s not like an unobtainable state of being here, author. You go to a library, find a chair, and sit in it. Alone. WOOOOOOOO FANTASY!
Even within the confines of the canon of Harvest Moon, there’s almost always a library in town. So go sit in it!
That’s going to be my new multi-purposed insult: “Oh yeah? Well you can go sit in it!”
Think about it.
I did. You go to a library, find a chair, and sit in that shit. Mission accomplished.
*Looks around again*
Sure is empty in here.
A place where you can get away, a place of pure silence, the only company being the tattered pages of classic tales.
If you bring your own books, a lot of places can fit that bill. Your own house if you live alone, or your basement even if you do. A random cave, deserted island, condemned buildings, solitary confinement, Chernobyl, lots of places!
The characters relate to you, the story keeps you interested, what else could go wrong?
*Dives under his desk*
WHY DO YOU TEMPT FATE!?
The only thing you have to worry about is whether the hero saves the princess, or if the villain gets there first.
Obviously somebody who hasn’t read any of the Grimm fairy tales. That shit is messed up.
For others, it’s torture.
What? Reading? Yeah, okay, that’s a fair cop. I know lots of people who’d rather have a root canal than read a book.
It’s too silent.
What is, the book? We’re in a new paragraph, so the reader really needs a subject here, author. I know what you mean, but you’re getting a little too fast and loose with your pronouns.
You can hear your blood rushing through your veins, your own soft breaths, the rumble of your stomach.
Can somebody tell my body to shut up for a few minutes? I’m trying to read.
It gets to you. It drives you insane.
You long for someone to walk in, to talk to you, to provide you with some sort of comfort.
If this extroverted straw-man such a socialite, what the hell is he doing alone in a library!? I’m sure for extroverts sitting quietly in a library is about as pleasant for them as me going to a big party where I don’t know anybody. You want to talk about hell on Earth, it’s me at a party where I don’t know anyone. Hell, even large parties where I do know people get to be too much after a few hours.
Something that will remind you, you are not alone.
Most people don’t recognize the potential of a Harvest Moon fic that features an alien invasion. I say those people are fools!
Me? I’m in the middle.
So, you like to sit in a library and read. With a friend. Uh, not that unusual, really. There’s actually some nice companionship that can be had quietly reading in the same room with somebody else. Why are you waxing philosophical about this, again?
I love to sit behind the counter, a thick book enveloping me in a new world.
“Behind the counter”? Shit, are you the Librarian!? I thought I was the Librarian! Who is actually in the room riffing this fic!?
Also, shouldn’t you be weeding the collection or something? Get back to work.
I fantasise that I am the princess, wishing for my own prince to come and rescue me.
Rescue you from the library? That’s setting the bar kinda low for heroism, but I suppose you may as well keep those goals obtainable.
I long for an exciting life.
I’d harp on this one, but as somebody who was a young reader once, I can relate to daydreaming over a book. These days my take on fiction goes along the lines of, “Thank the gods I’m not in there!” but my taste has shifted to less fluffy literature as I’ve aged. Ain’t nobody want to be in Game of Thrones.
I wish that someone would worry about me, that someone cared about me enough to travel across mountains, desert, the ocean for me.
ELIZA! Gather the darkwraits! We need to organize another pity parade!
Been a while since we’ve had one. I hope they throw candy like last time.
I hate to sit behind the counter, a thick book giving me unrealistic expectations of life.
Fuck me, here goes the waffling. I dared hope we were’t going on this clumsy, wishy-washy, pretentious little exploration of the juxtaposition of being “in the middle,” but here it is. Strap in folks, a young person is going to attempt to sound deep. And if you don’t think she’s young, go check out her profile.
In fact, let’s pull a little excerpt:
Feel free to guess my age, I expect most of you would be surprised considering people have asked if I’m 16 – 17. I assure you I’m not. I’m younger than you’d think.
Oh, kiddo, I’d peg you at fourteen. Tops. And, I’ll tell you that sixteen is still pretty young and stupid, so it’s not a feather in your hat that people mistook you for being a year or three older. Trust me, I was sixteen once, and I was very young and very stupid at the time. Luckily, you’ll probably grow out of those things.
Anyway, back to the fic.
I fantasise that I am a normal teenage girl, worrying about boys and outfits.
I was gonna gripe about the spelling of “fantasise,” but apparently it’s one of a number of different accepted spellings. Though this particular alternative spelling does hint that our author is probably a member of the commonwealth.
I long for a normal life.
If reading in the dungeon with two raptors and an anthropomorphic lioness isn’t normal, I don’t wanna be that thing!
It’s not, is it? Not normal at all, really.
I wish that I had a best friend, someone who could cheer me up when I was down, someone who’d give me fashion advice.
The fuck is wrong with your life if that’s what you want a friend for? You love being curled up with a book in the library, while hating it I guess, so a friend giving you fashion advice would probably annoy the shit out of you. What you need is a pen pal, a reading buddy, or a person to knock some sense into you when you start to get all wishy-washy about the library.
Or maybe just get a cat. They can be great reading companions provided you can keep them from laying on your book.
Someone who I could call a sister.
A good sister would probably recognize that you don’t actually want fashion advice. Just sayin’.
I watch Karen drink away her troubles, flirting away with Rick, something her sober self would never do.
Karen’s drinking in the library? Is that a thing? Are there libraries with fully stocked bars?
*A darkwraith walks in with a tray filled with drinks and offers Taco his pick*
Well, aside from ours.
*Takes a Brandy Alexander*
Anyway, these are canon name drops. Karen is a long standing marriage-candidate character who has been around in the series since Harvest Moon 64. She’s one of the more practical choices; business savvy yet still fairly light hearted; romantic yet tomboyish. Very middle of the road.
She’s often mistaken as a lush by fic writers because she enjoys wine, is seen occasionally at the bar, and has one scene where she drinks Duke under the table in order to get him to pay off his hefty debt to her parents’ store. Outside of that one scene; however, there’s no real evidence that she’s a frequent drunk. But, her character is a lot easier when you Flanderize it first, which is probably why it’s a recurring theme in fanfiction.
Rick has similarly been around since Harvest Moon 64, is your romantic rival if you attempt to woo Karen, and is also a marriage-candidate for Harvest Moons where you can be female.
He’s essentially the male version of Karen, though less romantic and more practical. I’m assuming the scene between Karen and Rick is a direct reference to the scene in Friends of Mineral Town where you and Rick spend all night talking over drinks at the bar. Either that, or it’s just full-on drunk-Karen Flanders.
There, mini SC-infodump for you all.
I watch Elli, working away to impress her boss.
Pretty big library with all this going on in there. Wait, this isn’t taking place in one of the sub-levels of our Library, is it?
Elli is another canon character. At this point it’s pretty clear that the author is using Friend of Mineral Town as her canon source, so we’ll go with that for our reference. Elli is your standard nurse/mother/comfort character.
Her boss is Doctor. Yeah, that’s honestly his name. Just like Rick, he’s the romantic rival for Elli/bachelor. Once again, he serves as essentially the male version of Elli.
I watch Popuri, who has nothing to worry about than a few chickens.
*A few chickens run past Taco*
The fuck are those chickens doing in the Library!?
Popuri is a kind of a genki girl, though on the more conservative side of the genki spectrum. She’s young, naive, and unwaveringly energetic.
Her male counterpart is Kai, who, amazingly, really isn’t a carbon copy of Popuri. Kai is friendly and laid back, yet pretty lazy.
I watch Ann, taking time out of her day to help her father.
Maybe her father needs help reading? Why are all these people in the Library? Crunchy! Did you leave the vault door open again?
Ann is a character who has been with the series since the first installment on the SNES. She’s the tomboy character who is gung-ho about hard-work and cooking. In Mineral Town she’s the innkeepers daughter and singlehandedly handles all aspects of the Inn aside from the front desk, which is run by her father.
Ann’s counterpart is Cliff, who also is a bit of a personality flop form her. He’s shy, keeps to himself, and doesn’t really seem to have any direction in his life.
And, by process of elimination, and by the fact that she’s running the library, this fic is written from the perspective of Mary. She’s the shy bookworm character who is an aspiring novelist.
Her counterpart is Gray who is also quite different. He’s the grumpy, aloof, hard-working person with a heart of gold. He works for the blacksmith which is the source of most of his anger.
I watch Claire.
Fuck! Are we going to name-drop every damn character in the game one at a time!? This is getting very repetitive, author.
Claire is the default name of your character if you play the female version of Friends of Mineral Town.
I watch her run around the town, trying her best to give gifts to almost all the villagers in town.
Yeah, pimping everyone’s relationship levels was quite a task in FoMT. Generally it was best saved for Winter when you didn’t have anything better to do, or for after you’ve got enough sprite labor to keep the farm running without much input from you.
I listen to her ridiculous stories, meeting the Harvest Goddess, talking to Harvest Sprites, giving cucumbers to Kappa.
Now that you put it that way, it does sound pretty insane. I’m surprised the town didn’t wall off her farm, to be honest.
Then again, maybe seeing her magical harvest sprite labor force made the stories a little more credible.
I watch her and Gray smile at each other, pure love in each other’s eyes. I envy her.
Author, stop starting every. fucking. sentence with “I [verb]”. It’s getting VERY grating; like listening to a six year old tell a story about his day.
Claire is lucky when it comes to love.
Either that, or she looked at the big table of relationship items and realized that Gray is one of the easiest people to befriend since he loves getting eggs. And if there’s one thing you get a lot of in Harvest Moon, it’s freaking eggs. There aren’t a lot of eggs in the library, Mary.
*A few more chickens run by*
I retract the last statement.
I assume it’s because she is beautiful.
I suppose if you like that chibi look. I’d probably go as far as “cute” but not much further.
Although, in my own opinion, Claire is nothing special.
Aside from being, in your words, beautiful, friendly, and hardworking. Yup, nothing to like there.
Granted, I’m omitting the fact that she tells stories about giving Kappa the cucumber, which would put some people off. And make others, like Syl, need some alone time in her bunk.
She’s a pretty face but there is nothing redeeming about her qualities.
So you don’t see anything redeeming about being friendly or hard-working? Maybe you should be pining over Cliff and not Gray. If Gray was anything, it was an extreme hard worker. Cliff mostly just lazed about in the church and was surly. Sounds like your dream guy, really.
I’d harp on this fic going on very clear bashing path, but in this case, I can kind of see it. Mary essentially just had the boy she was Jonesing over stolen by the new girl in town. She might not be in the frame of mind to be either objective or charitable to Claire.
It’s actually somewhat of an interesting idea. In most of the Harvest Moon games the fate of your romantic rivals are never really dealt with (there are exceptions, such as It’s a Wonderful Life). It’s just kinda “You win! Marriage!” Then, gradually, all the other pairs get married and everything settles down. Except for your rival who you never really get closure with. It’s a really interesting idea to look at what happens to those people after their romance is stymied. Do they move on and find somebody else, decide that they don’t actually want a relationship and become satisfied with a life to themselves and with their friends (and yes, Mary has friends despite the dour, isolationist take on her here), or do they descend into a quagmire of loathing and acrimony targeted against the victor in their war of love? What about the relationship with the main character? Does it get patched up eventually as a new path is made and embraced, or does it lead to continual strife? This is real-people kinda stuff here and it’d be very interesting to see it, especially handled by a strong author.
For those not following along, Mary is going the quagmire rout, which is easily the least interesting of the choices. We can hope this is a transient vein of pettiness borne out the recent failure of Mary’s love life and that she eventually sorts herself out.
I’d say she’s just above average.
Did you ever think that maybe Gray is a B- kinda guy?
Mother tells me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Probably in the big center one if I had to guess.
“What one person finds unattractive is beautiful to another. There’ll always be someone who’ll love you, Mary, it just takes the right person to see your true beauty.”
Probably somebody who likes to read, if I were to guess. Hey! You should look for men at the libra-
But does it really matter? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, why do things people love get mistreated?
Have you seen the teeth on that thing? It’s amazing people would even pursue love in the first place!
Also, the perception of beauty has nothing to do with the treatment of something loved. Little tip for you, author: When you try to sound profound by being fancy with your words, but don’t know how to focus on what you’re trying to talk about, you confuse and bore the audience.
Why do people feel the urge to cheat?
Da bwa? What does any of this have to do with the perception of beauty? Author, you’re trying way, WAY too hard to sound smart and introspective. And failing miserably. You either need to focus on your initial premise of beauty vs love, link the premise to the current thread dealing with the transient nature of love, or ditch the old premise rewrite it to be about your favored topic.
As it stands, you’re talking about two things that aren’t obviously related. If you don’t relate them, it’s very jarring when you try to jump between them all willy nilly. And they can easily be related! Superficial beauty is transient, so at least mention that if you’re going to dive into love on the same terms!
You’re almost there author. You’ve almost made a connection, you just need to actually… think at some point.
If you find something beautiful, shouldn’t it be impossible to find someone better?
Um, no. That’s idiotic in the extreme. Just because you find something beautiful, doesn’t mean there isn’t something more beautiful out there. For instance, I love how pretty a sunset is on a partly cloudy day. It’s beautiful the way the gradients of orange and pink make the clouds seem to blur across the sky. It’s beautiful to me. However, more beautiful to me is a vista viewed from the side of a mountain just as the sun crests behind me. I can find them both beautiful while still admitting that one, in my opinion, is superior.
Stop spending so much time trying to sound smart and spend more time actually thinking.
Again, I’d harp on this sentence even more, but there is a little glimmer of writing in there. There is a juxtaposition of beauty and worth, of a thing and a person by the use of the conflicting pronouns. If I thought that the author had meant to make that juxtaposition, I’d be more likely to have used this passage as something they needed to address more carefully, as it’s something worth exploring. That said, the shaky setup for this sentence is pretty telling that it was an accident of sloppy writing rather than a carefully constructed literal irony.
Fairy tales always end in happy endings. Love is fake in them.
Still doesn’t have anything to do with the premise of the paragraph it shows up in (the perception of beauty) but it’s a fair point, if worded poorly. Fairy tale love is very real within the context of the fairy tale, but in terms of reality it’s a romantic idealization of love and not what real love is. A caricature of love, as it were. Again, we know what you’re trying to say author, it’s just not what you’re actually saying.
My books seem to taunt me.
“Did you read Uylsses? Yeah? Did you understand it? No, I didn’t think so. You think you’re so hot with your reading but you’re nothing without your SparkNotes! What, you gonna cry? Do you need Sparky to tell you how to do that, too?”
The works of James Joyce are such jerks.
The princesses are always gorgeous, bright blue eyes, long blonde hair, stick thin figures, clear skin.
Again, obviously not a reader of the Grimm brothers. Or any work featuring the Rubenesque ideal.
Something which society would perceive as beautiful.
True enough. If you’re gonna make a point about that, though, you’re running out of room. You’ve only got four more lines to actually say something.
I am just me. Something society would perceive as average.
Again, that pronoun dissonance. I really, really hope it’s on purpose, but I unfortunately know better.
These books. These books make me happy.
Keep telling yourself that. Maybe it’ll even be true someday.
They make me believe that love can come from anywhere.
Probably not from within the book, though. Probably.
These books make me sad. They make me believe that you have to be something everyone sees as beautiful.
That’s true. If fairy tales are good at one thing, it’s teaching that being beautiful is the way to go.
If that makes you so sad, maybe some non-fiction? History tends to be a little less with the ethics of beauty and a little more with the massive bloody conflicts. Of course, that’ll just make you depressed.
You know what, books suck.
But these are just ramblings.
Don’t sell yourself short, kiddo. These aren’t just ramblings. They’re pointless, bitter ramblings!
I’m just sat here, a thick book grasped in my hand. That’s what happens when I sit here in silence for too long, my mind takes over.
And you bore a lot of people with overwrought, under-considered musings on beauty and worth. Don’t forget that bit.
And with that, the fic proper comes to an end. But wait! We’ve got an author’s note still to tackle.
Oh look, I’m (kind of) back.
No, you aren’t. This is the last thing you posted before going completely inactive over two years ago.
So yeahhhhhhh, I made a oneshot :LLLLLLLL
Physical pain, author. That… whatever it is has caused me physical pain.
Coincidentally, that sentence is why I know not to hope that the pronoun mishaps from before were on purpose.
tbh I wrote this bc of my own problems.
tbh, we figured it out. You weren’t being the picture of subtlety there, author.
I’ve been having a pretty bad time lately with body issues, friends etc. so this is what I did.
Which are indeed real issues and, so far as outlets go, writing isn’t a bad way to try to feel your way through them. Putting the result of this kind of writing on the internet, however, is of questionable judgment at best.
It’s just my ramblings, don’t take this too seriously.
You’ll notice that I did not.
Thanks for reading c: Social Butterflies would’ve been updated a while ago, but I got a new laptop and lost all my progress. Sorry, I’ll try and update soon.
Yadda, yadda, nothing to do with this fic, doesn’t really belong here, but then, author’s notes don’t really belong in the first place.
Review if you want, idrc bc this was just a way to get my feelings out. It’s not really my best work bu s
Again, posting works that you aren’t yourself thrilled with is of questionable judgment. But then, if you don’t actually care, then my above critique shouldn’t really bother you. If it does bother you, then, in the future, you should be more honest with yourself and with your readers.
And that’s the end of it! So let’s have a sit down and talk about this one-shot. Brace yourselves for Taco being positive; I know it’s a rarity.
As I said coming into this thing, it really isn’t that bad. It’s definitely not good for all the reasons above, but it does have several things going for it:
There are no misspellings outside of the author’s note and there are only limited grammatical errors, mostly with using colloquial turns of phrase in the prose instead of proper English (“I’m just sat here” for instance) or some pronoun mishaps that could be on purpose, but would need better framing if so. The sentences were complete, if repetitive, and while there were too many line breaks in general, they did happen in logical places for the most part. From a mechanics and formatting point of view, this thing was among the finest of the badfics we’ve ever had here. And, given the train wreck that was your author’s note, it’s apparent that you actually did do proofreading, which itself is no small feat around here. To care enough about writing to actually proof your work into the good shape it was in, well, that’s a good sign.
Beyond that, there was an idea here that, with work, could be made into something good. Something interesting. As said earlier, I’ve not seen a lot about what happens to romantic rivals after they “lose” the war for the main character’s spouse. There’s a lot of really good character work that could be done to explore how they cope with the loss and how they move on. Unfortunately all we got here was Mary wallowing in her own pity for about a thousand words, but that would be a pretty natural reaction shortly after realizing she’d lost Gray. So yeah, there’s an idea here that could be very interesting if handled well and fleshed out a lot more than we see here.
What’s more, you were acknowledging real issues and tried to handle them in a way where you would do them justice. You fell a bit flat here, but you yourself admitted that you weren’t satisfied with this fic. Nor should you be, it was bad; to a point where you really shouldn’t have posted it. But, at least you made the effort to handle these issues in a way that did them justice rather than just utilizing them as cheap plot devices for sympathy points. There was some sympathy pandering in there, to be sure, but it wasn’t overwhelming with a trajik past like we usually see. And you utilized a character who would most likely have these issues in order to address them. That puts you way ahead of many authors who are a decade older than you.
So, and I say this sincerely, I’m disappointed that you appear to have stopped writing. Maybe you haven’t and instead you’re doing your own thing instead of fanfics, in which case: great! All the better! But if not, you should consider picking the pen back up. Regardless of how cruddy this little fic was, you have some promise.
But, in the future, leave off the author’s note. They only drag down a work they’re tacked on to. If anything, do a forward. Those are like great big author’s notes that avoids the pitfalls of the little ones. Also, if you DO end up putting in an author’s note, for the love of the gods, proofread the damn thing!
Until next week, patrons!