If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

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Adam W
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If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

Post by Adam W » Mon Aug 24, 2020 9:47 am

Hi. Here is a thing that I wrote a week or so ago. I was going to wait until somebody had edited it before sharing it publicly, but then I got bored of having not shared it publicly, so here it is. I wrote it quickly and barely edited it so there are probably typos and things.

Also, I have never written a fanfiction for anything before, and I don't read much fanfiction either, so I don't really know how they're supposed to work. Maybe somebody has already written something really similar to this? It seems likely. Not very much happens in it. It might be slow and boring. I hope you enjoy it anyway. Feedback, as harsh as you like, is welcome.

———

The postcard was unexpected. I didn't know how to respond to it.

I'd thought my days of not knowing how to respond to things were over. Those awkward highschool years were far behind me. But this threw me for a loop.

"I'm finally doing another exhibition. You should come. I promise not to break down this time. Should I have written that? I think it's the sort of thing that might make some people uncomfortable, but it was a long time ago, and I don't mind it any more, and I doubt you do, so I think it's fine. Oh, postcards are really small. See you there, maybe."

And in the corner of the cramped postcard, in the tiniest writing, almost illegible, an address for a gallery in Tokyo.

I looked it up. It was not close by. A two hour train journey, at the very least. Not that that mattered at all.

I wonder if she expected me to reply?

———

I didn't, in the end. I probably should have. What if the exhibition had been cancelled? She wouldn't have known to tell me. Despite not working up the courage to get in touch with her, I surprised myself by actually going to the exhibition. It took me ages to find the place, though. Why is it that art galleries always try so hard not to look like art galleries?

After walking up and down the same street four or five times, I eventually realised that what I thought was some sort of weird coffee shop was, in fact, the gallery. There wasn't a sign or anything, just a single piece of art on a small easel in the window.

Anxiety threatened to overwhelm me. I was only a few metres from the door, but for a moment it could have been miles away. It had been so long.

I went inside.

It wasn't very climactic. The gallery wasn't especially busy, but busy enough that nobody noticed when one more person entered. I looked around. Her presence was everywhere. On every wall. On little pedestals scattered about the floor. On the floor itself, in the form of a particularly colorful, chaotic piece.

I still didn't really understand art on a very deep level. I thought some pieces were nice to look at, and others troubling or confusing. Maybe that's all there was to it. It was always hard to tell with her.

I walked further into the place, looking around, trying to see the woman herself. Nothing. After five minutes, I had to admit defeat. I'd been around the whole place maybe a dozen times. It was only small.

I wondered if anybody here might know where to find her. I had no way of knowing if any of the people present at the exhibition actually knew her. I didn't know what sort of social circle she kept these days. Perhaps staff? I approached the attendant watching over the exhibition.

"Excuse me, is the artist present?" I asked.

"No, sir," they replied.

"Oh. Is she... going to make an appearance?"

"Who can tell?"

"Uh, I don't know. Isn't this sort of thing usually planned out?"

"Usually, yes. But not always. And not in this case."

"Oh. Any idea where I might be able to find her?"

The attendant gave me a stern, enquiring look. "No, sir, and I'm not sure it would be prudent for me to tell you if I — ah." The attendant interrupted himself, looking over my shoulder, with an expression of mild surprise. I turned around. The figure approaching me from the doorway was unmistakable. She stopped before me, a goofy sort of grin on her face.

"Hellooo," she said.

"Rin!"

I couldn't help but hug her. It was the only thing to do. She returned my hug as best she could.

"This is... wow. It's so good to see you," I said.

She smiled at me. "You're here," she said, one eyebrow slightly raised.

"Yes," I said, unsure as to whether she was surprised. "You invited me, didn't you? I mean, I just assumed that postcard was from you, because, eh... it sounded kind of like you, and it was about an exhibition." I thought for a moment. "Huh. Anybody could have sent that. Why did I assume it was you?"

She shrugged. "You were right, Hisao. It was me. I just didn't think you'd pay any attention to it. It wasn't serious."

"It wasn't serious?" I wasn't sure if I should be hurt by that or not. "Did you want me not to come?"

"Oh, no," she said, shrugging again, "I don't mind. I mean, it is good to see you. I just sent a lot of those postcards out to try to get some interest. People keep telling me I have to do marketing and things. I don't really understand, but you know."

My heart sank a little at her words. I hadn't really thought about it, but I had assumed that that postcard was just for me. The scrappy writing, the intimate language of it... but that's just how Rin is.

"Did you... send the same postcard to everybody? Are they photocopied or something?"

"No, I wrote them all individually. What would be the fun otherwise?"

"I suppose there would be none."

"There wouldn't be," she agrees, smiling.

I look around the gallery, gesturing. "Are all of these you? Or are there other artists here as well."

"They're not all me," she said, looking a little confused at the idea of it, "but I painted them all."

"...But they're not all you?"

"No," she said, one eyebrow raised again, "I'm a human being, Hisao, not a painting."

We both grinned at the daftness of our conversation. Our eyes met for a second, and I was lost. That was all it took. The depth of them. I spoke without thinking.

"Do you want to go do something?"

"What kind of something?" she asked, holding eye contact.

"I don't know. Anything. Are you hungry?"

"I don't know. I don't really do the hungry thing. How can you tell?"

"You... You don't..." I looked at her, exasperated. "The hungry thing is important."

"People keep telling me that as well. They should make up their mind, I think. Should I do marketing, or should I eat food?"

I couldn't help but laugh. "I have a good test for figuring out whether or not you're hungry."

"Mm?"

"Yeah, I just have to ask you one question."

"Mmhmm?"

"Wanna go get something to eat?"

She smiled. "Why didn't you just ask that the first time, instead of asking me if I was hungry?" Then, turning to the attendant, she said, "Can you watch the art for a bit, Alfonse?"

"Of course, Ms Tezuka," he replied, a little gruffly. His tone and expression said 'like I always do'.

———

We found a café down the road. Rin wasn't sure if she'd been there before, but some of the staff seemed to recognise her.

I ordered first. When the server turned to Rin, I had to nudge her to get her to place an order.

"Pineapple juice, please," she said.

"Pineapple juice?" The server replied, glancing at me as though I might offer some solace from her confusion. "We don't have pineapple juice."

"Oh. That's a shame."

There was a few seconds of silence.

"...Would you like to order something else?" Asked the server, their exasperation heightening.

"I don't know," she said, turning to me, "Do you think I should?"

It took a lot of effort not to laugh. I turned to the server. "We'll just have two of what I ordered."

After a few minutes, we'd got our tray of twin food and sat at a small table. Rin looked at me expectantly, and it took me only a fraction of a second to work out why.

"Oh", I said.

"Oh what?"

"Just, eh... eating. In a café like this. How do you normally do it?"

"I don't."

"How come you didn't say anything?"

"I wanted to see what you would do," she said, smirking.

"Right," I said, "Okay, uh..." I wasn't sure what to say. "Shall we find somewhere to sit outside?"

———

We did so. On the other side of the road onto which the café opened was a river, and given that the weather was fortuitously clear and warm for the time of year we quickly found a good spot on the bank.

"God, I'm sorry about that," I said.

"It's all right. It's not the first time that's happened."

"Other people have failed to consider your needs?"

She laughed. "The way you say it sounds so serious. I don't think it's that serious. It's just funny to watch people struggle with a situation that's so alien to them."

Rin didn't talk the way I remembered her talking back at Yamaku. I mean, it was similar. It was still Rin. The dreamlike, cloudland quality of it was still there, but there was something different about it. More cynical, maybe? Perhaps it was just a slightly increased vocabulary. It has been a long time. Plenty of time to pick up a bunch of new words. It struck me that I could just ask. Rin was never one to shy away from speaking her mind.

"The way you talk is different now, Rin," I said.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, the words you use and the order you put them in now is not the same as it was before."

"I knew what the words you said meant. I just wasn't sure why you were saying them," she replied dryly, looking out at the river.

"Oh. I don't know. I just noticed that the way you speak isn't the same."

"I haven't noticed it," she said, "But maybe it's because, for me, the change has happened gradually over time. For you, you were expecting the old me from when we knew each other, but you got present day me, which is a bit different, but more different when you didn't see the change happening. You know?"

I nodded, looking at the grass between my legs. "Yeah. I guess that makes sense."

"Are you actually hungry?" I asked, picking up the paper bag that the woman at the till had wrapped our food in.

"I'll tell you once I've tried eating something," Rin said. I pulled out her food and passed it to her, watching for a moment as she deftly grasped the sandwich with a foot. For a moment, I thought how unsanitary that must be — but then, we hadn't walked far at all, Rin still wore sandals, and the sandwich was wrapped in paper, so it wasn't a big deal.

I started eating my own sandwich, but was barely aware of its taste or texture. My mind was elsewhere, thinking of what to talk about. Things felt awkward. It had been so long.

I turned to Rin. She was tucking into the sandwich without hesitation. "I think I am hungry," she said, noticing me looking at her. "This is good."

"Glad you like my taste in sandwiches," I said dryly. "Some people might try to use my choice to psychoanalyse me or something, you know."

"They would?" Rin said, raising her eyebrows. "That sounds strange. A sandwich is just a sandwich. Thinking about them would be a waste of time. There are lots more important things in life."

"Yeah," I said, "I think we agree there." Rin smiled at me and took another bite. I did the same.

"What have you been doing for the last decade?" I said, after finally deciding to get to the point.

"What do you mean?"

"Is this another example of you asking me what I mean when you actually want to know why I'm asking?"

"Yes," she said, blinking.

"Why wouldn't I ask? It's the sort of thing people ask when they haven't seen someone for a while." I hoped I didn't sound too impatient.

"I've noticed that. I keep forgetting. It's like when people ask 'What's up?' or 'How's it going?'. Except it's not like that this time, because you actually want to know," she said. These didn't strike me as especially fresh or surprising observations.

"Yes. I do want to know."

"I've been doing lots of things," she said, without any further hesitation. "Art, mainly. Lots of that. Sometimes it's fun. Other times it makes me feel stretched and dry. It's like I have really dry, flaky skin, except it's my mind that's dry and flaky, and not my skin. I moisturise."

"You do?" I said, raising my eyebrows in surprise.

"Yes. It's important to moisturise, Hisao," she said emphatically, gesturing with one arm. "But it doesn't feel like that most of the time. The dry-flaky-mind thing, I mean, not the moisturising. Most of the time it's okay. I like doing art."

"It seems to be doing well for you. A whole gallery full of your stuff."

"Mm," she mumbled, thinking through a mouthful. "I don't think it's that impressive. They aren't putting out my art because they are big fans or anything. The gallery takes a lot of the money when something sells."

"You think they only pretend to care about the art?"

"I don't think they even pretend a lot of the time. Perhaps it is better that way. It makes it easier for everybody when people just say what is on their mind." She finished her sandwich and balled the paper up before tossing it back into the bag. "I don't have to worry about all that most of the time, anyway. My manager deals with all of that."

"You have a manager?" I asked, a little incredulous. "I don't think I've heard of a painter with a manager before."

"It's a bit unusual. But then it is just dad. Dealing with gallery owners and stuff is not very fun, so dad does all of that for me. I think the gallery owners prefer that, too."

It struck me that I never knew very much about Rin's parents. "Do you live with your dad, or something?"

She narrowed her eyes a little at me. "No, Hisao. I'm 28." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Do you still live with your parents?"

"No. I have a place in Sendai."

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. "You still live there."

"Mm." I felt surprisingly bashful at her response. "It was easy enough to find a job there after leaving school, and I just felt no reason to leave, you know?"

"I don't know, actually. I think I would get too restless. But maybe not, if I found somewhere that I actually liked." She paused, thinking again. "Are you still in touch with anybody from Yamaku?"

"Not really. Not in person. Most of the teachers have retired by now, or moved somewhere else. Most of the other students didn't stay after they finished their studies."

"Is there nobody left?"

"Mutou, actually. He's still there."

"Oh," she frowned, thinking hard. "I don't remember that name."

"He was one of the science teachers. Looked like Doctor Who."

"Doctor who?"

"You know. That British — actually, never mind."

She shook her head. "I wasn't going to."

"So anyway, aside from Mutou — and I mean, he's too much older than me for us to hang out or anything — I don't see anybody else from about the place. In fact, I haven't spoken to anybody from Yamaku in..." I checked my phone. "...Almost two years. Except you, now."

"Is that good?"

"What, not talking to anybody? I mean, I still talk to other people. Colleagues at work and things like that. But not talking to anybody from Yamaku? I don't really know. I don't mind being reminded of it — " But I was cut off by Rin.

"No, I mean, is it good that you have spoken to me now?"

I was taken aback by the question. It seemed oddly personal for Rin. My reply came with a bit of a stutter. "It's, uh — I mean, it's nice to get back in touch. It's good to see you again."

"Mm. You already said that." I can't tell for sure, but I could've sworn there was a tinge of disappointment mixed in with Rin's standard monotone.

"I meant it. It wasn't a phatic expression."

"Phatic expression?" She queried, confused.

"You know, one of those phrases that doesn't actually mean anything. Just a general greeting. Like when you ask someone 'What's up?', you probably don't actually want to know what's up. You're just saying hello."

"Ooooh!" Her eyes opened wide. "That's what those are called! That will be very useful. Phatic expression. Mm..."

"So..." She said, looking back at me. "It is good to see me again?"

"Yeah."

"Mm." She looked me in the eyes. "It's good to see you again, too."

I don't recall ever having heard or felt such sincerity and such warmth from Rin Tezuka as I heard and felt then. It flowed from her eyes and engulfed me. The barrage of emotion brought my mind forcefully to the subject of Yamaku and what happened there between me and Rin. Despite just having said that I don't mind being reminded of it, something was different this time. Overcome, tears formed in the corners of my eyes, and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I looked away, but too late.

"Hisao?"

"Yeah?" I replied, a little gruffly, looking resolutely out at the river.

"Why are you crying?"

I wiped my eyes with my sleeve. "I'm not."

"Oh. Why are your eyes all wet then? Do you have allergies? I don't have allergies, so I don't know what it feels like, but it doesn't seem very nice." Rin was being completely sincere in her response. If I didn't feel like talking about it, I could've got away with it.

"Yamaku. How we parted. Everything," I said, giving in. "I wish things had turned out differently. I still think about it. I think about it all the time. Why can't I let go?"

"I — " Rin started talking but cut herself off. "I — " She did it again.

"Sorry," I said, "there's nothing to say, is there? It was all so long ago. I can barely remember what there even is to be upset about." That was a lie. "And I am sure you don't think about it anymore. Don't tell me if you do or don't, I don't mean to — "

"I do." She said, cutting me off this time.

I paused for a moment, not sure if I heard correctly. "You do?"

"I always said I was good at forgetting things," she continues, "but not this, apparently. It's weird. I don't understand why."

There was a silence. How long it lasted, I am not sure. Eventually, I broke it.

"You said... You said something like 'I'm sure that'. And then you stopped speaking without finishing your sentence."

"When?" She asked, tilting her head a little to the side. I had forgotten this affectation. This only made the memories form more strongly in my mind.

"The last time I saw you. On the streets of Sendai. It was raining. You kept wandering out from under my umbrella. Did you want to get wet?"

"Yes," she said, simply. "It felt good."

"And then you stopped," I continued, without pause, "and I stopped a bit too late, and looked back, and... And I knew that was it."

She looked at me impassively, waiting for me to continue. How did she know I was going to?

"And we both said a lot. But at one point you said 'I'm sure that' — it was definitely that, exactly — but stopped talking before finishing your sentence." I paused to see if there is any glimmer of recognition on her face, but it remains inscrutable. "What were you going to say?"

Her eyes flickered back and forth between my own, reading them individually.

"I — " She said, cutting herself off again. She looked at the ground between her feet. "I think I was going to say 'I'm sure that you will be able to forget me'."

I shook my head slightly, trying to get to grips with this concept, before dragging my gaze away from her. "How could I?"

She didn't respond. After a few seconds, she looked up from the ground and back out over the river. Her face bore an expression that didn't suit it. It was serious. Sober. Jaded, even.

"It was a long time ago, Hisao. We were kids."

"We were 18!" I interjected.

"Kids," She repeated. "Can you really say you're at all the same now as you were then?"

"Uh," It threw me off to hear Rin talking like this. Talking like an adult about something. Should it have? "I don't know. I don't remember clearly. The time after you left is a blur. I don't remember what happened after that. I don't remember what I was like."

She looked at me, her eyes wide. "You don't remember the last ten years?"

"Well, no, I mean... Just the bit of time after you left. It felt like it went on forever."

"It didn't, though, did it?"

"No. I guess it didn't."

"And you did other things afterwards."

"Yeah." I thought for a moment. "But you were always on my mind."

Rin was silent. I thought over what we just said. We hadn't really come to any sort of conclusion. It was aimless, almost meaningless. Like our conversations so often had been. I decided to speak again.

"You were with people after me, right?"

"You mean — "

"Romantically."

"Oh," she said, looking surprised at the question. "Yes," and she wasn't sure how to follow up. "...Were you?"

"Yeah. There were a few people. My girlfriend just left me a couple of months ago, actually. Or, ex-girlfriend, I guess. I haven't really said that out loud up until now. Huh."

"So did mine."

"Your girlfriend?"

She looked at me with slightly narrowed eyes. "Yes."

I nodded. "I couldn't blame her. Mine, I mean. I think I must always have seemed a bit preoccupied."

"That was what mine said, too."

I looked at Rin, her eyes reflecting the calm ripples of the river, her hair ablaze with the setting sun. I moved closer to her. "What were you preoccupied with?"

She looked me in the eye. It had been so long since I had plumbed those depths. She hesitated. The hairs on my arms and neck stood on end. Her eyes flickered.

The moment ended. She looked away. I wouldn't have expected anything —

"Mmph!" Was all I could muster as Rin launched herself at me. Forcing my back onto the grass and straddling me, she towered above me, blocking the sun, casting a grim silhouette.

"Just apologise!" She shouted. I don't think Rin ever shouted before. This was something, someone, completely unlike the girl I knew before.

"You never did," she continued, "and I can't stand it. Apologise!" And she whipped her sleeves at me menacingly, though without making contact.

"What?!" I cried, utterly confused, "What for?!"

"You know," she gasped, her breaths heavy. She was right. I did know, and I had no recourse.

My eyes stung, Rin's silhouette turning soft around the ages, my tears emulating the rain from that night a decade ago. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"

"What for?"

"For thinking only of myself. For not helping you when you needed me. For being a terrible friend. For making you want to destroy yourself. I'm so sorry." I sobbed.

Just like that, she rolled off me. "Good," she said, as though she'd just bitten into a slightly-better-than-average sandwich. My mouth hung open for a moment, and I once again wiped the tears from my eyes.

"...Good?!"

"Good."

"You don't have anything else to say?"

"You know me, Hisao Nakai. I don't do words." She looked at me. I must have been a sight. "Your face is very red."

"I wonder why."

"Did I stop you breathing? I didn't think I was that heavy."

"No, it's — " I sighed. "Never mind." I pulled myself back upright, sitting cross-legged on the grass again. The motion came easily. I realised that I felt light, almost giddy. A weight had been lifted.

"Thank you."

"What for?" She asked, tilting her head again.

"Letting me apologise."

She frowned. "I didn't think I was letting you. I was sitting on top of you, Hisao. You didn't have much of a choice."

"But you could have not done that. You could have let me get away with it again. You could have walked away. But you didn't."

"No," she said, sighing, "I guess I didn't."

"Why?"

She looked me in the eye again. "I'm ready to change again, I think."

"What do you mean?" And for a moment, my stomach sank as I heard myself ask that question. In the past, asking what Rin meant was only asking for more confusion and upset. I fully expected to see her turn away and look troubled at the thought of having to explain herself. But I was wrong. Instead, her face remained calm, and she thought for a moment before replying.

"I've done it a few times now. It's not so bad, actually. I think most people do it all the time. Maybe I still can't do it as often as other people do. But I've done it a few times, and it's been okay."

She gestures back up the road, towards the gallery. "Didn't I say I probably wouldn't have a breakdown this time?"

"I thought that was a joke," I said, laughing awkwardly.

"You did?" She said, her eyes widening again. "No, I meant it. I wanted to do it properly this time. So I did. And it is going well, I think."

"Helps that you don't have Nomiya breathing down your neck this time."

"Yes, he was very horrible, actually. He died, you know."

"Oh," I said, and it took all my effort not to follow this up with "good".

"Yes," said Rin, and I was sure she knew what I almost said, and was agreeing with that. There was another period of silence. I thought Rin had lost her train of thought.

"So, you're ready to change?"

"Yes, I already said that," she responded, dryly. "Oh, but you want me to elaborate, yes. I understand that sort of thing now!" And she beamed. "See, that's another change. I'm getting quite good at it now, when I wasn't before."

"You got there in the end," I said.

"Yes," she nodded, "And it was hard at first, but then it got easier, and now sometimes it happens even without me realising. Last week I tried a pickled beetroot, and it was really good actually. I didn't like those before. They tasted like dirt. This time, it still tasted like dirt, but spicy, tasty dirt."

"Uh, yes," I said, unsure of where this was going. "I like those too."

She beamed. "They're good, aren't they? I ate a whole jar." Her head bobbed a little as she remembered the apparently halcyon days of eating an entire jar of pickled beetroots. I hope it was a small one. How did her digestive system deal with that? I decided not to ask, and instead cleared my throat to try to pull the conversation back to some semblance of normality.

"Where's this going, Rin?" I said. She fixed me with her deep gaze.

"You know when you said that you'd like to like me as more than a friend?"

I swallowed. A rock dropped into my stomach. "Yes. You said... What was it... 'I can't talk about that kind of thing now,' I think."

"Yes," said Rin, nodding slowly, still pinning me with her eyes. "I think I can talk about that kind of thing now."

"Yeah?" I said, thickly. "With me?" She simply nodded in response. I thought for a moment.

"Rin?" I said.

"Yes?" She replied.

"I like you," I said. Our eyes remained connected.

"I like you too, Hisao."
I'm the writing lead for Somnova Studios and the Annaliese route writer for Missing Stars. You can play Act 1 now. I also co-wrote Arcadia and did programming for Cerulean.

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Oddball
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Re: If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

Post by Oddball » Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:12 pm

This is a bit hard to get into for me. For starters, Rin doesn't feel much like Rin at all. It doesn't feel so much like she's changed as it does that you just have a hard time writing the character. I can't really blame you there though, she is a hard one to get your head around and you did make a point to talk about how she's changed.

Of course as soon as you pointed that out, the character actually started talking a feeling a bit more like Rin. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not.

There's also the matter of the emotional outburst from Rin that comes out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly, much like Hisao's crying. It was especially jarring with her bringing up that what happened was a long time ago and acting like it was no big deal right before it.

I just can't quite wrap my head around the intentions or characters of this story.
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Adam W
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Re: If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

Post by Adam W » Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:26 pm

Oddball wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:12 pm
This is a bit hard to get into for me...
Thanks for reading, and for your thoughts. I do get where you're coming from. It's a bit directionless. Honestly, this was mostly stream of consciousness, with very little planning - I wanted to see what would happen if Hisao and Rin met up 10 years later, and this is where I'd got to after a few hours. Rin being significantly different is not accidental, though I do hope it's not so extreme that she is totally unrecognisable, otherwise there'd be no point in writing this. I'd enjoy writing something that showed the process of that change, maybe.

I'll probably end up following this up with some better planned works about Rin in the decade previous to this story. Any follow up to this would probably be much higher quality. I hope so, at least. Reading and writing fanfiction is foreign to me, and I feel it requires a style of thinking that I haven't nailed yet.
I'm the writing lead for Somnova Studios and the Annaliese route writer for Missing Stars. You can play Act 1 now. I also co-wrote Arcadia and did programming for Cerulean.

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Oddball
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Re: If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

Post by Oddball » Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:41 pm

Adam W wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:26 pm
I'll probably end up following this up with some better planned works about Rin in the decade previous to this story. Any follow up to this would probably be much higher quality. I hope so, at least. Reading and writing fanfiction is foreign to me, and I feel it requires a style of thinking that I haven't nailed yet.
Good luck to you in the future. Don't worry too much about it. Nobody's first attempt is ever great.
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BristerXD
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Re: If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

Post by BristerXD » Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:38 pm

All right, always good to see some new blood in the forum. I say that as if I'm a veteran and not just some two-year-long stalker who is currently in the process of posting his own work to the forum. Not minding that ramble, I was very happy to see that not only are you new here but you're a first-time writer as well. I take a special interest people like you and your understanding of the creative process. I do a lot of workshops both in-person and online in my spare time so I get that it takes a bit just put out your first work for what feels like the world to see. So in this hopefully small essay, I will try to point out what you managed to do right in my opinion and what areas suffer for very specific reasons.

So to begin with the positive/overall rating, I thought this piece was just fine. I wouldn't say it was great but I didn't make me want to commit arson anytime soon so I hesitate to say it was bad. It set up a clear premise and by the end delivered on it in a way that wasn't confusing that that's enough to just scrape onto the line of 5/10 for me. And there were some elements that I did enjoy. I liked the stripped back, focused direction of the writing. There was certainly no fat or fluff to complain about which is what I feel is the most common pitfall for new fanfic writers especially. The dialogue between Hisao and Rin, while certainly suffering from the problems oddball had mentioned, did feel snappy in the cafe especially. The pacing there felt natural and almost fun in a sense. I enjoyed the little details of the exhibition guard being accustomed to Rin wandering off, explanation of a phatic expression which is now an addition to my vocabulary, and the casual mention of Nomiya's death by Rin which says a lot more about this version of her than you probably intended. So all in all, you certainly did enough to keep me reading through till the end and I don't hate you for that so good show to you my friends.

Now onto the less than functional. Starting off by expanding, in my own way of course, on what oddball said. I had less of a problem with you keeping true to Rin's character because, as he said himself, she's a bit a mindfuck for most. Your story is explicit with the fact that she's changed, she doesn't like some random other character type just wearing her face like a serial killer, I can boogie with this. My main problem lies more in the fact that these changes aren't exactly consistent. Sometimes she keeps her more aloof, alien observant nature that is nearly identical to how she was in the original novel and then you have moments of "Hisao I'm 28," and "We were kids," which fly right in the face of her seemingly backward route of logic. It makes getting a sense of how she actually grew as a person nearly impossible. So while the different emotional beats in the dialogue by themselves I would say are pretty well written, all together they feel like a bad copy of the movie SPLIT.

Moving on from that and probably the biggest problem I have with the piece, the pacing overall in a structural sense is way too fucking fast. You were worried about it being slow and boring but what I felt like I was watching someone speedrun a video game adaptation of the notebook. To just gloss over it as I'm sure you know this is a problem, writing long-winded scenes in nothing but dialogue as if it were a script is never good and makes remembering important things like setting or even timeframe confusing as all hell. Like when writing this review, I knew what sections of your piece I liked but had to reread the entire thing just to find them again. I have to really focus to keep a reading rhythm or else my eyes just unfocus and I lose my place and immersion.

Okay, onto the more grand aspect of this. I like prose. I read history textbooks for fun a lot and don't find Russian writer offensively dense like most other people my age. So I generally like my writing to have a little meat on its bones so to speak. With that being said, I've read enough of Chuck Palahniuk's and Kurt Vonnegut's works to know that not every writer needs it in order to create a gripping story. I feel you fall in the same vein as those writers. So when I say I want you to add more external/internal description for future stories know it's not just because I like it. When I say description, I don't mean just meaningless purple prose about the sandwiches they order at the cafe or the detail of every rock in the river they were looking over either. The faces the characters make as they or after they talk. The internal thoughts of the main character or one of the characters depending on point of view. And yes, details about the environment including the character's position in it. Details like that in a more streamlined writing style like yours serve more to control the pace of the story rather than just set the scene. You cover a lot of emotional beats in the story that has no space to breathe what so ever. Rin literally pouncing on Hisao, crying, coming to the emotional climax of the story, the sexually embarrassed Hisao afterward, and the conclusion feel like how reading this run-on sentence probably felt for you.

Think of these descriptions as like segregated portion of a thanksgiving meal. Think of them as additive indigents and spices you would add to soup. Your emotional core, that great dialogue and character intention that I mentioned before, that is your basic chicken broth. It is that ever-present element in everything. However, you don’t see anyone but madmen chugging it straight from the box. You add other things to it to deepen and sophisticate the flavors for a better all-around experience.

Alright, I hope any of this has made a modicum of sense. I am writing this instead of doing actual work and it had just now hit me how bad I’ve screwed myself. In spite of that, it was a pleasure writing this little essay up for you Adam. If you need a person to proofread or just bounce ideas off of, the send message button is somewhere on this site. Hope you have a good day and hope you wait with bated breath for my own piece soon to come. Or don't. You probably have better things to do with your life. I know I do currently. Again, bye, I'm gonna scream into the void.

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Adam W
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Re: If I Do: A sappy, cathartic epilogue to the neutral ending of Rin's route.

Post by Adam W » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:12 am

BristerXD wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:38 pm
All right, always good to see some new blood in the forum...
What fantastic feedback. Thank you so much for not only reading my work, but taking the time to assess it in such detail, I really appreciate it!

I'm not new to the craft of writing as a whole. I've been writing on and off for years, occasionally as a professional (if you can believe that). I am new to fanfiction, and this was really a quick and dirty thing to try to get myself into the right frame of mind. It is also the first thing I'd written for 4-5 months, and I get rusty very quickly when I don't use a skill. I'm pretty happy with a 5/10 all things considered.

Anyway, that isn't to make excuses or wave away any criticism. You've given me some great practical advice, and I'll certainly be thinking of this post the next time I write something. Thank you again.
I'm the writing lead for Somnova Studios and the Annaliese route writer for Missing Stars. You can play Act 1 now. I also co-wrote Arcadia and did programming for Cerulean.

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