The Difficulty of Writing an FGO Fanfic
Posted on December 24, 2018
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Original Post Date: Nov 9th, 2016
No rant here. I’m just making a post to give some insight into the ludicrous nature of writing a Fate/Grand Order fanfic. I placed myself in this position though, so I’m cool with it and accept the potential pitfall.
The biggest thing for me is always the characters. It’s what everyone reads it for, no? You like characters and you want to see more of them when there’s not. That makes it paramount to get characters spot on so there’s no jarring transition. Can you imagine if Saber hated eating food? It’d be jarring, right?
So I do my best to get them as spot on as possible, but that’s where the problem with Fate/Grand Order comes into play: It’s constantly being updated, in a language I do not understand, with potentially lore breaking reveals.
Example: Fate/Grand Order has established servants remember their past experiences, completely opposite of what was established in prior works.
Example: Mages hate technology yet Chaldea has cryo vats.
Example: The Mages are huge on secrecy yet Marlisbilly informed the UNITED NATIONS of all things about Chaldea. Probably for extra funding. Or maybe they found out?
Constantly being updated makes it difficult enough. Now we have the issue of Slice of Life. You have all these servants in one place interacting. But they’re supposed to stay in character. Something has to give to keep the Slice of Life feel, and not make it your standard, cliché bloodbath that Fate/ often ends in. So I bend characters in a conceivable way so you can believe they’ve had to adapt to a new environment and experiences.
But in order to figure out how they would adapt and fit in, I literally go through every piece I can get my hands on. The amount of background research I’ve been doing for these stories is a little absurd and I STILL don’t think I’m a fate expert. So many cross checks in Apocrypha, Fate/Stay Night and others to figure out characters and what they would/would not be against. Even worse if they’re Grand Order only with limited translation, ouch.
Example: I’ve done my research on Emiya simply by watching the anime, playing the Realta Nua visual novel, checking his FGO my room & interludes for updates/differences, etc. and have placed the collective knowledge into a brainstorm sheet. I then figure how to make him find his niche in Chaldea.
In Unlimited Bladeworks’ ending, he promised Rin and Emiya have a talk that pretty much ends with him agreeing to try to like himself. “I’ll try my best from now on too.”
Normally this would be a moot, tragic point since servants can not remember the past. Low and behold, Grand Order kicks that thought out the window (part of the reason I assume some Die hard Fans hate Grand Order). This means Emiya remembers and will try to like himself. Go back to the basics? He’s a great cook. He’ll do chores. Hero of Justice stuff. Just sprinkled with the experiences of Archer’s cynicism so he’s not naive, rather battle hardened and a logical thinker. But that little bit of Shirou can now shine through again.
But he’s from UBW route, so how does he remember his romance with Arturia? He loved Rin in that route. Throw in my own piece of fanfiction, the Memorial Essence. As described, it let’s servants remember forgotten timelines to help power up their abilities using those memories. Suddenly he remembers his romance with Arturia at a higher clarity.
If X servant can change Y amount in what is pretty much a fourteen day Grail War, what will months do? I believe a lot, especially since they’re in close proximity and have to work together.
Unless you just want me to summon a servant to have them fight Chaldea’s residents and wind up being a wasted chapter. Summon Brynhildr with Siegfried in the building. Lots can go wrong there.
Side note to all Brynhildr fans: I’m seriously trying to figure a way to make something work for you guys without massive amounts of forced crack intake.
But that’s where the next problem arises: Everyone would like to see their favorite servants appear, and I don’t blame them. I want to include every servant at some point and in some way. From a lore stand point, that is 100% impossible without very serious consequences. But I’m going to try and do it even if it’s a singularity cameo.
Finally, as if I didn’t dig my grave deep enough, comes the issue with including OCs in order to make the staff relate able. They’re there so you have someone you’re more likely to relate with, cause I highly doubt most people can say something around the lines of, “Ah yea, I know how rough it is being a Roman Emperor trying to earn more praise from my citizens.” And so I include OCs that are carefully written, developed, and chosen in order to fit properly without breaking cohesion.
Bonus! Self-introduced, non-canon mechanics to make sense of things without explanation. Why do servants power up their NPs with multiple copies of themselves? The Memorial Essence gives them the memories upon ‘summoning’ another self. How do you explain multiple servants being possible? They’re in the throne still, but only one can be summoned by Chaldea. With enough Memorial essences, they can shift to another class if plausible. The potential for these getting smashed by real lore introductions is very real, and a high risk.
So then what does that leave us with?
What is essentially a minefield of possibly Mary Sues, interpreted wish fulfillment, OOC characters, breakable mechanics, and lore contradictions. The amount of things people can jump on me for is astronomical, especially considering the sheer number of servants I have to deal with. It’s honestly a fun challenge and I don’t mind the mines!
So honestly, I’m surprised not many have left a critic remark. We’ve had one that made me double check, but everyone else who replied says the characters are relatively fine and have had believable development. Some slight signs of wish fulfillment in order to make Slice of Life work but no lore contradictions or broken mechanics yet. So I guess I’m doing a good job? I don’t like patting myself on the back, but I’ll make an exception here since it appears I’m hitting that thin as hell sweet spot.
But for all those who keep reading and like what they’ve found, I’m glad I’ve done good by you all, and I will continue to tread down this minefield and hopefully not tear my legs off. I’ve got a lot planned for Fragments once this singularity is complete, and a lot of fan favorites and not-so-favorites to make their debut.