I’m back, and I’m delving into my next set of fanfiction stories. I brought alcohol this time.
It’s the only way I’m getting through this.
In case you missed it, I’m going through all my Jimmy Neutron fanfics in chronological order. I went through my first twelve stories last time, and I want to get through the end of the first stage in my fanfiction career in this post (that’s when I stopped consistently sucking, basically). I want to stress again that I wrote these things when I was 14 and 15 years old, so that’s why most of them are crap. With that said, let’s just jump back into this.
Written on August 15, 2005
Alright, my temper’s cooling looking at this. This is my third poem for Jimmy Neutron and the first that didn’t end with Jimmy and Cindy failing to be together. On the contrary, this is a nice fluffy piece about Jimmy and Cindy admitting their love and enjoying their first dance.
One thing I did repeat is opening this poem by recapping their relationship. Why did I do that? I’ve already explored that technique and there’s no reason to do it again. No one is accidentally stumbling across the Jimmy Neutron section of fanfiction.net and going, “I don’t know who these people are, but I think I’ll read a poem about them.”
In spite of that flaw, and the fact that this poem doesn’t seek to break any boundaries, it’s not that bad. My rhyming and sentence structure are definitely improved, and as far as poems go I think this is passable.
Final verdict: This was my best poem to date and worth a read if you want some J/C fluff.
Written on August 15, 2005
I don’t know what to say anymore. How is it even possible to write another story about Jimmy moving away? This was a show about a BOY GENIUS WHO TRAVELED THROUGH SPACE. There is literally nothing I could not have written about. I could have had Sheen taming platypuses with an animal translator or Cindy having a kung-fu tournament on the moon. Anything….anything (!) was possible for me. And I just kept on writing about Jimmy having to move away.
In all seriousness, though, I actually don’t think this story is that bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m disgusted that I kept going back to the well of Jimmy leaving Retroville. And this whole letter is written quite a bit out of character. But in spite of all that I think it had my finest writing to date.
That’s not much of a compliment to myself, but this is the first time where I can look through something I wrote and feel some real, painful emotion. Even though these don’t seem quite like words that Jimmy would actually write, there’s just something earnest and…real about them. Believe me, I’m not trying to toot my own horn with these early fics. But isn’t this last line at least a little good?
Good-bye, Cindy. Good-bye my friend, my rival, my enemy, and my love. Good-bye.
Not the best that was ever written, but at least good.
One other thing I think I did well with this piece was really sum up the show and movie’s best moments. The first half of this letter is mostly Jimmy recapping the important times he and Cindy shared throughout the series, and I think that goes a long way in remedying the out-of-character issues. Maybe Jimmy wouldn’t have actually written this, but it at least feels like I got the universe right.
Final verdict: A mixed bag. Decent writing lifts up the poor characterization and repetitive elements. Worth a look if you want a quick J/C read.
Written on August 15, 2005
What, did I snort Adderrall on August 15th or something? This is the third story I published that day.
In all seriousness, though, I think this was my best story to date and still holds up really well. A lot of that is due to me incorporating my own feelings about growing up. The opening line about your greatest fears being your deepest desires was my own mantra early in high school; it perfectly captured how I felt about feeling like I was alone but craving social interaction. I also really like the little details I threw in here about how it feels to be a preteen, like considering being thirteen a far-off future and how Jimmy starts an argument with Cindy just to hear her fight back. It adds a lot of realism to this story and makes it one of my favorites.
Final verdict: One of my few early stories that is fully readable and enjoyable, even if there are still some basic flaws.
Written from August 14, 2005 – August 15, 2005
This is just getting ridiculous. Apparently I wrote the last three stories after finishing this story on the same day. I needed to go play outside or something.
This was my first combination romantic-comedy / action-adventure story. When Libby and Sheen steal Jimmy’s rocket, they end up stranded in the Amazon Jungle. Cindy and Jimmy team up to get them back, all the while dodging Cuban soldiers, quicksand, and a boa constrictor.
Seriously, those are the three main obstacles they face. I have no idea how I came up with the idea of Jimmy and Cindy crash-landing in Cuba for a couple chapters. That was ridiculously random.
Is this story good? I have no idea. There’s some decent humor when Sheen and Libby steal the rocket and the ending is my first good balance between sweetness and pulling back just enough. It actually reminds me a lot of the stuff I write now; I always try to go for more emotional declarations of love and friendship instead of physical acts. (I find reading two characters quietly admitting how much they mean to each other infinitely more rewarding than simply kissing.) But the rest of this story is a hot mess. The Cuba thing is just insane, the action is incredibly short and lacks detail, and most of the Jimmy / Cindy interaction feels off.
Final Verdict: Since it’s so short and has a few funny lines, this might be worth a read just to get to the cute ending. Then again, you did just read it above. Sorry for spoiling that.
Written from August 16, 2005 – August 22, 2005
This is a series of five short stories that I wrote over a week. Those stories were Visions, Troubles, Oops, An Unlikely Friend, and Full Circle. The basic plot is a complete ripoff of The Dead Zone. Jimmy suddenly gains the ability to have visions of the future. He uses these to prepare for the apocalypse, which will be brought about by a mysterious new teen in town called John.
This series is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it was by far my most imaginative effort to date, even if (like I said) the basic idea was a ripoff of The Dead Zone. There’s actually some decent action, and for the first time I did some research into the different weapons that Jimmy and Cindy utilized in their fight to save the future. There were also some decently touching moments between the gang, such as the scene above. Those moments weren’t written that well, but I think the emotion got across at least. Once again, I think this was due to me incorporating my own fears about growing up. Lastly, this is the first piece where I really hammered home how important this group means to each other. I should have spent more time showing the five characters bonding throughout these stories, but that excerpt above is the first example of a theme I would hit often in my later fics: that the JN gang aren’t just friends, but family.
On the negative side? This whole story made very little sense. There are clear plot holes you can see from a mile away, the history behind Earth’s destruction is basically glossed over, and the ending is incredibly predictable. I think this series holds much more value as a training exercise for my future action-adventure and plot-driven stories than as a piece of literary art.
Final verdict: Skip it and head for The Final Battle series.
Written from August 23, 2005 – August 24, 2005
Okay, I’m actually smiling now. This is the point in my career where I at least was displaying constant creativity. That whole mess of writing 30 stories about Jimmy moving away is behind us. Yes, my writing was still nowhere near publishable and I had trouble with consistent characterization, but at least I was coming up with different ideas.
So what of this story in particular? Jimmy’s MatchMaker 5000 declares that he is the perfect match for Libby, whereas Sheen is Cindy’s. Though the gang declares this ridiculous, they can’t help but start to see each other in a different light. The results threaten to tear the group apart.
Again, the characters are iffy and the writing is of course subpar. But some of the jokes were funny, at least if you’re fourteen years-old. I want to be kind to this fic because I’ve always just kind of liked it, but the truth is it’s not really that great. I could have taken the idea of the Sheen / Cindy and Jimmy / Libby pairings to places no writers had before, but instead I just made a few quick jokes and shoved the original pairings back together. This story was mostly a wasted opportunity.
Final verdict: Just an average romantic comedy. Which means it’s not that good.
Written on August 25, 2005
This one’s actually good! Like, really good. I don’t want to sound like an asshole; I’m nowhere near an amazing poet. I just don’t have that raw ability to effortlessly create great prose. But overall I love this poem.
It’s pure fluff to be sure. There’s no conflict here, and you’re not going to enjoy this unless you’re a huge J/C fan. But if you are I can’t imagine this failing to bring a smile to your face. Most of the poem is spent recapping all the major moments that Jimmy and Cindy shared throughout the show, and having Jimmy quickly describe what each one meant to him really helped raise this piece up.
Again, it’s not perfect. I still failed to have every pair of sentences be the same length and a couple of the rhymes were weak. But I still think this is one of my strongest early works.
Final verdict: If you’re a J/C fan, I really think you’ll like this.
Written from August 25, 2005 – August 29, 2005
In this story, the JN class goes on a trip to Paris. But oh no, it crashes! In what is not at all a rip-off of Lord of the Flies & Lost, the surviving children struggle to stay alive on the island long enough to find rescue.
This was a turning point in my writing career. I did two new things in this book that would play a huge role in my professional works. The first was research. I know I said that I did for the Visions series, but that was really just looking up really quick how a couple weapons worked. For this story I researched a lot more, and I think it really made this piece stronger. Looking back and reading a properly done mayday & pan-pan call is just rewarding.
The other big thing I did was lay something down early in the story that would become important later on (a la Chekhov’s Gun). In this case, early on I had Jimmy and Cindy take a quick sip of vodka to see what it tasted like. They immediately spit it out and wondered how adults could drink that stuff. Later on, Carl injures his leg and needs medical attention. Because they drank the vodka earlier, the kids have nothing to clean the wound with and Carl dies.
Obviously, there are severe flaws in that scenario. I really don’t think Jimmy and Cindy would have tried alcohol, and was there really only one bottle of it on the entire plane that crashed? But this was an incredibly important and useful writing tactic that I employ all the time nowadays.
So that’s the good. How about the bad? Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of that. Surprisingly, the biggest issue isn’t characterization or generally poor writing. Those definitely exist to some extent, but I feel like I was starting to get a handle on those things at this point. Instead, the main issue is logic, plain and simple. It shouldn’t have been so hard for this plane to be found. The reason for the kids going on a trip to Paris is utterly and insanely ridiculous. And of course, it was completely impossible that only the children from Jimmy’s class survived the crash. Plus, the ending completely steals from the movie The Core. Like just straight up stabs that movie to death and takes everything it has.
Because if you’re going to rip off a movie, this is the one you want to steal from. Maybe I’ll plagiarize The Happening next.
Final verdict: If you’re willing to overlook several serious logical flaws, there’s some decent stuff here.
Written from August 30, 2005 – September 10, 2005
This is just more of me ripping stuff off. I’d recently watched and really enjoyed the Scream movies, so of course I thought it was a great idea to have the Jimmy Neutron characters face such a threat. Never mind that that is completely insane and out of sync from the type of troubles this gang usually faced, but whatever, YOLO. Anyway, a masked murderer manages to kill pretty much everyone in Jimmy’s class except him and Cindy. Then it happens again. Then it happens a third time.
I wanted to make a great horror story, but I just don’t think it’s my forte. I killed characters as if it was nothing; no one really seems to care that people they love are dropping like flies around them. At one point Jimmy just yanks a knife out of Nick Dean’s head (his freaking head!) and lectures his fellow students on what they have to do next to survive.
There’s just way too many issues with how haphazardly I killed off characters for this series to be good, but there are some interesting choices here. I tried, at least. In the second book I made it seem like Eustace might be the killer, only for him to be innocent and slowly become friends with Jimmy and Cindy. This was also my first story to have an original character. His name was Eric and his only real traits were being funny and obsessed with girls, but I think he was amusing enough for a first try at making a brand new character. And at least the third book strayed from the formula of the first two with much fewer deaths and more emphasis on character growth, even if it was clearly ripping off Scream 3.
Final verdict: Unless you’re the world’s biggest horror and Jimmy Neutron fan, pass this up.
Written from September 15, 2005 – September 21, 2005
If there’s one thing I’m finding fascinating about this process, it’s how my quality keeps ebbing and flowing. I mean seriously, wasn’t I just saying my writing was improving a couple stories ago? Now here I am blowing ten year-olds’ heads off again.
So what’s wrong here aside from the obvious? In this fic, Cindy and Jimmy play hooky and share a romantic morning together! But then, 1/3rd of the way through this story, it’s suddenly revealed that a bunch of terrorists have taken over Lindbergh Elementary School.
Because of course that fucking happens all the time you idiot Ryan.
Seriously. I just can barely even here. I say quite clearly at the end of this story that 250 children and teachers were murdered by terrorists. How in the world is this Jimmy Neutron fanfiction anymore? How is this anything?!
So just really quick, it’s insane this happened. It makes no sense that these terrorists just happened to spare Ms. Fowl’s class. It’s nuts that this happened the one day Jimmy and Cindy don’t go to school. I don’t even know what these terrorists’ end goal was. Let’s just…let’s just move on.
Why am I a writer?
Final verdict: I don’t want to do this anymore.
Written from September 26, 2005 – September 29, 2005
How in the heck did I go from Hooky to this? This is…pretty okay. Probably the strongest story in these posts yet. The plot is that Jimmy and Cindy are starting high school, but they’ve drifted apart over the years. Even though Cindy can barely stand Jimmy anymore, he still harbors a crush for her. When she takes the role of Juliet in the school play opposite Nick’s Romeo, Jimmy helps run lines with her in an attempt to woo her.
Yes, it’s a terribly cliched plot. Yes, the first half of the story is relentlessly depressing. And maybe my characterization wasn’t consistent. But in spite of those numerous flaws, I can’t help but feel that the writing was (fairly) decent, at least after the halfway point of the story. This skill suddenly vanished for my next few fics, but something just clicked with this piece. And I think I made for the cliches by having Jimmy and Cindy not get together in the end.
Even though I kept Jimmy and Cindy apart, the ending isn’t purely sad like in previous stories. Jimmy and Cindy repair their friendship and grow much closer by the end. And even though the story concludes with Cindy and Nick flirting, Jimmy doesn’t seem too broken up about it. He’s happy for her and that they’re friends again. And though I don’t say this in the book, it’s really unlikely that Nick and Cindy are going to be together forever. When they do break up, who is Cindy going to turn to? The sweet boy she now calls her friend.
Obviously I didn’t write the Shakespearian quotes in the excerpt above, but that whole chapter is one of the favorite things I’ve ever written. I just think I managed to make that scene work, where Jimmy and Cindy recite Romeo and Juliet’s lines while struggling to keep their own feelings separate from their characters’.
In addition to all the good stuff above, this story is also the first where I explored another theme that became more prominent in later works: Jimmy and Libby’s friendship. Libby plays a much larger role than normal here as she tries to help Jimmy win Cindy over. And at the end, when she realizes he failed, she just seems so concerned about him without getting over the top about it. I think it’s a beautiful moment between the two and really paved the way for some great Libby / Jimmy scenes in The Final Battle series.
Final verdict: A surprisingly good story for this stage in my writing career. I recommend it.
Written on October 1, 2005
Meh, I’m Cindy and I misunderstand Jimmy’s subtext and get angry at him because this is a romantic comedy and they’re fueled on this type of crap, meh.
That’s what this story is.
It’s just not good. It’s ridiculously short for a five-chapter story, Jimmy and Cindy don’t seem truly in character, and I ripped off one scene from The Steve Harvey Show.
“What in the…why?” – Everyone reading this blog.
I have no idea why I even wrote this. It’s completely forgettable; there’s not a single scene here that stands out. Just days after I wrote this thing I already felt like it didn’t even exist. Not that I just forgot about; this story is so bland and senseless that its very existence seemed to melt out of my consciousness. There’s really nothing else to say.
Final verdict: Meh.
Written on October 2, 2005
When Jimmy Neutron can’t take life anymore, he goes through one last miserable day before ending it all.
My prose needed tightening, Cindy was way too cruel, and I did not do nearly enough to explain how Jimmy got to the point of considering suicide. But I still think this piece is decent, if mostly because some of the descriptions to me are pretty haunting.
This was mostly a writing exercise instead of a real story. I just wanted to write something depressing that focused on the sensations that an utterly depressed person would feel. The ringing of bells, the stinging of shampoo in their eye, the sounds of happy children in the distance. I just wanted to portray pure misery in this piece, and I think I did an okay job of that. As an actual story it falls short, but as a chance to hone my descriptive skills it kind of meets the mark.
Final verdict: If you want to get depressed fast and are willing to overlook the usual flaws, you might enjoy this. Well, not enjoy it, Jimmy shoots himself in the end. You know what I mean.
Written from October 12, 2005 – December 29, 2005
Over nine years later, I still have no idea what this story is. At 50,000 words, this was my longest story by far when I wrote it. And you can completely tell that I had no idea how to structure a tale of this size. This thing completely ballooned out of control and became a monster that I had no idea how to wrap up nicely; I was barely able to end the darned thing.
The basic idea is that Mrs. Vortex snaps when she has an affair with a crooked cop and tries to kill her daughter. So Cindy and Jimmy go on the run, and they’re eventually joined by Carl, Sheen, and Libby. But honestly, unless you’ve read this thing you have no idea how off the rails it gets.
Jimmy and Cindy struggle to survive on the streets of a big city. They get in a car chase and wreck their vehicle. They make camp in the woods. They fight and make up about a half dozen times. One chapter is a complete rip-off of a Green Day song for no reason. The two get rounded up by a truancy officer before being sent to a new school and befriending a new character called Adam who rapidly disappears from the plot. They reunite with their friends, Libby gets shot but lives, the rest flee, Carl and Sheen turn themselves in as a distraction so Jimmy and Cindy can escape, they go completely rogue and start holding Wal-mart workers hostage, they fight and make up some more, then they get in a giant gun battle with Mrs. Vortex and her lover before dying.
What the fuck is all of that.
This whole thing was a freaking mess. There might be a good story somewhere in there, maybe…I honestly don’t know. If nothing else, this mess taught me how important it was to outline your stories and at least have a vague idea of what you are trying to do.
Aside from how completely nuts this fic is, the ending is one of my biggest regrets as a writer. After this crazy journey, Jimmy and Cindy just die. There’s no resolution at all; they just stop living. It’s not clear what happens to their friends, if their names will be cleared, or the future of the myriad of side characters I introduced and then let fade away like I was Tommy Wiseau.
This was also a big turning point in my writing career; I finally realized that I needed to start being much more careful with when and how I killed characters. This was the last time to date that I would kill a major character and regret it. So even this thing was disgusting mess, at least it taught me some valuable lessons.
Final verdict: Why would you read this? Don’t read this.
I am utterly amazed if anyone is still reading this series of posts. That’s the end of my fanfics which aren’t good. I’ll go in more detail in Part III of this series, but from now on I think there’s a huge jump in quality in my stories. Until then, I’m going to sleep. This was exhausting.
Update from Future Ryan: Part III is now live and can be read here.