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What's up? I thought I would break from the norm of my usual stuff and talk about something that seems to be getting popular, prediction blogs. It's great that they are getting popular and that people are trying their hand at them. Some of them are really good. Some of them aren't (I'm not trying to hint or suggest anything about anyone in specific). From the comments I've seen on mine, I think I can consider myself a pretty good prediction writer (forgive me, I might toot my own horn a bit). That being said, I am writing this as a way of giving advice to the people starting out. Think of it as helpful tips from the master. Ok, more like philosophical reflection while addressing common "mistakes" I've noticed, but whatever. I will address both chapter and fight predictions. Let's start with chapter predictions.
For the sake of making this easy to follow, I refer you to what I consider my best chapter prediction to date, this one here. This is your reference material for a few of these tips. Also, sorry if it's kind of long in some spots.
The first bit of advice I want to offer to aspiring prediction writers is be creative, but know when to stop. That applies to both the breadth of your idea as well as its frequency. In the first scene in the prediction linked above, I wanted to do something with Sanji. To me, he seemed way to wound up in the chapters leading up to this, so I thought I would have some fun with that. Anger + room full of children = high potential for child violence jokes. Notice that I only wrote in two scenarios where Sanji unintentionally hurts and almost hurts a child. Originally, I had thought of a scene where Sanji would have had four close calls or run-ins with the children in the room, but upon writing it I realized that it was overkill and took it in another direction, cutting it down by half. So know when to quit a scene. I find that the gut is the best way to tell when to do that.
Branching off from that, my next tip is don't be forceful, go with the flow. The creative writing process can take stories in all sorts of directions, and that includes predictions. There have been times when I wanted to make sure I had a certain line or a witty remark, or something like that in a prediction but had no place to put it. When that happens, let it go. All good stories have a flow to the dialogue and sequence of events in them, and it breaks people out of their attraction if you put something in there that shouldn't be. For my 658 prediction, one thing I wanted to do was expand on the stuff in the Biscuit Room. I thought I could have some fun with the idea of normal sized people in a room full of oversized toys. But the way things panned out it never made it onto the page. And I realized that if I tried to show the room in greater detail, it would break the flow of the story I had going. You'll know an idea you really wanted to use was meant to be when you can fit it in naturally to the story you are writing. That also applies to character traits. Keep the established character traits as they are, and don't go hot-dogging with them. Luffy can't out of the blue decide to be a vegetarian. His love of meat is part of his personality that's been established. Stay true to the characters.
The next tip has to do with the content of the prediction, and that is predict, but don't desire too much. A prediction is basically your own idea of what you want to see or think will happen in the next chapter. Think about it in terms of the next chapter, not the series as a whole. Stay within the boundaries of reason and the established storyline. If you want X Drake to fight three vice admirals, two other supernovas, and discover Atlantis all at the same time, good for you, just don't write it in to a story that has nothing to do with it. It goes back to what I said about flow. If the Straw Hats are doing some shit on an island somewhere and Luffy for whatever reason mentions that one guy from Sabaody, resist the urge to fangasm an irrelevant fight all over your prediction. The same goes for reappearances. If an old character makes an appearance out of nowhere, that's not a story, that's just wishful fanboy/girl thinking. It's fine to bring back old characters, but don't break stride to do it and make sure their return makes sense. Notice how Oda brought back Bellamy in the current arc. He slipped him into the middle of a crowd scene basically, so that his comeback wouldn't distract from the rest of the story. Wanting to see old characters is fine, but not if you have to butcher your story to do it.
This next tip has to do with writing consecutive predictions. Treat them like one-shots. The only thing that you should be basing your prediction on is the end of the last chapter and anything immediately impending mentioned earlier. Do not pick up where you left off in your last prediction. There is a fine line between a prediction and an alternate storyline, and making your predictions canon to one another would be crossing it. That being said, do not recycle old ideas from previous predictions, no matter how good they were. It alienates your regular readers from the prediction they are reading if it was mentioned before. And again, it looks more like wishful thinking than predicting. It also means that you don't have to explain anything and have a wider allowance for creative ideas. In my prediction for chapter 658, I made the sand at the bottom of the lake reflective like a mirror. I thought about how people can see their reflections in the water, and wondered what it would be like if there were actually a mirror reflection you get the idea. Point is, I wasn't going anywhere with the idea beyond that, so I didn't need to think too much into it. It was just a reflective lake bottom.
Moving on to fight predictions, there are a lot of similarities between fight and chapter predictions, but the tips must be employed in a somewhat different manner. I personally like writing fight predictions more than chapter predictions because they give you a whole lot more creative freedom. That being said, they require a bit more precision than chapter predictions but these tips can be applied to both fight predictions as well as chapter predictions with fights in them.
The first tip might seem obvious, or it might not. Make the match-up believable. That is, make sure there is a legitimate reason and possibility that the two people you chose would fight. Sure, you could do an Akainu vs. Kizaru prediction, it might even be really good, but it's a sense of possible realism that makes fights more appealing. I would much rather read a shitty Kid vs. Bege fight than a good Pekoms vs. Tamago fight. At least the first one has the possibility of happening, and that's what makes it more appealing. Now, should Pekoms at some point decide to pull a Blackbeard, prompting Tamago to become the Ace to his Blackbeard, fine. Then the match-up would be believable, but until then, justify the match-up based on the current relationship of all those involved.
This next one will yield a collective groan, but it must still be followed. Do background research before and while you write it. I know what you're going to say, "This is One Piece, physics don't apply." While that may be true in myriad cases, its application can also make the fight more interesting. If you're going to write a prediction where Aokiji and Kizaru team up to fight, maybe do a little reading up on light reflection and magnification. Or do the old ants with a magnifying glass thing but instead of ants, bounce it off a mirror. Either one works. I know for the Aokiji vs. Akainu prediction I researched weather patterns in arctic and volcanic regions, not enough to become a leading authority, but enough to be confident in what I was writing. Like the previous tip, it adds a sense of canonical realism to the fights. And if done correctly, makes you look pretty damn smart.
This next one goes back to what I said earlier about flow. Invision the fight as you write it. If you've ever watched a kung fu movie, you know that fighting has a certain rhythm to it, almost like a dance (capoeira, anyone?). That same smoothness can be applied to fight predictions. I'll admit, some of my fight predictions starting off were kind of crappy. Looking back, I realize that it was because I was more focused on the move itself rather than fitting it into the fight sequence. The move can't be too drawn out and it can't be too random. If it's too drawn out the reader will wonder why the other guy isn't attacking right now, and if it's too random then the reader will just be confused. That being said, make sure you also have a solid grasp of the character's fighting style. No one wants to read a prediction where instead of weather, Nami decided she was going to box and wins against Urouge with a knockout to his head while in he's in his steroid form.
This next part reminds me a little bit of Hamlet, mostly in how I word it. Suit the move to the moment. A lot of people try to start off big and keep it up, but that just doesnt' work. Luffy didn't use Red Hawk right off the bat with Hody, did he? Build up to big moves as the fight progresses. That's what makes the climax of every fight so exciting, because people know something huge is about to happen.
A lot of characters's fighting styles in fight predictions receive major development, which is great, no problem there. My only advice here is to build off of what has already been established. I'll use Brook from my 659 prediction as an example. He mentioned how he could channel the coldness of the netherworld through his sword. From that I reasoned that he channels it through his body into the sword since his body is making contact with the ground, where the netherworld supposedly is. It wasn't until we got to Punk Hazard that I thought about the underworld being in balance with winter. Once I thought of that, boom, "Niveo Melodium, White Winter's Suite: Symphony of Silence" was born. And then that would get developed even more in my fight prediction with him and Nami fighting Slime. I realize that contradicts what I said earlier about recycling ideas, but they're ok to use again as long as they're tweaked sufficiently.
Going from that, I actually got the silence idea from an episode of Mushi-shi (props to Crispin Freeman). It's ok to draw inspiration from outside sources, but do it with a grain of salt. Make sure the idea fits sensibly into what you're writing.
And lastly, going from that, BE CREATIVE. Make up your own attacks. Play with physics a bit. Decide that a compound in Luffy's rubber body makes it safe for him to drink benzene. Give Usopp a pop green that turns into a palm tree and drops exploding coconuts. These things can be putty in your hands. If you think of something that fits in well, use it. If you can explain it without disbelieving yourself, great! Don't be shy about it. If it doesn't work, learn from your mistakes and do better next time. The best thing about fight predictions is the amount of room to roam with characters's attacks, and coming up with new ones can be the best part about writing the prediction.
I hope this will help aspiring prediction writers. Sorry it was a bit long. Please tell me what you thought about it.