NTMI: Hello, everyone! I'm here this evening with Dragonshark173, one of the most prolific and versatile writers in the Neopian Times. Welcome, Dragonshark!
Dragonshark173: Yo...glad to be here today and stuff!
NTMI: I do hope you don't think I'm being too familiar by leaving off the numbers at the end of your name.
Dragonshark173: It's okay. I don't like it anyways when people are too proper like that. Hang loose, right?
NTMI: Works for me, lol... so tell me, how did you find out about Neopets?
Dragonshark173: A couple of months back, my friend told me about this place. It was just when we got our new computer (and my first encounter with the 'net, except for school projects and stuff), and the first place I went to was Neopets. Didn't get off of the place for hours. My sisters had to nearly drag me off for their turns.
NTMI: Their turns? I take it that they're on neopets too, then.
Dragonshark173: Naw, they just wanted to fool around with the new computer. My younger sister got hooked, too, but my stubborn, jerk-faced older sister who doesn't listen to a word I say called it childish.
NTMI: Lol, that sounds about right. Your user lookup puts that momentous day as being in December of 2000, does that sound right?
Dragonshark173: Yeppers. Eight days before my twelfth birthday. Sixth grade...*shudders* let's not talk about that horrendous blazing torture outlet known as 'school' to the regulars. It's summer after all, isn't it?
NTMI: The thermometer was saying 84 degrees earlier, so I think you're right! Ok, back to Neopets- what do you like most about it?
Dragonshark173: I honestly don't have a favorite thing to do on neopets. There are so many great things--guilds, the NT, games, the battledome. If I had to choose, it would probably be the Neopian Times (big surprise, eh?) because there are so many things to do. I love to read and I love to write. It's like a Reader's Digest, only neopian style...and one that you have a good chance of getting into as well.
NTMI: Speaking of getting into the Times, what inspired you to try and do that?
Dragonshark173: It started back in the day when comics were first introduced. My first piece was a crudely done comic on 'neggs that didn't make it'. I was so excited then...I laugh at it now. Well, I started browsing through the articles and stories because I had nothing better to do and came across a letter written by a certain famous blue chia. Did I ever mention that Griffin was once a chia-hunter? Well, I, with my soft heart and all, was immediately inspired by his letter. I felt really bad about his chia-huntingness and turned over a new leaf. Fact was, I was pretty proud of his new leaf. It wasn't easy, but the rewards were good. The first day he became a chia-defender he made at least five new chia friends, riding on his back like a horse and taking dives in ponds and pools. I was inspired and I decided to write a short series on it. Just a short one, just something to do on a hot day because there was nothing better to do. It was published, and I was pretty excited about that, too. But I was really surprised when I got so many letters back complimenting on it and asking for more.
Dragonshark173: I eventually became a regular writer for the Neopian Times, and I'm really glad because I've basically just discovered that, hey, I'm not that bad a writer. I started reading thicker and better books as opposed to the old chapterbooks I used to read. Stephen King, L. Ron Hubbard...list goes on.
NTMI: So you were inspired by Al the Chia, and encouraged by the feedback from the readers?
Dragonshark173: Yes, I was very inspired. Actually, in my former writings for school, I thought I was just an average writer and everybody else was really bad, to tell you the truth...
NTMI: But that changed after you got some experience writing for the Neopian Times.
Dragonshark173: Yeah, it did. I consider it a gift. I'm not good at sports, I'm average at school (I barely make it on the Honor Roll with a 91% avg.), I'm honestly not very sociable and (you'll laugh at this) I've never been in love before.
Dragonshark173: So my writings have really boosted my self-esteem...and stuff...
NTMI: You're what, thirteen?
Dragonshark173: Yeah, so I guess I'm okay. Not hopeless yet, right?
NTMI: Well I'm going to be thirty before too long, and I live by myself, never having HAD a girlfriend... so I'm hardly in the position to criticize. But enough personal stuff.... you've written every kind of thing that can be written for the Times. What is your favorite?
Dragonshark173: That's a toughie. I really enjoyed writing the series Griffin of the Desert and I really liked writing Revolt of Punchbag Bob (my first and only attempt at a comedy).
NTMI: Can we look for any more comedies?
Dragonshark173: It's doubtful. I might make another one sort of like Revolt of Punchbag Bob, in other words another absolutely nonsense one I'll do when I've eaten too many candy bars. I normally do like to add a few little jokes into the plot to let out the occasional giggle, but I've eaten up so many action/adventure movies and books that it's evolved into my genre for writing.
NTMI: Where do you get your ideas for stories, then?
Dragonshark173: They're all original, coming from the pits of my mind. You need to have every detail down otherwise it won't make sense at all...like having to add in so many “what if's” and “how come's”.
NTMI: How detailed do you imagine a scene or plot before you actually write the story?
Dragonshark173: Actually, I usually write a certain scene when I'm 'in that mood'. If I'm mad at my sisters, I'll probably do a fight scene. If I'm relaxed I'll do a quiet dialogue. Really I don't think of details much until I go over it a few times. I just pour my heart out and my hands go into a fury of typing, and I go over it and fill in the gaps.
NTMI: So how long does it take you to write a story?
Dragonshark173: It depends on the story. It takes me a week or two to do a series, and a few days to a week to do a short story. It takes longer in the summer, since the computer always gets overheated.
NTMI: Well you've certainly had time to get quite a lot in. What advice would you give to anyone else who wanted to get into the Times?
Dragonshark173: I suggest to read a lot. It's great for so many things for writers. It increases your vocabulary and gives you a sense of other writers' style of writing. And put down chapterbooks with double-spaces and huge words, because that gets you nowhere. Start on bigger books by famous writers. In sixth grade I took a leap from my regular 130-page chapter books to a 819-page famous novel that left me thinking questions like 'what if'? and 'maybe'. The best thing about books is that you can dig your feet into the character's shoes and play the story out like a movie, only you can add whoever you like to play the heart, real or made-up.
NTMI: I think most good writers will say that they truly "live" the story in their minds. But what about the Neopian Times itself... what problem or problems do you notice most often with the stories and comics in it?
Dragonshark173: I really have seen a lot of used plots, bad grammar and paragraph structure. I've also seen a lot of people attempt to write stories as the same style as other famous NT writers, e.g. Al the Chia. I've also seen a lot of stuff where the chias are the main bad guys because they whine too much for respect, and I've also seen the lupes too many times as the bad guys because they're 'oh so cruel and terrible to the chias' and of course the chias have no way of defending themselves, blah blah blah.
NTMI: In other words, you're saying that a lot of writers just use unthinking stereotypes rather than making believable characters?
Dragonshark173: Not all of them, no, not even half...but I've seen quite a few. I've also seen a lot of very original ideas that have been ultimately enjoyable reading.
Dragonshark173: You can tell that a lot of these younger authors really have a future in writing. I, personally, have been hoping to write something big soon. It's just a thought, though.
NTMI: So if you could change one thing about how the Times is organized, what would it be?
Dragonshark173: Probably to eliminate so many complaints and to make the paragraph format the same as it would be in a book (instead of separating paragraphs by double...enter-space thingy, they would be indented, etc.)
NTMI: Which complaints are we talking about, exactly?
Dragonshark173: Mostly the chia-lupe debate stuff. That debate is basically forgotten, but lupes still maul chias and chias still demand their rights. After extensive research...I've decided there is no right or wrong on the debate, so I merely slipped out of it.
NTMI: Well, there are certainly other debates- or arguments- that take its place! Anyhow, back to your personal experience.... what do you like best about being published in the Times?
Dragonshark173: I don't know...it's just really fun to write, to read the other stories. I really like getting fan-mail, but I've also had a few pretty stupid complaints like 'why did you make the shoyru the bad guy? They're so perfect and special and blah blah blah blah blah...' but that's a rare occurrence.
NTMI: Any bad points to it?
Dragonshark173: Not really. It kind of stinks when you don't get something published, but you get over it. Boohoo, the world's not gonna end.
NTMI: That should probably go into the advice column for newbies, too! Does anyone ever ask you how you got your username?
Dragonshark173: It's classified. According to U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six Laws the originality of the name is forever to rest in the hands of the government, stowed away in the bowels of the Pentagon. Okay, not really, but in a year or so the secret will be revealed.
NTMI: Lol, well be sure to let us know when it's declassified! But on to your other writings.... do you have anything else published on Neopets?
Dragonshark173: Just an entry into the caption competition. For a while there I was trying to get into the Art page, but the only thing I'm that good at drawing are beamers (slang for the BEST breed of car the world has seen), and a certain mysterious character whose name and everything else also remains classified for a while.
NTMI: What about outside of Neopets? Anything else out there we need to know about?
Dragonshark173: Not yet. I wish I had more information on that, I honestly do, but when and if I do publish something, the author will remain by my pen-name, Sharky Paws.
NTMI: Sharks have paws? Don't answer that if you don't want to, lol.
Dragonshark173: lol! It would be pretty cool if they did, though. See, I've been fascinated by sharks ever since I can remember. One of the first books I read was on sharks, and it still remains on my bookshelf just for old time's sake. I got a four-foot long stuffed animal shark for my fifth Christmas and it's been my 'security blanket' ever since. They really are misunderstood beasties, but if I got into all that, I'd be talking forever and it would eventually worm itself into the Apocalypse and the meaning of life.
NTMI: Well since I've finished with all my questions, it's time for you to add anything you think we missed anyway. How about it? Anything else for us?
Dragonshark173: Yes. I have been writing since I knew how to. In the third grade we'd have our creative writing periods, and I wrote a seven-book long series called the 'human-dog series'. I laugh at them now, their silly and pointless plots not even coming close to a real-life scenario. I find it pretty amazing that some kids in my school and my grade write the same style just like that, bad grammar and paragraphs and terrible plots and all. What's even more frightening is that the school I go to has extremely high standards and is one of the best public schools in the country.
Dragonshark173: And another thing--always finish what you start. Most people don't normally do this (I included when it comes to lawn-mowing and room-cleaning), but slackers don't get good grades and don't get good jobs.
Dragonshark173: And one more thing...NICKELBACK ROCKS!!
NTMI: Okay! Thanks for all of the information you've given us, and for your time. I'm sure it will be very much appreciated.
Dragonshark173: Hey, my pleasure. I like interviews.
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