alixtii: Peter and Valentine Wiggin, from the Ender's Game comic book. (Ender's Game)
I left a comment on the Yuletide fandom promotion post advertising Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I'd also like to promote the other two fandoms I plan on nominating, The Illuminatus! Trilogy and That Guy With the Glasses, but I really don't have the least clue how to go about it. They're not easy fandoms to explain, exactly.

(All three fandoms are ones I made requests for last year, so my Dear Yulewriter Letter ought to be pretty easy to write this year. And whatever won't get written will qualify for the Some Day My Fic Will Come Challenge.)

In the meantime, I'm making last-minute edits to my [community profile] fic_corner story. Stories are supposed to go live tomorrow, but there's still one participant who hasn't yet gotten a fic written for them, so if you can write something for Dreamdark series - Laini Taylor, Snow Eyes series - Stephanie A. Smith, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun | A Certain Scientific Railgun, or Ultra Maniac then go here; if you can write for Dark Is Rising Sequence – Susan Cooper then go here.

Looking at the fandoms, it looks like the [community profile] fic_corner story written for me will be either Ender's Game or The A.I. Gang both of which would be awesome.

I had hoped to have completely finished Where the Heart Is by the time Yuletide assignments went out, but that's looking unlikely at this point. Although the antepenultimate chapter is mostly finished at this point, so hopefully I will get a chance to post it at least sometime in the next few weeks. I really do love those wacky incestuous kids. The sequel Where They Have to Take You In and prequel "One's Birthplace, Ratified by Memory" mostly just exist in my brain at this point. As does quite a bit of MCU fic, including a bunch of genderswap fic (Stephanie/Coulson, Toni/Natasha, Clint/girl!Thor) as well as sequels to The Caged Birds (including Coulson/Darcy, Tony/Pepper/Jane, and Bruce/Natasha fics).


Jul. 3rd, 2014 03:53 pm
alixtii: Jerin carrying Odelia, from the cover of A Brother's Price. (Brother's Price)
So I'm working on the antepenultimate chapter of Where the Heart Is and I just found out that Côte d’Ivoire is in the northern hemisphere.

I went back over the previously posted chapters and I don't think I actually wrote anything incorrect. The 2nd sentence of the fic says "the very notion of a White Christmas seems more than a little alien" but that'd still be true no matter what.

But, still. Obviously with a fic like this one worries about being unintentionally appropriative--or at least more so than the source canon itself commits one to--but it never occurred to me that I might put a country in the wrong frakking hemisphere.

Oh, well. Disaster averted.
alixtii: (Friendship)
 A Moment in Time (1273 words) by Alixtii
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Phineas and Ferb
Rating: Not Rated
Warning: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Vanessa Doofenshmirtz & Stacy Hirano, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro & Stacy Hirano
Characters: Stacy Hirano, Vanessa Doofenshmirtz, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, Ginger Hirano, Milly (Phineas And Ferb), Gretchen (Phineas And Ferb), Candace Flynn, Perry (Phineas And Ferb)
Summary: When Stacy, Vanessa, and the Fireside Girls are the only ones not affected by Dr. Doofenshmirtz' freezinator, they must work together to save not only themselves, but the entire Tri-State Area.


I signed up for Phineas and Ferb offering only female characters (I think it was Candance and Isabella?). It's a fandom which really frustrates me with how often it fails the Bechdel test, so it was really important for me to include as many female characters as possible and focus on their homosocial relationships. ([personal profile] wneleh asked for gen, even though I was really tempted to throw in some Stacy/Vanessa femslash, because guh.) My original plan was to write an angsty introspective fic split into three sections, with about 350 words each from Stacy's, Vanessa's, and Isabella's perspectives. But I quickly realized that their canon characterizations are so totally wrapped up in their relationships to the male characters on the show that I didn't really have anything to write about. Thus I decided to write a slightly more plotty fic (in that there's a problem which needs to be resolved) completely from Stacy's perspective in which all of the girls (except for Candace) have to work together, which allowed for the possibility of growth on Stacy's part and some nice bonding between Stacy and Vanessa and between Stacy and Isbella. 
alixtii: Riley and Venom, from the end of season 3. (Riley/Venom)
Speaking as a het male, when I use a female character as a partial self-insert (and I prefer doing so over male characters) I generally want her to do double-duty as lust object as well. This creates absolutely zero cognitive dissonance in me. (Whether that's because I can keep the roles of self-insert and lust object separate in my head, or because I'm assuming that if I were going to be a fantastic woman than of course that would include being the sort of woman I as a het man desire, I can't say.)

At the end of the day, it's absolutely true that we need to retire the term "Mary Sue" as a term which has moved beyond the limits of redeemability. But it is equally important to continue to try to redeems those characteristics (other than bad writing simpliciter--and hey, if you want to try to redeem bad writing simpliciter, power to you) which at times the term may have been understood to denote.
alixtii: An image from the webcomic Sinfest. A female devil chases after our hero, saying "Come here and get whipped like a man!" (BDSM)
In my profile, there is (and has been for years) at the very top, a quote from Roland Barthes about Parisian striptease: "Woman is desexualized at the very moment when she is stripped naked." It is given such a prominent place because I consider it in many ways to be my philosophy of ficwriting. I try to write in that same contradictory space in which Parisian striptease took place: presenting the female character for the reader’s desiring gaze without stripping them naked of their agency so that they become desexualized--for an object has no sex.

[personal profile] aris_tgd refers to "the dominant narrative of [. . .] fetish and [. . .] kink" as being the narrative "your bodies are thing which we are entitled to": having X as kink (in the original post, disability) means using X as an object of one's pleasure. This fantasy of entitlement exists in a similar contradiction: the woman's (or POC's or disabled person's or so on) agency undermines the entitlement by making access to their bodies their choice, while violent rape undermines it from the other direction (if one were truly entitled, force would not be necessarily). It is a truism that slash, of both the m/m and f/f varieties, is (among other things) a mechanism for exploring these types of power imbalances, often for the purposes of kink, without invoking the politics of heterosexuality.

Often, then, in fic as in society, the violence or implied threat of violence is shifted away, masked, sublimated. In the fics I cite in this post, my School of Lost Souls and [personal profile] wisdomeagle's Gather Paradise, this is the case. In my fic, Fred is entitled to River's body as part of a larger claim on River's body made by the Alliance, a claim whose logical endpoint we finally are shown in the movie Serenity and The R. Tam Sessions. In Ari's fic, the violence is similarly transferred to Wolfram & Hart, the demonic law firm which employs both Lilah Morgan and Fred Burkle, the two halves of the fic's pairing, at various points in the run of Angel. The characters in both fics do not have to resort to violence in order to assert their entitlement over the bodies of others, because all of the characters are already embedded in a system which systematically undermines their agency.

It is not coincidental that in both cases this nexus of power is aligned in opposition to the moral order of the canon universe; both the Alliance and Wolfram & Hart are the "bad guys." Both Ari's fic and my own thus become fics which not only depict sexual entitlement and enact a fantasy of sexual entitlement, they are also in some sense about sexual entitlement.

On the other hand, in my Narnia AU The iPhone of Queen Susuan the systemic nexus of power which affords the male protagoniost access to and control over his sister's body is aligned with the general moral order of the canon universe. Peter is entitled to Susan's body because their god has said so. Note that while I'm taking the dynamics to an extreme not seen in the canon text, I don't think I'm essentially changing them. Instead, I'm highlighting something that is already implicit in canon.

It would seem that imaginative resistance--the term philosophers of language use for the phenomenon wherein we find ourselves unwilling or even unable to imagine fictional worlds wherein the moral order is contrary to that which we believe holds in the actual world--would cause us to recognize Aslan as being evil in ordaining such an order, and Peter (and Lucy and Susan) as complicit for cooperating with it. (That would certainly be, say, Christopher Hitchens' analysis.) Insofar as this is the case, it seems that it should function as a satire.

And yet . . . it doesn't. It's not a fic about entitlement, simply a fic which depicts entitlement, enacts a fantasy of entitlement for the pleasure of the reader. It reads like an id fantasy of discipline and submission to discipline. There is, I think, a readerly construction of author's intent--the author-function--going on here: the reader intuits (and whether she is right or wrong is irrelevant so long as she follows the established conventions of her interpretative community) that the purpose of the fic is not to critique. This involves an examination of the plausible pscyhology of a community member: while it is not plausible to assume that Dean Swift really wanted to eat babies, it is much more plausible to assume that the idea of Peter spanking Susan might get an author hot. (Then again, maybe Jonny had a baby-eating kink. Who knows?) To say that a fic is "about" X is to say that we construct the author-function as havin depicted X for the precise purpose of making a statement about it; in "The iPhone of Queen Susan," this doesn't happen.

But as I've pointed out before, the real question is not whether the reader constructs the author as advocating (or at least not advocating against) a point of view. Insofar as this is what we are worried about as authors, we are shifting the focii of attention to ourselves and away from the suffering of the oppressed--we are more worried about looking sexist or racist or ablist than in acting sexist or racist or ablist. Instead, the question we must ask is: how is the story functioning within the community of its readership? Is it normalizing harmful behaviors, reinforcing damaging stereotypes, &c? The answers to these questions will rely as much on the character(s) of the readership(s) as on the content of the story. It is a matter of ethnography rather than literary criticism as such. The way Triumph of the Will or Birth of A Nation might function when shown to a contemporary sociology or history class is very different than how either film would have functioned in its original context, for example.

I've been accused in the past of being too trusting of fandom's ability to read fics critically in terms of sexual politics. It is a point well-taken: firstly, the generalizations I made about fandom's critical capacities two years ago aren't necessarily the same as I would make today; and secondly, obviously any of our understandings of "fandom" will be severely constrained, each of us having different and often strongly disparate experiences. Of course, neither is "fandom" synonymous with my readership, however. The question then becomes: how can I do my best to frame my stories in such a way trhat my own particular and unique readership receives them in the way which does the leat harm and the most good?

I think the advice that [personal profile] aris_tgd gives me in the comments to her post is probably the best solution:
I think that labeling these things as kink instead of as "how the world works" does help to change people's minds about the narrative. I mean, labeling "a man having sex with his wife even if she doesn't want to because that's what he's entitled to" as "spousal rape" instead of "how a marriage works" changes how we think about bodily autonomy and what marriage means. Labeling these as "constructed narratives for a particular kink" helps the reader realize that they are constructs.
ETA: It strikes me that it's probably important for me to point out that [personal profile] aris_tgd uses the term "label" instead of "warn" in the quote above. The distinction is important to me: what we're talking about is something an author uses to shape a reader's aesthetic experience, in the same we she uses the content of the story itself, not something which is imposed on the author regardless of what it may be she is trying to do. I'm thinking mainly in terms of AO3's tags, which a reader can also choose not to see if they don't want to be spoiled. (I have tags set not to display, for example.) I don't warn for story elements other than rape; I do, however, tag things in ways I consider to be accurate and appropriate, and I tend to be a maximalist rather than a minimalist in tagging (since even for someone who has tags set not to display, tags will still be a mechanism, via the sidebar, of finding new fic, so the more tags an author uses the more likely a reader will find her fic).


Mar. 7th, 2010 10:05 pm
alixtii: Mac and Cassidy. Text: "*squee!* (Cindy Mackenzie)
I have a whole collection of links and memes I wanted to post, but I'm on my way out the door, so I'll simply post what I'd consider the most important: [personal profile] yvi is considering running a Buffyverse RPG on Dreamwidth. That's something I've always wanted to participate in, so if you're interested, check out this post with a poll looking for input.
alixtii: The Childlike Empress with her palm reaching out, holding the last grain of Fantasia. The OTW logo hovers above it. (OTW)
Re: juice817: [in audio_by_juice] Questions, I has them! I ended up in a m

My naive intuition is that podfic falls somewhere between remixing or otherwise writing fanfic of fanfic (which I most strongly maintain does not require permission) and archiving fic (which does, generally). Now while all the podfic meta I've ever read stresses the transformativeness of podfic, that's not necessarily at odds with my naive intuition. After all, I don't think I've ever heard anyone's describing OTW's mandate as including unlicensed audiobooks.

So I don't know.

And so, in the spirit of the original discussion post, a poll.

the cut is behind the poll. no, wait. . . . )

From the OTW FAQ: "A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, 'adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the [source] with new expression, meaning, or message.' A story from Voldemort's perspective is transformative, so is a story about a pop star that illustrates something about current attitudes toward celebrity or sexuality."

Evaluate a genre's transformativity as a genre in whatever way makes sense to you, whether it is by singling out something you think is essential about that genre or by just taking all the fics you've read in a genre and taking their average transformativity.

Obviously the numbers you come up with will be somewhat arbitrary, and the whole process a bit overly schematic, but hopefully as an exercise it'll prove enlightening. If not, still a poll! Polls are fun! (Sorry for the lack of ticky boxes.)
alixtii: Dinah and Barbara, hugging. (Birds of Prey)

By "usage" I mean all the times I used a fe/male character tag on a fic at A03. If I use a character in three different fics, that counts as three uses; there's no weighting for the length of the fic or the size of the role the character plays in it. There were a total of 240 uses of male character tags and 408 of female character tags. (Go here to see how many times my more popular character tags each got used. Also the breakdown by genre.) N.B. Faith still isn't being counted in these numbers, for reasons discussed in the previous archive stats post.

If we look only at the number of (canonical, in the Archive tag wrangler sense of "canonical") characters of each gender (of the two genders I've written) I've written (i.e., Dawn counts only once instead of 51 times), then we get this chart:

pie chart #2 )

I've written 130 different female characters (that get their own A03 tag) and 88 male. Which means the average (mean) female character I've written appears in 3.14 (just under pi, actually) fics, and the average male character appears in 2.75. So I write 48% more female characters than male characters, and I write them 14% more often.

And here's a graph showing which POVs I used. Bar graph instead of a pie chart because some fics use more than one, or none, of these tags, so I can't rightfully show it as percentages:

bar graph )

And tenses:

another graph )
alixtii: Jaques Derrida and the AO3 \o/ logo. Text: "Archive Fever." (Archive Fever)
The breakdown of my fic output by genre, as categorized at the AoOO:

cut for images )

Apparently Google doesn't think the >1% of my output which is m/m (1.0852%, actually) is significant enough to display in the second graph.

It strikes me that looking at the percentage in terms of fics is kinda silly. Looking at the number of words I've written in each genre would be much more useful. But also more labor intensive.

more images )
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
The AO3 tells me I have 97,575 words posted in the Watcher!verse (divided among 50 fics). It's really hard not to read that as a challenge.


Nov. 8th, 2009 11:52 pm
alixtii: Kate Freelander, on her knees with her hands behind her head. (surrender)
Gakked from [ profile] likeadeuce and [ profile] inlovewithnight.

Ask me either a broad [writing-related] question (i.e 'who is your cruelest character?', 'what is your most optimistic story?') or a specific question/request ('what world does ___ come from?', 'tell me about ___') and I will answer you. Or you can ask meta- questions like 'what was the inspiration for creating ____?'

Pretty much ask me anything about my fic and I'll ramble at you a bit.
alixtii: Writercon icon '09 "There's nothing to writing / you just sit down an open a vein." (writing)
Gakked from [ profile] wisdomeagle, here ("I'm sure all of fandom has heard of this by now. Post the first lines from some of/20 of/50 of/all of your fic. Your flist writes drabbles for you.") and here ("So. Here they are. Sixty-odd first lines of fanfic. [. . .] Do as you like with these: put them in drabbles, put them in ficlets, put them in novels. Change the names, leave the names, edit them, what have you. Post the drabbles here, there, everywhere. Guess where they came from. Marvel at their inanity. Ignore them. Up to you.").

So under the cut we have almost 150 first lines, in alphabetical order.

148 first lines )
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
Suzie at Echidne of the Snakes, on how Dollhouse is and isn't (and should and shouldn't be) feminist, here. (I think we may disagree on whether or not sex work is inherently anti-feminist--I don't think it is--but that obscures the more important point that, both in real life and on the show, the way sex work is actually conducted is pretty clearly immoral in almost all cases.)

[personal profile] cesare, on using sexually explicit RPF and FPF, particularly those involving some type of queerness, as a mechanism of critique and attack and mockery, here and here. And for the record, no, I would have no problem with people writing RPF about me even if the purpose was to slander me, and even if they leave it in places I'll probably see it. The fact that they wanted to attack me would sadden me, of course, if I found out about it, but the particular method they chose would be one I'd consider legitimate and valid and even sort of awesome; all the world's a text and we should feel free to remix it.

The first rule of RPF is, of course, that the characters we never write are never the real people (if your metaphysics allows for such a thing) they purport to be; in this context, the very idea of RPF as an attack is logically incoherent. Which is not to say that doing anything at all with the intent to hurt somebody (or the knowledge that it would hurt them) is an okay thing, or that the mere knowledge that someone else acted with that intent couldn't itself be hurtful, but that's a very different critique, and I've seen people specifically claiming that intent isn't relevant to the discussion they were trying to have.

[personal profile] yhlee, on "how to avoid the wind-up toy effect," dealing with issues of worldbuilding especially in science fiction and fantasy settings, here. At some point I'm going to write why I think what she writes there is a useful corrective to what I found problematic or wrong coming out of the Science and Magic panel at [ profile] writercon, but for now I'll settle on just linking it.

My Notebook

Feb. 6th, 2009 12:19 am
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Sarah Connor Chronicels)
The thing about notebooking is that it's so frakking easy to lose the notebook. Especially me.

I'm still mad at myself for losing the notebook which held in it the second part to The Eyes of Love, which is part of the reason why I still haven't gone on to reconstruct it and/or write a totally new second half.

Anyway, I was in a Borders Express in the mall the other night, and they had a 90% shelf.

Ninety frakking percent. (I seem to be using the word "frakking" a lot tonight.) As in, move the decimal place one place to the left and you get the new price.

Over the course of three different purchases, I spent nearly twenty dollars on almost two hundred dollars worth of books. They were mostly various "classics" for about a half-dollar each after discounts, although I did pick up Deathly Hallows for $3.50 (I have audiobooks, from undisclosed sources, of 1-6, but not 7), and a few other random books:

new books! )

It says "random books," but they're really the 16 books I bought the other day (although admittedly, it's a pretty random bunch even for so many of them being "classics"); I played with the code to change the content, but I'm not sure how to change the header.

But where I'm going with all this is, after the first of my three purchases, I found myself bringing my bag of brand new classics (well, you know what I mean) back to my car . . . and realized I wasn't carrying my notebook.

So I went to the bench where I had actually been doing the notebooking, and it wasn't there. And I glanced in the bookstore as I passed it in the mall and looked at the 90% off shelf. 'Twasn't there.

Which meant I was going to have to ask the cashier and--hello, social anxiety.

But I mustered my courage and went in, and they had my notebook, which is good because otherwise 44 handwritten pages (well, less than that, some of them were written in the mall after that exchange) of what is supposed to be Riley/Cameron would have joined the conclusion of "The Eyes of Love" in oblivion.

Yes, I said what is supposed to be Riley/Cameron. It isn't, or at least not yet, although I still hold out hope. The thing I've found that I like notebooking is that I'm not rushing to the conclusion so I can have a whole story completed and can posted, that I can take my time, let the story linger. There's no rush; I can take it slow, letting the characters do what they need to do naturally and organically. This allowed The Art of the Possible, which I notebooked last semester, to grow to be, at around 7,000 words, my third-longest completed story, after School of Lost Souls and of course my novella Divine Interventions, both relatively recent works. I think that added length helped me add substance I wouldn't have been able to if it had been 1,000 words, even if I didn't always quite know where I was going with it as I wrote it.

The frustrating thing about notebooking is that I can take it slow, letting the characters do what they need to do naturally and organically. I've written 44 pages and Riley has only just admitted to herself that maybe she finds Cameron hot. I swear, if they don't start having sex by the end of the scene I'm currently on, I;m not letting them out of the room until they do. John and Riley, on the other hand, have done wonders towards repairing their relationship, and I don't even particularly like that pairing. Oh, well. I am hoping to get it to John/Riley/Cameron eventually.
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Sarah Connor Chronicels)
From a WiP:
When Cameron returns, it's in the truck, with John and there's a large mass in the back covered by a canvas which Riley assumes is the remains of the T-101, to be destroyed later.

Cameron pulls off Riley's shirt and examines the bullet wound, a couple inches to the right of Riley's navel.[Poll #1342612]
alixtii: D.E.B.S. "I have the girl." "Oh no." "Oh no!" Janet: "What?!" (D.E.B.S.)
Somehow it took me two years to produce a fic that's barely longer than 6,000 words total, but as you might have noticed that I have completed Not Quite Queen of the Damned, a VMars/BtVS crossover. (I told you I would do it, Ari!) Now I've put it up at Twisting the Hellmouth and at the Pit of Voles, and a lot of the commenters have commented on (not criticizing, but mentioning as noteworthy) just spoiler! ). I mentioned this fact to my brother as an interesting note about how the reviewers were responding to my story, and he asked my why I killed off so many characters.

And I couldn't quite answer him. It wasn't just because I could; obviously I'm capable of killing off characters every time I put pen to paper or finger to keyboard and most of the time I don't do it. And it wasn't that this story demanded it, at least not in the sense that, say, most of the character deaths (maybe not Anya's, but certainly Tara, Spike, Book, Wash, Penny) in Whedon's oeuvre were demanded by the stories he was trying to tell (for better or worse); I could have any given character walk away at the end of the story and still have the overall structure and moral of the story more or less intact. And while part of it was that I was that I was convinced that since the world of Sunnydale and the world of Neptune were each dangerous in their own way the convergence of these dangers would be exceptionally lethal, that wasn't the whole story either.

There was still some sense that, for this particular story, killing off the characters I did represented the answer to some question I asked myself while writing, and once I recognized it as the answer to that question, then the story I was writing had to end in that way. But I couldn't articulate what that question was.

This morning, however, I read this insightful meta post by [ profile] sarken which identifies "the magic question," which I recognized as the question I was trying to explain to my brother, the question whose answer for "Not Quite Queen of the Damned" was so much character death:
[L]ast night, as I lay in bed wondering, "What happens next?", I realized I was asking the wrong question. I was on the right path, but I wasn't specific enough. Immediately after I realized that, I found my magic question.

What can only happen right here, in this moment, in this story?

As soon as I thought to ask that question, I knew what came next in my fic. I'd been so busy thinking about possibilities that I'd forgotten about opportunities, and I had a great one in front of me. I just needed to see it. I needed to think about what I'd written in order to decide what I was going to write.
Or (and I don't claim this is the same exact question, but it certainly seems similar) out of all the possibilities I'm interested in exploring, which of them would require me to write this exact story up to this point as set-up? It wasn't that the beginning of "Not Quite Queen of the Damned" required character death, it was that those particular character deaths required the beginning of "Not Quite Queen of the Damned," and since I just happened to have it written it seemed silly not to avail myself of the opportunity.

Now of course this is not the only question one can ask oneself when writing, or even necessarily the primarily one I use in writing (although the more I think about my plotting process, the more I see this question at work); I'm also very likely to be concerned with what has to happen in order to be faithful to the story or the characters, and of course there's the all-important id vortex-y question of what I want to happen. But it's a very good question to ask when writing, and I'm grateful to [ profile] sarken for articulating it so well.


Apr. 23rd, 2008 12:18 pm
alixtii: Ult!Kitty looks away sulkily as Ult!Spidey pays attention to Ult!MJ. From a cover of Ultimate Spiderman. (X-Men)
Yesterday I notebooked 10.5 pages of the fpreg fic I told [ profile] projectjulie about a few weeks ago, mostly while on the train to and from school. It's weird, because the actual events of the pregnancy sort of takes the place of the plot in your typical "character arc happens alongside plot arc" fic, and writing about Kennedy pregnant is very different than writing about her fighting vampires to keep them from getting the Holy McGuffin of Whatever which will do Something or Other and end the world. The story is really just about characters and relationships with the Hellmouth doing little more than making a cameo at the beginning to set things in motion.

And if the pregnancy is the plot, does that mean it has to cover nine months? I don't think so--most likely, I'll have the characters work out the relationship issues among themselves and then fast forward to the birth in some kind of epilogue-coda-ish thing. But really; I'm sailing blind here. It's much easier to know when our heroes have won and the story is finished when the villains are vanquished and the world is saved.

In a way, that's what is causing me so much difficulty with To Love in Hearts, too. I find I'm not really all that interested in deciding whatever the Sisterhood of the Jhe's new plan to end the world really is, wanting much more to focus on the true love story of Faith and Kennedy. I know what the Jhe will do at a critical point, and what the consequences will be, but I'm mostly content having Buffy in Europe fighting the Sisterhood while Faith and Kennedy are in Cleveland. Buffy doesn't have a character arc in this story (and I don't really see anyway to give her one) so there's really no point in dwelling on her actions.

But without the plotty story to structure the romantic one, I find myself flailing somewhat. At times it's a good thing, because it forces me to stretch myself and really think about the character dynamics. But sometimes they just need a little push, and when I find myself bending over backwards to get the Catholic priest in the story to give them that push, well, I don't know what it means.

But I'm having fun writing the fpreg story--which really needs a title--because I find that if I push in the write direction, I can get various things I've thought about the relationships and characters--and new things I'm just learning, despite having written with these characters in this 'verse for the last four or five years--to manifest them in powerful ways, and that's always a good thing.

. . .

Good luck to [ profile] inlovewithnight on her thesis defense.
alixtii: Fred Burkle, wearing glasses, holding a book, and looking sort of shy. Text: "Desire." (desire)
Since we're all (well, most) writers here, I'm assuming we're all familiar with at least the basic idea behind the following chart:

A little googling informs this diagram is actually known as Freytag's triangle, after some guy named--wait for it--Gustav Freytag. (Who knew?)

Now, even in Greek and Elizabethan drama the denouement and conclusion put together add up to less stage time than the rising action (during which one sends one's heroes up a tree and throws stones at them, the old writer's adage goes), so that in Shakespeare it usually shows up late in Act Three, and in a Victorian three-act play it's late in Act Two. But the impulse in modern storytelling has been to abbreviate the denouement. And, you know, I'm down with that. When I'm watching Return of the King and the denoument kind of drags on, I get antsy along with everybody else.

But in some forms of storytelling--most noticeably movies and Marion Zimmer Bradley novels--the denoument has all but disappeared. And this makes me sad because, you know, I like denouements.

A denouement is, essentially, curtain!fic. (In case you're not familiar with the term, this is fanfiction in which a happy couple is shown being happy, doing something cheerfully domestic like picking out curtains.) It's the mostly inevitable consequences of the climax (if they're not mostly inevitable we haven't truly hit the climax) working themselves out, so if the story has a happy ending, this is where the characters get to be happy. Cinderella wins over the prince, so there's a big wedding and the wicked stepsisters get their eyes poked out. Only . . . compare the amount of time the wedding gets in the Disney movie to the original text version (most any version, but I'm thinking of the French one).

The denouement is the part which is almost certainly guaranteed to start me bawling. I think I get jealous.

What separates a denouement from curtain!fic is that a denouement is earned in a way that curtain!fic isn't. In a sense, all of that rising action is there in order to earn its denouement--so when we see our heroes buying curtains, it's a reward, because we know all the stuff that had to be gone through to get there. And insofar as curtain!fic works as a fanfiction genre (and I do think it can work) it's because we have all the rising action of the source text in the back of our minds when we read it.

Insofar as curtain!fic doesn't work, though (and let's face it, it's not an uncommon occurrence), it's because the lack of conflict and rising action just renders the entire piece boring, pointless, and uninteresting. So one has to strike a balance. And the balance that might have worked for Greek or Elizabethan (or Roman or Jacobite or Persian or whatever) drama might not work for contemporary Western audiences or readers. So when I write, I try to strike that balance. Movies in particular need short denouements (see the RotK comment above), so in my only original screenplay, which bends genres far too much to ever be produced but of which I am nonetheless quite proud (if frustrated at how it won't let me turn it into a novel) the denouement takes up a couple of pages, max.

But there are movies that literally have the climax (our heroes win!), maybe one or two reaction shots, and roll the credits. If the romantic subplot, the hero kisses the heroine and she doesn't seem to slap him afterwards (but the camera cuts away before we get to see afterwards anyway). Indeed, this seems to happen so often today in film it's become the rule rather than the exception. I sit excitedly on the edge of my seat for two hours waiting excitedly as the tension builds--only to find I end up with about twenty seconds of pay-off if I'm lucky. This is my most common criticism of the films I see.

Book readers are, I think, more willing to enjoy a longer denouement, which is why the Return of the King ending works better in its original form than on the screen. Readers are more willing to sit around with the characters and watch them work out the consequences of the climax then moviegoers, so in my BtVS novella Divine Interventions the climax comes at the end of Chapter Fourteen--and then Chapter Fifteen addresses the fallout of that climax in plot-oriented terms (what do we do with the captured bad guys?) and Chapter Sixteen more in character-oriented terms (I've just saved the world, now walk through my existential crisis). And there's an epilogue, which sort of looks to the future of that 'verse. I'm very satisfied with the job of pacing I've done in that work.

[There is something to be said about Harry Potter and its epilogue here, but I just finished the Half-Blood Prince audiobook after having only read the first book and watched all the movies up to this point, so I'm not exactly qualified to say it. But HBP did have several chapters of denouement--"The Pheonix Lament" and "The White Tomb," and arguably "The Flight of the Prince" as well--that I expect to largely be cut from the movie.] [Also, I've just discovered [ profile] hbpspork. Hee!]

But because books are more likely to have, if not as lengthy denouement as I'd like, at least one which has some substance, I end up particularly frustrated with the MZB-type book endings I mentioned above. I think these are still the exception, but because my expectation is that the payoff will be there it's all the more disappointing when it isn't. (And you'd think I'd have have figured out by now that MZB consistently does this, but even when I re-read her books I just get disappointed all over again.) 

It comes down to, if I've spent ninety minutes or two hundred something pages watching these characters suffer and remained interested, become invested in them, is it really too much to ask to have more than a couple of pages or a few reaction shots of them being happy?

I'd find it likely that other fanfic readers might, like me, prefer longer denouements, although honestly I find it difficult to see how anyone at all can find the "rising action then cut to credits" type structure in any way satisfying. But I think my curtain!fic comments above point to the fact that one of the things fanfic does--not the only thing by any means, of course, but I do think one of the primary things--is to extend and draw out the denouements we get in the source text, and put some meat on their bones when they're looking anemic. (I think I may have just mixed a metaphor?) We'll insert our own conflict and rising action, of course, at least in plotty fics, but I think that tends to be less the point of it, and as readers we're more likely to let a fic sort of ramble on, because we love the characters and more than anything else just want to watch them existing in their native habitat.

Which means maybe I shouldn't have cut Divine Interventions quite so short. Hmm. Food for thought. . . .
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
The question and answer meme which has been going around my flist as the "Buffy Interview" meme and related names, even though I think only one of the questions explicitly refers to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mostly it's on my method and history as a fanfic writer.

1. What was the first story you ever wrote? What inspired you to write it? Answer )

2. Which of your stories received the best response? Why do you think that is? Read more... )

3. Which of your stories received a less favorable response than you expected. Why do you think that it? Read more... )

4. Which character do you enjoy writing the most? Why? Read more... )

5. Which character do you enjoy writing the least? Why? Read more... )

6. You wrote it and you loved it. Quote your favourite opening line. Quote your favorite closing line. Your favorite title. (Again, links to the stories are always welcome.) Read more... )

7. Do you identify with one pairing? If so do you tend to write mostly that pairing? When you don't- what inspires you to step off the beaten track. Read more... )

8. Do you re-read your fic? Why or why not? Do you have a favourite fic to re-read? Read more... )

9. Some writers find writing difficult. For others, it comes easily. Tell me about the experience of writing for you. How do you write? When? Where? Do you plot your stories or just start writing. Which of your stories was the easiest to write? Which was the hardest? Read more... )

10. How has the delivery of fanfic changed since you first started in fandom? Where did you first start posting? Do you have a web site? Do you maintain it? Did you belong to lists? Do you now? How do you find new fic to read? Read more... )

11. No shows = no inspiration. Let's face it, it's all been done, right? Or has it? How do you find inspiration in the Buffyverse? Do the comics help? Do you consider them canon? Read more... )

12. Feedback - how important is it to you? What sort of feedback do you like to receive? Do you leave feedback when you read? Read more... )

14. Do you write professionally? Did you before you started writing fanfic or did fanfic pave the way? Read more... )

15. Final thoughts. I am sure I missed something- talk to me.Read more... )

On Betaing

May. 12th, 2007 06:55 pm
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
[ profile] beatrice_otter has posted in her journal the correspondence we shared about her 3007 2007 remix, What a Father Is (the DNA Remix), which I betaed. The first draft, with my rather extensive (and sometimes quite blunt), is here, and some of our correspondance via email, plus her second draft with my slightly briefer comments to that, are here.

I actually betaed quite a few stories for this year's remixm with various levels of involvement--in the case of [ profile] soundingsea I did nothing at all; the version she showed me was already perfect. Out of all of them, Beatrice's was the one for which my involvement was the most extensive.

I enjoy beta-ing. With Beatrice it was not only the slightly sadistic pleasure of finding her flaws, but also the gratification of helping her work her way through her subsequent drafts helping an author to effectively communicate her vision and to help a story be what it was always, in my opinion, trying to be.

Of course, going to a Giles/Dawn shipper to beta a Giles & Dawn gen story might have introduced a couple of kinks....

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