hells_half_acre: (Dean/Books OTP)
To continue with my summer series of posts about writing... let's pick up on something I didn't want to get into during my post about Formulating Characters....

Topic 3: Naming Characters

I called this a "whole other kettle of fish" in my last post. It's very rare that I name a character before I've created them. The exception to this is in the fantasy novel that I'm trying to write, but that's just because some of the characters were created, really, by my BFF as jokes between us, and he usually always started with an absurd name and went from there.

Anyway, let's divide this up:

Fanfiction and NOT High Fantasy/Scifi.

So, yes, usually I think of the character first and then come up with a name. Sometimes it's as simple as me telling my Welsh friend "I need a name for a priviledged rich white asshole" and them saying "David Cameron" and me discarding David, because all the Davids I know are related to me and/or adorable baby boys and I love them - and then using Cameron, because that's definitely the name of white guy, and Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day off was also rich - so it works! (The story I use Cameron in is a WIP and not published yet)

If it's a throwaway character, I'll usually just pick a common name - John, Nate, James, Jeremy, Phil, Chris, Sarah, Mary, Jessica, Rebecca, etc. Same goes for more diverse character names - I just pick whatever common name suits the ethnicity - Ahmed, in DDD is an example of this. Though, he's the only one that springs to mind, because I DO have a problem with not defaulting to white guys. But hopefully I've had others over the years....

For more important characters, I put WAY too much thought into it.

I mean, some are easy - Iggy and Andy from DDD are simply because I wanted a common muggle name - Andrew. And then a name that only pompous rich people still use (or old fashioned pure blood wizard types) - Ignatius.

Characters like Till... I choose names based on character background and meaning. Till got his first name from a guy that I once knew (see my Formulating Characters post)... but his last name I chose based solely on the character's background.

Till, being of Swedish decent, needed a Swedish lastname. So, I usually go to a site like behindthename.com and surnames.behindthename.com and surch by ethnicity... then I look for meanings. For Till, I wanted it to be something soft, and possibly something related to medicine - since Till is an OC in the Harry Potter universe, where people's names tend to reflect their occupations/lives/conditions. I mean, Remus Lupin was apparently bitten by a werewolf as a child, but his name was already "*person raised by a wolf* Wolf" and Sirius Black didn't become an animagus until he was a teenager, but it's no wonder his animagus form is a big black dog when his name is literally Dog Black.

So, I wanted Till's name to reflect an aspect of his personality - his soft voice - and something possibly about his vocation. I also needed a name that might be intimidating for non-Swedish people to pronounce at first glance - since I needed a reason why Harry never spoke to Till using his last name (as Harry often does with others). I decided on Till Ljung. Ljung being from the name of the Heather plant. I liked the idea of Till behind named after a flower, especially in a magical universe where more plants can be used for healing.

Similarly, Nate Lewin, has the last name Lewin, because it means "Dear Friend" in Old English. It's pretty transparent!

Anyway, that's usually what I do, at least in fic... just pick names based on ethnicity, how common I want them to be, and meaning.

Usually, the universe you're writing in already has established rules for names. Star Trek's Vulcans always have names like Spock, Sarek, Sorek, Sybok, Tuvok, T'Pring (sp?), T'Pal, etc.

Merlin usually uses Welsh names or names or Old English names... so you can find resources for those too.

HIGH FANTASY/SCI-FI

Now, in the original fantasy novel that I'm currently trying to write, I had to come up with other ways of naming characters - because it's not earth. It's my very own middle-earth type place, with different countries, ethnicities, history, religion, etc.

It'd be weird to write a high fantasy novel and use the names Dick and Jane, you know? Or names like Muhammed or Christian... where, you know, those names clearly have very specific context in real-world cultures, and wouldn't make sense as common names in a world that had no Islam or Christianity.

That's why authors like Tolkien, and Jordan, come up with names that can be BASED on our languages, but not really reflect anything about our cultures. Frodo doesn't mean anything to us out of context. Eowyn DOES but only in old English, and it wasn't a common name anymore, so we just recognize it as "Yeah, that sounds like a name that would belong to a human."  Likewise, I'm sure Tolkien benefitted from how similar Galadriel sounds to angel-names (Gabriel, Raphael, etc) even though Elvish was based on Celtic languages.

Or it could be as simple as Jordan having a character names Mat, but only spelling it with one T. Matt, registers to us as a very common modern-times diminutive of Matthew. Whereas, Mat registers as a weird name.

So, who cares what they did, what do YOU do?!

Oh man, let me know when you figure it out. But I'll tell you what I've done... I have several different naming conventions:

1. Name people after sounds - Snick, Bada, Humm... or animals - Dove, Kit(ten), Lark, Rac(coon)...

2. Misspellings and typos. This is where the names Nenver and Essya come from... and those are my only two examples of where the name comes first. My BFF and I used to define our typos as new words. ("to apollophize" means to increase to god-like proportions.) Nenver and Essya, for some reason, we turned into characters.

2. Name people using portions of other words, I kinda already showed you this with the animals option above, but, here's more examples...let's go with flowers. Marig from Marigold. Chrysa from Chrysanthemum... or you could do the ends of the words. Santhem. Odil, from Daffodil.

3. Take words from different languages and anglecize them so completely that they look and sound like different words. Tav'rev... from Taibhreamh (Dream, in Irish Gaelic)

4. Things that are fun to say - Olaya, Jafa.

5. Portmanteaus - we already do it with shipping, why not just combine other names to make weird sounding ones? Maybe not Bennifer, but you know - Sastiel/Samstiel could be a name. So could Spirk, depending on the character, or it could be a last name. Kircoy. Jarevieve... Dansen. Jenneel.... you get the picture.

I also just made one country Irish, because I really like the name Maeve and I wanted to use it. So, screw it. :P

Another country, I was using Native American names, but now I'm worried that I'm culturally appropriating, because the characters are not Native American looking... they're actually Nigerian looking... so, year, I might change all those names. (For some reason, I don't feel the same trepidation of giving all my east-Indian looking-characters Irish names. I guess it's do to with cultural history and representation. Anyway, yeah, probably going to change all the Native American names for ones that I make up.

Anyway, that's naming for you! It's a whole kettle of fish... or possibly can of worms. :P
hells_half_acre: (Sam Winchester Top Chef)

Welcome to another random post for the summer.

Quick life update: True to form, I have been far too busy this summer to write anything. I miss it horribly now, and can't believe that I willingly didn't write anything in June - though, I am well aware that I was burnt out at the time. Right now, I want to write about 3 things at once - though the epic original fantasy is still the most daunting of the projects.

I'm doing another writing topic today. This was another question asked by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] kailita

Topic 2 - How Do You Formulate Characters?

This is how *I* formulate characters, of course, everyone is different... we'll look at 3 types of Character Creation, they're applicable to both Fanfic and Original Fiction, but I'll focus on Fanfic, since people will be able to read the characters I mention... and I'll stick with the demented'verse, since I think those are my most read stories...

The Deliberate OC - (Plot-Required)
Case Study: Till and Phil

Both characters were needed for the plot.

Till - The "Someone you know" Template
Harry Potter, as the original 7 books stood, had not provided me with a Healer/Medic character in the wizarding world... or at least, not a well-rounded one. There might have been a few mentioned or named, but I needed someone that I could write POV from. I needed someone who could be my audience's eyes, someone they could sympathize with and enjoy spending time with - ie: Someone INTERESTING.

Well, let's pick someone that I found interesting, even though I didn't know anything about them when I met them - and still don't really. Someone I found interesting on sight - my mind went to a guy who lived on my floor in my residence in Germany... his name was Till. There, we have a name and a look - tall, sort of Swedish looking. Was the real Till Swedish? I can't remember. Maybe he was from Eastern Europe? Okay, so tall, Swedish looking, but possibly not Swedish... possibly Eastern European. Man, how come I didn't find out more about Till? Oh yeah, he was extremely shy and soft spoken. Man, I wonder what it was like going to Durmstrang when you're so soft-spoken, because OC-Till definitely went to Durmstrang if he spent time in Eastern Europe.

And there you go... OC created. From there, I just made an epic backstory for him as required, just by asking the standard Universe Specific questions: What did he do in the War? Does he have siblings? What are his opinions of Muggles? Did he come from a Wizarding family or was his family mixed or muggle?

Phil - The "One Extra Interesting Thing" Template
Harry Potter also didn't furnish me with any American Wizards of note. But, here I was writing a Harry Potter story in America - and I needed Harry to interact with American Aurors. So, let's invent a character from New England (due to the way I, personally, invisioned Wizarding North America, he HAD to be from New England.) Philip is a good used-to-be-a-colony name. O'Shaunnessy is a good large-irish-immigrant-area name. So, woot, done.

Then the standard WORLD questions - Wizarding family or not? What did he do during the War? What's his family like? What are his opinions on Muggles?

So, then I had a name and a backstory, but not much about the way he interacts with the world. Is he bold and brash? Shy and soft spoken? Why or why not? What makes Phil fun and interesting? What's one fun thing that I can think of about Phil that makes him someone you want to spend time with? What's an amusing character trait that he might have?

How about... when he gets tired, he swears like a sailor and tells you what he REALLY thinks, but at all other times he's a consummate professional - or at least attempts to be. That'd be fun!

Done.

Character From Thin Air
Case Study: Dove (original fic)

So, I wrote this whole thing and then realized that sometimes characters aren't based on someone I know, nor are they the "one interesting thing" template - sometime, mostly in original fiction, they're just people I would find interesting.

So, Dove is the protagonist of my fantasy novel. How did I create him? He came out of what I needed to tell the story, just like both Till and Phil did.

Dove was originally Nenver, then because of the history of where the name Nenver comes from (which I can't get into, but suffice it to say I associate certain character traits with that name), I realized that Nenver couldn't be my protagonist. He could either be my Antagonist or my Protagonist's bestfriend.

So, my protagonist needed a new name.. and I won't get into naming, because that's a whole other kettle of fish... but I decided on Dove.

After that, it's back to the World Specific Questions: What's Dove's family like? Where did he grow up? How has having Nenver as a BFF informed his personality? How do he and Nenver get along now that they're older? What does he do for a living? Does he like it? How does he get sucked into this adventure? How does he feel about me constantly referring to him as male, even though he isn't actually? How does he feel about Nenver doing it? Why is he okay with it sometimes and not others? etc... and my answers to all that inform me who Dove is.

Basically, creating a character out of thin air involves asking a LOT of questions.

And then, even after all that, you can have accidental surprises while writing... which I'll get into below... but with Dove, once I started writing, I realized that Dove was a bit of a flirt - at least when he's in a good mood. And that just came from the way the dialogue flowed as a I wrote... what I found amusing to write and interesting to explore - ie: a flirt who is afraid of intimacy.

Most everyone in my original fic is created from Thin Air. Except Nenver and Alibriel, who come from inside jokes with my BFF, and Maeve, who comes partially from a D&D character I used to play and partially from a woman I saw on the Sky Train one day on my way to the Archery range.

Anyway, this means very little to anyone, because I haven't written the goddamn book yet. BUT YOU'LL SEE EVENTUALLY (hopefully.)

The Accidental OC - (Not required by plot, not originally intended to be interesting)
Case Study:Nate

Nate was NOT INTENDED to be what he became. I had Teddy's friends already lined up. I put him in a trio - in true Harry Potter fashion - with Iggy (a pure-blood wizard from a nobel family) and Andy (a muggle-born). Iggy's sister Isobel worked at the Weasley's shop... he had syltherins in his family, but was a Hufflepuff. Andy was just your typical Muggle born. Shenanigans and friendship was supposed to be explored solely through Iggy, Andy, and Teddy (hence why they all have names ending in y, while Nate is just... Nate.) Do you want to know why this failed? It wasn't solely because of accidentally creating Nate... it was because I didn't make Iggy or Andy very interesting on their own. I failed to round them out well. They were too "just another average wizard kid."

Then all that uniqueness I had failed to pour into Iggy and Andy, I accidentally poured into Nate.

Nate was created solely because I needed other boys in the Hufflepuff dormitory. Just like Harry, Ron and Hermione, also had Neville, Seamus, Dean, Lavendar Brown, etc - so too did Teddy need at least one fellow Hufflepuff in his year who wasn't necessarily his best friend (how ironic). Teddy's year was small, due to the war, so I figured I would just throw one other boy in his dorm. Nate was created because I said: "Well, statistically, he'd likely be in the LGBT community."

And I can tell I didn't intend to do much with him, because I made him my standard default description - fair, pitch black hair, sky blue eyes... it's the celtic look that I've had a thing for since I saw my first Irish boy. I totally regret is now, because now that I've written him a bunch, that isn't actually how I picture Nate at all. In my mind, he's a little brunette kid with maybe hazel eyes or something... but whatever, gotta stick with continuity. (And yes, I recognize how stupid it is that my "default" is a very unique rare genetic presentation, you'll just have to forgive my illogic.)

My downfall with Nate wasn't just creating him and making him LGBT, it was the fact that I thought, "if I were a little gay 12 year-old boy, my reaction to seeing Sam Winchester would DEFINITELY confirm my sexuality." Followed quickly by the thought, "I'm totally giving Nate a crush on Sam, because that will be adorable."

And then of course, Sam Winchester goes and "dies" and Teddy is in mourning, but Teddy also knows that Nate really liked Sam too... and really, that whole not-close-friends thing goes out the window as soon as you are united in grief.

Add into that my opinion of Remus' sexuality and how Teddy may or may not react to finding out about it - and who would he talk to besides his gay friend? And who would he feel comfortable with when exploring his own sexuality when those questions inevitably arise (as they do for everyone, in my opinion.) And suddenly my throw-away "other boy in the dorm" becomes Teddy Lupin's BFF/non-sexual life-partner... and one of my more beloved OCs. Completely accidental interesting character creation.

A NOTE ON DIVERSITY:

As you can see, I suffer from the problem of defaulting to white males when I'm creating characters. Whenever you can, try to avoid this. I've gotten better over the years - identifying the fact that I do it is a huge first step - but I'm still not perfect.

Although I've started adding in more women (replacing Ron with Maria in the Auror department, for example), I still tend to default to white. THOUGH, I did make the America Auror team more diverse in DDD.

Anyway... when you can, try to diversify. Making Nate LGBT was part of what made me want to explore his experiences more - What's it like growing up gay in the Wizarding world? If Wizards are 10% of the population, and LGBT people are 10% of the population, does that mean that your dating pool is 10% of 10%, and then whatever percentage is in your age group? Wow, that much suck. (Note: I don't know if those are the actual statistics, it's just an example.)

That being said, if you DO diversify, you shouldn't make the ONE INTERESTING thing be the fact that your character is a minority. Nate is not ONLY interesting because he's gay, he's also interesting because he's a Hufflepuff through and through, he's got an affinity for charms, he's from a wizarding family, but wants to try to make his life in the muggle world... while simultaneously living in the one of the oldest Wizarding houses in London.

Likewise, let's say I had made Till Nigerian instead of Swedish, there's no reason for me to have stopped at Nigerian in his development, just like I didn't stop at "Swedish" for Till... Till isn't JUST Swedish, he also grew up, at least partially, behind the Iron Curtain. He's got an airy sweet voice that doesn't really match the modern image of masculinity, nor the strength of the language that he would have grown up speaking in school. He went to a school that, at least in the movies, is portrayed as hypermasculine... how did he fit in? Did he? How did all those issues translate to the work environment once he graduated? HOW did ALL THAT inform the kind of person that he became?


Anyway, I'm doing my best to stop defaulting to cishet white guys. I'd suggest you do the same! When you default to "media average" too much, you run into the problem I ran into with Iggy and Andy, where their stories had been done before, and although I love them as characters, I'm not as enthused to write about their experiences.

I guess that's my final note: When creating characters, create characters where you are interested in in their life-experiences, worldview, personalities... and if you can't do that, at least give them an amusing character trait - it's what makes them seem like actual people.
hells_half_acre: (Dean/Books OTP)
Back when I asked what kind of posts you guys might want to see this summer, [livejournal.com profile] kailita requested that I talk more about my writing process... so, welcome to the Writing is Hard series... where I talk about how I stumble through life my writing hobby.

Topic 1 - Forcing Yourself to Write:

"I'm always interested in how different writers get themselves to be creative (especially during the summer, when I tend to be so lethargic)"

There's this myth out there that writers are self-motivated - that they get an idea, and it just pores out of them onto a page - the idea itself is the motivation! You can't NOT write it!

This, my friends, is a lie. Don't get me wrong - sometimes that does happen. I once read a porn prompt and spent two days writing what is still one my best short stories (which I published on anon only and won't admit to, so don't ask). Sometimes, the words DO just flow and there's nothing else that you want to do besides write the story. But that is only 1% of the time.

The other 99% of the time, you have an idea for a story, or you've even started a story... but, you don't really feel like writing it right NOW, you know? Maybe like.. next week? I don't know. You're sort of busy, or just not in the mood... and yeah, the story is good and you want to share it, but UGH, writing takes so long, and you don't really know what words to use to convey what you want to convey - and maybe the plot isn't as good as you thought it was? Maybe no one will like it anyway, so who cares if you work on it now, or later, or never.

There goes the way of madness - and, quiet frankly, never getting anything done. If you're not immediately motivated to start/keep writing, you will NEVER be motivated to start/keep writing - so, you've gotta FORCE YOURSELF.

Now, some of us (*cough*ME*cough*) are really bad at forcing ourselves to do things we don't want to do.

So, here's the strategy I use. It has stages. If stage one doesn't work, ADD the next stage. So, try 1, then do 1 AND 2, then try 1 AND 2 AND 3... etc.

1. Give yourself a weekly and/or "writing time" and/or daily word count goal that you want to hit. This is the only one that I cut myself slack on. Aim for 1000 (that takes me about 1-2 hours, on a good day), if that's too much pressure and you never hit it, go for 500, 200, or ANY WORDS AT ALL.

The only reason I advocate for LOWERING the goal if your having trouble reaching it, is because this step is supposed to give you a sense of accomplishment. If you're constantly feeling like a failure, you're not going to be motivated to try the next day. So, adjust the goal for how badly you've been feeling about writing lately - if you haven't even opened a document for a month, then your first goal would be "open the document and look at it." If you've opened the document and looked at it lately, but haven't added to it, then the goal becomes "add something to it, next time you open it."

Eventually, as you go, you'll either find a word count goal that you can consistantly hit and makes you feel good. Or, if you like a challenge, you can continually increase that goal until it becomes impossible to hit every time. I like having a word goal that I can consistantly hit and feel good about though, so, if I've set aside 1-2 hours to write, then I usually have a goal of 900-1000 words. Then, if I hit 1,200. I'm a superstar!

Another option is to keep a scorecard for yourself, so that every time you hit your goal, you get to fill in a box, or give yourself a checkmark, or whatever... and then you get a document that shows your progress. My friend does this and likes it very much. They often know approx. how long their stories are going to be, so they can see how much they've done and how much they still have left to do... sort of like on those charity/kickstarter sites, where you can see your progress towards your goal on a scale. I don't do this, because I never know how long my things are going to be, but it really words for my friend.

2. Schedule Writing Time -  Don't just say "I'll write tonight, when I get off of work/school", because what you're actually going to do is make dinner, then watch a TV show while you eat... and then maybe watch another episode for fun... and then your friend is going to text you and be like "Yo! What are the haps?" And you are going to be like "Why are you speaking like that?" and the next thing you know it's 10pm, and you're kinda sleepy now... If it's the weekend/vacation, don't think that you can just say "Well, I have all weekend/vacation to write" because you will continue to say that until it's 10pm on Sunday/the-last-night-of-vacation, and you have not done any writing, my friend - instead you slept in until 1pm, then read fanfic all day, then your aunt Gertrude came for a visit, and then took the dog for a walk and the dog ran into a skunk, and THAT was an ordeal, and it took you the rest of the weekend/holiday to get the stink out of everything.

Instead, you have to say "I am writing from 1pm-3pm" and then at 1pm, you sit down, you open your document, and you try to write... try to hit that word count goal, whatever it might be that day.

And remember that the END time of Writing Time is just as important as the START time. You need to have a clear point where writing becomes optional again... feel free to continue writing, but don't give yourself a hard time if you don't. Also, sometimes, you need that deadline in order to do stuff. If it's 20 minutes to 3pm, and you haven't written a word, you need to have mad dash in those last 20 minutes so that you get at least SOME words down during Writing Time. If you sit there saying "well, I don't really HAVE to stop at 3pm, I could write until 4 or 5 or 7 or 10..." then you're going to continue to sit there and not really do anything for the rest of the time and then feel shitty about it. You may as well not have scheduled Writing Time, if you weren't going to respect it.

3. Find a Writing Friend (not always available). Set up Writing Dates where you both partake in Writing Time. This, I've found, is most effective - but it's harder to organize, because there's someone else's schedule and life to factor in. I got basically all of PPP done while writing with my local BFF back when they were unemployed (and I was underemployed). The best part of a writing friend is that when you get stuck, you can ask them for help. Or, as me and my BFF often do, pause and act out action sequences so that we could describe them accurately - "if you were to faint, how would I catch you?" "If you held a knife to my throat, would I be able to see the size of the knife?" "Hey, get on the floor for a minute, I need to straddle you..." It's fun times!

4. Go to a new location - Sometimes, even when we schedule time to write, that doesn't work - because we are still in our homes, and we are still on our computer with the tumblr tab open.... and we still have our phone next to us, and our friend is sending us pics of their frappaccino and talking about the latest horrible news from some godforsaken part of the world/our own country. And even though it's Writing Time, we find outself clicking over to that other tab, reading just one more chapter of that fic we found last night, or chatting with our friend, or what have you... My point is, our homes are places where we relax and do whatever we like whenever we want to - that's why we like our homes so much. It's also why sometimes we shouldn't be in them.

Instead, pack up your computer/notebook/whatever put on pants, some shoes, (possibly a shirt if you're feeling fancy) - and leave your house. Go to a coffee shop, or a park (if you've got a good battery), or go sit in your car with the windows down (if weather permits). The point is, go to a new location, that is now your WRITING OFFICE. You know what people do in offices?! They work! You are now a professional writer and if you don't have that word count done by the end of the day, your boss is going to fire you! (Your boss is you. You are the worst boss, because you are the hardest on yourself and also there is no escaping you.)

If, for some reason, you can't leave your house - Go to a different part of your apartment/house. Do you usually sit at a desk while you browse the interwebs/do-whatever-else-you-do? Cool. Pick up your laptop, tablet, notebook, whatever... and go sit on the couch. Go put your computer on the kitchen counter and type while standing up during Writing Time, or sitting on a barstool... go sit on the porch, in the closet, on the toilet, wherever. Just change locations from whatever location you usually associate with "time to check social media and surf the web... yay dopamine!" Writing Time, sadly, is not about dopamine.

The sooner you move to a location where your brain is not expecting continual fun stimulation, the easier you can focus it onto a task. My only caveat to this is that if, like me, you often can fall asleep at the drop of the hat if you're tied - do not try to write in bed. "I'll just close my eyes for a moment so I can really visualize the scene and....zzzzzzzz" Yeah... so, change locations, but preferably to a coffee shop, where you'll be more alert and able to focus, because you are in your Writing Office, and those coffee-shop patrons are going to be able to see if you're sitting there looking at nsfw fanart on tumblr instead of writing.

5. Turn off the internet - DO IT. Turn it off on your computer, turn it off on your phone. If you have friends who are text-crazy, put your phone on stealth silent (it doesn't even vibrate or blink lights at you). This is Writing Time. You do not need to be on the internet 24/7. You can take 2 hours, or 1 hour, or however long your writing time is, and use that time to NOT care about what your cousin Danny is posting on Facebook or what heartwarming photo your favourite celeb just posted on the Twit-machine. It will all still be there after Writing Time is over. Your reward for writing during Writing Time will be that you'll get to turn the internet back on and catch up! Fun!

If anyone has anything that works for you that I haven't covered let me know! :)

And, if anyone wants to give me other topics/questions to post about this summer, please leave it in a comment and I'll add it to the list. :)
hells_half_acre: (The Boys in BC)
Firstly, I hope all my American friends on here had a great 4th of July! May your country only improve with age and maturity :)

Some of you guys liked my fic-reading induced rant on Saturday (was that Saturday? Friday? Who knows) Anyway, there was a request for more such posts, so here's another one:

FOREIGN CULTURES:
When writing about a foreign culture, even if you don't THINK it's that different than your own, there are amazing little things that you can get wrong.
This is really unavoidable. But whenever possible, try to have your fic read by someone from that culture.

Someone (a guest no less) just had their shoes on, in the a Canadian household, in WINTER.

Listen, I’ve had dorm rooms that you could cross in 6 steps. 5 of those steps were ALWAYS done in socks… and to this day, if I have to go more than one step into my apartment to quickly grab something and I leave my shoes on to do it, I apologize TO MYSELF.

It's just amazing what can throw someone out of a fic.

Now, this is SO SMALL AN INNOCUOUS. This isn't a rant saying that you have to be perfect - this is more me saying that you are inevitably going to get something like this wrong. You just will. And, you could argue, this one isn't even as bad as the old J2 fic I used to read that had frequent snow (and snowstorms) in Vancouver.. (seriously, just because you cross a border, that does not mean the Pacific North-West is no longer a temperate rainy climate)... but, at the same time, it IS just as bad... because as soon as I read that this person, was wearing his sneakers in the kitchen... I was out of the fic immersion, and yelling at that cute boy to get his ass back to the front door and take off his shoes like a civilized person - and did he not realize the amount of salt, sand, and slush, he would have tracked through that house?!

Anyway, folks, just because Canada is next door to you, and just because we speak a common language and watch many of the same TV shows, doesn't mean we're exactly the same. We take our shoes off at the door, in all seasons, and if we don't want to, we always check with the owner of the house before leaving them on... only THEY can tell us whether shoes are allowed to stay on (and some people DO keep their shoes on, but for the most part, I find those people either come from Away, or they haven't cleaned in a while and don't want you to get your socks dirty.) Your first action when entering a Canadian home is always to either take your shoes off, or say "shoes on or off?" if there doesn't seem to be a place to put shoes by the door or you notice your host has left their shoes on. An exception to this is if you were invited over for a summer BBQ/yard-event and the way to the backyard (where you will once again need your shoes) is through the house.

We also do say "sorry" a lot. It's not an admission of fault, it's the equivalent of saying "I acknowledge that just happened, and I wish it hadn't" (this is why we say sorry when people bump into US, not just when we bump into other people) or "I acknowledge that I may have just interrupted you and/or spoken too long - what were you saying?" or "I can't hear you, please repeat that?"...or "You seem upset, I don't know why, but if it's because of something I did, please know my intention was not to upset you"....or, in some cases, it can mean "WELL EXCUSE ME FOR EXISTING AND ALSO FUCK YOU!"... all depending on the circumstances and inflection, of course.

Anyway, yeah, I know I've gotten stuff wrong about America and Britain in my fics. I called Tower Bridge London Bridge, and no one caught it... it probably actually is STILL wrong... maybe because no one actually realizes that I meant Tower Bridge. I probably didn't describe it. Listen, I've never been to London... my point is, we all do it, but it's important to be AWARE of it, and if you're trying to get something IMPORTANT right, then it's, well, important, to be aware of your weakness and to seek help with correcting them.

Getting Canada wrong isn't that big a deal - but if you get a more oppressed or underrepresented culture or group wrong, then it can be an offensive disaster, and no one wants to do that! So, never assume that you know things, unless you are actually a member of that group/culture. Always ask when you can, or research heavily when you can't ask.

And who knows, maybe this fic writer is Canadian...but like... a weird one? Maybe they're from away? Who knows. All I know is that the sneakers in the kitchen threw me right out of my ability to actually believe they were in Canada.
hells_half_acre: (Dean/Books OTP)
Yesterday, the only answer to my question of "what sort of things do you want me to post over the summer?" was "more spontaneous posts" so, here's your first....

CONFLICT RESOLUTION:
When writing a story, the satisfaction comes from your conflicts being resolved. Now, you'd think this would be a no-brainer, but here's the trick: ALL conflicts have to be resolved, even the man vs. himself conflicts.


So, let's say you're writing an extremely epic adventure romance fic - nearly 200k - and my goodness, you've hooked your audience - your lead characters are sympathetic, your plot is well developed, your romance is romantic.... SO, you've got your antagonist, who is laying in wait to ruin everything, and he's your man vs. man conflict... you've got the environmental hurdles the leads must overcome (ie: they get trapped somewhere and have to escape, or the society they live in stands in the way of their dreams, etc...), and THEN you have the psychology of the hero... this is your man vs. himself conflict... maybe they don't think they're brave enough to get what they want, maybe they don't think he deserves it... maybe, in the case of the fic I just read, they has a really fucked up view of sex.

So, at the end of story, you not only have to overcome the envionment and defeat the antagonist, you also have to address the lead's super f*cked up psychology and make sure that it's evident that they have worked past it - not only that, but you have to make sure there's EVIDENCE that they have moved past it or, at the very least, are well on their way to moving past it.

You can't, for instance, have a main character who has a super fucked up view of sex, and then end the story at the love confession and fade out before anything is ever consummated. Do you want to know why? It's not because you've denied us the smut of the consummation scene. It's because those of use who have been paying attention to your 200k words that constantly reiterate how fucked up this guy is, are going to sit there thinking "okay, but... it's all going to go to shit the first time they're intimate at all" and suddenly that lovely victory you've built up, means pretty much nothing, because you've got this dangling unresolved conflict.

It's like if I wrote a story where our hero is someone who is a giant miserable depressed alcoholic and are likely to die with the next binge drinking event, unless they get help - meanwhile, a serial killer stalks the town, but our hero can't stop them, because there is also a meteor barrelling towards earth, and the murderer is the only one who knows the codes to launch the missles that can destory it.

Now, imagine that's my ridiculous premise - if I have the hero get over their alcoholism, so they can stop the murderer, that's great. But if I ended the story there, you'd be sitting there wondering when that meteor is going to hit... or if I had our hero stop the meteor, recover from alcoholism, but not stop the serial killer - you'd be sitting there equally worried about how many more people are going to be murdered, and why the story ended without defeating the bad guy. Or, if the hero stops the meteor, arrests the murderer, and then I fade out while they're staring at a bottle of whiskey and thinking "time for a drink", you're left not with a happy ending, but with a bittersweet ending where you're like "well... everyone is saved except the hero."

Likewise, if I have a adventure romance, where my main character has a giant personality problem that prevents them from having stable relationships. I can't end the story before I address that problem. I can get rid of as many rivals for their love as I want. I can get rid of all the physical and environmental obstacles that keep our two lovers seperated, but if I don't address the fact that my main character is SUPER fucked up, then nothing is resolved. You don't get a "they lived happily ever after" if there's a 90% chance that as soon as the fic fades to black, the main character is going to have a nervous breakdown.

And addressing the fact that my main character is super fucked up isn't the same as explaining WHY they're fucked up, or having them REALIZE how fucked up they are - I know plenty of people, myself included, who are fucked up, but don't know how to STOP being fucked up. Awareness is not the same as solving the problem. "Oh, there's a giant meteor about to kill all mankind - well, now that we're aware of it, I guess that problem is solved. And we lived happily ever after...." Nope. You all died. This is not a happy ending. This is very much an ending where the reader is sitting there thinking "I read nearly 200k of fic, and you're not even going to RESOLVE THE FUCKING PROBLEM?!"

Profile

hells_half_acre: (Default)
hells_half_acre

April 2019

S M T W T F S
 123 456
78910 111213
14 151617 181920
21222324252627
282930    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 20th, 2019 10:46 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios