Manna
22 July 2012 @ 02:16 am
Raphi made a pretty good point in my last post, re: romance, so have this (hopefully) quick post on it.

Since I began writing, I've received PMs in nearly every fandom from various people asking me how to write romance. I find this to be pretty funny because, honestly, most of my early 'fics were the slowest-building romance known to mankind.

That said, depending on which fandom I ventured into, my 'fics were mostly friendship-centric, with romantic undertones.

I'm not going to brag on my own 'romance' 'fics, because let's face it, romance means different things for different people, so what might be romantic to you or I might not be to other people.

That said, I think I do have some thoughts about writing romance that make it easier for me, at least.

1.) Observe other people. Observe your characters. People-watching (and paying attention to work/school stories from your mates) is a valuable tool for writing.
a. Ask yourself questions regarding the characters you want to write. Is A outgoing? Shy? If you have two shy characters, things will be difficult. If you have to overzealous people, they might send mixed signals to one another, et cetera and so on.
b. Decide how A feels about B, and compare it to how they feel about C, D, E, et cetera.
c. Who is most likely to make the first move? Who will crack under the pressure/tension? If someone is holding back, why? Don't just answer why, answer WHY!*

*Remus Lupin is a great example. We know he was against a relationship with Tonks because he was "too old, too poor, too dangerous", i.e., not good enough, but that's not enough information. If you're writing a romance between Tonks and Remus, then those things need to MEAN something!

2.) Don't rush. Don't dawdle.
a. Nothing is as dull as a 'fic that is rushrushrush, and nothing is as anti-climatic as a 'fic that drags on for so long it makes you wanna puke. As fun as romance and suspense are, you really, honestly, truly need a balance between the two or readers will be turned off to your story.
b. Don't over or under-explain things, either. This is true for every writing, but if you explain too much, or get too into minor details, the main story will lag behind and you will bore your readers.

3.) If you're writing something short, focus on the VERY important scenes. Are you writing a flashback-sequence type of a story? Don't piddle around writing scenes that don't really have an emotional impact on your audience. Remember: People read romances for the same reason they read other stuff-- to FEEL SOMETHING! Even if you are writing a long, drawn-out dramatic romance, focusing too heavily on scenes that don't mean anything (and aren't foreshadowing) is a big no-no.
a. Pick the important scenes. Having a short scene where the character speaks to their mother, has tea with a sibling, etc, is fine, but when it has zero impact on the storyline, the plot, or the readers' emotions, then it's something that should be cut out.
b. Don't skip important scenes unless you plan to flash back to them later. If you're writing a lovely romance and you skip the main characters' first kiss, your readers might hate you. You can get away with it as a storytelling technique but don't be lazy and skip scenes that might be a little more difficult to write; the overall story will suffer for it!

4.) Love *OR* understand the characters.
a. Loving characters helps you see inside their heads very well. Is Kent going to make the first move, or is Lyndis, because the tension between them is obvious to the reader in your story, they're just dying to know who will be the first to say/do something to further their relationship.
b. Hating characters leaves you writing with blinders on, and it's not a great experience. However, if you don't love the characters you're writing about, but you've made an effort to understand them, than that usually works.

5.) People always do things for a reason. From Where the Heart Is:
Why does anyone lie? Cause we're scared? Or crazy? Or maybe just mean?... There's a million reasons why a person lies... But sometimes, you tell a lie so big... that it changes your whole life... Lie's so big... it makes you think...

a. Don't forget that your characters have flaws. Romance is not smooth sailing even in real life. People argue over the dumbest things, they don't let go of grudges, they remember every bad thing you've ever done, and everybody thinks and acts differently and for different reasons.
a. Back to Remus Lupin-- people do things for a reason. Do you think he was against a relationship that he WANTED because he was loltoopoor? No. There are always Reasons. Because Reasons. Everyone has a reason for everything they do or say, so everyone will react differently to a theoretically-same situation. Remus is poor and old and dangerous in his own eyes, but it goes so far beyond that. Many people in the Harry Potter fandom can't see past how "silly" they think that reasoning (Remus's reasoning, that is) is, but if they'd stop and try to understand him, they'd see exactly where it is he's coming from, and then maybe they would be on his side.

6.) The story is not over because the main characters have kissed, had sex, or procreated.
a. That's not to say you can't end the story there, but there is no such thing as a Happily Ever After. Pick a good, happy moment to end, and end there. Or a sad moment. Or whatever moment is going to have the biggest impact on the audience and also tie up and end the story successfully. It's easy to shock people with stupidity like, "It was all a dream hurrrrr!!", and it's easy to end it with a kiss/fade to black/wedding ceremony/etc, because those are easy to imagine as really big stopping points on the Road of Life. A bad ending in a story can ruin the whole thing, just saying.
b. It's okay for your characters to have problems with one another, or the things they say/do/etc. We're not perfect, why should we expect other people to be? But not everyone enters into a relationship realizing this. Sometimes people fight and one person is wrong. Sometimes they fight and they're both wrong. Sometimes they fight and NEITHER ONE OF THEM is wrong. Your characters aren't perfect, so neither is their relationship(s)! THIS INCLUDES FRIENDSHIPS TOO!

7.) My last tip I've used is this: Make it sound natural. Model relationships off of ideal relationships you've seen in your life. Maybe there's fighting now and then, one of them is miffed at the other when they go to bed, maybe someone leaves for a week, whatever. But when a couple has been together 20, 30, 40+ years, that's saying something. Don't ignore what the old married couples have been telling us all along: Don't go to bed angry, Things won't always be perfect, Try to work it out calmly.
a. However, your characters may or may not know all those things. Part of the fun of writing a romance is that it's a very involved relationship and it takes place over a long period of time as feelings develop, et cetera. It's nice to help your characters come to realizations about themselves and their partner!
b. Sex =/= love. Love =/= sex. They are not mutually exclusive. There are millions of ways to love someone, even when we're talking about romantic love. Not everyone shows their love of another person through the same means or by saying the same thing. While one person might do the grocery shopping for their significant other because they know they hate doing it and want to do something nice, someone else might make dinner, or do the laundry, or weed the flowers, or plant flowers, or buy flowers, or make the bed, or buy a gift, or bring them a lunch at work. If you write all of your stories in the same Meet, Talk, Fall in Love, Kiss, Have Sex, Get Together order, it will get dull fast. Some people will have sex right after they meet someone, while others wait for marriage and still others just wait until they feel safe doing it. (And some won't at all.) This bounces right back up to 4 though; figure these things out about your character, don't just blindly write stuff you see in the movies, because believe me, it's not believable 95% of the time.

And just as with anything:

If it's believable, people will probably like it more.*

*I don't mean a parody/humor story obviously, but if people don't find the relationship you're portraying to be believable, they'll put less emotional investment in it, and possibly enjoy the story you're trying to tell a lot less.
 
 
 
 
Manna
19 April 2012 @ 07:30 pm
So, Kitty made a post in her journal here concerning the Oh No They Didn't post here.

This isn't a meta post, per se, but after reading Kitty's post I realized I had a ton of Feelings and Thoughts and mostly just Opinions that I really just want to get out and make clear to people, whether they're a writer, a reader, or even on the gamer/outside observer side of fandom. (Hell, even people who aren't in fandom at all might learn something, but we'll see.)

There are some authors who actively dislike fanfiction. One can imagine that they hate fanart just as much, but there's never really a stink-up concerning fanart that I know of, unless the fan artist's art was stolen, and then I have to wonder if the author would agree that it was stolen or not, considering the character was theirs to begin with, et cetera and so on, and watch me derail this entire post in a single paragraph.

Either way, I won't read the works of authors who say they hate fanfiction (or think it's illegal, or think it makes fanfiction authors jackasses, or lazy, or worthless, or any other negative term). The reason I won't? They're not educated, and they don't want to be. They're too busy sitting up on their pedestals happy playing God and irritated and annoyed that someone else is moving their puppets around even in writing-- writing, by the way, that they're not getting paid for.

So, here's some edu-ma-cation on fanfiction and fandom and why it is, for the most part, a good thing to have. (Now I know that most of us actively in fandom would be flattered and thrilled to get fanfiction written about the charactesr that we've lovingly created, but a.) not everyone feels that way, and b.) most published successful authors aren't of the younger fandom-centric generation. Nowadays if you say, "I write fanfiction!" to someone in the 14-25-year age bracket...people might know what it is. In fact, they might read it, write it, or know people that do. So, keep that in mind, too. Not everyone thinks like you do.)

-

The canon material can only go so far, and when you really think about it, fandom itself can only go so far, too. People can group up and say, "I loved this scene!" but eventually they are going to run out of things to say, because they will have discussed every aspect of the book/series/whatever that there is to possibly discuss.

(Ask the Rose of Versailles fandom. They've rehashed the same exact discussion eleventy-billion times. No lie. And this for a fandom that's non-English (but IS every other language) that's been around since the 70s.)

Fanfiction is what keeps things fresh, at least for me. Let's use Rowling as an example here, because it's a recent fandom for me, and she's an author (and it's a book fandom, unlike most of my other fandoms).

I read Harry Potter. Why did I read it?

Well, the hype was already mostly dead. None of my friends actively babbled about it much, either on their LJ or via AIM. I think Budgie mentioned seeing one of the movies but that's pretty much it. The fandom definitely wasn't dead, but the series as a whole wasn't hopping like it had been years earlier.

But I kept seeing Harry Potter secrets on Fandom!Secrets, GIFs on Tumblr, and finally I thought, hey, I'll watch the movies. So I did. I really liked them! But this is where things get bumpy. I watch a lot of movies. Hell, I read Love Comes Softly long before it was ever even thought to be made into a movie, let alone the entire series, and I didn't read fanfiction for it. But I went to Kitty's profile because, well, I knew she'd written some. And I read it. And I wanted to read more. So I did. And while I was reading I realized how much I liked certain characters (Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks) and I thought, hot damn, I have to read the books, because they're bound to appear in them more! And I chanced a trip to the library where The Old Lady lurks just to get those books. Which I realized I liked. So what did I do? Got them as a Christmas gift from [personal profile] crotchcape and I was like. Oh man this is great. So I own them. And I like them. And yeah, I do re-read books (the same books...over and over and over) but fandom is about community, and what drives a community is discussion.

However, you can only discuss the canon material so many times before you get bored. Fanfiction, discussion of fanfiction and the canon and how it pertains to canon, and how IC/OOC it is, is something that really helps move the fandom.

In my not-so humble opinion, people who love your creations enough to not only pay for the source material but also spend copious amounts of their free time paying homage to them (and by extension, you) via writing about them, are people who are keeping the source material alive, because let's face it, sometimes an author can't do that.

Sure, we've got Pottermore for Harry Potter, and she spoke in interviews giving out other tiny tidbits, but her canon is done. There will not be Book 27 about Harry's great-grandchildren (at least I pray this doesn't happen), or any other such continuation of the series. Once a series is done, it's done, and the only way books will keep selling is if people pimp it out, or magically are attracted to the cover/title in a bookstore, which is sadly happening less and less these days.

Lots of people read off of recommendation, but I'm old and set in my ways and most of the time I'm too busy doing Other Things to read a book someone told me was good. Maybe their opinion is one I respect (I think Kender and I have similar tastes in literature, for example!) but that doesn't mean I'll want to spend 12 hours reading and $10 on a book I'm not 100% sure I'll like.

I wouldn't have ever gotten into Harry Potter if I hadn't seen so many fans--in fandom, online, talking about the fandom, discussing fanfiction and art. And how many others might never have read the books without fandom to tell them, "Hey, you really should. They're a lot better than they sound!"? Yeah. That's what I thought.

And once I'm in a fandom, the fanfiction is what keeps me there, because it's always moving, always changing. The only exception are the continual stream of tactician fics, but I digress.

--

The only type of fanfiction that annoys me is the type that gets published without permission from the original author.

Pride & Prejudice (and Zombies), I'm looking at YOU.

What keeps Star Wars so alive? The movies were spectacular (at least the original trilogy hah) but without fanfiction and a fandom in general, people would be saying, "Man, you remember Star Wars? That was a great movie," and then forgetting about it. But nobody forgot Star Wars. The fandom--the cosplayers, the writers, the artists-- kept the fandom alive.

Hell, the books might be fanfiction, but people got paid to write them. Most of us know that'll never happen to us-- we'll never get paid to write fanfiction, I mean-- but fanfiction is something we enjoy. It's not something we do for any sort of physical compensation, i.e., money, but rather, we do it to be a part of a community or because we enjoy it, or because we had a fun idea we wanted to share in much more detail than, "What if Wil was actually an assassin?" or, "What if things had gone differently at a crucial point in the canon?"

I mean, it's a whole 'nother experience to write or read about these different things happening than it is to just sort of half-heartedly wonder about it.

-

I'm not saying all authors should be ~OMG so flattered~ at having fanfiction written about their favorite characters, but it's really nothing to be insulted over.

And yes, we could all be writing original fiction instead. But for half of us, that's boring, and for the rest of us, it doesn't get us recognition of any kind.

I've written original stories before. They were kinda crappy. And I got bored of them quickly because I didn't have anyone to talk to about it, not really, and even if I had, it's just not something I'm particular invested in. I haven't spent my whole life working hard to write original fiction. That isn't my dream.

Even if I did write something, there's a good chance it'd never get published, and even if it did, it'd be rotting as an eBook in some horrid forsaken corner of Amazon.com because nobody would know to even buy it. Or maybe they'd know better than to buy it, ahaha!

Some people think writing 'fic is a waste of time. But let me say one last thing about it:

Writing original fiction is work. It's hard work. And I already have a job. I don't want to spend my free hours working on charts and mapping out a plot and thinking really hard when I've just thought really hard all day about other things. In my free time, I want to do what I find entertaining or relaxing or fun-- and sometimes that is writing fanfiction.
 
 
 
 
Manna
27 March 2012 @ 11:02 pm
 
Oh and I have to figure out

what to do with my life.

Not sure what do. Guess I'll have to think about it. But right now I'm sick and thinking hurts. Actually, everything hurts. And I work tomorrow. QQ. So sleep for now, thinking...tomorrow.

To go to school or not to go to school.

My mumsy thinks I might just end up getting married but I don't know why she thinks that. Actually, I think she's thought Neal and I were ~destined to be~ since she met him and his family back in 2004. I mean, no offense to anyone ever, least of all Neal, because I do really like him, but.

I'm not basing my life's choices on the maybe chance that someday I might marry him. I mean, come the fuck on.

I don't know if she really thinks that or what. Sure, I'd love to be a housewife, take care of the garden/yard work, have my own flowerbeds, keep cats company, pick up sewing or something, have a room for painting, et cetera, but let's be real: the likelihood of that happening is about...1%.

Not that my standards are exorbitantly high or anything. Okay, they might be. But let's be realistic again. I'm a toothless 25-year-old with a cat collection, too much stuff, and a lot of medical baggage.

Not that Neal isn't into that. He could be. I honestly don't know and TBH I'm a little afraid to ask because I'm not sure what to do with the information even if I get it and it's a yes. We do have a lot in common with the cats and the hobbies and stuff like that. Buuut at the same time, we've known each other for...what...10 years? And we don't know all that much about one another. I mean, most of our conversation stays pretty surface-level, through texting and such. How are you and what are you up to kind of blather. And I'm okay with that.

I don't want to get his hopes all up in the air (AGAIN), and I am an incredibly indecisive person anyway. I mean, what do I want? The answer to that is: I don't know.

At the same time, going back to school and finally getting a degree at 30+ isn't really something I'm gung-ho about, either. I do want to go back to school, I guess. It's just. A lot of work. And is that what I really want? Truth is...I don't know what I really want...where anything is concerned.

I mean, I want to be happy, right? But doesn't everyone? I've already learned that having a job that pays my bills and affords me extra things doesn't make me happy. Having tons of Internet friends and offline acquaintances doesn't keep the depression away. I mean, what makes me actually happy?

Not sure. Taking a walk maybe. Biking, definitely. Snapdragons. Good weather. Comfy clothing. Feeling healthy.

The last one is probably not going to come along but the rest could. I mean, I'm trying to sorta puzzle out a future. Most of you on my friends-list are working on that now with degrees or you're already established at a job you-- well, maybe you don't ENJOY it but it pays the bills and you're established there-- uhh have, and I'm over here floating around unsure. Thing is, I'm not the only one. Wish I'd have known years ago that I'd have to just pick something and go with it.

...Truth be told I'm worried that I'll go to school and miss out on something else. I mean, with this seasonal job if I can stick it out I could go somewhere on vacation or something after it ends. Or I could even get a few days off to go somewhere for some Me Time. I could even visit Neal again just to see how things go. I mean... It's hard to set things in stone and schooling is a big commitment. You can drop any time, sure, but then the loans have to be paid back. And the thought of going to school without teeth makes me go :| a bit. But possibly the worst part is if I do badly or something, I'll be lucky to find a job to pay back the loans. Took me almost two full years to find this position at Scotts, and sure, it's only until September, and I kind of hate it, but... Sigh.

I like learning about plants a bit. And fertilizers. And garden/lawn stuff. I just HATE ANSWERING PHONES. And headsets hurt my ears so baddddd.
 
 
 
 
Manna
10 February 2012 @ 03:02 pm
The title of this entry is nothing but a bunch of total bullshit.

Last night, while I was lying there, pretending that sleep would arrive any minute, two things came to me.

The first was the title of a book I read years ago that I couldn't remember (and what great timing my memory has, 4:00am or later, in the dark, no paper in sight), and the second was the real reason that I jump into a fandom and read all the 'fic I can get my hands on about my favorite couple.

Lolobservations! )

I like seeing different variations and interpretations of a character, especially when they're close to my own personal headcanon but off in curiously interesting (but not OOC) ways. It makes things a lot more interesting, especially in a fandom like Harry Potter where there are literally thousands of 'fics about any given character. It'd be easy to get bored with a Tonks or Neville or even Umbridge who was portrayed exactly the same by every single person, despite there not even being enough canon evidence to support their character always being written the same way.

That said, from my adventure in reading 'fic, I have learned one important thing. When someone asks you how their ass looks...if it looks good, the proper response is:

like a peach in a hanky


I have been using this phrase copiously for two full days and I'm loving it more every time I say it. At least I can say it without laughing now.

...That said, on the headcanon front, it looks like I'll have to write my own fics after all. I figured with so many out there I'd likely find at least one other author who write the characters exactly like how I imagined, but it turns out that...no, that's impossible. QQ.
 
 
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Manna
06 February 2012 @ 06:01 pm
There's a particular question that I've seen floating around on various internet memes and questionnaires:

Do you believe in life after love TRUE LOVE?


Cut for length. )
 
 
 
 
Manna
On the Fire Emblem fandom and the wank in it. Posted here instead of my fandom journal so that things are more personal. Or something like that.

Soapboxing below the cut. Click/read at your own risk.

This post is public. Anyone is welcome to comment. Please be civil in your responses to me and to other people.

Let me preface this with a statement: I'm not preaching to you guys as some kind of do-good holy righteous paladin of virtue. I'm guilty of doing some of the things mentioned below-- and I daresay that most of us are, as well.

I'm also not going to really bring places like GameFaqs or SerenesForest into this conversation. This is primarily about the Livejournal Fire Emblem fandom.

General "you" throughout.

Snip, snip! )

Comments/thoughts/discussion welcome as always. I definitely don't think everyone will agree with me 100%. And definitely, if you have any more thoughts/concerns/whatever, feel free to add them to the pile in the comments below.

(Note: My format was totally eaten when I copied over from Wordpad, so I apologize if my paragraphs that were oh-so neat are now kind of messed up. I tried to fix them, but I could only do so much.)
 
 
Current Location: Living Room, Home, Ohio
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