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Swimming with the Current

January 25th, 2008

Gender Switch Essay @ 11:26 pm

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

An Essay on Gender Switch in Fanfiction

Should've posted the main essay here, but I forgot. Thoughts are appreciated.

June 3rd, 2006

Doumeki/Watanuki manifesto @ 09:10 pm

I just posted the Doumeki/Watanuki manifesto at ship_manifesto. Thoughts are welcome, please enjoy.

It's Hitsuzen, Like it Or Not... A Doumeki/Watanuki manifesto.

April 20th, 2006

Benchmarks for characters @ 07:49 pm

assyrian deserves a response to her question... what do I mean by benchmarch.

Benchmarks are certain qualities, to me, which measure how a character is portrayed. This is really evident in shoujo series (I'm thinking of magical girls). There's certain events/characteristics which will be unveiled. It's why we'll see certain cliches... I'm thinking of the magical girl dying, coming back to life through to joy of friendship/love. Sometimes the deaths may be more metaphorical than others, but the basic idea is there.

It's almost like a checklist. You can say "yep, it's there!" as soon as you finally see it. I would probably use it interchangably with her term "markers" except that often times there's a progressive development/realization. For example, in Hikago, we see the benchmark of Hikaru accepting his destiny. IE - it's when he decides to play Akira. He's got these talents of his own, and wants to work on his own abilities. It's like when the hero casts aside whatever crutch they've been using (magical sword, powerful friend) and fights on their own.

A benchmark is often used for certain types of characters to help set the archetype - like the reluctant villain. It's when you see the bad guy admitting he's got to be evil since there's a role that needs to be filled (I'm thinking Elphaba in the musical Wicked right now, but I KNOW there's a couple anime guys who're RIGHT ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE who fits this mold). The benchmarks can be really minor things, including character "markers."

There's certain benchmarks which, unless there's a great turnabout, that characters are going to hit. Example: Ryoma IS going to beat Tezuka (I know he did in the anime, I haven't heard of it happening in the manga since I fell out of love after Rikkai's arc), Naruto IS going to surpass Sasuke (Not sure exactly what form this is going to take, but I'm sure there's going to be some smack-down fight involved) and Ichigo IS eventually going to overcome Aizen. Those are major benchmarks for the "shonen hero" archetype. All three are built off the basic loner! hero! mold, although their subset of archetype is slightly different.

Sometimes I think it would be very cool to have some binomial nomenclature for archetype. Example: Genus Hero, Species: Rebel.... oh, we could have a heck of a lot of fun with it.

I do agree that Tenipuri characters lack definition to become true archetypes in many cases, but that's just because Konomi isn't that great a writer. The last time I truly loved him was 100 chapters ago, with the Yagyuu/Niou switch.

However, Konomi's lack of depth does create a stronger fanon for it (and a more heavily defined fanon which Must Be Obeyed). Without strong authorial support, fanon is more likely to be seen as canon. And since fans like the familiarity of archetypes (see my previous entry), many of the Tenipuri characters are cast into these roles with little canon evidence.

I think I saw someone mention Kishimoto has incorporated part of fanon into his canon. Now I try to imagine JK Rowling doing it, and I laugh. While I may think JK needs work on stylistic elements in her writing, I do admit she's created a very colorful world.

April 19th, 2006

The Familiarity Phenomenon @ 04:55 pm

assyrian has got me started on thinking about one of the standards of fanfic - I think of it as the familiarity phenomenon.

Readers do not want something that upsets them. They want to feel they have some "control" over a plot, which is why they get upset when a character dies in fanfic, or an author tries something they find repulsive. Readers want to read the same story, over and over, which is why we keep SEEING similar forms of the same story.

It's one of the reasons why almost all fanfic ends on a positive note (unlike real life). Readers want a compact, happy ending. They don't want to be shaken out of their comfortable world.

Doubt it? Just look at Harlequin romance novels. A huge ton of those sell, and it's not like the story is always that different. A beautiful woman is going to be misunderstood/taken advantage of by a rich, gorgeous guy. The misunderstandings - which are never her fault - rear up between them, threatening to drive them apart. In the last ten pages, the guy will develop New Age syndrome, and suddenly all the misunderstandings are cleared up through one conversation. And they kiss and the world is a pretty place.

the sad thing is that i'm considering writing one of these... just write to spec!

I think this is a reflection from real life. Life is hard, and people want to know that things will work out okay. They project quite a bit of themselves into their favorite characters, which is why they don't want anything TOO bad to happen. Some torture is fine, but they like being reassured that everything can eventually be fixed.

The familiarity phenomenon basically works from "write what you know." It's why High School AUs are so popular - many of the readers are currently in high school and can relate more. It's why we see so many "runaway" stories, since a lot of us wish we could run away and find where things are better. Same with all the angst, and suicidal girls being rescure by bishounen characters who are madly in love with them. There's tons of wish fulfillment going on.

I laugh every time I see a person requesting a specific "type" of fanfic - "vampire Sasuke!" or "Duo as a Girl!" They basically want to read the same story they've already read before... or have written in their head.

Familiarity is one of the reasons that there's so many spec-type writing and why it's so sensational. It's rare that an "original" idea breaks out. Most authors - including the insanely popular Rowling - write using archetypes. While assyrian was talking about "benchmarks" for the characters, it's really about the type. We don't fall in love with Fuji or Seishirou themselves... we fall in love with the manipulative bastards they are. We fall in love with a archetype, and we have expectations on how they're going to be handled.

Oftentimes I'm asked what "type" of character I prefer. I'm shallow, I admit it - I tend to go for the frosty bishounen that supports the lead. It's rarely a surprise to those who know me best which character I end up obsessing about.

March 31st, 2006

School sorting @ 05:04 pm

issen4 recently recced two fics (King and Champions) That returned me to the old thought on schools.

Like the Houses in HP, each of the schools has a very distinctive characteristic: Rokkaku is laid back, Fudoumine is team oriented, Hyotei is arrogant. While I was considering this, I wondered if I should "stamp" myself with a school... and then realized the answer is pretty obvious.

I'd be in Rikkai. I think anyone who knows me would probably agree.

I'm interested in hearing some other people's thoughts on this. So... what school would you enroll in, and why? Don't just go for your favorite characters... be honest and admit where your personality would work best.

February 3rd, 2006

Hikaru no neatfreak @ 12:03 am

Random Hikago thought.

...why does everyone assume Hikaru is messy? From what we see of him, he seems to be relatively neat.

His room is very neat (there's no junk around it in the anime). Does his mother clean it, or is it all him? I remember an incident where he spreads kifu all over his floor at Sai's request, but also straightens it up. He also sets his shoes neatly in the hallway, instead of just kicking them off... same thing during oteai matches, he sets them neatly in the cubby.

Working on something, which is why I bring it up. Fandom seems to have pidgeonholed him into the stereotypical brainless boy model, which he clearly isn't. He's brilliant, in an abstract kind of way. He may be blunt, but he's also very considerate when "caught" being rude.

September 8th, 2005

Challenge Comms... a challenge? @ 01:20 pm

I'm of two minds about the existence of challenge comms.

I find they do provide inspiration, but they're also a distraction. I often find myself setting aside my "projects" to perform in a challenge comm. If I needed the inspiration, it'd be one thing, but I don't. Instead, it riles my competitive side (and I AM one competitive bitch when things get down to it) and I get distracted from what I was originally doing.

People start out challenge comms pretty gun-ho, but after the shine wears off, there's a few devote churning things out while the

Some of the challenge comms are useful for honing skills - temps_mort immediately springs to mind, but many of them are repetitive. I think the whole "30 themes" challenge comm has gotten a bit out of control. It's like everyone wants to own one - honestly. I'm reminded a bit of RPs - everyone starts on so they can get their favorite characters.

I won't be a hypocrite and say I'm not one of those who loses interest. I've gotten to the point where I'm trying to ignore the latest "rages" of fanfic... though honestly, a part of me is tempted to start a "The Bet" challenge comm. Wouldn't that be COOL?

Yes, I understand how they spring up, but they really divide my energy.

As a side note, I've decided that the one sentence fic thing needs to be kicked. It's like poetry (haikus). It's an art form I will never appreciate. We really do have no attention spans, and "vogue ficcing" is something I'm trying to avoid.

August 5th, 2005

Next manifesto, a change! @ 12:50 pm

First up, my most recent manifesto:

Touya and Yuki from CCS and Tsubasa

Next, thoughts on writing.

I'm tremondously jealous of sailormac because she has the willpower to sit down and take a couple of months and just finish a fic before releasing it. I feel so flighty in exchange. So, I'm going to try to change my style a bit. I'm working on several long fics (over 20,000 words), and making sure I COMPLETE them before I post. I'm hoping it will cut down on some of the... problems... I've had with a few select "fans."

It's more difficult than it sounds to write flat out, because I am used to the comments and encouragement from reviewers. That tends to motivate me... but we'll see, right?

For me, writing is an interactive process. I need to be able to get a reaction, or else I feel I've failed.

July 14th, 2005

The Muse! Oh, my artistic soul!! @ 04:46 pm

I'm a fan of Nora Roberts, when she writes as JD Robb. I found This Articles rather interesting, since she said:

"If I don't write, they don't pay me," Roberts says. "Inspiration always seems like such a poufy word to me — to sit here and wait for the muse to land on my shoulder. It's my job. I think it's the best job in the world. As for ideas, writers are hard-wired for story ideas. Inspiration isn't something I worry about."

There's a difference between an amateur writer and a professional, and in the main, it seems to be that many professionals are more pragmatic. I am not a fan of writers who believe in "the immortal word." There is no such thing... rather, writing is a collective art, because we evolve from each other. We draw things we like about someone's stories, whether it's a concept or style, and we build on that.

I think that's why I'm content to play in fanfic for the time being... it's because I don't want the pressure of "writing for my supper" that novels give me.

of course, i write for my supper at WORK, but this is different.

June 20th, 2005

Sex Ed @ 08:56 pm

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

I recently wrote a fic which covered the topic of sex ed, and I've had something I've long considered fact confirned.

There's kids who are getting their sex-ed through fanfic. I find this disturbing, although I will admit I definately learned quite a bit about sex through fanfic (though not as much as I did when I was 11 and found my dad's XXX mags).

Now, I'm not going into this, about whether it's right or wrong, but it makes me consider my responsibilities to the reader... because I know someday, a nine year old is going to be getting a hell of an education if they every read Certain Fics I wrote.

As a genre-spanning author, I wonder about my fanbase. I know I fell into yaoi because a writer I liked started writing it, so I made an exception for that writer, and then there was another writer... it's such a long, slippery slope. So it's quite feasible that someone will start with something I write that's gen, and slide down through there.

Is this my fault? No. People make up their own mind, and I like to give youngsters credit - they're a hell of a lot wiser than their parents would like them to be. However, what should I do?

I fake things in fics. I admit it. If I don't know something, I'll often make it up (I have never had gay sex, so what the hell do people think I'm doing?)... and people take what I say as gospel truth. I've had people complement me on my Go knowledge, and honestly, I wouldn't even know where to start. You can thank sensei's library for making me sound like I have a clue.

Now, I've seen a lot of debate on whether or not safe sex should be a feature of fanfic. I've seen tons of articles and wank involving the use of lube. I've seen god knows how many arguments over pregnancy, and the fangirl FIGHT FIGHT! over realism.

So, do I, as an author, have a duty to make sure my fic is as accurate as possible, since someone might take me too literally? Or... am I allowed to claim creative license?


Swimming with the Current