darklyndsea: squitten (Default)

Mostly I'm talking about werewolf fics, but this applies to anything similar, where the characters get some sort of instincts relating to interpersonal relationships/society.

Have you noticed that, 99.9% of the time, they immediately start using the vocabulary of their new society--like in werewolf fic, they immediately call themselves a pack and the leader the Alpha. It's one thing if the characters are previously aware of this hierarchy or are given an introduction to the way things are run by somebody who previously knows/uses the vocabulary, but it's a completely different thing if they immediately, without any thought on the matter, start using the terminology without that introduction. I mean, yeah, if I got bit by a wolf and started having instinctual reactions to people, it wouldn't take me long to start calling people alphas and pack simply because that's the terminology I know, but it would still take me a while before I started to use them. Maybe just a few seconds, if it was fairly obvious what had happened, but I'd still start out fumbling for words to describe what my instincts were telling me. And I'm not unique--anybody would react the same way in that situation.

And, again, you have to consider the situation; if you want to skip the whole "learning about being a werewolf" stage (which could be good for a outsider "wow, you've changed completely and yet you don't seem to be freaking out at all" reaction), you can make it so that the instincts tell them everything they need to know, including the terminology.  But be smart about it.  If they're stumbling around in the dark, they're not going to automatically know the terminology.

darklyndsea: squitten (Default)
I've been watching The Mentalist lately, so here, meta:

The Mentalist is one of those classic stories with no possible good ending, or at least not much of a possibility of one.  Of course, seeing how it's on TV, I'm sure the producers won't ever let it have the terrible ending that it should have, but the only logical endings are bad.

Red John kills Jane (not likely at all, since he seems to like the games he plays with Jane)
Somebody other than Jane kills Red John.  Jane commits suicide.
Jane kills Red John, then either kills himself or continues with the CBI
  • nobody finds out--again, not likely, judging by Jane's personality.
  • Jane gets arrested & goes to prison
  • Jane gets arrested, but gets off somehow (self-defense, technicality, people covering for him); possibly a happy ending, but probably not if they cover for him
  • somebody in law enforcement shoots Jane because he's acting crazy, just killed a guy, and won't put down the knife; or because Jane forces it
  • one of Red John's people kills Jane
  • Red John kills him as he kills Red John
What really gets me about this show is that, even during the filler episodes, you can see Jane working towards his goal.  It seems like every episode he's testing and/or tempting the team, nudging them into a state of mind where they won't stop him from killing Red John.  And Lisbon and Cho, at least, know that it's all going to end badly (Rigsby and Van Pelt, maybe, maybe not), are expecting it to end badly (didn't Lisbon say, straight-out, that she thought that one day Jane would go too far and she'd be out of a job?), but they still go along with it.  (it amuses me horribly how Cho almost always says a very firm no to Jane's schemes and then the very next scene shows him carrying them out)
darklyndsea: squitten (Default)
I've noticed a pattern in the characters I like (with a few outliers): I like characters who are smart, sarcastic, and keep others at a distance.  I like characters who don't have all three characteristics; a few I like don't have any of them (or at least they don't in my headspace).  But those are the main three characteristics that make me like characters.

But the thing is, the characters I like are written out of character a lot.  I assume the writers see their behavior as a flaw to be fixed, because at least some of the time everything else about the fic's good.  I can buy a "becoming more warm and fuzzy" plot, but only if it's part of an epic, or because of some trauma.  If the story's not very long, and the character starts out acting nicer than they do in canon, I don't like it.  If I wanted to read characters like that, I'd be searching for fic with different characters.  I like House and McKay and Snape because they're not nice, and they hold all but a few at a distance, not because I want to see them cozy up to Random Character A without being forced into it.

And on a related note, I don't want to see everybody spilling their secrets.  Sure, for some characters it's in character to tell, but there aren't a lot of them.  I'll never buy the Stargate characters (except for the aliens, and even then it depends) telling people without being told to tell them by the higher-ups.  I won't buy Methos telling somebody he's known for five minutes that he's Methos and what that means.  I won't buy anybody doing one of those "this is everything that's ever happened to me" introductions, unless I get the feeling that the character thinks it's necessary (which would be...one-upmanship?  I can't think of any other reason).

Basically, the characters have established patterns of behavior, and we like or hate them because of that behavior.  If you're writing about a character, stick to their usual pattern of behavior or one that can be extrapolated from their usual pattern of behavior.  If you don't like the characters as they are, and absolutely must change them, at least include a warning that they're OOC.

darklyndsea: squitten (Default)
 Rather than writing an essay about the reasons fandoms like Narnia and Farscape (bizarrely less so with Stargate Atlantis, though you wouldn't expect it) tend to have depressing "back on Earth" fics written in them, I shall now link you to an XKCD strip: xkcd.com/693/

Meta: Recs

Mar. 7th, 2010 01:55 pm
darklyndsea: squitten (Default)
Lately I've been thinking about recs.  I don't actually read a lot of actual lists of recs (mostly because the way people describe recs to convince people to read them is completely useless to me), but Delicious, where I find a large chunk of the fic I read, functions in much the same way.  There are a few people who tag everything they read, but for the most part people only tag fic that they enjoy for whatever reason.  And since you can see the number of people who have tagged a particular URL, it works pretty well if you want to see what a lot of people like- an aggregated rec list, if you will.

Read more... )
darklyndsea: squitten (Default)
"Write what you know" is the most basic advice given to amateur writers for a reason.  When you write what you know, you have to do less research and are less likely to get things wrong, not to mention that it's far easier for those who are just getting their toes wet writing.  It's easier to come up with a plot when you're working with what you deal with in your everyday life because you know what's possible, and what's interesting to other people who are interested in the same things you are.

Writers writing what they know can lead to greater depth and quality.  For instance, when I read about people who are disabled, it's easy to see which writers know about being disabled from personal experience, and which ones merely think it makes a good plot point.  I can tell which writers have been/are in the military, when they're writing about the military.  It's not just trivia that makes the writers who know what they're talking about on an intimate level stand out.  You can throw trivia at me all day, and I'll know the difference between that and somebody who has experience, even if I myself have no experience with what you're writing about.  If you're an insurance adjuster writing about an insurance adjuster who has whacky adventures, you're going to have a more accurate perspective on that than somebody who googled it.  This doesn't mean you can't stretch yourself- if you were in a major earthquake in California, you can likely write convincingly about a major earthquake in the fictional world you've created.

When you write about subjects that you don't know, you run the risk of getting them wrong.  We've all watched movies that lay in our area of interest and got everything completely wrong- you think Hackers was anything near accurate in regards to computers or hacking?  When you write about subjects you do know, you get them right unless you deliberately decide to get them wrong.
darklyndsea: squitten (Default)
Writing is a weird process.  What works on one writing project will fail horribly on another.  Some pieces have to be plotted out scene by scene, or even paragraph by paragraph, and others only need for you to have a vague idea of the plotline.  Sure, individual writers tend more towards one end of the spectrum than the other, but even then there's variation by piece.  So writers- or at least writers who want to improve their writing and finish their works- have to continually expand their toolbox of ways to work with a story from the first idea to the last revision.  Sometimes pieces beg to be worked out with a mindmap, or on index cards, or via pictograms on a dry-erase board, whether the writer has worked with that method before or not.

...Which is actually completely off-topic from what I was planning to say in this post, although it's something I do want to say..  Take 2.

Writing is a weird process.  To a certain extent you always have to think about backstory- whether that's a completely original backstory or one which is partially created already (unless you're writing Truman Show fanfiction, and you live in the world where the Truman show is actually real, there will always be gaps...now I want some Truman Show fanfiction from that world).  But thinking about backstory can go two ways (or probably more, but two main ways).  The first being it's predictable backstory, at least to you the writer.  You start thinking about the past of the characters and you don't have any times where you're surprised or shocked at it.  The other way it can go is, you're thinking about their backgrounds and some of the details make you stop and wonder how in the world that got to be canon for the verse you're writing in.  It feels right, but it's unexpected.


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