seriousfic: (www.Oracle.AAAAAAANGST)
So I got the first two discs of The Dresden Files from Netflix. There's the potential in the books for it to be the kind of lighthearted, fast-paced action show that we've been missing since Hercules and Xena went off the air, but the show is pretty lame. They've made a lot of Van Damme Changes. As you may know if you watched the mediocre Fantastic Four movie, for some reason the filmmakers decided to make the villainous Dr. Doom more "realistic" (read: dumbing him down and making him totally generic), to the point where he was basically a carbon copy of the Green Goblin except with an admittedly better costume. Just like how in Ultimate Fantastic Four, Von Doom became Van Damme and for some reason gained goat's legs. No, really.

EVERYTHING ABOUT THE DRESDEN FILES IS LIKE THAT. Well, okay, not quite everything... he uses a drumstick as a wand and a hockey stick as a staff so he can blend in (so instead of people thinking "there goes a guy with a wand and a staff, what a freak," they can think "there goes a guy carrying one drumstick and a hockey stick for no reason, what a freak"), which is a nice touch, but then you realize this is because of one of the, bar none, stupidest change I've ever seen in an adaptation.

Now, the premise of the Dresden Files, show and book, is that Harry Dresden is a wizard-for-hire. In the books, the wizarding world doesn't advertise itself and the rest of the human usually dismisses them because... oh, you've watched sci-fi, you know this one. But in the show, it's much more generic, with the wizards being forbidden from saying they're wizards. So it works like this.

Morgan: DON'T TELL ANYONE YOU'RE A WIZARD, HARRY!

Harry: KAY. *advertises himself as a wizard*

Morgan: LA LA LA LA!

Harry: *does magic in front of people*

Morgan: LA LA LA LA!

Murphy: So, Harry, what kind of magic killed this guy?

Morgan: OMG!

Harry: Uh, magic? What magic? No such thing.

Murphy: Then... why the fuck do I hire you?

Harry: ...LOL MAGIC!

Also, they changed Bob. No. Just... no.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Death Scene - This is where one character says to another "It's okay" until they stop being paid. Usually this number is twice, once to establish that it is, indeed, okay, again for bathos.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Strong Female Character - This is what fandom collectively ignores so that it can write about hot boys kissing.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
It may surprise you to know that everyone you speak to on LJ is in what ammounts to the 99th percentile. As female, fannish, slashers, they put the minor in vocal minority. The vast vast VAST majority of people do not watch a show and think "That was good, I think I'll write gay porn about it on the internets." This is why all those titles you see SQUEED about on Scans_Daily, like Blue Beetle and anything by Gail Simone, linger around the bottom of the sales chart while All-Star Batman & Robin rakes in the dough (the thought that Frank Miller brings in money that is then used to publish those less profitable books should not be mentioned in polite company unless you want a beating). Thus we have the force that stands in vivid counterpoint to the fanbase... the manbase.

The manbase is quite simply males aged 18 to 35, that oh-so-coveted demographic, who consume media. They're prized more highly than the female fanbase, and thus the target of eternal ire. Anything introduced to please the manbase is subject to the highest degree of scrutinity. For instance, the producers of Supernatural introduce two "hot" female characters every season in order to please male viewers, who are rumored to like breasts. This greatly offends the female fanbase of Supernatural, which finds having strong female characters on their screen to be completely anti-feminist as it takes attention away from the boys.

LOOK, I'm NOT in Supernatural fandom, don't ask ME!

The manbase has a vicious reputation of being homophobic and prejudiced, which keeps production teams from depicting the canonical gay text of McKay and Shepherd's relationship as they'd like to. Any suggestion that perhaps the production team intends for two male characters to be straight and not romantically interested in each other is, of course, ludicrous. (Note: I'm being sarcastic here, but this is literally true for Team Cardiff. So, FYI.)

The manbase is not to be confused with the general audience, which is usually their arch-nemesis. When fanboys wonder why Galactus has to be a fucking cloud instead of how Jack "God" Kirby intended him to be, it's so that Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer could appeal to the general audience. You'd think a better tactic would've been to make a movie that wasn't utterly mediocre, but that's why you're not a high-powered Hollywood executive. That, and you're not a Scientologist.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
”You actually go outside in these things?”
“Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?”


-Wolverine and Cyclops, X-Men (and yes, there are people who wanted Logan to wear yellow spandex)

Yellow spandex is the term I’m creating just now for anything that is widely accepted by the fanbase, but is too untenable for general audiences. Now, we can all agree there are things in comics that just don’t translate to film. Unfortunately, there generally tends to some (read: all) disagreement about what is yellow spandex and what is a vital component of a property’s appeal. According to fans, no comic book movie ever failed for being too faithful to the source.

For instance, in Batman Begins, after repeated exhortations to surrender, Ra’s Al Ghul persists in trying to slaughter millions. Batman lets him die with the badass one-liner “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you either,” allowing Ra’s to reap a karmic award and incidentally taking out the head of a terrorist organization that knew his secret identity.

In the comics, of course, Batman would rescue him. This commitment to the sanctity of life has both practical (it allows supervillains to keep coming back issue after issue) and dramatic (it allows for conflict between “the easy road” and Batman’s ethical stand) reasons. In the movie, though, it would make him look effing retarded.

Expect lots more yellow spandex discussions to pop off as Frank Miller’s radical reinvention of The Spirit approaches release, despite the fact that the last Spirit fan died in 1982. And if you weren’t born yesterday, you’ll probably remember a thousand and one yellow spandex comments on Heath Ledger’s Joker before we all kinda got used to him not sounding like Mark Hamill.
seriousfic: (Default)
It is generally agreed upon that having read and enjoyed a fic, it's just a good idea to leave feedback. It gives the author squee while helping them improve their weak points, it builds friendships within the community, and it's been scientifically proven to burn fat. Seeing as how fanfics are free, feedback becomes the currency of the realm, in addition to having the rather coolish feature of letting the author instanteously know how his or her work is appreciated.

But there are those who do not feedback. Banditos who travel from fic to fic, gorging themselves on prose and shipping, then departing without so much as a ":)". These renegades live outside of society, off the grid, invisible to fandom and totally unstoppable. They call themselves... Lurkers.



Now, we all lurk sometimes. And it's not like anyone should feel pressured to comment. A lot of the time, we just don't feel like commenting on a fic that isn't all that. But before we let ourselves off the hook so easily, let's remember that pretty much all of us are at least a little creative. Like respect, and gonorrhea, you've gotta give feedback to get feedback. Unless you're a BNF, but trust me, that only ends in tears.

There are almost as many types of lurkers as there are things to be lurked about. Here are a few.

The Shy Lurker - This is a majority. People who feel they have nothing to say about a fic that the author hasn't already heard, or who feel it would be impolite to point out flaws in the work of someone they barely know. What they don't realize is that the best way to make new friends is to comment on their fic.

The Harried Lurker - Again, this is most of us. We just want to spend our lunch break reading a one-shot, we don't have time to write an essay about how good it is. In fact, by the time we're called back to work, we've probably forgotten all about it. This lurker will find time to comment when he or she can, but unfortunately that's rare. If you are a Harried Lurker, try bookmarking or adding the fic to memories for later, so you can comment on it at leisure. Your author will appreciate having that week-old fic get new love and you'll get to enjoy a good fic all over again.

The Quality Lurker - The Quality Lurker is nice enough to leave comments whenever they enjoy a fic, but when they don't enjoy it, they do right by Bambi and decide not to say anything at all in lieu of something nice. Quite reasonable, only this can lead to a hurtful misunderstanding when you don't read something at all.

Author: Here's part one!

Commentor: I love it! Stupendous!

Author: Part two!

Commentor: Amazing! Genius!

Author: Part three!

Commentor: ...

Author: It wasn't that bad, was it?

Commentor: ::crickets chirping::

Author: H-hello? Oh God, it sucked, didn't it? I'LL NEVER WRITE AGAIN!!!

Commentor: What was that, I had my headphones on?

The Aggressive Lurker - A comparatively rare strain, the Aggressive Lurker enjoys an author's fics, but doesn't enjoy the author. So they read (and enjoy) the fic, but they don't leave a comment because that bastard author doesn't deserve to be told how good his or her fic is. It's basically the same principle as how, if you don't like the Foo Fighters as people, you can go into their concerts and listen to their music for free. They rate a solid 4.5 out of 10 on the Sardonic "Nice"-O-Meter.

The Zerg Lurker - Mutated and bred from the Hydralisk genus, the Lurker represents one of the deadliest strains found in the Zerg Swarm. These subterranean dwellers serve as defensive warriors for the core Hive Clust

Wait a minute...

::checks::



Frell. I suppose I'll have to jettison all this stuff about the Protoss.

The WIP Lurker - The WIP Lurker will read serial fics, but they only leave their comment at the end. Awww, dude, you're no fun! To cure yourself of this anti-fun, try speculating in the comments about what's going to happen in the next installment. To an author, this is like rubbing a dog's belly. Besides, you never know, you may prompt the author to have an idea to make the series even better.

The Mercenary Lurker - We've all been there. You read a fic from a big-time rec, then you notice it has sixty comments. Surely there's nothing you have to add, right? And they've got sixty freaking comments, while you've got a measly four. Yeah, dude, how 'bout you comment on my little indie film before I say how great your summer blockbuster is.

The important thing to remember is that no matter how big or small the author, no matter how you feel about him or her, good feedback is the polite thing to do. Some day you could be disliked by an Aggressive Lurker, or be big enough to be blown off by a Mercenary Lurker. But by giving good feedback, you perpetuate the great circle of squee. It's like the great circle of life, only with less farting warthogs.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Feedback is a vast and complicated thing, so we'll only cover two aspects of it today. The first is BNF Feedback.

BNFs are generally renowned for their skill in writing, drawing, vidding, or whatever sphere of fan activity they're in. Therefore, having them comment favorably on your work tends to elicit a feeling equivalent to, if you're a guy, Indiana Jones complimenting you on how rugged and manly you are, or if you're a girl, Brigitte Bardo mentioning how impressive your feminine mystique is (and/or that she wants to make out with you). Unfortunately, BNFs tend to form exclusively feedback-sharing cliques with other BNFs, who are in the best position to appreciate this feedback given that the only other comments they've gotten are twenty or thirty measly comments on how great they are. And maybe a dozen or so recs. And a free laptop. So there's not much equality in the realm of Small Name Fan/Big Name Fan comment-getting. As you can imagine, this tends to contribute to the perception of BNFs as evil skanks.


Not pictured: Obesity, virginity.

The second aspect of feedback we'll cover is the nitpick. The nitpick is a different thing than concrit. While concrit is often solicited ("Hey, would you like to know about all the stuff your fic did wrong?" "No thanks, I would just like to stay awake at night thinking about what I could've done wrong."), nitpick just comes out of nowhere. It's understandable. We're all fans, after all, and we're trained to notice when the text gets something wrong. But in our zeal to "help," we can forget that it's equally important to let people know what we liked about their work. As nice as it is to be able to fix a typo, it's much nicer to know, yes, the reader did pick up on that subtext and wants to lick it because it's so tasty and delish.

If you get a comment that's only nitpick, the proper response is to include a "smiley face" icon (of the SQUEE/GLEE variety) and say "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" This leads the commentator know (in a gentle, but firm fashion) that their concern must have been blown out of proportion to serve as the entirety of a comment, that it is seen as proper by the conventions as fannish society to include a "spoonful of sugar" (i.e. squee) with the "medicine" (i.e. concrit) to help it go down. Lastly, it also indicates that you are a clever and witty individual worthy of having sexual intercourse with several attractive parties of your preferred sex.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Despite what Alan Moore may want, just about everyone sees movies as the grand culmination of a work of fiction. Sure, it's great to have a best-selling novel or a TV show that runs for seven seasons, but what if it was on the silver screen with an A-list cast, a budget that ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars, a visionary directory, and a screenwriter we found working at Kinko's? And in live-action, no less. There's a reason fans were so much more impressed by a movie with a weirdly-voiced Batman and confusing action sequences than with a decade's worth of animated glory. And why no one wanted to see Justice League with Beowulf-style CGI rotoscoping (okay, no one wants to see Justice League anyway, but come on! Armey Hammer playing Batman? What the shit is that fuck?).

Comics are no different. Perhaps it's because cinema gives comics a sense of validity. While it would be embarrassing to hand someone a volume of Marvel Masterworks depicting Spider-Man's origin and his battles with the Green Goblin, you can plop them down in front of one of the Spider-Man movies and expose them to the Marvel universe without any shame! Unless it's Spider-Man 3.

Besides, it's always nice to be able to see the Hulk and the Abomination throwing cars at each other instead of just imagining it from some still pictures.

So, with so much energy devoted to movie adaptations, here are some key tropes to keep in mind.

1. Dream-Casting. So who's going to PLAY the superhero? Fans will get their hopes up about which superstar could assail the inner torment and staggering class of Dr. Doom (Gary Oldman? Daniel Day-Lewis? I SAID DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, SIR!), only to be inevitably disappointed when it turns out to be the guy from Nip/Tuck playing the Green Goblin with the powers of Colossus and Electro's ass-baby. The key thing to note here is that fans will usually cast based on looks rather than acting ability (or they'll just type-cast an actor into a certain archetype. Ryan Reynolds can play both Wally West and Deadpool!). When casting the Black Cat, though Elisha Cuthbert may look good in a leather catsuit with long white hair, her proud breasts nearly escaping from the confines of that partially-unzipped bodice, her pert ass encased in skintight vinyl, her long legs... where was I again? Something about how she can't act? I watched 24, you're gonna have to trust me on this, people.

2. Story outline. This can be as simple as a vague summary ("I want Kingpin and his men in the first one, then Bullseye in the second, and add Elektra into the third!") to a full-on fan script. But ask any comics fan worth his salt what they would like to see if TPTB filmed a trilogy about their favorite superhero and he'll probably bring out charts and poster mock-ups from the back of his car. This is where a lot of misconceptions about the movie industry come into play. Namely, that it exists to translate comics to film as if they were the Holy Writ. Hollywood doesn't even treat the Holy Writ like the Holy Writ. Imagine how "guy in red satin tights who beats people up" works.

First off, I've never heard about a trilogy being filmed back-to-back. Lately, there've been trilogy sequels filmed this way, but only when the first movie is a monumental success (The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean). Or not (Chronicles of Riddick, Jumper). Lord of the Rings was famously filmed all at once, but then it really doesn't work as one film and then maybe sequels, or two films and then maybe a sequel, or (God forbid) one film. That was quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event (just look at what it's taking to get The Hobbit off the ground, if you don't believe me). And that was Tolkien. Most comics aren't Tolkien. Debate amongst yourself whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I saw one guy who wanted to see a Flash trilogy with a new Flash each movie. First Jay Garrick, then Barry Allen, then Wally West. But the very point of the sequel is that the audience already likes the character. Think about what happened when Halloween 3 didn't have Michael Myers. Imagine how you'd feel if you went to see Indiana Jones 4 and it was about John Lee Hancock, played by Chris Rock, a wacky waiter who finds himself embroiled in a crazy hunt for archaelogical artifacts! If the audience sees the first film and likes it, they want more of the same. More Jack Sparrow, more Black Pearl, more adventure... with a careful rationing of new elements to make sure it's fresh. That's why the latter Friday the 13th films still revolve around Jason, but they all add shit like "he's fighting a psychic," or "he's going to New York," or "he's dead!" Well, he was dead to begin with, that's the problem.

Besides, Wally West could wipe the floor with all those other goobers. Why do you think DC killed Bart to get him back?

Truth in Television alert: The production team on Iron Man has made no secret about how they've planned for sequels, including Tony Stark's alcoholism and Rhodey becoming War Machine. How did us fans get so lucky? Well, it has to do with the fate of my firstborn son. Sorry, Junior, but IRON MAN BLOWS UP A TANK. My choice was clear.

3. Actual movie! The ever-popular pastime of getting excited about, nay-saying, and trying to find out about a movie that's actually in production (SQUEE!/THEY'RE GOING TO MESS IT UP!). This is rather self-explanatory.
seriousfic: (Default)
The single-character fan (also known as the single-pairing fan) is a fan who is focused on one character in his or her fandom, usually one that is part of an ensemble rather than a lead. Doesn't mean that this is the only character they like, but other and more popular characters tend to fall by the wayside where they're concerned. Much of this fan's fannish activities will be devoted to letting others know the glories of this one character (or pairing). They'll do posts of scans centering around the character, they'll write fanfics or draw fanarts about the character, they'll request this character in ficathons, they'll RP the character, they'll write essays on the character, they'll rec fics with the character in it, and so on. They also tend to quail when this character is mischaracterized, grind their teeth when this character is pwned in two seconds to establish how badass Supervillain G is, and write angry letters when this character is killed off. These are the people who see a cover with "their" character on it and immediately add it to the pull-list because, dude, it's Giganta! When is she not awesome?

Now, some of you might be getting the warning signs of "Uh-oh, looks like a cuckoo clocksetter," from my description. And while there are some fans who do take it a little far (look for the telltale "if this character were real, I'd marry him/her"... when no one's been talking about marriage), the single-character fan provides a valuable service to fandom at large by breaking out of the usual monochromity of popular characters and providing some variety, in the form of exposure to a lesser-known character. In short, they help enable the democratic side of fandom. Yeah, you go single-character fan, it's your birthday, go, go!

Examples would include [livejournal.com profile] bluefall with Wonder Woman, [livejournal.com profile] jen_in_japan with Batman/Superman (one of the cases where the character/pairing is popular, but the fan is still single-pairing), and myself with... well, guess. Come on, guess, it'll be fun!
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
A Coffee Table Character is currently an endangered species in comics canon. It usually has no book of its own, if in an ensemble then it's one of the less flashier members, and may even be seen as slightly embarrassing by some. But nonetheless, the CTC provides a valuable service in making a universe seem real instead of just a world of swaggering, posturing badasses who get lots of panel-time.

Coffee Table Characters are rarely used, but nonetheless fans often want them to be in canon even when nothing is being done with them... hence, they're much like a book on your coffee table. This is justified, however, as all it takes is one author to raise a CTC out of obscurity and have some fun with them. Lonar was a New God that most had never even heard of, until he starred in a genuinely fun story arc in Blue Beetle. Most of the JLI were CTCs in modern times, though fans felt nice knowing that there truly was a happy ending for them (this was before they were all pointlessly killed off). Characters like Wolverine, the Purple Man, Bullseye, the Kingpin, and so many others were just filling up space in your local Handbook of the Marvel Universe, until someone like Chris Claremont, Brian Michael Bendis, or Frank Miller plucked them from the annals of canon to turn into A-listers. It's simple. The more characters there are, even seemingly silly ones, the more stories that can be told.

However, both of the Big Two subscribe to the belief that killing CTCs (or C-listers, if you prefer) contributes urgency and suspense to the far-too-frequent Big Honkin' Events. That belief goes like this:

Superman: Oh my God, they killed Bouncing Boy!

Batman: You bastards!

Wonder Woman: If a man with the power to be really fat and bounce around could die, what hope do any of us have against this new menace?

You can see the problem. It's that deaths need us to care about the characters for them to work, and it's hard to care when it's obvious that TPTB don't care. So instead of the death being meaningful, the majority that doesn't care about the character... doesn't care, and the minority that does care about the character is pissed-off that their guy got burninated just to make the situation seem more dire. CTCs are at high risk of becoming a Cause Célèbre Character.

To understand a Cause Célèbre Character, you first must know that it's not uncommon for a character to be killed and then to have a groundswell of adoration descend upon them. DC was counting on this when they killed Superman. Recently, Blue Beetle, Captain America, the Peter/MJ marriage, and many others have received this adoration. A Cause Célèbre Character is when the adoration is not for the character, but for the minority status they have.

Most fen are straight, white, left-leaning women who are at least privileged enough to have a computer and access to the internet. As such, they are burdened with the socially requisite amount of white liberal guilt. A Cause Célèbre Character is born when these women decide it's easier to help a fictional minority then a real one.

For instance, a few years back Stephanie Brown was killed off. You may have heard of this. Inspired by her (fictional) sacrifice, an organization sprung up to fight (fictional) sexism in all its myriad (fictional) forms. Their main demand? That Stephanie Brown be given a memorial, the same as Batman's other dead sidekick Jason Todd. Ignoring, of course, that Jason Todd died over twenty years ago and his memorial was handled by what amounts to an entirely different company (they even changed the logo in the interim) and ignoring the fact that several other male members of the Batfamily had died in the intervening years and received no memorial, including in that same story! (Yeah, where's Orpheus's snowglobe?)

The organization quickly gained momentum as people joined up, not because they liked Stephanie Brown per se, but because they disliked sexism. So, finally, DC decided to give in and bring Stephanie Brown back. They even made an event out of it, giving lots of little teases about her appearance, focusing a lot of build-up on her, bringing Chuck Dixon (her creator) in to write her return, and even giving her a miniseries.

So, obviously, once she came back there was an avalanche of fic celebrating the return of this beloved character.

Errr…

Not so much. No.

Lately, they objected to the death of Orca. Don't know who Orca is? She's a villain that appeared in precisely one story arc. That's right, three issues. She must've made quite an impression for people to object to her death so strenuously. Well, not really, as the reason people cried foul on her death was... she was a full-figured, plus-size lady. Yeah, that's right, because the character was a fatass, people wanted her to stick around. And it makes sense, because Orca was really fat.

Orca was so fat when she stepped on the scale it said "To be continued." She was so fat, one time she wore a Goodyear hat and people mistook her for the blimp! She was so fat, when she laid around the house, she laid around the house, ya know what I'm sayin'? She was so fat, when she backed up, ya heard "Beep! Beep! Beep!" She was so fat, when she jogged, the Richter scale went "Hold up!" She was so fat, the Blob couldn't move her! She was so fat, when she cut her leg shaving, marshmallow fluff poured out! She was really, fucking, fat!

Other examples of Cause Célèbre Characters would (depending on who you ask… don’t flame me) the awesome Martha Jones, the antagonists in any sci-fi series with a species of Others (Cylons, Wrath, and I’m sure someone is planning a meta about how the Yuuzhan Vong are just misunderstood), and pretty much everyone on Heroes.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
There are three types of titles, all used by different sections of fandom.

BNFs use either Latin sayings that no one understands ("Ipso Facto Homo Sapiens-tay, a Harry/Draco story") or pretentious phrases that sound like they came from Robert Frost's junk drawer ("The weathered giant rests mightily atop the flaming hilltop, a four thousand word buttsecks epic!"). This is especially egregious in certain fandoms* ): "Gee, what should we call a series of war movies set in space, among the stars? Hey, how about Star Wars!" "Now let's write some fic about Obi-Wan and Anakin humping. Errr... 'All The Stars Gaze Down In The Splendor of Crimson Passion'!"

Comedians use puns, because they want potential readers to know that their humor-level is stuck at a sixth-grade level (see: crackfic).

The rest of us just use lame titles that may vaguely point in the direction of what the story's about, but are mostly just lame. I'm sorry, it's true. We suck. Well, I'm pretty awesome.

Corollary: Anytime you do come up with a good title that describes your story, isn't too pretentious, offers another layer of meaning to the plot, and perhaps cures AIDS, the story itself will be something you're not at all proud of. D'oh!
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
This simple equation, which if I remember my high school Cartesian right should indicate an upward slope (the M > 0 of Longfic?), is what I call the tendency of longfic to "fix" canon in more and more visible ways as the story progresses. This can be a bit hard to discern, as many longfic are written from the beginning with the knowledge that canon is going to be impacted, but the true Y = X + 1 process resembles something like this:

The writer starts out with a one-off. It strikes a chord with their readers, who demand a sequel. The writer obliges, slowly creating a series of one-shots which eventually generate their own canon... in layman's terms, an AU. As the story draws less and less upon official canon, and more and more on this specific fanon, the writer realizes he/she doesn't have to play by the canon rules. He or she starts changing things around. For instance, a story that started with the mere supposition that Spoiler is alive might make it so that Dinah left Ollie for Barbara, Kon came back to life, and so on. These events can be depicted in-fic or just left as part of the general background. The rubicon is crossed when the writer starts referring to this as the (noun)verse. For instance, potatoverse, spoilerverse, M&Mverse... whatever. Once that happens, the writer has officially declared independence from canon and can be as self-indulgent as she (and her readers) want.

As you might've guessed, for all its self-indulgence, this creation of AUs is a healthy and positive reaction to flawed canon (or just a lack of canon, in some cases), showcasing creativity instead of stereotypical fanwank ranting. Instead of saying "I don't want that!", it's saying "Here's what I want," which is a much more powerful statement.

Some examples: [livejournal.com profile] stalinglim's M&Mverse, [livejournal.com profile] merfilly's happy'verse (started with the Bats and the Arrows going to Thanksgiving dinner, now it has a ghostly Stephanie Brown bonded to Cass), [livejournal.com profile] teh_no's LifeonApokolipsverse (started as a vignette about how Scott Free met Big Barda on Apokolips, now it's about their unresolved sexual tension on Earth as they battle Darkseid), Claire's Journ-Elverse (started as a satirical journel Superman kept during Superman Returns, now it's about Clark's nuptials to Lois Lane), my own wonderverse (it started with Io mooning over Diana. Now it has Diana celebrating Earth Day by having a threesome with Donna and Kory, who are lovers. Take that, canon!)

Note that (noun)verse is not to be confused with pornverse, the most common AU in fandom, in which all sex-havers are above the age of consent and bisexual.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Fangirl Psychology is the study of the psychology of characters within a work of fiction. Obviously, it's much less complicated than real psychology. Anxieties can be traced to one defining moment in a character's childhood, psychological ills can be cured by simply "facing your demons," and so on. Apologies if this comes off as pejorative, but before you get offended, it's important to realize that Fangirl Psychology (or Fen Psychology, if you prefer) comes in three important stages.

Stage 1: Canon interpretation. This is the most common kind of Fangirl Psychology. Here, the fans delve into the show's subtext, the actors' performances, interviews with the cast and crew, and so on to form a picture of what motivates a character. Generally, they are not so much reinterpretating a character as "uncovering" him, attempting to get to the heart of the character through the many facets of multiple canon presentations. I.e., the question of whether Batman is mentally unhinged or merely sane with lots of issues.

Stage 2: Canon reinterpretation. This is still a step away from fanwank, although that step can often be removed. Still, this is a perfectly legitimate fandom activity, if a little more involved than Stage 1. Here, fen offer their own theories and interpretations for a character's actions in contrast to a show. They may "show their work" in a fic which depicts how the character would work if presented in a subtly different light, or even reject the show's canon to show their own, quote-unquote superior take on the character. This is especially prevalent in shows that have jumped the shark. I.e., a fan might theorize that Bruce Wayne wishes to die and be with his parents, so his career as Batman is presented in that light.

Stage 3: Canon disregard. The most likely stage to lead to fanwank, here is where canon and basic human nature is completely discarded in favor of what fangirls think is hot. Note that you can also find this in fanboy works, often where Wonder Woman delights in being impregnated and turned into a stripper or something against her will, but for now we'll stick with fangirls. This is where "bad" characters have their actions excused on the flimsiest of pretexts, and "good" characters are crucified for being mean to the baddies. It is also where the more oddball pairings are presented as forevah love. I.e., the villain has raped the hero's wife, killed the hero's son, burned the hero's house down, kicked the hero's dog, spat on the hero's Bible, and left a really negative comment on the hero's fanfic. The hero has defaced the villain's parents' grave, overthrown his empire, killed his mistress/assassin and taunted him about it, tarnished the villain's reputation, and downvoted the villain's YTMND.

Obviously, this is all a sign of their repressed homosexual attraction to each other.

You'll also find many chan pairings in this stage, as it turns out that Batman (who canonically harbors a special contempt for criminals who prey upon children) really just wants to enter into a mind-bogglingly unequal relationship with a thirteen-year-old boy.

As always, these stages often overlap and are frustratingly subjective. Some would say a story in which Buffy and Spike are in true love would be Stage 1 (canon), Stage 2 (fanon), or even Stage 3 (batshit), depending entirely upon the observer (and good arguments could be made for all three at that!). The best thing to do is try to recognize the warning signs for Stage 3 and "veer back on-course" to Stage 2. It'll save you no end of grief.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Those fans are what you are not and what people you dislike (and do not wish to be associated with) are

Basically, the general public has a less than positive but more or less accurate idea of fandom. Fandom helps this by confirming those stereotypes, but saying they're one of the good fans. There are various ways of labelling this conflict. "Nerds versus fanboys" (Y HELO THAR!), "true fans versus bad fans," "trekkers versus trekkies," and so on. The first thing these "good fans" do is codify the ways in which what they do is good and what others do is bad. As you might've guessed, Fandom Wank makes a living at this.

Shit rolls down hill here, with (near the top of the spectrum) the casual fan of Lost looking down at the "Lostie" that has played the online games and such to find out what the numbers mean. I'm sorry to say that writers of erotic fanfic are near the bottom of the spectrum, just a little ways above furries, looking down at writers of bad erotic fanfic. From there, fen look down at 'cest shippers, who look down at non-conners, who look down at channers, who look down at Hitler-slashers. As for the Hitler-slashers? They look down at channers, because Sie schreiben Geschichten! Über Haben des Geschlechtes! Mit Kindern!

As you might've guessed, I'm more of a fan of stopping all this talk of being good fans or bad fans and just being fans. All fandoms are created equal and just because someone ships soccer players, that doesn't make their OTP any less valid than McShep. And if someone takes a look at us, warts and all, that can make up their own damn minds about whether we're freaks or not, without Uncle Toms pandering to some whitebread notion of normalcy. Let's face it, life's more interesting when you're weird anyway. Insert overused metaphor of how sports fans are accepted, but sci-fi fans aren't here.

Although chan is a bit much, you must admit.
seriousfic: (Intellectually Serious Cat)
Faux-lashy – (pronounced “flashy”) Also known as “smarm” in The Sentinel fandom and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Slash” in my own imagination.

Say you clicked on a self-proclaimed gen story starring Cass and Steph. They weren’t marked as in a pairing and in fact Steph makes reference to being in a monogamous heterosexual relationship with Tim (I feel the need to specify heterosexual given the amount of times poor Timmy is genderswapped). And yet… Steph and Cass seem highly affectionate. They cuddle, they hug, they kiss, they have slumber parties with pillow fights, they rub lotion on each other, they practice kissing…

In short, faux-lashy is anything that makes you want to scroll up to the header to make sure you haven’t clicked a slash story by accident.

As a subjective trope, faux-lashiness can come about for many different reasons. Perhaps it’s unintentional, perhaps it comes from genficcers in denial about their slashy instincts. Perhaps while writing genfic, a shipper wants to pay homage to her OTP while not derailing the story with a full-on romance. Perhaps because of the context-is-for-the-weak mindset, slashers are used to writing men as interested in men, so when the time comes to write stories where they’re not interested, the slashiness shines through anyway. Or perhaps it comes from slashers trying to write in the style of canon and ending up with canon as they would like it to be – laden with slashy hints, even if the dudes never come right out and kiss each other.

Whatever the reason, faux-lashy writing can be disconcerting or even damaging to suspension of disbelief some times (when you click a friendship fic for two, well, men and suddenly find them practically writing love sonnets about their intense devotion to each other in utter contradiction of the way any Y-chromosome cowboy, let alone the character in question, would express feelings) or just plain cracky (after a couple thousand words of the Doctor trying to foil the Master’s evil plot, suddenly the text makes it sound as if they’re about to rip off each others’ clothes and Do It right there on the floor in front of their companions and henchmen. NO, NOT IN FRONT OF THE BRIGADIER!).

Canonically, Bruce and Clark were King and Queen of Faux-lashy in the Silver Age, but in recent years Starfire has gained and retained the title. For instance, Raven and Dick are having sex dreams about each other. So, after speechifying to Dick about the wonders of polygamy, Kory takes Raven to a tropical paradise where they nakedly bathe under a waterfall, frolic, cavort, and generally do everything short of make a dental dam.



And then they go home, where Kory “plays a joke” on Dick by having Raven kiss him. Although it still ends up with Dick and Kory getting it on while Raven watches and cries a single perfect tear. Aww, cheer up emo Rae. You can have sloppy seconds.

And that’s not even Kory’s main femslash pairing. You should see the things she gets up to with Donna. For the record, this panel? Could’ve gone a whole ‘nuther way, if Nightwing Annual 2 weren’t such a crapsack. But back on topic.

Sometimes faux-lash is cleverly disguised as pre-slash, and vice versa. For the record, in The Other Wife? That ain’t faux-lashy, it’s slashy waiting to happen. Oh yeah. Faux-lashiness can also happen between a heterosexual couple.

A small amount of what could be mistaken for “faux-lashiness” can be good for a story… even in a gen story, some well-placed emotional intimacy can turn a good fic into a great tearjerker. But like salt, usually a pinch will do and a pile will spoil. Too much glurge and the audience starts wondering what happened to the cool, understated, badass character they clicked through for and why anyone thought they would prefer to read about some sappy ballerina who cries at the drop of a hat and gives more hugs than a Care Bear. *koff* Spike *koff* Mylar *koff koff*

One thing a misguided faux-lasher might lose track of is that even with emotionally “open” characters, they will still often have a dark side, or at least a side they keep hidden. The Doctor may be easily excitable and squee about a plastic bag blowing in the wind, but that doesn’t mean he’ll say “Hi, these are my thoughts on yaoi Gallifrey” or be all that quick to accept a new companion (look at how long it took him to warm up to Martha, or how he rejected companionship in the latest Christmas Special). And no matter how much of a woobie you find Batman, what makes him a woobie is that his sentimentality is rare. I had to rewrite Change My World so that Batman didn’t glurge all over Dick a few minutes after reuniting with him.

Having someone declare undying love at the drop of a hat (or, worse yet, soulmate status) usually makes them seem like they have no idea what undying love is and they’re just easily infatuated. Making the characters, and thus the readers, fight for it is what makes the emotional arc satisfying.

Restraint, my fic-friends, exercise restraint and the world is your oyster!
seriousfic: (Default)
Female ejaculation is one of the three primary ways you can tell if a pornographic fic is written by a fanboy or a fangirl. The other two are the use of the word "ample" to describe bosoms and the fact that the author is writing about women instead of yaoi boys. Oh yeah, I went there.

In real life, female ejaculation is a rare phenomenon and fangirl-written works reflect this. However, when fanboys write fic, it happens all. The. Time. In enormous quantity. And it usually tastes great (because nothing is less erotic than being covered by vaginal fluid that tastes like cough syrup). Of course, in erotica everything bodywise tastes great. People are always kissing each other and going "ooh, strawberries, I love strawberries, we are teh soulmates!" Really now, have you ever kissed someone and thought strawberries? Maybe if they're wearing a lot of lip balm or they just brushed with some flavored toothpaste, but generally, no.

Perhaps it's because fanboys desire proof that women are having an orgasm, so they can't just write "OH GOD! OH GOD! I'M CUMMMMMMMMMMMMING!" There has to be physical evidence that not only has an orgasm taken place, but that it's been awesome (i.e., lots of ejaculate). Be careful about asking fanboys to explain this; they might ask you to explain mpreg.

Also, note that there's really no way to say "female ejaculate" erotically, so expect a lot of "honey" and "juices" and so on. That's par for the course, though. Men get a hundred words to describe their bits and tackle, but with women it's a thousand vulgar things like cunt and pussy. Have you ever tried to write a first-person Wonder Woman femslash fic in which Diana talks about Dinah's... money? It's impossible. I'm probably going to have to learn Greek, just so I don't break the mood.
seriousfic: (Default)
El Jay is, at present, the favored means for disseminating fanfic throughout the internets. However, of late fandom has been in contention with El Jay over three things.

1. El Jay is to customer service what Amy Winehouse is to sobriety.

2. El Jay likes to make money. Fandom does not like how they make money.

3. The following conversation:

Fandom: Why do you attempt to censor us? Do you not know we feel the stirring in our very souls to write? We can no more deny this impulse than we could turn a mighty river back in its tracks, or blind the stars in the sky.

El Jay: You write stories about having sex with children.

Fandom: Who are you to decide the subject matter of our artistic impulses? The Ancient Greeks admired the beauty of young men and my home room teacher says they were the greatest civilization on Earth. Is this the prudery of Bush's America, that open sexuality and freedom should give way to tyranny and oppression?

El Jay: You write stories about having sex with children!

Fandom: The Bard himself, William Shakespeare, wrote of those famous lovers Romeo and Juliet. But by today's standards, they're both underage! Why would you allow those timeless love sonnets and not my five thousand word PWP about Harry Potter being gang-raped by Death Eaters?

El Jay: YOU WRITE STORIES ABOUT HAVING SEX WITH CHILDREN!

Fandom: Oh, what cruel world this, that the small-minded have rein over what is done with their property simply because they own it! Alas, alark! See how poetry dies! See how freedom becomes a memory, a fluttering thing that flits from generation to generation in the hope of rebirth. And yet, like a phoenix from the ashes, it is destined to return. Return, I say! Return!

El Jay: YOU WRITE STORIES! ABOUT HAVING SEX! WITH CHILDREN!

Fandom: Have you no decency, sir? Have you, at last, no decency?
seriousfic: (Default)
Most fanfics are rom-coms with more sex, homosexuality, angst, or all of the above. And something that you may have noticed in rom-coms is the love triangle. Character A is in a relationship with Character B that, while nice, just doesn't fulfill her. Then she meets Character C, who has his name above the title, so he gets her motor running. Character B steps aside... but... the audience might not appreciate that a basically nice guy just got the shaft for no other reason than that he fell in love with the wrong girl. And the thought of the protagonists' happiness being based on someone else's sorrow is a little morbid. So there'll be a quick scene where Character B gets a consolation prize... like Character A's sidekick, who's liked him all along, or some nice girl he just met who is a much better match for him than Character A ever was, or something like that.

Now let us cast our eyes to olden times, young grasshopper. In the past... there was a thing called character-bashing. If your OTP wasn't possible because one half was involved in a relationship with someone else, that someone else would get the shit flamed out of them. Inexplicably, they'd turn into someone who'd make Mr. Darcy look like Tom Hanks. Thus the audience could feel good about them being dumped so that the writer's OTP could get together; in theory. In actuality, this left a lot of readers who protested the OOCness.

Time went by and slowly it was realized that this character-bashing was juvenile and often misogynistic. Now, fortunately in many canons the heroes are single and likely to remain that way for a while, sexual tension to the contrary. But in cases where two characters are deliriously happy together, and they're not the writer's OTP, it's still necessary to break them up for the sake of the fic. Generally, this happens in the past or the relationship never happened at all, cuz this is an AU. For instance, most Clark/Bruce doesn't feature Clark cheating on Lois.

But there still becomes the manner of what to do about these wayward lovers. If Dick and Roy are happy living in their San Francisco flat, does that mean Barbara Gordon must be unhappy? A-ha, not so! With the swap, Barbara is given a new lover. Could be Ted Kord, could be Dinah Lance, doesn't matter. Keep in mind this secondary pairing does not have to be shipped by the writer. It can be thrown in for political correctness, to appeal to other shippers, or just for crack. So if the author is feeling guilty about writing hot hot man-sex all the time and never paying any attention to lesbianism, she might casually have Dick and Roy meet with Barbara and Dinah for a double-date (I'd actually like to read that, given how likely it is that all involved have had sex with each other at least once. Awkward). Now, guess which couple the narrative is going to follow when they go back to the hotel room and give each other blowjobs? There's a hint in that last sentence in case you don't get it.

Keep in mind that the swap is not always called upon. The dumped partner can simply not be mentioned, because it's unlikely that any reader is going to be crabby enough to say "Hey, what about so-and-so!? How does she feel about her husband running off with another man?" And if they were, they'd be dog-piled for harshing people's squee. It's a pretty great system, once you get right down to it.
seriousfic: (Default)
Italics are more emphatic than their bombastic cousin, bolding, so they tend to get used more often in emotional fanfics. In action-oriented fics, you'd probably see bolding get more of a work-out, if there were any action-oriented fics on LJ. Italic use tends to fall into one of two categories.

1. Italics are used to indicate thoughts so much that it's second nature. If a reader sees italics, it's pretty safe to assume that it means someone's thinking. E.g., Scott snuck out at night to buy me a new Mega-Rod? Barda thought with a wondering expression. Does it have anything to do with our anniversary next month?

2. Italics are also used to indicate orgasm. My, that's a shift. But to avoid the gynocological aspects of intimacy, the generally unarousing stuff of "his big red cock ramrodded into her tight, wet pussy", italics are used to indicate rather than explicate sexiness. E.g., "his rough hands brushed over her pubic hair before settling right... there and pushed hardhardhard until her teeth fucking clenched" and so on and so forth because run-on sentences are also used to indicate orgasm. In effect, orgasms in fanfic are kinda like a cat running across your mental keyboard.

It's unknown how italics would express it if someone thought about having an orgasm, but the universe would probably collapse in on itself. So, don't do that.
seriousfic: (Default)
According to recent meta, fanfiction is a queer experience. After all, it's women writing stuff that then gets other women aroused. Thus the racy scene in the next Debbie Does Dallas movie in which Jenna Jameson and Asia Carrera co-write a McShep fic. Oh, you extend that metaphor all the way down, Jenna. Erase that typo hard, dirty girl. Parse her, parse her, parse her so hard it feels like you're splitting her infinitive!

Ahem.

So if fanfiction is sex, betas are the condoms. They let you have fun while stopping you from spreading your writerly STDs out into the general population, resulting in unattractive sores and evil overlords saying "kil tehm!" A good beta acts like a ribbed condom with boysenberry flavor... it works for her pleasure and it makes your balls smell like pie. A bad beta rips and causes an accident you have to put through college. Sorry you can't go to the prom, you're a teenage dad.

In case you're wondering, birth control pills are your word processor's spellcheck, although it feels more like the rhythm method when it comes to homophones.

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