Tag Archives: fanfiction

In which I am doing a “Dear Diary” thing

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Which really is a fancy way of saying I’ve managed to hit new lows on the whole how-to-human thing and this will result either in a breakdown of some sort (I suspect it will involve plenty of walking in the cold and/or cooking) or in a spectacularly bad piece of writing (even by my own standards). Funny thing is, if I’m to be 100% honest here, for once it’s not entirely my fault! Cold comfort but hey!

So how did I manage to dig myself even deeper in my hole? It started when, after months of nagging from certain parties, I finally joined Tumblr. For obvious reasons I will not be linking THAT account with this one. Ever. For those who don’t know why that is obvious, let me sum it up with two gifs:

This is me excited about my fandoms and wanting to talk about it with someone: running-around

And this is most people I am on regular speaking terms with:

really

Btw, Dean you are not fooling anyone! (But that’s beside the point….)

Well, not everyone and not all the time but often enough that I figured joining a platform that’s famous for it’s geeking out on any and all subjects might be in order. There seems to be this misconception that storytelling is confined entirely to the literary medium, that other modes of expression are somehow….less everything. Less valid, less important, less worth your time…. But I love storytelling in all its forms and expressions, good or bad, thought through or impulsive. And no, not like this jackass:

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For me a novel, a TV show, a movie or even a song stand on the same ground. But so does fanfiction and fanart and all those little head-canons that are the inevitable results of late night conversations with those friends that also get it. And this is where I’ll go all academic on you, but dammit it used to be that oral storytelling was just as important (if not more) as its written counterpart! Has anyone paused to consider that maybe, just maybe, in our digital age, the explosion of expression that is summed up as “geeking” or “fangirling” is the natural evolution of oral storytelling. We study mythology and folklore, always with the caveat that this is merely one expression (the transcribed one that is) of a story that has been reworked no one knows how many times. Be it memory deficiency, adapting it to different audiences or even tailoring it to the storyteller’s personal beliefs, so long as the heart of each story stayed true it remained current and loved. And you cannot convince me that there has never been a skald or a bard or a minstrel that’s been booed to silence because he messed up a beloved story. Want a more recent example? How about the recent explosion over Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and whether or not it stayed true to the source material? Or the changes made in adaption from book to movie for the Percy Jackson trilogy or even the Hobbit? We love our fandoms because they are our generation’s mythologies, so it stands to reason that we’d want to talk about them and defend them.

This little rant out of the way, you’d think, since I feel so passionate about the subject, that Tumblr would be a virtual paradise for me. In some ways it is. So much more material for me to access on all my interests. People with the same likes just as eager to talk about them. I don’t have to hold myself or my enthusiasm back, at all! It’s like the first day in a new school all over again! Which, for someone who makes this awkward nugget…

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…look well adjusted  on her worse days, is not the best of scenarios. I didn’t think it’d be possible to get tongue-tied writing anything other than covering letters (which I’m blaming on whoever is currently taking credit for bureaucracy) but it has actually happened! I read once that people who cover their mouth when they smile, usually, have been repeatedly told that they don’t have a nice smile/white enough teeth/something else equally stupid. By that logic, being told too often that being passionate about something and eager to share it is wrong/boring/irrelevant/immature (and yes, I’ve heard all these, most often followed by or preempted by “What are you up to these days”), will eventually lead you to hesitate sharing anything. Even in an environment where you know it is safe, nay welcomed to do so. I guess it goes hand-in-hand with my eternal question “how do you make friends?” but when I have to stop myself from typing “sorry for bothering you” when I am giving an episode reaction/recap to a friend even after being expressively told that it’s cool…well…. There’s a reason I tend to identify with the socially awkward and/or antisocial characters.

What am I gonna do about it? Most likely take it in stages, move at a glacial pace and hope for the best. The whole social-butterfly boat sailed but when I was five but maybe I’ll find a few more quiet, screaming-inside people and we can apologise and share fun facts to each other like the world’s weirdest game of Chinese whispers?

This is a fangirl post about Dr Strange

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And there will be SPOILERS! You have been warned! I finally watched it amidst a horrible cold that left me with the mother of all scratchy throats and slightly feverish. It was all very much worth it in the end!

I’m not gonna lie and say I haven’t been twitching impatiently about this movie since it was first announced on the rota. I’m not gonna lie and say I did not love the posters. I’m definitely not gonna lie and say that when this scene played on the trailer I didn’t cheer.

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για dr strange trailer screenshot

-looks around- Ok, I think this is enough to hide the spoilers from showing up on any thumbnail-sized previews or whatever. Now on to the proper stuff. My only actual contact with the character before this was the (admittedly meh) animated movie which -ironically- handled the exact same storyline. So basically going in on the theatre I knew the bare minimum about the character, that this was an origin story and that they had shamelessly whitewashed the Ancient One. I had this pipe dream of seeing him being played by Mako but unfortunately the film was made a few years too late. But let’s be real here. Uncle Iroh mentoring Dr Strange to the mystic arts would have been a gift. Not that Swindon was not badass on the role, just a pet peeve of mine I suppose. The character of Steven Strange (Doctor! Must not forget the title!) initially reminded me a little of Sherlock but I’ll have to rewatch the movie (what a tragedy, indeed!) to tell if that was character bleed or just me being used to seeing Benedict Cumberbatch as a detective. Although, with Martin Freeman officially on the MCU boat I am hoping for at least a reference joke at some point!

Other than any hypothetical character confusion, I liked Strange’s character. His arc was believable as a man of science thrust head-deep to the mystical and I liked that he kept his pragmatism and flexibility of morals (not sure if that’s the right word choice but there’s a French film playing in the background here and it’s hella distracting). The majority of characters were believable in the portrayals, except for Mordo’s Heel-Faced Turn in the end was a tad (ok, a lot!) out of nowhere. Especially accounting for the end-credit scene… I liked that the romance, what little was there, was not the central focus, and honestly I see these two more as friends than lovers. Also anyone who can receive surgical instruction by the astral projection of her patient without having a full-blown panic attack is a person worthy of admiration in my book.

Speaking of side characters that are full of win, I’d like to spotlight the Cape. Not only it looks awesome and it makes you fly but that thing has an attitude. And seems to be insanely protective of its owner. I’m really curious to learn who was its creator, but my money’s on Merlin. He just seems to be the type to enchant the leaving daylights out of a piece of fabric…. Favourite scene had to be after the Ancient One dies at the Hospital where it looks like the poor thing was actually trying to comfort him!

I’ll leave the discussion of special effects and the like to those who can offer more feedback than “That looked cool!” In my case they were, indeed, cool. And surprisingly not-migraine-inducing. Unlike Inception that my brother likened the film to. I resent the comparison! Leonardo diCaprio wasn’t nearly as charming! (My personal opinion, I don’t why I don’t like that guy but I just can’t!) Anyway, what else is there to talk about? The Cameo was awesome as usual, definitely top 5-worthy, and the mid-credits scene, oh the mid-credits scene!

—quick author’s note: I nearly fell off my keyboard from sleepiness at that point last night so I’m continuing now—

Now where was I? Oh yes, the mid-credits scene! The internet is already going on and on about a potential bromance between Dr Strange and Thor, and yes their chemistry was pretty cool. But here’s what I want to see:

My though favourite British actors (and Marvel characters), together, on screen, in character, snarking about their more hit-first-ask-later companions or geeking over some spell or other. The Avengers -Thor included- in a corner in various stages of shock because this is their supposed archnemesis and he’s conjuring floating cups of tea and talking multidimentional travel and the fine details of spellcraft with their newest member like it’s last night’s football match. And then Tony is like, “Screw this, I’m curious” and jumps in the conversation and next thing you know they need to be convinced that lightsabers are probably not a good idea against Thanos.

Anyone know any fics like this or do I need to dust my typewriter?

In which I get technical

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Bare with me for this one, my inner Lit student has been acting up lately. (It’s all those school-related advertisements.) I would also like to issue a warning to those of you reading my Twilight of the Spirit World story. This post is about Lia’s character so yes, there will be spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum but if you don’t like them you might want to stop when you reach about halfway down the post.

As with most characters I’ve written (at least the central ones) Lia started as pretty much a self-insert. Big shocker, I know. While I was working on her character, before I even started writing Spirit of Fire, she began deviating more and more from, well, me and became her own person so to speak. By the time I had finished the first few  chapters the only things we had in common was our tempers and love for all things fiery (just ask my mother; if I could climb inside the fireplace, you bet I would!). Initially I didn’t mean for her to become instrumental to the plot. She was more of a plot device for pushing Zuko towards the direction I wanted him, which is why her background remained very sketchy in the first chapters. That changed by the time Past of  a Spirit rolled around since I couldn’t really justify her attachment to Zuko without going into her past and actually giving a reason. In retrospect the reason was a little contrived but hey, at least it was less cliche than the “reincarnated lovers” trope, which, for the record, was NEVER an option in my mind.

Nevertheless, Lia remained a mentor-type character through the first two parts of Spirit of Fire, since I still wanted to focus on the human characters (I was still figuring out how to juggle multiple storylines). So what changed in the third part? For one I had taken a break from the story in real life due to  schoolwork. When I returned to it with fresh ideas I realised that if I wanted this to be an alternate version of  the canon show I needed to  devote equal attention to all characters (because let’s face it, Bryke developed all the recurring characters, not just the main group). Besides I had gone over my fear making the story about Lia and was confident I could include her more without disrupting the flow  of the plot. Hence Lia suddenly getting more “screentime” not just in the actual story but also in the background notes I was making at the time. You have no  idea how many versions the dual Fire Spirit subplot had before I wrote it… Inevitably, this led to  more and more of the past being hinted at. I toyed with the idea of exploring it within the canon timeline but couldn’t quite fit it in. So instead of doing a detour, I decided to leave it to hints that would eventually culminated to an original sequel (way before Korra was released).

The relationship  between Lia and Agni was actually the last piece of the mosaic to be added. It went from mortal enemies to enemies due to circumstances to the mentor-turns-evil trope and eventually resulted in their love-hate thing. These two take the “It’s complicated”  to a whole new level, partially because I wasn’t certain if I wanted Lia to become a love interest character in the sequel or leave the potential open. In Agni’s case (mostly because he only appears in the end) I could get away with leaving it open-ended. The I wrote Love Song Requiem and any chance for ambiguity on his part was blown away…

SPOILERS STARTING RIGHT ABOUT NOW!

I’ve often noticed that  in stories structured in three parts (see original Star Wars etc.) the first part is usually devoted to the plucky, star-eyed young protagonist going on his/her first quest, the second tends to be the dark, gritty, things-go-to-Hell part and the last is usually the resolution. In Lia’s case it sorta goes like this although (funnily enough) I  didn’t realise it at the time. In Spirit of Fire Lia is the eldest in the gaang both in actual age and apparent age, meaning that she not only acts as mentor to Zuko at first and the entire group later but also that she is held a little apart because she is more experienced than them. It’s usually not very highlighted, which is why when she actually uses her powers to their full extent it is met with shock from the group. Regardless, and because in part of the almost road-trip like story, she is essentially one of the kids. Had this been set in the real world, she’d probably be the cool older sister who’s at university and owns a car.

This  had to change at the sequel. The gaang is all grown up to begin with, with Aang and Toph (who are the youngest) being sixteena and the rest being in the early twenties. Lia is on a more equal ground to them and that is why when more of her past is revealed one way or another, it is not  in the form of private musings. It also meant that I  could have the freedom to move her from a mentor-character to someone who can make mistakes and that is why she perhaps appears younger. Spirit of Fire was in part written from the POV of Zuko and the others and their perception of Lia affected the tone of her scenes. Not anymore in Twilight of the Spirit World.

Lia is in part at war with herself in Twilight of the Spirit World. She is old and experienced enough to be able to compartmentalize her experiences but, due to her passionate nature she cannot “forgive and forget” both her own mistakes and those of others (namely Agni). Moreover, her ability to see visions of the future haunts her. What was a help before is now a hindrance as the recurring vision of the final battle makes her more and more paranoid. One might say that Twilight of the Spirit World is her self-discovery or at least self-healing story. And yes, there is romance involved but not at a central focus. After all I couldn’t leave unresolved feelings of any kind hanging again…

SPOILERS ENDING!

You could say Lia grew up with me… I first came up with her when I was fifteen and now that I am twenty-two I am still developing her, seeing her from different perspectives and learning how to put them to words. It’s a process I go through with every character I invent, which is why I have had stories in the back-burner for years and they will remain there until I am confident in my understanding of their characters and worlds to actually put on paper. It’s a long and arduous experience but let me tell you, I’ve learnt more about myself through them than through anything else. After all, they are reflections of me at different stages and for a person who cannot draw or has the patience to take pictures, this is invaluable.

In which I talk fandom again

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It’s been a while since I’ve done this, hasn’t it? Just ramble about things that I like. Not anymore! So what’s up fandom-wise on my little corner of the world. Some old things, some new things, some unreleased things….Gods, I hate it when I find a cool trailer for something that is not even out yet! The trailer in question? This little nugget:

I am soooo pumped for this one! Maybe they will make Good Omens next! A girl can hope. And that’s not the only thing I am E.X.C.I.T.E.D. about. There’s Inside Out, Macbeth, Crimson Peak, Doctor Strange… Am I all over the place? Yes. Do I care? No!

I also finally listened to Cabin Pressure and wasn’t that a revelation! I’ve been meaning to give it a try for the past couple of years but couldn’t seem to find it anywhere. So I went ahead, took the plunge and bought the complete show in CD format. Did not regret it, I tell you.

And finally I’ve been revisiting one of my most loved shows from my childhood and early teenage years: Yu-Gi-Oh! I’m not even kidding. I’ve seen the show, I’ve read the manga, I’ve laughed with the parodies, I’ve browsed through Gigabytes’ worth of fanart and fics and videos. This was the show that actually inspired me to start writing in a more structured manner rather than winging it and hoping the end result would be coherent. (That was more the mange, mind, where there was a lot better build up than the anime…) So if you like my prose now you know who to be thankful to. I could go on and on about why I like this (very cheesy if you’ve watched the 4Kids’d version) show and maybe I will at some point in the future. For now though I will just sign off. And remember!

In which I ponder shipping

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A while back I wrote a post in defence of fanfiction. You might want to consider this one the whacky sequel. You see, shipping and fanfiction go hand-in-hand. And yet we don’t really pause to consider what compels us to assume that two characters would be a match made in Heaven? Is it that we see ourselves as one of the characters and want to give them the happy (aka perfect) relationship we might lack in real life. Is it that we believe that such a relationship would be beneficial to their character development? Is it plain and simple fanservice? Something else? All of the above? For me it would be all of the above. I have shipped characters because the relationship I saw developing between them was one I would like to experience in real life. I have shipped characters because I considered a romantic relationship between them an inevitable conclusion (coughAvatarcough). And yes, I have used the justification “But they look ADORABLE together!”. Fan wars aside, one of the cardinal rules of shipping is that if you can think about it, then someone out there is probably shipping it. (Of course that implies the existence of some rather disturbing pairings, but when you’ve hung out Fanfiction.net for as long as I have you learn to ignore them. Besides, I’m told Tumblr is scarier.)

Immature as it might be, I love shipping. I enjoy mapping out character interactions in general (which is why I cannot abide movies/series/books with more gunfire than dialog) but there is something about romance and the Molotov cocktail of contradicting emotions it causes that opens up so many possibilities. You know that scene in Moulin Rouge where they describe the premise behind El Tango de Roxanne? Yup, that at least partially sums things up for me. Even when considered through the cold lenses of science love is the product of a chemical instability. Well, to me, instability = chaos and chaos = interesting plot points. Why are romantic subplots casually inserted? Because it is an easy way to provide conflict and thus get the story going with new momentum if you hit a lull.

But I’m moving away from my topic: why ship? It’s easy if the pairing you support is considered cannon. Your actions then can be seen as building up to pre-established events. Heck! Implied pairings (you know the drill: long, longing looks, more shared screen time than what might be the norm, use of tropes usually reserved for romantic interactions…) get more respect than fan-made pairings. Fannon is what receives the heaviest fire. After all, if Word of God says two people are meant to be together, then who are you, the lowly fan, to say otherwise. Um…a fan? Besides, how often did you see a canon pairing and went “THE HECK?” I remember the first time I watched Big Bang Theory. It was a Season Two episode, I think, and I basically walked in on a scene between Penny and Sheldon. Something about their interaction immediately filed them under established pairing/will-they-won’t-they-situation. Imagine my disbelief when my brother, who had been watching the show for a while, informed me that Penny ends up with Leonard. I’ve watched the show on and off and I’m sorry, I don’t care what Word of God says, I stick by my initial assessment.

Romance has a different meaning for everyone. We carry over our experiences, our dreams, our expectations, and we project them on the characters. In a way (if you are not scared of giving your psyche an honest look) shipping helps clearing up what we do and don’t want out of a relationship. Granted, it’s also fun to speculate, especially in much-loved shows, but when it comes down to it even the most mindless of activities can teach us something if we actually bother to think it through.

In which I consider fanfiction

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Went to watch the Imitation Game last night with a few friends. While we were waiting for the movie to start we got talking about fanfiction and how there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground on it. You either love it or hate it. (Conversely, there is also only very good or very bad fanfiction.) I’m a fanfic writer myself, so I think it’s rather obvious with which side I’m marching but it got me thinking. Why is it that people hate fanfiction? A quick google search yielded this result.  Yes, I bookmarked it on my laptop. Yes, I will be printing it out and checking out at least some of the books mentioned if only for solidarity’s sake.

I suppose people look down at fanfiction because of its fantasy-fulfilment element. I mean, the concept at its most basic is: How do I get these characters I love and place them in a different scenario? What would happen? How would they react? Writing good fanfiction is hard. Sure you already have established characters and backstories and in-universe rules (unless you go down the AU rabbit hole). Looks like the only thing you need is an original plotline, right? WRONG! Trust me when I say there is nothing harder than twisting a pre-existing scenario to fit your own ideas. That is, assuming you have any respect for the source material. And I include AUs on this generalisation. The best AUs out there are the ones that manage to subtly reference the original. It doesn’t have to be a big, neon-bright sign. But it needs to be there.

Although it is probably incredibly narcissistic of me, I will use my own fanfic as an example. I started writing it when I was fifteen. Why? Because I had just finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and was raging about the end pairings. Not a noble motivation, I know. But it got me thinking. Was there a way to change that without completely disrupting the flow of the original storyline? I read a lot of fanfiction (some good, some bad, some atrocious), rewatched the episodes most of them seemed to focus on an insane amount of times and pulled the Literature card. What is the Literature card, you ask? I did what every Literature student has done at some point: took something that was not a piece of literature and analysed the living, breathing daylights out of it like it would be my main coursework assignment. you can read a revised version of the result every Monday.

I had never written anything that long before. There had been short stories and bad poetry (and a couple of attempts at novels). I didn’t know how to go about shifting character motivations without completely giving them a retcon. So I used a proxy, an OC character, someone who could interact with the canon characters from the point of view of an outsider (there’s a reason why she is older and not-mortal) but at the same time be bound by the same rules as them, thus being assimilated to the story. Did I succeed? I like to think, yes. It took a lot of work, a lot of scraped scenarios, dialog scenes, characters that might have been included but weren’t. I didn’t want a whole new Avatar story, that had nothing to do with the original. (That’s why we have this cinematic nightmare…) I just wanted a small change in the last couple of scenes. Why didn’t I write just those scenes differently? Because unless you want utter fluff or PWP (no judging, they’re good in their own right), then you need to provide backstory. Let’s be rational: the whole hero-gets-the-girl concept is not only tired, it’s also more often than not downright contrived.

Of course this doesn’t always work out quite the way you thought it would. For every good fanfic there will be three following a similar vein but being downright atrocious. And you know what? I’m okay with it. Yes, I will my eyes and skip them when I’m looking for something to read. But that’s the beauty of fanfiction: that anyone, anyone, who loves a story can make it their own, show their understanding of how that world works and what the characters motivations are. There always be flops, coughTwilightcough50ShadesofGreycough, but there will also be beautiful pieces of work like Wide Sargasso Sea, the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (yes, I went THERE), Mists of Avalon and Euripides’ Helen.

So love it or hate, write it or read it, it’s up to you. Just please, for the love of all that you believe in, stay away from the Mary-Sues.

 

P.S. And go see the Imitation Game! It was AWESOME!