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Going back, today, to revise a story I’ve been let marinate for a while, I find that there’s only one section I need to heavily revise, at this point, and that section is the paragraph of sex.  I wrote the paragraph during one of those phases of “just get the thing done and on paper and fix it later”, so this is not entirely surprising.  What catches my attention is exactly what needs to be fixed.

All the action is there.  All the physical details are just the way I want them to be. And it’s really boring.

What’s missing is the meaning. This section has nothing at all about what the experience, the sensation, the action means to my pov character. And this, it comes to me all over again, is why writing sex is just like writing tennis or swordfights or any other kind of action.  All action, in print, has to mean something.

I’ve had people ask, before, if I’m just using the porn as something to hang the characterization and inter-character development on, why use porn so often? And, looking at the kind of meaning I’m starting to layer into the scene I’m revising, I think I have at least one answer (in addition to a) why not? and b) it gets attention).  It’s because porn can happen anywhere.  To get my characters to the kind of realizations I need, for the story to wrap up nicely, I need them to be in a charged exchange, one in which physical action and emotional meaning can resonate, and sex is a lot more flexible to set than tennis.

Today’s writing epiphany brought to you by the letter F and the number 2.

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(Note: this is a preliminary skim of the subject.  For the full account, after research, see this entry.)

This will make more sense later, after I post an actual review of Shounen Onmyouji, which everyone, incidentally, should go watch. Right now.

For now, though, research results and links (which may help for YnM, too).

The Juuni Shinshou (Twelve Heavenly Generals) are Buddhist and come to Japan from India via China. They are, variously, known as yaksha (nature spirits), devas (warrior spirits/gods-of-a-minor-sort), and tenbu (Japanese take on Devas). They are initially associated with Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha, and healing.

However, twelve being a popular number in Buddhism, they have become associated and overlapped with the twelve cycles of time (hours of the day, years in a cycle, etc.) and the twelve animals associated therewith. These are the animals commonly known in the West as the Chinese zodiac (see also Fruits Basket). (Maybe. See eta.)

Because the animals have elemental associations from the Taoist system (which is different from the Buddhist elements but quite similar to Shinto, oh god don’t get me started on the elements), the twelve generals have picked up elemental associations to go with their animal associations.

Important! These associations are variable! There are several variations on which animals go with which generals. Which elements go with which animals varies on a larger cycle of years as well as each having a fixed element and a base association with yin or yang, and, when filtered through the creative license of anime/manga, the whole thing gets… complicated.

In any case, it appears that the zodiac filter is how the yaksha Sanchira, for example, becomes the Serpent of Destructive Fire. Certainly the personalities given to the characters in both SO and YnM have some good matches with the zodiac personality readings.

Where the particular names come from, apart from the elemental constellation names given to the strongest animal in each element (Dragon becomes Seiryuu, Horse becomes Suzaku, etc.), I’m still trying to figure out. Similarly how the notion was arrived at that Abe no Seimei’s generic plethora of shikigami should correlate with the Juuni Shinshou in particular. I have, as yet, found no source explaining that that is not clearly contaminated.

ETA: I have also come across some indications that the twelve guardians of the Medicine Buddha and the twelve elemental/time figures are, in fact, separate groups that have been confused because of the similar translation of their titles: 神 in the first place and 天 in the second, so that it might be more precise to say the Twelve Divine Generals and the Twelve Heavenly Generals, respectively. Results of this line of inquiry will appear in a later post, if it comes to anything.

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I was probably asking for trouble, when I started considering all the ways in which Echizen does not, as initially indicated by the early story, seem to find a tennis that is not a copy of Nanjirou’s. Now my Echizen-muse is insisting that I figure out what his own tennis would look like and write it.

Incidentally, spoilers ahead.

So let us meditate on this. The last reference point we have in the original “become not-Nanjirou” trajectory is the Regional finals. There we see a move of Echizen’s own invention, Cool Drive. It’s a move born of necessity, of needing to get up high enough to smash back a ball with the right spin and of figuring out exactly how to do that, however it takes–by climbing the referee, in the event. This move comes after Echizen has already pretty much burned himself out of muga no kyouchi, and it is, as Sanada notes after, a gamble. Using it gives Echizen an even chance of returning a shot he has no other way of getting, and he takes it without hesitation.

And then, of course, the story shears off into Nationals and the internal AU and focuses on muga’s “three doors”. And Echizen achieves the third, which no one but Nanjirou previously had, and thereby alters the progression of his skill from “finding himself” to “finding True Tennis is his father’s footsteps”.

Bah, I say; that isn’t nearly as interesting. Let us, therefore, take muga in its initial, less fantasy-esque, application, as a state of heightened awareness or response and leave it at that. What interests me more are the implications of Cool Drive.

For one, developing it shows that Echizen has started thinking in terms of evolving his own game. That’s a major hurdle right there, and indicates to me that he’s already reached beyond simply perfecting and reflecting back everything Nanjirou does to actively striving to find new ways to do things for himself. The alphabet drives in general show that, and the way we see him working on Cool Drive shows the importance he’s started to give the project (before Konomi lost his mind, anyway).

For another, the shape of the move shows something about Echizen’s approach. He doesn’t bother with conventional wisdom, which might be to work on strengthening his legs enough to jump for the height required. He also doesn’t choose to cultivate the strengths of his own body type, which might result in working on his ground speed to catch high shots when they come down and apply a different spin on return. Instead he takes all shots head on, and finds a way to meet and return them directly. And then he takes that way despite it being a risk and a gamble.

From this I take the conclusion that Echizen’s tennis doesn’t have a reverse gear. It doesn’t even really have brakes. He will just keep moving forward, believing that the skill and strength he has will find a way, and taking whatever way presents itself.

Really, it’s no wonder he does so well at Seigaku.

Echizen throws himself into the breach. Translated into actual martial arts, I might say that his style is purely aggressive, moving straight in and directly blocking rather than diverting or avoiding counterstrikes. He’s a stubborn little cuss.

So, for all his penchant for adopting everyone else’s moves, I don’t think he will ever use things like the Tezuka Zone or Fuji’s Triple (and counting) Counters very much. They’re not his own style. And, as he moves away from copying his father, I think the modality of copying in general may become a secondary rather than a primary tool for him. I don’t doubt he’ll use whatever move he knows that will do the job to win whatever game he’s in. But his own game, the moves he develops on his own, those I think will mostly be drives.

So I think what I would expect to see, in the future that is not a cracked canon-AU, is Echizen working to develop more such moves and using them with determination and forward momentum. Damn the torpedos and full steam ahead.

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Whenever an author goes to create a world, soon or late they have to deal with the issue of swearing. Even if the decision is “not used in this language” it has to be dealt with.

One of the common options, especially in fantasy, is to invent gods to swear by, but this can sometimes come off as contrived. I therefore offer this small compilation of swearing patterns to assist those starting out.

A lot of swearing is some corruption of an expression of respect, when you think about it, the original form having been someone calling on their deity to witness their sincerity or truthfulness or, alternatively, the severity of the situation–possibly in hopes that, having noticed, the deity in question will fork over some assistance. This, of course, quickly devolves from deliberate calling upon to simple expression of exasperation, anger or other strong emotion. So the first question is: how for down this progression is the swearing in question?

If it’s still early days, some reliable formulae are “by deity-name!”, “by deity-name’s identifying-object!” or “deity-name significant-activity!”

A bit further on, you can start loosening the association with the actual deity. For example, if you take a body part associated with the significant activity, you can use “deity-name’s descriptive-adjective body-part!”. If the identifying object seems like a better bet, “deity-name’s descriptive-adjective identifying-object!” is also pretty standard. The degree of respect or facetiousness in the descriptive adjective should be matched to the manner of the character doing the swearing.

Eventually this can progress into the downright silly, at which point it may well start expanding also. For example: “deity-name on/in/with a strange-descriptive-adjective totally-unassociated-object”.

Now, if you decide you want to avoid deities entirely, you can always use animals instead. Some common variations on that are “domesticated-animal undesirable-byproduct!” or “domesticated-animal troublesome-behavior!”.

If you’re far enough along the aforementioned progression, you can even combine this with the deity version, for something like “deity-name troublesome-behavior!”.

One thing to remember in all this: don’t get too carried away with sniggering and go overboard. Otherwise you’ll wind up like Steve White, who is clearly a little too personally amused by the literal translation of some earthier Russian figures of speech.

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Whenever I think about IP I find myself suffering from having one part of my brain considering the practical economic issues, another part working in abstract legal and ethical terms, and yet another part thinking about the practical writerly and interpretive issues.

For example, consider the notion of owning a character. In practical economic terms, I agree that it is useful to pretend that a concept plus description can be owned, in order that a writer be able to profit from supplying stories about that character. In economic terms I can see this working nicely as the sort of limited monopoly that, for example, patents offer, which allow inventors to recoup R&D costs and make a bit of a living.

In abstract legal terms, on the other hand, the notion of owning a concept strikes directly at something I consider a pillar of sensible and ethical practice: that ideas cannot be owned, only products. In these terms, only the specific words on a page can be an author’s property, and only direct copying of those specific words considered a violation of rights. Even a trademark, after all, that most ephemeral of intellectual property, must be a material, embodied symbol.

This touches on part of the writerly portion of my thoughts, because one thing I find curious is any author getting wound up over what another author does with “their” character.

As though it were the same character. Which, of course, it isn’t.

A character inside my head is not the same one as in someone else’s head. I might call it the same name, it might look a bit the same, but it isn’t the same character. No one can do anything to someone else’s character, because the only place someone else’s character lives is in that someone else’s head and on their page. The character in my head and on my page, that’s, well, someone else. The general agreement, in fandom and elsewhere, to pretend that all the Rukias, all the Leons, all the Rodneys we read are the same one, the shared fantasy of unity, masks this fact, I think. But the unity and the distinction exist side by side, and, in writerly terms, it is the distinction that I see most clearly. So the occasional diatribes about the “violation” of one’s characters being used by someone else seem to me to ignore some basic facts about how separate people with separate brains write.

It strikes me sometimes that many writers have a very poor sense of boundaries.

But, then, another part of my writerly thought understands, intellectually at least, that the emotional investment of writing leads very easily to a strong sense of ownership and identification. This part is entirely in sympathy with the desire to not know of the existence of stories that imagine other histories, other existences, for a character you wrote. It’s even more in sympathy with the wish to be clearly acknowledged as a source, and, if any profit is being made, to get a suitable share of it.

And that brings me back around to economic issues, and the search for viable models for licensing for commercial use. Alas, we have none yet, so this is where my thought process usually tails off into wild fantasies of a rational world.

When I try to imagine how all these different threads might actually be reconciled, that’s when I get irremediably tangled up. Practically speaking, it seems to me that the economic measure of copyright has dovetailed so neatly with emotional investment that the conjoining has become naturalized: people have started to think that copyright should protect the emotional investment and not merely serve as an economic incentive. This is certainly the direction European law seems to be moving in, witness the Berne Convention. I do not think it is a very productive direction; I do not think law should be based that immediately on emotion. But there it is, and it is certainly a fact that law changes and evolves over time, and someone will always not like it.

Which, now I think of it, probably means we’ll always be in this muddle. There will likely always be a huge middle ground that is ill defined and fuzzy. We’ll always be arguing over it from a slew of different, likely conflicting, perspectives. This is, after all, how rules are generated and laws are made.

So I suppose my conclusion today is, let us not try to quash any of these thought-threads in a vain effort to arrive at the One True Answer. Let us disagree and debate and not ever be ashamed to hold forth for what we each think is right in each moment and circumstance. The answer will change as we go exactly because no one of us controls it, and, all things considered, I can only think that this is a very good thing.

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Canon amelioration is kind of a fic hobby of mine. When canon kills off or otherwise gets rid of a character I want to write more with, I try to find some way of bringing them back. I like to make it at least marginally plausible.

The ending of the Yuugi-ou manga makes this harder than usual. Not only is everything wrapped up, but it’s wrapped up in such a way that to change it will reverse some wonderful and necessary character development, which is anathema to me.

But I think I may have found a way. )
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This is a bit like asking the “correct” way to spell a Japanese character’s name using the Roman alphabet. There are so many possible answers it boggles the mind.

But let me simplify it a little and specify more: should one stick with information presented in the anime/manga, which is frequently contradictory; or information presented in guide/info books, which often provides more background detail but may, again, be contradictory; or information pertaining to real life?

For example: if Tezuka acts like a serious-minded, reserved and careful thirty-year-old in the anime while the info books tell us he’s a rugged out-doorsman and we know that, in real life, fifteen-year-old boys act like, well, boys… then how do we write him?

Do we write anime/manga characters the way they’re written, or the way real people might act in their circumstances? Do we go ahead and use the fluid and exaggerated physical proportions, which are generally there to make characterization points, or do we take the numbers in the guide books and stick to them?

I don’t actually think there’s a single answer to this, of course, but it’s something worth thinking about as we write.

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Say to any writer “I have a great idea for a book. How about if you just write it down, and we can split the proceeds?” Depending on their temperament, the writer in question will either turn red and start to steam or laugh themselves sick.

This is, of course, because the part of writing that takes the most work is the writing itself. Unsurprisingly. Ideas are easy to come by, but getting the words down on the page in the right form to tell a story, especially a lively and engaging story, takes work, experience, determination and more work. Writing isn’t just having a neat idea, it’s getting a story to coalesce around the idea, complete with transitions and motivations and all the parts that aren’t neat ideas but rather the bones of narrative. Any writer knows this.

Given that, I find it a bit surprising that both professional and amateur writers will carry on in equal measure about writing being stolen and ideas being stolen.

Now, if you’ve gone to the work of the writing and then had someone scan your writing and send copies to the whole world, or pass your writing off as theirs, I can certainly see hollering and quick-drawing your lawyer. That’s weeks or months or years of work at stake.

To go to the same amount of trouble over an idea rather lacks proportion.

Being scooped in a commercial arena, now, that could be cause for agitation, yes. If, let us say, I were a writer of Star Wars tie-in novels and had come up with this great idea for how to get Mara Jade her groove back, and I found out that some other tie-in writer had sold the notion to Lucas before me, and I had reason to think that the other writer first got the notion from me… I’d be hollering indeed.

But if I found someone else writing the parts or the way I didn’t, even with characters or worlds I have already done up once, well, if they want to put in the weeks or months or years to write it differently than I did, that’s their work and their time, and no skin off my nose.

The whole notion of stealing an idea has only limited applicability. For, e.g., George Lucas to insist that no one but him (or his minions) can write about the Jedi Order, forever and ever amen, is pointless. You’d think he had invented the notion of mystical orders, or manipulable life energy, or even mentor-student sexual subtext. And, I hate to break it, but that would be D, none of the above. So what exactly would someone be stealing?  One noun phrase?

Another favorite example, equally ridiculous, is for a fic writer to complain that a canon writer stole her idea. First of all, the illogic makes my brain hurt, because if writing about other people’s ideas is an offense, then the fic writer sinned first (and so did Lucas). And on top of that, fic is non-commercial and could not have made money by implementing the idea first. But, more importantly, the idea hasn’t been stolen. It’s still there, still available, there’s nothing stopping the fic writer from still writing it.

No two people’s weeks or months or years of work, getting the words to do what they want, are ever going to produce the same story. No other story about the Jedi will be Lucas’s story–however much he tries to make it by choosing plot-based, character-weak authors to carry on. This is why ideas themselves cannot be copyrighted–only the expressions of ideas, only those months of work and words on a page.

I can see being protective of the work, the sweat and hair-tearing and effort. But the ideas? And maybe a handful of proper nouns? I know of no authors who write any kind of derivative work save out of the desire to make it different somehow–to make things move and change. So this howling about stealing ideas really seems to miss a critical point.

Even aside from that point, though, no one gets to have it both ways. Either ideas are sacred and the offer to split the take evenly between idea-maker and writer is more than fair… or they aren’t and it isn’t.

So which is it going to be?


Jun. 10th, 2007 12:28 pm
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Jo Walton, aka [livejournal.com profile] papersky, holds that fanfic, committed with the texts and characters of a living author, is the equivalent of rape. She went on to claim that the very idea of her characters being taken in vain by a fic author rendered her unable to write, and that readers would have to choose between having fic and having her continue writing herself.

Well, then, I guess she's just raped Gaiman and Pratchett both. We'll all know where to send the complaints if these gentlemen stop writing.

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Let us imagine that Susan Fan writes a piece of Star Wars fic. In it, Mara Jade decides that marrying Luke is a chump's game and she goes off to found her own school for the Force-strong, possibly recruiting Callista along the way so they can have hot, NC-17 interludes every fifth scene. Let us imagine the main conflict is whether Leia's children will be trained by Uncle Luke, who has a history of always reaching for a bigger Force-hammer, or by Ms. Jade, who used to be brainwashed but is much better now.

Let us further imagine that Susan Fan changes the names, so that the intergalactic republic is in the future, the life-force isn't the Force it's chi, the spunky, cool-headed heroine is Carol River, the husky-voiced lady she approaches to be fellow teacher and new soul mate is Marlynn, the harried galactic political leader is Portia, the school is for Dragon Monks not Jedi Knights, etc., etc.

Perhaps she changes the hair styles, too, but perhaps not.

At this point, Susan Fan has a story that cannot be sued for either infringement of copyright, or tarnishment or dilution of trademark. In fact, it's publishable, and Susan may, in turn, register copyright for Carol, Marlynn, Portia and the rest of them.

What does this tell us about the precise things over which an author may assert ownership? A hint: it isn't the ideas.

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A certain percentage of published authors, not infrequently those who do not actually have active fandoms, make a point of derogating fanfic at every turn. According to this set, fanfic is of universally poor quality and fanfic authors are just thieves/lazy/unsophisticated/inconsiderate/rapists/insert-pejorative-adjective-here.

(Example adjectives taken from real life. To read them in context, see any fanfic-related entry on Making Light.)

These people would do well to recall the Golden Rule.

This because the widespread (though inaccurate) fan conviction that fanfic is flatly illegal does not stop anyone from writing fic. The only thing that stops a fandom from ficcing is the respect they may have for the author's wishes. The authors in the above-mentioned set seem quite happy to ignore this fact and shred any good will or credit as reasonable beings they may have.

While they are busy insulting and disdaining the fanfic they are proud of not having read and its authors, who they seem not to believe they share a world and internet with, they should remember that many human beings do unto others as they have been done to.

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Toting up my fic, and the reactions to the proliferation of it, has reminded me of another notable time of creative frenzy.

When I first met Clarel.

This was in the second year of my Master's, and I was taking an Am Lit Poetry course, and had told my prof that I'd rather like to do something of Melville's for my final paper, and did he know of anything that hadn't been done to death already?

For some mysterious reason, possibly related to the workings of cosmic fate and strange karma, Kenneth did not say "Oh, almost nothing's been done on Melville's poetry at all, pick anything!", which would have been the bare truth. Instead he looked thoughtful and said, "Well, you might try Clarel."

So, all innocent, I went down to the library and looked up Clarel. I discovered it was a 500 plus page epic poem. For futher mysterious reasons, possibly related to the workings of cosmic fate and strange karma, I did not heave it back onto the shelf but instead checked it out and brought it home. I read it.

Then I read it again, appalling my librarianly spouse so badly by being unable to prevent myself writing the most delicate of pencil notes in the margins, that he went and bought me my very own Northwestern-Newberry Critical Edition. I was delighted. I meticulously copied over all couple hundred pages worth of my pencil notes and conscientiously erased them from the library copy.

Then I went back to the library and did a full-scale literature search, checked out the grand total of four books with relevant sections, copied every last one of the twenty or so articles that talked about the poem, ILLing the eight or so we didn't have holdings for, and brought those home to read and make notes in, too.

And then I wrote.

When I showed up for the final presentations, with my fourty page "essay", not counting footnotes, one of my classmates asked me, only half joking, what kind of drugs I'd been on.

As best I can recall, this whole process took me about a month. Possibly less.

It felt exactly the way it felt when I was first writing FMA fic, or when I wrote "Challenge" for PoT. I was seized by an idea and went through the days in a haze of sparkling thoughts and words, and when I turned around an absurdly short length of time later, there was this pile of writing. And it was good.

I think this is the most basic reason why I do not draw any real distinction between "creative" and "critical" writing; they feel just the same. Wonderfully overwhelming at their best.
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I, and others, have said this before, but it bears repeating.

Sports, in shounen, equals sex.

This becomes very clear when you try to write actual matches of any kind. It is just like writing a sex scene, complete with the need to balance technical description with emotive/experiential description.

Most of the vocabulary is even the same.

And if you're not in a good mental space to write a sex scene, a match scene isn't going to come easily either.

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A post Synecdochic made noted something I've thought on occassion myself, and got me thinking. The particular passage:

...fandom, as a whole, is more women than men. And women are taught, are trained, to step aside. We're told a thousand ways that it's not right to take credit for what we do, and it's not modest to accept praise, and it's not good and it's not right to say yes, I worked hard on this, and I am proud of how it came out; we must say oh, it's nothing instead.

And, you know, I've seen an awful lot of that just lately, and found myself doing it, too.

So here's my response, and a meme if you like since I highly encourage my flist to give it a try:

Guidelines: Say what you're good at, what you work at, what makes you proud. Use at least two superlatives (eg. wonderful, excellent, fantastic, very, extremely). No qualifications (eg. maybe, mostly, generally, sometimes) allowed. Don't worry if you have to edit a few times to manage this. Do not lj-cut it.

Being Proud of Myself

I am an excellent writer. In fact, I am an equally excellent writer of both fiction and critical analysis, and I'm damn proud of that fact. I am superb at tracing out all the details of a text and setting out the ways they could fit together. I work hard to satisfy myself that an essay or story is good before I post it, and when I go back to stories, even years later, I always find things, often a lot of things, that make me say "Yeah, that was it; that's good". I am aware enough of how many different ways stories can work to make deliberate choices about how I want the one I'm working on to go, and I can make my choice come out. My characters are who I want them to be, and I'm proud that I can make that happen.

Also? I write really hot smut.

(*trying not to twitch* This is really hard to do when I know I'm going to post it openly. There was a lot more profanity in the first go.)
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A common refrain among both defenders and detractors of fanfiction is that fic is "training wheels". That is, it's a place to build one's skills because the fic writer only has to do half the work; the work of creation has already been done and the fic writer only needs to sing along.

This is a steaming load of excrement.

Derivative fiction and original fiction both call for very much the same amount of work. If one does half the work, one gets a half-assed story; this is true for both forms. In the case of original fiction, one must build a world in accordance with one's sense of where and how the story takes place, and likewise build characters. In the case of derivative fiction one must still build a world and characters, this time in accordance with one's sense of what the whole world of the source-story might look like.

After all, we only ever see a small slice of the whole world in any story. Most authors will, of course, tell you that the whole world exists in their heads and informs the finished story with all the little touches of depth that the reader never actually sees. Quite true.

But, as that particular whole world only exists in the author's head, a derivative writer must take the bits and fragments that actually made it onto the page and use her very own creative powers to extrapolate a whole world in her own head. This world may have remarkable congruence with the world that is in a) the original writer's head and/or b) other readers' heads, or it may have the slightest passing resemblance. But the world-building effort has to be done by each individual writer, original or derivative, one way or another.

The effort to shape a story-world from scratch and the effort to shape a story-world that meshes with the puzzle pieces reflected in someone else's writing are perfectly equivalent. Both are learned skills--and quite different skills at that. A fic writer attempting for the first time to do the former may well bewail how much harder it is than what she's used to doing.

An original writer attempting for the first time to do the latter will, if she is honest, be wailing just as loudly.

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Lois McMaster Bujold, on the nature of The Hallowed Hunt and The Sharing Knife:

[Thinking about The Hallowed Hunt] led me to wonder in turn if that's one of the salient differences between men's adventure fiction and women's romance fiction. In an adventure tale, the most important relationship is between the hero/ine and the villain (or antagonist, in the case of villain-less conflicts such as man-against-nature); in a romance, the most important relationship is between the heroine and the hero. Combining the two story types can lead to a sort of hierarchy-of-values problem. If two characters struggling for their very lives stop in the middle to smooch, it risks looking not romantic, but stupid. And villains have their ways of insisting that everyone pay attention to them. src

If we accept the above, which I do with the addendum that "men's adventure" and "women's romance" should be understood as generalized marketing categories and not 'natural' literary categories, then it suggests one of the reasons rival-slash is a) so popular and b) so hard to write. Because, of course, rival-slash is precisely the blending of those two modes, and the tension Lois points out between the styles of character-relation is only partially ameliorated by hero-villain and hero-hero being the same characters. Yet the concept holds out the promise, or at least the hope, of bringing the two story systems together like a textual Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and giving us two favorites in one.

Fanwriters win again.

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Intellectual property is a bastard concept to begin with, in US legal and artistic practice. In fact, it runs directly counter to one of the major tenets of current copyright law, which is that ideas cannot be copyrighted, only specific executions or expressions of an idea. Intellectual property, on the other hand, has been taken to mean that ideas , and everything following from them, are the property of their originator, the same way a bowl is the property of the person who throws it.

If your mind is now teeming with objections about how those two things are just not equivalent, good for you.

Unsurprisingly, it is intellectual property, rather than copyright law as it is currently written, that authors appeal to when trying to assert that fanfic is illegal. Some authors, in fact, go further and say that an author has a moral right to determine all future dispositions of any world/characters/story they write and publicize, especially any refractions in a negative light--whatever "negative" means to them.

This is, frankly, a load of ripe bushwah. Neither history, precedent nor written law is on the side of such an assertion. Not even the Berne Convention or the DMCA say the author has control of everything, including audience reactions, for ever and ever amen, though the former comes perilously close. The strange bedfellow that such authors do have is big business, who want to protect their profits and keep control of all ideas, expressions and, most importantly, money that the author and the public might have.

Once more, to make sure everyone caught that: rights of control over production, in the US, are about money. Not morals, money. If a case gets to court, which, incidentally, has never happened for fanfic in its current incarnation, morals don't win. Money wins. Money always wins. The complete and utter lack of that mythical beast "artistic control" evident whenever big business makes a derivative work should hammer home that fact to the authors who are whining over what a terrible defamation uncontrolled fanfic is.

If, in face of this, authors still want to put forward arguments about ethics, about how things should work, then they should be prepared for the fan-creators to start doing the same. Vigorously.

In our next segment, how things should work, by all rights.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
You know your whole damn culture needs therapy when large numbers of people can be convinced that there is something evil and wrong about writing yourself being and getting absolutely everything you want in your wildest dreams. This is even more true when the evilness and wrongness is explicitly identified as the act of sharing, posting, making public, speaking aloud your wish-fulfillment, and being applauded for doing so.

The urge to police other people's pleasure should be recognized as the greatest moral perversion of all.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
I find it very amusing that the common wisdom "men writing porn are all about the immediate sex and no faffing around with romance while women writing porn are more about the emotional engagement" has survived in face of the boatloads of instant-action, cut-to-the-chase PWPs written by just about every young female fanwriter.

The "older and more sophisticated" readers and writers make mock of these efforts, and refer to them as tab-a-slot-b fic. This conceptual relabeling appears to allow absolutely everyone to ignore the simple fact that female writers, before they are socialized into other modes, ARE very much about immediate sex and no faffing around with romance, and couldn't care less about the emotional engagement if they tried.

Before we spend time soberly pondering the men=sex versus women=romance writing model, perhaps we should see what happens to that model if we stop putting so much effort into shaming young women into not writing just-sex-right-now.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Pursuant to an attempt to revisit the Harry Potter books, I have come to the conclusion that JK Rowling is a very good plot writer. Her plots clip along at a good pace for the amount of action, the action is engaging, and it is described charmingly.

Her characterization, on the other hand, is atrocious. She consistently fails to provide any motivation at all, believable or otherwise, for major turns in the action, and the way the characters interact with each other on an interpersonal level is invariably jerky and cardboard.

I can but conclude that she would be an ideal writer for Star Wars novels. She and Lucas share nearly all their writerly aesthetics.


September 2017

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