sevendials: (ken - chibi)
2011-04-29 10:34 am
Entry tags:

Notes on a Half-Seen SyFy Original

I was going to put something else here, but it's whiny and on cold reflection I decided I can't really be bothered to take the time to type it up. I'm going to be elaborating on this entry on the Plurk account I acquired to keep up with my canonmates at [ profile] somarium instead.

For a kick-off, you'll need to be aware of one thing, and that is this: SyFy Originals are absolute bollocks. They're high-concept messes with absurd titles and even worse plots. The only thing more cookie-cutter than the storylines are the characters who inhabit them; the acting, even from people who've proved they're capable of acting perfectly decently in other things, is uniformly dreadful; and the special effects, which rely heavily on cheap CGI, are barely more convincing than a Deviantart photo-manip.

In short, SyFy originals suck. The only thing about them that exhibits any signs of even basic competence is their trailers, most of which are far more coherent and satisfying than the actual movies they advertise. It certainly doesn't hurt that the trailers cut out the deeply unsatisfying opening half-hour which attempts to present the terrible, cookie-cutter characters as likeable and interesting human beings before getting to the point and starting to gratuitously kill them all with bad CGI.

The average SyFy Original has a plot that runs as follows:

An [evil corporate executive/sadistic mad scientist] finds a [giant creature/mystical plot device] that will allow him to [gain obscene wealth/gain obscene power/gain obscene wealth and obscene power/make a scientific breakthrough via massively unethical tests]. Unfortunately in attempting to utilize the power of the [giant creature/mystical plot device] for his own ends, the [evil corporate executive/sadistic mad scientist] manages to [unseal an ancient monster/unseal a whole bunch of ancient monsters/create genetically modified monsters that break out of the labs and go on a killing spree/magically trigger a world-ending apocalypse].

It's now up to a Renegade Scientist whose offbeat theories were rejected by the mainstream and [a grizzled soldier trying to reunite with his estranged daughter/another scientist who starts out playing by the rules but comes to appreciate the hero's maverick ways] to save the world. Though their plans will initially be rejected by the [scientific establishment/military officers] overseeing the relief efforts, by the end of the movie our hero will win through by [blowing everything up/firing nukes into the atmosphere/inventing a magic Reset Button that restores the status quo through the power of Bullshit Science].

There are occasionally ones about extreme weather instead but they generally follow the exact same pattern, though the designated villain is replaced by implausible meteorological conditions and they're about 5,000 percent more likely to end with a clunky Green Aesop.

Tonight's offering went by the title of Stonehenge Apocalypse. Here's the poster. Here's the IMDB Page. This is a real movie, starring real actors.

I am not making this up, and if you've ever seen a SyFy Original you'll know I'm not. You'll also believe me when I say I've seen worse on SyFy. Specifically, something called Lost Colony and a film starring Michael Shanks which went by the name of Arctic Blast, which sounds more like a flavor of mouthwash than the title of a disaster movie. And, bad though Stonehenge Apocalypse is, at least you don't literally see the moment where the lead actor completely stopped trying and began reciting all his lines in a barely-engaged monotone - which happened to Michael Shanks halfway through a scene in which he was trying to reassure his whiny teenage daughter that divorcing his wife didn't mean he loved her any less.

So, what happens in Stonehenge Apocalypse, then?

Short Answer: The countdown to apocalypse is triggered by Dr. Sheldon Hawkes from CSI: NY and the mysteriously-rotating stones at a badly CGIed version of Stonehenge, and it's up to Castiel from Supernatural and Dr. Elizabeth Weir from Stargate: Atlantis to save the day, with no help at all from a member of the cast of the Highlander TV show.

Long Answer: Keep reading.

I am amazed by how much of this I actually remember. )

In summary, then: watch Top Gun.

Finally, SyFy Originals, when you have a grand total of two minority actors, casting them as the main villain and leader of a weird doomsday cult and his chief mook respectively might not be the smartest move. Then again these people also perpetrated Mongolian Death Worm, in which a bunch of white Americans pratted about trying to out-smug one another while the superstitious Asians living in tin shacks spent most of their time being berated by the white characters before getting eaten by CGI monsters one of the Americans had unleashed in the first place, so maybe I shouldn't be too surprised.
sevendials: (youji - angel of harlem)
2011-04-19 11:05 pm
Entry tags:

Get A Life

I have been asked to get a life. Okay, that's nice, but how precisely do you go about doing this? I admit I've never been quite sure of the procedure, and my informant was rather unclear.

I mean, I've got a life. Hello. Hands up who else isn't dead. Here I am, sitting here and typing: presuming I'm not a very clever and curiously-programmed spambot, the very existance of this post points to that. I've got a life. If I didn't I wouldn't be here typing this but somewhere else entirely, and any suggestion (presumably made to my headstone or through the mediumship of a third party who'd mentioned they were getting a woman with glasses) that I get one would be both pointless and callous.

It can't refer to that. Obviously not - it's quite disingenuous of me to suggest so. So what do they mean when they say 'get a life'? Presumably not that you - the lifeless one - have been somehow rendered comatose or dead by your inability to, say, spend Saturday nights doing whatever it is it's considered socially acceptable to do on a Saturday night. It must be something more complex than that.

I presume it means working in marketing, and assuming that my intimate understanding of the Carruthers Report means I'm somehow indispensible. I presume it means discussing The X-Factor in a bored, above-it-all drawl, and yet somehow still posessing an encyclopedic knowledge of who's in and who's out, and who said what to who. I presume it means weighing myself religiously and getting nigh-suicidal when the needle edges perilously close to double figures. I presume it means girls' nights out and girls' nights in, dancing to music I didn't like when it first came out and still don't like now, and watching bad rom-coms while eating finger food from M&S. I presume it means reading Cosmopolitan, and not just because I want to laugh at it, and expecting my fiancé to take me to see movies like Made of Honor and 27 Dresses the getting upset when he seems bored. I presume it means learning how the blow-dryer works and cutting a photo of Kate Middleton out of a magazine and asking my hairdresser if she can make my hair do that, and taking fashion seriously.

I presume it means going shopping in Oxford Street, and wishing I had the money to buy a Gucci purse. I presume it means hunting for knockoffs or eBay bargains - or running perilously close to my credit limit buying the real thing anyway. I presume it means spending Sunday afternoons in Clapham being patronized by men called Nathan and Jeremy, who are happy to be seen with me but not to listen to what I have to say. I presume it means bars and clubs and stumbling in late with my ears ringing and indefinable gunk over the bottom of the shoes that left my feet bleeding.

I presume it means reading books and forgetting them and that my strongest opinion, after watching a film, would be about the leading man's smile.

Get a life, in short, is why aren't you more like your sister? in a more fashionable outfit.

And isn't life too short to waste it on worrying why you aren't?
sevendials: (ken - but it's funny)
2011-04-08 11:23 am
Entry tags:

Taking a Third Option

Those of you who've been paying attention to the Weiss Kreuz fandom as of late may have noticed that it's become embroiled in a fight to the death (or at least to the extreme irritation) to prove, once and for all, who really is Weiss's leader. Omi's supporters point to his rapport with Manx and easy link to Persia, his reporting on his teammates' actions, his devotion and loyalty to Weiss, and the fact he's very clearly the one who does all the work. Aya's point to his cool sword, brooding bad-boy attitude and The Meeting.

I have recently come to think, however, that there is a third, most compelling alternative that neither side in this debate has addressed. It is that alternative that I propose to set out today.

I have, as many of you know, come down firmly on the Omi side of the fence for many, many years. Put simply, I used to think that it was logical that the person who did all the work and actually had an easy way to talk to the next link up in the chain of command was the one in charge. I believed that Omi had to be the team's leader on the grounds that having to ambush your line manager in a car park every time you wanted to talk to him was a frankly inefficient use of time. I simply didn't realize that ambushing your line manager and threatening him was a wonderful way for a leader to show his drive and initiative. And quitting Weiss on two separate occasions in pursuit of his goals? This obviously proves that Aya is such a fantastic leader he doesn't even need to be backed up by a team to get the job done.

Clearly brooding, unstable bad-boys who won't listen to reason make the best leaders.

It becomes obvious, however, that by Gluhen Aya has lost all the drive and passion that made him the truly effective leader of men he once was. He's inclined to the calm and contemplative, his decision-making is for the most part reasoned, and he's clearly been trusted by Kritiker with watching over the other members of Weiss and making sure that they all keep in line.

Which is why I now believe that the person in charge - at least in Gluhen, and maybe even earlier - is not Aya but Ken.

Think about it. Come Gluhen, is Aya challenging authority, forejudging situations, and driven by the desire to see his enemies dead at his feet? No, he isn't. He's sat in the kitchen talking calmly to Sena about the realities of life as an assassin. He's the steady anchor, the even keel that Omi provided in Kapitel. With his own objectives realized, he lacks the fire and determination that made him such a devoted, driven leader in the past. Clearly, realizing this, he has stepped aside and given up his leadership responsibilities to take on the role of team-builder and Kritiker liaison that Omi once held. Aya is no longer the true leader of Weiss, but he's become their solid leader in the sense of being the one who shoulders the burden of responsibility for the day-to-day running of the team, leaving the duties related to commanding their operations to another.

The team's true leader at this point is Ken. Ken is the one who's showing himself to be passionate and dedicated, willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. Throughout their operations in Gluhen he's by far the most focused of the team, thinking of nothing but their missions and what must be done to successfully complete them. While the rest of Weiss attend classes or mark time with pretty young women, Ken's the one on active duty, keeping his mind firmly on the task at hand: achieving their objectives and eliminating the targets. He shadows their targets and their associates, he monitors their actions, and he's at the forefront in the field. Even while undercover Ken is thinking of nothing but the mission, showing the same clear-headed and whole-hearted dedication to his own responsibilities as Weiss's leader that Aya did before.

Ken is forceful, goal-oriented, determined and, most importantly of all, ruthless in the field. He steps up and takes charge in combat, driven by his desire to see the mission finished and the targets killed. And, like Aya in Kapitel, he isn't afraid to stand up against authority figures and assert his own opinions.

In Kapitel Aya's status as leader was made plain by the domineering attitude he took to his teammates where Omi, the teambuilder and nurturer, used conciliation and attempted to find consensus. In Gluhen it's Aya who conciliates, showing that he has taken Omi's position as mediator. It's Ken - the new leader - who asserts his authority over the team as a whole by taking the same commanding and authoritarian tone that Aya did before. As leader Ken takes a firm hand with Sena, hoping to curb his recklessness and keep him safe by ensuring that he stays in line; he even makes it plain when Aya's suggestions are entirely unnecessary, just as Aya was sometimes called upon to do with Omi when he was the one in charge.

Just as Weiss in Kapitel is led by dominant, aggressive Aya with Omi, the thoughtful teambuilder, taking a more passive role, so the team in Gluhen falls into the same pattern. As Aya - now the thoughtful teambuilder - steps back to take on Omi's responsibilities so Ken steps up and takes on Aya's, becoming leader in his turn. It's a beautiful expression of character growth, and so obvious I can't believe I didn't see it before.

All it took was realizing the truth: you can't ask for more in a leader than a brooding, unstable bad-boy.

To Anybody Who Took This Post Seriously:'s definition of the word 'Parody'. Thank you.
sevendials: (ken - chibi)
2011-03-30 03:17 pm
Entry tags:

On Icons (Again)

... oh yeah, this meme. I could do that. That would be a decent thing to put in here.

Of course, I'm going to be cheating shamelessly just because I don't have some of these icons. For categories that don't apply, it's going to be either the nearest thing or an icon I just happen to like. Because, you know, I'm a ridiculous one-trick pony. I don't have celebrity icons or non-fandom icons and the closest I have to a stock icon is '... well, I guess I did use a lot of brushes on this one'.

But. It's a meme, and it's about icons, so I want to do it anyway. Because I like icons and may in fact be in the mood to make a few.


Default IconOldest IconNewest IconHappiest IconSaddest Icon
Angriest IconCutest IconSexiest IconFunniest IconCleverest Icon
Prettiest IconSilliest IconFlashiest IconFlailiest IconBest WTF Icon
Best LOL IconBest Text IconBest Art IconBest Stock IconBest Cropped

Best Animated

Best B/W Icon

Best Coloured

Favourite Shippy

Favourite Single
Character Icon

Favourite Celeb Lyric

Favourite Fandom
Favourite Non-
Fandom Weiss Icon
Most used Icon
(Not your default)
Favourite Icon

How many icons do you have total?

How many can you have?
134. That surprises me, actually, I thought I'd got no space left. Uh... well, I'll hang onto it just in case?

If you could buy space for more, would you?
Uh... not sure. I figure that what with the package deals out there now I probably could get more icon slots if I chose and would actually like to, but with the state of my finances at the moment, it's not a good idea. Something else to do when I have the cash, I guess.

Do your icons make a statement about you?
'This woman is obsessed with Ken Hidaka'.

What fandom do you have the most icons out of?
AHAHAHAAHA. What do you think?

The second most?
... yeah, see above. I'm considering making icons for CSI: NY and Puella Magi Madoka Magica sometime, but I doubt I'd actually upload any of them. Still, I just like making icons, so not using them wouldn't exactly be a deal-breaker.

What ship do you have the most icons out of?
In keeping with my status as 'that annoying Youji/Ken fangirl'... well, yeah. Got a reputation to live up to here!

Break down your icons for us.
I don't even understand what this question means and am too groggy to make it make sense. Uh... most of them have Ken on?

How do you categorize your icons?
I didn't when I first uploaded them so now I'm kind of stuck with the mess I got unless I want to break all my keywords, which I don't. Basically, Ken icons just get a random descriptions, icons with another character on them are tagged with that character's name, then the random description.

Are your icons mostly made by other users?
My icons are all made by me.

Animated icons are...
Like every other kind of icon. When they're done well, they're fine. The problem is that when they're not, their look-at-all-this-blinky-shit-omg distractingness is twice as annoying as a bad static icon would be.

Want to try? Code:

sevendials: (ken - oh kenken to have your mind)
2011-03-22 11:06 pm
Entry tags:

We're Not Happy Until You're Not Happy

I just started a four-week work placement (all the hassle and stress of a job, except you get paid in luncheon vouchers and travel expenses and that's about it), so this may be a little less coherent and/or well-sourced than usual. But in the face of a relatively recent development in the fandom, there's yet another thing I want to weigh in on.

Some canon defies all fannish attempts to categorize it.

You can be as big a stickler for chronology as you like. If your fandom's canon is basically nuts, it won't actually thank you for it.

Transformers does this. Doctor Who does it. Star Wars is baffling and Star Trek got so confused that it's given up completely and started from zero. Boy howdy do Marvel and DC do it. And, though it's only splashing in the baby pool of bewilderment rather than floating forlornly in the Gulf of Complete Incomprehension watching the distant ships, for my sins Weiss Kreuz does it too.

Which is why I'm a little baffled by Weiss Kreuz fandom's sudden desire - very, very late in the game, too - to try and make the series make sense. Up until now, it's been widely accepted that - while it's possible to pin certain events down - the bigger picture doesn't so much form a nice, neat chronological panorama as it does a demented Cubistic mess. Sure, individual details are discernible, some more so than others, but trying to make sense of it as a whole is so very nearly impossible that rather than try and break your brain on exactly how it all comes together, it's better to accept that things just work like that over here . Best to just sit back and enjoy the madness.

If you're going to make sense of this show to write about it some cherrypicking is inevitable - and, just to make matters more awkward, not all cherrypicking was born equal. But thinking that an officially-sanctioned cherrypicker's take is any more right than... well, than anyone else's out there is, to me, a rather naive view.

Fair play to Marine Entertainment, they definitely did their best. But... well, Weiss Kreuz.

Sure it's nice to have an official view on these things, but official views can be wrong - just ask, well, any member of one of the fandoms floating out there in the Gulf. They - or at least the ones with low blood pressure who occasionally see the light of day - will probably tell you that when that happens, the best thing you can do is just nod, smile and carry on working with what works for you. Because while it might be possible to come up with One True Version of Events, chances are half the fandom will take one look at it and immediately decide it doesn't make any sense. The choices at that point are skyrocketing blood pressure as you attempt to point out why the rest of the fandom is wrong, dammit, or letting it go. Because, when it comes down to it, raising the debaters' blood pressure is pretty much all these debates are good for.

Nobody's going to thank you for telling them to toss a piece of canon they happened to rather enjoy out of the window in the name of greater accuracy. They're not going to thank you for insisting that they go with a version of events that, to their eyes, makes a nonsense out of what's actually up there on page or screen. And they're not going to thank you for telling them to ignore a timeline that, if you ask them, works. Some people like working from databooks, some people like drawing their own conclusions from the original story and backing them up with that. Neither group is doing anything wrong.

Neither group is necessarily knee-deep in canon denial by default. They're just working with what works for them.

Sometimes in fandoms with wildly inconsistent canons, people will have different opinions. And as long as they're not totally making things up or clutching at threads of logic that only make sense if you totally ignore the rest of the tapestry, that's okay too.
sevendials: (ken - i'm in a box)
2011-03-10 01:54 am

Well, Now That's Off My Chest....

On the other hand, sometimes fandom and the Internet is awesome if only for the things it exposes me to that I never would have seen otherwise. Sometimes those things are genuinely quite amazing; sometimes they're such awesome crack I can't help but love them for all their insanity; sometimes, uh...

Well. Introducing the QUALITY Van.

I found the QUALITY Van, of course, through TV Tropes. Trust me when I say there's a good reason for its notoriety.

Seriously, and people say Weiss Kreuz has bad animation? Sure, it has its issues and plenty of them; I've screencapped it, I'd be the first to admit that there are times when the animation quality in Kapitel is very ropey indeed. But it's honestly not alone in that - a lot of far more popular shows suffer from the same problems to a greater or lesser extent, and no matter how many issues Weiss Kreuz may have had, it never suffered from QUALITY cabbages, and at no point did Aya randomly mislay his own head. And, unlike the cast of Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica, their car chases never got quite this daft.

Have fun spotting how many inconsistencies, slips, and just plain ridiculous fuck-ups you can spot during the course of this car chase. There are... well, it's probably a pretty fair bet that either this van never got a model sheet, or someone very plainly lost it long before it was actually needed. I'll drop a couple of hints: watch for the van window and the pool toy. There's a lot more.

There's an annotated version of this clip too, which highlights many of the inconsistencies: I haven't embedded it because while a lot of the annotations about the off-model shots are interesting, the signal to noise ratio is pretty damn low. Many of the relevant observations are lost beneath a morass of irrelevant yammering from the inevitable fourteen-year-old-boy contingent who think that scribbling 'lol hes a fag' over the male lead and 'hurf durf omg boobs' over every scene containing a female character is the height of wit. It might still be worth watching just to pick up on whatever's been missed, but to truly appreciate the sheer quality of the QUALITY Van, the unadulterated version is truly the best.

Honestly, looking at this, all I can think is that Weiss Kreuz got off damn light.
sevendials: (youji - angel of harlem)
2011-03-03 09:36 pm
Entry tags:

Otherwise known as Hinamatsuri.

Well, I stuffed that objective up. Too much damn interference. I have a better proposition, though.

I'm posting this for [ profile] rokesmith.

See, it is, after all, Youji's birthday. And being as he is rather fond of both Youji and of writing about him, [ profile] rokesmith is soliciting prompts for short, Youji-centric fanfics. He's the one who wants the prompts and the one who will be filling them, no doubt far, far better than I've ever managed - but I've got a somewhat larger friendslist, so I'm the one he asked to post the announcement.

For those of you who aren't familiar with [ profile] rokesmith's work, his profile is here. If you've never read anything he's written before - and I'd honestly reccommend you start if you have even the slightest fondness for reading about Weiss as assassins - House of Cards, a mission-centric fic, is a very good place to start, and The Last Hello is a very good example of the way that he writes about Youji. For my money he's proved to be damn good at this: his take on Youji is one of the best I've ever come across, and I can only wish that I was even half as good at writing case-based fanfics as he's proved to be. I'm actually a little jealous.

If you are requesting a fic from [ profile] rokesmith, please specify the following:

  • One or more other characters who will be involved in the scene along with Youji - please try and keep the numbers of characters involved to a reasonable level - or 'solo' if you would rather see a monologue about that particular plot or theme. Other characters involved should be part of Kapitel-era canon. No OCs, please.

  • A prompt. Please keep these brief to allow him room to work with them. A good prompt would comprise of a single word or phrase - 'cars', for example, or 'power failure' - rather than several sentences explaining exactly what you'd like to see.

Please be aware that all fiction written as a result of these prompts will be gen. Awesome gen.

To keep things simple, please leave any prompts in the comments to this post, not on [ profile] rokesmith's journal.

Finally, unless I'm explicitly told it's okay to say otherwise I'm going to request that any prompts should try and keep things to canon-appropriate levels of violence and trauma. I'm not sure how much fun [ profile] rokesmith finds writing the heavy or even medium-weight angst the Weiss Kreuz fandom as a whole specializes in, but from what I know it's 'not very' and I'm therefore going to assume that he really does not want to take requests for anything too dark. It's Youji's birthday, after all - let's try and keep things at least vaguely pleasant for the poor guy.
sevendials: (ken - i'm in a box)
2011-03-01 09:07 pm
Entry tags:

Stuff I Don't Get, Part 1,397,228.

Sometimes I guess I have no conclusions to come to or particularly deep thoughts to impart. I just have Stuff That's Bugging Me with no very clear rhyme or reason for it. Today is one of those times.

So. Mary Sues. Basically they're wish-fulfilment. That much is obvious, right? Characters like this are, in their purest form, their creator's fantasy life (usually with the totally unattainable, for reasons of fame or fictitiousness, guy of their dreams) written up for all the world to share in. Which is great for their creators, but not so much so for everybody else, because other people's personal fantasies are just that - their personal fantasies.

What I do not, absolutely do not get is how in the world these characters manage to get actual fans.

What is the appeal about reading someone else's fantasy of - to put it crudely - being the center of attention and banging a hot fantasy man? Okay, I get the appeal of wanting people to look at you and wanting to bang the fantasy man yourself: I don't get why you'd want to go through someone else's surrogate to do so. That puts you three times removed from the object of your affection, right? You're not the Sue; you're not the Suethor. You're just watching it all.

Since realizing I was basically vicariously participating in someone else's dream life, Mary Sues in general have left me feeling a little awkward. I really start to get antsy when people create the one 'OC' and use them in absolutely everything they do, tweaking the character ever so slightly to fit whatever their latest daydream is but otherwise making it very very obvious it's the same girl - because it's so very very obviously meant to be them up there, at least as they wish to be. The character is so plainly Their Idealized Fantasy Stand-In it's just vaguely embarrassing to me. Take the creator of this Mary Sue:

Twin Blade Illusion
This Fan Fic was started by my cousin and then handed to me by him to finish it so I did. The plot follows a young girl that is a double agent, Nori Nanba Mutsu and she is everything but normal. Come follow her in her twisted and hidden world of Illusion.

At a quick check I count something like five other stories on this fanficcer's profile about this girl Nori Nanba Mutsu. Four are for Weiss Kreuz, one is for Peacemaker Kurogane, one is apparently original. It's so obviously her fantasy life writ large up there that it's just kind of embarrassing to read it. I don't know why the author - a grown woman, but that's a rant for another day - should want me to read it. But there it is and well, okay, if that's what does it for her then who am I to say her nay? It might be oversharing and it might be a bit creepy, but the motivations are at least understandable. The ficcer would like to be a hot teenage superspy who kicks the bad guys' asses and has all the boys wowed. Whatever gets you through the night, I guess.

But where's the fun in reading about a total stranger's Mary Sue fantasy?

I can get my head round Suethors. I cannot understand their fans.

What is the appeal in being this person? What's 'koneko15' getting out of this? Where exactly is the fun in cooing over some idiot Snapewife's pouty, vacant-looking Mary Sue self-insert draping herself all over the object of you and the artist's shared affection like a sparkly rash? Okay, so this girl's Mary Sue is at least a well-drawn sparkly rash and I know not all of us have the time or the talent to put our daydreams onto paper in the way RedPassion here does, but still. It's not believable and it's certainly not at all inclusive. It's someone else's fantasy life in a pretty, shiny package.

Don't these people realize that they can have Mary Sue fantasies of their own and they don't actually have to live vicariously through someone else's?

I can think of only two reasons why people would do this. Failure of imagination, or failure to realize that anybody can do this, and I can't believe anyone out there could be so devoid of imagination they can't even have a decent daydream about a hot fantasy guy. The RedPassions of this world aren't necessarily remarkably talented or divinely inspired. They're just fangirls like everyone else, and it is not that hard to come up with your own Mary Sue.

So these people - the fangirl's fangirls - are the ones I really, really don't get. I can understand the desire to write a Mary Sue fanfic or draw your fantasy stand-in swooning in the arms of the fictional character of your, and her dreams. Even if I think the end result is usually made of suck and lose and should be kept to yourself, I can totally understand why people do it. Because they're your daydreams, and if your daydreams are not even fun for you, then you're probably doing something wrong. What I cannot understand for the life of me though? Is why anybody out there would want to waste time they could be spending on having a perfectly decent - or at the very least personal - fantasy life of their own in gushing all over someone else's.
sevendials: (ghost story)
2011-02-22 11:58 pm
Entry tags:

"... and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."

First off: I didn't write this thing. (If only.) I am, however, going to be linking to it anyway. Secondly: yes, as the fiancée of the author, I admit to a degree of personal bias as regards its objective quality. But I'm still going to recommend full-heartedly that those of you still in this crazy fandom boat with me you read this Weiss Kreuz ficlet by [ profile] rokesmith because I think it's a really interesting take on the series and well worth reading.

The Devil's Greatest Trick
Death walks Tokyo's streets, strikes, and vanishes without a word. Weiss from a target's perspective. Oneshot.

I have not, in all my years in this fandom, seen very many fics that focus on what it's like to be one of Weiss's targets. I've seen even fewer - possibly none at all, actually - where the 'target' in question didn't turn out to be a ridiculous Mary Sue and immediately get reprieved by purest plot contrivance, thus rendering the whole point of what it means to actually be targeted by Weiss moot. This fic? It's about a criminal, not an innocent young girl who's been framed or hoodwinked by evil badnasties, and he knows from the start that he is in big, big trouble.

The post [ profile] rokesmith did on the subject of this fic and its inspiration is here; I'm not going to try and explain it any better than he did.

Finally, if you haven't seen The Usual Suspects yet, watch it immediately. No, you don't need to have seen it to understand the fic: it's just absolutely brilliant.
sevendials: (ken - kiss the flower boy)
2011-02-20 11:31 pm
Entry tags:

She's At It Again

Roses in Rain, Chapter 10: It Ain't Me, Babe

Otherwise known as the chapter where Shit unexpectedly Gets Real. It ends on what I like to believe is a Wham Line, but that might just be authorial optimism (or, you know, egomania) speaking. Either way, this is where it becomes clear things are a lot nastier and the stakes far higher than the protagonists thought, and it's also about where we leave the outskirts of Parody and hang a left for Deconstruction Territory. I suppose someone had to try and deconstruct Mary Sues, and the amount of time and mental energy I've spent on poking various manifestations of the beast with sticks, I figure it might as well be me.

This is always where Roses in Rain was meant to go. Though acquaintance with [ profile] rokesmith has definitely seen me refining and building on my original, rather sketchy ideas for the second half of the fanfic, the intention was always to try and tell an actual story in between the send-ups. That story? Was always going to be a lot darker than the rather light-hearted tone of the opening chapters might suggest. It's taken a lot longer than I thought it would to get there, but this is where the road was leading us from the start.

Rain is only funny because we don't have to live with her. To Youji and Ken, she's no more than faintly amusing. Here's where we start finding out why.
sevendials: (manx - we drove into the fire)
2011-02-14 03:49 pm
Entry tags:

Conscientious Objections

If you had the power, would you permanently eliminate Valentine's Day?

No, I wouldn't.

What I would like to see gone is not the occasion itself but a lot of the idiocy that surrounds it, especially as it pertains to women.

Taken entirely on its own terms Saint Valentine's Day, as a modern holiday rather than a saint's day, is largely inoffensive. It's a bit daft in a lot of ways, yes, and nowadays it's also very over-commercialized, but in and of itself there's absolutely nothing the matter with it. It's sweet and it's fun, that's all, and it provides an awful lot of people with nothing more controversial or time-consuming than that. It doesn't, or shouldn't, do anybody any real harm.

The issue I have with Valentine's Day isn't the institution itself. It's the reactions to it that I'd like to see gone.

To get this out of the way: yes, I am in a relationship. Yes, it's a serious relationship. Yes, I am doing something - for a small, limited value of something that isn't likely to be that different to what I normally do when I see my far better half - to mark the occasion. But for many years (for most of my teens and early twenties, in fact, when the stereotype dictated I should have been working myself up into a crazy froth over my single status about this because hey, I'm a girl, right?) I was not in a relationship, and I did not do anything for Valentine's Day. And that nothing includes 'not sitting around in sackcloth wailing and rubbing ash into my face because I didn't have a date'.

I just think Valentine's Day is optional, that's all. Nice if you have a partner, the desire to do something to mark the date and don't mind doing it in scrums of other couples all doing the same, and if you have the wherewithal to celebrate at expensive length and that's what you want to do with yourself, knock yourself out. But if you don't, or don't want to? It shouldn't be seen as any reflection on yourself or on your relationship that you just plain don't.

Except for a lot of people out there that's not how it works at all, and that's where my problems come in...

Dr. Gray: How could my boyfriend forget valentines day?

My exclusive stage 3 boyfriend and I are mutually serious. Yet today when I asked him "which weekend do you want to celebrate Valentine's day" he said "oh crap, I completely forgot". We study mars/venus together all the time. How could this happen? I was hurt because I've been planning for it the last couple weeks.

Because people - women, this is not something that's expected of men, who aren't presumed to fetishize Love and Romance in the abstract to the same extent - ask questions like this in all seriousness. I have no idea what an exclusive stage three boyfriend is (it sounds like something you order from a catalogue) but by the sounds of this woman's plaints it's meant to come complete with the 'remembers Valentine's Day' feature and she's now afraid her version is defective, because it didn't. She wants a weekend of pampering, he doesn't look good to deliver, and now she's upset about it - and this is in no way like a child pouting because they figured they were somehow owed a present and didn't get one, of course. Romance wrapped up in an I Want.

And because Cosmpolitan reports on Why Guys Forget Valentine's Day as if it was a vital dispatch from the Front of Blokedom that should be studied, memorized and in all likelihood eaten so it doesn't fall into enemy hands. God forbid you just ask your partner or make your expectations known and plan something together. Nope, far better to drop coy little hints and trust he'll do the rest because that's what men do on Valentine's Day - or should do!

And because there are people - women - who seriously measure the success or failure of their relationship by how their partners - their men - perform on Valentine's Day. Success, of course, is measured in terms of how much time and money he was induced to spend; coming home in a panic with a few forlorn roses after someone at work mentioned it was Valentine's Day is proof he's just going through the motions and is losing interest in them. Forgetfulness or disinterest? Taken, by some women, as a sign that he doesn't really love them and Men are from Mars-style proof of male insensitivity.

And because there are girls out there wondering if there's something the matter with them because they're apparently not appropriately devastated that their boyfriends forgot to circle the date.

I am sick of seeing women being told, by implication or otherwise, that they're doing it wrong for not wanting to live in an episode of Sex and the City.

But it's not only that. I am sick, sick, sick of the Men-are-from-Mars-And-Women-Can't-Read-Maps crap that has people acting like men and women are two completely different species whose behavior needs to be studied and interpreted, not fellow human beings. I am sick of seeing books and magazines and aspirational lifestyle shows looking at the opposite gender through the patronizing lens of the nineteenth-century anthropologist. I am sick of people tut-tutting and shaking their heads over every little difference between women and men as if they were proof that these people on the other side of the fence were irredeemably alien (and, in all likelihood, somehow inadequate) rather than truly attempting to communicate, to understand and to embrace.

Yes, I'm tired of Valentine's Day because I'm tired of the politics of it. I don't have any strong on opinions on it as a festival, and I wish there was some way to preserve the bit that let people had fun, but without the absurdly gendered expectations it brings with it. I'm tired of all the stupidity surrounding it and of the fact that having been born female apparently makes me one of the designated enforcers. Because I'm a girl and girls like this stuff, right?

So, what I want gone? I want the presumption that, as a woman, I should want to join the Romance Police gone. I'm tired of the implication that I should be judging the success or otherwise of my relationship by how much my boyfriend spent on me because Hallmark told him he had to. I'm tired of the expectation that I should want to force the man I want to spend the rest of my life with into empty displays of conspicuous consumption because he's afraid that if he doesn't I'll think he doesn't care, so he wants to stave off two weeks of sulking and my throwing it at him in every argument between now and Christmas. I don't think any of that, and thank God my boyfriend knows it. I would be horrified if he thought he had to romance me by obligation because oh my God it's Valentine's Day. I'd rather he gave me flowers on one of the 364 days in the year the calendar didn't say he was supposed to.

I know it's never going to happen. But if it's what we'd do if we had the power to change things? The gender politics of it would be my choice for the axe.
sevendials: (youji - pale divine)
2011-02-12 03:52 pm
Entry tags:

What Do You Think You're Doing?

I've just been witness to an epiphany as regards badfic plotting.

First things first: this wasn't my epiphany. It was actually [ profile] rokesmith's, proving yet again which of us is truly the brains of this operation. It came upon him last night, with me complaining about the latest Act of Mary Stupidity I'd inflicted on myself. And I listened - well, read, IMs are convenient like that - and I wondered why I had never thoiught of that one, and I agreed with every single word.

He's letting me borrow it, though, so I can write about it. I think this deserves a wider audience than just me.

So: an epiphany as regards badfic plotting, and I specify badfic plotting rather than fanfic plotting for a reason. Fanfics, the good ones, the ones that actually pay attention to what the Hell they're doing, aren't the issue and don't have this problem, and they don't have this problem because a good piece of fanfiction is, by definition, an in-character one. An out-of-character fanfiction may be a perfectly functional story, but sadly that, when writing fan works, isn't quite enough. A good story can still be a bad fanfiction.

So what does good characterization have to do with fanfic plotting - or badfic plotting?

Turns out it has everything to do with it. Now read on...

From an in-universe perspective a plot - any plot, fanfic or original - is going to be dependent on characters to drive it along. It's the characters as a group that kick-start a plot in the first place; it's the characters who have to deal with the events that arise from that plot; and it's how the characters deal with the situations they're placed in as a result which will govern where the plot takes them next. Your characters' decisions and actions will dictate how your plot unfolds. Simple. That being the case, you the author have got to know who your characters are and how they'll react in a given situation to have any idea in what direction your plot is going to branch and what's going to happen to them next.

So, characters drive plots. The problems start to arise when a group of characters who are supposed to be intelligent adults whose car breaks down won't logically, say, reach the conclusion that the only way out of their situation is to go into Death Forest. If it is vital to the plot that they go into Death Forest, that can lead to all sorts of problems. This is why we sometimes get Idiot Plots, and an Idiot Plot - it bears repeating - is a plot which does the following:

'Idiot Plot' is a term for a plot that hangs together only because the main characters behave like idiots. A single intelligent move or question by any of the characters, and all problems would be resolved. It's not so bad if the characters are supposed to be acting like idiots, but it's very bad if the Idiot Plot depends on a character suddenly acting stupid enough for the plot to work. Even worse is the "second-order idiot plot", in which the plot can only function if every character involved suddenly loses about 50 IQ points.

From Idiot Plot, TV Tropes.

And one of the surefire ways to end up with an Idiot Plot on your hands? Removing all stable sense of characterization from your cast.

A plot, any plot, is as much about what your characters, alone or in combination, won't do as it is about what they will. You should, as an author, be able to say very clearly: no, this character won't behave like that. They won't go into the forest. And if your plot really needs to take them there, you're going to have to find someone else to go there - for instance, perhaps the one who wouldn't go would follow one who did - or some other reason for them to go. Because if that character wouldn't go into the forest and you make them do it anyway, you're not paying any attention to who that character is - and, worse than that, your plot loses a vital mooring. If the characters can do anything at all, if you don't know what they'll do quite happily and what they would never consider, how do you narrow what they'll do next down?

If it happened once, it'll probably keep on happening. An author who sacrifices characterization once to better fit their idea of what they want to see happen next is an author who'll likely do it again and again. The end result? Vague, ill-defined, uninteresting characters with personalities like a piece of silly putty, who are whatever the Hell the story needs them to be at that point in time.

And that? That is one of the reasons Mary Sue fanfiction often falls so painfully flat.

A Mary Sue is an idealization. She is the center of everything, she has the answer to every question and is the solution to every problem, and she is always right. Either she is treated as right from the start, with nobody (or at least nobody sympathetic) questioning what she's saying; less frequently characters her creator wishes to portray as unsympathetic will question or challenge her - but one way or another are invariably proved wrong, as she turns out to have been right all along or have a totally legitimate reason for acting the way she did. A character like that, who can do no wrong, cannot carry a story. They're uninteresting to read about because they have no road to travel, no lessons they need to learn, nothing they need to overcome. Things just come too easy to a Mary Sue, and that is one of the reasons they're so infuriating to read about. Why the things they inhabit are not stories but fantasies.

Plots need conflict. A character who is both the cause and the resolution of everything that happens, who is always right and is whatever she has to be at any given moment to best achieve her aims isn't really a character at all. That's why the standard Mary Sue's overly contradictory personality - cold-hearted but loving, shy yet outgoing, charming but rude, all things to all people depending on what will serve her needs best at the time - is so unsatisfying. If she can do or be whatever the Hell she likes, where are the limitations? Where's the focus? And where in the world does that leave the plot?

If a character is supposed to be supernaturally perfect, the plot breaks every time it hits a point of actual conflict. You'd almost start to wonder if Mary Sues thought it was a dirty word, or something that was far too normal and ordinary to be acknowledged by a wondrous creature such as themselves.

A plot that has been pressed to the service of a character like that cannot help but be boring as sin. Because plots need conflict and one of the only ways to get a really good conflict going? Is for your characters to fuck up from time to time.

Of course, there's a difference between a character-driven screwup and a group of idiots constantly failing their Int rolls.

This is another standard problem for badficcers. Conflicts that arise simply because the characters - as in the standard Idiot Plot - have suddenly dropped about fifty IQ points. Yes, conflict is a good thing, but a conflict that arises because, say, an intelligent grown adult has jumped to a conclusion about a close friend and instead of clarifying it with that friend, has run off in a sulk? That's the precise opposite of good plotting.

Of course, there are some characters this would be perfectly understandable from: the problems arise when someone who was previously established as cool and rather calculating as opposed to hot-tempered and impulsive is the one running off in a sulk rather than actually trying to communicate with their friend. Almost as bad is if the hot-headed one is the one who runs off and their friends, previously established as level-headed and rational, don't actually try and do anything about it despite knowing full well that the conclusion he has jumped to is inaccurate, simply because the plot relies on the hot-headed one running off and getting into danger... and, as the cherry on this woeful cake of poor plotting, forgetting that he's perfectly capable of looking after himself and falling victim to something he's supposed to be perfectly able to handle.

It sounds stupid put like that, and yet I've seen it. I've seen it and things like it happening in fan work after fan work for no more reason than this is what the ficcer wants to have happen and damn whether or not the characters in question are remotely likely to get into that situation in the first place.

The plot is the variable. The characters shouldn't be.

The characters - especially in a fan work, where the pre-existing characters are why we the readers are here - should, no matter what situation they have been put into, be themselves and remain themselves. If they change over the course of the story the audience should be able to see that change, should be able to follow the path of it and understand the logic of it. It should not simply be sprung on them without warning because you can't find any other way to get them to behave the way you want them to; that's not only bad writing, it's lazy writing. If your fanfic's plot isn't workable without making the regulars break character in order to fulfil its demands, no matter how good the resulting story may be the fanfic is a bad one.
sevendials: (ken - kiss the flower boy)
2011-02-08 03:32 pm

On Headcanon

The sun is in my eyes, the cat is in next door's yard doing cat things, and I just dropped [ profile] somarium.

No particular dramas there or anything - I just didn't feel I was pulling my weight any more and the best thing to do about that was probably to just go, end of story, rather than take yet another hiatus that might well not have solved the problem. I already kind of miss it and feel a bit sad about letting Ken go there, but sticking with it just because I knew I'd feel bad about going wouldn't have been fair on everyone else. If I'm going to be a flake and try and work out if my RP drive has gone or just gone underground for a time, the least I can do is do it on my own time and not leave anyone else hanging.

Besides, I'd been playing him there for almost a year, from February 2010 until, well, yesterday - whatever happens next, he had a damn good run and I had a damn good time. Don't be sad because it's over, be glad because it happened, I guess. I'll get there, for now I'm just a little caught up feeling low.

In an attempt to take my mind off things, or just to honor my passing in some weird way that makes sense only to myself and even then only barely, here's a meme I saw posted during my time in the game. Specifically it's on head canon: on the weird little things that long-term RPing, or even long-term ficcing, sees people adding to their take on a character for no more reason than situations are going to arise that lead to the ficcer or roleplayer having to fill gaps and plug holes - basically they're eventually going to have to start making things up. Even the most comprehensive of canons is unlikely to cover everything, and Weiss Kreuz is absolutely not the most comprehensive of canons.

Share (around) fifteen little-known facts/headcanon tidbits/personal quirks for your character(s) and bask in your new-found wealth of information!

Get your writing excitement going by incorporating these neat little bits where you can, or by coming up with new ones!

I didn't answer it then, for various reasons that are far too tedious to rehearse but must have made sense to me at the time. Either I was on hiatus or my computer was acting up or I was deeply uninspired and just couldn't think of fifteen things to say about Ken, weirdly: something like that, anyway. Still, one way or another I'll definitely be writing Ken again in the future - of course I will, I'm me - so when I remembered this meme existed it still seemed worth the doing and, having been done, worth sharing after the fact.

Most of these facts are... well, more kind of not. Where they're canonical, I'll explain where I got it. Otherwise, assume I made it up.

  • Ken's favorite type of music is J-pop and he secretly fanboys Ayumi Hamasaki. His major complaint with the radio station J-Wave is it plays the Titanic song way too much. He doesn't like the Titanic song; it sounds depressing and it's stupidly overplayed.

  • He likes to cook and though he's not exactly what anyone would call brilliant at it at this stage in the game and pays no attention whatsoever to the small matter of presentation, he's perfectly competent. He learned through sheer necessity: when in training it was expected he'd eat regularly and healthily, and while Ken isn't at all averse to convenience food or snacks, he doesn't want to live off them. His favorite food, as confirmed in the Theater of Pain Drama CD, is curry rice.

  • Ken is a morning person, though it might be truer to say he has a lot of energy as he's perfectly capable of being a night owl too. He's capable of getting by on very little sleep, but is happier when he's properly rested. His morning routine involves getting up at around six or half past, going for a run, taking a quick shower then preparing breakfast. You will eat breakfast or he'll hit you.

  • He'd have made rather a good soldier. As revealed in the A Four Leaf Clover Drama CD, Ken was trained as an urban guerilla by a bunch of crazy survivalists in the mountains. His stated aim while there was to destroy the group from the inside, something he ultimately achieved by setting the members against one another, but Kritiker took the excuse to get him combat-ready for free as well. Which wins some kind of award for sheer brazenness. He became scarily proficient with firearms while there - he's perfectly comfortable using a machine gun, and taking down a helicopter with an RPG is no mean feat - but while he's rather good with guns, he just doesn't like using them much.

  • Where the rest of Weiss are cat people, Ken is a dog person. if he had a spirit animal it'd probably be a Shiba Inu.

  • Ken wants children - maybe not right now, but definitely someday - and has done since he was a kid himself. It's not something he's obsessive about and he's realistic enough to know that his being able to settle down and start a family is about as likely as being picked for the next manned space flight, but he still wants them.

  • Though Ken is extremely ambitious, he left school at fifteen and never even sat his high school entrance exams: as a rising athlete he already knew what he wanted to do with his life and was working under the assumption that he simply wouldn't need to go. Though things really didn't work out as he planned, Ken doesn't particularly regret not going.

  • He's actually a pretty decent florist. Ken didn't start out enjoying the work any more than the rest of his teammates and still wishes he could do something else from time to time, but he takes the job seriously and it's bred a certain enthusiasm in him. He's the kind of person who hates to be idle, meaning he works hard; he's also enough of a perfectionist to want to do the things he does well, and if that means learning how to take care of plants, arrange flowers so they actually look good and put together Hello Kitty bouquets then that's what he'll do.

  • Ken is quietly religious, but not superstitious. He hasn't been to church for some time but is definitely culturally Catholic.

  • He likes computer games and owns a couple of consoles. Ken has no particular interest in playing sports sims (why bother when playing sport for real is much more fun?), beat 'em ups (too much like work) or first-person shooters (not exactly escapism if you're him, though he makes an exception for arcade games and Time Crisis). He's much fonder of platform games, though most of the new ones aren't that great, driving games and the occasional RPG. Before buying his own machines he spent most of his life as Player Two, and was always Tails in Sonic 2 when he was a kid because Kase's an ass.

  • He is bisexual, though hasn't really acknowledged this even to himself: Kase was just his friend and there was absolutely nothing funny going on there at all, really! Ken has no time for the adage about opposites attracting; he likes to share interests with his partners and thinks a good place to take a date is a tennis court. He is most interested in confident, outgoing, tomboyish girls who are slightly older than he is and prepared to take the lead (read: he has absolutely no idea what he's doing and needs serious help).

  • Ken is short. About five foot three, to be exact. Canon opinion varies on this, as it does about... well, everything else in the show, but the only source that actually takes into account the very obvious height differences between the boys says he's 160 cms tall.

  • He likes, for a given value of the word 'likes', watching bad movies. Bad American action movies in particular, but he'll take pretty much anything as long as it's laughable in a not-boring way. Preferably in company so he can complain about them. One of the ways to tell that he's watching a film he actually likes is he won't be talking all the way through and will likely get annoyed if anyone else tries to talk to him.

  • Ken is a bit of a hausfrau, probably because he's the one who gets most annoyed when things haven't been done or food stocks start to run out. He's usually the one who ends up loading the washing machine and buying dish soap, rice and soy sauce. He's not totally sure if the others even realize food doesn't materialize in the fridge and cupboards by magic. When choosing toiletries, he buys whatever's on offer at the time. The only thing he really has a strong opinion about is toothpaste and that's only because he likes the way the brand he uses tastes.

  • He knows a lot more about Dragonball Z than he'll admit.

That would be everything that's unduly influencing me when I sit down to write about Ken. A fair amount of stuff gleaned from canonical back alleys, a fair amount of stuff I just randomly made up because I needed something and canon wasn't going there, and I thought it sounded right. The J-pop thing, for example - I spent ages trying to work out what Ken's musical tastes ran to, somebody suggested J-pop, perhaps as a joke... it felt right to me from the first moment and it stuck thereafter. That's kind of how this whole thing works for me - bits get picked up from here, there and everywhere, creating a crazy kind of katamari of characterization. I can but hope it seems partway logical all the same.

The end result is my take on Ken and the whole reason I write about him so much. Honestly I think it works rather well. I like him, anyway.
sevendials: (youji x ken - i ship it.)
2011-01-27 05:23 am
Entry tags:

Just Thought You Should Know...

Roses in Rain, Chapter 9: Uptown Girl

... yeah, I really need to work on something serious too, and I am doing, I promise! It's just the thing about Roses in Rain is that its status as one of my less serious works means that I can write it at times when I simply can't do anything more demanding due to [exhaustion/lack of inspiration/just not quite firing on all four cylinders/whatever].

It's an update, it's a sign I am still writing. For that alone I am grateful to it.

I had a pretty productive day today. I managed to get 5,000 words of this fanfic under my belt. 5,000 words. Four scenes, two of them quite serious. Proofing will happen, of course, but later: for now I'm satisfied with words on a page and a new chapter out. I'm honestly pretty pleased with myself. If I can get that much out of a silly fanfic, then I'm probably rather well placed to get a decent amount of ground covered as regards writing in general. Which is pretty good, as Heaven knows there are an awful lot of things I'd like to be working on, including a new and rather brain-eating AU idea. It's the thing that's got me listening to sixties music all of a sudden, and I've not been this honestly excited about a piece of fanfiction in some time...

Finally on the writing front, I'm working on editing Seuche - or as it's now known, Prüfung - into basic readability. It's pretty demanding work and early days yet in terms of ground covered, but I'm tentatively optimistic. It certainly feels like a stronger piece of writing now, and that's all I can really ask for.
sevendials: (ken - i'm in a box)
2011-01-23 09:20 pm

Who Are You Again?

So, we all know I have a problem with Mary Sues, right? Yadda yadda change the record, laila. I know you're not even very good at doing that with actual music (just how many times have you listened to The Boxer in the last few days apart from Far Too Many, anyway), but you could at least try not to keep on subjecting other people to this stuff, right? Sadly, I can't. Because once again I think - or like to think anyway - that I have found something new this time.

The context? This, and that's the condensed version. The wank that spawned the comment that spawned this rant - focusing on an overpowered blond-haired blue ponything - was a bit of a doozy, if only for the sheer degree of Not Getting It its creator exhibited.

Long story short, there are speshul snowflakes out there, and of course they're bloody infuriating. These snowflakes are created by people who insist that every single ridiculous talent and every single angsty incident that they've piled on the character's beautiful and shapely shoulders forms an integral part of who and what they are to the extent that if even one of those powers was removed or scaled back, or if a single angsty incident was omitted from their tragic past, the character would become broken and unplayable. Because, you know, it's absolutely vital to their sense of self that they play the piano beautifully and sensitively, and were bullied in middle school for Insert Legitimately Angsty Reason here.

The problem is that this isn't an entirely ridiculous idea. It takes a perfectly valid character-building technique - that personal circumstances and history play a vital role in building and shaping character - and turns it into something completely stupid.

The end result is both horrible and predictable.

Yup. This would be Scarlet of Before the Last Cherry Blossom Falls ((FantasyRomance.Open)), the beautiful, saintly, long-suffering and totally legitimately angst-ridden creation of an RPer who goes by the not at all OTT alias of 'ScarletWingsofDestiny'. No, I don't think the fact that her creator has 'Scarlet' in her screenname and has at least two other saintly, long-suffering strawberry-blonde OCs named Scarlet is a coincidence either. The truly terrifying thing? Even other Gaia RPers think that 'ScarletWingsofDestiny' is a Suethor. If you're repelling the kind of people who join a Pokemon RP entitled Discover Your Destiny ((Pokemon. Please Join. Need People)) on Gaia Online, you probably need to think a little harder about what you're doing.

Which brings me to the heart of this rant, and the thing I wanted to highlight.

If you cannot write about your OC without falling back on their speshul powers of speshulness and angst past of angst, you need to go back to the drawing board and start again. Only adding an actual personality this time.

Past angst and speshul powers of speshulness are optional extras. They're nice enough, I guess, but they aren't any kind of substitute for possessing an actual personality. Going on about how special your character is and how tragic their past was doesn't actually tell us anything about them. It tells a reader where they come from and that you think that we should be impressed with them for overcoming it anyway and being so awesomely shiny, but it doesn't tell us what the Hell they are like. You should still be able to tell a reader who the Hell your character actually is without mentioning their terrible past, their special abilities or deeply significant bling - or, for thatr matter, who they're there to hook up with. Because none of that is really about them.

You the author should, in fact, be able to do this without any trouble whatsoever.

Imagine your character wakes up alone in a strange place with no memory of how they got there, no powers, no cool toys, nothing. They can speak the local language, maybe they even know their name, but that's about it. They have to figure out who they are and what's going on and what to do without much of anything to go on. How do they behave? What core traits of their personality are going to come out? If you don't know [...], that would mean that they don't actually have a core personality, or at least not one you're willing or able to explore.

[ profile] master_simon

Taking Ken Hidaka and subjecting him to this thought experiment produces the following:

His first reaction would be confusion. That would be very quickly replaced by the desire to look around for who was responsible for stranding him there in the first place. If he saw anyone who looked like they might have something to do with it, he would corner them as quickly as possible and demand to know what was going on. Words would be exchanged and punches might be thrown. He would then set about trying to find a way out of there and back to wherever the Hell he did belong, because it clearly wasn't there. He wouldn't be prepared to believe that nobody knew what had happened to him or could fix it, and would be determined to figure out who and how. He would be far more concerned with getting back to where he was meant to be than with working out who he was: he'd likely figure that could come later. He would not win many friends for himself by virtue of being confused and irritable most of the time, though he'd find it easy enough to get out there and get talking to people.

This, bear in mind, is a character from Weiss Kreuz, a series that is not exactly famed for its deep and nuanced sense of characterization. The main cast are heavily, heavily archetype-based, and for all they're also fairly appealing characters to watch in action, their roots are basically pretty generic. And yet working out what Ken Hidaka would do in the situation above was actually very easy. Because yes he's got gloves and goggles and an orange sweater, and he likes soccer and has an angst past, but he also has a personality. Ken is a self-confident, stubborn, easily confused hothead who'll keep worrying at problems until he's either managed to solve them or, more likely, found someone he can yell at or hit until they solve them.

A basic, non-contradictory personality is absolutely all a character needs for anybody who writes about them to be able to reply to that question both quickly and easily. Because let's face it, this should not be even remotely problematic to answer. If your character is even as well-defined as the ones in Weiss Kreuz, and you understand them about as well as a decent canon-character roleplayer does one of their muses, it should take about five minutes.

Which means anyone who is sitting there scratching their head or complaining that it's Just Too Hard to explain who their character is without falling back on their angst and speshul has created a character who doesn't actually possess a personality. If they as an individual can't work out how to solve a problem as simple as who am I and where is this without falling back on, say, magical powers or their daddy issues then they'tre not actually a character, they're just a loose affiliation of special powers and personal traumas formed into the vague shape of a person. Most likely a person with tumbling locks and curves in all the right places. Cat ears may or may not be involved.

In short, they need to go back and try again. And realize that 'cute, nice, shy, determined, will fight anyone who hurts her friends' doesn't actually cut it when it comes to defining who a character is next time.
sevendials: (ken - chibi)
2011-01-12 05:05 pm
Entry tags:

Get it Off (My Computer)

My Gaia avatar continues to be a pretty, pretty princess.

The reason for this is no doubt related to the fact that I am still broke and blobby. If I could play Pretty Princess Dress-Me-Up for real I likely wouldn't need a virtual paper doll to do it for me but as I can't, the paper doll it is. Oh well, at least it's moderately fun and rather cheaper than trying to maintain a fabulous wardrobe in real life is. Plus, far less fussing with those oh-god-everything-in-the-shops-looks-crap-on-me moments which make actually doing this thing for real so dispiriting. I went shopping with my mother at Bluewater this Christmas, you can't tell me this isn't a very real problem.

Anyway, the avatar at least is a pretty princess (she's added another string to her bow and as well as being obsessed with cats, she's also obsessed with wigs) and considerably less difficult to dress, so that's the appeal right there. Which means it's on with the image dumping because having saved these things, I might as well do something with them.

I'd explain what the deal with some of these are except that's going to be so damn boring I don't think even I have the patience to write it. Instead let's insert the usual statement of the 'wow what a filler' school here and I guess we can all go back to our own beds or something, at least until I decide my updating schedule has gotten even worse (which would be something I honestly dread to see) and sit down to do this again.
sevendials: (smile like you mean it)
2010-12-23 02:40 am
Entry tags:

It's That Time of Year Again.

Specifically, the time of year where I celebrate a fictional character's birthday because I seriously have no shame, conversely also no pride, and definitely nothing you might call a life.

Yup, once again it is Ken Hidaka's birthday and I am marking it.

I lack cake. I lack candles. I also lack fanfic, which is perhaps the most unforgivable thing of all given that I took prompts for Ken-centric ficlets an amazing ho-hum length of time ago and have yet to complete a single one of them, for which I probably owe the poor kid an apology. Good intentions but an indequate metholodogy: that's me.

I want to wish him a happy birthday anyway. Because I can, because I adore him even if I have a bloody funny way of showing it sometimes - well, most of the time really - and because two years, or maybe three years, of doing this makes for a tradition and I am a bit of a stickler for tradition, at least as regards this time of year. I decorate the Christmas tree; I go to a Carol service; today it's Ken's birthday, so I'm posting to mark it and it has to be done on the day. I can't do anything else for him what with him being fictional and all (unless somehow symbolically refraining from writing about terrible things happening to him for 24 hours counts).

If I weren't always at my parents' on December 23rd, I probably would have cake...

And I would ask for more prompts, but I haven't written any of the first lot yet.

Instead of taking prompts, then, I'm going to make a promise that I will do my damndest to keep. The first of those prompt ficlets? In honor of what [ profile] rokesmith once alled my Subtext of Choice, 'm going to try and get it done by Youji's birthday. Ken needs to catch a break every now and then, and I need to get better at writing to order.

Anyway. Ken Hidaka's birthday. Ken, if he were a real person, would be pushing thirty even harder than I am by now. He's not. He's constantly stuck - at least in my mind - at nineteen, a pretty difficult age at the best of times and not a good one to be stuck at more or less eternally. Not that there's really a lot I can do about this save get into Weiss Side B and even then he'd still be several years younger than he ought to be. Though that's kind of a moot point as, to me, Ken Hidaka ought to be nineteen, which would be why he's gotten stuck. Dtuck in my fanfic and stuck at a difficult age - and, more often than not, stuck with Youji. That's the kind of fangirl I am. The kind who posts LJ entries to mark her favorite character's birthday and thinks that making him kiss his best friend is somehow A Good Idea.

I'm not entirely sure Ken would consider that to be catching a break, but I'd like to imagine that at least on some level he enjoyed it.
sevendials: (into the unknown)
2010-12-11 11:11 pm
Entry tags:

General Ignorance

Today's update is bought to you by Google and my desire to know where in the Philippines Cebu is. Please don't ask why I wanted to know where exactly Cebu is, just take it on trust that I did. Yes, that does mean the reason was daft enough that even I'm embarrassed to share it and that should probably tell you something...

Anyway, the end result is that I was looking at maps. Specifically, I was conducting a Google search for 'world maps'. I know, 'map of Asia' would have made more sense but we can all be logical in hindsight. I just like world maps, always have, though I like satellite views of the world from space better. I'm less interested in what goes where than I am in what it all looks like.

But no, I was looking for maps. For some reason, among a lot of political maps and topographical maps most of wehich were too small to be much use, and attempts to get me to buy a version I could actually find Cebu on, that led to me stumbling across this and immediately becoming somewhat distracted.

Trust me on this one: you need to see this thing at full size.

Sometimes, I wish I was better at geography and looking at this satellite picture is one of those times. Someone who actually knew what things went where could probably pick out and name all the major population centers using this image. I can only get the really obvious ones, and beyond that point I'm just looking at the patterns the lights are making and wondering what some of those lines of light are following. Roads? National boundaries? Rivers? You can see the upper course of the Nile that way; you can trace the border between South and North Korea. It's even possible to see the deserts, if only because nobody bothers to build there. (Exception: Las Vegas. What kind of dizzy spell made that seem like a good idea?)

I don't really understand what I'm looking at here, and I know it's not necessarily a good sign that the world from space, when sunk in darkness, looks like this. All the same, I can't help but like to look at it.
sevendials: (trouble maker)
2010-12-07 10:09 pm

Remember to Use Gloves

As you probably don't know if you're not one of the two people I have been boring silly about this, I recently cracked under the pressure and started watching CSI: NY.

As usual, my first real reaction to this - after boring said select audience of two to death - was to take a look at what the fandom was doing, and as usual what this meant was a quick trip to The Pit in the company of [ profile] rokesmith. Stated objective? To find out if CSI: NY fans, or at least that portion of them as haunted the Pit, could possibly be as utterly insane as that portion of Weiss Kreuz fans who do the same.

Hey, it's scientific. I'm doing science. I'm totally sticking to the spirit of things here.

And that would be why I visited the CSI: NY Pit Archive. Of course, I wouldn't be me if I hadn't - based on my exhaustive observation of the Weiss Kreuz fandom - already had some idea of what I was going to find there. Only, perhaps, without the ridiculous amount of slash what with CSI: NY most likely not being One Of Those Fandoms. But, since live-action TV fandoms are supposedly considered in Fandom Snob circles to be way less ridiculous than anime and manga fandoms - the fanbase skews older, for a start - I was quite prepared to be at least a little surprised.

Form the existence of this LJ rant, you can probably already tell that I very definitely wasn't.

It's Been So Long » by LaUrIsHa-just me reviews
A woman from Flack's past returns. This turns both her and Flack's life upside down. Ch. 35: Revenge is a dish best served cold. F OC. R&R
Rated: T - English - Romance - Chapters: 36 - Words: 90,133 - Reviews: 58 - Updated: 12-7-10 - Published: 1-12-08 - Don F.

This would be one of the first things - not quite the first thing, it's currently the second fic in the list - that any newcomer to the fandom would see on visiting the CSI: NY archives. Some random girl nobody's ever heard of showing up, dumping all her emotional baggage at the feet of Detective Flack and then expecting that he'll know exactly what to do with it because he's a man - and, just in case that wasn't enough, pouring scorn all over any canon female who so much as shows an interest because He's Mine You Bitch. For ninety thousand words.

Besides, what the Hell kind of lame-ass title is It's Been So Long anyway? Or, for that matter, Find what were looking for, Upon The Midst or Say When And My Own Two Hands Will Comfort You? Looks like it's not only the Weiss Kreuz fandom has issues with deeply shitty fic titles...

In short? It's basically just like the Weiss Kreuz Pit archive, just with far less bad slash and - horrifyingly - rather more Mary Sues. I skimmed back through the listings for the first two hundred fics in the archive, which I think presents a fairly good representative sample of what the fandom's doing without actually having to sit down and read the damn things. As well as seeing absolutely nothing I actually thought I might have wanted to read, I've come to these preliminary conclusions about the basic fanon as regards the CSI: NY cast. They may, of course, not be entirely correct - but that's what you get when you take a fanficcer's own word for it as to what their story's actually about.

  • The Convenient Relative:
    Mac. This may well be because Mac is awesome but is also Gary Sinise, making him a little old and not conventionally attractive enough for the standard sexy-twentysomething Mary Sue. Far better to say he's your Mary Sue's long-lost [father/uncle/brother] and got her a job in the crime lab - never mind that if anybody in the show is definitely not going to be swayed by 'but I'm your niece gissa job' it's Mac Taylor.

  • The Awesome Character Who Gets Ignored For No Very Good Reason:
    Hawkes. I can count the number of summaries in the first eight pages that actually bothered to mention Hawkes on the fingers of both hands. This strikes me as odd since Hawkes was one of the first characters that I noticed and, aside from Mac and Stella, the first of the team I decided that I really liked to just watch work simply because it was him doing it. Looks to me like I've found the CSI: NY answer to Ken 'Hi, Just Checking In, You Can Get On With The Lame Romance Now' Hidaka and yet again he's one of my favorite characters. Fuck my luck.

  • The Walking Suebait:
    Flack. Flack, Flack, Flack. Flack has a rough time of it in canon and is played by a guy whose looks can best be described as 'a weak solution of Cillian Murphy', so I have to admit I saw this one coming a mile off. Flack is hot and angsty. The end result? He's the one who spends most of his time beating off new crime-lab technicians, randomly-appearing old flames and mysterious girls of mystery with criminal connections with a nightstick. Because the standard, fangirl-mandated cure for heartbreak, bereavement and damn near any other issue an attractive guy might have is 'apply this Mary Sue to the affected parts and wait'. And, on the subject of Mary Sues...

  • The Resident Possession Sue:
    Angell. She's dating Flack and dies tragically. Do I have to say any more? I seriously hope not because I'm only on Season Two (and started with the finale of Season One) and I have no idea who this girl is aside from that.

  • That One Pairing:
    Mac/Stella. (It has a stupid namesmushed pairing name, but I refuse to use it on principle because I hate namesmushes and pairing names.) I can't claim to be utterly immune to the charm of Mac and Stella as a pairing either, but I'm ultimately with [ profile] rokesmith on this: I like it better that they're not a couple and seriously wish that fandom didn't have to turn every single close friendship out there into 'hey baby'. I hate the idea that a close friendship between a man and a woman can't ever be just that. Do we really have to sexualize everything, guys?

It's also quite possible that Lindsay is the resident Possession Sue as far as Danny is concerned - Danny himself just isn't anywhere near as popular a target as that poor bastard Flack is. He does occasionally get Mary Sues pitching up and hurling themselves at him, and sometimes this goes as far as having him ditch Lindsay because she's apparently less awesome than the Mary Sue (which I can already tell you now for nowt isn't going to happen) but fandom seems a lot more content to let him stick with his canonical partner. Lucky him, I guess.

Of course, that's just the team itself and not the end of my observations. I've noted another couple of distressing trends in the fandom as a whole, specifically:

  • But my friends call me...
    Just like Weiss Kreuz fandom, the CSI: NY fanbase doesn't quite seem to have gotten their heads round the fact that some characters are referred to by their family names by preference. The problem's particularly pronounced with Flack and Angell, frequently referred to in fanfic summaries as Don and Jess - or, to a newbie like me, as 'who the Hell are these characters anyway?'.

  • New Girls in Town:
    They're almost always new lab tachnicians who pitch up from nowhere claiming to be Mac's latest hire, complete with some Leet Skill chosen from the 'Forensic Science' pages on Wikipedia or some other police procedural about forensic scientists, never mind how much actual use the team might actually get out of this. Yes, forensic anthropology might look cool on Bones but has limited application in a show where most of the bodies are in one piece and have been dead for less than a day. Failing that, they're likely to be innocents targeted by criminals for whatever highly speshul reason - or Flack's high-school sweethearts.

  • Don't you guys have jobs?
    And this would be the CSI: NY answer to Weissfics which fail to let the assassins assassinate anyone. Stories where a team of people who are interesting at least partly because of the fact that they're forensic scientists don't seem even remotely interested in doing anything related to forensic science. Instead they stand around angsting about their love lives, go on vacations, sweep randomly-appearing shiny girls off their feet or end up at high school for no reason. Presumably all the murderers in New York decided to take a quick holiday or something?

You know, I think I may stay over here in the Weiss Kreuz fandom, where it's... well, if not exactly safe, at least where I expect things to be kind of samey. I don't honestly know if I could handle setting up camp somewhere else and seeing the exact same things as happened where I was before happening to a completely different group of characters because God forbid that a fandom actually did something original with its premise. Besides, Flack Sues were horrifying enough as a prospect. Actually reading them would hurt me, and I know damn well if I stayed there too long I'd start...

You know a fandom's got a problem when someone who's seen all of eight episodes is backing away slowly, but I guess fangirls are fangirls everywhere.