Writers Anonymous
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That Way

Wow. I've been on ff dot net for a while, but only started visiting the forums two days ago and am amazed that such a place exists. It's absolutely wonderful.

Anyway to get on the topic:

Corinne Tate said (sorry, don't know how to quote yet): "I wanted to write a darker story than Twilight, and I chose this Romanian vamp to be the blood-sucking fiend. Half the story barely touched on the Twilight material, but then it did bump into the more familiar canon characters. For the length of the story, it's probably my least read. I don't think it's because it wasn't a good idea or a good story, but because the fandom of Twilight is all about those precious pairings, and the pretty people."

I write/read almost exclusively within the Harry Potter fandom and I can say I've encountered the same thing there as well. I've seen some of the absolutely most AMAZINGLY well-written stories go virtually ignored as far as reviews go because they weren't centered around a romantic pairing. It's a shame since there's so much more to the original Harry Potter series than just romance, yet it completely dominates fanfiction. And OC-based or incredibly minor-character based stories suffer even more (about the only thing that can get them any attention IS pairing them up with a popular character).

As far as the 'villain' discussion...I can find just about any character interesting to read or write so long as he or she isn't a total saint or the devil incarnate (though I actually did once write an original story where the devil WAS an actual character...but he wasn't a cartoon-ish stereotype). I find the more 'morally ambiguous' the character, the more I'm fascinated which is why I'm taking a long time in developing the major villains for my own fic so that they're 3-dimensional and fully-realized while peppering in other, small time villains in the meantime who serve more as plot devices or already have solid back stories from the source canon material to keep things exciting in the meantime.

However, I remember one of the first original stories I ever turned in for assignment in a fiction writing class in college had...well not a villain, but an unsympathetic protagonist. MY teacher LOVED the story, but told me it was a MAJOR problem that the reader couldn't "root" for the protagonist. Even when at the end of piece the protagonist started questioning his behavior and takes the first step toward changing, the teacher said it was a case of "too little, too late" but also made it clear that a sudden 180 would just make it unrealistic which meant my story was doomed either way unless I went back and changed the whole thing.

Since then I've strayed away from writing unsympathetic characters in both fanfiction and in my original writing. I really took the teacher's words to heart and sometimes I wonder if maybe I should give it another shot now that I have a few more years' experience under my belt with character development and portrayal.

HOWEVER, I do think it a good rule in-general, at least for original fiction and definitely for works of substantial length. A short story or one-shot with an unlikeable main character can work, but I find it unlikely you could keep a reader reading about someone they're supposed to hate for 300 pages. I do think it works a little bit easier to do in fanfiction than original fiction in writing an unlikeable or unsympathetic protagonist/main character. At least in Harry Potter, there are fans of pretty much every character, no matter how 1-dimensionally evil or pathetic or hate-worthy the character is in the canon material. Obviously people have found some reason to like the character, so you already have an audience even if it's a small one whereas an original story will have quite the uphill battle trying to create and maintain fans.

Sometimes I'm bothered by the portrayal of villains in fanfiction. In Harry Potter, a lot of the 'bad' guys are redeemed and go through drastic character changes in fanfiction and it makes me wonder why the author wanted to write about them at all as they become completely ooc. I don't mind tales of redemption, even if they're usually cliched, but I like to see the villain still remain true to his person even if he learns to stop being such a prick all the time.

6/3/2012 #451
Maryilee

Regarding reviews--I used to crave them and even would get angry when I'd see a Mary Sue in my fandom get dozens of reviews per every one I would receive. Ugh. It still ticks me off, but looking at those dozens of reviews, most were just 'luv IT! Update sooooooooonnnnn!'. While I didn't get a lot of reviews, I felt the ones I did get were more in depth, overall.

Now that my stories are 'out there' on Amazon and Goodreads, I have mixed feelings when I see I have a new review. Now a bad review can mean lost sales, so I kind of cringe until I see what number of stars the review has. If it's good, I breathe a sigh of relief, if it's bad, I get a sick feeling in my stomach . Also, oddly enough, I get more reviews on my original stuff than I ever did on fanfiction. One thing that frustrates me is that on ffn, it is thoughtful for the author of the fic to thank the reviewer, but on Amazon or Goodreads, any response is considered inappropriate. I have made a few responses, one in regards to a formatting issue that I corrected. (to let future readers know) and one because a reader said my book was the first they had read on their Kindle and I was honored. :-) I didn't get any negative feedback on those responses, but readers have said that they leave reviews for other readers, not the author, and although they know that the author may read them, they can push that out of their mind if there is no interaction with the author. However, if the author responds--even with a simple thank you--that can make readers unwilling to speak their mind about a book. Bad reviews must be ignored no matter what. O.o

Regarding unlikable characters--I have a character that I created in fanfic and I was intrigued enough with him that I then turned into the main bad guy in my first novel. I showed several scenes from his pov a little later in the book (after he'd tortured my main, very likable character!) and it turned out he was someone who wasn't actually evil. He was just doing his job the best he could. Over the course of the three book series he's become a reader favorite, and I have to say, he's one of my favorite characters to write.

My least favorite was a bad guy I created in another fanfic. I then turned him into a bad guy in book two of my original series. I tried to give him a pov that showed why he was bad, but I never really liked the guy. He was creepy. lol. No matter what, I couldn't seem to find any redeeming characteristics to give him. A few readers thought I did a good job with him, but most don't say anything one way or another. I worry that he is a cardboard cutout bad guy. With that in mind, I brought in a new bad guy in book three, and while the circumstances were much different than book one, I think I was able to put a human face on him. Readers might have hated him in the beginning, but I hope by the end, they weren't sure if they hated him or not. So far, it's only been three months and I've received a dozen reviews on the book. All were good, but didn't specifically mention the bad guy, that I can recall.

6/3/2012 #452
Corinne Tate

I've written the protagonist with antagonistic tendencies in an original work. I wrote her in first person, and for about the first ten chapters she was fine and likable. Then she committed the cardinal sin in a romance novel -- she cheated on the hot love interest. She didn't just fall into a mistake, she seduced someone else, right on the heels of her lover's forced absence. Oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Some readers quit reading right there, after firing off an angry review condemning her actions and calling her names. But I had my reasons. I was about to end the story and cue the happy music, when an idea of such gleeful, mischievous, evil took me, and in place of the ending, I wrote an abduction. My main character was kidnapped by her lover's rival.

She made a deal with him, that she would be his lover, if he sent her main man home unmolested. He agreed, and she then took on that role. I thought my readers were going to hunt me down and pull out my fingernails. But it was in interacting with this villain, who became sympathetic, that her issues came out. Long term, childhood sexual abuse, had warped her whole idea of what love and sex should mean. To her it was a tool, and a means to an end. It was all she was good for and good at as a child. It was what she did when her life was most out of control.

I think that characters can do wrong, and be imperfect, and still have us root for them.

Laud, I've read Treed, and I do plan to get around to writing the reviews you deserve for that story. I think that story is missing its protagonist; as Elleluleniel (from memory, sorry) is more the helpless victim than a protagonist. And the orcs don't even come close, no matter how amusing they can be at times. Though one of your reviewers was "shipping" her with her kidnapper, and I sincerely hope it was a very early review.

Yet that story points out that some things are good to read, just because it makes us think, and shines a light on human (or orc) nature. I think we can see aspects of ourselves in such characters, and it serves as a warning. Your orcs are so without conscience, it's shocking how casually they treat death, murder, torture, r***, and the complete ruin of someone else's life just for their own amusement. And yet you haven't written anything so unusual that we haven't seen or heard of such things in the real world.

6/3/2012 #453
Hippothestrowl

Welcome to the forum That Way. I agree it's a shame that romance dominates the Harry Potter fics (my own fandom.) I used to wonder why anyone ever read the originals which have less than 1 per cent maybe less than 0.1% of romance. No problem with romance stories (my current one is) but the dominance makes it hard to find anything else. Strangely it was my kickass super-Harry story that got more hits than any other and even in this female-dominated website it looks like most/all reviewers of that story are male. I need to find a way to write a romantic kickass super-Hermione or something I guess to get more hits.

As far as villain-dominated stories you might take a look at a couple of fics by Theowyn of HPG which are the best characterisation of Snape I've ever read - admittedly he's a grey-area villain but I still feel him to be a bad guy.

6/3/2012 #454
That Way

Thanks for the welcome Hippothestrowl. Nice to see another Harry Potter fan as I haven't seen many in the threads I've read so far (or at least not vocal) ones. Like you, I do enjoy the romance, and one of the fics I'm writing is a romance as well, but it's definitely a shame that shipping and romance cause such divides in the fandom while also taking most of the attention away from any other subgenre.

Super!Harry's are definitely good crowd pleasers though. Actually in my experience, Super!Anybody is usually popular in Harry Potter. So if you can combine Super! with romance, you'll definitely have a winner. And Snape stories are really hit-or-miss with me since a lot of people didn't like the explanations we got for him in the last book and have made up their own reasons and motivations (some of which can be really good and creative, but most of the time are terrible), but I'll check out Theowyn. Thanks.

Corinne Tate: "I think that characters can do wrong, and be imperfect, and still have us root for them."

I agree 100%. Perfect characters are dull and boring. Yawn. Give me someone with flaws, someone I can both hate and love, judge for his mistakes yet want to see him redeemed for them. BUT there is a difference between 'flawed' characters and 'unsympathetic' ones. For instance, I don't consider r*** acceptable under any circumstance, but it something that happens in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series on occasion as it takes place (more or less) in a medieval setting where such practices were common. I might find the characters who participate in such actions interesting and fascinating to read, but I cannot 'root' for them.

"I've written the protagonist with antagonistic tendencies in an original work. I wrote her in first person, and for about the first ten chapters she was fine and likable. Then she committed the cardinal sin in a romance novel -- she cheated on the hot love interest."

HA! My fic has two main characters in a relationship and one cheated on the other before the fic starts and the reader only gets bits and pieces of the back story slowly over time. When my readers found out she cheated (12 chapters into the story) there was a huge outcry. I got flaming reviews and PMs, I had people telling me they were going to stop reading, while others lingered and continued to bash my story each chapter as if they wanted to punish me for turning their character into a 's***.' But like you, I had my reasons for doing it and continued writing. It has been a long battle trying to get readers to like her again, and some continue to refuse to do so 14 chapters later. I'm afraid that I'm just not a good enough writer yet to convince my readers she's 'redeemable', but I don't regret the choice as it will allow me to explore so much new territory with the characters as now, if they reconcile, the man will forever wonder if he can trust her again, while the woman will have to deal with her feelings that she somehow needs to find a way to 'make up' for her past actions. I see a lot of drama and interaction unfolding just from these two elements alone.

I don't know if it gets more controversial than including cheating in a romance story. Not really sure how I feel about that being a bigger issue than things like murder or manipulation of others.

6/3/2012 #455
quwelli

Now that my stories are 'out there' on Amazon and Goodreads, I have mixed feelings when I see I have a new review. Now a bad review can mean lost sales, so I kind of cringe until I see what number of stars the review has. If it's good, I breathe a sigh of relief, if it's bad, I get a sick feeling in my stomach . Also, oddly enough, I get more reviews on my original stuff than I ever did on fanfiction. One thing that frustrates me is that on ffn, it is thoughtful for the author of the fic to thank the reviewer, but on Amazon or Goodreads, any response is considered inappropriate. I have made a few responses, one in regards to a formatting issue that I corrected. (to let future readers know) and one because a reader said my book was the first they had read on their Kindle and I was honored. :-) I didn't get any negative feedback on those responses, but readers have said that they leave reviews for other readers, not the author, and although they know that the author may read them, they can push that out of their mind if there is no interaction with the author. However, if the author responds--even with a simple thank you--that can make readers unwilling to speak their mind about a book. Bad reviews must be ignored no matter what. O.o

I didn't know it was considered off-limits for the author to reply. I must admit, I have wondered if authors read the reviews for their books at Amazon or Goodreads. Along this very line--what's considered a "bad' amount of stars at Amazon? Must they all be fours and fives to be good? I've wondered why they have a five star system and not a ten, but I know no one here can answer that.

6/3/2012 . Edited 6/3/2012 #456
Hippothestrowl

Looking at that website it seems to me there are half-stars as well (very unclear but I think so) so the rating is out of ten. This is the same as a fanfiction website I use but where the half-stars are more distinct. Sadly, I'm beginning to think they round down the averages so unless you get all perfect 10's then it always rounds down to 9 (4.5 stars) even if the average is 9.9999999. I'm still testing that though.

6/3/2012 #457
quwelli

Looking at that website it seems to me there are half-stars as well (very unclear but I think so) so the rating is out of ten. This is the same as a fanfiction website I use but where the half-stars are more distinct. Sadly, I'm beginning to think they round down the averages so unless you get all perfect 10's then it always rounds down to 9 (4.5 stars) even if the average is 9.9999999. I'm still testing that though.

I can only see whole stars at amazon.com. As far as being able to rate, anyway.

6/3/2012 . Edited 6/3/2012 #458
Hippothestrowl

Looking again I see you can hover the mouse over the stars to get the true rating. For example,

if you look at The Marriage Bargain it has 4 gold stars plus one completely feint outline star. Hover the mouse over them and it says 4.0 out of 5 stars.

If you look at the Long Way Home it looks about the same but look closely and the feint star has gold on the left side. If you hover the mouse it says 4.4 out of 5.

I agree it's dreadfully unclear and I would never have looked closer if it were not for the other website I mentioned where at least the half-stars are more clearly halves.

6/3/2012 #459
Kitsune no Tora

You can only give a number out of five stars--not increments--when you rate items on Amazon. The portions you see are the average number of stars something received. Averages can have decimal points, but when rating an item, you can't vote in increments our out of ten. Max you can give something is 5/5 stars. Not ten.

6/3/2012 #460
quwelli

Changed my mind. I had posted something here in regard to a certain snowstorm, but realized that might make it snow on this thread, too. Apologies.

6/5/2012 . Edited 6/5/2012 #461
Corinne Tate

That Way, in regards to your story where the character cheated. I have to wonder why so many readers can't tolerate this. I mean I understand cheating in a relationship is a devastating thing, but in the real world, cheating happens. I like the idea of writing what happens after the fact, and getting into the why and the how to pick up and go on afterward. Perhaps the HP readers are too young to understand that it's not always good or easy to just chop that person out of your life and go on. Perhaps it's because many of them have not shared children and a mortgage with someone they love. There are just some subjects where the average age of the readers is very telling, and limiting to some degree.

On another note, I'd like to say 'thank you' to the moderators of Writer's Anonymous. With all the ...changes happening on the site, this forum seems to be a dumping ground for everyone with an ax to grind. It's not fair to you to have to deal with this kind of mess, but you have done so with patience and wisdom. It's to your credit, that this forum is so active and well-run, that people think you might be in charge of some aspect of the site itself. I know I often feel like this is where the site admins should look, if they want to gauge the activity on the site. Whether they do or do not, you have all done a good job in letting people be heard, while not allowing them to take over.

6/5/2012 #462
JadedPhoenixBurning

I'd like to second Corinne's post. Thanks to all that have had to deal with the headaches over that last week. :D

6/5/2012 #463
Lousy Poet Automaton

Genre fiction has certain conventions that a writer violates at his or her peril. The bigger the violation, the better your story has to be to compensate.

Having the protagonist cheat in literary fiction isn't a big deal, because a serious mainstream drama has readers expecting tragic things to happen. Having the protagonist cheat in a romance is difficult, because in the end, romance readers want to identify totally with the protagonist; they do *not* want to see in themselves the possibility that they might cheat.

6/5/2012 #464
Lord Kelvin

I'd like to second JadedPhoenixBurning's post.

6/5/2012 #465
Lousy Poet Automaton

Good luck to the forum moderators. The longer this goes on, the more I'm thinking threads on 'the purge' should be automatically locked for some days to let people cool off. Content is getting repeated over and over, people are letting themselves get worked up over it, and I suspect a number of trolls who are anti-ffnet are egging on people who are genuinely upset.

6/5/2012 #466
HatakeRules

I was thinking the same thing; do we really need about five threads on the same damn thing?

6/5/2012 #467
That Way

That Way, in regards to your story where the character cheated. I have to wonder why so many readers can't tolerate this. I mean I understand cheating in a relationship is a devastating thing, but in the real world, cheating happens. I like the idea of writing what happens after the fact, and getting into the why and the how to pick up and go on afterward. Perhaps the HP readers are too young to understand that it's not always good or easy to just chop that person out of your life and go on. Perhaps it's because many of them have not shared children and a mortgage with someone they love. There are just some subjects where the average age of the readers is very telling, and limiting to some degree.

I am not quite sure either. I do expect that the youth and naivete of some of the readers plays a part in their intolerance. However, I think it's a bigger deal with the pairing of my fic in particular. They're a canon, end-game relationship, but the girl is the most widely 'shipped' character in the fandom while the boy is one of the most often and openly bashed (often to 'sink' their relationship and make room for the author's preferred ship(s)) so I think fans of this pairing in particular are extra sensitive to seeing the male character mistreated by someone (aka me) claiming to be a fan of the character and the ship. It's almost ridiculous at times as I've had reviewers accusing me of hating one or the other of the characters

Then again, I don't have a lot of experience outside of Harry Potter to confirm this. I've read fics in a few other fandoms, but never any other Romance fics, and definitely none that dealt with the issue of infidelity. I'd wager a guess cheating is less acceptable in fanfiction compared to original fiction since the reader already has an attachment to one or both characters most of the time if they're bothering to read the fic in the first place.

One thing I'd be curious to know is how many of the reviewers/readers who find cheating intolerable are exclusively readers and not writers of fanfiction themselves. I have a suspicion that most of the people who find it unacceptable only read fanfiction and don't write any themselves. But I could be totally off-base with that.

6/5/2012 #468
Ragnelle

I know there are some characters in my fandom that I just can't imagine cheating, so I would find a story where they do cheat to be both OOC and AU. Because of the way they are drawn in canon.

Part of this might be the tendency to idolize the heros of our stories (or fandoms), but characterisation in canon also play a part. I would find it very hard to believe in a story where Aragorn cheats on Arwen, to take an example from LotR. This is because so much of his character and his motivation comes from his love for her, and the opposition to that love from her father. He falls for her the first time he sees her, and though discouraged, never stops. It takes 30 years before she in turn falls for him, and close to 40 more before they actually can marry. One of the important motivations for him to reclaim the throne of Gondor, is because her father will not let her marry him unless he is king of both Gondor and Anor. The kingdom of Anor fell generations before, though Aragorn's claim to that was never in dispute, but he needs Gondor's strength to rebuild it, and Gondor is a different matter. So, he basically works for some 70 years to win her, and she is the most beautiful alive, of elven decent. Older than him, true, but she would not look it.

And then he would cheat on her? Not seeing that.

Poet's post is to the point, too, I think. The genre is working against it. So for romance, it is not expected that one of the character's cheat.

Does this mean you should not write about it? No. If that is the story you want to tell, then yes. Tell it. But some characters might just not work in the role of cheaters.

6/5/2012 #469
Corinne Tate

Ahh, still a thread with no "storm" on it.

I like to put a reality spin on the fictional stuff. It is difficult to do in fandoms where that romance is so well loved. I wrote a Twilight fic where Edward loved Rosalie, and they had an affair decades before Bella was even born. I was accused of ruining a "perfect" love story.

But it is fan fiction, and what amazed and amused me, was how seamlessly it fit with canon. Canon Rosalie is bitter and jealous of Bella, for no reason. The history I wrote gave her a reason for her animosity. The accusatory reader didn't like that Edward would keep such a thing secret, and tell Bella she was his first love. But to him, she was the real deal, and the secret was something Rosalie had asked him to never tell.

But it's obvious in the way that it's one of my least read and appreciated stories, that you just can't mess with readers perceptions of their beloved characters. Well, you CAN, but they probably won't appreciate it. I loved the story, and it's my favorite.

And That Way, I could easily imagine Hermione cheating on Ron; I mean they're teenagers when they fall in love. I've seen so many canon relationships split up, and I think if it's written in a mature way, it's actually harder for readers, because a good writer really shows the depth of the trauma. It's the inexperienced writer who takes a more casual attitude, and makes it seem like it's no big deal.

It's always harder to write a story where everyone's not behaving exactly as they did in canon. I do my best to keep the characters the same, but I wrote a story where Bella and Edward did not have a romance, and she grew up, married someone else, had a child, and a divorce, THEN Edward comes back into her life. So she's quite a bit different than she was in canon. I wrote another story where the characters all suffered a traumatic event, and they were out of character in their grief. It was hard for some readers to see them behaving in ways that didn't seem rational to them. But it was a part of the plot of the story I was writing.

6/6/2012 #470
Ragnelle

It would depend on the characters as well. There are characters I would not find so difficult to believe they might cheat on someone, while with others it is very improbable.

For a character to have had a relationship before their canon-paring... that is actually a different thing in my eyes. You are not cheating if you have an affair with someone before you meet your spouse.

6/6/2012 #471
Fliers

One thing I'd be curious to know is how many of the reviewers/readers who find cheating intolerable are exclusively readers and not writers of fanfiction themselves. I have a suspicion that most of the people who find it unacceptable only read fanfiction and don't write any themselves. But I could be totally off-base with that. Oh gosh. Back when I only read, and didn't write at all, I was completely intolerant of cheating in fics. The mere mention of it would make me mad. Although, I think it has more to do with my getting older than anything else when it comes to my tolerance of cheating in fictional works. In fact, now I find it an interesting topic that I would like to explore sometime, though considering the relative age of my readers, it probably wouldn't be very well received. Oh well.

I think it's interesting because it allows for a lot of...I guess, new interpretations of characters, especially since it's not really a topic that's touched upon very often in fanfiction.

@Corinne Tate: That Edward/Rosalie story sounds incredibly interesting! I remember that while I was reading Twilight, I was thinking about the possibilities of Edward/Rosalie. Rosalie just seems so bitter of Bella in canon that I couldn't help but to think about it.

6/6/2012 . Edited 6/6/2012 #472
The Lauderdale

Laud, I've read Treed, and I do plan to get around to writing the reviews you deserve for that story. I think that story is missing its protagonist; as Elleluleniel (from memory, sorry) is more the helpless victim than a protagonist. And the orcs don't even come close, no matter how amusing they can be at times. Though one of your reviewers was "shipping" her with her kidnapper, and I sincerely hope it was a very early review.

Hey Corinne - you addressed me directly, but although I saw this post shortly after you left it, I haven't really been able to post for the past few days (probably just as well in view of the current purge-drama.) I am impressed that you actually wrote out Leni's name (most people don't bother) and agree with what you said about her being a victim and not really a protagonist, although I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. Long story short, she was originally created for another story, Orc-brat, and she was meant to fill two functions: a precedent for the Orcs allowing Maevyn (the main character in OB) to live, and a contrast in personality-type. Maevyn is tough, tomboyish, strong-willed, and hungry for vengeance - a much more conventional heroine than Leni, who is exceedingly feminine, gentle, domestic, and very passive, at least on the surface.

I probably didn't have much more patience with Leni than either Maevyn or my readers did in the beginning, but as I kept writing I began to realize how much she was actually doing to keep Maevyn alive, and to think about what it meant for her to have survived so long herself. Rather than viewing them as strong vs. weak, active vs. passive, etc., I started to think about them as two different models of survival, with their own respective strengths and weaknesses, and strengths that are also weaknesses, and so on. I also began to think about the girl that Leni must have been, and the family she must have come from.

Writing Treed as her back-story became a way of getting to know her better - at the same time, I wanted it to stand on its own, and didn't want newcomers who hadn't read Orc-brat to automatically know where it was going. This makes it somewhat deceptive. The story doesn't firmly attach itself to Leni's plot line until some nine chapters in: before that, there is the (intentional) red herring of Nevhithien and her trip ("*gasp*! Will she meet Legolas?"), and then an attack, and then another attack, a rescue/vengeance bid, and then a family in crisis, which is the theme that the story returns to in the final chapter. Leni's story is also the story of her family, and what has happened to them. But it also means the story doesn't have a definite protagonist, though Leni and Kurbag's respective POVs probably have the most space devoted to them.

On the subject of shipping, even though Leni is never going to fall in love with Kurbag, I can understand the mindset that "wants" it. Victim Falls For R*** is an old and remarkably stubborn trope (an illusion of erasing or undoing the r***, perhaps?), and Kurbag muddies the waters by not being an Unmitigated Evil B***. Certainly Leni never loves him, but even she thinks for a time that he might be able to rise above himself, that she can appeal to his "better nature," which I don't think she's wrong to try. It's just that it doesn't work. Not, at any rate, to the point of him letting her go.

I know there are some characters in my fandom that I just can't imagine cheating, so I would find a story where they do cheat to be both OOC and AU. Because of the way they are drawn in canon.

I remember we were talking about Aragorn and the possibility of sexual relations before his marriage to Arwen on the OCAK Forum, though I don't think anyone discussed the likelihood of it happening after his marriage to Arwen. During some seventy years of knowing her without being able to have her (a lifetime for most normal men) I don't think it would be hard for a good writer to write a foible or misstep for him along the way, and it would be relatively easy to make it in-character and non-AU by turning it into the misstep that forever after strengthens his resolve to be admirable and worthy of Arwen, whom he had once fallen short of.*

After his marriage to Arwen seems harder, and for it to be plausible I think it would have to involve something outside of his control: a glamourie such as that practiced on Igraine in Arthurian legend. And in fact I *have* seen a number of stories in which Aragorn is under some awful spell making him incredibly controlling and sadistic, which isn't necessarily the kind of thing that I am talking about. More the scenario of a sleepwalker who doesn't know what he is doing or is under the impression that he is actually making love to his beloved wife.

______

*Actually, one of the best "Aragorn cheats" scenarios that I have read involves him actually making love with Arwen, before he has fulfilled her father's stipulations. AU, of course, but it was well-written and in-character, and therefore all the more shocking.

6/7/2012 . Edited 6/7/2012 #473
Corinne Tate

That's a good example of one of my peeves. You've just told about a couple ideas that could make a very improbably story line work out. Yet so many readers would shoot it down before it even had a chance to prove itself. Getting over reader reticence is one of the hardest things to do as a writer. Maybe it's because there are so many writers who would fumble a story that steps across the line, but it bothers me when readers absolutely refuse to let me show them something they couldn't conceive. To me it's a writers job to tell the story, and the reader's "job" to follow along. Bringing in all their preconceived notions on how it should go, is interfering with MY job.

I have several reviews from readers who tell me early in my stories, that they just can't imagine a favored character in a certain way. They don't give the story a chance, nor allow me to show them that it can work. Those who do read, will tell me that I changed their mind and perception, and they were glad they continued. I don't start down such a path, without knowing where I'm going, or how I'll get there. I want to be the guide, and point out how things happened along the way. I'm good at this, if the reader will trust me.

6/7/2012 #474
cathrl

I get that too. "I don't read crossovers." Or "I only read pairing stories."

But you can't expect everyone to carry on reading when they've decided something isn't for them. I wouldn't carry on reading a story past the first chapter if the first chapter was generic "kid turns up at new high school and there's a mysterious boy in her class" unless the writing was truly spectacular, such that I was sure there was a twist coming.

6/7/2012 #475
Corinne Tate

Ugh, I don't read or write High School fics. But like you, I would keep reading if the writing was great, or if I'd read other works by the author and knew they could pull off something amazing.

I've seen some writers who write the same kind of story over and over again. My thing is, I just can't. I try to reinvent my writing with every story. If I've written a minor canon character one way in one story, then you can be certain I won't do it that way the next time. I like being different, even from myself. I have written that high school fic, but the girl was the teacher, and the boy was a vampire.

So, how do you just "know" it's not for you?

For me, it comes down to the writing. I choose by the summary, and I try to give it at least two chapters to catch my interest. But if the writing is stilted or predictable, I'll likely move on. I also look at the reviews, and see if anyone else loved it, and why. I try to give a well written story a good chance, but if the writing isn't good, I probably won't keep reading. There are exceptions to this rule though.

6/7/2012 #476
Lousy Poet Automaton

Majorly vague self-plug:

Yes! It's happening! Gah! I can't give specifics =P Those who've seen me post about my stuff before will have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about. Now I'll just pray there's more than one, which could make a big difference.

I shake my fists! And it's not because OKC made the finals! Woohah!

6/7/2012 #477
Ragnelle

*Actually, one of the best "Aragorn cheats" scenarios that I have read involves him actually making love with Arwen, before he has fulfilled her father's stipulations. AU, of course, but it was well-written and in-character, and therefore all the more shocking.

Now, this I can kind of see (I even have though of some similar scenario for my WIP). The 'outside-infulence' angle as well, especially the sleepwalking/think it is Arwen-kind. I can also, though I find it both improbable and a story-line I am not particularly interested in, see a story working where he has an affair before they are betrothed. It's the knowingly, of clear mind, cheating after they are finally married (or even just betrothed), that I find difficult to see without making it so OCC that I have difficulty recognizing the character apart from the name.

I know, though, that there are some things that just don't hold my interest, so I don't get very upset if someone would drop/ not read my stories because I write about things outside their interest.

(Of course I want everyone to love my stories, but... you know what I mean)

Poet: YAY! Congratulations, and good luck!

6/7/2012 #478
That Way

Cheating is quite strange. For some reason I love reading affair/cheating fics. Like if I find one, I can't NOT read it even if it's terrible. But I get so worked up about it. I'll find myself wanting to shout at the characters bash their heads into walls for being so stupid and to yell at the author for ruining their characters (even the ones that actually do a great job of handling the cheating making it realistic and believable) and the relationship.

And I don't get it. I mean I write it myself, but it still gets me so upset. I'd guess maybe because cheating is a 'betrayal' of sorts and betrayal is in many ways the most grievous sin one can commit (the deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and whatnot)? I should probably try reading some cheating/affair fics outside of ships/characters I'm really attached to emotionally. It'd probably help in seeing what separates a 'good, believable' affiar from a poorly written one when I'm not bawling my eyes out :)

Ugh, I don't read or write High School fics. But like you, I would keep reading if the writing was great, or if I'd read other works by the author and knew they could pull off something amazing.

I've seen some writers who write the same kind of story over and over again. My thing is, I just can't. I try to reinvent my writing with every story. If I've written a minor canon character one way in one story, then you can be certain I won't do it that way the next time. I like being different, even from myself. I have written that high school fic, but the girl was the teacher, and the boy was a vampire.

This is really interesting to me. I only have 2 fics at the moment, but I have plans for a couple more (not that I'll ever write all of them, but I'm sure I'll get around to a few of them at least), and now I'm wondering just how 'different' they are. I do know what you mean about the freedom to write secondary characters differently in different fics or give them different roles and whatnot. I guess it depends just how removed the fics are from canon (time wise). If they are effectively a sequential sequel to the canon material, I'd think it'd be hard to write the main characters differently in different fics. But say you write one fic set 5 years after canon and another set 8 years after canon, you could develop the characters in very different directions depending on how you fill in that missing time.

Personally, I think it's much easier to 'write' differently than it is to develop the characters differently (as long as you try to stick to the canon for the most part). My first fic is very detailed, has loads and loads of secondary characters, with lots of focus on scene and description and looks into the characters' thoughts. This all leads to a very long, very slow-moving fic.

My other fic however cuts most of the description and leaves the characters' thoughts for the reader to guess at based on their actions (so more of a 3rd person distant point of view since we don't get inside their heads) and rarely has scenes involving more two characters at a time to keep things simple and make each scene feel very intimate and small. It relies heavily on dialogue to develop the characters and move the plot along which leads to a very fast-moving fic with very short chapters. So even though I use the same characters and keep their personalities very similar, I've noticed after just 4 chapters of my second fic that it appeals to a very different readership than my first fic (though there's obviously some crossover).

So, how do you just "know" it's not for you?

For me, it comes down to the writing. I choose by the summary, and I try to give it at least two chapters to catch my interest. But if the writing is stilted or predictable, I'll likely move on. I also look at the reviews, and see if anyone else loved it, and why. I try to give a well written story a good chance, but if the writing isn't good, I probably won't keep reading. There are exceptions to this rule though.

This is a good question. I honestly don't know. Like you Corinne, a well-written fic is likely to keep my interest longer even if the plot isn't to my taste. A lot of the time it just matters what sort of mood I am in. If I'm in desperate need of a pick me up, I'm much more tolerant of a fluff fic even if it's not the best. And if I make it a good way into the fic, it becomes very difficult for me to abandon it, even if it takes a turn for the worse plot or character wise or if the poor writing starts to grate. It usually takes something pretty drastic for me to just give up on a fic I've been reading for a while.

As for whether I give it a shot in the first place? I'll look at the author first. If it's a name I've read before or know to be respected I'm very likely to give it a shot. Then I move on to summary. If it's intriguing I give it a shot. If the summary doesn't convince me I might look at reviews in the hope they convince me. And if I'm just hard up for new reading material I'll give anything a shot and might read a whole fic I otherwise wouldn't bother with.

6/7/2012 #479
Corinne Tate

Congratulations Lousy Poet Automaton! You have every right to be proud and even self plug. You've done what a lot of us dream of doing.

6/8/2012 #480
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