Author has written 22 stories for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Sleepy Hollow.
Hi, I was 11 back when the first of the original Star Wars trilogy came out (please don't do the maths!), and loved it. By the time the second came out, I was into adolescence, and Han and Leia's kiss was the subject of many teenage daydreams. I'm new to fanfic, but having great fun with it. I'm really enjoying reading other people's stuff, and just trying to write some stuff myself (though I've promised myself I'll write when I get a good idea, not write for its own sake - and so many of the good ideas have already been done).
My love of Lord of the Rings goes even further back than Star Wars (I'd already read it several times by the time the first Star Wars film came out). I've held off reading LOTR fanfic for a long time just because the original is so brilliant. But there's actually some great stuff out there (and a lot of Mary Sue nonsense, you have to do a lot of sifting). As a young teen I fell in love with Faramir (book version: Peter Jackson, much as I think the films are for the most part a work of genius, I may never forgive you for what you did to him in the films), so there's a sense in which I never needed a Mary Sue; I could gallop around the garden with a bamboo cane pretending to chop the Witch King of Angmar's head off, knowing I'd then get to marry the most attractive bloke in the book. But I always had a bit of a crush on Legolas too, so there is a void there to be filled by fanfic.
Oh, and as you can probably tell from me writing "maths" rather than "math", and my spelling (hope it doesn't put you off too much), I'm based in the UK.
On my eclectic tastes in fanfic
I've long had a theory that there is no such thing as originality in fanfic - with tens of thousands of us writing LoTR fanfic, every possible idea has been done. So as far as I'm concerned the issue is not "is it original?" but rather, "is it done well?" However, I have just had this theory confirmed in the weirdest way possible. Back at Christmas, I made a joke about Al Gore and climate change in a Legomance. I have found another crack fic which has a joke about... Al Gore and climate change - in a Lord of the Rings Legomance. What are the odds on that? (If you are interested, it is on AO3 and is called the Ottyssey - girl falls into ME, changing into an otter in the process).
I'm naturally drawn towards trying to write humour and parody, but at the same time I love the characters so much I want them to have realistic emotions, so in my comic writing, I usually end up walking a tight rope between spoof and realism, and I'm not sure I always get it to work. End then there's the whole issue of avoiding things going too Mary Sue (actually, as anyone who's read my will know, at one point I actually ended up with a character called Mary Sue... in my defence, she wasn't mine, she was Galadriel's...). However, I do sometimes write serious stuff too, though usually with happy endings (don't really do sad endings). My multi-chapter stuff tends to be for Lord of the Ring - for some reason, my Star Wars stuff always comes out as one-shots.
My small son has come up with the most terrifying idea for a tenth walker/ crossover fic ever. He wants Scooby Doo to join the fellowship. You will be relieved to know I do not intend to write that one.
And finally - I've now created a live journal page for some drawings to illustrate some of my stories.
If you're writing LoTR, or Star Wars fics, a large part of that has to be round war, battle and the emotional cost of fighting.by the BBC's war correspondent is a very thoughtful piece on war art, war poetry, and the relationship between the initial excitement and adrenaline rush of conflict and the more mature feelings of horror and fatigue. Definitely worth a read if you want to step beyond simply writing Mary-Sue falls in love.
Great article on movie vs. book Eowyn here:
Have you ever wondered what the climate of Middle Earth was like? Wonder no longer! Radagast the Brown (temporarily on sabbatical at the University of Bristol) answers your questions here:
The ultimate romantic song: Victoria Wood's work of comic genius,(aka "Let's do it tonight.") NB, somewhere on this site I have a work-in-progress under a different name, the aim of which is deliberately to tick every single Mary Sue box I can think of while still making the story readable! It uses as prompts for the love scenes each one of Freda's verses, in order. Oh, and I've also tried to work in every single mistake in writing battle scenes that I can think of (see link below on pulling swords out of scabbards). PM me if you find it and work out it's me.
Life imitating art: Tommy Ginger reckons that fanfic would be a great place for terrorist cells to hide messages, and that some poor so and so at GCHQ/NSA has the job of trawling through the worst excesses of fanfic looking for these messages. Then this week I came across this:
Was Gollum's death scene convincing? Here's how to try it out for yourself with the aid of a bucket of motor oil and a polystyrene Gollum (honestly, all that money on WETA, and they could have just done it in the back yard...) Link courtesy of Sian22.
Wondering what sort ofa sword really makes when you pull it out of its scabbard? Wonder no more. (And I really, really want to see someone use that last sound effect in a Hollywood epic).
Still on the subject of weapons, weaponry and techniques,has tried to recreate archery techniques actually used on the battle field (rather than modern static target shooting) and it's incredible - Legolas eat your heart out!
My favouritedrawing by Catherine Chmiel. This is perfect for my mental image of "Book Faramir".
Ever wondered what actors in films make of fan fics?(Sleepy Hollow) loves it, and jokes that he ships his character and the Headless horseman (and he has in fact been responsible for the HH's 3 MPregs - or at least, the headless road sign's MPregs!) I came across this random fact via a fantastic piece on AO3, "Blue Jeans and Thai Food" (not linking because probably a bit on the risque side for ff), which he linked to in one of his tweets. It solves the vexed Sleepy Hollow fandom of Ichabbie vs. Ichatrina by simply introducing a threesome which evolves into a cheerfully polyamorous relationship. (NB, nowhere near as eye-watering as CruiseDirector's polyamory on the Faramirfiction site, which always reminds me of reading about a game of twister).
My top writing tip for writing fantasy/sci fi: apply the. If you can imagine Alan Rickman delivering a line of your dialogue in the tone of voice with which he delivers the immortal line "By Grabthar's Hammer, I will be avenged" in Galaxy Quest then you have gone way over the line into the realms of unintentional parody!
And (not sure whether this should come under random links or fanfic on other sites),(aka Hermione Granger and the Goddam Patriarchy). Very funny, very sweary (warning - F word, so I suppose technically M as far as this site is concerned).
My list of favourites on external sites
A Faramir and Eowyn movie-verse gap filler. T/PG13 rated.
Warning - very definitely M Eomer finds a very unusual stranger on the plains of Rohan. Complete with talking Firefox. Crack slash fic!
Warning - again, very definitely M rated Extremely cute Aragorn/Faramir slash.
A Lesson in Cartography byAgain, warning, adult material, hence the link is to the author's homepage, not the work itself. Hilarious Aragorn/Faramir slash ("What's characterisation, precious?... What if someone reads this?...
A quick meditation on how to plot a love story
Okay, so love stories need some sort of plot to deliver a bit of dramatic tension to the whole thing. But that doesn't mean you have to fall back on the hackneyed loser plots - the main ones being (1) he is a shit, there's a series of misunderstandings, then at the end miraculously he realises he leurves her and changes (which I particularly hate because it's bullshit and propaganda for persuading women to get into/ stay in abusive relationships) and (2) there's a high-school style love triangle and our heroine has to see off the competition (wrong on so many levels - plays into the misogynistic "women are bi-atches" trope, makes it seem like men are there to be competed for - honey, if you have to compete, he ain't worth having...).
Which is why I personally think you go for situational hitches in the course of love running smoothly - circumstances like war sweeping star-crossed lovers apart . Or even better, just make the love story happen against the background of an engaging plot that's about something different altogether - much the way like real life works. BTW love triangles can work (or not precisely love triangles, more stories of infidelity) - Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina show us that (though that could be something to do with the literary genius of Flaubert and Tolstoy). But they don't work at the level of "I fancy the football captain and so does the top cheerleader, which of us will he choose?"
And now for a bit of a feminist aside. Remember that while you may know the ending of the stories (provided you're not going for radically AU), and your readers may know the ending of the stories, the characters don't. So, for instance, suppose the hero and heroine are still at the feisty, fighting with each other at every turn stage (bit of a cliche, but the "hate-slowly-turning-to-love" plotline is a staple of the genre). When you have the hero come upon the heroine asleep, and start to remove her clothes and grope her, that isn't erotic, romantic, or any of those things - it's actually sexual assault and attempted rape - because he doesn't know (at this point in the story) that she fancies him, and it is being done to her without her consent. The fact that she may wake up and decide she quite likes it is neither here nor there - you have established him as the sort of man who would do that sort of thing in ignorance of whether she consents - i.e. you have just turned your hero into a rapist.
And readers, try to avoid the temptation to victim blame the woman for her actions just because you fancy the hero. Here's an example. Two characters, let's call them Harry and Sally, are skirting round each other. Because the author is a good author, it's a much more interesting and believable plot than the hate-turns-to-love cliche. Instead, Sally has a past involving bereavement, sexual abuse and unrequited love which is making it (understandably) hard for her to let go emotionally. And for the most part, Harry is being understanding about this (and, not wanting to push Sally when she's vulnerable, has not actually told her in so many words that he's in love with her - and she being emotionally closed off, has not realised he is). But Harry's just done something really stupid, and left the whole court believing that they're betrothed. Now for the readers' reactions... they're mostly cross with Sally (incidentally this is not one of my stories, but is one by a writer I admire enormously).
As I quite often do, I read the other reviews after leaving mine... and I found myself baffled by some of the reactions. All these women who, because they fancy Harry (don't we all? - that is, assuming you have inserted one of the protagonists of your favourite "ship" at this point) can't make the imaginative leap to think to themselves "but what would I feel like if I were in her position, with this guy apparently riding roughshod over my wishes... he hasn't even bloody well bothered to ask me how I feel, just left me in this situation where the world and his wife now think we're betrothed... and for all I know, he's done it simply for political advantage." (And it is, interestingly, a very brave and gutsy move on the part of the author - give the hero a real, genuine character flaw, have him do something that is wrong). But because the readers know what the ending is, they, the readers, can't see that the characters, mid story, don't have the gift of prescience, and don't know how things are going to work out."
I really think there's an interesting feminist point about women policing the patriarchy going on here... Sally being variously described in the reviews as "vicious", "a drama queen", references to "her emotional mood swings", "I'd punch her in the face", "What is wrong with her? She's so emotional..." - ugh, actually compiling all of these into one list makes me even more depressed, particularly the punch-in-the-face one - yes, let's all normalise and excuse domestic violence, what a brilliant idea that is (in fact I actually feel slightly sick typing that one out... in fairness in context the reviewer was saying she would want to do that to a friend who behaved like Sally, but I think the clear implication is that Harry would also be excused for behaving like that, or that if he doesn't, it's because he's exceptionally nice, virtuous and controlled, rather than simply a normal member of the human race who treats women as also being normal members of the human race and hence worthy of respect). All that vitriol simply because a woman objects to a man having put her in a position where she's now expected to marry him without him actually having had the politeness to ask her first.
Anyway, here endeth the feminist rant for the day... but please - think about taking that imaginative leap. Don't make your heroes rapists due to a failure of imagination. Don't victim-blame your heroines due to the same failure of imagination.
Why these stories are in my favourites list...
You may also notice that among my favourite stories (list nowhere near complete yet), is one called "The Bet" - thanks to Ness for being part of the inspiration for my story. I think Ness's is funnier, though.
I have realised, though, that strictly speaking, "Just another Day on Hoth" is not my first fan-fic. Re-reading "No Whining Allowed" (see favourites, below) has reminded me that I wrote a spoof of Star Wars as a Christmas panto in my school days, with my physics teacher (a lovely lady, who happened to be very small) as R2D2, and the head of chemistry as Darth Vader. Sadly, it was never performed (possibly because, in a girls' school, we lacked any hot teenage boys to cast as Han Solo, and we certainly weren't going to cast one of the male teachers).
Other stuff I've got on my favourites list includes Sue Zahn's marvellous trip-to-Bespin fic, "Into the Fire." "A dance your worship" by Batman's Babe is just really, really sweet and fluffy. Lady Peter's “Speaking the Words” is a great piece, set early on in Han and Leia's post-ROTJ life together.
Meanwhile in Lord of the Rings fics, I have stumbled across the wonderful Eldalie (see favourite authors) who has some of the most thoughtful and intelligent stuff on the business of writing fanfic that I've yet come across.
And strangely (at least to me, because I didn't expect to like it), a few brilliant stories aside (like Eldalie's "Scattered Leaves"), I find some of the well written, emotionally driven (but not too graphic) slash more convincing (though I'm pretty sure Tolkien would have hated it). Perhaps it's the whole cameraderie of the warrior feel, or perhaps it's that I read Mary Renault's account of the early life of Alexander the Great ("Fire from Heaven") as a teenager, and the love story between Alexander and Hephaistion has always stuck in my mind. In any case, I've included Milgarion's "In fading light" in my favourites because it's one the best one of this genre I've come across. and Eora in my favourite authors - her Aragorn/Faramir slash is marvellous. “Tomorrow” by Nimsul (Elrond/Gil-Galad) is just a beautiful piece of writing and is very, very sad. The other reason for liking slash is that it's quite hard within the context of LOTR to have a het relationship which is one of equals (Faramir and Eowyn being the obvious exception) - slash allows for much more equal relationships. This issue of dealing with the power-imbalance in a patriarchal culture can be tackled in het relationships if it's done well, and this is why I love Zees Muse (also in my favourite authors); in addition to her brilliantly imagined and fully worked out cultural details for Rohan, she has wonderfully strong female character - Aefre wielding her morning star, and Lýðrest wielding her frying-pan!
Actually, Rohan and the relationship of Lothiriel and Eomer seems to provide a rich source of inspiration for some of the best fanfic I've read, not just by Zees Muse but Lady Bluejay, Lialathuveril and Thanwen. One thing they all have in common is using Rohan to provide a contrast to Gondor, and imagining it to have a culture where men and women can form more equal, balanced partnerships. In all their stories, women are not relegated to sitting with embroidery samplers, but run households, organise farm work and husbandry, do the accounts for the garrison and generally rule their world with a rod of iron (or a frying pan). Because of this, these authors write romances where the men are drawn to the women's strength of character, bravery and intelligence as much as they are to their beauty – it's the same sort of equal partnership that I so enjoy in slash. (And they are a thousand times better written than the average “Legomance”).
All of Lady Bluejay's stories are well worth a read (in fact, a re-read too), but my favourite among them is “First Time”, a very funny little tale of Elladan and Elrohir visiting Edoras. But of her Eomer and Lothiriel stories, I think my favourite is “Waterloo”. Thanwen has a marvellous gift for imagining the cultural details of Rohan – a mixture of Germanic and Norse legend and her own imagination which I think Tolkien would have approved of. She is also great on little details of agriculture (she's a farmer herself – story updates occasionally get delayed by lambing and haymaking – see her hilarious self-insert, “Visitors”). And her Lothiriel, pirate princess, is a superb creation – passionate, brave, intelligent and with a will of iron. “Choppy Waters” is a fantastic read, really exciting. This is certainly no helpless princess in a tower – the way she deals with her enemy, the dangerously attractive and amoral Mardil, is fabulous and utterly ruthless. It will also teach you the Quenya for “wanker”, surely a piece of information no aspiring Middle Earth nerd should be without! (And it's worth noting that both she and Lialathuveril are German speakers – native English speakers please note: if they can write English this well, there is no excuse whatsoever for some of the utter cack that can be found on this site written by native English speakers!)
Lialathuveril is a brilliant writer – not only is her prose beautiful, but she has a grasp on plot and pacing that some professional writers could learn from. Again, it's hard to pick one, but I think I'd have to plump for “Black Eyes” because of the really inventive underlying idea – Lothiriel fears she's going to be forced into an arranged marriage with a barbarian horselord, and decides to seek guidance in the pages of Ecthelion's (in reality, Sun Tzu's) The Art of War, attempting to apply his thoughts on military strategy to the equally vexatious question of how to deal with an unwanted suitorBut as with Lady Bluejay, all of her stories are worth a read. I also really like “Imrahil's Daughters”, which unfolds with all the mad confusion and comic misunderstandings of a Restoration Comedy. Spoiler alert – skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven't read them yet – among other things her stories bring us Lothiriel's thought processes when she and Eowyn (having sneaked off on their own for a picnic) are attacked by bandits: “She's just killed a man. That's the cheese knife.” And also a wonderful piece of dialogue between Lothiriel and a couple of her friends. In the caves at Helm's Deep, they have been helping the healers and dealing with wounded and dying men, severed limbs, puke, piss and shit for almost 24 hours. Prior to the battle, the friends had been somewhat knocked for six by Legolas's beauty, and when one of them mentions how much she'd give for a hot bath, the other replies something along the lines of “yes, with lavender oil in … and an elf.”
Oh, a couple of quick mentions: BlueNynaeve's “Rules of Negotiation” where Lothiriel's diplomatic aplomb takes a bit of a nose-dive the morning after her marriage; and Borys68's Eowyn and Faramir story – borrowing some of Zees Muse's Rohirrim customs, he writes a lovely little piece which turns the reader's expectations on their head in a way I love. And a recommendation for a really unusual but brilliant fic: Seren Lyall's “Darkness in the Forest”, a really creepy mystery/adventure story (no romance). It's wonderfully atmospheric, with a brooding Mirkwood as the background for an all-pervasive sense of menace as Legolas and Elrond find themselves pursued by... well, we still haven't found out what.
I've come across a couple of decent 10th walker efforts. “Trigger” by Lost Claudia has the believable premise that its heroine, Maggie, is an ex army medic, so she can both fight and heal wounds. And “A little R&R” by Zoop has the great premise that the heroine (another ex-forces GDIME) finds herself sickened of all the killing after the Battle of Helm's Deep and prevents the slaughter of the Uruk she's taken prisoner, eventually setting off to return him to the Misty Mountains. (Zoop and Helena Markos both explore the idea that, freed from Saruman's mind control, Uruk Hai turn out to be people just like the rest of us – it's an interesting exploration of the idea of race and the good/evil dichotomy, with no shades of grey, which are far from unproblematic for the modern reader of Tolkien). “Home with the Fairies” by I Mushi is a GDIME which is not 10th walker, and all the better for it. She takes her time building a believable story – her heroine doesn't speak Westron and has to learn the language, isn't automatically pitched into the nobility but has to earn her way as a barmaid and a serving girl. Eventually, of course, she crosses paths with all the usual suspects, but in an interesting and original way.
Of course I love parody and humour, so I've included a lot of this in my favourites. Feb Song's "Awkward Adventures" is in because it's just blooming hilarious (my favourite bit is the writer's block chapter), as is 80icrazy's "Dear writers of fanfic." I've also added Geale's "Author's Notes", which is a marvellous parody, not of fanfic, but of Tolkien himself (read the bit on Aragorn's reaction to the Argonath and what Legolas thinks of it, and weep - with laughter). And her take on Legolas is (without wanting to give the game away) interesting. Superbly out of character, but then again, I'm reading the Hobbit to my small son, and if you read Bilbo's first encounter with the Elves in Rivendell, you may change your mind about whether this particular version of Legolas is _completely_ OOC. I've also added a gloriously over the top Mary Sue spoof by CryfortheMoon - Gloria has no cellulite, no orange-peel skin, and a ton of makeup atop the talons of an eagle. And Boromir is very, very upset. And Legolas should be very, very afraid, but is too chivalrous (and dim) to realise what's happening to him.
Finally, venturing into another fandom entirely, but returning to my love of slash (actually, Thanwen has a beautiful piece of off-screen, subtle allusion to slash in her sequel to “Choppy Waters”, “A Wind from the Sea”), can I recommend Sara's Girl's fabulous, wonderful, incredible Harry/Draco slash? She is one of the best writers I've come across, and her stories are realistic, moving, emotionally deep and very sexy. And “Talk to me” is just a delight from start to finish – one of those lovely stories which will brighten even a really bad day (and, unusually for her stuff, only rated T, so pretty accessible for most readers on this site).
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