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snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
What your character does for a living, even if it doesn’t feature prominently in your story, will profoundly affect who he is and how he responds to the world around him. In our society that we're so defined by our jobs that job loss and a change of job position is a major job source. However, jobs do come with hazards.

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Disclamier: I don't have a medical background. What I know about medicine I know from Internet research.

Injuries and illness are very important, if not essential to include in a hurt/comfort story, but what happens when you want to hurt your characters, while you don't have a medical background to figure out which bone and nerves may be affected by the gunshot wounds they so beautifully endure for your plot's sake? While the degree of realism in your story's canon may not coincide with that in real life (See: CSI science), it won't hurt to get solid information so you can make an informed choice in this matter. This's an attempt to create a cheat sheet out of the questions and answers about medical issues on the fact finding community on livejournal: [livejournal.com profile] little_details . Some are direct quote from the answers.

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So you want to scare your readers. To target their primal fear and make them stay awake all the night. To turn the normality into nightmare fuel. To see if the characters can handle tragedy and fear to come out all right. Stay tuned to this post... or we won't know what'd happen to you.

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Grief is a powerful primal emotion. Hardly anyone hasn't experienced grief in that we all faced some kind of loss. However, writing about grief can be one of the hardest things to do because it is so easy to slip away and use convenient cliche instead of facing the grief. This's my attempt to discuss how  to write about grief in fan fiction..

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Failure and setback stories are among the hardest story to tell about us. We screw up. We know it, but we may not want to admit to ourselves, let along to others. Failure creates a rift between ourselves and others. We fear that the others will lose faith in ourselves. Worse, our failure may hurt others. It 's equally hard to account for the characters we like as it's hard to be objective about it. Success is easier to be accountable fdor failure, but perhaps because of this, failure often define a character. This's why I 'm trying to do this post to provide my thought on writing about the characters' failure.

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I don't want to type any more. Even effort to make me lift my fingers to type seems to be too much for me. But there're thousand miles to go, thousand miles to go. My brain yearns for a shut down. But no, even yearning takes too much effort. I'm totally apathetic to everything around me. Nothing matters any more, any more.

Exhaustion can be mental or physical. Your muscles refuse to perform any more, even when your brain will it. You hear a cry for help, but you have been saving and losing people for too long, you just don't care any more. The cause of exhaustion can be undersleep, intense physical or mental exercises or diseases. Rest can relieve fatique, but usually our beloved characters never get a break from it any way. It's a miracle most have the energy to open their eyes, face the next morning and think of the tasks they need to do. It can also be used to great effect in hurt/comfort fic, to examine the real consequence of the continuous stress they endured in canon, to make them feel more real. After all, we all feel exhaustion some time in our lives.

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"I jump into the mid-air, launching a kick at the opponent's head, and then when I land, I immediately do a guard position to prepare for a counter attack."

"My palm sweats and I'm afraid any time I won't be able to hold the knife any more. The thought of cutting into human flesh makes me get sick."

Combat fascinates people, judging from the popularity of action and war films. There's something satisfying to see your hero giving a good fight. Blood and sweat makes a scene more powerful and dramatic. A good fighting scene can make or break an action story. However, different stories call for a sliding scale of realism in portraying a fight.

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"When I woke up, I was led by two voices, one like the sound of thunders. And the other civilized, polite. We've been comrades ever since, but now we 're enemies." - Steve Rogers

When characters betray each other's trust, it 's often played for drama as a stab on your back hurts. No matter the trust violates was amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations, the relationship is often inevitably broken and seldom can heal from it. Once bitten, twice shy. It's understandable that to quite a lot people, a betrayal is a nail to the coffin. An event horizon that a relationship never can go back from. For some others, betrayals can be bygone with atonement and true remorse.  But usually we don't expect it to be forgiven lightly. That's why non-canonical betrayals in fanfics can be seen as character bashing. But then it can also be seen as a good chance to test the characters and there's always canonical betrayal (actual or perceived) that the fanfic writers want or need to deal with. Sadly I don't have much experience with betrayal in fanfics, but I'd like to talk about two betrayals in canon  (actual or perceived) that leads to my different response.

Spoiler for Harrt Potter and Marvel comics: Civil Wars plot line )

Question: What do you think about betrayals in canon or fanworks? How do you deal with it?
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While the concept of apocalypse has been nothing new since the biblical time, the World Wars II has cemented the true fear in people that humanity now has the capacity to destroy itself, and there seems to be nothing that can stop it. Popular culture has been obsessed with the death of civilization as we know it ever since then, and created a lot of good and not so good work, so this post may be useful when you write your story.

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Opinions? Questions? Suggestions?

List of alphabets )

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So you may know about the classical romance triangle between Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Or how Spiderman balances between the meek Peter Parker and the superhero Spiderman. Or when in Les Miserables Jean Valjean puts on a fake identity. There's a name for this kind of stories: 'Identity Porn' , which is a narrative kink for stories which focus on people with fluid, or multiple, or secret, identities, and how those identities work.

Identity porn fascinates us, as our identity is what distinguish us from other people. But identity porn kind of play with the assumption that we have a single, real and consistent identity.  In our daily life, we put on a social face "to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual", and a secret identity is a logical extension of that. Who's the one behind the mask? Is there really a person behind the mask? A lot of examples can be found in superhero and magic girls canons, as many of the characters have a secret identity, and this affects the people in their respective position in the society and their community. It introduces a lot of tension in how the characters form relationships with others and see themselves. Of course sometimes we love it just because it's hot. .

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Hurt/comfort is a genre that involves the physical pain or emotional distress of one character, who is cared for by another character.  It's a very popular in fanfic. I enter hurt/comfort as keyword in del.icio.us and gets 14441 results. However, the trope is not highly represented in femslash. Using AO3 as an example, there're only 269 story tagged as hurt/comfort which contain femslash pairing. Why the disparity?

I don't have concrete answers. But I have hypothesis.

1. Hurt/comfort usually requires adding and extrapolating the hurt endured by a characters. Unfourtunately, in most of the canons, the female characters suffer, lose their power, are deprived of their agency too many time that we don't feel comfortable writing or reading additional hurt piled on the female characters.

2. Because our canon don't necessary pass the Bechtel's test with flying colour, there's often no other female characters that are reasonably available at these points of the hurt character's life to provide comfort. It can be bypassed, but there're effort.

3. As a lot of femslash writers are identified as female, there's not much distance between the hurt on the characters and the writers themselves. It's easier to identify with the character being hurt and thus harder to fetishizes the hurt.

4. In popular narrative, women are supposed to suffer. As their stories're considered not so important by the society, we're less likely to be trained to acknowledge and expand on the woman characters' suffering. 

Take me as example, if hurt /comfort exists along on a spectrum, I 'm more inclined to hurt the characters and withhold the comfort because I enjoy characters who stoically and bravely endure the bad things in life. However, for some female characters I love, their life basically are bad. Marvel superhero Carol Danvers experienced enough rape as drama, depowering, addiction problems and such that I admire her for being a surviver, but it hurt me to read the canon myself, not to mention creating fanwork based on it. It's harder to provide comfort because Carol's female friends are often not literally available. I'm also less likely to indulge in hurting female characters  because it makes me guilty, as if I were joining the canon writers in depowering the female characters.

It's my hypothesis. What's your opinion?
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Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.(1) In the case of writing femslash, I would like to share the joy, conflict, and struggle in trying to incorporate intersectionality in writing femslash.

My background: I mostly write in Marvel comics and Disney Princess fandom. I identify as Hong Kong Chinese. When I look back at my work, I write 9 out of 24 femslsh stories with characters of colour as protagonists, and 4 out of 24 with disabled characters as protagonists, 1 out of 24 is labeled with class issue.

The first thing about intersectionality is to aim for diversity in general as well as gender-balance and women-friendliness in particular. On AO3, there're 507 femslsh out of 3048 work labelled with characters of colour, 42 work out of 627 with disabled characters labeled, 8 out of 75 work labelled class issues are femslash, so people are writing, and conscious enough to label them.

When I started writing less than three years ago,  a friend of mine introduced me to Misty Knight and Colleen Wing in Marvel comics. Misty is an ex-New York cop with a cybernetic arm. Colleen is a samurai in United States. Together they fight crime. They have a relationship that transcends beyond friends or sisters, and in one issue Misty's love for Colleen is strong enough to break free of mind control. It's great shipping materials. But back then on the AO3, there was only one drabble featuring both of them. I surfed the Internet and could only find two fic on LJ. A google search shows 3 work with Misty Knight on fanfiction.net. Simply put, they may as well be invisible. The reasons seem to be clear: They're not in  a major comics series, do not star in movie or TV or animations. I hate to speculate, but that they're female characters of colour may play a strong part in their being ignored by Marvel and the fans.

So I write.

There is joy, simply because I have materials to read about them together. Judging from the hits and kudoes, they 're read by people other than me. There's frustration and challenge. Because I'm not them. Colleen was raised in Japan and received samurai training. Then she moved to US. I don't have the relevant background to understand all these impact on her. Misty is a Black ex-New York cop. What does she experience because she's a Black woman everyday? I can't say. Looking back I think I go for the canon route, to write about them s superhero, as lovers, but to downplay these kinds of issues.  Even if I were a Black disabled woman who lived in New York, we might not share the same experience.   I can do research as best as possible, but the distance 's always here, and I need to respect it.

Another example is Belle/Esmeralda (Disney), which is inspired by a fanvid. They live in a dangerous time for love, and Esmeralda's raised as a Romani. The cross race relationship brings the factor of power in. I want to say that I handle the issue well, but in fact I evade it by writing AU for them. It's Disney, and they deserve a happy ending.

And I want to tell you  my bad example of doing it wrong. Destiny/Mystique is a canon bisexual couple in Marvel comics, and Destiny's blind. When I write a certain story bout them and reread it, a scene comes out totally wrong: I totally forget that Destiny's blind when writing that scene. This's my privilege and lazy writing showing.

When I write the characters, I try to ask myself some questions: Do my characters avoid to be stereotypes? Do they have agency of their own? Do they live in a world that reflects the diversity of the reality? I try to achieve all of them, and I can say I do my best in them. But is it enough? I don't know.

The benchmark of Bechdel's test is "...Plenty of female characters, with stories told from their POV, and stories that are not entirely cliche, and with agency in those storylines that is not usually taken away from them, and have relationship with other women..." (2) and I just want to add one thing: let the female characters be outside the able-bodied, white, or other privileged norm.


(1)http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Intersectionality
(2)http://ivanolix.livejournal.com/199285.html

snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
Written for [community profile] month_of_meta

There's a time that I have to pause and have to ask myself curiously: Why do I enjoy fem(slash) so much even after I identify as an asexual person? What do I get from all the romance and sex? I go over the article Why do I Like Slash? Plain Answers from a Het Woman and think about how her answers fit and don't fit me.

Cut for the length ) These're my answers for now why I read and write slash and femslash. What're yours?
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Written for [community profile] month_of_meta
By virtue of a large characters cast, there are a lot women characters who are interesting or have potential to be interesting in Marvel comics. Sadly, Marvel doesn't have a good record in treating their female characters well. Digging through the 50+ years of canon can be frustrating and down what depressing. However, there're still good writing to be found and I want to talk about what's so amazing, what's so frustrating, and what's down right ugly.

Good
Must Read )
 
Bad
Do you notice that most of the solo titles mentioned above are cancelled? Yeah, Marvel has a habit to cancel female characters' solo titles.

Ugly
Just don't )

Further Reading: Ms. Marvel, a History of Refrigerators, and the Modern Day Fridge

 
snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Kino)
I have been an avid reader of original Chinese yaoi lately. It may be the glee of reading in my native language and culture. It may also be that I want to look for something new. It may also be that original yaoi is the nearest thing to have gay characters and is a taboo in China government's eyes.

And it's an interesting experience.

Warning: It may contain triggering issue )
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Disclaimer: As I am no way an expert in the subjects about to be discussed; I’ll be grateful if you can point out the problematic aspects in the following.

What is asexuality?
According to AVEN, an asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction.1 Asexuality is a sex orientation that exists along a spectrum. Some feel romantic attraction. Some don’t. Some masturbate. Some have sex. They are all different.

What problem does asexuals face in real life, and in fandom?

If homosexuality is the love that dares not say its name, asexuality is the orientation that doesn’t even have a name. In daily life, there is nearly to none awrareness of asexuality. The media is full of story lines of people becoming fully grown through sex. If people say they’re not into sex, they are often taken to mean avoiding the matter and not taken seriously. In a personal anecdote, one was told it was just because zis biological clock hadn’t clicked yet. The sex-obsessed society puts a lot of pressure on asexuals. They were seen as immature or inhuman. Sexless relationship is described as neutered relationship. People can only get to be more human through sexual relationship.

In the media, they ‘re either inhuman, evil, or socially clueless. We have Doctor Who, who’s an alien. Shelden in Bigbang Theory, who is described as an alien. Sherlock, who’s a sociopath. Dexter, who’s a serial killer.2 Even among the LGBTQ movement, asexuality is like a unicorn. The fandom didn’t fare better. The slash debate last year demonstrated a double erasure of asexuality.3

Common Challenge faced by asexuality and female sexuality.

Patriarchy enforces a male-dominated heteronormative paradigm that every sexuality representation is under its scrutiny. Female sexuality has always been an issue. It has been molded, shaped, and controlled by the patriarchy. Women were punished for just having a sexuality. They were either imagined as chaste virgins or greedy devouring monsters. Despite strides of feminism, discourse about female sexuality is still dominated by male gaze. Freud was notorious for introducing penis envy to show the inferiority of women, that they were “jealous” of men. Modern women face a double-bind situation. If they refuse sex, well, no never mean no. If they welcome sex, they are demeaned and judged as not deserving the protection of patriarchy. Hence the rape culture. Female sexuality is seen as subjugate to male sexuality, largely defined by altruistic notion of traditional femininity. Females were historically desexualized by the society.

The challenge of asexuality comes from its pervasive invisibility. Because they defy safe definition of heteronormative sexuality, their sexuality are deemed as a disease, a phase, unreal, unhealthy. Their romantic relationships don't count. They are included in the DSM. However, their struggle “don’t count”, even in the context of LGBT movement. 4

Oppressions on female sexuality and asexuality do not happen in a vacuum. Rather they both exist in an interrelation network which oppress minority equally. They needed to be understood and (destroyed) together.5 Females and asexuals are not mutually exclusive groups.

Why asexuality in femslash?

Asking this question is somewhat like asking why to introduce disability, bisexuality and female homosexuality, people of colour into fiction. Because it is a part of human life. Because the more representation of minority in fiction, the bigger step it is pushing for acceptability and normalization of the minority. Femslash has always been seen as a step to accept female sexuality, and it can definitely go a further step toward addressing the reality of fluidity of sexuality.

How can femslash reflect the reality of asexuality?
Femslash is often defined as a story that depict two or more canonically female-identified people in a sexual or romantic relationship. But relationship is a loaded word. In recent days, intimate relationship is always an euphemism for sexual relationship. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We have to be aware that there is a spectrum along relationship, including particularly close friendship, traditional but not sexual coupling and other unique combination. "It can be just about women making a deeper connection to each other that's erotic, but not necessarily sexual," as spoken by jazzypom.

Research is always important. Just like writing about any minority, proceed with respect and humility. Be prepared to back down.

What’s femslash with one or more asexual female-identified characters like?

There’s love, humour, angst, or just like other femslash. Except that one or more of them is not into sex. The resolution of a story doesn’t always result in sex. Femslash with one or more asexual characters are still uncommon, and I only found 3 labelled as such on AO3 as I'm writing. They are:

Title: Don't Want to Know What I'll Be Without You
Author: [personal profile] torachan
Fandom: Aoi Hana
Summary: Akira's seen that look before. It makes her heart ache to remember Fumi-chan's quiet despair when she told Akira she liked her that way. She'd do anything to keep Fumi-chan from looking like that again.
Read it on AO3.

Title: A Country That Has No Language
Author: [personal profile] language_escapes
Fandom: St. Trinians
Summary: Because really, how can you explain a polyamorous relationship consisting of an asexual domme, a lesbian sub, and a vanilla bisexual? They fit. They love each other. Isn't that enough?
A Country That Has No Language

And the last one from me:

Title: Treasures
Author: [personal profile] snowynight
Fandom: Disney
Summary: Another chapter of Belle and her companions' expedition to a lost ancient city, and Belle discovers something more too.
Treasure

Reference:
  1. "Overview." Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Asexual Visibility and Education Network, n.d. Web. 23 May 2011. <http://www.asexuality.org/home/overview.html>
  2. pippin, . "FONSFAQ post -- asexuality in fiction." N.p., 26 004 2011. Web. 23 May 2011. http://pippin.dreamwidth.org/95781.html
  3. kaz, . "Some words are rather unpleasant to read in this context...." N.p., 14 001 2010. Web. 23 May 2011. http://kaz.dreamwidth.org/215605.html
  4. mirielenfield , . "LGBT Community." asexuality. N.p., 21 009 2010. Web. 23 May 2011. http://asexuality.livejournal.com/766364.html?thread=13612956#t13612956
  5. Harris-Lacewell, Melissa. "Intersectionality." The Kitchen Table. N.p., 16 003 2009. Web. 23 May 2011. http://princetonprofs.blogspot.com/2009/03/intersectionality.html

Further reading:
Asexy Sex Scenes 101
Asexual information and perspective
FONSFAQ: Asexuality


Questions:
How do you explore asexuality in femslash? What’s the joy/challenge of writing about it?
What do you think can be done to make femslash fandom more friendly for asexuals?
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snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
Some anecdotes

I love Sherlock Holmes, so I can't resist the lure of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. It has Mary and Irene in a greater role than in the book, but the movie's never about them, never told in their POV. They pretty much respond to the action. I return from the cinema with a vague thought that I would like a gun-swinging Mary partnered with Irene in a steampunk Victorian London, but I don't really get the characters enough. Because the movie doesn't give me this.

When I watch the earlier season of Stargate: Atlantis, there are only two female favourite characters. They are shown as friends, and the fandom pretty much pair them as the spare. Later in the season there were more female characters introduced and filmed interaction between Teyla and them. While the amount of fic produced is not much as far as I know, Teyla launched several ships, Teyla/Kate, Teyla/Keller, Teyla/Sam.  While the canon is not good enough, it at least gives a starting point to write and passes the Bechdel's test in some episodes.

My hypothesis about the lack of femslash little black dress is thus:
There're just not enough female characters. Even nowadays a show can be without one female major character. Supernatural, for example  is a big offender.

When there are finally some, the writers often screw up on the female characters. The stories are often not about them, the story not told in their POV, they often go without agency or sacrificed for some dramatic effect. These combined don't encourage fans of female characters. When the show finally pass Bechdel's Test, there are usually no multiple female relationships, not to mention multiple female friendships.

And when there are such examples, people don't know about it.

In conclusion, with the current trend, we're less likely to see femslash little black dress.
snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
Assuming a common cultural canon on the internet seems silly, as it is supposed to be multinational and multiracial. That there is a shared cultural canon universally could only be restricted to a selected group of people. Your canon is not my canon, and I refused to be ashamed.
(response to a lament that zis reader didm't get one of zis literary reference, leading to a discussion about collected canon.)
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snowynight: Kino in a suit with brown background (Default)
Pencil and paper rpg games fans love their games, and a number of them love to hack and adapt the rules. The original rule set often serves as a spring board for creativity. A lot of people have house rules for their games and some claim that they can never run a game without them. The hobby of rpg games largely depend on enthusiastic participants to engage with the text and produce transformative work. It sounds like fanfic-writing fandom, right? And these hobbies face the same problems: copyright issues. Posting your twist and changed rules on the internet can lead to a Cease & Desist letter. The open gaming movement is a response to it and encourages the game producers to release game under creative commons license. Seeing the convergence of my two hobbies makes me happy.

Anyway, old movies review.
Ghost in the Shell (1995) - As a movie produced ten years ago, the technology and society still seems up-to-dated, speaking of the tremendous research behind. I love that the city depicted is diversified, complex, rather than sterilized and unified. The information flow of the film is rapid and huge, just like the society the film reflects. The discussion of transhumanism, humanity and consciousness is inspiring.
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