graculus: (olivia)
[personal profile] graculus
What is it about a piece of media that grabs me and makes me want to interact with it in any way? I've been thinking about this quite a lot because there's not really been anything new that's made me want to write, at least since the Man from UNCLE movie and you could possibly argue that was just an extension of an older interest, though the movie versions of the characters and the TV show versions were also different enough to argue the exact opposite!

Anyway, for me there are various levels where source material is concerned:

Level 0 - I have no interest in interacting with it, despite (or sometimes because of, I'm looking at you Firefly fandom) other people's views on it

Level 1 - I read/watch the source material and have no interest in further accounts of the characters

Level 2 - I read/watch the source material and read fanfic

Level 2a - the source material carries on but I stop reading/watching at a certain point and carry on reading (at least some of) the fanfic

Level 3 - I read/watch the source material and both read fanfic and write it myself

I'm a bit of a completist so I tend not to want to write about something till I'm sure I have a real grasp on everything about it, so that's not really a good marker for live source material, which is probably why I've more recently been writing stuff from closed canon. I'm not sure I could cope with the level of assholery often shown by showrunners any more - it was bad enough first time around and few of them seem to have learned anything from their own and other's mistakes.

The problem is, that even if I were inclined to start writing for a new live fandom, there really doesn't seem to be anything out there that I actually find engaging enough to kick me up to Level 3. There's plenty of stuff which has made me get to Level 2 but no further - for example, I love the Peter Grant books and really like reading the fic but have zero interest in trying to write my own.

There are no stories out there for me in that material. Where Level 3 is concerned, some of it is 'I've got this great idea and other people would mess it up if they wrote it, so I need to write it' - thoughts of 'I could do better' were certainly how I got started writing in the first place, even though I subsequently discovered it wasn't as easy as it looked! I wonder if also I am less inclined to have those stories if I see other people producing them and doing it well? Though that wouldn't explain wanting to write UNCLE, which always had a plethora of quality fic I enjoyed reading.

So, what makes a set of source material move from one level to the next? Well, for starters there needs to be a set of characters who I am interested in and want to get to know - usually if I find them aesthetically pleasing that also helps immensely, though that's not sufficient in itself. For example, I've been watching Legends of Tomorrow because of a couple of characters and despite a couple of others: I immediately wanted more of Sara Lance and also liked the whole Snart & Rory dynamic (I've always had a bit of a thing for bad people trying to do good things despite their nature). Sadly, there are also a couple of characters on the show who are interchangeable bland generic white bread hetero males, one recently introduced because of [something spoilery] because there weren't enough on the show already I guess?

There also needs to be some chemistry between the characters I like and of course, as with anything subjective, YMMV whether particular characters have that special something going on or not. That's probably part 2 of the previous point, really, since it goes hand-in-hand with the 'characters I'm interested in' aspect. I can be interested in the character but if there's no spark, then nada in terms of moving on to even Level 2. It doesn't have to be romantic or sexual, just something that tells me character A gives a damn about character B and then hello 50k word angst fest as character A is kidnapped and loses their memory and character B has to rescue them. Or something else, possibly involving naked sexy times but I can live without that.

The one I still don't quite get is that step between Level 2 and Level 3, whatever constitutes the tipping point between reading and writing. For example, I've been reading lots of stuff set in the MCU (including a shedload of Sam/Steve, Steve/Bucky and Sam/Steve/Bucky but other stuff too) and still have zero stories for it myself. Nothing, nada, zilch. Even though I've read stuff that was so relentlessly mediocre it made my eyes water, so it's not the 'I could do better' aspect, that's for certain!

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

Date: 2017-04-17 12:20 pm (UTC)
saki101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] saki101
This was a fascinating read. I have been pondering similar questions myself, with especial interest in what can happen to make me stop writing about characters that formerly were a source of inspiration.

Your distinction between closed and live canon had entered my thinking, too, because my two main fandoms have been Man from UNCLE and Sherlock (with a side of ACD's original stories, which provides a mix of closed and open canon informing the series, thus blurring the distinction somewhat). I've dabbled in a couple others, mainly due to a fix-it impulse, although one (Skyfall, with emphasis on Q's character) was due to having read cross-over fic rather than the source material. As you may already deduce, I haven't come up with any clear guidelines from my ruminations, but I think I have found some clues.

Man from UNCLE, like the ACD Holmes stories, was episodic. Little in terms of backstory or relationship arcs were provided, although there were a few hints here and there. This creates, I believe, a desire to expand on the hints, or create backstory from whole cloth for the characters. Thus, I wondered, whether sufficient backstory and emotional development arcs in the source material might forestall the impulse to write about the characters and their relationship. (Perhaps that is what is going on in The Rivers of London series, which I've also enjoyed reading enormously and felt no desire to write about.) This thought regarding backstory and so on was mainly sparked by developments in Sherlock, which have recently supplied much more in that area than in the first two series of the show. I found the first two series, especially the second, much more inspiring than those that followed.

Taking my two main fandoms together, I have considered whether there has to be a certain relationship dynamic between two characters, at least one of whom I find very appealing, for me to want to write. As you point out, however, there are many such duos (or trios, etc) that one finds sufficiently entertaining to watch/read. What's the difference between the entertaining and inspiring ones? Is it setting? Does the whole universe also have to have a strong appeal, which then enhances the characters in them? Considering all the AUs I like to write and read, I don't think this can be a big factor. If the characters appeal enough, their universe can be changed in the writing. However, I don't rule it out totally. Perhaps the presence of an appealing setting at the outset helps ignite the spark. And that might have to do with calling to mind other stories that one has enjoyed, archetypal ones perhaps, and that the 'background' of those remembered pleasures, enhances the characters and relationships found in those settings. (Possibly, that is just re-stating what appeals in genre fiction.)

Another element I pondered was the presence or absence of desire in the characters. I have nearly decided that this is more likely to come across in visual media, despite books having so much more room to describe or expand on it. (This could certainly be one of those YMMV situations, as indeed, most of it is.) This may be precisely because we are likely to know more about what is happening in a character's mind and heart in a book, whereas on screen, the character may be doing one thing and longing for another, or even unbeknownst to the character, a longing may be developing. I think actors may throw this into the mix on several levels: they add early signs of an attraction because they know that is where the story is going or where they think it is likely to go; they have an attraction to the actor playing the other character; they have an attraction to the character the other actor is playing whether their own character does or not; they feel it will add appeal to their character; it's a personal habit that is bleeding into their acting. How this desire manifests itself, whether deliberately portrayed or not, may be pleasing to watch. Or it may involve looks and gestures that call to mind, consciously or not, memories in the viewer's mind, both positive and negative. Depending on which, a viewer will be repulsed or attracted or even inspired.

These are some of my thoughts at the moment. I must stop, I've already written far more than I intended to impose in a comment! I hope something in it is useful.

Thank you again for this interesting analysis!

Date: 2017-04-17 03:05 pm (UTC)
xochiquetzl: (River Song - fights like a girl)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzl
Interesting! I often write in live canon, and it often breaks my heart. :(

For me, there's usually one or more characters I want more of than the source provides. That's the primary factor.

Other things that help include:
  1. An active fandom, because it's always more fun when you have someone to bounce ideas off of.
  2. A universe I like, for whatever reason.
  3. Something in the canon that I want to "fix" somehow: my fave character isn't treated right (IMHO), my fave couple should totally be together, I don't like the direction the live canon is going, etc.
My Stargate involvement was mainly loving Daniel and shipping him with Jack. My HP involvement was mainly thinking Jo and Harry didn't treat Snape right. ;) In both, I went into the fandom knowing someone (my ex-SO) and made friends while I was there, so there was definitely a social aspect.

I haven't been following people into new fandoms since he and I broke up. Hmmm. [personal profile] iff is primarily Tumblr now and was all The Force Awakens, but I never really got into StormPilot (her thing) or Kylux (her friend that I followed's thing). They're both now into Some Video Game, I Dunno. ;)

There are book fandoms that I would love to be involved with, but am not for whatever reason. Like, I still love AngeLINK, but it's a fandom of me and the author (who is awesome, just like her books, BTW, but I was unable to lure anyone else into the fandom). I would probably read Parasol Protectorate fic (Biffy/Lyall or Biffy/Akeldama/Lyall or Lyall/Sandy; Lyall is my favorite) but I haven't gotten off my butt and read any yet, for whatever reason. And the Vorkosigan books: Despite naming my cat after him, Miles isn't my favorite. Cordelia is. I'd be reading/writing about her. (I do love Miles, though.) I read some Cordelia/Aral and it was adorable, but I only wrote the one tiny ficlet.

My Sith Academy involvement was half parody/critique of the source and half social interaction with the other authors. I was super-prolific, and I also cowrote more stories with other people than anyone else. Most of the Sith people were on a closed Star Trek mailing list (surprise!) and those that weren't, well, we started emailing each other intensely. So again, social.

Huh. I'm not sure I've said anything deep here. ;) Ah well.
Edited (I can spell and haz gud grammerz, honest!) Date: 2017-04-17 03:07 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-19 10:13 pm (UTC)
xochiquetzl: Torchwood--there's GAY in the coffee (Torchwood--GAY in the coffee)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzl
I would expect you to love Simon Illyan, since I heard he was partially inspired by Illya Kuryakin! or was at least named after him. :)

I should probably swear off live fandoms, yes. At one point I was threatening to be all about the Jack Harkness because they can't kill him off. It doesn't really work that way for me, though. Dammit.

Date: 2017-04-23 01:04 am (UTC)
xochiquetzl: Xochiquetzl (Default)
From: [personal profile] xochiquetzl
I think Memory is my favorite of the entire series. (Although I have a deep love of the "shopping" scene.) I think it's that people unravel, but they end up putting themselves back together, albeit in a different configuration. I also started to really like Ivan in that one, and I was kind of meh on Ivan previously.

Date: 2017-04-17 06:42 pm (UTC)
siluria: (Men_John Simm)
From: [personal profile] siluria
Your levels definitely match mine :) I seem to have more of the Level 2a's at the moment though, maybe because I can pick an choose according to my preferences.

I had a lot of love for the Man from UNCLE movie, although didn't think I would given my memories of the TV show, but I guess Guy Ritchie does have a fairly decent track record.

Date: 2017-04-22 11:24 am (UTC)
siluria: (General_Dino Cowboy)
From: [personal profile] siluria
I did think a sequel was on the cards originally, so fingers crossed :)

Date: 2017-04-17 10:17 pm (UTC)
farad: ranerein's Chaos (Chaos Michael)
From: [personal profile] farad
I really like your scale, and your thoughts on the characters - and the fandoms. I have played around in Marvel-verse (though Hawkeye is my fave in terms of the Avengers, going back to the comics themselves in the 1980s). I haven't seen the "Legends of Tomorrow" though I do like Sara Lance from her time on "Green Arrow" which is pretty good.

On the broader topic, I've had a hard time finding something new to pique my interest. I'm still pretty hooked into Mag 7, though not as inspired in the writing (though I think that is about the nature of my life, not a waning of interest in the characters), and I've been dabbling in some other areas, but nothing has really gotten me to level 3 lately.

Thanks for this assessment.

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