oh, writing.

The Spirit of Transportation, by Maxfield Parrish

So, my heroine Kallisty is trying to be helpful by pointing out to one of the second-tier characters that hero Quint fancies men, since she is under the mistaken impression that said second-tier character fancies Quint. And I had to hedge her remark about with a couple of sentences to make sure that it was clear that she was trying to be helpful, rather than trying to insult the second-tier character.

Requite has its social problems (they have chattel slavery, for a start) but they don’t have a culture of assuming that same-sex relationships are automatically funny or shameful. But a lot of the cultures that people will be reading the book in do have that assumption and also Kallisty is quite prone to insulting people, so I have to make it clear that’s not what she’s doing in this case. And that annoys me, in a sort of low-grade sad ‘why is the world such a mess’ way.

Mind you, one of the things that cheers me up about this small scene is that I’ve been convinced right from the beginning that in the unlikely event that the book comes to the attention of the universe of Internet fandom, a whole bunch of them will absolutely hate Kallisty. Fandom has a huge blazing sore spot about female characters, to the point that almost anything anyone says about any female character has the potential to accidentally remind someone of something blatantly stupid that someone said to them in the past and cause a huge row. If you imagine the present-day members of fandom living on a coral reef where the coral is all made up of stupid things people have said in the past about female characters, you’ll have some idea of the magnitude of the problem. Also, the coral is the kind that cuts rubber-soled shoes to strips as soon as people try to walk on it and then starts in on people’s feet.

Anyway, now people who don’t like Kallisty can accuse her of being a Yenta Sue as well as everything else, which amuses me no end.

(I’m not just indulging in some kind of weird persecution syndrome by proxy, I promise. I’ve hung out in fandom, and I’ve followed Kallisty around documenting the things she says and does, and it’s not so much oil and water as oil and high velocity explosive. She’s cheerfully sexual with a variety of people she’s not romantically in love with! She makes bad decisions because of bravado and lack of life experience! She is irreverent, stubborn, defensive, frequently foul-mouthed, and couldn’t spell ‘self-deprecating’ even if she had any idea what it meant! Fandom will not like any of this. Though the vastly most likely thing to happen, of course, is that fandom will continue to sail happily past the books, and that’s what I expect.)

13 thoughts on “oh, writing.

    1. Mills and Boons are totally a fandom. Particularly the multi-author series where characters from one book show up in another.

      Though actually, one of the things I’ve always thought shows how successful M&Bs are at what they do, is that no one writes fix-it fic for them. Okay, so maybe ‘lack of audience’ is part of that, since apart from the multi-author series each book has its own cast of characters and there isn’t much continuity between books – but thousands of people read every month’s M&Bs. Yuletide fic gets written and commented on for much smaller niche markets.

      I still get irked with them for not catering more closely to my fantasies, mind you. Obviously there are lots of women out there who enjoy books that are heavy on pregnancy and babies, and good luck to them, but I do not want to lie in the bath with some candles and a bath bomb and read about cute moppets who bear no resemblance at all to any child I’ve ever encountered in real life or the heroine’s swollen feet.

      1. Yes, that’s true. *sigh*

        I wonder if there’s something about the focus on achieving closure within the books that limits the likelihood of fic. Plus their shortness – you just don’t spend as much time with an M&B as most other books, so the characters don’t live in your head for as long. And the ready supply of new ones means that there’s not as much need for fic.

        What would your fantasy M&B be?

        1. That is a really good question! I love the ones with a very strong evocation of place – Caribbean islands, snowy mountains, the Australian outback, I don’t really mind where as long as I feel like I’ve been transported there. Though to be honest I’m not as fond of the ones set in American small towns as I might be, because they often seem to have a lot of distracting minor characters.

          The heroine would have to be someone I could cheer for even if I couldn’t identify with her, and she and the hero would both need a sense of humour. And there would be a scene where they dance together, because I just love those. 🙂

          Oh, and the writer would have to avoid ever referring to him as ‘a male’ or her as ‘a female’ because that just makes me think of nature documentaries!

          How about you – what would your fantasy M&B be like?

          1. Oh, yes to the sense of humour and the dancing scene. I also like ones where the heroine does gardening or farming or is a mechanic or something where she wears totally unglamorous clothes and is covered in mud which gets all over his expensive suit. Other than that, I have a slight preference for stories set in the UK or Europe, over Australia and America and I loved Kelly Hunter’s books set in the Far East.

            Mostly I just want them to be people I care about and think will be happy together. Preferably without babies or pets.

            1. Oh, I like the ones where she brings him down to earth too, whether it’s figurative or actually does involve mud!

              I haven’t read Kelly Hunter’s books. I’ll keep an eye out for them.

        2. Also, I now wonder whether there is fic for those romance/mystery series where there’s a central romance or love triangle that carries on through the books – the In Death series, say, or the Stephanie Plum books. I’ve never noticed any, but then I’ve never gone looking because none of those series ever clicked with me.

          1. I bet someone, somewhere has written Stephanie Laurens fic. I mean, other than Stephanie Laurens, obviously, who has made a career out of it.

            1. I bet they have too. And come to think of it, I think someone was asking for Black Dagger Brotherhood fic last Yuletide, thought it’s not something I couhld rhise to myzself.

  1. If you imagine the present-day members of fandom living on a coral reef where the coral is all made up of stupid things people have said in the past about female characters, you’ll have some idea of the magnitude of the problem.

    This is a brilliant analogy. The only thing I would venture to add, to emphasise the magnitude, is that coral reefs are visible from space.

    Fandom really is bananas about female character (especially female characters between 15 and 25, and I don’t think the reason for that is “because a high proportion of the source characters are). I was re-visiting a bit of Doctor Who fan response from last year, and the knee-jerk categorisation of a young woman in her early twenties and a short skirt as a slut, despite the fact that we only know her to have had a single boyfriend (who becomes her fiance) is really quite impressive, especially the way they so often do it whilst proclaiming their feminist aims.

    1. Oh, Doctor Who fandom, where to start? I’ve only ever been on the periphery, but they seem to have more than their fair share of people who take any criticism of the franchise very personally indeed and whose default assumption is that anyone who disagrees with them is holding a grudge and must be a rabid fan of Russell T. Davies / a bigoted hater for whom Russell T. Davies can do no right / a rabid fan of Steven Moffatt / a bigoted hater for whom Steven Moffatt can do no right / a Ten/Rose shipper / a racist who hates Martha / some other damn thing, probably to do with Torchwood: Children of Earth. Not to mention people who think saying anything positive about the show is akin to wilfully kicking puppies. There are some great people in the fandom, but I don’t know how they stay sane.

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