Tags: fanfic

Mary Sue

"With water surrounding me, high and wide open..."

Yesterday, I wrote 1,296 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges, which puts the word bank at 801 words. Today, with luck and determination, I'll find the chapter's end. But there need to be many fewer distractions today than there were yesterday.

The weather today is warm and damp, with more rain on the way.

readingthedark arrived early in the evening, and the three of us had dinner at Trinity Brew House. I had a very raw hamburger, a thing I was greatly desiring. Back home, there was an hour or so of conversation. Not nearly enough. But sex and tentacles, that came up, the octopoid bauplan as an eight-penised vagina, something of the sort. Prehensile penes, at that. But also cats, shaved heads, energy drinks, open sims, polygon mesh vertices, and book trailers.

I wasn't able to get to sleep until after five-fifteen ayem. The sky was going grey and lavender.


Back on the 7th, both hollyblack and matociquala wrote rather good entries on the "Mary Sue" problem. The misapplication of the term to fiction that isn't fanfic, and other deeper problems with a very problematic phrase and a concept fraught with problems. You can read Holly's post here, and Elizabeth's here. I found myself agreeing with most of what was said in both, which was hardly a surprise.

My only significant quibble would be with Holly's list of what is used to identify a "Mary Sue." Read it for yourself (don't be a lazy bastard), but it basically comes down to one word that repeatedly appears in her list: unrelatable. For example:

The reviewer believes that the female protagonist of the novel is so perfect as to be unrelatable.

The difficulty I have here may only be one of personal habit and preference. I don't see fiction as something I do expecting people to relate to any character. I only expect readers to read and consider and experience the story, to have individual reactions to the various characters, and to draw whatever conclusions they may. I'm most emphatically not doing something in order for people who don't write stories to project themselves onto. So, to me, whether or not a reader can relate is immaterial. I don't see the ability to relate to a character as a prerequisite for, say, sympathizing or empathizing with a character. Otherwise, yep. Brilliant posts, and thank you.

Oh, this bit from matociquala, which was basically a quick summation of Holly's quote for those too lazy to follow a link: "It's frankly misogynistic to identify a competent female protagonist as a 'Mary Sue' because she's at the center of her story. She's at the center of her story because she's the goddamn protagonist."

For my part, I continue to maintain the term will never have any authentic utility beyond fanfic, and even then...okay, not going to beat dead horses today. It only attracts flies.

A Bit Player,
Aunt Beast

Miscellania, Good & Bad

First, here's the comment I was afraid I'd receive when I made that entry about fanfic and intellectual property rights. Only, I thought it would happen a lot sooner than it did. anextropian writes:

That the originator "owns" ideas in the first place...
Is inherently ridiculous. Whereas a work itself is the expression of the individual, the elements within it like characters and whatnot do not and should not belong to the author. The original work does belong to it, but not the characters and everything else within it. Characters etc. are merely thoughts, and people have not the right to have any monopoly of thoughts over others. In addition, sometimes, I would have no respect for the originators whatsoever. Fanfiction is not only a tribute to the original author, but also does other things, like spite the original author. If it were a tribute, then the original author could be respected, but it is not always a tribute.

So...I have a question for anextropian. If you were to someday have a vaguely original thought (about the best I've ever managed, so I'm cutting you some slack), and you wrote a fic with that thought, and then some asshole professional (like myself) came along and gutted it, using your characters and/or situation and/or universe to writer her own book, and — wait, it gets worse — then sold that book for an advance of $20k...that wouldn't piss you off, right? Cause, we cannot own ideas, yes? Remember now, I was actually defending fanfic as a legitimate artistic undertaking, but this is bollocks. When artists can no longer eke out even the meager living most of us manage from our work — well, you do the math. And to whom will you pay tribute or spite then?

Now, something much nicer courtesy a MySpace reader:

How about a reprinting of "The Black Alphabet" for lazy coelacanths such as myself who were not subscribed to Sirenia at the time? Do I ask too much? Do I get a scoff and a scorn? I have an old Carpe Noctem where you reviewed some album(s). Cannot recall which bands they were, but I remember buying the cd's because I, too, was enthralled with Silk and thought you were the bee's knees. Still do.

Man, I miss Carpe Noctem. That said, no scoffs or scorns, and I adore lazy coelacanths. But "The Black Alphabet" was already reprinted in its entirety as The Black Alphabet: A Primer, a chapbook (soft and hard cover) from Subterranean Press, which is now out of print. We will be offering a few on eBay. Or you could order the two back issues of Sirenia Digest that include parts one and two of "The Black Alphabet" (issues #6 and 7, respectively). Requests for back issues should be addressed to Spooky at crk_books(at)yahoo(dot)com. $10 each.

Oh, and here are the current eBay auctions.

Bedtime now.

Addendum: Because I need to write SOMETHING today.

After quite some time spent staring at — CHAPTER TWO — all alone by itself on ms. page 42 of Joey Lafaye, it becomes more or less obvious that the words just are not coming this afternoon. So, I'm sitting here, munching on a slab of vegan carrot bread from Sevananda (the local co-op), and I was looking at some entries on my LJ friend's list, and a few thoughts that have nothing much to do with Joey Lafaye occurred to me. I'm putting this behind a cut, because it is rather longish:

Collapse )

Addendum: the hallways in this tiny room

As I see the Mordorian Death March more or less wrapping up tomorrow evening, then so too should the tag-team Tolkien fic between me and setsuled wrap up...at least for now. Truthfully, I've had more actual fun writing this piece than I've had writing anything since...I don't know. At least since I finished Daughter of Hounds, I think. I hope that some of you have, in turn, enjoyed it, and that you've been following setsuled's part as well as mine. At the very least, I hope I have not bored you. I have no doubt it has kept me sane through two weeks of unwriting. I have a feeling that we will both be returning to this story, Setsuled and I, in the future. For one thing, I've come to understand that the story of the shieldmaiden Sindeseldaonna's ill-fated journey into Mordor may only be the prologue of a much larger tale, that of the elf Inwë Isilrá and her quest to find and redeem her lost lover. Also, it should be obvious that this last part owes something of a debt (oddly enough) to the work of Mark Z. Danielewski, as well.

And this is as good a time as any to thank Cory Doctorow for his essay in the May 2007 issue of Locus magazine, "In Praise of Fanfic." I am especially taken with his view of fanfic as "active reading." I quote:

Writers can't ask readers not to interpret their work. You can't enjoy a novel that you haven't interpreted – unless you model the author's characters in your head, you can't care about what they do and why they do it. And once readers model a character, it's only natural that readers will take pleasure in imagining what a character might do offstage, to noodle around with it. This isn't disrespect: it's active reading.

At any rate, here's what is probably my last bit of it for now (behind the cut); one more section by Setsuled will follow shortly:

Collapse )