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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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how snippets make the world turn
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Iv'e picked up a weird, weird habit.

When I get a good AU idea (or a bad one, ask me one day about the Lex-pregnant thing), I write a single or a couple of scenes from it. Usually in the middle--you know, because I can't do a slow build up to save my life. Then I folder it and wait to see if it grows, kind of like making sourdough starter. Leave in warm place, hope for fermentation.

I just realized I have a LOT of these. Seriously. So I categorized them, and here are a few that went over, say, a few pages.

Breathe Again -- bizarre futurefic where Clark is listening to dangerous-evil-wrong acid rain outside and talking to dead Lex (who also talks back, because I have flexible definitions on sanity) while comforting the people who are hiding in the cellar with him. Yes, seriously, that's exactly how it starts.

Last Men -- the longest running series of snippets in my personal history of them, wiht other people also haveing contributed to it. I have bits from the present, the near future, and the far future. In one, Lex is seeing Clark for the first time since invasion, as Clark is getting Lex out of a Kryptonian lab. Lex-lab-torture is highly underrated.

All the Kingdoms of the World -- I have no idea how to explain this one, but it starts with what looks like Clark murdering someone in the middle of the street and wearing a LuthorCorp nametag. And also, Lois is dead.

Threaded Through It All -- this one has potential in a weird, not so understandble way, that I'm still working out. Clark is escaping a lab--he has no idea who he is, but he's remmebering, no idea of what has happened to him, but he's getting it, and no way to escape inevitable recaptue except one.

It makes me wonder why exactly these ideas didn't capture me while others did. I don't see a pattern, specifically, except if I have too clear an idea, I tend not to go for a story, since it doesn't need for me to write it if I already know how it goes. On the other hand, if it' too vague--such as Breathe Again--then I can't get a handle on what kind of world I'm building and move to something that I can understand better.

A break to that is the story that tstar78 has been looking over for me. A few days ago, I thought I was going to try my hand at writing a horror story for SV--which, btw, for those of you who pull that off? More power to you. I just don't have that in me to do it well, or at all. Annoying. Dammit. Anyway, it starts off--well, slow. And for those of you who have read my fic, you know I tend for the scream and leap method of storytelling, so this thing where it starts out around a kitchen table with not a crisis or trauma in sight?

*blinks* No idea why that happened.

Anyway, Caro said, keep going, and so I did, though honestly, I didn't expect to, well, get anything out of it but a writing exercise and trying to work my way back into using the past tense naturally (and this is fucking HARD. I keep having to go back and change everything to past, because my baseline is now present-tense. Not easy). And then it happened.

Like--a flicker. The beginning needs to be rewritten for this to ever become a decent story, but what's going on is coming together. Not completely, not enough for me to say, oh, yeah, I know how this one is going to go. Because I don't. I really don't, but I think I could find out if I keep going. But I know enough to know what the next scene will be, and maybe how that will build on another scene, and then, boom, there they are, possibilities. Caro tossed out several different possible scenarios she thought might be happening, and it was incredibly fun to realize ANY OF THEM COULD BE IT. And if I didnt' know which one it was, then Clark and Lex didn't either, and I like it best when my characters are as confused as I am.

It's kind of like watching a movie in progress--you think you know, but at any moment, what you think might not happen and the story goes somewhere else, and God, that's cool. It's my favorite thing. Because it's like reading and writing at the same time, where every word changes everything.

Again, keep in mind? I'm a romantic about fandom, about fanfiction, AND about writing.

Yep. I'm really crazy after all.



Someone sent me a link to a review she did for Three Impossible Things, which well, I like feedback adn reviews. A lot. So I hied myself to read it and came out a little shocky and really, really impressed, because seriously, there's nothing that's more fascinating to me than how people read and interpret a story, any story (see my love of Past Grief discussion on this one, or Mercy, or Immortality). also, I am a fanfic writer and I am totally not above squeeing when someone likes something I wrote. Take it as you will. It made me happy.

Link to review by uselessplayback

This is the part that made me go oooh. Hmmm.

Clark is something else here as well. He's not nice. He's not clean. He's totally ruthless. While a person could definitly understand where he's coming from, he's doing exactly the reverse of what the cliched potential love interest would do; he's taking charge. Clark's not sweet about it either, you see a totally vindictive personality emmerge that is difficult to like. You can't like Clark in this fic, but you can't hate him either.

You know, he IS.

I'm always generally under the impression that readers are a lot better than writers at intepretation--writers are usually too close to the source, one, and two, have spent too much time with conflicting ideas that they finally get down into ONE idea to really know what they've got once it is written--kind of like all the ghosts of what the story could have been if this had been different or that had been different or that scene you only thought but never wrote, and all those ghosts are always there when you read your own work again. If that makes any sense. Whereas readers come in at a relative tabula rasa--hell, if you were to use my summaries to try and decide what a story is about, almost an absolute tabula rasa.

So, reading that, and looking at the story, it's odd to see that yep, that's there all right.

I'd like to see uselessplayback's take on some other fics now. Hmm. Because that was fun, and not just because it was me. Though yes, that was there too. *grins*


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All the Kingdoms of the World -- ooohhh, sounds like a good mystery. Plus you could have clingy!Clark and helpfully, ruthless!Lex

Threaded Through It All -- how did you know my secret weakness for amnesia fics. ;-) I can see lots of potential here.

I would love to see these two make it to your website or at least LJ someday.

*Grins* The titles are what makes me like them. I am such a whore for a multi-word, slightly pretentious title.

I keep thinking Threaded could work if I buckle down and just start writing to see where it goes, though. But kiling a character in the first four pages? Not exactly what I look for when writing.

*sighs* Silly characters.

It's kind of like watching a movie in progress--you think you know, but at any moment, what you think might not happen and the story goes somewhere else, and God, that's cool. It's my favorite thing. Because it's like reading and writing at the same time, where every word changes everything.

God, I can completely relate to that and absolutely agree - just about everything I write starts out as a particular idea. And then somehow takes a sharp left into unexplored territory, where even I don't know what's going to happen next until I actually write it. Embarrassing to admit, but there are times when I finish writing something and aren't fully sure of *what* I wrote, until I go back and re-read it. Writing-by-possession seems to be a regular thing for me...*g*

Looking forwarding to reading these fics you've listed - they sound rather intriguing and definitely unique!

God, I can completely relate to that and absolutely agree - just about everything I write starts out as a particular idea. And then somehow takes a sharp left into unexplored territory, where even I don't know what's going to happen next until I actually write it. Embarrassing to admit, but there are times when I finish writing something and aren't fully sure of *what* I wrote, until I go back and re-read it. Writing-by-possession seems to be a regular thing for me...*g*

*nodnodnod* And it's--I mean, stressful, yes, but also, SO cool when you realize the story came together almost without your knowledge. *g* That's it. You said it perfectly.

Looking forwarding to reading these fics you've listed - they sound rather intriguing and definitely unique!

If by 'unique' you mean 'on bad crack', then yes. *g* They're--weird. Very, very weird.

Utterly cool beyond belief, particularly when what you've written *works*! It's like 'wow, so much for involving rational thought in this...' *g*

If by 'unique' you mean 'on bad crack', then yes. *g*

*blink* there's such a thing as BAD crack?? ;)

How much do you write in one day? Because all I've ever written are really really short stories, and now I'm trying to do a long one and it's driving me nuts. At the rate I'm writing, if I write an hour a week, I'll finish it in two years; if I write 8 hours a day, I'll finish it in twenty days (all pure speculation made on an excuse of an outline I wrote).
So, I've seen you write novel-length fics one after another, and I was just wondering how many time do you put on them.

Or you might just call me nosy.

Hmm. I'm--not sure.

The best example of my speed is Somewhere, since it was more or less live posting--at the beginning, I was usually a section ahead of posting, but near the middle and through to the end, I was literally writing up until the moment I posted. I think the average was around twenty-five hundred to three thousand words a day (six-eight pages), though sometimes longer or shorter.

*thinks* For a long story, I usually start out writing very fast, slow down near the middle, and skid to a stop when I hit the ending, more or less. If we're talking shorter fics, I can maybe do about eight thousand words a day, or the equivlanet of 15-18 pages, which is, in terms of writing, completely different-- I can usually see a clear ending in sight and just write until I get there or close to it. But that's relatively rare, and at top speed, AND when I have extended time to do it, and when it's a Very Clear Yet Not Too Clear Idea.

None of this vouches for quality. Average would be about two thousand words a day or so when I'm working on fic overall.

Um, did that sort of answer the question? This isn't average--Jus Ad Bellum, my longest work, runs around 153 thousand words or three hundred eighty pages and took me over a year to complete, but in between the day I started and the last part I posted, I was pretty regularly posting other things (all my Smallville up to I think Dust was written, along with several X-Men fic, during my time writing Jus), and it had a Major Theme thing going on that kept making me frustrated.

Okay, that didn't answer at all. I really don't know for sure, nor do I really know yet what will set me off, but all of this assumes I get seriously obsessed with an idea and literally can't stop.

Um. Yeah. And this is very, very generalized overview of what I can remember off the top of my head. 3IT took about twelve days, while Sleep took a few months, and so on and so forth.

You know, he IS.

Clark is the one thing I don't like about 3IT. I still re-read the story, and I can pass over his actions, but I can't gush over it like others do. I dislike how Clark never lets Lex be nice to a woman Clark seems to like and respect. I always wondered if you did that on purpose. Now I know!

Is it wrong that I want to read Breathe Again? Smallville is the only fandom in which I actually like angst. Weird.

*grins*

I dislike how Clark never lets Lex be nice to a woman Clark seems to like and respect.

I don't think he could have gone through with it if he'd really let himself think about her the person, instead of her the obstacle. Or he could have, but not as smoothly and as carefully or far enough to win Lex away from her. A lot of it was momentum--once he'd started, hesitating even once would mean losing for good.

It's--odd. I tried writing a Lena pov coda-ish thing, but both of them stumped me. Seriously, what DO you say to someone who quite literally campaigned to steal your boyfriend away while you were gone? And what do you say to the woman you deliberately set out to hurt, at least by way of taking something away that was hers?

*grins* Manipulative!Clark. So darn fun.

I usually start the same way you do, and I *hate* to abandon anything. Unfortunately, I just got two starter-scenes in rapid succession, a Lex-amnesia one -- you've got to know that the head injuries will catch up to him someday -- and a story in which Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent enjoy each other's company, Batman and Superman don't, and Lex gets angry. I usually have a line or two of dialogue that unfolds into a scene or two, and then I have to write my way out of the whole thing. When it works, it's great, but I don't think I could stand having a bunch of unfinished ones just taunting me from the desktop. Oh wait, I guess I do, because there's also the Lex/Martha saga just sitting there. Oops.

Trade you?

*Snickers*

I hide them from myself sometimes, especially when I know it's going to either be a. uber difficult, or b. completely contradicted by canon since inception.

*pokes* Invasion fic? Yes, yo're tired of hearing me make noise about it. *grins*

Wow. One of the first things that struck me as making 3IT stand out from the crowd was the fact that Lena was sympathetic, and Clark wasn't. (Aside from the fact he's our Clark, and therefore we can't help wanting him to win.) I assumed this was all consciously done. *g*

Personally, I don't think Clark's unsympathetic because he's doing the wrong thing; it's more the utter ruthlessness when something impinges on his consciousness in a way that could come between him and his goal. In Pru's stories, for instance, Clark is also waging all-out war for Lex, but when he sees pain in his opponent's eyes, he doesn't try to avoid the self-knowledge this brings. In 3IT, there are a couple of moments where the reader becomes uncomfortable -- not only those places where Clark's essentially thinking, "Good!" while Lena is getting the brunt of things, but there was a passing thought along the way that if the cook/housekeeper liked Lena, tough. There was a certain attitude of "they're all cannon fodder" that was a bit disturbing. Like, as long as he got Lex (the "real" person -- because Clark loved him), everybody else was just a spear-carrier in the play.

Of course, you could make a very good case that Clark (as the story implies) had let people walk all over him once or fifty times too often, and that the only way he could proceed here, psychologically, was not to *allow* a crack in his defenses for sympathy to enter. But this latter part is never spelled out, so it's for the reader to interpret in Clark's favor or not. (His ease in generating this defensive shell is still a bit unnerving, though.)

What makes it work is that (1) it's Clark, a character we're invested in already, so we're on his side from the beginning, (2) we're in Clark's pov, and (3) while Lena is shown to be a worthy companion for Lex, and someone he could love, the strong implication is still that Clark is the first and strongest attraction, and the person he was meant to be with. So that if for some reason Clark backed down and let things just happen the way a "nice" person would, you could end up with a substitute life that just wasn't as good as the real thing. And at least one person was going to be unhappy no matter how you spilled it.

All making for a good, complex set of characters, and while it was discomfiting, it certainly wasn't your average fannish love story.


Wow. One of the first things that struck me as making 3IT stand out from the crowd was the fact that Lena was sympathetic, and Clark wasn't. (Aside from the fact he's our Clark, and therefore we can't help wanting him to win.) I assumed this was all consciously done. *g*

*grins* Technically, it was accidental--I was actually mulling early first season Clark--even a little post-Jitters Clark, where he showed some actual initiative in getting Lana. Always, always, he had to back off, but mostly because of circumstance, not choice, such as SECRET thing and so forth.

But I was going less for vindictive and more for focused--like you said, spear carriers sort of thing. Such as, years of not pushing all the way to get something got him nada, so hell, see what happens when he just does it and stops letting circumstance and people get in the way.

That was definitely deliberate--he has it in him, he's just never actually exercised it completely, so to speak.

Of course, you could make a very good case that Clark (as the story implies) had let people walk all over him once or fifty times too often, and that the only way he could proceed here, psychologically, was not to *allow* a crack in his defenses for sympathy to enter. But this latter part is never spelled out, so it's for the reader to interpret in Clark's favor or not. (His ease in generating this defensive shell is still a bit unnerving, though.)

*grins* Pretty much, yeah.

What makes it work is that (1) it's Clark, a character we're invested in already, so we're on his side from the beginning, (2) we're in Clark's pov, and (3) while Lena is shown to be a worthy companion for Lex, and someone he could love, the strong implication is still that Clark is the first and strongest attraction, and the person he was meant to be with. So that if for some reason Clark backed down and let things just happen the way a "nice" person would, you could end up with a substitute life that just wasn't as good as the real thing. And at least one person was going to be unhappy no matter how you spilled it.

It really WASN'T a nice thing to do to Lena. But--I can see the way Clark doesn't engender sympathy--there is a sort of shocky fascination with seeing just how much he'd force compromise, but I actually had a theory on that one and a reason I wrote him quite literally forcing Lex to compromise himself instead of just saying, hey, leave the girl now, as I am attracted to you.

I dont' think Lex would have bought it post-Chloe immediately, adn the second Clark mentioned love/attraction, Lex would be out of there. But indulging a treasured fantasy? Completely different. Not something he can justify, but something he could live with in himself. And to me, Clark would know Lex well enough to know that and know that removing the possiblity of Lena, or compromise Lex and removing the affair from the category of fantasy/one-night-stand, would be the only way Lex would take a risk like that. Because saying, we got drunk and I cheated is a mile away from saying, we got drunk, I cheated, then we cheated again three times the next day and once the day after and did I ever mention we stayed in my secret apartment that I never told you about right above my office? And not only to Lena, but I'm not sure he'd be able to say 'short mistaken affair' to himself at that point and believe it either.

*grins*

I just really made Clark seem even worse, didn't I? He's manipulative, but not really malicious--okay, a tiny, tiny bit. Honestly, he's one of my favorite Clarks I've written overall. Though it still throws me when people say they had no idea how the story would turn out, which i find extremely cool, since I've always assumed I was pretty predictable that way.

*pleased with the world*

Threaded Through It All

How much begging do I have to do to get you to finish this one, Jenn? Or I could bribe you maybe -- a la Lex style. *g* I do have the entire first season of Smallville scripts (originals) sitting in my closet. I also have a copies of Red and Redux. Begging or bribery, totally up to you. *g*

RAMBLING

(Anonymous)
Stories, I love Last Men. I´ve always love that idea. What can I say?. dark fic just grab me and don´t let me go... and happy ending becauseÍ´m that dumb.
All the Kingdoms of the World: this has a lotttttt of potential, it really has. anddddddddd.
Threaded Through It All: I love this idea too.
And the other is good, but a bit vague.. I don´t know, a short fic perhaps?. Something short a powerful, something that show no mercy, something that rip you apart, guilt?, lost of innocence?, a sense of sublime lost of the one thing that you should have never let go, the one thing that was only for you?, the only thing hat should have been worth fighthing for?. The only thing in wich Clark fails.

Seee?, rambling here.

Trades.

So... I post this wrong, everyone go for that phase once in a while right?... right?.

I really should be working... oh what the hell!!!.

You know, I have these moments where I'm starting to think I must be a sociopath, *g*, because Clark's characterisation and behaviour in Three Impossible Things didn't bother me at all...
For a combination of reasons, some of which have been touched on already, like the fact that Clark had my pre-existing sympathy and affection, and Lex was plainly "the true one in his life" - I think that attitude can't be underestimated, it's why fanfic characters almost always get away with cheating on their (original? official?) partners, because we're default wired to the OTP as the real relationship. And that's unusual for me - ordinarily I dislike cinematic and literary adulterers, Dr Zhivago leaves me cold and I hated The English Patient - poor bumbling Colin Firth had all my sympathy. The only pair I've ever liked are Anna and Vronsky in Anna Karenina, and that's probably because it all goes to hell in a handcart.

Actually, I think what's key is that I read Three Impossible Things as the kinder, gentler, but nonetheless for all that, mirror image of A Handful of Dust. In that Love and Destiny, jointly and severally, are the be all and end all in the Clark/Lex universe. So the protagonist (interestingly Clark in both cases) sets his sights on the prize and pursues it with no thought or concern to the obstacles, or to the people who stand in his way. (There's a double prize in AHoD - the world remade, and the one true love.) The antagonist resists, but ultimately sacrifices something very real and important (Lex's own will and his own vision of what's right in AHoD, his own sense of honour and a relationship that genuinely meant something to him in TIT). Clark gets the prize, Lex pays the price, but ultimately it's worth it because he gets the Love and together they'll carve out the Destiny, and isn't that what it was all about from the very beginning?
I like to think the two stories tie back into each other via the brown lounge chair in the penthouse. I know some readers were afraid that it undermined the happy ending, ie that AHoD was a sequel to TIT, but for me it's confirmation that it's the same universe and the same characters, just two different paths that diverge in a wood but arrive at the same ultimate destination.

Sometimes I scare myself. I'd like to add that I know the difference between fiction and reality, and wouldn't condone this sort of behaviour in real life!

I like to think the two stories tie back into each other via the brown lounge chair in the penthouse. I know some readers were afraid that it undermined the happy ending, ie that AHoD was a sequel to TIT, but for me it's confirmation that it's the same universe and the same characters, just two different paths that diverge in a wood but arrive at the same ultimate destination.

I did echo deliberately--character speaking, not same universe speaking, Clark in 3IT is kind of the transition between Clark-now and Clark in Dust. I do remember when writing, thinking, hmm, what would Dust Clark do if he was still relatively sane nad not quite so messiahic? *grins* I like them as bookends sometimes to two adjacent universes.

And sadly, in 3IT, Clark didn't bother me at all while writing--it was just so good to get him out of passive aggressive and into just declaring war, all those hints of his will from the show and being able to use them.

Thanks so much! And yes, I am ALL for the destiny thing. *nod*

de-lurking for a moment to gleefully anticipate your comments on tonight's Smallville episode "Witness".

My eyes are damaged by the possibility of Chlonel - he is Satan!
They're both after the same thing - Clark!
Yay, Jonathan - giving almost aggressive advice!
Poor Lex - with friends like Clark, he needs to install a CAT scan in his home and use it weekly.
It is all about Lana!

Kernezelda

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