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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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all the world's a meme
children of dune - leto 1
Stolen from [personal profile] waldorph:

I think it would be fun to talk about stories, but the usual memes are like, "What happens next?" "Tell me about Character A?" Which isn't so much talking about stories as it is writing more of a story. But you know how sometimes you read something and you're like, "I got ___ out of this story, I wonder if I have that right?" or "What on earth was ____ supposed to be?" and it's too awkward to ask the author? Now you could totally ask!

I've heard people say that writing is hard because you have to make decisions, but we never really talk about the decisions we make with stories or why we make them. We talk about plot bunnies, but not about how we actually turn them into a story.

And it seems like a lot more fun to do that than to do working.

So, if you wanted, ask me questions! (Or use this to ask your flist to ask you questions).

What were you trying to do [here]? Why did you decide to ____? This is what I thought about xyz, is that what you were going for? What made you write ____? Why did you decide to do this? And so on.

Tbh, these sound like questions I ask myself in a fit of complete confusion after finishing a fic.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/62890.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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Nah, not passive aggressive, but curious. By nature fic disappoints someone, so it's interesting to track which ones did and why.

Tbh, these sound like questions I ask myself in a fit of complete confusion after finishing a fic.

These are questions I ask even when I’m not confused. When I get a fic, my inner literary editor comes out. It’s a way of tracking who has what view of what character/event. And I won’t lie that I do compare myself to them along the lines of, Oh, they have a more idealized view of that character while I’m much more cynical.

I think when I get to a fic that I’m totally confused by, I just shut down and don’t bother anymore but these tend to be multi-chapter fic written in english by people who speak english as a second, third, fourth language and the fic hasn’t been beta’d by a native speaker. And when writers (and I suspect a lot of these are non-english speakers) do things like put entire passages in bold, italic, bold-italic, different colors and etc to indicate thought, flashback, pov… Just no. My inner graphic designer and grammer editor just won’t even try.

I'm kind of visual so even when I'm reading stories I catch glimpses of what it would look like if it was being played out on the big screen. It's not so much a function of the writing style, except that the writing has to be 'good' (touch me in some way = good for me), as just the way I process it. Because of that, sometimes it makes it easier to discuss he story because it's almost like discussing an episode or movie. And that's when you find out that the dialogue you just threw in to get from point A to point B was received in a much deeper way then you consciously meant it to be and that colored the reader's view of your characters for the rest of the story. It's eye opening and sometimes makes you think 'darn it, I wish I had meant to do that, I wonder if I can do it again'? LOL

I'd love to know what made you decide to have Lex cheat on Clark in Somewhere I Have Never Travelled? I admire it very much as it such an unromantic choice of a sin to commit. As readers we are generally much more forgiving of sins against other people. This was a trespass against Clark without any obvious emotional tie to excuse it. I would love to know what made you really go there.

I'd make a joke about the fact that I didn't know when I wrote it right up until the part where it actually happened, which is close to true, because it started as a style exercise, but I knew within the first three paragraphs that it had to go like this.

Somewhere universe is one of those things that came out of nowhere; I didn't expect it would be something people would read as a mythology, I really didn't, even when I was writing that story. If I had, I wouldn't have ever posted it (glad I did not realize what reaction it would get, seriously). But the series was in the end about Clark and Lex and the human condition; not be Superman didn't make Clark's life easier in human terms, and Lex not having his enemy be Superman doesn't mean he wasn't still his own worst enemy.

So Clark ends up drinking a lot--a few readers caught that, and when I re-read, there was a progressive drinking thing going on from Lex's senatorial race to the presidency (writing backward made it an interesting exercise; the slow strengthening and faint fracture lines are really clear when I flip it and read it chronologically, less so when I read it as-is). Clark gave up his career and had to get a much more personal high profile, higher in some ways than that he had as Superman. Lex has everything he wanted, and he's the most powerful man in the world, but he's never had a time he didn't start causing himself problems. That's the canon-compliant answer, which is depressingly accurate. The more complicated personal one was that in getting everything he wanted, and getting it pretty well, he had to sacrifice Clark's human life experiences to do it. For everything he had to take, he tried to return something of equal value, but yeah, you can't replace your husband's career and reputation, really.

So he can look on his life and see, yeah, he got everything but per usual, someone else had to suffer for it. Which is what Chloe has been pretty much printing about him forever. Chloe also had an affair with Pete, though that was never the reason for Pete and Lana's problems, or even a symptom, more a result of what was already pretty much broken. (This is only alluded to, so only a few people ever made that jump, it's very not stated anywhere.) The person Lex had an affair with was someone he felt was as culpable as himself (this also works without the Chloe and Pete affair). Chloe's been on his heels most of his life; he's known her since she was jailbait. If anyone knows him well enough to know he's really still a thug, by God, it would be her (Lois almost married him; Clark actually did; Pete became his VP; Lana managed the campaigns and is the VP's wife; he doesn't trust them for a good character assessment, hilariously enough).

I mean, they're in love but that doesn't mean they aren't also aware they come from different mentalities of doing things, even if not on different sides. The part that's very Lex, however, is that the affair was--in his view--him being horrible and awful and betraying his vows, not necessarily in a concrete way understanding that this was betraying Clark, which this is Lex, the symbol is the person, but he doesn't get that it's not just a symbolic betrayal because of that.

Hence his honest to God appalled horror when it clicked this wasn't a crime against his own vows and his own integrity and woe, he is awful--he betrayed Clark and holy fuck, what just happened. Smallville Lex was consistently utterly enamored by symbolic gestures and Doing Great Meaningful Things and everything, but always had to get a kick to realize the actual person-person isn't a symbol and wow, how are they going to take this? The fic set after this one, Breathe Dust, picks up a little of this, but mostly Lex's self-loathing, now tripled between his original reasons for cheating, his betrayal of his vows, and the personal betrayal of Clark. Which is probably the reason Lois almost comparatively mellow in Breathe Dust; she may not forgive or understand, but she gets Lex is about five steps from a tall building and feeling he has something to prove.

Thanks so much for this question! It was wonderful to think it through and write that out like this!

Thanks so much for answering! That's an interesting blind spot. Almost like he still saw Clark as Superman in that one particular way—someone who would be disappointed in him because he failed morally rather then destroyed because he betrayed him personally.

YES! Lex is--seriously, Alexander's armor and all the WHEE SYMBOLISM, it makes sense he'd just not quite get the betrayal of an objective moral standard was also, y'know, a personal betrayal of a person.

I am so humiliated to ask this, but since you asked. Re: This is Not a Statement. I was never understood precisely what Adam was getting at re his discomfort with the Kris/Brad chat. (Did I mention my shame at this?)
I have guesses but they don't feel...right. Would you put me out of my misery?


"Some things are private," Adam says, very carefully, because God knows, he got this spectacularly wrong the first time. "You can ask anything you want, about anything you want to know about me. I just want to be the one you ask first."

Oooh, yeah, I can see how that wouldn't be very clear.

It's like, when you meet someone new (or maybe starting dating someone whose not-new) it's like, you introduce them around or, in this case, they all already sort of know each other. If you're friends with your ex, the stories probably will be hilarious because OMG WHEN I DATED HIM HE [insert embarrassing/unflattering story].

However, if that ex and the new friend (not yet boyfriend) are friends, the ex might not tell the same stories in the same way. There's less gloss, more honesty, and of course when Brad is pissy with Adam, he would vent to friends (or safe mutual friends, considering Adam's position) and say, for example, this is like when Adam cheated on me with a go-go dancer etc.

Friends nod understandingly. Kris is no longer, however, in Adam's mind during that fight, in the category of friend, where you resign yourself to knowing they will hear horrible stories about when you were a shitty boyfriend in excruciating detail. Kris is in the category of boyfriend even though very technically speaking--well, technically speaking, they are dating, and therefore, Brad's stories are now Kris (the boyfriend) hearing how Adam (his boyfriend) is a very shitty boyfriend.

Adam reacts--hilariously--as a guy who finds out his boyfriend is gossiping with his friends behind his back (and his friends are gossiping about him with his new shiny boyfriend!), and only belatedly realizes that, and also realizes that there's no sane way to get that across. Like, at all. Because yes, he is aware that he and Kris are desperately clinging to Plausible Deniability Cliff, but like, only out of sheer will at this point.

Which is also why he excuses Brad in that fight first, because of course Brad wouldn't gossip about him to his new boyfriend! And then only belatedly picking up, hey, he doesn't know this, and also, oh my God what am I doing, and I need to leave the city now before I do something stupid. Stupid-er.

So it's not anything specific he's scared of Kris finding out, but he wants Kris to talk to him first about it. And the kind of horrified realization that yes, whatever they're doing, this is serious and neither of them are going to stop. Which all of Vegas could be seen as Adam testing that as carefully as he can, since he's aware they're already committed to having emotional adultery, so it's pretty much inevitable there will be physical adultery, and if they're going to go there and risk that much, it's going to end up an actual relationship with an actual foundation after the fallout. Which luckily, it didn't get quite that far.

Don't be humiliated! I'm not always perfectly clear in text and I know some people read differently than how I think when I write! I like answering questions! I'm glad you asked! If you need more clarification, feel free!

Oh no - you were the clear one.
Thank you so much. That does bring it into focus-I was thrown by the strength of Adam's reaction but now I see - sometimes you're a little nuts when your heart's teetering out there, all exposed.

I do love that you write dialogue the way people actually talk so I hated to be thick. Love that beautiful, complex story so much.
Thanks again for a far more thoughtful answer than I deserved but thoroughly enjoyed!!

God, no, I loved this question! I'm thrilled you asked; I think a lot of this wasn't easily seen in the text, either, so I'm glad of anything that makes it more intersting or easier to read!

Thank you very much for asking!

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