April 5th, 2005

Francine - harvest


Er. I mean. We interrupt your regularly scheduled con-related reminiscinces and whining to bring you a mini-rant on how to keep a genderswap fic actually interesting and worth reading for me1:

Don't change the character's name, at least not in the narration where the character is thinking of himself as the new name. Don't start referring to a male-turned-female character as 'she' in the narration, for exactly the same reasons. Unless you are a Jack L. Chalker character (in which case I will upon your request happily shoot you to put you out of your genderbent, bodyswapped, identity-lost, species-tossed misery) you are not going to start thinking of yourself as someone of a different name, gender, or species, without several years of extended emotional "WTF? OMG, no, seriously WTF, fix me!one!1!" (Even if that's presented in a comedic manner instead of an angsty one.)

And once that happens even in a natural time-progression it's going to be very hard to keep me as a fanfic reader who gives a damn about Spike, Xander, Angel, etc. interested in this to-all-extents-and-purposes original character, without a really good re-creation of the tv character's mental and emotional makeup. The more and faster they adapt to changes to their very identity, the more likely the story is to lose me. It's hard enough to re-create/hold onto recogniseable TV characterisation when we have a name and a physical description to hang the recognition on -- there are plenty of Spikes, Xanders, and Angels in fanfic who we tilt our heads at and try, really try, for a while, to see our guys in, before finally blinking in confusion and giving up.

Giving them a new name and gender isn't going to make it easier for readers to buy changes to their personalities (though I can follow the possible authorial logic behind thinking it might); it actually requires a better grasp of the inner character, to carry us through all the changes going on. And while it's possible to show us the character changing internally as well as externally -- in fact, it would be unrealistic if he/she didn't -- there's a reader-loss danger in carrying that change too far, even if it's realistic to the plot. There's a reason I'm ragging on Jack Chalker above; anyone who's made it through Book 4 or 5 of the Dancing Gods or Soul Rider series will take my point, I think. Readers who like original characters or massive challenges to character identity will probably stick with the story. Me... I will be frowning sadly, because I like the concept of physical change and genderswap stories, but it's so hard to find one where I can continue caring about the characters.

1 Anyplace you see "we" or "readers" please read "me and anybody who happens to agree with me." Not actually speaking for anyone besides myself, just finding it hard not to write in the plural for some reason.

ConneXions Stuff and Stuff and Stuff

1. GIP! Except for the Gratuitous part. (The hotel pool? Warmer than the non-working hot tub. Warmer than some people's bathtubs.) Dear people in the picture: hopefully you are tiny and blurry enough not to be identifiable, but should you have an objection I will make the icon go 'way.

2. P433r My Wyfe!

We tried to take the Pixy Sticks away from her. We tried.

3. Vids

Not Pretty Enough: Lord Percy Percy / Blackadder II. Poor old peabrain. Premiered at ConneXions 2005. WMV, 9.07 mb.

Declaration: Xander has something to say. Created in 2002, re-mastered for the not-quite-new show at ConneXions 2005. WMV, 4.91 mb. Layers, Boni. Layers. ;-)

Ghost was also shown at the not-quite-new show on Friday night. It was re-mastered last summer for VividCon, with dvd source and a few new/altered clips. If you've seen it since then, there's nothing new here.

4. Teh Book

(That book.) Bought it at the con, as did wolfling. We had dueling copies floating around the hotel room, distinguishable only because hers still had the price sticker on the front. My take: pretty nifty for fans, especially those who were around for part but not all of it. God help the Normal Folk (the ones we don't call Mundanes anymore because someone somewhere will throw a fit or initiate a sociological discussion), though, for the narration is neither linear nor as explicative of who people are and what they have to do with the story as it might be. I was amused by the fact that one of the illustrative pictures of VB/Frodo/Jordan was taken by me (and used without credit, but I can suss out how and why, and I don't particularly care) at ConneXions 2002; wolfling was amused because that picture in its original form contains a wolfling, standing off to VB's left. I cropped-and-shopped her out of the version that ended up online, because her eyes were closed in the pic.