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Mature Relationships in Fan Fiction

Continuing from yesterday…

All of the fics I read featured adult characters in romantic relationships. And yet, not one of them really acted like an adult in a romantic relationship. There is a great article I read recently that lists nine “signs” that tell you you’re in a mature relationship. Very few of the things on that list even happen in a teen romance.

It seems like the kinds of things that get explored in fan fic romance are high drama (“1. Being your significant other’s partner isn’t hard.”) and low substance. Fluff is fine, but too much can be like eating cotton. Bleh. Take another look at that list–a lot of those signs not being in evidence will tend to be the source of drama conflict for a fic. The same kind of place teen romance gets its drama.

To contrast, I will describe an adult romance with actually adult characters. In Put Up Your Duke, there are both internal and external conflicts. Internal: Isabella has low-ish self esteem and is trying to develop her identity, while Nicholas is a unsure of himself around her and doesn’t know how to work with a partner, let alone a wife. External: Isabella’s abusive parents turn their bad behaviour on her sister after she has married, and the man who lost a title to Nicholas (legitimacy debate) is bitter and trying to get the title back. In their relationship, they fail to communicate occasionally, but that is not the major source of conflict. In fact, they have frank discussions that either prevent or clear up problems that would have a fan fic for any fandom blowing out the drama speakers.

My feelings boil down to this: most fanfic seems based on relationships the way that anime characters portray them. Since the target audience for anime are teens and children, there is a decided skew when the characters are adults. (it also really bugs me when non-Japanese writers apply very Japanese tropes from anime to non-Japanese characters, but that is a topic that I should probably not raise…)

And that is probably where the mischaracterisation starts. Maybe it isn’t all a case of Can’t Write Guys. Some of it could be the age gap. A young writer might think a shy man and a flamboyantly extroverted man would have huge relationship bumps to overcome over the space of years, based solely on those aspects of their personalities. They might miss that Captain America and Iron Man fought over more subtle things than not being the same kind of person, or that Black Widow and the Hulk might have come together over something more complex than We’re Both Broken Birds and tragic purple prose.

Teen romance is fine. But when I want to read fan fiction about fictional grown-ups I love, I would like to see them be grown-ups… unless it’s an AU where they are teenagers. I would probably love that. But only if that’s what it said on the tin and it was what I wanted to read right then. I want to choose it, not click through seven fics and not see one grown-up wearing grown-up pants.

We do not live in a world where a person stops mattering when he or she passes the age of 30. (hell, RDJ is 51, you guys.) People continue to have sex and fall in love after that. And holy crap,they are IMMENSELY more interesting when they do that stuff when they are any age older than 20.

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A long time ago, in a realisation far away…

One of those crappy, “Oh I should start blogging again” posts that I wrote was about joining Harlequin Rewards. It’s been awesome, especially when I discovered Maisey Yates. I have bought all of the Copper Ridge series in both print and digital formats. Still trying to get Hubby to read them. I think he will, it’ll just be a while. It took me a year to get him to read Johannes Cabal, and those books are practically starring him.

The majority of my Harlequins are still free stuff I was given or declaimed library books I bought. But now I have actually bought more than just Pregnesia at 2:00am. I’ve tried new authors and expanded into more subgenres. I used to just read historicals, first because I liked the covers, then because that was absolutely what I was into. Now I love western romance (of course cowboys, I’m from the southwest!), paranormals, intrigue, and there’s a special shelf for my Love Inspired so my mum can read them.

Which reminds me, I need more vikings. I have Highlanders coming out of my ears, but I am low on vikings.

Romance is such an amazing genre. I love the term Romancelandia, as it conveys just how zarqing big it is, and also notes the humour that we all have about and in it. Although I shouldn’t pick favourites, I do tend to love my bookfriends who read Romance the best.

Maybe this is coming out of nowhere. I guess after a long absence, anything I have to say is coming out of nowhere. Soon, I want to talk about rediscovering my love for the Aquabats thanks to Owen. Zarqing fardwarks, he’s going to be three in a fortnight.

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Love QUADRANGLE?

Yes, it’s silly, and I did halt my writing again in order to mess around on something that is only mildly related. But this one has a picture in it! (also I only have 500 words to go and what I just made happen is going to be a doozy and also set up the next chapter, so yah boo sucks)

In the end of Chapter Seven, I had this awful wonderful idea. That does not make sense to anyone but me because I have kept rather shut about this and the last novel. I wonder if that’s why they’ve gone so well. I should try to keep progress updated with details when I do Camp NaNoWriMo again in August.

Naming names should come first, or else this will not make a lick of sense.

Synda is a red cap (murderous fey) who works and lives with Driscoll, a satyr. He’s effing terrified of her because of her killing culture and personal attitude. Neirin is a human sorcerer who shared a drunken night with Driscoll and wound up at the flat. It’s not clear yet whether they actually did anything, but a lot of assumptions have been made. Ewan is a banshee who admires Synda (as she is a red cap) and follows her around with a vacant smile.

Because Synda is actually kind of hot, Driscoll has shown these weird signs of being attracted to her–which considering the fact that he has an oft-hidden but ever-present expectation that she will most definitely kill him for serious one day, is swiftly becoming a hilarious development.

Near the end of Chapter Seven, he has to see to a rather nasty wound in her arm, and starts bumbling all over himself while confessing something he finds particularly embarrassing. And then I had the idea for Ewan to pop in and complicate matters.

This made me realise that I had somehow crafted a love triangle thing with more than three. So… love quadrangle. Not an original term, but rather fun to say. I made it a chart.

I love these characters. Back to writing Ewan’s interference! (he is also not supposed to even be able to show up where they are)

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There’s a reason for the “yay”

My one and only posted about his time playing Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One (are there supposed to be spaces in the subtitled phrase?), which I think I digested via airwaves. I played a little, but I was summarily poor at it–platformers either like me or sneer at me–and ended up just being on hand to help swear at the screen whenever necessary.

I’m very good at that. Writing makes me good at making up euphemisms and vulgarities that aren’t.

Anyway, most of what I really picked up beyond mechanics that were missing or didn’t work, were in the cutscenes. I really liked the cartoony descriptions of the weapons. Although I don’t think the story was any great shakes, the subtext was hilarious.

We’ve all seen that movie or read that book/comic/fanfic. The one where the villain is brought in as part of the crew and fits in a little too well. Sparks may fly, or they may be merely joked about.

Or you get both and it’s so clear and present that the subtext becomes context, and you get a romantic subplot that you did not sign up for. I like those kinds of things.

Qwark and Nefarious had scenes together that told a sort of James Bond meets Bogart kind of largely imaginary plotline. Attempted murder turned into life-saving. The once-villain bitch-slapping the current villain away from A Certain Someone. Betrayal followed by lip-trembling contemplation of a group photo.

It really does stop being subtext at some point. Once it becomes your story’s context, it’s a subplot. Which I find even funnier than the implied joking.

As creepy as it is that some people don’t just say “Character x Otherone”, I find that just about all the fun is in just saying it. But there could be a little more to love here.

Or not.

The point is that as often as I have seen this, it’s never been quite this funny before. I think it was the conversation about man-hugging.