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03 November 2003 @ 09:44 pm
grumpy confession to make  
I know it's probably a sign of evil!ego (as opposed to the good kind) or other deep stupid personal issues, but I hate making my story research transparent. I feel that I should be able to figure stuff out on my own--no matter how obscure--without resorting to asking other people. Like, I avoid putting Latin spells in my BtVS stories even though I know I should now and then for versimilitude and canonicity. But then I'd have to ask someone for help. It makes me so incredibly grumpy. I hate having to face up to the limitations of my brain or knowledge or both.

Anyway. Sometime in the last several weeks, I read a post--friend of a friend, I think--in which someone said they didn't write about Giles or Ethan because they already knew the characters far too well, because they'd *been* there--knew what pubs they'd have gone to, knew where the whole magical scene was back in their heyday, had walked down those particular streets personally, etc. (In other words, they were too close to the characters.) So, none of that is really my point. But I'm wondering: are there resources out there that people have put togther that take a stab at filling in the details of Giles's background? Resources that are "open-source"?

I was going to put in a reference to Giles at a Kensington pub and then I thought: I have no freaking idea if that's the right neighborhood for him to have hung in. What if I get it totally wrong?

Gah. It doesn't come up as a constant thing, but I really hate not being able to *know* my characters on that level without needing to have someone else explain them to me. I am a bitter, rotten little girl. Is it just me who sometimes feels this way? I always feel small and crippled and monstrous when I read the lengthy beta thank-yous and story notes of certain authors whose works reflect a healthy attitude toward collaborative efforts.

It's selfishness, you know? My own attitude, I mean. All mistakes are mine, sure, and that can be painful, but if I hog the entire process I can also claim full ownership of any accomplishments. I have so little else in my life. I think that's part of why I am so neurotically territorial in this way. But it handicaps me as a writer in some ways, I suspect.

Worse is when people give me well-meaning advice about stuff like this and I nod and smile and glower inwardly because I just want to clutch my neuroses and never, ever change.

La la la, I can't hear you.
 
 
 
Destinadestina on November 3rd, 2003 09:55 pm (UTC)
Worse is when people give me well-meaning advice about stuff like this and I nod and smile and glower inwardly because I just want to clutch my neuroses and never, ever change.

*hands you earplugs, anti-glower cream, and pie*
when regiment is gone: ethan kitkindkit on November 3rd, 2003 10:05 pm (UTC)
You might try travel guidebooks--they give tons of information about neighborhoods, where the cool hangouts are, etc. (Obviously this works best for stories set in the present day.)

And never underestimate what you can find on the web. Using google.com, I found a gay pub in Oxford for Giles and Ethan to visit.

But (at the risk of making you glower) local knowledge helps. An English beta-reader (piedmargaret, to be specific) just saved me from the shame of giving Giles and Ethan a whistling teakettle, an object which apparently no English person has owned in decades. And I can't think of another source that would have told me that.
Anna S.: gileseliade on November 3rd, 2003 10:10 pm (UTC)
But (at the risk of making you glower) local knowledge helps.

No, I know. ;)

...the shame of giving Giles and Ethan a whistling teakettle, an object which apparently no English person has owned in decades.

I love tidbits like that. But didn't Giles have a tea-kettle that whistled on the show? I seem to recall a scene where he was drawn away to the kitchen once by its whistle.... (Of course: he bought that here. ;)
gwynnega on November 3rd, 2003 10:21 pm (UTC)
Yep, the whistling teakettle was in "Dead Man's Party." But apparently an American teakettle?

I could've sworn the teakettle I had when I lived in Bath whistled - but it's been a long time...
yonmei on November 4th, 2003 02:32 am (UTC)
I owned a whistling tea-kettle as recently as 1992.

But they don't make them any more (it's all jug kettles, though of course you can now buy jug kettles that not only whistle at you but glow in the dark). But whistling kettles are very cool. I like them. And they last for decades: you could have Giles inherit one from his grandmother.
peasant_ on November 3rd, 2003 11:03 pm (UTC)
Couldn't you just be vague? I can't see how you could comfortably write something that you didn't understand - so never mind 'ownership' it would have to be explained to you in such detail as to be impossible to achieve. You know Giles the character as a character, just ignore the British bit. Because the things that are really going to grate for a Brit are if you somehow make him less Giles, not that he has the wrong sort of tea kettle.

So sure, if kettles worry you then run it by a Brit who has promised not to judge the actual writing, only the tea kettles (and the answer is yes, if you want me to, but you must have plenty of other Brit friends so you will be spoilt for choice) otherwise just write Giles as you would write him if he were a Yank - but, you know, still Giles.
Because
  1. You are the queen of characterisation so whatever you do it will be more convincing than some sham put together at the dictation of someone who knows about kettles but can't write as well as you can.

    And
  2. That's what the show writers do.
Anna S.: xander_laideliade on November 4th, 2003 08:40 am (UTC)
Because the things that are really going to grate for a Brit are if you somehow make him less Giles, not that he has the wrong sort of tea kettle.

You are so wise and kind and generous that I bow my little surly girl-head and rest it against your knee.

That's what the show writers do.

True enough. *g* I've often taken comfort in that. Thanks, baby. (Can I call you baby? Hmmm.)
peasant_ on November 8th, 2003 05:42 am (UTC)
::Pats your little surly girl-head::

Of course you may call me baby. I am a whole year younger than you after all.

::delicatly wipes something sticky and jam like out of your hair and sureptitiously cleans fingers on bib::
Sammylittlesammy on November 3rd, 2003 11:55 pm (UTC)
Like, I avoid putting Latin spells in my BtVS stories even though I know I should now and then for versimilitude and canonicity.

Heh. The way they use Latin on the show often makes me wonder if *they* did any research at all...
torch: cookingflambeau on November 4th, 2003 12:23 am (UTC)
I kind of know what you mean. I'd love to be, well, self-sufficient, research-wise. But I hate making big stupid mistakes, so I kind of prefer eating other people's brains for breakfast and assimilating their knowledge for later use. :)
Anna S.: amber_sereneeliade on November 4th, 2003 08:38 am (UTC)
And now you have an icon for that! Hee. *g*
the upper echelons of mediocritythe_star_fish on November 4th, 2003 04:24 am (UTC)
I feel the same way about due South -- the huge amount of knowledge Fraser carries around in his head is quite daunting. It's sometimes difficult to steer the dialog around things *I* don't know that he would ...

And yes, in my list of bookmarks I have one site that tells how to skin and tan hides, and another about the ins-and-outs of dogsled racing. Also the website for the town of Inuvik.
Anna S.: storytellingeliade on November 4th, 2003 08:38 am (UTC)
I used to have a bazillion bookmarks for fandoms like Sentinel because I researched every last thing to an insane degree, for toss-off details of the story that I'm sure no one else even noticed. All kinds of police and army stuff, etc. I was so thrilled to start writing in Buffy because I could just *make stuff up*. I remember a remark of Marti Noxon's about how they did the same thing on the show, like making up demons and naming them after their dogs or something. I think a few people snarked about this on the message boards or in LJ and I wanted to pop them. People's pointless Marti-hatred blind them to the validity of anything she says. But it's wonderful to be able to give your invention free rein, to invent your own universe and not have to trawl for authenticity in every last background detail--it frees you up to focus on the characters.

(Though, granted, there can also be something very geeky-exciting about authentic details, like when you're watching a really good movie about serial killers or the military and they (a) get the info right, and/or (b) tell you new stuff you didn't know.)
kassrachel on November 4th, 2003 05:56 am (UTC)
I tend to think of you as a rara avis -- an exception to the supposed rule that every writer needs a beta-reader or three.

I just wrote a long rambly comment about how sometimes I feel like a dilettante when I look at your gorgeous long plotty things, but now I think I'll just summarize it with this sentence.

Ever since I posted my HP stories I've been getting emails now and then from folks pointing out the Americanisms that slipped in on the sly, and I totally appreciate them telling me (because I want to know, you know?) but it also drives me bugfuck. Not that they're pointing out my errors, but that I made the errors in the first place. Is that really germane to what you're talking about? I wonder. Maybe it's time for some tea.
Anna S.: seals_otpeliade on November 4th, 2003 08:41 am (UTC)
Is that really germane to what you're talking about? I wonder. Maybe it's time for some tea.

It's germane, yes. ;) *kisses you* Have tea!
(Deleted comment)
A Surging Novel of Passion and Ruin: spikeyarcly on November 4th, 2003 11:34 am (UTC)
If Giles lived in Kensington he'd have to be very rich, as it's pretty much the priciest property area in the city. (Unless he lived in West Ken, which is a lot shabbier, and not very Giles-ish at all). Would very much like to read your Gilesfic. If you need a Brit-picker from London, my email's on my userinfo page.
mf: commentsthe_emef on November 4th, 2003 03:36 pm (UTC)
you are wonderful, and wonderful, and also really really wonderful
(Anonymous) on November 4th, 2003 09:21 pm (UTC)
[quote] Worse is when people give me well-meaning advice about stuff like this and I nod and smile and glower inwardly because I just want to clutch my neuroses and never, ever change. [/quote]

I've never cared about feedback (or betas, which occasionally shows...), because I only write for me. If other people enjoy it, hey, great, but it's just to shut my muse the hell up and let me sleep, so if I don't get the characterization right for everyone, oh well, *that* won't be keeping me up at night. But I'm selfish and hypocritical, 'cause I get warm tinglies from the positive feedback. I'm okay with that and like myself anyway. :)

Sometimes I see something, or read something, and think 'oh hell no, it can't end like that!' or 'why didn't she just tell him to go pooch himself with a branding iron?' or 'do they *ever* talk?' and I have to sit down and bang out a scene that works better for me. Most of the time I then delete said scene. Sort of a therapeutic thing, like the angry letters I used to write to people in high school and then toss out.

Or, someone else, much more neurotic and repressed than I, used to do...