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11 March 2004 @ 02:47 pm
hesychasm amuses me today:
Reading a story where the characters give each other cutesy nicknames to show affection for each other when they don't do it in canon is like being dragged by the author into her own private drippy little peepshow. It's almost more porny than actual porn, you know? Suddenly you see the dark underbelly of what people really come to fandom for, this sad schmoopy need to have characters making love with candles and easy listening and calling each other soulmates as they bring each other to mutual fulfillment.
I giggle. Only on the inside, I admit, but that's because I'm sitting in my cubicle surrounded by a vast silence broken only by finger clicks.

I was thinking the other day about how idiosyncratic it is, what things make us flinch and what don't. I feel the same way about non-canonical nicknames. I have a problem with "Xan" and "Wills" especially when peppered liberally throughout a story. Too much pepper! I sneeze. I have another personal flinch-trigger. I'm probably the only one in the fannish world who has it: transparent story research, which is when someone is writing a story and openly solicits help on Latin translations or British slang or whatever. It kind of freaks me out, like fingernail clipping in public, though I wouldn't mock or shun anyone for it. Unlike fingernail clipping, I know it's perfectly reasonable; a good practice. So I guess it's not like fingernail clipping. It's more like something I was talking about recently--about marketing your stories and yourself. It's cool that people can do that, feel confident enough about their stuff to put it out there, to *work* the fannish audience like you'd work a room, making sure their writing gets seen in as many places as possible, gets nominated for awards, whatever.

Whereas I want my writing process to be a black box, almost completely opaque to the audience--mysterious, oracular. I obviously have all these old-fashioned, ego-driven pieces of writer baggage stored in my head. I want to finish something and present it in a godlike way. An immaculate conception, aided by no man. So my stories suffer because I don't ask for Latin translations, but I feel like if I did, all these people would see and remember the fifty pleas for assistance I made while writing and then they'd read the completed story and all the research points would jump out at them and drag them from the story like little attack gnomes. I want my stories to be like TV episodes, where you're completely absorbed by the spectacle, forgetting--the creators hope--or never even *knowing* about actor conflicts and production limitations and how Joss really wanted a giant animatronic dragon and could only get a hand-puppet, or whatever.

Anyway. All of that stemmed from a thought I had when I read about the new LJ community for British slang, which is a really, really neat idea that I will probably never take advantage of because it would give me too much visibility into people's research--I'd see a post on the etymology of "argy-bargy" or "arse about" and the next week I'd see twelve stories that put the word in Spike's mouth and I'd cringe. I just don't want to know how people arrived there, and tend to think people feel the same way about my stuff. But I'm probably just projecting. I mean, I don't get the spoilerphilia either, or the thrill of following the lives of actors, but other people enjoy these things, so maybe some people also enjoy reading a story and having those moments of recognition: "A ha, *that's* why she was asking about the history of Mesopotamian cuneiform."

I'm of course not talking about post-story analysis. That's something else entirely. I think the DVD story commentary is a cool idea. I was pretty out of it, fannishly speaking, while the meme was going on, so I didn't read any, but maybe someday I'll stumble across a memory collection of them and dip in. I actually came up with the idea independently sometime last year and played around with it, writing comments on half a story before abandoning it, so it was freaky to see it become a meme. (I also invented the rotary phone and the Internet! No, really!)

Work crooks her finger at me like a poxy whore and I must follow.
Herself_nyc: essene's postcoital S/Xherself_nyc on March 11th, 2004 03:05 pm (UTC)
Love you.

The 'Xan' thing makes it impossible for me to read a story. The minute Spike says 'Xan,' I'm gone. In fact, I can't remember--has anybody on the show called Xander that? Maybe they have and I've missed it. The other one I cannot abide is 'Whelp.' And where did that arise? It was never used on the show, was it? Makes shudders run down my spine.

And yet in my stories there are nicknames. There are candles. (Although only because there were on the show.) There's no easy listening, though. There's very little easy anything in my stories. However I was thinking the other day when reading some porn piece that came across my FL that at a certain point the pornfic we write is just porn. It has nothing to do with the show anymore, it's just that we want to picture sex acts and we want the bodies to be the (idealized) bodies of these actors. Period. If you changed the names, other people who knew nothing of BtVS could read the porn and not suspect a thing. And that made me feel a little cringey at first, but then I realized--we write and read porn because we like it and we need it, it fulfills an emotional need, and that's it. Fantasy like this has been forever. (I always think about how Dadself told me he once got to visit the studio where Wonder Woman comics were drawn sometime in the 1940s, and the main guy had a picture framed over his drafting table of Wonder Woman nude. And I mean, of course he did. He probably had drawings of her fucking Captain Marvel stuffed in his bottom drawer.
Malkin Greymalkingrey on March 11th, 2004 03:14 pm (UTC)
Dadself told me he once got to visit the studio where Wonder Woman comics were drawn sometime in the 1940s, and the main guy had a picture framed over his drafting table of Wonder Woman nude.

An on-line acquaintance with connections inside Disney once passed along some completely sub-rosa in-house-generated . . . um . . . character studies, that's it, character studies, of Princess Jasmine from the Aladdin movie. And I'm told that the classic Betty Boop cartoons always contained a frame of Betty with no clothes on (alas, those frames have apparently been excised from the reissued versions, to thwart beady-eyed perverts who might otherwise step through them frame-by-frame.)
Herself_nycherself_nyc on March 11th, 2004 04:18 pm (UTC)
None of that surprises me.
Jimmy Petstore: mmm. happy w/o - laurasnoopypez on March 11th, 2004 04:38 pm (UTC)
::pops in uninvited::

In fact, I can't remember--has anybody on the show called Xander that?

I think Buffy called him that all of like, once. :D I could be myth-taken though.

And I have just overgeeked myself by using 'myth-taken'. I shall go now. ;P
obsessedmuch on March 11th, 2004 04:03 pm (UTC)
Ha! My seekrit grudge revealed. "Xan" and other assorted non-canon versions of nicknames used profusely will make my eyes roll out of their sockets. "Wills" I can tolerate in small doses because it's been used (infrequently) on the show. But oh the abuse of the others makes me insane. Pet peeve: anyone who calls Riley "Rye," (He's bread now? When did he become baked goods? I didn't get the memo) although I will refer to him as "Ri" in private conversations much as I will call Lindsey "Lin" in the same. I am gleeful at finding someone else with the same quirk.
Jimmy Petstore: don't know a thing about history - laurasnoopypez on March 11th, 2004 04:37 pm (UTC)
May I ask when they have ever called Willow 'Wills'? I know she was called 'Will', but I seriously don't remember an 's'..

I sound rude, don't I? :P I don't mean to be, I've just been wondering about this for.. years, pathetically enough. Cause I hate 'Wills'. ;)
Tuesday Has No Phones: angelbotthebratqueen on March 11th, 2004 05:06 pm (UTC)
We tried researching that one back when the canon vs fanon list was made years ago (and is now in sore need of updating but I've been too lazy to attempt it) and IIRC nobody was able to track down an instance of "Wills" on the show.

Though the bigger shock was realizing that Angelus as the Scourge of Europe didn't have a canon backing for years and years. Whoopsie ;)
Rebecca Lizardrliz on March 14th, 2004 08:38 am (UTC)
obsessedmuch on March 11th, 2004 05:23 pm (UTC)
I can't recall, and sadly cannot find an instance but it seems a very Xandery kind of remark/nickname to me. Could be wishful mis-remembering.
Jimmy Petstore: willow happysnoopypez on March 11th, 2004 04:33 pm (UTC)
I despise "Wills" so, SO much.

::lurks about:: ;P
LadyCatladycat777 on March 11th, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC)
At various points - and no, I can't remember where - Willow has been called Wills, mostly by Xander. In season four, in the ep where they make fun of each other at the end, I believe Buffy calls her Wills.

Xander has be "Xand" once. By Buffy in season two. Buffy has been called "Buff" by Xander a number of times. Giles was called "G-man" once, and never again.

If I see more than once G-man - and I've used it, to my everlasting shame - I stop reading the story. Because just no. I don't mind Xan, though, for some reason.
Tuesday Has No Phones: glassesthebratqueen on March 11th, 2004 05:14 pm (UTC)
The nickname thing is part of what bugs me the most about "childe". First off I think we all know how I feel about that @#$%ing "e" but if somebody is writing dialogue where Angel calls Spike "childe" in roughly every third word (to which Spike, naturally, calls Angel "Peaches" the same if not same + infinity more times) I think at that point the author just needs to admit that they care more about bruce Anne Rice meets White Wolf pseudo-goth stylings than they do about anything resembling accurate characterization. At which point I'm out the door because I've got about five minutes on any given week in which to read fic and I'm not going to bother with fic that can't even pretend to be about the characters.

I'm so there with you on the research thing though. That's why I tend to be very intermittent on when I do shared brainstorming. There are some times when I'll ask for help and poll a few trusted people as to whether or not an idea makes sense or is missing a key part, but far more often I shut down on everything and guard it like a jealous gnome until such time as I'm ready to post it.

Partially this is due to that black box thing that you were talking about - I really don't like showing off exactly where the smoke and mirrors is, at least not while the story is going on - and partially it's also my feeling that I'm not here to workshop fic. I'll take crit and comments after the fact, but during I want it to be as much my own thing as possible. Even on silly indulgence stuff I want to put it out there as the thing that I was thinking about and then let people draw conclusions about it, be they good or bad. Asking for help during creates this exposed environment where things get highlighted that I didn't want people seeing yet, and at that point I'm far too apt to drop whatever the story idea was in the first place because I feel like I can't work with whatever the exposed thing was anymore.

So not just you, with that.
This Space Intentionally Left Blankbarkley on March 11th, 2004 05:53 pm (UTC)
so maybe some people also enjoy reading a story and having those moments of recognition: "A ha, *that's* why she was asking about the history of Mesopotamian cuneiform."

Maybe some people do, but I'm with you on this one. It happened to me just the other day, and it yanked me right the hell out of the story.
Cicercicer on March 11th, 2004 07:14 pm (UTC)
I don't mind nicknames, as long as they're used very, very sparingly. If you use them in every other sentence where the character is mentioned, I will cry. Also, if nicknames must be used, I prefer ones we've actually heard on the show. I don't remember "Xan" or "Wills" every being used.

I completely agree about the research/black box thing. As a reader, I think too much public talk about a fic kind of takes away from the magic. YMMV, of course.
Dani Mephistopholes: Firefly deadly sins - stills by teleri02astarte99 on March 11th, 2004 07:19 pm (UTC)
*winces* I know that I especially have been guilty of soliciting advice and stuff for stories as of late. I think that it's especially hard b/c I am new-ish to the fandom and a brand spanking new fic writer, so I don't have the group of ppl that I can quietly ask about stuff which naturally develops over time (well if you are any good it does *grins*). But I will definitely think about this if I write anything in the future, b/c I can definitely see your point. When things are a total surprise, it can add a certain extra oomph to the storyline. (So does this make seeing the solications like sides spoilers? *grins*)

Poshykittyposhcat on March 11th, 2004 08:54 pm (UTC)
::hugs you::

When it comes to my fanfic, I'm like a hooker willing to flash a little bit of this or that to anyone walking by who looks half interested. Eep. I comfort myself with the fact that there are no candles or gobsmacking nicknames in my stories, as of yet. :0)
Dani Mephistopholes: Angel Gayness - wisteria_astarte99 on March 12th, 2004 11:06 am (UTC)
I think that the ridiculous nickname thing tends to occur more in BtVS fic than ATS fic, so I don't see it as often. (Though the continual presence/repetition of "sire" and "child(e)" in ATS Spangel fics drives me a bit batty.) I think that ppl just like to use nicknames far too much.

Makes me want to go through sometime and actually keep track of what ppl have been called why and when. (I have seen some listings but they never seem comprehensive, which pretty much defeats the purpose.) For one, I think that Spike gets attributed a *lot* more nicknamage than is actually reasonable.

And I am totally on-board with the oops-I-am-a-whore-of-a-fanfic-writer thing. Doh. Bad Dani!
Anna S.eliade on March 12th, 2004 11:21 am (UTC)
Oh, you have to visit the Buffy Dialogue Database--the "AKA" section--if you haven't already. It's exactly what you're looking for:


That page goes to Angel's listing, but you can access all the other ones from there.
Dani Mephistopholesastarte99 on March 12th, 2004 11:34 am (UTC)
Neat!!! *goes to check out*

Thanks for the link.
rubywisp: spike b/w&punk by andemaiarrubywisp on March 11th, 2004 10:05 pm (UTC)
'Xan' doesn't bother me; it's a fairly straightforward shortening of somebody's name, and if somebody is inclined to use nicknames (like Spike, for instance) it's not unreasonable to assume he'd do so. The fact that Spike's never called him that on the show doesn't bother me; nowhere on air are they anywhere near as affectionate as they are/can be in slash fics, so I buy the extrapolation. 'Whelp' bugs me by sheer ubiquitousness.

'Wills' makes my head hurt. When the other Scoobies shorten Willow's name, they call her 'Will'. I'm sorry if that somehow fucks up your [general, not specific] use of the name for Spike [for some unknown reason, since Spike started demanding to *be* Spike practically five minutes after his fangs first dropped], but the fact is that none of them call her Wills. She's not the fucking future king of England, 'kay?


'G-man' just needs to die. Once. Once, once, once does not a habit make.
Pamgoosegirl9 on March 12th, 2004 07:35 am (UTC)
You have a very big brain, and I worship at your feet. However
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You have a very big brain, and I worship at your feet. However <shuffles, rubs big toe in circles on floor>, I sort of like seeing how the authorly mind works ... I can't write myself, but I have so much enjoyed reading livejournal by all of you talented writers - which is of course, stuff other than just the finished work.

I'm with you on the nicknames.
Indriindri on March 12th, 2004 05:26 pm (UTC)
Regarding research in "public", I don't regard it as a promotional tool. I'll ask for assistance on facts from time to time on my LJ because I regard my LJ-friends primarily as a trusted group of peers. The majority of my readers will only see the finished product, all black-box, "ta-da".

OTOH, I would never publish snippets of unfinished work. I would want to have a full, complete and polished draft before anyone else ever saw it. I'd want to know what my own ideas looked like first.

I want to finish something and present it in a godlike way

I used to feel like that even about writing scientific papers but the peer review process pretty much beat that out of me. It probably explains why I've softened my stance on consultation once I've expressed myself as best I can on my own.