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Living Loz
It's really a multi-pairing manifesto... 
6th-Jul-2012 01:58 am
Loz Cola
taurenova and I were having a conversation not too long ago in which there was the need to distill one's fannish pairing type into a few words. (Well, there wasn't really the need to, but I chose to anyway.) Here, I expand the short-cutting I made before and waffle.

I've written about this before, but it's really important for me to see friendship between two characters before I'll genuinely ship them. And while that friendship can be complicated, it has to involve obvious and canonical enjoyment of one another's company. What I really love to see, what many of the couples I have heavily shipped in the past prove, is that getting to see that friendship develop is what gets me, right there.

So, no, I didn't ship Shawn/Lassiter until they had both gone out of their way to help one another, and look at one another without pure antagonism, I can't ship Doctor/Master even though the reasoning behind the ship is so abundantly clear. This is the only reason I am not vehemently shipping Stiles/Derek at the moment. In the show they're not quite up to the acknowledged "I like looking at your face" level of not-hatred that I need. Meanwhile, because of alllll the other reasons, and the fact they're both quite good-looking guys, I am still somehow shipping them. (My fic is quite shamelessly "watch these two become friends. WATCH THEM. WATCH THEM.") With this in mind "becoming friends" was part of the Loz = shipping? criteria.

Next, "influencing each other in good and bad ways". I like this because it's realistic. I don't think being in a relationship with someone instantaneously makes you a better person. I think sometimes it's possible to take on their flaws. So I kind of love seeing that happen, even if it also makes me wail and gnash my teeth. Think Sam/Gene, John/Aeryn, Nicholas/Danny (which I always said I didn't ship... and then wrote nothing but shipfic for.)

Alongside the influence, I love characters who are "in need of one another, and/or are two loners against the world." Yes, they have to like each other, but I also enjoy characters who are thrown together due to circumstance. Getting to see how characters navigate that kind of situation makes me a happy fan. There's also just something really appealing about two characters who don't entirely fit into general society finding a niche with each other.

I wrote to taurenova that I love characters who are "competent as fuck". I have such a competency kink. People who can do whatever it is they do well? Yes, please. And better yet, characters who work well together, who make one another better at whatever it is they do? Om nom nom. I am not really a fan of characters that make stupid, foolish mistakes based on things they could have known. I am down with characters who make mistakes because their hands are forced, or they have no way of knowing what the audience does.

And now, I'm going to go on about something I didn't talk about with taurenova --- communication. I get very sick, very quickly, by "everything in the plot could be resolved if the characters only talked to one another" (which isn't to say I never use that trope, because I definitely do.) I get that a huge part of narrative is conflict and this is an easy way to engender conflict in a relationship. But I do think it's taken to extremes, sometimes. One of the reasons I always loved Ned and Chuck in Pushing Daisies was because they had grown-up, honest conversastions. Give me two characters who actually talk to one another, and I am your fan for life (Zak/Tom in Eternal Law, I am looking at you.)

With all of these there are various character traits I am drawn to: fishes out of water, snark, badinage, puns and word-play (my love of these is unhealthy), characters with EMOTIONS (but not necessarily the ability to express them), longing, quiet desperation, and, generally, a strong sense of duty.

Huh. I've never really thought of myself as a great romantic. I mean, I occasionally fairly frequently write romance, but I don't normally read it unless there's a secondary plot going on. In fact, when I write it, there's usually a secondary plot going on. But characters' relationships are still incredibly important to me. And these are the kinds of relationships I adore. Thankfully, I am not the only one, as I can think of several examples that satisfy all criteria, and a fair few who satisfy most.

5th-Jul-2012 06:10 pm (UTC)

It's scary how much our "ship requirements" overlap right down to the massive competency kink.

It also explains why despite my usually seeing the slash/grounds for slash that my mates point to I actually have very few ships myself.

Except... the communication bit. That tends to be an actual problem for my pairings even if they work brilliantly together/can read each other in the field and not a plot device I introduce. I would argue, for instance, that Sam and Gene spend a LOT of time talking *at* each other before the penny begins to drop. Bodie and Doyle can read each other perfectly in the field yet canon is littered with difficulties created by their failing to communicate with each other about what's going on in their lives. Think about Reese and Finch.

If I were to add something to this list it would be be "different but equal." I'm not particularly drawn to pairings with an obvious imbalance of power, talent, age, etc. unless it's balanced in one of the other ways.
6th-Jul-2012 01:21 am (UTC)
It's not very surprising, though. :D

See, the thing about Reese and Finch is that I started shipping them stronger the more they began communicating. And I would argue to the death that Sam and Gene communicate a hell of a lot --- but I do think it's one-sided, in their case, to a huge degree --- Gene being honest with Sam. My favourite moments for them are always the muted, deathly honest moments in which they just talk.

Hell yes to 'different but equal'. It's not a requirement so much for me, but it's high up there. Severe, unshakeable power imbalances certainly aren't a kink of mine, although they're sometimes interesting to explore.
6th-Jul-2012 03:24 am (UTC)

One-sided communication still leaves those canonical instances of miscommunication that I find it interesting to play with. In some ways, it even becomes more interesting the more competent they are because they tend to *assume* they know what's going on.

It's a requirement for me. They don't have to be equal in all instances but it has to balance out. For instance, it's why it took a while for Lewis/Hathaway to grow on me and why I still don't read much of the fic.

I think it's the same part of me that has little to no interest in BDSM fic in any of its varieties.
5th-Jul-2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
I get very sick, very quickly, by "everything in the plot could be resolved if the characters only talked to one another" (which isn't to say I never use that trope, because I definitely do.)

For me, whether I enjoy this kind of story depends on two things: does the reason for them not talking to each other make sense considering the story, and is it something I can related to?

If it doesn't make sense at all, I'm going to hate the story.

If it makes sense, but it isn't something I personally can related to, I may appreciate the writing quality, but I'm significantly less likely to enjoy the story.

If they're failing to communicate for a logical reason I can totally related to, I will love it pieces.

(Of course, I'll also love it if they have the sensible conversation and the conflict is more substantial than them failing to talk to each other.)

I mean, I occasionally fairly frequently write romance, but I don't normally read it unless there's a secondary plot going on.

Some of my favorite stories are ones where the romance is the secondary plot, and it's primarily other stuff (particularly heroic stuff), with the various permutations of "I like you!" being squeezed in around saving the world.
6th-Jul-2012 01:24 am (UTC)
Yes! That is it for me too. If there's a good damn reason the characters aren't talking to each other, I don't mind. Or at least I don't get bored as quickly.

Hah, yes to the romance being the secondary plot too. I guess, because so often you're seeing from the character's eyes, the emotional journey sometimes seems more weighted than the external plotty one --- but the time devoted is normally skewed in one way or the other, depending on the needs of the story.

Edited at 2012-07-06 01:31 am (UTC)
6th-Jul-2012 02:01 am (UTC)
See, I have a major emotional investment in stuff like politics and human rights, and am noticeably less emotionally invested in romance than most people I know, so I melt completely if the major emotional center of the story is the characters really caring about freeing the oppressed, overthrowing tyrants, saving the world, or something like that, and romance comes second.
5th-Jul-2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
Its a really good point you raise, and I completly agree, its talking to each other that makes a pairing shipable.

I think that is what is missing in a lot of the tv shows and films where there is supposed to be a romantic relationship and I just don't buy it or feel it. See the extreme examples of twilight where they only every talk to say 'omg i am so in love with you' or make weird similies with past novels and you are supposed to ship them. It just doesn't do it for me.

In some fandoms they ship characters that have never even met on screen (e.g. mycroft/lestrade) and I just can't do that. I can ship Doctor/Master because I like to create their talking to each other, even if it hasn't appeared on screen and so I can sort of head!ship them but can't fully ship them until they do it outside of my own mind.

I'm not 100% with you on your competent idea, I would have agreed last year but since my cabin pressure love kicked in I can no longer stand by that, I love them for how incompitent they are, but I guess they never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity so in some ways they are compitent at being incompitent. I can't stand when a character is too compitent - Holmes woudl be a boring character if he was as brilliant at everything as he is at detecting, I like them flawed (and bleeding....but thats another matter.)

Talking of your love of word play, have you listened to Cabin Pressure, its an orgasm to the ears if your kinks are old style brit humour and wit.
6th-Jul-2012 01:30 am (UTC)
I am a HUGE Cabin Pressure fan. Have you heard John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme? It is similarly amazing. I think I can stomach the characters' incompetency because I am always in awe of Finnemore's competency. But, importantly, I don't ship anyone on the radio show, except maybe Arthur/Dougal from Father Ted. :D

I think that I can also ship from canon and/or from my own personal inferences of canon more for some ships than for others? Mostly, I am a canon fan, through and through. I've never really been one for rampant AU. But if I am close to liking a pairing because it fulfills at least a couple of these, yet examples pertaining to this criteria drop off (I'm thinking of Merlin and Arthur), I can happily continue to fan away, building up alternative examples extrapolated from the characters they are. Basically: fanon = woo.
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