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Living Loz
We can mend these broken wings, we can do anything... 
30th-Dec-2010 05:36 pm
Psych (Lassiter Smiles)
I tend to have very naive and pompous views on fiction. I know they're naive and pompous, but, well, I am what I am.

I believe fiction has power, and that with that power there should come integrity.

For instance, I think there should only ever be sequels if there's a necessity for them --- the story yet to be told is a story in its own right, or a valid continuation of the first.

I don't believe in selling out your vision for money alone.

And even though I understand a place for them, I am not usually a fan of stories that fuck with their audience as their primary mode of storytelling. If the sole purpose of a text is to make an audience react a certain way in place of making sense as a story, I tend to think it's not so great. (It is always a balance, I think, in all fiction, but especially, say, television or film.)

Similarly, I like fiction to entertain and inform.

I don't think fiction has to be moral, but I do think it should be encouraged that people ask questions about morality.

The same applies with political correctness. I don't think all fiction must necessarily be politically correct, but it would be good if it was obvious the author was aware it wasn't, and better if audiences were encouraged to interrogate. (Ideally, of course, there are some texts that I would want to be politically correct, or at least, you know, not so goddamned rich white straight hero/anti-hero male oriented, with side orders of prejudice and bigotry.)

I think that a bad writer should strive to be good, and a good writer should strive to be better, and a great writer should strive to be illuminating, and an illuminating writer should strive to be a God. But, you know, I fully accept that people are free to write however they want, really, I guess I just don't understand why you wouldn't want to do something well.

I also understand that my definition of 'good', or 'Godlike' doesn't necessarily coincide with anyone else's.

Having these ideals does, actually, make writing a difficulty for me. Which is why I'm not that prolific, and why I get neurotic, and why I freak out. I think life would probably be infinitely easier if I wasn't such a dick about it all. But as I said at the beginning, I am what I am.

30th-Dec-2010 09:34 am (UTC)
I think it's hard to do fiction that doesn't have some kind of moral element, at least on an implicit level.

'Politically correct' is one of those words that has so many contradictory interpretations. A lot of people think it means "No offensive language!", because they're porting onto fiction things they've heard in a completely different context (there's a difference between, for instance "You, college professor, shouldn't make creepy rape jokes to a classroom full of students just because you like to get a laugh" and "You should never write a character who tells creepy rape jokes"). Other people think of stuff like portraying sexist characters as behaving badly when acting sexist, not as cool, fun awesome dudes who are having their lives ruined by uptight feminist bitches. And then there's the diversity thing. (I was watching Dark Angel on DVD the other day, and I realized how rare it is to get a show where the main character's Latina and has a seizure disorder, her love interest is in a wheelchair, her best friend is black and a lesbian, a lot of secondary characters are people of color and/or LGBT and/or disabled, nearly everyone is recognizably poor, and the first able-bodied straight white male character who's neither a villain nor comic relief arrives in S2.) There's a lot of good things people don't want to do, because of the fear of political correctness and the idea that politically incorrect automatically equals bold, cool, and clever. (I tend to see politically incorrect humor a bit like fart jokes - occasionally someone does something really funny with it, but a lot of it's just tedious and obnoxious.)

I don't get not wanting to be as good as you can. There's that whole thing about "I don't want to improve, I just want to write for fun!", which I have a hard time wrapping my head around, because I don't see how writing badly is fun. Writing something less serious can be more fun sometimes (especially if I've been having an angst-overload and want some good comedy), but it has to be good comedy, or good happy-ending romance for me to enjoy it at all.

And I know about the hang-ups over quality. I get a lot of stretches where I don't post anything for months, because the chapters sitting on my hard drive aren't good enough yet.
30th-Dec-2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
We clearly view the world through a similar lens. Using the term 'politically correct' is always going to be incredibly loaded and there's quite a big difference between something being PC and something being diverse, which I should have acknowledged here.

I don't get not wanting to be as good as you can, either. I just don't. But then, of course, I start to think that people probably just have such different goalposts for what constitutes quality than I do, and that's sometimes more depressing, even when I tell myself it's okay.
31st-Dec-2010 07:16 am (UTC)
It's okay. It's a complicated couple of words.

I've seen people make the weirdest statements about what does and doesn't matter - stuff like "Well, if you ignore the spelling and grammar stuff, the characters being OOC, and the plot, it's a good story." Particularly in fanfiction, I think a significant percentage of the readers are in it for a certain kind of emotional fix (especially a shippy fix), and any story that delivers that is good, and any story that messes with the fix is bad.

It creeps me out and is part of the reason I'm bad at coping with larger fandom communities - everything is hyper-labeled and sorted into factions and ships and ultra-categorized, and I'm left going "But I don't want to write a tidy little easily-labeled emotional-fix story! I want to write something complicated and interesting and possibly even something new!" and feeling like I don't belong.
30th-Dec-2010 11:39 am (UTC)
First of all, I apologise - I’m going to railroad all your generalizations and just assume we’re talking about LoM and the Scorpion fiasco. :P

I think there should only ever be sequels if there's a necessity for them
Hee, Ashes. Yes, it is a story in its own right, yes you could say there’s a necessity because there’s an audience. Valid continuation of the first? A2A 3x08? Erm…

I don't believe in selling out your vision for money alone.
This is where I (foolishly) attempt to psychoanalyse MG for the reasons WHY ON EARTH he let Scorpion happen. Thing is I don’t really see him as a money-driven person, possibly because I’m naïve, but I find it more likely he doesn’t want to stop playing with these characters that he’s created, hence novels. But if that’s the case, why not write the tie-in stories himself? Family loyalty means he lets his brainchild go to hell like that?

I do worry about all the apparent Annie-hate, though. MG kills her off, TG spends the whole time refusing to acknowledge her as a member of the human race. I THOUGHT LoM was supposed to be an ironic take on the way people’s attitudes have evolved, and, one hopes, improved with time, so that what you get in LoM is not just some rose-tinted nostalgia but a more rounded, realistic piece of social commentary.

I really, really hope Gene isn’t meant to be a vehicle for the writers to say all those things they’ve always wanted to say but never had an excuse to do so before. The Gene in the show I understood, wasn't saying those things because he truly believed them, but because it was how people expected him to behave, like with Nelson and his accent. He was complex, he had reasons for doing what he did, but he also had his moments of complete darkness which I'm still not comfortable with (questioning morality, yay!). I didn't think it was meant to be "Here's an out-and-out bigot, let's give him layers and make him lovable as a means to oppose the nanny state".

And Sam! Sam, too, was a really crucially important factor in keeping the balance right. As long as he's there yelling "You really think you can say what the bloody hell you like, don't you?" and keeping Gene in check, LoM isn't a celebration of bigotry. Which is why Sam's attitude in Scorpion of passive sexism (meh, she can handle it) really just MAKES NO SENSE. That's not our Sam. It's not LoM. Gene's a cardboard cutout gun-toting thug with no layers whatsoever, and yet we're still supposed to treat him like a hero, like a god? (Punching brick walls down, WTF?)

LoM found the right balance, a lot of the time. It appealed to a wider audience than just men in their forties/fifties longing for the good old days when they could drink and smoke and swear with self-righteous abandon. Whatever their writerly intentions, my only explanation for Scorpion is that Monastic forgot about their diverse audience entirely.

Phew. I think that was a rant. :P

I just don't understand why you wouldn't want to do something well
THIS. This so much. People should always want to be better. Probably not to the point where you kill yourself with perfectionism, but yes. However, I don’t think we want writers running ‘round thinking they’re gods, or trying to be gods. *g*
30th-Dec-2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
First of all, I apologise - I’m going to railroad all your generalizations and just assume we’re talking about LoM and the Scorpion fiasco. :P

I wrote about that the other day. This is all completely general!

... okay, okay, you got me. I'll admit this was inspired by my crushing disappointment about that. I can't help it.

The thing is, last week, I was trying to make a claim that it wasn't all about the money for MG --- and then this story with the Daily Fail happened, and I can't think of any other possible explanation, because, WHY? And how? How can someone's critical faculties be so off the mark? If money wasn't a factor, then how?

I agree with everything you say about Gene, Annie and Sam. You make such insightful comments here, you're brilliant, truly. I do not understand it, one little bit. Because it can't have all been Phil Glenister that Gene is the way he is. Gene is fairly horrible in several of Matthew Graham's episodes, it's true, but he isn't only horrible. He is nuanced and grey, and interesting. And as bad as this sounds, at least when Gene was being a dick, he was a funny dick. I don't think MG could have read TG's story and thought, "yes, this is a perfect representation of this character".

However, I don’t think we want writers running ‘round thinking they’re gods, or trying to be gods. *g*

Hyperbole, thy name is Loz. ;)

Edited at 2010-12-30 01:44 pm (UTC)
30th-Dec-2010 03:33 pm (UTC)

Writers almost always think they're gods... albeit a minor Roman deity in charge of embarrassing ailments. It's unavoidable really, considering you have absolute power over this universe that's called a story.

I think often when fan fiction writers say "I write for fun" what they actually mean is that they don't want to discuss the mechanics of writing in fandom land (many of them are doing that elsewhere and are here for other reasons) or want to experiment with characters and plot in a way that their fandom doesn't "sanction." It can also mean that they don't want to see writing as a competitive sport or get too hung up on whether they get comments or not. Saying "I write for fun" doesn't mean necessarily that they're not striving to be better and/or entertaining, although it can mean that.

Oh, and from my POV at least, you're a very prolific writer. I've only written seven stories this year and one of those was a drabble.

30th-Dec-2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
You can usually tell when, 'I write for fun' means that someone writes for the love of it, loves playing around with it, and doesn't want to discuss the mechanics, because, dude, mechanics can be tedious --- or an excuse to be a hack. I so often see people excusing being a hack with, 'this is meant to be fun' that I don't trust it any more.

I write for fun too! It's just that sometimes it really isn't. Lately, for the most part, it has been, which has been great.

Prolific is in the eye of the beholder :D
30th-Dec-2010 10:53 pm (UTC)

I've always loved the Life on Mars fandom, almost as much as the show itself. We can be an opinionated bunch, sure, but I've never felt like I had to raise my voice to be heard... Let's just say that elsewhere my fandom life is more of a pain in the arse and has left me with a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to opinions about writing. It's left me programmed to always look at things from the "Little Suzy Sunshine" POV, if nothing else because it gets right up the fandom prefects' noses. *is bad Drayce*
30th-Dec-2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
I've so often been lurk-o-rama in other fandoms. I've never really wanted to be heard.

I haven't really seen that many opinions about the nature of writing/fiction in other places, though. I've seen some advice (some of it excellent), some ranting, but a basic, 'this is how I feel fiction should be', not so much. Heh.

And really, even though I didn't make distinctions, I actually do have vague differences from what I expect of fan fiction and professional. If you are making money from writing, I do expect it to be better (and it often isn't better than the best fan fiction) --- than fan number one's ode to Spock's cock. I've read a lot of fan fic that's miles better than a lot of stuff that gets published and produced, and I don't read that much.

This post really wasn't about fan fiction. I hold myself up to exacting standards, but I am really very lenient on a lot of this if I think there's any cause to be.
30th-Dec-2010 11:47 pm (UTC)

Ah in... several fandoms such opinions quite thick on the ground... but as said, not really expressed as an opinion but rather as a mandate.

I read like a fiend and find "mainstream" fiction (a bookseller's term)and fan fiction to really be like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, there are many fan fiction writers I can name who are technically better writers and better storytellers than many mainstream writers *but* there's also the untried matter of how those fan fiction writers would do at creating their own characters, universe and plot. That right there is a very special skill set as well. It's never going to be quite the same thing as long as you're talking about fan fiction writers having a readership that already knows and loves the characters they're playing with.
30th-Dec-2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Really? This boggles my mind. I'm so used to being the only pompous windbag.

Hee, and screenwriting again has different stresses and expectations than prose. It is all variable.
30th-Dec-2010 11:59 pm (UTC)

But you're a very nice pompous windbag. :D Seriously, you always come across as having very strong opinions but not dictatorial. Strong opinions I can deal with but the "iron fist approach" just pushes all of my buttons.

I actually think that's part of the problem with Graham, just 'cos he's great some of the time in one genre it doesn't make him a great writer in another.
31st-Dec-2010 12:02 am (UTC)
I do have strong opinions about things, but I am willing to concede I'm not always right. It makes conviction somewhat tricky. THIS HOW HOW I FEEL. Of course, I may be wrong. :D ♥

Oh, man, don't even get me started on MG. I really am so disappointed. Especially because I know in a few weeks he'll probably say or do something to delight me again and I can never stay disappointed or angry for long.
2nd-Apr-2011 03:43 pm (UTC)

The only explanation I can come up with is that MG thought we luv LoM & Gene so much we'll put up with anything about him.
I liked The Scorpion's Sting but more to do with the fact it reminded me of a Point Horror novel than anything else. I couldn't get enough of those as a child. I thought they were great, but I suspect that was because I didn't know any better.

Getting back to LoM I don't think MG wants to let it go completely either –- but why not either write the stories himself or do a one-off on TV in a couple of years ??
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