I often do little "exercises" in my head where I think of either a situation or a line and then imagine how each character would respond to it. This particular instance was heavily influenced by my devouring of the first season of Scandal
, which is pulpy drama!cakes well-written monologue-y fun. (As Grey's
was for most of its first two seasons, but I digress.)
The line "Take it off" burrowed into my brain - not a particularly groundbreaking line; it never has to be - and I thought about how it would sound coming out of each character (in this case, either one of the PpG or RrB) and subsequently how their "partner" would react. I quickly discarded the idea of any of the boys saying it, because that gets into weird, creepy, uncomfortable territory - it doesn't have
to, of course, but my ideal scenario in any of those cases results in the girls immediately turning the situation on its head and, you know, beating the shit out of the dudes, because the implication
of that line coming out of the boys immediately connotes some sort of power they (he) has over them (her), and I don't fancy that shit, frankly. Not only that, but it gets way more interesting when the agency is shifted
from the dude to the lady. For me, anyway. And I think that also does a much better job of keeping the general spirit of the show.
(This isn't to say I could've played with it, I could've made "Take it off" sound like an innuendo or a reference to the song by The Donnas, but the point is, what is the first thing you think of when a situation opens with a guy saying "Take it off?" Yeah. I'd rather avoid that entirely.)
Compared to the line coming out of the guys, which all resulted in the same scenario three times for me, when I turned it into a line coming out of the girls, I got three very different scenarios, and they all conveyed different things about each character. Coming out of Bubbles, it sounded playful, and when Boomer heard it, he reacted with embarrassed confusion. Coming out of Buttercup, it was either mumbled or almost an afterthought, sans eye contact, and when Butch heard it, he immediately said "'Kay," and practically jettisoned the clothes from his body. (This was followed by an indignant Buttercup going "THAT WASN'T WHAT I FUCKING MEANT PERV-O, I'M TRYING TO DO LAUNDRY AND YOU'VE BEEN WEARING THAT SHIRT FOR FOUR DAYS.") Coming out of Blossom, it was reluctant but authoritative, and when Brick heard it, he went through this DEEP INTERNAL STRUGGLE before biting his lip in subdued shame and starting with his shirt. And all of those are WAAAAAY more interesting than anything I could've written with the line coming out of the guy.
What followed was an actual writing exercise, just to purge and play, basically. Like I said, I'd been binging on Scandal
and felt the need to write something a little pulpy and drama!cakes-y and monologue-y and fun, so I spit this out yesterday. Though I probably could, I don't have any intentions of turning it into full-fledged fic; I have more pressing writing concerns. But you Reds fans might like it.
This should also give you an idea of what my rough drafts look like; this was written in basically one go (maybe an hour and a half?) with minimal editing.( Take it off. )
Now, if I were to go back and treat this as a piece I was going to turn into an actual fic, here's what I would probably fix, right off the top of my head:
- The beginning. There's several things that aren't working in the beginning, and given that I just sat down and started writing it, you can see that it kind of takes awhile for the story to "settle" and fall into a comfortable place. A lot of the story feels kind of forced to me, especially in the beginning. It gives off the impression of trying too hard. Where I think it finally falls into place is probably around the time Blossom mentions the Professor, and where it actually gets good for me is during Blossom's monologue (the 2nd one, about what how Brick broke things).
- The mention of the Professor, incidentally, is also the point where Brick's voice shifts. He's way too smarmy in the beginning, which doesn't help. He sounds like the Brick I would've written in my late teens or early twenties, instead of the sullen dickbutt I'm more likely to write now. I also think he reads much better that way; I can pick up practically any book involving a couple or a relationship and find some smarmy jackass with an all-too-punchable face in it.
- Blossom's whole mini-bar thing throughout. I want her actions there to mirror the build I'm going for in the story; I want her to be doing something slightly different every time. (Something that wound up not getting written even though it was in my head was her discovering that the glasses at the mini-bar were too dusty to drink out of, so she has to go to the kitchen to get a clean one. That indicates things about her character (e.g., Buttercup probably would've just blown off the dust or wiped it out with her shirt) and things about the mini-bar, too, which indicate even more things about her character.) There's threads of it there, but they don't hang together as well as I would like.
- Speaking of, I was also on the fence about implying that the mini-bar had been Brick's idea in the first place. I liked the idea of Blossom claiming it and taking ownership of it, even if she didn't really want to/didn't drink.
- And, of course, some general word choice, tidying up, etc., etc. Would've pulled out the fourth wall break ("never mind what he thought") and re-worked the "Maybe. Hopefully." part; I think I do that particular construction very often in my stories and would've wanted to find a different way to write that that would have the same effect.
- Finally, I would've built up the disparity of control between the two throughout the course of the story. It's kind of there, with Blossom at the mini-bar, but Brick does not have anything equal he is doing. He kind of looks around some, but whereas I wanted Blossom to become more confident and controlled each time we "cut" to her at the bar (despite her alcohol consumption, though really, the X in her system would be taking care of it), I wanted Brick to become more uncomfortable. He doesn't like not being in control, and it's pretty clear by the end he has no control over the situation even though he walked in thinking he did. Reading back over it, I want him fidgeting more, avoiding eye contact, fixating on little details like the straps on her shoes by the door and how she wore those the last time they went out when they were together. That sort of shit, you know. That sort of build would make him fumbling at the first button of his shirt much more significant.
I could probably tweak it all day given the chance - hell, I could tweak anything all day - but that's what I would likely start with.