essbeejay: in your face, nerds! (in your face!)
Eons ago I promised an entry breaking down my massive TEF/PpG/RrB playlists. Today I am following through! Kind of! With (most of) the Blues, at least! )

Even though I don't quite listen to music with the ear for “Would this fit a character/pairing?!” the way I used to, the possibility exists that these playlists may get updated from time to time if I hear something that happens to fit.

Of course, if you lovely folks have any Blues songs you'd like to recommend, please do! I love listening to the playlists you all come up with :)

ETA: P, one of my favorite peoples of all time, wrote me birthday fic! Specifically, Reds!birthday fic! Featuring blushing and angries and shirts! Go read and lavish all the love upon her!
essbeejay: it's hard work working hard, think think think, prof!buttercup (it's hard work working hard)
It should be known that I hate panty shots. HATE THEM. They are exploitative and male gaze-y and gross and 99.9% of the time done in a creeptastic way that robs the subject of any agency and knowledge of what is happening to her.

Keeping all that in mind, here is a smattering of various things I typed up in today's work on the TEF outline:

- Panty shot slo-mo
- Boob grab op
- Shibari... sort of
- “This is playing dirty!"
- Immediately regrets saying the word dirty.
- 3P enjoy the show.

Ch15 is going to be fun!
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
Unfortunately the chat I was alluding to in my previous entry - the one I was hoping to do at the end of this month - will have to get pushed back. I'm going to have to spend the end of this month traveling overseas for a funeral instead.

I found out early yesterday morning and was debating whether or not to say anything. I can't help but feel like mentioning it at all is some twisty cry for attention on my part no matter how cathartic it might actually be. Especially considering the whole reluctant BNF thing. But my mood's also been all over the place since yesterday morning and there's a good chance I could hulk out or at the very least say something really pissy and hurtful if I don't at least acknowledge it. So. This is me, acknowledging it. I don't know how hard it is to picture, but all the angry, emotional, soap-opera-esque intensity of FEELING there is in TEF with all the various characters? The stuff that you've read and the stuff that's forthcoming? I don't know what I'm saying. Maybe just that I spend a lot of time there. And I get people saying How are you able to write these characters this way, asking me how I do it so well, and that's the problem, I don't actually feel like I do it well, because I'm just writing how I feel, and most of the time I feel angry. I feel angry and pissy and bitter all the fucking time. And that's basically all I'm doing, is cordoning off all these individual bits and pieces of this me-monster into different people. I don't know. It's nothing special. Everybody on this planet is angry and pissy and bitter, all the fucking time, just like me. I'm not doing anything different, besides maybe writing it down and shoving into a bunch of cartoon characters, I guess. That's all. Sorry about the angst. I thought it was something you outgrew, but not really, huh? It just gets channeled into all these other little parts of yourself and festers like this little rotten thing inside you instead of going all Harry Potter Book 5.

Anyway. I've been planning a couple of posts for a while. I'm determined to get through as many questions as I can this weekend (and I'm not forcing myself, really, I'll have the time and things to fill my time are good for me right now) and I've been working on and off on a semi-detailed rundown of my various TEF!playlists. The Blues are up first, because, well, they start with "B" and that comes before "G" and "R." It turned into more of a project than I expected it to; you'll see what I mean. Then there's other stuff that I'm not calling to mind at the moment. Oh! A few days ago I thought about doing something special, inspired by the (fake) strangers kissing vid that went viral earlier this week. Maybe in April. We'll see.

For the record, if anyone offers their sympathies, I really do appreciate it, but I'd rather you commented with a link to something funny or happy or fluffy. Something to make me smile. I wallow enough as it is and sympathy only tends to enable that, which isn't healthy for me. In fact, let's make that a rule for the comments on this post! Something happy/fluffy/funny, if not all of the above!

(Speaking of happy things, the recent fanart by waffleswithketchup posted to the fanblog and lockwoodspenis' TEF re-read liveblog! Those things make me so happy. Thanks guys ♥ I'm very sorry to have immortalized these shout-outs in a post filled with my whinging.)
essbeejay: i'm happy and i'm driving! (i'm happy and i'm driving!)
Let's start with something important: the lovely P, otherwise known as [profile] xjabooo and formerly known as notkorra/patbby on tumblr, has opened up a Redbubble shop! P is near and dear to my heart, and I know it would mean a lot to her (and me!) if you would pay her store a visit, even just to have a look! (And, you know, buy something if you feel so inclined. That would be even more awesome!) TYFYT ♥

On the TEF front, I'm still (yes, STILL) working on that bigass outline for Part 3. I know I've said before that I played things looser on Parts 1 and 2, but since 3 is where, you know, things start wrapping up, I'm really invested in tying it all semi-neatly together. I've got the bigger plot points in place and am now trying to hammer out little details. It's an interesting process to work that closely with an outline; I went through it just the other morning and realized "Oh God there's barely any Blues in this chapter." And that turns into looking at their role in the other chapters/months and seeing if I can set up any of their major plot points over in this chapter some, or if I can plus out this other thing I was planning or tie it in to what the Reds or Greens have going on somehow, etc. Not just an interesting process, but an interesting lesson in plotting. The details I'm working out right now involve things right down to specific lines in conversations two characters are having with each other, which definitely wasn't the case with my Part 1 outline.

In fact, here's the outline I worked from for the very first chapter. )

Finally, I'm planning on doing another chat, probably towards the end of the month. It was brought to my attention after the first one that there was actually a LIMIT to the amount of users you could have in a chatroom! So my apologies to anyone who tried to get in but couldn't. I'll make sure that isn't the case with the next one.

(Visit P's shop!)
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
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.
essbeejay: i'm happy and i'm driving! (i'm happy and i'm driving!)
I came across this fantastic vid by way of two other vids (there's a boring story here, kids, so settle in!). A couple of days ago I got an itch to see what Kaba Modern, who I've generally considered my fave dance group even though I haven't kept up with anything they've done since ABDC, had been up to in recent years (a friend first introduced me to their work ~2007). I don't think I've mentioned it before; KM basically served as inspiration for Blossom's style of hip hop choreography in my head during the (later) formative years of TEF. I always envisioned her choreo to be very technical, precise, and detail-oriented, something that always really struck me about KM's work. I watched this performance of theirs pretty much every free second I had for most of 2007 and 2008.

Anyway, back to the present. I looked up a recent performance of theirs and (happily) discovered Vibe XIX had just gone down a month ago (side note, holy crap Vibe has a tumblr, not sure why this surprises me since everyone sans me has a tumblr these days). Watching their performance led me to search for who took 1st home this year, which was Academy of Villains, and fuck, they put on a hell of a show. Can't argue with them winning.

But watching them got me interested in who else had placed, which led me to the stunning number put on by The Company, who took 2nd. And... well, I basically haven't watched anything beyond this vid, because when I start to think about watching another performance, I find I kinda... just want to watch this one again. Over and over. Because it's pitch perfect inspiration for Blossom for me.

There's the very technical and detail-oriented aspect of it, of course - that's going to be a given with most dance groups that place in competitions - but what elevates this one for me is this understated sensuality about the performance that feels very much in line with Blossom's character. [personal profile] juxtaposie remarked to me early on in TEF that dance felt so perfect for Blossom as a means of expressing herself. There's the technical side of it, of course, but then there's also the saying about dance being a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Which, well. Really fits Blossom for me, especially when you take into account the idea that Blossom has this subconscious want to repress her sexuality, because she doesn't have the time/it's distracting/there's more important things to attend to, etc., etc.. But, of course, there's always dance.

That's all the stuff that goes through my head when I watch The Company's performance at Vibe XIX.

So if anyone out there wanted an idea of what Blossom's hip hop group choreo looks like in my head, you should basically just watch this video over and over. In fact, here is a wider angle on it, though I highly recommend watching the front row one linked above first. (The wider angle gives you a better idea of how tight their formations and transitions are.) God. I can't wait to finish writing this entry so I can go watch this video another five times before bed.

For shits and giggles, here's Academy of Villains' performance (much more of a "show," which made it a big crowd-pleaser) and KM's (still good, buuuuuuut pretty dull in comparison to the winners).

Oh man, guys. It's so good. Watch it and please do let me know what you think.
essbeejay: bored roar (ROAR.)
The most important point of this entry is to alert you all to [personal profile] busterella's

PpG Squishy!fic contest!

Some of you are familiar with [personal profile] busterella's Squishyverse and how awesome and great it is, but for those of you who are out of the loop, basically the Squishyverse is a mature and sensible take on CTN'S Fusionfall game universe, set exclusively within the Powerpuff Girls canon instead of the massive crossover affair that Fusionfall was.

It would be impossible for me to list all the GREAT AMAZING THINGS about Squishyverse, but here are a few things I love:
  1. The characters are set up to react like REAL PEOPLE
  2. There is a much greater focus on the family conflict that arises out of Buttercup's/Belladonna's amnesia
  4. Her design of everything - the world, the characters, the GIRLS - is so refreshing and fun to look at!
  5. The reshaping of the Fusionfall concept is seriously inspired - [personal profile] busterella basically took a coal (Fusionfall) and worked that thing until it was a freaking diamond (Squishyverse) with her bare hands and fantastic brainmeats
So what I'm basically getting at is, her world-building is wonderful and if anyone deserves to have fic written for her, it's [personal profile] busterella. It would mean so much (!!!) if any fellow writerly folk out there would check out what she's done and give some thought to entering her contest! Or actually enter, buuuuut I won't hold you to that. (I'll probably think better of you as a person, though. Just slightly. ♥)

Please check out the entry I've linked to and tool about her tumblr tags. Her work is really something and at the very least everyone should check it out!

Also, if you're looking for the TEF update, I sent my revised 1st draft of ch12 off to beta last week. HOO-ZAH
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
A while back this became a (very!) small issue for me, and it was swiftly corrected, so I didn't make a big deal of it. I was lucky enough to have one of my readers* catch and confront the perpetrator, as it were, and I was even luckier that said perpetrator did not get defensive or belligerent, but contacted me personally instead. After a private exchange the fic was removed with no ill feelings towards each other. I was extremely pleased and happy with the outcome especially since others have not been so lucky in the past.

After giving it all some thought, I wanted to go ahead and share what I said in the exchange in the hopes that it can help other writers out there struggling with inspiration and the craft.

Thanks for your message. I think the best thing for you to do would be to try writing a new beginning from scratch.

I know it's hard work writing - believe me, I know! - and that sometimes it's just so much easier to work with an existing story and change a word here and there to make things feel like they're yours somehow. But that path - the easier path - is less rewarding in the end, and if you are serious about writing, it's also extremely detrimental to your growth as a writer.

Right now, as it is, this story you've written still isn't really yours. And even if it diverges in future chapters, the fact remains that the beginning still doesn't really belong to you. It's someone else's work, someone else's time. My work and my time, actually.

It's because of that work and time I put into [fic name omitted] that I am so happy and proud of how it's turned out. It was - and still is - extremely difficult work. But I couldn't be prouder of the end result.

I want you to be able to experience that too, but the only way you can do that is if you start over, using your own words, taking your own time to make your story uniquely yours and nobody else's. And you can absolutely do that. I know it's hard, but it isn't impossible. Trust me. I was there once too. Sometimes I still am.

Rewrite your story. Look to me for inspiration if you want, but make the words and the story your own. It may be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but if you keep at it, you can do it.

Good luck.

(*Many thanks to [profile] kidstandout.)
essbeejay: i cannot go to bed, there is epic shit happening on the internet (the internet is srs bsns)
(This entry was motivated by this post on the fan tumblr, and I would like to take the time to please ask everyone to treat the asker with respect before responding. This is something that comes up with a fair number of readers, not just this one, and I've finally decided to respond myself.)

It always surprises me how many readers believe that the Reds are the most “perfect” or well-rounded characters. I try to refrain from discussing this at too much length because when it comes to bigger thematic elements I really don't want to be planting my words or thoughts in anybody's mouth – I don't want to tell anyone how to “read” my story. I would rather they come to those conclusions based on my ability to carry those points across in my writing. I have admittedly used this as a measure of how good a job I am doing – if people get it, I have succeeded! Hooray! If they don't, that tells me there is something I can work on clarifying. (The road to bettering yourself never ends.)

However, in the case of the Reds, I have received some pretty divided feedback. There are obviously readers who love the characters, both individually and as a “couple” as portrayed in TEF. There are also readers who feel the Reds are unfairly elevated above their siblings, that too much attention is paid to them, and also, why are they so perfect and great at everything? That's impossible. Nobody in real life is like that.

(Let's set aside the issue that this is a fic about cartoon heroines who are canonically perceived by their entire city as perfect and great, and also that Blossom is, canonically, the Powerpuff Girl most likely to strike the finishing blow (see “Stuck Up, Up, and Away,” “Ice Sore,” “Abracadaver,” “Mime for a Change,” aaaaand I'm going to stop because I don't need to be listing like 80% of the series' run of episodes here). I assume we have all watched the same show, so let's just get to the real meat of this business.)

I have brought up the issue a few times, mostly with regards to Blossom and a perceived Mary Sue-ishness about her (an opinion that I still vehemently disagree with), but for the most part refrained from delving deeply into the issue because, again, I don't want to tell people how to read the story, it is merely my job to tell it. I have realized, though, that this isn't an issue of me or the narrative not being clear. This is an issue of having wildly different opinions about what makes a person “perfect.” And having a different opinion doesn't mean you are reading the story wrong, so if you are in that camp, I hope you don't take this as an attack! I simply want to explain where I am (and perhaps several other readers are) coming from when I perceive the Reds as “imperfect” people.

Yes, Blossom and Brick are great at many things. )

I hope I've explained myself adequately. Again, this isn't intended to invalidate anyone's criticism, this is intended to explain the mindset I am approaching with regards to writing the Reds. I hope this entry doesn't deter any current readers from reading further, or from future criticism. I always welcome and encourage discussion!

There's more that I haven't touched on, but good holy Christ it is late and I need the sleep. Although, apropos of nothing I have rambled about tonight, if somebody could tell mirakelsey on tumblr that her rendition of the girls is one of my favorites so far (my God, her posing is FANTASTIC), please do! I don't have tumblr (and I will not get one, so please don't urge me to as your pleas will fall on selectively deaf ears) and she doesn't allow anonymous asks. So. Yes. If the Internet fairies could do that, that would be awesomesauce. (For the record, and always, thank you to everyone who has done fanart of TEF. I do see all of it and I squee and I save it in a little folder on my 'puter for safekeeping. Every piece, no matter how big or small, matters so much to me. Thank you ♥)
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
I just finished my first draft of ch12. It's very rough and I still need to do my own revision pass on it before it's ready to send to Team Awesome, but the legwork is done. Ch12 is the last chapter of Part 2. And I promised myself that I would not post about this until after I had finished Part 2. Clever people might guess where I'm going.

TEF—More Than Human—is the last fic I will publish for the PpG fandom.

I reached this conclusion two years ago. Probably more, actually. It's been a long time coming, but I wanted to make sure I got through enough of this big, epically long, stupid thing before I put it out there for everyone to know. It was kind of a disciplinary measure against myself, to ensure I would finish it. As long as I could get through Parts 1 and 2, then writing Part 3 was a foregone conclusion. After getting this far, I can't not do it.

So. While I have the floor, I do want to say a few things.
  • I do have a few more short stories left in me for the fandom, which will probably get written/posted between now and when the final chapter of TEF actually goes up.
  • Reminder: There are 17 planned chapters for TEF, including at least 2 bonus chapters. Ch9 was posted last month. There's still a ways to go before the end. (Five chapters, to be exact.)
  • TEF is my swan song, my farewell, my love letter not just to the PpG/RrB pairing, but to the fandom as a whole. It is a fifteen-year-long relationship coming to its inevitable end. Once that last chapter goes up, I'm gone, baby, gone.
  • My writing will not stay up forever. It's not because I want to deprive anybody of it! It is simply an inevitability of moving towards what any writer's ultimate end goal is: publication. The fanfic can't stay up forever, and won't stay up forever. So... if one day, years after the final chapter of TEF has gone up, if this space disappears, you'll know. I made it.
  • The end of TEF is not the end of me; the eleven years I spent writing for the fandom have been my training grounds and schooling, the environment within which I honed my craft. TEF in particular has shown me that I have the discipline to at least bust my ass working towards some semblance of publication. The writing itself isn't stopping anytime soon. I will not stop writing. I cannot stop writing.
It's funny. I've written this post over and over in my head and now that the time is actually here, I can't help but find it rather anticlimactic. Not that I didn't see that coming, of course. The transition from head to paper never quite works out the way you want it to.

What's left for me now is to go through this first draft of ch12 and get it beta-ready. In the past when workflow has been better, I've simply sent it off immediately to my betas upon completion, but given the stop-and-start nature of this one, I need to take more time with it. Then, when it's with my betas, it'll be time to flesh out my outline for the final part. There's bits and pieces of it, and some of it's even written, including several of my favorite written scenes yet—I can't wait to share them with you guys!

And you guys. Those of you who have stayed with me, commented, reviewed, drawn fanart and started fanblogs and asked questions and sent gifts, those of you who became friends, with whom I exchanged e-mails and messages about writing and fandom and sometimes boring old real life itself, you guys especially, more than anybody. You guys. You ladies. You wonderful, glorious people, you.

I can't wait to share it all with you. Thank you for sticking around.


essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)

April 2017

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