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: bored roar (ROAR.)
To the person who sent me a PM asking about the thing - you can do the thing! Your account is set up such that I cannot actually respond to your message, hence the public post instead.

(The two things I would ask that you add are a disclaimer attributing PpG to Craig McCr*cken and, if possible, a note that your work is not necessarily hard TEF/MTH canon. Thank you so much!)

And for extra funsies, I want this to be on Blossom's warm-up post... well, post-Brick anything, really. I want her to throw that into the stereo and then just hit it so hard, to the point where she could legitimately be breaking shit by the end of it. Shit as in... the foundation of the studio.

... I wonder if there's anything she could suitably krump to, come to think.
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)
More Than Human, ch9

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

Title: More Than Human
Chapter 9: Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
Pairing: RrB/PpG
Rating: R/M, because they're teenagers and a good handful of them use terrible, filthy language.
Disclaimer: Pay your respect to Craig, not me.
Summary: There is no way I can make this sound original, ever. My attempt to write a believable RrB/PpG in high school fic. Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Camus
Notes: Thanks to [profile] mathkid and [personal profile] juxtaposie who are the best. Around. Nothing's ever gonna keep 'em down.

More Than Human. Ch. 9 – Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night. ~46,488 words. )
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
More Than Human, ch9

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

Title: More Than Human
Chapter 9: Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
Pairing: RrB/PpG
Rating: R/M, because they're teenagers and a good handful of them use terrible, filthy language.
Disclaimer: Pay your respect to Craig, not me.
Summary: There is no way I can make this sound original, ever. My attempt to write a believable RrB/PpG in high school fic. Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Camus
Notes: Thanks to [profile] mathkid and [personal profile] juxtaposie who are the best. Around. Nothing's ever gonna keep 'em down.

More Than Human. Ch. 9 – Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night. ~46,488 words. )
essbeejay: saving the world. (saving the world.)
More Than Human, ch9

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

Title: More Than Human
Chapter 9: Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
Pairing: RrB/PpG
Rating: R/M, because they're teenagers and a good handful of them use terrible, filthy language.
Disclaimer: Pay your respect to Craig, not me.
Summary: There is no way I can make this sound original, ever. My attempt to write a believable RrB/PpG in high school fic. Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Camus
Notes: Thanks to [profile] mathkid and [personal profile] juxtaposie who are the best. Around. Nothing's ever gonna keep 'em down.

More Than Human. Ch. 9 – Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night. ~46,488 words. )
essbeejay: i cannot go to bed, there is epic shit happening on the internet (i'll sleep when i'm dead)
More Than Human, ch9

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

Title: More Than Human
Chapter 9: Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night
Pairing: RrB/PpG
Rating: R/M, because they're teenagers and a good handful of them use terrible, filthy language.
Disclaimer: Pay your respect to Craig, not me.
Summary: There is no way I can make this sound original, ever. My attempt to write a believable RrB/PpG in high school fic. Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. – Camus
Notes: Thanks to [profile] mathkid and [personal profile] juxtaposie who are the best. Around. Nothing's ever gonna keep 'em down.

More Than Human. Ch. 9 – Monday Broke My Heart, or Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night. ~46,488 words. )
essbeejay: i dropped it when i was pretending it was my penis (drop it like it's enormous)
This is that other thing I was talking about. Also, I have since discovered that spreader bars were also alluded to in 50 Shades of Grey. Any similarities are entirely coincidental, as I have not read that book nor do I ever plan to.

Title: Proof of Commitment
Pairing: Reds
Rating: R/M for kink. If you do not know what that is then you are probably too young to be reading this.
Disclaimer: I am really sorry if I offend you, Mr. McCracken. (FWIW, you are my hero.)
Summary: They're way more into this than either of them expected to be.
WARNING: BDSM, rope, toys, vinyl, implied pegging, and use of the word “cock.” Because why not. **If you are not into any of these things then DO NOT READ THIS FIC. It says “warning” for a reason!**
Notes: My knowledge of BDSM is fairly limited (at least, in my consideration), so I will happily accept corrections from more seasoned audience members out there. (Do keep in mind that this is pretty vanilla on the BDSM scale and is not intended to be depicted as a 100% master/slave relationship.) While I can't say I'm completely happy with it, I owe a lot to this fic, as it broke a long-running bout of on/off writer's block. Now to release it into the wild. Comments appreciated. Un-beta'd.

proof of commitment. ~4,287 words. )
essbeejay: i'm happy and i'm driving! (i'm happy and i'm driving!)
So like most hot-blooded humans, I like listening to music! And a lot of times, music can serve as great creative inspiration, blah blah blah, you guys know this, there's no reason for me to observe the platitudes of paying lip service to how music gets the creative juices going. WE ALL KNOW.

I've been meaning to do this for a while - either to try and pull myself out of the creative ruts I keep falling into, or possibly to distract myself from writing what I really ought to be focusing on right now (ahem, TEF) - and finally sat down to do it today.

Here's how I played it: I put my MP3 player on shuffle, and whatever song comes up becomes the title of a potential fic, and I have to come up with a character, plot, and summary for it as fast as possible. Just those items; I don't actually write the fic itself (though maybe...). Anyway, it was a fun little exercise and I thought I'd share the results!

Song/Title: So Happy I Could Die (Lady Gaga)
Character: Princess
Subject matter: Self-reflective vignette highlighting Princess' cynicism about her life and how she has everything she ever wanted and what loser would want to be a Powerpuff Girl, anyway?
Bonus alternate take! Fluffy self-reflective vignette highlighting Princess' genuine happiness at being with Bubbles.
Summary: Divitiae virum faciunt. / Princess never thought it'd be like this.

Song/Title: Six Weeks (Of Monsters and Men)
Character/Pairing: Him
Subject matter:Short from Him's POV hinting that something big will be happening in six weeks that only He is aware of. What it is is never explicitly stated or made clear to the audience.
Summary: What's coming, only the Devil knows for sure.

Song/Title: Dear Maria, Count Me In (All Time Low)
Character/Pairing: Boomer
Subject matter: One-sided Boomer pining for Bubbles. Setting is one of the Girls' many public appearances involving an audience of people that he's a part of so he can be an anonymous fan rather than a Rowdyruff Boy.
Bonus alternate take! One-sided Boomer pining for Bubbles writing a letter to the Townsville Tribune's advice column asking what to do about his hopeless crush. Epistolary format.
Summary: This is the only time he has the courage to call her by name.

Song/Title: Come Into My Head (Kimbra)
Character/Pairing: Sedusa
Subject matter: Sedusa and her cynical reflecting on men's superficial, surface-level interest in her.
Summary: “You want to know what I really think?”

Song/Title:Eet (Regina Spektor)
Character/Pairing: Sedusa
Subject matter: Angsty. Sedusa's bitter jealousy of the Girls' youth and innocence and how her own can never be recovered. How nobody's can ever be recovered, really.
Summary: “It was so easy.”

Song/Title: Primadonna Girl (Marina and the Diamonds)
Character/Pairing: Bubbles, Bubbles/Princess
Subject matter: Bubbles observing Princess's character, showing how she understands what makes Princess tick and why she acts the way she does... and how she can overlook it and love her anyway.
Bonus alternate take! Princess's POV post-breakup. And how, while it fuels her resentment towards the rest of the world, it also makes her a stronger, more formidable villain.
Summary: All she ever wanted was the world.

Song/Title: Champion (Nicki Minaj)
Character/Pairing: Buttercup
Subject matter: Buttercup on how villains and criminals shy from her and her sisters as the years go by... and how she likes that power more than any superpower she's ever had, and how that, in turn, reveals things about herself that she doesn't like and isn't sure she wants to examine.
Summary: “They know who we are by now.”

Song/Title: She's My Shaker (Jon Fratelli)
Character/Pairing: Brick
Subject matter: Brick in his adolescence slowly coming to terms with his growing attraction to a certain red-headed, bow-clad superheroine.
Summary: “You don't move like you used to.”

I'd write a proper ending to this entry but that would require effort. EH.
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
(I am pretty overwhelmed by the fan tumblr right now. You guys floor me. Absolutely floor me. ♥)

I went poking about my files to try and find an early draft of the ch1 party scene where Boomer and Bubbles chat on a porch swing (note that in the final draft Boomer was not even remotely interested in Bubbles until ch2), but it's hiding somewhere and I can't track it down. I do, however, have an early draft of Brick encountering Blossom in the dance studio. The final draft of this is the scene that winds up getting drawn a lot :)

This pass is all from Blossom's POV. )

It's not evident from just this segment, but this was written well before Brick's character had become firmly defined in my head. As soon as I started reading I remembered. Originally (and I mean YEARS ago) TEF!Brick was a much more apathetic character, a tried and true Stoic with a capital S, significantly different from his eventual iteration due to the fact that even his interactions with Blossom had little to no emotional effect on his person. As a high schooler I think I was really fascinated with the completely emotionless, practically-a-robot character developing emotions and falling in love, but trying to foist that archetype onto Brick didn't make him mysterious or interesting - it just made him super hella boring. When I used to mull this over in my head a part of me would always go "But WHY should anybody want him to get with Blossom if he doesn't even seem to care?" And I'm talking about a character that's very nearly the opposite of what TEF!Brick is now - his current iteration's stoicism is, frankly, kind of a put-on, a mask that he dons in an effort to appear more mature and adult, but it is clear when he is under duress just how much anger and resentment he's got welled up inside him. (I'm probably talking about this too much, now.)

Anyway, his previous iteration - the genuinely emotionless one, the Spock!Brick - just wasn't a character that I could see Blossom wanting to be with. I mean, I can understand it from a story construction standpoint - oh, here is this emotionless robot boy, but he can be taught to love, if only the right girl finds him! And, well, that's obviously a problematic trope, not to mention wildly out of character and kind of demeaning with regards to Blossom, that she should want to "fix" him with her kisses. She should want to be with him because she wants to be with him, not because she believes she has something to teach him about the magical, transgressive, healing power of ~love~. It's not like women are magical founts of knowledge when it comes to this stuff, despite what the romance section may tell us. (Which, incidentally, is more about fantasy than it is about actual love.)

And that all aside, a character being completely robotic has much less at stake. I personally couldn't think of a good reason why I would want him to succeed despite his flaws, because his only flaw was that he didn't care. True, current!Brick doesn't care either, but he's also massively egocentric and selfish and proud, whereas this Brick was basically a blank slate to be projected upon. And I don't like blank slates. Blank slates are blank slates, not characters. Characters have something to lose.

Oof, that was a long aside. There's more in my head about this, especially as it pertains to depictions of the various "romantic leads" in the PpG fandom - mostly revolving around fannish depictions of the RrB, and Ace - but then I'm going to digress completely into yammering on about woobifying characters in a cheap attempt to get us to like them, but who has five hours? HA. Not I!

Why did he even ask her if she would miss him? That was a completely unmotivated question. But hey, that's why it's tfr.

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