essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
I was cleaning up and found a paper scrap on which I'd written some TEF endgame notes (some really awful shit too, eurgh) as well as some stuff that I know can't get worked into TEF proper, but it was stuck in my head for long enough that I wanted to unload it.

I imagine this is a conversation that happened between the boys at some point while they were at JS, Inc. This is straight-up unedited word vomit that came out of my brain. (Setup: The boys don't usually do cases requiring any sort of cover. It's kind of a moot point for them. Mostly between Boomer and Brick. Butch is dicking around, probably eating his weight's worth in chicken fried steak or some shit like that. Also, this was written sometime last year, hence Brick's dig at the Boy Scouts.)

Why can't we have a cover? )

I'm sorry I haven't been around much, but rest assured I'm still working on TEF! I know it's slow going, but thanks for being patient with me. It brings me no small amount of joy to track the tag on tumblr and see all the recs and fanart spilling out into the Internet ether. I would be working on TEF anyway, but seeing the enthusiasm for it does wonders for my motivation like you wouldn't believe. I LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU ALL SO MUCH ♥

In my limited downtime I've been working on breaking down my playlists for each couple, so for any interested parties, you have that to look forward to. Blues are up first :) (I may cheat and throw a couple of Greens songs that have been consuming my ears on a near 24/7 basis lately.)
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: it's hard work working hard, think think think, prof!buttercup (it's hard work working hard)
In writing A Thorn in Your Side, I originally planned for the awkward-yet-intimate moment between Belladonna and the Professor to happen while he was dying her hair in the bathroom. This was one of the first scenes I wrote and I cut it pretty quickly because it wasn't hitting the notes I wanted it to. Upon subsequent reads it felt more heavyhanded than I wanted to get (not that I'm always terribly subtle, ha). Besides that, once I really got into writing the story, trying to fit even an altered version of this in would've disrupted the flow of it. I suppose I could've taken some of the conversation that happened in the bedroom out and put it in this scene in the bathroom, but for me it was important to have the conversation between Belladonna and the Professor take place while surrounded by settings that would've been very familiar to Belladonna's former self (and the audience), but were completely alien to her. (Man, that was a long run-on sentence.)

Anyway, here it is in its unpolished, un-revised, unedited glory. )

Squishyverse is [personal profile] busterella's brainchild and you all should definitely go check out her tumblr for more!
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.
essbeejay: saving the world. (Default)
On my way to being pretty damn drunk. The rest of the alcohol just hasn't kicked in yet.

So if anybody is reading TEF they will be happy to know that I succeeded in cutting the last of that 5% from ch9 and sent it back to beta Sunday! WHOOOO.

So here is a drunken!sbj totally fucking rejected post to celebrate.

I wish I could scan this in for you guys. I was going through a phase where I was writing everything in cursive because I hadn't done it for so long and wanted to make sure I remembered how to. )

I seriously have no recollection of writing this, or where I planned to go with it. Maybe it was just a drabble?

Oooh, that shot of Applejack's kicking in now. (No, not the pony.)

Wait wait. I have more things I can post for tfr. No, that's the original super!Drama!cakes!ending for TEF. You guys definitely don't want me to post that.

Oh here we go. Have some tfr Blues!

I think I need another shot. This one isn't working fast enough. )

Jesus that was boring. I'm on my way to drunk and I STILL found that boring.

Hm here's another one! Guess who's perspective this is from. )

Okay have another.

Him is in this one! )

Man, I thought I'd be more entertaining posting drunk. Sorry everybody.

Hey btw Quilly won the PpG Hub Drabble contest for the year! Congratulate her, she is awesome.

Maybe the next time I post drunk I'll be more entertaining.
essbeejay: in your face, nerds! (take that!)
I went digging through my files for a potential TEF!tfr post to share but wound up stumbling upon something I had almost completely forgotten existed.

This thing is from 2004. I remember what was going on back then! ... I think. Yes! I had just finished Swordplay and was sort of thinking I was really going to get back into the swing of this writing thing! And then I got all excited! Like, "Hm! If I start writing a whole bunch, I might need a second beta!" And then I was all, "You know what I should do? I should make a beta application."

Let me 'splain. At the time I was heavy into lurking in the HP fandom, like 10,000% lurking, you guys. And one of the more prominent websites was big enough to have a beta list resource (!!!) and it had an actual beta application that you would have to fill out in order to qualify for the list. I thought, 'Damn, that's a great idea. I should do that!'

Well, I went through 75% of the rigmarole necessary to put an application together, then decided against it, because I realized the PpG fandom simply isn't big enough to pool resources like that (pft, what was I thinking) and I was better off just asking who would be available. And - luckily, for me - it worked out fantastically :)

(In the interest of full disclosure this application was largely inspired by the original beta application for the now-defunct Veela, Inc. website.)

Note: I originally was going to provide two segments to beta - one very poorly written one, and another decent segment of writing. Well, I gave up on this app before I got the decent segment down. But I hope the poorly written one amuses you!

---

So, all ye of the interested party‚Ķ )

---

I don't remember how it felt to write that segment but it probably hurt my brain at the time. Now it's just hilarious!

Ultimately, I think I speak for all of us when I say WOW AIM, REMEMBER THAT?
essbeejay: do you even go to this school? (fuck off twilight)
A couple entries back I mentioned finding a super old Blossom/Boomer fic I wrote. I'm pretty sure I wrote this at the time to break the color-matching habit most of the PpG/RrB fans have/fall into; unfortunately, it is most definitely not great. I'm not going to go through it line by line with a red font tag (it's nine pages typed, which is eight more than I was actually willing to type today for a tfr post), but if I were to give notes now to my then-self, here are some general ones:
  • Don't break up your paragraphs so often
  • But always break when new dialogue starts
  • The characters talk too much
  • Too many adverbs
  • Too much description
  • Too wordy in general; pacing is uneven and the story drags at many points
  • Characterization isn't strong enough; why do they keep talking to each other? Specifically, why does she keep talking to him?
  • The "turning point" in the relationship comes too fast, does not feel organic
  • Blossom at least has some personality, but Boomer is severely lacking; save for a couple of interesting points that are nicely alluded to he feels too much a stock Smarmy Romance Lead Male
  • For the love of God write out your numbers!
  • Don't use a five dollar word when a single will do the trick
  • Blossom talks too much to herself
  • Kill every "pet name" Boomer calls her
  • This story is drowning in ellipses! Get rid of some, if not most!
  • UIL is only a TX thing; find a generic national alternative
Oddly enough, I do like the general conceit (kissing booth, $1 kisses vs. $3 kisses). I mean, I tend to roll my eyes at things like kissing booths being the excuse that gets characters to mash lips (see also: Tunnel of Love) and definitely did it here when I started typing it up, but then I was kinda surprised at how the whole differentiation between a $1 and $3 worked for me. And the actual makeout scene, believe it or not. I thought, 'Okay self, this is actually competently written. Well done.' It's too bad the rest - characterization, primarily, followed by pacing and narrative - wasn't executed as nicely.

Going back over this dredged up some of the resentment I felt at the time towards fans who kept bitching about how unoriginal PpG/RrB was, how writers rarely mixed up the characters, how uncreative we were, etc., etc.. I feel like this tfr!fic is kind of indicative of how writing an "original pairing" (which in this fandom used to translate to anything except color-matched PpG/RrB) isn't going to fucking work if you can't even write the characters believably in the first place. But if your only stipulation for what made a good fic was "not color-coded PpG/RrB," then I guess strong characterization was a non-issue. Congrats! You truly earned your Elitist FanDouche card. /BOFQ /get offa my lawn /does this even count if it was 8 years ago /what's wrong with me

But hey. Here's my totally fucking rejected attempt at Blossom/Boomer, from over eight years ago. )
essbeejay: saving the world. (saving the world.)
Way back when - and I mean waaaaaay back when - I mentioned rather nebulous plans to write a host club inspired PpG fic. I was in the midst of watching Ouran, and it was a fun ride, and I liked the gender play going on, and I wanted to make Buttercup the #1 Host of All Time who everyone thought was a boy.

In the 2+ years that have passed, I've lost a good deal of my initial enthusiasm for the idea because... well, when I thought deeper on the subject, it started going to places I was not comfortable with making light of. Building on that, what completely squashed it outright was my eventual education about how actual host clubs in Japan work. It's incredibly sobering stuff, and I have stopped thinking that I can write a fluffy piece about something so emotionally tragic. So out the window the idea goes.

As mentioned, I did think on it pretty enthusiastically for awhile (andro!Buttercup and gender play in a fic are just SO APPEALING to me), and got one small bit very roughly down on paper. Here's a rough idea of what I was planning to do with it. )

I know there were quite a few people who were excited about this idea, so I'm sorry it'll never come to fruition. Thematically, there's a lot I like about it - if you know my tendencies, you can probably guess at what those themes are.

If you're interested, there's a good documentary called The Great Happiness Space about a very popular host club in Osaka. It's available on Netflix streaming.
essbeejay: it's hard work working hard, think think think, prof!buttercup (it's hard work working hard)
I keep meaning to do an audio post but can't find 2 free hours to sit and record a 4 minute post over and over until my voice doesn't sound stupid. So instead of that crappy post you get this crappy post instead!

I keep an "out" document for TEF for, you know, stuff that I slave over for hours on end then finally decide "AUGH THIS SUCKS" but because of all the time put into it I don't want to just delete it. I take that stuff and dump it all into one file, never to be looked at again until I decide to make a TFR post for TEF. Which this is, incidentally!

Most of the time when I dump something, it's because it's boring. It's usually something that I've been trying to make work, sometimes for pages and hours on end, but then eventually resolve myself to the fact that it isn't going anywhere and I've got to axe it and give it another go. That's the case with the first bit of this excerpt from my out doc.

This was my first attempt at the opening to ch5. )

The other stuff that gets cut is old, ooooold stuff, written way back when TEF was barely brain matter. I don't run into a lot of that these days - most of the old stuff is definitely OUT at this point. Most of it is Blues and Reds-related.

Here are several chunks of the early Blues stuff. )

There's more - my out doc is 26 pgs long at 8pt Verdana font and this was only 2.5 pgs. What do you guys do with the stuff you toss out? Do you just delete it? Do you hold onto it? Inquiring minds are curious and want to know :)
essbeejay: wtf, wtf no, buttercup is max-unimpressed (wtf no)
So I mentioned in a previous post that I had happened upon awfulness from teenage!me that I felt compelled to share. Yes, gather round! View the crappiness from which I sprung! (More like "unwittingly clawed my way out of," I suppose, but potato, potato.)

I had glanced over this back when I posted the first but couldn't recall the details, only that it was a special variety of Damn this is terrible. So, going into it mostly blind, I decided to post my reactions as well while I was transcribing it. Although it's pretty much just facepalm.gif the whole time, you guys. Occasionally there is actual, honest-to-God agony writhing. My s.o. was really weirded out while I was typing this up.

"...What are you doing?"
"IT'S A COPING MECHANISM OKAY" *WRITHES MORE, FACE PAINED*

Anyway. So. This is some awful Reds shit I wrote back in the day. )

Yaaaay that was special.

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