masqthephlsphr: (alias will)
January talking meme, Jan 21. From [personal profile] cornerofmadness: what draws you to the urban fantasy type of story lines?

I am drawn to urban fantasy stories because I like stories that show a secret supernatural world existing in what is ostensibly the mundane, scientifically skeptical world we all live in, and characters who lives are recognizable to the average reader, who are nevertheless part of that supernatural world.

Stories like BtVS, Harry Potter, or Dresden Files, make it easy to imagine that the supernatural exists around me in the world I see everyday. Stories like this allow me to think, "Underneath all this drab, dreary mundanity is a fantastic world full of excitement and magic." All I need is the right book/movie/TV show to reveal what's hidden all around me.

And that makes the mundane world I see outside my window seem just a little bit more magical.

Take Buffy, for example. As I understand it, the BtVS/Angel world is supposed to be our world. Not an alternate universe or anything like that. It's our world, but what most of us don't realize is that magic is real if you know how to tap into it. Demons exist, just hope you don't run into one.

Why do I have this need? I guess because I'm an agnostic, and an empiricist, but what I feel compelled to believe is not the same thing as what I wish were true. "Urban" fantasy lets me step away from that for an hour or two.

This is the reason I am not drawn much to High Fantasy (e.g., Lord of the Rings). High fantasy stories are set in completely imaginary places that aren't Earth, nor even historical Earth. They often contain humans, dogs, oak trees, and other earthlike things to make them more accessible, but the resemblance to our world is usually a pseudo-resemblance to some historical era I have little connection to. I don't mind fantasy or science fiction set in a historical period on Earth, as long as the historical period is genuinely drawn outside of its supernatural elements.

So the "on Earth" is important to me. As is the "secret." I want a story world where the supernatural is considered debunked and its delights and dangers lurk in the shadows, only known to a select few. For this reason, I also don't care much for urban fantasy where the supernatural elements of the story are out in the open (e.g., Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton). Partly because the supernatural being "secret" makes it easier to pretend all this really is going on all around me. But also, I have always had a kink for "the big secret" that only select characters know and the rest of the world is oblivious to.
masqthephlsphr: (HP)
More often than not when you ask me who my favorite character in a book, film, or television series is, it's the hero. Not that I don't appreciate the grayer characters, the morally ambiguous types--tricksters, shady allies and informants, double-agents, self-serving baddies with sympathetic pasts and motivations.

But sometimes I think those grayer characters get overvalued, proclaimed "way more interesting" than the heroes, who are decried as boring and predictable when the do the right thing, and lambasted when they make a mistake. Similarly, fans who like hero characters are made to feel like throwbacks to 1952.

But where would we be without the heroes? A story full of characters whose primary motivations are self-serving or up for grabs may make an interesting read/viewing experience, but an abundance of stories like that leave me feeling ungrounded. Those gray characters are like the icing without the cake. I need to have someone in the story who I can root for without feeling like I washed myself with a dirty rag. Someone far from perfect but who I know is trying to do the right thing, even if they mess it up a lot along the way. Even if, in the end, they fail.

It's a bit embarrassing, though, to be asked who your favorite character is in fandom discussions and have to "admit":

Oh, Highlander? Duncan Macleod
Harry Potter series: Harry Potter
Merlin BBC: well, Merlin, of course
Angel the Series: Angel
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Ben Sisko
Once Upon A Time: Emma Swan
Harry Dresden: Harry Dresden

...and so on.

It's not always the case though. My favorite ST: TNG character was Data. But of course, he was the epitome of the awkwardly sincere trying-to-be-the-best-of-humanity. And my favorite character on Lost was Hurley, but y'know, Everyman with a Heart of Gold, he was. On ST: Voyager, I liked Be'lanna Torres. I have a thing for the fucked-up tough girls. But I'm not sure I would have stayed glommed onto the angry, screwed-up babes if they weren't flawed-but-trying-to-be-a-good-person. To wit: Faith on BtVS/AtS. Although she was never my favorite character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I never really had one, except possibly the foursome of Buffy+Giles+Willow+Xander. The collective heroic.

Do I get points if my favorite Anne Rice vampire was Armand? He was no saint. I could never stand Lestat, but I liked Louis quite a bit. I prefer my vampires with a soul.
masqthephlsphr: (sarah)
1. Leave a comment to this post.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Post the names of five fictional characters whose names begin with that letter, and your thoughts on each. The characters can be from books, movies, or TV shows

Ganked from [personal profile] cornerofmadness who gave me the letter C. "C", as it turns out, is kinda hard. It's not a common letter for names. But here's mine:

Read more... )
masqthephlsphr: (CrankyHarry)
New words: 1,670
Total words: 38,730
Goal: 50,000

38730 / 50000
(77.46%)



As my story fleshes itself out, I see myself taking an approach that I can only call the fantasy equivalent of "hard science fiction." Hard science fiction attempts to bring scientific accuracy to the speculative elements of a story, either by basing them in actual contemporary scientific fact, or extrapolating from that fact to theoretical ideas that are likely to be confirmed in the near future based on what we know now.

The "fantasy equivalent" of this, for me, is to have the fantasy elements in my story--whether it is strange beings, their powers, or the "magic" humans do to interact with/effect these beings--be, not supernatural, but natural phenomena. I am only straying from the "hard" line by saying these fantastical elements are natural phenomenon that scientists at present just don't have the theoretical concepts or observational techniques to deal with yet.

I sort of can't help this naturalistic approach. Although I am perfectly comfortable with the supernatural in fiction, there is something I want to say with this story that makes taking this approach important to me.

But as a result, it is feeling a bit like I've sucked all the sense of wonder out of my novel. I did a Harry Potter marathon this past week since I got the final movie on DVD/Blu ray, and the thing that makes HP appeal to so many people, I think, is you can see and do so many fascinating things in his world, whether it is turning a loathed relative into a human balloon, or riding over a lake on the back of a half-bird, half-horse, or visiting someone else's memories inside a sink full of mist. Magic is afoot in his world, and there is so much more to his world than an ordinary muggle ever suspects.

Similar case with Buffy, or the Dresden Files, or Star Trek, or anything like that. There is an element of each of these story worlds that is beyond escapist and actually transcendent, because, for a short time, these stories allow you feel as if you are touching something beyond the mundane. They do this by starting very much in the mundane, and taking you on a gradual journey to fantastical places where you can do and see these amazing things.

I have to figure out how to do that, to make my world more interesting, without turning it into a cartoon version of itself.

I don't want to write "just another fantasy novel" with elves and magic and evil sorcerers and whatnot. I need to find a way to take my more "serious/rationalistic" approach and imbue it with a sense of magic.
masqthephlsphr: (pm)
One thing that has been confirmed by Rowling on the Pottermore site was my suspicion that McGonagall isn't married. Apparently she was in love with a muggle when she was 18, but as a half-blood, she had seen the problems inherent in her own parents' marriage and turned down her suitor after already agreeing to marry him, thus breaking both her own heart and his. Why she then didn't find a suitable wizard to marry after that is anyone's guess.

I have wondered before whether any of the faculty at Hogwarts are married/partnered. Rowling just never says one way or another, and part of that might be because all the stories are written more or less from Harry's point of view, and he never bothers wondering. But it's not like she doesn't marry off other characters. The teachers, OTOH? Seem condemned to be aging bachelors and spinsters.

ETA: Okay, I'm gonna shut up before drawing conclusions about what is and isn't the case with certain characters based on what I've read. Because as it turns out there may be more to come later that sheds new light on the subject.

Still, I wonder what effect Pottermore is going to have on fan fiction or if it will have any effect at all (i.e., writers ignoring "new canon").

Pottermore

Sep. 12th, 2011 07:32 pm
masqthephlsphr: (HP)
I've only dipped my toe into Pottermore, which I finally got access to this morning. Actually, I didn't find out about it until I got to work this morning. So there I am, overwhelmed with stuff to do and looking at a busy week ahead of me, and now they decide to give me access? Murphy (of Law fame) is obviously their head membership bigwig.

Anyway, the website is down for the moment, so I thought I'd record a few initial impressions. The main one which is, the "new content"? LOL, I will bet all my sickles and knuts the "new content" is coming straight out of Rowling's old story notes and discarded word count. Any writer (even me of overwriting fame) has a ton of content they wrote way back when that didn't make it into the final draft, not because it wasn't good, or relevant, or "the wrong direction for the story", but just because it was tangential, or background information. Or became tangential/background info as the plot of the story developed.

So how much of this "new" content is new from Rowling's POV? Probably none of it. But as someone who enjoys deleted scenes on DVD extras, and writer/director voice-over versions of movies/episodes explaining their creative process, I vote this "pretty darned cool."

ETA: And now that the site's back up and I've read along a little further, I have found the page where she admits to all this. ; )

Pottermore

Aug. 16th, 2011 07:28 pm
masqthephlsphr: (HP)
Via [profile] buffyannotater on Facebook:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bryan-young/inside-pottermore_b_927673.html

First look inside Pottermore. It doesn't seem much like a fan fiction site, more like a role-playing site, but that's better, IMO. Looking forward to getting access.

Moar Potter

Aug. 3rd, 2011 09:48 am
masqthephlsphr: (HP)
Well, I signed up for early entrance to the Pottermore.com site. I am still not sure what it's for or why I bothered, but I couldn't stand all the secrecy and competition behind getting in there early, so now I will find out, I suppose.

I will be SkullRiver204 over there. Yeah, they don't let you choose your own handle. It was either that or WitchSickle. All the other handles I had to choose from were lame, and WitchSickle sounds like a demented lollypop. I have decided Skull River could be a cool Mayan stream somewhere deep in the jungle, as opposed to an emo-goth nickname.

Meme-age

Jan. 26th, 2011 06:28 am
masqthephlsphr: (Sisko)
Ganked from [personal profile] butterfly

List fifteen of your favorite characters from different fandoms, and ask people to spot patterns in your choices, and if they're so inclined, to draw conclusions about you based on the patterns they've spotted.

In no particular order (other than the order they occurred to me):

1 Connor (AtS)
2 Angel (AtS)
3 Faith (BtVS/AtS)
4 Be'lanna Torres (ST:Voyager)
5 Sisko (ST:DSN)
6 Data (ST: TNG)
7 Ensign Ro (ST: TNG)
8 K'Ehleyr (ST: TNG)
9 Harry (Harry Potter)
10 Susan Rodriguez (The Dresden Files)
11 Richie (Highlander)
12 Spock (ST:TOS)
13 Hurley (Lost)
14 John Connor (Terminator)
15 Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)
16 Armand (Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles)
masqthephlsphr: (spare)
I haven't done one of these updates in a while, since I was updating daily during NaNo. Since December started, I have stuck to my goal of writing 300 new narrative words a day (haven't yet today, but am only just sitting down to it just now).

I think NaNo was pretty successful in getting me on a new track with the story, the challenge now is to keep that momentum going. Between work being nuts and coming down with a bad cold, though, I am easing into that momentum slowly. This weekend I pretty much need to be horizontal to kick this cold. Only planny-plans are to Finally see HP 7 tomorrow. IMAX 3-D!

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