sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (zombie joe and paul gross)
[personal profile] sage
Several people seconded an off-handed mention of doing a post on writing villains -- and LOTS of us are doing either Due South Seekrit Santa and/or Yuletide this holiday season, so this is hopefully a very timely and relevant post. Feel free to pimp this far and wide because I'd love to get a good range of discussion going in the comments.

First I'm going to share my meandering thoughts, and then I've got a bunch of questions for us to consider.

wherein I think about bad guys )

So let's talk about how to present well-drawn bad guys. What awesome bad guys have you read or seen onscreen? Name some -- from fic, novels, movies, television, comics, pop culture, whatever. What makes them effective villains?

What characters still creep you out, months or years later? Why?

What different sorts of villains are there? How can a writer use different sorts of villains in the same story?

Do you like villains better when we understand their motivation all along (and can maybe empathize) or when they're faceless blanks to be revealed at the end? What kind of story is served by each format?

What experience have you had writing bad guys in your own fic, and what pitfalls did you have to deal with? What do you know now that you wish you'd known then?

Obviously, no one has to answer everything, but I'd love for this to be a round table discussion. Please jump in with whatever grabs you, whether your examples are Due South-related or not.

Thanks! :D
[identity profile]
or, How To Write Plotty Casefic Without (Entirely) Losing Your Mind

I'll begin with a small caveat: I haven't published any long, plotty case-based fics for this fandom. I'm working on several, but most of you who come here for advice or helpful hints will probably ask yourself, "Okay, who is [ profile] nos4a2no9 to tell me how to write casefic when she hasn't published any?" And I guess the answer is that old chestnut, "Those who can't...teach." I have written epic casefic in the DCU comicsverse, and I think some of the hard lessons I learned over there will shed some light on the fraught process of crafting a long, detailed and realistic case-based story for the dS fandom.

I've broken this down into sections to make the process a little clearer. These are techniques that I've found work for me, and while everyone will have a different approach I think I've come up with some basics that will help get you started. Please add any tricks and tips you've come up with when you try to tackle the sometimes unwieldy and always challenging form of long fiction. It's not an easy process and you will, at points, want to tear your hair out in frustration, but rest assured that the end result is usually a very solid, intelligent and well-plotted story. It's as satisfying in its own way as the best-written novella or PWP and I think it's my favorite of all the genres this fandom has to offer. So that's my pitch. Let's get started!

Go Big or Go Home

The first question you want to ask yourself when you sit down to plan your casefic is, "What kind of story do I want to tell? How long do I think my story needs to be?" These are essential questions because a) it will help you figure why you're writing casefic to begin with instead of a shorter story about, say, grocery shopping, and b) the length question will help you determine exactly what kind of crime the characters should be investigating. Not all crimes are created equal and deciding early on how much space you'll be able to devote to the case-related elements will help you figure out how everything will come together, and when.

The vast majority of the fanfiction published in the due South fandom clocks in at roughly 1000-6000 words and usually focuses on Fraser and Ray (or Ray and Ray, or any other pairing) in a romantic relationship. Since the story is short there's usually only room for the 'A' romance/sex story but some authors make use of day-to-day details (Fraser and Ray's work at the 2-7, for example) in order to set the scene and create some tension and momentum in order to move the plot along. Minor crimes or funny, oblique references to wacky dS-style crimes (pickpockets! elderly vigilantes! evil Santas!) are probably safe to include in these shorter stories since the focus is on the relationship and not the crimes being investigated or solved. You can get away with a lot if your crime-related 'B' plot in a short story is just being used as background material: I like 'em because they're fun to set up and resolve, they don't take a lot of time or planning, and if done right the minor inclusion of case-related details can have a subtle effect on what you're trying to accomplish with your romance. Plus, a stakeout is always a good setting for a makeout. :-)

Longer stories (6000+ words) make use of a 'B' plot wherein Our Heroes investigate a crime that is integral to the plot and larger thematic elements of the story. Fraser and Ray might be tracking down a dangerous serial murderer, or they might be called upon to investigate an international terrorist. Along the way they'll probably grow closer, make discoveries about one another and their personal dynamic will change (that's the 'A' plot in long-story form). If you've plotted your story correctly there should be some correlation between the investigation and what's going on between the characters.

To wrap this so-obvious-it-hurts introduction to casefic, remember to always start by asking yourself, "What kind of story do I want to write?" If you're more interested writing an 'A'-plot romance that explores the character's sexual or emotional connection over a specific period of time, don't gum up the works with a lot of case-related detail. But if the story you want to tell is big with a capital "B" (Big Drama! Big Emotion! Big Angst! Big Humour! Big Big Big!) you'll probably get a lot of mileage out of the long, plotty casefic form.

So Where Do I Start )

The Devil's In the Details: Reference Materials You Can Count On )

Putting It All Together )


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October 2011

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