speaker_to_customers: (Storm of Zehir)
After the longest break from fic-writing since I came to LJ (due to the World Cup being followed by getting ready for the [livejournal.com profile] writerconuk event) I'm writing again and the story I'm busy with is 'A Plague of Serpents'. I've reached the point where the male protagonist, the ranger Kelleth, acquires his Animal Companion - a male leopard. I can't think of a good name (Chantry suggests 'Spot' but that's just her being typically bloody awkward, the Wombat suggests 'Kitty' but that's just her being...) and so far the NWN2 built-in Random Animal Companion Name Generator hasn't come up with anything I like. Anyone have any suggestions?

[Poll #1605781]
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I’ve just returned from the 2010 WriterCon UK event at Coventry. It was immensely enjoyable and gentlemen (and women) in England now a-bed should think themselves accursed they were not there. Well worth the 9-hour journey each way. Anyone, from any fandom, who enjoys good company and has a sense of humour should definitely consider attending next year’s event – which will be held in the same place.

I was, appropriately, one of the speakers. I had given presentations at two of the previous three [livejournal.com profile] writerconuk events but, because I was working from very sketchy notes and improvising as I went along, I didn’t manage to reproduce them in post form afterwards. This time I was better prepared, with a detailed script, and so I present a transcript here for everyone to read (also posted, with a slightly different preamble, at the [livejournal.com profile] writerconuk community).

Writing Original Characters readers don’t hate )

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'Twisting the Hellmouth' is currently being spammed with stories by a co-writing pair of obsessive Xander fans. They specialise in stories in which those who have not treated Xander with the respect that he deserves meet horrible fates. In one of them Willow is tortured to death by Angelus and it is obvious that the writer regards this as appropriate punishment for her failing to back Xander up in a dispute, with Buffy, over how to deal with Angelus. One of the writers also is obsessed with pairing Xander up with Jenny Calendar - can I be blind now?

None of that is all that unusual and I wouldn't have bothered mentioning them on those grounds. I have, however, been reading the reviews (I gave up on the actual stories very quickly), trying to work out what kind of people actually like that sort of fic, and I saw a couple of people picking up one of them on a glaring error.

He has Xander and Faith drive from Boston to California in 8 hours.

It's three thousand miles. Lewis Hamilton, in a Bugatti Veyron, with the roads closed to other traffic, would still be a thousand miles short at the end of 8 hours (even without allowing for the multiple refuelling stops that would be required, and assuming that he's been catheterised).

The author, in his reply to the first reviewer to point this out, says 'I do not live in america and so do not know how far boston is from california.' Dude. Please. Boston, East coast. California, West coast. The USA, pretty damn big. It should be blatantly obvious that you're not going to drive it in 8 hours. Google the distance. It's not rocket science.

Although rocket science is probably the only way of getting a car from Boston to Sunnydale in 8 hours.
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Spamming slightly – it’s not even 5 hours since I posted my drabble Burial Detail – but I just had to bring this to your attention.

Continuing to browse the BtVS stories at the Pit of Voles I stumbled upon a (mediocre) story for which this was the summary:

After the fall of Sunnydale, Buffy tries to kelp Xander cope with the loss of loved ones.

And it wasn’t even an all-penguin AU.
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I'm not sure whether to be pleased or to be annoyed about the current spate of discussions of the Mary Sue issue on LJ.

I will be doing a talk at this year's WriterCon UK on the subject of 'Writing Original Characters readers don't hate'. Some of the recent posts have included points that may be of use to me; on the other hand if the issue is too widely discussed it may make my planned talk superfluous.

So far no-one has come up with anything that duplicates the core principle that I will be putting forward but it can only be a matter of time.
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In ‘Tabula Avatar’ I’ve been examining some of the big questions in life. Does memory equal self? If the world had been created last Tuesday, complete with memories, fossils, and all the internal evidence to show that it had existed for 4.7 billion years, how would we know? And, the currently relevant question, how come those who start wars get to be regarded as the good guys?

Shar didn’t start the War of Light and Darkness. Selûne did.

The Drow didn’t start the Crown Wars. The Vyshaantar clan of Sun Elves did. Unfortunately the Court of Enquiry which cleared the Drow didn’t sit until 800 years after the Drow had been forced into the Descent. The Vyshaantari got away with it for 5,500 years before eventually being punished – a feat Radovan Karadžić would no doubt love to emulate.

All completely unfair and unjust. But at least there was never any prospect of the evil megalomaniac Ivosaar Vyshaan becoming the first President of the European Union.
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In a forthcoming chapter of ‘Tabula Avatar’ Shar is going to be hosting a party for some of the other gods and goddesses of the Realms. She synchronises it with a concert given by Giles and asks him to perform songs that will appeal to specific gods. I’ve chosen, on his behalf, songs for several of the guests; ‘Bitch’ for Umberlee, Alice Cooper’s ‘Poison’ for Talona, ‘It’s A Kind of Magic’ for Mystra, ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ for Kelemvor, ‘Sailing’ for Valkur, and so on. These will play a part in the story later (as is already becoming evident in ‘A Plague of Serpents’) and even shape some of the new alliances between the gods.

There are, however, a couple of major deities for whom I can’t think of appropriate songs. The most important is Eilistraee; the good Drow goddess of song, beauty, dance, sword-work, hunting, and moonlight and, since their adventures in ‘The Whole of the Moon’, Shar’s Best Female Friend and future sister-in-law. I’ve been racking my brains for months to come up with a suitable song. Thin Lizzy’s ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ would at first sight seem to be the perfect choice but, unfortunately, the lyrics are completely inappropriate (and it’s rather poor by their standards). The other ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’, originally by King Harvest and later covered by Toploader, is mediocre drivel. ‘Moonlight Shadow’ is far too grim and sad (‘He was shot six times by a man on the run...’), and ‘Moon Shadow’ has some rather... strange... lyrics.

The best I’ve been able to come up with so far is Chris Rea’s ‘Let’s Dance’ and that just isn’t good enough. Ideas, please, anyone? Songs must, of course, be from before 13th November 2001.
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My name is Speaker to Customers and I'm a masochist.

I've been reading fic at fanfiction dot net recently. I started off reading Stargate SG1 fic - the archives that I've found tend to be full of slushy shipper fic and that just isn't SG1 to me, and so I fell back on the Pit of Voles where at least there is a wide variety - and moved on to BtVS.

I'd forgotten how dreadful things are there. There is some good stuff (although most of the best I'd read before on LJ or on dedicated archives) but the majority of the fics are unspeakably dire. There is a surprising amount of Buffy/Giles fic there - ewww, ewww, and thrice ewww! My suffering has proved useful, however, in gathering material for CW's forthcoming presentation at the UK Writercon Midimeet. Mainly from the illiterate summaries.

The one that cracked me up most featured this gem: 'Buffy puts Faith in a comma'.
speaker_to_customers: (Zoë)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] winsomeone

Appeal to the Hivemind; does anyone have a transcription of the lyrics to 'Hammer' by Zoë? I have managed to find a copy of the song, after years of searching, but I can't make out all the words. The lyrics aren't available anywhere on the Web that I can find. Probably Zoë herself is responsible for this; it's a brilliant song but its content ended her career. I saw her performing it on a lunchtime BBC programme. The host was all smiles when he introduced her but at the end of the song his face was dead white and he stumbled over the link to the next item. She was never invited back and AFAIK that was her last TV performance.

I want to use it in 'Tabula Avatar', of course; it's already been mentioned, and Viconia has said that she wants to learn it. I'd like to be able to quote more than the first four lines and any help would be appreciated.

I've had some success in tracking down other things that I've been looking for; the first Kung Fu movie to make an impact in the West, 'King Boxer' starring Lo Lieh, was released on DVD for the first time this week and I bought it. I've loved that film for over 30 years but it's over twenty years since I last saw it. Also I found on YouTube the song that counts as 'our song' for me and the Wombat; 'Something Special', by Emerson, a group who never made it big and who used to play the rock clubs in the North-East of England. We saw them play at Mingles in Whitley Bay when we were dating. I used to own the record on vinyl but threw it away when I went over to CDs, a decision I later regretted, but now I have it once more.

I haven't been doing the rewrite of the TA chapter that I mentioned in my last post; I got sidetracked (as I do). I saw a fic at 'Twisting the Hellmouth' with a summary that goes: 'Back by demand, and also because I just love a happy ending. Continuing story of Dean, Faith and little John'. I misread it slightly - mentally capitalising one word - and I'm not a Supernatural viewer (hello, male here) and so 'Dean' means something completely different as far as I'm concerned. I decided to write a ficlet based on my interpretation of that summary; I'm halfway through and I should be posting it today or tomorrow. Any guesses as to where I'm going with it?
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Meep! I've just spotted a whacking great huge continuity error in the chapter of 'Tabula Avatar' that I've spent the last 5 days writing. I have Sunnydale Willow running around doing stuff when she took a crossbow bolt in the stomach in the last chapter and should be in hospital. Frantic attempts this morning to edit the chapter so that it actually makes sense have failed miserably. Major rewrite looms. Woe is me.

Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] spiralleds
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Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] daibhid_c

In other news; the video for Coldplay’s single ‘Life in Technicolor II’ is brilliant. There are few songs that can’t be improved by having them performed by puppets.

I’m going to have to push the Wombat into putting aside the ‘Lord of the Rings’-verse for a while and resuming ‘Access All Areas’ soon.

The emotions of the characters I write bleed over into me to some extent. Currently I’m feeling Illyria’s cold and dark despair, Bodhi’s exuberant delight and bloodlust, Joan’s grim determination, Vampire Willow’s oddball humour, and Chantry’s self-loathing and doomed love (really doomed; there will be no happy ending for her, that’s a guarantee). And there is always, always, Sorkatani.

But behind them all is Anna. For months now she has been stuck in hiatus limbo. She watched her idolised father murdered, was captured, and her powers were taken away. She’s in the hands of the Turkish Mafia and they intend to make her death agonising and degrading. They don’t realise that even as a Ptavv she’s still deadly and she is determined to make them regret that. She needs closure; violent, blood-soaked closure, the sort that leaves eyeballs on the floor and two hundred and twenty pound gangster henchmen shattered on the pavement after falling fifty feet from a rooftop.

And, because of the way we are writing that collaborative fic, I don’t know whether she’s going to get that closure or get a bullet in the head in a cellar under an Istanbul nightclub. Only with the aid of the Wombat will I find out. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer.

Something occurred to me as I was writing this; all my current POV characters, now that the Artemis Entreri interlude in ‘Tabula Avatar’ is over, are female. That’s true most of the time, in fact. Sometimes I write Spike POV, less often Giles, and Xander is one of the only two non-OCs who I have written in first person for more than a ficlet, but overwhelmingly I choose to write in female POV despite being a bloke. I wonder why that is?
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Belated Happy Birthdays to [livejournal.com profile] redwulf50 and [livejournal.com profile] talesofsnape

Happy Birthday to [livejournal.com profile] married_n_mich

Finally managed to watch the first episode of ‘Being Human’; it’s very good, although much darker and less funny than I was expecting. I think I’ll wait until after the series finishes before thinking about doing any fic; there are too many things still unrevealed as yet. The night before last I accidentally saw a sitcom that I wasn’t familiar with, ‘Not Going Out’, and it had perhaps the funniest line of any show ever. Also a pun that was worthy of me. I doubt if I’ll watch it regularly but if it comes on when I’m not in bed or at work I won’t switch over.

No comments at all on the ‘Tabula Avatar’ chapter that I put up yesterday? Rather disappointing. If I wasn’t getting a steady stream of rapturous reviews for it at ‘Twisting the Hellmouth’ I’d get discouraged. As it is, however, I’ll keep writing and keep posting. I’m enjoying writing it – although the characters won’t be enjoying themselves. After sixty-odd chapters of Randy & Joan being bit-part players they finally got their chance to take centre stage, in this chapter and the last – and they won’t have liked it one little bit. Will True Love prevail and overcome all? The only way to find out is to read it. Meanwhile, in Faerûn, I’ve spent 5 chapters carefully assembling Chekhov’s Gun and establishing that it is aimed directly at Buffy, Sorkatani, and Xander; it’s a shame that I now have to work for 6 nights, and won’t be able to do any writing, because I’m rather eager to fire it...

The results of the TtH Crossover Awards should be announced today. I’m hoping for a victory for ‘Tabula Avatar’; although it is severely lacking in the Super!Xander department, a major handicap at TtH, and past form suggests it will come second in its class. [livejournal.com profile] curiouswombat’s ‘Return of the Key’ also suffers from the same lack of Super!Xander, but ‘Lord of the Rings’ crossovers rarely feature Xander so it might overcome that lack. We’ll find out soon. Of course now I’ve had a sudden idea for a Super!Xander/Galadriel fic designed to win in next year’s awards...

PS: TtH displays random recs when you visit the homepage. One just popped up that I have to comment on. I will never, under any circumstances, read a fic where the pairing is shown as 'Wiffy'. That's nothing to do with not liking femmeslash - it's just that that particular word conjures up an image of the pairing being Pepe Le Pew/Foul Ole Ron.
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Having spent time today at the Pit of Voles, and at Twisting the Hellmouth (where the moderators are supposed to enforce correct spelling and grammar but don’t), can I just point out to the world in general the difference between ‘lightening’ and ‘lightning’?

If someone is described as moving at ‘lightening’ speed does this mean that they have been pumped full of helium or that they’re moving as fast as a hairdresser applying highlights?

When a group of ‘Forgotten Realms’ characters are travelling through the forest, and are attacked by a pack of Dire Wolves, is there really a lot of point in them defending themselves with a Wand of Lightening? Is the idea that it’s better to be attacked by a forty pound creature than a two hundred pound one? Or is the idea to confuse the beasts? ‘Hey, when I started this charge, my fur was black; now I’m grey. I must have been struck by an ageing ray and I should dodder off back to my cave and chew bones while I wait for my teeth to fall out.’ I don’t think so. Just spell the word right in the first place, okay, guys?

Oh, and certain characters did not travel by camel across the dessert. The camel's hooves are well adapted to crossing sand but not trifle, gateau, cheesecake and ice cream. It could get messy.

And monks do not practice marital arts. It rather defeats the point of being a monk.

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