Christmas cocoa

December unscheduled posting meme: Gen fic

[personal profile] mific asked: You've written a lot of great Genfic. What is it about Gen that you like?

Thank you! :)

The flip (though accurate) answer is that, unless I specifically concentrate on getting other results, everything comes out gen. I look at canon and the kind of thoughts that run through my head are things like, "What if they fell out of a plane into the wilderness? That'd be awesome!" or "What if they were werewolves?" or "This plot development really needs everyone to sit around and talk about ethics for awhile" ... and then I write 20K of it. XD I'm just not a shipper by nature; even in the cases where I enjoy pairings (and I do enjoy a lot of canon pairings and a number of non-canon ones as well), I tend to be more interested in writing about the pairing doing something completely non-couple-related together -- investigating a jewel heist, fighting dinosaurs, etc -- than in exploring their couple dynamic on a date or whatnot. (The date would probably be crashed by dinosaurs. Actually, that'd be fun. *makes mental note*)

As a reader, I have enjoyed plenty of stories, in a skilled writer's hands, that were all about couple dynamics and nothing else. I admire the ability of other writers to do this! It's just not my fundamental setting as a writer. I'd actually like to get better at it, because I know that one of my big weaknesses as a writer is developing an emotional plot to complement the action plot.

But you know, even on the emotional side of things, I find gen relationship dynamics -- in general, though not always -- more fun to explore. I guess I'd say for me, there's more untapped territory there. We've all seen the getting-together story a million times, and I've read plenty of playful or touching or beautiful takes on it, but am not compelled to write it myself very often.

And also, most times, it's the gen character relationships (siblings, parents & children, partners, awkward nascent friendships, sympathetic enemies, etc.) that make my heart flip. Couples don't do it for me nearly as often, though there are some, and also quite a few relationships that I can enjoy on both sides of the gen or ship divide.

Mostly, I think what it comes down to is that gen is my default setting, for most things. It always has been.

This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/985219.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Gen has always been my default (and only) setting too! Romantic love just doesn't do it for me, but friendships and found families are my cryptonite:)
Ad I think you develop emotional plots just fine:) I really love the way you write friendships.
Yes! :) Over the years I have slowly migrated away from being gen-only to having a number of pairings I enjoy, but gen was my first love and is still probably my best love.
As a reader, I have enjoyed plenty of stories, in a skilled writer's hands, that were all about couple dynamics and nothing else. I admire the ability of other writers to do this! It's just not my fundamental setting as a writer. I'd actually like to get better at it, because I know that one of my big weaknesses as a writer is developing an emotional plot to complement the action plot.

You have been getting better at it! I wish I could get better at action plot to the same degree. )I think I'm pretty good with emotional plots, but I tend to struggle with action plots a lot.)

But you know, even on the emotional side of things, I find gen relationship dynamics -- in general, though not always -- more fun to explore.

For me, it depends a lot. I love other kinds of relationships, but what gets me the most, emotionally speaking, is almost always a highly charged relationships between two people. Most of the time I'm just as happy with a gen interpretation as with a shippy one, but while I love ensemble casts and found family tropes and such, it's the one-on-one relationships in the context of an ensemble that really hit me where I live.

I know it's pretty unusual in fandom not to have a preference when it comes to gen or ship - most people seem to fall pretty clearly on one side or the other. I generally don't. Well, there's the odd relationship that I really can't see as not romantic, or not erotically charged, and there's also the odd one I can't see that way, but most of the time I really don't have a preference. And this is another thing that I feel fandom disagrees with me a lot on - often, I just don't see that much of a difference between a gen interpretation and a shippy one. Take Steve/Bucky - IMO, there's nothing about their actual relationship that changes if they're attracted to each other. You get to add kissing and sex if you feel so inclined, but that's like adding dinosaurs - very cool, very fun to write and to read, but not exactly a fundamental part of the relationship.

There, I said it: dinosaurs and porn, exactly the same thing. *g*
FML, I just wrote a really long comment and LJ ate it. FUCK YOU VERY MUCH, LJ. Let me see if I can reconstruct it. *screams*

You have been getting better at it!

Thank you so much! :) I really appreciate this, because I know I didn't used to do well at it (though sometimes I would strike gold by total accident), but it is something I've been working on, and, I think, managing to improve on. So thank you! :)

Regarding the gen-ship thing ... I don't know if it's actually as rare as all of that. I know that my fics have a fairly significant crossover readership with slash fans -- that is, apparently an emotionally intense gen fic can also appeal to fans of a slash pairing! And I swing both ways, so to speak, with a lot of the pairings I read about, where I can enjoy them as either ship or gen. (Though now that I'm thinking about it, I do usually have a preference between gen or ship with them. Not always, but generally ...)

I think you're right, though, that it doesn't change the Steve/Bucky dynamic significantly to change from slash to gen or vice versa. (Actually, one of the biggest turnoffs for me in Steve/Bucky fic is when it is a Really! Big! Deal! in the fic itself ... because, no, it just wouldn't be.) I think they're one of the few pairings I have for whom that's actually true. (Okay, there are a few other ones, but it's not that common for me.)

However, thinking about the pairings I know you ship (Dean/Castiel, Gerald/Damien, Bucky/Natasha) I can see what you mean, it's not really something where the dynamic has a big change if they go from gen to ship. I wonder if that's one of the key features that attracts you to a pairing, where for me, it isn't so much ...?


There, I said it: dinosaurs and porn, exactly the same thing.

As long as the dinosaurs aren't IN the porn. I don't think most of us need that. (Though some of us might; it is fandom, after all. XD)
Ack, LJ eating comments is evil. :(

Regarding the gen-ship thing ... I don't know if it's actually as rare as all of that.

Maybe I'm wrong! That would be nice. (Maybe I just overdosed on the "it's SO OBVIOUS" and "there's NO OTHER EXPLANATION" kind of comments ...)

Actually, one of the biggest turnoffs for me in Steve/Bucky fic is when it is a Really! Big! Deal! in the fic itself ... because, no, it just wouldn't be.

Yeah, I've backbuttoned out a few fics like that - it bugs the hell out of me, too. Also, the ones where everyone else is telling Steve to give up on Bucky, until they find out Steve is in love with Bucky, at which point they suddenly become incredibly supportive. WTF, people!

However, thinking about the pairings I know you ship (Dean/Castiel, Gerald/Damien, Bucky/Natasha) I can see what you mean, it's not really something where the dynamic has a big change if they go from gen to ship. I wonder if that's one of the key features that attracts you to a pairing, where for me, it isn't so much ...?

You're right - I hadn't put it together quite like that, but looking at my ships, I do seem most attracted to pairings wheren gen or ship doesn't actually change their relationship dynamics much if at all! There are exceptions, of course - there are always exceptions - but in general, those have been the pairings I've loved the most, and for the longest time. Doctor/Jack and McShep and Xavier/Magneto fall into that pattern, too, and Kirk/Spock and a whole host of others. So fascinating - thank you for pointing that out to me!
Also, the ones where everyone else is telling Steve to give up on Bucky, until they find out Steve is in love with Bucky, at which point they suddenly become incredibly supportive. WTF, people!

Ohhhh man, this, and also ... few things turn me off a Steve/Bucky fic like scenarios that make it clear that, in context of the fic, "love" = "romantic love". Anything which implies they didn't love each other before accepting their feelings for each other, or that their friends had no idea they loved each other and are really shocked ... it's just -- WHAT MOVIE WERE YOU WATCHING?! These are two guys who have canonically DIED for each other, who pretty much did everything together for most of their lives. Whether it's shippy love or platonic love, one of the few really inarguable facts about the Captain America series is that Steve Rogers loves Bucky Barnes and vice versa.
WHAT MOVIE WERE YOU WATCHING?!

I ask myself that so often! *sighs*

But still less rarely in this fandom than most others I've been in. Which is saying something ...
Hey, can I email you about something? I think I need advice from the resident h/c expert. *g*
It's interesting to me that while I've always been drawn to the plot more than the romance, I had originally started reading slash precisely because it had both. What I mean is that I remember back when I was in the Highlander fandom feeling like the gen stories were poorly disguised het romance novels. And although I was completely not interested in the M/M side of things at the time, I ended up actively seeking out slashfic to read the plot and character interactions. I would read the story and revel in the emotional closeness of the people in it...and then skip reading the sex scene. It took me a very long time to actually start reading the explicit portions of the story because I was indifferent to it. (ETA: Back then slash was the more rare kind of fanfic and therefore tended to be "well done" by virtue of the author having to convince the reader it works, rather than assuming it does like most het fic.)

Nowadays I'm a lot more interested in the romantic side of the relationship, but in the end I still enjoy the story first and foremost. So my ideal "romance" is actually 95% plot and 5% romance. But when I say "plot" I don't mean action, because I'm very very into the character interactions. Someone above called it the "highly charged relationships between...people" which I think is a great way to put it. I'm not interested in plot for plot's sake, but in how the events move these people and make them react AND how they interact with other people in their lives.

One of the things that I find very confining about most romances is how they tend to enclose the two people involved in a bubble where the only thing that exists is them and their thoughts about each other. One of the benefits of primarily plotty stories is that there tends to be an ensemble cast with friendships, family, and other relationship that are platonic and help differentiate the romantic relationships from the other kind. And that's what I love. I don't like the claustrophobic feeling of most pure-romances. But when there's a plot AND platonic relationships outside the main couple AND the main couple is in a "highly charged" relationship -- I revel in that.

Edited at 2014-12-06 05:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, the fannish background is really interesting! :D I think for me, it was slash (and some het) that made me realize it wasn't that I generally disliked romance, it was that I disliked The Romance Narrative that's in so much mainstream stuff. Give me something different, and I can really get into it.

One of the things that I find very confining about most romances is how they tend to enclose the two people involved in a bubble where the only thing that exists is them and their thoughts about each other. One of the benefits of primarily plotty stories is that there tends to be an ensemble cast with friendships, family, and other relationship that are platonic and help differentiate the romantic relationships from the other kind. And that's what I love.

Yes! And this is one of the reasons why I like gen, honestly, because I really go for the ensemble. Even in romance stories, I prefer to have at least some of the focus be on the characters' relationships to other people and not just each other.