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Going into the dark, story-telling wise - moonspinner
Going into the dark, story-telling wise
I remember how half-way through ‘Thwarted Fate’ a bunch of readers left because they didn’t like the fact that Padmé broke Anakin’s heart. Even though she did it for his own good and she still loved him. And it amuses me so much to think that now because in ‘Kaleidoscope’ one version of Vader rapes Padmé, gets her pregnant; and when she escapes him, she’s haunted by spoiler something that keeps trying to make her feel guilty about it. In the meanwhile, she totally hates his guts.

I’ve never been afraid to go There in my stories. Even when There has been a pretty dark place, usually lonely with fewer and fewer readers willing to follow the story There. But what can I do? The story needed to go There. The story had to go There so There I let it go. Because to do anything else would have crippled the story. Of course, it would have been a lot more docile; and certainly would have looked a lot prettier if I could dress the story myself and not let it wear the crazy clothes/plots/characters that it seemed to prefer. But in the end, it would have been a spineless story written by a spineless writer.

I remember the 5oo-word AU plot of ‘Cradle to Grave’ that had Obi-Wan being haunted by Asajj Ventress whom he had murdered because she was carrying his child.

Colours can be brilliant in the Dark.

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

30 comments or Leave a comment
r0ck3tsci3ntist From: r0ck3tsci3ntist Date: July 30th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Go There, sweetie. You have to write for yourself or what's the point? I know it sucks to lose readers but at the same time, it's not like they are paying to read your work so you don't have to placate anyone. Do what you want to do and explore what you want to explore.

Wow, I suck. I need to get back into those stories because I just loved them and they are SO good. I've just been working so hard on learning this art program, almost everything else has fallen to the side. I read very little fic at all these days. :(
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 31st, 2008 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, hon! But actually I kind of don't mind anymore about the readers (right this moment anyway. :P). It's not really what inspired this entry. It was more of me reading a Fanfic Trope sort of meta and the writer talking about how some people confuse angst with tragedy and angst is a lot of melodrama with no consequences and I was like: well, I don't know if I'm good at tragedy but I do know my dark stories are dark because of the dark deeds -> dark consequences aspect.

I just loved them and they are SO good.

*hugs* Just you saying that is enough for me even if you never get around to continuing them. Honestly? I'm more interested in you continuing Doppelġanger. Now, that is an awesome dark story that has been sadly abandoned by its author. Don't you have an evil twin somewhere to prod you with a tazer until you write?
emavalexis From: emavalexis Date: July 30th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, there are definitely A/P fans out there who seem to have ZERO interest in the darker (read: sadly plausible) characteristics of their relationship, particularly the likely struggle they would have had to 'keep it together' had Padmé lived and things turned out differently. I love exploring those ideas, personally, so thanks for inadvertently reminding me that I need to go catch up on your older stuff, stuff I haven't yet read. :)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 31st, 2008 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
The funny thing about "Thwarted Fate" is that from an objective point of view is a lot happier story than what canon gives us. A lot of fans over look the fact that the Prequels is essentially a tragedy - a good man becomes evil; a good woman dies of a broken heart; and their children become orphans figuratively and literally. "Thwarted Fate" was about Padme doing the right thing by Anakin. But people were somewhat dissatisfied that we traded off the short-term honeymoon bliss for the long-term "better for everyone in the universe" joy.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that even the fluffy stories aren't truly fluffy. They are - at least the canon ones - short moments of happiness set in the backdrop of a great tragedy. Which is why I prefer those happy A/P stories with a touch of dark humour or foreshadowing. It strikes a balance. Completely dissociating the moments of fluff from the tragedy actually make the fluffy stories a little bit creepy - at least to me.
From: awehla Date: July 30th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wish more people wrote darker fics instead of the many fluff pieces people seem to like.

moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 31st, 2008 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually like both although, yes, I think that after a while, all the fluff starts looking the same. I guess goodness, like truth, doens't have a lot of variations.

But I have more of a problem with stories that start out "pretending" to be dark. Only half-way through, the writer cops out. The darkness has no real consequences. A magic hand was waved and all the fall-out went away. I sometimes wish I could leave a review on those stories and ask the writers to stick to fluff.
fialleril From: fialleril Date: July 30th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Off topic first reaction: What gets me is that readers seem to prefer scenarios in which Vader rapes Padmé and then they get together via Stockholm Syndrome happily over stories where Padmé breaks Anakin's heart "for his own good." (And, you know, people don't get raped and/or senselessly murdered.)


I...should probably stop now before I go off course beyond all return...

So, on topic response: One of the reasons I like your stories is that you do go There, and you do so, for the most part, responsibly. You don't just go There for the sake of going There and then leave it. You deal honestly with what results from going There, and you don't try to force it to be pretty or to be resolved quickly. That takes a lot of work as well as guts.

And honestly, it takes some effort to read things like that, too. I suspect that's why readers start to drop off. For the most part, people don't seem to be really interested in character development or world-building. They just want to get right to the sexing.

So yeah. Colors can be brilliant in the Dark. They can also be really creepy. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, either. ;)
emavalexis From: emavalexis Date: July 31st, 2008 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)

(And yeah, I'm guilty of shallowly enjoying the 'sexing' [in the proper context], but I also love the 'non-sexing' storylines/fics just as much. The best fics can combine the two into a believable whole, in my opinion. If that makes any kind of sense.)
fialleril From: fialleril Date: July 31st, 2008 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, there's nothing wrong with a little shallow enjoyment. :D Am totally guilty of that myself at times. But stories that don't skip straight to the sexing definitely take more effort, both to write and to read.

Fics with actual plot and sexings are always to be commended, of course. Well, in the proper context, as you say.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 31st, 2008 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Slight off-topic reaction to your off-topic reaction: I once read an AU about a jewel thief Anakin who meets Padme at some club grand social event, juices her up with alcohol and the Imperius curse Force suggestions, gets her into bed, takes the piece of rock he was aiming for all along, and goes on his merry way.

My review: Cool, but rather sad. I'd love to read a sequel where the rapist gets his just desserts.

Author: What are you smoking? This isn't a rape story! It's a seduction story! I've volunteered in rape crisis centres. I know the difference!

Me Er... Where was the consent? (Also, what's the difference, really, outside the boddice rippers, but let's not go there?)

Author: She's attracted to him! She's Padme! Of course, she consented!

Me: Mind control? Drugs? Lack of visible evidence of free will?

Author: Have I told you I volunteered in a rape crisis centre? What do you know, you ignorant little rape-finder?

So yeah, apparently in this day and age, some people still think either a, rape is romantic (Let's not split hairs about seduction because when I say I go to dark places, I don't mean black holes) or b, (maybe this is wishful thinking on my part) have no idea what rape really is.

One of the reasons I like your stories is that you do go There, and you do so, for the most part, responsibly. You don't just go There for the sake of going There and then leave it. You deal honestly with what results from going There, and you don't try to force it to be pretty or to be resolved quickly. That takes a lot of work as well as guts.

I try. It's something I've done without even thinking about it. I just let the story keep going where it wants to go. Yeah, it would be easier to control the stories: they'd definitely be simpler to write. But in the end, I'll never be the kind of writer that forces a story to work a certain way. Hence my problems with a lot of the work out there: *cough* Harry Potter *cough* The Southern Raiders *cough*. And also my fears that I may never make it in the professional world.

I don't care (too much) about readers not being able to go There. I do care that my story does remain true to itself and that my characters never go through Hell without getting burnt. I think colours are brilliant and creepy in the dark. I think the two go hand in hand. In fact, rambling a little, I dare say that the whole point of night is to make the day just that more beautiful. The whole point of death is to make life even more precious. And neither side can exist or should exist without the other. Because if there ever comes a time when the sun doesn't set, it's the light that becomes the thing to be feared.

Edited at 2008-07-31 07:32 am (UTC)
fialleril From: fialleril Date: July 31st, 2008 11:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I read that fic too. It was...disturbing, to say the least. And also woefully OOC. But that's another issue.

She's Padme! Of course, she consented!

I think that sums up, in two sentences, the origin of all Vader/Padmé rape fic ever, and also the reason why most fans don't object to it. I suspect it could be extrapolated to cover any pairing in any fandom.

Basically, as long as the two characters are seen as OTP, it couldn't possibly have been rape. Because we all know they're destined for each other.

Seriously, I actually read a fic once where Vader raped Padmé several times, and she kept fighting him every time, and someone actually commented, "Why doesn't she just give in? Doesn't she know they're destined for each other?"

I think a part of me died when I read that.

On a much happier note, I think fanfic and fandom (and probably published/pro-fic as well) would be a much better place in general if all authors took your attitude towards their stories. ;)

And, um, moar Kaleidoscope plz? *puppy eyes*
frostbit_sky From: frostbit_sky Date: July 31st, 2008 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I have been meaning to catch up on your fics for so long and I apologize. I need to set aside a night to just do a marathon.

I think it's important to write for yourself and that when you do go There, you write realistic outcomes. I much rather read those than the silly fluff that floods the fandom.

‘Cradle to Grave’ sounds really interesting. Where can I find it?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 31st, 2008 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks dear but it's not really a complaint about readers though it certainly seems to have given a lot of people that impression.

I wrote this after reading a rant about the fanfic trope of dark actions/events not having consequences in most stories. The best example I can give would be Leia being tortured in ANH without us ever seeing a fallout from that. Instead people go through horrendous things then bounce right back like an india rubber ball - they may be scarred physically (rarely ever happens with women), but their mental, social and spiritual cores remain the same good, pure, well-intended wholes they were before.

After reading that I was just happy that I've never flinched from my characters having dark things done to them and as a result, becoming dark things or at least struggling against becoming dark things. Like the way Mortal Instruments! Padme is this dark seductress of Anakin because she's Palpatine's mortal instrument; or the way Anakin in Kaleidoscope is totally broken because of his screwed-up life growing as a Sith but he kills and maims and enjoys it and he (some versions of him) wants to be Sith Lord and everything that entails. And the fact that the Jedi are supposed to be the good guys but they work the fine line between what they need to do to survive and what the Sith are.

Sorry this became a tl/dr but I just wanted to make it clear that the entry wasn't really inspired by a "woe! I have no readers" mindset but more of a "Wow, I just realized that all this while, I've been doing this one thing right without even knowing it!" :P

vanimy From: vanimy Date: July 31st, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

There has been some great discussion here.

I think you nailed it on the head as usual, dearie. I believe your fics have always been original because of the fact you go There, because you don't shy away from this. And as a result it gives us something that was never explored before.

I also get what you're saying 'cos that's what I'm kinda experiencing with 'Shattered Glass' too. Some people kept expecting me to make Anakin suddenly go back from the dark side and be all happy and fluffy because Padmé had brought him back. But I just can't do that! Because Anakin did kill all those people and he can't go back to the man he once was. If you make him turn away from the dark side, there are only two real possible outcomes: either death or deep, deep, deep trauma. And turning away from the dark side isn't easy, it can only be a long and difficult process (heck, in canon Vader took 25 years and had to watch Luke get zapped right in front of him to actually react......) and have big consequences. I just hate those stories that have Obi-Wan/Padmé/whomever just have a nice talk with Anakin on Mustafar and poof, he's all nice again and everyone forgives him even though he murdered his comrades.

As if.

Re: rape and disturbing reactions from people. I stumbled on a similar fic as those that were discussed, one dealing with Anakin literally forcing himself on Padmé, making Force suggestions and constantly harrassing her for her to give in and marry him. OMG that's creepy. And that's OOC (Anakin hasn't turned to the dark side in AOTC....) and that's just not what Anakin and Padmé were ever about.

That's also why I didn't go there in my story. At one point, Padmé tries to do everything to save Bail and more or less offers herself to Dark!Anakin and some readers were wondering why I hadn't written Anakin just agreeing and having sex with her even as I wrote Padmé being disgusted by that new Anakin. In the context of the story, Anakin COULD have done it, but if he had, there was no way the story would've taken the same direction afterwards. This was the point of no return and if Anakin had chosen that route at that moment I wouldn't have been able to write them slowly making their way to one another afterwards. It would've been a different and much darker fic...

Same with Padmé. Some complain Padmé is in a dark place in my fic right now, but she just has to be... She's living with Anakin, she's accepting him, she's using that power. How could she not change? Padmé's no saint and everyone is capable of doing evil things. Even Padmé.

Oops, just rambled about my fic on your journal. :P

To come back to the topic, I think you're right not to care about some readers not following you there. I think writers should always follow where the characters are taking them, not what the crowd's reaction is going to be. *cough*JKR*cough*
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 1st, 2008 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, just rambled about my fic on your journal. :P

I love talking about Shattered Glass. It’s one of my favorite stories precisely because of the way you rise above the easy clichés of Vader redemption. (It’s also another reason why I love, love Down the Pathway. Another writer would have made Palo a monster or killed him off or any million other things that would have created a path and justified Padmé turning. But you don’t do any of these things. You let Padmé deal with all the heartache and guilt and wrongness of finding your soul-mate after you’ve already married a perfectly nice man that you genuinely like. Kudos to you.)

I love Shattered Glass because even the motivations and integrity of the good guys are far from clear. Obi-Wan and Yoda want to take the Skywalker twins, not to protect them from their parents, but to train them to use against their parents. Padmé is trying to be the good guy, but even Anakin can see that she’s slipping. The Clone Wars are over but a battle is still going on with the new Emperor trying to hold on to his power and the Jedi trying to re-establish the Old Order (the one that got them in this position in the first place, mind) and as the saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”. Or, the way I think it is meant to be understand, “No one fighting a war can claim to have any kind of moral uprightness.”

Same with Padmé. Some complain Padmé is in a dark place in my fic right now, but she just has to be... She's living with Anakin, she's accepting him, she's using that power. How could she not change? Padmé's no saint and everyone is capable of doing evil things. Even Padmé.

Gosh, that always makes me so mad. I remember when a male friend of mine asked/told me that I had a problem because I was always writing Dark Female Characters like Padmé and Elizabeth Swann. And I was like WTF? Heroines can be as dark as heroes when the situation calls for it. It’s a form of passive male chauvinism that thinks that female characters should be exempted from that darkness: That while the hero should be transformed by the story, a female character must remain pure and untainted regardless of what life throws her way.

To come back to the topic, I think you're right not to care about some readers not following you there. I think writers should always follow where the characters are taking them, not what the crowd's reaction is going to be. *cough*JKR*cough*

Word. So much word. To state the most obvious of all her many transgressions, it would have been nice for her to actually have the guts to have the Dumbledore/Grindelwald love story in the books, instead of say, being pushed to declaring it in a post-publication interview.

Edited at 2008-08-01 08:46 am (UTC)
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