pentapus: (Default)
pentapus ([personal profile] pentapus) wrote2010-11-21 01:07 am

Yuletide Letter

Dear Yuletide Author,

Hi, hi! I am so excited I keep editing minute details of this letter because it's the only way I can cope with waiting for assignments. XD

First off, thank you for signing up to write some of my favorite wee fandoms. Every fandom I requested this year is a fandom in which any story, of any shape or size will make me happy. So go where inspiration takes you! (ETA: I'm sorry, I did edit this just recently because I realized I hadn't said this clearly anywhere.)

I threw a number of prompts at you because I know for me, “Write anything!” is the most difficult thing to write. I hope I gave you something you could get a grip on, or at least some clues about my favorites kinds of stories.

So, me. Here are some likes and dislikes, but these are more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules [/end Pirates of the Caribbean shout out].

I like plot that's driven by solid character portrayals. I like drama, mortal peril, and characters caring deeply about each other -- but a little can go a long way. I like competence and common sense, but I also like seeing what can make a rational, competent character lose it a little bit, good or bad.

I like characters who have support networks and who go to them for help if they need it or for fun. Hell, I like supporting characters in general -- by which I mean, when the fic itself has supporting characters who appear and interact with the focus characters, share their POVs on the focus characters with us, show us how those focus characters fit into the wider world, etc.

I like stories that think about the characters in a realistic way. For example, Shannon Cassul -- while a badass on the level of anything the military could throw at him -- is actually from a very small town. He’s a bit of a luddite when it comes to picking up on the advanced technology as well as the political machinations of the powerful people he’s caught up in. Of course, he doesn’t talk that much, so who would notice? :)

On the other hand, I deeply, deeply love fantasty and sci-fi world building, so ‘realistic’ doesn’t apply to every part of the story! I am a sucker for a well-done cliché -- or a cliché turned on its head.

I dislike destiny/predestination (except when thwarted), crippling embarrassment, yentas, schmoop, crackfic, and the slash trope where female characters behave like slash fangirls. The end.

(Last year, when I was binge-reading everyone else’s yuletide letters, I realized that I wanted to read everyone’s prompts and their comments, not just their comments on their prompts… so I included my prompts in mine this year.)


[ONE] Recast a classic story arc with Temeraire-style dragons, any time period or setting. (Yep, it could be entirely OC.) To name a few:
[a] Clichéd romance - captainless dragon and dragonless captain learn to love again;
[b] Unexpected worth – mature dragon from the breeding grounds abruptly chooses a captain.
[c] Adventure - feral befriends a ‘shipwrecked’ dragon crew member.
[d] Classic fairy tale.

[TWO] Elizabeth Bennett, Longwing captain.

[THREE] Take one of the dragon characters and hop forwards or backwards in time by a human generation. e.g. Izkierka is an unrestrained, spoiled brat, but I think I’d love to read about her in 50 or 100 years, or Emily Roland, Excidium's captain.

[FOUR] From the books:
a) Celeritas chooses a new captain unexpectedly.
b) Jane/Wellington. (note: I got a fic in response to this prompt last year. It used made up historical texts, which was awesome.)
c) Granby in mortal peril – one of the many canon instances or something new.
d) AU – Temeraire, Chinese (human) prince. Laurence, British dragon who’s lost his captain.

[FIVE] Whatever you like. I am a sucker for world-building, plot, and fully-formed characters, even in small doses. If you want to come up with a plot arc and then write me 1000 words of the second to last scene or 1000 words of the first, I will be right there with you.

Comments: Granby is my soft-spot character. Jane is brilliant but doesn’t have the bit of vulnerability that draws me into fic (if, on the other hand, you want to write a story that reveals why we should identify with Jane, well, that would be delicious). Tharkay used to seem too over the top to me, but after Tongues of Serpents, his cool competence and planning are both awesome and hilarious. I have reread the opening bar fight scene so many times. I'm also getting really interested in what Emily Roland is up to. (Note: I am not a big slash fan is this universe, unless you can really sell it. Personally, I enjoy dedicated platonic love and loyalty with an intellectual attraction as much as romantic love with a physical attraction. I also like the canon het pairings a lot.)

Izkierka currently drives me a little nuts, but I'd like to see her done well. Or maybe: The Year, Decade, or Century Izkierka Learned Professionalism. I really like Celeritas. Sometimes the dragons feel a little dumbed down and simplified, like toddlers, and then I remember most of the dragons we see are toddlers in life experience. I like me some old ass world-wise and weary dragons. Also, when I read Victory of Eagles I was unreasonably sad that we didn’t spend more time in the breeding grounds learning how their communications network worked.

Finally, I implied up in the prompts that you have a pretty free hand with original characters in this fandom? You do. Mix and match main, minor, and new characters -- historical figures, if you like! Here's this giant, well populated universe with a great premise. Go crazy. That is all.

(Um. But. Like. I'm not expecting an epic. If you end up with one scene on dragonback in 15th century Scandinavia and a conversation about shoes, I'm not disappointed.)

(Of the existing Tortall books, I’ve read the Alanna and the Daine books – and a few Raoul bits from Keladry’s series.)

[ONE] The potential mismatch between George, a canonically ear-collecting, lethal underworld boss and Alanna, hero knight with a code of ethics that could stop a charging boar. Could be:
[A] Lower city perspective during the early books: George as a Rogue who collects the ears of those who cross him while courting a fine, upstanding lad from Trebond. Or --
[B] AU, Alanna/George love story, they meet as adults. (note: I received one version of this AU, in which Alanna is a guard at the Temple of the Great Mother Goddess, for yuletide last year. It was pretty great.)

[TWO] A classic “rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated” story. With anybody.

[THREE] How Numair Salmalin, juggler extraordinaire, comes to Corus.

[FOUR] Anything set between the Lioness and Wild Magic quartets.

[FIVE] Some out-of-left-field AU. e.g. Roger gains the throne; Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; a Space Opera.

[SIX] Unexpected yet interesting pairings – Jonathan/Thom, Alanna/Numair, Raoul/anybody, etc, etc.

[SEVEN] Characters from earlier books in stories set during the later series. (GEORGE! <3)

[Eight] Anything else you think of.

I am fond of Alanna as a dangerous, stubborn, thinky person.
I am fond of Jonathan for being exceptionally talented as a cool and savvy political operator rather than a classic hero king and who, as far as I can tell from descriptions of his adult self, considers an excellent wardrobe and heroic good looks to be useful PR tools (he does not come onscreen without Tamora Pierce mentioning the way his crisp new Armani tunic matches his eyes, ok).
I am fond of George for being so charismatic that I forget, except on rereading, that he’s actually a scary and murderous King of Thieves.
I am fond of Numair for his vanity and awkwardness and that despite the former, his made-up fancy sorcerer name came into existence as a sleight of hand juggler on the run from the cops (read, Carthak).
I am fond of Daine for, in retrospect, being so outrageously, out-of-everyone-else’s-league power-wise in the scheme of the Tortall universe. This woman is effectively one of the pantheon of gods, or will be someday, even if she doesn’t seem to realize it. There is simply no way she’s going to die a mortal death. (I could take Daine’s power as a deus ex machina or a Mary Sue, but instead I choose to find it a little farcical and therefore, appealing.)

(Ok, well, first off – Spelling of character names is flexible here. :D)

[ONE] A story with Shannon and any one of the people he protects, perhaps with the roles reversed. Pacifica? Zefiris? Or: Shannon Casull, massive badass.

[TWO] The ladies! Especially something interesting and plotty with Senes or Zefiris. Senes seizes the day post-series; Senes & Scarlet pre-series (bonus: Obstinate Arrow cameos) , Zefiris has 5000 years to prepare for war, Zefiris post-series.

[THREE] I think Shannon and Senes the Beast Princess would make terrifying children together. Senes is devastatingly sharp, ambitious, and fierce but also a bit unsubtle socially. Shannon has the personality of a lethargic old man and the reflexes of a viper. I think there could be sparks!

[FOUR] Another not-immediately-obvious pairing. Or an obvious one (Raquel/Berkins?) or a physically improbable one (Shannon/Zefiris? Shannon/Shizu?).

[FIVE] A straight-up romance story between Chris and Forsyth, I would fall for that like a sack of bricks off the Eiffel tower.

Re-watching this show, I don’t think a scene has gone by that hasn’t made me think, “Oh, why didn’t I ask for a story about THAT?” How did I forget Baroness Bairach? Why didn’t I put Shannon + Zefiris’ warrior codependent love into one of my prompts? And of course, there’s the tantalizing glimpse of ‘life after the war’ given by the series’ final scene. :)

In short, when I say you could come up with almost anything here, I’m not kidding. On another level, if you want to know what I like in a story – this anime is pretty close to the platonic form.

A note about my prompts for Senes and Zefiris:

For Senes, I don’t think she’s the character people are drawn to first when watching this anime. But I always come back to the shot of her as a child, roughed up and furious and hiding in the garden while Eirotte’s voice-over tells us how much smarter, faster, sharper Senes is than her brothers and how that scared them. I hear that and I think, “This lady is a badass.” Eirotte also tells us that in that moment she felt the overwhelming urge to protect this person, despite Senes’ obvious strength. That scene captures why I’ve become so fond of Senes. She is a badass, but she also has enough vulnerability to make her feel like a real character and, more importantly, like a character I want to read fic about.

With Zefiris, it’d be interesting to see something that considers what she’s been doing in the 5000 years since humanity lost the war. Planning? Watching? The show mentions that she was performing self-upgrades, that she’s only just now getting back up to fighting strength, as well telling us there were instabilities in the original dragoon programming. Did she take steps to prepare for the day after her objective was accomplished? What does she know about the world’s magic system? (If you read this and think ‘Forget the characters, I could write an entire story about how magic fits into the sci fi aspect of the show and what happens to it afterwards’, go for it! I am with you all the way.)

Basically, Shannon may be (close to) the center of Zefiris’ world – but she’s a 5000 year old A.I. with super powers who’s spent millenia preparing for this objective. I’d like to think she took some kind of active role in that time, even if she thinks of herself as passive. On another note, it’s been 5000 years since she was programmed to think of her pilot as the center of her world. How has that shifted?


Prompts: A Tamina/Dastan story: I would be more than delighted with the obvious answer -- a story the continues where the movie left off, after Tamina meets Dastan for the first time, again. Other plots are okay too. I usually prefer "getting together" stories over "established relationship" stories. I like character-driven plots, pragmatism, emotional realism, dialogue, peril, and characters acting like themselves. I love romantic stories that include the supporting cast, i.e. where the focus characters have a world outside each other. I'm not a fan of sappy stories or "crack".

Comments: To my surprise, I enjoyed this movie immensely. On one level, Tamina and Dastan were ridiculously attractive (her freckles! be still my heart), if not particularly Persian. On another, Dastan was smart; the relationships with his brothers were interesting; he stayed friends with Bis after his adoption; he acted laid back but clearly cared about his family’s opinions, wasn’t smug, could make mistakes, was smoking – I could go on. Tamina clearly had real power and responsibilities and affected the plot with her actions. She came off a bit prissy and arrogant in addition to intelligent and kind and steely, but she made up for it by not standing on her dignity when it counted and by having good chemistry with Dastan. When the two of them bickered, they both were able to score points off each other. I liked that.

As for the rest of the characters, Dastan’s brothers were distinct, likable characters and felt like real people (or as much as you get in epic fantasy). I liked that I didn’t want Dastan to end up king because his brother Tus seemed like such a good one. I also liked that the movie didn’t take itself seriously. Most importantly, the whole scene where he convinces Tus that the dagger works: *relieved gasp* “Oh, you pressed it.” I died laughing.

Yeah, I have nothing to say about the story. Write what you like! Continuation, partial AU, complete AU? Tamina talks to Garsiv about Dastan? Dastan talks to Tus about the city and the wedding while trying not to seem like he’s already in love with the princess? Tamina wonders what’s up with this (probably horrible) Persian Prince’s odd behavior? Etc, etc, or none of the above.

That’s all for my requests. I hope you found something in there that helps you. If not, no worries. You are writing a story in a wee, tiny fandom of my heart. I already love it. Thank you!

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