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24 January 2014 @ 09:38 am
Dear Author Letter: Rare Ship-Swap  
If you're not my author, this probably doesn't interest you. :) But do go sign up for shipswap -- sign-ups just opened today!


Dear Ship Exchange Author,

I’m writing you a letter so you know some stuff about me, because that typically helps when you’re making something for someone. I’m going to go into way too much detail about everything and nothing, because when I’m writing stuff for people it makes me happy when they do that because then I can feel sure I’m writing exactly the right thing. But you don’t have to feel like that! Because I will totally like whatever you write. So don’t feel like you have to read all of this. Or any of it, really. Well, maybe the bit about what really freaks me out. That would probably be a good thing to read. But the rest of it is totally skippable! Or skimmable. Or read-and-then-ignore-able. Whatever works best for you. You know how you write best!

Anyway. So here’s how this thing’s going to work. There’s going to be a section first about Things That Freak Me Out, and then a section about Things I Like. Then for each fandom I’ll have a General Thoughts About X section, and then Specific Thoughts about each pairing. So you can skip the fandoms you don’t know/don’t want to write for, and go straight to the ones you do. None of this stuff is even a little bit mandatory (except for the Things That Freak Me Out; I’d really appreciate it if you went with that). Do what you think works best, don’t worry about my blather about what I like or don’t. But I’m going to go ahead and blather anyway, because some people like to know. If that’s you, read on!

Section 1: Things That Freak Me Out.

Big things first: I don’t read stories where small children get badly hurt. If your story has someone under, let’s say, fourteen, getting severely hurt/otherwise abused, I will just stop reading it. So even if it turns out they’re OK/it’s just a dream/whatever, I won’t know, because I won’t be reading it. Sorry to be so forceful, I just honestly can’t deal with reading that.

I will read things with most dark themes, but please warn for self-harm, suicidal ideation, or point-of-view of a severely depressed character. I don’t mind reading it (especially if it gets better) but I do need to know about it beforehand. This is another biggie.

No stalkers or stalking behavior, please, even if the narrative clearly calls it out as inappropriate. Dysfunctional relationships are cool, but I prefer mutually dysfunctional -- more Bonnie & Clyde than Edward & Bella, if you catch my drift.

More minor things that nevertheless make me cringe: damage to eyes, graphic descriptions of hypodermic needles or IV’s (I will cry if one more character yanks out their IV).

That said, I’m not bothered by a lot of things: graphic violence, dark themes, explorations of abuse . . . In general, if it’s not on the above list, and especially if it’s being used For The Sake Of Art rather than gratuitously, go for it! I’m an omnivore.

As far as ratings go, I mostly prefer PG/PG-13, but I certainly don’t mind fluffyhappy G fics or gory R fics. I don’t prefer explicit sex, but fade-to-black and kissing/cuddling/etc. are totally cool.

Section 2: Things I Like.

I like stories that make me laugh. I like stories that make me cry. I especially like stories that make me cry and then make me laugh. Laughing and crying at the same time gets you bonus points.

I like happy endings. I like cool people doing cool things. I like smart people doing smart things.

I like good friends who are there for each other when the going gets tough. I like people crying on other people’s shoulders. I like friends who are totally platonic and cool with that, and I like friends who decide they should get married because it would be like a totally cool ultra-mega-sleepover. I like friends showing that they completely, absolutely trust each other, no matter what.

I like people doing stuff that makes them happy: wearing pretty clothes, eating tasty food, doing awesome things, going cool places, doing all that stuff with other people who make them happy.

I like plot. I like character development. I like people who’ve always known they’re right for each other and just have to do the impossible to get together, I like people who do awesome stuff together for years and then suddenly realize in the middle of the night that they are both totally awesome and so should get together, I like people who aren’t exactly right for each other and maybe the person who’s perfect for each of them is dead or uninterested or inaccessible but they decide that even though they’re not perfect for each other they can get together and be happy and really cool anyway.

I like trolley problems. I like moral dilemmas. I like people who do what’s right at any cost, I like people who calculate out the right thing to do and then go ahead and sacrifice everything for the person they love anyway, I like people who look at the dilemma and say “to heck with that” and save everyone because they’re awesome that way.

I like people who are happy with who they are. I like people who aren’t happy with who they are, so they go out and make themselves better.

I like superheroes. I like people who do the right thing no matter what. I like throwing those people into a totally messed-up world until they aren’t sure what’s the right thing anymore. I like people who are totally messed-up and probably evil, and I like it when they meet someone who shows them what’s right and what’s wrong.

I like families and adopted families. I like brother-sister and mentor-student relationships. I like it when they turn romantic, and I like it when they don’t (and are confused and horrified at the suggestion that they might).

I like unrequited love. I like people who decide to be Just Friends and actually do it.

I like stories that change one thing or a few things from canon and see how things might have turned out differently. I like hearing about what happened before, or after, or in the gaps. I like fix-fics, and I like exploring things the author neglected.

I like people. I like it when stories like people, too, and even the worst people do things for a reason. I like it when people who’ve done terrible things get a chance at redemption. I like it when they really have to earn it.

I like geeky trivia. I like thinking about aspects of the universe that no one has ever thought about before. I like the linguistics of made-up languages and the obscure details of made-up religions.

I like you, Dear Author, and I’m going to like whatever you write for me. Even if it doesn’t have any of these things in it.

Section 3: Fandoms and Ships

Sapphire & Steel

General Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite fandoms, and it’s pretty darn obscure, so chances are you don’t know it. If you do know it, however, I will love you forever for writing in it. I love Sapphire, and Joanna Lumley is totally cool. One of the best things about the show is how inhuman they make the characters, and how they explain literally nothing. Prime fanfic material!

Ships:

Sapphire/Steel: The obvious one. I’d love some explanation of their relationship -- both professional and romantic. Why are they always assigned together? Do they ever work with other people? How did they get their telepathic bond? What’s up with that bit where they’re discussing a case telepathically, and then they just randomly start kissing? Steel having unrequited (or thinks-it’s-unrequited, depending on if you’re going for a happy ending) longing would make for a great story. So would the two of them basically having been together for all of eternity and that’s why they’re so casual about it. Really you can’t go wrong with this one.

Sapphire/Silver: Right up there in the obvious department. I would also love this mixed in with some jealousy from Steel (because face it, he’s obviously in love with Sapphire). Maybe something about how, over the centuries, Steel gets to a point where he can work with Sapphire (but still wants to strangle Silver)? Or I’d totally be up for them working out some kind of complex three-way relationship; I’d love to see the development of that, and how they work out the various pitfalls, and just generally managing the difficulties of three people working together.

Doctor Who

General thoughts:

Okay, I love Doctor Who. Who doesn’t? /weakpun I’m only familiar with the new series, though, so any references before that will be lost on me. (Sorry.) I also haven’t seen the Christmas special/Matt Smith’s last episode, and would appreciate lack of spoilers for that. I have seen the 50th anniversary, so go to town with that. I love the Tardis, so throwing in the Doctor’s affection for her would be welcome anywhere. I also thought that they should totally have cast a female Doctor, so if you wanted to write future-fic, that would be more than welcome (or just AU). If you’re wondering, my casting choice would have been Joanna Lumley, because she’s badass. Eleven is my favorite doctor, followed closely by Nine; I’m not as much of a Ten fan, though I still love him. Companion ranking, from favorite to least favorite: River Song (doesn’t really count, but whatever), Martha, Amy, Rose, Donna. Exploration of Time Lord/other alien cultures would also make me happy!

Ships:

Madame Vastra/Strax: I can’t believe I’ve never seen this one, because it seems so obviously awesome. I really like Strax, and he’s so obviously trying to impress the imposing Madame Vastra. Also, cultural differences ahoy! I’d love to see Strax just trying to redeem himself, I suppose, and show Madame Vastra that he’s worth treating as an equal; and getting utterly discouraged and stopping giving his ridiculous suggestions, and Madame Vastra notices and asks what’s wrong, and eventually she figures it’s out and is just like “oh, why didn’t you say so?” Or really any way you can think of to make this work would be awesome.

Jack Harkness/Martha Jones: I haven’t seen that much of Torchwood, but I’m familiar with the basic concept and not bothered by spoilers. So I’d love to see some fic about cool people being cool despite being left on Earth by the Doctor! And doing cool things, and saving the world, and the Doctor shows up and is all “I heard the world needed saving,” and they’re all “taken care of, thanks for checking.” And of course at some point they realize that they really really like each other. I think these two make such a great pair because they’re both very pragmatic people who’ve seen a lot of life, so they wouldn’t be all “oh, true love!” But I can totally see both of them saying to each other, “You know, I think I liked the Doctor because he reminded me of you.”

Ninth Doctor/River Song: Yes, yes, I know he didn’t know River yet. But what if he had? I mean, why not? She’s all over the timeline. Can you imagine how that would have worked with Rose? If Rose finds out he’s married? Incidentally, I’d love to see some exploration of how Time-Lord marriage works, since you’re bound to end up with situations like the Doctor and River where they’re all out of sync. How can one of them be married and the other not? Are they just big on open marriages? Or do their marriages have cool retroactive temporal properties, so you’ve actually always been married? (Hey, maybe Time Lord marriages are fixed points in time!) I’d also love to just see how Nine would deal with River. He’s still dealing with all that guilt -- would she help? Or would he feel bad about the fact that clearly he’s happy with her in the future?

The Doctor/A Dalek: For sheer unadulterated awesome. You could go with the Dalek being Clara, I suppose, but wouldn’t that be boring? What if he just falls in love with a Dalek? Or worse, a Dalek falls in love with him? He can’t just go on trying to kill a Dalek that’s just following him around because it’s in love with him! (Possible background pairing of awesome: Jack Harkness/Weeping Angel. No matter how many times she sends him back in time, he always comes back to her.)

Jack Harkness/River Song: Both in love with the Doctor, but making do with each other. Maybe they make their own happiness that doesn’t have to be like fairy tales; maybe the Doctor takes turns spiriting them off for adventures, and they deal with the jealousy of each other; maybe the Doctor shows up and everyone goes off to the Tardis and there’s happy OT3 forever after. But the jealousy would make me happiest, I think, because there’s so much. River’s his wife; Jack gets to live forever with him. They’ve both saved his life. Can’t you just see them arguing about who he likes better, tallying up who he’s kissed more times? Come on.


The Hobbit

General Thoughts:

I’m normally a bookverse kind of person, but with the movie just out, I’d like some movieverse fic. But if that’s not your thing, or you haven’t seen the movie (what rock are you living under?) then bookverse is cool too. (Might have trouble with the Tauriel ships…) There’s also lots of annoying things about the movie, though, and I’d love fixfics for just about any of them. Thranduil’s bizarre racism, for instance. Obviously what should have followed on from “My son can’t marry a lowly captain of the guard…” should have been “so congratulations on your promotion, General!” Alternatively, Legolas and Tauriel are just really close totally Platonic friends who like fighting together, and Thranduil is totally misinterpreting things. Also, if you’re writing Radagast, obviously movie-version is fine, but I’ve always pictured a more solemn Radagast, so I’d love to see a portrayal of that. (Like Medwyn from the Chronicles of Prydain, if you’re familiar with those.) But really, I’m a total Tolkien fangirl, so you pretty much can’t go wrong with these.

Ships:

Bard/Tauriel: This is probably my favorite ship for the Hobbit, at the moment. (Not that I don’t like the other ones! But this has just seized my fancy and run off with it.) Come on: Bard’s seen a lot of life, he needs someone experienced to help him rebuild from his dead wife; someone who understands that being a second love is something special too. Someone hundreds and years old and from a different, ancient culture. Yep, here comes Tauriel. Also happiness: Tauriel seeing Bard’s daughters hiding under the table and explaining that in Elven cultures, women can be warriors! Maybe Tauriel knows right away that Bard is right for her (elves, y’know) and she has to convince Bard, and what eventually convinces him is how much his daughters look up to her. And then they all move back to Mirkwood and Tauriel keeps on doing awesome fighting stuff. Actually, I’m cool with pretty much anything as long as Tauriel keeps on doing awesome fighting stuff.

Gandalf/Arien: Because they’re both Maias of fire. (Well, OK, Gandalf’s fire stuff mostly comes from his ring, but whatever.) What does a romance look like when one of you lives in the sky, and you’ve both been around since before time began? Maybe they can only meet at rare times (winter solstice?) and so they’re in history’s slowest-burn romance? How does she feel about the events of the Hobbit, or the Lord of the Rings? When he sails over the sea, is he going to meet up with her in Valinor?

Blue Wizard/Radagast: With a female Blue Wizard, please, because if Tolkien won’t write any female characters, darn it, we’ll write our own. What’s she been doing all this time, off in the East? Meeting new cultures? Learning cool powers? Gathering information about the Necromancer? Plotting how to overthrow him? Maybe some of the cool female characters who are around (and a few guys) will have to go off on a quest to destroy that ring of Bilbo’s? Oh dear, are we heading off into AU territory? (No need to do so! Just tell me what she’s been doing, and why she’s cool.)

Firefly

General thoughts:

I love Firefly in general, so I’d mostly just like to see more of these characters. That said, there were some problematic things about it, so I’d love to see your take on fixing those things. I’ve got some ideas about how I would do them, but I’d equally like to see how you would! After all, I already know what I would do. For one, it bothers me how few Asians there are in Firefly. Fix it, please. (Personal headcanon: Kaylee, Wash and River are Asian. Simon isn’t -- he’s adopted, and this is totally not a problem for anyone, and doesn’t reduce how committed he is to River.) Also, the whole Companion thing has issues. What does Inara do with the rest of her time? What’s so special about Companions that people pay that much? (Personal headcanon: Companions are the future equivalent of academics, and have serious educations. Anyone, male or female, who wants to go into academia, becomes a Companion. Inara spends her free time publishing papers. Alternative personal headcanon: They don’t mostly have sex -- it’s mostly about supplying therapeutic touch to people who don’t get enough physical contact in day-to-day life, because in the future they’ve recognized how psychologically important touch is.) I really love the close, protective relationship between River and Simon, and would love to see lots of that, no matter what you’re writing. Also the parental relationship Mal has with Kaylee. Aww.

Ships:


Kaylee Free/Inara Serra: The only slash on this list! I’m not really a slash person, but I cannot resist Kaylee/Inara. I will be totally happy with friendship, though, if you’re also not really a slash person. Or shippiness, if that’s your thing. This here is one of my favorite Kaylee/Inara fanvids, and I’d love to see a fic similar to this, or taking inspiration from this; I love how it can be read as either friendship or slash, depending on your goggles of the day. Also I love “her face is a map of the world” and “she’s taller than most, and she’s looking at me” and “I feel like walking the world” and really all of the song. I like the big-sister dynamic with Inara taking care of Kaylee; I’d like to see that, or see it reversed. Maybe Inara’s younger than she looks? Maybe she’s just somewhat sheltered (being brought up wealthy and then shuttled into Companion training could do that, in some ways) and Kaylee’s very world-wise (she does have sex with people to look at engines, after all.)

Shepherd Book/Inara Serra: I’d like to hear the story of two very adult people coming together. How do they mesh their spiritualities? (Googling suggests Inara is Buddhist, and Book seems to be some variety of Christian, probably Catholic from the fact that he has a vow of celibacy -- if you know enough about either of those to portray them with realism and respect, I’d love to read that.) They go to each other for advice, trust each other -- but they’ve got very different lives and beliefs. How do they work that out?

The Doctor (Doctor Who)/River Tam:
Because it had to be. Think of the telepathy! I bet the Doctor could help River work with that. And he could introduce her to a certain other River… How does Simon feel about River running off with a madman in a box? What does the Doctor do when he finds out about what the Alliance did to River? (Tell me he goes all Oncoming Storm on them.)

River Tam/Simon Tam: I’m not usually an incest girl, so view this as a challenge: Convince me. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it said that Joss Whedon was deliberately hinting at this, so the framework is definitely there. I can say right now I find just ignoring the whole incest thing doesn’t work for me; neither does briefly considering it, but then going “oh, but we’re in love” and forgetting about it. Maybe River always had a crush on Simon, but now because of the brain stuff she can’t suppress it anymore, and she’s made it her personal quest to convince him? How do different crew members react?