I haven't had problems with insomnia in quite a while, but tonight, after going to bed earlyish because I have to be at work at 6 am, I woke up at a little before midnight and could not get back to sleep. I could quite happily sleep now
, at 3:30 in the morning, but there's the whole work at 6 thing. Not good.
It did give me time to work on my post for today, so there's that. Thanks, insomnia?
As requested by likeadeuce
, today's topic is: some characteristics of my favorite fanfics.
Narrowing down "my favorite fanfics" is really hard! Especially as I've been reading fanfic for over ten years. I've pulled up my old Delicious account so this won't just be stories I've read recently, but I keep second-guessing myself. Yes, this is a great story, I think, but is it one of my favorites ever
? So let's just call this "some characteristics of fanfics I really like."
Here are some, in no particular order.Great character voices
: If I can mentally hear the characters, or in book fandoms if they have the right speech patterns, I'm sold. Example: Wait Wait Don't Eat Me
, by Nestra (National Public Radio RPF with zombies).Subversion:
I love it when a story calls into question, in a non-preachy way, the assumptions underlying a canonical situation or a fanfic trope. It's a feeling of revelation and insight. Two examples: Modern Love
, by Penknife (Discworld, explores the implications of dwarf gender norms, and how they're affected by contact with humans, in bolder ways than Pratchett); We'll Burn Like Falling Stars Tonight
by Challengeaccepted (Sherlock, Moriarty/Moran, destabilizes and denaturalizes the alpha/beta/omega trope and as such is the only a/b/o story I've ever read that I've liked).Stretching the limits of form:
Although I enjoy conventional narrative, I also love it when stories push the envelope with non-linearity, multiple narrative voices, documents, graphics, and so on. Unconventional narration doesn't have to mean a "difficult" story, although I don't mind when it does. This example is extremely readable as well as being a brilliant use of form and metanarrative: The Kids Aren't All Right
by Samdonne (Iron Man).The perfect detail:
I'm a fan of details generally, because I love worldbuilding and closely-examined characters. And in particular, I love details that are more than the sum of their parts, that encapsulate important things about the world or the characters. My example story, halotolerant
's A Sweet and Proper Thing
(War Horse, Jim Nicholls/Jamie Stewart) includes one of my favorites sentences in a fanfic ever: "His parents, who had met each other during a demonstration about the Transvaal, believed in socialism, atheism and carbolic soap, in more or less that order." It's a whole history in 26 words.New perspectives:
This can be as simple as focusing on a minor character whose view of events differs from the main characters, or as extreme as offering a "secret history" inside the canon. It's different from subversion because there's not usually an element of critique, just finding the new in the familiar. Example: The Anatomist
by Rosa_acicularis (Sherlock, Molly Hooper; this has been jossed by subsequent canon developments but is still a hell of a story).Metaphorical intensity:
It's hard to explain what I mean by this, but I'm thinking of stories where a metaphor or image is explored to the limit, so that it becomes central and even structural. Example: The Space Between Opposites
by Storyseller (Doctor Who, Tenth Doctor/Simm!Master), which is about the Gallifreyan language and what can and cannot be said in it, and also about the Doctor and the Master, and what they are/cannot be/must be to each other.
This isn't (can't be) a comprehensive list, and I'm not entirely sure it's even a representative one, by which I mean that these aren't, by any means, the only kinds of stories I enjoy. They're exceptional stories that have stuck in my memory as special, long after the initial pleasure of reading them. Still, it pains me to think of all the fantastic stories I haven't mentioned.