and now to put myself out because I burst into flames from the cute.
It’s good that you sent it again, because I didn’t get the first message! Hi! And thank you <3
Okay. Advice. I’ll try! As always, take everything with a grain of salt.
First: practice. Honestly. Putting yourself out there, no matter what form that creation takes, is hard and scary and nerve-wracking and you only get better by practicing (and then? Yeah, it’s still hard, scary, and nerve-wracking). No one springs from the womb writing perfect novels. Everyone is certain they’re garbage and horrible and EVERYTHING SUCKS at some point. I promise you that. And you know what? You can only get better at something if you start in the first place, and even if there’s some latent talent, no one is perfect when they start. Or… ever. Especially with creative endeavors, one is always learning and growing and changing and adapting. It’s part of the joy of it. Every baby in the world falls down when they’re learning to walk. Why are we so hard on ourselves when we are, creatively-speaking, doing the exact same thing?
When I’m writing fanfiction, the wiki and YouTube videos (and replaying relevant bits as necessary) are my best friends. I live on the wiki. I fact-check constantly, even on brief mentions or points of lore people probably (let’s be honest) skim right over. Always edit. Always. Read things out loud, to see if it flows, if it sounds right, if it sounds like something that might’ve/could’ve/should’ve happened in the game. A good beta reader can help, especially if you’re really unsure or really nervous about staying in character, provided you and that beta reader have a similar idea about the character in question.
I am pretty ruthless about asking myself, “Can I hear this in the character’s voice?” If not, it has to go. When you have source material to work from, just keep asking, “Given what I know from canon, can I honestly see this character doing this? If not, do I have a good reason for them to be behaving this way?” Because the truth is, no one person acts the same way 100% of the time. Outside pressure, circumstances, even who else is in the room can change the way a person acts. People are not static. Letting them grow and change is what fiction is all about.
Personally, I try to be faithful to canon without being a slave to it. Canon leaves a lot of gaps, and those interstitial spaces are where a character can grow into your own. It’s really easy to pick up on the thing people talk about the most, the thing that becomes the character’s stereotype, without giving full weight to all the depth. Similarly, trust your own instincts. There are points of fanon characterization out there that are so ubiquitous a person might be tempted to think they’re canon, but they aren’t. Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. It’s okay to see things differently, especially if you can back it up with canon or lore or just really good psychologizing.
Bioware is good at creating people; even the NPCs you hear having ambient conversations have layers. Be a detective. Imagine why the characters act the way they do. How did they get there? Why do they behave this way with this character and that way with another? Fill in the gaps. Give them histories, childhoods, past loves, even if we never heard about them explicitly in the game, and even if you don’t necessarily need all the details for your own work. Shepard’s crew is made up of people who all existed before her and who can (and would, and might have to) exist without her. There’s a quote out there that goes something like, “Every character is the hero of their own story.” Let them have that. Even if you’re telling Shepard’s story, let yourself imagine the same scene from other points of view. You don’t have to use all those POVs, but it’s a really good tool to have in your pocket, being able to imagine the same events from different perspectives.
Which brings me to poor old Mary Sue. Okay. Here’s the deal: I… don’t believe in the term “Mary Sue.” Oh, I know the function it’s meant to fill, but, in my opinion, it gets thrown around far too often, and usually synonymously with, “I didn’t like this character, therefore Mary Sue.” It’s used primarily—and not always accurately—as a conversation-ending dismissal, and almost always about female characters, who have a hard enough time without help from derogatory concepts like Mary Sueism. So, my suggestion is to stop worrying about whether or not some amorphous reader might think your character’s a Mary Sue.
Characters are people. People are unfathomably complex. Writers can only hope to touch on some of that complexity. People have foibles and flaws. Some people do look perfect on the outside. Some people seem to have everything. Some people look like heroes. Shepard’s an interesting one precisely because she is the game’s hero. She gets to do a million things ‘normal’ folks would never get to do. But in fic, a writer can dig at what makes one Shepard different from another, and it’s these little details that’ll give the character a life all her own. Something as small as favorite color or choice of hairstyle or never eating breakfast or always eating breakfast or always leaving dirty socks on the floor even if the room is otherwise meticulously neat can seem like nothing, but they’re the flesh that pads the skeleton of a character Bioware so kindly provided. Don’t be afraid of padding that skeleton. Make her your own. Give her hopes, dreams, insecurities. Let her be wrong sometimes. Let her have to deal with the fallout of being wrong. Make her uncomfortable. Then, sometimes, let her be happy.
Write stories you want to read. Write them for yourself, and hope the audience comes later. You can’t please everyone. You really can’t. But hopefully you can please yourself. If you’re constantly worried about what other people will think, I believe that comes through in writing, and can put a reader off. But the more you love your characters yourself, the more I think it opens the door for other people to love them, too. There will always be people who don’t like or agree with your interpretation. That’s okay; the world’s a big place and has room for lots of opinions.
ANYWAY. Thank you so much for the questions! Uh, as the long-windedness probably attests, I really like talking about this stuff.
This is all really good advice. I kept wanting to add something to it, and then finding that tarysande had actually already said that.
I think I’m just going to reinforce the practice part. Try out different POVs (writing a different character every week has been a really useful exercise for me). Write dialogue plain. Write the most detailed sensory description you can. Write detailed action. You don’t have to post it anywhere unless you want to. Try things out. I wrote dozens and dozens of pages of rambling, unfinished, random scenes and dialogues before I posted anything at all.
Even leaving aside the Relay 314 incident itself, the advent of humanity on the galactic scene shook up a lot of things and set in motion some significant disruptions in turian society.
Before that event, most species in Council Space had their niches. Asari wielded significant economic and cultural power; salarians were the best known scientists and technicians; turians were the military arm, the enforcers of the peace. (Individual exceptions abounded, of course, but that was the general breakdown of the species as groups.) Less numerous species like elcor, volus, and hanar had their socioeconomic niches. Species like quarians, krogan, and batarians were generally more marginal.
Then along came humans, and they weren’t content to take up a niche; they wanted pieces of everything. They have a strong military themselves, and proved they could handle the turians; they have diverse economic, technical, and cultural interests. The ME games are set less than 30 years after humanity’s first appearance on the scene, and already they’re everywhere.
So no wonder older turians, whose society prizes hierarchy, often appear ruffled at humans’ rapid advancement. To them, humans appear aggressive and inconsistent and unwilling to respect the established norms.
But to younger turians? The ones who were born after the relay incident, or who were young children at the time? Humans make everything seem possible. Some turians may respond to that by clinging all the harder to their own cultural norms. Others find a certain allure in humans’ adaptability and wish, on some level, that their own society were more flexible.
In my mind, then, Garrus is not the only youngish turian who’s often chafed at his assigned role in society. There’s a whole generation of turians coming of age who question, not always consciously, the norms handed on to them by their parents and superiors.
If the Reaper War hadn’t come, turian society would already have been headed for a major clash between older and younger generations. The Reaper War did come, of course, and post-war society will need to focus on rebuilding and recovery. It’ll do it, though, with new leadership and new tactics, and may well find itself adapting to new norms and alliances.
You know, I’ve been seeing that “Why are you following me?” meme going around a lot, and… and I just want you to know that, no matter who you are, I don’t follow you for what you produce. I don’t follow you for just your fic or your art or whatever it is. I follow you because you make interesting posts or you reblog pretty or inspiring or thought-provoking things. I follow you for your text posts and personal ramblings and gripes about bad days and excitement about good ones. I follow you because maybe we met through fandom, maybe you wrote or drew a thing I liked, or maybe I wrote a thing you liked, but that was just the knock on the door. I don’t look at you folks as a buffet of free things to devour for my pleasure. You are all so, so much more than that.
I feel like it’s really easy to dismiss ourselves, to sell ourselves short, to duck our heads and apologize (for not producing enough, for not producing the ‘right’ things, for not doing more more more), to look at ourselves as only having value if we’re producing (more more more). I know I do this; I feel bad if I haven’t come to you with a new here is this thing I made on a regular basis. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this weird, self-imposed pressure.
I never forget that there’s a person with thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams and varied interests behind every “so-and-so is now following you” post. I’m glad when you choose to interact with me, I really, really am, but it’s okay if you want to be quiet, too.
I follow the people I follow because something on their blog said yes, yes this is stuff I like (uh, probably coupled with a side of ahh! look how nicely they tag! if I’m being honest.) And if I don’t follow you back, but you follow me? It’s because of time/dash management. I know you’re there, and I appreciate you. Each and every one of you, whether you create something new every day, or send asks, or like posts, or just observe. Thanks for following me, and thanks for inspiring me. I’m glad you’re here.
As usual, tary puts it beautifully. I follow y’all for lots of reasons, and i appreciate all of you!
No, I don’t write original fiction.
Should I? :D
In all seriousness, I wrote a lot of (bad, very bad) original fiction in high school. I haven’t done much in quite a while. I scribble down an idea if I have one, but none of them are quite enough to build on at this point.
- Mass Effect - The Squad
- SET ONE
Attempting to give Ashley the Kaidan-Alenko-ME3 makeover. Age, war, and most importantly; hair bun.
In Greek mythology, Clio is one of the nine muses, the daughters of Zeus and the titaness Mnemosyne (whose name means memory). (according to Hesiod’s Theogony, anyway) The muses are the personifications of various arts, sciences, and branches of knowledge, and inspirations to the practitioners of those forms.
Clio’s charge is history; her name comes from the ancient Greek verb meaning “to make famous” or “to celebrate.” I’ve always been interested in history, so I picked her as my patron. :) She’s usually depicted with scrolls or books.
Her eight sisters each have their own field of interest: Calliope (epic poetry), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (song or elegiac poetry), Thalia (comedy), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (sacred music), Terpsichore (dance), and Urania (astronomy).
Here’s a mosaic with portraits of all nine:
I believe Clio’s in the lower left.
I asked syzara for calligraphy. :)
Also, hello, new followers!
Mostly I post fanfiction and reblog Mass Effect stuff. You’ve probably figured that out by now.
Some relevant tags for your browsing or blacklisting pleasure:
All of my fic should be tagged #my stories. (also linked in the sidebar)
My most prominent Shepard is #val shepard. There’s also a sidebar page listing all the others.
#servantofclio plays [me1, me2, or me3] is me talking about whatever’s going on in the appropriate game.
#picspam is where most of my own screenshots go.
#servantofclio reads is for me talking about books.
#servantofclio makes stuff is for me talking about crafts, mostly needlework, sewing, etc.
I think that’s all the most common ones.
*blush* Thank you, nonny! This was especially nice to see, considering this week is off to a stressful start.