Preface: If you're creating for me in an exchange-style ficathon or other fannish event — thank you! — and you're seeking more details about what I embrace and avoid as a fanfiction reader, here's... way too much information. Really. Please don't let this be a straitjacket or a formula. Back away if necessary. Laugh it off and forge ahead! Wherever you find your passion for the canon and characters in our shared fandom is the right place to build your story, and I'm sure to enjoy it there.
You've been warned...
Editing! -or- First Things First
Please indulge me: employ a beta-reader. Help your execution live up to your idea. Thank you very much!
- Best beloved:
Forever Knight, Highlander, Young Blades, original Battlestar Galactica (1978), Dungeons and Dragons (the '80s cartoon series)
- Best of the rest:
Buffyverse, Forever (2014-15), Robotech (Harmony Gold and Jack McKinney), Sailor Moon (via DiC and TokyoPop), Rurouni Kenshin, Monarch of the Glen, Ballykissangel, Doctor Quinn: Medicine Woman, original Beauty and the Beast (CBS), Trek (TOS/AOS, TNG, DS9)
- Not yet canceled:
Person of Interest, Once Upon a Time, Call the Midwife, Poldark, Agent Carter, Doctor Who (whole series, not just since the re-launch)
Other FandomsOf course I have book, movie, comics, etc. fandoms, too, but I almost never offer or request fanfic in them. It's a different experience. For the record, though:
- Lois McMaster Bujold is my favorite living novelist, and I prefer her Chalion series even over her Vorkosigan saga.
- Marvel is my mainstream comics universe. The Scarlet Witch has been my favorite superhero since Marvel Team-up Annual #5 (1982) ... so please don't write Wanda for me if all you know of her is the MCU (sorry!). ElfQuest is too perfect in canon to need fanfiction (although fanpoems and filks can be dreamy). I'm also fond of Zot (I remember "Earth Stories" like the back of my hand to this day) and A Distant Soil (I'd have to reread it to appreciate a fanfic).
- I have a lingering ambition to read all of Sir Walter Scott's novels before I die. I read all of Austen's, Eliot's and the Brontës' long ago, though not yet all of Dickens's.
- My favorite movie is the super-ultra-rare (laserdic only, for crying out loud) director's cut of Dead Poets Society.
- I revel in Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel in many incarnations across all media, and I've been a Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood devotee ever since I indulgently ran wild with a semester of art history my senior year of undergrad.
Likes! -or- By All Means, Include These Elements!
I'm besotted with canon. In all my fandoms, I love the original and want more storytelling like it. Canon awareness and canon resonance float my boat.
Now, I don't mean to cling to canon like the proverbial lichen to a stone. Divergent realities — the "what if?"s that consciously branch off from canon — are brilliant, all joy and delight! It's replacement alternate universes that are rarely my own personal style... although if you have a stunning idea for one, follow it, and I'll follow you.
With a few dear, exciting exceptions, I usually prefer gen to romance. That said, canonical romances are always welcome, UST and longing are delicious, and occasionally non-canonical romances blow my mind delightfully! But gen is my home. Mystery, adventure, reflection, discovery, rescue, escape, enlightenment, puzzles, friends, family... everything in human experience in addition to romance! (In romances, I prefer committed, monogamous attachments of whatever combination best suits the characters... or unfulfilled longing... or broken hearts, whether broken-and-healing or broken-and-unable-to-heal.)
I enjoy serious, solemn and even sad tales, while rejecting "dark" (pro-evil, pro-vampirism) story approaches. Is that difference clear outside FK fandom? I'm never sure. A perfect tragedy may conclude beautifully with the good guys defeated, at least temporarily, by understanding that good's loss (evil's win) is indeed tragic, never triumphant. I can love a tale of tragedy.
And I know that I'm in a tiny minority on this, but I actually hugely enjoy well-wrought character-death/bereavement stories. Go ahead and kill off a character I love; see how the others manage without him or her. Make me cry. Give me a mourner; give me a survivor! (That's an important part of how these got to be my favorite fandoms in the first place. ~grin~)
What else? Historical fiction makes me happy. Thoughtful, appropriate religious faith delights me. I'm all over moral struggles. I enjoy quests, good guys being good and angst with hope. Plots that resemble the canonical episode structure (in whole or in part) are keen! I love when fantasy/historical elements become metaphors for real contemporary life, society and psychology. Flashbacks make stories bigger on the inside.
My usual and customary ratings range is in the PG-13/TV-14 vicinity (like the canon of most of my fandoms). For my own story enjoyment, I don't often go seeking R or NC-17, though I'll happily follow a well-told tale wherever it leads.
I'm happy to receive poetry and visual art in exchange games, as well as narrative fiction. (I make all my own userpic icons, though.)
Swordcraft. Horses. Pretty dresses. Hair issues. Parallels. Consequences. Longing. Loyalty. Recurring minor characters. Long-term struggles. New starts. Second chances. Friendship. Flashbacks. Evil condemned. Virtues celebrated. Self-sacrifice. Self-denial. Mutuality. Reasons to live. Social justice awareness. The power of human contact/touch/presence. Unresolved sexual/romantic tension. Holidays (throughout the year, across cultures and eras).
I value opportunities for the reader (me!) to learn something new (history, science, geography, culture, etc.)!
In Forever Knight, Nick is my favorite character. I'm an old-fashioned Knightie. I hold that Nick's quest is right and admirable on both the literal and metaphorical levels. After Nick come Urs, Schanke, Janette, Fleur and Tracy (not necessarily in that order). Stonetree is my favorite captain (all three captains are worth revisiting). Feliks, Lisa and Emily are reliably among my favorite one-shot guest stars (but that's a very long and ever-shifting list). First is my favorite season! "Dying for Fame" is my favorite episode; it beautifully parallels Nick and Rebecca's tragedies and, one hopes, their final escapes from living death into life. "Last Act" and "If Looks Could Kill" are the best-written, best-executed episodes. Among 'ships, I'm completely head-over-heels for thoughtful, tender Les Miserables (Nick/Urs) ♥, steadily in favor of passionate, enduring Immortal Beloved (Nick/Janette), and, as UST, happy to have my heart wrung for Faithful (Fleur/Lacroix). I have a particular soft spot for "the girl or the cup"-style scenarios, a la "Dark Knight," in which Nick must choose between an apparent means to physical mortality and a higher morality. I love when Nick re-commits to his quest after a setback. And I've found great appeal in scenarios in which third season (and even second season!) as we know it never happened, where something changed at some point in canon and many things went different directions. (But there's nothing and no one in FK that I don't enjoy when written with thoughtfulness and passion; have no fear about featuring whatever you most care about in FK — I'm sure to enjoy your enthusiasm.)
In Highlander, Duncan, Tessa and Darius are my favorite characters. After them come Charlie, Randi, Cierdwyn, Rebecca, Rachel, Angie, Richie and Joe (not necessarily in that order). Michelle (of "Rite of Passage") is my favorite one-shot guest star. First and second are my favorite seasons! "Studies in Light" and "Eye for an Eye" are my favorite episodes; they vigorously use the immortality fantasy to explore the real human experience, with emphasis on bereavement. I find the present-day of "Homeland" pretty irresistible, too, I must admit. Among 'ships, I adore Duncan/Tessa! Are they not wonderful together? So strong, giving, valuing of each other and of themselves for each other? (I've enjoyed many wonderful Duncan/Methos stories, and I wholly appreciate Duncan/Anne, Methos/Alexa and Richie/Angie, but Duncan/Tessa is the HL 'ship for me. ♥) I particularly love stories in which Duncan matter-of-factly, in the background or set-up, just happens to be doing something to make the world better, not in a special way as an immortal, or hero, or wealthy person, but as the simply, fundamentally, good man at the center of his being.
In Young Blades, I enjoy all the recurring characters, especially our four Musketeers. Each is unique, and the way they come together as a team is so important that I can't have a favorite. I like Jacqueline's earnestness, d'Artagnan's optimism, Ramon's enthusiasm and Siroc's detachment. Brother Antoine is my favorite minor character. "The Exile" and "The Invincible Sword" are my favorite episodes; "To Heir is Human" is the best-made episode! I don't 'ship any of the characters, but I'm happy to entertain any historically plausible, canon-aware, in-character pairing presentation (het or slash). Whether a new adventure from the garrison, or visiting the family home of one of the characters, or picking up the series' loose ends, any time with these characters will be a treat.
In Battlestar Galactica (1978) (the original!), I really enjoy Starbuck/Cassiopeia ♥ when approached maturely, and I root for Apollo/Serina and Apollo&Starbuck. But anything thoughtfully, canonically aware is sure to please! I enjoy the triad of complementary strengths and weaknesses in Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer as friends and teammates; I wish that had been explored more, with due equal emphasis on Boomer. I love Serina and Cassiopeia's strengths and struggles... and not forgetting the civilians and civil society in the overwhelming military focus of the main characters' vocations and the desperation of the annihilation and its aftermath. Adama is indispensable in the background. Boxy can be useful for bereavement themes. Rigel is an intriguing enigma. (Canon Sheba and Athena frequently irritate me, but perhaps they just need fan stories doing better by them to help them grow into themselves? James's Sheba&Cain story in 2013's Yuletide bowled me over! I'd never before sympathized so much with Sheba.) I'm usually more interested in the rebuilding of society under desperate constraints, and the character development of personal growth, than in space battles, but I certainly won't skip a good space battle!
The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon (1983-1985) was always my pick for my turn to choose the TV station on Saturday mornings. I didn't learn about the unfilmed finale script until the 25th-anniversary DVD set; I'm equally open to fanfiction scenarios embracing or ignoring the finale. I'm at most a dilettante D&D player, so no need to worry over gaming precision or editions! Make up whatever serves the story! The fascination has always been all in these characters swept up into this strange world, their quest to return home, their reliance on each other, and the possibilities of who they are in each world, and how those may relate and contradict. I always think that time is passing in the Realm, even if it's not at home. I think that I haven't yet encountered a fanfiction depicting the characters near the ages they would be today, if they lived; whether they got home or didn't, I think that could be enthralling! We all love poor Eric, naturally; he's in many ways the most rounded of the characters in canon. I identify with Presto more than some of the other characters; I'm a big sister like Sheila and a responsibility magnet like Hank; and I'd absolutely adore reading Diana by any caring writer, but I'd be especially over the moon to read Diana by an African-American fanwriter. (Any romance should be appropriate to the characters' ages and the era of a story's setting, of course. 1980s USA and the Realm as teenagers... where and when as adults?) "The Dragon's Graveyard" is a most impressive, revolutionary episode; I don't know that I'd call it my favorite, as it's so difficult and bitter before Hank makes the right choice in the end, but it's the episode I'd show to a new viewer to knock her socks off at the unexpected sophistication of this series.
Person of Interest is my favorite not-yet-canceled show at this time. I don't feel much fanfic need in its direction. Canon still feels whole and sufficient for me (even when it took this story in directions that I would never, ever have chosen, given the choice myself). It's one of my bigger-on-the-inside shows, with its flashbacks and narrative layers. Its metaphor may have spun out of control, though. We shall see...
In Once Upon a Time, I would particularly like to see Mulan moving on with her life and growing into herself in ways that let Aurora go. I'm okay with a heartbroken, stoic Mulan; I'm not okay with a Mulan whose story is nothing but a subplot of Aurora's. Mulan deserves her own future. I've enjoyed several fanfics in which a Storybrooke Mulan understood herself as a modern US military veteran. Beyond Mulan ... well, you know me: I love good guys! (And Hook is still the hottest man on television, just sayin'.)
Forever was a short-lived prize. I don't know how long it will maintain its place among my best-beloved shows, but: police procedural plus historical fiction, with flashbacks, an immortality fantasy, and a fine disdain for genre borders... now, where have we loved that before? :-)
In Sailor Moon, all the characters have their own appeals, but I do have particular soft spots for Darien, Lita and Raye... and the Nemesis family. In a divergence from my usual mania for canonicity, I particularly like stories set between present-day canon and Crystal Tokyo, or in Crystal Tokyo while exposing it as awry from the pure utopia they intended (e.g. Rini's enforced immortal childhood is a moral travesty). I'm entirely happy with AUs here, as long as they're canon-conscious. Yes, I do use the English names; my fannish generation did. If you use the Japanese names, I can follow! :-)
Across the Buffyverse, my favorite characters are Angel and Tara. After them come Willow and Wesley. Then Cordelia (first-season AtS vintage!), Doyle and Xander, granted suitable depths. Angel/Buffy and Willow/Tara are absolutely lovely to me when handled with care and conscience, and UST of a hundred sorts for many characters happily pushes my buttons. This is a very fertile fandom for grief and survival stories, which I enjoy so much.
In Trek, DS9 is my all-time favorite series, but it's been a long time since I've watched it. TOS/AOS are a lot more top-of-mind these days, and TNG has recently made a come-back in my heart (not that it ever left) and I've picked up some of the post-TNG pro novels. If you write me Trek, please just hint which episodes I should rewatch to fully appreciate your tale!
Dislikes! -or- Please Avoid These Elements!
I don't think of myself as having triggers, but I do have squicks. There are good reasons why I love some stories and not others. I'm sure you have your own, too!
No matter how well-written a story may be, I'll stop reading it on being confronted with exploitative and/or non-condemnatory storytelling use of adult/minor sex, rape, other non-con, bigotry (including anti-religion), incest, humiliation, RPF of living persons who have not given their consent, or glorification of evil. Unless a story is unusually well-written, I'll stop reading it on encountering mentor/student sex, human/vampire sex without dire consequences, NC-17 violence or vulgarity, most things commonly called "kinks," or anything out-of-character. I'm also unfond of unbounded absurdity (outside of pure comedy/satire), including mpreg and "crackfic." And I don't happen to see polyamory as an in-character, positive choice for any of my current favorite characters.
Now, of course, villains perpetrate villainy and criminals commit crimes! Evil portrayed as evil for the rightful storytelling purpose of confronting and condemning it is different from evil misguidedly portrayed as good.
Voice and tense
In English, most narrative fiction is written in the third person, past tense (e.g. "She ran"). I like it that way. If you choose otherwise, please have a very good storytelling reason! :-)
In Forever Knight, please avoid making Nick conclusively abandon his quest or embrace his vampirism (unless you're writing a tragedy and lamenting such sad choices!). Please don't depict vampirisim as admirable. Please skip "sipping" (that is, vampires feeding on humans without killing or converting them, or, at the very least, turning them into "zombies" cf. "If Looks Could Kill" and "Crazy Love"); I find the "sipping" trope a collapse from the strength of the original scenario. If you have the vampire characters employ hypnotism, please recognize it as very likely mental non-con, a violation of free will, and tackle it as such. If your story requires a Nick/Lacroix dimension, please understand that while of course I acknowledge and honor that angle's place in canon, I personally consider it unhealthy, abusive, disturbing, an obstacle standing in Nick's way, and prefer it written as such. (Also, Lacroix is a villain. Period. I outgrew my "Light Cousin" phase long ago. He can receive sympathy, of course, but his victory would be tragedy.)
Note: I never request Fleur in ficathons. I'm obsessive about her and like to write her adventures myself. This doesn't mean you shouldn't write her for me if you want to and have a good idea! Just understand up front that I'm nitpicky about Nick's sister. If you write her for me, please make sure that you're writing a brave, brainy, medieval woman.
In Highlander, please ignore The Source (Endgame is okay if necessary). Please avoid Kronos, Caspian, Silas, Cassandra and Kenny if your story can accomplish its goals with other characters. Please don't belittle any of Duncan's profound loves, especially Tessa! Please don't depict Duncan as childish, or Darius as unfaithful to his vocation. Please remember that the remote Highlands were still Catholic (not Calvinist) when Duncan was young (I can provide real historical citations as well as canon evidence). Please limit any necessary Duncan/Amanda to canonical levels and constraints.
In the Buffyverse, please try to avoid Kennedy, Teenage Connor, and AtS's Season That Didn't Happen. Please don't make Anya the sole perspective character, if practical for your idea.
In Trek, I'm passionately committed to interpreting AOS as a divergent reality, like the Dark Mirror universe, not as a "reboot." I resent the mistaken concept that the new movies somehow wipe out the mainstream universe that I've loved all my life. Also, um, I'm not immensely keen on Voyager or Enterprise (sorry!), though I do know them well enough to enjoy your work if we've somehow been matched on them.
In Doctor Who, please avoid romance between the Doctor and his Companions in any incarnation. (River Song isn't a Companion. ~grin~ Doctor/River romance can be as delightful as it is canonical. I love River — especially the grown-up Professor Song of her later years.) My favorite Doctors are the Eleventh and Seventh. After them, the Ninth, Fourth, War Doctor, Third and Fifth, in that order (I don't really know the First and Second, but can read them). The Ponds and Ace are my all-time favorite Companions! I've been hesitant about this Twelfth Doctor... but I must admit that, inexcusably indulgent as it was, "The Husbands of River Song" knocked my socks off and made me accept this Doctor as never before.
Alternate universes and crossovers
I rarely seek out crossovers, and never "replacement" alternate universes. But I'm always happy to read a canon-aware crossover, or a "what if?" story that diverges from within canon at a specific decision point, taking a curious fork in canon's road! So follow where your story leads you.
Need a prompt to spark a story idea? Here are a few that I think could bear promising story fruit in several of my favorite fandoms.
- "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art … It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." -- C.S. Lewis
- "If you give to a thief, he cannot steal from you, and he is then no longer a thief." -- William Saroyan
- "Our worst enemies here are not the ignorant and the simple, however cruel; our worst enemies are the intelligent and corrupt." -- Graham Greene
- "The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart.” -- Lois McMaster Bujold
- "The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed." -- Carl Jung
- "When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything." -- Harriet Tubman
- "Badlands" -- Bruce Springsteen
- "Kyrie" -- Mr. Mister
- "Can't Fight this Feeling" -- REO Speedwagon
- "The Blade" -- Ashley Monroe
- "The Glory of Love" -- Peter Cetera
- "If There Hadn't Been You" -- Billy Dean
- "I Can Wait Forever" -- Air Supply
- Anything by Survivor (especially "The Search is Over," "Man Against the World," "Caught in the Game," "Ever Since the World Began," "Rebel Son," "The Moment of Truth"...)
- Heroic Second Wind
- Bittersweet Ending
- Doomed Moral Victor
- First Time in the Sun
- Take Up My Sword
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right
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