fanfic

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While I’m apparently having Opinions on Writing: Number One Hot Tip for anyone writing about characters going any place, particularly any place real, is to use actual locations.

Like, even if you’re just opening up Google Street View and walking yourself down a foreign city’s road. Don’t just have characters going to “a department store”;1 have them going to the Sogo on Nathan Road, or the Myer in Bourke Street. If they’re going to a coffee shop, make it the Elements at the back of the grey import sporting goods store; you know the one, you can get that Earl Grey hot chocolate there that sounds weird but is actually amazing. Give your characters opinions on locations around them! Make them hate a particular restaurant, or have opinions on local public art, or memories associated with a particular park. If you’ve never been to a city? Go talk to or read things from people who have; blogs, Yelp reviews, whatever.

Even if you get some of the details slightly wrong, and you will,2 the benefits of making your characters and your world feel “lived in” are worth it.

  1. Unless you’re trying to disassociate the character from the space they’re in. Which maybe you are! But, if so, do it intentionally. []
  2. I once wrote quite extensively about a building that, when I actually went to physically visit it several years later, I realised was about half a block back from where I’d assumed it to be, given Street View. I’m not sure anyone really noticed. []
2020-12-22T08:06:13+11:0013th January, 2021|Tags: , |

In fic-related news I find it endlessly fascinating what I consider ATG/OOC in AUs (or even just UAs/canon divergences), versus what I’m prepared to go along with.

Like… I’ve read some totally wild and wacky AUs that still “clicked” for me as being Yes, That’s Definitely Still Them while others, even if they’re technically more adept, fall short because they’re missing The Things. What are The Things? We may never truly know! But they are!

This Hot Take brought to you by one-too-many interesting, well-written, very hot fics that seem to just… fall apart in the third act because they don’t address That Canon Thing (You Know The One) in a way that makes the whole thing retrospectively feel serials-filed-on-ish. Like, okay. You took Generic Romance Novella 2083, slapped some canon names on it, rewrote a few minor scenes… but couldn’t structurally alter the denouement enough to really bring things home.

And actually writing it out this way has made me realize that what I probably mean is that the AUs that work for me essentially adapt the canon’s A Plot into the fic’s B Plot (since the fic’s A Plot is usually a romance). But fics that don’t successfully manage this, even if their characterization is otherwise pretty good, just… (sad trombone sound)

2019-12-12T18:16:38+11:0030th March, 2020|Tags: , |

Commercial media: Explosion! Fight scene! Car chase! Character X and Character Y Let’s You And Him Fight! Now they team up! More explosions! The whole galaxy explodes! Nothing will ever be the same!!!!!

Fanfic: Old friends, Character X and Z, retire to a remote cabin because of Reasons. Thing are tense because of That Incident! Can they spend 200,000 words slowly re-learning to love themselves, and each other? Now they’re hugging. I’m not crying, you are.

2020-01-06T07:31:36+11:0020th December, 2019|Tags: , , |

Random things that bug me in fic.

Greatest Hits from Random Things That Bug Me In Fic:

  • Fics set in New York where people constantly brush up against each other.
  • Pinching. Of any kind.
  • That’s not how encryption works!
  • That’s not how RFID works!
  • That’s not how the government works!
  • That’s not how the military works!
  • That’s not how computers work!
  • That’s not how the Vikings worked!
  • That’s not how skyscrapers work!
  • That’s not how the publishing industry works!
  • That’s not how Michelin-star restaurants work!
  • That’s not how Australia works!
  • That’s not even Russian, bro.
  • THAT’S NOT EVEN COFFEE BRO!!!!!

And how could I forget my All-Time Ultimate Nitpick OTP:

  • That’s not how pronoun-antecedent agreement works!

 

2019-08-06T10:06:23+10:005th December, 2019|Tags: , , |

Hot Tips For Writing Tech in Fic

RFID

RFID tags are not GPS devices. Most of them (passive RFID, i.e. the sort in your credit cards and pets) don’t “broadcast” per se and require a nearby reader to operate.

Powered RFIDs require a separate battery and antennae, generally have a fairly short range (few hundred meters, max), and are orders of magnitude larger than passive devices.

Cryptography

There’s no such thing as “military-grade encryption.” There are military standards for encryption (most notably FIPS 140), but they generally just specify algorithms and configurations. In this the Year Of Our Annuit Cœptis 2019, most modern consumer-grade technology comes with FIPS-compliant crypto configurations by default (e.g. Windows Bitlocker, macOS FileVault, iOS, etc.). It’s very difficult to “hack” but if you put a shit password in front of it, you’re still boned.

Incidentally, the “military-grade cryptography” thing is (asides from being a marketing buzzword) a hold-over from the pre-2000s era, when the US government did have export restrictions on certain cryptographic algorithms, effectively to deny anyone who wasn’t the US access to crypto the US could not hack.

These restrictions (mostly) ended when tech activists started getting tattoos depicting restricted crypto code, usually RSA implementations, effectively turning themselves into “restricted munitions” and tl;dr the laws got challenged and rendered unenforcable. Also, the internet happened.

Nowadays, some restrictions do still exist, but they’re fairly specific and almost never what anyone who uses terms like “military-grade encryption” is actually talking about.

2019-06-26T14:36:17+10:0028th April, 2019|Tags: , , , |

Market fandom.

So I’ve mentioned before in various places that I do, in fact, actively write fanfic under a Sekret Alias1 that I keep separate for Reasons. The main relevant thing about Sekret Alias is that it’s my relaxation space; it has pretty much no social media presence, and I do nothing to actively promote the fics I write and post there, to “network” in fandom spaces,2 or whatever. Because all of that stuff is the stuff I find exhausting and disheartening about profic, so gods know I don’t want to do any of it in my downtime.
(more…)

  1. I’ve mentioned the name of it in public, out loud, exactly once. And if you think you’ve figured it out, and ask me about it in private, I’ll confirm it, probably. No one ever has. []
  2. I do respond to comments on AO3, mostly, and emails and asks and similar direct communications. []
2019-02-13T10:58:39+11:0013th February, 2019|Tags: , , |
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