Character traits and romance (Re: non-classical slash)

deborah.dwj at deborah.dwj at
Tue Sep 21 14:03:59 EDT 2004

On Tue, 21 Sep 2004 minnow at wrote:
|deborah mumbled shamefacedly
|>I've wanted to write Beowulf/Unfirth for *ages*.
|Hmmm.  Beowulf never married, and had no children....  and "among the
|world's kings he was the gentlest of men", not to mention that "his heart
|was not savage" and until the Grendel incident "he had long been despised
|because the children of the Geats did not reckon him a fine man".  It's all
|a bit like Peter Morwood's comment on an obituary that ended "Celebrity X
|never married": "Might as well say 'he was gay as nine ferrets in a bottle'
|and have done with it, mightn't they".
|Not that probability makes a ha'p'orth of odds if what you're after is
|slash, but I just mention, in the interests of plausibility.

(Watch carefully boys and girls, and you will see me use my amazing
mental ability to bring any discussion back on topic.)

Oh, I'm of the school that says that all fanfiction needs to be rooted
in believable character traits.  Let me move it away from slash, for
moment, to make the discussion accessible to those who are turned off by
the negative connotations they might have of the word, or just turned
off by mixing queer sexualities with canon heterosexual characters.

If I were going to write romantic fanfiction about Pride & Prejudice, I
might be willing to write a story which pairs Mr. Bingley with
Elizabeth.  I can find plenty of support in the textual descriptions of
their characters for personalities which would allow a relationship like
that to happen.  Not a good relationship, and I don't think that I would
write a story in which Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth lived happily ever
after with daisies and puppies, but there could definitely be a
dysfunctional relationship between the pair of them.  What wouldn't I
write?  A story which Mr. Darcy paired off with, say, Lydia or Mrs.
Bennett.  It's simply inconceivable to me, as those three characters are
described in the text, that they could have a romantic relationship,
dysfunctional or otherwise.  (You know, if I were to post this comment
on livejournal, somebody would immediately respond with a link to a
well-written, believable Mr. Darcy/Lydia story.  The Internet is a very
strange place.)

This is why I'm turned off by the vast world of Lord of the Rings
romantic or sexual fanfiction.  In my reading of the books, there's no
canon support for sexual relationships among any subset of the
characters (with the possible exception of sets including Eowyn),
because they're all completely lacking in sexuality.  Among canon
pairings: Aragorn and Arwen share an asexual mythic, epic love; Sam and
Rosie share a homey, Norman Rockwellesque family; Merry and Pippin share
a boys' club, fraternity brothers for ever, Bertie Wooster gone serious
and meaningful kind of love; and Sam and Frodo, at least in the books,
share a relationship that's too unequal (and, incidentally, like the
others, asexual) for what I would consider romance (not that inequality
stops Celeborn and Galadriel).  In my never humble opinion, Eowyn is the
only character was what are recognizable to me as desires.

So for me, the not savage nature of Beowulf in canon makes a huge
difference in my ability to write him as a "gay as nine ferrets"
character, if that's the characterization I would decide to aim for.
(The main reason I haven't done it, by the way, is not characterization,
but I would insist on writing it in alliterative half-lines, which is
extremely difficult.)

But wait, wait!  I said I would get this back on topic, and I can:

It's completely in character to write Chrestomanci (the Christopher one)
as "gay as nine ferrets in a bottle", not to mention Torquil or Howl.
But that doesn't change the fact that I have no desire whatsoever to
read romantic or sexual fanfiction involving either character, with any
sexuality.  I think that they are also rather asexual, though not for
the reason that Tolkien characters seem that way to me.  Rather, they're
so tied up in themselves, that though I believe in their abilities to
love or care for people, I don't really see them as potential romantic
or sexual beings.  Plus I have the whole "DWJ doesn't leave me wanting
in a way that fanfiction can fulfill" thing going.  Which I wish I
understood.   It's not a children's lit issue; I could be very into
Diane Duane or McKinley fanfiction, if it were good.

Always remember to demand more of yourself than anyone else.  Otherwise you
become merely a tiresome rebellious young girl who wants that the whole
world should change to suit her whim.  The world is full of such as these;
most of them grow up at last, but they are not particularly admirable,
enfin.  They are against everything, for nothing. -- _Jade_

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