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[personal profile] odyle and I were have one of our regular talks about shitty wizards recently, and it made me realize the characters I like (and like to write) most aren’t shitty wizards but shitty people. Characters who do bad things with good intentions are so very much my favorite – I like when they’re in headlong bad-decisions spirals, and I like when they’re smacked in the face with self-awareness and try to pull out of the spiral and work towards atonement. That narrative tension is so interesting. It’s why Tony Stark and Marian Hawke (the purple version of her, at least) and even Mara Jade are my favorite POVs. I think it probably even informs the way I write Shepard; I tend to hit the atonement angle really hard with the ruthless/colonist/paragon combination.

That Shepard (as I write her) qualifies as a shitty person isn’t immediately apparent in stories set during the war, because her entire adult identity is built around her military career, which is in a lot of ways a safe environment for her. The Alliance provides focus and meaning to her life and allows her to indulge in some pretty dark impulses while still nominally acting in the name of the greater good. She can have the confidence – and very possibly all this knowledge is subconscious, at least at the beginning of her career – that the military acts as a limiting force that both can and will stop her from going too far.

That’s one of the main reasons I tend to write Shepard as someone with an interest in boxing; it doesn’t erase her effort to learn how to problem-solve through diplomacy and communication, but it does undercut it: she thinks with her fists, she has a lot of anger that comes out through violence, she wants to solve her problems by hitting someone in the face repeatedly until they take on all her pain and all she has to feel is release or strength or numbness. Boxing as a hobby also makes for an interesting contrast with Shepard-as-sniper; that’s her professional mode, the cold remove, attacking from a distance, but beneath it she still has the urge to get up in someone’s face and hurt them.

That’s also why I can’t let Aratoht go – Aratoht is the ultimate example of “Did I do this because it needed to be done, or did I just want to make the batarians bleed?” (”Both” is the answer – “both” is always the most interesting answer.)

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1. I’m so excited that Marvel is building their next generation Brain Trust™ almost entirely out of women. I read the Moon Girl issue with Ironheart and then immediately followed that with Unstoppable Wasp #2, and it’s so so great, I love Brain Trust characters, I love that we’re finally seeing the emphasis pulled away from Traditional White Smart Dudes like Tony and Reed (Tony and Reed: still my actual favorites, but this is long overdue).

I do wish they’d pull in Lila Rhodes, though! And Valeria – Valeria is my great shining hope that the next-gen Brain Trust is going to have its own cabal of Bad Decisions Heroes. You know, that ones that have control issues and swing between wild arrogance and deep self-loathing. Those heroes. I’m not sure why Valeria pings my radar for carrying on the Bad Decisions tradition, but she does. When you consider that two out of her three parents ping that radar too, though…

2. I’m still so into the Science Wizard Doctor Doom aesthetic Infamous Iron Man has going for it. I mean, yes, Bendis, but a. the aesthetic, b. talk about Bad Decisions (Anti-)Heroes, c. I would read a million panels of Maria Hill interacting with the shitlord science wizard, d. the art is gorgeous.

3. Jeremy Whitley’s X-Men issue with Laura and Remy came out today! It’s maybe the first Whitley issue I’ve read where parts of the characterization didn’t seem 100% on-point, but I still really enjoyed it; Laura and Remy were my favorite mutants even before Marjorie Liu wrote them into the best mutant friendship ever, so I’ve been ready for them to reunite since All-New Wolverine was announced. I really, really like the dynamic now that Laura’s a little older and a little more confident in herself, someone please make Gambit a regular in Laura’s book.

Also, this:

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For [ profile] odylism:

Patsy sneaks into Jen’s hospital room. Strictly speaking, there’s probably no need for her to go behind everyone’s backs, but she’s not feeling up to dealing with the people that know her (”Wait, is that Patsy?”) and she’s definitely not up to dealing with the people that don’t (”Aren’t you… Hellkitty?”). There’s a pretty decent crowd of hero-types gathered just down the hall, because everyone likes Jen, but none of them are talking to each other, and Patsy has seen enough aftermaths to know this one is going to be rough. Through the crowd, she catches a glimpse of Carol Danvers sitting on the floor against the wall with her knees drawn up and a square of gauze taped over one eye. Rough, and maybe deservedly so.

Jen’s laid out on a bed barely big enough to hold her, surrounded by whatever medical equipment the Triskelion’s medical team had deemed Hulk-proof. She looks pretty not great – “not great” being about the lowest you can sink when you’re a super-strong green bombshell with a law degree – and if ever there were a time for anguished confessions, this would be it.

Patsy, with a tenderness that surprises her, reaches out and brushes a stringy clump of Jen’s hair away from her forehead, and then she leans very close and puts her mouth to Jen’s ear.

“Jen,” she says. “Jennifer. Jennifer Walters. If you don’t wake up, who’s going to sign my paychecks?”
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Originally posted on Tumblr.

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02 January 2017
After hearing about the server migration, I went ahead and deleted my Livejournal. Talk about the end of an era - even though I hadn't crossposted there in years, it was still kind of comforting to know that my old posts were still kicking around on Paradox or Buffy Top 5.

I know fandom is currently enamored with Imzy, but I'm really holding out hope that Pillowfort is the platform of choice for the next big migration. Beta access keys should be sent out in the next couple of weeks, and I'm excited to actually try the site out; it looks like it'll be a solid combination of the ease and pacing of Tumblr with the threaded commenting and communities of LJ/DW.
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01 January 2017
I didn't do an end-of-year writing meme for 2016 (because I posted so little fic!), but here's five things I'd like to get done this year:

  1. Write and post the next part of Crucible, which has basically been my goal for the past two years. I have made no forward progress!!! Hopefully Andromeda's release with strike a spark.

  2. Stark Disassembled. The first part received about -5 attention, but I'm still really digging the idea of getting the other four parts up; that's a story I'm writing for myself.

  3. Finish all my giftfic by the end of March! I have one long overdue Hawke/Varric fic that is my current priority, and I'm offering two stories for the Fandom Trumps Hate auction.

  4. I'm moving into 2017 with a substantial bit of work done on three longer one-offs: Bliss, a Luke/Mara AU where Mara is roped into building the New Jedi Order; Conversational, a Buffy/Spike post-canon fic where I work out all my NFA feelings; and Raising Hypatia, which is 7k of Sheldon, Penny, and their daughter, because I still haven't gotten out from under that fandom's thumb. None of them will take much time to finish.

  5. Write more Hawke. Hawke is so much fun to write. I should finally make that Hawke/Cassandra thing happen.
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11 December 2016
Title: Zero Sum (Stark Disassembled 1/5)
Characters: Tony/Steve
Wordcount: 24170
Summary: Execute program.
Notes: This AU retelling is set in a kitchen-sink continuity based on the comics with elements from the movies. I really wanted the freedom to explore Tony's internal processes during certain arcs without being sidetracked by plot points that I find either too big or too clunky to retain without exploration, so there are no Skrulls, no amnesia, and no magic bullets here. The Ten Rings are both a terrorist organization and a set of alien artifacts, and Stark Industries stopped manufacturing weapons as soon as Tony returned from captivity, but Hank and Jan are founding Avengers, Rhodey is a Marine, and Steve has been one of Tony's closest friends for a decade or more.

My characterization is sketchy, my technobabble is sketchier skill, I did not show any work re: continuity, and the team line-up keeps slipping further and further into Ultimates territory, but [ profile] monsterharvest, [ profile] odylism, and [ profile] jedi-goldberry-with-the-force did a fantastic job of curbing my more egregious errors; this would be a measurably lesser story without their help and hard work. (Thanks, guys!!)

Content warning for suicidal ideation about in line with what you'd find in the source material, graphic fight scenes, discussion of alcoholism, and minor character death. This story is formatted with a custom skin and will (definitely!) look better if you make sure custom skins are enabled.

( Read on AO3... )
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04 December 2016
SPN mundane alternate universe genderswapped f!Cas/f!Dean. With Sam and bees, as one does.

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04 December 2016
Tonight was my first night DMing anything whatsoever, and boy howdy I did not need to write out twenty-six pages of backstory when I had to off-the-cuff most of the evening. It was fun (much fun!), but I don't particularly enjoy improvising or acting or having a group of people look at me; what I like is building the world and populating the world with characters and drawing maps. Writing. That is called writing. I like the writing part.

I also miss playing my grouchy half-elf ranger and not having to convince two-thirds of the adventuring party that the young woman sitting by her wagon and crying about a broken wheel really isn't part of an ambush and that maybe tying her up and terrorizing her isn't the greatest idea, although it is awfully fun to come up with ideas for secret doors.
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28 November 2016
Title: Hiraeth
Characters: Sif/Loki
Wordcount: 2071
Notes: Also on AO3.
Summary: "Everything I tell you is a lie."

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27 November 2016
Once upon a time I started writing a Kylo Ren/Hux AU where they were only horrible in petty ways and where Ben had three younger siblings named Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin and here it is and I remain very fond of it, thank you.

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