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Sentimental yet sardonic [userpic]

Thoughts on fic spoilers (without spoilers)

March 9th, 2005 (12:03 am)

current mood: contemplative
current song: The Killers - Somebody Told Me

Fascinating poll here on fic headers and warnings of main character deaths in the fic. It seems that a lot of people seem to want to know in advance if somebody (not who the particular person is, but just if somebody) dies in the fic.

Now, this intrigues me. Maybe it's my general dislike of spoilers, but all I want to know before I read a fic is the general set-up and idea of where the story's going. Once in and deeply involved, I'm in the author's hands and I'll follow along quite happily. The two major instances of a major character getting killed off in a long fic that I was reading avidly struck me as quite justified in the story. The one of them by Marcus Rowland in The Rosenberg Inheritance hit me like a ton of bricks at the time, mainly because I wasn't expecting it at all. I think I left feedback at the time expressing the feel of I had no idea where the story was going from there, and that I loved the feeling of not knowing. (Marcus - If I didn't, then I apologise right now and I really should have)

The second major death was in a Harry Potter/Buffyverse crossover. I think it was The Muggle Way, but will have to check. At the time it happens in the fic, there's at least three main groups maneouvering around and investigating each other as the worlds start to collide and drift into each other. None of the groups have the complete information, and they're all making plans based on these flawed presumptions. So it comes that a raid on one location leads to a major HP character being killed more or less by accident. Now, this worked well for me as a realistic conquence of the mess that everyone was in at that point, and the violence inherent when the worlds clash. What also worked well for me was that the death had an effect on everyone else in the story - agendas were revealed, alliances drawn, all hoping to avoid things like that happening again.

Most of the main character deaths in fic that I've written have occured off-screen, and only for the effect on the characters that I am writing at that point. Like in Sleeper, Buffy's death is only there as a catalyst for the changes in Faith and Xander's relationship. Something like that, where it's not described beyond a few details and the character hasn't interacted that much with my main ones, I don't think deserves a character death warning. I'll be interested to know how you feel on this, considering another fic I've just written, but not posted yet.

I'm reminded of an Alan Moore quote:
"As I see it, a successful story of any kind should be almost like hypnosis: You fascinate the reader with your first sentence, draw them in further with your second sentence and have them in a mild trance by the third. Then, being careful not to wake them, you carry them away up the back alleys of your narrative and when they are hopelessly lost within the story, having surrendered themselves to it, you do them terrible violence with a softball bat and then lead them whimpering to the exit on the last page. Believe me, they'll thank you for it."

It's all about the journey.

So I guess what I want is non-shock value death when it occurs.

For it to mean something and for it to be not a regular thing - otherwise killing a major character would lose its power to shock and twist the story.


Posted by: Daveosaurus (southerndave)
Posted at: March 9th, 2005 10:53 am (UTC)

Deaths in professional writing are fine and dandy for me.

Exactly... When I read fan fic I mentally hold the writer to the same sort of standards I would use when reading published works, and a lot of the time they meet or exceed them. I know there's virtual reams of dreck out there... but most of it is easily filtered out beforehand by the writing style.

One example I read, was really impressed by and seems to have disappeared from the internet now (grrrr) was a comics fan fic that took a pivotal point in a comics story, started from that point and was a better story than subsequent issues of that comic. There's enough fan fic around that's that good that I reckon the stories should be able to exist without these kinds of silly disclaimers.

And *snerk*. Imagine if films had to make those kind of disclaimers

I've been imagining that since I read your post.

Warning - The Fellowship of the Ring features character death.
Warning - Psycho features off-screen character death.
Warning - One character in Citizen Kane is not what that character appears to be.

Posted by: Sentimental yet sardonic (booster17)
Posted at: March 10th, 2005 03:19 am (UTC)
Faith ride [foxglove_icons]

Warning - The Sixth Sense features character death. Totally true in one way. *snerk*

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