Dear Yuletide Writer:
First, thank you for agreeing to write me a story! Whoever you are, the fact that you agreed to do this already means you’re awesome, and I can’t wait to read whatever you’re willing to write for me. I’m going to talk a lot about specifics in the letter that follows, but the only thing that really matters is that we both appreciate the same obscure fandom. We’re friends already!
The kinds of things I like in fic differ somewhat between fandoms, but in general, I like fic that follows the canon pretty closely, or that works to develop ideas underrepresented/underdeveloped within the canon, or that takes place within the canon’s “blank spots” or “blind spots.” I like it when fics mirror closely the narrative voice of the original text, but I also like reading fic in somewhat experimental forms, provided thought has been put into the reason for narrative experiment. I don’t like OCs who serve no purpose, but I love it when the right well-written OC manages to bring about a deeper understanding or level of involvement between two or more canon characters, or serves to flesh out an interesting backstory.
When it comes to stories that deal with romantic relationships between characters, but I’m just as interested in the more prosaic or difficult or just plain awkward aspects of building and sustaining a relationship as I am in first kisses and proposals of marriage and other such grand gestures. Because of this, I’m perfectly fine if you tell me an established-relationship story, even if the characters involved aren’t presently an established canon pairing, though again, it’s not like I mind seeing how two characters got together! When it comes to physical intimacy, I care far less about how explicit the writing is than I do about how good the writing is, so write what feels right for you, whatever that means, and I will be more than happy to follow along! The only thing I WON'T be cool with is noncon/dubcon.
And don’t think that since there is a whole huge paragraph about romance, you have to write me a romance-centric fic! I am just as interested in fic that is about friendships—real, gritty, complicated, and necessary. Gen is totally awesome, or even fic that involves some background pairings but isn’t really “about” them, because as much as I love me some romance, I also love plot, especially plot that allows for the development of these worlds and their characters beyond what’s given in canon—whether that means more worldbuilding, or fleshing out character backstories, or even future-fic intended to explore the long-term ramifications of some canon decision. Said plot does not have to turn on major revelations in the cosmos, and can be something as small as a character working toward a personal realization or revelation, but I do like it when it’s there. I’m usually more interested in interpersonal conflict (two people sorting out issues they have with each other) than in galactic, world-is-ending conflict. The latter is perfectly okay as a backdrop to the former — end-of-the-world situations can produce really great character conflicts — but it’s certainly not necessary. I’m not a big fan of main character death (although there are times when it’s necessary) and in general I like “happy endings,” but I want to feel like they’ve been earned.
Some thematic things I love across all fandoms:
• strong and complex female characters who have complicated but more-or-less positive relationships with other women
• politics and politicking (anything from school election to inner workings of a royal court, either as backdrop or as motivator of plot), including espionage or court intrigue
• the limits of magic; the intersections of magic, science, technology, and/or religion
• children and young adults who have honest, mature, complex, and ultimately positive relationships with their parents and/or mentors
• snark and banter and wordplay; whip-sharp back-and-forth conversational sparring (whether between actual adversaries or between friends only joking at being adversarial)
I’m sure I could think of more, but for now this is probably a good list to start with. If you want more details, browse this journal and my tumblr (I’m a pretty obsessive tagger, so you’ll probably find things quickly).
That said, on to the fandom specifics!
Really, anything you want to do with this fandom will make me happy. And I mean anything. This is the fandom closest to my heart and I think you would have to try very very hard to write me something that I would not be interested in reading. However, if you offered "any" and you're looking for more guidance, for the younger generation I’d love to see Nita and Kit being awkward and trying to figure out their relationship post-AWOM, Dairine carrying on in Roshaun’s absence both at home and on Wellakh, Dairine finding Roshaun but not for a couple of years and then trying to figure out what in the world their relationship will look like, anyone going to a high school prom or having to get otherwise dressed up for something fancy (obviously with Carmela’s assistance!), or perhaps Nita and Kit’s first errantry assignment as a couple. Where Tom and Carl are concerned, I would love to read anything about their past, either shared or separate—how did they meet? What was life like for them before that?—and about their work as seniors and how that affects their relationship as partners (which I am 112% convinced is also a romantic relationship); I’m also interested in seeing them interacting with other grown-ups, ranging from parents of younger wizards to other wizards (perhaps even Nelaid and Miril?!). And if you want to write the epic in-and-out-of-time (b)romance between the Winged Defender and the Lone Power I will love you forever. But again, I stress that anything in this fandom will be wonderful and I will love you forever! Is there a fic you have been meaning to write for this fandom, but never quite get around to starting? Consider this your invitation to write it, even if it doesn’t involve any of the characters or storylines I mentioned. I just want to see this fandom grow!
What I really want, here, is the fantastic adventures of the Dowager Countess as an adolescent and young woman in the Victorian period. You could tell me about how she fell in love with late-nineteenth-century sci-fi (even in her old age she’s referencing Jules Verne), or about her girlhood friends (who was she gossiping with at the edges of those society functions she doubtless attended scores of?), or about how she met her husband and what their relationship was like, or about her imagined encounter with some Victorian personality (did she ever meet Dickens? Darwin? Wilde? George Eliot?). These are just a few examples of the many things that fascinate me about her as a character, and frankly I will be interested in any story about her past that suggests how exactly she’s developed into the woman she is at present. If, however, you’re not up for writing a younger Violet, I would also love any present-day story in which her interactions with her grandchildren(-in-law) leads to some kind of introspection, nostalgia, or reckoning with the changes she’s seen over the course of her life; alternately, how would she go about writing her will? Her memoirs?
You know that stuff I said above about sticking very close to canon? If you’re writing for this fandom, forget it. I finished reading Clarissa over six months ago and I’m still smarting over the way that novel ended, whatever Richardson might think about it. What I really want is a fix-it that, while respecting the intensity of the experiences Clarissa has gone through, allows her to heal rather than forcing her to die, even if that healing takes a while or takes on strange forms. I’m mostly interested in the relationship between Clarissa and Anna, which I have talked about at great length elsewhere, and I’m most interested in a story about how Anna and Clarissa work together to recover and rebuild after such a traumatic experience. Whether this recovery includes any version of Anna/Clarissa is totally up to you. The only thing that would be NOT OKAY in my books is any story that involves victim-blaming or tries to reconcile Clarissa and Lovelace.
Also—and I almost can’t believe I am saying this, but I seriously mean it—I have been feeling for the longest time that this novel would lend itself fabulously to a vampire AU, in which Lovelace, in addition to raping Clarissa, turns her into a vampire without her consent. How does she respond to becoming a creature that her incredibly strict religious convictions suggest a) shouldn’t exist and b) doesn’t possess a soul? Would vampire Clarissa still be pious, or turn vengeful, or somehow be both?