Tag Archives: fanfiction

You know you are writing a Wraithy or scifi fanfic when…

… you keep having to add words to your spell checker, just to clear off all those red underlines!!!

Stargate, retrovirused, mindfeel, lifeforce, hivemate, all the names of your characters, etc. 🙂

The joys of Wraithy writing. 😀

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Singling Out Minority Characters and Killing Them Off is Worse Than Having No Diverse Characters

Why do some storymakers still kill off their minority characters, often making them the first to go? Why even add them as tokens in the first place?

Killing off minority characters is not diversity, and especially is not inclusion. It is erasure.

Minority audience members who finally see a character with whom they can more closely identify get their hopes up, only to be sent the message they don’t matter and that they are expendable (except maybe for when it comes to audience viewership numbers baiting).

The tragedy of war is not an excuse either. There is no reason to single out minority characters for inequitable treatment. If a minority character gets killed off, there should be counterbalances of thriving characters with similar backgrounds.

Also, killing off the partner of a LGBTQ+ character and making the surviving LGBTQ+ character live celibate afterwards is still erasure. That goes double if all the straight characters get to keep their partners and/or remarry while the LGBTQ+ character is sidelined.

This trope has been so overplayed that film, writing, and editing schools need to teach people stop it, to spare the characters, and, especially, the audience.

Don’t Leave Your Messages to Chance: The Importance of Artist and Author Notes for Progressives

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, Wikipedia

What possible social messages do you see in the above painting? Do you see class hierarchy of a working woman serving wealthier people? A woman’s body on display as something to purchase, along with the items on the counter? Or, do you hone in on the legs of the trapeze artist in the upper corner that one can hardly see and theorize the painter was making a statement about loss of mobility? This trapeze discussion actually happened in a class I once took and I felt uncomfortable with people assigning meaning to something the artist may not have intended and who was no longer alive to speak to confirm or deny it.

Big difference in weight of content messaging and interpretation, isn’t there?

Why leave the message of your work to such chance? Meanings get lost in time– and even presently, across cultures in a digital, global age. Sometimes, meanings and themes can even be deliberately glossed over or ignored, especially messages about justice for fellow animals. Do you want to leave your audience fixated on an inaccurate or irrelevant detail while your work’s real message is sidelined?

This goes double for fiction writers. It has historically been more common for non-fiction authors and visual artists to have statements included with their work than for fiction authors. This needs to change and is starting to.

Ao3 roused getting me thinking about this, with its author notes and end notes sections. Creatives need to make more use of such features regular parts of fiction books, too, with intros and afterthoughts. As creatives, we should have our say, especially if we want to drive home points about nonviolence. And, self-publishing platforms make it easier than ever. I even saw one author write her own study questions, for readers and book clubs to use to reflect.

You put a lot of thought and effort into your works and want to see the world be a better place. Tell people loudly and proudly! Don’t leave your deepest and most important messages to chance or to other peoples’ whims.

Duration Neglect and a Peak-End Effect in Judging Characters and Races

First impressions of characters are powerful. But, so are their peak moments and end moments, which influence overall judgement of how the audience evaluates the lives of characters.

Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, reflects on a storyline: “On my way home from the opera, I wondered: Why do we care so much about those last 10 minutes? I quickly realized that I did not care at all about the length of Violetta’s life. […] A story is about significant events and memorable moments, not about time passing. Duration neglect is normal in a story, and the ending often defines its character.”

He goes on to say that other psychologists have found through experiments, including controlling for age, that duration neglect and the peak-end rule governed evaluations of experiences, such as vacations, and other peoples’ entire lives.

The Stargate character Michael Kenmore is a good example of these cognitive biases. His life is largely defined by sympathizers of his first impressions of being a confused and betrayed victim of kidnapping and experimentation and by haters for his peak-end of having done the same kidnapping and bodily alterations to others and having taken over the city of Atlantis. (Note: by ending, I mean the last time he was shown on screen, not died, as I do not believe the fall killed him and he was slated to come back in a season 6.)

Largely erased is Michael’s life before he was captured by the New Lanteans, which could have been hundreds or thousands of years. By his showing a desire to belong and to get along with the New Lanteans, before he found out he had been experimented on, his demeanor may have been one who did not rock the boat and who wanted to be a team player. But, the most recent few years of his life, as seen by the audience, as victim and/or victimizer, is what is remembered about him. Likewise, Michael’s entire Wraith culture came from 10,000 years of peace; yet, most SGA viewers only think about and judge the most recent 5 years, which is the aftermath of alien human invasion and the resulting Wraith starvation and civil war.

As authors, taking into account first, peak, and end impressions of our characters and how we choose to structure how to reveal information about them in time counts a lot!

***More scifi/fantasy examples: how Darth Vader’s life was presented in pieces in Star Wars and how flashbacks about Snape’s past in Harry Potter became memories about him which stuck.

How Can a Self-Reflecting Character Know if They Are Good or Evil?

An great meta-awareness question (and one for real-life, too!). Asking such a question shows a strong internal locus of control and is to be commended. The answer takes willingness to do serious introspection as well as research.

Labeling a character as “good” or “evil” is a bit dated, as people can change over time. Actions and potential actions, though, can be more easily isolated and evaluated.

Saying that people doing misdeeds see themselves as heroes and can’t see their own mistakes isn’t quite correct either. They want to see themselves as heroes. Because of this desire, they often exhibit tells, which show they knew deep down their actions were wrong in the first place.

Our lives (and those of our characters) are really not that unique. Through the law of large numbers, many real-life people have already messed up, past and present, in the same or similar enough situations, and their thought patterns and actions during their crimes and the fallout of their decisions can be analyzed.

Because the clusters of behaviors so nuanced, it may be helpful to research examples specific to fields related to the action in question for your character (or yourself), to uncover the subtle tells for cognitive dissonance, of rationalizing and hiding misdeeds. This might be more difficult with scifi, for new situations being imagined, but the next real-life best things can be looked at, such as military or management.

For example, CEOs who have swindled money from corporations often:
*Rationalized that their leadership made them entitled to more than they were already being compensated for.
*Shrank their direct reports to deliberately keep fewer eyes off accounting books, limiting exposure to yes-men and/or incompetent people who would be less likely to be able to identify accounting errors.
*Felt a sense of a free-pass after a government inspection or other external audit missed accounting fraud– and they usually boldly stepped up their fraud afterwards, taking more and more.
*Gave more to charities, to alleviate guilt and to feel like a good person.

What was the result of the fraud after it was exposed? Who all suffered– employees losing jobs, shareholders losing wealth, embarrassed family and associated charities, schools, communities, etc.?

I see similar tells when people try to hate on scifi races, jumping through hoops to try to avoid saying they are calling for genocide. Because, they know genocide is wrong, that’s why!

Are people, future generations, fellow animals, and the environment better off after the action or worse after power was exercised? Or, would needless suffering happen? Is there a better way? Be honest.

A character wondering about a how to judge a past or potential future action can use the mistakes and patterns of others as a toolbox to take an honest look at both the fine details and the big picture of what their actions mean.

Wraith hair strands in uniform closure

Found on an auction site: the detail-rich photo seems as if this part of this Wraith’s coat comes with strands of his hair stuck in the Velcro-looking closure. 🙂

So, if your RPG or fanfic character, human or another Wraith, wears a Wraith’s jacket or picks up the jacket to enjoy the jacket owner’s warmth and scent, maybe a stray hair or two of the owner could be in the coat. ^_^

I just had to share, because it’s a great worshipping detail. ^_^

And, as a side note, the cropping of the detail of the photo makes for some nice abstract Wraith art. 😀

Thoughts on Humans with Wraith DNA and Telepathy

To have a special gift and to be expected not to explore it or or even discuss it… to ignore it and to stay low and to stay hidden…

I can feel sympathy for the humans who were given Wraith DNA and resulting telepathy and then turned out into the galaxy with no guidance and, on top of that, made to ignore their abilities.

Among their peers, who would believe them when they told other humans about voices that only they could hear? That alone could get them ostracized!

How could they resist the call to connect to others in the galaxy, in such a special way, to the hive mind, which, for the telepathic Wraith, is a place of numbers, and safety, and home? And, then to be met with nonacceptance from that hive and mentally controlled to lash out?

After the diaspora of those who survived their fellow humans turning on them, when the gifted humans fled to other worlds and other Wraith territories in turn, maybe more forward-thinking hives would take these humans on as worshippers when they came across them.

Such humans would make excellent worshippers! They would be able to do excellent spy work for the Wraith, passing along real-time sensory perception of everything happening at a distance, as well as to be able to send the Wraith thoughts of gratitude and mental adoration. Seems like a win-win, as writers and RPGers know. Life is better together, shared. 🙂