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Dear Writer letter for Yuletide 2015
SSar's Beast
Thank you for reading, whether out of curiosity or because you're considering writing for me.

I've written a lot below, but if you want more, there are also many previous entries on LJ or DW tagged with "dear writer" or "Yuletide" or similar.

Take what's helpful: ignore the rest.

DNWs: Please don't write any scenes with hand injuries, and please don't make memory loss or substance abuse a focus of the story. If the canon already has some kind of amnesia, or some kind of unsafe/dependent use of addictive or mind-altering substances, you can allude to it or use it in similar ways, but I'd still rather it wasn't a major plot point of your fic.

I love: first person, second person, third person; present tense; past tense; future tense; unusual formats such as epistolary fic or fic written like a series of "scrapbooked" news articles; more ordinary forms of narrative. I love strong platonic relationships such as mentor & student, sibling & sibling, teammate & teammate - friendly or hostile or anything else. I also ship a few things, and enjoy crack!ships.

I love stories about loyalty and competence. I love worldbuilding and welcome original characters. I love stories about identity shenanigans. I love stories that are enriched with little details about a setting and time period. I love dragons, trains, dark fairies, cities, dramatic weather, unexpected meetings. I love functional and respectful romantic or platonic relationships, but I also enjoy really screwed-up relationships, and dubcon and noncon. (And while we're on the porn train, I particularly like touch starvation, xeno, telepathy, and awkward sex.) Any gender combination OK; threesomes+ welcome.

I also frequently adore stories that do not have any of these things. I trust you.

Sucker Punch (2011)
Sweet Pea, Rocket

I'd love backstory for Rocket and Sweet Pea, or some kind of fix-it fic, or something that draws on the parallels between Rocket & Sweet Pea and Babydoll & her sister. I'd love something that plays around with which reality is "real", or assumes there was a great deal of unreliable narration in the film. I'm interested in any of the worlds from the film, and any you feel like creating.

I love this movie. It's a complicated love. I'm dubious about what it says, or seems to be trying to say, about coercion, sources of power, misogyny, and how to turn the tables. But the canon is a fascinating stack of worlds with hinges in interesting places and there is so much room to do things in it. Which is why I'm asking for this canon again despite having received fic in it twice before.

I would love to know what brought Rocket and Sweet Pea to the asylum. Or the club, or the war, if you'd like to go with either of those realities as your base. Speaking of realities, the various realities and narrators give you a lot to work with! What if the other girls have abilities (latent or otherwise) similar to Babydoll's? When (if) pulled into the other worlds, do they see the same kind of scenes as she does, or different ones? I would love any kind of focus on the idea of Sweet Pea as the central figure rather than Babydoll. If you have your own pet theory on what's going on in this movie and how the realities fit together, I'd love to read it.

Or: maybe only the bordello is real. Or maybe only the asylum is real. I'm just as interested in serious asylum fic as I am in tropey storytelling shenanigans - I'd be really interested in a fic that took the asylum setting for more than a jumping-off-point into other realms. (But I love the meta and the tropes! Go wild with them! More supernatural creatures? More steampunk vehicles? More fancy cabaret shows?)

Back to Rocket and Sweet Pea: I love Sweet Pea's protectiveness and practicality. I love that she is willing to take a risk but also willing to call it quits. I love Rocket's courage and openness. It's fascinating to me that Rocket deeply regrets running away, but at the same time, will make that choice again (doing something rash, leaving Sweet Pea behind) if she has to. My favourite Sweet Pea moment was very meta - when she steps out of the chair saying: this is bullshit, lobotomies are not sexy.

As for things that are sexy: I ship Babydoll/Rocket, Babydoll/Sweet Pea, Amber/Blondie, and maybe Babydoll/Rocket/Sweet Pea. I will read other ships, but would prefer you make a case for them in the story. So incest is OK, but I'd rather have some exploration of why or how than just "and here is a hot sex scene between the sisters". Hope that makes sense. Dubcon with Blue also welcome.

This would be a great canon for crossovers.

Please use unusual stylistic features in moderation if you choose to tell a story that is very meta, has very unreliable narrators, etc. Things like disjointed sentences or dense, ornate metaphors, when the subject matter is already confusing, can make it harder for me to follow what's going on, and therefore frustrating.

Feel free to give the women more ordinary names, as necessary for their backstory. I don't have a preference for what those names should be.

Uh, reading back over my prompts for this one, they all seem to demand longfic. I would be really happy with something brief - I just don't seem to be able to prompt for it. Ditch my prompts if they aren't helpful to you, dear author. That goes for all these fandoms!

Derkholm Series - Diana Wynne Jones
Querida, Elda, Callette

This is a sort-of-OR request: please give me at least two of these characters. I'd love: Callette and Querida dancing around each other, despite Querida being awful and Callette seeing through the flattery; Querida encouraging Elda's magical potential; Callette and Elda growing up together or collaborating on a project. This, after all, is the magical family that's supposed to help restore the world - and Querida also is keenly invested in the fate of the world. Any interactions between them would be great.

Callette and Querida are both complex characters with distinct strengths; Elda is a very welcome viewpoint character who draws us into this world. I received a fic about her in my very first Yuletide, and I received a fic about Elda and Callette in a recent exchange too, but I'd love more.

There's a great snippet in Year of the Griffin where Elda announces that Querida found her out in the Waste, pushing around a mountain, because she was in a bad mood. I'd love to hear more about that.

I would also love to see Querida continue to pursue Callette, and to see Callette outsmart her at every turn, while being weirdly flattered that Querida is so entranced by her. Or, more Callette in general: there's a lot of room for development in the details we're given. She seems like the kind of person who doesn't care much about large causes, but put her on a project and she takes it over completely and makes it part of herself. What if Querida (or someone else) gives her kind of an evil project, and someone has to step in and point out why it's not a good idea (even if Callette's really good at it?).

I love how Querida Gets Things Done. I love that she does really dubious things, and she knows they're dubious, and that doesn't bother her about herself. She cares about bigger things, and sometimes her means are appalling means, and sometimes her goals are too, but I root for her due to her sheer practicality.

For Elda and Callette: I'd love to see what the Derkholm household looked like to them when they were both younger. The siblings don't all get along; I'm fascinated to imagine a lot of gryphon and human kids figuring themselves out.

Or, Elda and Callette collaborating (or clashing) on something when they're both older and Elda's further progressed through her University studies. I feel as though Elda was just young enough during the Chesney tours that some of the darkest aspects didn't affect her as much; Year of the Griffin feels like a lighter book. But Dark Lord of Derkholm ends with an implication that Derk's family should play a big part in restoring the world. Is that responsibility going to catch up with Elda? Or be subverted?

Speaking of worldbuilding, there are SO MANY things I have questions about. How does the economy change now that the Tours are gone? Or: how did Derk create griffins that are enough like other-continent griffins that the other-continent griffins want to court them? He made them out of hodgepodges of humans, lions, and eagles! Surely that shouldn't work. How does it work?

University shenanigans also welcome. I really loved the Year of the Griffin sections about taking classes and writing essays. Another prompt: what about Querida mentoring Elda? What's her teaching style like? What if, say, she takes a tutorial group out to the Waste on a field trip?

I'm not keen on Elda/Flury - or at least, not without making him really work for it and not before Elda's spent more time unattached. I'm really not keen on Cazak/Callette; please don't treat his attraction to her as something inevitable that she'll give in to sooner or later (even if that's more usual for griffins than humans).

Soon I Will Be Invincible - Austin Grossman
Elphin, Lily, Galatea

Consider this an OR request - I'd be thrilled with a story about just one of these characters, or however many you want to include. I would so much love to read about any of their implied histories that were alluded to, not shown.

-Was Galatea's sacrifice the result of initial programming, or a true choice? Did she let anyone know her secret? Does she live on in some form?
-What does a fae warrior think of superheroes? What was it like for Elphin to discover the modern world? On what does she base her actions and morals?
-Everything about Lily's story so far is fascinating and I can't help wondering if she'll now reinvent herself a new way.
-On the surface, anyway, Lily & Elphin's stories are like mirror images - one person from the future, one from the past, neither quite human. Did they ever talk about that?
-Or, superhero team adventures in any form - attention to any of these characters' particular skills a plus.

One of the things I love about this book is the way bits of backstory and worldbuilding are just casually dropped into the narrative. We get far more about each of these characters than we had time spent on them in the main story. There are so many hints and histories to explore.

I really love stories about Fair Folk, elves/fairies with eldritch powers and morals and outlooks that may be very different from those of humans. So Elphin comes with a set of tropes I am already very happy to see in any kind of story. A story from her viewpoint would be brilliant. In particular, I'd like to get a sense of the different times she has lived in, and what parts of the world she's in feel strange to her, and what parts she's more easily adapted to. Or: Fatale is initially suspicious about her story, and that feels a little ambiguous even at the end of the novel. Feel free to add doubts and complications. Or just run with the backstory and tell me more about it! In particular, I love the scene where she's explaining how the modern Catholic church made her swear oaths based on twelfth-century writings. Expand on how that went down, if you like?

Then Galatea. So: she was only revealed as a robot after she'd spent some time as a superhero; she was only revealed to be created by a rather dubious person after her death; and also, she was apparently a robot who could fall in love.

That's a pretty complicated history. Seriously. Go wild!

(And did she really, truly, die? WHAT IF NOT?)

You could also use her to explore the previous era of superheroes, this book's Golden Age, or any other bits of intriguing backstory, especially about Baron Ether.

And Lily. I feel as though this book is secretly the Lily story. She convinced the "smartest man in the world" that she was actually from the future!! (Though, maybe he wanted to be convinced.) I loved the reveal about her. I loved her journalist past turning into a story-spinning present and future. I love her reinventing herself over and over. I love how she completely trumps both CoreFire and Dr. Impossible.

I am a huge sucker for stories about stories, any kind of narrative that runs with the theme of how we invent or reinvent ourselves. That aspect of the book was catnip for me. In Soon I Will Be Invincible, it comes with a sort of flavour of nostalgia or sadness that makes it fascinating to me on a further level. All these secret identities sometimes just mean that people are ships passing in the night. Everyone's so lonely in this book. And despite all of these self-made men and women, all these repeated reinventions, there's a lot they seem unable to change about themselves, that got fixed at arbitrary points. Unlucky stars.

On a (possibly) happier note, I ship Lily/Fatale, Lily/Dr Impossible, Galatea/the mystery person she fell in love with, and Elphin/Titania, but those are by no means restrictive. And I chose the three characters I most want to read about, but anyone from the rest of the cast is completely welcome. General tropy superhero & supervillain fights/missions/capers would be fun too.

The Glass Menagerie - Williams
Laura Wingfield

I want to know how Laura survived with the few choices and resources she seemed to have at the end of the play - or how she didn't (this doesn't have to be a happy story). Or, consider the memory-play aspect - maybe Laura is quite a different person when seen on her own terms, not Tom's. I'd love historical detail, but I'd also love for you to take the fantastical, whimsical aspects and go wild with them.

This is such a claustrophobic play. I find myself horribly fascinated by Laura's anxiety and withdrawal. I really, really want to know what happens next - whether good or bad. Because it seems as though Amanda and Laura are in an untenable situation - and if something cannot go on forever, it will stop.

I'm open to a hopeful outlook, but would prefer happiness not seem to come too easily. I'm also open to something dark.

On the other hand, this play is dominated by Tom's viewpoint - a Tom who leaves, and justifies his leaving to himself and others, perhaps by making his family out to be more desperate and claustrophobic than they really are. I'd love for you to play with that narrative angle. Convince me that Laura is stronger than she appears, that her mother is more flexible and insightful.

You're very welcome to stay within the actual period and setting of the play, but I have kind of a crack request, too. LAURA IN A DARK FAIRY KINGDOM. I almost feel like she'd be better able to cope in some goblin underground than in her present life. Please put her in a fairy tale or give me actual unicorns. (Other kinds of crossovers or AUs welcome too.)

Youkai Ningen Bem (TV 2011)
Bela (Youkai Ningen Bem)

I had a really hard time deciding which nominated character(s) to pick for this prompt. I love them all, but I settled on Bela: I love her as an apparently-less-sympathetic, more focused, foil to Bem, I love her when she and Koharu are being weird together, and I... don't have any particular thoughts on her dynamic with Natsume, but I like him a lot anyway. MORE BELA PLEASE.

I find both Bela and Bem's focus on the importance of becoming human interesting, but especially Bela's. It seems as though the worst part about their monster nature is the way it interferes with them forming connections to people. Bem obviously needs and seeks connections - Bela doesn't, or not so obviously. She doesn't particularly enjoy being rejected and feared, but there's less of a sense that she's on the outside looking in. And yet: this is her unshakeable quest. Maybe unpack that a little? The series' focus on what it means to be human, good or bad, is really enjoyable to me. I also like its optimism.

I'd love to get a story from Bela's perspective. I'd also love someone else's perspective. I am usually a bit iffy on embarrassment humour, but somehow the monsters' awkwardness in human society doesn't bother me. Partly because Bela really doesn't care about acting weird, and I love that about her. (She doesn't like trouble and humans attacking them, but that's different. And fair!) I particularly love it when she encourages Koharu to be weird too.

One prompt: early in the series, Bela says that one thing she might do when she becomes human is pursue a romantic relationship. What do they even look like to her? I would LOVE Bela and Koharu having a completely ridiculous conversation about their ideas about romance (from the perspective of a monster and a fairly antisocial teenage girl).

More backstory, scenes from the monsters' past together, would be lovely. Or, did they ever strike out on their own, however briefly? Was there a time in which Bela travelled alone for a little while? (Or was separated from Bem and Belo, and had to track them down?) Modern or past adventures would be lovely.

I would also be happy to read a story about Natsume or Bem, as long as Bela played some part. If you ship Natsume/Bem, I'm on board, only please treat Natsume's wife respectfully (perhaps there's an open arrangement). They have a a lovely, supportive relationship in canon, and I'd prefer not to read a fic that writes her out unsympathetically.

I am just finishing watching the TV series, and also have the movie queued up. I will have finished both by December. I have not seen the animated series.

Yellow Flicker Beat - Lorde (Song)
On YouTube

I really look forward to the story you could build from these lyrics. Pick and choose, take things literally, make them mundane or fantastical. I am fascinated by the sense of anger and purpose in this song. I want to know where it came from.... and where it's going.

So - I run a song-based fanfiction exchange, called Jukebox (check it out! Especially in March, when nominations will start again. Or see past fic, art, and even a podfic!). And right after finishing that up this year, I started listening to this song, and wished I'd nominated it then.

There are some fascinating images in this song that make no literal sense - well, not immediately. Take them and run with them. Is the narrator literally a princess? Is she literally locking people up? Concretize the metaphors however you like - or explain them in some more mundane way. Just tell me about her. (Or them, or him - other genders okay - I merely default to thinking of the narrator as female.)

I have some ideas for this song which YOU ARE COMPLETELY WELCOME TO IGNORE. Seriously, I'd be delighted if you used them; I'd also be delighted if you offered me a completely different interpretation of this song.

With that caveat: I imagine the narrator as some kind of AI guardian, something created to protect a domain (possibly a city); given an android body at some point well after she/it first gained consciousness. I see the song being about her relationship to the city (and her creators) changing: first she policed it & protected it unquestioningly, but since then, she has come to question the way she is treated or used, or feels betrayed. Some combination of a guardian angel and an avenging one, with bonus electronic senses and a fluid sense of body/self.

See what you think.

This year, I'm particularly open to crossovers, either between my requested fandoms, or between one of them & some other small fandom. My previous letters and fics will give you some idea of what fandoms I know, and I will also shortly put up a list of the fandoms I'm offering to beta this year.

A note about length: my ideal reading length is anywhere between 200 and 20,000 words. If you're my assigned writer and you give me 1k words exactly, great. And really, anything over that is up to you. But: if you have a story for me that balloons to a great length, I'll be daunted as well as impressed when I open it. It will also take me longer to comment than I'd like.

As for the lower limit suggestion: obviously, if you want to write me a drabble, my first thought is "yay, a story, for me, by someone who is interested in one of these small fandoms, AND who was in no way obliged to write me a story." (Thank you, past writers! ♥) But I tend to prefer slightly longer pieces - so some other recipient might appreciate your gesture more. Up to you. Either way, thank you.

And since it's the end of the letter, thank you again. I hope you have fun this Yuletide.

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