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28 August 2006 @ 07:41 am
Assigning Doesn't react well to situations not involving money or violence  
We begin discussion of irradiatedsoup's Doesn't react well to situations not involving money or violence. The author is okay with concrit; discussion will continue until September 10.
 
 
 
Liss: serenityinalasahl on August 28th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
I find myself confused as to when this story takes place. Character-wise it seems to make the most sense pre-"Ariel," but there don't seem to be any clues in the story that indicate that.

I found the lack of punctuation at the end of so many quotes distracting.

Crazy River the matchmaker seems to be a plot I see a lot in fic (along with Ex River Machina). Normally, when I realize that a story is going to be one of those stories where River does something that the crew thinks is crazy, but has the effect of thrusting two of them (usually Simon and someone else) together so that they end up reaching a rapport, which was River's intention all along, as she can read their hearts and minds and know what they really need/want, I stop reading. But it seems to be a popular device, and I see this story got a lot of favorable comments so the scenario obviously works for a lot of people. As readers, what distinguishes a story that's clichéd, from one which uses a cliché?
Ana: Apples are shinyana_grrl on August 29th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
As readers, what distinguishes a story that's clichéd, from one which uses a cliché?

This is a really great question. There are a lot of cliche plot devices out there, and sometimes they can work so, so well. I'm not sure if what makes them work differs from story-to-story or author-to-author, but there are a few general things I look for.

For me, it's partially the pairing - ie the pairing that I like - so, for example, I'm more likely to read a Jayne/Simon story that might have some rather cliched aspects (ie River pushing Jayne and Simon together) than I would a Mal/Simon story (River pushing Mal and Simon together doesn't interest me at all).

But that's only part of it, because in general I have limited tolerance for a story that is just full of cliches. Another important thing for me is the tone of the story - the voices as well as dialogue etc that is original and/or funny (funny depending on the mood of the story). So, I could read a story that centres around a cliche plot device if the dialogue sounds great and there are some original takes/one-liners etc in the writing.

For example, in this story there are some great examples of Jayne's voice ie:

I ain’t got no diseases" Jayne is beside him, sounding only slightly offended. "Leastways not since--

and in this line, I can really hear Simon's frustration.

“You don’t have a spare mattress over there do you?” Simon asks, almost hopefully “Or a coffee percolator. Or a heavy sedative. A brick will do.”

I also find this story rather funny. It's fun to read - it's not a cliched plot point that is drawn out and annoying and overly schmoopy and irritating (which a lot of cliche fics are, to me). I can't shake the feeling that River isn't really trying to get Jayne and Simon together, but rather that she's just playing a game and being irritating and bugging her brother. And Jayne, of course.

And, consequently, I read this in terms of if they come to an understanding of sorts, because of River's game/joke, that's maybe Jayne and Simon working within an opportunity, rather than choosing to be stubborn.

All of these points push this particular story past the 'just a cliche' perspective to me - and I have found myself stopping reading other stories that use the same idea of River pushing crew together because those stories seemed somehow more heavy, more effort to read (not to say that there aren't other cliche fics out there that I like).

I agree with you that the story could use some more polish in terms of punctuation and sentence structure so on (and it could have been fleshed out in some places too, but perhaps that's just me being greedy), but at the end of the day, I enjoyed reading it (and left feedback saying so) because it was fun.

So I guess that's a key point - a cliche can be a cliche, but if it makes me laugh/smile, if it's fun, that's what distinguishes cliched from using a cliche.

On a tangent - I also really enjoy the title of this story. It's amusing and it's true (I always have title envy because I hate trying to think of them).

Anyway! My long-winded answer to a really great question!
Lorrainelunabee34 on September 1st, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
I also have title trouble and this is a great one.

The one aspect of the story that I don't quite get is what River finds under the bed and what it means.
Anaana_grrl on September 1st, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC)
The one aspect of the story that I don't quite get is what River finds under the bed and what it means.

Yeah, I'm a little vague on that myself, but I'm assuming it's because the object looks like a playing card, and I don't know enough about card games to pick up what that is supposed to mean. I mean, I really don't know anything about cards. Except that there are 4 different houses.
Lorrainelunabee34 on September 3rd, 2006 12:31 am (UTC)
Or maybe it's just what Hitchcock would have called a McGuffin. A sorta red herring-ish thing.
Anaana_grrl on September 3rd, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
Yes! That works and makes sense!
Mark Hunter: fan writers!ozma914 on September 1st, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
I have a great deal of tolerance for cliche in fanfiction -- IF the dialogue is sharp, the characters on, and the story fun. In other words, the cliches can be cleverly concealed, like a good magician act, and I'm still entertained. After all, there are no new ideas -- as the cliche goes. Since this story met all the criterea, I'm very happy with it.
Anaana_grrl on September 1st, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)
n other words, the cliches can be cleverly concealed, like a good magician act, and I'm still entertained

I agree. It's all in the way that the cliche is used and pulled off.
Mark Hunter: fan writers!ozma914 on September 2nd, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
My favorite writer's line I ever heard on the subject was: "Avoid cliche's like the plague!"
Ana: Apples are shinyana_grrl on September 2nd, 2006 11:55 am (UTC)
*g* Yep! It works, lol!
Liss: serenityinalasahl on September 4th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
I can't shake the feeling that River isn't really trying to get Jayne and Simon together, but rather that she's just playing a game and being irritating and bugging her brother. And Jayne, of course.
That's an option I didn't consider in my first read-through, but I like that perspective.

So I guess that's a key point - a cliche can be a cliche, but if it makes me laugh/smile, if it's fun, that's what distinguishes cliched from using a cliche.
Yes! I understand that, and sometimes I find stories even funnier, because they rely on cliches.
Ana: Fly casualana_grrl on September 4th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Yes! I understand that, and sometimes I find stories even funnier, because they rely on cliches.

Absolutely! I love reading a story that takes a cliche and messes around with it in a way that's surprisingly delightful.
Lorrainelunabee34 on September 1st, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
I've seen the River as matchmaker trope often as well. I like that trope the best when River is either merely playing (just screwing around with the crew because she's bored) or when there's some CSI there.

I think that discussing fanfic in terms of cliche is really difficult. For one thing, it's often really hard to determine when something was written and it's often really hard to determine if the fic you're currently reading is one of seven thousand that riffs on a similar trope or truly something as-yet-undone. So I think that it's incredibly easy for fanfic writers to stumble across a fic they think is great, be inspired to write something similar, and not realize at all that eighty people used the same formula two years ago during a ficathon.

I also think that deliberately writing within a fandom cliche can be a really powerful way to write, particularly if you are interested in turning the cliche on it's head.

Finally, a lot of people find predictability comforting. I really like watching B movies, because I always know how they will end and the emotional journey is evident to me from the first frames. I like the relaxation of knowing how I will be made to feel for the next hour and a half, if that makes any sense.
Mark Hunter: Off to Wizardozma914 on September 1st, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
finding predictability comforting
That's a very good point, one that has kept romance novels going for many decades. There's nothing wrong with knowing where the story is going right from the beginning -- as long as the journey is interesting.
Liss: serenityinalasahl on September 4th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
I like the relaxation of knowing how I will be made to feel for the next hour and a half, if that makes any sense.
Absolutely. It's one of the reasons that I tend to stick with reading romantic stories for fanfic.
Lorraine: gay agenda by jjjean65lunabee34 on September 1st, 2006 01:28 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this story the first time around reading it, and I enjoy it on this second reading as well. I think of this fic as one of those silly fics that aren't quite crack, but are just good fun and lighthearted.

The opening line is a great one:

He hears Jayne before he sees him. As always.

I think this is great, because Jayne is obviously stealthy if he wants to be. But he wants Simon to hear him.


It only occurs to him that he might be somewhat too relaxed when Jayne threatens him in the middle of a game of “Go Fish” with a knife and he just headbutts the flat part.

My mental image of this happening is very dear to me.

“So, what now Cobb?” “I got a game.” He spits a little when he’s speaking. Simon grins back at him “Pain isn’t a game” Jayne looks crestfallen.

The dialogue in this piece is so amusing. I think the voices are spot on.
Ana: Apples are shinyana_grrl on September 1st, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
“So, what now Cobb?” “I got a game.” He spits a little when he’s speaking. Simon grins back at him “Pain isn’t a game” Jayne looks crestfallen.

The dialogue in this piece is so amusing. I think the voices are spot on.


I almost quoted this same bit when I was writing about the dialogue I like in this piece. Oh, Jayne. I can just imagine his expression when he says "I got a game."
(Deleted comment)
Ana: Dear diaryana_grrl on September 1st, 2006 03:09 pm (UTC)
the crew's reaction to finding Simon and Jayne cuddled together is priceless.

I love reading high-larious crew reactions.
Lorraine: jayne with gun by vuitton_playalunabee34 on September 3rd, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)
Your icon is what's priceless.