anghraine: vader stopping a blaster with his hand; text: just another skywalker family holiday (anakin [skywalker family holiday])
[personal profile] anghraine
Stolen from [personal profile] beatrice_otter .

Post the first line from your 25 most recent fanfics and try to find a pattern.

[A few of these are, inevitably, for my fave show The Borgias, so warning for conscious, consensual sibling incest]

1. AP—With all votes counted, Speaker of the House Rodrigo Borja (D-CA) has won a narrow popular victory over his Republican opponent, Senator Julius Rove (R-WY).

2. “But Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.”

3. Georgiana had liked her from the first, for which Elizabeth was grateful.

4. For over half a year, Lady Catherine heard nothing from her nephew.

5. Lucrezia twirled, laughing as her skirts unfurled around her, a blur of pink and white.

6. I always thought of myself as Ascalonian first, and Krytan second.

7. Aunt Beru calls Luke’s grandmother valiya.

8. If Darth Vader did not avoid the sight of his daughter in carbonite, he certainly did not seek it out.

9. Other people, Ben suspected, assumed that he grew up knowing about Alderaan.

10. Lucrezia had imagined them in bed before, she and Cesare, longed for him in her dreams, and eventually beyond her dreams.

11. Pope Calixtus, kindly as an uncle, makes for a stern and pious patron.

12. Beru is Shmi’s daughter, and she isn’t.

13. The Valencians were cheating.

14. More than anything, Helen just felt queasy; nothing that girl at Madam Malkin’s had told her or McGonagall had said or the Hat had sung about sounded like her.

15. Sancia did not love her husband.

16. Yasuko Sato beamed at her daughter.

17. For the moment, il Valentino might as well have been Hercules.

18. In her heart, perhaps, Fíriel knew what must happen.

19. At six and twenty, Lady Cora Fitzwilliam married.

20. Over the last decade, Lalia Maltiras has been attacked and defended with equal violence, denounced as a hack more interested in controversy than methodology, praised as a trailblazing scholar breathing life into the often moribund field of Imperial studies.

21. Vanozza had never wanted Cesare in the priesthood.

22. “I thought of staying in politics,” Padmé said once.

23. Julian knew it was not proper for brothers and sisters to dance together.

24. Nobody had called him Alfie since he was a kid.

25. Pelargir, ancient even by the Queen’s reckoning, rose from the wreckage inflicted by the Corsairs as it always did.

Hmm, it looks like the vast majority of the time, I start with some sort of positioning interiority—that is, rather than jumping right into the main plot, I jump right into a character's mind. It's not always what they're literally thinking, but it is something interior to them that either provides context or gives direction, or leads up to doing so.

For instance, Other people, Ben suspected, assumed that he grew up knowing about Alderaan leads (of course) to the explanation that the Organa-Skywalker household doesn't talk about Alderaan in those early years, among many, many other things, because they're still young and working through everything that happens through the OT while Ben is growing up. Although he's Alderaanian on paper, the family's silence around it keeps it from forming his identity in any direct way. That's what the opening chapter is about: the fact that Ben is technically Alderaanian without being Alderaanian in any way that matters.

There are some even more ambiguous lead-ups like Sancia did not love her husband, which is outright deceptive as an opening sentence; it could easily be about her canonical marriage to Jofré and there's every reason to assume so. Instead, it immediately transitions into the premise: that husband is Cesare, not Jofré, because this is an AU where Cesare was never disinherited and railroaded into the priesthood.

And some are even vaguer, like Nobody had called him Alfie since he was a kid. Without a "Borgias" tag, it wouldn't be clear what canon it was for, much less what character it's talking about or what is going on. But it quickly moves to the fact that his girlfriend Lucrecia affectionately uses the nickname, and then into a conventional scene between them that highlights Al's inferiority complex around his masculinity and Lucrecia's indifference to it, and easy reliance on her brother César, whose omnipresence in Lucrecia's life and masculine-coded hypercompetence disturbs Al. So we've got that we're in a modern USA fic, the Borgias are Latino, it's told from Alfonso's POV, and it kicks off as the honeymoon phase of the Lucrezia/Alfonso relationship is about to unravel, with the Cesare/Lucrezia one on constant simmer. The opening line doesn't seem to do much more than lead us into the Lucrecia/Al relationship. But in fact, the fic is to a large degree about names. Neither Al nor Lucrecia use one another's real names, but cutesy nicknames (just as they don't understand each other's real characters, just the simplified, romanticized versions of them). But whereas it's merely affectation from Lucrecia, for him it's related to the fact that he can't be bothered to learn how to pronounce her real, Spanish name, and that he's uncomfortable with her Latina identity. His inability to make an Anglo name out of César's (or an Anglo persona; unlike Lucrecia, César isn't white-passing) forms a major part of his discomfort with him. 

Others don't bother with any sort of lead-in. Beru is Shmi’s daughter, and she isn’t says exactly what the fic is about: the conflict Beru feels as a surrogate daughter to Shmi, but not at all a literal one. It doesn't make clear that much of this conflict is about cultural heritage and her desire to help Shmi's culture survive without appropriating it. The Lady Catherine reconciliation story launches the "here's what the story is about" even more directly: For over half a year, Lady Catherine heard nothing from her nephew. We're in the immediate post-P&P timeframe, dealing with the estrangement between Lady Catherine and Darcy. That is what the whole thing is about. The opening of the Lucy fic—If Darth Vader did not avoid the sight of his daughter in carbonite, he certainly did not seek it out—is another quasi-in media res one. We're there in his head at exactly the moment that the story begins: Lucy's in carbonite and Vader is ambivalent about imprisoning her.

Some actually begin with some action (oddly, one is the less-than-action-packed wgdots) or, more often, dialogue. But those tend to serve the same purpose of setting the scene, showing where we are and what's going on or launching into that sort of positioning. But there's not much full in media res. I like to set things up before we get going.

As a tangential side-note, I noticed as I was writing this up that the reflections/summaries of the fic sound much more issueficcy than the stories actually are. I mean, to some extent they are (the Lucy fics, for instance, for better or worse are explicitly a thought experiment about how the misogyny of the OT would impact Luke's story and relationships), but it sounds much preachier when described than in narration. The Alfie story, for instance, treats Al's microaggressive bigotry as elements of his general fuckboy douchery, as is his preoccupation with masculinity, which leads him to regard César as a sort of existential rival, unworthy yet surpassingly superior, but blinds him to the fact that he is a very literal one. In a nutshell, the story is "racist, misogynistic snob is so threatened by his girlfriend's brother being manlier than him that he completely fails to realize how incestuous their relationship really is." Beru's story only passingly involves cultural appropriation, and is much more about her eager engagement with Shmi's legacy and role in passing it on. So it's a mixed bag in that way.
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anghraine: from the 2005 p&p: darcy standing at a piano while georgiana plays it (Default)

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