cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,
cupidsbow
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Rant--Writing RPS

One of the newer friends on my flist, the lovely shoshannagold, made me rant yesterday, because she foolishly asked me a question about writing. Specifically about writing RPS. Hence my rantiness, coz as you all know, get me going on that topic, and you can't shut me up :)

Anyway, I've been thinking about it since then, and now I want to know how all of you go about constructing your RPS characters.

To kick the whole thing off, here's my (slightly edited) rant to shoshannagold:



I've been thinking a lot about the differences between FPS and RPS. The biggie for me is artistic freedom (if there is such a thing in fanfic :). FPS is based on shows which are, after all, designed to be written by multiple writers, so the characters have easy tags a writer can adopt. I've written three and a half FPS stories, and although I quite enjoyed writing them, in hindsight I actually found those character tags limiting. The common formulas the shows use can be limiting too, even though the best fanfic transcends them.

One of the things I love about RPS is that it has all the freedom of original fic, but still has this common shorthand that the audience will understand. It means I can write pretty much any type of story I want, but it also means I can take shortcuts and still achieve the effect I want. This was really brought home to me recently, as I've just turned one of my slash stories (five scenes of Bohemian life) into an original fic. I had to double its length to get the same effect with original characters.

So, for me, RPS is like the best of both worlds, and that means that I tend to use it as my playground. When I want to try a new technique, I whack it in an RPS before using it in an original fic. Elijah's Collection is the most obvious example of this, especially Part 2 (Lines). I really wanted to play with different prose formats, so "Lines" has script and songs and intercutting, etc, etc. With about half of my RPS stories, the plot/technique has come to me before the characters. So I tend to make poor Elijah and Orlando (and the others, especially poor Dom!) do what they need to for the plot to work.

As for the characters, I've been using them as a playground too. For a start, I'd never really written likable characters until RPS, but now I've fallen in love with them, and my original fics are suddenly getting nice people in them! The niceness factor was a deliberate choice on my part, because that's what I like to read most in slash. It's just been a fortuitous accident that it's also been a total revelation to me as a writer.

I don't actually research them much. When I began Part 1 of Elijah's Collection (Gaydar--which was my first RPS), I'd watched the The Fellowship EE; both the movie and the hobbits and Orli interviews. That was the entirety of my research. Although I had also seen most of Elijah's films, but wasn't a particular fan or anything.

As far as reading RPS went, I'd read abundantlyqueer's stuff, especially "Clue," and I'd read Lemur's "Deconstructing Legolas." I don't think I'd read much else at that point. Not that I needed to--those two stories were utterly inspiring. (Of course I'd read heaps in other fandoms.)

I didn't trawl for pics and still don't, although if they're on my flist I'll usually have a look. But I'm quite cautious now... since the Orlando Bloom Trauma incident! I nearly stopped writing RPS altogether about 4 chapters into Elijah's Collection 3 (Play), because I stumbled across some paparazzi shots of Orlando swimming. They squicked me *so* badly, because they were of *him* and not his celebrity persona. Ew. Way too much information.

Since I started writing RPS, I've obviously absorbed a whole heap of other stuff about the boys. Mostly by osmosis rather than dedicated research. In the last couple of months I've seen the Fellowship and Two Towers commentaries, thanks to special_trille. And I've seen all 3 movies of course. Plus, I've read a lot more Orlijah fic. There was hardly anything when I began! And now there are all these wonders! (although if you look under "Stuff to Read" in my Memories, you'll see how woefully behind I am).

I still don't trawl for pics, or even read interviews much. Most of the interviews I read/watch are just the ones in my local newspapers/tv. (Although I will admit that the ever-wonderful vegetariansushi is changing my mind about the whole pic business, by sending lovely ones my way. Thanks sweetie.)

Basically, I make most of it up, just as I would if it was original fic. I try to stick in a few bits and pieces, like Elijah smoking and that he's good at hacky sak, and Orlando's back injury. But otherwise, I just try to write what I want to read. I try to fall in love with them both in every story I write. And I try to make them just a little bit different in every story, so that I don't get bored.

I spoke to scotsnow about this during our morning tea this morning, and he said he did the same thing. Pretty much made it all up, with a sprinkle of recognisable facts thrown in. Of course, he was writing AU, so maybe that doesn't count :)

Going by some of the comments people have left in my LJ over time, there seems to be an impression that I spend hours researching Elijah and Orlando. I don't. I wish I had the time. The only time I've done extensive research was for Elijah's Collectin 3 (Play), because I had to actually research Wellington to get the geography right. I'll probably also use some facts in EC4 (Taste), because of the kind of story it is, about Elijah's music preferences. And, now I think of it, I *did* do a bit of research for "Common Tongues," because I needed the quotes from the actresses.

But the painful truth is that, for the most part, these characters are pretty much all me. Sorry if I've just disillusioned anyone!

The basic conception that I use is:

Elijah: has been acting so long that he has a very well developed public persona. It's very convincing, because there's a lot that's real in it. But it *is* a persona. And he uses it shamelessly to get what he needs when he's in the public eye--which is why he's so good at taking power in interviews, even with very experienced interviewers. He's also smart and funny. He's constructed the persona as protection because he really needed it when he was so young. And when he's not 'on' he's a slightly different person--more insecure. I find that a really interesting psychological combination to write.

That's pretty much what I use every time, but with variations on the theme.

Orlando: I think he began with hardly any public persona at all--it was pretty much him. He's developed one over time, and it mostly boils down to not saying much on the record, especially about his private life. He's a goof, and funny and a bit sweet and naive. He's not dumb but he's not Einstien either. He's very opposite to Elijah, so I have to work hard to make them click, which I like. It's more rewarding that way.

Because Orlando's public persona isn't really strong, he's the perfect cypher--I can write pretty much anything I like over the top.

I also try to make Orlando's speech more British and Elijah's more American.

I make the other hobbits smart and funny. Dom tends to get the role of comic relief; Sean is the mother hen; and Billy is the smart one and very grown up when he needs to be.



So there you have it. What do the rest of you do? Are you research fiends? Do you make it all up? Do you only have them wearing clothes you've seen in pictures? Are you a 'canon' Nazi? Are you inspired by other people's fanfics? Do you get ideas from interviews? Do you put your own sex life in there? :)

So come on. Spill!
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