Although I haven't tried myself at writing yet, I enjoyed your essay immensely. I found many points where I thought - yes, that's exactly why I love certain stories. I hope this comprehensive work will help many people.
Author's Response: Thank you! I am very glad you liked it and found it helpful. :)
And plausibility is an even greater challenge; if you manage to pull this all off, see again Spiced Wine's work for example, it's going to be an indeed remarkable feat.
I warn for incest, heavily, as I know it can be a trigger and I know some-one who reads my work but will avoid the incestuous parts (for a reason) and also some-one who reads around the slash XD.
(I do not consider cousins as incestuous as in the UK cousins can marry) But what can I say? I was reading the Silmarillion many years ago and it was just *there* - I must have been a strange teenager, *cough* nothing's changed. Depending on whose point of view I write from, I get different feelings: Fėanor, guiltless, Fingolfin addicted and ashamed, etc, but all the stories are based around it, and I couldn't have written them another way.
This was a very interesting essay; this one and Pink's Authentic Smut should both be read. I think people who begin writing will obviously start with what they like, and if that is a Legolas/OFC they will write it and probably move on to other things or other characters. (I used up all my het in o-fic and role play d;-) )
I believe OFC's are a good thing to have in the fandom personally, and recorded the OFC podcasts because I believed it. It really is time for the 'Mary Sue' hate to end, because it seems to me to come down to woemn bashing other women, which is reprehensible.
I do agree that original male characters are wildly less popular because, as you say, with all those hawt canon males, why bother to create one? I bothered because the story fell on me, but there is room for absolutely every-one, I think. The magic is always in the writing and a good writer can pull anything off.
That being said, to me it is vital to know canon well, because the absolute best AU's are written by people who are marinated in canon. Do not ask me why this is, but it's true.
well done and take care
Author's Response: I know what you say about things just being 'there' - see my Galadriel/Feanor penchant that one day I'll just put down in writing because I must free myself from it. :P I think the problem with incest!fics is that sometimes they come across as very grauitous...not to mention the ones in which everybody knows and everybody approves, which, sincerely, are just implausible in any universe I can think of. While in your fics I saw you thought the thing all round and through, and took great care in laying down the feelings of guilt and anguish and desire. It's just the way, methinks, the genre should be written like. :) "This was a very interesting essay; this one and Pink's Authentic Smut should both be read." Thank you! I do think too that the bias against OFCs should end. I am actually planning an essay about them, to give a bit of advice to the new writers in the genre. It's a fact that Mary Sue is out there, and it's also a fact that we all passed through that phase...what people really need is somebody friendly telling them with a smile just why having an Elf called Alambarediel Tinuviella with blue hair is not a good idea, and not canatics flaming them to Udun and beyond. Really. :) "I bothered because the story fell on me, but there is room for absolutely every-one, I think. The magic is always in the writing and a good writer can pull anything off." I couldn't agree more! When I discovered slash I was intrigued by the fact that so few OMCs featured in them. So your fic really stood out. "That being said, to me it is vital to know canon well, because the absolute best AU's are written by people who are marinated in canon. Do not ask me why this is, but it's true." I'll just repeat the quote that opens this essay: "You need to know the rules in order to better disobey them." I think the difference between a canon-knowing writer going AU and one that does not know canon lies in the fact that the stories the first composes, however different from the original, will always retain the true flavour of the story, the one that drew us to it in the first place. While the second usually jumps out of the window of Middle-earth by paragraph two. :P Thanks for the thoughtful, detailed reviews! Cheers Eldalie
While I myself do not write MPREG, I am a huge fan of Esteliel, whose series is based around MPREG. Basically Legolas is a hermaphrodite and carries and bears children as a woman does. Tolkien even has an archaic Elvish word for hermaphrodite. Esteliel's story tells that Legolas' line was given this *gift* long ago in Doriath and it is rare and very special. I think it is a wonderful, moving and deeply thought-provoking story which explores gender roles, and it works because Legolas yes, does have a womb and although I believe his female organs can go into a kind of dormancy, and he outwardly looks male, he can nurture children as a woman. It does work in this story, because of that.
Some women do not like MPREG because they say it takes the women entirely out of the equation, but Esteliel's story states that Legolas' gift is incredibly rare. Me, I think, as long as some-one else has the baby and not me, I don't care. :)
Author's Response: I see what you mean...I think that this particular story is not constrained by the groundlessness I was talking about. It looks like the author gave a lot of thought to building a believable background to the concept...and what with Legolas being an hermaphrodite, it's even strictly M-preg. ;) No, the Mpreg I think is dead on arrival, is that, all too common, where they give no explanation, just a 'Oh, it's happened! What a huge surprise!' which, frankly, has me go WHAT? I think Esteliel is yet another example of how a careful and talented author can pull off just about everything. :) It is true that Mpreg seems to cut women out of the deal entirely, but the fact that disturbs me the most about it is that it seems to imply that homosexuals can't have a family unless you challenge the laws of biology. (Again, if you make Legolas an hermaphrodite, he can't even be called an homosexual in the strict sense of the word.)
Hi Eldalie. I did not read this essay when you first put it up due to a) time constraints, and b) because I thought it would contain slash-bash. However, I am glad to see it is a very balanced and open minded essay.
Like Encairion, I have always envisaged Elves (as in the Elves of myth whom Tolkien borrowed, as being bisexual, that love and desire do not depend on the gender, but are born of the soul. Also, I truly cannot see a race of beings living that long and not experimenting. The reason I find LACE so laughable is that it is so very clearly a straightlaced Catholic view and there is no point in which the dangerous, beautiful more alien Elves of myth can meet Tolkien's views on how it *should* be. I can envisage them reading it and laughing. Although, to be honest, if canatics agree with LACE for whatever reason, they clearly should not read stories that have warnings for slash or non-canon pairings. The people who actively seek out stories they hate have a problem, not those who write them. We do warn, after all. In fact the best thing to do, if a person really detest AU's or slash or uncanonical pairings, is to go and write something they do like. It's also more creative than just flaming and sporking.
Author's Response: Hi there! I can see you might fear slash-bash from this kind of essay...but no danger of that. I'm an het writer, I admit I wouldn't know where to start from to write an all-slash story, (even if my Fingon is forlornly in love with Maedhros, mind you), but I have read some very good slash fics and even if I did not like the genre at all still I would fight for the slash writers' right to create what they will without dangers of flames. :) I was immensely intrigued by Encairion's theory, and I found it so very plausible I might write a romance about bi Elves myself in the future. LACE is indeed about as comfortable to live with as an iron corset...and it's a rampart example of Catholic hypocrisy, take my word for that. What I tried to do with essay was indeed to show would-be writers that about everything that is told there is challenged by the tales, and so they can quite serenely ignore it. :D