mardypants: Diddy and Bjork arrange a fizzy mountain duet. (hopelessly lost in translation)
Long time coming, but here's a definite #2: Incompetence.

See, I was noticing a lot of the lists included competence as a kink. Which is all well and good as far as it goes, which... isn't very far if you think about it. Kind of half the point of a good plot is to throw something -- many things -- at the main characters that they weren't expecting or the least bit prepared for. Watch them flail around and start to figure things out after a while. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy or possibly killed -- I'm not particular as long as it's interesting and engaging in some way, what happens to them. And what can be more engaging than to see a character out of their element, totally confused, and then get to watch them go about piecing together some kind of sense out of the situation? Or watching them make understandable mistakes -- the kind you make when you're running on too little information or experience or resources or whatever -- and then have to deal with the fallout.

I wonder if maybe a lot of the people who like competence are thinking back bitterly on all those times when fictional characters made mistakes that seemed really stupid or obvious, or creators that try to equate ineptitude -- terminal klutziness, or perhaps a benign and unchanging state of ignorance or apathy, or how about a total disregard for school/books/advice from others/common sense? -- with likeability in a character. Or relatability, I dunno.

What I do know is that I tend to relate best to characters that are, whether they want to or not, learning, trying to absorb and adapt, trying to decide what to keep and discard. Characters that can and do fail, sometimes spectacularly, sometimes hurting themselves and other people, but the consequences always catch up sooner or later and they're going to have to figure out how to deal with them (or run far, far away).

Example: Taran Wanderer, especially the Free Commots section, where he learned how very much he would never learn about smithing, weaving, and pottery. (I'll try and think of some other appropos ones later.)
mardypants: Rainbow Unicorn Happiness (more joyful)
Okay, these two I probably won't go with, not if the fandom nomination limit's still set to four, but I would love to see stories about them.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (song)

Haaaaaands across the water (water!)
Heeeeeeeeeeeads across the sky....

Yes, I admit it's partly because of the slash in the title, but mostly because this is a strange, moody-playful song cobbled together by Paul McCartney from bits and starts of something like twelve other songs (or so the internet tells me). Which means a writer would have something like twelve different directions they could take a story in at the very least!

A Little Night Music - Sondheim/Wheeler

Specifically something from the point of view of Fredrika after the end, about what it's like to have her mom retired and suddenly around all the time (is it anything like what she hoped for in her version of Glamorous Life?), and now her grandmother's suddenly gone, and suddenly she's got a dad after living most of her life without apparently needing/wanting one. Plus the recent scandal of her new dad's much-younger wife running off with his son -- I imagine that's going to give everybody involved quite a bit of adjusting to do. So how does it all work out (or does it)? Can they reconcile all their different ideas of what being a family means? What would such a reconciliation look like?

This kind of ties in with something I've been wanting to try for a while, that 101 Kinks list that all of the cool people were doing. Except, being me, it's not going to be particularly kinky, unless you're looking at 'em sideways. :>\ Just things I tend to like when I encounter them in fanfic or published fiction or wherever. (So 101 Squees, more like?)

Actually there could just be one single thing on the list:

Things I Don't Usually Like Reading About Handled in Way I For Some Reason Like

But that's not very informative, is it? So here's a better first entry:

1. Non-dysfunctional non-nuclear families.

Bonus points if the authors can manage the non-dysfunctional part while still showing the specific problems such families would face in their different settings and societies.

Examples: Dodie Smith (The Hundred and One Dalmatians, I Capture the Castle) leaps immediately to mind. IIRC, her mom left her dad to move back in with her flamboyantly bohemian extended family when Dodie was still very small, which must be why the girl grew up to write such marvelously loving and eccentric blended families (the Mortmains) and families of choice (the Dearlys, their nannies, and all the dogs).

Also Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby, who manages quite well as a single mother until faced with a problem even most two-parent families would find overwhelming. Her solution -- which involves building, bit by bit, a support system where the help she gives is every bit as necessary as the help she receives -- is the part of the book that still makes me glad to reread.

And of course, now that I'm writing this, it's becoming all too easy to recall other bookish examples, too many to name -- but not any fanfic ones. Hmm. Must mean my memory's being selectively faulty again. Time to go rummaging through old bookmarks....

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March 2012

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