Gotham City Blues (9790 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Gotham Central
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Josie MacDonald, Marcus Driver
Additional Tags: Case Fic, Character Study, Female Character of Color
Summary: A week in the life of Josephine MacDonald. Gotham's not an easy city to love.
My assigned fic! I was really excited for Yuletide this year because I was going through a bit of a writing dry spell, and I always like the way that Yuletide always tosses me something that throws me for a loop. This year was no different. Gotham Central, in terms of characterization, tends to do the most interesting things with Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, which means that a lot of other great characters fade into the background. Josie and Marcus, even though they do get a lot of narrative attention, never have quite the same level of compelling drama. The best part about writing this fic was getting to meet them in a way that reading the comics didn't give me a chance to. I love Gotham Central as a whole -- I think it's of the best kind of fanfiction, loving the original material while also willing to explore and undermine it -- and I loved this chance to dig deeper into it.
It took a while, when writing this, to get into the flow. It wasn't until I got to the pure plot of the case that it felt like the story really started to gel in my mind. I think that difficulty shows a little bit in the fic, but I think the character study bits of Josie's weekend still work. I'm glad that I wrote them, and I'm glad they're still in there.
Also, the weirdest thing about this was that I was like 'oh, I'll write a simple case that is easy to solve.' but then it turned out that the case, despite having a simple(ish) explanation, was not actually easy to solve, and it ended up taking 70% of the fic to get to the resolution. I've written case fic before, but this is the first time it's actually ever felt natural to write, probably because the case in my head was supposed to be simple. It's easy, as a writer, to want to make it convoluted and twisty, and for it to come out feeling like you're trying too hard. Sometimes, it pays to keep things simple.
An Ever-Fixed Mark (11702 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: How to Get Away with Murder
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Oliver Hampton/Connor Walsh
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - BDSM, Rimming, Anal Sex, Flogging
Summary: BDSM AU. "So," Connor says. "Just say the word and I'd be happy to kneel for you."
Ah yes. This one. This was picked up as a pinch hit about two weeks before stories were due. I was like 'oh, hey, Connor/Oliver. I can do that.' and so I volunteered for it. I was mulling over what to do with it, because the prompt was pretty open ended. On a lark, I saw that the Yuletide Writer letter had mentioned D/s and D/s AUs, and I was like 'ha, wouldn't it be funny if I wrote that?'
And then I did end up writing it.
One of the first things I had to do while writing this is sit down and write out the most bare bones outline I could make it. I needed to keep the word count (and the number of sex scenes) down, because I was on such a tight timeline. I wish I could have put more scenes into the beginning, to really put a lot more into building that relationship, but I needed to make sure that the backend had enough development so that it could build to the ending that I wanted/needed.
I had a lot of fun writing this, even though it was pretty much non-stop writing for a week. A lot of BDSM AUs are either about subs who resist submission or subs who embrace their submissiveness wholeheartedly. It was fun to write about Connor as a sub who isn't conflicted about his identity at all, but who doesn't quite fall into the usual mold, either. Also, writing sad and needy Connor will never not be fun.
userspace (1084 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Transistor (Video Game)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Farrah Yon-Dale, Lillian Platt, Niola Chein, Bailey Gilande, Transistor - Character
Additional Tags: Interactive, Interactive Fiction, Character Study
Summary: A modern computer operating system usually segregates virtual memory into kernel space and user space. This separation serves to protect data and functionality from faults (by improving fault tolerance) and malicious behaviour (by providing computer security).
So after barfing out 11k of fic for a pinch hit, I decided it was a brilliant idea to take on doing something interactive. Ahahaha. It's a terrible idea. Don't do it.
Twine 2 had just been released, and I wanted to put it through its paces. I have a whole post about Twine that I want to write coming up, I think, so I'll save a bunch of rambling for then. But yeah, I ended up glancing through the list of people who said they'd be happy to get interactive fiction for Yuletide, and this Transistor prompt jumped out at me.
Transistor is one of those games that hooked itself into my brain this (last?) year, and I had already been thinking about writing Yuletide treats for it. I love the weird world that the characters inhabit, and it was nice to poke around a little bit at it. And that ending. Jeez. I wanted to capture some of how that made me feel.
As far as interactive fiction goes, this story is pretty simplistic. I wanted to keep things achievable in the timeframe that I had (about a week). Twine 2 was still rough around the edges. But I think I managed to get things into a good place. The interactivity changes how you experience it, and I like to think that I managed to make each of the characters distinct and memorable in their own ways.
Girlhood (299 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Broken Age
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Vella Tartine
Additional Tags: Pre-Game(s)
Summary: This is what Vella remembers.
Broken Age is one of those games that I adore, and I really wanted to write for it. No one else had written anything for it during Yuletide, so I was gung ho about giving it a shot even as burned out as I was. At least Madness opening made it easy for me to keep it short. This came together pretty quickly. I love writing details like this, so it was fun to try to construct an entire ficlet around them. And Vella is so badass. I loved getting a chance to spend more time with her.
You don't really need to know that much about the context since the fic takes place pre-game, but if you want the context, this trailer tells you everything you need to know.
Mostly trope_bingo fic this year.
White Teeth Teens (1241 words) - I love outside POV stories, so it was great getting to write some Burt. I love that canon doesn't give us the first meeting at all, so we get to imagine it for ourselves.
Laugh Until Our Ribs Get Tough (1740 words) - Role reversal! I wanted to make sure that it was pretty rooted in the characters as we know them. I think Kurt might come off as a little too self-assured for where he was in canon at the time, but I like to think that it's mostly all about putting on a brave face in front of a suspicious spy.
We Crave a Different Kind of Buzz (1392 words) - Huddling for warmth is one of those fun tropes that I love, but I liked doing something a little bit different here, where it isn't about ~*realizing hidden feelings*~ so much as it was an excuse to make out during school hours underneath a blanket.
Reeling through the Midnight Streets (1553 words) - The most important thing to me about road trip fic is the mood of it. There's an unreality to traveling, where you're taken out of yourself and the stable things in your life and forced to figure out who you are when you don't have those things anymore. Perhaps it was a little too much mood and not enough feelings/plot/character interaction, but it was probably the least popular of these fics by a large margin.
ex machina (6910 words) - The kernel of this idea was birthed when I was writing the trope_bingo fic. I had a square for 'au: other', and that could mean pretty much anything. I usually default to cyberpunk AUs because I'm convinced that there's not enough cyberpunk AUs out there, and that left me with the question of what kind of people would Kurt and Blaine be in a cyberpunk universe? Performers, of course, but how does that fit in?
I liked the tension of it, the idea that Kurt was a new kind of AI actor that could and probably would displace old fashioned flesh-and-blood actors like Blaine. I think the original idea was that they'd be in a theater, and that it would maybe be Blaine on the outside looking in at what had changed?
I put a time limit on myself for this challenge, though. All five stories had to be completed in ten days, and I think I knew even then that the story would be longer than that. So I kind of put it aside and wrote about robot Mark Zuckerberg instead. But the idea had been planted in my head and I wanted to write it.
It's a strange fic for me, I think. I was having a bad few weeks, not so much personally, so much as feeling the weight of all the terrible and grindingly shitty places the world is going. (I am… not feeling particularly optimistic these days, sorry.) I was trying to bleed off some of those feelings with this story, and it turned out to probably be even bleaker than intended. I think it's the closest I'll ever get to writing a Ted Chiang story, though, so I'll always like it for that.
The Social Network
The One Where Mark Is A Barista (2102 words) - I wrote the first chapter of this years ago, mostly as a joke between me and ninhursag and merisunshine36 about barista AUs. It was fun to write a second chapter in which I got to exposition a little bit about the backstory we'd dreamed up. Or maybe just the stuff I dreamed up. I'm telling you. Google = Skynet. Don't trust it.
Ghost in the Shell (lots of words) - Interactive fic. I'm still trying to do it, and I'm still trying to figure out how to make it work. Games are about exploring spaces, in a lot of ways, and what better thing to explore on a computer than a virtual computer? I worked on this for a long time. Less on the code and more on the content, which was like pulling teeth, because I am terrible at first person and even more terrible at epistolaries. It didn't take fandom by storm or anything like that, but it's still something I'm proud of. I went back through it while writing this post, and there's definitely pleasure in re-finding all the things I hid away, seeing those words again with a bit more distance between me and them. Allllll the feelings, on the surface or otherwise.
Rest for the Weary (959 words) - MORE FEELINGS. I wanted to know all about the future where Charles and Erik team up to fight the evil robots. This is not quite the fic I wanted to read. This is not a fic about their slow -- or maybe speedy -- reconciliation in the face of a common enemy and the deterioration of the world around them. This is a fic about feelings. Specifically, mine. And maybe Erik's. A little bit.
The Naming of Things (586 words) - Written pretty quickly for a prompt, it's a look into Raven/Mystique's head that we don't get to see in the movie. It's still rough; I pushed it out without a whole lot of polish. But some people seemed to like it.
Captain America (MCU)
A Hard Day's Night (1320 words) (x-over with Community) - This yearly list probably wouldn't be complete without at least one story that merisunshine36 made me write. That's this story for this year. It was such a weird and fun little moment, to see Danny Pudi show up in The Winter Soldier, and it was a weird and fun experience trying to get into Abed's head. It's a careful line you have to walk when you try to get his voice down, between being too self-consciously and obviously meta about it and making him just oblivious enough to the narrative tropes he's been subjected to. Go too far in one direction or the other, and it all starts falling apart.
Lean On Me (1172 words) - Also written for a prompt, involving Bucky, Steve, a grocery store, and sex. I don't really know what to say about it. It does contain all of those things?
The Weight of Water (714 words) - similarly prompt fic. I am always a sucker for writing about the weather, and this was so odd, trying to figure out exactly why they had ended up in that particular place and that particular thing. But I like to think it still hangs together.
Hand Covers Bruise (11387 words) - This is probably my one and only magnum opus in MCU fandom. I had the idea for this story back in May after seeing the movie for the first time, and I even started it then, but it got stalled over the summer when I wasn't writing a lot. I finally got my act together and finished it, and I am super proud of it. I know there's a lot of stuff from Bucky and Natasha's 616 relationship that I am not familiar enough with to include, but I liked the idea of stripping it down and building their relationship from the ground up without the baggage of the 616 versions. I love drawing out the slow changes and shifts in relationships, and I think this is probably one of the best ones I've pulled off, going from their initial hostility to their eventual complex friendship. This fic taught me a lot about who Natasha is for me.
How to Get Away with Murder
Breakpoint (6398 words) - I have already rambled a lot about how great Sex Criminals is. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to write an AU based on it. Naturally, Connor Walsh was the first character I thought of. He's someone who thinks of sex as a weapon already, so it was easy to transpose those powers onto him. I tried to match the sort of tone/beats of the comic in the beginning, but I don't think it quite worked. It's hard to match, especially as the story moves forward. It was nice to write something comedic, even if the comedy is sort of kind of run through by tragedy at the same time.
The title was kind of an inside computer programming joke. Debuggers are tools that let you pause the execution of your code at arbitrary points -- called breakpoints -- so you can actually look inside the running program and diagnose what's going wrong. I figured that it was a parallel that I couldn't quite give up. And I think it sounds a lot like what Connor's state of mind is like in the last scene.
Leitmotif(s) of the year: Meh? I don't think there were as many strong thematic ties this year as there were last year. I guess maybe the continuing attempts to write good interactive fic. Gen? Character-focused pieces?
My best story of this year: This is always a tough question. Maybe Ghost in the Shell? Hand Covers Bruise? Gotham City Blues? I think they are all great in very different ways. I'm glad I got a chance to write all of them.
My favorite story of this year: I've looked over this list three or four times, and I really can't say. It's been a really odd year for me and fic.
Most popular story: On the sheer numbers alone, Rest for the Weary. Who'd've thunk it for an unbetaed story that's less than 1000 words long?
Story of mine most underappreciated by the universe, in my opinion: I'm going to go out on a limb and say Reeling through the Midnight Streets. I could say something obvious about An Ever-Fixed Mark or Ghost in the Shell or ex machina, because I am greedy and never feel like I get enough feedback on anything, but I think in terms of complete lack of response, this one surprised me.
Most fun story to write: Maybe robot!barista!Mark? I think robot!barista!Mark is always fun to write.
Sexiest story: Breakpoint. It's about magic glowing penises. I guess that counts as sexy this year.
Story that shifted my own perceptions of the characters: Gotham City Blues. I didn't know who Josie was before working on this fic. Not in the literal sense, but more in the sense of knowing who she is and what she wants. And then I sat down and worked on this fic, and in the end, I could tell you about the time she and Marcus fell asleep at their desks in the middle of a tough case and Crowe took a picture of them, Josie face down on her paperwork, Marcus slumped in his chair with his mouth open and drooling a little. The picture hung in the break room for two weeks before Josie managed to sneakily take it down and hide it. I like knowing that. That's an amazing feeling.
Hardest story to write: Ghost in the Shell. As a writer, I'm a creature of structure, of linear narratives that move from point A to point B, and this is pretty much the complete opposite of that. It's a bunch of super tiny stories that kind of have to do with each other but mostly don't. It's hard to keep your head down and keep focused when you're switching between voices and stories that quickly.
Also, that whole pesky 'having to write most of your own UI framework' didn't really help either.
Biggest Disappointment: I don't know, man. This one's tough, too. Maybe An Ever-Fixed Mark, because I feel like I could have done more with it, but it just didn't feel like I had enough time. I think if I had been willing to let go of canon a little bit more than I did, it could have stood on its own merits a little bit better than it does right now.
Biggest Surprise: userspace. I wrote it all in about three days, and I am amazed that it managed to come together so quickly. I had such a hard time with Rucks' voice when writing Bastion fic. It surprised me that the Transistor/Boxer/Mr. Nobody's voice came to me so easily.
ex machina, also, I think. I didn't know it was going to be as brutal as it was until I finished it.
Story I haven't yet written, but intend to: I still have the vague idea for a Groundhog Day interactive fic that is still looking for the right fandom to turn it into a real thing. Maybe one day.
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