Dear Yuletide Writer:
The most important thing is that you have fun writing the story! The results of any creative effort are better when the creator is doing something that s/he likes, after all. The only thing that I will demand is a happy ending: this is the dark end of the year, when we could all use a little joy!
- Friendships - although I am a romantic sort of person, not every relationship has to be romantic (I do like the trope of friends becoming lovers, however)
- Strong characterization (including character-appropriate dialog: no earthy, uneducated characters using $50 words)
- Wry and even dark humor in the course of a more serious story
- Positive emotional payoffs that are well-earned
- Passions that are strong without being mushy/fluffy
- Moments of realization - satori
- And any of the following "cool bits": hurt-comfort | being cozy indoors when it's rainy or snowing | senses of smell and touch and memories attached to them | sudden realization of one's feelings for another | warm and oversized bathrobes/dressing gowns or sweaters/jerseys | someone's profile silhouetted against the light | opposites attracting | impulsive acts of valor (especially on behalf of the weak or an underdog) | the little spots of light that sift through a thick canopy of trees onto the ground beneath | water running over pebbles or stones | old-fashioned sections of town with narrow streets and alleyways and odd shops | licking honey or something similar off fingers | someone gradually waking and smiling when they realize their beloved is there | an autumn leaf or item of clothing as the only bit of color in a bleak landscape | brushing long hair or riffling fingers through short hair | romantic partners who are both competent | cabinets or cases full of odd curios | the sound of a flute or panpipes | an open-air market or seaside boardwalk or other place filled with joyful bustle and the smell of good things to eat | a teahouse or restaurant on the water | whispered admissions of love or forgiveness | food porn | finding in a fight that one's ally feels like a protective wall | cynics with secretly soft hearts | a study or library as a refuge against the outside world | places where arts or martial arts are studied or where master crafters are at work | kissing the inside of the elbow or the base of the throat | drops of water clinging to hair and/or skin.
I Don't Like:
- Characters acting OOC, especially if the purpose is to force them into a relationship (doubly bad if that relationship is romantic or sexual)
- Romantic/sexual relationships between partners of very uneven levels of power (adult/child, master/servant) - only a couple of writers have ever managed this without squicking me out
- By-the-numbers, every-action-described explicit sex (first they do this, then they do that, then ...)
- Fluffy girlish stuff
- Extensive use of epithets, or epithets that don't match the character POV (no one should think of his or her long-time lover as "the green-eyed man," for example): these will throw me right out of a story
I'm quite content with both straight and gay relationships. In the case of regular fiction (as opposed to manga), I do tend to ship the canon relationships, unless it's a character who has had no relationships shown in the story. I'm not comfortable with sexual relationships shown in children under the age of, say, 14 or so, and not even among older teens except with their age peers.
(Also feel free to check out my interests on my profile and my own fic on this LJ or on AO3.)
As to the requests:
Eagle of the Ninth Series - My favorites in this series are The Silver Branch and Dawn Wind. In both cases, I'm interested in what happened next, after the canon of novels wrapped up. Cullen in The Silver Branch fascinates me - how does he settle down to being a servant of a couple of young officers, rather than the Emperor's Fool? I'm very fond of Justin too: his shyness and devotion to his medical arts speak to me. Or you could roll the story forward to the time when they leave the Legions. Flavius would probably retire to the farm on the Downs. What about Justin? And Cullen? For Dawn Wind, the story would be about Owain and Regina settling down in Saxon-occupied lands to build a future together. Are Priscus and Priscilla still alive, when Owain goes looking for them? Does Owain end up drawing on his time as a thrall to mediate between local Saxons and Britons? How does Regina settle down to being a farmwife - or does she? Animals should show up in Regina and Owain's story: remember Dog, and Regina's fondness for feeding the birds, even when she hardly had any food herself.
Apple Bough | Traveling Shoes - Myra Forum is my favorite Streatfield character, period - even more than Petrova Fossil. What becomes of Myra when she grows up? Does she marry someone local and settle down to raise children at Apple Bough? Does she enter a caring profession like medicine (human or veterinary) or social work, or one organizing and making things pleasant for artists like her brothers and sister (as Miss Popple did for them all), and perhaps not marry at all? What has she heard from the rest of the family lately? Bonus points for involving her in a friendship or other relationship with characters from some of Streatfield's roughly contemporaneous stories, like White Boots, Wintle's Wonders (maybe Rachel is in a film with Wolfgang!), or The Growing Summer. (You don't have to keep the timelines absolutely canon-consistent for this ... for example, the young characters in White Boots would be a decade older than Myra, but you can move them up in time, if those are the ones you want to include ... or maybe not. A Myra in her mid-20s meeting mid-30s Alec or Toby Johnson might be fun.)
Black Lagoon (anime or manga) - I've actually never seen the anime, but I understand that it follows the manga (or vice-versa) pretty closely. Basically, although romance/sex are lovely, I also enjoy team interactions, snark, friendships under fire, etc. Although I listed Revy, Rock, Dutch, and Eda in the sign-up. I also like Benny, Shenhua, Balalaika, and Greenback Jane. Move cautiously with Rock/Revy - I don't think things should come easy in their relationship. I can see interesting interactions between Dutch and Eda (their differing views on U.S. service, for example), Dutch and Balalaika (he's one of the few male allies who's not her subordinate, and I doubt he's intimidated by her), or Revy and Shenhua (what about being trapped by mutual enemies somewhere, and having to work together to get out of that?). Or how about Benny's early days with Lagoon, where he owes Revy his life and Dutch doesn't trust him yet, or later on, some quality time with Jane - including their online relationship? Or, if you like plotty stuff, one of Eda's loony-tunes, so-crazy-it-actually-works schemes?
Samurai Deeper Kyo (
anime or manga) - I know it says "anime or manga" - but I'm all about the manga here - it was my first manga. I actually love most of the main characters passionately, with the big exception of Tokito - no Tokito, please. My favorite characters are probably Yukimura and Akari. Here are a few ideas for things I'd find interesting, if you haven't already thought of something: Muramasa's flight from the Mibu city with the child Kyo (and probably Anri along as a guard); young Yukimura attempting to settle down and become a proper samurai after the Mizuki incident, with his brother Nobuyuki doubtful about his change of heart (bonus points for Sanada Ten involvement); early days for Sasuke the younger with Yukimura and the Ten, perhaps with Sasuke saving Yukimura from some peril; Hotaru's early days with the Four Emperors, and how young Akira reacts to the newcomer; interactions among Muramasa, Fubuki, Hishigi, and Shihoudou, back before things went really sour. Less gen/more adult/slash ideas (all of which would probably benefit from knowing the entire series through vol. 38): Akari's early days with the Four Emperors, and how she becomes aware of her feelings for Kyo; Hishigi and Fubuki - some crisis during which their relationship evolves to the strange, conflicted thing we see when Kyo and his party first enter the Mibu city (this probably won't be able to have a happy-happy ending); Shinrei's attempts to deal with his prodigal brother (how does he feel about Hotaru's running off to pursue what turns out to be a life of piracy and mayhem?); Akari's upbringing by Hishigi and how she decided to leave.