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Dear Sutcliff Swap Author

Or perhaps I should address this to Mea Cara Auctrix?

First of all, please, for the love of all that's holy, write something that you want to write! If none of the prompts send you, please let the organizers contact me, and I will give you some other kinds of prompts.

I Like:

  • 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 ...)
  • Mpreg
  • 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.

As to the books themselves:

The Silver Branch - Justin, Flavius, Cullen, Aunt Honoria, Paulinus

I've got rather a jumble of little ideas for The Silver Branch, which has has always been one of my favorite Sutcliffs. I identify with Justin quite a lot. A vignette from Justin and Flavius' time with Paulinus' operation? Paulinus' viewpoint of the cousins, perhaps as he explains the new situation to Myron? A vignette of Aunt Honoria with young Flavius? Justin takes some leave and visits his father? The cousins, on sick leave after the climactic battle, help Aunt Honoria and Volumnia get settled in Aquae Sulis? Cullen POV: what he remembers of his time with Carausius, especially when Carausius sends him off on the final mission to find the two cousins? Justin after he retires from the legions?

I'll note that although I'm a huge fan of m/m relationships, I don't feel any sexual chemistry between Flavius and Justin, nor between Cullen and his master (also, see my notes in regarding relationships between people with very uneven levels of power). However, I could see some essentially gen mutual hurt/comfort once the adrenaline wears off after the big battle, and they both have to deal with their physical pains, loss of comrades, and worries about their future with the Eagles.

Dawn Wind - Owen/Regina

The story I've always wanted from this is that of Owen and Regina's first days together after the end of the story. Are Priscus and Priscilla still there when Owen goes looking for them? Do Owen and Regina worry about a formal marriage? Some vignettes of their setting up the beginnings of a little farm would be good, too - maybe with some echoes of their strange little domestic existence in the ruins of Viroconium. I wouldn't mind some sex in this, either - it doesn't need to be explicit unless you feel comfortable with that.

The Lantern Bearers - Aquila/Ness and/or Flavia's Husband/Flavia

Sutcliff very consciously establishes a parallel or link between Aquila's arranged marriage to reluctant Ness, who had quite a different future in mind, and Flavia's rape (there is no other word for it, even though what's between them apparently grows into at least as good a relationship as many marriages of the time) by the Saxon raider. I'd like to see something warm growing between the partners in either or both of these relationships: quiet moments that signal a liking that might even blossom into love (I know that there are a couple of major scenes in canon that address this with Aquila and Ness, but I'm sure there were many more). This could even be a little sexy, if you like to write that sort of scene.

Knight's Fee - Randall/Bevis or Randall and Bevis

This could be some sort of plotty missing scene from their childhood days, one or both of them suffering some sort of childhood illness (and dealing with the boredom of being kept in bed), some mutual hurt/comfort after the death of Bevis' grandfather, a discussion about girls/women after Randall's encounters with Gisela, or anything of that sort. I'm not looking for anything terribly explicit here, but some adorkably awkward teen physical interaction would not go amiss.

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