lettered: (Default)
[personal profile] lettered
I just switched the tags for my Avengers fic on Ao3 to the "character&character" format rather than the "character/character" format. No characters have sex, make out, or profess love for any of the other characters in these stories. Characters do feel lust and look at each other with longing.

I admit to some confusion, because people who have read Responsible Science, my Avengers series, have seemed to agree, when they brought it up, that the series is indeed gen. However, the consensus also seemed to be that my fic The Pure and Simple Truth was not gen. In that fic, no characters had sex, made out, or professed love, but Harry felt lust and looking at Draco with longing.

There are plenty of reasons even the same readers (and these aren't the same readers) may feel the one is slash and the other is gen. The Pure and Simple Truth was written for an H/D fest and was a remix of an H/D fic. There was mostly talking not a lot of action. The focus of the fic was Harry's relationship with Draco (well, actually it was supposed to be about forgiveness). The end suggested H/D would get together. Meanwhile there's no context for Responsible Science other than as Avengers fanfiction, and there's more action/plot than Pure and Simple. The focus of the fics is Bruce's relationships with Natasha, Steve, and Tony (well, actually it's supposed to be about ethics); maybe people are less likely to read sex/romance into the equation when you've got one person having rather intimate feelings about three people at once. There's not been a suggestion at the end of any fic in Responsible Science that anyone will end up together (except perhaps Pepper/Tony).

At times I feel rather disingenuous, claiming that Pure and Simple is gen, because I definitely had all the sexy Harry/Draco thoughts writing it. But I'm having just as intense sexy Bruce/Natasha, Bruce/Steve, and Bruce/Tony thoughts while writing Responsible Science. None of the attraction between any of the characters (in either Pure and Simple or Responsible Science) is mentioned explicitly. It's more just Character A noticing that Character B parts his hair to the side, or whatever. And none of the thoughts characters have about each other is explicitly sexual, except for Bruce and Natasha in A Fine Spur. (I wonder if people consider that one less gen than the others?)

Because so much fanfiction is written with the intent of hooking A up with B, I totally understand the necessity of slash/het/gen labels. And yet, as I find myself writing less and less fics with that intention in mind, the rationality of the labels seems to be disappearing. Should my intent in writing the fic play a part in the label? Should what readers could read into a story play a part in the label? A story in which no one could be shipped by the reader is a bad story, imo. In any good book/show/movie/game/whatever you consume, there's usually room for shipping, and thus a large contingent of fandom.

Speaking of which. Poll. Tag Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Avengers movie with pairings so you can put them on an archive.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-25 08:07 pm (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
The thing about Responsible Science is, Bruce seems (perhaps inadvertently) to anti-ship himself. The whole series is about him refusing to acknowledge those connections and putting a lid on his attraction.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-25 11:07 pm (UTC)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophia_sol
What an interesting question! It's one that's niggled at me a lot -- what DOES count as gen and what as a pairing. Different people clearly define their lines differently, and grey-area cases are hard to figure out! I tend to err on the side of reading things as gen unless it's really clearly shippy, so I've definitely been reading your Responsible Science as gen.

Authorial intent is -- well, I watch Vlogbrothers a lot, and John Green's opinion on authorial intent (that the author's reading shouldn't be privileged over the reading of anyone else) has kind of permeated my brain more than I realized. So I err on the side of saying that authorial intent doesn't matter, if the readers don't see the same thing in the story that the author does.

So different readers will see different things in the same story -- hence why, when you look up a fic on pinboard, you might find that different people have labelled it as gen, or with one ship, or with five ships. That doesn't mean that the fic should be labelled by the author with every single ship it's possible to read into the fic. I think what makes the most sense is to label the fic by the ships that the majority of readers are likely to see in the fic -- though if the author isn't very good at telling what others are likely to see in the fic, that doesn't work very well.

ANYWAYS. I went to go take your poll, and then immediately turned back around, because I have this tragic need to always answer questions with "IT'S COMPLICATED" instead of choosing from multiple choice answers.

Because "I would expect to see the tags" is something that can have more than one answer, because I have noticed multiple ways of tagging. Some people only tag for the "main" ship of the fic, the ship that the fic is largely about, whereas some tag for every single ship that makes even a minor back-ground appearance in the fic. And some choose a middle road. So I CAN'T choose answers to your poll questions, because I'm not actually sure which of these tagging methods is more common! And actually I think it likely that tagging practices would vary from archive to archive and between fandoms, at least to a certain extent, because people pick up on the social norms of the fandom and fandom location they hang out in the most.

...goodness that was MORE WORDS than I was intending to write? Whooops.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-26 10:10 pm (UTC)
readertorider: (Default)
From: [personal profile] readertorider
I think I do read less romance into the equation when there's more people involved, just because I can't see all the characters ending up together (3(+)somes being an exception). In The Pure and Simple Truth I feel the ending heavily implies that Draco and Harry are going outside to kiss and settle into a relationship, but in Responsible Science I feel like Bruce could eventually end up with any of his interests and have a Ron/Pansy type friendship with the others. The Bruce/Natasha, Bruce/Steve, Bruce/Tony, even Bruce/Pepper all sort of combine into a Schrodinger's pairing with Bruce in some sort of gen-limbo.

I think who the people are matter too--admiring a friend or relative is different than admiring a(n ex)mortal enemy, with people more likely to read sex into animosities than friendships.

But I'm also inclined to think cannon relationships are gen (i.e. the Avengers (if it were a fic) would be gen even with the wonderful Pepper/Tony scene because Pepper/Tony was established in the Iron Man movies) as long as they aren't the focus of the story, so you might want to take my opinions with a pinch of salt ;)

I think either the & or / work fine for Responsible Science, but I think the & makes more sense in your case because the fics aren't explicitly shippy and the attractions shouldn't squick anyone (as opposed to Sam/Dean incest or Loki/horse whateverness). I think A Fine Spur is less gen than the others just because the Natasha relationship is the only one. The thoughts being explicitly sexual doesn't matter so much, I don't think, because I feel like Bruce is more restrained with Tony or Steve since Tony is in a relationship and Steve may or may not have a blind spot, while Natasha owns/understands her sexuality?

I've had way too much fun reading the comments here and on lj!


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