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Dear Yuletide Writer 2014

Dear Yuletide writer,

First of all, you are amazing and I love you already. Yuletide is my favorite time of the year, despite also being a really stressful and distracted time of the year in RL. Every single story I've received as part of this exchange has been wonderful in one way or another, and I look forward to seeing what this year will bring.

I tend to put up walls of text for my Yuletide letters, because I like lots of prompts in my own assignments -- but please rest assured that these are all optional details, and you are welcome to skip them if you prefer. I have some preferences and plenty of opinions, but I am also extremely easy to please. There are a couple of DNWs under the cut, and as long as you don't deliberately throw them all at me like a plateful of spaghetti, I will be a happy Yuletide recipient.

Length or level of detail of the prompts is not an indicator of preference. I will be equally happy to get something for any of these fandoms. Write something you like, and I'll almost certainly like it, too!

I like: gen, het, and femslash. Gen is my first love and official favorite, but I am also terribly susceptible to romance, especially if it's character-driven. I don't naturally incline toward dudeslash when left to my own devices, but I am both easy to convince and happy to be convinced. I like all POVs and all writing styles, and will be happy with stories of any length. I'm not interested in porn for any of these fandoms, but I'm not particular about ratings otherwise.

Other things I like: humor, angst, slices of life, backstory and forwardstory in all registers, worldbuilding, epistolary fiction, friendships and other relationships that are enduring, complex, toxic, revelatory, sustaining or all of the above; bad women who don't die, bohemians who aren't caricatures, ordinary people whose ordinariness isn't a vice, complicated emotions, loyalty both advisable and in-, good people doing their best, and deeply flawed characters who manage to be lovable anyway, if only by the grace of someone writing a story about them.

I especially like period details – random, illuminating, gratuitous, and/or unexpected – and minor, invisible, or neglected characters being brought into focus. OCs are welcome (though by no means expected) in all of these fandoms.

Please do not include: explicit depictions of incest or incest as the focus of a story, rape at any level of detail, non- or dubcon, torture, prolonged or detailed depictions of physical abuse of any characters or animals, prolonged depictions of emotional abuse of any character. Please also do not take this DNW list as a writing challenge to see if you can use your skills to get me to like a story made up of everything on the DNW list. While I respect the impulse to go bold and break all the rules, this is not what I want for Yuletide.

Here are some totally optional fandom-specific details (may contain SPOILERS):

Emily of New Moon series

I love every single thing about these books, even the things I hate. I've requested Any, so if there's a story you already want to tell, please go for it! If you love these books as much as I do, I guarantee I will love anything you write. If you have an adversarial relationship with these books, I will also love anything you write. I have my own headcanons and loyalties, but I really enjoy other people's, too, so do what makes you happy.

A few extra thoughts in case you want them:

I'd love stories about Emily's writing career and/or the careers of her friends, and would really enjoy seeing how they respond to the war and related cultural shifts – whether and how much it changes their ideas about art and politics and ELOCUTION, whether it brings them closer together or drives them apart. If you really want to break my heart, you can send one or more of them to the front – but you don't want to break my heart, do you? (maybe you do) (maybe I like it)

The Japanese prince who befriends and/or proposes to Emily in Emily's Quest is never given a name or any lines, but maybe it's just as well. I'd love some missing scenes between Emily and the prince (is he really a prince? Maybe Second Cousin Louise Murray just liked the sound of it) or even an AU in which Emily throws caution to the winds and goes back to Japan with him. I like to think that they stayed friends, at least, and kept on exchanging letters over the next few decades, like LMM did with George MacMillan and Ephraim Weber, despite their differences. What if they were to meet again after many years? Would it be unbearably awkward, or the best decision they ever made? OR IS IT BOTH? p.s. if you write for the Prince, please give him a name! It's only polite.

Ilse and Dean: I don't ship them (I don't ship Dean except with Crushing Self-Awareness and Sincere Contrition and sometimes Evelyn), but I suspect these two might have a few things in common, especially re: unrequited love and a sometimes frightening level of possessiveness. I'd like any story where they meet and argue or commiserate or both (in Montreal, in Europe, on one of Ilse's tours?) and maybe learn something from one another. Or make everything that much worse. Whichever.

I am endlessly intrigued by the Scandalous Incident in Aunt Ruth's past and how she might have reoriented herself to recover from it. It would be great to see some backstory and stir up a little sympathy for Aunt Ruth without losing sight of her faults. Any stories about the older generation of Murrays, and the Murray sisters in particular, would be amazing! I'd be happy to see them separately or together, their relationships with each other and the family, how they grow out of and come to understand their tyrannized and narrow childhood. I'd love to see any of the older Murrays talking to each other about what they've gone through and moving past it in some way.

I'd love to see a Juliet story, pre- or post-elopement, or for you to figure out some way for Emily and Juliet to meet – a visit from the dead isn't completely out of place in this canon. I'd be interested to know what the relationship between Juliet and Jimmy was like -- did she have the same kind of rapport with him that Emily does, or not?

I would also love a story in which Emily and her high school nemesis Evelyn Blake are stuck somewhere together and have to make the best of it! I have an unnatural and prolonged affection for Evelyn and secretly (not-so secretly) suspect that she and Emily have more in common than they think, so I would immensely enjoy any forced or unforced temporary burying of the hatchet.

That's a lot of text because there are a lot of characters in this set, but please don't feel overwhelmed! Don't be afraid to ignore all of the above wall of text if you have something else in mind. Write something you love, and I'll love it, too!

Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest are all available on Project Gutenberg for free, and in cheap paperback editions at an Amazon near you.

War and Peace
Elena Vasilyevna Kuragina

I love this book to a really unreasonable degree, which means I also argue with it a lot. It includes: a huge cast of very different characters, multiple intersecting emotional rollercoasters, hilariously dry observations about how people act at parties, life-changing revelations that turn out to be less than permanent, all the confusion and hopefulness and terror and joy of being alive. Tolstoy doesn't want you to call it a novel, but Tolstoy was wrong about everything and still managed to write one of the best novels of all time. Maybe that can be an inspiration to us all?

Helene gets under my skin. Anyone treated with as much repulsion and dismissiveness by a narrator is bound to get under my skin eventually. Tolstoy seems to take her stupidity for granted and depicts her as a kind of massive opaque marble statue, and the reader's understanding of her is largely dominated by Pierre's revulsion and humiliation after being trundled into an unhappy marriage, and later by a bored and unsympathetic narrator. Who is she really?

Maybe she's actually having affairs all over the place, like a certain idealistic young count who is totally not a hypocrite at all because, you know, it's Different For A Man. Maybe she isn't, and just enjoys creating the impression that she is -- the way she's been shown all her life is the Done Thing. Maybe the line between public flirtation and private life has become hopelessly blurred; maybe there was no one around to draw it for her in the first place -- no Marya Dmitriyevna to jerk her back by the arm. Maybe religious seeking and hunger for love are the same for her, and she doesn't quite know how to navagate either one. Maybe she's a genuinely and unrepentantly awful person with no thought for anyone but herself. Either way, I like her. I'd like her to live, if at all possible. I feel like if she can bluff her way out of that trainwreck of a marriage, she can go on bluffing her way past death itself.

(Maybe the entire Kuragin family is vampires? I'm not saying it's true. I'm just saying it could be.)

Or maybe she can't. Maybe it doesn't work that way. That's all right. Tell me a story about Helene, among others or by herself. It doesn't matter how it ends as long as you tell it.

Since I listed incest among my DNWs, I should clarify: I don't mind if you do something with the rumor that Helene and her brother had an incestuous relationship, as long as you don't settle the question decisively and explicitly in favor of incest.

War and Peace is available in English for free on Project Gutenberg and for money wherever giant books are sold.

I, Claudius (TV)
Herod Agrippa

This old-school BBC miniseries has some of the best and worst (and best) TV ever made. It's a rich palimpsest of camp and poigniancy constructed out of all the most lurid gossip from Roman sources plus buckets of completely made-up bonus luridness especially concoted for you the viewer, brought to simultaneously over-the-top and subtle life by the Royal Shakespeare Company's finest in terrible makeup. You can watch all 12 episodes for free on Hulu or rent them on DVD.

Herod Agrippa is my favorite. I love his refreshingly sardonic outsider perspective (on both his own troubled family and the trainwreck Romans he's been sent to live with) and his careful mix of candor and tact. At first, he seems to be above it all, but then it turns out that maybe he isn't. His friendship with Claudius is one of the few reasonably healthy long-term relationships in the series, and his rebellion against Rome gets painfully short shrift at the end. I can only assume there was more in the books, but I haven't read the books and don't plan to any time soon, so anything you can fill in would be tremendously appreciated -- whether you draw on history, inferences from the show, the books I haven't read, or anything that works for you. I'd like to see more backstory, correspondance, in-person conversations / confrontations, anything that gives this storyline the depth it deserves.

I'd also love to see anything with Herod interacting with the other characters, dealing with his own family troubles, strolling through the great cities of the world with a knowing expression, guardedly happy days with Claudius (or interactions with any character you like!), or adventures, successes and defeats of his own. Anything funny or sad, hopeful or cynical, Herod being Herod or Herod becoming someone else for the sake of his people – would be welcome and appreciated.

Having said all that, just in case we matched on Herod because your offer said “any,” but you were really hoping to write about Livia, Antonia, or Claudius – don't even worry about it! I would also be extremely happy to get fic about any of the nominated characters, or all of them. I would LOVE a “strained family holiday get-together” story for the holiday season (The Lion in Winter is my favorite Christmas movie, if that helps). Obviously Christmas would be anachronistic here – unless it's A Very Caligula Christmas in which Caligula forces everyone to "celebrate" his birth and impending messiahship – but any real or invented Roman winter festival would do just as well.

I'm not too picky about historical accuracy here because, as noted above, this show was made by sticking all the gossip in a bag and shaking it around, but if you're familiar with this period of Roman history, I'd love to see some illuminating (or even canon-contradicting) details about daily life, politics, writing and the study of history, cooking and poison management, whatever you're interested in.

Also, I know it's not one of the nominated characters, but IF you wanted to write “I, Creditsnake,” an even more shocking expose about what REALLY really happened from the point of view of that snake from the opening credits, I would love that, too. Just in case.

Best Song Ever - Gabrielle Aplin (Song)

But ok, maybe you don't want to read a million pages full of words or watch a BBC series from the 70s. That's fair! Maybe you just want to dance all night to the best song ever.

What I love about this song is its simplicity and compactness, and how saturated with emotion and possibility and hopefulness and loss it is despite its simplicity. Which I guess is just a pretentious way of saying “it's a song.”

Here's a chance encounter, a moment that ends but hasn't really ended, an imperfect memory made brighter by its imperfection, a song you could hear any time you wanted, if you knew where to find it again -- but never like that, not like it was. This could be a funny, light-hearted story, or a sad one, or both. It could be the beginning or the end of something much more complicated. It could be the middle of a story about something else entirely.

What happens to Georgia Rose (if that is her real name) and the narrator? Do they remember the same things? (Mutual and non-mutual pining are both 100% welcome as far as I'm concerned). Will they ever meet again? Should they? Does this story have a happy ending or a sad one? Does it make sense to talk about endings at all, if everyone is still alive and the song is still playing somewhere, for other people to dance to on other nights?

Please don't let yourself be tied down to my vague prompts, though – anywhere this song takes you is a place I want to go. This version is more melancholy, more bittersweet, more cracked and defiant than the original, which I only heard after I fell in love with Gabrielle Aplin's version. I don't love the original nearly as much, but if you do, and/or want to incorporate some of its swagger and energy into your story, that would be great! Or not, if you'd rather not.

I originally found out about this song through the femslashex tag set, so I'm predisposed to think of it as some kind of romance. However! friendship can be just as complicated and dazzling and impermanent as any other kind of love, so if you want to gen this one up in spite of all the kisses and hearts and whatnot, feel free! I will love anything you write about this song as long as it isn't just a giant deliberate DNW parade on my doorstep. There's only minimal worldbuilding here (music exists, dentists exist, there are real or metaphorical doors and guards. . .?) so choose your own adventure. Fairy tale, alternate history, science fiction, a diner in Indianapolis -- any and all settings are possible and welcome.

If all that is too much, just ignore it! If you already have a story you've been hoping to write, write that one! I hope your Yuletide is the best one yet, and thank you so much for writing! I can't wait to see what you do.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
My God, your letter is so much more coherent than mine lol. The W&P section of my letter is basically like: OMG MY BABIES! LOOK I SHIP ALL THESE THINGS! DID I MENTION HOW AWESOME THESE GUYS ARE? AND GEN! THAT'S COOL TOO. <_< Helene not actually dying? Ahhhh this idea is going to eat my brain now <_< <3
Oct. 25th, 2014 01:06 am (UTC)
That's a valid approach, though! I'm glad my letter seems coherent enough, because I worry (I spent . . . too much time thinking about this). Is your letter up yet? I went looking for it, but I didn't see it.

*chomp chomp chomp*
Oct. 25th, 2014 10:28 pm (UTC)
No, I hadn't posted this year's yet, because I couldn't settle on a third fandom. I'm working on it now, so it should be up soon. I'm requesting War and Peace, Barber of Siberia (1998) and Impact (2008) :)
Oct. 26th, 2014 05:51 am (UTC)
So my letter is finally up and it feels like it's even longer than last year. I'm a horrible person lol, but I hope you like :)
Oct. 25th, 2014 07:35 am (UTC)
IF you wanted to write “I, Creditsnake,” an even more shocking expose about what REALLY really happened from the point of view of that snake from the opening credits, I would love that, too. Just in case.

LOL! I was reading your letter while eating my breakfast and nearly had an accident with the porridge oats. By which I mean, that's just brilliant! (I mean, and does he get fed up of being made to slither all over the credits without getting any thanks, or a dramatic line or a chance to actually bite someone? Where is he going?)

(here via the letters post; hope you don't mind, but you did actually make me laugh out loud with that suggestion.)
Oct. 25th, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC)
Creditsnake has secrets to spill! Unfortunately, they may be all about swallowing rodents and biting the listener on the ear. :(

Of course I don't mind! Any friend of Opening Credits Snake is a friend of mine!
Oct. 28th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)
just butting in (following your acd_holmesfest membership request) to agree with everything you say about Herod Agrippa. If I had time and was writing for yuletide I would be all over that request.
Oct. 28th, 2014 11:08 pm (UTC)
This comment has made my day! Thanks for stopping by to share the Herod Agrippa love!
Oct. 28th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC)
So totally crushed on James Faulkner in that role. I was 15, wow. Long ago and far away.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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