IWSG – An experiment

Published February 3, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

LOL, two post Wednesday!  (Well, I didn’t want to leave the quote for next week, lest my reading generate a truly staggering backlog of quotes, but this had to go up today, so…two posts!  Apologies for the spam.)

Anyway, for a change of pace, I’m not going to complain about what a terrible writer I am this month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post.  (Not that I miraculously feel better about my writing this month than all previous months.  I just have other stuff I want to say.)  This month I want to talk about an experimental story I want to write.

But first, some set up.  A while back (was it during NaNo?) I came across a blog post about someone who had taken another person’s romance novel, rewritten it to be about two men instead of a man and a woman, and then published it as her own work.  And this person had done that repeatedly.  Appalling and disgusting thing to do.  The post had samples of both the original novels and the re-written ones.  The copying couldn’t have been more obvious, and it was frankly surprising that it had taken so long for anyone to catch her out.

However, what really stuck with me about all that was how different the impact was in reading the same scenes in the different situations.  One of the examples didn’t work:  turning a woman being glad she hadn’t ended up getting pregnant in high school into a guy being glad he didn’t get AIDS in high school is awkward, unsettling, and has a completely different sense and would cause completely different emotions in the person having those thoughts, yet the relieved nostalgia sense was the same in both scenes.  Another example really did work, though:  it was the first time the man saw the woman, and the leering description made my skin prickle in disgust when it was a man leering at a woman, but when it was a man leering at another man, it was less skin-crawling.  (Perhaps because, as a woman, the objectification of women is naturally a concern to me, while the objectification of men isn’t.  Particularly when they’re being objectified by other men.)

So that’s all been rattling around in my brain for a while now, and not too long ago — just a couple of weeks, probably — it occurred to me that I’d really like to write a short story, a quirky little romance between a man and a woman…and then re-write it to be about two men…and then re-write it again to be about two women.

Just to see how the same story feels different with the different sexual combinations.

To up the experimental factor, I’ve decided to tack on a subgenre that I’ve always had an issue with, the “bad boy meets good girl” trope.  I’m curious if it’ll feel better or worse if it’s “bad boy meets good boy” or “bad girl meets good girl.”

Of course, I’m not a romance novelist.  In fact, I don’t even read romance novels.  (Actually, these days, I rarely read novels at all, which is probably one of the reasons I have so much trouble writing them.  But there’s so much  non-fiction in the world that I really, really want to read!  And working on an MA in History kind of requires a lot of reading, too…)  So if I try to just write a flat out romance with no other story factors, it’s going to fall flat on its face.  (Admittedly, it will probably do that anyway.)

Therefore, I’ve decided to incorporate superpowers.

Possibly ’cause I just marathoned the first season of The Flash last month.  (And the first seasons of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter, but there’s a lot less in the way of superpowers in those, particularly the latter.)  And I’ve been watching all the Marvel movies.  And, well, you know.  Stuff like that.  (Yeah, I’m influenced by stuff I watch.  And play.  And read.  I’m easily influenced, I guess.)

At first, I was planning on making it set in an alternate version of our world, where a computer unable to deal with the date changeover for Y2K (remember that hoopla?) caused something to go crazy and bombard the world with goodness-only-knows-what which caused huge numbers of people to develop superpowers.

But that’s a really massive amount of backstory for an experimental short story.  So it’s probably just going to be set in a world similar to ours, except for 50-75% of the population have superpowers.  But not all of them are actually useful superpowers.  I’m probably going to have a lot of fun thinking up crazy, useless powers for non-heroes (and non-villains) to have.  Like a person who can look at you and tell if you’re in debt to anyone, or how much you owe on your credit cards.  It’d be useful for business purposes — or possibly for con artists — but not really from a crime-fighting perspective.

Naturally, both halves of the romance will have some powers.  The good girl/boy will have a power set I’ve already thought of — in fact, I’d thought of it first, before I came up with this experiment — which is largely useless, unless you’re working homicide.  (Which, I might add, s/he’s not.)  I’m not sure about the bad boy/girl’s power set, though.  I want it to be something that’s flashy, but not necessarily powerful, and hard to use properly without causing injury and/or destruction to everything and everyone in sight, including the user.  Some variant on fire or lightning, maybe?

I’d feel more worried about having so little detail planned out, except I don’t even know when I’m gonna start on this project.  I still haven’t finished that novel I didn’t finish in November.  In fact, I barely got anything written on it during the winter break.  It’s like I’ve lost the drive to finish it now that I got the two leads to hook up, despite how much story is left.  (Though that in itself is a serious problem:  I’m probably only about halfway through the story, and yet I’m already at like 109k words.  And almost none of that’s description, ’cause I’m too non-visual for description.  My characters just all jabber away like hyperactive parrots.)

5 comments on “IWSG – An experiment

  • Sounds like you have some interesting ideas coming together. I’ve wanted to write a gender-swapping story for some time now, but it can be quite a challenge. We have so many cultural expectations about gender and sexual identity, and even the most open-minded people can have a hard time seeing past it all.


  • It is appalling that someone stole another’s work and switched the characters. What’s interesting is that it gave you this great idea for experimental fiction. As for being easily influenced, I think most of us are. We’re influenced by the people we meet, what we watch, the music we listen to, etc.

    Best of luck with your works this year! Enjoy the rest of IWSG day! Eva, IWSG Co-host

    Liked by 1 person

  • Comments are closed.

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