skazka: (young hannibal chilling by a tree)
[personal profile] skazka
This is no longer a placeholder, but still monstrous!

Dear NoFM Writer,

My exchange letters are traditionally incredibly fucking tl;dr, so you're under no obligation to read this or do more than skim until your eyes glaze over. I trust your judgment, and above all this should be fun, so if you get an idea beyond the scope of what's mentioned here feel free to run with it. But I can't resist the opportunity to babble about what I love about these canons and what fic potential I see there, so here it is, with far too many question marks.


Heart Of Darkness

What's up with the superb woman? We don't even know her name, or the particulars of her relationship to Kurtz -- what does she make of him? What's this experience like (both the experience of violent colonization and this specific experience of Kurtz's intrusion) from her POV? Is she a spokeswoman, a political figure, a religious officiant? Speech seems like such a big thing for Kurtz as the means by which he asserts his influence; what do they talk about? (I'd like to avoid some of the super-racist, Lovecraft-y implications of Marlow's alarm at Unspeakable Rites, but I can't shake the sense that something's off where Kurtz is concerned in all spheres of life, and that there's something up with him.) What's the superb woman's beef with the Russian? I'm a little bit partial to the take that she sees him as at least a potential rival, whether romantically or socially in terms of her closeness to Kurtz -- I'm not really committing to the understanding that she's "just" Kurtz's mistress, but that's obviously present and it doesn't diminish her. Just what that would imply with someone in Kurtz's position and with his apparent qualities really gives me the willies, so please explore that if you feel inclined. Stuff about what things were like for her before Kurtz rolled on in, or after, would also really interest me, the ways in which her position is unique with regard to Kurtz and the ways in which he might well conceptualize her as some kind of archetypal Woman as much as Marlow does. What's the significance of all her tokens, if there is any? In general, anything about her that features her as her own person, even when considered in respect to Kurtz's influence.

For the Russian Harlequin, that enthusiastic weirdo -- what the fuck happens to him after Kurtz jets out of there? What brought him to being a sailor? What's his relationship with the much-repaired book of seamanship? I find the fact that it at least sounds like he was destined for a career in the church before fucking off to be a sailor and mess around with Belgian imperialists kind of promising -- what catalyzed that departure? What did him and Kurtz talk about, anyway, and what's that first experience of philosophical, quasi-mystical connection like? Why is he so dedicated to preservation of Kurtz's life at all costs, even when Kurtz hardly seems to value it himself? (And does this ever get frustrating? Dysfunctional Kurtz sickfic, idk.) His life philosophy and his odd quality of free-floating resilience is really odd to me, so I'd love to know more about it.

If you're looking to write Kurtz fic -- what does his quasi-mystical insight look like when applied to his own experiences? What goes into his paintings? How does he reconcile apparently being in many ways the consummate sophisticated European with being unable to provide for a spouse financially, and later, the extremity in which he finds himself as an enthusiastic participant? (Not so much the conditions in which he's living as what he actually does, his capacity for cruelty and wholesale manipulation.) A big question of the novella, I guess, is the extent to which Kurtz was actively changed by his actions and surroundings or whether it was an unfolding of previously-existent potential -- the way the Intended describes him doesn't sound too far off the mark from the admiration with which the Russian does, for instance. How were his more unpleasant traits expressing themselves before his entry into ivory trading?

(Given the story's scope, all of my prompts by character here ended up pretty knotted together, but if you want to write about any of these characters to a strong degree or considered individually please feel free. Pairings-wise -- anything or gen is fine and fascinating. Kurtz/the Russian, Kurtz/the superb woman, the superb woman/the Russian, depressing tyrannical menage a trois, low-key Kurtz/Marlow, Kurtz's canon relationship with the Intended, any combination of the above or none.)


I really love Ishmael and Queequeg's relationship -- how ridiculously rapidly it develops, how it shakes Ishmael out of his moodiness and just how good Queequeg is at what he does, how tenacious and capable he is. Once they're on board the Pequod their opportunities for intimacy drop off significantly, but it's clear they still care about each other a lot, so I'd love any scenes of their relationship in the shape it takes onboard. We also mostly get Ishmael's slightly blinkered POV on everything that passes between them, so Queequeg POV would be completely fabulous. (I do love Ishmael's uniquely dorky interpretive voice, though, so I'm down for that too.) All in all, I share the same enjoyment of their oddly mismatched yet unbreakable partnership as most of this fandom, so take it wherever you like.

I love Pip a lot, and I'm interested in what he experiences and how he processes it. So just anything with Pip, whether before his near-death experience or after, something that explores the kind of cosmic-horror experience of being lost at sea (at least the way Ishmael describes it, a powerful sense of one's own insignificance and a forced proximity with some awful quasi-spiritual force) or his life on land, which doesn't sound too great either. (Also, in no small part thanks to Talise Trevigne's wonderful and eerie Pip in the recent opera adaptation, I would be totally down for girl!Pip fic. Honestly, always-a-girl genderswap fic for anyone and/or everyone on the Pequod would be completely up my alley, whether this means a wholesale alternate universe or a Monstrous Regiment-style gradual reveal.) What about him seems to provoke a kind of protectiveness or sense of affinity from Ahab? What do their respective traumatic experiences hold in common or echo in one another? Some of Stubb's nastier jabs at Pip highlight the kind of subordinate position he'd likely be thrust back into again the moment they're on land -- not simply as the youngest crew member but being young and black in mid-19th-century America, he's pretty horribly vulnerable, and anything exploring that (or, in an AU where he survives, where he gets to enjoy some community and authority in his own right) would also interest me.

Ahab is so completely subsumed to his current mission and I love everything that seems to be going on in his head; his all-encompassing intensity, his sense of symbolism and his belief in the importance of metaphor and prophecy both, his possible remorse for what he's left behind him in his pursuit of vengeance or maybe what he was never really cut out to possess. The book's religious weirdness in general interests me strongly, if you're comfortable with that and feel like touching upon it, so something about his personal cosmology maybe, or the peculiarly Nantucket-y strain of Quakerism that runs through him despite his capability for violence. Or his gnarly scar. What's up with that?

I'm a rotten person and totally fine with character death, so if you'd like to write fic where somebody else survives to tell the tale instead of Ishmael -- or in addition to Ishmael, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief as to how much weight a coffin-buoy can hold for the sake of a slightly happier ending -- I would be all over it.

Whiplash (2014)

I'm super into Andrew and Fletcher's undeniably terrible dynamic, the way Andrew's priorities sort of narrow, until seeking Fletcher's approval and actually doing his best start to look like the same thing, even when they're not -- the sheer ruthless precision with which all of Fletcher's nastiness and violence is applied, that it really isn't simply flying off the handle but an orchestrated campaign to keep every member of his band (and Neiman in particular) under strict control. (The way Andrew has to adapt to that, and clearly does, really gets to me and gives me the creeps.) These guys are basically the pinnacle of antagonism-shipping for me and if you want to go there I'd be so glad, but they're obviously a massive abusive shitshow and gen is in any case completely fine.

- In the screenplay, Neiman's popping pills pretty often, and the specter of addiction with most of his musical role models hangs over the film -- something about that and its ins and outs, maybe, whether the necessity for self-medication extends beyond wakefulness and focus to some of Neiman's other psychological issues.
- Something set post-canon, either dealing with the kind of self-destruction the screenwriter's prophesied for Neiman from here on out or something else entirely.
- Something dealing with the way Fletcher clearly expects his students to anticipate and stay on top of his meaning on short notice, and not just when he's conducting, either.
- Fletcher backstory -- either incorporating some of the tantalizing stuff we get in the screenplay or whatever floats your boat, anything about what we don't see of his private life outside of performance and practice.

This film is also incredibly whumpy, so I wouldn't say no to more of that, with or without a h/c chaser. Gen h/c with Andrew's dad, who I love a lot as a character in his own merit but is not obligatory by any means, or awkward-exes-"holy shit he made you do what" stuff with Nicole, or h/c administered with questionable amounts of actual comfort by Fletcher, or whatever you're feeling. (Fletcher whump would probably be a challenge; he's so stubbornly unpleasant and seems to have isolated himself in every capacity but his role as musician. But if you want to spread that whump out a little, go for it.)

Nicole doesn't have much of a place in Andrew's world given his obsessive focus on musical performance -- or in the world of the film, for that matter, given how the movie kind of drops her like a hot rock. I'm not that invested in Andrew/Nicole as endgame -- the way he shuts her out is awful, and I think it's fair for her to not want to engage with someone who thinks "sorry, baby, but you'll only cramp my style on my ascent to greatness" is a great no-hard-feelings way to break up with somebody -- but if you want to explore their relationship a little, either during the time they're dating or outside it, that would be rad. Exploring her as considered solo -- homesick and a long way from Arizona while working a semi-crappy movie theater job and trying to figure out what she wants to do in life -- would also be lovely. What is she good at? There's nothing wrong with not being as terrifyingly goal-focused as Andrew is, so anything exploring her slow moseying process of self-discovery would be cool. Her feelings for Andrew presumably aren't true-blue love at first sight, and his for her aren't either, but I do like the fact that they're both giving something new a shot and what that says about both of them. Their crossing paths later in life after Neiman's terrifying shitshow of a final performance, maybe, or something set during the fall term with the two of them scampering around NY on a student budget trying to find places (and free time) to actually go on dates and/or make out in. (I'm not sure if they ever get that far with each other physically in canon -- do they ever consider it? Do they give it a shot, or are they just not that interested?) Alternately, you could go the creepy Fletcher/Nicole(/Andrew) place, and far be it from me to stop you because wow that would be a shitshow.

Also: Fletcher/Neiman Sentinel & Guide AU. That is all.

The Duchess of Malfi (Webster)

(This is totally ripped from this Yuletide -- sorry for the big-time wordiness, I just love this play a ton and what I want to read for it really hasn't changed in the past four months.)

Right off the bat with the title character: the Duchess manifests tremendous courage and authority as well as wit, but she's far from unmoved by her suffering, and she goes through such a spectacular parade of horrors -- there's a hell of a lot going on in her head and her grief and anger are really powerful. The way she talks about merit and nobility (and about her marriage with Antonio) says a lot about the both of them, and her situation as a widow is already rather unusual before her brothers start actively interfering. What does she see in Antonio? How does she start hatching her plan to wed again, and how long has that been brewing between them? On the flipside of this, how aware is she of her brothers' tendencies toward treachery and how does she contend with that? Have they kept in touch over the course of her marriage, or has their corruption blossomed worst when she's away? And relatedly -- are there ways in which she's not so unlike her siblings, aside from how ethically they all employ their rank and their abilities? She seems to have a knack for attracting people's admiration and I'd love to see more of her as a graceful host, an authoritative politician, or acting in her capacity as (in her own words) a prince even in the private sphere.

I find Ferdinand's caustic melancholy (as another prince) and his obsession with the Duchess really compelling -- I'd rather not read reciprocated romance between the two of them but I would certainly be interested in reading more about his love-madness, or if you like, what his nastiness is like when it's directed outside his family. (His sense of his own doubleness with his twin sister is very troubling and it makes me wonder how on earth he took the fact of her first marriage in the first place. In general his preoccupation with their twinnedness, and the inexplicable venom he reserves for her when he's hardly spotless himself, is really fucked up and I am all about it.) How competent is he at skulduggery? Write about him tag-teaming with Bosola and the Cardinal, or getting something done all on his own. Jealousy is obviously a theme with him; where else does it manifest and who else does he destroy and undermine along the way? His relationship with Bosola is also fascinating to me -- loads of resentment and blame and professional contempt, but also a terrific dependence, and Bosola is the firsthand witness to how fucked up he is. What's their deal? Is there anything attractive in Ferdinand like there is in his sister, even if it's only fleeting and swiftly eclipsed by his descent into spittle-streaked lycanthropic madness? You can explore that if you feel like it, whether through character study or in the course of schemes and plots or any other way that strikes your fancy.

Bosola is a real piece of work himself -- absolutely cynical, acidly funny, and viscerally disgusted by basically everything at court even when he's no peach himself. In his own estimation he's been used poorly, and he's very good at manipulating events himself (even in very odd ways -- the whole fruit scheme, wtf!) but his philosophical slant on all the events of the play is also very interesting. He tries to redeem himself somewhat the only way he really knows how (by killing more people) and when he sort of half-revives the Duchess, only to have her slip away, it sort of seals his fate -- I'd be very interested to read something where that goes a little better. (Or at least differently badly.)

I find Antonio every bit as interesting as all the grim weirdos in this canon, and his worldly experience and his view of court corruption both put him in a unique position of being able to look around him and be wryly critical at best, indignant at worst, about what's going on around him, and yet he's still very much at the mercy of other people's machinations. His admiration for the Duchess (and his care for their children -- the bit with him having an astrological chart drawn up after she gives birth is precious) is super sweet, but also super doomed. You could write about how he and the Duchess came together, his adventures in the courts of other states, or more natal chart hijinks.

Pairing-wise, everyone x everyone is my Jacobean OTP. Any combination of these characters would be of interest to me.

General interests/kinks/do-wants:

I love confused, complicated relationships; I really dig darkfic, but basically anything in terms of tone is fine with me and anything you're comfortable writing. I dig group dynamics; I dig characters who are really passionate about their areas of expertise (even if they're misinformed) and I'm all about doubt, questionable perceptions, and -- unlikely given my requested canons, but -- the supernatural, and general gothic horror/psychological/mindfucky horror overtones.

Sex and/or kink is fine by me -- fully- or partially-clothed sex, historical sex practices and terminology, non-penetrative sex, and fail!sex (of the "everybody takes it in stride, everybody laughs, good clean fun" variety especially) are all faves of mine, but anything from mild to major is fine. Informal intimacy between established partners that's not a big production, or is just one of many ways they spend time together, is something I like a lot in fic -- likewise, loyalty kink and explorations of fidelity and/or dedication, however ill-founded, or focus on external symbols of status or experience. (Literal kink-wise, rough body play and uncomfortable but pleasurable sex are big for me.) Messed-up personal boundaries, sex as companionship or comfort.

(For fandom-specific stuff -- I have a ridiculous love of all the hand emphasis and ridiculously clingy tee shirts in Whiplash, and Ishmael's philosophy of cuddling in Moby-Dick.)

I am a big whump fan -- to quote last year: "torment, characters getting put through the wringer, characters getting mindfucked, and strained/fractured mental states" and basically any spin on that you feel like. I'm also completely game for dubcon and noncon as well as their consequences. (I'd rather not read Moby-Dick noncon with anybody on the Pequod, though.)

Outside of the bedroom I am totally into anything from introspective character study to fast-paced casefic; I especially dig backstory, "continuing adventures"-type sequel fics, and post-canon stuff, especially stuff that counterbalances some of canon's heavier themes. Any kind of AU is fine with me; different-setting AUs work better for me when they commit to something really cracky (Moby-Dick high school band AU!) than something more reserved. Historical AUs are fabulous and very welcome. My own areas of historical expertise are pretty limited (ancient Rome, medieval and 18th/19th century Europe) but anything from there and beyond would be just dandy. Fusions with most fandoms would be fine, or general genre fusions.


I'd prefer no non-canonical eating disorders or self-harm. (For the purposes of this definition, Andrew Neiman's fucked-up hands/insistence on continuing to play when he's obviously hurt is fine, along with his other canonical or plausibly canonical harmful behaviors, but no cutting or anything of that ilk.) I'd also prefer no child grooming or anything sexual between under-16s and adults.

Otherwise -- real-life prejudices (racism, misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism, etc.) are massive themes in most of my requested canons one way or another. You don't need to strive to incorporate them if you don't want, but you don't need to exclude them either. Torture, abuse, sexual assault, etc. are perfectly fine to include and explore, but I'd rather they not be treated lightly, or as justifiable and deserved.

As far as stuff I'm just indifferent to, I'm not that into formal D/s or Groundhog Day-style redo storylines. I'm not wild about A/B/O AUs or BDSM AUs; the major exception for the former is Duchess of Malfi, because yeah.

My ridiculously wordy likes and dislikes aside, I'm super stoked for NoFM this year and I hope everyone involved has a blast.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-04-02 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, Moby Dick! I reread it recently, and would be so interested in fic for any of your prompts. I'm going to selfishly hope you get matched to that fandom. :)


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