Hello AGAIN! Lol Ok ok What are your favorite stories? Your favorite genres, your favorite storytelling tropes, your favorite themes and favorite character stories?
Hi again anon. (: You're always welcome to send asks. They're certainly fun to answer.
I'm not sure where the enthusiasm is coming from but it's cute! This is a very big question, but I'll give it a shot. Well, I think here I would distinguish between the types of stories I personally seek out and what tends to motivate my fandom activity. These can be distinct for me.
I am generally interested in anything that is very motivated - strong thematic statements, really heightened settings. I like spectacle. As I mentioned, I'm not really a genre person and I wouldn't consider myself a fantasy fan or anything like that, but when it comes to genre I would say I prefer things like tragedy or cyberpunk because inside the genre conventions are (broadly speaking) extremely grounded and motivated thematic statements explored - cyberpunk, ironically enough, can actually feel very hopeful to me, especially when spiritual ideas (in a physically corrupted landscape) are present. Sci-fi or fantasy can interest me but I wouldn't say they're as constrained thematically.
I know romance is usually considered its own genre, and most other genres aren't as concerned with writing it properly. But I think romance is one of the most interesting ways to realise two intimately connected character arcs and explore character - as well as being emotionally moving and even potentially titillating - and it's frankly bizarre to me it's considered extraneous or something which 'doesn't belong', and when it is written in, it's only a thematically hollow prize for the protagonist. Boring. Boo. Hate it.
Anyway, of tragedy I like Greek tragedy in particular. I guess you can tell by my username (no, I don't think Klytaimnestra is a girlboss, it's profoundly tragic). That kind of evitable madness and catharsis is just one-of-a-kind, and I love that feeling of reading something so old and expressing such essential ideas about the relationship to the world... it boggles my mind, it truly does. I am a fan of An Oresteia (trans. Anne Carson) which features Agamemnon by Aiskylos, Elektra by Sophokles and Orestes by Eurpides - it's hard to get Elektra screaming out of my mind. I also think the assemblage of the three plays by three different authors is very clever, since you get such a contrast in character voice and presence. Carson is a little bit of a tricky one though, her Greek translations can be very free and sometimes extremely literal, so she's not the best to come to as your first introduction to Greek tragedy... I think her Sappho is probably the best though, mostly because she doesn't insert anything in there herself unlike other translations.
In terms of literature my favourite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray. I'm not sure what that says about me.
I have talked a bit here about what my perspective is on how I like to enter a story. I'm always looking to be challenged but I think that in terms of what I seek out, I want to see something argued for properly. There's a lot of noncommital storytelling now (which is why I don't like corporate storytelling) which doesn't want to commit to character arcs and transformation, or true plot transformation, and everything has to be static. This even goes back as far as the American monomyth - the story is about going back to a state of tradition, and the hero leaves and doesn't re-enter the community, because their presence in the community to begin with was aberrant. This is where you get the anti-hero archetype emerging (I think, in particular), and whilst I like the idea of the anti-hero, I don't like the American monomyth.
So, I don't like that. I find that uninteresting. But in reverse to that I love redemption arcs (see bio). They are probably the chief example of what I think is radical transformation in a character and in a story. Embedded within redemption arcs are ideas about compassion, atonement, forgiveness, hope. Those are the kinds of things I like to read about. They're challenging to write, and to the audience sometimes they're challenging to accept. But I like the idea that the enemy is like the hero. I am generally a fan of stories which are a little bit story aware, or that play with hero-villain dynamics. I want to see the hero be challenged and change and not start the story out perfect. Perfection and moral sterility is how you ruin a good story.
I also don't like the expectation that art needs to be didactic and I don't want to be condescended to. I don't want a story to tell me how to feel, I want it to make me feel something.
In terms of what I find motivating my fandom activity - certainly redemption arcs the most, perhaps in part because of the unique position they occupy in online discourse - thematically I am interested in statements like, 'The healer has the bloodiest hands', or, 'It's not about fighting what you hate, but saving what you love.' I love the idea that people closest to fixing something are also closest to violence, inside pain and hurt you find healing, and I do really enjoy narratives which are about abstaining from unnecessary violence but trying to talk something out. I love dialogue as action, and anything dialogue-motivated.
I think that I like enemies-to-lovers, at least the trope which exists in my head. I don't like rivals-to-lovers and I don't like when people mistake ETL as just two people disliking each other. There has to be some sort of serious conflict to really be enemies-to-lovers, and what I enjoy is structural conflict and personal enmity which doesn't go so far as hating someone for their personality, but the things they've done - even better if those acts are instead recontextualised or intimately link the two together narratively.
I'm not sure that there are specific traits I search for in characters, but I like them mean and I like them kind. (: I love Byronic hero(ines) and I love conflicted villains and bad wizards. That's pretty much a given. It's almost silly to type out. I love when they struggle being evil and they want to be good and they're in deep, lonely agony, or they have some sense of honour, or they have some sense of tragedy about them which seems insurmountable and nobody can reach them (until...), I love cracks of light in the dark, I love when it seems too late but it's not. I love the good guys who are as conflicted as their enemy and they see themselves in each other.
I love that kind of transcendental contact... something which is probably the closest you can get to magic in human connection. Anything heightened, anything which goes beyond belief, anything which is at the edge of human experience is the kind of stuff I absolutely adore. One of my favourite scenes in television is when Miller finds Julie in The Expanse. It's perfect. Eros crashes into Venus. The metaphor is a little strong, but it took me a while to get. I think that relationship probably has some of my favourite romance tropes - metaphysical bond as a metaphor for transcendental compassion, one act of peace and love and understanding and coming to know and believe in someone standing in defiance of cataclysm:
"You can't go home, Julie. I'm sorry. We can go anywhere else in the whole universe but we can't go home, honey, okay? But hey, I need you to know, whatever happens, wherever you go, you're not gonna do it alone."
The interwoven structure of a murder-mystery and romance is so clever - and the murder victim is sort of not dead. I was actually remarking the other day to Best Mate that murder-mysteries and romance are the two most alike in structure, especially with their set-up and payoff, and I said I would love to write that one day, then twigged one of my favourite romances ever did that already.
I'm a huge fan of fairytales and mythic and Jungian storytelling, so I love intertextuality, I love narrative symmetry and stories rhyming (see bio LOL). I'm a HUGE fan of when stories basically spell out what's going to happen, and I'm a HUGE fan of ironic prophecy - it's the best stuff, I search for that everywhere, I get such a kick out of it and I'm sure the authors must too. ("Where there was conflict, I now sense resolve; weakness, strength... complete your training .. and fulfill... your... destiny!")
The persisting idea which I think is obvious in my tastes is the dialectical relationship of opposites. That's why I like tragedy, that's why I like redemption arcs and celebrations of life and joy and suffering. Light and dark, good and evil, life and death, tenderness and cruelty, fear and bravery, hope and despair, sorrow and joy, old and new, clean and dirty... that's one of the most essential philosophical ideas ever, I fear that I sound stupid talking about it. Despite that, what I love most of all is emotional sincerity, and a refusal to be self-aware about how you might sound cheesy. That's probably why I think Doctor Who holds a little place in my heart because I love, love, love that scene when River Song knows she has her last night with the Doctor, and she's hoping against hope he'll pull something out of his pocket... one night on Darrillium lasts twenty-four years.
All of this is the stuff which does admittedly fuel my fandom activity, and it's the kind of stuff which makes me excited to follow a story. As you can tell, probably the reason I'm so attached to Knightfall (Cinder/Jaune) is because it's basically got all of this. Everything I've said here applies to that ship. Knight and maiden, a Dark Curse, a healer and a killer...
I'm a romantic and a sap, really, that's about what you should expect from me. (: I would choose that anyday over being a cynic.
Thanks again for your ask and hope you have a good day. (: I'm not sure if I've missed anything here - I'm sure I have, but I think you get the gist of it.