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my cage has many rooms ([personal profile] rosedamask) wrote2015-02-28 01:52 am
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RarelyWritten Letter 2015

Dear Rarely Written Author,

Hey there! I’m [personal profile] rosedamask  on LJ & DW/damask_and_dark on AO3, and I’m SO VERY HAPPY that you’ve signed up to write one or more of these characters. I’d honestly love to see anything at all featuring the ladies that I’m requesting, and I trust you wholeheartedly, since you’ve already proven your awesomeness by offering to write them. So if you’ve already got some ideas and you want to run off and start writing them now, go for it – I’m a very omnivorous reader and I don’t have any real triggers to watch out for, so you should definitely feel free to take these requests in any direction you’d like. If you’d like some rambling flailings for further guidance, however, this is the letter for you. ;) And so bearing in mind that this is all just my excuse to get intense and inarticulate about some of my favourite fictional women, here are my (much extended) optional details.


fics of all ratings, gen/het/slash/femslash, women in power, falling in love, falling from grace, sex with a focus on characterisation, seduction, kink, surprising attractions, distinctive/atmospheric settings, period detail, fairytales and mythology, supernatural elements (if the canon lends itself to them), unusual story formats (e.g. fake newspaper articles, media transcripts, pastiches of historical and biographical non-fiction), allusions and homages to literature, character introspection, domesticity (whether it’s a mundane home or something more bizarre), affection, banter, characters knowing each other well (in either a well-worn friendship way or a more devious and Machiavellian way), schemes and intrigues, master/apprentice relationships, characters defying conventions or having complex feelings about what their societies expect from them.

A/B/O, relationships where one character thinks of the other as being wholly their inferior, rape/noncon, mundane AUs for weird canons, extreme humiliation/degradation in kink.

Arthurian Mythology & Related Fandoms


AKA Vivien, Nenive, Nimue, and all the variations thereon – Viviane was the canonical AO3 tag that I found when I made my nominations, so I’ll use that as her default name for the purposes of the letter (but please use whichever you like, if you’re writing fic for her <3). Viviane’s the enchantress who triumphs over Merlin, and whatever the storytellers have said about her over the centuries, and however she’s been reinvented, it’s impossible for me not to think she’s a beguilingly awesome character, and one of the most intriguing women in Arthurian lore. So basically, I’d love to see any take on her at all, whether you’d like to write her as Lady of the Lake like Malory’s Nenive and have her leading a magical order of women way down under the waves, or whether you’d prefer to do something with the fiercely ambitious and very human outsider that we meet in Tennyson, and write about a Viviane who earns her magic through her own cunning and agency. Or if you want to draw on any of the other sources for Viviane, or reimagine her completely, I’m totally here for that as well – just give me Viviane being awesome and clever and magical while she’s trapping beardy, beardy men in trees, and I’ll be very happy.

Although I can practically FEEL Tennyson rolling in his grave as I write this, Idylls of the King was my first real exposure to Viviane, and it’s the thing that really made me fall for her as a character. She just sweeps through the poems with such amazing deadly splendour—“a lovely baleful star,” indeed. So if you’d like to take of the ideas about her that we see in “Merlin and Vivien” and maybe work them into something that more sympathetic to her perspective, that would be amazing. There’s something so powerful in the ways she chooses to weaponise herself, as a woman who’s been borne from the collateral damage of Arthur’s reign, and I love all the nuances she has as a figure who’s so archly cynical yet so totally clear-eyed in her criticism of Camelot, in how she’s hardened and embittered and yet relentlessly interrogative towards courtly regime and totally proactive in taking down the kingdom. (“My father died in battle against the King, / My mother on his corpse in open field; / She bore me there, for born from death was I / Among the dead and sown upon the wind-- / And then on thee! and shown the truth betimes, / That old true filth, and bottom of the well, / Where Truth is hidden”—actual chills every time.) So if you’d like to explore the darker sides of the Arthurian legend, or delve into the rich psychology potential of this kind of Viviane, that would be awesome – it can be backstory for the girl born on the battlefield or something that explores what happens after “the thicket closed / Behind her, and the forest echoed 'fool,’” or anything in between, and I’ll absolutely adore it.

Or, thinking a bit more about the very different (but equally awesome) figure of Nenive that we get in Le Morte D’Arthur, I love the idea of Viviane belonging to the supernatural order of the damosels of the Lake, and I also love how Malory’s Nenive essentially functions as freelance enchantress who has a magic purpose beyond the preservation of Camelot but who still basically takes over from Merlin after she’s trapped him in the tree – and I love the complete lack of moral judgement that she gets from Malory for this, and how she’s never vilified for pursuing her own agendas. I’m not super keen on how she punishes Ettard for her lack of interest in Sir Pelleas when she knows for herself what it is to be “passing weary” of unwanted attention, but she’s otherwise AMAZING. So if you want to explore or use elements of the Malory Nenive, that would be glorious. I’d love to see anything that thinks about where her powers come from, and how the damosels of the Lake actually operate, or anything that looks at what her life might be like when she’s not saving Camelot from magical implosion every other day. I also love how she kind of parallels Morgan throughout Le Morte D’Arthur, and thinking of her in relation to other ambiguous and witchy women, I’d love to see something where she and Morgan interact together – as enemies, since they basically vie for supernatural dominance of Camelot after Merlin’s gone? As allies, when she and Morgan are two of the three queens who take Arthur away on their ship?

In more general terms, I really like how Morgan and Viviane have the potential to mirror each other as supernaturally empowered women in the Arthurian world. So, if femslash is your thing, and you’d like to do something shippy with this request, Morgan/Viviane is a pairing that I’m TOTALLY here for and I’d love to see some Morgan/Viviane femslash where any combination of their incarnations are brought together as magical co-queens or as fellow enchantress misfits. But honestly, any ships (or lack thereof) are absolutely fine with me, so long as I get to see more of Viviane being fierce and fantastical and bewitchingly triumphant. :D

Daniel Deronda – George Eliot

Gwendolen Harleth

So, I probably love Gwendolen Harleth more than I could ever love a daughter of my own. She’s one of my all-time favourite literary characters, and I’d be BEYOND ecstatic to see any kind of fic which centres on her. I love her boldness and her daring, all her playful archness and how it hides her aching yearning to be someone exceptional. I love her early adventuress tendencies, and her later determination to survive her trials with dignity and to meet the horrors of her society on her own terms even when she’s trapped with Grandcourt in Grosvenor Square and all dressed up in her “pale green velvet and poisoned diamonds.” I’m always slain by just how badly she wants to find some better fate for herself, rather than just letting herself get pushed into the one she sees being enacted over and over again by the other women around her, and I’d really love to see a fic that looks at what she might have done with herself after the end of the book. Because although I’m glad that she has Offendene as “a restful escape, a station where she found the breath of morning and the unreproaching voice of birds after following a lure through a long Satanic masquerade,” I just really want my favourite problematic sylph to be as triumphant and glorious as she always knew she was meant to be, and for her to find some genuine happiness and glory to go with her comfort and peace. While I love that her last grand statement is “I am going to live,” I still always want to see more of her actually getting to live, and maybe regaining her sense of delight and her own supernatural splendour. So if that’s something you’d like to explore, I’ll absolutely love whatever you come up with, whether it’s a 1001 word snippet of her going out for her first post-Grandcourt ride in the grounds of Offendene and beginning to revel in a newfound freedom and independence, or whether it’s a longer, plottier exploration of her life as a widow.

But although I’d love to see post-novel fic for Gwendolen, I love all the nuances of her character that we see in pretty much every stage of the book, so you could write something from Gwendolen’s perspective that’s set any point in her character’s development and it would be amazing. I love Gwendolen when she’s the Lamia of Leubronn right at the very beginning of the novel, and she knows that she’s a woman who can win empires and turn herself into a goddess of luck if she so chooses; I also love her when she’s trying to escape from her society bubble and throw herself out into a wider kind of world, despite her fears of finding herself exiled and powerless and lost in the vastness of the universe. If you’d like to write a pre-novel character study of Gwendolen, or write some kind of AU for a Gwendolen who’s never cursed by Daniel’s evil eye, that would be awesome. Equally, if you’d like to write something about struggles towards maturity or her growing into the realisation that she “may live to be one of the best of women, who make others glad that they were born,” that would also be fabulous, just as long as she gets to keep her Gwendolenly steeliness and her old lamia magnificence. :D

Gen is grand, but if you’d like to do something shippy, I’d particularly love to see some Gwendolen/Catherine Arrowpoint femslash, or maybe another f/f ship that crosses Daniel Deronda with any other Victorian novel of your choosing, if you can think of any other ladies who’d be a good match for Gwen. I love Catherine as a character and as a counterpoint to Gwendolen in the Offendene-Quetcham social circuit, and I’d be SO excited to see something that expands on their relationship. Catherine’s all composure and tact and quiet loveliness, but she’s also massively attracted to the dramatic, incendiary figures in her society, so I could totally see her having a thing for Gwendolen as well as Herr Klesmer. Plus she’s refined and sophisticated in all kinds of ways that are irresistibly piquant to Gwendolen, and I think Gwendolen would definitely come to esteem her more and more as she matures – so yes, Gwendolen/Catherine would be awesome, if you want to go that way. (As would Gwendolen/Catherine/Herr Klesmer – especially if Catherine gets to be all “sorry not sorry for my bombastic genius husband and my actual goddess girlfriend” whenever Gwendolen and Klesmer are utter terrors to social harmony at her dinner parties and suchlike.) And if you can think of anyone else in the nineteenth century literary canon who’d be good for Gwendolen, go for it! Or if you just want to write Gwendolen being magnificent on her own at last, that would also be heaven for me. Just give me ALL THE GWENDOLEN, because she’s amazing.

Fallen London | Echo Bazaar

The Captivating Princess, The Quiet Deviless, The Sardonic Music-Hall Singer, The Silk-Clad Expert, Virginia

I’d love to see anything that explore these characters and what they do with themselves in the Neath, whether it’s as part of an intimate and introspective character piece or something which sends any number of them on a longer and plottier adventure. Basically, I’d really like to see some perspectives on the Fallen London universe beyond the one we experience as the Player, and I’d be extremely happy with anything that focuses on as many (or as few) of these characters as you’d like. The worldbuilding and characters that we get for Hell and the Brass Embassy are some of my favourite parts of the game, so I’ve put the Quiet Deviless and Virginia down as two of the options, and I love them dearly as two very different devilesses. The Quiet Deviless is searingly lovely and yet achingly vulnerable, and though Virginia’s much closer to the keen, hungry devils who we see more often in the game, she’s also a bit of a curiosity, what with her preferring arcane knowledge to bottled souls. What do they make of each other? Who is the Quiet Deviless within her own circle of devils, and what kind of position does she hold in the Brass Embassy? What’s life like for Virginia, as an acadevil? Does she have more allies at Bethnic College than the Brass Embassy, or is she one of the Embassy’s brightest lights, despite spending so much of her time in the Forgotten Quarter on archaeological digs rather than sadistic people-hunting?

Moving to the Shuttered Palace, I’m also really fascinated by the enigmatic double life of the Captivating Princess, by how her loyalty to her family is strained by her obvious differences to them and how she moves with effortless grace between the silence and austerity of her mother’s court and the decadent underworlds of the Neath. What does it mean to the Captivating Princess, to be a true daughter of the Neath? If you’ve played The Gift storylet – what happened to her after the red honey catastrophe, and how did she restore herself to her old unholy beauty? Out and about in the rest of the city, the Sardonic Music-Hall Singer is always an utter delight, whether she’s at home in Spite or whether she’s conquering high society in her salon appearances. Where did she learn her favoured songs of “roses and forests and a wand'ring princeling who is eaten by hatchling ghosts, one finger at a time”? How have her experiences as a woman of great ambition and independence informed her inflammatory views on Neathly politics? How did she meet the Absconding Devil, and what might have happened to her if she’d left with him on that train? And moving towards the Masters’ provinces, playing the Silk-Clad Expert’s storylet was definitely my favourite part of getting into the House of Chimes. Like the Quiet Deviless, she’s such an amazing blend of the darkly vulnerable and the UTTERLY TERRIFYING, and I’d be really intrigued by anything that elaborates on her life beyond what we see in that bit of the game. What are her academic passions, beyond those she shares with the Player? And what’s happened to her, after leaving the House of Chimes? I know there’s a few different options for how her storylet ends, but I think I’ve read them all, so go with which ever you like best. :D

If you’d like to write something shippy or throw some of these characters together, I’m completely here for that too – we know that the Sardonic Music-Hall Singer has previously had the inclination (or at least the pragmatic readiness) to be an intimate of devils, so what would she make of the Quiet Deviless and her subtle, smouldering seduction? How would it compare to the mutually conniving affair she had with her Absconding Devil? Is Virginia’s predatory languor something altogether more familiar to her? And of course, the Captivating Princess goes gorgeously with so many characters – has she ever made the acquaintance of the Sardonic Music-Hall Singer, through any of her less-than-regal connections? As a connoisseur of Neathly perversions, has she ever entertained any especially charming and discreet ambassadors from the Brass Embassy? When the Silk-Clad Expert says a queen made her dress, she doesn’t mean the Traitor Empress – but has she ever had any encounters with a more traditional princess of the Neath? Does the Silk-Clad Expert hold any interest to Virginia, considering her penchant for the souls of scholars and academics, or is she more to the tastes of the Quiet Deviless? I’d honestly love to see anything which shows us what non-Player relationships might be found in Fallen London, and it’s the perfect fandom for orgastic multi-shipping (or indeed for writing about terrifying rivalries and bizarre friendships), so go absolutely wild if you’re that way inclined. :DDDDD

Swan Lake

Odette, Odile

Okay, this is going to be much less wordy than my blatherings for the text-based canons, because ballet, but that’s absolutely no reflection on the request itself, because I would LOVE anything about Odette and/or Odile. Odette’s all kinds of glorious as in her role as the cursed, tragic queen – she’s yearning and melancholy and so regally distant and so otherworldly compared to the very human Siegfried and his court, even when she falls in love with him. And Odile – who is Odile? She’s a cruel, glittering seductress in her appearance at the ball, and she seems to have the freedom that Odette lacks, but she’s still got that otherworldly, queenly quality that’s probably my favourite thing about Odette. They’re both fascinating, and I’d honestly just love anything that explores them as characters, or takes a look at the kind of dynamic they might have as doubles to each other.

For individual character studies of Odette or Odile, there’s SO much there to explore – who was Odette, before she was the Swan Queen? (I know we find out about her mother’s epic lake-filling tears of sorrow in the exposition mime she does for Siegfried, but we still know so little about her as a mortal woman.) How was she captured by Rothbart, and how long has she been under the enchantment? How does she rule over her swan court, and what kind of relationship does she have with her companions? And for Odile, what’s her perspective on her father’s magical exploits? Does she have powers of her own? We never see her again, after she’s fled from the ball - what happens to her, after the curtain falls?

And if you’d like to write about them both, or focus on their relationship, that would be wonderful – I love stories about women who are complementary opposites, and obviously these two get right to the heart of that, so I’ll be absolutely thrilled by anything you want to do with them. Have they ever met or interacted, before the ball? Does Odile ever watch Odette from afar (she does mock and imitate her at the ball, after all)? If you’d like to write something inspired by the stagings where Odette’s curse is broken by Rothbart’s death and she presumably goes on to become Siegfried’s queen, what happens to Odile in this scenario? Also, thinking about the logistics of an Odette/Odile or Odette & Odile piece that’s set post-ballet, I’m also really fond of stagings where the story ends with Odette and Siegfried still alive but separated forever, after the fallout from the ball – partly because I think Swan Lake is really poignant when it’s a fairytale built around the tragedy of betrayal and how magical/emotional rifts intrude on its central love story, and partly because it leaves things open for further Odette-Odile interactions. So if you’d like to do something which takes place after that kind of ending, that would be totally fantastic. Or if you want to go totally AU, or make up your own revised Swan Lake narrative which centralises their relationship, that would equally glorious. (And on that note, recycling a prompt from my Arthurian request: MAGICAL CO-QUEENS. Magical co-queens are always a good option, for any of my pairings, so if you want to write something where they end up ruling over the lake and/or Siegfried’s kingdom together, YES PLEASE.)


Thank you so much for reading, and for writing these characters - I really hope there's something here that you'll enjoy working on, and that you have a fabulous RW in general.  See you on the other side!