Hi! You say you often write your characters with issues that don't stick to precise, defined labels... I think that labels are important, but they also ruin the fun... How do you avoid that in your writing? I love to write characters with issues, but it's only growing up that I learnt about them...With old characters, it's okay, but creating new ones, ugh... I don't know, do you have any tips on staying organic in your writing? Thanks and love <3
…Okay I’m not sure if I’m going to be answering this correctly, but…I’m going to try my best. Here goes anon <3
Labels are important, for sure. In the case of like, mental illness, there are some labels - Jack has anxiety, Jack can show symptoms of depression, Jack has post-trauma - but he might not have very culturally specific labels (because, in this case, he’s not in that culture, and it’s not super relevant). In that sense, I might consider symptoms of different disorders and think which ones fit Jack, or which i can see Jack doing / not doing.
Likewise Gwyn, for example, has some aspects to his character that can easily be coded as high functioning autism (which I didn’t realise, until a couple of autistic folks told me). I didn’t think ‘I’m going to write a high functioning autistic character’ but I am high-functioning autistic, and I did want him to show some issues around communication and socialisation, along with his habit of hyperfocusing on things at times (which can be coded in a lot of other ways too). What I like about characters being coded in ways that can be labelled, but don’t necessarily have an overarching label, is that it means people can identify with those characters when those labels cross different platforms. Like, he’s coded as post-traumatic, he’s coded as potentially autistic, he’s coded as potentially having attachment disorders etc. which gives a chance for multiple people to see themselves in him, if they want to.
And really, that’s their choice. They could do that even if I wasn’t writing him that way, but I think it helps.
Anyway, re: labels, I suppose the most important thing to maybe keep in mind is that you’re writing a story about characters, and not about labels.
I like to write about characters. Though their labels inform the character - Mosk being a dryad is important to his character, for example - it’s not like…the story is only about ‘Mosk as a dryad.’ Fae Tales isn’t about ‘Gwyn as a gay person.’ The Golden Age that Never Was isn’t like, ‘the story of how Jack is traumatised.’ I mean all those things are in it and important - Gwyn being gay is how he can be with Augus, and Jack being traumatised generates a lot of issues, and Mosk being a dryad will inform how he orients to Eran, a fire fae.
Yet stories and the characters are more than a handful of labels, or many labels. Gwyn’s also a cartographer, he’s a submissive and a service top (mostly), he’s a war maker, he’s disabled, he lives with chronic pain etc. You could write down a list of so many different things he is. Some of those labels are obviously politicised - he’s gay. Even if that’s not politicised within the story, that’s policitised in reality, so him being gay is political. So is him being white, and so is his class status and other things. It’s easy to focus on politicised labels when writing a story, especially when you want to write a diverse story.
So I suppose if I set about trying to write a story about labels, I might only focus on politicised labels and forget that my characters are so much more than that (as are people who live under politicised labels they choose for themselves, and those that are chosen for them).
And if I wanted to write a story about Gwyn, I’d try and think of all the different things that make him who he is. As you say, labels are important, but focusing on them too much can ruin the fun.
When you’re generating new characters, if you focus on a mix of labels, not just those politicised or made into Discourse points and so on, you can get a more organic creation. I mean a lot of labels can be politicised (Gwyn being a cartographer is a privilege afforded to him by a family who had the money to allow him that training, but, feasibly, in the fae world, a poor fae could also train in this if they worked hard and apprenticed, same label - different politics and class issues around it etc.), but you’re not fleshing out a news article, you’re fleshing out a flawed character.
In terms of staying organic, I…just think I’m trying to get to know some new people I’ve never met before, and they’re trying to teach me things too. It helps to write what you want to write instead of what you think you should be writing. I don’t write traumatised characters with mental illnesses because I think I do it well or because I think society needs more representation of mentally ill characters achieving great things, I write it because I want to write it. I don’t know if I do it well. I just like doing it.
(That’s complicated too. I like doing it because I believe there does need to be better representation for mentally ill people, but it’s not an onerous political duty, it’s not ‘intentional activism.’ It is a form of self-expression that publically goes against a lot of what’s out there, and is something I enjoy in my personal life re: reading fanfiction and stuff too. I write to fill the gap, but the reason the gap is there is absolutely a political reason re: ableism and mental health. It’s like…I just like writing what I write. It’d also be totally okay if I just wanted to write action adventures with folks wielding swords and stuff.)
As I become more aware of different issues in contemporary society, some of them I’ll write about (with further research) and some I don’t. I can’t address every politicised issue, nor should I. Then I’m just trying to please everyone which is impossible. Ultimately I came here to write, to write about flawed characters who are learning how to heal. They pick up a bunch of labels in the process. And a lot of labels came retroactively. I didn’t know Gwyn was a cartographer until he ‘showed’ me that. And then…you know, there it was and it seems like he’s always been that way, lol.
“Ez and I dog on each other a lot, but none of it actually holds any weight. He’s a great kid with immense talent and a lot going for him. I’m more than grateful to have known him for so long- and to be able to call him a friend.”
What was it like to lose your sight, and who helped you the most once you lost it? I know that's a personal question, but I'm a bit curious.
“‘I don’t remember much, to be honest,’ the Host says. ‘It was… horrifying, and painful. Not being able to see nor manipulate with my words, though I believe I lost most of that skill a couple of months before I lost my eyes, was the most terrifying thing I had experienced in the world. It was even worse than getting shot in the back, which was the first time I had ever experienced pain.’
“’It was… Dark who took care of me at first, but I could sense his manipulative undertones. Everything he said and everything he did was just to make sure I owed him,’ the Host explains, pausing to gulp a little. His throat feels uncomfortably tight, but he doesn’t want to stop talking yet. ‘Though… Dr. Iplier was the first person to find me curled up in a ball in the corner of a studio, my bandages torn to shreds by my own panicked hands and bruises on my wrists. I thought he would be angry, but he was very calm and caring. He helped me clean myself up and applied new bandages that felt so much more comfortable and fitting compared to the ones I had been putting on. He gave me pain killers as well, to help my mind ease into the normality of everlasting pain. I barely feel the pain at all now, and I have Dr. Iplier to thank. He takes care of my injuries even now, and we are very close.’“
well there’s maria’s blog ( @theironfam). We are very similar, so her blog is MY FRICKING LIFEBLOOD. We are constantly screaming at each other about dad!tony and it’s always my favorite thing to do. I love Maria, you don’t even understand.
There’s nat’s blog ( @knightinironarmor). Everyone knows I loooove nat. She’s got A++++++ Tony Stark content AND has a passion for dad!tony so literally yassss.
There’s also @itsallavengers who has tons of lovely dad!tony fics (you should totally check them out) so I enjoy her blog a lot!
And there’s @datesanddamian. Nina is my muse for anything and everything I write and she LOVES dad!tony as much as I do, so I love my Nina and her blog.
Now, there’s a ton more tony blogs I follow that I adore, but they don’t concentrate on ironfam content. However, if you want a more complete tony stark blogs rec, I can also make that for you.