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The Grey Havens--Finding the Middle Ground

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by DarthIshtar, Dec 6, 2004.

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  1. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Hi.

    I'm a pretty angsty author who has recently dealt with the extreme opposite--full-blown mush for a month. I found that it is often very difficult to find a mid-ground between the two without it seeming kind of odd at times.

    Anyone else have this problem? Anyone want to laugh at me for being so inexplicably unversatile? (Or possibly just having made up that word?)

    Or, we could have an open discussion on just what that middle ground between the morbid and mushy is.

    Thoughts, anyone?
     
  2. flowerbee

    flowerbee Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 29, 2004
    I, personally, hate lots of mush. I've drifted towards killing all my characters at times. (I thnk reading your stuff is influencing me)
     
  3. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Perhaps you should define angst and mush. Sometimes they seem pretty close together.... and I have yet to figure out the difference. :p
     
  4. Jedi_BMK

    Jedi_BMK Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2004
    This is why I take the lazy route and put my characters into enough life or death battles to avoid both most of the time. ;)

    In reality, I go for something that reminds me of real life. You have the good and you have the bad. Some days things will go great and others will make you want to turn to the Dark Side. But most of the time the day will just be. How its handled depends on the character's (and author's) personality and mindset.

    Mix things up. When things are looking up, send them downhill. And when things look rather bleak, give everyone a moment to catch their breath and remember the good things.

    That's just my thoughts. If you agree, awesome. And if not, what do I know? I'm still a rookie around here. :p
     
  5. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Well, as the person who originally challenged me to abandon angst for a month put it:

    "No angst. No killing, torture, depression, sadness, morbid thoughts, or injury. You make someone stub their toe and it's angsty already!"

    And mush, I'd define as anything light-hearted, warm-hearted, gives-you-warm-fuzzies, involves love, romance, or friendship.
     
  6. Darth_Suzi

    Darth_Suzi Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 23, 2004
    Well, it's kind of tough to actually combine angst and mush because they're kind of polar opposites, aren't they?

    Thing is, not everyone is always either completely down or completely up. So basically, I see it like the pH scale--there's the opposite ends of the spectrum, which are acidic and basic (angsty and mushy), but there's also the stuff in the middle, which most things are closer to--which is a good thing, because if everything was at one end of the spectrum, then humans would probably be dead. Then, of course, if everything is neutral, then all you have is water, and that's boring. So, basically, a perfect combination of angst and mush has no flavor. Except salt.

    (I'm doing my chem homework at the moment, could you guess? :p)

    Okay. Analagy over. The way I see it, in full blown angst is when the character is miserable and can see no hope whatsoever--or if they do, the audience knows that it's a completely false hope. Full blown angst is "We all live in a happy world, let's go skipping through the fields picking daisies and singing about the newfound world peace!!! :D"

    Just my completely pointless two cents. :)
     
  7. Jedi_BMK

    Jedi_BMK Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2004
    So, basically, a perfect combination of angst and mush has no flavor. Except salt.

    Mmmm. Salty. =P~ :p

    Of course it's only salty if you're using sodium and chlorine, otherwise...I'm going to stop here before the engineer in me overthinks this. :-B

    I agree, you don't want a pH of 1 or 14, too much or 7. too neutral...at least not throughout. That'll either burn people out or bore them to death. You want to hover in those middle ranges. And when the time is right, add something new to change the level. (As you can tell, I liked to analogy. I'm such a nerd sometimes.)
     
  8. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    See, I agree that you don't want the extreme opposites, nor do you want isolation of the two. I started this thread because there's a lot of times when it seems almost impossible to find that balance, so we give up on it. Is there a way to balance? I know I've seen JediGaladriel, DantanaSkywalker, and others do it very well. How?
     
  9. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Thanks Ish.

    Apparently, I never write mush based on the definitions. I look for a range of emotion - wow, everyone is using the chemistry analogy (I'm finding that quite funny since I'm a chemist). But I don't do the warm fuzzy thing, never could. I tend to hover around pH 3-8 so even though things aren't neutral, they're not burning your skin right away, either.

    I think you could combine the two if the fic is long enough - maybe start with angst and end up with mush! How to do it? Got me.
     
  10. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    LOL. I never took chemistry, since it was not required for graduation and I suck at science, so I'm going off stuff learned in science in 7th grade. I'm halfway confused, but think I understand.
     
  11. Lt_Jaina_Solo

    Lt_Jaina_Solo Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    May 27, 2002
    What I try to do is find what seems most realistic. Of course there are going to be moments of "Oh, my God, this is so mushy sweet my teeth hurt", and there are going to be moments of sob-fests because it's so angsty (see Ish's latest post on All Too Soon). But normally, it's a mixture of the two. Perhaps a character is upset over something (maybe she misses her boyfriend, or something) and then something good happens (she gets a letter for him). So you'd get mixtures. But going overboard makes my teeth hurt (or my eyes). :p

    ~LtJS @};-
     
  12. Vivid_Scripts

    Vivid_Scripts Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 21, 2004
    the way I see it, it's impossible to use both at the same time, but having varying scales of mush and angst in different parts of your story can be done. EX: The first chapter (or the prologue) of your story has your main character in a wonderful world. Married, beautiful kids, a great job with a likeable boss and friendly co-workers. Its daisys and roses and when it does rain, its only a light drizzle with very cool breezes.
    chapter two: flash forward seven years and the MC is in a hole, drinking, spicing and stealing. Wife's dead. The Kids hate him and he's long since been fired from his job. Complete hopelessness? Check. Suicidal thoughts/tendencies? Oh yeah.

    I don't think one could realistically blend Mush and Angst, but using varying degrees from chapter to chapter can give a story a wonderful, roller-coaster type feel.
     
  13. Jaina_Solo_59

    Jaina_Solo_59 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Ish My fic is getting mushy and angsty at the moment. I still have J/TK A/T and J/J mush and yet I've got Jag's sister's Jealous friend who has a crush on Jag trying to steal him from Jaina. My challenge was Just a happy very short story. it's still not done!
     
  14. Darth_Suzi

    Darth_Suzi Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 23, 2004
    I completely forgot to post half of my point earlier. 8-}

    I think that it's important to note that life is generally on the darker side of things, or at least in my experience. Of course, this is coming from a girl with depression in her family since who knows when. However, especially in the Star Wars universe, there's going to be something bad going on at all times.

    Consider this: On our measley little planet alone, there's something like 30 wars every day. Characters who are on the happy side constantly just seem ignorant and annoying. However, characters that are constantly angsty are just Debbie Downer and likewise ignorant and annoying.

    I think the important thing is to switch gradually. The balance between angst and mush is also a part of character development, as a character's experiences will flavor how the character sees things. A neutral reaction can actually be part of the character as well; my grandmother and I, for example, both tend to look at life very unemotionally, as we both grew up forcing ourselves to show nothing. (Long story.)
     
  15. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Well, some argued that the post in Always a Bridesmaid where Leia and Han are dancing to the Alderaanian Waltz at his wedding when he's not marrying her is angsty, but i wrote it to be mushy. So is it in the eye of the beholder or something up to the author?
     
  16. Happy_Hobbit_Padawan

    Happy_Hobbit_Padawan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2003
    I say we have an Angst to Mush / Mush to Angst challenge: in one post go from either angsty or mushy and end up at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

    The benefit of this? The exact middle of the post should be the middleground, right? :p

    edits: I used the 'preview' option, I swear I did ...
     
  17. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Lol, interesting idea.
     
  18. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Middle ground... I guess that there could theoretically be one. Although they are technically antithesises of another, if you have a fic with an equal quantity of both, that should work. Or course saying something is theoretically possible does not mean it can be carried out in practice...
     
  19. EmilieDarklighter

    EmilieDarklighter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 19, 2002
    Nah, you're not alone. I'm quite the opposite; if a fic kills any character I'm pretty attached to, I avoid it like the plague. I can't read deathfic at all; it puts me in a state of depression for days and that just isn't worth it. ;) (Which is why, in the header of many of my friends' fics, you see Sorry, Emmi. Or Emmi, don't click." *giggles*)
     
  20. vader_incarnate

    vader_incarnate Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2002
    I don't like mush. :p I've never really developed a stomach for it. ;) Whatever romance my stories require are usually angst-filled or humor-ridden, so s'all good. Maybe I'm just playing my strengths. 8-}

    So yeah. ;) Hate mush, but my stories are usually either sobfest angst or side-splitting humor, so I so get the bipolar complaint. :)

    EDIT: Sorry, Emmi! Deathfic is fun! :p
     
  21. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Whoa, where did this get dredged up from? Can there be side-splitting humor in an angst scene? I've seen it done, albeit sometimes involuntarily. If you want a balance, a great fic to read is "The Lion Sleeps TOnight" from the Jemmiah Chronicles.
     
  22. EmilieDarklighter

    EmilieDarklighter Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 19, 2002
    LOL. It's okay, Elli. I find it extremely amusing when I make it into people's headers. I've counted at least four fics (and one of them was yours, IIRC) in which people say "Sorry, Emmi!". It cracks me up. :)
     
  23. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Whoa, where did this get dredged up from?

    *shrugs* Am trying to avoid practicing, started reading old threads, dragged this one up. But it certainly is an interesting thread...

    I have seen humour done during angst. Not very often, but I have seen it done. I think it's harder to do mush within angst...because you have this very thin line with romance at all and it's so easy to cross the line and make the romance angst-filled than mush. Make any sense? Probably not...
     
  24. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    My first attempt at humorous angst was a proposal scene done while someone was having a gash all down their back cauterized with a lightsaber. I don't think it was very believable. "Here, let me stab you, hahaha, marry me."
     
  25. lurker2209

    lurker2209 Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Jan 9, 2005
    In my view, you have to make people at least slighty happy in order to give their sadness any meaning, and visa versa. For example, if you want to indroduce a minor character into your AU NJO fic as an avatar of what the average sentient feels afer surviving the fall of Coruscant, you probably want the character to have been relatively happy prior to the battle. That way, when you kill all of her family in the battle and plung her onto a refugee ship heading for Hapes, you feel that she's really lost something. If you make her entire life one hopeless struggle then the effect of a single tragedy is diluted.

    Alternatively, if you take a charcter that has had a relatively normal life and have them fall in love, that could get pretty boring. Take the character whose life has been the hopeless struggle and have them fall in love and then you can write a really good story that is essentially happy, but it's complex because happiness is so foreign to the character.

    It's all about constrasts, in my view. SW is very...Baroque: light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, love vs. hate etc.

    ~Lurker
     
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