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20 December 2015 @ 10:40 am
Character ruminations/fic rec: WtNV/Dresden Files: "Love Is All You Need [...]"  
Anyone want to talk characterization? I'm trying to figure out why a Welcome to Night Vale / Dresden Files crossover fic grabbed me so hard, because there are elements of the characterization of Carlos that I didn't think were really my thing, but they definitely work for me here. This is mostly just me trying to work something out for myself, so feel free to skip, but I'd love to chat about this stuff if anyone is interested.

The fic is Love Is All You Need to Destroy Your Enemies. I'm a fan of WtNV, but I don't know that I'd say I'm a hardcore fan or anything; I've never read "Dresden Files", and haven't really planned to, to the point that I've spoiled myself for numerous series developments. (I'm sure it's fine for the folks who like it; I don't mean to slam it or anything.) I try to avoid actual spoilers for the fic here, but there are some vague premise-and-characterization spoilers in my ramblings.

There are a number of tropes I know I like in this fic, and some I like sometimes, and some I didn't think I liked. What follows is pretty formless; I'm just tossing stuff out there.

- Carlos has magic. I like characters having magical talent, so that's easy.

- Carlos is very good at what he does. Competence is always my squee, particularly when it's shown more than told. And it's not as if he's perfect or always successful, but he works very hard to do what he does.

- Carlos is a warrior. I'm actually surprised that this works as well for me as it does. I like John Sheppard fine, but I don't really identify with him so much; same for Steve Rogers. Whump for either of them tends to leave me a bit cold. I always thought that the "soldier" thing was a bit of an off switch for me. I do like that Carlos is super-protective; but when he's distracted enough that he accidentally and instinctively disarms-and-neutralizes someone? (Without actually hurting them.) Mmmf. Maybe it's an intersection of "extreme competence" and, I don't know, "magic kinda maps to science in my head"??

- Carlos has a secret identity. This trope doesn't always click for me, but when Carlos puts on his "Clark Kent specs" to pass, I melt.

- Carlos has no particular problem with authority. I was charmed by this; I don't always need it, but it's a refreshing change to most fic protagonists. Similarly, he has a great relationship with his family, and while I really appreciate characters who don't necessarily have a good family history, it's nice to see here.

- Carlos is romantically incompetent. You'd think this would be something I don't like, since I adore competence, but I also have a weakness for certain types of social insecurity, and this fic sells me on each stage of Carlos's fumbling journey with Cecil.

- Carlos doesn't entirely realize that the scientists are as protective of him as he is of them. Characters who undervalue the degree to which others value them ... yeah, I like that.

There are many other aspects that I love about this fic: Exhaustion-based whump. Extensive but grounded hurt/comfort. Well-done humor. Mad science. Pining. Altered mental states due to exhaustion, injury, cosmic revelation, and even drinking-to-forget (but not due to deliberate, just-recreational drug/alcohol intoxication, which is a squick for me). A sexually non-explicit romance. A variety of romantic and sexual orientations, all treated with respect. The importance of different forms of love other than the pair-bond romantic. FRIENDSHIP and TEAM. Complex and evolving characterization. More to the story and characters than just a romance-leading-to-sex endgame.

I get why I'm into Tony Stark and Rodney McKay, but Carlos-the-Scientist-but-really-the-Wizard surprises me. I think it has to be that I'm reading magic as science, and putting really-skilled-fighter on top of that is what makes it for me.

I'm not sure if I'm hoping to find other characters/fic that grab me this hard. I've lost so much time to re-reading! (The length is a part of that; no matter what mood I'm looking to marinate in, I can usually find it somewhere in this very, very long story. And then it's so easy to keep going ....) I do sometimes fall into things hard as a way of coping with life stress; a year or two ago, it was the "Toasterverse" over in MCU Avengers that I latched onto, even though Tony/Steve is a "meh" for me. I can see areas of overlap and recognize some of the things that resonated for me in both cases. I can't concentrate on my own writing, though, which is annoying ... but if my brain needs to bathe in a certain feeling, and if sinking back into someone else's story accomplishes that, I can't really complain, either.

I dunno.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth | Comment | comment count unavailable comments
X-parrotxparrot on December 20th, 2015 11:09 pm (UTC)
I really have to read the rest of that fic - read the first half or so of it when that's all there was, since it finished I put the rest on my kindle but haven't gotten to it yet. I am a fan of both Dresden Files and WTNV, so it worked for me on that side, and I think the version Carlos in particular worked for me because on the one hand he's a total badass fighter and wizard, and on the other he spends much of time completely out of depth and desperately struggling to save the day.

(also, apropos of nothing, but voluntary recreational intoxication being a squick for you, ahh thanks for laying it out like that, it made it jump into focus for me - I don't know if I'd say it's as strong as a squick for me, but considering how much I love non-consensual or accidental intoxication in fic, recreational drinking and drugs leave me totally cold and generally frustrated...)
michelel72michelel72 on December 20th, 2015 11:43 pm (UTC)
I like the way you condense what really works about it. And everything about why he's so outmatched makes sense: yes, he should have backup, but there are valid reasons why he doesn't.

As for intoxication: I know, right? It's the weirdest thing. I grew up around a lot of recreational drug-and-alcohol use, so I get why it's a nope for me in fic as such; and yet I adore altered mental states that ... aren't deliberate, I guess? (The real mystery to me is why alcohol-to-cope-with-something doesn't trip me up the same way, but ... well, that's common enough that I guess it's just as well.)
X-parrotxparrot on December 21st, 2015 12:12 am (UTC)
I've never quite figured out my deal with intoxication in fiction - some of it is a personal distaste for altered states in myself (I tend to react poorly to most drugs including alcohol - I don't really get high, just sick); but I have a few friends who use drugs recreationally and responsibly, and I don't have a problem with it in reality. But in fiction, yeah, I love it only under certain circumstances. Generally when it moves into the hurt/comfort realm. Alcohol-to-cope I think I like because it tends to fall along the emotional h/c spectrum - it's unhealthy behavior that generally is punishing to the character. I also tend to enjoy it when a character is drinking willingly but miscalculates their tolerance and ends up more intoxicated than intended. While as if they're drinking or toking up with friends and just have a good time...ehhhh, pass.