Writing Fanfic: Another Weird Trick

Now let’s talk about the neatness of very different cultures or groups running into each other. This is far easier to pull off in original fiction than the AU Villain. Entire books and even series can be made out of cultural clashes; Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold is one stunning example, and C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series is one of my personal favorites to read and re-read.

The thing is, it usually takes a whole book – or series! – to set up a proper cultural clash. If all you want is to write a relatively short, fun story exploring the concept, you may not have the energy for that. So how to do it in a short piece for fun?

Trick #2: Crossover Cultural Clash.

Every show, and group of heroes, has its own “culture” and standards as to what are the proper ways to do things. How do you defeat an enemy – by beating them in a card game, or beheading? How do you treat a friend; candy and hugs, or a rough pep talk when the chips are down? What are the limits when you’re defending people you care about? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you on any given day?

If you find two shows that you think you can make fit together for a story, you have a built-in culture clash.

Three authors on Archive of Our Own I’m particularly going to recc’ for this: Kryal, Ellen Brand, and Jedi Buttercup. I’m sure there’s plenty more, but I’ve been following these three for a long time.

For Kryal, two that are particularly good are The Dragon-King’s Temple (Stargate/AtLA) and What the Cat Dragged In (MCU/Miraculous Ladybug). The usual levels of violence are higher in Stargate and the MCU, so there are some interesting ways things either get toned down (ML) or we see more real-life consequences than usual (AtLA).

Ellen Brand has plenty, but I really like Unprofessional Opinion (outsider take on Detective Conan) and Loose Ends (Tony Hicks of Godzilla: the Series poking Sunnydale). An outsider’s look at how really weird a canon situation is brings the wonder of the original canon right back again.

Jedi Buttercup… wow, so many awesome crossovers. Pausing to Wonder (CSI/Dragonriders of Pern), imagine the delinquency (Sleepy Hollow/Guardians of the Galaxy) and Of Iron and Fire (Fast and Furious/The Last Witch-Hunter) are three in particular you would never think work… and they do.

In case anyone’s wondering, there is one particular culture clash I’d like to see in a fic, but I’m not sure I can write it myself. That would be Shen Yuan (Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System) as Shen Qingqiu suffering reverse culture shock by getting dumped back into the modern world still as a xianxia cultivator… and still up against monsters that need his level of skills and power to take down. Say, if he ended up in the Chitauri invasion of NYC, or something….

(Which a friend pointed out is actually three culture clashes in one neat package. 1) Reverse culture shock of coming back to the modern world. 2) NYC is definitely not China. 3) Aliens WTH.

Bonus: I’m a scholar and geek, not a fighter, why does everyone expect me to use this sword, I’m not Liu Qingge-!)

Free to good home!

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12 thoughts on “Writing Fanfic: Another Weird Trick

  1. The tricky part about culture clashes is that stories pretty much require following an individual, which makes the differences look like personality clashes rather than culture clashes.

    This is further compounded by the fact that protagonists tend to be extreme outliers within their own culture.
    The merchant who travels to a new land is by definition more cosmopolitan than anyone else in his country.

    It takes some extra effort to tie their reactions back to the culture they come from.

    “Who would do that!?”
    “Everybody? I mean, it’s common sense…”
    “No it isn’t!”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Not all of the other pantheons fixate on the same set of relationships that, culturally, cultivators tend to.

      I talk a lot about the Taoist influence, which is significantly important. But, the teacher-student relationship is immensely important for cultivators, and that may be partly Confucian influence.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You can look at IRL situations for hints. Obviously some people just like foreign things. So you get people like Lafcadio Hearn, who want from Ireland, to Cincinnati newsman, to New Orleans writer, to Japanese Buddhist and folklorist.

    Then you get situations where people need convincing. Just read some great articles in the inline Journal of the American Revolution about French officers, and specifically how the French Navy won over Newport, Rhode Island. (Discipline of troops, kindness, learning English, repairing buildings, not stealing apples, and silver specie. But also a very nice Quaker who invited them in for tea.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That sounds like one heckuva a crossover, Vathara! Hmm, though thinking about it, Timothy Zahn’s books are pretty good on *at least* showing where the aliens’ cultural mindset clashes with humanity’s. His Star Wars novels have Luke and the gang constantly re-calibrating and reminding themselves: “Right, that’s not how things work here…” So they usually have to use human ingenuity to work around the culture’s rules and alien mindsets formed by same. It’s a hassle, to be sure, but also really fun to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely second Zahn as a good example. Cherryh does more _alien_ aliens, but Zahn does a better job of “even just a little bit different may produce drastically different results where you least expect it, but it all still _makes sense_ for it to be that way”.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not sure how much this applies, but lately I’ve been thinking about language shifts. Like the fact that MHA (I got sucked into the fanfiction, still haven’t checked out canon. Bad me.) is supposed to be set about 200 years in the future, after the first time a baby was born with a quirk. Now the few times I’ve seen crossovers with other fandoms that had powers of some sort (Marvel, DC, etc.), they’ve usually been handwaved as a concurrent timeline. What if they weren’t?

    Now, I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how much language shift there would be in 200 years under these circumstances, but I can’t help but think of someone from MHA being thrown into some kind of time/dimensional travel thing and ending up in what is a effectively pre-/early quirk era crossover. In my head, the reactions could be anything from ‘weird accent’ to ‘um, what did you say?’ Again, I’m no expert.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One of the things that may help for that is we’re post-radio– same way that regional accents are at the very least softened, there’s less drift. Yeah, slang is drifting, but even folks who use a lot of slang can grok that someone isn’t catching what they’re pitching. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Actually… there’s a lot more regional differences in American dialects. Vowel shifts, consonant shifts, the whole ball of wax in America. When they did the big regional survey back at the turn of the century, it was very noticeable.

        But. People are also more able to speak different dialects to different people, and there’s a lot of shared understanding of shared dialects. So unless you are in a situation where people are using their full dialectal range, because they are totally comfortable talking in that dialect, you may not hear how far the changes go.

        Heh, heh, it’s so counter-intuitive. You have to hang around teenage girls talking to teenage girls, or middle-aged men talking to middle-aged men. (And not let them notice that you’re listening.)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. All that said… I don’t think the shared dialects would be unintelligible in 200 years. Unless there’s some kind of cataclysmic thing like a nuclear war, the shared dialects are likely to stay pretty close in intelligibility for a really long time.

        What does happen is that features tend to change social status unexpectedly. Like using some gangsta words might become high status and normal, much as the BBC has made one of the newer London dialects into the new version of “standard English.” It sounds hilarious to Americans or to older English people, but younger people have never heard anything different.

        Or how the “sophisticated” and artificial “transatlantic accent” has become something only heard in old US movies and radio shows, because it was totally conquered by WLW Cincinnati’s and WHIO Dayton’s Midwest accent. Which is now being conquered by California blend-of-Michigan-and-Ohio accents, but will probably shift to something more prestigious from Texas or the South as settlement patterns change.

        Liked by 2 people

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