First off, they were Law & Order and some yaoi. Looking at the notes I wrote during work instead of working, apparently the most crucial takeaway was: Idiots, D/s.
As no one would say, I have good taste.
In Law & Order, detectives Briscoe and Green were being aided by a narcotics officer who was grilling an informant for them. The informant was blissfully stupid, like adorably so, and I got the distinct feeling the cop found him cute like a puppy, even as he threatened prison time for the informant. That seems plausible, right?
And then in the yaoi comic, there was an arrogant idiot who thought he had the upper hand against another dude, but he was woefully wrong. The other dude played him like a fiddle, uncaring and mean. This particular one shot left me with negative feelings—however there were some elements I enjoyed.
It wasn’t until I was sitting bored at work, that I realized that what I liked about the L&O episode and the yaoi were thematically linked. But when I did, I set to breaking down what it was that caught my attention. Here, word for word, I recreate the lists:
|Liked||Didn’t Like||Would Have Liked|
||If Dom lost his “cool” facade once. Not like gets angry, but shows an embarrassing side. Also exposes how invested he is in the idiot.|
Yeah, the lists are simple and um… pretty repetitive. But they helped me narrow down what bothered me about the media I had consumed, and then brainstorm what I would have needed to happen for me to love said media.
“What could make me not hate this?” is probably one of the most common catalysts for new writers. I would have loved the yaoi one shot, if things had gone my way, but they went that author’s way instead. HOWEVER, even though I didn’t necessarily like it, I absorbed the feels and dynamics that appealed to me, which could be synthesized into one of my own stories later. (Of course, some of these elements have already popped up before; for instance, The Rebel pairs a cowardly idiot and the beleaguered almost-sadist who loves him.) But new inspiration helps me refocus my ideas.
In L&O, I liked how the cop verbally cornered the informant like a cat traps a mouse between its paws. I liked that the cop seemed to enjoy this game. I liked that he seemed attached to the informant. And there was a very similar scene in the yaoi. But I liked the L&O episode more.
The informant may have been a lowlife caught in the cop’s sights, but he knew the game. The cop’s barbs may have hit their mark, but then they slid off the informant’s impenetrable shield of stupid, barely leaving a scratch. There may have been a power imbalance, but the informant knows how use that imbalance for his own ends.
… I mean, that goes a little beyond the scope of a two-minute scene in L&O. But you could extrapolate all the ways those two men interacted; you could fill in the dots, which is how a lot of my ideas start.
Does this mean the yaoi was trash that should be disregarded entirely? No. Things you hate still mean more than things that leave you apathetic, and this yaoi made me angry because I could have loved it. So why did I hate it? What would need to happen for me not to hate it?
Well, not hating something is a low bar. So there are levels to consider. I’d probably have enjoyed the yaoi if the sub stood up for himself, or if the dom was less mean. I would have definitely enjoyed it if the dom’s cool exterior cracked at least once, showing that he was just as human as the sub.
If I wanted to dig a little deeper, I’d expose the dom’s investment in the sub. If he could walk away from the sub without caring, then that dom is dead to me. The fact that he’s expended so much energy in this person, antagonizing him, sure, but focusing only on him nonetheless, should prove his commitment. It ain’t healthy, but it hits that sweet spot.
So how would I put these amorphous feels and ideas into play? Usually random stories will bubble up, and I spew them, unpolished, at innocent bystanders. Example:
What can I say? I like what I like. But as mentioned in the above image, this idea holds many similarities to Space Pirate (although Jimmy is a different kind of idiot). Something tells me that I’ll spend my whole life reconfiguring themes and dynamics over and over, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you why. But even a random scene in Law & Order spoke to me; one conversation between two characters we would never see again wove itself into the already established canon I pull my writing from.
So this, in a way, is how the sausage is made. I don’t break the thought process down so much usually, because once the idea or “feel” is filed away in my brain, a lot goes without saying. (Or thinking, I guess).