Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the Archives: Why Them?

This post originally appeared HERE on December 19, 2011



Have you ever sat around and wondered, why am I so obsessed with these two? Let's get past the fact that, as evidenced by the above picture, they are just so darn adorable (and Harrison is super hot) and consider some other reasons. I find it interesting for me personally that I am so into this onscreen couple, or any onscreen couple because romance and chick flicks are not really my usual forte. That is not to say that they have anything to do with a chick flick, but if I'm looking for a movie to watch, I'm more likely to reach for something with Bruce Willis than Julia Roberts, and that's not because I think Bruce is hot, it's just because Die Hard is awesome. Speaking of which, I need to watch that soon since it's a Christmas movie...*

Anyway, the point is, I don't sit around swooning over love stories. I don't read romance novels. I don't give a crap about Edward/Jacob and Bella or soap operas or anything like that. I very rarely take a look at fanfic in any other genre, and even when I do, it takes me about half a page before I decide to stop wasting my time. That's probably a good thing, because I don't really need any other ways to completely waste time. Actually, looking back on things, there have been very few couples I cared about in movies or TV. Maybe Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold, but not really.** Definitely Zack and Kelly on Saved By the Bell, whose relationship was actually even more mature than Han and Leia as depicted in COPL. Clark Kent and Lois Lane, though mostly from the TV show Lois and Clark. And maybe for a very brief time Mulder and Scully. But none of these inspire me to write fanfic or even to bother reading it.

So, why Han and Leia? Maybe it's because there are just so many reasons to love them and so few reasons not to. It's a couple I've seen on screen since I was probably two or three years old. Of course at that point in time I didn't really care about romance or anything like that as I was more interested in robots and space ships and lightsabers, but they've just been a part of my consciousness since I got one.

Each one of them on their own is already awesome. Han kicks ass, doesn't take crap from anyone, speaks his mind, flies a really cool spaceship and has a Wookiee for a best friend. Leia is one of the strongest female characters ever depicted in the history of cinema. I took film history in college so I have even more authority to say that. She's strong, she's a leader, she doesn't back down in the face of adversity, fights for what she believes in and she doesn't need a man in order to feel complete. They're both independent people who certainly weren't looking for love when they found it. That's probably what makes a lot of other couples boring, the movie starts with one or both of them lamenting how horribly lonely they are and they can't find a boy/girlfriend or blah, blah, blah.

With Han and Leia, it was really, really inconvenient to fall in love when they did but they couldn't help it. It's also just a less obvious, mushy sort of romance. I love the subtlety. Han is not going to spout poetry or go off on Leia's incredible beauty, he's probably just going to kiss her. You know you only have to go watch the prequels if you want an example of overdone, bad romance. I think there's a lot of stuff that people say in romantic comedies that at the time the audience might swoon over, but if some guy said that to you in real life you'd either laugh or think he was some crazy stalker.

It also maybe helps that their romance is not the focal point of the movies. They both have more going on in their lives than worrying about falling in love. They're well rounded characters with a lot to offer each other and everyone else. They work incredibly well as a team in the face of adversity.

And let's face it, the actors who played them, along with being so good looking, had amazing chemistry. There are plenty of movies out there where you have the romantic leads, and they're both good actors and their acting is fine but there's just something missing that makes you not believe them as a couple. I mean, whether or not you think there may have been something going on behind the scenes between Carrie and Harrison, when those two are on screen being Han and Leia you can't imagine them having a platonic relationship.***

I don't know, they're both just such great characters on their own and such great characters together. They're a more interesting couple because their relationship starts out so volatile and they have such strong personalities and there's something about seeing that they wouldn't just love each other, but respect and admire each other for who they are.

I could go on, I'm sure, but I want to leave room for some ideas from the rest of you. Why do you love these guys so much? Why do you put all of this effort into reading and/or writing about them?

2017 Footnotes:

*Obviously it's not Christmas right now, but Die Hard is always a good movie choice.

**It's only been a little over 5 years but I really have no idea how or why I pulled Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper out right there. I guess because at some point I did care whether they ended up together? But it was all G-rated, and I have for sure never even thought to look up fanfic about that.

***Well now we all know how that turned out. So clearly there was some real chemistry off screen to a point. Whether or not that truly made a difference in their performances is still anyone's guess, but there was absolutely chemistry that is rarely replicated elsewhere.

Friday, March 17, 2017

From the Archives: They Don't All Have to Be Amazing

This post originally appeared HERE on July 5, 2011

This post is inspired by something that Push and I were talking about earlier. Now, of course we should all strive to write the best possible stories we can write. At the very least make sure that everything is spelled correctly, the format is easy to read and your grammar and punctuation are correct. Also desirable is writing people in character and having a funny, sad or interesting story to tell, no matter how epic or how short.

If you look at any writer's body of work, chances are not everything they write is going to be amazing. That's not to say that the lesser pieces have to be terrible, but if we all resigned ourselves to only writing amazing, incredible stories then most of us probably wouldn't spend a whole lot of time writing. I'd love for every idea I come up with to be one of those attention-grabbing, unique, epic pieces that people just can't get enough of. But that's probably not all that likely to happen. Sure, it might happen once or twice, but nobody can churn out that kind of thing one after another.

So the trick is to get over it and just keep writing. Accept things for what they are and if you have an idea you think might be fun to write, but maybe you know before you even write it that it's not going to be some incredibly compelling story, go ahead and write it anyway. And share it if you want to. That's not to say you must share every little thing you write, but maybe you don't have to be so hung up on what people will think and hope that they understand just as you do that it is what it is.*

I'm still trying to come up with some amazing story idea but it hasn't happened yet.** Come on, guys, I have one story that is 1700 words of Leia coming home to find Han in the tub.*** That's pretty much it. You think I wrote that one night because I thought it would be award-winning literature? Um, no. I wrote it because I was bored, I had a silly, fun idea that I thought maybe some people might enjoy a silly, fun read and hopefully it did not damage my reputation too much.**** I love writing, I felt like writing, that was what came to me, so I wrote it.

I think this kind of thing can be especially crippling if you have just finished something that you actually considered to be pretty high quality. You can't think of anything right away that might top it, so you don't write anything. My best advice is just to get over it and not take it too seriously. I've felt the same thing myself in the past and realized there's no real reason to dwell on it. Sure, we get reviews and stuff, but there are not major literary critics out there to tell everyone that we're past our peak. It's all in good fun and we shouldn't lose sight of that.

There are Oscar-winning writers out there who wrote incredible movies and sometimes wrote some less memorable ones. It's okay. It happens. It's just like how sometimes I want to watch The Shawshank Redemption but then other times I'm more in the mood to watch Old School. Do you think I'm deluded enough to think that Old School is a better movie? No, but they can't all be Shawshank and that doesn't mean we can't totally enjoy laughing at Will Ferrell being Frank the Tank.*****

So again, do the best you can do with your writing, but don't let that internal critic stop you before you even start. Don't be afraid to write something just because you don't think it will be 'good enough.' Otherwise you'll be out of practice when you do come up with a good idea or you'll wind up giving up entirely. And sometimes the bad ideas can lead to the good ideas, so don't stop writing!
 
2017 Footnotes:
 
*I'm still much in favor of writing if you have an idea, even if you have no intent to share it. It's very freeing.
 
**And nearly 6 years later, still no fantastic, epic ideas.
 
***It's true, I really do have a story where the entire plot is just Leia coming home and finding Han in the tub.
 
****This is amusing because I don't really have a reputation.

*****And I think we can all agree that there are plenty of times that Old School is just going to be more entertaining than The Shawshank Redemption.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Guest Review of 2016 Han Solo Graphic Novel by OtterAndTerrier

Guest Review: 2016 Han Solo Graphic Novel
hs01.jpg
Because I refuse to give up hope, I was very excited last year when I learned Han would have his own comic volume/graphic novel, like Leia had. First of all, because he deserves it, and second because of the potential Han/Leia interaction that might be included in it. Okay, maybe that was the main reason. I hope the rest of you are interested in this, because overall I really liked… well, everything. The art and the story, but mostly, how they treated Han individually and his relationship with Leia pre-ESB. Below is why.
*SPOILER ALERT* This review contains spoilers, written and graphic. If you wish to take a chance and find everything out by yourself, skip it. But if you want to have something to base your decision on, I think the comic will still be enjoyable when/if you decide to read it.
***

The story is set not long after ANH. Han has “taken a step back” from the Rebellion: he and Chewie are on their own looking for smuggling jobs so he can pay off Jabba. From this I infer that he ended up not taking the rebels’ money for rescuing Leia. It’s also implied that he didn’t just take off, but actually told the rebels where he was going and why, and there was the understanding that he would come back afterwards:
Han: I told you I needed time to take care of what I owe Jabba.
Leia: We've given you enough time. If you couldn't earn what you needed by now, then you're not as good a smuggler as you say you are.
I’ve jumped forward here, but this was to say that the comic doesn’t imply that Han was done with the Rebellion. The story, in fact, starts with Han nursing a drink in a sort of bar, scouting for a good run. The problem is, he’s rejected plenty of jobs so far because something doesn’t feel right. Even for the job he’s being offered right now, he has an excuse; the alien offering it says Han is “getting picky”, “lost his nerve” and is “getting cold feet”. Han knows he’s being unreasonable and that he should start taking these jobs before they start going low on fuel and credits, but he can’t pin down what is it that feels wrong, and why.
While he’s in the middle of these reflections, he notices someone he remembers seeing on the last planet he was at, which he says isn’t a good thing, so he runs---and is intercepted by a blaster on his head. Both the man pointing at him and humanoid he recognized say they have been following him and that they have business to discuss. They lead Han somewhere Chewie is already at, but it seems like Chewie knows these guys. In response to Han’s questions, a holovid of Leia plays, saying she needs his help.
They tell him they need the Falcon, but not Han, to what Han obviously doesn’t react too well. And I get that: it’s not a racing car; it’s his home and his source of income. Why would he let some people he doesn’t know take it from him? These two rebels confront him saying that, unlike him, they are loyal to the Rebellion and nothing else. Han defends himself by saying he could have left during the battle of Yavin, but he came back, so to him that’s loyalty. In the end, because he isn’t taking any job after all, he agrees to go back to the rebel fleet to hear Leia himself. The “thought boxes” through this comic are priceless: they show as much character exploration as you can see in good fanfiction, so that’s obviously something I loved. As we see him getting there and meeting Leia, we get this:
I only joined the Rebellion to make a quick buck. After I'd paid off my mark I kept thinking Chewie and I would get in the Falcon and keep going. But I didn't. Maybe I'm as dumb as she says I look. Or maybe something's changed.
We have some expected arguing here, with good reason:
They meet with the Head of Security and Intelligence for the Rebellion who doesn’t shy away from insulting Han despite never having met him. He refers to Han as if he’s causing trouble for not just giving up his ship for this classified mission he, a non-declared rebel, is being left out of. How unreasonable! Leia vouches for him saying that they don’t have time, that they need the ship, and that she knows Han can do it. She’s not very flattering to him, but I think it fits the timeline. They finally tell him about the mission: there’s a network of spies in Imperial systems that have very important information, but they are being murdered and only three are left, so they need to pick them up before it’s too late. Here’s the trick, though: they need to use a ship and pilot who aren’t officially part of the Rebellion because there’s a mole, and they need a good cover as to why this ship is in those systems (this is sort of confusing--if they need someone “external”, why were they insisting they only needed the ship, not Han? Who else was going to fly it?) The cover is flying the Dragon Void Run, a galaxy-wide famous, dangerous race: they would rendezvous with the spies in the three planets the race passes by while pretending to be competing.
Now, the part that really annoyed me:

Ouch! The next page shows us this dialogue:
Leia: You're not welcome here, you foulmouthed freen fleecer! Get off this ship! And don't ever come back!
Han: Gladly.
Leia cradles her hand and looks regretfully as Han turns to leave. See, it was a ruse, and she clearly didn’t enjoy it, but I still think a slap would have been more appropriate, if not just a shouting match. I also don’t think Han would have gone for a kiss right off the bat during this time period, but maybe that’s just me.
Han flies off to the starting point of this race. There’s a sort of welcoming party and Han and Chewie stroll around while Han scoffs at all these pretentious pilots who think they’re the best but don’t look like they even touch their ships. A couple of these pretentious pilots figure out he’s a smuggler and laugh at him, saying he doesn’t have a chance, but a venerable old racer alien (Loo Re Anno) says that maybe he has heart and the loyalty of his crew, so that might be enough. Han tells Chewie he’s not nervous or afraid, and he doesn’t intend to just do the job he’s there to do, but show those pilots what he’s made of.
The Dragon Void Run’s first obstacle is literally designed to destroy as many ships as possible. The race’s commentator makes sure to say that Han has no chances of even surviving this, when it’s taken out some of the best pilots of the galaxy. Meanwhile, as Han and Chewie are looking for a way to beat the first obstacle, more thought boxes:
The way I look at life has always been simple. You can fight... you can run... or you can die. Dying ain't an option. Which means I've gotten real good at fighting and running. Seems like that's all I ever do.
I loved that because it’s part of the problem that was bothering Han in the beginning. He’s starting to question the way things have always been for him.
Never thought much about it. Until recently. When I started turning down good jobs. Just because of a bad feeling in my gut. But I didn't turn this down. It pays nothing. Probably will get me killed. And I've never felt more alive.
(is he talking about the race or the Rebellion?) Of course, Han figures out how to survive and passes the first obstacle, which earns him some cred with the commentator. They reach the first planet for refueling (and getting out the first rebel spy), but first, Han confronts a Pantoran who shot at his ship during the race. Loo Re Anno says Han can file a complaint to disqualify him, but Han says it’s not worth his time, but that the Pantoran better not shoot at him again. Loo Re Anno sees this as a positive attitude, because Han cares more about the race than getting revenge. Loo Re Anno has a lot of bright spheres surrounding her, and one of them follows Han, who is as amused by this as by the leg-hugging Ewok in RotJ. Suddenly, Imperials show up and put Han and all the pilots under arrest.
Meanwhile, Chewie collects the first spy. He attracts some attention for being Han’s copilot, and there’s some praise heard about Han. When a bounty hunter tries to attack Chewie to get to the rebel spy, everybody on the bar they’re at attack her, thinking she was sent by some fancy pilot who couldn’t stand to see a smuggler doing well in the race, which I thought was very funny.
Everyone is also outraged at the Imps, demanding they let go of the pilots. Han tells Loo Re Anno to keep those floating orbs away from him, but she says they’re not spying on him, they just seem to like Han. Han gets into some trouble after the Pantoran he was arguing with earlier gets punched, and Han in return kicks the Imp who did it---again, a good thing that highlights just how loyal and noble Han can be despite what everyone (and himself) thinks.
An officer tells Han they don’t mean to spill blood on camera, and indeed, the intervention is being broadcasted, and Leia is watching:
The Imperials’ excuse is that it’s a disruptive event, but Han knows that the mole had to be suspicious about Han’s involvement in the race and tipped them off. Han intervenes again when the Imps threaten to shoot at the floating balls of light, because they’re living things of some kind. More thoughts:
I didn't say yes to Leia because I thought it would be safe. I'll get out of this--or I won't. Same as always. But something's not right with me. For once, I'm worried about something besides myself.
The race… hosts? Founders? Whatever they are, make the Imps see that it wouldn’t be convenient for them to piss off the sponsors, who happen to own all the refueling stations in the area, so the pilots are released. Han gets back to the Falcon, where Chewie and Spy #1 are, and they resume the race. One of the balls of light is still with him. The informant says the mole has to be one of the other spies, because none of them knows the identity of the others, and they’re being killed because one of them has the masterlist with all the information the rebels need. So basically, one of the three people Han has to pick will be the killer.
They’re about to enter the second obstacle course and Han has the chance to not go through it, because even if he’ll be disqualified for it, he’ll still be allowed to stop at the refueling planets… but he’s not going to do that. He flies for 12 hours through a debris field at a specific speed. Right when the engines start to lose power, the Pantoran gives the Falcon a lift in thanks for what he did earlier.
They stop at the second planet for refueling and Han leaves Chewie doing repairs while he sets off to find Spy #2. There are some cameras following him, and his little orb-friend destroys them (this story could be called “Han Solo and Friends”). Turns out Spy #2 is an old enemy of… Chewie. Some time ago, Chewie killed a baby Rathtar that was going to eat Han, that Han had been trying to steal, that Spy #2 needed to pay off some debts. Anyway, Han offers to be shot instead of Chewie. During these panels, we get some more Han thoughts:
I've spent most of my life in space. The only things I've ever understood are the stars. On a good, fast ship... anything is possible. Any choice, any opportunity. All I ever wanted was freedom. I ain't noble. Definitely not a hero. I got one priority, and only one. Me.
Riiiight, Han! But Loo Re Anno and some of the Twi’lek pilots who had laughed about Han intervene before anyone gets shot---turns out the ball of light went to fetch them when it saw Han in danger. Han tells everyone to back off, and once again defends one of the pilots even though they had been mean to him before. Loo Re Anno and Han talk about the Dragon Void Run. Han says winning it is “proof that you’re the best. No one can take that from you” and that if you win, you’ll be paid for the rest of your life. It’s a big deal. Loo Re Anno says it’s more than a race and talks about her people and Han asks her why is she telling him all this:
To which she says:
Are you not sticking your neck out, pilot Solo? Why are you here, if not to become something more?
I found this exchange very poetic and beautiful, and then Han says he’s sorry that she’s the last of her people. Han goes back to the ship, where things have calmed down, but he’s also sorry because that killed Rathtar made Spy #2 lose everything she had. Spy #2 also tells him that there’s been a change of plans and they need to wait for Spy #3 in that planet instead of the next, so that means Han can’t resume the race and he’ll be disqualified. That’s a bummer, but he’s doing it. Spy #1 doesn’t trust #2, though, and says they need to leave. The decision is made for him when Spy #3 and a bodyguard board, chased by Stormtroopers, so they have no choice but to take off. When Han doesn’t trust the new guests, one of them tells him they were sent by “Your Worshipfulness”. Now they’re being chased by TIEs, and there’s also the problem that there’s a killer aboard the Falcon, but they don’t know who it is. Han shows a lot of perceptiveness here by guessing there’s more to that bodyguard than it seems.
And now all the informants were picked up, he can leave the race and go back to the rebel fleet. Again, that’s not something Han wants to do, not just for the race, though, but because he wants to figure out who the mole is first. When he drops out of hyperspace for the third leg of the race, there’s a whole Imperial fleet waiting for them… and one of the spies is dead.
The Empire wants to board the ships. Han shoots at them. Loo Re Anno pulls a trick that makes some space monsters attack the Imperial ships and leave all the racers alone, so they’re now coming up to the last trial, which is a void they need to cross. One of the rebels is angry because now that they’re there, they can’t jump to hyperspace and they’ll be stranded unless they win first place, so the Empire will be able to get to them. Han ignores her, because he’s busy figuring out who the spy-killer was. I will leave this as a mystery, but I really like this panel:
I love that it makes a very explicit point that Han wasn’t throwing a fit about not wanting to let people borrow his ship, that it’s not just a ship, but something that matters to him. Think “homeless guy living in his car”. Of course it matters.
So, he was right about the killer, guy injects himself with a drug that knocks him out, and we have a Chewie and Han exchange. To something Chewie says, Han replies with, “Huh. You would like helping the Rebellion. You’re way more noble than me, pal. I’m just a nobody smuggler.” (cut to Han looking thoughtful/doubtful/challenging at his glowing orb friend) “And I like it… that… way…”
Once again, Han is shown as someone who---despite his apparent arrogance and self-confidence---sees himself as a guy with simple needs who’s just trying to get by. He’s no altruist, he’s not noble, but he’s not looking for fame and glory for himself, either. He knows he’s good at what he does (he has to be, because his life and livelihood depend on it), but he doesn’t see himself as something special. Staying with the Rebellion means entanglements and caring for other people, taking responsibility for people he might lose, so he can’t afford it. And so he tells himself that he has nothing to offer and no interest in it.
Han has another chat with Loo Re Anno as they fly. He asks what she’s planning on doing after the race, because she’s the last of her species and it’s said that this is her last race. The important bit of this conversation is that the alien tells Han she’s tired of being alone, that a long time ago she rejected all offers of friendship and community because she thought she was better off alone, and that when she realized her mistake, it was too late. That seems to resonate with Han, obviously.
They’re approaching the finish line and the Empire is on their tails. The power levels of the Falcon are low, so they need to reach it before they start being shot at. The finish line is a gate artifact that creates a wormhole that transports whoever crosses it first to the starting line. If they don’t, they’ll be stranded until someone (the Empire) gives them a lift. Han is beating all the pilots but tied with Loo Re Anno, until the Empire shoots at her ship. Han is ahead now and will win---but he knows that means Loo Re Anno will never “go home”, so he turns back and starts shooting Imperials, to the joy of all the rebels counting on getting the hell away from there. Loo Re Anno crosses the finish line. The rebels tell Han they need to kill themselves now because they can’t let the Empire get the information out of them. The mysterious gate, however, wasn’t just a portal to the starting line but to a different dimension where Loo Re Anno’s people had retired to, and after she crossed it, the portal opened to let these people come back one last time so they could shoot the Imps off the racers’ backs and let them all cross the finish line, in thanks for what Han had done for her. Because Loo Re Anno doesn’t reappear and all the other ships are allowed to cross the gate, they all technically win the race.
Han doesn’t stick around to find out: with a “Let’s go home”, he and Chewie leave to rejoin the rebels.
And we get back to… I think this is Yavin? It looks like Yavin, but nothing definite, so I’m going to say it’s not Yavin because it makes no sense they’re still there. But that’s not important, because it’s my favourite part of the comic and why I love it. Leia greets the remaining informants (the masterlist holder is revealed) while Han passes by and they share a look. Over the panels, some thought boxes:
You create walls. You manufacture rules. You live a small life, while lying to yourself that you're as open and free as the stars. You tell yourself the reason is survival. Good reason, right? But sometimes survival is about telling yourself lies... until you can't lie anymore. And then you have to make a choice about who you really are... Lies are easier, that's for sure.
Leia follows him outside and tells him he could have ruined everything and sacrificed people’s lives because of the race. He tells her not to thank him so much, but he’s not defensive, he’s just sort of calmly resigned. Leia goes on, telling him that he was reckless… but that he also won against all odds, and that she knew she could trust him to do the right thing. Han tells her not to get used to it because he’s not going to be around forever, and then we get the most beautiful closing scene in a comic, ever*:
*an impartial statement, as I haven’t read that many comics
In conclusion: The plot of this story was a little fantastical, because even if Han and the Millennium Falcon still haven’t been identified by the Empire as related to the rebels, a race is too much of a high-profile cover, but it was still entertaining. The artwork is one of the best, really close to the actors. The winning part is the character analysis that is done through the story, giving us a glimpse into Han’s thoughts while showing us his actions that belie them. I think this is true to his OT character arc and it makes for a good bridge between ANH and ESB in showing why Han ultimately decided to stick with the rebels. As Disney canon has him become a racer post-RotJ, this story also serves to give us some reason behind that: he already got a taste of it, people have seen him, he probably has sponsors lined up. I really like the idea of racer Han, and I’ve expounded on it here. Regarding Han and Leia, while I’m not a fan of the punch, I think their arguing and clashing is in character, true both to this time period and to the story. So are their final, rewarding panels, when they’re softer and we see the start of them getting closer. I give it four stars because of the punch, but it’s one of my favourite comics and I really recommend it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

From the Archives: Been There... Done That...

This post originally appeared HERE on July 19, 2011 and was written by Push

Do you ever feel like everything that's anything that could happen to Han and Leia has already been written and written well?  It's almost like when they remake a movie that was perfectly awesome to begin with (like Arthur - IMO), it almost seems doomed to failure from the start - always to be compared to the original or to someone who had done it better.

This is definitely how I feel about trip to Bespin stories.  I have read so many spectacular stories for that trip that I feel:  1) that I could never do any better and 2) that there isn't anything new to add to it.  But then I read someone else who has braved that time period and they add something new to it that I had never seen or thought of before and I think, hmmm - it is possible (just maybe not for me!)*

And then that is what I think is so great about writing.  How we all bring our own unique perspective, personality and voice to our stories and that is why I always encourage anyone who even has an inkling to write something down, to just do it.  I know it's difficult to look at a string of words that you have laced together and not find fault in them, or think that they aren't worth another person's time to read.  But, believe me, in the majority of the cases that just isn't true.  If you have something to say, chances are there are people who will enjoy listening to you.

I guess my favorite time period for Han and Leia is the time between ANH and ESB.**  It's a good chunk of about three years where their relationship blossomed from strangers to two people who obviously have strong feelings for each other that are fighting in the middle of a busy corridor.  I guess the possibilities of what could've happened between them during those three years are just about endless.

After then, of course, you have post-ROTJ where the world really just opens up for you because you are not restrained by the confines of the movies any longer - at least not like you are when writing during or in between the movies and trying to keep your story 'canon'.  But just that open-ended possibility can be intimidating/daunting as well.  I mean, they could live anywhere, do anything, and meet/mingle with anybody.  Which brings us to the the EU story line.  This might curtail your freedoms, but it also gives you some characters and story lines to work with that can make it a little easier.***

I sometimes wonder how other writers decide what they are going to work on.  For me it is usually the story that comes to me first and I am not intentionally trying to write in a certain timeframe.  Except, I guess, for my post-ROTJ storyline where I am diligently trying to come up with 'what happened next?'.  How does it happen for you guys?  Do you let the story guide you?  Or do you start with the timeline and brainstorm ideas?  

2017 Footnotes by Zyra:

*I had always said that I would never write a trip to Bespin story, ever, for exactly this reason. What else is left to say, and do people even want to read trip to Bespin stories anymore? I was writing this exact thing to someone very recently and in the middle of it realized, OMG, I'm totally right in the middle of writing and posting a trip to Bespin story. So, I guess never say never.

**Push always loved that time frame to write in. I tended to stay away from it in favor of having Han and Leia already be happy and together, because it was much easier for me.

***I'm still sad that the EU is basically dead and something that people probably don't want to read about anymore, which could very well be one of the reasons that story I'm writing, which includes Jacen and Jaina, does not get much attention. It's a shame to just erase all those characters.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Valentine's Challenge 2017 Submission #10 from imnothere24

Because there are no deadlines for challenges....



“Come on, Han, I’m starving,” Leia grabbed him by the cuff of his sleeve, tugging playfully.
            
 “A guy back there was selling Gapanga fruit for-”
            
 “After,” Leia commanded. A hungry Leia was not to be ignored. Han intertwined his hand in hers, removing her grip from his sleeve.
           
 It was a typical Sepday. Han and Leia had spent the morning in bed before venturing out to Coruscant’s take on an outdoor market. It wasn’t like the ones on Corellia— nor, Han guessed, Alderaan— but it was an open-aired break from the urban, mechanized bustle of the planet and you could set your feet on something resembling ground for several kilometers. After they visited the food carts, Han would buy groceries for the week. Leia would tag along, vetoing the foods she didn’t like, being cajoled into trying the way Han cooked them before permanently banishing them from their table, and generally looking around. He enjoyed the time walking with her, his arm round her shoulder and hers slung dangerously low around his waist, just being private citizens rather than founders of the New Republic. In the afternoon, Leia would slip away to her office and Han would tinker on the Falcon. He would start dinner. Chewie and Luke would come over, sometimes Lando. They’d start the week over recharged.
           
Leia led them to their favorite vendor where they got their usual fare. Leaning back on a shared bench, they ate in comfortable silence and watched passersby coming and going, passing a shared kaffe between them.
             
Han chewed over whether to say anything about the impending holiday, announcing itself from half the stalls. The decorations had been up for two weeks and somehow neither of them had mentioned it. Red and pink hearts of paper and castplast covered stall walls and hung from the awnings, while merchants hawked edible hearts made of chocolate and- it looked like- actual chalk. Stuffed loth cats and varactyls, some a meter high or more, professed I LOVE YOU in Basic and several other Core languages. Just this morning Han had accidentally backed into the end of an arrow held aloft by a winged, humanoid baby god; Han wasn’t much for religion all around, but kriff, the Reynonians were weird.
             
Han had forgotten that Sweetest Day even existed; nobody got it off, even if their job was real cushy, so it didn’t really count as a holiday in his book. Han had never had any reason to celebrated Sweetest Day either. Not since he’d been a dumb kid at least, and that hadn’t worked out for him. Then two weeks ago he stood in front of a heap of cheap chocolate and thought, Huh. It was- well, Sweetest Day was mushy. But he guessed he was in a mushy relationship now. After what he and Leia had been through, he figured they were entitled to a little mushiness. Like these Sepdays.
            
 Leia called him away from this train of thought to look at a table she said would work in their foyer, which had turned into a discussion of what a foyer was and why they needed a table in there if they weren’t gonna eat off it. Distracted, Han failed to mention the holiday and since then, hadn’t been sure how to go about it, especially as Leia hadn’t said anything either.
             
With the day only a week away, they still hadn’t talked about it. Did they not need to talk about it? Was it supposed to be a understood? A surprise? Han was reasonably good at romantic, it turned out. He had options. He could go quiet, and reminiscent of that night he had shared with her in the days after the battle on Endor— deck out the Falcon, make her dinner, spend a lot of the night in bed. Lando kept reminding Han could get him and the Princess reservations at the Skysitter, if they wanted to go glitzy (he didn’t). His favorite idea was to break into her office and leave about a million flowers. Han had ensured he got in with Ambassador Organa’s Chief Assistant early on, just in case he ever had such a need, and was fully prepared to call in the favor. But the truth was Han didn’t know what Leia liked for this particular day, and it seemed like the kind of thing women might have very definite ideas about. Was there something she would expect as an Alderaanian woman? Anything he should avoid? He really didn’t want to go in blind here.
            
“So.” Han cleared his throat a little, as Leia finished wiping her hands with a napkin and stuffed it into the bag with the remains of their meal. “What are we gonna do about that?” he asked, nodding at a stall with necklaces laid out on heart-shaped pillows, the banner above it proclaiming Diamonds: For A Love That Is Unbreakable. Han knew knock-offs when he saw them.
             
“About what?”
            
 “Y’know. That.” Han raised his left index finger to point without lifting his elbow from his knee.
            
“Counterfeit necklaces?” Leia asked innocently, taking the kaffe from his other hand and giving him a mild arch of her brow.
            
 He gave her his best you-know-what look.
            
Leia took a sip of the kaffe. She too had noticed the garish sea of red and pink when it popped up two weeks ago. Like so much these days, it felt blessedly yet bizarrely normal. Leia had forgotten the way the Galaxy’s merchants ticked off the days of the calendar in commercial output, Sweetest Day hearts turning into Harvest fruits which then turned into Winter Fête’s evergreen trees,. While Leia had been unable to suppress an inward groan at the emergence of the tacky lovers’ paraphernalia, part of her savored the opportunity to experience time in tandem with the rest of the galaxy again. It had not occurred to her to broach the topic of Sweetest Day with Han, however. This piece was new.
             
“Sweetest Day? Isn’t that kind of-” Leia paused, her kaffe hand held out in mid-gesture, wrinkling her fine nose slightly. “-saccharine?”
             
“Sappy as hell,” Han assented.
            
“I like the Corellian version better,” Leia leaned in, dropping her voice low.
            
“Mmm,” Han said, straightening to slide his arm around her waist, speaking into the top of her ear, his voice low and deep. “Corellian version’s not for another four months. Can’t just skip ahead, Princess. Gotta have some respect for the way things are supposed to go.”
             
“I suppose we’ll have to wait four months then,” Leia said, pulling her head back in a feint at withdrawing from him.
             
“I don’t want to,” Han said, lifting his arm off her waist to catch the back of her head, running his fingers lightly over her hair in that way he knew would keep her close. 
             
Leia looked up at him, smiling wryly, and put her free hand on his chest, holding the flirtation there rather than allowing it to escalate further. They were in public and sated from the morning. Han moved his hand down to the nape of Leia’s neck, placing his thumb where her skin met her hair, and gently running his thumb in circles. Comfortable in silence again, Leia took another sip of kaffe. A Twi’lek was pouting by the stall with the necklaces, the Devaronian beside her apparently attempting to reassure her of his love while asking her to settle on something a little more reasonably-priced.
            
“You don’t really want to do Sweetest Day, do you?” Leia asked. It hadn’t really occurred to her that he would.
            
Han shrugged. “Why not?”
            
Leia paused before settling on, “I never really liked it.”
            
“Neither did I.”
            
“So we agree,” Leia said. Han furrowed his brows slightly and the movement of his thumb slowed.
            
“What didn’t you like about it?” Han asked after a moment.
             
“Sweetest Day? Well,” Leia handed the cup back to him. Han dropped his hand from her neck to take it. “Well,” she continued, “there’s the standardization of the whole thing. It takes all these diverse cultural practices and waters them down to the least common denominator. Corellia’s Fesheni de Uhl Erohica and Alderaan’s Amos Es each have their merits, but when you smush them together you just get this ugly hodgepodge.” She gestured to the stalls in front of them.
             
This was not what Han had expected. Leave it to Leia to make this about the actual holiday itself. 
            
“And it's not just that the colors clash, it’s that Sweetest Day doesn’t know what it is. At least the Corellians specify: this is the kind of love we’re celebrating. Alderaan is very clear, choosing to celebrate art that has been inspired by love. The Reynonians have their focus on parental and filial love. This is supposed to be all of that, but it really just becomes none.
             
“And somehow this results in this conflation of love with romantic love. Sweetest Day is supposed to be a generalized ‘Love’ Day, but it ends up being primarily dedicated to romantic love, as if by default. Why? Why not friendship? Or justice for that matter? On Alderaan, we said that justice was the social embodiment of love…” Leia shook her head and trailed off, more in thought than in sadness. For now, she was focusing on abstractions rather than feelings, even when it came to Alderaan.
            
“The social embodiment of -?”
            
Leia rolled her eyes. “Try not to get hung up on the phrasing.”
            
Han held up his hands, kaffe and all. He was trying not to let the swipe at romantic love sting. Academic Leia was a powerful thing, and he knew she didn’t mean anything by it, wasn’t thinking anything personally about him when she said those things. Still…
            
So you’re objections are all intellectual.”
           
“I suppose so.” They sat with that before Leia asked, “What don’t you like about it? Sweetest Day?”
            
“Just girly.” Han said, shrugging. “Sappy, like I said.” He had figured no one ever really felt that way, the kind of love Sweetest Day pretended to celebrate. Or if they did, it was an illusion— a drug, like spice, the effects not to be trusted and quickly worn-off. He knew how he felt about Leia, though, and it wasn't fake. That didn’t mean he bought into every overwrought sentimental piece of advertising.
            
“You’re objections are intellectual too,” Leia pointed out, nudging him playfully with her shoulder.
            
“Yeah.” Han ran his free hand through his hair. “Still…” He shuffled his feet a little, and looked embarrassed. “Seein’ as we’re a couple an’ all…”
            
Leia gave him what he swore was a side-eye.
            
“Han, are you saying you want to celebrate Sweetest Day?” She wasn't opposed to it if it was something he really wanted to do. But she didn’t need a holiday to tell her to spend time with him. Nor did she particularly want to squeeze into something fancy and parade themselves in public.
           
“It’s what people do, isn’t it?” A part of Han he didn't want to acknowledge couldn’t help but think that someone else— had she chosen someone else, or left herself free for one of the Elder House blue bloods who were crawling out of the metalwork post-Endor— would go big for her. Han knew he didn’t have to impress or prove anything to Leia, but he didn’t want her to think he took her for granted either.
             
“I don’t want to do what people do, I just want to be us,” Leia said, placing her hand on his forearm. 
             
He nodded. “Me too.”
             
“You don’t need a meter-high nerf with a ribbon around it’s neck to know I love you,” Leia gently teased, squeezing his arm.
           
“‘M not sayin’ that.” Han withdrew from her grasp. “I just thought we could do something,” he mumbled into the dregs of the cold kaffe.
            
“Well, what did you want to do?”
            
“I don’t care what we do, Leia. I just wanted to do, you know, something. Preferably something you’d like.
            
Leia regarded him thoughtfully. “Han, can you tell me why this is so important to you?”
            
“ ’S not.” It wasn't important to him, it's just— it was just—  Leia was— well, he wasn't supposed to have this. Her. Them. Us. He didn’t want to screw it up and he wanted... to enjoy it a little. Make a fuss over it even.
            
“I thought you said you didn’t like Sweetest Day?” Leia asked, frustrated by a sense that she couldn’t get a handle on where the disagreement lay.
            
“I didn’t like it,” Han insisted, gritting his teeth. 
            
Leia honestly didn’t know what to do with this. “So- ?”
            
“So now, with you,” Han paused, ran a hand over his jaw, keeping his eyes on the ground, “maybe it’s not so bad. Might as well do it right.”
            
The earnest roughness in his voice stopped Leia. She cocked her head slightly, as if listening for what he wasn’t quite saying.
           
“That’s true,” she said.
           
“Come again, Princess?”
            
“You’re right. Celebrating with you wouldn’t be bad.”
             
Han eyed her with suspicion, and Leia leaned into him suddenly, wrapping her arms around his torso. The empty cup slightly crushed between them as he wasn’t prepared for her to come in for the hug. She smiled up at Han, and took the cup and placed it with the rest of the garbage, and settled back in. This time he put his arm around her too though he still looked at her a little warily. She had not quite made it all better yet.
             
“I wouldn’t do it with anyone else though.” She was talking into his shoulder, going for cute and contrite and was almost getting away with it.
             
“No?”  
            
“No,” she emphasized, leaning properly up now to face him.
            
“I bet you’re gonna get Luke something,” Han said with bitterness that was wearing away at the edges, and Leia let out a laugh that was almost a bark.
           
“He’s my brother,” Leia rolled her eyes.
            
“Yeah, I know. And you’re gonna feel bad that he’s single and your only family and I swear you’re gonna give him one o’ those little cards for kids with the cartoon characters and some chocolate.”
             
Leia laughed again, then grew serious.
             
“You’re my family too, Han. You know that, right?”
            
He made a gruff noise, but he squeezed her tighter, and she knew that he knew.
             
“All right. Who is your favorite character? I want to get the card right, and I don’t suppose you’d like the ones with legendary Jedi on it. Would you prefer that Corellian superhero, then, the one with the cape?”  
            
“I dunno, I like them princesses.” Leia knew the ones he meant; that series caused lots of misunderstandings with her peers growing up, as her life did not consist of being turned into mystical animals or— at least up to that point— falling in love with roguish peasants. She shook her head.
            
“Don’t be greedy,” she said, pulling far enough from the embrace to poke her index  finger into his chest. “You can only have the one.”
             
He ran his hands through her braids, tugging gently. “We don’t have to do anything if you really don’t want to.”
            
Leia shook her head. “I never mind spending time with you.” She closed her eyes, running her hand up and down his chest. “I wasn’t supposed to have this, you know. A real lover. One that I chose. It’s a good thing to celebrate.”
             
“Yeah. Me neither,” Han was so quiet she could barely make out his words. Leia knew he wasn’t talking about having a princess, but a regular lover who actually cared for him and who he could rely on to be there. “So, how you wanna do this, Princess?”   
            
“At home. Can we get some of those chocolate covered fruits?”
            
“I’ll make ‘em for you. Champagne?”
             
“Yes, please.”
             
“Girly bubble bath?”
           
Leia groaned in anticipated pleasure, and Han smiled.
            
“Presents?”
            
“You’re my present,” she said, rubbing the collar of his shirt between her forefinger and thumb.
            
“You got it, Sweetheart.” He kissed her temple. “It’s not very flashy, though.”
           
“I’m tired of flashy.”
             
“Me too,” he admitted.
           
“Han?”
           
“Hmmm?”
             
“You are the love of my life, don’t ever think that you’re not just because Sweetest Day hearts make me a little nauseous.”
           
Han took Leia’s face in his hands, and kissed her long and slow.