Ah, because Kat posted, and I read her first few lines and said "ah, i forgot to answer the last three..." And because I want to post the answers prior to reading Kat's (I have this weird desire to know how the answers match up, differ, etc)
Here we go (but really quickly since it is mid-day)
Do your experiences in the fan community influence how you interpret the series, or do you seek out works that are similar to your interpretation of the series? Why?
I think... it's hard to say one way or the other. I look out for fics that align with my interpretation of the characters, the series, the events. I like complex fics, eloquently written, with such depth and such beauty (even through pain) that they blow you away and you're left in awe, where your mind is so ecstatic at having such beauty that it cannot form a coherent thought beyond "that was perfect." Very few series actually do this for me... I'm more of a textual person, I get that feeling through reading it. So, in a way, the fics are always different than the series, they're automatically different from how I see the series. But, I still seek out fics that are similar in interpretation.
But, at the same time, a few talented people can write in such a way that it will forever alter the way that you view the series, the character, the event. They add such depth, or such a different perspective, in such a profound way that you cannot help but have your perspective shaken, altered, reborn. Not necessarily the same way they view it, but definitely different from the way you viewed it before.
And thus, I exist in this cycle of seeking out fics that align with my interpretation, having a few of those fics severely alter my interpretation, more seeking, more altering, twisting and changing and ever growing. Such is being in a fan community. You have your own interpretations, but are ever changing it, building upon it, molding it in response to the debate and interpretations of those around you. How boring to always stay with the original one, or just copy another. No, the fan community challenges the interpretation, adds depth to it, alters it, and you start seeing things in new manners, learn more about the series, about yourself (your biases, your own view of people. your own likes/dislikes, etc), and it gives the series/character new life. Breathes into a new interpretation, a new way of seeing, and thus it will eternally hold your fascination, despite having seen an episode or event or character a hundred times before.
Why why why. I always ask why. I hate that question, but I love the answers. So let's submit to my own torture.
I do read fics that are lighthearted, flufffy, funny, etc. Almost all of them are AU. I read them for amusement, to see a new, hilarious spin on a character. It does not alter the way I interpret the series, though.
So, why do I seek out fics that are similar to my interpretation? Well... because I am very attached to certain characters. And if a fic portryas them in a different manner, I find it offensive and will stop reading. Everybody has a different interpretation, and they're bound to disagree with my own. But to find a character I am so attached to portrayed in a way that is the compelte opposite of how I view that character... I can't do it. I get too attached to them, too involved in their interpretations, their depth, their complexities.
Wow, and I said this would be short
How important are characterisations to you?
Haha, see the above. I am, what one person aptly referred to as a "characterisation whore." When I interpret/view a character a certain way, I do not want to see such character belittled or degraded into some two-dimensional simpleton, or hormonal freak, or abusive prick. I am invested in the characterisation; it is interpretating, and my own views are changing with it. Therefore, to have it destroyed or belittled like that is beyond irksome, and I wont' read those fics.
So... I seek out fics that reflect the character in a similar way as I saw the character. And every now and then you'll find an author who adds such depth to the character it will completely alter the way you view him/her. Same as I said above. These authors are few and far between, but when they come along you jsut go "whoa." They don't necessarily change the way you see the character,b ut they add such depth, complexity, layers. And these are the authors I love - the ones who add new life to the characters, bring them to life. For example... I'll bring up a fic we've all read, Fallen did an extraordinarily good job of portraying Ken and Ran, I think. It added depth, insight, layers of complexity, and in doing so it made the characters more real than they ever were in the series. (That might because I am, like I said, a textual person rather than a visual)
Every now and then I will read a fic that has a different spin on a character, never one that makes the character two-dimensional or degrades him/her, but one that puts a new perspective on the character. And of these fics, the ones I adore are those that kind of turn my head in such a way that I see the character in a new way. More depth because they're more holistic. It sounds like what Ijust said about the authors who add depth, but it's different. The ones that add depth take an interpretation that I already agreed with and just gave it more life. Whereas these authors are ones who offer a slightly different interpretation and add depth to it. Neither is better than the other, they're equally mind-blowing if you find the right author.
I'm not sure if I even answered that question. Ah well. Onwards!
What determines your favorite character - personality, background, qualities, etc?
Haha, I'm betting Kat said angst, right? Or at least included it in the answer (=
I like characters are eternally intriguing. The ones you can never quite figure out, because to attempt to sum up their character in an essay, or two, or ten, or a hundred, would always be lacking. You can never fully express who they are in words, for words are limited. The characters with depth. Those who have suffered, struggled, persevered, moved on, and find hope again. Or, those who are searching for that hope, that means to move on, that means to live and find meaning. Those who have been shaken to the core, and find that they can still go on despite it.
And it goes back to, I think, just the way I admire people. People suffer, immensely. It is our fate. It's why I love the classical Greek works. The heroes have their hearts ripped out, their souls torn apart, and all they are left with are the shards of what they had been. Yet they pick up those pieces and move on. They show that we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for, stronger than anything that can happen. The human soul, spirit, mind, can endure suffering time and time again and it can move on. It may never heal, but it can go on despite the pain. And there is even a beauty, in a sick demented way, in those who fall victim to their own broken existence, and try to persevere but cannot. They find themselves falling into hell, layer upon layer, and while they fight it at first, they eventually give in. However, there is a weakness inherent in such.. giving up, giving in, allowing the darkness to overcome.
And thus... characters who take on these traits, while I appreciate them, they will never be my favorites. As Angel and Wesley said, you can touch the dark, and it will suck you in until you are consumed. But you can always find your way out, find a meaning, persevere and cling to it. And while you have tasted and experienced the dark.. you are always able to persevere despite it.
These characters, to me, have the most depth. Those who have had dark pasts, complex pasts, suffered and overcome. Those who have not suffered, who have never known the evil that exists within us, the darkness that tugs at our souls and seduces us with its whispers... they're boring. Not always entirely boring, but they don't have the depth that comes with suffering.
And like I said, my favorite characters are those who are endlessly intriguing (although this may go back to what I was saying about interpretations forever changing, altering, molding, transforming and growing....)
And I just realized I already wrote an essay on this exact topic for ASYLUM; sorry Kat, this is likely repetitive for you.
Edit: haha, okay I didn't even say what kind of personalities I like. Well... Hm. Usually they're broody, always contemplating life, meaning, existence, the suffering that accompanies it all. They're quiet, because they know no words can express the darkness/depth of their thoughts, and thus it would be pointless to try. Nobody would understand if they tried, anyway. They do not need idle chatter to keep them happy, they are okay alone. in fact, they prefer it, not because they hate people but because they hate loss. And to gain something, to them, means they will eventually lose it. So they're standoffish, never trusting themselves, or others, to let anybody close. Never wanting to experience that pain again. But every now and then, someone will slip through their defenses, and they will find themselves close to that person, despite themselves... and upon that time, they will hold that person so close, so tightly, that they are willing to die (or more profoundly for these characters, to live) for that person. They are fiercely loyal, knowing betrayal, and such knowledge makes them that much more loyal and trustworthy. Those who are lucky enough to get past these characters' defenses, they know beyond a doubt that they will not be betrayed, that they can always, without a doubt, rely on that character. Even if that character crosses over to the dark side, he or she cannot bring himself to betray his/her friends... well okay every now and then they'll seemingly betray, but it serves more as a wakeup than as any full-scale betrayal. For thsoe who go dark, they have their epiphany through the loss, and in doing so they are able to persevere beyond the dark, find meaning to go on... and they become that much more tragic, that much deeper.. that much more my favorite (=
And now that the "short" post has turned super long, I'm off. (=