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09 November 2007 @ 03:08 pm
Why Do We Whump?  
Eh, enough whining for now. Time for fun.

In fandom (or even in other forms of writing), we all whump. Some may whump characters just a tad, so slightly that it's barely whumping. Others whump so hard you start to wonder. There is emotional whumping, physical whumping, and mentally whumping. There's whumping that covers a variety of senses and ideas.

But who do you whump? Do you find it's usually your favorite character? Is it your least favorite character? Is it the one you're attracted to most or the one that you identify with most? Or maybe it's based on a personality type?

Personally, I tend to whump the characters I like the most. Sometimes they are the character I identify with and sometimes they are the ones I'm attracted to. It also depends on the circumstance. One scenario might work better for one character over another. And I don't like to overwhump to the point it loses its punch. But in the end, it usally boils down to my fave character.

Macgyver: Mac, of course ;)
The X-Files: Scully
Stargate SG-1: Daniel, though Jack is creeping up there. Sometimes Sam.
Supernatural: Dean
Star Wars: Luke Skywalker
Farscape: John Crichton
Harry Potter: Ron
Pirates of the Caribbean: Will

In my original fiction, it's usually the main character.

The list could go on and on...

So, why would I want to hurt my favorite? It's a legitmate question and one I think about more and more now that I am writing stories for publication. If it's just to satisfy some kink, that's all fine and good, but for me it has to serve a purpose. I consider whumping a character, original fic or fanfic, a way to explore his/her strengths and weaknesses. If the character is alone, the whumping can be a testament to his stamina and his inner strength. If the character is with someone, we can witness her strength along with those who support her, or with those that want to undermine her. In the end, we the audience or the writer feel the triumph the character feels for overcoming adversity or perhaps the despair of failure.

That is why I like to whump. Your reasons may different. But I would love to hear them :)

(I'll reply to comments soon.)
Current Mood: curiouscurious
majorsamfan: AloneSamGracemajorsamfan on November 9th, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC)
I generally whump Sam Carter, if I'm going to whump someone in a fic of any length. I think it's because I feel some sort of sympatico with that character and through working out their resolution, rescue, recovery, etc., I work out *my* issues that need resolution, etc.

Edited at 2007-11-09 08:50 pm (UTC)
Working for the Mandroid: Her Gazemoonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
I agree. I think I do that with a lot of characters, though I usually reserve Sam as my "strong one in a different way." I'll whump her like the rest of them, but something about her remaining firm above all else really speaks to me, so I tend not to touch her in the same way I touch the others.
suzannemarie on November 9th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Are we talking about physical whumping or emotional? (or both). Early indications are that I'm not prone to the physical beating, but I do seem to gravitate toward emotional angst and turmoil.
Working for the Mandroid: Nevermoonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
Physical, emotional, and mental. Those are the three I listed but I'm sure there are others as well.

Personally, I'm not fond of a good physical beating to the characters. I'm okay with some conflict that might lead to a kick or a fist or something, maybe even general illness. Where I like to explore character is more in the mental and emotional anguish, which is why I'm an angsty writer.

Abyss is one of my fave episodes because of the turmoil and brokenness Jack was in, for example. *sigh* I love that ep.
(no subject) - suzannemarie on November 9th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - suzannemarie on November 9th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - autumndandelion on November 10th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
annerb: Daniel Gunannerbhp on November 9th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
I probably fall in the category of whumping to the point of making everyone wonder. ;) Though I do tend to prefer psychological/emotional whump. Why do I whump? Well, mainly because I believe you don't really know your own strengths or people's true nature until they've actually been in one of those terrible situations. You can learn a lot about people from seeing them on their worst day ever. My main writer fetish is character development, I feel like there is a lot of honesty to be found in a whumped character because the normal rules and justifications they live behind no longer apply and you can see something that might never surface without it.

Sure, there is the inherent edification of seeing people overcoming great and terrible odds (hurt/comfort anyone?), but I think there is also the general lack of fall out in the show itself, and whump explores the side of things that are completely plausible for the dangerous situations SG teams are constantly thrown in, but is never seen or mentioned on screen.

As for what characters I whump...I like to spread it around. I've whumped Jack, Sam, Daniel, Vala, Jacob, Reynolds, Cassie, you name it. I've yet to whump Teal'c, but I have one in the works. I'm sure Cam will get in on it eventually. :)

With the more dark levels of whumping, I do sometimes wonder if it makes people think I am deranged or masochistic. I've had the odd piece of FB that basically says something along the lines of "I'm sorry you are obviously in such a dark place right now, I hope you feel better soon," and that just freaks me out as much as it mystifies me. Would people find it shocking that an angst-heavy, whumper like me is actually quite a cheery person? Lol.

Very interesting topic, my friend (obviously, as I won't stop babbling). Hope everything on the work/career front begins to behave or I might have to start whumping people. ;)

Ok, no more procrastination. There is a nano with my name on it not getting written. *gets distracted by yet another shiny*

Edited at 2007-11-09 09:03 pm (UTC)
Spiletta42: ordinary momentsspiletta42 on November 9th, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
I whump for plot reasons, mostly. Often, the situation is just too darn easy to escape, given the character's skill set, so I have to break their leg or something, sort of like a racetrack handicapper piling on the extra weight to even out the field.

Beating the heck out of a character can be useful in justifying their actions, too. Captain Janeway brutally stabbing a Hirogen with a utility knife? Well, that would be crossing a line, if I didn't take away her phaser and break her leg first. Once she's nicely crippled, the brutal stabbing comes across as much more impressive. All I really wanted was a brutally stabbed Hirogen, because I was cranky, but my readers might want a little justification. Pesky morals.

I whumped all of SG-1 in Temple of Doom for plausibility reasons, because otherwise it would have been over very very quickly, and that's no fun. I needed Daniel unconscious, to slow down the translation, and I needed Sam limping and half blind, or she'd have taken apart her opponent in that fight in about 3 seconds.

I'm not one for hurt/comfort as a central element, but it's a nice way to add shippy moments to a plotty fic.

I'd actually have to dig through my fic index and check on the truth of this statement, but I don't think I've ever whumped my viewpoint character in a fic with only one injured party. I try to spread it around a bit, so everyone's injured, or knock a single character unconscious and then use him to give the other characters someone to rescue.

*wanders off mid-essay to read own fic index, never to be seen again*

(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spiletta42 on November 9th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Gunhilda: whumpedgunhilda on November 9th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
I usually focus on whumping Sam, but others get whumped along the way, as well.

As for why... I think Annerb summed it up rather nicely. It's a way of exploring a character's strengths and weaknesses. All plots need a form of adversity, something for the protagonist to overcome, and whump often serves that roll in my stories.
Working for the Mandroid: Strengthmoonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
Big whumping party train? ;)

I think it does come down to the conflict and the adversity. Whether the struggles are external or internal, they can manifest in the form of whumping a character. When handled well, it really can give us valuable insight into how a character thinks, feels, and really who he/she is.
Jenn: jack-solacesurreallis on November 9th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
My favorite is whumping Jack, although I'll read both Sam and Daniel whumping as long as it portrays them in a fashion I like.

I think I like whumping Jack because he's usually so closed off and distant, yet he still wears his heart on his sleeve so much of the time. And whumping him gets him down to that raw, bare, vulnerable level that I'm always dying to see. And, like you said, it really shows his strength. I'm always wondering how much it would take to really break Jack, and I like reading about that in fic.

My kink side wants Jack whumped with Sam comforting him, and then things, er, happen.

If I whump Sam, it's nearly always for the same reasons you stated. I just want to plumb all the strengths and weaknesses and give her something to overcome. She's split between scientist and soldier, and I love making her pure soldier sometimes. (Hence the reason Death Knell is one of my favorite eps, I suppose.;P)
Abyssis: SG1 - Jack unfocusedabyssinia4077 on November 9th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)

I admit to enjoying a good Sam or Daniel whump (*looks at teamfic* *apologizes to them*) but there really is something so...raw about a whumped Jack.

I think he internally fights and resists very differently somehow - but I'm not sure how to explain it - a sort of locking inward, but being more THERE outwardly maybe.
(no subject) - suzannemarie on November 9th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - abyssinia4077 on November 9th, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - surreallis on November 9th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - surreallis on November 9th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - abyssinia4077 on November 10th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
MegTDJ: Jack Daniel Two Fires - sgflutegirlmeg_tdj on November 9th, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
Um... *cough* I kinda whump everybody... *blushes*

I agree with you, though, that it has to serve a purpose. I hate gratuitous whumpage, also whumpage without a good payoff at the end, whether it be a personal revelation or some good ole comfortage. I like for people to learn something about themselves when they reach the bottom, and then find the strength to climb to the top again. Mainly because I've had to do that myself more times than I can count, and I like to feel like I can control the character's experiences more than I could control my own. If that makes sense.

You know as well as I do that Jack is far from my fave character, yet out of every character on SG-1, he's the one I like whumped the most. That's not out of hatred of the character, though... it's because Jack knows what it means to be broken, but he covers that up with the sarcasm and fake stupidity that have become such a trademark for him. I think he's the most REAL when he's at rock bottom, and when he's real, he's an awesome character that I love. I want to love him. Therefore, I whump him. ;)
Working for the Mandroid: breathemoonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Evil evil Meg. No wonder they named an SPN character after you ;)

Gratuitous whumpage is just...ugh. I can't tolerate it. It takes me right out of the story. When it has a purpose, it's a beautiful way to strip away the layers the characters are hiding under and see what they are really made of.

Maybe that is why the Jack whumpage appeals to me so much these days. Jack hides so well.
(no subject) - meg_tdj on November 9th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Abyssis: SG1 - team sets forthabyssinia4077 on November 9th, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
I admit I have a love for good hurt/comfort stories (I think "Solitudes" might be the episode that pushed me over the edge from enjoying SG-1 to completely falling for it). I also, in many ways, got into stargate fandom through H/C John-Rodney fic so...

I think, as others have said, whumping is interesting because it's an easy way to take characters out of their comfort zone and then explore them more deeply. We get to put them in intense situations, see how they react, how they work together (or don't). I tend to like it better when it's something akin to "Solitudes" where whumped characters have to work together to survive. All whumping can be interesting, though physical whumping always has a mental and emotional element to it where other forms of whumping don't have to include that.

I've found in SG-1 while I've done plenty of emotional whumping, and I love reading physical whumping, I haven't really written physical whumping beyond referring to canon whumps - until the teamfic I'm working on now. It's a hard balance to strike between enough and too much, I think.

With SGA I definitely whumped on Sheppard the hardest - not sure why. He's the character that drew me into the show/fandom, but now that I'm into it he isn't my favorite character. But I think in a lot of ways he's so closed off a "devil may care" at times and he lets it all fall away pretty quickly when he gets brought down, and that's fun to explore.

With SG-1, I write Sam and Daniel more - so I've played with them more and whumped them more. I love reading a good Jack whump because, as surreallis said, there really is something about watching Jack break down, but I haven't been brave enough to try to write it. Yet. Teal'c I think is difficult - you have to really, really, really whump him for it be effective, since his symbiote allows him to survive a lot more than the humans can.
Jenn: cam- teal'c-in the fieldsurreallis on November 9th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, seeing Teal'c whumped tends to hit the same place in me as Jack. We see it rarely, but T is so stoic and strong that when it does happen it tends to be really powerful. The point in Avatar when he just sits in the corridor and puts his head in his hands while his friends die around him... GUH.

Same with the fight scene in Talion, which... I won't get into specifically since it's late season 10 and some might not have seen it yet.
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - abyssinia4077 on November 9th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aurora_novarum on November 10th, 2007 01:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - moonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - abyssinia4077 on November 10th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
suzannemarie on November 9th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
The other thing that I was thinking about as I was driving home is that it's easier to write compelling whumping/angst story than a compelling shiny/happy story. Or, compelling might not be the word I'm looking for. With angst it's easier to constuct something that lays the characters bare and hits you in the gut all at once. You can do fun, happy stories that teach you loads about a character and are thought provoking. But it's not as natural a fit. So I think if you're wanting to explore the essence of a character it's easier (and probably more rewarding) to go the route of angst.
Working for the Mandroid: Fanboy Autographsmoonshayde on November 9th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's a way of learning different things about a character? Happy and funny stories can tell us alot about a character quirks, expressions, and reactions. And while angst does this too, we learn a different bit about the characters. Kind of like looking at the mutlifaceted sides of a prism.
Nervous, Messed-Up Marionette: solidsuperbadgirl on November 10th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)
I don't whump, ever, so I can't answer the question. ;)

To be more serious, though, I tend to be an equal opportunity whumper. If I whump Daniel in one story, someone else gets it later. I think I do this, because when I inflict pain on a character, it's not him or her that I'm trying to explore - it's everyone else around them.

I love Dean the best on SPN, but I'm more prone to hurting Sam in fic, because in hurting Sam I can explore Dean's inner workings.

Actually...hmmm. I really AM an equal opportunity whumper. It's not that I dispose of the whumpee altogether. There's some exploration there as well.

I do believe I need to think about this some more.
Autumn Dandelion: Stargate - Rodney McKayautumndandelion on November 10th, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
I whump my favourites too. Whumping is a major part of fandom for me. I used to be a closet whumper, because I thought I had to be perverted for enjoying favourite character whumpage. Then I realised I'm certainly not alone. I don't just whump though; it has to have that hurt/comfort element to it too. I want other characters (especially secondary favourites) support my favourite and take care of them. It probably says a lot about my personality. When I was a teenager, I used to write stories that I never let anybody read where I took turns whumping up on myself and on my current crush, and my crush would comfort me or I would comfort my crush. I don't know how this sick fascination began, but I've had years to come to terms with it. Still, I don't entirely understand why I do it.
betacandy: daniel S9 beardbetacandy on November 10th, 2007 07:14 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you asked this, because it made me realize something very much worth realizing.

My reason for whumping may be a bit unusual: I whump because I've been whumped (emotionally and mentally).

As a child with an abusive father, I felt so alone. Everyone on TV and in the movies was all happy and shiny. They had no reason to be paranoid or depressed, and I couldn't understand why I was both those things.

Then I saw The Empire Strikes Back. Something just release inside me. I remember when Vader said "No, I am your father" the words "that explains everything" popped into my head. I didn't understand this for several more years, but: I was feeling solidarity with Luke, all that guilt and shame over being descended from a monster, and Luke was my guide for not turning into my father myself.

As much as I resent George Lucas on so many levels - and this is what I was referring to with my first paragraph - I have to give him kudos for going there. I think those stories gave me a lot of bad ideas, too, but I needed to see someone innocent suffer and thrive despite it. I needed to wrap my mind around the idea it could be done.

So I whump because I think there must be many other people out there who need to see that, too. And then there are pretty much all the other reasons people have stated, but that's my main one.

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." - Wesley, The Princess Bride
cyren_2132cyren_2132 on November 10th, 2007 08:11 am (UTC)
I guess I have a slightly different perspective on whumping than most. I can't really comment on my writing, since for all the ideas that float around in my head, I actually write very little, but when it comes to what other people have done...well, first I don't read much whump!fic because it's so hard to find any that doesn't go the way of WAY OOC sappy H/C-fests...but I love it in the source material (and in the stories in my head.)

I also do tend to like it when my favorite character is whumped (in SG-1's case, that would be Daniel), but where I seem to be different is that I like it not for the impact and realizations that occur within him but for the impact and realizations occurring within the other characters. We all *know* that Daniel's important and loved, blah blah blah, but it's in those instances where we really get to *see* it and use it to gain insight on them.
lyorelyore on November 10th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
Coming late to the party
... due to LJ's little breakdown yesterday.

I think everyone above me has covered *why* we whump, but I wanted to make a comment about *who* I prefer to see whumped (since I've never actually written it myself - give me time!). For me, it isn't always my favourite character, but it does have to be the one I have the most emotional connection with. I once heard someone divide favourite characters into two categories - the 'identification' character, who we want to be, and the 'objectification' character, who we want to screw (not that they can't be one and the same, of course). For me, I prefer the whumpee to be of my 'identification' characters - Luke Skywalker not Han Solo, Daniel Jackson not Jack O'Neill, Darien Fawkes not Bobby Hobbes.

My only other comment on whumping is that it needs to be proportional - the amount of whumpage, the emotional reaction to the whumpage, and, (if the story is going there, since a lot don't) the aftermath. To me, restraint is watch makes a truly great H/C fic. It's like the difference between a touching romantic story and reams of cloying, over-done sap.