You can't succeed until you are afraid to fail. Come inside and decide for yourself this captions fate!
Please read the caption first before going any further. I want you to digest it and think about it for a moment before plowing onward through the blog post.
About 2 months ago, we started a section of the Haven for those captions that were considered too experimental for trades and made it an area where others could discuss the crafting of captions and ways to expand our horizons by pushing the boundaries. (Sounds familiar to this place, eh?) We went through a few things like Diegetic captions, where everything that can be read is INSIDE the caption .. I think there are some like that here .. less appreciated fetishes, and quite a few POV captions.
When I started writing this caption, I was going to use a technique of the male part and female part of the protagonist having a debate. I didn't think that there were that many captions like that, and I wanted to see what I could do with it. And then about halfway through .. it turned on a dime.
I went off in another complete direction I hadn't thought about prior. Some people are much more serious about the whole gender thing than others. What if one friend was truly committed and the other wasn't? Maybe it was just a phase, or perhaps there was something underlying there between them that wasn't there before? That was the vibe I was getting and decided to go for it.
So, there we have it. A POV caption where the protagonist decides he would prefer to present as a man, and ends up realizing he is falling in love with his enfemmed friend. If you didn't figure it out, at the end, the two voices in Steve's head merged into one.
I put all the yellow text in a spoiler tag and uploaded to see what others thought. While this area of the Haven doesn't get many views, it does get people who want to experiment and grow themselves, so the view to comment ratio is fairly good. Just a small subset of a larger community of like minded people looking to have a dialog.
Olivia Lovely had this to say about it:
Oh, this is a very sweet caption you've whipped up for us! I have encountered that M/F sides talking to each other, but usually in the context of the female side steadily overtaking the male (Evie Hyde does this a lot during sex scenes and it's very effective). This is a much more casual instance and yet the moment carries a lot of weight for the friends. I like the mentions of specific events in their history, I think it fleshes it all out nicely. It's also just neat to see a cap where someone doesn't transition forever, (even tho it's not quite what I want in my folder lol) well illustrated~
Great picture choice, by the way, her expression is actually pretty complicated, and her outfit is sooooo cute! A nice background and a beautiful day to struggle with identity lol Plus you found enough space around her for quite a lot of text! That's veeeery hard for me!
Feedback! Usable feedback! Yes! Mother lode! Then Felicia Hextus chimed in as well!
The idea, to begin with, is quite original. Yes, Evie Hyde may have done similar experiments before, but this is actually a format rarely seen still. The selection of 'silent' markers - like the gendered colors - are effectively used to guide the reader through the cap. You did a very good job here regarding the reader guidance!
The image selection, too, is excellent. Quality, but not glammy. A vivid facial expression as Libby noted already, adding much complexity to the caption text.
Only the framing of the image with text as such is a stylistic choice I want to critically comment on if I may. The text literally is framing the female figure, giving not much space within the image for the reader-viewers to lose themselves in the image. I couldn't help but find the already complex composition borders on the convoluted. I must admit I feel bad for commenting this as I cannot even offer proper recommendations for improvement - choosing a smaller font would stand in the way of readability, as taking another photo would take a lot from the impactful image-text relation. Though I hope that my rambling nevertheless gave you something to think!
An excellent experiment in style and topic!, potentially a tad much to digest :)
Someone else that is thoughtful in this section of the Haven. And here is where comments are worth their weight in gold. I had to reply to her as I had already done thinking about some of the points she had brought up. Here is my reply, (in the original I had snipped the part that is non-italized above.)
As you mentioned in the non-snipped portion, there doesn't seem to be a way to fix that. As such, I went with this design, "literally framing the female figure" with text for 2 reasons.
The first was that I wasn't sure people would get the duality of Steve/Steph if it was in a text box, and how to even display it in that format. Would I have the text setting to the left, or right of the photo, or set up a box on both sides so there is a male box to the left and female to the right with the picture bi-secting it (I've actually done this before?) Within that, I have 2 stage directions (in white text) that frame the story, that I really couldn't get rid of. In the current format, I can tell the story chronologically, and the male/female debate takes place in the middle without as much confusion.
The second was that I WAS 'framing the female figure' as the literary device for Steve's revelation about Dee, which 'solved' his own gender issues, where he was going along for the ride because he really loved Dee, not because he wanted to dress up. In retrospect, I'd have loved to have an extra half inch on each side of her to make it a bit less suffocating, but whose to say I'd have actually used it? Dee is the center of his thoughts (Jeez, me narcissistic much?) and like a 15 year old goth chick pounding away on a poetic dream/reality metaphor, I am placing her RIGHT smack dab in the actual thoughts he is thinking and that nothing else mattered at that point in time. I swear to goddess I'm usually more subtle! LOL
I love it when we can talk about captions a bit more technically here, and how we choose design and form to put across ideas we are trying to convey. Thank you to everyone who commented and I will definitely talk more about it if someone else says something after this is posted. Maybe you see something that I didn't think about, or didn't mention in the discussion previously.
I am glad that I was able to clarify, as it gave some insight into the creation I hadn't mentioned before, and Felicia finished up with this:
Thank you very much for the thought provoking explanation of your artistic process - I should really take the time and write longer reviews of your caps if that elicits such educational answers from you!
As literally framing the female figure, your densely circular text structure does an excellent job. I did not consider this analytical perspective before but now that you revealed it, it sheds an intensely holistic light on the caption. You are indeed right that the male-female voice over dia-monologue would not have worked in separate text boxes and that their dense cluttering does, in fact, support the reader's notion of an overwhelmed mind!
Thinking about my own image cropping techniques, it came up with the idea that the borders of the cap could in fact be stretched a little and blurred, simply to expand the non-essential borders of the image. Perhaps to give it a rather dream-like quality, too. But then again, the framing of the female figure, as you so wonderfully described your work, would lose a lot of effet!
What a lifely artistic conversation - thank you!
Now we know a bit more about each other's creative processes and why we chose to do what we do when it comes to the caption composition. It's what I've tried to do here on this blog for the last 6 years and now I can also do it at the Haven! Hopefully having you the readers see this process helps you understand why I do consider TG Captioning as much more than wank material.
If you've made it this far, thank you for indulging my zeal for the creative process. Coming up in a day or two is a caption giveaway for Joanna as I continue to mix in some older captions with the newer ones that I've made over the last 2 weeks or so. Please feel free to comment below since I like to think it's a fairly original caption you don't see everyday.
"There's no such thing as a winnable war, it's a lie we just don't believe anymore."