Friday, December 3, 2010

The "Lost" Artifact

This is one of the newest captions I've created, and I'm not quite sure if I like it or not. The reason I say this? Well, I've been known to be vague in fleshing out the transformations, with an alarming deficit when it comes to back story, but I'm not sure if this is the most "blank-slate" caption I've ever done.

I say blank slate, because when I was looking at comments people posted about it on the haven, I reread the caption. If it wasn't posted at a TG site, and for someone that had posted TG preferences, would you even KNOW it was a TG caption? Perhaps I've taken for granted, and for the sake of brevity, not given enough "content" for the story to be delivered.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: I believe in the intelligence of the reader and try not to (1) talk down to them, and (2) assume that they are in on whatever inside knowledge is necessary to enjoy the caption. I think that everyone knows of the archetypes inherent in all most/TG captions, which gives me the leeway to omit, or completely deconstruct the basic structures within them. Do you think that this caption is too wide-open, or is the story not that hard to follow? I was hoping that the general idea and plot is there, but by leaving some of it loose, that most people can add it up on their own, which would make the caption a bit more universal.


  1. I don't believe the caption is to wide open. But then again I'm reading this on a blog that I follow about discussing and creating TG captions!


    I imagine that if I gave this to a friend that had no knowledge of this TG captioning world we are all so fond of (and I'm particularly fond of it today!) she would have no idea what it was about. But I always hear about how art is targeted. Whether it is the art of a good print advertisement or a surreal painting, there is always a knowledge required to fully understand and appreciate it. This cap just falls a little further into the 'knowledge required' field. But you know your audience well, and know that they have at least most of the requisite knowledge.

    I fall on the opposite end of the spectrum with my long rambling caps. I find every detail should be observed, explained and explored. And I'm coming to the realization that I may have to separate my caps out a bit. One for me that has all the information and details, and one for my audience that leaves many of the details to their wonderful imaginations.

    The reason I say that is that I am really falling in love with shorter captions. A long cap like the ones I make are great if you have a close preference set (or if I can really nail my target's preferences), but a short one like this without many details can please a large group of people. I can imagine that 'Tania' here is embarrassed by her enjoyment of being transformed. I can imagine how Monique initially forced this upon her but beyond the humiliation (or even because of it!) Tania has found that she enjoys this too much to give up. Further I can imagine this going forward and Tania later regretting 'hiding' the artifact and trying desperately to find it later to escape this beautiful prison.

    I don't know who you wrote this for, but being that my preferences seem to be more the minority at the Haven I assume that this wasn't the intended back story. But the person you gave this to can use their own imagination and write their own internal story. If their preferences are vastly different than mine, and you wrote more of the details they are looking for into the story, then suddenly I wouldn't enjoy this cap as much as I do. I could still see the beauty in it, and enjoy the cap, but it wouldn't necessarily hit any of my own buttons.

    I think you nailed your intention of making the caption a bit more universal.

  2. @ Caitlyn

    Before I comment further, I would like to see what others have to say. Your interpretation is probably one of two that I can see. It'll be interesting to see how yours and everyone else's jives with my original idea and what I wanted to leave open.

  3. I would have to agree with my counterpart wit a C. I think when you've been in the TG universe long enough, it's expected, especially in trading, that the girl in the photo was the transformed person. For someone who is newer to captioning or our little verse, they might require a bit more process and explanation to fully understand it.

    Usually, when I make a caption for a new person, I include a bit more process for them. But for me, after a while process captions can get boring, no matter how good your thesaurus is on breasts growing and penises shrinking up into a slit. It almost becomes like making the same caption with a different picture, and that to me is laziness. And I enjoy the mental image that comes with process.

    Currently, I'm really into making captions "after the fact." It should be assumed that something happened, and now this man is a woman. Maybe that's why some people like using universes so well. I think I brought this up as a possible discussion topic--whether caption artists prefer using pre-determined universes or creating their own world of transformation. For example, everybody in TG captioning knows about the great shift by now, and it is easy to say, "Well, after the great shift..." yada yada yada. The scale on which to measure the caption becomes whether that universe was used as a quick out, or used to develop a story further.

    But as for THIS discussion, when an artist doesn't have to dumb things down and builds upon pre-determined knowledge, I think it works. Dee, the caption here is brilliant. A quick snippet of what happen to these two, and we all know what's really going on. I think a caption should be able to be read within a minute or two... sometimes too much text throws me off. Which brings up another point: brevity of captions. But that will be for another time.

  4. Urrggh, What I was originally going to post here somehow vanished! I'll have to recreate it as best I can. It'll probably end up being shorter too!

    @ Kaitlyn

    I will be tackling the "universe" topic question soon, but I wanted to bring up some smaller things first. I will also be revisiting the "brevity" discussion I started back two years ago in the SHOP TALK section of the Haven.

    @ Everybody

    The caption should probably be some sort of inkblot test on how you like/feel about TG captions and the situation behind it. Without knowing who its for, the reader has to pick which person is being changed.

    The first way to read it is Caitlyn's way. Tania was changed and comes to enjoy it, even with some apprehension and the likely embarrassment in admitting that she loves being a woman. Is Monique behind the change OR just along for the ride in what Tania had set up with the artifact? In this scenario, it is left vague, and the reader can fill in the blanks.

    The other way is read it is ... Monique was the one changed, not Tania. With this interpretation, Monique didn't have a choice in her now "permanent" feminine state. Either Monique was going along with Tania's "have fun as a woman for the weekend" plan, or was controlling her into doing it. In this scenario, Tania is playfully toying with Monique that she willfully threw away the object that could change her back. Whether it was vengeful or a realization that Monique was better off staying as Monique is for the reader to decide.

    Which one was I going for? Well, Monique is one of Nadine's new personalities, and since it was posted in Nadine's folder ... that was what I was going for originally. When I was done, I saw the ambiguity but decided to keep it.

    Either way, I am glad that most people seemed to get the major points of the plot .. that the artifact was indeed thrown out on purpose.

  5. I got all the major plot points and I figured some ambiguity was intentional. Honestly I prefer understated transformations if the caps or brief or they tend to read like rushed form letters in a hurry to get to the part you actually want to put in.

    Then again, even most of my single page caps are pretty long so brevity is obviously not my thing. But that's more of a pacing issue than a need to get in plot points. Most of the time I assume people reading my caps are familiar enough with certain aspects that I can use short hand for the stuff I find dull.

    Which brings up another discussion...what do different cappers use short hand for and what do they consider the good part?

  6. @Dee

    An inkblot test eh? Funny I never would have thought I liked the idea of being changed, but that is how I read it. But that is what inkblots (and therapy) are for... to show you what you didn't know about yourself. Can I get a hug? I may be having a breakthrough! :)

    After your 'cryptic' post, I decided to rush over to the Haven and find this post. Boy was I surprised when I read that Monique was the one transformed. It just shook me back on my heels as in my initial read, I hadn't even thought of that. Now reading it, I can see both ways.

    It is just a little bit more of the required knowledge. If you had used Caitlyn, Katilyn, Petra, or Dee I would have gotten the subject immediately. I'm sure that Nadine didn't have any problem or ambiguity to it!

  7. This cap definitely relies on a *lot* of prior knowledge or a specific set of expectations by the reader. If you didn't have those, you would have absolutely no idea what was going on.

    That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having those expectations when you are writing a cap. I've done the same thing many times (thinking specifically about cap I made for Courtney involving some aspirin). It all really depends on the tone of the cap and who it is written for, either the specific recipient or the general audience.

    I personally don't like making caps like this for people on a regular basis though. I like to reserve them for quickies and birthday gifts and jokes. I just don't feel like I've really "done the work" to call it an even trade when I do that. Now Dee, you've mastered caps like this and it is obvious that you've honed your vocabulary to convey vast amounts of meaning in a few words. So I think you've proved that the "vague" style can definitely work.

    In the end though, I personally enjoy captions that have a bit more meat on their bones. I like a bit of the back story or more details on the current situation. I don't necessarily need details on the "process," as Kaitlyn said, there are only so many ways to describe the physical transformations. However I do like some story to go with my imagery. :)

  8. This is what Nadine had posted for one of her "new persona" recommendations, "Monique is a blond or red. She is mostly the innocent victim of the circumstances."

    As Caitlyn mentioned above, if the names were replaced by Petra and Dee, most people would've been able to follow better. That, in and of itself, is quite a bit of shorthand. Hell, when I am involved in a caption, whether made by me OR by someone else, most people (on the Haven anyway) have a good idea that I will be causing a change to happen. These things work when the context is the Haven and the trade area. I think that was my big concern when reading the above posted caption "out of context".

    @ Petra

    I agree with what you are saying. Since this was a caption for Nadine, I felt comfortable with giving her a caption like this, having been the 17th caption I've made for her.

    The outline for this caption could be pretty much summed up this way, "artifact - hotel - trash - ut oh!"

    In this specific caption, I've pretty much carved out the entire process of the transformation, other than "artifact". Hotel is needed mostly to set the location of the caption (ie. a vacation) and to set up the entrapment. It reinforces the "ut oh" part since most people have stayed in a hotel at least once, and the realization that a maid has obviously emptied the trash.

    Is it tidy in its construction? Yes. Would I do this all the time? Probably not as sparse as this example is. If I had to do this one over again, I would probably add a few sentences with Monique saying something like, "I enjoyed this weekend as a woman with you, but I think its time I changed back." Then some sort of "Why are you looking at me like that?" which would lead into the current 1st sentence.