September 8th, 2006

glee sue sylvester

A few thoughts on the writing of fanfiction

Gosh, it’s so depressing when you read stuff you’ve written in the past, and which you thought was pretty good, only to discover it was in fact complete rubbish. I wrote Yellow Brick Road several years ago, when season 3 of Angel was just starting, and I was so happy with it. It was the first long fic (it’s about 26,000 words) I’d ever finished, it was (I thought) more or less in character, and it received many fine reviews on the Pit of Voles. There was plot, more or less. There was character growth. I liked the idea of Wesley, on being asked to be a proper watcher again, reverting to his Sunnydale persona, simply because that was the only way he could conceive of being a watcher. I liked the idea of Faith trying to control the fact that her natural way of interacting with people seemed to be through violence. I liked the idea of Cordelia backing Faith, simply because Wesley had decided to do so, and they were all a team.

But it doesn’t flow. It’s too bitty. Parts of it are actually quite bad. Some parts are OK. My characterisation of Faith really doesn’t sit right, especially in the light of subsequent eps of Buffy and Angel (although, hardly surprisingly, and I think my way was a possibility at the time). I have problems maintaining a colloquially appropriate Faith, because I occasionally slip into using expressions I would use myself. And, interestingly, I think that’s the downside to having grown up (sort of) with Buffy, because its vocabulary has informed mine quite considerably, so it’s usually easy to write Buffy dialogue, except that my vocabulary was formed already by Wodehouse and Blackadder and, God help me, EBD, long before, so it doesn’t always work, and I don’t even think about checking it. Somebody actually had to point out to me that Faith was unlikely to refer to a henchman as ‘a chap’. And, duh, of course not. Stupid me.

Obviously, most of my earlier Buffy stuff is appalling (and blimey, I was also pleased with A Time To Rejoice when I finished it, and it’s awful but, I rather suspect, reasonably characteristic of 18-year-olds writing Willow/Oz fic generally in the season 2 period). I can’t write Stargate SG-1 to save my life, ditto Star Trek and Farscape. The Man From UNCLE stuff has held up pretty well, but only, I think, because I co-wrote it with Karen, who was always good at that. Chalet School fic is mostly OK, but I think that’s because I’ve been reading them for so long that I can write in that style, at any rate, leaving aside considerations of plot and characterisation, in my sleep. And blatantly it’s the plot and characterisation that sometimes don’t work so well. But, hmmm. I quite liked A Life Less Ordinary, and even Both Alike in Dignity wasn’t too bad (until the ending. Obviously. Which ruined it forever). And I quite liked A Different Perspective. A lot of crappy stuff though, mostly that I just wrote because I was bored.

And Babylon 5. Hmm. Babylon 5. I never quite got into writing B5 fic, not sure why. I wrote the start of one feverishly bad Mary Sue type fic, and that was dire (and, obviously, involved a heroine called Madeline, because THEY ALL WERE – shame on me). And then I started writing Blue Remembered Hills, which I haven’t finished yet, but would quite like to because I think it’s kinda cool and I have it all plotted out.

I love writing fanfic. I just wish I was a bit better at it, sometimes. Pah.
glee sue sylvester

Though having said that...

1. Just discovered that a random person had recced Blue Remembered Hills, so I'm feeling all proud and tingly.

2. And despite the many problems with Yellow Brick Road, I still think Brother Anselm and his chronicles was a genius invention. Go, Brother Anselm, continue your catalogue of the abbey's sheep... and Angel reading to an unconscious Wesley from a trashy bodice-ripper was also quite comical, I thought.