The idea is simple – post an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt -this week’s is “T.”
Have you ever watched a favorite show and found yourself imagining the characters living out your stories? Wondered what happens in those spaces between scenes, in the unseen parts of their lives?
Me too…especially the aftermath of moments as – umm – charged as this one!
Maybe that’s what first led me to start writing Star Trek fan fiction, when I was 13, and why it’s still my passion, in my mid-40s.
Writing fan fiction is a way to lay a personal claim to beloved characters. It’s the modern equivalent of adapting a fairy tale or a song. It allows for different interpretations, and far more possibilities than a show could ever encompass. At its best, it’s breathtaking- every bit as good, or maybe even better, than the show itself. At its worst….well, that’s something very, very different, in the way a train wreck is different from a birthday party.
What makes it good or bad? Shakespeare (he’s big in Trek!) would say it’s thinking that makes it so. Maybe that’s true, but I have another idea….
When writing characters who already have lives, and personalities, and a reality within which they must exist, the first thing to consider might be respect. As the fan fiction site Ad Astra puts it, paraphrased, you can have Spock eating kittens, but you’d better have a logical reason for it. You need to explain, believably, why a pacifist vegetarian with a strong cultural tendency toward logical behavior would do any such thing. Ironically, in the rough draft of my WIP King of Shreds and Patches, Spock commits an act with a striking similarity to eating kittens. I spent a lot of time debating writing that scene, even though Spock was insisting that that’s the way it happened. I knew I couldn’t just put it out there and have it be believed…I needed to say WHY, and it had to make sense – be logical, under the circumstances.
Time will tell if I got that one right. But I’ve read some things, just lately, that fly in the face of respect for the characters. For instance, there being a bathtub in T’Pol‘s quarters. Watching Enterprise makes it clear that she has a shower, like everyone else. And, of all the people on the ship, why would the only one who came from a desert world, the only one committed to logic, have, of all things, a bathtub in her quarters? In the story in question, it was apparently there only to be used as a plot device.
But that’s nothing next to the sexuality issue….
I believe strongly that everyone’s entitled to their own sexuality, so long as they aren’t forcing it upon those who don’t want it. I extend this courtesy to fictional characters, too. If a character has an expressed orientation, I feel there is a huge lack of respect involved in altering it for the writer’s pleasure. I have no problem with assigning an orientation to a character whose inclinations are never clearly stated – I’ve done that myself, and I think I’ve made at least one very agreeable couple, that way…
But, as a terminally straight woman, I wouldn’t want someone messing with my sexuality, and I don’t think it’s fair to do to characters, if we know what variety of person they’re likely to take to their bedroom, or whatever place they choose for those activities…
And, as a corollary to that, there’s another odd phenomena of glossing over, minimizing, ignoring, or ridiculing relationships explored in the series – essentially, the characters’ love lives are being manipulated by the writer, forcing them into other relationshipa. They’re people, at least in the story, and they have the right to their own relationships. Even fictional characters have the right to change their minds, and sometimes, especially with Vulcans, who have, at times, a need to mate, or else die, circumstances can lead to strange and maybe less than preferable bedfellows -but it doesn’t seem respectful to ignore years’ worth of story canon, and the creative efforts of the writers and actors, and force the characters to be with someone they wouldn’t be with – not unless there’s a very good reason….
This, for instance, is a pretty powerful culmination of an intricate three-year dance around the issue of will-they-or-won’t – they? I feel it’s disrespectful to years of character development and subtle forward and back to arbitrarily pair either of these two with someone else, without an equally well-developed reason…
I guess what this all boils down to for me is that characters – fan fiction or otherwise – aren’t puppets to be manipulated by the writer. They’re people, at least in the story, and they have the right to their own integrity and their own lives. When all the things that make a character who they are are honored, the writing is every bit as good as for-profit, original-character writing can be. When they aren’t – well, it just feels like cheating, to me, or a lack of respect for the characters and their reality.
As a writer and a person, I strive to treat all others with respect….I wish that was true of all those who choose to play with characters whose integrity holds value to me.
Want more JusJoJan? Click the icon above, or right here!
Enjoy stream-of consciousness writing? Anyone can play, so long as they are willing to follow a few simple rules. See you next week, for another live-streaming look into the lovely chaos in my mind! =)
Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly a HAPPY ending, but I, for one, don’t want to be cheated out of the deliciousness of moments like these, as two very different people navigate through uncharted terrain…