Log in

No account? Create an account
Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
BLACKMARE_9: An Essay 
27th-Oct-2007 03:41 pm
I am pleased to be posting this for its author, the absolutely amazing blackmare_9  because--as many of us do--she's got some very good RL friends who read and enjoy her journal, but who... uh... might not understand her interest in fanfiction.  I think that we all know how that can go.  ;-)  And I'm happy to be posting this for her because I feel her opinions have merit, and I agree wholeheartedly with everything she's so eloquently stated.

Creative Trespassing in Fanfiction.

Some thoughts from a repeat offender.


Some time ago it came to my attention that I had become known for my habit of "writing into" other people's stories -- basically picking up where the original authors left off and penning additions to their ficverses. 

Currently I've gained a little notoriety as one of the writing crew of Aftershocks, which isn't my ficverse either.  It is hardly the first time I've cut the fences and wandered into someone else's world, though (and after all, any work of fanfiction is basically that, isn't it?).

My first victim was diysheep .  I wrote a Contract-verse piece which never got published, not because Sheepie disapproved but because I was, at the time, shy of jumping into such a dark and frightening end of the pool.  Obviously I got over that, but I digress.

I've also written into the ficverses of perspi  (an epilogue for her astounding No Little Charity),  deelaundry  (because I couldn't stop the pain from Locked Up and Set Free in any other way),  kidsnurse  (broke my heart with It All Comes Down to This) and -- most consistently of all -- nightdog_barks .  I've lost track of how many times I've wandered into Nightdog's worlds and made myself at home.  Aftershocks is just the most obvious, largest example.

I've recently realized that some people may get the idea that I tromp right in wherever I like, and get away with it.  Worse yet, some of the less experienced members of the audience might get the notion that it would be acceptable if I did that.

That's why I want to talk about how it works -- because that's not the case.

What I do is this:  I write out whatever it is I'm seeing, and then I either email that to the original writer, or post it under a lock for their eyes only. 

Keep in mind that I only do this with writers who already know me pretty well.  They know that if they critique what I've done or tell me outright that they can't use it, I will not be hurt, won't sulk -- there will be no drama.  I make that very clear. 

If the other writer likes what I've done, then they (and any first-readers of their choosing) get to critique the daylights out of it, suggest changes, whatever they want.  It's also their call as to how, where, and when it gets posted. 

If they don't want to use it, it never sees the light of day at all, and that doesn't bother me. 

When my friends write into my stories it's the same way.  So far I think I've only published a couple of things by KidsNurse, but there's more in the works, a big thing of mine that's been greatly expanded by my friends.

The process is more a collaboration than anything.  Aftershocks began when one of us jumped the fence into the Bad Company 'verse, and look what that turned into.  It can be incredibly rewarding.  But it's delicate, particularly at the start and particularly if you're not already close friends with the person whose story you'd like to expand upon.  Or if you are close friends but your writing style or your ideas may not be seen by the other writer as a good match. 

Some of your ideas will get rejected.  Some of the pieces you write just won't get used.  I've written numerous fragments for Aftershocks that just didn't end up working out, and it is still Nightdog's call, ultimately. 

I don't doubt that it works the same way for those who write into Sheepie's ever-expanding Contract universe. 

I know that my stories have caused a few writers to consider playing in the sandboxes of others, and that's great -- but we have to live with one another.  Collaborations can't be forced. 

As a writer, I'd be very suspicious if someone I didn't know well, both in terms of the quality of their writing and their level of emotional maturity, wanted to add to a story of mine.  It's important to have a level of mutual respect and trust already in place.  It's important not to assume that the person you're writing for will just have to love it.  It's important to ask yourself whether you're going to be hurt or angry if they don't.  If the answer is yes, you'll get emotional about it, then don't go there. 

I hope this will be helpful to someone who has wondered about the "rules" involved in walking into another writer's story.  It's mostly just respect, courtesy, and making sure to check your ego at the door. 
27th-Oct-2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
When we acknowledge the rules of the playground, we all benefit. Expanded 'verses, great writing, even creating or deepening friendships. "Does not play well with others" is an apt--and humorous--description of House. But it's not a label any of us should try to aspire to. This is such a well-written essay, Mare; I'd like to thank you for addressing this issue so very skillfully.
27th-Oct-2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for giving me a safe place to post this.

I think a lot of people find it interesting, the idea of running with a story that someone else started, or collaborating with a writer they really like. We've gotten enough notice with Aftershocks that I felt like someone ought to talk about the process a little bit.

(Deleted comment)
27th-Oct-2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
Although we have to admit that it's a bit hypocritical, seeing as we write fanfiction and the original creators don't have any say in it.


However, we know one another in the fandom, so it seems a lot more personal.
27th-Oct-2007 10:21 pm (UTC)
it's a bit hypocritical

ROFL over here! amusing and utterly accurate.
19th-Nov-2007 04:36 am (UTC)

Although we have to admit that it's a bit hypocritical, seeing as we write fanfiction and the original creators don't have any say in it.

Well, there is always that. :-P

For myself, I'd respectfully disagree. Granted, I've been lucky in my fandom relations, but overall, I am, and will remain, flattered when someone is affected enough by my fic, whether fan- or orig-, to want to write more, or to borrow orig. characters, etc.. Even if it's not written to the standard I'd prefer. Ymmv. And 'tis kyool that it does, etc. :-)

Thank'ee's for a well-written look at the majority opinion. Good to know, etc. :-)

27th-Oct-2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
The time, effort, attention to detail and love that is put into these pieces is amazing and deserves that protective impulse fully as much flesh and blood entities.

true, and well put! and everyone does, indeed, benefit when the "adoption process" [to carry through with the flesh-and-blood simile] is joyful on both sides. blackmare does have an amazing way with words, doesn't she?
28th-Oct-2007 05:11 am (UTC)
I've been wondering about the collaborative process behind Aftershocks; it was nice to see an explanation for how collaborations develop among writers.

Word to the checking your ego at the door remark. In general, I think that's so important, even when you're not diving into someone else's ficverse. It's wonderful to take pride in your work, but it's unreasonable to think that everyone will share your enthusiasm. Besides, I think an author should write for him or herself first and foremost. Although positive feedback is wonderful, the need to feed your ego isn't exactly the best reason to get into it. But I'm getting off-topic here...

Anyway, thanks for your insight. I always enjoy hearing things like this from the more experienced authors among us. :)
28th-Oct-2007 05:25 am (UTC)
Heh. We're having a blast with Aftershocks, tired as we are at this point. When it's finally done with -- and it's in the home stretch now -- we're planning to do a ton of "behind the scenes" stuff for anyone who's interested in the process. So you'll get your wish in a large way.

I wrote this mostly because I'd sensed a certain interest or curiosity from a couple of readers about my tendency to cross into other people's stories. I felt like it might be good to talk a little about how that happened.

It is telling, I think, that the people whose stories I most commonly borrow are also the ones who serve as my primary beta-readers -- the ones I trust to deal with me gently but also to tell me if I'm smoking crack today and need to just start over. Hee.
19th-Nov-2007 04:38 am (UTC)

Besides, I think an author should write for him or herself first and foremost. Although positive feedback is wonderful, the need to feed your ego isn't exactly the best reason to get into it.

Wonderfully said! :-) And for myself, I've always thought that if you don't love your work, how can you expect anyone else to?

28th-Oct-2007 06:39 am (UTC)
Very well put. It can be all too easy for writers, particularly those newer to fanfiction, to be caught unaware of the courtesies that are appropriate in this type of situation, especially, given the nature of fanfiction to begin with. This is a helpful orientation.
On another note, I couldn't help but notice the mention of an unpublished Contract-verse piece. Any chance you'd consider posting it now that you're more comfortable in the pool? (had to ask)
28th-Oct-2007 06:46 am (UTC)
I doubt that the Contract thing I wrote will ever see the light of day. I was never entirely happy with it, and then came the numerous other writers who expanded that ficverse in so many other brilliant ways, so now? I just don't see the point. That ground has already been thoroughly covered.

The one I'm more interested in is a breathtaking little scene KidsNurse wrote for a story of mine. It hasn't been published, but only because there's a middle part to the tale and the characters have totally clammed up on me about it. I have Point A and Point C but no line, no Point B. YET.

28th-Oct-2007 06:56 am (UTC)
I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for that one. You both do such great work both individually and together. :)
28th-Oct-2007 12:37 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this, so I thank you blackmare.
I've never wrote a collab or extended on to a 'verse but I think these are some important facts to keep in mind if someone ever wanted to.
29th-Oct-2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
I do the same thing with my artwork - once it's finished I run it past the fan fic author before publishing it. I've also had some of my fan fic universes expanded upon, and the author always asked me before sharing for the world to see.

I really love what y'all have done with Aftershocks and hope to see more collaboration like it. :-)

Excellent, excellent essay.
30th-Oct-2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Thanks. It may be a while before we ever jump into anything like this again, since it has totally eaten our lives. We didn't expect that; it just worked out that way.

I don't think I've ever seen your art, except for one computer-generated piece I found on your LJ page. Do you have any drawings posted anywhere?
30th-Oct-2007 02:41 am (UTC)
For the past several years I've done mostly CGI - usually romantic scenes that take me several evenings, sometimes weeks of those, to complete. Between it and writing my spare time (!?) is pretty much consumed.

Most of my work is over at Renderosity, an online artists site similar to Deviant Art, although considerably older, devoted to computerized artwork.

Or, the easy route would be at my son's website, Would You Like Fries With That?. I'm Brynna, pretty easy to find.
5th-Nov-2007 12:23 am (UTC)
I'm new to LJ, so please forgive any transgressions ...

Your comments are right on the mark and useful information for writers who feel the urge to contribute to another's story.

As one of the many (many many) contributors to Sheep's Contractverse, it was important to me that she read my spin on it and approve it. Lo, Sheep created that 'verse, saying, "Let there be whacking!" And there was whacking, and it was good ... but back on topic.

If she had said my story sucked, then it would never have been posted and I would not have resented her for it. She had final say. Not only that, but it seemed necessary to also run it by Troopercam, whose "Lifeline" followed on the heels of "The Contract."

You made several great points, blackmare_9. Thanks for the thoughtful essay.
5th-Nov-2007 01:52 pm (UTC)
Hi there!

Nice to hear from another jumper of fences. The Contractverse is hard to resist, isn't it? So much damage was done, and so much left untold, that it's almost impossible to keep your mind from beginning to fill in the blanks.

I'll admit I have chickened out of reading most of the stories in that ficverse -- but that's largely because I've been working on Aftershocks and I couldn't risk getting drawn back into Sheepie's World.

Transgressions, you say? Oh, don't fret about that. You've fallen into a friendly crowd over here.

Oh, and I am adoring your barn owl icon. :-)