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Cops and Warriors

So, I've been re-reading Pierre Pevel's Cardinal's Blades series, which is a homage to Dumas, and this has rather set my mind on the subject of fan fictions of various kinds. In a way, fan fic is a child of modern copyright law. In Dumas' day, once his work was published, his rights over the characters ended, and anyone could use them. The first work using his musketeers appeared before The Three Musketeers had finished running as a newspaper serial. (It was a play, entitled Porthos a la recherche d'un equipement.) In many ways, much of the Arthurian canon might be considered a kind of fan fiction: rewritings, reinventions, embroideries and new characters woven into the legend by successive writers. It still goes on, this kind of homage and echo -- witness Pevel, who I recommend, and Stephen Brust's Phoenix Guard books and so on. (There are many many Dumas homages -- you can read about them in French here: http://www.pastichesdumas.com/index.html)
I suspect most of us have, at some point or other in our lives, amused ourselves by making up stories in our heads about favourite characters, or speculated about what happened to them after the book or film ended. I know I did. I acted out new adventures of The Famous Five with my stuffed toys, and played at being best friends with Jane Eyre at Lowood School. In my early teens, I made up and wrote new adventures for the crew of the USS Enterprise (complete with self-insertion Mary-Sue. It's allowed at 13).
I'd starting writing long before: I didn't start out in fan fic. (Though my early pony stories owed a lot to my favourite books of the time.) But I found my first audience in fanfic as a teenage Trek fan. They were very kind to me, and I'm grateful. Trek fandom introduced me to a whole slew of new writers, too, whose books weren't in my local library -- Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Zenna Henderson, Katherine Kurtz. I owe that community a lot. I stopped writing Trek stories when I was 18 or 19: by then I was writing my own original fiction, for one thing (including my unfinished masterpiece [hah!], Illuris, the distant ancestor of Living With Ghosts). But I still dabbled from time to time in fanfic, mainly on request and almost never for fanzine publication -- my stories tended to circulate around a small circle of friends.
I had rules: no fics based on in-copyright, single author works. I know other writers do this, but somehow it wasn't for me. Trek, and The Professionals were multi-writer things, created by teams, not individuals. I felt that my read-by-three people stories were less offensive in that context. (I did write two Musketeer fics. That book is out of copyright and the characters turn up everywhere, and I may yet write a novel about Aramis.) But I wasn't very good at it: original characters would get in and take over -- not Mary Sue any more, thankfully. A set of characters very loosely based on the musketeers got into my Profs stuff. And so on. My head would never go in the approved way. And then there were the Warrior Cops -- or were they Cop Warriors? -- which on some level remains one of my favourite things. It had an audience of two: me and my co-writer, A. It started as a couple of 'what happened next' stories based on two favourite films and written to amuse each other. But it soon got out of hand. The cast grew and grew, as the characters we started with moved further and further away from their filmic originals, developed friends, colleagues, families... I don't know how many thousand words it runs to: I do know it takes up half a filing cabinet drawer and contains some of the writing I'm most proud of. We worked really hard on our 'soap' (which is what we called it). We both did huge amounts of research and held endless story conferences. It provided me with an outlet for my need to write fiction through all the years in which I worked for universities and wrote non-fiction and had my confidence and sense of any talent drained from me, drop by drop. I wouldn't have survived as long as I did without it.
They're part of me, all those stories set in other people's worlds. They taught me pace and plotting, characterisation and structure. They taught me that I love to create my own imaginary people and my own backgrounds. For me, it was writing training 101.
But I still make up those 'what next' stories in my head, though I don't write them down. ( Because there are always questions, always problems, and, being me, I just have to think them through.
New words today: 1100.
Skirt of the day: tweed. It's cold.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yep. That's how I fell asleep as a kid, dreaming up what happened next to the characters in whichever book I'd just finished. I especially remember it with Janet Lunn's The Hollow Tree. Never tried to write the stories down, but I suspect I imagined two or three novels worth of more stuff.

And my earliest writing is... if not fanfic, heavily heavily endebted to the writing of Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey.
Feb. 2nd, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
With me it was Elyne Mitchell and Tolkien.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
I had to look up Elyne Mitchell. That doesn't happen often, that an author so completely evades me.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
What, you never read Elyne Mitchell? But, but, but... Those aren't just horse books, they're d*mn fine books, with a fantasy sensibility and all sorts of cool stuff.
*Is horrified*
Feb. 3rd, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
I didn't just never read her; I never heard of her, never saw a book of hers despite two horsey sisters. And have somehow not come across her in all the years since kidhood, either. I think she's been ducking behind hedges as I pass.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
She was one of the great loves of my childhood reading. I still rather love them. They';re not your normal horse book -- the characters are wild, for a start, and the stories are entirely about them and their natural behaviour -- no gymkhanas or whatever.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 2nd, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Yes! That was another thing that appealed to me, too -- the missed opportunities and the characters who were left out, marginalised and elided. (I am all about the secondary characters, usually: most traditional heroes leave me cold.)
Feb. 3rd, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
Indeed. What happened next (or instead)was something I did a lot too.

I tend to focus on plot-holes (leaving aside the ones where I am mentally re-writing every sentence, which I now do indeed leave aside). Lapses in logic, minor inconsistencies, worldbuilding that I consider insufficient, characters with potential for development, that sort of thing.

Fanfic I came to as an adult, after discovering Tolkien fanfic on-line. But that was because of having long been in love with Middle-earth as a world, and because of an ongoing argument of worldviews with Tolkien. I don't mind writing it because he's dead and doesn't care. If the Tolkien Estate ever told me to cease and desist I would certainly stop putting it up in public. The little original fiction that I have written is much the same sort of thing - arguments with existing works, in my case, fairy tales and mythology.

Currently my creative energy is going into my job and building my house.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
One of the reasons I love your fanfic is that debate you have with Tolkien. You add resonances and shadows and depths that are a delight to read. I'd be very interested to see your original stories, too, and for the same reason.
Feb. 4th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
I've never written fan fiction. But I like reading other people's 'takes' on characters we love.
Feb. 5th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do, too.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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