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charlie, computer cat

November 2017

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charlie, computer cat

Intertwined

So, recently I have started reading fanfic*. I have also started enjoying Torchwood**. These facts are not unconnected and they're connected in an interesting (to me) way so I thought I would write about that. In a very rambling way.

When I first started hanging out on the internet, it never occured to me that anyone would write fanfic, although I don't really know why not. Actually, it's not such an odd idea, when you think about it particularly for things like TV shows where there's already the background knowledge that it's not the work of a single person but a shared universe anyway. I came across some (Buffy, I think) but it wasn't very good and so I kind of ignored the idea.

I then came across the writing of a friend of mine (synedochic), and read a bit on a rainy afternoon out of curiosity. And it was really really good. So I revised my original "fanfic, just not as good" position to more of a "fanfic, subject to Sturgeons Law" position and kept on reading my friends stuff but didn't really go out and look for things. Also, her stuff is pretty much all SG1, which I haven't actually watched, so I still wasn't sure about the whole thing where you already know these characters and what they're supposed to sound like.

Then a month or so ago (or whenever it was that Torchwood S2 started), two main things happened. One was I got curious enough from the trailers with Spike in to watch episode 1 on the iPlayer one lunchtime and the other was that someone on my f-list (possibly jennifer?) linked me to The Doctor And Mr Jones which I read on another quite lunchbreak soon after.

Torchwood 2x01 was fun in an incredibly slashy kind of a way but I really enjoyed that fic. And really it was that which gave me the impetus to actually watch the series. (Damn. I have now actually reached the point but realised I don't quite have the right words for it after all). Basically what it seems to be is that Sam pretty much writes the characters better than the script writers do themselves and that gives an added dimension to the show itself. In a way, that becomes the canon and the show feels like the fic, being done by some people who haven't quite got the same touch. He's even re-scripted Out of the Rain into a different, much better episode.

I would have expected it to start having the problems of feeling like a TV serialisation of something that I liked it book form but that hasn't really happened either, probably because the fic writing feels collaborative with the actual series so they stay complimentary instead and it's actually making Torchwood the most fun thing I've watched for a while.

What I find myself wondering is if/how much this collaborative thing is actually feeding both ways. When I saw 2x01, my first thought was that over the break the writers had gone off and read a lot of fic and adjusted their characterisations accordingly, replacing creepy Owen with sarky Owen and playing up Jack/Ianto (and Owen/Tosh, a pairing I'm not really convinced by, but I guess maybe someone out there was writing it so it worked). Is this a potential future for shows like this? If a lot of people out there online are picking up on an angle to your character you haven't though about, will that become a sign that you might want to develop that angle or at least think about it when you're arranging your next season scripts? It's certainly got potential - after all, most shows aren't Buffy, Veronica Mars or West Wing and could actually use a bit of help with some of this stuff.

All this has lead me on into reading quite a bit more fic, and the other thing I have started noticing is that a lot of the writers who's work I enjoy are writing in fandoms where the source material isn't what I would call fantastic. I haven't seen any WW I like, or any Buffy stuff longer than say drabble lenght, but there's good Potterfic out there (mostly AU) and plenty of enjoyable SG1 and Whofic and so on and I find myself thinking that perhaps it's when the base isn't that great that the fan writers really get into it because it gives them more space to express themselves. When you're seeing missed opportunities left right and centre, maybe that's when you get inspired?

* yes, alright, you can all just pull faces and move on if you like, but I'm enjoying it
** see *
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Comments

there are really two types of fanfic writers:

* people who want more of the source material, just like it is
* people who want to fix/expand upon the source material, tweak it, play with it, etc

#2 is way more common in the sections of LJ I bet you're finding, and it's my own motivation as well. I tend towards shows that have fabulous characters but shallow or shaky plot (which is why I write for SG1 and not SGA -- there were originally fabulous characters on SGA, but the source material and the authorial eye has skewed them so far that I can't even tolerate the source anymore). Something like Firefly or Farscape won't get fic from me, because they have fabulous characters and wonderful plot, so I don't feel the need to fix/expand, but SG-1 has fabulous characters and holes you can drive a truck through, so I'm drawn more to it, you know?

So yeah, I think a bit part of it is the missed-opportunities; room to stretch out in. There's some Type 1 fanfic out there, but it tends to either be strongly AU, or very small fandoms.

(As for the both-ways thing: I have had about fifty people say that the season finale of SGA had tons of bits directly lifted from my Story That Ate Fandom, so who knows? *g*)
I think with Torchwood, there's kind of great characters *implied* but they're not really developed because TW focuses on the action plot much more than the emotional one (and, like SG1, the action plots could use some work!) so there's lots of space to develop the emotional plot on the sides. I think this is also part of the reason why fic tends to focus so much on relationships of whatever kind, even when it's not porn per se.

I've still yet to find any Type I that appeals to me, probably because most of the things I like enough as they are to want more of that are very difficult indeed to copy in terms of actually getting the writing right.

(As for the both-ways thing: I have had about fifty people say that the season finale of SGA had tons of bits directly lifted from my Story That Ate Fandom, so who knows? *g*)

Nifty! If that were true, would it bug you? I can see been flattering or annoying, you know?
TW focuses on the action plot much more than the emotional one (and, like SG1, the action plots could use some work!)

It's worse than that. They try to do emotional plots, but they do them badly. The only ones that I've seen serve to make the characters less sympathetic and less plausible. Is there a term for the opposite of character development? Character regression, perhaps... This couples with a really promising premise (A mismatched band of heroes! Poorly understood magical technology! Uneasy relationship with the powers that be! People dealing with the vast Doctor Who continuity on a human level!) that they also fail to capitalise on, producing a deeply disappointing watch.

I can understand that the frustration I feel watching things like this could manifest, in others, as fic reading, or even fic writing?. In my case it simply manifests as wanting to watch something else or nothing at all. Maybe I'm just being too much of a perfectionist, and don't believe that that a program should require third-party material to make it worth watching, or that Torchwood deserves such dedicated fans.
I think your final point is a very good one. Torchwood fanfic might not be the greatest writing in the world, but there is simply no way it could actually be worse than the real thing.

Perhaps people should do this deliberately - find a show that's rubbish, and then write fanfic that makes it better. Kind of humanitarian rescue fanfic!

-- tom
Perhaps people should do this deliberately - find a show that's rubbish, and then write fanfic that makes it better. Kind of humanitarian rescue fanfic!

hee. Isn't that what Yuletide's for?

O hai OUSFG people, this is your Eastern 25 States of the US rep newly on LJ. *waves*