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Friday, March 27, 2009

*Coda*

(Is she still blathering on about fanfic?

Uhm, yes. 'Fraid so.

For the love of God, can't we make her stop? Tell some kid stories, talk about knitting, give us an update on rampant... ANYTHING besides this crap again?

Don't worry--I think she's winding down.

Thank the Goddess. I'd KILL for a anecdote about an acrylic crocheted blanket. I mean really.

There there... it'll all be over soon.)

In music, a 'coda' is a short little piece of a few bars that is inserted in some repeats of the song and not others. In fan-fiction, the coda is not much different.

A coda is a brief little view of the characters of the fan-ficked universe that was not in the original canon. (I used this word yesterday--the 'canon' is the universe as conceived by its original writer(s). The original episodes/novel/movie as it first appeared.) Well, today's post is going to be a coda to yesterdays--in a lot of different forms.

* Coda the first-- works likely to get fan-ficked and why.

Yeah--you all guessed it (all of you--gees, there were a whole lot of comments--thanks guys, that was awesome!) Science fiction is the most likely genre to get fan-ficked. Maybe it's the myriad possibilities of world building, maybe it's the fact that sci-fi/fantasy gets the oh-mighty-shaft from the folks with the original literary canon planted firmly up their asses--either way, people like sowing their coda of oats in the rich fields of places that never-were and people who've never been. Given my own multiple bents, sci-fi is just dandy that way.

But it would be wrong to say that sci-fi is the only fan-fic field, and, in fact, by sticking to sci-fi, I'm leaving out one of the most legitimized and profitable areas.

Canyaguess? Canya canya canya?

If you said Jane Austen you are absolutely positively RIGHT. I knew this before--a buddy of mine is absolutely gaga over Jane Austen fan-fic, but it wasn't until I visited Barnes & Nobles TODAY that it hit me. There was an entire table of Jane Austen, and only HALF of it had been penned by dear Ms. Austen herself. No lie. Probably because the works are, like, hella old, the copyright laws aren't as stringent, and a number of works (Prescience and Prejudice, anyone?) have been published by modern writers and are selling wellas you can see!

*Coda the second* Why DO people pick certain works more than others?

The answers cover a couple of reasons, as far as I can see.

Sometimes, it's just to see more of the main characters. Sometimes, it's to simply continue the story--'coda'-- what's been done before, and sometimes it's to add to the world building itself-- these are all totally legit and probably the bulk of the fanfictioning universe. But not all of it--and that's where the party moves to my neck of the woods. It seems that one of the most common themes in fan-fiction is to pick works in which a relationship or aspect of the plot COULD have been better explored but wasn't.

And that's when we pull out the fold-up chairs and break open the ice-chests of miller right in slash fiction land.

The male/male relationship (also called 'slash' for the, uhm, '/' slashy thingy between the words) is the relationship that a lot of authors won't break into. It doesn't sell, it gets the work labeled, it's not particularly socially acceptable yada yada yada... and there it is (and I have no research, none at all to back this up) that I think our imaginations start running overtime.

If we're told enough times that something ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT AND CAN NOT EXIST, we start looking for it EVERYWHERE.

Like, uhm, say, an illicit and furry relationship between Frodo and Sam? (Yeah, I know--makes some folks want to go bleach their inner eyes with lye, but it's really big in the slash/LotR sites, or so I've been told. I sweartadog I've never been there.) Or maybe Aragorn and Legolas? (I'm NOT making this up. And I never will.) Or, you know, maybe Sam and Dean Winchester? (I refuse to comment on that one. I'm sick. I think it's starting to pass like bad fish--let's all hope.) All of these have been fair game on the fan-fic sites, and many many more as well. (I'm reasonably sure that Lance Bass had been well outed in fan-fiction long before his press release broke, and Clay Aiken was fooling nobody--again, particularly not the fan-fic-folk.) So, well, yes--that would explain why, when an informal poll of m/m authors asked "How did you start writing?" a majority of them said, "Fan-fic"--and bless them all, they're some outstanding writers and I'm glad to know them!

*Coda the third* A few vocab words. Wanna hear?

Besides 'coda', 'slash' and 'canon' there are a few other terms that come up a lot, and, well, I'm a big believer in 'understand the language, understand the people', so here goes: (btw? I use AU, Crossover, Coda, Character death, and some other fan-fic standards in my writing prompts... seriously--these are teacher school favorites!)

AU--Alternative Universe--this is where you use some of the same characters of the original work, but you take them somewhere else or to the same place, different chain of events. Like, say, Batman goes to Mars--or, Sam and Dean go to a place where mom never died, but was a kick-ass hunter right along side of them.

Crossover--Remember Batman goes to Mars? How about Batman goes to the U.S.S. Enterprise and battles Klingons? That's a crossover theme--different characters get together and party.

Character death-- this is a warning, usually. Some people don't log on to fan-fic sites to watch their favorite boy go down in flames, so if that's what you feel like writing, well, warn a fan before they read it!

Warning-- well, it's a warning, mostly--and it can be as simple as a movie rating, from 'G' to NC17. But there are some themes in every universe that people just DON'T want to know about. For some people, slash is WAY off their fan-fic radar, and for others, it's character death. Some people are just squidged out by certain couplings, and some people don't want their favorite couple with ANYONE outside of that EXACT couple. Most fan-fic sites either have specific standards about this, or they have warnings. Usually (uhm, yeah, I know this from experience, why do you ask?) there is a drop down menu and some standard warnings you get to give, including explicitness, time frame, and general nature of the fiction. For example, if I see *Warning: M-preg* I run in the exact opposite direction. Male pregnancy both squicks me out and cracks me up, and it's hard to maintain my conviction that fan-fic is an art form if I'm doing either, so I leave that particular bent to souls far hardier than mine.

And that leads me to my example. Yes, I penned this for an archive, but something wacky is going on w/the archive and they're not putting my stuff up. It's all good--I wasn't actually looking to get published, it was more for stress relief, and it's been working. Be that as it may, this is a good example of a coda--in fact, it's a short continuation of Supernatural episode 4:16--Angels on the Head of a Pin. People who know the universe will be very comfortable here. People who haven't seen the episode are bound to notice a couple of things.

A. I explain nothing--I expect my audience (the archive itself) to be as literate in the universe as I am.

B. My characters are set. For example, the music is a common theme in the show--and Kripke himself has said that he doesn't know what Sam's music would be, so I'm playing directly from the canon.

C. This one is directly related to the canon--most codas are.

And that being said, I give you Techno-Music


Techno-Music

Before Dean ripped the i-Pod out of the Impala, Sam was having trouble filling it up. He faked a couple of credit cards about a month after Dean went to Hell, and resolved to listen to everything that WASN'T mullet rock, and to find some music of his own.

Hip-hop had been a complete waste of his time. Popular dance music, 80's British Invasion, rap--all of it had left his heart cold and beatless, as empty as his addict's soul.

Techno-pop had been the worst. He'd find himself singing to a song and then stop and realize that all it had was rhythm. Sam, king of research, analysis, hidden meanings and literary interpretations was singing 'Coin Operated Boy' because he was one, and there was no more depth than that.

He'd been getting a nudge for Pearl Jam, Nickleback, Offspring, Nirvana, and the Eels, but there was something soulful in those artists, and he'd hear Dean's music in them even as he was struggling to make some sort of rhythm and rhyme his own. In the end, they had hurt his heart worse than Dean's music, and he'd had to stop listening.

Two days before Dean came back, Sam had filled the fucking i-Pod with Boston, Bon Jovi, Kansas, Styx, the Scorpions, Def Leppard, Tesla, Night Ranger, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and every other fucking band whose label he could barely read on the cassette tapes he hadn't had the heart to throw away.

When Dean had driven the car again, chucking the i-Pod, whining for pie, playing his beloved music at top volume, Sam had thought he could hear the beat of his heart again.

Tonight, sitting in the hospital, watching his brother balance between painful life and sweet oblivion, not sure which one he'd want, Sammy heard techno-pop.

He heard it in the drip of the IV, the beep of the heart monitor, the suspiration of the oxygen tank. He heard it in Dean's faint grunts as he fought against pain, and in the clenching of his jaw as he fought it even more.

Dean had said "Not me. I'm not your man."

Sam had driven himself and Ruby and the fucking Impala to save his big brother, and he was late, too late, maybe a year too late, maybe he was two years too late because maybe Dean had died the day Sam had with a bowie knife in his back.

And if they hadn't both died then, they'd both died a little now, because Sam had heard his big brother refuse to fight again. And Sam had heard Dean's heart and will breaking because those bastards had used him and used him and used him up.

Sam knew that sound--it was the reedy rasp in his own voice when he told Ruby he needed more, just one more fix, just one more rush, so he could fight the bad guys, could feel more, could dominate the pain, could kick some ass to make the pain all go away.

But still, as he lay in the bed, surrounded by the techno-music that kept his heart beating, Dean wouldn't moan and wouldn't cry. He just sat there, breathing by an act of will, because, dammit, there was still something whole in his soul that not even those fucking dicks with wings could kill.

The techno-pop sounds continued, beeping, whooshing, crooning of empty hearts and broken wills, and Sam looked at his brother's face. Dean was tired, he was bloody, and he was sad in a way that might be forever, might be too damaged to hunt ever again, and Sam watched as Dean clenched his jaw and grit his teeth...

And made his chest rise again.

Fucking techno-pop.

In a rusty voice, Sam opened his mouth and began to sing.

"I walk these streets... with a six string on my back... I play for keeps... because I might not make it back..."

Next to him, Dean grunted again, grit his teeth, and willed another breath.





(*whew* Is she done?

Yes--and thank god. If I heard the word fan-fic one more time, I was gonna hurl.

Do you think she'll talk about something else next time?

She keeps promising... we can only hope!)

Thanks all--that's the end!

7 comments:

fawatson said...

They really got you going didn't they (whoever they are who criticised you for writing fanfic)!

Th only thing I disagree with is your statement most fanfic is SF/F. I think that depends on how you count it. It does appear many of the bigger fanfic clubs are SF/F, so if you go by number of stories, yes. But if you go by number of clubs... well all I can say is Yuletide was a revelation to me. There are people who write fanfic for LM Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, and Winnie-the-Pooh, just as much as Star Trek (just fewer of them in each of those clubs).

"Winnie-the-Pooh!" you exclaim. But that's fantasy, not reality. No-one's teddy bear really talks! (That's what YOU think, I reply. Actually I don't because I'm betting, as the mother of four you definitely know teddies really DO talk).

Now I don't know the universe your little fanfic was written in, but I DID like the double-entendre ending. Poor Dean!

Tanner said...

When I do fanfic, something I rarely write, usually just imagine, it's because I want to delve into the universe as one of my characters. With Bitter Moon, it was Simon, though now, I think knaben nine would be a better choice. We'll see when I read Bitter Moon II. k-n didn't exist when I read the first one.

You never know, I might actually type something up and send it to you. If it turns out as fun as what my imagination churns out, then it should at least provide you with a laugh or two. No promises though...

Julie said...

1. You crack me the hell up. I know, I've said it before, but it bears repeating.

2. That was quite an educational bit on writing fan-fic, and why people do it. You sound like you've had sociology classes. (Laughing still.)

3. The reasons you list are why there is going to be continued Battlestar Gallactica fanfic from now until AT LEAT the end of the millenia. The end-that-didn't-resolve, the beloved characters who should have a happy ending, etc etc. Heck, that goes for MOST beloved TV series.

But you know this. You sure you haven't had a sociology class?

Louiz said...

Nice analysis. And nice little fanfic - I haven't watched the series, but I might catch it now...

KnitTech said...

Okay, now do Riddick!

Galad said...

That was awesome. Fits perfectly with that episode to me.

(My daughter is very upset because she has now finished all of the episodes and wants MORE NOW)

I told her it is all your fault just like the knitting :-)

Roxie said...

Wow! Was it good for you?