Thursday, 19 April 2012

Who are we writing for, anyway? The second half.

This week's (or whatever week - I know I'm a bit slack with some of these posts) WriYe Blogging Circle topic is all about who we write for. I've answered the first part in a previous post, but this second part is too long to be tacked onto the bottom of that. There are limits to how much I can expect people to read in one hit and it really does look like two different topics.

Anyway... fanfiction, editing, rewriting and why I keep going:

Do we write to carry on stories that we think need to be carried on?

In terms of stories written by other people, the answer is no. I've never written fanfiction and really don't feel like it's something I should try. The author put those characters to sleep and I don't know how to wake them up again. The only fanfiction I could ever write would be a story the original author had left unfinished: a story where the possibilities of the original plot are all still laid out and I can apply my imagination to the task of bringing the story to a conclusion that obeys what I see as the spirit of the author's original vision.

Sadly, there's only one story I know of that fits this description. It's The Salmon of Doubt, the unfinished Dirk Gently novel by Douglas Adams. I mean... half a cat, rumours of talking kangaroos, a mysterious ginger-haired man, time travel and my all-time favourite detective. I don't think I could ever do it, but there's a part of me that dreams of trying.

Now, back to the question. 'Stories that need to be carried on' doesn't just mean fanfiction. Well, maybe it does, but it also makes me think of my own cluster of drafts. I start them because I'm curious about what might happen to these people who've taken up residence in my head. I plough through the sagging middle because I want to know how the story ends. When I get close to the end, my desperation to find out what happens is what drives me through all the pain I inflict on my beloved characters.

A lifetime of reading thrillers has taught me a lot about putting heroes through hell, by the way.

Then there's the next stages of carrying on the story - rewriting and editing. That's carrying on the story as well. It's waking up the characters again and asking them the question "What really happened back there, guys?". I think all writers need to be prepared to ask that question. I'm engaged in that process over at NaNoPlotMo right now, working towards a second draft of a story I wrote last year that includes one of my favourite characters but sadly turned out completely pointless. Well... It's complicated. Suffice it to say, the second draft will be much better.

Anyway, 1000-word post is overly long and should be terminated. I'll probably be back some time to talk about the Story Hydra and the Great Artesian Basin of creative thought.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, you have a plot hydra too?

    Yeah, I know what you mean about fanfiction. I never was able to write it, no matter how good any of the fics I read were. Every time I try, it always turns into an original story. It just doesn't feel right, unless the characters are my own. I can't write other people's characters, using other people's rules. I can adopt them, but then that means that they have to then come live in MY mind.

    I guess it's as you said...the author had a whole, self-contained world there, so it's hard to find a foothold for inspiration in something that's already all wrapped up.

    The only other reason I can think of for writing fanfiction is really just to write a speculative offshoot, like if I used my own characters, picked an aspect of the world that the author didn't really develop, and then maybe set it 100 years later or something.

    And then, it'd be so different that I'd end up making it original anyway. X-P