Author Topic: On writing stories in other people's universes  (Read 3241 times)

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Offline eratatosk

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On writing stories in other people's universes
« on: Sun, Mar 13, 2011, 06:45 PM »
I went to Emerald City Comicon last weekend, which was awesome.  (My pictures are up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/laura-kali/sets/72157626073859665/).  I went to a panel titled something like “tourism: visiting other people’s universes.”  One of the speakers, Scott Allie, was awesome.  He’s an editor on Hellboy and Buffy, among other things.  He made two points that I thought were relevant to our interests.  One, apparently when story ideas are proposed, a question the publishing house has to ask is, in Joss Whedon’s words “Where’s the Buffy?” (or Spiderman or Hellboy or whatever) – what’s the marquis character’s motivation in this story? Often, an author comes in with a story they want to tell.  They’re willing to tell it in the context of Buffy or Spiderman or whatever will sell, but they just want to tell it.  It’s not good for the canon.  The other thing he stressed: stories need conflict.  They take their shape from conflict.  And if you can get the conflict between the characters; awesome. Then you don’t need a big bad.  He says they get a fair amount of stories floated that are loving descriptions of monsters.  And that’s great, but the monster’s gotta need to be fought. 

I think that’s gonna be one of my questions now when I start reading a Riddick story.  “Where’s the Riddick?”
"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline Bitten

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #1 on: Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 05:12 PM »
Sounds like an interesting panel. Good points for fanfic writers.

And I enjoyed your photos -- thanks for posting the link!

Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #2 on: Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 09:50 PM »
Thanks, Bitten!  It was a whole lot of fun. 
"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline Montgomery Burns 13

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #3 on: Tue, Mar 15, 2011, 11:59 AM »
Great pics!  Love 'em!

Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #4 on: Tue, Mar 15, 2011, 12:59 PM »
Thanks, Monty!
"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline silver

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #5 on: Wed, Mar 23, 2011, 11:54 PM »
Interesting, as are most posts from eratatosk!  :cool

Made me realize that the story I'm most involved with (Three), is not the same as the other canon story I'm involved with: Prison Planet.  Because Prison Planet might be closer to the canon character than my Riddick in Three.
Interesting! :cool


...insatiable...

Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #6 on: Thu, Mar 24, 2011, 09:36 PM »
Interesting, as are most posts from eratatosk!  :cool

Made me realize that the story I'm most involved with (Three), is not the same as the other canon story I'm involved with: Prison Planet.  Because Prison Planet might be closer to the canon character than my Riddick in Three.
Interesting! :cool


Oh, blush.  Thanks!

It would be weird to be in charge of canon.  Even with the tiny slice of this fandom that I'm interested in (stories that have Jack in them and Riddick's not a convict with a heart of gold), people draw his character dramatically differently.     
"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline ban sidhe

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #7 on: Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 06:32 AM »
Excellent ideas, you guys.  And one of my biggest objections to most Riddick stories... he does not have a 'heart of gold'!
With his background, how could he possibly?  I do try to stick to canon as best I can when I write, otherwise why use an already developed character?
If you want different personality traits or abilities, just invent your own person/alien/monster.

Offline Bitten

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #8 on: Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 07:24 AM »
Quote
otherwise why use an already developed character?
If you want different personality traits or abilities, just invent your own person/alien/monster.


Agree!

Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #9 on: Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 10:54 PM »
Heh.  ban sidhe, you've put your thumb on something that I've struggled with for a long time.   I want more story in this universe, so I go look for it or I write it.  But why do I want more story? Once upon a time, I went to fan fiction because I wanted more Star Trek: I wanted this promise of this better world we'd build and go live in gave me hope and a sense of a home somewhere when my life was not so full of either.  Vonda McIntyre ho. 

Pitch Black is a place I work out some of the psychological trauma of role morality, and of having my imagination  (myth) and my intellect (law) engaged by very different things at this point in my life.  I'm press ganging these characters to carry some of that for me.  And, um, my erotic imagination.  Is that canon?  I'm writing, ultimately, to engage with my own issues and, hopefully, with other people who can illuminate my own soul. 

In my six years in this little corner of genre, I've seen a lot of people using these same characters to carry other things for them, from domestic violence, to their own erotic imaginations, to a desire to save some bad boy, to coming of age, to dealing with the borderline boy or girl next door or inside.  I'm not prepared to say that these are more or less canon than the Riddick I attached to.

The thing that got me into this story is only there because of Riddick's relation with Jack; if he doesn't save her he's just some Nietzschean asshole with a bad childhood.  It's the fact that he does this profoundly moral and compassionate thing *and* he's a Nietzschean asshole that gives him a place to work out my moral cobbywobbles.  And the fact that he tries to save her after she renames herself after the sun and gets buried underground that lets me work out the mythic ones.  Is that something that's really there or something I projected?  Shrug.  Don't really care, but I'm tickled that Twohy was impressed enough with my ramblings to post them on his web site.  So there's that.   

"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline AM Gray

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #10 on: Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 02:45 PM »
very true Eratatosk - he is an asshole and he tries to save her more than once - moral complexities abound - he seems to be interested in her before anyone even realizes she is a 'her' as well - and i think that changes it too

but fanfic is writing the ending you wanted for that character - and for some people, clearly that is that he gets a happy ever after; that he goes domestic or warm and fluffy or gay - its like a failed marriage, isn't it - i started with you (canon) but i really want to change you - i want you to be more like this... and by the end the character is a different person

Offline ban sidhe

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #11 on: Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 04:36 PM »
Wow!  I had no idea DT knew any of us even existed!  And he posted your stuff?  Way to go, girl!  I understand people's needs and desire to identify with a certain character, (or part of one), but the need to change them into something or someone you want to like is just wrong to me.  If you really wanted them to be someone you like, you wouldn't have been attracted in the first place.   I LIKE Riddick as a mean, nasty asshole.  He's the ultimate 'bad boy' every woman loves to hate... and deep down, desires.  And as hard as he tries to say 'fuck the universe'... he is conflicted about it.  He knows he's an asshole, doesn't mean he likes who he is.  He doesn't, just doesn't have the tools to change.  So he simply muddles along the only way he knows.

Offline AM Gray

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #12 on: Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 04:55 PM »
oh yes - i missed that bit

 
Quote
but I'm tickled that Twohy was impressed enough with my ramblings to post them on his web site


WOW - how cool is that? :shock

next you will be invited to vin/DT/ brainstorming sessions - in your dreams? maybe?

Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #13 on: Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 06:16 PM »
very true Eratatosk - he is an asshole and he tries to save her more than once - moral complexities abound - he seems to be interested in her before anyone even realizes she is a 'her' as well - and i think that changes it too

but fanfic is writing the ending you wanted for that character - and for some people, clearly that is that he gets a happy ever after; that he goes domestic or warm and fluffy or gay - its like a failed marriage, isn't it - i started with you (canon) but i really want to change you - i want you to be more like this... and by the end the character is a different person

. . . next you will be invited to vin/DT/ brainstorming sessions - in your dreams? maybe?




Oh, that's interesting -- I never thought about fan fiction in terms of "writing the ending."  I think of it as wanting more, not wanting to close.   

interesting analogy to a failed marriage. I'll have to think about that.  I've been fairly insulated from the idea that you can change someone via marrying them; my grandparents may have believed that but my parents sure didn't.  I know that's one of the few ways women have been allowed to have ambition historically, though. I had a professor once who opined that Lady MacBeth was trying to be a good wife in the only way she knew -- by making her husbanded the biggest bad he could be.  "Metaphorically baking cookies," I think she said.  I sorta get how someone raised with that world view would find that a natural mode to fall into.  Just, you know, not one I have. 

 I've concluded that sometimes you can help people, if you know or have something they don't.   I will always be pathetically grateful to my mom's psychologist who figured out I was dyslexic.

Would I be invited to brainstorm?  Sigh.  They've never called.  I doubt my thoughts are particularly marketable!  There's a lot of reasons I've stuck to government work.

Ban sidhe,

Quote
Wow!  I had no idea DT knew any of us even existed!  And he posted your stuff?  Way to go, girl!  I understand people's needs and desire to identify with a certain character, (or part of one), but the need to change them into something or someone you want to like is just wrong to me.  If you really wanted them to be someone you like, you wouldn't have been attracted in the first place.   I LIKE Riddick as a mean, nasty asshole.  He's the ultimate 'bad boy' every woman loves to hate... and deep down, desires.  And as hard as he tries to say 'fuck the universe'... he is conflicted about it.  He knows he's an asshole, doesn't mean he likes who he is.  He doesn't, just doesn't have the tools to change.  So he simply muddles along the only way he knows.


Yes, he did.  Makes me pretty pleased.  You may have read it -- the link's been posted a couple of times.  http://www.davidtwohy.com/riddickReview.html.  I'm a little embarrassed by the lack of copywriting/organizing/editing.  I got raked over the coals about that over at Art-of-Vin-Diesel; drove me off that board for a long time.  It was, shall we say, a free write when I was under great emotional strain and had a sudden wad of free time.  But it has some insights I'm proud of. 

My sense is that entertainment folks *love* reading about their work.  There's a huge taboo on writers reading (or, at least, confessing to have read) fan fiction because, they say, they're worried about being sued.   I know Wil Wheaton's read a lot of fan fiction over the years.  (he played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I adore him.  his words: "It made me cry.  Mostly because i didn't know Worf liked me that much." are burned into my mind.)  While he advised his co-panelist Felicia Day in the strongest terms not to read the fan fiction ("can't be unseen.") they both stressed that anything *but* story ideas they are often delighted by.  I would not be surprised if there isn't someone monitoring at least the Riddickverse thread here. 

As for him as "the ultimate 'bad boy' every woman loves to hate... and deep down, desires," I dunno; I have pretty wide ranging desires.  My crushes on Xena and Buffy remain unabaited by the passage of time and my vague irritation at Lucy Lawless and Sarah Michelle Gellar.   I'm mystified by, and slightly annoyed at, the widespread appeal of Edward Cullen.   Spock was one of my first crushes.  I suppose he's a bad guy in his own way.  Hasn't translated to the new guy.  I think you're right that it's pretty wide spread to desire the forbidden bad guy. 

Hm.  Maybe that's another reason I'm turned off by the OFC story.  Maybe I'm suspicious that it's someone's longing for the bad guy and I'm just not interested in knowing about it. 

[I have heard that some of the actors in Star Trek Voyager used to bring in the nastiest, Topless Robot Fan Fiction Friday-esque stories about their characters and read them out loud to some of their most sensitive colleagues.  Cracks me up.] 


« Last Edit: Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 06:24 PM by eratatosk »
"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline AM Gray

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #14 on: Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 12:04 AM »
i know i use fanfic to write the ending i want - no edward cullen in my twilight stories...

Joss Whedon said he had no issue with fanfic for his creations - he in fact likened what he did with the Avengers as writing fanfic himself, in a sense - said he had a nerdgasm when they told him he would get to write Kitty Pride - someone asked if he minded the 'porn' buffy stories and he laughed and said hadn't anyone seen season 6...

oh lord - bringing in the worst stuff to read out aloud - too funny...


Offline Bitten

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #15 on: Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 08:23 AM »
Interesting points, all of you. I don't think I disagree with anything any of you have said.

I assume you read Wil Wheaton's blog? I always intend to, but then I run out of time. *sigh*

Regarding people monitoring the Riddickverse section, yeah, sometimes "they" do. Various people from the different entertainment companies have created accounts here over the years. Most of them have never posted anything, and they are usually around only for a short time. Some of them have been writers or people involved in production. Some come back periodically. There might be others that are truly anonymous, or not...it's hard to tell for sure, especially now that we allow unregistered guests access to most of the board.

Offline ban sidhe

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #16 on: Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 08:25 AM »
I'm sure all of us have more than one character 'crush'.  Whether they withstand the test of years speaks to the strength of not only the inventor, but also to what part of ourselves they appeal.  Spock was one of my first crushes, too... Leonard Nimoy's Vulcan, that is.  Talk about your forbidden fruit!  And the current trend in making vampires and werewolves 'cute and cuddly' just sickens me.  (Although I will admit a couple of those wolfie boys are worth a second look).  Lestat is more what I have in mind when I think of a vampire, (NOTTom Cruise!)  Or Laurel K. Hamilton's men.  I would take Doyle home in a heartbeat.  Beautiful and dangerous.  Yum!

Offline Silsin

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #17 on: Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 01:30 PM »
Quote from: Bitten
now that we allow unregistered guests access to most of the board

 Not anymore, as we restricted the access due to the bot attacks recently...

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Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #18 on: Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 07:01 PM »
mrstrentreznor, I've heard Whedon say that!  One of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, has unabashedly written fan fiction.  To some extent, his book American Gods is fan fiction on Beowulf and The Twilight of the Gods; A Study in Emerald is explicitly Sherlock Holmes/Lovecraft fan fiction, and The Problem of Susan is a great fan fiction exploration of Narnia.  One of my other favorite writers, Terry Pratchett, writes in a world largely based on Dungeons and Dragons.  So awesome.

I don't doubt that getting an ending they want is why a lot of people write fan fiction.  It's not why I do it, but I recognize I'm weird.

Bitten, I do read Wheaton's blog.  In fact, at ECCC, I bought, FROM HIM, 7 of 10 of the Complete Works of Wil Wheaton on a niftily autographed disc.  Also awesome.

How would you know if someone from an entertainment company had an account, if they used a gmail account or something?  do you check IP addresses?   
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Offline Bitten

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #19 on: Mon, Mar 28, 2011, 09:12 AM »
Quote
Not anymore, as we restricted the access due to the bot attacks recently...


OH yeah, I forgot about that. Good! It will be good for them to keep real accounts up to date when they're spying on us!! :D

The only way we would know is if they talked to us (usually because they've forgotten their password, or because we've deleted their account because they've never made a post and we thought it was abandoned), or if they use a company email address. There are ways to track traffic to the web sites and message board, so we can see if someone from (for example) Universal Studios visits us from their company computer connection -- but we hardly ever bother to check. Anyone who really wants to be anonymous can easily do so.

Offline Jack

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #20 on: Thu, Jul 04, 2013, 03:30 PM »
Quote
he does not have a 'heart of gold'! With his background, how could he possibly?


I agree with this, however I also think that in some circumstances, his character could change in a story being written. Characters go through personal changes all the time in stories due to conflict. For example, in Pitch Black, when Jack is attack by one of the alien monsters, Riddick has a moment where he contemplates just ignoring her cries. But then we see the change inside him where he turns, rips off his goggles and comes to her defense. He doesn't allow the others to see that he's actually grown to care more than he originally did, but nevertheless, he does something out of character in that moment.

I think in a case like this, Riddick could, not have a 'heart of gold', but grow to have more compassion than he did when the story began. Especially given his background, he may be more inclined to bond with someone from a similar background in certain circumstances.

Offline eratatosk

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #21 on: Thu, Jul 04, 2013, 05:31 PM »
Characters go through personal changes all the time in stories due to conflict. For example, in Pitch Black, when Jack is attack by one of the alien monsters, Riddick has a moment where he contemplates just ignoring her cries. But then we see the change inside him where he turns, rips off his goggles and comes to her defense. He doesn't allow the others to see that he's actually grown to care more than he originally did, but nevertheless, he does something out of character in that moment.

I think in a case like this, Riddick could, not have a 'heart of gold', but grow to have more compassion than he did when the story began. Especially given his background, he may be more inclined to bond with someone from a similar background in certain circumstances.


I absolutely agree.  I really liked that moment; that he has a moment when he becomes something better than he had to be. What turns me off is when Riddick is reformed "by the love of a good woman." 
"I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode."

Offline Jack

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Re: On writing stories in other people's universes
« Reply #22 on: Fri, Jul 05, 2013, 08:34 AM »
Quote
What turns me off is when Riddick is reformed "by the love of a good woman."


I do agree, though I've read stories where the author has made this scenario work. However, I do agree that he wouldn't know how to respond to such a woman. It would be difficult for him to find common ground enough to open himself up to a "good woman."