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Writing original fics - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Writing original fics
So, I'm working up to NaNo. I have a surfeit of ideas, all of which have some fatal flaw that just makes them impossible to write. I mean, I was thinking about a mystery, but I can't convince myself that an amateur detective wouldn't just end up in jail for interfering with a police investigation, especially if said detective was a teenage friend of the victim. I thought about a Shakespeare-fic, but who am I to mess with the Bard? (Besides, he wasn't always so hot on historical research, and I'd rather not try to walk the line between faithfulness to history and faithfulness to canon. Maybe one of the fantasy ones--I know... Puck solves fairy mysteries!!!!) Fantasy world that looked too much like Jasper Fforde the more I stared at it. High school drama that looked either too allegorical or too much like a real issue (using one real issue to stand in for another real issue). Science fiction version of Lord of the Flies... someone must have done it, and anyway, who'd read about kids in space without adults around? Involved fantasy world that I'm convinced no one would be interested in, despite the first few pages making points with a few family members who read them (though, them being non-fantasy readers, I got a lot of, "Those are certainly odd names").

This, despite the fact that I know there are authors out there who are deliberately writing knock-offs and silly things that defy logic.

I'm making this way too important to myself.
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Comments
psychic_serpent From: psychic_serpent Date: September 14th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought about a Shakespeare-fic, but who am I to mess with the Bard?

Well, there are many ways to do Shakespeare-based stuff. There's the Tom Stoppard/Gregory McGuire approach, where you elucidate the lives of minor characters (a la Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). There's also Jane Smiley's approach: she set King Lear in America's heartland (A Thousand Acres). And, of course, West Side Story was Romeo and Juliet redux. I'd be partial to reading a story about a modern Falstaff, if anyone wrote something like that. There you'd get a combination of a minor character who wasn't really Shakespeare's focus (although he was Verdi's, of course) and a modern setting (or maybe not modern, but not Elizabethan, anyway).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 14th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually the idea I had was... well, it's probably not bright to say it, since I may end up trying it, but oh, well. If someone beats me to it, woe is me. I was going to do a post-R&J story, a mystery with Friar Lawrence as the wandering amateur detective. Which also has the insurmountable problem of looking too much like Brother Cadfael. Or Father Dowling. In roughly equal distance in time from both. ;p

Modern Midsummer might be fun. I wonder if it could be made to work....
psychic_serpent From: psychic_serpent Date: September 14th, 2006 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Woody Allen's version was a little bit too mannered and too anachronistic at the same time, IMO. Maybe if it took place at Woodstock or something like that, where you have a bucolic setting, more than a little chaos, the musicians sort of serving as the players and some, erm, mind-altering substances as an excuse for why some people behaved a bit weirdly. ;)
keestone From: keestone Date: September 14th, 2006 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Not familiar with Father Dowling, but if the good Friar doesn't manage to somehow get two young lovers happily together while solving the mystery it won't look like much like Brother Cadfael. Actually, that's probably something that Friar Lawrence might have issues with considering past history. ;)
jetamors From: jetamors Date: September 14th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking about a mystery, but I can't convince myself that an amateur detective wouldn't just end up in jail for interfering with a police investigation, especially if said detective was a teenage friend of the victim.

I don't think that would necessarily be a flaw. Amateur detective starts snooping around, police chief picks up amateur detective, amateur detective's dad comes down to the station to get him/her, amateur detective swears up and down s/he'll never do it again (until the next Important Clue turns up, of course). Wash, rinse, and repeat a few times, and you've got a pretty cute running gag that may then possibly turn into angst as the police chief threatens to actually charge amateur detective, or amateur detective's parents get really sick of the whole thing.

Anyway, if you wrote original fic, I'd defintely read it, even if it was silly. A lot of people would, I bet :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 14th, 2006 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I've just got myself so twisted up about the fact that I'm not writing it that it's become the most important thing, and therefore I totally freeze up. Kind of twisted.
jetamors From: jetamors Date: September 14th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. If you ever find a way to break out of it, let me know *sighs*
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: September 14th, 2006 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
They all sound good, but Midsummer, amateur detective, and original fantasy are my top choices. You may be convinced that no one would be interested in your involved fantasy world, but I'm pretty confident that you're wrong!
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: September 14th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Science fiction version of Lord of the Flies... someone must have done it, and anyway, who'd read about kids in space without adults around?

What, you mean like Ender's Game?

Obviously, it's not an exact analogy, but Ender and other promising students were deliberately left without adult protection in order to cultivate their genius. When left to their own devices, the kids were often vicious and formed their own strange societies. So though it's not the same story, the same point was made. Little kids in Battle School have adults to step in and stop violence; whom does the IF have in the Bugger War?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 14th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah-ha! See, you caught me. All I do is recycle my favorites and pretend they're original... ;p

Seriously, the thing about EG is that, while it's about kids, adults are pulling the strings at every juncture, arranging everything, providing challenges and necessities. I'm thinking literally adultless.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: September 14th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, you know I'd read it. :D
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: September 14th, 2006 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's the adults pulling the strings except when it's Bean. Or the Hive Queen via the Fantasy Game...
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: September 14th, 2006 11:29 am (UTC) (Link)
All I do is recycle my favorites and pretend they're original... ;p
But isn't that what all the great writers do?
From: bangcollision Date: September 14th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually haven't read Lord of the Flies yet but on kids in space without adults and science fiction/fantasy you might want to pick up B is for Butterfly. A slightly kid-like book but it made me cry it was so well written and it fit right in with all that genre and storyline.
From: bangcollision Date: September 14th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, it's "Calling B for Butterfly".
equustel From: equustel Date: September 14th, 2006 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, holy fripe, I know the feeling. I've had a concept bouncing around in my head for three years now that I've been too damn scared to write because... it just sounds so preposterous. Even with all the research I've done (metaphysics) I'd still have to stretch suspension of disbelief a considerable amount, and I'm afraid it'll snap on me and nobody'll buy it.

...when, as you said, there are plenty of illogical story concepts out there that people seem to float right over.

I keep making a mountain out of it, though.

In short: *commiserates*
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 14th, 2006 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)

I would read them

I remember you had mentioned before that you were thinking of writing this detective story. I actually thought that it might be fun to read. Maybe there is a way around your amateur detective being jailed for interfering. Maybe he/she could be the child of someone either in law enforcement or somehow have grown up around "the police" department and in this the character might be overlooked at 1st. Or maybe the character keeps getting urged to drop things but is not disciplined until there parent/guardian is called in? Just some thoughts...

I also love science fiction and fantasy because anything goes. The Lord of the Flies is good too because of how it looks at how easily society's constraints can be pealed a way. And I also like that it explores how some personalities can keep there ethics, how some can use there abilities to sway and how others can be so easily swayed.

Fern which ever way you decide to go i'll read it. You have a way of writing that compels. Your OC's become as endearing as the HP characters we already know and you are able to add to there depth. You were born to write. Just trust yourself.

Thanks always,

Katsulas
inkpenpaper From: inkpenpaper Date: September 14th, 2006 10:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking about a mystery, but I can't convince myself that an amateur detective wouldn't just end up in jail for interfering with a police investigation, especially if said detective was a teenage friend of the victim.

It might just be me, but my original thought was... "Well, Veronica Mars got away with it."

Maybe that's not helpful. Sorry.
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: September 14th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nope, it's not just you - glad I wasn't the only one, heh. ;)
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: September 14th, 2006 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought about a Shakespeare-fic, but who am I to mess with the Bard?

Um, lots of people mess with the Bard in fic.
Heck, I track Marlowe appearances in fic and there are over 30 since 2000.

BTW, if you like mysteries and are thinking about Bardfic, have you read Simon Hawke's "A Mystery of Errors"? Set during the lost years when Will just arrived in London, they're quite a fun romp.
sharonaf From: sharonaf Date: September 14th, 2006 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Lord of the Flies in Outer Space

It's about slightly older children, and WOW does it turn out differently (possibly because there are girls present, and so there's the possibility of building an adult-style community), but in Robert Heinlein's 'Tunnels in the Sky' several classes of high school survival-class students are accidentally abandoned on their test planet. It's a fascinating book, both in terms of how they develop socially and the survival skills they use.
I've always preferred it to Lord of the Flies.

As for what you should write, you could try such a theme--there's certainly enough to say about it, you would not be likely to step on anyone's toes--or the complex fantasy world sounds pretty interesting too. Teenager solving mysteries does tend inevitably to make me think of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Shakespeare sounds like it could do, but it would involve in all likelihood a tremendous amount of research, and I'm not sure if there would be time for it in just one month of writing time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 14th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Lord of the Flies in Outer Space

Ah, so Heinlein did already do it. I knew someone would have beaten me to it.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: September 14th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Lord of the Flies in Outer Space

Um... not to be difficult, but didn't you have a post somewhere on why there was room for more than one use of the same general idea?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 14th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Lord of the Flies in Outer Space

Of course I did, but that's only theory. In practice, I fall into the depths of great existential despair. (Which is more the point of the post than any particular idea. I manage to reject every damned story that crosses my brain cells because of reasons I would totally blow off if someone dissed my favorite authors over them.)
mmeubiquitous From: mmeubiquitous Date: September 14th, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!

Sorry, I don't have much constructive advice...I'm just excited about doing the NaNo this year. Yippee!!! :D
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: September 14th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, boy. Now you're making me depressed--if someone who writes as well as you can is this insecure about writing OF, what am I supposed to do?

Well, anyway...I really think one of the whole points of NaNo is to write almost totally uncensored by your inner editor, which probably extends to the idea process too. I'd just say write whatever seems most interesting to you right now and see where it goes (which, again, seems to be the point of NaNo). If you're enjoying it and you're at least thinking about ways to fix the potential difficulties--well, so what if somebody's done it before? They say there's no such thing as a really new story; what's new is the fact that you're writing it and therefore--one hopes--bringing something new to it.

And in all honesty, I'd be interested to read any of those.
miseri From: miseri Date: September 14th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, hey, I wrote a mystery for last year's NaNoWriMo -- I got around the issue of an amateur detective mucking around in official police work by a) setting the story in the 1920s when forensic sciences weren't so, um, impressive, and b) setting the story on an isolated island with communication issues. (I spent some time angsting about the fact that it was a boarding school off the coast of Scotland with a teacher named Lupin. There were reasons for all of that, none of which had anything to do with Harry Potter. Then I discovered that for various other reasons, the location had to be off the coast of Suffolk instead, so things got marginally better.)

Speaking of my last year's novel, I was stuck for ideas initially, so I simply asked all the NaNoWriMo participants I met to each supply me with one character from history, literature or popular culture. Then I sat down with the list and wove a story around 12 characters loosely based from that list. (The Lupin character mentioned earlier was my take on Virginia Woolf.) That's one way of figuring out what to do, at any rate; I might try it again this year.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: September 14th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't know there were any islands off the coast of Suffolk....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 14th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I believe the General Rule of Literary Islands is that they may exist anywhere that the author requires them to be. ;p
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