Back in April, we posted a short crossover story together which can be found here http://wp.me/p5uTBg-Ig. We are currently working on extending this into something more. This is another layer of the fan fiction world where people ’co-author’ stories. This month’s blog is focusing on this aspect of fan fiction and is a discussion about it.
We wondered how others who co-author might go about it.
Does one person do one chapter and the other does the next?
I’ve read fics in the past that have been co-authored and I feel like they’re written beautifully, and I have been in writing workshops where I’ve written a piece and then handed my work to a partner so they can write the next installment and likely take the story in a new direction. I think if writing a comedic or “fluff” fic, working that way would be particularly fun. But in a more dramatic fic with lots of plot points and twists and such, I think plotting it out ahead of time and knowing exactly what your partner plans to contribute to the story, would work better.
I’ve heard of others doing it this way, but I doubt I could work like this as I think if you are doing a story together, it has to be mapped out together across all chapters.
Perhaps each author has a specific focus i.e. on the comedic elements or the sadder moments…
As someone who is a big fan of/has written and would love to professionally write sketch comedy, I have a tendency to bring lightness into fic and have done so with the Homeland stories I’ve written. In small doses I think funny works, but I always strive to keep quips in character. When it comes to sadder/angstier moments, if I bring the hurt, the comfort soon follows. I don’t like to bring additional conflict in (when the show has enough going as is) unless that conflict brings out resolution/growth or really adds to a scene.
I feel like between the two of us, we have a sense of balance when it comes to drama and snark/humor in our writing. Once Billions begins and we get a better sense of the balance within the show, we’ll be able to strike a similar balance while constructing our fic. As opposed to one of us bringing in laughs while the other rains gloom and doom on the characters we love so much.
I’m very in to understanding why people do what they do and writing about it. Season 1 of Homeland will forever be one of my favourites because psychology was very prominent.
I have come up with the occasional quip, but comedy is something that really shouldn’t be forced. Between us though I think we’ll manage. The recent Billions trailer didn’t give a lot away, but perhaps Bobby’s funny side can be borne out of his arrogance. His own quip about money already suggests a man ready to take on the world. I suspect his sense of humour might be bordering on nasty when he tries.
What is the most important part of a story to know first, the beginning or the end?
I think that while finding that elusive jumping off point for a fic is an exciting moment, knowing your end game is crucial. Without it what is your character and plot in general gearing up towards?
TBkWrm: The end is the beginning :). Seriously though I’m going to be boring, go with the stock answer and say that it is probably the best idea to know how you want your story to end before your write the beginning.
There is a lot to consider about our end destination for Crossing Paths and how we get there. When you see Bobby/Brody he’s slap bang in the middle of his new life and that is the starting point so clearly we have a lot of explaining to do about how he got there whilst moving towards the end game.
We both know more than enough about Brody to be starting with. Billions is currently filming and more information will be forthcoming over the coming months until its debut on TV.
The question is would too much information about Bobby at this stage be good or bad for us when trying to characterise him in our story?
I feel like knowing the basics, the general premise of the character that Showtime felt compelled enough by to green light a series about, is enough information for us to have a solid start to our story. I feel like our own interpretation of him as the show starts up may differ from what plays out on screen, but what details we don’t know could turn into interesting plot twists and turns down the road. A little information can go a long way, but I’ll welcome the fine details as we get them.
TBkWrm: I will gratefully receive any information about his character. Though, given that we are writing and may still be writing or finished by the time the show airs on TV, I don’t think we can get too worked up if we mischaracterise him slightly differently from how he will ultimately be in the show. We have to make our minds up and go for it. I read a question in one of Damianista’s blogs that I thought was a great one. How does the ambitious hedge fund manager end up with a down-to-earth, grounded Nurse?
Look around fandom and it is pretty rare to find the family of a character that is loved or welcomed unanimously by fans. In fact, the only show where it doesn’t seem an issue is Castle. Therefore, we have a decision to make as regards family in our story. Do Bobby/Brody’s family feature?
I feel like family plays a big role in characterization. Why is this character where they are, what has driven or motivated them or what is their downfall or burden? I tend to find the background or more supporting characters in a series very compelling and in my stories I seem to expand on theirs. In previous fics I’ve written, I’ve given the Brody family a lot of attention that I felt the show itself chose not to. Alluding to them in this story is something that may happen, but I think that the Axelrod family will need to be more than alluded to and become big players. Curious to see how they’ll be received by the audience and how we’ll interpret/incorporate them.
TBkWrm: This is something we need to discuss further. My initial reaction would be that Family Brody, as much as I love them (yeah, I’m a Brody family freak and proud of it!), will have to be very much in the background. Family Axelrod will need to be involved somehow. Families of characters seemed to be really hated in fandom, but they are necessary. What else could ground and separate Bobby from Brody, but his new family?
Most consideration will likely have to be given to physical, mental and emotional transformation of Brody into Bobby. How do we go about this?
Well having seen various stills of Damian during the filming of Billions (and viewing him still as my beloved Brody, not quite so much Bobby as of yet), I think our addressing the physical transformation of the character is somewhat secondary to addressing his mental/emotional state. Brody going from rock bottom to being Bobby at the top of a high rise in Manhattan, requires a lot of mental and emotional strength. I feel like discussing his being at his weakest to suddenly becoming a stronger, albeit completely transformed/new man is going to be an interesting challenge to take on in this fic. I’m looking forward to it though.
TBkWrm: Granted, our initial starting point for Crossing Paths was not long, but I think we have all three of these on display. Just enough work has been done on him to take care of the physical issues. I always said the issue with Brody was never his physical scars, but the mental and emotional scars he brought back with him. Bobby seems better off in both departments…mostly…when we meet him, but that can be unravelled pretty quickly if need be.
Too many cooks spoil the broth or two heads are better than one?
Lilmisfit: Two heads are better, for sure. Receiving reviews and feedback while working on fics was a major source of encouragement. Knowing that others were on the same journey with my story as I was, following where I was taking it was comforting knowledge to have while writing it. I feel like having that sense of encouragement as well as a team effort/collaboration on this fic will make it a successful one, no doubt in my mind.
TBkWrm: Two heads are better than one. It will be good to have someone to work with as fan fiction writing can be a bummer when you are stuck for words.
Co-authoring does not mean you have to agree on everything. In fact it may even be better if you don’t always agree. Different opinions and points of view can help weed out that which could make a story ridiculous and also mean you stumble upon a brilliant idea.
We would be delighted to hear your views of some of the questions posed in the comments below, on our twitter or Facebook page. Are any of you fan fiction writers? Have you co-authored? Let us know.
Until next time…put your fan fiction heads together as two heads are better than one.