Wednesday, April 03, 2002

So in...May, mid-May, I have this article due for Zendom. Mainly on the act of getting scooped by canon, more specifically on shows that leave less room for fic than others. On why the big three (Trek, XF, Buffy) are the big three -- they've got a pattern that includes both mytharc/character development elements and an MOTW schedule. Which leaves fic writers plenty of wiggle room to stick a story in. The hot and heavy action happens off camera anyway, and we can descend into debate about whether Mulder and Scully have indeed been sleeping together since season 3 without Chris Carter showing us.

Then there are the shows that, for whatever reason, leave less room for fic to be "plugged in" to canon. Or, not shows, I should say "fandoms," because I include BBS in this particular category. There's obviously nothing we can do with Lance and Justin that'll mesh with, ahem, "canon," so that fandom abounds with AUs, dream sequences, all excellent devices to eschew the canon problem.

The two shows I'm looking at specifically (aside from BBS) are West Wing and Babylon 5, because those are ones I follow, and also ones about which I've heard the "being scooped" complaint. West Wing because we can't initiate or solve any political problems (since that's Sorkin's job), and the cast is flatter, the characters nearly useless without the political narratives where we see them shine. Or as Pene said, "we can't take them outside."

It's true. Buffy and Spike can safely get snowed in in a mountain cabin; same with Mulder and Scully; same, to a degree, with Janeway and Seven. And the fic writer can use their characters "as seen of TV" transposed in that new bottle environment.

But take Josh and Sam out of the White House and they lose some of their appeal. They, like Dan and Casey, like all the kids in the Sorkinverse, are their best when they're working, and except for a very small handful of clever political stories in WW fandom, that's an environment that's hard to duplicate.

Babylon 5 is the same and different -- just like we trust that Sorkin has a plan to solve the mytharchical political problems he sets up on the show, we've known since day 1 that B5 was a "five year mission," and that JMS did everything for a reason. So anything the fic writer takes as her own to spin off with will undoubtedly be proven AU down the line.

The ways we've found around these snarls, I think, are to adopt other writing styles beyond the "bottle ep," the MOTW, the inserted scene.

We write AUs, instead. We write futurefics (Ivanova as head of the Rangers, David Sheridan as Centauri lackey, Lance as 30something washup) or past fics (CJ working in LA pre-White House, Dan and Casey meeting in Texas). We write alongsidefics, stories that run parallel to various episodes and let us delve a little deeper into the characters' thoughts and motivations (what was Marcus *really* thinking when he went home to save Ivanova, why did Casey come back to apologize in "April is the Cruelest Month").

Which isn't to say that the Jossverse, the Carterverse and the Trekverse don't also have their share of the above kinds of stories, but they also have a fair share of could-be-episodes, where Janeway and B'Elanna are stranded in a shuttlecraft, repair the damage, fall in love, where Garak and Bashir have lunch and then have sex -- any of these things fitting safely anywhere in the arc of the series without necessarily betraying (or excusing) what we see on screen. Harder to do that in the Sorkinverse or JMSverse, where everything's pre-meditated.

Or simply where the show's creators do it better.

I still need to chew on these ideas. Figure out the whys and wherefores. Figure out where Farscape fits in. Where canon whores and AU sluts find common ground.

If you got it, I want it. Talk to me?