Thursday, December 10, 2009

When Your Muse Deserts You, Retreat to the Boob Tube

Well, the summer heat has officially exited Phoenix and in its place is the cold, cold winter. I started my evening ritual of lighting some really nice candles I've stocked and amidst all the chaos I'm trying to relax. Unfortunately, some of the winds here can get a bit, shall we say, crazy with high mph winds that can pretty much knock you over. And so it happened with a couple of boxes we had stacked up in the back. A few fell into our pool, 10 degrees colder than outside which was 50 F at the time, and my family and I had to go in and fish them out. One of the casualties was a big ole box of my family's sci-fi entertainment mags. Seeing Captain Sulu stuck down at the bottom of the pool did not make this geek gal happy!

Alas, we did get everything back and they're all drying back in a nice, dry heat conditioned room. As I looked at the list of tv shows and movies I loved, it got me thinking about fan fiction.

Now, don't go running just yet. Fan fiction has a bad rep because of the vast array of writing talents and how far *ahem* some go with favorite characters. The things I've heard made my hair stand up but I want to address the fan fic on the lighter end of things.

Sometimes when I get a dry spell and I'm in between finishing projects, I want to keep my writing juices going. Sometimes music doesn't work, even though I love to write with music like my fellow PRomantics, and even watching my favorites don't work as well. My left brain critic is yelling way too loud.

One way to shut it up was writing in a pre-existing universe. And that's what we'll call it instead of "fan fiction" just to get our minds on the other side of the road. :-)

Writing in a pre-existing universe can be a sort of writing prompt to get you into that right brained mode. You don't worry about what people would think because they already love these characters like you do. You don't have to worry about where the character came from, just where they're going. Often times movies or tv shows would end before their run or end in a certain way that was unsatisfactory.

For instance, I enjoyed the first two seasons of the new Battlestar Galactica. I LOVE the original series and was reluctant to get into the new one until I got into a group with like-minded folks who were fans of my favorite pairing. Unfortunately, my couple was put through the ringer and even more so my favorite character who pretty much disappeared until she met a tragic end towards the end of the show. Bummer.

Needless to say, I was not happy. So I wrote my own version of the show, tying in much of the mythology and what was hinted at toward the beginning. All the while leading up to a banging conclusion. At least that was my goal. It was pretty awesome because readers on a message board enjoyed my stories and I loved writing for them. I guess that's another draw of fan fic. When you write books and stories professionally in the publishing arena, you don't really get instant feedback. People may buy your work and enjoy it, but you don't really know until you happen on a particular forum, comments section or a nice review. It's pretty much one story after another. But when writing in a "pre-existing universe" with set fans who share interest in the world in one place, you get instant feedback and the enthusiasm can be wonderful for creative juices.

Youtube, aka the great time suck (at least for me ;-)) is rife with tons of creator driven shared universe music videos along with completely new creations. Take for example this video from the remade Thomas Crown Affair movie.

Maybe it's because the song has been in my head all week that I thought of this particular vid but the movie and song work. ;-)

Now, forget for a moment that there will be a sequel coming in 2011. The movie ended with the couple sharing a kiss after the heroine's angry outburst from the hero tricking her. But what happens after that? Where do they go from there? That could be a great writing prompt to explore and to get you into that right brained more to just focusing on exploring that story.

How about we take it further?

What if the characters were different, say they were each of a different background and culture, making them an interracial couple. How would the story change? Or, what if the roles were reversed? What if she were the rich, affluent business woman/thief and he was the insurance claims agent who loves the chase and was sent to interrogate her? (If anyone knows of a story like that, please let me know cause I'd SO read it!)

Suddenly the story changes and your mind sees the many possibilities.

This is just a few little things that helped me get over my brain block a few times. Plus I got to flex my writing muscle and write a fun story to boot. I even got a few of my own ideas from watching upcoming movie trailers of films I haven't seen to this day. But the way the trailer was cut with the music and the actors just sparked something in my brain. I don't suggest doing this with book series simply because the authors are more protective of their work and characters. TV shows and movies work better because it's more of a collaborative effort rather than belonging to one and plus you already have a wonderful visual representation of the characters!

How about you guys? Any great writing prompts you pull out of your hat when the going gets tough?


Rebecca Royce said...

I actually once wrote fan fiction, I'm going to admit, about a boy bad. LOL. But it taught me a lot about writing and that is priceless. LOL

Sandra Sookoo said...

LOL Fan fic? LOL Never attempted it. Don't think I'll ever go there LOL

Author GE Stills said...

Great idea Rae not so much to post them but just to relieve my own inner frustration.
I'm sure all of us have watched shows that ended in a different way than we like or worse yet, not ended at all. I hate that.
I think it would be good therapy to write an alternate ending. Along the way ideas might just pop into your head for the story you are working on.
Sorry about you magazine tragedy. I live in the SW too but let me tell you 50F sounds like a heat wave. lol Maybe I'll move down around Panama. lol
Gary/GE Stills

Rae Lori said...

Awesome Rebecca! That's another good thing about writing in a pre-existing universe, it really helps to see the story structure indeed.

Lol Sandi. I know one current author who has a hit series started out writing fan fiction. Someone like Kelley Armstrong though not her. I was quite surprised when I found out. Will have to go fishing.

Too true, Gary! Too many of my fave shows ended before their time and it did help to imagine a possible or different ended than was given. Sounds mighty chilly where you are. Panama doesn't sound so bad! lol

Annie Nicholas said...

I don't write fanfic but I do daydream.