Fan Plot

Writing link of the day: Turkey City

Fanfic is, generally speaking, easier to write than original fiction. The main problem of writing fanfic is keeping in character. You don’t have to create the characters or the setting, and in many cases you don’t even need to describe the characters or the setting. Blah, blah, blah, Ginger - we call it meta because we’ve heard it all before. The fanfic shortcut to character and setting are so familiar that they obscure another fanfic shortcut - the low road to plot.

I was meditating in the bathtub over my folders full of unfinished original stories, most especially the one I need to finish by Friday, and how sad they seem by comparison to my slim selection of abandoned fanfic. In almost all cases, I abandoned the original stories because I couldn’t figure out what happened next, and I abandoned the fanfics because I didn’t want to take the time to write what happened next. Why did I never have plotter’s block with fanfic?

The majority of my fanfics involve getting X and Y together, so I always know what the story is working towards. Everything in the story functions toward that end. Shippiness isn’t the only easy fanfic plot out there, though - my drabble motivation, write 100 words about the episode, is also sufficiently restrictive to squeeze a plot out almost every time. Episodes can always use fixing, and challenges are a dime a dozen if you can’t think of a shippy plot on your own. The show provides its own plot-inspiring restrictions - we’re low on replicator rations, we need to get back to Earth, have you fought the Goa’uld today? It would be hard not to find plot material in seven seasons of details major and minor. Fanfic is an orgy of cheap and easy plotting.

The majority of my original stories start with an idea in a setting. I get as far as tossing one major character in there, and there he sits, holding the idea and looking original. He may stroll around the setting for a few scenes before I realize that I don’t know where he’s going. With absolutely no restrictions, I don’t know where to start. The simple solution is to make some restrictions, but that’s just as hard as the plotting itself.

By comparison, setting is easy and even character is doable - you can always plagiarize real people’s personalities or keep the story short and undemanding on the characters. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and if you don’t think so you can recycle those from other people’s stories. The trouble is plot.

The muse finally came up with a plot for my poor wandering character - I just had to trap her in the bath where she couldn’t surf or otherwise amuse herself - and of course couldn’t write it all down. I’ve found that relaxation is the only way to get work out of her. She has the bed/bath/bus problem of creativity, and I wonder if it means something deep about the human mind.

But that’s just an idea, and what I need are plots.

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