Contemplations on reflections of memories... and other actual fanfic issues

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by JediGaladriel, Mar 9, 2003.

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  1. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    I thought it might be nice to have a thread just discussing an issue of fanfic. How's that for a radical idea? ;)

    Anyway, I'd been reading quite a few excellent stories, all of which seemed to summarize themselves with "So-and-so reflects on..." or "She remembers such-and-such..." or "He contemplates this-or-that..."

    What it got me to wondering about was, why, as fans of movies that are strongly plot-based and action based, are we as a community strongly inclined to writing internal dialogues and reflections? (I'm most certainly included in that--I tremble in fear every time I have to write an action scene, and love to zip out weird little visions and character reflections.)

    Anyway, I thought it might be fun to talk about something like this for once.
  2. Qwi_Xux

    Qwi_Xux Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 5, 2001
    Oh, very good question. A large part of what I write is angst, or deep character development, or other similar types of styles. I think for me, fanfiction (or anything that I write) is so intriguing for the reason that I get the chance to delve into these characters lives. There is so much potential in any character, whether it be a character that you create or one that already exists. When I write someone, I want to get to know them. I want to see into their minds, I want to know the how and the why of what they're doing. I want to see them deal with issues, and find out how they might handle those issues. Okay, so they can fight and blow things up. Yes, SW has constant battles that need to be addressed--but in the midst of it, what about the battles that could be raging in the characters minds? What about the memories and past events that helped mold them into who they are now? Those are things I want to explore, which is why I tend to write them. :)

    I also think that some people use writing to work out things they're dealing with in their own lives and their own minds, albeit in different ways and situations. I think sometimes it's just therapeutic, which could be another reason that people here are drawn to write about these situations.
  3. AngelQueen

    AngelQueen Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 1, 2001
    You pose an interesting question, JG. Why do we in general seem to like writing those introspective pieces a little more often than those action-packed, shoot-'em-up stories?

    Well, for me at least, I like to get into the heads of the characters. I like to try-try being the key word here-to understand what they are thinking or feeling.

    For example, some people like to write 'what was going through Leia's mind at the discovery of her true heritage'-type pieces. In RotJ, the Great Flanneled One gave us a scene that knocked our socks off and teased us beyond comprehension. But one thing that a movie cannot do is give a clear picture of what the character is thinking. The actors can do the best they can with facial expressions and body language, but it's not quite the same.

    Thus, some fanfic writers turn to writing their own views on what the characters are feeling. And in the case of the above example, some writers have her totally repulsed at the idea of being related to the 'monster' that tortured her and did nothing to stop the destruction of her home world. Others have her angry at being lied to by Bail Organa for her entire life. Still others have her saddened, but she learns to accept the undeniable fact that Anakin Skywalker was the man who gave her life and returned long enough to save her brother and-indirectly-her.

    And it is the same for me. I cower at the thought of writing an action/battle scene because I have so much trouble describing what is happening. The Great Flanneled One did a wonderful job in showing us the battles, but they're so hard to describe without totally butchering them.

    Ah, the wonders of the fanfic world. ;)

  4. Jedi_Suzuran

    Jedi_Suzuran Jedi Knight star 5

    May 22, 2002
    Excellent question, JG.

    I also like to get inside a character's head. I want to understand their motivations, reactions, and in some sense, predict their future actions. Personal interpretation comes into this, of course, since we can't all see the movie the same, but that's why there's so many fics out there with different viewpoints.

    Also, introspection helps us understand our own psyches better. It's hard sometimes to write about yourself, to explore yourself. (Why the heck are psychiatrists around, anyway? :p We pay 'em to do that [face_laugh] ) Using the characters, we extend beyond our own mere selves, and try to better understand ourselves through our characters. I'm not saying it's purely a therapeutic thing, writing fanfic, (although for some it is) but it's a chance to bring some enlightenment.

    *makes a face* Okay, that was probably way out there. :p

    And you're not alone in preferring introspection over action. I'm very leery of writing action; my comfort level on that is nil. While we strive to include details, you can't beat GL on action scenes, he's the master at it. I can't even think of topping him. I agree with AngelQueen. I'd butcher them :p

    Again, great question. :)
  5. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 4, 2002
    "Who am I? I'm Jean Valjean!!!!"

    Sorry, a little Broadway for the unwashed masses today.... but that's the phrase that lopsided me in the head when I read this post.

    In fan fiction we can explore the whos and whys of different characters... we can take these two dimentional beings and breath fresh life into them.
  6. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    we can take these two dimentional beings and breath fresh life into them.

    Well, that brings up a tangent, and one that I always wondered about while I'm at it.

    Do we see two-dimensional characters and decide to flesh them out? Or are we expressing the characters as we see them on the screen?

    For me, it's always been the latter. When I write Anakin, for instance, I think of myself as going from what Lucas gave us in the five movies we've seen so far, not as "Hey, I wonder if he was thinking _x_ when he did that?" I give him new plots and new events in his life, but as far as characterization issues go, I tend to be very... hmmm... Orthodox, I guess? I'm always a bit puzzled by comments like, "Wow, I wish Lucas had said ______ about this" because I didn't see myself as saying anything particularly new; it all, to me, comes from the movies. The characters as I write them are as faithful to the way I quite genuinely saw them on the screen as I can possibly make them, and I always feel like someone's saying I didn't get them right!

    Of course, then it becomes a circle, because I have the idea in my head when I go back to the movie, and think, "Oh, there it is again!" :)

    Do other people tend to go the opposite way, to see the characters as frameworks in need of filling in?

    (Sorry, this question interests me. I never really asked other fic writers how they approach the characters in this way!)
  7. Lady_Moonbeam

    Lady_Moonbeam Jedi Youngling star 3

    Aug 4, 2002
    I rarely write a plot-driven piece, the characters are always the first thing I think about. I love to take them apart and put them back together again (or, in darker pieces, leave them on the floor), and I've seen many stories that did just that.

    It's such an intriguing question. My personal belief is this--action-oriented movies are not always a success. Nor are movies set in space. Star Wars is a science-fiction/fantasy/western, an unusual and risky mixture, and it is rooted in mythology and imagery. But, in my mind, no matter how fantastic a set is, or how much a director explores his own universe, it doesn't matter if you don't care about the characters you're presented with. If you found the characters annoying or tiresome, you wouldn't be forced to the edge of your seat wondering if Luke was going to be able to stay on the Light Side. You'd just be checking your watch, wondering, "When is the movie going to be over?"

    So we fall in love with this universe that's presented to us--and the characters are part of it. Then what you write becomes a reflection of what you believe the movies are about--and in many cases, no matter what media we're talking about, the story is about people.

    You can have people swept up in events beyond their control, but the event alone doesn't make an interesting story.

    Picture a scenario: a boy is fighting an older man in a frightening black suit. They use lightsabers and trade dialogue.

    Then add in the facts that the man and the boy are father and son, the man one of the two Sith, evil warriors, and the son is the last Jedi to exist, completely in belief that the man he is fighting murdered his father. The boy (who, you realize, is named Luke Skywalker) is barely trained, and Darth Vader (ah, a name to put with a face) is barely alive.

    Now there's a scenario for you!

    To sum up everything I've just prattled on about, any story is essentially about people. Writers work with people and try to have them walk across lines of text, and give meaning to action, or to immerse themselves in someone else's mind and you establish something. You've made the all-important Click.

    Or maybe I've missed the point entirely. ;)
  8. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Oct 8, 2000
    In answer to the question that Breezy and JG posed:

    It depends on whether I'm writing in the regular universe or in an AU as to whether I take a character and flesh him/her out or just build on what I see in the movies. I prefer to do the former--take some characteristics that I see in the movies and build on them from there, as in "How would this character handle certain situations?" For that reason, AUs can be easier and more fun to write because the writer has more latitude.

    Sometimes characters write themselves, and sometimes we have to "whip them into shape" so to speak. This is especially true in canon universes but it also applies in AUs. I am writing an AU in which I am making minor changes in the characters in order to make certain events in the GFFA change, but otherwise trying to keep them true to their basic natures, and I have run into these issues. I have to whip Obi-Wan into shape in order to keep him as the serious Jedi Master we all know and love, and I have to whip Padme into shape in order to keep her a tough woman...but Ani writes himself, maybe because he and I are so much alike.
  9. Qwi_Xux

    Qwi_Xux Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 5, 2001
    Do other people tend to go the opposite way, to see the characters as frameworks in need of filling in?

    I think for me it depends on the character and the story. A lot of it is just fleshing out the character, expanding on what's already there. I like to take a character and do something distinct that makes them 'mine,' for the story I'm writing. For example, I made one character left-handed. Small and simple, yes, but it was something that helped me 'define' the character and put my stamp on her, if that makes sense. I think some characters are more in need of 'filling in' than others. For example, Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. We see different characterizations in Ep.1 and 2, but there seems to be things that are missing in what they're thinking and feeling, and why they're responding to things like they are. Personally, I felt like I got to 'know' Han and Luke and Leia in the first OT movie, and I felt, in a way, that I was barely introduced to Padme and Anakin in two episodes.

    All of my stories are AU, but I still try to use the personality that has been developed in the characters already. Some situations might be different, but I like to just expand off of what the characters are already developed as.
  10. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    Personally, I felt like I got to 'know' Han and Luke and Leia in the first OT movie, and I felt, in a way, that I was barely introduced to Padme and Anakin in two episodes.

    Hmmm. I felt just the opposite. Padme and Anakin felt real to me right away; it took me awhile to get to "know" Leia, and Han still leaves me floundering when I try to write him! Luke and Obi-Wan are characters I got to know better when I sat down to try and write about them, but it felt like I was getting to know them, not making stuff up.

    I guess I don't think of AUs as a chance to mess around with character traits, but to really look at those traits by shining lights on them from different angles. Maybe that goes into the whole determinist/existentialist debate. I tend to be a determinist with characters--people are who they are, and it's possible to predict what they will do differently in different circumstances (essence precedes existence). This may produce wildly different behavior, but not different characterization--my Ani is still my Ani, whether he's cuddly-Tatooine-Dad-Ani (landspeeder sold separately) or the Dark Lord of the Sith. The existentialist approach (existence preceding essence) is more of the different characterization based on different circumstances school. For me as a reader, I tend to look at AUs to see whether or not the character is consistent with the movie character, and make my judgments based on that. So it's fascinating to me to hear about AUs as being deliberately different characterizations--I think the distance between the two approaches is where a lot of head-scratching goes on on both sides.

    Back to the contemplation question...

    How many of us were (or are) drama-club types in school? I first got into writing because, well, there aren't a lot of parts for plain, overweight girls who trip over their own feet, and writing gave me a chance to "act" any part I wanted to. Are these contemplative pieces--particularly the ones that reflect on scenes that appeared in the movies--really more a part of drama than prose? Are we seeing, essentially, soliloquys?
  11. Coota

    Coota Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 2, 2002
    I think I write more what characters are thinking because I was raised on the first person perspective of American hard boiled noir. Phillip Marlowe, The Continental Op, Nick Charles, Archie Goodwin, all managed to talk about what they were thinking and feeling while still being tough, action oriented individuals. That's why I feel action scenes just come to me; both introspection and action are easy for me to write because I feel I was schooled by a writing style that was able to perfectly merge thought and action. The well-written noir never leaned too heavily on either side of the fence.

    I also really liked James Jones' "Thin Red Line" and "From Here to Eternity", which both carried a lot of action and thought at the same time. Characters inner thoughts, to me, are what *make* the action. They shouldn't be seperate entities, they should be united.
  12. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 31, 1999
    Do we see two-dimensional characters and decide to flesh them out? Or are we expressing the characters as we see them on the screen?

    I think this gets close. When writing a fic that is set within the framework of what Lucas has established, there are certain things that just aren't open to interpretation. In the beginning of ANH, Vader strangles a Rebel officer to attempt to get information from him. In ESB, Vader ends the battle with Luke by severing his son's hand. There's no contesting that these events happened.

    What is open to interpretation is the character's motives and thoughts during these scenes. Did Vader reluctantly strangle the Rebel for information, or did he enjoy it? When Vader sliced off Luke's hand, was he doing the minimal amount of damage he could to end the fight without harming his son any more than necessary, or was he angry and severed Luke's hand to punish him?

    When dealing with "canon" events or with established characters in a non-AU setting, motives and thoughts are where individual authors can leave their own mark. Without adding these individual touches, you're just re-covering familiar territory without adding any nuance.
  13. Amidala_Skywalker

    Amidala_Skywalker Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 4, 2001
    Thanks for opening this thread!

    When I envision a character, I see potential. A character has the potential to not only expand on the canon, but to discover new emotions and new feelings. Like Qwi, I want to get inside their heads and feel comfortable in there. With some characters that is easier, but with others I need something ? a point, a reference, something ? that I can relate to and grasp onto. It?s like if I were hanging off the side of a cliff, near-death, I would have to grab a tree root or a rock to rescue myself. To me, it?s the same with characters. I love what the original creators do with characters, though I?m constantly thinking what can fanfiction writers do with them. I?ve stepped into a thread many a time and seen a character presented in a way I never expected, or never dreamed of. It?s wonderful this variety.

    I?ve recently been reading so much Stargate SG1 fanfiction that I was sitting up to my ears in it ? and loving every minute of it, I might add. With each fanfic you saw a different equation, a different depth to a character, but despite that most maintained their ?original? form.

    I agree with the point that some things can?t be changed ? those are meant to be, and probably have to be. I?m most comfortable when I have one basic rule I have to follow, and I know the restrictions of a character. I found winding my way into the thoughts of a character is easier than writing action. My brain gets lost in the intricate puzzle of that genre, and I greatly admire those who can pull it off with flare.

    JG, I wish I was in a drama class ? it would be a great opportunity.

    I think we all need to escape from reality once in a while, and we do that through reading and creating fanfiction, and getting inside some fictional head and twisting the valves to see what ?toot? they produce.

    Am [face_love]
  14. MariahJade2

    MariahJade2 Former Fan Fiction Archive Editor star 5 VIP

    Mar 18, 2001
    *** Just to take Herman?s point a bit further. The films established the characters, but as writers we bring our own interpretations to the motivations of those characters. I think it is difficult to totally divorce yourself from the process and thus we each bring our own unique perspective to that world, and it subsequently colors how we write. Looking carefully, you can?t help but see reflections of an author?s personality in their work. We are always putting a little bit of ourselves out there. In trying to understand the motives of the characters we also are seeking our own understanding.

  15. Cam_Mulonus

    Cam_Mulonus Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 29, 2002
    Another wonderful thing about fanfic is the OC. OC's not only allow you to create your own character to live in the GFFA, it also in a sense takes you yourself there.

    And then, you can also witness key events in the movies, but from a different POV.

  16. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Hm, I try NOT to put too much contemplation in my fics, since I love the action! But it is necessary, sometimes, to help you understand a character's motivation. And it is interesting to see shades of someone's thought processes as they confront an issue or a problem.

    How many of us were (or are) drama-club types in school? I first got into writing because, well, there aren't a lot of parts for plain, overweight girls who trip over their own feet, and writing gave me a chance to "act" any part I wanted to. Are these contemplative pieces--particularly the ones that reflect on scenes that appeared in the movies--really more a part of drama than prose? Are we seeing, essentially, soliloquys?

    Oh, I was one of those! But I wanted the swashbuckling parts, not the soliloquys. :) I actually did get a lot of leads, but they were all 70-year old ladies. I actually started writing because it was more interesting than conjugating French verbs and the only way to stay awake in chemistry. :D Now I write because my favorite authors don't publish often enough to suit me (are you listening, Ms. Rowling & Ms. Davis?)
  17. ArnaKyle

    ArnaKyle Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 12, 2000
    I thought about this just the other day.

    For me, I've always made up stories in my head since I was probably five or six. I used to have tons of stuffed animals (and still do [face_blush] ) and I would pretend they were real. I didn't start writing stories down until fifth or sixth grade, but I always loved writing. I won some essay contest in third grade about Pennsylvania's natural resources and got 25 dollars (I thought I was rich ;) ). Then I learned how to express myself (quite poorly) in elementary school with dumb little stories. You know, the typical elementary school story.

    And while I was always interested in film and theater, I knew that acting wasn't my deal. Writing, and fanfic for that matter, is kind of like an explanation to my "Social Darwinism." I've simply learned to evolve Mary Sue, and I learned that I could express anything I wanted in words. Thoughts that I would never admit to myself-- I found that fragments of myself were other people, other characters. When I have something particularly dry or sarcastic to say, I might give Han the chance to unload it, or when I feel contemplative, a character that I can see with similar thoughts expresses it. I can *be* Han, Leia, Luke, etc etc. I can for one moment breathe insight and life into something. I can be a fighter pilot, a Jedi Knight, a smuggler. And why? Because of thoughts that make us all human (pardon the unpolitically correct GFFA explanation), and I can express that better than I can a lot of things. Although I'm not a strong advocate of "write what you know," writing is, how in fact, I express my innermost feelings and thoughts.

    The thing is, I've never been in a blaster fight, I've never been bolting through hyperspace, and I've never dueled my own father. I don't know exactly how to handle things like that, but I do understand what I think, my insecurities, and my own thoughts. And I'd like to think I know how to translate them into my writing as ideals and as JG mentioned, soliloquies or monologues of characters. The more I experience and understand, the more my characters can experience and understand themselves. I believe that fanfic and fiction, for a number of us, is an escape from the discomfort of reality where we can't truly voice ourselves as passionately and creatively as we can in the world of make-believe. Part of me is always the five-year-old girl that's going camping with her stuffed doggie.
  18. rhonderoo

    rhonderoo Former Head Admin star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 7, 2002
    I tend to try to stick to a characters "personality", if you will, and get inside their head at a specific point in time (say Vader's when looking out over the hangar as Luke is being lead off....), or put them in situations that may not be in the movie but would stay true to say, how I would know Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader or Padme Amidala would act.

    As for me, I never really got into writing until I got to college. I was in drama, but was too shy to be on the stage. I did love becoming a character, so I see what you are saying JG.
  19. obaona

    obaona Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 18, 2002
    I do a lot of 'contemplation' fics, though most of the time they're contemplating because something happened to them. :p

    I like to discover the motivations of a character - the core of what they are. We see their actions in the movies, and know them by their actions, but its fun to try and guess the train of thought that led them there, or the events that shaped their lives and beliefs.

    I don't know - picking apart the personalities of characters (sometimes highlighting a part, or dimming it down a bit) is just plain fun. :)
  20. Crazy_Vasey

    Crazy_Vasey Jedi Padawan star 4

    Dec 8, 2001
    Well, I guess I must be the odd one out here because I really suck at writing contemplation scenes and much prefer to get stuck into the action :p

    I used to make stories in my head when I was a little kiddy as well except mine were generally giant robots and such... Yeah. What do you expect from a 7 year old with a lego fixation? Okay their characters were blatantly thieved from transformers but I had fun so ha!
  21. Darth_Tim

    Darth_Tim Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 26, 2002
    This is a great thread, JG...finally a chance for some serious discussion without feeling like I'm wading into a mine field...

    I'll admit, it's mainly my action scenes that I'm known for. I like writing battles, and firmly believe that if there are 100-odd other writers who do great mush, why not try something different? And the other reason is simply because I can. (I hope I'm not sounding arrogant here, just saying I believe in sticking to what you're good at)

    However, I try to get into the characters' heads, too. In my Ep 2, DOTF, I've tried to portray Anakin's inner struggles - with his darker side, with his sense destiny vs. desire to have something resembling free will or control over his life, with his feelings, etc. I've tried to do the same with the other main characters as well.

    I started writing a story about Palpatine's early life and rise to power simply because I wanted to explore a character all too many people seem to dismiss as having been born pure evil. I wanted to have him as a flawed, but not evil man, who encountered a horrible situation and unfortunately, opted to choose retribution. I didn't think people would ever LIKE him, I didn't try to make him likeable, but I thought maybe I could make him at least understandable. If I can do that with the story, I'll be thrilled.

    My OT AU, Unforgiven, is a very dark, heavy story dealing with revelations affecting Vader/Anakin and an alternate, though ultimately more tragic, path to redemption. Flashbacks to his past play a very prominent role in the story.

    Stolen Moments was an attempt by Marawannabe and I to explore Anakin and Padme's thoughts and feelings toward each other beyond what we saw onscreen.

    Other things I like to play around with: Vader in E3...what was it like coming to terms with the suit? How did he learn to accept what most of us would consider a personal hell? What did his horrible experiences do to him? What motivated him to go on?

    Soldiers in combat situations are interesting too - what makes them function (if they do) despite the horror and the extremes of the battlefield environment?


  22. Kitt327

    Kitt327 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 23, 2000
    As someone who enjoys writing both, I don't really see the big difference between an action scene and a more reflective, internal monologue kinda scene.

    Both are dealing with emotions ... just one is dealing with excitement, agression, thrills and spills, while the other usually deals with more peaceful emotions, melancholy etc.

    I guess the writing style tends to be different ... adrenaline emotions tend to be written in short, snappy sentences, while melancholy is longer, more drawn out.
  23. Daughter_of_Yubyub

    Daughter_of_Yubyub Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Jul 8, 2002
    Hmm, well I actually have a collection called Reflections, so I should probably say something here. :p

    I've always struggled through writing action for whatever reason. Maybe it's a lack of any real exposure to that sort of thing in order to write about it. I don't know war well, but I do know people. That lets me write introspective fics. I actually started writing monologues as a way to beat writer's block on some of my original work. Somehow I got hooked on it. I'm not sure what inspired me to write fan monologues, but I enjoy exploring the inner workings of the characters' minds. It lets me play with facets of their characters that aren't seen as much, for instance the serious side of Wes Janson. More than anything else, introspective fic is just something interesting to try.
  24. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Mar 18, 2002
    Count me among those who like writing action/adventure scenes. The only problem is getting my fingers to type fast enough....

    I think it?s interesting that this topic has come up right now. I was just remarking to a friend of mine that when I first started writing fan fic, I just wanted to write action adventure stories. Now suddenly my characters have started talking about and dealing with issues. I?ve written three Star Wars adventure stories, and have several other pieces in the works, but suddenly have found two of my WIPs going in unexpected directions. In addition to heroic rescues and confrontations with bad guys, I suddenly have characters considering the changes in their cultures from encounters with other races, arguing over the ethics of big game hunting and contemplating nature-assisted suicide. What the...? Where did that come from? :confused:

    In many respects, contemplative writing allows me to give motivations to the characters I see on the screen. As I get older or try to come to grips with events in my life, I find I step back occasionally and think about who I am, where I?ve been or am going, and what?s really important to me. There?s no reason fictional characters can?t or wouldn?t do the same. (This, of course, pre-supposes you?re not dealing with some truly alien race that has completely incomprehensible thought processes.... ;) Although it's also interesting to delve into non-human thought patterns and explore what makes an alien character "tick"!)

    Also, it?s often difficult to tell what a character on a movie screen is thinking. Many times I think the printed word is a more effective way to get inside a person?s mind to see what?s going on in there. Writing about characters contemplating or reflecting on something helps us understand why they do what they do, and to decide how we relate to them. It helps ?humanize? or ?de-humanize? the characters; it?s one way of walking that mile in the other guy?s moccasins.
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