Sunday, March 4, 2012
"In the Bullpen" with @phillydi - FanFiction, Pt. 1
Once upon a time (about two years ago), there was a handsome young prince from the kingdom of LAPD. One day in a bar, he received a visit from his fairy godmother and to his delight she whisked him away to a land called NCISLA. There he met a beautiful and head-strong princess. They fought, they bantered, but he finally gave her his gun, and they fell hopelessly in love and lived happily ever after for the rest of their lives in the wonderful world of Densi…
Sound familiar? It may not be a Grimm’s fairy tale but it is the foundation for one of the many thousands of fan fictions that have been written and dedicated to two of our favorite characters from NCISLA. If you ever logged on to any one of the number of popular fan fiction sites on the internet you will find a whole legion on writers who just can’t get enough of their favorite characters and are compelled to continue their saga on line. Whether it’s to tell a new action story about the team or fixate on a romance or the potential for romance between the characters, this increasingly significant subset of fans are having an influence on television creators and producers alike, whether they will admit it or not.
It’s been estimated that 90% of the fan fics out there are relationship based. I’m not sure that’s true for all shows but the fans of NCISLA seems to have a special place in their hearts for the different couplings in the show whether it’s Kensi and Deeks, Nell and Eric or even Sam and Callen. It’s a place for all the Shippers out there to go and express their passion about the characters. Shippers (derived from the word relationship) are fans who concentrate on relationships (including platonic) and the possibility of romantic relationships between characters. These fans are deeply invested and are the most engaged fans of the show according to Andrew Marlowe, the creator of Castle. Marlowe told Entertainment magazine in the February 17 issue, “Shippers really are your core audience, and you can gauge the level of investment of your entire fan base by their interactions with you.” Marlowe feels that show creators and writers can no longer ignore the energy or enthusiasm that shippers express in such a public manner.
So why do we (yes, I am one of them!) spend all our spare waking hours writing about these characters who have enthralled us from the get go? Is it just the never ending quest for that fairy tale love that we all seek to find or is there another reason? In the past year I have had the pleasure to get to know four of the most talented fan fiction writers out there, and in the spirit of community, we have become friends in and out of the NCISLA family. I’ve had a chance to chat on line and get to know these uber fans of the show (and even meet one in person). They have graciously allowed me to interview them and get their take on this ever growing phenomenon. I’m using only pen names (to protect the innocent!) but you will get a chance to see how their wonderful personalities shine through their writing and find out how their creativity flows when expressing their love of the show and the brilliant characters we have all grown to know and love.
The first thing I asked is why they love these characters so much and why it’s important for them to continue their story beyond the small screen. California based Sweet Lu is a graphic designer and feels the character of Deeks puts the LA in the title of the show. “Deeks looks like Southern California and that was missing in the first season. The other characters could have been in any city or from anywhere but the Deeks character solidified the location as the West Coast. And as a native Californian that was important to me.” Of course the selection of Eric Christian Olsen didn’t hurt either. “The casting of ECO for the role of Marty Deeks was genius. He’s such an expressive actor and you can see the motion of the dialogue on his face in every scene.”
ThePixieMadeMeDoIt hails from Great Britain and is busy with work and children but always finds the time to write about her favorite show. She contends that continuing their story once the credits role isn’t always a great leap to take. “Each one of the characters is unique with a different background and story to tell, and that in itself is intriguing. I love how, despite the individuality of their personalities, the team works together. And how their loyalty, sense of duty and friendships can be both a strength and a weakness and how what draws them together could also tear them apart.”
Fictionista 48 is a professional writer and lives in the southeastern section of the U.S. She wants to explore everything Kensi and Deeks because they are such intriguing characters and have so much depth. “Each has a backstory to be explored at length. So much potential there.” So why keep telling the story? “I’m in love with those particular characters and in order to get enough of them, and to get what I want from then, I write it out.”
Maxie Kay lives in Scotland, where she attempts to reconcile a full-time job working in corporate litigation with writing NCISLA fan fiction. Unlike the rest of us, Maxie has been working at this creative art for awhile now with other shows. Maxie and I had a chance to meet for the first time last year during a visit to her country while on holiday. Over the course of two days, our conversation never strayed far from what drew us together in the first place. “What’s not to love about the characters? In NCISLA we’ve got a group of very diverse people, all of whom work together in the most extraordinary circumstances. The characters are so well-drawn, they pull the audience in.”
Maxie also loves to see such strong, positive women on-screen and enjoys writing about Kensi and Hetty. “And I have to confess that I lost my heart to Deeks the first instant I saw him, He’s in an intriguing position - part of the team, and yet still belonging to LAPD, so there is a tension there.”
When they are not writing fan fics, these authors are reading other stories as well. So I wanted to know what makes a great NCISLA fan fic. Our writer all had a slightly different take on what pulls them in and keeps them engrossed in the tale. For Fictionista 48, she wants the characters to remain true to the show. “I see so many people write them out of character, and it just wrecks it. They are who they are…that’s why we love them. You can’t change them and expect them to be the characters we love and wait to breathlessly see each week.”
Maxie Kay says a good story allows her to live a little bit longer with the characters and get a glimpse into their lives that we don’t usually get because of the hour time constraint. “Reading fan fics lets me go deeper into that wonderful world that is created on screen….to live in it for just a bit longer and to go places where the scriptwriters dare not tread.”
ThePixieMadeMeDoIt feels the quality of the writing rather than the story can draw her into a fan fic. “Use of language and attention to detail, coupled with the ability to describe situations and emotions with such color and complexity can make a journey as real as watching an episode, and who wouldn’t want to enjoy that every day!”
Finally, Sweet Lu wants a great story to keep her connected to the characters and explore all sorts of adventures and character interactions that a one hour show can’t provide. “All the good writers of fan fics allow us as readers to see the characters we love in a variety of scenarios and that keeps us connected to the show.”
ThePixieMadeMeDoIt says that being a fan fic writer is a fantastic homage to the show that we all love. “I think that it’s an important opportunity and outlet for fans to have their own unique say on how they would like the NCISLA universe to be. I think that it’s a great way to show that your imagination doesn’t have to end just because they latest episode has.”
We all agreed that the fan fic writing experience is an addictive one. We write because we want to keep answering the question “What if…?” Maxie Kay calls it the ultimate escapism. Fortunately, there never seems to be a lack of story ideas. As Sweet Lu says, “When a story is finished I’m sad to leave it behind, but there is always a new adventure just waiting in my head.”
If you have never gone into the fan fiction universe, you are in for a treat. You can find these NCISLA writers and many others on www.fanfiction.net.
Here are some of my favorites to get you started:
Fictionista 48: Human Sacrifice
Sweet Lu: Solis
ThePixieMadeMeDoIt: Natural Equilibrium
Maxie Kay: Maybe this Christmas
Imahistorian: Truth Be Told
In part two of this column, I talk to these writers about why they are so passionate about Densi and why they just have to keep writing for these two beloved characters.
Join me again next week In the Bullpen!
source: About the author...