Last night, I ignored the story I'm writing for the ficathon in favor of reading a fic on ffnet. It was added to this Doctor & Donna community that I follow, written by one of the authors, junoinferno, that the community owner seems to love, so I read it hoping for a new DD author to follow. The fic I chose was An Ordinary Human Life.
I haven't really decided if I liked it or not. It's an AU in which Donna is married to a tall, skinny man named John Smith and they have four children, and Rose lives in London with Jackie after the Doctor abandoned her after the Sycorax invasion, disgusted that she tore the TARDIS open, committed genocide with the Bad Wolf power, and ignored him when he was sick, letting Mickey and Jackie take care of him while she sat and whined about him dying and changing and abandoning her. I won't reveal any spoilers here, in case you want to read it.
I really liked the structure of the story, which is told in small snippets jumping back and forth in time and viewpoint (each one is told from a different character's eyes, even the children's), rather than in a linear fashion. I'm not fond of her writing style, which tends to be long strings of dialogue without description. I didn't really like the part with the children and the boxes (again, not going into specifics, but if you've read the fic, you know what I mean) but I think that's a personal preference with plot devices like that.
There is, however, one thing that I really didn't like. The story covers events that happen from 1996 to about 2007, which means a lot of the events that happened during the Ninth Doctor's run and Tenth Doctor's first two seasons occur during the story, though either from a different viewpoint (for example, the Sycorax invasion is seen from Donna's point of view on the ground wondering why all these people are standing on the edge of buildings) or handled by different people in different situations. In all of the events, they ended up handling them the same way as they were in the show, with the same dialogue, and it just seemed... forced. That's really the word. I really wanted the characters to come up with their own solutions or at least react differently, but it was the same and it turned me off quite a bit.
And that's what I'm struggling with right now. In one of the stories that I'm working on, it's an AU, and in a couple of cases, the characters end up in situations which are similar in theme to scenes in DW and I have a character saying something that's a direct quote from the show. It's meant to be a reference or a parallel, but I'm wondering if it's too much. Let me give an example off the top of my head. John Smith and Donna Noble are fleeing a sinking ship with two hundred people on it after doing everything they can to try to save them. Donna sees that he has the opportunity to go back in and save one person trapped on the deck. When she points it out, he refuses, and she begs him, "Just someone. Please. Not the whole ship. Just save someone."
This is obviously a direct reference to "The Fires of Pompeii" and is meant to parallel John to the Doctor, but is it too much? Does it come across as lazy? Or worse, pompous, since I'm obviously trying to use the series to bolster the plot of my story? Should I reword it so that it's not a direct quote? One friend I asked said, "People like references. You should keep it," but after reading the fic last night, it's leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks very much for any insight!