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Fanfic Writing Meme #5

Day 5 of the meme. Not much else to say.

5. If you have ever had a character try to push their way into a fic, whether your "muse" or not, what did you do about it?

This is kind of a crappy question, because if your answer is "no," you have nothing else to say. And my answer is "no."

So now what? I'm all ready to think and write and there's nothing to think and write about. Ok, new topic.

One of the things I wrestle with in my writing is how to be original while still using the elements that make the reader recognize the characters. I'm not talking about plot; I'm mostly talking about description. Here are a few examples of the things that I mean.

  • Using catchphrases, like "Allons-y!"
  • The phrase "pink and yellow human" that so many writers use to describe Rose.
  • The common inclusion of bananas in scenes or dialogue involving the Ninth or Tenth Doctors
  • The phrase "all teeth and curls" used to describe the Fourth Doctor

The use the things above - either in my own writing or in fics I'm reading - bothers me, and as such, I've only done the first one, and only once. In that particular case, the Doctor was waiting for two others to catch up with him, and then he turned to lead them towards where they were heading, and he said, "Allons-y!" - an actual reasonable time for him to say, "Let's go!" In the comments for that chapter, I had a reader write something like, "Oh, there it is! He had to say it sometime!" and that completely devastated me. I felt terrible that I had used a completely predictable crutch; at least, that's how I viewed it.

The problem, as I see it, is that I'm trying to balance using iconic phrases and images to keep the reader immersed in the world vs. coming up with original descriptions, which has the inherent danger of not capturing the character or scene well enough and losing the reader's connection with it. It's way too easy to use established phrases and ideas, and they become cliche. Fanfic writers aren't the only people who are prone to this. I did a little research once, and discovered that the Tenth Doctor said "Allons-y!" in 5 of his first 44 episodes, and then in 4 of his last 5 episodes. There's a similar of relying on catchphrases later on in the Eleventh Doctor's run. (I wonder how often he says "cool" and what the distribution is?)

As such, I've generally decided to avoid using phrases used in the show as much as possible, unless it's important to the scene or it's deliberately trying to call back to the show. It's probably better for me anyway, as I try to exercise my brain to write things in new ways. Lord knows I need it - my brain feels a bit stiff this week.

Meme Master Post



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 1st, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
Ahh, bless, lovie. Sometimes you have to ignore readers and any ignorance they bring to the table. Meh. These 'catch-phrases' are part of the character and SHOULD be used. Not saying you shouldn't come up with your own. But do not be afraid to use them. I use 'Come along' a lot myself. And 'Cool' can be used to anything that gets Eleven excited, lol!!

Jul. 1st, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's not as much the catchphrases that bug me. There's nothing wrong with "Allons-y!" and certainly Eleven uses "Come along" and "Cool" as part of his normal speech. Same with Nine's "Fantastic." I think the thing that bothers me with catchphrases is that they're expected. I almost feel like readers (like that one who commented) expect you to use them.

It's really more of the repeated descriptions that bug me. The "pink and yellow human" one is really the one that bugs me the most, as I see it used in so many Rose fanfics; it feels like such a cop-out. The banana thing, too - I feel like including bananas is an easy way to introduce comedy into a scene, rather than finding a new thing for the Doctor to react to in an eccentric, comedic way. And, of course, then the problem becomes one of me trying too hard to be original, because I'm afraid that I'm just copying someone or being predictable.

BAH! ;) ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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