Sunday, January 10, 2010

James, the story-wrecker

"James, the story-wrecker"

aka "Don't Ask Me to Read Your Fan Fiction, II"

aka "You can have it both ways, but that hurts"

Okay, this isn't about James, the vampire, per se, but about the plot element I've read in story after story and I've simply gotten sick of it, and I am now so fuming at you, my dear authoress, when you ask me to "please read my story, because it has something to say, but only if you want to, but I really wish that you would because ..."

Okay, look, let me explain something to you. Okay, so, you've read my caveat scriptor, and you can spell your name and you know the difference between 'lay' and 'lie' and 'defiantly' and 'definitely.' So you know how to spell ... heck, you even use the semi-colon appropriately.

Good for you.

So let's take it to the next level: writing a story that worth reading by not writing a story not worth reading.

See, Stephenie Meyer wrote this vampire story, and you may like it or you may not, but now you are writing a vampire story with her characters.

That's great. I am, too. Howdy. Nice ta meetcha.

Good so far. Yes. And your Bella has met your Edward and everything's wonderful.


But now they are in a relationship, so, instead of developing that relationship, you panic. Because what's to write about if the characters can now kiss?

What indeed?

Well, let's throw some action in there, eh? You know, mix it up a bit to take the readers' eyes off the fact that I'm stuck story- and character-development-wise with a good ole fight scene and a revenge quest.

I know, you crow, let's introduce James into the mix.


That my dear authoress is a very, very bad move, for two reasons. What two reasons? you ask the geophfster.

I'm glad you asked.

  1. The first and foremost reason that this is bad is that if I wanted to read Twilight again, I would read Twilight again. The reason why I was reading your story (but am now longer reading your story, if you didn't get the hint) was because your piece of fan-fiction was supposed to be saying something to me about the Twilight characters in your story.

    Your story? Right? Meaning: something you have to say about the characters that Steph didn't say. So, what does that mean? That means if you have something unique to say about the Twilight characters, then either your story is canonical or it is not (the fan fiction term is AU: alternate universe). If your story is canonical in the plot, then you are telling it from Alice's POV in Lunière or from Edward's in Midnight Sun or ... something!

    So in that case James is present on the baseball field, but I'm probably not reading that story.

  2. If it's not a canonical story, then its an AU story, and then guess what? The same events are not happening because Alice gets hit by a truck or ... something! Do you know what that means? It means ... Oh! my Goodness! ... you can write your own story! ... with your own plot developments! ... you can even ... dare I say? ... take the time to develop your story, your characters and their relationships. You know? You don't have to write an actioner if you are writing a relationship piece.

    When you introduce James, the story-wrecker, the action guy in a relationship fic, you know what you've just done? You've just wrecked your own story. Just like Bonne Foi was wrecked by James. Just like Twilight was wrecked.

Did you notice that Twilight is actually two stories? It's one story pre-James-wreckage and it's ... well, it's not a story after that at all anymore, now, is it? It's an actioner. It's a thriller.

Bring out Michael Jackson for an ensemble dance during the cat and mouse chase scenes.

That might've actually improved the story ...

You don't have to wreck your own story just because Steph chose to wreck hers. You really don't.

When I read James appearing out of nowhere in a story, I stop reading that story. I don't care if it has over 10,000 reviews, like Bonne Foi will.

But now that you've wrecked your story with James, you have to go ahead whole hog with wrecking your story, don't you? So now you have your Edward abandon your Bella, because, well, Steph did that. Even if your Edward isn't actually Edward, but is Alice or Rosalie or somebody like that.

Look. Edward left Bella because Edward is Edward. But anybody else leaving Bella?

They wouldn't.

Bella:"Don't leave me, X!"
X:"Nah, I'm going to leave you, even though I love you, because I'm a proxy Edward."

So now your character is OOC themselves and IC Edward? And you want me to read a story about your Alice or Rosalie or Jasper or whomever being Edward, even though I hate his behaviors to my bones and marrow, why again?

Look. You aren't Steph. You are writing your story. You aren't writing hers. She wrote a multi-million seller. Go, Steph. I'm proud of her.

But make me proud of you. Find your own voice and write your own story, please.

No, don't make me proud of you.

Make you proud of you.

Are you writing your own story? Well, then, for Heaven's sake: write your own story!

I give you permission. You have your own story to tell. Tell that story.


So does that mean you can't use James, then?

No, it doesn't mean that. It means that your Bella has to meet James with the Cullens because Steph's did? No, it doesn't mean that either.

Huh? you ask.

Okay, example, then. And plot spoiler. James shows up in my story. And Victoria. And Laurent. Well, actually just James. But where? Where people meet vampires: in the city in a secluded alley. And does Bella meet him? No, Rosalie's other girl meets him. And with vampire protection? No, because vampires avoid each other. And what does James do? James does what any vampire does.

Dinner time.

Sure you can introduce James, but put him in a realistic place (yes, 'realistic place' ... I said that about vampires) and have him act realistically. James going on the hunt against a coven of seven vampires?

James is over three hundred years old. He values his fun, yes, but he values his existence.

"Hm. Bella smells temping, but against seven vamps? This other person in the next state will probably taste just as nice, I wager."

And your vamp lover leaving Bella for her safety with a vampire hunting her?

Only Edward is that stupid, please don't dumb your character down that much, because should you choose that, then here is one reader not reading about stupid characters stupidly ignoring their more than seventy years of experience to make stupid choices.

After all, if I wish to do that, I can reread Twilight. I was reading your piece because I thought I was learning what you have to say about the characters.

You can't do that if you are fitting plot elements of Steph's story into yours pel mel ... and to what end? Your story is better than Steph's. Or it was until James the story-wrecker showed up, sans reasonable justification, god-like out of nowhere, yes: deus ex machina. I don't read contrivances. You want me to read your piece, then don't write contrivances, and don't write Steph's story.

Write yours.


AU:Alternate Universe
IC:In Character
OOC:Out of Character
POV:Point of View

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Ryan said...
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