The Cool Guy, The Edge, and Fan Fiction

So I’m walking the edge with Keller again, writing him into situations that he’d rather avoid but will just barely stick around for. I’m worried that if I do too much of this, he won’t come off as the cool guy any more. It’s such the bad fan fiction thing to do, to break open the cool guy to see if he has a gooey center. I don’t want to break Keller.

But I guess there’s a reason all those fan fictions exist. People like thinking about the possibility that the cool guy really does have a gooey center, and that there’s theoretically someone out there in his universe who can gain access to it. I have to reassure myself that walking this line is where I’m supposed to be. I want to show people enough about who he really is to inspire the kind of feelings that result in bad fan fiction.

I didn’t set out to do this. When I invented Blythe she was two years older, and much more of a wise guy to Keller’s straight man. They were action heroes. But what she’s turning out to be is much more of a dramatic foil, pushing all the right buttons to get Keller to be more open with her than he has been with anyone in a long time.

I’m not very good with action-driven plot. I’m more about character. So perhaps I should have expected this. Then again, the whole attitude I’m adopting for this project centers around not expecting things, but discovering them as I go along. And this is a not entirely unpleasant discovery.

I went back to my list of carefully compiled cool-guy characteristics. I may have bent the rules, but I haven’t broken them. And hopefully what I’m ending up with has the quality of really good fan fiction.

The first thing that comes to mind is Laurie R. King’s series of mysteries in which Sherlock Holmes is beautifully and subtly characterized, by the same means of having exactly the right person come along to prod him in his gooey spots. I love the original Holmes stories, but the deeper characterization in King’s books is my favorite thing ever. Or perhaps it ties with the same elements in the BBC “Sherlock” series.

Batman is another of the really cool characters that are influences on this project. Pretty much every Batman comic I’ve read has been fan fiction of a sort, since none of it was written by the creator. Let’s look at my favorites: Hush, Heart of Hush, and Hush Beyond. (Ok, I haven’t read that widely. I picked up Hush and went from there. Still, I’ve read enough other stories to know that not all of them share the qualities I like most about these.)

What I like most are the moments when Batman puts his mask aside for a moment and we see his love, his grief, his concern for the people he is closest to. (I say Batman meaning Bruce, even though in Beyond he plays a role more similar to that of Oracle. Bruce is always Batman, even when someone else is wearing the suit.) Most memorably, when, in Hush, he literally removes his mask in front of a former enemy, and in Beyond, when he’s talking to Terry even though he thinks the kid’s unconscious.

My third example has to be Spock. This is another example where the original is pretty good, but the novels that have resulted from it? Amazing. I particularly like Vulcan’s Forge as an example of this phenomenon. This book has an OC whose presence changes Spock’s personality drastically. It walks that edge, revealing without destroying the facade of the cool character. And I loooooove it.

Of course these are all characters that I’ve been aware of since I was a child, and their coolness was firmly established in my head before I read these things. I’m not sure how well this can work without a long-established history of coolness from the character, but I’m hoping I can make it work.

I’m hoping that just a glance at how Keller looks, how he dresses and his facial expressions, will tell people that this is the cool guy. Now that that’s established, I can move on to the good parts of the story. At least that’s the theory.

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1 Comment »

  1. Sylvia said

    I want to inspire bad fan fiction too!

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