And we’re off!

I posted the first chapter of a Merlin fanfic last night, and after dreaming about the story overnight the second chapter was written and posted this afternoon. That’s the way a lot of fanfiction goes: it’s published as it is written, chapter by chapter, and reviews and comments on earlier chapters can influence later parts of the story.  In one sense, a story can be written as a collaborative effort between reader and writer.*

Fanfiction is addictive.  The instant feedback from readers urges you on to more, and the stats provided are compulsive viewing.  A lot like blogging, really.  I’ve already had over 170 visitors to my story page.  Part of the issue is that many people are dissatisfied with the official ending of the series, and are hungry for more stories, preferably extending the story well beyond canon.  Interestingly, a lot of my audience seems to have come from the states, where they haven’t even (officially) seen the last season yet.  I’m loving the role reversal – usually it’s me in the UK watching desperately as those in the states get TV episodes first!

The trouble is that having started, it tends to feel like a snowball rolling downhill.  I need to know all sorts of facts about the show; there’s a merlin wiki, but the trouble is I could really do with having all 983 pages from it embedded in my brain, ready to pull out any fact I need.

I don’t know enough about British history.  I want to write in another threat to the kingdom, but don’t have a good enough grasp of the geography and history of the location yet.  At least it’s set in Britain, so I don’t have the usual handicap of trying to write for an American setting/characters.

I’ve just got the Crystal Cave and Mists of Avalon, so I can research the original stories.  Then hubby mentioned le mort d’arthur, which is apparently the original original source of the stories.  So that’s the myths and legends research sorted.  I still need to figure out how I’m approaching the historical side of research.  I have Merlin seasons 1 to 4 on DVD, I’ve ordered season 5 which is released mid January and it’s currently available on iplayer, so that’s the tv series research available.

Then I need to work out what’s happening with the story.  It started as Arthur’s point of view within the final episode, then chapter 2 was from Merlin’s point of view, taking the story on a scene or two, but I realised as I started it that I needed to start his story a little earlier, which made for clumsy flashback.  Then I discovered that the timeline in the episode doesn’t make a massive lot of sense, so I was forced to juggle things and make up things to make it flow better.  I could continue with just these two characters, telling the story of the episode in greater depth from their POV, with an intent to continuing the story after the point where I want to change from the original storyline.  Or I could expand it to include what’s happening back at Camelot too, and make it a much more epic story, in which case I risk losing momentum as time runs out and I head back to work.  Whatever I choose, I need to work on keeping all the characters true to the TV series, while adding in enough extra to keep me and my readers happy.

So many decisions, so much power.  I literally hold the power of life or death in my hands, at least in respect of my characters.  I can influence the course of the kingdom.  Kings and queens take power or lose it, at the tap of my fingers.  I wield the power of magic and decide on the future of magic within the realm.

Ooh err!  I think this is all going to my head.  Maybe I’d better just focus on what will happen in the next chapter or two first! Whatever direction this does end up going in, I know one thing: as long as I am actively writing, I am improving my skills, as I develop plot and characters, try out different writing techniques and hone my writing practice.

*One memorable fanfiction project I was witness to, if not actively involved in, took part on a mailing list for a TV series. One writer wrote a part of a story from the POV of one of two characters.  Another writer then took on the story, starting partway through the first chapter but from the other character’s POV, and continuing the story a little further.  The first one then took up her character’s POV again, and so the story went on, told alternately by the two writers/characters, with no contact between them except the story segments posted by email to the mailing list. It was great fun to witness and must have been great fun to write as well.

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