See To Sleep, Perchance to Scream or any single pun ever inserted into any one of my stories.
…it’s possible that my idea for brilliance does not equal others’ idea of brilliance.
See To Sleep, Perchance to Scream or any single pun ever inserted into any one of my stories.
…it’s possible that my idea for brilliance does not equal others’ idea of brilliance.
Aw, thank you, anon. I appreciate the really kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed Fates and even more, that it worked as a completed story for you! Writing a story over two years where I couldn’t go back and edit was a challenge.
May not do that one again. ;)
I realized pretty early on that I had a different opinion of Sarah Walker than most of my readers because I had the luxury of being in her head. I knew from the beginning that I was writing an unreliable narrator, but I didn’t realize a couple of things about this. One: it’s hard. It’s super-hard to be in such a specific point of view but to know there’s more to the story that you can’t say. Two: you can only rely on so much trust from readers. Nowadays I feel like I basically get no trust. It feels like people just read my Chuck fic waiting for the worst to happen and for Chuck and Sarah only to get together in the final chapters, and they can get pretty aggressive about it. I’d be offended because Fates is the exception rather than the rule in my writing and every single fic I’ve ended has been a happy ending, but that’s okay, they’re entitled to those opinions. Back in those days, I had some goodwill built up from my readers, but I was still such a new writer that saying “Trust me, there’s more to the story” wasn’t doing a whole lot of good. I needed, essentially, to put my fic where my mouth is.
So I decided that I needed something. I thought, “Oh, I’ll con mxpw into a bet that I’ll specifically lose (I didn’t lose: it was a draw) that will give me an excuse to write this story.” And I wrote W&T, which was my third story on ff-net (or maybe my second? I can’t remember when I wrote The Wingman), all in Sarah’s POV, and it opened up a lot of eyes that were reading Fates into picking up the more subtle cues Sarah had been giving. It was wonderful to write, too, because apparently I just have this thing for women who repress themselves emotionally but then go and kick all kinds of ass.
There’s no curing me of this disease. I’ve had a type from day one.
Anyway, W&T was a success…in fact, it could be argued that it was too much of a success. Because I had committed myself to Fates, I didn’t want to screw up my single point of view for the story by inserting Sarah into the story (which would’ve given away a major plot point, too, by the way). But people wanted to see more Sarah from me SO MUCH that half of my reviews were “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE SARAH AGAIN I WANT MORE SARAH SARAH SARAH THIS IS BORING GIVE ME SARAH” which are flattering but can be disheartening when you write an entire chapter with action and banter and emotion and all people want from you is something else. Ask any author who’s put out a new story, only for every review to be, “Why isn’t this a sequel to Story X?”
To answer your basic question, I’d say I enjoyed writing them more because they were different and a treat for me, but if I’d written more than I did, the luster would have worn off. And I’m contrary and don’t like to give in to demands like that.
This question is a little difficult to answer. Fates was very much a discovery fic for me. I worked off a tentpole outline in my head that constantly shifted and changed, but throughout the entire story, I was open and adaptable to take the story where it needed to go. Also, I don’t look at Fates as one story, but five. A short, prequel novel, three giant middle novels, and a final novel, set after I’ve basically blown Chuck’s world up. So maybe one of those books could have been shorter, but I tend to compact lines rather than scenes when I edit. Deleting an entire scene is rare, but deleting half of one is pretty common.
But to get into the real point: do I think Fates is too long? Actually, I think the opposite. I wish I’d had the mental fortitude to go and write Chuck on the run from the government because even though I don’t think it’s thematically necessary for the story (like, I will defend the way Fates stands as it is because it’s fucking finished and I did that, I finished my story), I do think it would have been fun to delve into the specifics of the Lincoln Program. It would have been interesting to me as a nerd to see Chuck figuring out the limits of the government screwing with this head, to see how much of the trigger phrases he could say aloud before the migraine and blacking out kicked in, to see how he gets from running from Sarah and Casey in Spain to a tiny bunker in the middle of Siberia. How he gets supplies when that bunker is no longer stocked by Josh Preto and his boys. How he mines data on a program run by a lunatic and buried by a government so embarrassed by what they did that they would rather deny the entire program’s existence and eventually wipe out the people they experimented on.
Why didn’t I do that? The first answer is my mental health. Fates was a burden to write by the end. There were a lot of expectations of me and the story, compounded by problems going on in my life (I’ve had some health issues) and the fact that I had a full-time job that had to come first. Plus, I didn’t like the canon, and I was constantly surrounded by people who poked at me for having opinions that Chuck the show had become terrible. The second answer has to do with the audience. If I had been willing to take the extra 60k to really explore Chuck between blowing the bunker and finding out about Sarah’s betrayal, we would have had a lot of scenes where it was just Chuck. Sarah and Casey would be nowhere to be found because my viewpoint character and choices (which I was not going to change at nearly half a million words) limited me to Chuck’s story. Sarah’s story could only be seen in how Chuck perceived it and where the two enmeshed. So I sacrificed this period of exploration for the sake of my audience, knowing as I did that most of them were there for the Chuck/Sarah story rather than the Chuck-overcomes-the-truly-horrible-shit-the-government-did-to-him tale.*
That’s not even getting to the ending, which was a little controversial (but to all of my haters: SARAH STILL HAS HER FUCKING MEMORY AND CAN REMEMBER ALL OF HER TIME WITH CHUCK, SO SUCK IT, FEDAK). I ended it there with more of the story to tell because the truth about Fates was that there was always going to be more of the story to tell. I was listening to a writing excuses podcast this weekend, and Mary Robinette Kowal made an EXCELLENT point that at some point you have to move away from your main character because otherwise hir life is going to keep sucking, and that was the deicision I made with Fates. I gave Sarah and Chuck a reprieve from my making their lives terrible, and for that, I actually feel pretty great.
*I do not think this makes me any less of an author. Knowing how to read your audience and how to write for them is, in my opinion, one of the skills of being a writer. That said, write for your damned self first. It’ll make you much happier.
Oookay, I’m gonna be real with you for a second. I realize you’re paying me a wonderful compliment, but…when I was a sophomore, my grandfather died (the other one died right before the Heartbrake Hotel arc kicked off in Fates). It was my first experience with somebody I loved dying and I didn’t handle it well. By which I mean, I shut down. For a semester, I didn’t leave my room except to go eat. I didn’t go to class, I barely saw my friends, I did nothing but hide in my room. Telling everybody at the end of the semester how badly I had screwed up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Looking back, I can see that I was struggling with depression, and that there’s no shame in that. At the time, it didn’t feel that way.*
And I’m wonderfully happy that you enjoy my work, but as an author, I’m going to say, please wait the week to read my stuff. Please study instead, please go kick ass at your exams. The fanfiction, it’s going to be there when you’ve studied. I’ve got it saved in so many places and in the unlikely event it gets taken down sometime between this and the end of your semester, I promise to personally email you a kindle, mobi, or pdf of anything you want to read. Just…please don’t let it get between you and kicking ass at your tests.
*It ended up working out for me because I temporarily dropped out of that school, went to community college, and had a chance to go to Germany with my first college, which was a real soul-searching trip that introduced me to one of my best friends, who doesn’t to this day know how much she helped me get back on track. I joined an awesome service group and came with a vengeance to make up for the semester where I nearly destroyed everything, so it’s a happy ending, but for a while there, it might not have been. So the lesson here is: STUDY. FOR ME. I WILL WRITE YOU SOMETHING AWESOME IF YOU STUDY.
Truth be told, this happened once. I did so, gleefully. And then there was the time when all of the scientists on the Lincoln Project in Fates were people in the room with me at a Nanowrimo function while I was working on that scene.
HERE WE GO. I’m picking a random one per story. And I’m not saying which story, SO YOU GET TO GUESS.
P - Invent a random AU for any fandom (we always need more ideas)
It occurs to me that I’ve reblogged this meme before, because I DEFINITELY REMEMBER THIS QUESTION now.
That said, all right. Here you go. Chuck fandom, here we go. When Bryce Larkin goes rogue and sends the Intersect to a college buddy of his, Sarah goes to L.A. with every intention of cleaning up after her partner. What she finds instead is the love of her life, or so she thinks. A whirlwind and very heady affair with Chuck results in pregnancy surprisingly quickly, so quickly that Sarah gets a little suspicious and consults Ellie on the side. Ellie may not be an OB/GYN, but she is a doctor and catches several drugs in Sarah’s system that are not supposed to be there. Things only get twistier after little Hunter Bartowski is born…and abducted from his crib, which is when Sarah and Chuck discover that the Intersect project was not what they thought at all.
Now it’s Sarah and Chuck determined to get their son back from a government so determined to have a generation of super soldiers that it will match perfect phsyical specimens with perfect mental specimens and abscond with the results. And you really, really do not want to get between a woman named Sarah and her children. It’s like they never watched Terminator.
S - Show us an example of your personal headcanon
Ellie trailed off with a laugh that almost reached actual humor. “What on earth has misguided you so badly that you believe you’ll ever be cursed with normality? C’mon. You took apart our toaster before your seventh birthday.”
“I wanted to see how it worked. We didn’t have Google back then.”
“Trust me, I know. Google would have really helped when I had to actually fix the stupid thing for you before Dad got home and saw.”
Z - Just ramble about something fan-related, go go go
I’m kind of amused by the number of reactions we’re getting in My Girl Sarah about the identity of Chuck’s guardian angel. I mean, it’s really, really obvious to me who it is. Seems shorter than Ellie and Sarah, green eyes, Russian? There’s really only one character we’ve hinted at that it could be. And that’s Morgan. Chuck doesn’t recognize him because the beard makes Morgan seem like an annoying, short man with an American accent. That beard is just magical.
I think that anon is just trying to be silly and teasing instead of actually being upset. So it’s not a huge deal.
I’m glad you like my tags! And that’s really a lot of nice things you’ve just said! Thanks very much!
I am almost certain I will not change, and certainly not because of something that happens on tumblr. Haha! :D
“It feels weird,” Chuck said. “We’ve lived in D.C., but never with our own stuff before. This just makes it feel permanent, you know? In a good way.”
Sarah had to bite her tongue before she pointed out that she’d never really owned her own stuff—except the trinkets she’d started to collect in Los Angeles, things Chuck had randomly given her. There was a stuffed bear he’d given her when they had gone to see The Nutcracker together, just a cheap little toy that was a little gray from sitting on the shelf or whatever the CIA movers had done with it, her copy of Speed, a favorite gun she’d been sad not to have while they’d run all over Europe, tracking down Orion’s enemies, a couple of little, inconsequential things. They were all arranged on a shelf, right in front of her, so she couldn’t really rebut Chuck’s statement, could she?
A second, closer look at the shelf made her step closer. “Wait, this isn’t mine,” she said, pulling a frayed and dog-eared book from the shelf.
“Yeah, I didn’t think you were much into the graphic novels,” Chuck said. He stepped into the giant master bathroom, which muffled his voice considerably. “Unless you are, in which case, there are some recs I could give you.”
“No, no, I’m good.” Sarah frowned at the cover of the graphic novel, as Chuck had called it. Something niggled at the back of her mind. “Where’d you get this?”
“The bunker.” The sound of the shower running made it hard to hear him, but it wasn’t the cause for Sarah’s double-take. “Sometimes they sent something extra in my monthly shipments. That was one of the times.”
“It looks pretty well worn.”
“Well, it’s Brian K. Vaughan. Whoever picked it had great taste.”
An old memory niggled at the back of Sarah’s mind, somebody asking her if comic books or graphic novels mattered. And finally, her brain put it together: this must have been part of that Christmas shipment to Chuck, back when they’d first met. Apparently, he’d never picked up on the Johnnie Walker reference, but given how long it had taken him to be aware of her feelings, she wasn’t surprised. Instead, she chuckled. “Oh, you idiot,” she said affectionately, and she put the graphic novel back on the shelf. If this house was really going to be theirs, she decided, it was high time they broke in the shower.
While the Frea’s Away…
Title: The Soapy Pursuit of Happiness
Fandom: Chuck, missing moment from Chapter 67 of What Fates Impose
14 JULY 2008
ST. LUCY’S HOSPITAL
“El, she’s here and she wants to talk to you,” Chuck said, and Ellie poked at Devon until he looked up from his magazine with a raised eyebrow. She nearly rolled her eyes. How had he not been paying attention? Her brother and her ex-roommate had finally gotten their act together after weeks of pussyfooting around each other, and Devon was more focused on Modern Science? Did he not understand how important this was?
“If you need anything, give me a call, okay?” Chuck said, sounding concerned.
“You have so much to tell me when I get there,” Ellie said. Wherever there was. Chuck was being deliberately vague, probably because they weren’t supposed to discuss personal detail, but what the hell had happened? What had changed with the two of them. “Love you, bye!”
There was a brief hold on the phone before Sarah answered with a “Hey, Ellie. How are you feeling?”
One of my favorite places in the world.
When we reached this part of our hike, I was way too far out of it to enjoy it, though I did have some wonderful onion bread and a marvelous can of coke there because MY BEST FRIEND IS THE BEST.
You wanna do this? Okay, let’s do this.
I put the word FIN on To Resist Both Wind and Tide because the story was over. You know how story layout goes? This is how story layout goes:
Part the First: Protagonist and world are established. We meet Sarah Walker, kickass CIA agent and spy, who has been pulled to Siberia by her enigmatic partner, Bryce Larkin, with whom she was looking forward to visiting Cabo with and elevating their relationship.
Part the Second: Introduce your catalyst. Instead of Cabo, Sarah Walker gets a bunker and a captivating nerd inside it.
Part the Third: Introduce issues. Sarah’s inexplicably attracted to said nerd, which feels like betrayal, and hits it off, despite everything. She falls really hard.
Part the Fourth: Solve some problems, cause more. Sarah has to leave Chuck, ending that arc, but when she gets back to DC, she discovers she and Bryce committed a grave error and they’re being put on leave for breaking the rules. Now, Sarah is a world away from Chuck and now pissed at her partner.
Part the Fifth: Build up to the climax. (this always sounds dirty. I don’t care) Sarah and Bryce argue, Sarah realizes what she wants and what she has to do to get it, she talks to Chuck, who unwittingly helps her achieve her balance again.
Part the Sixth: Denouement. Sarah and Bryce are given a mission and square everything away.
So that’s the story right there. That’s your cycle. Longer stories will have a longer act structure, but W&T was never supposed to be anything more than a contained story about two issues Sarah faced: falling for Chuck, and the fallout with Bryce. It is, thematically and storifically (shut up, that’s a word), a closed loop, which means the story is over.
I realize you’re trying to be cute. I realize that it’s flattering that people want me to write more Sarah POV, or more Abbey or to finish some of the fics I have temporarily abandoned, and part of me is touched that people like my writing so much that they demand more. But really, to say that a story that I have put the words “The End” or “Fin” on is incomplete isn’t a compliment to me. Saying, “I wish you’d write more in the POV of Sarah during Fates" is a compliment. Saying I didn’t finish a story I marked complete isn’t. It’s saying that as a writer I lack craft—which is fine, that’s an opinion you can have and I’m sure after Fates a few people thought that—but please do me a favor and don’t leave stuff like that in my ask box, where I have to directly confront it while on Tumblr, where I’m getting my fill of cat gifs and Chris Evans’s shoulders. That sort of stuff is for reviews and comments on the stories I post on ff-net, LJ, or AO3. I leave myself open for a lot of avenues to be contacted, yes, and I’m starting to realize that this may be a bad idea. Creativity, as the oatmeal put it, isn’t born in a vacuum, but it’s also not created in a vortex of screaming trolls.