I settled on which story I plan to remix within a day of getting my assignment. I thought I had a general direction, but after sleeping on it overnight, I got hit with an even better one. Yayness!
So, within mere 2 hours this evening I had the skeleton of the story up and ready to go. The actual writing is going to be harder (a lot harder), because I'm gonna have to exercise more control than my usual over word choices — not to mention the writing style is going to be practically foreign when compared to my usual — but I'm pretty upbeat about the challenge as a whole.
I haven't made this much progress this quickly on remix in, oh...ever.
For the heck of it, I went back and looked at remixes I have done, and remixes that were done for me. It floors me that this is my fourth time doing the annual remix. Wow. Time flies.
Three Remix Stories I Have Written With Commentary
Five Easy Steps to a Broken Heart (Keiko’s Heart Remix) from the original story A Five-Point Tour of the Alpha Quadrant (story not available online) by mosca
I had a miserable time choosing a story from mosca's catalog. A large part of the problem is mosca (at the time) wrote primarily slash pairings and I (at the time) wrote exclusively gen. Ergo, I had absolutely no confidence at all that I could even begin to pull off a remix.
Although I had been originally connected to her on the basis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom, I ended up remixing one of her Star Trek: Deep Space Nine stories, which just so happened to fall into the five-things genre.
Believe me when I tell you, it was two weeks of dithering over various stories before I settled on A Five-Point Tour of the Alpha Quadrant, and I did that almost solely on the basis that it seemed like the easiest story to remix. So, yeah, I chose it because it was about bitter loss as told by one Chief Miles O'Brien, with only the final of the five things showing the semblance of hope for a happier ever after. So, I figured, why not show those same bitter losses, only from Keiko's point of view?
Hell, I even managed to preserve a hint of the original slash pairing (Miles/Bashir), while writing what I hoped was a good limited-view counterpoint to Miles's limited point of view.
It's not the best story I've ever written, and it most certainly does read like a freshman effort, but it's not too bad all things considering.
Refugees on Sunset Boulevard (The Our Town/Twilight Zone Mash-Up Remix from the original story The Sunworshippers by likeadeuce
It was a huge challenge choosing a story from likeadeuce's catalog. She wrote primarily Angel, which wasn't a problem. The real problem was that her favored characters (Wes, Lillah, and Cordelia) and pairings (mostly Wes/Lilah) involved characters and pairings where I didn't have all that great a grasp on their voices or the dynamics. I think I took a stab at something like 5 different stories. Just doing that burned up most of the alloted time.
In the end, The Sunworshippers won out, primarily because it was an ensemble piece and primarily because it was gen — two things I happen to be fairly good at. I figured if I was going to stand outside my comfort zone charcter-wise, I needed at least some firm ground upon which I could stand.
Once I settled on the story, which was a sweet and melancholy snapshot of the Fang Gang spending a day by the poolside, the rest of it fell into place. Considering that just about every character in the piece was dead or dying by the end of the series, and that Wes had deteriorated so badly as a human being before the end, the angle was almost a gimme. So, instead of four friends splashing around the pool with no idea of what laid in store for them, it was now a bitter look back at what might have been.
There is quite a lot of recycling of dialog interspersed with original dialog in this one, primarily because I had no confidence in my grasp of the character's voices. I am...less than happy with the story overall, despite the fact that it received a lot of positive attention and recs when it was made public.
The Murder of Crows (Blackhawk Down Remix) from the original story Tesselation by fahye
Choosing a story from fahye's catalog gave me screaming me-me fits. There was hairpulling, beating of the breast, tears of frustration. It was ugly. Although I had said I'd write Battlestar Galactica (2003) as one of my choices, for whatever reason I got paired up with someone who mostly wrote Battlestar Galactica (2003). Worse, it was the only fandom I was even remotely familiar with. My mindset was not at all improved by the fact that fahye's writing style and mine might as well come from different universes.
Even so, I settled on "Tesselation" fairly quickly (after sniffing after 3 different stories at one point), in large part because Season 3 was still airing and the story takes place just before the start of Season 3. The problem this time around was that I tried something like 3 or 4 different approaches to it using tactics I had used before.
And not one of them worked.
Finally, I threw up my hands and asked myself, "Well, what the hell is Sam doing while Kara's gone missing." At least that was a story I could write without doing anything bad to the original (and very good, I might add) story. Better, I could use my own writing style while doing it.
Once I decided to relegate the original story to something like two pages out of the total, I figured I was riding easy street.
Because that's when I started running into real problems.
The story didn't have a "hook." All it was were snapshots of Anders running around the surface of New Caprica looking for Kara. Then there was the issue that Battlestar Galactica (2003) is not just a "living" canon, but a very complex one with many, many interconnected parts.
And finally, the biggest problem I had to deal with: Clash of the Fandoms. See, my very first fanfiction-writing fandom was Battlestar Galactica (1978), which, as anyone who's seen both shows can tell you, is a very, very different animal than the 2003 version. Forget different characters. Forget sex changes for other characters. Forget thematic concerns. Forget continuity and lack thereof. The two shows have completely different vocabularies.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I caught myself writing in 1978-speak, and how many times I had to do a search-and-replace to fix my old fannish habits.
Then, in the middle of the muddle, Ron Moore gave me my hook. Just like that, The Murder of Crows went from a series of snapshots to a story about what makes someone a real human being.
The truth is, I was writing this story right up to the very last second. I kept finding old 1978 patois lurking in the words, and I forgot a key scene from Season 2 that had to be included or I would've been beaten. Words kept getting tweaked, tweaked, and tweaked again so that it was clear what Sam knew while making clear the things he didn't know.
In short, one word describes writing this story: Unmitigated nightmare.
Yet, it's the remix story that I love the most. And it's probably the one that's been read by the least number of people. Know what? Don't care. I'm still very proud of it. I think it ranks up there in my "this is good writing by me" files.
As a sidenote, the zoo that Sam's standing in at the opening of the story is based on a real place. It's the Vermont Raptor Center run by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. Hell, even crow was there. The conversation that Sam has in that same opening scene is an echo of a real-life conversation I actually had with my mother.
Three Remix Stories Written For Me With Commentary
Sanctity: Contrite Spirits by kattahj from the original story Contrite Spirits
I...still don't know what to make of the remix that was written for me. The characterizations of both Xander and Faith are starkly different. It's written in a steam-of-conscious style, something I've never really liked even when reading the masters of the genre. There's not a whole lot of detail or warmth in the story, either.
I know I wrote something polite to my remix author, but I wasn't exactly bubbling over with praise.
Don't get me wrong. Technically, it's an okay story. It's just not one that gives me the warm fuzzies.
The Ballad of Charles Whitman (Apocalypse Remix) by nwhepcat from the original story Revelations
My love for this story knows no bounds. In the past two years, I've gone back to re-read this gem more than once and I'm still blown away by the sheer beauty of it.
Trust me when I tell you: This story crushes the original like a grape. nwhepcat took things I timidly hinted at and didn't have the confidence to actually try pulling off, and simply ran with all of it.
The Ballad of Charles Whitman is a tightly controlled, economically worded, well-rounded portrait of Xander on the edge of sanity while still clinging to his inherent humanity.
It's simply gorgeous.
Wake Up Slow (Second Time Around Remix) by thistlerose from the original story Two Words
To be honest, I'm kind of shocked that no one had tried remixing Two Words before last year. It struck me as the most obvious candidate.
The original story was (to be honest) little more than a writing exercise to see if I could write just one side of a conversation well enough that the reader could intuit what the second party in the conversation was saying. Of course, Two Words was horribly Joss'd by the end of the series, but since that wasn't the point of the thing, I didn't worry to much about it.
This fills in all the blanks in just the right way. Some of it was dead-on, some of it was things that took my by surprise. It's achingly sweet, surprisingly restrained, and makes you sigh with the could-have-beens. While I'm not a huge fan of Buffy/Xander (not opposed, mind you), this story strikes all the right notes in what a sweet Buffy/Xander story should be.
Wheeee! Nothing like dithering so you can be avoidy about what you should be doing, hunh?
And nothing like using your neighbor's unsecured wireless network to post to your journal. Go, laptops!