, talking about BSG fandom, mentions that "different parts of fandom write the same characters differently. People who are big fans of Character X may write that character very differently from someone who is mainly interested in Character Y but who sometimes puts Character X into their stories as a foil to Character Y
". Which is very true for any fandom. Wondering whether and how I myself was/am prone to this, I remembered one of my earliest Babylon 5
stories, Knowing Love
. It's a Vir-centric story, with Lennier and Marcus as secondary characters, and I remember that when I originally posted it, wychwood
(I think?) protested at the Marcus characterisation. She thought presenting him as a self-absorbed romantic was unfair.
Now, Marcus Cole was then and presumably is now one of the most popular B5 characters for fanfiction, with Susan/Marcus as one of the two big 'ships of fandom (the other one being John/Delenn). I myself never was very interested in him, and I think this is the only story of mine in which he shows up at all. It was written before I did my big rewatch once the DVDs were released. Once I had done said rewatch, I could see wychwood
's point, because while you can make a case for Marcus' propensity for the big gesture (I mean, this is the guy who arranges an incredibly complicated secret meeting with Delenn and Lennier at a dramatic location when he really could have talked to either of them far easier and more comfortable elsewhere), he's also emphatic and probably wouldn't have insisted on talking about his own problem at a point where both Lennier and Vir had things of their own weighing on them. But for this story to work, I needed two foils for Vir, presenting in different ways romantic love, as a contrast for Vir's own not romantic but nonetheless very strong love for Londo, and Marcus seemed to me eminently suitable for the one who'd bring up the subject in the first place and keep talking about it. (Lennier just wouldn't unasked.) So I used him.
We all watch different shows and read different books, as a famous meta post once said, and that's alright. (Thus B5 was the Londo, G'Kar and Vir show, co-starring Alfred Bester for me, and you wouldn't guess Sheridan was a main character from my stories, nor Delenn though she's in them more than Sheridan, nor Marcus, and I think only one remix has Ivanova in it in a single scene. Whereas I've written Lochley repeatedly.) And it makes sense that this is reflected in fanfiction. Not in an ooc way (for example, it would never have occured to me to write Marcus as a secret Machiavellian Evil Overlord), just that what we see in characters we aren't so interested in tends to be on the superficial side. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons why I love ficathons; you're often dared to write characters you haven't spend much time thinking about in a main role. Which can be quite refreshing. Especially since we, or rather, I tend to write about characters I'm interested in and fascinated by on my own without being prompted anyway. But I don't think I'd ever have written Worf (from TNG and DS9) as a main character if not for Yuletide 2010, and the result made me rather happy
In a minor way, this is probably a reflection of the "if we could see each other the way others see us" phenomenon. Leaving your particular corner of fandom and reading a character you're used to write or read as a main character showing up as a minor or secondary character somewhere can be quite eye opening. I don't mean necessarily in a good/bad, one person's hero is another person's villain manner. (Which I suppose is a danger if you into the type of shipper fic that sees anyone not the OTP as evil or non relevant.) Just that a character you're used to being written and treated in a certain way is now different, which can be inspiring. Meta thoughts, if not fanfiction of your own: actually, why do I assume that X is especially into strawberry ice cream? Is this because of the actual canon or because most people in my corner of fandom write her/him in that way?
It can even happen in canon itself. I remember that when Spike transitioned to Angel
, there were, in addition to AtS fans who stopped watching because he was there at all and they saw that as the ultimate sell out and Spike fans who had never watched before he showed up (and thus got their ideas about Angel & Co. solely based on BTVS canon which was a huge problem of its own), the branch of fans who complained he was written OOC (for all types of actions, from shagging Harmony first thing after getting corporeal again to all the petty bickering with Angel which wasn't just one sided or Angel's fault and btw immensely entertaining). Speaking as someone who did her best to remain neutral in the bloody (in both senses of the word) Spike Wars, the difference to me was that Spike after years of being written mostly in relationship to Buffy and treated as the second most important character on BTVS was now a junior member in the AtS ensemble, with a very different type of relationship to the lead (not unimportant, just very different). And to quote a reverse example, there's Jack Harkness going from Doctor Who
sidekick of only a few episodes to Torchwood
main character. It's a cliché but true that Jack on DW, where he's a foil to the Doctor (and not the only one), is different from Jack on TW, where he's the main lead and the rest of the ensemble (at least at first though I'd argue this changes with CoE at the latest in as much as Gwen is concerned) are foiles to him. Hence the number of fans declaring they prefer DW!Jack and the number of fans who watched TW first and often aren't sure of how the DW characterisation completely fits. It's probably telling that the Doctor guest starred on The Sarah Jane Adventures
but never on TW, because the SJA concept (Sarah Jane living her by and large splendid post Doctor life as the hero with her own sidekicks in a world that has dangers but by and large is rather fine, thanks) can incorporate the Doctor as a secondary guest character coming and going in a way the far more angst-and-dysfunctionality-ridden TW concept could not.
Mind you: I think fanfiction is emotionally easier to take for most people than when canon does it. Because much as may upset you to see your darling relegated to a minor role and/or treated quite differently to what you're used to, it's just another fan's perspective, and while it may even make you think about your own assumptions about a character or several characters, you can also disregard it. If canon does it, and the new perspective does not meet with fannish approval, it tends to end in the tried and true paradox of the fans in question on the one hand declaring denial (aka it never happened) and on the other endlessly complaining about the indignities their darling(s) suffered at creator hands for years to come (thereby constantly reminding themselves and others that it did happen, whatever "it" was).
Now, considering that in most fannish sources I'm fond of, I tend to like more than one or two characters and am fond of the ensemble, not all to the same degree but there usually is a basic fondness for most, the occasional branching out in reading habits isn't that unusual for me. (I.e. reading stories centered on someone other than my absolute favourites.) It happenes in a Two Thirds/One Third ration, I'd say. I avoid bashing fic for obvious reasons - i.e. unless there is a very good alternate reason, a story with a disclaimer that states "X hate" or "Y bashing" will not be read by yours truly. But I have had the equivalent of the Marcus experience happen to me, i.e. a story using one of my darlings simply as a comic foil, and well, it can be weird because while part of me is thinking that there is so much more to X, I also know that this is not the point in a story which is about how Y deals with such and such, and Y has no reason to see X otherwise. And you? Do you occasionally branch out or stay in your fannish corner?