Times when I thought I could do better: Adventures in Fan Fiction

I’m sure you’ve all had that moment when you’ve read a book or watched a film and thought, ‘I could do better than that.’ This frustration is one of the professional hazards of being a writer. There was a time when you could do nothing about it except in the privacy of your own head, but now there’s an online outlet for that frustration: Fan Fiction.

My first venture into fan fiction happened before I even knew what it was. I found a book in the library containing short stories based on Star Trek and an invitation to submit stories for the next edition. No doubt in order to forestall pornographic submissions, the stories were not allowed to be all about sex. Perhaps that’s why Lovelorn: a Star Trek Voyager story was rejected, but, since it’s all about the paucity of sex on Voyager, it’s far from pornographic.

My next offering is indeed all about sex, but very tastefully done, I think. In Sexual Politics v Artistic Integrity, I expressed my disappointment in a British gay rom com. Putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, I’ve tried my own hand at exploring the same themes in Caught and Bowled: My Take on ‘Bedrooms and Hallways’. (The format I’ve used here and for some of the following pieces is the ‘Film Treatment’. This is the stage of the script writing process between devising the initial scenario and writing the first draft and is used to work out how to break the story down into filmable scenes.)

One of my pet hates is the unresolved television series. I’m sure you’ve been through it. You’re enjoying a series and as it approaches the last episode of the season it either leaves the story unfinished, opens up new story lines or ends on a cliff-hanger. Eager for another season, you go online to find out when to expect it, only to discover it’s been axed.

Surely, they could do better. The network executives would get the ratings for each episode as soon as it’s aired, so couldn’t they warn the producers well ahead of time if they’re facing the axe, and give them a chance to resolve the series one way or another? With all the money at their disposal, would it be beyond their recourses to allow the producers to film two different endings to hedge their bets, or one or two extra episodes to round things off? It just goes to show that network executives have little respect for their producers and even less for their audiences.

Oh, well, at least it gives us the opportunity to imagine our own ending, as I did for Ringer, a thriller starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as warring identical twins. It was axed after its first season of betrayal, murder and deceit, leaving its convoluted plot all but resolved. Nonetheless, even though it left me needing more, if it had been given another season, it could only have devolved into an over-the-top soap opera. On reflection, I realised it just needed one more episode to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. So, if you’ve watched Ringer and wondered how it might have been resolved, have a look at Tying up Loose Ends: a Ringer Finale, and see if you agree with my effort.

Then again, what’s worse, no finale at all or a totally botched one?

While I quite enjoyed Star Trek: Enterprise, a prequel to the original Star Trek series, and got rather fond of its characters, this is far from the most esteemed Star Trek series. Yet even its greatest detractors agree that it didn’t deserve its universally panned finale. I hated it so much, I could only reconcile myself to it by pretending it never happened and providing my own conclusion in Star Trek Enterprise: a much grander finale. Humble as my attempt might be, I’m sure you’ll agree, my version is much better than the original.

This isn’t my only attempt at writing a better version of an episode of Star Trek. One of the worst episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, has to be Angel One, an episode as thoroughly sexist as the infamous Code of Honour is racist. To be honest, this story idea had been knocking around in my head for years, but I had never been able to find the right context for it until I realised it was perfect for an episode of Star Trek. So, have a look at Move Over Angel One: a new Star Trek TNG episode and see if you agree.

Another sci-fi series I have loved is Fringe, with its enthralling mix of weird science, parallel universes, time travel and shifting timelines. At least Fringe was allowed to come to a satisfying conclusion, but as I reflected on it, I realised that there was a logical flaw in how that conclusion had come about. This time, while I didn’t feel the need to re-write what I had seen on screen, I needed to work out a back-story that would overcome that logical flaw, which I set out in On the Fringe. As this article begins by recounting the series’ intricate plot, it might also be helpful to anyone who’s watched Fringe and left it feeling a bit confused.

If you have friends who are fans of Ringer, Star Trek or Fringe, or might enjoy a gay rom com, please share this post with them.

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