SoCS and JusJoJan Day 3: T’Pol’s Got a Bathtub?! (and other fan-fiction bizarities)…



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This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme.

The idea is simple – post an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt -this week’s is “T.

Have you ever watched a favorite show and found yourself imagining the characters living out your stories?  Wondered what happens in those spaces between scenes, in the unseen parts of their lives?

Me too…especially the aftermath of moments as – umm –  charged as this one!

Maybe that’s what first led me to start writing Star Trek fan fiction, when  I was 13, and why it’s still my passion, in my mid-40s. 

Writing fan fiction is a way to lay a personal claim to beloved characters. It’s the modern equivalent of adapting a fairy tale or a song. It allows for different interpretations, and far more possibilities than a show could ever encompass. At its best, it’s breathtaking- every bit as good, or maybe even better, than the show itself. At its worst….well, that’s something very, very different, in the way a train wreck is different from a birthday party.

What makes it good or bad? Shakespeare (he’s big in Trek!) would say it’s thinking that makes it so. Maybe that’s true, but I have another idea….


When writing characters who already have lives, and personalities, and a reality within which they must exist, the first thing to consider might be respect. As the fan fiction site Ad Astra puts it, paraphrased, you can have Spock eating kittens, but you’d better have a logical reason for it. You need to explain, believably, why a pacifist vegetarian with a strong cultural tendency toward logical behavior would do any such thing. Ironically, in the rough draft of my WIP King of Shreds and Patches, Spock commits an act with a striking similarity to eating kittens. I spent a lot of time debating writing that scene, even though Spock was insisting that that’s the way it happened. I knew I couldn’t just put it out there and have it be believed…I needed to say WHY, and it had to make sense – be logical, under the circumstances.

Time will tell if I got that one right. But I’ve read some things, just lately, that fly in the face of respect for the characters. For instance, there being a bathtub in T’Pols quarters. Watching Enterprise makes it clear that she has a shower, like everyone else. And, of all the people on the ship, why would the only one who came from a desert world, the only one committed to logic, have, of all things, a bathtub in her quarters? In the story in question, it was apparently there only to be used as a plot device.

But that’s nothing next to the sexuality issue….

I believe strongly that everyone’s entitled to their own sexuality, so long as they aren’t forcing it upon those who don’t want it. I extend this courtesy to fictional characters, too. If a character has an expressed orientation, I feel there is a huge lack of respect involved in altering it for the writer’s pleasure. I have no problem with assigning an orientation to a character whose inclinations are never clearly stated – I’ve done that myself, and I think I’ve made at least one very agreeable couple, that way…

But, as a terminally straight woman, I wouldn’t want someone messing with my sexuality, and I don’t think it’s fair to do to characters, if we know what variety of person they’re likely to take to their bedroom, or whatever place they choose for those activities…

And, as a corollary to that, there’s another odd phenomena of glossing over, minimizing, ignoring, or ridiculing relationships explored in the series – essentially, the characters’ love lives are being manipulated by the writer, forcing them into other relationshipa. They’re people, at least in the story, and they have the right to their own relationships. Even fictional characters have the right to change their minds, and sometimes, especially with Vulcans, who have, at times, a need to mate, or else die, circumstances can lead to strange and maybe less than preferable bedfellows -but it doesn’t seem respectful to ignore years’ worth of story canon, and the creative efforts of the writers and actors, and force the characters to be with someone they wouldn’t be with – not unless there’s a very good reason….

This, for instance, is a pretty powerful culmination of an intricate three-year dance around the issue of will-they-or-won’t – they? I feel it’s disrespectful to years of character development and subtle forward and back to arbitrarily pair either of these two with someone else, without an equally well-developed reason…

I guess what this all boils down to for me is that characters – fan fiction or otherwise – aren’t puppets to be manipulated by the writer. They’re people, at least in the story, and they have the right to their own integrity and their own lives. When all the things that make a character who they are are honored, the writing is every bit as good as for-profit, original-character writing can be. When they aren’t – well, it just feels like cheating, to me, or a lack of respect for the characters and their reality.

As a writer and a person, I strive to treat all others with respect….I wish that was true of all those who choose to play with characters whose integrity holds value to me.

Want more JusJoJan? Click the icon above, or right here!

Enjoy stream-of consciousness writing? Anyone can play, so long as they are willing to follow a few simple rules. See you next week, for another live-streaming look into the lovely chaos in my mind! =)

Join in or read more SoCS posts here! 

Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly a HAPPY ending, but I, for one, don’t want to be cheated out of the deliciousness of moments like these, as two very different people navigate through uncharted terrain…




    • If you pop in on Wednesdays, I’m currently share snippets of my Enterprise fan fiction (which will be available sometime this year on a fanfic site TBA).

      Enterprise is easily my favorite Trek incarnation. I adore T’Pol, because she’s flawed and brave and vulnerable and strong…and I love love love her with Trip -something about Vulcans and humans together….

      And then there’s SPOCK.

      Ummm….yeah…I’m kinda hung up on Vulcans! While I love TNG, there aren’t nearly enough Vulcans in it for my taste. DS9 never really caught me, and Voyager’s Vulcan had body language that felt all wrong to me…

      I’ll be completing, and blogging about, The Star Trek Chronology Project this year, so you might find that interesting.

      And in May, TnT will get a story every day – they’re already hinting at what they’ve got to say….

      • I love vulcans too, though TNG has always been my favorite. Never cared much for DS9; I did watch Voyager and actually really liked B’Elanna; and then when Enterprise came out, I didn’t have time to get into a “new” show. Maybe it’s time for me to check it out :-D.

        • I only started watching it about 2 years ago…but it’s by far my favorite, for many reasons.

          I’ll be blogging about it as I move through the Star Trek Chronology Project this year. Feel free to stop by and check it out!

  1. Well said! I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to write fan fiction. I would be too worried about messing up an already good thing. 😉

    • I can’t keep myself away!

      My serious writing started when a friend introduced me to a certain green=blooded, pointed-eared, half human guy named Spock…he grabbed my imagination and wouldn’t let go…

      Those early stories…I was guilty of all the things I mention in this post, or nearly all, anyway. It took a lot of practice, and a lot of spiral bound notebooks and ink, and a good deal more maturity, before I really started to get the hang of how to treat my characters with respect…

      I’m not sure I’m improving fandom with my offerings, but at least I’m pretty sure I’m not messing up the place!

      • I’ve never really read fan fiction before, but I have to say that I love yours! It’s fun to see some of my favorite characters in different situations, outside what is offered in the TV shows and movies. 🙂

  2. (So this ended up turning into a bit of an essay. But I like discussion and I’m fairly sure you like discussion, so I figured I would post it anyway)

    I totally agree with what you say about fanfic writers betraying relationships to hook up the characters they want to see together. Out of my fandoms, the one that annoys me the most is when Marvel fans hook Tony Stark up with someone else, with absolutely no mention of Pepper. Tony might be an outrageous flirt, but if you’re going to pair him with someone other than her, you’d better have a damned good reason why she’s no longer on the scene.

    On the sexuality issue, though, I disagree. Modern media is skewed towards heteronormativity, and while baby steps are being taken towards better representation, they remain baby steps. I agree with what you say about characters being people, too, within their universe but at the end of the day, that universe is fictional, and even in the real world, sexuality is not always completely static. It is certainly not unheard of for someone to identify as heterosexual until adulthood or into middle-age, and then meet “the right person (of the same sex)” at a later point in life.

    One of my friends has a boss who is a middle aged gay woman and this actually reminds me a bit of a conversation my friend had with her (and told me about later because it was a really interesting point her boss made). She was saying that while gay characters are appearing more in popular culture now, once upon a time, all they had was subtext. Even if a character was canonically straight, if there was even the slightest hint that this character could be someone like them, even if it was just a slightly-longer-than-necessary look at someone, they would pick that up and run with it, because it was all they had.

    Granted, historically, a lot of (m/m particularly) slash fiction has been written by straight women. However, with the Internet now providing a safe space for people whose sexualities are not the “norm” (for want of a better word), there are more opportunities for these fans to explore characters through the lens of their own life experiences. A character may present as straight, but then so have many non-heterosexual people (I’m using the example of straight being turned non-straight in fandom because that is much more prevalent in my experience).

    Basically, I guess for me, it boils down to “Can you convince me that it would happen?” Since I rarely read long-form fanfiction these days, and since I think in most cases, making a non-canon pairing believable should take several thousand words, the answer is likely often going to be “Probably not” for me, but that’s not to say I don’t believe it can/should be done.

    Just my $0.02…. or maybe $0.04, given the length…

    • Emily, I love this comment, and you’ve given me lots to consider.

      And I’m rather famous, IRL, for loving conversation, which probably comes as no surprise at all…

      It’s nearly 7am here, though, and I haven’t slept yet….and I don’t think I could do conversational justice to this post, now…

      So, I’m going to mull it over in my sleep, because you’ve crystallized something I couldn’t get out in the post – or I think you have.

      I’d be more sure if my eyes were actually open…

      I’ll be back in a few hours, when eyes, mind, and fingers might be willing to work together…!

    • OK, I’ve slept a little. Going to get a fresh cuppa coffee, and then dive in….

      I totally see where you’re coming from on the sexuality issue. I had given some thought to the subtext and disenfranchisement issues (while I am on the extremely hetero end of the spectrum, myself, I don’t see that as a superior place to be, only my place. I’ve got treasured friends from many other points and spans on that spectrum, and two children who will, in the next few years, or sooner, begin to know where they are on that spectrum – and I want them to know, beyond all doubt, that the answer to that question will never be a factor in my acceptance and joy in being their mom…

      But I hadn’t thought about the changing nature of orientation for some people, in regards to fan fiction (which is maybe a little odd, since I wrote a story about just such a thing happening to a sixty year old man last spring…).

      I guess, for me, it all comes back to Spock and those edible kittens…

      Like you said, the writer needs to make me believe that the characters belong together, that there’s some reason of logic, necessity, or passion that brings them together.

      It needs to feel inevitable, the way good storytelling always should. You’re probably right about the several thousand words, although maybe it could be done in less – like this…

      “Hoshi Sato and T’Pol had been stranded on the barely habitable planetoid for three months. The comm on the shuttlepod was down – T’Pol said she thought even Commander Tucker wouldn’t be able to effect repairs. The high concentration of magnetic ores, and the depth of the ravine they’d landed in, would be another obstacle, just like the sheer rock walls T’Pol had spent the first weeks examining.

      And then, the Vulcan woman started acting strangely…”

      Hmmn, I may have something there…=D

      Anyway, not once in all the stories I’ve read has there been even that much effort put into explaining why these professedly straight characters suddenly aren’t straight. It took me less than ten minutes to come up with what I wrote up there, drawing from the known Enterprise universe. It’s plausible. Might be a one-off that might or might not save T’Pol’s life; might end up leading to new awareness for both women, and a shift…

      But it’s plausible, and it respects the characters and the reality they live within. And maybe it’s the lack of that that I’m responding to, more than the actual choice of partners. Every time Archer is paired with T’Pol, for instance, her canon connection to Trip is badmouthed, or labeled as a mistake – which it really doesn’t seem to be; it’s a relationship that grew over a length of time, weathered all manner of obstacles, and was very real.

      I can see (and have in mind a storyline) where Archer and T’Pol have a deeper and more romantic connection..but it doesn’t in any way minimize what she shared with Trip – in the way that the 17 years I’ve spent married to my husband doesn’t minimize the men who came before him…

      I’m so so glad you took the time to reply – you’ve churned up new ideas and awarenesses, and that’s always a good thing, for me!

      • I’ve yet to watch any of the Iron Man movies (eventually I will, if Trip and T’Pol will ever let me go…).

        But yes. Some characters have a connection that means you HAVE to explain, if they aren’t together. And you’d better make that kitten-eating palatable and believable, too!

        My theory is that people can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own writing….but what’s shared ought to be of a suitable calibre!

    • Yes, yes, YES!

      My goal isn’t to create the characters – I’m not God! – nor to create the stories. My goal is to tell those stories as well as I can, and to be the best conduit for allowing those stories – those bit of my characters’ lives – to unfurl.

      I am not the boss, here! =)

      • Exactly!!! It is very rare I find someone else – even another writer – who sees this the way I do. I usually get the “oh-my-gosh-she’s-completely-lost-it” look when I try to explain this! 😀

        • My husband doesn’t understand this…he says, “Well,you can write whatever you want, can’t you?”

          When the kids were smaller, they didn’t understand when I said I was going to take a hot shower and wanted privacy so I could write. Then, a couple ofyears ago, I read them a rough draft, and my son, who was then 11, said, “I get it! You don’t make the story up; it happens by itself, and you tell it!”

          Smart boy….

          Happy to meet a kindred! =D

          • My husband doesn’t get it either. C’est la vie.

            VERY smart boy you are raising there! Do your kids write too? My two oldest are finding that they really enjoy it. Whether it becomes a passion or not is yet to be seen. 😉

          • Well, since I can’t compare with my Accomplice when it comes to cooking,

            Bth have played some with writing. At 12, Jeremiah said, “My problems with writing are spelling, pacing, and execution.” He was rather surprised to hear that professionals have the same issues.

            Mostly, now, he likes to edit My Little Pony FIM fan fiction – especially for writers for whom English isn’t a native language.

            Annalise writes some song lyrics, diary entries, notes, letters, and signs. She really enjoys narrating her play, and composing stories in her head, and she’s done that since she was tiny tiny (like 2).

            She’s really enjoying reading Five Nights at Freddy’s and Sims fan fiction.

            So both have a passion for stories, but I don’t know whether they’ll want to write seriously or not…

            I just love that they live in a world where they can indulge their passions for the stories that please them most.

          • Very cool. Mine are both much more into reading than writing at this point, but will also both go through spurts of working at some writing project. My 8yo also loves to narrate her play, which I adore because I did the same (also from about 2 lol) – there’s a reason she is called Mini-Me ;-).

            I love this conversation thread. I think if we lived down the street from each other, we would make great friends :-).

          • I think we can make great friends even at a distance! And I’m not above traveling…=)

            Not surprisingly, Annalise has been referred to as Mini-Me far more than once….

    • I was uncomfortable with Trip in the beginning, and I thought T’Pol was a token Vulcan, only sexier than any I’d seen before…

      That Decon scene…it made me uneasy, at first, thinking they were going to do for the easy sex angle..and I was going to hate that.

      I was all prepared…

      But then…


      And I was ready when Trip offered T’Pol a bite of his pecan pie, and noticed that she was distressed – and, at that point, it wasn’t so easy to tell – and told her that her feelings about her arranged marriage were ‘very relevant’ – something that clearly no one had ever told her before…

      And it was all so artfully,deftly written, directed, and acted…a long slow exploration of shared glances, missteps, sparring, working together, figuring things out…

      And, even after they were together, things didn’t become – ever! – happily ever after. It was real…sometimes, it was agonizing..

      And now, I find that they won’t let me go!

    • I forgot to mention that the bathtub, and the bubble bath, were the tip of that particular iceberg…there were a few good one-liners, but, eventually, the thing devolved into very badly written, plotless pornography that utterly ignored character integrity in all cases…

      On the other hand, I’ve read two longer stories that were spot-on perfect.

      And I learn from all of them, even when they make me shudder!

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