For the next 36 weeks, I’ll be using my Thursday posts to respond to Natacha Guyot’s blog series A Galaxy of Possibilities.
For week one, Natacha introduced her series and posed these questions:
- Did you ever write in the Star Wars universe?
When I was a child I made up Star Wars stories, but I didn’t start to write them down until my 20s. I am a fanfiction writer, but I have a weird thing where I don’t feel comfortable publishing in or even really commenting on a franchise until I have seen/read all the canon material that I have available and have learned as much as I possibly can about each character’s backstory, motivations, etc. In sci-fi and fantasy fandoms, I also want to know as much as I can about the technology, politics, religion, sociology, and any other setting-related factor. That’s impossible in the Star Wars fandom because it’s huge, even if the canon only consists of 6.5 films. So, I compromise by learning as much as I can about the things I intend to write about while I’m actually writing. I’ve learned that with the Star Wars fandom, there really ISN’T a satisfactory amount of detail put into things like how the technology works or characters back stories, so my fanfictions have a tendency to want to ground themselves by filling in those details. One of the things that strikes me about the Star Wars galaxy is that each planetary environment in the films is basically a stage or prop that is used to propel the Skywalker family further in the story, but the settings themselves have TONS of potential that is outside the scope of the movies. The Star Wars EU had a great opportunity to explore this in more detail, but for the most part it’s been left untouched. I’m sure that in future posts I’ll be talking more about my Star Wars fanfiction characters. I wanted to start with this because I think it’s particularly relevant to writing in the Star Wars fandom, and it isn’t something that I see discussed very often. When I wrote a story set on Tatooine, I spent a lot of time thinking and working out exactly how moisture farming was supposed to work, how vaporators operated, the daily life in a moisture farm, how the planet’s economy operated, how a local organization of farmers might develop ties to one another, and I even worked out a truce between the farmers and the Sandpeople when the Hutts became a common enemy. I’m hoping to turn that truce into lasting peace eventually. I have plans to (one day) revisit Naboo and do a similar kind of story there where one of the characters who chose to stay on her home world— Pooja Naberrie — takes center stage and allows the audience to see and experience things about Naboo that the films only hint at. The Naboo stuff feels more complicated to me, probably because desert dwellers are so present and intimately familiar to me when it comes to fiction writing. Dune is never far from my thoughts, so writing a desert planet — or even an ice planet like Hoth — feels more intuitive than writing Alderaan or Naboo. That’s something I really need to work on. I realize that these kind of things are “my vision” or interpretation of how these planets could’ve developed. I don’t mean to imply that my stuff is somehow better than the Star Wars films. I don’t think it is at all. My point is that one of the biggest benefits I see fanfic writers and roleplayers bring to any franchise is that we can often touch on these areas and interpret them in multiple ways without any of it being “right” or “wrong” or locking the canon into a particular set of decisions. Anybody who wants to can try to come up with local cultures on Naboo or Tatooine, and we can look at all those possibilities as equally valid options. We can compare and talk about thematic elements that tend to come up repeatedly on a desert world versus ones that come up on a water-rich planet like Naboo.
- Do you have interest and/or roleplaying experience?
My first role-playing experiences were with my siblings as a kid, although I don’t think we knew what the term “role-playing” really meant. As I got older, I toyed a little bit with tabletop RPG‘s, but I was never really able to find a good group to play with, and most of the tabletop gamers I knew were uncomfortably obsessive and rigid about their games. (I’m sure that there are plenty of laid-back gamers out there, I just haven’t had that experience.) In my 20s, I became involved in online fandom, and my first play by post role-plays were a lot of fun. They helped bring back my sense of pleasure in writing while I was also trying to edit a novel that was anything but fun. Ultimately, I started to feel like play by post role-plays were draining me because of the level of time and effort I had to spend developing storylines and constructing long posts in narrative form. It was essentially like writing a book, and when it became something I saw more as a chore than an enjoyable hobby, I quit, but I didn’t quit my characters. The two worlds that I role-played most in were Stargate and Star Wars. I also role-played briefly Anne McCaffery‘s Pern. The Pern game didn’t last long. One of the pitfalls I’ve found with online role-playing is that game composition and hosting are basically at the mercy of the site creators/mods. Whenever there is drama, the game is shaken up. I suppose that’s true of many role-play, but it seems to be more noticeable online where it really takes about five minutes to set up a role-play board, so there’s no guarantee that there will be any sense of commitment to the game. I played on two big Star Wars boards and hated both of them because the players seemed more interested in one upping each other with their knowledge of stupid shit like lightsaber forms and different names for Force talents than in playing out a storyline. The other tendency was to focus the whole story on competition between the different factions instead of a stable player environment. Some friends and I created a smaller Star Wars board with a storyline that was set far into the future of the GFFA, and we played there for a long time. One of the members and I are still friends, and we’re in the process of redeveloping our RP characters for her fanfiction project. Nowadays, I mainly role-play in chat format over Instant Messenger, and I find it a lot easier and more fun because responses are less delayed and it’s not necessary to write a complete narrative.
- What are you mostly looking forward to in this blog series?
Having seen sneak peeks already for each post in the series, I don’t think it would be fair for me to answer this question…