All About the Pairings, or From the Outside In
|Title:||All About the Pairings, or From the Outside In|
|Date(s):||October 1, 2002|
|Topic:||Fan Fiction, Pairings, Popslash, RPS|
|External Links:||All About the Pairings, or From the Outside In, Archived version|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
All About the Pairings, or From the Outside In is an essay by Sandy Keene.
It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.
In my short days in media fic, writing Sports Night and The West Wing, but mostly Sports Night, I wrote mostly gen. There were a lot of UST-y things and slash overtones, but since I regard Dan and Casey as not MFEO and Notsoinlove, my writing focused on what I loved about the show: the friendships, the camaraderie of the people who worked on the show, the rush, the frenetic part. I was a pretty gen girl. I liked gen, I wanted gen. Now here I am in popslash, RPS, and it's all about the pairings. Hmmm.
I think it's about canon, partly and maybe even largely. (And please, feel free to disagree.) Media fic gives us canon from the inside out. We get to see all the secret private things that Josh and Sam and Buffy and Dan and Lex and Clark are doing. We have insight into their private thoughts. It's canon. For popslash, canon is from the outside in. Writing RPS, we have nailed down biographical details that almost never get revealed on some shows -- people are still debating how old Sam and Josh are, right? And how they met and how many siblings CJ has and we don't know if Chloe has two hidden older brothers or something, right? Writing popslash, I know all this pat; ages, siblings, educational background. I have more canon than I can shake a stick at, in some ways. But it's all filtered through unreliable narrators - interviews, blind items, articles, rumors from my best friend's fifth cousin who worked at this one show in Cleveland - except for the most easily confirmed hard facts. And there's no insight into secret private things that's 100% reliable.
So, duh, with media fic and RPS we approach canon very very differently. I've got twenty rock solid facts about Dan from Sports Night and I get to fill in the rest. Writing Justin Timberlake, I have ten solid facts, a hundred things that are most likely true, another hundred things that are inferences and fifty rumors lying around I can pick and choose from. Another example: I know Danny Rydell sees a psychiatrist and has issues with his parents, and I have to extrapolate from three different interviews and some of those spare rumors how Justin Timberlake feels about Britney Spears these days. So, blah, blah, it's different.And what does this have to do with gen vs. pairings driven fic? I think with media fic, we have a blueprint for gen fic. A majority of SN eps were gen, when they weren't Dana/Casey, Dan/Rebecca, Dana/Sam, etc. A gen story about SN involves some work thing or a friendship issues that plays out over twenty-two minutes or longer if we get to write it. A gen TWW story is nearly every ep we've seen of that show, or a Monster of The Week on Buffy. We know how those go. With media fic I was able to point to similar gen stories that were explored on the show. Sticking with SN for a moment, the conflict between Dan and Casey in the end of the second season was a goldmine of stories that didn't have to be slashy at all, it was all about friendship and competition and mental spazzes. And we got to see the conflict unfold between the two of them, in Casey talking to his oldest friend and Dan talking to his shrink. So. We got those private moments. Blueprint.