|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Langsam's Law consists of the words "Don't make him say that." It originated with Devra Langsam.
It was probably first seen in Masiform-D 3 (September 1973). In a transcript titled "Fan Writing Panel: Or, Don't Make Him Say THAT!", which Langsam in an essay says took place at the first large-scale Star Trek convention in New York, Devra and Debra Langsam with Sherna Burley and Joyce Yasner held a lengthy panel on elements of writing and how they applied to fan fiction. Keeping the characters and situations consistent with canon presentation, or establishing a good reason to divert from it, was one of the main focuses of discussion.
"In the early zine days, when Langsam’s Law was the rule of the day: 'Don't Make Him Say That.' As explained by Paula Smith (in an essay in Warped Space #50, January 1984), this is a 'special caveat for writing media-based fiction. Don't make an established character do or say something out of line with his established character, of if you must, give good, solid reasons why'."
There is an early mention of this term in S and H #9 (April 1980).
- K.S. Langley, "The Times They are a' Changing." Fanfic Symposium, June 19, 2003. Expanded edition of a piece written for the FCA-L mailing list, describing Star Trek fandom practices in the earliest days -- pen pal lists, the use of typewriters and mimeograph, audio recordings on reel-to-reel tape, no labeling or content warnings, no gatekeeper system to initiate new fans, etc.