Working With What You've Got

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Title: Working With What You've Got
Creator: Schuyler
Date(s): June 5, 2000
Medium: online
Topic: Fanfiction
External Links: Working With What You've Got/WebCite
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Working With What You've Got is an essay by Schuyler.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.


I've noticed on occassion that when a show is lagging--or appears to be in a momentary downward slide--a new character appears on the show. Perhaps this is just coincidence. After all, it doesn't happen on every show, and we're always looking for ways to make our shows more interesting. But I just don't like it when new characters appear in addition to the ensemble cast that's already waiting to get air time.
I was looking through one of my favorite fan-fic sites, and I came across a Sentinel story (can't remember the name or author, but I do know I've read much of her work--she's good) that I thought might be pretty good. Then I looked at the short description. In effect, is stated that Cascade must call on it's favorite team--Jim, Blair, and Megan--to solve a puzzling crime. Megan? Huh? I never read the story, even though the writer is quite talented. I just couldn't get past Megan being listed as part of the Dynamic Duo (so should it be Dynamic Trio?).

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting to the point. It's simply this: when new characters are added to TV shows, they usually end up being added to fanfiction. In both cases, the supporting cast (or even in an ensemble crew) gets lost in the shuffle. To my mind, the trick for improving a show is not to add more characters (and thereby adding more weight and confusion), but to work with what you've got. Give depth and background to the people the audience is familiar with and see what happens.

Some may argue that original characters in fanfiction are like "new characters" but I don't agree. Original characters are not added to the dimension of the TV show itself, just the fiction. They have nothing to do with ratings and time slots, and lend no weight to the life or death of a supernatural cop show or a teen alien drama.