Hi, I’m Zoe, and I’m trying my hand workshopping! Today’s topic is The Case Fic
I’ve only posted on case fic, my spn_j2_bigbang from last year, but I’m currently working on researcher two more case fics. One for this years spn_j2_bigbang and one for the spn_gen_bigbang .
I’ll take you through my process for writing a case fic and toss some ideas out. I’ll do my best to answer any questions.
Disclaimer - Hey, it's only my opinion!
Step 1 - Hit by ‘inspriation’
My case fic last year all started when I started wondering if anyone had written a spn story like The Shining - boys trapped in haunted hotel, unable to get out. And so, my idea was born. This year, I really wanted to do a story with deaf!Dean so a lot of my thinking was about how I could incorporate a deaf!Dean into a casefic and what kind of story would showcase him best.
Then, I realized I wasn’t exactly thrilled with S6, so in a joking email, I put out my thoughts on how S6 should have gone and then as I was sitting there one day I thought, “jeez, if S6 had happened that way, I’d have a really good opportunity for a case fic - what do I want to write about?”
Also, the other day, I heard a line in a song and I thought - someday, I'm gonna make that into a casefic. It was something along the lines of "And the shadows all walked around by themselves...." and all I can think of since then is DETACHABLE SHADOWS THAT KILL PEOPLE.
Do you have an inkling of what you’d like to do? A ghost fic, vampire fic, other supernatural creature fic?
Step 2 - Muck about randomly looking for stuff
I looked up the Stanely Hotel [which was Steven King’s inspiration for the Overlook hotel], I rented The Shining, I flipped through books. And I started daydreaming about being stuck at a hotel.
Start googling, journaling, noting things that catch your eye
Step 3 - Characters
I think original characters can make a casefic. I decided early on that I was going to need original characters, which in SPN fandom, can be dicey. I decided I had to make a CLEAR and FOCUSED decision to keep the story on Sam and Dean, no matter how much I wanted to keep delving into my original characters.
I thought a way of doing that would be if I had characters that mirrored, or were able to somehow, showcase things about Sam and Dean. And so, I created siblings as my original characters and used them as a mirror of Sam and Dean.
Will you have original characters? Will they be around for the whole fic, or will they just be there to introduce the case to Sam and Dean? Will they have interaction with Sam and Dean?
It’s very easy to lose focus of Sam and Dean if you do bring in original characters, so always keep in mind that your reader is here for SAM and DEAN.
This is also a good place to figure out which Season of Supernatural you're going to set your casefic in, or if you want to go AU.
Step 4 - The Big Bad
In any casefic, I need to understand the mystery that the boys are solving, The Big Bad. I think it’s crucial to know your Big Bad BEFORE you start writing. I need to know what the boys are up against. I don’t have to know how to defeat the big bad yet [but it helps! It helps a lot!], but I do have to know what it/he/she is. And what he/she/it wants. Also, I need to establish the rules of the Case Fic, otherwise known as “Our Vampires are Different Because…”. You know this part - it's the part in every book you read that explains the rules of the world you're in.
So, in this step I decide what rules/obligations/mythology my Big Bad is subject to. Readers are smart and they don’t like it when the rules change mid-way through a story, unless you’ve got a REALLY GOOD reason.
I typically spend a WHACKLOAD of time on google for this step. Right now, I’ve got two fics in “percolation.” One is going to focus on mythology and I’ve been reading a lot of Greek mythology mostly. Am also looking into Norse and Celtic to decide if I want to stick to Greek mythology only or pull in other elements from other myths. - I do a lot of thinking and googling and reading. At this point, I’ll be deciding what parts of the mythology I’ll be pulling in, what parts I’ll be making up and how it all ties together. I’ve always had an interest in Greek mythology and I’ve taken classes before, so I’ll probably only be fleshing out my knowledge here.
For my other fic, I’ve tentatively decided to focus on a creature from Japanese Mythology, so I asked a colleague who spent time in China if she had any books about Asian mythology and she does! So I’m going to be reading those. I’ve also done some preliminary googling. I like to read from various websites before I make any commitments. And I love to find pictures. If I find a good picture, I'll print it out somewhere I can see it while I'm writing.
I feel I should note - I want to make sure my stuff is researched, but not to the exclusion of my own creativity. If I read something that doesn’t ‘jive’ with what I want/need, I’ll find away around it and then explain it in my world building. But I’m the kind of person who likes to have all the info first. You’re under no obligation to use any of the research you complete, but I do think researching Big Bad will make you really flesh it out before you start writing.
Plus, I never want to be halfway through a fic and then discover something REALLY FRAKKING COOL about the Big Bad I’m using that should have been introduced in chapter one!
I can only suggest that after you’ve picked your big bad, you do some work researching it. This can also lead you to even better Big Bads as you muck about on the internetz!
This is the hardest part for me. This is the part where all the stuff that is floating around in my brain in no particular order has to be put to paper. I generally don’t have an official outline when I write. I make a list titled: Stuff I want In This Story. It’s at times vague and detailed, sometimes noting scenes, dialogue or a general arc to the story. For my current WIP on Greek Mythology, all I’ve got is:
- a collection of myths that I’d like to involve
- It will be set at the start of S6
- Sam and Dean will be struggling to reconnect after the events of last season.
- There may be a brother on brother fight
And then I hit the paper! I know this is really different from how other writers work, but I can’t think past a certain stage in the story until it’s on paper. Once somethings on paper, I don’t think about it anymore, and that frees my brain up to move onto the next part of the story. I get stuck on sections until they get written.
Overall Goal of the Story
This is something I think about more for myself to keep my self focused when I’m writing. What is the overall goal of the story? Is it just a casefic? Am I trying to sort out or explore something about the boys?
When I think about episodes, most have some exploration of the boys relationship. Trust, family, dependancy, TRUST [it comes up a lot!]. And when I write, I try to figure out how much of my story I want to dedicate to exploring that angle. I think you can write a good case fic only touching upon those issues, and I think you can write a good one that explores those issues fully. But it helps to know at the outset how deep you want to get into it. And continually thinking about that really helps me focus as I write.
This is another place where you can start deciding on what season you're writing in, or if you're going AU. I chose to set my fic during S2 because I didn't want certain elements of S3 hanging over the boys head. And I really wanted a brother banter vibe going on.
I should note that I tend to write gen casefics, but that's just because I like to focus on the case, but I think a slash casefic would follow most of the same set up as above, except you'd have to figure out what elements of the relationships you'd want to explore if any - Is the fact that there's slash just background? Is it a focus to the story? Is it a 'getting together' romance, with a side of casefic? Does the case further or hinder the romance?
My Resources - Books I own and flip through regularly:
The Encyclopedia of Mythology - Celtic, Norse and Greek
The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angel and Other Subversive Spirits
I have some books on wiccan around here too that I can’t find at the moment. Hmm.
So I do tend to do a lot of reading, but what it boils down to is this:
IT'S YOUR STORY. And if you want to make something up, DO IT. AND HAVE FUN.