Friday, March 27, 2009

On Quantum Leaping and Writing


I'm not a hardcore sci-fi fandom-type person. I enjoy the cons I attend, and the occasional Trek: TNG episode. I follow Brent Spiner on Twitter - that's about as hardcore as it's been lately. But I have sci-fi to thank for my writing career, in particular Quantum Leap. I loved that show. Great premise, strong writing, incredible actors. I'd take Sam Beckett over Kirk or Picard any day of the week, and Dean Stockwell was the sidekick to beat all. It ran for five years on NBC but easily could have gone on longer - word among fans was that the head of programming at the time didn't like the show, and shuffled it around the schedule to "lose" it so the ratings would drop. The more tenacious fans were able to ride the waves, but it wasn't enough to keep the show afloat. All we have now are the DVDs and fond memories. And, apparently, fan cons.

If I'd only known there was going to be a Quantum Leap con this year, I would have made the effort to go. I did mention I credit QL somewhat for my writing career, and there is some truth in that. Writing QL fan fiction helped me develop dialogue writing and narrative skills. In a time I couldn't piece 500 words of original story together, I'd knock out novella length fan fictions that had Sam Beckett leaping into a MASH unit in Korea, or a prison in an unnamed upstate location. Don't believe me? I can prove it. My older fictions are still floating around. You can read them here. Mind you, they didn't receive the proper editing treatment my novels do - they were just stories I banged out on the keyboard. Among fans they were generally liked - in fact, one person once wrote to say I should try my hand at original work. I suppose that was the genesis of my serious career right there. If 20,000 words of Sam and Al could come so easily, I should be able to create my own characters and situations.
So I did. I will admit, though, I did try to write a full-length original QL novel to pitch when Ace Fiction was publishing Quantum Leap novels. I had a writing partner for that one, but unfortunately we didn't get far. When I later heard the publisher no longer planned to do more (losing the show took the steam out the book side of things - without the show, I suppose they believed the fandom wasn't strong enough to justify more novels) I abandoned the project. Now, however, I see a QL fan film has been made and will debut on the Net next month. I saw the trailers for it - I can't wait to see it. The production values look good, and the actor playing Al especially has the character nailed down. I think it's rather bold for the film company to choose Princess Di as the subject of the leap mission, but it's not like QL has shied from controversy. If you saw the original Lee Harvey Oswald episode, you understand. Even in the fandom, I recall reading 9/11 fiction that had Sam in the middle of the action.
If only I didn't have so much to do, I might consider writing a story for the next con's competition. I never ran out of ideas.

1 comment:

aprilm said...

I know exactly what you mean. Writing fanfiction is liberating because you don't have to think about developing the characters or sometimes the worlds they inhabit. It's all preexisting with set rules and predefined existence to what you're writing.

Taking on a character that you already know so well makes things flow.

I'm having trouble with deep POV right now... really studying it and I'm having trouble with my own books but when I look at fanfiction I don't have a problem with it because I know the characters, their temperments... everything like the back of my hand. Their reasoning and actions are obvious to me.

While my own characters... they only reveal themselves to me with actions and sound... trying to get into their heads is agonizing. I dont' see their thoughts all the time or really have enough time to get to know and love them so well that it's innate to imagine what they would do and say and think.

UGH. Although you just gave me a good idea for getting better at deep POV.

April Morelock