Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Yet Another Revival Post

Hello again! It's been a while. What the heck happened to me over the past few months, you may well be wondering?

Well, I came back from my year abroad in China and spent the summer working on various creative projects - but not The Neverland, unfortunately. Hence the lack of content for this blog. Since last November I'd striven to keep the project off the back-burner at all costs, resolving that for once, I would not let it fall by the wayside. I'm sure I've written resolutions to this effect in previous blog entries. Unfortunately, I did lose interest in developing this story for a while. It was always in the back of my mind, but there's a difference between thinking you'll come back to a story at some point and actively working on the plot and the characters.

I've made a couple of breakthroughs recently, though. Towards the end of last month my mind returned to The Neverland of its own accord and I found myself rewriting one of the pivotal scenes in my head, a scene where [spoiler alert - highlight to read] Wendy goes to find Peter at his home in London after a disastrous hacking attempt on the pirate BBS The Jolly Roger. He is passed out on his floor from lack of food and water, but she revives him and together they plan how to save Tinkerbell, Peter's AI. I didn't write down the new version (I probably should have done), but the key ideas are there in my head and it served to get my brain out from the rut it was in with regards to this story.

I had forgotten that it was the time of year when people start preparing for NaNoWriMo until a friend (whom I met at a NaNo Essex Write-in in 2009) tagged me and several other usual suspects in a Facebook status, asking us if we were doing NaNo this year. The timing of it seemed like a neat coincidence. I never had any intention of doing a new project for NaNoWriMo this year, since I've yet to ever finish my past projects, and I don't think starting another new one is the way to go in this situation. I'm also now in my final year at university and there's no way I have the time to write 50k in a month. But maybe I can pick The Neverland back up on its one-year anniversary and make use of the forums and all the creative energy to make some progress. I still love this project; that hasn't changed. Last April I began writing a new cyberpunk-fanfic hybrid, this one based loosely on Harry Potter. It's even weirder than The Neverland when you deconstruct what it actually is. "A cyberpunk version of Peter Pan set in 1989" is already something, but "A Harry Potter fanfiction taking place at an unspecified point in the future and blending reality and the Internet with magic, with Pottermore users as the characters" is definitely something else. Something that would make most people back away at a rapid pace with an unnerved look on their faces. However, the project has been massively fun and I've written seven chapters of 1,000 to 4,000 words each, plus some spin-offs and "interludes", in the space of seven months. That ended up being the creative project I stuck to, or has been so far, touch wood.

What I'm building up to saying is that what I loosely call 'cyberpunk' - stories about the Internet, computers and virtual reality - is the type of story I'm unfailingly passionate and excited about writing, whether its fanfic or something else. I can't stop coming back to these stories. I bought Cory Doctorow's Pirate Cinema in July and completely devoured it. It was the most exciting book I'd read in a long time. Given how much the Internet has affected my life, it makes total sense that stories about it would resonate with me and that I'd want to tell them in turn. 

Since I drifted away from the high fantasy stories I used to love in my early teens, I've felt at a bit of a loss, genre-wise, so it's nice to be so sure of my "niche" again. Of course I'm never limited to telling only one kind of story, and I also love writing the kind of modern-fantasy hybrid that I moved onto after I got bored with high fantasy: Neil-Gaiman-esque, surreal stories about that bit of strangeness and magic in the everyday. My cyberpunk stories have hints of that as well. But I was less sure of what I wanted to say with those stories than I am with these ones, and writing them still felt like wishful thinking. This feels real. And maybe that's what I need at this point in my life - stories with enough substance for myself and my readers to cling onto. I'm excited to see where they take me.

One final thing before I finish - today I started my daily writing practice back up for the first time since I was 17. Simply put, it's a time at which I sit down and write a minimum of one A4 page about a topic of the day, which comes from A Writer's Book of Days, a book full of writing inspiration and advice, and more than enough topics for every day of the year. Today's topic was "Write about never and always" - perfect for The Neverland, so I wrote a short piece from Peter's point of view which I hope to soon edit and put up on this blog. It's got no great plot to speak of, just a bit of further insight into his character, but at this point, I'll take whatever new content I can get ;)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Recommendation Tuesday: My Favourite Pan-Fiction (Part 2)

Buckle up kids, we’re in for a long ride! Here we have the second half of my favourite Peter Pan fanfiction or ‘Pan-fiction’, following on from last Tuesday’s post, which you can find here.

7) Zeal - Lunamaria
‘“I’m Peter,” he announced, striking his hand out widely, “Peter Pan.” And she frowned. Her childhood was in serious danger.’

First off we have another modern-day AU, Zeal by Lunamaria. The story is divided into five parts, alternating between first person and third person for each one, which is a unique narrative choice that gives us a look both inside and outside of Wendy’s head. The author also does a couple of things which are interesting in the context of the Peter Pan story. First, Wendy (in the sections that she narrates) is very specific in saying that her childhood ended the moment she met Peter Pan and began to fall in love with him. In the original story it seems more like Peter is prolonging Wendy’s childhood, by whisking her away to the carefree shores of Neverland where she can happily forget about boring things like responsibility and parents. But Neverland represents a turning point for Wendy, because she develops feelings for Peter while she’s there, and also makes the decision to go back, grow up and live in the real world. If she hadn’t had those adventures in Neverland, she might have fought the inevitable for a few more years at least, clinging to childhood and not really knowing what she wanted from life.

Neverland in Zeal isn’t another world, just a beautiful metaphor for first love, and in fact the word “Neverland” doesn’t appear until the very last line of the fic. But the idea is there, and it works perfectly. Peter embodies innocence and youth even as an ordinary boy, and you could believe even in this modern AU that he doesn’t grow old, just moves from place to place, capturing the hearts of girls – much as in the original story. And, as in the original story, Wendy realises that she wants to experience all of what life can offer, even if it means growing up. Even though you want Peter and Wendy to stay together for the sake of the romance, to me Wendy’s decision here is no less powerful a “follow your dreams” message than in the stories where she leaves for Neverland with Peter. If anything, it’s more powerful.

8) Flying Lessons - Dorryen Golde
‘How the 2003 movie should have ended. Peter learns that he cannot run away forever.’

Last time we looked at several different fics which rewrote the ending of the story to have Wendy go back to Neverland and live with Peter for good. This time, we’ve got several which explore the opposite option: Peter coming to live in the real world for good, which of course means growing up.

As far as a “solution” to Peter and Wendy’s problem goes, which do I think works better? Well, I can see arguments for both. Wendy is a whimsical free spirit who would find it difficult to be happy in the straight-laced propriety of Edwardian England (not Victorian, contrary to popular misconception. The Victorian Era ended in 1901 and Barrie wrote Peter Pan in 1904). She shouldn’t be forced to grow up and marry for status when she’s already found a true love – and if you had a chance to stay in a place like Neverland, wouldn’t you?

On the other hand, we know Wendy as a whimsical free spirit because we’ve only ever seen her as a child, and most children are like that at one point. Who knows what her personality might be like as an adult? If she stays in Neverland, no-one will ever find out. Peter Pan never growing up works because it’s part of his entire being. He’s not just an ordinary child living in a land where time seems to stand still (as Wendy would be). He’s intrinsically linked with Neverland and the whole place changes depending on his mood, his presence and his absence. He can fly without the aid of fairy dust. There’s also a darker side to his being, which in film adaptations tends to be glossed over: in the book he doesn’t form attachments and frequently forgets about Wendy, John and Michael, often leaving them behind even as he accompanies them to Neverland. He forgets about his own adventures often minutes after they have happened, and fantasy and reality are nigh indistinguishable for him. As Captain Hook would say, “It’s part of the riddle of his existence.” So is it really possible to just remove Peter from Neverland like that? Or to expect that Wendy would be able to stay there indefinitely as he does?

When you consider it, the only outcome for the story which truly works is the one that Barrie himself wrote. But does that mean I don’t love a good fanfic alternate ending? Hell no! And Flying Lessons by Dorryen Golde is an especially good example of an alternate ending done well. It fully explores the dilemma of Peter’s situation and allows him to come to a conclusion in a way that makes sense for his character. Tinkerbell’s part is mainly as a plot device, but her role doesn’t seem entirely out-of-character either. As the summary indicates, it’s written as an alternative ending to the 2003 film and makes some nice references back to that, particularly Wendy’s speech about bravery and why her decision to move on and grow up was the right one. The title, Flying Lessons, is also a nod to how Peter taught Wendy to fly, and to the ending of the story where, in a neat reversal of roles, Wendy teaches Peter how to ‘fly’ with a kiss.

9) All Children Grow Up - Rose DiVerona
‘Peter returns for Wendy. They are soon followed by all of Wendy’s brothers, and Neverland is a happy place for a while. But things are changing – the people in London miss them. And Peter is growing up?’

Similar to Flying Lessons, All Children Grow Up by Rose DiVerona is a movie-verse alternate ending to the Peter Pan story which features Peter eventually coming to stay with Wendy for good. (You can probably tell I’ve given up on trying not to spoil you guys by now :P) It’s interesting in that it explores both solutions to Peter and Wendy’s predicament: first Wendy goes with Peter back to Neverland, shortly followed by John, Michael and the Lost Boys in an attempt to bring Wendy back whom which is quickly forgotten in favour of Neverland adventures. However, Mr. and Mrs. Darling are of course miserable without their children, and when Peter sees this, for once he is forced to take someone else’s feelings into account and accept that his actions have consequences which affect others. He has to consider whether doing what makes himself happy is really the best thing for Wendy, even if it seemed like a good idea at the time. Though the story doesn’t explicitly say so, I consider this to be the turning point at which Peter begins to grow up and out of Neverland. Discovering that your actions affect other people and so you can’t go around blithely doing whatever you want all the time is a distinctly un-childlike revelation, which leads to mature and reasoned decision-making as you grow older.

Tinkerbell’s role in this story is again that of plot device, and I don’t really buy into the speech that she gives Peter when she urges him to leave Neverland; but it’s a minor enough problem that it doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Rose DiVerona also has another fic, Straight On ‘Til Morning, which is also movie-verse but follows the original, canon ending from the book. It’s very well written and you can check it out here.

10) Borrowed Time – Put My Earmuffs On the Cookie
‘A life of obligations and rules – a life that has been set out for her. When Wendy leaves for Neverland, plans are unsettled, and consequences will have to be faced.’

Borrowed Time is the first story on this list which is still ongoing. It’s currently updating very regularly – in fact the sixth chapter came out just the other day – so this is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon of a really good story. It also means I can’t possibly spoil the ending for you! In fact, I’m totally clueless as to where this fic is going, which is always interesting and makes for a much better reading experience than a predictable plot.

Much like the other stories on this list, Borrowed Time continues Peter and Wendy’s story on from after her first, eventful trip to Neverland and imagines that they continue their romance when Peter returns for Wendy several years later. Of course, there are complications in the form of Wendy’s family, the demands of Edwardian high society, Peter’s aversion to commitment and bad old Captain Hook. Put My Earmuffs On the Cookie has done some great background research on the English high society of the time, which gives the fic an authentic feel. The ‘obnoxious unwanted suitor’ trope returns in the form of Gavin, a well-to-do young man who is determined to court Wendy and secure her hand in marriage, but his characterisation isn’t totally cut-and-dried: he’s entitled and selfish, yes, but also feels genuine affection for Wendy and is sorry for expecting too much of her too soon. Again, I prefer this more balanced type of character to an out-and-out villain whose only purpose is to provide romantic tension and then get owned by the main love interest at the end. Though that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to see him get shown up by Peter at some point. Preferably publically. :3

I don’t go out of my way to look for crossovers, but I came across a couple of good ones on Archive of Our Own, which due to the way the site is organised appear in the same fandom category as the non-crossovers (assuming they’ve been tagged properly, anyway). I also happen to have written a few myself!

you may see her hair becoming white - Cakedish
‘Two girls and their relationships with windows and boys who don’t age. Children are still innocent and heartless.’

Anyone who is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – or just anyone who’s familiar with the show and with the relationship between Buffy and her vampire love interest Angel – will enjoy this gorgeously written short one-shot. The summary says most of it, and the fic says the rest, so go and check it out!

Dark and Sinister Men - Nimori
‘An old friend drops in on Hook.’ [Explicit]

Yes, I’ll just say this before you go blindly clicking on the link above – this is slash (guy-on-guy romance) and it is explicit. As in sexually explicit. You have been warned. But assuming that you don’t have any major objections to the two aforementioned traits, you will love this clever and funny crossover between Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan. Captain Jack Sparrow comes to visit Hook in Neverland, and it is revealed that the two went to pirate school together:
"Why should I, James Hook, boast of second-best scores at treasure-burying, and silver medals in the heaving-to contests? Why should I wish to revisit my halcyon days of being upstaged at every turn by that poncing little--"
"Ship ahoy!" called Bill Jukes from the crow's nest, and Hook collapsed back in the chair.
"He was always better than I at sashaying," Hook said mournfully. "Top marks in swashbuckling. Could drink a barrel of rum and still find the booty he buried last term."

As you can tell, this is pretty different fare from everything I’ve so far recommended on this list. It centres around Hook and his crew, who scarcely get a look in, if they appear at all, in the other Peter Pan fics I read. There’s also no mention whatsoever of Wendy. Instead we get some very entertaining interaction between Hook and the crew of the Jolly Roger, brilliant pirate dialogue, mentions of colourful characters from Hook and Sparrow’s shared past, and let’s not forget the chemistry between Hook and Sparrow themselves. Nimori has every character down to a T, including Peter, who appears at the end for a very funny and honestly touching interaction with Hook. The relationship between Captain Hook and Peter is very rarely explored, so it’s nice to see it done so well.

Second Star to the Right and Hiei Jaganshi, Legendary Bandit – enchantedsleeper

Do we have any Yu Yu Hakusho fans in the house? Specifically fans of Hiei/Kurama? This is one of my favourite pairings in all of fandom, and I regularly go on sprees of reading lots of fanfics about them. During one such spree, I suddenly realised the similarities between their situation and that of Wendy and Peter – especially the way that Hiei is often written as entering and leaving Kurama’s room via the window, which Kurama leaves open for him. So I wrote Second Star to the Right, a double drabble (fic of exactly 200 words) which forms part of my collection of Yu Yu Hakusho drabbles, Dabbling in Drabbling. Unfortunately, the crossover bunny refused to leave me alone even after I wrote it; and so in September I began writing a fully-fledged multi-chapter crossover called Hiei Jaganshi, Legendary Bandit in which Hiei takes the role of Peter and Kurama the role of Wendy. So far I’m two chapters in with the third half-written. It was partly because of this fic that Peter Pan was on my mind when NaNoWriMo rolled around, and so it played a decent role in my decision to write The Neverland in November. Unfortunately, work on the third chapter got shelved in favour of The Neverland, and I’ve not quite managed to pick it back up again. Give it time ^^;

Saving Neverland - enchantedsleeper

Now here’s a story I hadn’t thought about in a while. I wrote this back in 2007 for the ‘Peter Pan challenge’ on Sink Into Your Eyes, a Harry/Ginny (Harry Potter) fanfiction site. It was the first fully-fledged crossover that I wrote (there was another fic I wrote back in my very early days which was meant to be a crossover but I never got around to adding the second fandom) and I had a lot of fun with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t place in any of the competition’s many categories, but I felt like I’d done my best with the challenge and written an interesting fic with a creative plot. The premise given for the competition was that Ginny falls asleep in the Room of Requirement whilst revising for O.W.L.s and dreams that she is Wendy in Neverland, with Harry as Peter. Apart from this setup, the execution of the crossover was totally up to us. I combined elements of the seventh Harry Potter book and Peter Pan in Scarlet (the official sequel to Peter Pan, commissioned by Great Ormond Street and written by Geraldine McCaughrean) to create my plot – which might actually have lost me points in the contest given that the fics were meant to be pre-Deathly Hallows. Oh well! It’s not a favourite of mine even amongst my earlier fanfics (that is, pre-2008) but I still like it enough to admit that I wrote it ;)

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Peter’s Backstory

This post will make better sense if you've read either this post or this post first. Or both. :3

Author’s Notes: I was looking back through my post history for the blog and realised how long it’s been since I posted actual story content. I admit I haven’t written anything new for some time, but months ago I wrote a prose piece about Peter’s backstory from his mother’s perspective that I’d planned to post on the blog. However, I showed it to a friend whom I’d hoped would help me edit it, and the problems that she pointed out were so intrinsic that I despaired of ever being able to fix them short of totally rewriting the whole thing. So I put it away and didn’t look at it.

But just now I thought, what the hell. I’ve already established that I’m willing to put up first draft excerpts on this blog, so why is it so important that this one piece has to be of uber-high quality? Yeah, the execution isn’t great, but it’s the events that are relayed that matter more to Peter’s character, and which are likely to be of interest to you, readers of this blog x3

Even with my newly lowered standards, though, the beginning wasn’t really worth posting xD So I’ve missed out
Peter Pan: The Toddler Years and skipped straight to when Peter is nine years old and already attending secondary school…

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Recommendation Tuesday: My Favourite Pan-Fiction (Part 1)

I’ve been wanting to do this as a Recommendation Tuesday feature for ages but have been depriving myself because it seemed “too easy” – a bit of a cop-out post – or at least something I should save for when I was totally out of other ideas. But last blog post was about letting myself have more fun with my writing and my blog and damn it, I’m sticking to my guns! Besides, this is a blog about a Peter Pan fanfic; what could be more relevant than a list of the Peter Pan fanfics that I would most recommend?

I know that most of the people reading this blog wouldn’t normally call themselves “Peter Pan fans”, and probably haven’t ever gone looking for Peter Pan fanfic (or as I like to call it, Pan-fic). If you ever wanted to get into it, I would recommend this list as a good starting primer. I didn’t get into Pan-fic myself until a few years ago, and I haven’t trawled the net as extensively for it as I have for fic from other fandoms. Nevertheless, I have a decent-length list of great fic that I can really recommend to anyone who likes Peter Pan even a little bit. I admit it reflects my tastes rather heavily since all of it is romantic fluff and all of it is Peter-and-Wendy-centric xD But even within that small field there’s a fascinatingly wide range of takes on our two main characters and their tale – some sweet, some sad, most a bit of both. I like fanfics which give me a happy ending to the story, but I also like those which don’t shy away from the reality of Peter and Wendy’s situation. Above all, I value good characterisation, engaging writing and an interesting idea.

So read and enjoy!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

On Writing Fluff

Wow, it’s been a while. I know, I’ve really dropped the ball on the regular updates to this blog so far – in fact, on having updates at all – and my own tendency to constantly switch my focus between different projects has thrown a spanner into the works, as I knew it would before too long. But I also have another theory as to why I’ve been reluctant to update this blog: I’ve been setting the bar for myself too high. Lately, at least, I’ve been trying to make each post absolutely meaningful and worthwhile on all levels – either saying something insightful about writing; containing a lot of info about, or a new instalment of, the story; or doing a kind of review-slash-informational-piece about someone else’s work for Recommendation Tuesday. And I figured it was better to update the blog less frequently with more meaningful posts than to scrape the bottom of the barrel for interesting content.

Friday, 22 February 2013

To Serialise Or Not To Serialise?

Or, ‘On Making Rough Drafts Public’.

Originally I was going to have this Friday’s post be about The Evolution of Setting, but I couldn’t remember half the points I wanted to cover, and I decided that I should probably save most of these backward-looking posts for when I’ve actually, y’know, finished a first draft or something similarly outlandish. So instead I’m going to talk about an important consideration for any writer who wants to build up a following online: namely, how polished does my writing have to be before I post it on the Internet?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Recommendation Tuesday: TPB AFK

This is one of those Tuesdays I mentioned where I will recommend something that's not-so-directly linked to The Neverland as a project, but has themes and subject matter in common. Is it still awesome? Oh yes.

If you're an Internet user, you may well have heard of The Pirate Bay, one of the biggest and most notorious sites for pirated downloads. But have you heard of the documentary that tells the story of the users behind The Pirate Bay, their beliefs about freedom of information which led them to create the site, and their recent court battle against the Swedish government?