spock: keep calm and carry on

Some thoughts on remixing

Sign-ups for Remix are closing today! You only need 5-7 sotries in ONE eligible fandom to qualify, and it's so much fun to play! This year, I offered to remix in Harry Potter, Sherlock, Elementary, Sleepy Hollow, and Game of Thrones (after editing my sign-up twice). I decided not to offer Star Trek AOS since the new movie didn't really result in a fic-splosion, and I just don't feel that I have much to say about older Star Trek stories. I also decided not to offer MCU since I'm scared of some of the pairings that are prevalent in that fandom. No offense to my flist, but I just can't handle Loki and Steve/Tony breaks up my one and only OTP - I just don't want to be responsible for the story I might end up creating! Of course, remix is never totally safe. I still have to worry about Snape/student relationships in HP. And again, no offense to my flist, but as a high school teacher, I just can't process those relationships. Ah well, risk is part of the fun of remix!

Yesterday I tagged all my remixes on AO3 so I could look at them all. I've changed the POV character on almost every story, but I feel like that alone wasn't enough to make the remix successful. Like, Extraordinary (It's Not the Years, It's the Mileage Remix) is probably the least effective remix I've written. Although I had fun getting into Xander's POV, it didn't really add anything to the story. On the other hand, Matched Set (The Clothes Make the Man Remix) is probably the best remix I've written because switching to a minor character's POV changed the entire story. So, my lesson is that if I want to change the POV, I need to think carefully about whose perspective would add something new, and that person is not always a major character.

The wackiest remix I've ever written was The Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead (The Bridge is Love Remix). Because zombies. I still can't explain exactly why I did that, except that it was remix, and when else was I going to write about zombies? I think I wanted to change the tone or the genre of the story, which I've tried doing before with varying degress of success. The Things They Say About My Brother (After the Fall Overdub) is probably the best example of that. It started out as a short, funny drabble, and I remixed it with new canon from series two, which made it quite a bit sadder. I tried to do something similar with There is Joy in Repetition (But Sometimes You Have to Break Routine, which also started out as a drabble. That one didn't work as well because I bit off way more than I could chew with the plot, so the finished work doesn't hang together as well as I'd like. Note to self: if choosing to expand a drabble, try to pick one that doens't require 6500 words and a Romulan ambush.

What are your favorite remixing techniques? Have you learned anything from previous remixes that you'd like to share?
I signed up! I have NO technique and have yet to learn anything. This is very new and I'm simultaneously terrified and excited! *bounces*

I played it cautious and only signed up for HP and Trek TOS/AOS, because I'm very familiar with those and feel I can do a really wide variety. I clicked on Agents of SHIELD and TNG as "would write" at first, but have since narrowed it down to the two fandoms I already qualify in. I figure I should stick with what I know for this first go round!
I think that approach makes sense. I only offered Star Trek AOS the first couple times I did remix. Anyway, if your recipient has something that catches your eye, you can remix it even if it's not a fandom you offered.
I haven't done much remixing, so I don't have a lot in the way of strategy. In the past, I've chosen the specific writers and stories I want to remix. This fest will be the first one in which I'm assigned someone, and I know it's very possible that whoever I get will have written only stories with characters I dislike and/or have never thought about. But as you say, that's the fun and the risk.

I qualify in only two fandoms -- Harry Potter and Star Trek: VOY, so I offered to write both. I initially asked for both as well, but then I realized that I would really prefer to have one of my HP stories remixed. So I went back and edited. I'll be happy to write either, though. Only a very few people have asked for VOY, and I know most of them and their work, so getting back to Trek will be fun. (As will HP, if that's what I get. Who knows -- I may end up writing Harry/Draco yet!)

I have that same teacher/student squick; it's just such a taboo concept for me. But I firmly believe that there is no topic, no squick that can't be done well in the hands of a good writer. So I'll be interested to see what comes my way.
I am importing all my Harry Potter stories to AO3 because I'm letting them be remixed this year, and it's cracking me up, because they are... well, they're from 2003, and feature lots of people standing about in the rain while everyone they love is dead. Teenaged me was angsty.

Also there is a songfic. A SONGFIC. I'm laughcringing.
This reminds me I need to go upload more of my SPN fic to AO3, because I offered it to be mixed this year. (I don't remember where I saw the post, but somebody was talking about how remix isn't about how you'd rewrite your own stuff, it's how somebody else wants to write it. And that kind of gave me license to say, "Yeah, let somebody else do stuff with my fic that I don't even look at any more." It was very freeing.)

I went ahead and both offered and requested MCU, because I figure if that's what my remixer matches on, they're gonna be stuck with a bunch of Steve/Darcy stories and Steve gen and no slash, so I might as well allow the same to happen to me. Though I have pairings I prefer in the fandom, I only have a couple that are DNW, and even those are ones I think I could work around.

As for my own remixes, I have a serious fondness for five-times fic, and I've both pulled a section from someone else's five-times and turned it into a full-length story and taken full-length stories and turned them into five-times. Sometimes this is more successful than other times, but I've found it's a good approach if you can't quite settle on the story you want to tell. Sometimes I change POV, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I go for multiple POVs. I'm not sure I really have a system.

I think my most successful remix was It's a Hell of a Town (The New York City Serenade), which changed the POV, and pared a lengthy story down to just over 1k. It's funny now that I'm living here, but at the time that I wrote it, I'd only been to NYC once, as a kid, and had hated the noise and the smell and everything, so I put a lot of that sentiment into Dean, who, at the end of the day, really is not made for big cities. I also was really pleased with Start With a Larger Pot [The Careful Cooking Overdub]. I felt like I really got the mood right with that one. My favorite parts of it are Steve making toast for the French prostitute and making borscht for the team in the snowstorm.
I love the idea of a five things fic! For the longest time, I never wrote them, but I've started to really enjoy them. When I'm busy and worried that I can't finish a story, breaking it down into five smaller parts makes it so much more manageable. Now I'm hoping I find something to turn into a five things fic :)
I love remixes. It's my favorite challenge in any fandom, outside of Yuletide. I think it's just because I love twisting things around & changing things & imagining What If a lot. (Probably explains why I like fanfic in general, I suppose. *g*)

Um, lessee, I think the 3 remixes I'm proudest of (okay 4) are these:

The Memory Remains (SPN, gen) - Because I took 3 or 4 fics that dealt with Dean's past & really used that as an excuse to completely fuck with him emotionally, because I could. The SPN fandom was crazy like no other, but man, it gave me a good excuse to write the angst. *g*

A Man Like Smoke (Greek Mythology) - This one might be my very very favorite, just because I managed to capture the exact tone I wanted, which almost never happens. And I changed everything around in this, too, and also used more than one fic & meshed them all together. Oh, and I added a pairing, because I could.

Beguiling Light (Lord of the Rings) - I actually changed the pairing in this one completely, even though the canon pairing does show up. But I love this one because I managed to completely subvert every single thing in the original fic & still end it exactly where the other fic did, only with a vastly different result. :D

Rewriting History (Lotrips) - Oh, but this one was my crowning achievement in remixing, simply because I hated - and I mean HATED - the original fic it was based on. (Not a shock - I'm friends with the original author & that fic drew a lot of discussion & debate when she first published it, which she knew & was aware of & even participated in.) So when I actually got her for the Remix Redux that year, I leapt at the chance to a) "fix" the problems I had with her Karl, and b) take the story in a completely different direction. I have never had as much fun doing a remix before or since. :DDD

There have been other remixes I've really liked that I've done, but I think those are my favorites or the ones I'm most proud of. Now, if the Pacific Rim or MCU fandom would just do one that was all them...

Edited at 2014-03-30 09:42 pm (UTC)

I agree that changing the POV character alone isn't enough to make it interesting, and that altering the tone or genre as well creates something more original. I've changed the pairing a couple of times (to acknowledge canon pairings) and my favorite remix involved inserting alternate universes, so the original story was only one of a huge set of possibilities and we got a sense of how wrong things nearly went. Your zombie remix sounds cool for a similar reason!