spock: logic is sexy

Thoughts on this year's remix

First, I am shocked that secretsolitaire was the only person to correctly identify my remix (which I posted here if you missed it.) I didn't do the what's-in-my-id meme when it came around because I know the answer: my id wants women being strong and vulnerable at the same time, preferably in situations where they are rescuing or taking charge of male characters. My remix story is all of those things, and it's about Chapel to boot. Does anyone besides me write really long genfic about Chapel? If the answer to this question is yes, you should probably tell me who because I would like to add this person to my friends list.

Anyway, I think you guys know how hard I struggled with this remix. My remixee was speccygeekgrrl,who writes a lot of slash. You guys might have noticed that I don't write slash ever (at least, not about boys) so this posed something of a problem. In the end, I had two drabbles to choose from. One was Uhura/Rand UST, which was quite intriguing, but I don't have a clear mental picture of Rand's character, so I knew that figuring out why she was into Uhura and how that would turn out was impossible. That left me with this very provocative angst drabble:

Sickbay was used to seeing bedside vigils, uncomfortably frequently as they happened. Usually it was McCoy sitting beside Kirk until the captain regained consciousness, or Kirk at Spock's bedside until the Vulcan's vital signs evened out to the levels of a healing trance.

No one knew quite what to do when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy occupied the first three biobeds.

(Original post is here.)

The premise of this was very promising, but I still felt panicked because it was really my only choice. Still, I started it ASAP, so I thought time was on my side. My first idea was a Sulu-centric team gen piece. The premise was that he was in charge now that everyone else was injured, and he felt panicked on the inside but was actually doing an amazing job. I was going to visit each of the senior staff in turn, narrating some of the encounters from Sulu's POV and some from other characters' POVs so that we could see how capable Sulu actually was. It was a good idea, and I'm still a little sorry that I didn't get to write it, but as the deadline got closer and closer, it became apparent that the idea simply wasn't going to coalesce -- not the least because there was really no plot. Then I added some Romulans into the mix, but that backed me even further into a corner because I have no idea how to narrate battle scenes.

This was where my ideas started getting really complicated. I figured the Romulans could be intruders because I felt more confident in my ability to write them trying to take over the ship from the inside than trying to blow it up from the outside. I ended up with three POVs going for three separate plot lines: one with Sulu fighting for control of the bridge, one with Chapel fighting for sickbay, and another one with the Romulan commander from TOS barreling through the ship being simultaneously competent and evil. At this point, which was less than a week before the due date, I had to accept that I was writing a big bang and not a remix fic that could be completed while also working full time and dealing with the seemingly omnipresent threat of tornadoes. Reluctantly, I axed the Romulan commander, who I was really enjoying. Much less reluctantly, I let go of Sulu, who just wasn't making sense. Then I was back on familiar ground with a female character I really love, and if the idea was a little random and odd, I was convinced I could get a story done. And I did. I uploaded a very, very rough draft literally hours before the initial posting deadline, and I finished my edits only hours before the challenge. It is the most nerve wracking writing experience I've had to date.

Plot wise, I had problems, and I still do. In my head, the scenario made a lot of sense: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were on an exploratory mission where the stumbled across a team of Romulans secretly building some kind of weapon in Federation territory. Sulu, who was wandering along behind them, didn't actually see the weapon, just the fight that followed. The Romulans then managed to beam aboard the ship (this was better explained when I had scenes from the Romulan commander's POV) to find out what had been reported to Starfleet, and to finish off the away team. This is where I discovered the problem inherent in writing action stories from a limited third person POV: it's not enough that you know the villains' motives; you somehow have to get them into the hands of your main character, and when that person is Chapel, the odds of her knowing exactly what's going on are pretty low. Cue cheesy attempt to explain whole background of story with a couple lines of exposition that an enemy would probably never deliver. I still feel an accurate summary of this story is "igrockspock wanted Chapel to fight Romulans in sickbay, and she didn't know how or why that would happen, but she didn't let that stop her from writing the story". More importantly, I wish I could have found a way for Chapel to kill the Romulans without them being stupid, but I think I would need months to figure that out. Starting with a simpler scenario probably would have made the whole process easier though. I was pretty attached to the transporter room scene where the away team comes back and everyone is panicked by the severity of their injuries, but I probably should have ditched that in favor of a story about how Romulans wanted to take over the Enterprise because they want a top-of-the-line starship, the senior officers are wounded during the take-over attempt, and the Romulans hide in the jeffries tubes while everyone is distracted. That might have made more sense. What about hindsight and 20/20?

I am happy with this as a first attempt at a plot-driven story though, and I feel like I could keep building on those lessons to become a writer who is driven by both character and plot. Maybe now I can start writing my own id stories instead of leaving them as prompts for other people.

Most importantly, I am happy with the characterization in this story. It was going to be angst free and maybe end with Chapel and Kirk hooking up, but I think what happened was more honest, and I got some more practice with Kirk's character, which I need for big bang. I also feel like I got to showcase a little more of every day life on the Enterprise. The story felt realistic and grounded to me in a way that others haven't before, maybe because my betas didn't let me dismiss details that I would have previously ignored. I stretched myself and tried new things, which is really what remix is all about. As exhausted as I was by the end of this year's challenge, I find myself wishing another remix opportunity was coming sooner -- at least, before this time next year.

Whatever my successes, I do feel in some way that I cheated. I didn't really write a remix; I took a tiny drabble as a prompt and then expanded it in the way I saw fit. I am kind of impressed that I got nearly 6400 words out of something that was not even 100 words long, and I know that expanding a drabble is an acceptable method of remixing. Still, though, to remix, you have to start with something that's a story, and I'm not sure if I did. It feels like I took a bit of a cop out so that I could avoid writing ships that make me uncomfortable, and I hope that my remixee didn't feel let down by my selection of source material.

This year, I owe several thank you's. First, to boosette who wrote me The Moment of Our Greatness Flickers, a beautiful expansion of a Jocelyn McCoy drabble I wrote ages and ages ago. Somehow she guessed how deeply I want to know what happened to Leonard and Jocelyn's marriage, and fleshed it out in a way that I never could.

Also, to my two betas, katmarajade and wendelah1. katmarajade spotted a zillion distracting typos that I never even spotted, and without her help, the poor proofreading absolutely would have spoiled the story. wendelah1 whipped the story into shape with her medical knowledge and pointed out all the plot holes that needed closing -- not to mention delivered a fabulous idea for the ending. I couldn't have done it without either of you!
This piece of magnificence is hardly a cop-out. And I don't think you're required to break yourself writing something you really, really don't want to, especially when you can find a way to write something you do want to instead.

I love your Chapel, and I love your thoughts on leadership. And now I have to read the middle of the story so I can give you a comprehensive comment already. :)
Thank you so much for the reassurance! I really am awed by how often you take time out to say kind things to your friends. :)
I agree with rubynye that this wasn't a cop-out at all -- I think it's awesome what you managed to create out of a couple of sentences. :-)
*blushes* aww, thanks! I'm glad it helped. As you can see, I'm pretty good at typo spotting, but I'm all plotholes? What plotholes? I think I have a far too well-developed suspension of disbelief from too much sci-fi, fantasy, and fanfic!
I think I have a far too well-developed suspension of disbelief from too much sci-fi, fantasy, and fanfic!

Personally, I think that's an excellent quality in a reader! I shall be relying on it heavily as I delve into more plot-driven stories...
I have to say this fic was one of my two Trek favourites from Remix. I was okay with the premise and I love fanon Chapel.