?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Metafic: Captain of the ship (2/2)

BBC Sherlock

Rating: 12 (slash, painful writing, plagiarism)

Summary: Sherlock is still attempting to write fanfic about himself, to show us how to do it.

With special thanks to warriorbot for betaing, and to et_cetera55 for allowing Sherlock to critique her fic and then plagarise from it.

Part 1

Fanfic didn't actually need dramatic action, Sherlock told himself when he returned to his writing project next day. Some stories had nothing more than brief description of feelings, talks and glances in the living room, and left the rest up to the reader's imagination. Maybe that kind of stylistic minimalism would suit him more.

John looked tenderly across at the slender, charismatic figure who had saved both their lives by his quick-thinking skinny idiot who had nearly got them both killed again. He felt

After five minutes, Sherlock gave up. John wasn't in touch with his own feelings, so it was bloody unreasonable to expect Sherlock to work out what they were. Stick to externals for the moment.

John's compact, callipygous frame  shifted on the sofa. He looked at Sherlock with a glance in which lust mingled with awe.

Could a glance really do that? After considerable staring at a mirror, Sherlock decided that possibly he could express that combination. John, however...When John's face expressed mixed emotions concerning Sherlock, it tended to be more along the lines of lust mixed with intense exasperation, or anger combined with latent hysteria. Or indeed, awe tinged with horror, like someone seeing a really impressive scorpion. Perhaps he should instead focus more on a physical description of John. Besides, it was important to show, rather than tell.

John's compact, callipygous frame  shifted on the sofa. His eyes, the grey of

In the photos he had of John, his base eye colour ranged from #32302F to #6E6463, depending partly on the lighting. Perhaps that level of detail was excessive.

John's compact, callipygous frame  shifted on the sofa. His grey eyes were mesmerising, as were the subtle angles of his zygomatic bones.

Of course, some readers of fanfic might not remember where the zygomatic  bones were in the skull. And possibly they didn't have a dictionary handy when at their computer. In fact, the empirical evidence was rather against that.

Maybe, however, description wasn't strictly necessary: some fanfics made surprisingly little use of the technique. In his search for precedents for his Darwin/Huxley fic, he'd stumbled across the intriguing tag of 'darwinian seduction techniques'. Of course the author concerned was an idiot – homosexual activity was clearly a dead-end strategy in evolutionary terms. Still, there were glimpses of logical training in the long-since wrecked mind of 'Mary Sutherland'. An obvious focus on the intellect, rather than the transport. The poor visual sense revealed argued for some kind of optical defect, which would, of course, fit with the alias assumed. (A bit of googling of his previous cases would have let her find a client of his noted for her short-sightedness, though if Dr S thought that the clues she'd let drop didn't allow him to deduce her real identity, she was even more idiotic than he'd imagined).

It appeared, therefore, that large quantities of dialogue, plus occasional scenes of hysteria or vomiting, and overuse of the word 'actually', could produce a minimally adequate form of fanfic. He reached for his fountain pen again.

***

John's compact, callipygous frame shifted on the sofa. His grey eyes softened as he looked across at Sherlock, and he said:

'Do you want some more tea?' [Realistic, but not leading anywhere]

 

'I was planning to watch a crappy film tonight'  [Ditto]

 

'Your genius never ceases to amaze me' [Somehow not quite authentic]

 

'Oh God, I want to shag you' [Rather too quick an end to the scene]

 

'Atomic physics has always fascinated me'.

'Elementary particles, my dear John?' [Oddly satisfying, but hard to know how to develop it]

'You won't believe what your brother told me'.

Sherlock crossed the last sentence out with particular firmness. He was definitely not having Mycroft in this story. He had heard about authors whose characters ran away with them, he was not going to take even the slightest chance that 'John' might prefer 'Mycroft' to 'Sherlock', if Sherlock was a tiny bit too imperious, in an entirely justifiable way.

Why was this so hard? Why couldn't he hear John's voice properly in his head? Well, he could, but it tended to be more the inarticulate moans he remembered, or at most a few groaned phrases, 'Sherlock, please' or 'There, do it now!' And thinking of those was definitely not helpful when it came to concentrating on writing. He put down his pen briefly...

 John's conversation when they weren't naked, or about to get naked very soon, was trickier to recall. To recall in detail. It wasn't that he didn't listen to John, he quite often did. It was just that Sherlock's listening was optimised to focus on the informational content of John's conversation, such as it was, not the surrounding verbiage. He supposed he could try closer aural scrutiny, attempt to catch John's speech patterns, but it would probably be a rather tedious process. There must be some other alternative.

***

He wondered why some creative appropriation hadn't occurred to him earlier. After all, Shakespeare had been notorious for his reworking of earlier stories. It wasn't plots or even scenes that mattered, so much as what you did with them. A remixed version of a fanfic from another fandom would prove an interesting test of his writing talent and ingenuity, as well as allowing him to make some obvious improvements.

A brief search brought up an intriguing possible candidate: 'Taking it Slowly'. A glance at the BBC website informed him sufficiently about the historical horror that was 'Merlin': thank God he hadn't chosen a story that included a talking dragon. It was also fortunate that he had once had to solve the murder of a Viking re-enactor killed by poison on his pommel, and was thus well-acquainted with the period. He had the original fic downloaded – now to begin its transformation.

***

John had finally managed to drift to sleep the night before, heart bursting with joy and excitement.
Prince Sherlock had kissed him!

This morning, though, the excitement was being replaced by anxiety, settling heavily in Merlin’s stomach and making him feel a little sick, rather like the time he'd found a severed head stored in the old Roman ice house.

John had never… not with a man, not even a kiss until last night… And Sherlock surely had…the way everyone at court looked at him adoringly. But what would he want…? What would he expect…? Would Sherlock want John to…?

A good start, definitely, building on the original to develop the characters. John's subsequent masturbation was fairly easily handled, but the breakfast scene that followed needed a little realism injected into it:

After John had cleaned himself up and got dressed, he had his usual breakfast with Gaius, forcing the porridge down. Long cooking had softened the coarse grains, but he still always worried he'd break a tooth eating it. And the wine, sour and full of floating muck, so you ended up filtering it with your teeth, and then spitting on the filthy rushes. Amid such lack of basic hygiene, his skills as a healer could only help so much, even with the secret scientific knowledge he had learned, that ignorant men might regard as magic and punish him for.

And yet he wanted to know more, to learn more. Why could the mysterious cosmic forces that had brought black people to post-Roman Britain not have brought some Saracens as well, preferably with all the scientific knowledge they'd accumulated from ancient Greece? He'd heard amazing stories from a pilgrim he'd once met, lost on his way to St Albans. The same man who had taught him to calculate the years according to the date of Christ's birth.

One day he must be brave and tell his prince something of the knowledge he had so painstakingly acquired. But perhaps not about AD reckoning. He knew better now than to try and explain astronomy to Sherlock, who saw no need to copy that out  in the scriptorium of his mind. An odd blind spot in a man whose abilities were so amazing otherwise. Leader of men, strategic genius, scholar...lover. A warrior too. He'd shot a man at 100 paces to save John's life only a few days after they'd first met. A crack shot, nerves of steel, [? check what metallurgical metaphors are appropriate for the period] his hands couldn't have shaken at all on the bow. John had been about to drink the draught of wine he'd been offered, even though he knew it might be poisoned, because he knew it might be poisoned. He'd been stupidly reckless then, thank God he'd had a true friend to save him.

But now, he must try to pretend that everything was normal, that last night his life hadn’t changed so dramatically that if the events hadn’t imprinted themselves so vividly in the wax tablets of his memory, he would struggle to believe it had been real.

That was definitely promising. Of course, the problem remained how he could set a Sherlock/John fic in medieval Camelot. He refused to write anything in which completely implausible mechanics of time travel were used. Fiction was irrational enough anyhow, without creating distortions in the space/time continuum. Ah, he had it. This was how the story should begin:

John's dream was the same as it had been for many nights now, ever since he'd watched that ridiculous TV programme one night. Its portrayal of the early Middle Ages was grotesquely anachronistic, and yet...and yet there was something about Merlin's service to Arthur, his desperate attempts to protect his prince, the man he loved, that spoke to him, to his own confused yearnings. In the daytime, John scoffed at Sherlock, called him an idiot, tried to conceal his feelings. At night, John the Healer was the willing servant of Prince Sherlock, fighting to protect the kingdom that would one day belong to him. That should be his even now, if it were not that the curse of primogeniture had Mycroft Pendragon ruling in his place...

In his dreams, John was waking, the rough straw sticking through the linen of his pallet making his skin itch infuriatingly...or perhaps that was the lice. But he had finally managed to drift to sleep the night before, heart bursting with joy and excitement. Prince Sherlock had kissed him!

***

With relief, Sherlock finished adapting the final paragraph and began to re-read the draft. Yes, a strong story there, it was somehow satisfying to imagine how the prince might gently guide his loyal, but inexperienced servant into sexual ecstasy. The only problem was...some of the resemblances to et_cetera55's original were still rather close. He'd argue it was homage (good medieval concept that, why hadn't he used it in the fic?), but she might possibly consider it verged on the plagiaristic, if he sent it to her. Take these two sections, for example:

Arthur then slid one arm underneath the small of Merlin’s back and lifted again, before sliding the pillow under Merlin’s hips. Merlin felt the coil of nerves twist tighter still, unable to return the small, reassuring smile Arthur was giving him. He watched apprehensively as Arthur upturned a small vial, pouring oil all over the fingers of one hand.

Sherlock slid his long slender arm underneath the small of John’s back and lifted him again, then slid the goose-feather pillow under his hips. John's coiled nerves twisted tighter, like the cords that propelled a Roman ballista. His left hand began to shake, and he was unable to return the confident smile the prince was giving him. He watched, with medical interest, as Sherlock picked up a small glass vial, pouring liquid all over the fingers of one hand.

"What's that?" he asked.

"Olive oil. Almost impossible to obtain now with the collapse of the old trade routes from Africa, but it's worth breaching my stock of it for you. The experiments I've done show it's far more effective than either lanolin or lard."

It probably needed a bit more editing, then it would be fine.

***

At draft number fifty-seven he gave up.

***

It was odd how deflated he felt about such a trivial matter. After all, it was not as if he really owed anything to the woman, it was like thanking a butterfly who'd flapped its wings in China for a recent shower of rain. And yet, he ought to do something. Unfortunately, an anonymous offer to solve any crimes et_cetera55 was worried about might not be taken seriously, and an anonymous offer to commit any minor crimes that might appeal to her could be misinterpreted. A different approach was called for.

"John," he asked, as he sat working at his laptop the next day. "I've got a small problem of internet etiquette I'd like your advice on."

John didn't even glance up from the newspaper, as he replied:

"The basic rule is, if someone sends you a death threat, you either forward it to Lestrade or Mycroft, or at least file it for future reference. You do not simply delete it, and you definitely do not e-mail back criticising the spelling and grammar. Above all, you do not suggest that their proposed methods of killing are ineffective and make constructive suggestions for improving the plan. Understood?"

"No, I want to know about sending virtual gifts. Marcel Mauss is fine on the principles of the countergift, but rather outdated on specific examples."

"Who's Marcel Mouse?" John asked, "Mickey's French cousin?"

Thank goodness he'd decided that he didn't need to remember what John said, you could corrupt an entire hard drive with jokes that bad. Sherlock was about to make a stinging comment about John's complete ignorance of classic works of anthropology, when he remembered that that might distract John from giving a useful answer.

"Why do you want to know anyhow?" John asked, suddenly putting down the paper. "Sherlock, why are you sending virtual gifts to someone?"

"I wanted to thank an expert I consulted on a recent case. She gave me...some useful background information on medieval literature."

"Well, I certainly don't want to discourage you being grateful to people. So what were you planning to send?"

"I'm not entirely sure, which is why I'm resorting to asking you. Do you think a twenty-something married woman with a taste for science fiction would prefer a sugary bunny or an apple with a worm in it?"

"I think the bunny would be safest."

"Thank you, John."

"Don't overdo the thanking, Sherlock, that's two in one day. You should work up to it slowly, given you're not used to it."

Sherlock gave John a hard stare as he tapped on his laptop. 30 seconds later, et_cetera55 had been sent a virtual worm in a virtual apple by sexcrazeddr. Settles the debt, thought Sherlock, that's the last I need to worry about the fanfic writers. Although...he did still wonder whether someone other than him might appreciate the potential of slashing Mycroft and Anderson.

***



Et_cetera's original fic giving Sherlock ideas is The job description - some missing minutes.

Her Merlin fic is Taking it slowly.

And Warriorbot's original metafic is here.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jan. 10th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
In the photos he had of John, his base eye colour ranged from #32302F to #6E6463, depending partly on the lighting. Perhaps that level of detail was excessive.

WRONG!

This morning, though, the excitement was being replaced by anxiety, settling heavily in Merlin’s stomach and making him feel a little sick, rather like the time he'd found a severed head stored in the old Roman ice house.

WRONG!

At draft number fifty-seven he gave up.

WRONG!

There's a theme emerging here, don't you think?
fengirl88
Jan. 10th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
had to read this in three stages because I was laughing so much I couldn't go on. amongst other things I loved the progress of Sherlock's drafts, the relative merits of different lubricants, Mycroft Pendragon...
kalypso_v
Jan. 10th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
When John's face expressed mixed emotions concerning Sherlock, it tended to be more along the lines of lust mixed with intense exasperation, or anger combined with latent hysteria. Or indeed, awe tinged with horror, like someone seeing a really impressive scorpion.

This may be my favourite bit.

He knew better now than to try and explain astronomy to Sherlock, who saw no need to copy that out in the scriptorium of his mind.

I'm quite touched that he was willing to put that bit in. But does Sherlock really not know how to spell breach?

And I hope et_cetera55 appreciated the virtual worm in the virtual apple. Was that draft 57, or did he go back to an earlier effort?
marysutherland
Jan. 10th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
Two possible explanations for the 'breeching' of the olive oil:

1) Sherlock is using 'breech' as a verb in its meaning of 'To cover or clothe with, or as with, breeches', in some convoluted and probably obscene pun, given that Prince Sherlock would naturally wear breeches, and that 'breech' can also be used as a term for 'the buttocks, posteriors, rump, seat'.

2) Sherlock's accurate description of the limitations of 'Mary Sutherland's' style omitted to mention an occasional weakness with homophones.
et_cetera55
Jan. 10th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh I love this so much! I've read it through so many times now and still laugh out loud. So so many wonderful bits that I couldn't possibly list them all (although I did esp love the historical accuracy Sherlock brings to a PWP)

Brilliant, brilliant fic

(And in response to kalypso_v - I appreciate the virtual worm with its own little virtual apple very much. So much more interesting than a boring bunny!)
marysutherland
Jan. 13th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
What I found alarming was realising, as I was writing this story, how much overlap there was between Sherlock's idea of what fanfic ought to be like and mine. (It's a good job I long ago gave up my attempts to write serious historical fiction and became a historian instead).
uwsannajane
Jan. 13th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
And possibly they didn't have a dictionary handy when at their computer. In fact, the empirical evidence was rather against that.

This whole thing is hilarious, and on top of that delightful.
marysutherland
Jan. 15th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it - it's fun every now and then puncturing Sherlock's self-esteem.
eightnoon
Jan. 14th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
Oh my... I've got tears in my eyes and a pain in my side from this. I loved Sherlock's descriptions of John's mixed emotions and of course his blatant plagiarism. This was wonderful.
2ndskin
Jan. 15th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
wonderful and wishing it weren't ending--or maybe Sherlock will eventually return to his pursuit, unwilling to accept defeat after only a few dozen tries?? Of course I love the rollicking playtime with fanfic conventions and details--yours and et_cetera's-- but I also love the characterization of the S and J relationship in both parts--love it. To hell with their deep emotional connection--two halves of a whole--feh! Sherlock really doesn't even pay attention to John's babbling half the time and has to actively repress his urges to criticize his jokes--but has worked out how to elicit information and sex from him when needed. Now there's an R RPF for you. And I do especially love the continuing seething hatred of Mycroft. BTW, I'd be interested in a small ficlet about the lanolin vs. lard experiments if you decide to give Prince Sherlock another go. This is one of my absolute favorite ms stories.
marysutherland
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
Of course Sherlock and John have a deep emotional connection - it's just they are men who automatically run away from their own emotions. Right from a Study in Pink, John thinks Sherlock is both amazing and a complete idiot. And Sherlock, by TGG, cares deeply for John and still routinely treats him horribly. So, particularly for something cracky like this, I wanted to play with the struggle between Sherlock's titanic ego and his genuine, if shame-faced, adoration of and admiration for John, which sneaks into his writing in various odd ways.

I'm not sure I dare write more fic in Sherlock's voice, because it's already worryingly near mine, and it might do terrible things to my own style. But in lieu of that, I got some of the lanolin/lard ideas from this discussion of Narnian lubricants. (CS Lewis must be revolving in his grave).
2ndskin
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
mmmm. you're making me think about how I define S/J's relationship. I think maybe a little differently--not so much running away from their emotions, as enjoying the contradictory ones they are feeling--they're pretty good at expressing things in the moment, but I'll think more about this--3 a.m. is as good a time as any. And I'll mount a campaign for you to write more sherlock pov whenever the mood strikes--because you do it so well, and it's so damn hard to do.
kim47
Jan. 16th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
I am so, so happy this fic exists, I just want to draw hearts all over it. I loved Going Down With This Ship, and the idea of Sherlock trying (and failing) to write RPF about himself is genius.

But then there's him plagiarizing Merlin/Arthur fic and adapting it to himself and John... So. Much. Win. Merlin/Arthur is pretty much the only fanfic I read apart from Sherlock, so this is so many levels of awesome for me.

Also, John's reaction to John/Mycroft slash is perfection (and something like my own reaction usually is :D)/

Bravo!
marysutherland
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:47 am (UTC)
I'm delighted that someone who enjoys Arthur/Merlin fanfic can appreciate what I've done to it, because it's more or less ripping the whole concept to shreds as historically inaccurate. I've only watched a few clips on the BBC and then picked on et_cetera55's very sweet story for Sherlock to maul about. (My excuse is, Sherlock hasn't watched the series either).

I have written a bit of John/Mycroft slash myself, so I mentally had that as the story that Sherlock saw and objected to. Particularly since it ends up with John choosing Mycroft over Sherlock, which is why Sherlock doesn't want John talking to Mycroft in his own stories.
coldlikedeath
Jan. 17th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
I think I love you.
shefa
Mar. 4th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
Brilliant. Hysterical. So much fun. :D
marysutherland
Mar. 4th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed writing it, but then I started realising that I probably share many of Sherlock's writing faults and that's rather alarming.
rusty_armour
Jun. 14th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
Ye gods! I haven't laughed so hard in ages! Parts of this metafic almost had me on the floor, they were so FUNNY! I love the way John has to convince Sherlock that Mrs. Trellis is his client and not his stalker, not to mention the need to dictate an email in English rather than Welsh. I love the fact that there's Darwin/Huxley slash and, of course, Sherlock reads it. Lastly, I adore Sherlock's attempts at writing (especially that sex scene) and his need to plagiarize et_cetera55's Merlin story. Here are some other favourite moments:

"If we're going to have details," John said, with an edge to his voice, "Mrs Trellis is not a stalker. Not like foxycop678 was."

"foxycop678 wasn't the stalker," Sherlock said, sighing. "Can't you keep up, John? foxycop567 was the troll on your blog, foxycop789 was the stalker that Mycroft put a restraining order on. foxycop678, in contrast, was the writer of terrible fiction."


and

John didn't even glance up from the newspaper, as he replied:

"The basic rule is, if someone sends you a death threat, you either forward it to Lestrade or Mycroft, or at least file it for future reference. You do not simply delete it, and you definitely do not e-mail back criticising the spelling and grammar. Above all, you do not suggest that their proposed methods of killing are ineffective and make constructive suggestions for improving the plan. Understood?"


I ended up reccing this story and warriorbot's Going Down with this Ship to a friend of mine because I'm sure she'd appreciate a good laugh too. :-)
zevbaldwin
Aug. 7th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
*.. He knew better now than to try and explain astronomy to Sherlock, who saw no need to copy that out in the scriptorium of his mind. An odd blind spot in a man whose abilities were so amazing otherwise. Leader of men, strategic genius, scholar...lover. A warrior too. He'd shot a man at 100 paces to save John's life only a few days after they'd first met. A crack shot, nerves of steel, [? check what metallurgical metaphors are appropriate for the period] his hands couldn't have shaken at all on the bow.* - Oh my! Sherlock worships John. Secretly.
Great story!
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )