Thirteen Things Stargate Fan Fic Writers Could Teach the “Writers” of NCIS
13. A child pulled from the rubble of a house that has been decimated by mortar fire will not be perfect, pink-cheeked, giggly, and without a mark – physically or mentally. And he/she probably won’t be found clutching her – also in perfect condition – favorite stuffed toy, her mom’s scarf, and the picture she recognizes immediately. Unless you’ve used a transporter beam to get her to safety right before the blast which you’ve used your clairvoyance to figure out. Or an Ancient. Then anything goes.
12. Ensemble shows are hard to write in the first place, giving enough space and dialogue for each character to have a significant part. Don’t pile on the “cameos” with so many “oh, I remember him/her” moments that your main cast are sidelined. Especially in an ep where the audience is looking forward to the team interaction.
11. The introduction of a new character/characters should wait until the departing dearly loved character has made his final bow. These newbies should never, ever take screen time from the one leaving. They especially should not be seen blatantly ripping off the departing character’s mannerisms, snark, specialties, or tackling skills. No one cares. Not right now. You’re making the audience their enemy.
10. Let’s talk about women. They are not to be considered any of the following:
Characters we can easily destroy to show the male characters’ hearts
Good only for romances/hints of romance/reminders of past romances with the male characters
Losses that we use as “weaknesses” to make our male characters react ridiculously again and again and again…
9. Don’t sideline a most popular character, giving him little to do but stand around in the background, and then expect him to continue to be excited to come to work. And don’t be surprised when your fans freak out when he finally decides to seek greener pastures (and better writers) and you seem to say, “here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”
8. Don’t make your main hero type character bond more closely with non-team members than he does with the people on his team for 13 (or 5) years. Don’t have him ignore the guy who’s had his back, who’s seen him through trials and horrors, and who has literally saved his life more than once. And ESPECIALLY don’t have this “hero” say the worst, most cutting, nasty things to this teammate with no explanation or apology.
7. There can be more than one hero on a team. And there should be. Don’t listen to anyone, be he your main star, producer, director or the guy who does your hair if he claims that giving a professional, heroic, smart teammate a significant storyline would unbalance the team. Or the show.
6. On that same line, people grow. So should characters. Grow more complex. Better at their jobs. Let the non-military teammate learn to use the guns. Let the smart cop become an even better, more effective agent.
5. “When you can’t think of anything else, kill someone. Preferably a woman.” You are admitting that you can’t think of anything else. Seek new employment. Perhaps in a political campaign. They love that stuff.
4. Seriously, misogynists much? I guess we shouldn’t expect anything else when the main premise, the entire reason for living/nastiness/second b for bastard personality of the main character is the death of his wife and daughter. Shannon. Kelly. Kate. Paula. Jenny. Mrs. Mallard. Lee. Jackie Vance. Diane. Delilah’s paralysis. Ziva. Good grief, no woman should ever want to work on this show.
But I digress.
Having the death of a main character’s family define every part of their character for years and years and years is expecting the audience to live in some world which is not like our world. Yes, it would hurt. It would haunt. But that would not give the character an automatic “out” every time he feels like being nasty, breaking the law, murdering someone, being cruel to his friends, and living like a self-flagellating monk, and denying hands held out in friendship. Jack grew. Daniel grew. Gibbs is simply a jerk.
5. Give promotions where promotions are due. And medals. And honors. Sam and Jack were promoted. Teal’c received all honors from the Jaffa. Daniel was clearly considered high up in the chain of command. Don’t give your main character the ONLY regard ever shown on the show. The only kudos. Especially as he gets older and it is less and less believable.
4. Don’t undermine a main character. Okay, you can do it with smiles and winks a few times here and there, but don’t do it constantly, over a span of years, with the obvious condoning of the lead. Especially if this person being undermined is supposed to be anywhere in the chain of command. Don’t make him a clown or a punching bag or not smart enough to know that constant belittling, threats, and physical violence are not okay in any workplace. Or friendship. I mean, geez.
3. Unless you have a reverse-aging machine, or alien interference, don’t turn a 40-something woman into a child. A child with temper tantrums and pigtails and demands that every other character treat her as a precious princess. Whether it be Abby or Vala, don’t let them get away with all sorts of over-the-top, scenery chewing foolishness.
2. When a character leaves, do give them a storyline that fits with the years long history you’ve established or the dedication your fans have for this character. They know him, inside and out, better than the writers (obviously). They know he doesn’t get along with children. They know he is a kick-ass interrogator and detective who has almost 20 years experience. They know he spends the money he makes and so doesn’t have a hidden fortune so he can quit his job and go globe-trotting with his broke father. Just as the fans knew Jack hated politics and desks and would never take a job in Washington, they were happy to find him promoted and appreciated. The fans knew Daniel would never make it as a “non-interfery Ancient.” Like Tony. A single dad. With ineffectual, neglectful, interfering grandpa in tow.
Tony was told by the writers that his only redeeming characteristic was that he wuved Ziva. That was the only part of his character that was important to highlight. He got nothing from NCIS, from Gibbs, or his teammates. Nothing. A hug. A handshake. A “we know.”
1. Don’t try to diminish the complete hash you’ve made of a character and his departure by sending the fans bold-fonted missives about how much you worked on this story, and how we should appreciate that it wasn’t worse. Or by belittling them. You’re going to have to eat those words later. Just ask Joe Mallozzi.