Come Back to My Show
Look at me," Blair said again, pitching his voice low.
This voice took them out of friendship, and gripped Jim's heart like a fist of iron. He looked, helpless to do otherwise, and Blair had him.
Somehow Jim had remembered a mythic kind of blue, but Blair's eyes weren't the stuff of legend and they didn't capture him like he thought they would. It was what shone out from behind them that melted Jim's resolve, stole his breath. Intellect, clean and sharp; wit and fire. Blair was immature and brilliant and demanding and pushy and his, heart and soul, whether Jim liked it or not.
Jim liked it. He liked it far, far too much.
--"Edges," by Meredith Lynne
Where have all the writers gone?
Sentinel fiction seems to be more or less on hiatus -- perhaps the new syndication will bring it back into vogue after a summer of (Force preserve us) Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. The best writers of TS fandom seem to think that this fandom has been tapped out, that it's a 'newbie' show, that all the best ideas in TS have been written.
He told me he loved me. He yammered on and on about how he'd been lying about what he felt, that he couldn't deal with what it meant.... Maybe I should have told him that the first guy to ever make any kind of pass at me ended up with a broken nose and eight stitches in his cheek. I was nineteen, and I was so pissed I spent the next two years screwing every woman I could entice into the sack, in order to prove how fucking manly I was. Then I went into the military, and my life consisted of two very basic things. Surviving, and establishing a trail of feminine conquests a mile wide and a year long.
If I finally figured I could handle the fact I liked to boff guys too, well, sure as shit somebody with Blair's openminded background could do the same. He just had to decide to.
--"Dante: Inferno," by Emily Brunson
Firstly -- and I've said this before -- just because somebody's used a good concept doesn't mean somebody else can't do it again.... preferably a better writer, this time.
I mean, please. We're in the business of stealing ideas. That's what we do. We take cultural offerings and we manipulate them, involve ourselves in them, shape them to our taste. Besides which, Shakespeare wasn't exactly Original Story Guy, either. He took stories people knew, and with a genius for characterization and dialogue, he made them better. And some of those original-concept stories out there Just Plain Suck. Don't let a sub-par writer be the only one to have explored a concept. If you like the idea, write your own version.
Yeah, I'm talking to you.
The problem, Blair realized, staring at the ceiling of his room when he woke up hours later, was the difference between fantasy and reality. It was all well and good to think that you wanted Jim Ellison balls deep in your ass when he was out there somewhere and nowhere near you--it was something else entirely to go outside to said man and make him a concrete offer. And this was nothing to tease about--if you were going to approach six feet of Jim Ellison and blithely suggest to him that you broaden the scope of your relationship to include not only friendly fraternization and camping on the weekends but also hard-core fucking, you had better, Blair thought, be prepared to make good.
Which he wasn't at all sure he could do.
--"In the Eye of the Beholder: Keyhole," by Francesca
There are storytellers, and there are writers. Very, very rarely, there are people who can do both -- create an original concept, and express that concept eloquently. Me, I'm on the eloquent-writing end of the continuum, and well-written stories are the ones I prefer to read.
Understand me. I own fourteen different versions of the Matter of Britain. I know dozens of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty myths. I read stories about dragons and telepaths and virtual reality and deities-made-flesh and utopian societies; I read lots of them, and I read something every single day.
I read piles of slash. Mainly Sentinel slash. As much as I can stand, which is quite a lot.
And I have never, ever, rejected a well-written story because I felt like it was a retread.
If you have the gift of writing, you don't need to be "unique" or have a "hook." You tell the story, as eloquently as possible, as truthfully as possible, and you don't worry if you've borrowed an idea or two -- especially not in this community which is made up of borrowed ideas. I'm not saying plagiarize -- local deities forbid you do such a shitty thing. I'm saying, if your story happens to look a little like somebody else's, tell your story anyway.
There was a pause, and he didn't really know what to say, but then Jim took a bite out of a strawberry, a very careful, almost hesitant bite; and then he did, he did know. "So... why'd you do this, then? Why do this if you think it's... weird?"
This time Jim's smile was much more authentic. "So you could feel fucking fantastic. So I could hose you off."
And God bless his brain, that reliable and trusty organ; because a suspicion formed immediately within him and his brain was right there, backing him up, adding evidence upon evidence until the weight of conviction was so stunning that he almost felt it sitting on his chest. "Oh *wait* a minute, man... just wait one minute, here." He took a breath and let it out, knowing that there were many, many questions, and very few of them that wouldn't induce Jim to shut up like a clam. "You did this so that I could enjoy it? Is that what you're saying?"
Jim appeared to be vaguely puzzled. "Uh, yeah? Problem?"
The leftover taste of peaches and cherries seemed suddenly too sour. "Well, let's see... what you're basically telling me here is that it's okay for me to enjoy stuff, but it's not okay for you, but that you like it when I enjoy stuff even when you can't-- yeah, I'd say there's a problem there. Wouldn't you?"
-- "Fruit of the Vine," by Aristide
Now, if you can actually plot and write, I blow in your sacred belly button. Bless you. Write more.
But let's look at some of the central themes of TS a little more. Let's not be afraid to tell a story where one of Jim's senses is lost (Blind Man's Bluff), where there's another individual with Sentinel senses (S2), where Something Dreadful happens to Blair's dissertation (TSbyBS), or where a government agent tries to blackmail Jim and Blair (Rogue). Those are central themes of the show, and they're themes you don't usually find in other buddy-cop shows. Let's not shy away from them.
I mean, heck, what if Jim suddenly lost his sense of touch, for example? There are eleven different things you could do with that -- and I ain't even breaking a sweat here.
There are basic themes in TS -- trust, control, observation, friendship, sensation, choice, belief, the unknown -- for which there really is room for more than one story. Trust me here.
Used to be I had a map for my life. A big one, with bright colors and firm, straight lines that led places like Mozambique and Swaziland and Brazil. All those countries with 'z's in them. So many places highlighted I knew I'd never get to them all, but hell, the research is half the fun anyway, right? All those indigenous tribes, disappearing faster than you can say, "You want fries with that?" All those cultures, and traditions, and rituals, vanishing while people like me pretend we can at least preserve the artifacts, if not the landscape.
But that's all changed now. Borneo? No contest. The Sentinel thing, the Jim thing, won hands down. He's his own little tribe of one, a treasure chest of unknown motivations and rabid insecurities and unexpected strengths. And when it was just Jim-Sentinel, Blair-Guide, when it was just research, when he could be the cop and I could be the observer, it was enough.
At least, I thought so.
-- "Territorial Imperative, Part Two," by Bone
I mean, shit. Some of these fluffer-nutters have had entire zines where Jim was pregnant, fer crying out loud. If fen can milk that much out of something that's just plain stupid, what can people do with an idea that's actually true to the spirit of the show, and to the characters that reside there?
Your mileage may vary, of course. Some people like that kind of thing. (And for them, there's Harlequin Romances; you can get them at library sales for about fifty cents.... much cheaper than zines.)
A couple of hours later, I had covered the table with books, papers and my laptop. Jim had sat across from me for a while, cleaning his gun, and it was all I could do to keep my mind on my work...
He must have caught me staring. "I'm almost done, Chief," he said almost apologetically, startling me.
"Yeah, okay." I got a little flustered, I guess. "No problem. I was just thinking..."
"Oh?" He smiled and raised one eyebrow. "Since when do you ever stop thinking?"
//Since I was staring at your hands,// my mind screamed and I felt a wave of hysteria build in me. I must have been more tired than I thought, 'cause I usually don't get rattled by these weird little moments of attraction. Not that it happens very often. Not at all.
-- "Those Who Can," by Sihaya Black
Point the second. There isn't even a need to recycle concepts yet. This ore ain't tapped, friends and neighbors, not by a long shot.
Last night I was watching the Sci-Fi premieres (!!!) of "Switchman" and "Siege," and a few of us on IRC were just throwing out questions, ideas, hooks, for stories we'd never seen, or issues that had barely been touched:
- What exactly caused Jim & Carolyn's divorce? Why the heck did they marry?
- How did Jim become accepted in Major Crimes as a loner, pre-Sandburg?
- Why did Blair start wearing those flannel shirts that cover up his ass?
- Why did Blair tell that stupid "tutoring" story about that nurse?
- Didja ever notice Blair never actually completed his drug test?
- And just how non-violent is a guy who'll push somebody out of a helicopter, anyway?
And that's from the first two episodes, and from a Blairish kind of slant, at that. Besides which, I'm saving out a couple of questions that would be spoilers for incipient stories from those same IRC folks.
....More like the name of some comic book superhero. The Sentinel and his trusty Guide Sandburg. Okay, so it sounded even *more* like a comic book when he put it together, but it was a good kind of stupid. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Except Butch Cassidy really was as butch as his image. While Jim Ellison, as Lee Brackett knew...hell, as everyone in the PD knew--everyone but Blair Sandburg, anyway... Jim Ellison was a little, oh--how did Jack put it? "The Village People already *have* a traffic cop, Jim." Yeah, Jack was always a funny guy. Pegged him from day one but the guy had balls. Never even twitched. Just insisted that he take out the earring and get with the program. Yeah, and what had it got him? .... Everyone caught on eventually.
Except the Guide. Jim looked over at him, wondering if it was fate or just dumb luck that his Guide was both clueless and the best piece of ass to come along in years.
-- "Vocabulary," by Miriam
Let's make some noise, people. I'm tired of reading badly written serial Blairy Sue fiction with the polish of an eighth-grade term paper and the sexual tension of Strawberry Jello. (And I'm not talking about the stories with Jello, either -- some of those are pretty darned good.)
I want my tense, edgy, neurotic, passionate, eloquent, repressed, evocative TS fiction back. And I know there are people out there who can write it. Don't make me name names, although I have named a few. You know who you are. Let's not lose this fandom to a morass of pregnant Jims and childish, femmy Blairs. I love their story, our story, too much to let that happen.
A final note: all of the stories quoted here are first-time stories, only a couple of which have any concept beyond "Jim and Blair start a relationship." Yet they're as different as night and day, each one eloquent, memorable, and beloved.
Told you so.