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Author Topic: What makes a good BT Fanfic?  (Read 906 times)


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What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« on: 20 July 2019, 15:39:23 »
Since I starting writing my own fan fiction I have read a great deal other fan fiction (Clover Spear and State of the Union primarily).  Besides my love of Katherine (or Catherine, maybe...) Steiner-Davion reborn as a non-hair twirling villainess with actual motivation (SotU Kat must have a reason right?) and as an actual noble put in a difficult position I like the characterization and re-imagining of canon characters most.  A truly Dark Katherine Wolf AU might be a short later on as an AU of an AU of all things post Price of Victory.

However I am continually curious about the other fan fictions out there.  What make you like a particular fanfic or not?

This is regarding story topic rather than the technicalities while I don't have a pre-reader many of the other fics are very well polished.


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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #1 on: 20 July 2019, 16:20:30 »
Some thoughts.

BT fiction is genre fiction. At the end of the day, don't try and re-invent the great (your country) novel. Have fun.

But not too much fun. "It looked easier on the tabletop" is a great SI, managing to avoid the Mary-Sue effect. Real people make mistakes, especially House Lords or their daughters ;)

The best fan-fics let their characters do the talking, not the author, if you see what I mean. CLover Spear's Hanse sounds like Hanse. His Katherine is different from canon, but has a consistent voice of her own.

It's fiction about a wargame. Have some war in it.

BT fans tend to enjoy detail. You don't need to know how the medium laser works, but throwing in the brand, or the difficulties in sourcing the parts from planet X, can be good.
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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #2 on: 20 July 2019, 16:31:30 »
I look for two things, in this order:  One or more compelling characters, and then gritty and engaging 'Mech on 'Mech combat.  Frankly, if you don't have the first, the second doesn't really matter.  What makes a compelling character?  The list is long and varied, although to be honest, I don't mind a few sterotypes in there as well, such as the hard driving, cigar chewing Assault-Mech pilot or the grizzled and thoroughly disenchanted war veteran as long as their dialogue is well written.  In short, a good character for me is a realistic one, someone that has a blend of both virtues and flaws, a character the grows and develops through the writing and by the end is not the same person that started out on the journey.  I also have a real soft spot for seeing characters in moral quandires and watching them twist. 

In fact, it's easler to describe what I don't like in a character and what makes me walk away from a story.  I don't like the Kai-Allard Liao's, the unbeatable, defies all odds all the time, uber MechWarrior who single handedly wins battle after battle.  I also don't like stories that you can tell aren't going to have any good stompy robot action in them.

My $0.02 as both a devourer of BT fiction, both official and fan-created, as well as an amateur writer.


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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #3 on: 20 July 2019, 17:49:31 »
Coming at this as a writer rather than a reader, but I think reading and writing are such intensely individual experiences that what makes something 'good' to you is going to vary tremendously from person to person, or even day to day depending on your mood or feeling.

Fan fiction often gets a bad rap ("it looks like fan fiction" is a pretty standard way of slagging a show or movie), but I think the great thing about it is the freedom it offers to experiment and explore. So right off the bat, I absolutely despise any attempt to make lists of what BT "is" or "isn't". We've got AUs, we've got cross-property mashups, we've got straight up military SF, we've got intergalactic intrigue, we've got 1-paragraph tribbles and massive sagas, the sky's the limit. BT fan fiction is whatever you want it to be.

BT has 35 years of RL history and universe building, covering centuries of in-game history, and fans seem invested in a lot of different aspects of this world. I think BT can, should be, is a big tent where all kinds of different stories can live together.

Now as a writer, here's what I like to write:
- Something different from what I've written before. Anything gets full with enough repetition. New settings, themes characters, genres, styles
- Stories that have something to say about the setting or real life
- Stories that don't take themselves too seriously
- Small stories about regular folks rather than the Big Names and galaxy-shattering events
But that's just what I enjoy writing. It's not everyone's cup of tea and that's the beauty of it. There's probably someone else out there who IS writing what you like.
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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #4 on: 20 July 2019, 22:15:38 »
For me, the biggest thing is internal consistency.  If you decide to do something "weird", that's totally OK as long as it's consistent ("Davion and Davion, Deceased" is an excellent example of this). 

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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #5 on: 21 July 2019, 02:14:59 »
  My entry into the writing of fanfic began in 2004 when I began discussing scenarios in which the character had been running for years. The GM has suggested that I enter the campaign as an Arkab Legion veteran and there was scant information, save a paragraph or two in the source books. My GM asked that I flesh out the Azami, in order to give the character more background, which involved the Sun Tzu School of Combat, and the Arkab Legions.
  For the most part, my early writing was about fleshing out a group in the BT universe that received little attention.

  SB: Invading Clans mentions, in a brief paragraph the Second Arkab Legion fielding Star League-era battlemechs, but there are no details, and by the time SBDC comes out, the Arkab Legions are fielding omnimechs. The information says the Second Arkab was given the Star League battlemechs on their founding but by whom? It can't be the DCMS. There were a lot of gaps that needed to be filled.

  The Azami are not Arabs. There is some admixture of Arabic blood, due to the invasion that eventually conquered Spain, but the Spanish aren't Arabs. Tribes like the Berbers, are North African as well as descendants of nomadic Celts, and have blue eyes and blonde hair, even their culture resembles that of the ancient Celts.
Other groups associated with the Azami sect (religious subgroup) are the Fulani and Hausa. Historically, the Fulani (or Fulbe) people conquered the pagan Hausa in a jihad, which led to other Muslim conquests in Central Africa. The HB: Kurita mistakenly call the founder of Shia Islam (Imam Ali) a Khalif (political ruler) while the whole war between the Sunni and Shia was succession of Mohammed: The Shia backed members of Mohammed's line (Ali was his nephew) to be religious government leaders while the Sunni wanted religious and government leaders to be separate, so any references to the Azami being a Caliphate is just wrong. The Sunni Caliphate murdered Imam Ali and his family.

  The Azami Worlds would most likely be a confederation of Islamic republics, although historically, North African Muslims rarely adhered to strict Islamic law on dietary restrictions, such as on pork and alcohol.


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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #6 on: 21 July 2019, 05:14:54 »
What makes good BT fiction? Same deal.

Characters. Meaning. Plot. Hot Mech on Mech action. Storytelling technique... all this, as a prerequisite, much as it is for any good story.

Once you've got that down, you've got the basics. Then explore the unique opportunities of the medium. Fanfiction allows us fans to do stuff the writers can't. Push past the PG rating. Explore the universe without fear of wordcount or format or pleasing publishers or winning buyers. Tell the stories of the people too little to make it into the novels or even the sourcebook.

But mind, do all these things in service to the story, not simply for it's own sake. Fanfiction is stereotyped because it often doesn't have the basics to start with, and then goes haring off into the wild black yonder with all sorts of kooky stuff.

It always goes back to storytelling.


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Re: What makes a good BT Fanfic?
« Reply #7 on: 21 July 2019, 09:54:23 »
1. Characters. Without plausible people to empathise with, the story will be feel flat and lifeless. Battletech hit it out of the park with the early cast of Successor Lords and their surrounding casts. The failure of later eras to win as much interest is at least partly due to failing to bottle that lightning.

2. Know the setting. Not necessarily flawlessly (I've never managed that), but to at least fall in line with the broad strokes and conceits of the setting. If you're not sure of fine details in an area there are plenty of ill-defined areas you can worldbuild in. As long as you have a good working knowledge, you can use verisimilitude to cover many minor details.

3. Don't marry yourself to the game systems. The games are approximations of what's happening on a battlefield. Your characters have many more options and can use them if it serves the story. (It's a very good way of showing without telling that they're thinking out of the box or know their 'Mechs' performance expertly to have them push past the boundaries of what most mechwarriors can do). One issue with early Dark Age novels sometimes had was clinging closely to cliktech rules for combat when they were inconsistent with previous rules and made the 'Mechs feel differently to readers from what they had been used to in the classic novels, but the reverse is just as bad.
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