Friday, 26 December 2014

Parentverse - behind the scenes of fanfiction

Warning for teases about my next big Parentverse story, "Branching Out". I wouldn't really call them spoilers, your mileage may vary.

One of my hobbies is writing fanfiction. Specifically, Cristina/Owen "Crowen" from Grey's Anatomy.

I just loved this pairing so much that I started writing to fill in the gaps. If they were butting heads onscreen or not communication clearly, I could write a story where they work things out.

I had some little vignettes in my first story "Six Times That Owen Says Thank You to Cristina" and people told me that they wanted to know about what happened in between. Specifically, how did they become parents to the unnamed daughter at the end?

So I wrote "The Twenty-Four Months Before" to explain what happened in the twenty-four months before their daughter, Chloe, was born.

Chloe was a name that I liked, and I also thought it was a close feminine name to Owen, sharing the same "oh" sound. A month later, I adopted a cat that I also named Chloe because I just like the name.

I wrote some other stories, imagining a whole family for Owen until it turned out that onscreen Owen's father is not a part of his life (the show has never addressed if PaBadAss is dead or alive).

Baby Chloe kept sneaking into some of the stories. I knew her personality right away. People wanted more. I started thinking that perhaps there was another story here, and another Yang-Hunt child. I wrote in another pregnancy for "In the Still of the Night". I love the mood of that piece.

I began to write "The Twenty-Four Months After".

I briefly toyed with the idea of making the second child a boy. But I just couldn't resist seeing manly Owen totally besotted by two little daughters. I wanted to incorporate "In the Still of the Night" but realized that I didn't like the timeline.

I did incorporate the circumstances of my father's death, rewritten as the death of Cristina's mother. Only I didn't have a hot bearded ginger to help me in my grief.

I had a hard time choosing the name of the second daughter. I wrote her as Laura and as Audrey. Before I started looking at deceased GA characters. George O'Malley actually inspired the name Mallory. I thought that she might have been named after George, but realized that Owen wouldn't have known George well enough to name a child after him. And Cristina would never be that sentimental.

As I neared the end of the story, I had a couple of issues. I wasn't getting a feel of who Mallory was or if maybe she should be a boy and I felt it needed something to wrap it all up. I thought it might be interesting to have an epilogue. I worked it out that the epilogue would start with Chloe coming home for Christmas, from medical school. When she got home, Mallory was there. Mallory was pregnant - by her husband, Rob Shepherd. I started to understand who Mallory was.

But this epilogue was all sweetness and fluff and was missing something. I thought it would be funny if a third Yang-Hunt child suddenly entered the story. A teenage boy wanting to borrow Owen's truck and go off for a date. Thus Diego was "born".

Adding Diego created another problem - explaining how he came to be. I always saw him as adopted. I tried to write his backstory in quickly - Cristina and Owen were in another country doing charity work and brought him back. It was hard to cram that into a few paragraphs, because this was still supposed to be an epilogue.

Then I asked myself - how did Rob and Mallory become a couple? I roughed out the details of them reuniting in Paris as adults.

Now I had two backstories to cram into an epilogue. Clearly, this was too much.

This is where the Parentverse really exploded for me. I planned a story - "Three Christmas Eves".
The first chapter would be Diego's backstory - which eventually became the story "Safe Haven.
The second chapter was going to be Mallory falling in love in Paris, which became the story "Americans in Paris".
The third chapter was going to start with Chloe coming home for Christmas and finding her own voice and her own path in the world.

I started writing this story and things happened. Season Six was not always a fun time to be a Crowen shipper. So, to make the fans happy, I decided to publish "Americans in Paris" as a separate story. I had to carefully hide Diego because his story wasn't finished, and one cherished reader noticed that either the Hunts or Shepherds had three kids, instead of Robbie and JoJo, Chloe and Mallory.

Diego finally got named in Seven Time Cristina Yang is Silent, another story I published to cheer up fans. I couldn't not include him when Owen had a stroke, but I did place him out in the jungle. (There is another story in the works of Diego getting out of the jungle).

Then I published "Safe Haven" so that Diego got a proper introduction.

I kind of wanted to publish Chloe's story next, but there was some valid feedback that "Americans in Paris" went too fast. How did Mallory and Rob get engaged in such a short amount of time? And people wanted the wedding. So, "One Big Happy Family" filled in the blanks and got the two young lovers married. That story took on a life on its own and was a challenge to complete, but I did it.

As my writing grew, I started using beta-readers - people who would proofread for me, and also give me honest feedback. Sometimes I chose people because I needed someone with a medical background. Through our association with the "In the Between" stories, Lovemesomeowen became my main beta-reader, and then the only one. She can devote time to beta-reading, and she's not afraid to tell me when something doesn't ring true or isn't working. I really appreciate her attention to detail, even if it's annoying that she makes me spell the American way (I'm Canadian).

While I wrote in the Parentverse, the onscreen Cristina and Owen imploded. I still kept writing Chloe's story, though. I knew that it would also involve Mallory and Rob becoming parents. I announced the pregnancy and left one major clue to Chloe's story in chapter four of "Several Different Holiday Stories". Chapter four and five can be considered the prologue for Chloe's story. I really like chapter four because we also get to see an older Diego than in previous stories.

2014 has been a roller coaster - I was laid off after fifteen years of service to the same family of companies. I'm still searching for my next great career opportunity.

And ... it's time to tell Chloe Hunt's story. I've been plotting it and revising it for years, after all. There are several stories that can't be told until this story is told - note how I've been dancing around naming Rob and Mallory's twins? Their names should be announced with their birth - plus, I still haven't decided on the genders.

Stay tuned for "Branching Out". It starts with Chloe returning home for Christmas...


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