Am I allowed to do a picture of just Han? I suppose I'm the one who makes the rules, so I say it's ok.
Have I sufficiently scared most of you away with promises of tearing your stories apart and criticizing them? I hope not. Again, I was reluctant to even post that because I certainly don't want to discourage people. I just want you to want to be good.
I'm going to assume that most of us started this whole thing as readers rather than writers. While I'm sure there are people out there who decided once upon a time to sit down and start writing their own little stories just for fun only to later discover that other people had been doing the same thing. However, with the prominence of the internet now in our everyday lives I think it's safe to say that we all read fanfic before we started writing it. Or at least those of us here now reading this blog, because the "old school" writers who were doing this before I could read or write...or even walk or talk, seem to have all moved on, whether that be to other fandoms, moving on with life, waning interest, lack of time or maybe finally growing up.
Now, I discovered fanfic in either 1998 or 1999, so over the years I've come across a lot of stories and a lot of different web sites. There have been huge changes in internet use since I started reading. When I first went to college, I only occasionally used my roommate's computer to type papers and stuff and rarely went on the internet just to "play" but rather to do research. I mean, we were all assigned school e-mail addresses but I didn't even set mine up until the next year because it just hadn't become the main means of communication. I even wrote actual letters to friends! The following year I had a computer and found that fanfic I hadn't even realized was there, and by the time I graduated I couldn't imagine what life would be like if I didn't have access to e-mail and instant messaging (remember AOL and leaving away messages? I do) or of course, fanfic or other fun, entertaining sites to share similar interests with people.
Because there was a big change in how the internet was used over the years, there are a lot of web sites out there that I used to go to for my fanfic that simply no longer exist. Sometimes this isn't a big deal because the stories can be found elsewhere on a current site, or you can still access it through a wonderful tool called the Wayback Machine. The only problem there is that you have to know the exact url to get to the page. This works to in order to get to a main page and then it can link you to further stories.
Back in "the day" there were several web sites out there devoted to Han and Leia fans. In fact, if I remember correctly, there was even a Han and Leia webring... back when they had those. Unfortunately, slowly but surely, most of these web sites disappeared along with most of their content. Even more unfortunately, a lot of them were hosted on things like geocities which is now defunct and even utilizing the Wayback Machine can't revive them. This is upsetting. Even more upsetting is I don't specifically recall a lot of the stories that were on there and don't really remember the good stuff I've been missing out on.
Also, some of you may not even be aware of this, but way, way back, in the time when people used typewriters instead of computers, the only way for people to share their fanfic was through fanzines. These were fan-published works usually based on a specific movie or TV show (Star Wars, Star Trek, whatever) and honestly I don't even know how they got the word out for submissions and to get people to buy them. I guess conventions and old fashioned US mail, but I'm sure there were tons of people who would've been interested had they just known this stuff existed. There's some interesting info about the early days of Star Wars fanzines but it's too much to get into here and if anyone really wants to know I could put it in another post, but that would be getting off track.
I actually did order a few fanzines even when I could get stuff on the internet. A lot of times stuff wasn't available online and you could usually be assured that you were going to get nothing but quality stories if they went to the trouble of submitting, editors, printing and such. But after three fanzine purchases I went on a bit of a lull in my Han and Leia obsessiveness and it just didn't occur to me to buy one again. It would be pretty cool to get a hold of some old fanzines though and get to read some of these stories I've heard about but are not available online. I know we all love trip to Bespin stories, and the first such of these is the source of quite a controversy when it first came out... you know, before ROTJ and definitely before I could read or probably had even seen a Star Wars movie yet.
If you've only been reading fanfic as of recently, you probably have no idea what I'm taking about. But I'd be curious to hear if anyone remembers any sites similar to what I'm talking about. The first Star Wars fanfic site I found was fanfix.com. It still amazes me that this site is no longer up and running just due to the vast amount of stories archived there. However, the fact that it is no longer running is not so upsetting due to the fact that you can still access the content through the wayback machine. It is not Han and Leia specific, so you have so sift through a lot, and many of the stories can be found elsewhere, but still not a bad place to look. Although I do remember the first time I went there I think I just went alphabetically, clicked on the first story I saw and it was a Luke/Leia story. And I don't mean in a brotherly/sisterly sort of way. Ask Push about my luck with clicking on things I wish I could get out of my head. It's amazing.
I actually would've had fanfic published long before 2009 if one of these sites in particular hadn't gone under. I had submitted two stories for consideration at maybe hansoloandtheprincess.com, I don't remember which one exactly. But between my getting a beta read done and editing, poof, the site was gone. Probably a good thing, as I had LOTS of extra time to edit them and fix them and make them at least slightly better... though not by much considering it was probably six years worth of time I could've edited them to be absolutely amazing rather than amazingly mediocre.
Anyway, there was hanandleia.com, hansoloandtheprincess.com and others that I can't quite remember right now. There are also vague remembrances of stories that I can no longer find anywhere but really want to be able to. Has anyone ever heard of the story written by "Pebbles" called "Exile"? It is a pretty epic story in which Han and Leia have their usual first three kids, but then they have a fourth on Endor and, well, some crazy stuff happens and there's some evil forces and what not. We can find all but two chapters of that story. So if anyone has a complete version, that would be helpful.
There are actually a few threads over on NHP asking for missing fanfics and some are found and some, sadly, are not. Although almost as tragic as the lost fanfics are the tragically unfinished fanfics. I'm not talking about the ones where someone pops up on ff.net and posts two or three (rather incoherent) chapters and then disappears soon after. I'm talking about epic stories that we as readers have invested ourselves in only to finish reading the last posted chapter and suddenly get that sick feeling in your stomach when you realize, wait, it's not finished? Even worse when you realize that the last chapter was added in, say, 2004 and it's not looking good for it to be finished anytime soon.
Leela Starsky has one of these on her site. Limelight has "The Not Quite Love Letters." I think KnightedRogue has one on ff.n. And I'm willing to bet that most of us have come across probably what I feel is the most tragically unfinished, being "While You Were Gone." It's something like 80,000 words and a very compelling story in which Han was in carbonite for seven years before he's found and of course Leia has moved on with her life and is about to get married, but she has a son. Honestly, it's good enough that knowing what I know now I'd still read it even if I knew it would never get finished, but it ends at a terrible place and I can't stand that it's been sitting there for as long as Han was supposedly trapped in carbonite in it.
I hate unfinished stories. One piece of advice I would offer you as a writer is don't start what you can't finish. Don't write a chapter of your story and then immediately post it and certainly don't start soliciting advice on what people want to see next. This is not choose your own adventure, you're supposed to be writing the story. You can ask for help from a few specific, trusted individuals, but don't leave it up to the masses. Although I suppose since there are only like five of us, the "masses" maybe wouldn't ruin your story, but still. There are exceptions to this though, I think. Over on NHP it is considered more of a workshoppy environment in which people do sometimes ask for that sort of advice, but I wouldn't throw it out anywhere else, really.
My usual method of posting a story is to write at least several chapters before I start posting so I'm not waiting to post the last one because I simply haven't written it yet. This always seems to work out to the posting catching up to the writing and inevitably I end up in that place I didn't want to be anyway, but it's at least a good starting point. Ideally, I think it would be nice to complete the story before starting to post at all. But I have always found that posting chapters and getting feedback is more motivating to the writing than just holding it all back for a big reveal at the end. Plus, I think people can absorb these stories better if they get them in pieces rather than suddenly being whacked in the face with a 50,000 word story that pops up out of nowhere and you then have to decide whether or not you want to invest the time necessary to read it. Rather than seeing a new story is posted, reading the first chapter and thinking, hmmm... when more of this is posted, I'm going to read it when I have that spare fifteen minutes.
I got a little offtrack there and this was supposed to be about not finishing stories! Anyway, always go with the intent of finishing. Have a plan in mind before you start posting. Yes, it's ok sometimes to not have an ending in mind especially as these things can sometimes take on a life of their own, but at least have a general idea of where you're going. If I ever started a story I couldn't finish I think I'd either take it down or even pass it along to someone else who was interested in finishing it. Anything else is just torture to the rest of us who are trying to read complete stories! I really wish that Stoned Rose would just tell someone how that story was supposed to end and let them write it if she's not willing to.
All right, once again I've veered off track and gone on too long. So I'll ask you all, is there any story out there that you remember and can't find or any story left unfinished that really, really needs to be finished? Oh, and one last piece of advice I've only recently taken to: if you find a story you really enjoy, save it to your computer in some sort of document so if the web site suddenly disappears you still have a copy. I wish I had started way back saving stories and putting a little description at the top as to why I decided it was worth saving. Sometimes I'll have a story on my favorites but I can't remember what happens in it. So a simple note like, "The AU story where Han and Leia are forced to get married on the female-dominant planet" or "Leia gets kidnapped and Han has to trade himself for her" will suffice. One of those is real by the way, the other I made up. Although the one I made up certainly might be real anyway, I don't claim to have read everything.
I swear I'm done now!