Wednesday, June 21, 2017

To "Ben," or not to "Ben".... Guest Post by Erma

Note from Zyra: Hey, guys. It's been far too long since we had a discussion post. The Mother's Day Challenge took a lot longer than I expected it to, but I have finally (for now) run out of submissions, so we can get back to some discussion topics, for any of you who are still with us. This was submitted to me by Erma not long after I posted her story for the challenge, that included a son named Ben, but the note that this boy did NOT grow up to murder his father. Many of us were pretty open about how we have a very hard time reading any story with "Ben" in it, no matter how much we may be told that it's not the same and this kid is good or whatever. We just can't seem to see past it. I think it's a very interesting conversation worthy of discussion, so here are Erma's words:

I'm seeing a real puzzle facing those who want to write about H/L kid(s): How do you involve parts of Disney-canon that might work, or are at least palatable, without involving parts that don't work, or aren't palatable? Despite what the wording here may imply, this isn't about what is "allowed" and what isn't. Rather, it's about what sorts of approaches seem agreeable and workable. And, importantly, this isn't about further lamenting what TFA screwed up. Instead, it's about what to do with the pieces; how, and in what ways, do we move forward?

Examples include....: Would we have a story that involves Poe growing up with Jaina and Jacen? If we have a story with Poe, do we just make up a new name for H/L's kid? How do we handle gender? And of course, if the new kid isn't "Ben," then who is s/he? Do we need to spend a paragraph or two of character development on our new character, Han-and-Leia's-kid-who-is-fine-and-not-Ben Organa-Solo?

Of course, I know this is ultimately up to the individual author... but still, it raises interesting questions about how to then present and share the work with others, as seems to happen a lot in fanfic ;)


  1. I think this is a really interesting topic, especially since several of us said we had a hard time reading about Ben in your story. And even WAY back when TFA came out there were quite a few of us who said outright that when we saw any story with "Ben" in the summary, we wouldn't even open it. Your story was quite nice and I'm glad that I read it and looked past the whole Ben thing. But it's still difficult, even if the author assures me they are just using the piece of canon that says they had a son named Ben, but do not see that turning out like it did in TFA. You can tell me that, but admittedly, yes, it is still really, really hard for me to not think about it.

    And honestly, maybe that is a bit hypocritical of me, because I have done similar in my own stories by using the EU kids and just telling people that Anakin and Jacen don't die and nobody turns to the dark side. While I know very well that there are probably people who have a hard time seeing past the dark turn the EU took, or the simple fact that they hate that Leia would name a kid Anakin. And really, those are fair points too. My only defense there is that a lot of us grew up for YEARS of reading an EU that included those kids where there was no sign of any badness to come later on, so it feels like it should be easier to look past, because so many of my memories of the EU are of the early years, when everything was fine. Also, without an actual movie to back them up the bad stuff feels a lot less "real" I guess.

    The debate about names and using these kids or those kids or your own has been around a while. I remember talking about it on NHP. Admittedly one of the reasons I used the EU kids is convenience. Everyone already knows who you're talking about, who is older, a little bit about their personalities, etc. If you give them your own random set of kids it requires some thought and explanation, and a bit of background as well. I do enjoy it sometimes when people give them totally different kids, but it's a level of effort I'm not quite ready to put in myself. And I think it depends on the story too. Some people kind of create their own universe, and give the entire background of these other kids and stuff, and then they just continue on when they get older. And that's pretty cool too. But then sometimes it feels odd if someone just writes a one-shot and throws in a few kids with random names and you're left kind of scratching your head like... who are these kids?

    I admit I'm not sure I see a time where those of us who are against the idea of using Ben Solo at all are going to be able to see past it, even for the cute stories. But I do think it's an interesting conversation about how you might use different kids entirely of your own creation, and if that would work or if it might confuse your audience.

    1. I know I'm in a tiny minority here because I totally understand why so many people hate what happened to Anakin and Jacen, but I thoroughly enjoyed the NJO and LOTF series'and I look at it more like those sad things that happened in this books but I love those books because of what happened. Invincible and Star By Star are my two favorite EU novels. It was sad and awful but Anakin's death was a major part of Jaina's character ark and Jacen's fall is almost ironic considering his character. But that's a whole other rant.

  2. This one is especially tough for me because I was never into the EU. I have more familiarity with it these days, but for me Han/Leia's kids were most often a blank slate in my mind. There are some advantages to this (no one goes to the Dark Side in my mind ^^), but it makes it harder to craft a one-shot or something like that, especially since part of the appeal of Fanfiction is often that the reader already knows the characters. Introducing random, unknown kids makes that a lot harder in my mind. (But again while I enjoy reading stories with Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin I really don't personally "know them" or feel comfortable writing them.) And Ben is tough too because when you write Ben out of TFA canon, like, what are his personality traits? I guess we can make them up (personally I like to think of him as an actually pretty thoughtful/sensitive mama's boy, and I mean that in a *good way*, maybe most similar in temperament to Padme and/or Luke) but it is hard. I dunno. I am rambling. :)

  3. Thus far, I haven't had to introduce a new HL kid without the child(Ren) being part of an AU or just being introduced before/at birth. I don't think I'll have to either.

    Unpopular opinion, but I love the entire EU. I don't want to let it go. I refuse to. Even though it's popularity is fading, I still write EU fic with Jaina, Jacen and Anakin. I love their characters, I love writing them and I continue to write about the EU like it's not dying. I am in the middle of writing that Anakin-comes-back fic and I enjoy it- it feels like therapy in the middle of this exact mess this post is for. This is what I enjoy writing and I will continue to do so.

    That being said, I do have my own AU sets of Solo kids. I don't care to write about Ben or anything pertaining to the new "canon". I've got my little comfort zone.

    1. I'm very attached to much of the EU as well. Not ALL of it, but a lot of it. And I don't think there will be a time where I don't think of those three as their kids, because that is all I've known since I even started thinking about them having kids.

      I'm sure for me as a writer now it's probably unfair to write them always as their kids and just plain assume everyone should be able to follow what I'm talking about. Especially since now, sadly, there is a solid chance that very few people will even read those books if they haven't already, and will never consider Jacen, Jaina and Anakin as theirs.

  4. It makes me sad to hear that's an unpopular opinion, Jaina! It may not be my thing, but I personally think its important to keep the EU alive too- if only because its been so important to so many people for so long, AND because it keeps Disney from being the only potential option even if its the one currently considered "in-canon" (Disney canon is not the only acceptable canon to play in, there is this other rich alternative and its just as/in some ways more valid). <3 I personally appreciate you for writing in that canon and the other authors who do so!

  5. This is an interesting topic, and one which came up for me today, in fact, when an author whose work I have enjoyed (and who has stated that she rejects TFA canon) posted a new story featuring "Baby Ben". I was surprised -- and dismayed. I looked at the summary and saw that she had also included a reassuring A/N that said, essentially "this baby Ben will never become evil".

    But you know what I did with that story alert? I deleted it. I don't intend to read it. And I have really enjoyed her other fics! I just...cannot deal with the name "Ben Solo" in a story and, to be perfectly honest, if an author makes a habit of writing lots of stories about baby Ben or Ben-as-a-kid or whatever, I am probably going to stop following her. I don't even want to read the summaries or see the name, you know?

    The reason for that is not that I don't have the capacity to pretend the bad stuff never happens, as I readily do with stories featuring Jacen and Anakin. I have the capacity to pretend quite a bit, in fact. I think perhaps it's more a case of a really strong, negative association. The name "Ben Solo" now conjures for me all of those awful feelings I got when I watched TFA for the first time. I saw it twice on opening day, in fact, and went to bed that night feeling like my best friend had died. I was gutted and in legitimate mourning for my heroes, my OTP, and my childhood memories for a couple of months afterwards (still am, really). I think that seeing the name "Ben" as a child of Han and Leia brings all of that horrid stuff welling back up into my mind; it makes me queasy and really puts me off reading the story. No matter who wrote it. No matter how good it may be. I just don't want anything to do with it. There are plenty of other stories out there for me to enjoy and I just hate being reminded of what official canon says about Han and Leia and how their romance supposedly ended: in loneliness, isolation, misery, betrayal and pain. NOPE. *slams door*

    Of course it is the author's choice to use the name "Ben" but if she does so, she must know there are a few of us who simply won't go near it. Not out of meanness or in an effort to influence their writing but just for the reasons I've outlined above. It hurts. It makes me unhappy. And that's not why I read fan fiction!

    I've directly apologised to one author for this mindset of mine, in fact, because I thought it would be fairly obvious to her that I'd stopped reading/reviewing her work after TFA, because she adheres to canon. But for almost everyone else I just... delete and move on.

    I don't know what the answer is re: naming their kids in fics. I mean... I know what I'm doing about it, but I would never presume to tell others what they ought to do. All I can say is that I won't be reading stories featuring "Ben Solo" unless I can do what I did with Erma's offering (copy/paste the text into a doc and globally change the kid's name to something else). That worked well for me and I'm willing to do it, wherever possible, if the fic is otherwise recommended to me by trusted friends in the fandom.

    1. The day after TFA was released, my co-workers who'd also seen TFA opening night were surprised I was at work. They couldn't look me in the eye, knowing I'd break into tears. (I did.) They knew I was gutted. I would cry at random times at my desk for weeks.

      I do not accept TFA as canon, and rarely read any fanfic with a Ben Solo in it.

      I did NOT wait since 1983 for the band to get back together for them to not only NOT get back together but THEY WILL NEVER BE BACK TOGETHER EVER AGAIN. f* that. They fought for and earned better.

    2. Fair enough @erindarroch! We read fanfic because it's enjoyable and makes us happy. So, not reading about Baby Ben, even one that won't go darkside is perfectly fine if you don't like it! Hugs!

    3. Oh, Kathy, I feel your pain. I spoiled myself on what happened in TFA 7 hours before going to see the movie, because I realized that if what I was worried was going to happen DID happen, I would cry in the movie theatre (which, in the end, would have been a better idea!). So I read the spoilers, ended up crying in my office, and a co-worker caught me. He looked at me, got big-eyed, and said "Oh, shit, Han Solo dies." I sniffled, "No, worse. I could have handled him dying. But he dies AND they broke up Han and Leia." And then I was incredibly embarrassed at myself. I was a 44-year old professional sniffling in my office. But it was my inner 9-year-old who was in psychic pain!

      I'm not going to hijack the thread - I have done that too many times in the past - but I just wanted to say I hear you.

  6. I've written some Ben Solo stuff. I decided that writing in Legends was much more fun.

    1. I miss your stories from before TFA was released. In particular, Leia was preparing to retire with Han after a long, successful career... PLEASE forget TFA ever happened and continue that thought! I love your stories.

    2. Kathy--working on remedying that as we speak. Life got a little too real for too long. Got a Legends story in beta. Thanks for the kind words.

  7. I'm with Erin on the reaction to seeing Ben and avoiding him for all if her reasons and for others having to do with a certain pairing and how its stans always call Kylo "Ben" and...anyway. I just can't read them as happy with him, or worse, when the story is clearly written to show how he "suffered" at their hands or Luke's and I'm done.

    My solution is I don't give them kids in my writing except for the TFA rewrites I've done. I never got into the EU much (frankly because I didn't care about the kids) and coming into it now piecemeal, I don't really groove on them.

    I'll read fic with new kids, no kids or the EU gang but I run from Ben fic. The only one I recommend is one where Ben is actually an orphan who was raised by the Emperor and Leia and Han end up adopting him. It stops there so I don't know if the author meant to go TFA compliant after that or not.

  8. I will not read any TFA-canon stories. Sorry-not-sorry, no, not interested.

    Sometimes I'll take a chance on a "TFA Fix-It", but it depends on the "fix". I've given up on a few.

    I'll admit I have serious issues reading a story with a Ben Solo in it. I just don't want to go there, even if it's AU. I'd rather read an AU with the EU kids, or new names altogether.

  9. I don't read Disney canon stories either. I think the challenge that many of us have, as you can see here, is that the second we're asked to accept a part of Disney canon that may be not so bad or even good is that it inevitably leads us into "but I know where this canon goes, it ended horribly, and therefore I don't want any part of this canon in my fiction reading." I have a lot of sympathy with that, given that my position is that the basic worldview informing this canon is the root cause of all the specific problems that spin out of it. And that worldview tends to creep into a reader's head even when reading non-patricidal stories in this canon.

    I have read some fics using "Ben" that aren't fix-its, specifically Stats' fic in which they "de-forced" Ben, although I guess that's kind of a fix in the way fixing a dog before it can get itself puppies is a fix (oh great, now I have a mental image of Adam Driver wearing a cone of shame) - and Erma's fic on this site because of the disclaimer, and while I am ok with them, they just feel different to me, and my reaction to them as a reader is different just because there is some resonance with Disney canon by use of the name.

    Also, I have just as hard a time wrapping my head around Han and Leia naming a kid Ben as I did around Han and Leia naming a kid Anakin, because neither one sits right with me. I came to peace with the name Anakin because ultimately I shrugged and said, "whatever," but I'm not going to be able to get to that "whatever" with the name Ben. Anakin wasn't a patricide, so I deal with it. Ben, not so much.

    Ben just conjures up really ugly things for me, and also really ugly fandom fights about making Han/Leia abusive or neglectful parents, which just make me deeply sad, and I don't want any of that ugliness in my head.

    Honestly, I think if you want to pick and choose among pieces of Disney canon that you want to use, and you want your readership to be Han/Leia fans, you're best just changing the name of their kid. I would say they can have only one child who is force-sensitive, and people would read it, and Han can be a race pilot (which was one of the few good ideas) and Leia a Senator, as long as their kid is not a Boy named Sue. I mean, a boy named Ben. ;)

  10. I think going back to this topic is redundant since we've all pretty much spoken our minds about it in another thread. But since it's here...

    I use Ben Solo. He is the first "official Han/Leia child" I was introduced to. I didn't see Ben Solo in the movie; I saw Kylo Ren, the murderer. So I never knew a Ben other than the one Leia thinks about in Bloodline. He's nothing to me. He doesn't even look like Adam Driver in my head. I use Ben because Jaina, Jacen and Anakin, the other "official Han/Leia children", aren't a possibility for me. I read some of the EU books only after TFA, and the bits with their kids seemed foreign to me, like reading fic, not canon. And while naming a kid of theirs "Ben" seems ridiculous to me, naming him "Anakin" is kind of outrageous; at least Ben is somewhat neutral. I don't experience revulsion reading fic with the three EU kids, but it does feel weird and a bit cringey--it has nothing to do with the writing; just the names.

    Like I've said before, I actually have ZERO interest in any kids of Han/Leia as their own persons, so... I'll take babies and toddlers and not much more than that. Therefore, I'm open to read either about the EU brood, or Disney's only child, or made-up kid. To me they're nothing but an excuse to see my ship with kids, so as long as the story is within my interests, I don't care. I'm more likely to turn a fic down for mentioning an Endor wedding than for it having a baby Ben!

    So far, my fics with Ben Solo are as popular as the others, and since they're still Han/Leia-centric, I'd say there ARE shippers who don't mind, either (yes, some might be Reylos, and I will probably put an anti-Reylo disclaimer if/when I post another Ben fic, but not all of them are). I refuse to use the EU kids, because I don't like the names (and using only Jaina, or Jacen, or both, has Anakin implicit to it), or to change "Ben", because I can't be bothered to come up with another solution. I really don't resent anyone for not reading any of my fics containing Ben Solo... I hardly ever read anyone's entire fic collection, after all, and I don't consider myself to be at fault. Everyone's got different tastes and preferences, and I totally understand everyone's opinions on the matter.

    I think continuing to talk about this topic is kicking a dead horse, though: we all know what each of us think; having different headcanons and things that we completely reject and won't read happens in every fandom (and happens to me in terms of Han/Leia beyond the name of their kids); and everyone is free to write and read what they like--there's so much variety in the Han/Leia corner, I don't think you'd find yourself short of fic!

    In short, I write for me first. I use elements both from Disney and the EU as I please to make things easier for me. I put disclaimers in my fics containing Disney canon in case other people like me are interested but wary, but by no means would I resent someone for avoiding those; I have other stuff that you might (or might not!) want to read. And that's it for me :)

    1. Sorry, I felt like this was a slightly different take on it, and it was brought to me by someone who had this come up when she posted a story here. And it's more than just about the name, but rather picking and choosing things from this canon or that canon, and how people might feel about that. And see I find it interesting that you have no interest in any of Han and Leia's kids as people beyond just the fact that they had them. That's not something I would've thought about really.

      I guess it's just kind of sad to me that now we're all kind of divided, and on one side or the other on this. Yes, we all have plenty of fics to choose from. And sure, we actually have WAY more to choose from since the new movie brought out some new interest. (seriously, for at least 10 years you could basically keep up with and read ALL the Han and Leia fic that came up and decide if you wanted to keep reading, because there was so little that was showing up. And often you even read the bad stuff because, well, at least it was something) But it's just sort of sad to me that there are two very opposed sides to this, and there will probably never be a merging of the two. That certainly was not the case even just two years ago.

    2. I never liked the names chosen for the EU kids either. The name "Jacen" annoyed me right off the bat. Probably because of the unnecessary alt spelling of a very common Earthy name. We have Luke (not Leuk or whatever) so why not just make it "Jason"? Although I didn't particularly like the twins' names, for all they appeared in the first EU books, I could ignore them. The name Anakin was another story altogether. I just couldn't imagine Leia allowing that name. And really, all of the stuff in the Thrawn trilogy depicting Leia as "Lady Vader", drawing on and using her connection to Vader without any serious qualms was absurd, too.

      I don't mind talking about this again, Zyra. It's obviously an issue many of us are still working through, both as writers and as readers, and finding our own personal solutions. I think that's worth discussing.

      As a reader, I can breeze through most fics that contains elements I don't like or agree with, and simply ignore those elements or stop reading, with no harm done. The element of "Ben Solo" is different for me, though; venturing to read fics that feature him is a minefield fraught with the possibility of encountering some foreshadowing of his turn to the dark side, which I seriously do not want to read. So it remains an issue I'm having to navigate carefully in order to preserve the "happy place" that is Star Wars. I think (for me) the best route is to perhaps take recs from people, like LoveTh!s, who share my sentiments to a certain extent but who don't mind reading about "good" Ben, and who can tell me which Ben-Solo stories are "safe". (Yes, there are plenty of H/L shippers who don't mind the name Ben; I recognize that I'm an extremist in this regard.) I can then globally change the name to something else and focus my attention on the rest of the story. It's just a lot of hullaballoo, though, and there are so many other fics to choose from now, so...why bother? I'll probably just keep skipping most fics featuring Ben Solo. Otter, it's great that you don't resent people for doing that to your stories, but some writers evidently do resent it, which is something I'm aware of and try to be delicate about so as not to give offense.

      As a writer, though, I have a different kind of problem, in that if I wish to write about Han/Leia as parents, I'm now faced with using (a) EU kids (b) Ben Solo or (c) my own OCs. Any one of those choices is bound to exclude or turn off certain readers, and we're already quite a small community. So, like Otter (and most of us, I suspect), I'm just writing to please myself. In publishing what I write, I'm just hoping it will be received well by a handful of people. And that's good enough for me.

      On another note, I published a 100-word drabble entitled "Baby Number Three" and had someone review/comment asking essentially, "What baby are you talking about? They only have one kid. Rey's not their kid..."

      So, there's that to contend with, too. =\


    3. Erin Darroch wrote:
      "On another note, I published a 100-word drabble entitled "Baby Number Three" and had someone review/comment asking essentially, "What baby are you talking about? They only have one kid. Rey's not their kid..."

      I loved that response, as you know.
      Because, um, it's fan fiction, troll reviewer. In some fics, Leia has sex with Jabba, in others...OMG THEY HAVE THREE KIDS HOW CAN THAT BE THAT IS NOT WHAT TFA SAID AND THAT IS WAY MORE PROBLEMATIC THAN LEIA AND JABBA SO I MUST TELL THE WRITER THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM AS IT IS NON-CANON!!! I wonder if the reader then went off to comment on the fact that the GFFA is not New Hope, Indiana.

    4. @Erin, I also make sure, if possible, that any Disney canon compliant fic I read won't have any darkness/TFA implied, but I agree that, having so many other options, you can easily skip fics that are as far away from Disney as possible if you want. So in a way I'd say the division isn't working out so bad, because it allows for some people to adhere to the new stuff and some others to write about different stuff. It makes for a lot of variation in the fandom and the fact that this or that group won't feel isolated and excluded :)

      I will be blunt here and I apologize in advance, but... as long as you aren't being rude to someone for not writing what you'd like to see, if someone is offended because you won't read their fic, disregarding your personal reasons and preferences, they clearly have stuff they need to work out on their own. Like, someone can take offense if I publicly talk about how garbage I think that this specific detail/trope that they happened to have used in the latest fic they posted is, but hopefully not just because I don't seem to have read their fic! And if they do, that's their problem, not mine. Similarly, I'd be more annoyed if someone told me "hey, I'm not going to read your fic because *reason*" than if they just ignore it and move on.

      That reviewer could be either a troll or just a really obtuse person *annoyed*. See, one downside to including Disney canon in my fics is that I'd get at least one reviewer leaving a nice comment but ending with "such a shame how things turned out", so there's that...

    5. I think I might be that reviewer! LOL. I've definitely positively commented on baby Ben/kid Ben fics and then ended with a lament about TFA and the ST! " Because usually the fic is good, but it's still hard not to read and think about how the kid eventually turned out. Doesn't mean I'll not read the story, or dislike the story, but the specter of TFA always looms.

    6. For me, the kid did NOT "eventually turn out like that". It's a lie. It's a piece of nonsense. It never happened. It's fiction. I reject it. =D

      So even if I do happen to read something featuring Ben Solo, I don't think to myself "Aww, what a shame that H/L's only kid turned out like that". He didn't turn out like that. In fact, he didn't exist. There is no Ben. (My delusion is strong, y'all!) I just feel sad that it's what most other people do think of when they think of how the OT3 ended up. I only wish to know more people who share in my fantasy! haha

      As for using other elements of various canons, most things we saw in TFA are tainted for me so I steer clear. Although I liked the character of Poe Dameron very much, I can't think of him without also thinking of the storyline for the OT trio. Same with cool characters such as Rey, Finn and Maz Kanata. I liked some of Leia's colleagues, too (Statura intrigues me and I'd love to use Lt. Connix as an aide to Leia). But I don't want to think of TFA or how it depicts my heroes, so I just don't use any of that, or read very many fics featuring them. I don't feel so strongly about new canon characters that weren't featured in TFA, though, such as Evaan Verlaine.

      I can easily borrow elements from the EU/Legends without qualms. I'm happy to pick and choose from events and alien species, etc. that appear there. And I find it much easier to ignore the version of Han and Leia's story that has them losing both sons (and Chewie!) and simply make up my own version of how they end up. I read and very much enjoyed Crucible, even though at that point in the timeline H/L were bereft of two children and Chewie was gone. I don't like that storyline, either, but it doesn't disturb me quite as much as the current canon does.

      As Otter says, the divide does make for quite a diverse community of writers and readers now. And at least people are writing again! I'd hate for things to descend again into the fandom doldrums that Zyra describes. I just wish we had better systems on the archives for finding (or excluding) specific types of stories, both so I can read the stuff I want to read but also so I can attract the readers who are happy to live in AU territory with me (and who aren't looking for canon-compliant fics).

    7. @LoveThis! lol, I promise I don't remember if it was you, but I've definitely gotten more than one person saying stuff like that!! And yeah, I understand that it's almost inevitable to read a story that has clear TFA stuff such as a Ben and not think of what happens in TFA (especially for those who do take the movie as canon), but like Erin said, to me, it never happened. Even in the one fic I wrote, where Leia senses a dark force spying on her and her unborn child, I wasn't thinking of it as TFA compliant, but as "see, they're being awesome, and then they kicked the dark's ass again and lived happily ever after". Like, I'm writing to explore or borrow certain themes, but also to distance myself from TFA and mark it as implausible, so... don't shatter my delusion, please!

    8. @Erin I've made such a patchwork in my brief history of ficcing that even immediately after writing a story I'm like "so I borrowed WHAT from WHERE, again??" There isn't a single book or comic in the new and old canon that I don't find flawed in some aspect. I'll read it all, but then when writing my own 'verse I just pick what I like. So for example, I'm happy to imagine that Tatooine Ghost happened for real, but all the mentions of CoPL... no. Also I just like to come up with missing scenes for EVERYTHING, so Idk if I have /a/ 'verse or several co-existing 'verses, lol. Mostly, though, I just use background stuff that serves to build the 'verse, like planets or alien species, stuff I don't care to make up: I really find it irrelevant to know what canon they belong to other than to credit it, and I doubt anyone would notice. For "events", such as what Han, Leia, Luke and the NR did post RotJ, I generally choose Disney because the EU really is a nonsensical mess to me, but I tweak it to my liking, so there's no ridiculous H/L timeline, Luke stays very much in contact with his family, and so on. I credit the stuff I borrowed to let people know that it's not mine and where they can find it, but save for a few things I don't think you can tell, without previous knowledge, or care about where I got them from. And since very little is directly associated to TFA or mainstream Disney canon stuff, I've never really worried that someone might decide to not read my fic because I said I borrowed this or that *shrug* Again, it's not to be canon compliant, but to save me from having to come up with a whole new 'verse on my own when there are already two official ones that I can borrow from.

    9. Otter, it seems we have very similar views, including accepting some things and not others (Tatooine Ghost vs. CoPL) and the unwieldiness of the EU. (Though I grew up reading it, the lack of consistency between characterizations and authors just eventually left me feeling like I could ignore some of it--like CoPL.) But like many of the readers here, I was very upset by TFA. Though I can draw some details from Disney canon (seriously, we need an abbreviation; I'm going with DisC so we don't think it's a Marvel competitor), it's very hard to draw on those details without seeing the rest of the horribleness, horribleness that far outweighs the horribleness that CoPL ever was, even when that was one of the only Star Wars stories available. I think the freedom you feel to pick and choose from DisC or EU without feeling the horrible negative associations is great, and you're in a somewhat enviable position as a writer this way.

    10. Erin, this: "I'd hate for things to descend again into the fandom doldrums that Zyra describes. I just wish we had better systems on the archives for finding (or excluding) specific types of stories"

      This seems to be a key point. Given the technological limitations of the main fan fic sites, it doesn't seem there's a good way to have technological systems, be it tags, filters, etc (unless those could be suggested to the site admins?).

      So can we self-organize to create systems? Be it author's notes, or key words or phrases than appear in the content, etc?

    11. Haha, I really do enjoy having that freedom and using it! :) Otherwise, it'd be too stressful for me and not worth it, if I had to limit myself to avoid using certain stuff or to put extra work into coming up with every little detail.

      Re: filtering, I've contacted the AO3 admins a while ago and they're working on improving the system, but here's a solution to exclude certain tags when searching, be it ships, characters or any other you can think of! I always try to tag my stories accordingly and include A/Ns with any other specifics.

  11. Oh, one other thing. I don't see that people would really have much of a problem with, e.g., Poe hanging out with a H/L kid, whether it was Jacen/Jaina or a random only (as you can see, a lot of us have Ben issues). We have some awesome fics that put the Big3 in the American midwest in the 50s, so I don't see why people would object to Poe playing with Jacen. You might run into problems if you expected some of us to have any familiarity with Poe's story, though. I don't know it other than what I saw in TFA because I'm not interested in Disney Canon. So as long as it doesn't expect that kind of familiarity from H/L readers, I don't see that people would have a real problem with that.

    1. Really interesting point. There's one 1950s midwest fic I read (the Indiana one), that was awesome. And yes, how much farther from canon locations and events can that get? So why not play in the H/L/SW sandbox some more? That said, though, just to push thinking a bit (again, in the spirit of curiosity): must it be the case that H/L readers reject DisC (I'm going to start abbreviating it), and are therefore unfamiliar with aspects of it?

    2. Not to answer for Kels but I'll chime in here to say that there certainly are some die-hard Han/Leia fans who do accept Disney canon. Some even seem to relish the angst and the opportunities it gives for heart-rending "missing moments" fics. One that comes to mind is AQ (Aquarius-1977)'s Stolen Time. Warning: it's TFA-compliant and a heartbreaker.

    3. @Erma, I think it depends because... if you write a missing moment for something, then you are counting on the reader having read, or hoping that they will read, the piece of canon you're basing your fic on. If you're borrowing a timeline/setting/character but not necessarily sticking to canon, then you need to describe it a little in your fic, or know that some readers will not get it. Like I said, I think it's preferable to always assume your reader hasn't read any of the material you're borrowing from so that they don't feel like they have to in order to understand what you're showing them. I'm more familiar with DisC than with the EU, so if you tell me that your EU fic is set in this or that period, I won't know what you're talking about and will likely not read it unless you assure me somehow that I'll get it. Or I might not read a DisC fic if you tell me you're using a part of it I don't agree with. Was that what you were asking?

      @Erin ... yeah see, THAT'S the kind of stories and authors I'll gladly stay as far away from as possible. The only TFA-set fic I've read is Remain in Light, and will read lajulie's Epic Love, both of which are fix-its, so...

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Well, I am a reader who doesn't mind mentions of Ben as a baby or toddler, or even as a teen/young adult, so long as things stay clear of TFA territory. I do however totally get why and support others who don't want anything to do with the ST. But for me personally I don't mind it and there are some great, great fics that utilize the idea of a child of Han and Leia's named Ben really well. This is really different from canon aligned/compliant stories that foreshadow Ben's darkness. Those I usually bail on, but in general as long as I can ignore the TFA elephant in the room I'm good. That said I feel immense pleasure and a sense of agreement when I read bitter criticism of TFA and the ST so I can totally feel every writer/read on this blog who hates any mention of Ben.

    1. I agree that there are lots of authors who have written harmless, great fics with a son named Ben (thinking of Corellian-Smuggler's beautiful gingerbread palace fic!), so as long as I can be reassured that no unhappy things are mentioned, I'm in. And that goes for the EU kids and made-up kids as well.

  13. @Zyra, I meant no offense to Erma for bringing this up! Though I do feel like we're not discussing a variety of things we pick from the canons, but rather, always go back to /that/ name... I'd be more interested in talking about the various things I've picked from the EU and Disney 'verses to build up my fics, but I didn't think this thread was about that.

    I thought Erma's disclaimer on her fic was sensible (I don't read just any Ben/Disney canon fic; I need the author to reassure me, unless I'm familiar with their writing, that they're only borrowing harmless things) and I didn't think she took offense at people who preferred to skip her contribution. Personally, I knew I couldn't submit something that included an actual kid with an actual name to this challenge: I know how most of you feel and I wouldn't have wanted any of you to feel obligated to read it or apologize for not reading it. I don't think that the fact that she did submit a Ben fic here was out of place, but I think she already was aware of how the reception might be, and I don't think there was a need to apologize for not reading it, either. I haven't read or commented on every fic in every challenge. I tried, but some things just aren't my thing. And I really hope the authors aren't offended by it! But I'd feel worse commenting to apologize or explain the things I didn't like than by respectfully deciding to skip it, because I know it's just a matter of taste.

    I don't think there needs to be a merging of sides, but just a respectful agreement for writers to warn people if they're going to be using specific material in their fic (of Disney AND the EU) and for readers to skip it without feeling guilty or like they have to explain themselves, just like you would with any other things you don't like. I know the division exists, but I'm really not affected by it, since I don't consider myself to be on either side. There are things I like and things I don't, and I'm happy to take those I do like and skip the other stuff.

    And yeah, I'm not really interested in reading any stories that focus on the kids as they grow up (reason why I can't read most of the EU). I will read/write about the children when they're older only if it makes for a good Han/Leia story. Han and Leia are the characters I know and love, and they're my reason to read/write fic; I can't be bothered to try and be invested in the personalities and adventures of other characters just because they are derived from them (and that's a personal preference).

  14. Geez, life has me out of it for a little while and everyone has... really interesting things to say!

    First, since my story and reactions to it were specifically mentioned, let me be sure to say that Otter was spot on: in no way whatsoever did I ever or would I ever take any offense to anyone not reading, or not wanting to read, the story I wrote with "Ben" in it. I know this is really tough territory for many, and was fully OK with the fact that many of you would completely ignore what I had written. To discover that some of you didn't ignore it, and in fact, even read it, was truly touching, and I can only offer you humble virtual smiles and hugs of gratitude and respect and appreciation in return. And I apologize if my sharing the story to this site put any of you on the spot to feel you needed to read and comment. I assumed that you would simply move along if you didn't want to read it, and didn't consider that the close-knit nature of the site might put pressure on you to read something you might not want to read. My oversight, and my mistake.

    My view is close to Otter's: I saw "Kylo the murderer" in the movie, not "Ben who started off in the light," and I don't necessarily have much interest in the kids themselves, except as how they might flesh out Han and Leia's characters and stories. And I too agree with the idea that you just write what you need to write...

    .. but at the same time, posting the story automatically makes makes it an interactive experience with the reader. So the way the story comes across is a factor to take into account when writing. Does this line make sense? Does this description paint the picture? Is this character well-known enough that I can skip five paragraphs of character development? Will this character or detail automatically evoke certain expectations that I will not meet, and therefore need to address in order for the story to make sense? Etc.

    So, yeah, I guess I'm curious about writing in general, and about writing for fan fiction in particular. Not just about content, but ways to structure that content, and ways to structure the presentation to readers.

    For example....

    * Copying and pasting a story, then changing the name of the character, is a great approach. Is that something that could or should be suggested in the author notes? Do readers generally feel free to alter an author's story in this way, or is there an unwritten rule to leave an author's content alone?

    * If you have a single male child named Jacen, do you let it be as is and just move along with your story, or do you explain somehow why you've chosen this? "Jacen" will evoke EU; single male child may evoke Disney Canon. How much do you need to help the reader out to engage with your work?

    * Can we start abbreviating Disney Canon the way we abbreviate EU/AU/etc? How about just DC? Or, as Erin and Justine Graham like to call it, Mickey Mouse Canon, so MMC? :)

    * If you pull details from DC/MMC canon for your story (the Damerons could be great friends to the Organa-Solos, for example) while rejecting other details and the overall DC/MMC worldview, how much do you say this? Again, how much do you need to help the reader out to engage with your work (or choose not to)?

    * If you have a story dealing with typical growing up, or teenage agnst, and happen to have the children be just one male child, how do you avoid the implication that you're foreshadowing TFA?

    Again, just examples. Not specific questions needing actual answers.

    In a way, this is an issue for fan fiction in general, yes? We're all introducing "non-canon" characters or events or timelines, etc. So perhaps it all boils down to, how do you help your readers engage with your work (or choose not to), especially when recent developments in the universe you're writing in have brought up a lot of heartache and other yucky stuff for readers and writers alike?

    1. Yeah. Just ignore most of that novel above, and go for the last paragraph. :D

    2. Great points, Erma! My approach generally is, since I borrow stuff from both 'verses, to clarify it so that people know I'm not strictly adhering to either of them. When I use Ben, I also clarify that I'm only using the name of the child, do not hint at future darkness, and my fics live in a 'verse with a happy ending. This is both to assure/warn the reader as well as to avoid messages telling me that this or that thing isn't canon, or how nice it is to see them happy before everything goes to hell (:

      I believe that your story should have to do without a long author's note explaining things, that it should all be said or implied in the text. But in fanfiction, that's not always possible. If you're writing a multichapter with a plot that includes children, or that has a specific 'verse that you built, then you NEED to expand on that in the text. You can totally have a single male child named Jacen, but apart from briefly mentioning in your A/N that this is your creation and not compliant to any canon, you need to develop this child and his story in the text so that the readers aren't left scratching their heads. If you merely want to write a one-shot with a kid and you don't have that bigger 'verse posted, then coming up with one and trying to explain it in the A/N is impractical and a waste of time. You either a) pick an "official child" and clarify in your A/N if you don't think of your story as set in an official 'verse or b) hold onto that story until you publish your bigger fic (or even just a meta post explaining it, but know that your audience for the fic might be limited). In fics that have a Ben dealing with teenage angst, as a writer I do clarify that it's nothing but THAT, and as I reader I also need to be reassured. This goes for the EU kids, too. If your EU kids story leans too heavily on the sad events, or even if it uses too much background information that I don't have and you won't explain to me, then I need to know, because I won't be interested.

      For background characters, I think that maybe you need to at least have two words explaining who they are, or else you state that your fic is a missing moment of this material that you can go read yourself. But I think that, generally, assuming that your readers won't know who the hell you're talking about and how they are related to the main characters so that you need to write a tiny description about them is a good idea.

      I... guess I'm okay with people changing the name of the child if they genuinely want to read my story but can't stand the name. But I wouldn't publicly suggest it. There is an unwritten rule to not modify a person's creation, and I wouldn't do it to other authors. I think that suggesting readers can change the name if "Ben" makes them uncomfortable opens up the game to people changing just everything they want, which isn't okay. There are things I don't like in fics that I otherwise do like, and I just have to ignore them (or change them in my mind!) and move on.

    3. Just to be clear: if I were downloading a fic and changing anything in it (e.g. a kid's name) it would be purely for my own use; not to be republished anywhere else, obviously. In fact, no one would ever know I'd done it.

      I'm currently writing a fic with Justine Graham and CorellianAngel wherein we have created five Solo daughters (we started out with even more, a la the Sand Snakes of Dorne, but that was just too unwieldy). If someone were to take a dislike to one or more of the names we chose for those girls and wanted to download the fic, make global changes to suit themselves, and then read it...where's the harm in that to us, as the authors? We wouldn't even be aware of it. Hell, at this point I think we'd just be happy somebody was reading....

      Going back to the original question re: writing about H/L's kids: whether we're using Jacen/Jaina/Anakin or Ben or some children we've created out of thin air, I think most new fics these days would benefit from having some sort of clarifying A/N on them to state unequivocally that the story adheres to current canon (for readers who prefer expansions upon the official version), previous canon (for the nostalgics amongst us), a mish-mash of both (for all the omnivores), or is set in some AU entirely. And then...caveat lector.

    4. It's sort of a creative Wild West, huh? Anything goes... but though boundaries are flexible, sometimes ignored, territory CAN be infringed upon... and when you walk into that saloon and the music stops, well, it could go either way.

      (Five Solo daughters? Oh my, can't wait to read that :) )

    5. @Erin Of course, I know it's just for personal use! I only meant that I see a couple of issues with suggesting it publicly, like in an A/N. I can give you my permission/be okay with that in a small circle such as this or if you asked me personally, but if I wrote a note saying "Hey guys! Feel free to change any names that you might not like!" then I'm sort of allowing users to change just anything they want, which kind of defeats the purpose of my fic being my particular vision, you know? Like, okay, Ben is associated with something negative, so is Anakin, I can understand that as an author and reader. But if I came up with an OC child and took great pains to pick a name I liked, then I won't feel so great knowing someone decided to change it just because they didn't like it (though I respect that it'd be an all right choice for you guys!) Because I don't know if the story should suit the reader more than the reader should suit the story and pick what they do want to read. I guess where I'm coming from is that I don't see how having a negative reaction to seeing a Ben child is different to encountering a mention of rape on the Death Star or any other trope you really dislike. It's part of the story I'm reading and I have to accept that within this 'verse, ignore it, or quit reading (or if the story had a warning, decide if I'm willing to invest my time in that story or not).

      And yes, A/Ns are SO important!

  15. I think everyone should write what they want.

  16. Well I was disconnected all weekend and missed some interesting stuff. I will try and comment on a few things:

    First, I don't think anyone who writes owes any readers any sort of explanation or advice on how to "fix" their story to make it readable for them or whatever. Everyone should write what they want, and let the readers decide if they are interested in your story. If they don't like it for some reason, it's not your job to find a way to cater to their needs. I do think it's unfortunate that we can be sort of divided on certain things, and some people may never want to read your story for any number of reasons, but I still feel and have always felt that as a writer, we should write what we want.

    Then of course as a writer you do have to understand that you may lose some readers for certain reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of your work. I'm sure I lose readers for mentioning the EU kids. Someone else might lose them for using Ben. CV is open about the fact that she writes Han/Leia/Luke stuff and a lot of people aren't interested in that either. But, even though there are people who won't read for those reasons, there are also people who WILL. For the most part, anyway. And admittedly it can get frustrating if the fandom sort of shifts away from you and goes in another direction and you just find fewer and fewer people interested in the things you want to write about, but I still don't think the solution is to try and change what you like to write just to get more people reading. I suspect it won't take too long for there not to be a ton of people left who want to read about the EU kids as I like to write them. At that point I can either figure out a different timeframe to write in, or stop writing (or at least publishing.)

    Also as for using totally different kids, I think that can sometimes be fine. I've seen people who maybe will use Jaina as a name for one of the daughters but then the rest of the kids are all different. It is initially a tad confusing but doesn't take long to just kind of be like, ok, they have a daughter Jaina but she's not a twin and there's no Anakin or Jacen but instead these other kids. Got it. Or sometimes I've seen people mention that they have some amount of kids but not even name them, just tell us they have them because the kids are maybe not relevant to the story. It's really not a big deal to make up your own kids for them if that's what you want to do.

    As for author's notes, I think those are good for clearing up potential confusion, or maybe stating that this kid doesn't go dark and nothing foreshadows anything, or that it adheres to this canon or that canon or whatever. But I don't think author's notes need to be used to apologize for your content or give people alternatives to change what you've written in some way. I think Erin's idea to paste it to a new document and change the name is a really good one and maybe some other people might do that, but I don't think as an author you should go out of your way to give people ideas like that.

    I'm sure there was more I meant to touch on but that's what I've got for now!

  17. Another clarification from me: I certainly don't run around apologising to every H/L author whose work I don't read; I'd have time for nothing else if I did that, because there are a lot of people active right now. Also, for the record, I do think it's up to the reader to beware and to select what s/he wants to read. It's not the writer's job to cater to anyone. Tags and warnings are nice courtesies, but really it's up to the reader to attend to her own preferences (and look after her own psyche)! I'm talking about myself here. lol

    Still, there are some active writers whose work I normally do read and review (or did, before they began writing TFA-related fics). For those with whom I'd been in correspondence already or with whom I felt I had some sort of relationship, I felt an explanation of my withdrawal of interest was the kind and courteous thing to do. For a select few, I think it was better to explain than to leave them wondering why I suddenly dropped off the radar.

    I wrestled over this for a while without saying anything because it seemed like an awfully egotistical thing to think (never mind do). As if anyone would notice a single reader being absent, right? Why would anyone care if I don't read or review a particular story? They probably don't even notice... Who do I think I am, and all that.

    I told myself that stuff and let it ride for a while...the better part of a year, in fact. But there were a few signs that indicated to me that those writers were feeling unsupported and ignored, and the guilt started to get to me. I do love this community, and I try my best to be supportive of everyone, so I felt awful just flat ignoring certain people with no explanation. Ugh. Anyway, it turns out that my absence from such interaction was indeed noticed and missed, and the explanation I provided seemed to help soothe some feelings and repair relations. So, I'm glad I did it and I feel like goodwill was restored.

    Do I think anyone "owes" anyone else explanations or apologies for what they choose to write or read? Absolutely not. But I guess it's just how I'm wired. I'd rather err on the side of caution than risk giving offense, however inadvertently.

    1. Erin, I can understand the impulse to apologize for someone you had read a lot from, and then just suddenly... stopped. I did that once for a different reason, someone had been posting a story I'd been following, and then the updates became really, really spread out to the point where by the time you had a new one, you'd practically have to go back and re-read the whole story again to remember where you'd left off. (no, amazingly I'm not talking about Knighted Rogue, but now that I'm thinking of it I might have said the same thing to her at some point!) So when they gave another update I sent them a message to tell them I was excited they had updated, and I was sorry I hadn't read and commented but I wanted to wait now until the story was finished to read the whole thing in its entirety rather than constantly going back and re-reading the first bunch of chapters every few months to catch up. Of course then afterward I just felt like a jerk because I was just telling them, hey, this is why I'm NOT reading what you wrote... but I swear I meant it in the nicest possible way.

      It's tough, for sure. Both as a writer and as a reader. And it kind of sucks that part of our enjoyment of this whole process hinges on the feedback we do or do not receive, but that's just kind of the way it is.

  18. I'm late to this discussion, but it's relevant to me bc just yesterday I started reading a well-written, relatively new AU by an author I'd never read before. Anyway, I dived right in and was hooked. However, by the second chapter there were mentions of Takodana and Maz, and I found myself feeling uneasy and unsure of whether I could continue. (Really, that's all it takes for me to be triggered.) I decided to press on but let her know in my review for that chapter that I was feeling a bit wary. I guess as a reader, I'd rather do that up front than simply stop reviewing because of my own issues with any mention of new canon.