Monday, December 19, 2005

Ohmygiddyaunt! I finally finished my latest piece of Combat! fanfiction, "Dying Like Men". The webmasters of the Purple Hearts site are too busy with Christmas busy-ness to post it there right away, but I'd been writing this story since January and a lot of other fanfic writers were clamoring to read it. So I uploaded it to our Yahoo group page, where we put temporary copies of stories until we can get them on a real page. I'll let you know just as soon as it's posted for the whole world to read (if you simply can't wait, email me and I'll consider sending you your own copy as an attachment).

I have never before gotten reactions like this to one of my stories. Bayonet, one of the other fanfic writers that I admire the most (actually, she started the Purple Hearts page), wrote me this long letter of praise for the story. She said that if I wrote a story that had no one but Littlejohn in it, she would read it.
Let me explain what makes this compliment so wonderful that it made tears well up in my eyes. Littlejohn is a very minor character in Combat!. Most fanfic stories are about the whole squad, or at least several members of it. If they're about a single member of the squad, they're generally about Lt. Hanley or Sgt. Saunders. Or sometimes Kirby or Caje, the other two main favorites. There are a few pieces that focus on Doc and Billy. I don't think I've ever read a story about only Littlejohn. His character never got very well explored in the series, and he's mostly just kind of there, being useful for whatever plot device comes along. In fanfic, Littlejohn generally gets relegated into a sort of clumsy buffoon role, which I firmly dislike. In the series, he could be clumsy, he had some marvelous humorous moments (especially in scenes where he was the 'Older and Wiser Soldier' playing off Billy's 'Naive and Disingenuous Youngster'), but he was never a buffoon.

So I decided to write "Dying Like Men" as if it was an episode shot over Littlejohn's shoulder. It's got all the other main characters in it, but it's from Littlejohn's perspective. We get to hear his thoughts and observations above all the rest of the stuff. I wanted to show him to be the intelligent, insightful character I've always thought him to be. It seems I've succeeded. Wow. That's a pretty doggoned cool feeling: succeeding in getting readers to feel the way you do about something.

(In other words, for those of you that haven't seen much/any of Combat!, writing a whole story from Littlejohn's perspective is like doing a story focusing on Riley of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sulu of Star Trek.)

4 comments:

  1. That headshot doesn't capture the bulky toweringness of Littlejohn in the series.

    Rather than Riley, Littlejohn seems almost as obscure as his friend Forrest. You didn't write Littlejohn as a reanimated zombie, did you?

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  2. You're right--I needed another pic of Littlejohn. The headshot is a good one of the sort of peaceful and thoughtful side that I've tried to portray. But I've added one (from "Hills are For Heroes") that shows him a little more in relation with the others. It's not perfect, because most the others are all kind of crouching and Littlejohn isn't, but from the one guy standing behind him, you can get an idea of the kind of tower of strength Littlejohn is.

    I'm trying to figure out who else is who in the picture...it's a publicity shot, so I can't just go find the scene in the ep. I believe that's Kirby up front, followed by Caje, then two people I can't identify, Littlejohn, and another unidentifiable person.

    Actually, no, Littlejohn's not as obscure as Forrest. Doc #1 might be, because he's only in the first season and he's boring. He's the likeliest candidate for zombie-ism...he's halfway there already! Littlejohn's in all five seasons, and has pretty major roles in quite a few eps. As opposed to Billy, who's only in half of season one and all of season two, or Doc 2 who doesn't arrive until season two to replace Doc 1, or Braddock, who's only in half of season one. Or Brockmeyer, who's in a handful of eps in season one...or McCall, who's semi-regular in season five. But you've only seen 3 or 4 eps, and they weren't Littlejohn-ful. Maybe when the Chameleon is here, you can join us for some C!-watching.

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  3. Aha! Found a much better picture to demonstrate the true bigness of Littlejohn. That's Caje in the left, then Sgt. Saunders, then dancer/actress Donna Loren, then Littlejohn.

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  4. Doc #1 is not just a candidate for zombie-hood -- he is a zombie. A wimpy zombie, no less. He can't do anything right, can he? Poor guy.

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