Fan Fiction is my Gardening Co-Op

The following post may contain spoilers for readers who are not caught up through the story. 

The incredibly ill matched pair in the previous story, “Ill Met in Riften,” was not originally part of my narrative.  It emerged from a conversation with Erica over e-mail in which I mentioned my Original Story (which is the one from which the Epic Disaster that I am now posting emerged).  That story was different.  And the characters were very different.  Elspeth had less baggage and better social skills and Lydia was far more overtly rebellious.  I was thinking about some of the ideas that did and did not make it from the Original Story, which I mentioned to Erica, and the following (edited for length) conversation ensued:

Elspeth: I briefly toyed with the idea of giving Lydia a “past” with someone in the Thieves Guild.  She spent about a month taking care of a visiting priest of Mara who was doing missions all over the Rift and Jarl Leila didn’t have anyone to spare.  This was pre-Hrongar of course.  But that would have been early in her tenure as housecarl and she wouldn’t have dared to violate the integrity of the Jarl’s court by association with criminals, much less sleep with one.

Erica: Ooh, now I want Lydia to have had an affair with Vipir.

Elspeth: He’s totally her type too.  I’m trying to imagine it in my current story; Elspeth and Lydia have to go down to the Ragged Flagon and it’s super awkward because of course everyone in the guild knows.

I’ve retained a bit of Lydia’s edginess but not quite enough to give her that kind of a past.

Erica: What if she didn’t know Vipir was a rogue until after they had some weird fling and the truth about who he is was what tore them apart?

Okay, I’ll stop. 😀

Elspeth: That’s actually a really good idea and it is now wedged in my head so, who knows….

[Elspeth leaves her office to advance the wet clothes in the washing machine to the dryer.]

Elspeth: I just had the most hilarious thought on the way downstairs.  Lydia was assigned to help a priest of Mara and that’s when she acquired her first amulet of Mara and Viper was the guy she met when she was wearing it.  That’s why when Elspeth asks if she should get one Lydia’s first reaction is like, “yeah…no.”

Okay, so it wasn’t that hilarious.  But it made me laugh.

And that’s how Vipir and Lydia were conceived.

I like this anecdote because it illustrates what I most enjoy about writing and sharing this story, and that is the shared understanding of the characters and the world in which we work.  Our specific characterizations may differ, but I know that even a brief mention of Farengar Secret Fire or Enthir will elicit a reaction.  On the one hand, this relieves me of certain creative responsibilities since I only need to mention a name—without any description—but on the other, it also creates a space for new ideas that I couldn’t possibly have generated on my own.

Another example of this was when Pyrelle and I were arguing over whether or not Mirabelle is sleeping with Phinis, which led me to hide Nirya in Enthir’s closet.  That could have been simply a humorous throwaway scene, but it also allowed me to have a much-needed Onspeth conversation, enabling some development in that relationship.

All Erica did was mention the name Vipir, planting a little seed in my brain, and the idea just took off.  Originally, I had intended for Lydia simply to break Vipir’s heart. Later, Erica also suggested that perhaps Vipir spent a year in prison.  Now instead of Lydia being depicted as the “woman who broke our master pickpocket’s heart,” she is  “the woman who refused to spring our master pickpocket from jail when she had the opportunity.”  That changed things considerably.   Not only does it make things more intense and dramatic for Lydia and Vipir, it implicates the whole guild in a way.

In any case, I know how this story ends, but getting there is often a struggle.  I never take for granted my readership and the comments that keep me writing and help me generate new ideas.  Again, I thank you from the bottom of my Skyrim-obsessed heart.

Now, I have to finish the next chapter, where Vipir sees Lydia again.  I know how that confrontation ends, but I am not certain exactly how it plays out.

It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out.  They would have made such pretty babies:

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20 thoughts on “Fan Fiction is my Gardening Co-Op

    1. I think fanfiction in general. But there is something unique about the way that the Elder Scrolls games (and other games perhaps, but I don’t play others) have all these NPCs that give you a little bit to start and then you get to develop their personalities and relationships.

      I mean, there is a reason I “knew” that Vipir is totally Lydia’s type. But at the same time, I had to characterize him that way.

      Also, that picture up there…took me forever to get right. Lydia wouldn’t stand where I told her. I also have one of them in the practice room and it looks like Vipir is aiming an arrow at her head. But the quality is pretty poor.

      1. The games provide the perfect framework for developing a story, basically. There’s a story already, sure, but the possibility for embellishment and further development…oh so wonderful.

  1. Lydia and I have a love hate relationship. I usually make a save point when I know she is going to do something to make me bad so I can kick her butt and then reload.
    “Hey, lets not go through a giant camp at level 5. Go home.”

    “Now you’ll pay!” *knocked 90 feet in the air before landing in a pile of broken mush*

    “Gods damn it, Lydia!”

    But, she did bring Frenya a gift yesterday so I forgive.

    But that is totally off track.
    I love this story and I love that you gave Lydia her spin off of sorts and formed an additional relationship/connections to the story as a whole.

      1. I had never taken Lydia anywhere until earlier this week when I took her to the Cistern for a photo shoot with Vipir.

        I’m glad you liked the story. It was a lot fun to write. I started the main story with the intention of giving Lydia a backstory, but I never expected this. I’m really glad I did it because I got really attached to Vipir and love writing his character. He’s getting his own short story soon.

  2. I feel like Zoidberg from Futurama as I say this, “Yay! I’m relavent!”. I truely loved Lydia’s backstory, and I completely feel that you could write a complete book just for her because you have developed her so well so far. I do have to say because of this Vipir has moved up on my list of favorite thieves guild members; he is now in front of Rune, all because you did such a wonderful job pairing him with Lydia. I do have to protest to the whole him being in jail for a year, but then I remember he is the pickpocket trainer not the lockpick trainer.

    1. ::snort:: I love Zoidberg. Almost as much as I love Kif.

      I can’t wait to write more Vipir. I started his new story earlier today, but I won’t be moving on that for a little bit yet.

  3. I think this is relevant beyond writing fanfiction if you have a good community of fellow writers to share your ideas with. We can really help each other hone and shape a strong idea into something phenomenal, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Lydia and Vipir’s story unfold through the planning process and into words.

  4. “We can really help each other hone and shape a strong idea into something phenomenal”

    …and prevent someone from taking the whole blog down in a moment of utter frustration.

    This blog would not even exist if not for Erica’s inspiration. 🙂

  5. You’re truly welcome ;] and, on the subject of inspiration, I have to say a little ‘thank you’ to you. When I started out with ‘A Nomad…’ it was supposed to be a simple NPC role-playing blog, but reading Elspeth and seeing how much detail and love you put into your characters, I decided to flesh out my characters some more and I think (and hope) it’s paying off.

    1. It is. I mean, I love a good role-playing story but I think fleshing out the characters keeps things from getting too repetitive. I’m always curious about what motivates characters, even if they aren’t big heroes.

      1. I did write a very brief profile for Adrian when I started the blog but, looking back at it now, it’s basically me! Obviously I’m not a traveller in Skyrim (I wish) but all the personality traits and such were all things I possess. Since then I’ve rewrote his story almost entirely and he’s done things I certainly wouldn’t do, so hopefully he’s well on the way to becoming a memorable character.

        I have a long way to go before I reach your level of detail though.

      2. The interesting thing about Elspeth is that in the original story I wrote (before I decided to post it on-line), she was very different and looking back, she was far less interesting. When I decided to post it, I had to rework her story and make it more canon-friendly and in doing so, I sort of destroyed her childhood and removed all her social skills.

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