Yes - please do! RF is open to all our members. It is free to join if you're not already a member; simply click on the "new topic" button in any of our forums and follow the on-screen instructions.
Episodes which start or continue an RF story should be posted to our main The Hub forum. While the RF forum you're currently in provides a valuable and ordered archive of all past RF activity, The Hub is the thriving heart of the RF project. Here, as well as getting responses to your episode, you'll be able to meet other authors, and discuss ideas and episodes with them.
We will then copy your episode from The Hub into the appropriate threads here in the RF archive.
The aims of Random Fiction
- To produce collaborative works of fiction based on Doctor Who -
- To provide a flexible platform for trying out story ideas -
- To mix styles and storylines creatively, resulting in dynamic and evolving fictions -
A Random Fiction story is written collaboratively by many authors, rather than being complete, self contained stories by one person. One author writes a first episode of a story. The story is then continued and developed by anyone else who wishes to, in their own episode.
The only rule is that each successive episode must be written by a different author to the one immediately before it. In other words, in RF you cannot continue your own episodes, but you can write more than one episode per story.
Stories grow and evolve in whichever direction the authors are inspired to take them. There have been several "experiments" within the RF format, often arranged by groups of authors. (examples: The Roman Story has five versions of the first episode, The Solar Knights is written from end to beginning, and Box of Doors is a comic strip!)
Continuing a story
The one thing I expect of anyone continuing an RF is that they have something to add to what has gone before in the story - otherwise they should be starting a new story with the theme they have in mind.
Take it wherever you want!
Don't feel you have to resolve the previous episode in a straightforward way - you could jump track to introduce a new element into the plot. But do respect what has gone before - what stage is the story at? Is there still room for new plot elements?
But there's a reason why it's that particular story that you want to continue - what is that reason? What is it about the previous episodes that interested you or inspired you? Find the core of what grabbed you and use that. When I wrote Redshift part three, I did so because of one small section of episode two - the 'mark' spreading over Ace's skin caught my attention in a chilling way, and I wanted to explore that.
Feel free to experiment with style
There's no reason why the style of each episode should be the same. With different people writing it just won't be the same, but don't feel you have to fit the style of the story so far. Some of the most interesting stuff happens when two styles meet. However, do be sympathetic to the overall tone of the story.
I enjoyed the contrast between my own strange style in The Outsiders episode one, and the historical style of episode two. From these contrasts come the creative sparks. We could have episodes as flashback, diary entry, script, verse - even pictures - a cartoon episode or just an illustration would be great!
As I've said above though, use style sympathetically to the overall style of the story - a radically different style can be tremendouly creative, but also it can weaken a story if it's done for the hell of it, rather than with the 'feel' of the whole story in mind. See also the notes for writing new stories, below.
Talk to each other
Post messages on The Hub, or email an author with questions or ideas. Discuss the story title - maybe as the story develops it might be necessary to change that - and all those who write a story deserve a say in naming it.
Besides, making up the title is fun, and gives a sense of an added layer to the story - why's it called Redshift? - who are The Outsiders? When the title occurs in the text it adds a certain resonance to the story - you know that this is significant, but you don't yet quite know why...
A lot of the fun is in 'unveiling' your new episode, but as the stories grow we can experiment with more collaborative ways of working. If you want the plot to lead to a certain twist, discuss it by email or suggest it in a post. The Hub is also a forum for collaboration and sharing ideas.
Reserving an Episode
If you want to make sure no-one else writes the continuation you're determined to do, then you may reserve the next episode of any story in progress. Reservations are posted in RF Reservations thread on The Hub. It is always worth checking if you're planning to continue an existing RF story just in case it has been reserved.
Please note: you should only reserve the next unwritten episode of a story. For example, if Episode 2 just came out, you could reserve Episode 3, but if someone else has already reserved 3, you should wait to read that episode before reserving Episode 4. This *is* a flexible thing though - for particular instances, you can post a query on the Reservations thread.
Starting a story
If you're starting your own story:
Write as little or as much as you want
Write enough to get others interested, but not so much that there's no where to go with the story.
Give us a cliffhanger!
Normally all a cliffhanger has to do is get a reader to read the next chapter. Our cliffhangers have to get them to write the next chapter!
But beware of going over the top, or writing other authors into such a tight corner they cannot get out convincingly. It's a fine balance though, because some of the most creative twists come when there is the challenge of 'get out of that' - but it's a hard trick to pull of convincingly. We've all heard of 'Flash Gordon syndrome' (What? You haven't?) What I mean is the 'cheat' escape which breaks the story's own internal logic and disappoints the reader. (There's a topic for the forum - 'cheat' cliffhangers in Doctor Who... but I digress).
Cliffhangers don't always have to be life threatening or melodramatic (although that can be fun...) They can be tense, understated, provocative, ironic - but we must always be left wanting to know what happens next, or with a brilliant idea for what happens next...
See the notes above about style - they apply equally to the start of a story.
Tragedy or Comedy?
The tone of the stories can be whatever you like - as can the style of writing. I suspect that after a story starts it's hard to change the tone much, going from a serious dramatic story to a comedy would seem weak, maybe (but prove me wrong!) Starting off as humourous though, gives the interesting possibility of the 'nasty twist', and good drama and storytelling skilfully balances humour and drama... 'Happiness is nothing unless it exists side-by-side with sadness'
There's no need to reveal too much at first. We needn't start with the Doctor. But it's important to grab the reader quickly. Too much scene setting slows down the story. Your first episode could consist of just a first line! But it would have to be a good one... This idea lends itself well to humourous stories.
Always contentious in Doctor Who - here's your chance to start a spoof, or write your own 'oddball' story. Want to tell of the Doctor's battle with the Eclectic Hordes of perfume-wielding Penguins? See a shrink. er... I mean - now's your chance! They say humour is harder to write well than drama, so we'll swiftly see if humourous efforts think or thwim. Fun to try, anyway. If Paul Cornell can set "No Future" in the era of Paul McCartney's band "Wings" solely for the "chap with wings, five rounds rapid" gag, then why the hell can't we be funny too. So there.
Q: How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 50, 000. 1 to change it, and 49,999 to argue about how awful the new bulb is and that it isn't real light anymore. (Oh please yourselves
Try to be creative - that's the name of the game here. Fan Fiction has an awful reputation for being, well, awful. Steer clear of the obvious - multiple Doctors battling lots of old enemies is the usual example, but I don't have a problem with either of those per se. But I think they make it more difficult for your ideas to take shape.
With characters who we all know a lot about, like the Daleks or The Master, there's a lot less mystery, and a lot more history - you're trapped into keeping within the character's established behaviour, because it is very hard to find something new in them. If you want to write about characters we know, say something new. Let's hear about The Master's first trip in a TARDIS perhaps. Or the Dalek who changed sides, or the time when two of The Doctor's incarnations didn't meet - just!
The only rule of RF is the one mentioned above - each successive episode must be written by a different author to the one immediately before it.
We'll archive all genuine contributions, regardless of whether we personally think they're well written or not. The whole idea of 'well written' is of course very subjective, and part of what the Random Fiction project was set up to do was encourage people to write creatively. I don't care if you're a first timer or a veteran scrawler - the way I see it, those stories which have elements that interest people will grow, and those that don't... won't. That's what I mean by evolution of the stories. Survival of the most inspiring, if you like.
I'd like to encourage feedback and discussion of stories on The Hub. Even if you're not writing something you can still let us know if an idea makes you think, or makes you wince. Likewise, if you find a broken link on the menu pages here in the archive, please post to tell us.
The Small Print
Random Fiction is an on-going project by those who frequent the Timelord forum. While each individual episode is the property of its author, the editor reserves the right to refuse a request from an author for the withdrawl of episodes since archived.
"Dr Who" is copyright BBC. No abuse of this copyright is intended. All characters portrayed are randomly fictional - any similarity to persons living, dead, or not yet living is purely imaginary.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online - invaluable!
The Apostrophe Protection Society - It's really very simple...
Doctor Who resources:
List of Doctor Who stories - Wikipedia entry on all Doctor Who TV and radio stories, including specials, mini episode and BBC website games
The Universal Databank - an online copy of the A-Z encyclopaedic guide to every character, planet or named property from the television series.
Advice to authors:
Unfit for Society - A number of links to advice on writing fiction.
Lemniskate - A Yahoo Group where Doctor Who author Kate Orman posts occasional essays and links on the subject of writing.