Collecting, Organizing and Creating Fan Content
Ode the joys of fact checking.
That little statement more or less sums up the sole skill sets necessary to write convincing fan fiction or actual canon products. Sure there’s creativity involved, but the basis of any good fanfic comes from well researched and well organized fact checking. Whether the material is previously published canon sourcebooks or simply the last chapter of your fan project, accurate fact checking and good organization can be the difference between a believable and well conceived story line and incoherent junk.
While developing content for the new Star League Core fact checking and fact gathering became the central tenet in developing the new site. Sure the published SLSB remained the anchor of the Core, but with the new Blakist theme in tow, the SLCore was slated for some new elements.
Typically, fact checking and content development run smoothest when approached like any detailed research project – Resources or texts of study should be collected, collated and separated into a pecking order. Once accomplished the process of fact checking and organizing content is fairly easy. In this digital age, copy and pasting text, highlighting important quotes and making notations is a relatively simple affair. Although I must admit to using a legal pad to keep track of my progress, it is unnecessary thanks to the personal computer – just my personal preference.
Once you start your own fan project, finding the organizational steps that personally works for you will ensure smooth progress from start to finish. Trust me, figuring out how best to keep track of your project will make life easy, and help stymie a decent into frustration.
For the Core, once work went beyond the simplicity of the SLSB text and into developing content under the Blakist guise, content research soon became a more complicated affair. I began by sifting through the new Jihad sourcebooks, as well as some of BattleTech’s older published works. I endeavored to collect Word of Blake sources (and Comstar sources) that referenced the Star League, not the Word of Blake itself. While the distinction may seem simplistic, it really is not. Remember, the Word of Blake often improved upon or changed Star League-era resources to fit their needs, so filtering through the sourcebooks to find their original incarnation was sometimes a challenge when delving beneath the veneer of Blakist language. Also, since many of the Jihad-era sourcebooks are written under the pretense of “hearsay,” the “facts” found within may not be facts at all.
Ok, this is all really silly truth be told, but I like to pretend and adhere to the fanatical “purist” devotion of an academic. Meaning, I won’t publish a canon “fact” that is not in point of fact, a fact. (Say that three times fast.) So unless the material can be corroborated with additional source text or legitimized by a later product, it does not make the cut.
The ancillary side benefit of following my fact checking criteria is that the reams of “facts” I have collected and collated, can be easily sifted through. Much like the early Koran, I have developed a check list to determine universe legitimacy. So while all published canon is factual, only material that survives the check list can be considered true enough for posting. Nuts right?
What can I say, my hobby hurts.
When the new SLCore goes live most users will not immediately notice the additional source content. Many of the facts I’ve collected throughout the site’s rebranding process won’t find their way into the SLSB files directly, or in a noticeable fashion. Rather, I’ve made it a point to separate the new material into two broad categories. The first category I’ve deemed “Historical” after the type of content collected and its final location on the site. This is new material directly related to published content found in the SLSB, and exists insofar as either fleshing the older sourcebook material out or adding to the preexisting content in a meaningful way. The second category I’ve marked as “Atlas.” The Atlas category is all new source material that stands separate from the original SLSB text, yet pertains directly to the First Star League. I’ve earmarked this material for a rather ambitious Atlas Project I’ll discuss later. But for example Atlas info would include something like the tidbit regarding the planet Lopez and the Star League Defense Force Depot once located there and so on. This is information that certainly adds to the body of knowledge surrounding the Star League, but not necessarily to the Star League’s story as a whole.
Personally, I think Game Masters and Scenario builders will find the Atlas material extremely useful in crafting games and playable campaigns. While the historical text will find a nice home with players just interested in expanding their knowledge of Star League-era fluff.