This vid rec may be a repeat but it is by far one of the best crossover vids I've seen and since elizabeth_rice
asked me to talk more about crossovers, I thought it was apropos.
I only have the Youtube posting, so no vidpost.
Stargate: Camelot by DoubleTreble
What you look for in crossover and fusion fics?
I'm going to talk about this from a writing perspective since I'm always of the opinion that a good writer can sell me on anything. I'm also going to talk about them as if plot and actually writing it were not an issue . . . because so many crossovers don't get written because I have no plot.
So from a writing perspective I don't know if there are specific things that jump out when an idea strikes but there are things that jump out once I start thinking harder about the stories, and whether or not I want to write them.
1. Worldbuilding - Crossovers
I guess the first question that comes to mind is, can characters(s) from one universe plausibly visit character(s) from another universe? It's kind of like having a guest and home team. For longer stories, I like it when they go back to the guests' home field and the roles reverse.
So what allows visits like that? Starting on Earth, both sides exist in the same universe. Cop shows are great for this. Cop shows can pretty much interact with any show that happens on Earth really easily. Have traveling characters like the Winchesters visit DC and get entangled with the NCIS team. Have traveling teams like the BAU from Criminal Minds visit Haven. Have two sets of travelers, the Winchesters and the BAU meet in Colorado.
The other great thing about cop shows is that they are a good foil for supernatural happenings. They are the everyman, the very competent everyman, the people I see myself identifying with if I were ever in that situation. They can also be foils for each other while still being on the same side. Crossing cop shows with cop shows can also be fun because you can contrast the different styles of the teams. Cop show and Vigilante shows, like Leverage or Burn Notice, or Spy shows like Nikita, are fun for the same reasons. So what you have are two groups of people who are ultimately wanting to achieve the same thing, but have very different methods of going about it, and those methods are what put them in conflict. And that's where the story is. How do they resolve working together to solve the problem?
So those are the easy ones.
Combining two genre shows can be trickier, but also a whole lot of fun. There are two ways to do this, combine them in the same world like you do the cop shows, or have the characters travel the multiverse. Thank god for the multiverse. And wormholes.
Most of the time when I've combined two genre shows it's been, two space shows via wormhole (I've got two different ways of mixing Farscape wormholes with Stargate wormholes), or a space show with a supernatural show where they exist in the same world. I've also seen the space show and the supernatural show combine thanks to wormholes and multiverse, but I've only done that in very quick one-shots where I don't go into it.
I'm not as much of a fan of mixing two supernatural shows dealing with similar creatures as if they've always existed in the same universe, i.e. Supernatural with Buffy because of how the two canons portray knowledge of the worlds. I always feel like one side of the crossover or the other is unnecessarily dumbed down to make it work since there was this whole other type of vampire that they spent their life not knowing about. It's a personal taste and I roll my eyes at those. I haven't tried to make it work in anything I've written yet. Merging them through alternate universes or wishes or other magical means of transporting to parallel worlds works for me.
How people get to one universe from another can be an important plot point which is why I like having a logical-ish reason because part of the story might be getting the guest characters home. Of course, I also like crossovers that just go for it, and the guest character is stuck in the home universe of the other side of the crossover, and the story is how they deal with it.
2. Worldbuilding - Fusions
Fusion are crossovers where the guest characters exist in the home universe as if they are from the home universe. There isn't a meeting of worlds, it's a how would these characters live in this world if they were born there? Firefly is one of my favorites for fusions because the world building is solid, made up of human civilizations, and it allows for a lot of room between the frontier planets were people live like they would from a western and the Core planets where there are cities and technology. So even if the story is set on the Rim, you can have characters with all sorts of backgrounds that allows a lot of guest characters to fit right in somewhere.
The Stargate program is another favorite I see that works well, though I've never written it. The guest characters come in as a gate team and/or aliens. The Wizarding world works well too, with people going to Hogwarts. The 100 is a new fusion universe for me too, since there's solid world building for the people who survived on Earth after the war.
Anyone else have favorite fusion universes?
3. Good outside point of view and conflict
Whether it's a crossover or a fusion, what draws me to this type of story is the outside point of view. I love outside point of view. It's a chance to see what others think about our characters, what impression they leave, how do they get along with limited info about each other while meanwhile the audience knows both. It's like watching two friends you've introduced get to know each other.
But to make it work, and work well as a story, there needs to be conflict. Smooth sailing friendships are great in real life but don't always make good stories. If you have an ensemble meeting an ensemble, it's fine for a couple of characters to hit it off, but there needs to be some friction between others, something to drive the story. And also that's the fun part of crossovers, building the trust between characters. Or leaving them as rivals and adversaries.
Secrets are good for this, so are having cagey characters who have a hard time getting along with non-team people. Natural distrust between different groups, all that stuff.
5. Things I hate
Oh the many things I hate about bad crossovers. On the Criminal Minds mirror post on LJ, I talk about a few of these things with liliaeth
-- Info dumps, where a character just decides to explain everything that ever happened in their universe to their new friends without resistance or any attention to whether the character would actually share this information with outsiders.
-- Having one character be two people (secret identity) because the actor played a character in each universe. You can do twins, but this trope where they're the same person annoys the fuck out of me because it feels so lazy, and often the stories that come out of it are horrible. I acknowledge that there are exceptions, but it takes a bit to convince me.
-- Two characters who have known each other and been best friends forever across universes without a) being related or b) the story being about them knowing each other. I'm fine if they've met a few times, or have heard of each other, or if the story is about how they met, or if they are continuing a relationship that started in the past. But making them friends with a history without the history and then having them go on adventures feels like cheating. It feels like the writer went off and told a great story to themselves that they refused to share with the audience. You can write the sequel where they're friends and have adventures after you give the reader the backstory. But you have to give us the backstory.
Other things I hate can be filed under poor writing and out of character characters, but these are the main ones specific to crossovers.
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