luxken27: (Kids Inc - Together forever)
LuxKen27 ([personal profile] luxken27) wrote2010-08-21 01:37 pm

Kids Inc | Oneshot: break/even

Title: break/even
Fandom: Kids Incorporated
Universe: Canon divergence (Season 5 + 3 years)
Genre: Angst/Romance
Rating: T
Summary: Once upon a time, she’d fallen in love. Once upon a time, he’d broken her heart. On the eve of her junior prom, they find themselves with a second chance – if only they are willing to risk it.

Link: | DW

LOL, wow. What started off as a short one-off idea nearly exploded out of my control before I realized it o.O The muse definitely went overboard here, but I can't say I mind, now that the final product is on hand. There is a lot here to unpack, so let's get started, shall we?

First of all, let me say that while this piece is compatible with the universe I've been building with Stacy in Bloom, it is not necessarily a direct sequel. I am a firm believer in the #1 Rule of Romance Writing - giving the main couple a Happily Ever After - so I don't want anyone to think that I'm doing all this work for that story, only to have my pairing end up miserable :P Think of this more as...speculative fic, if you want. It does contain a few spoilers for SiB, but nothing terribly earth-shattering, I don't think - if anything, maybe it'll make you curious enough to want to dive in over there :)

I originally wanted to write this piece, not only because I loved the idea, but because I figured there might be folks out there who are interested in reading fic for this fandom, but who might not want to invest the time or energy in a 50K+ word epic with seemingly no end in sight. So when this idea developed, I was excited, thinking I could write a shorter, completed piece and maybe draw some fellow fans out of the woodwork.

10,000 words later, it became apparent my muse had other ideas :P

So this came from a number of different places, but mostly this song, which randomly popped into my head one night. I went searching YouTube for other oldies I enjoyed, and hit upon this...and boom, an idea was born.

Apparently I am destined to write about high school and proms at least once in every fandom I encounter *facepalm* but considering the fandoms I've been trawling of late? This probably wouldn't come as such a stunner.

This story takes place approximately three years after the fifth season of the show, after nearly all of the then-cast members would be in high school. As I've said from the outset, my favorite casts are from the 86/87/88 seasons, so there's a 99% chance I'll always be writing about them in some form. It would've been nice if the show had continued into the 90s with these members intact, but since that didn't happen IRL, that's what fanfic is for, yes?

By that point, this cast would've been able to perform some pretty wicked harmonies together, which is why I chose this song as their performance number:

[“Dedicated to the One I Love” © 1961/66 Ralph Bass, Lowman Pauling, & John Phillips]

It was also the perfect segue into the background of the piece, and it was the perfect way to build Stacy's emotions up for her eventual meeting with her heretofore ex-boyfriend. The entire first scene was built around this song.

The second (and longest) scene, at the prom, was built around these two songs, both by the Righteous Brothers:

[“You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'” © 1964 Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, & Phil Spector]

[“(You're My) Soul & Inspiration” © 1966 Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, & Bill Medley]

I wanted to write the prom scene not only for the romantic conflict, but also to show the enduring friendship of Stacy and the Kid. A lot of people ship these two together, but for me, they are more of a good example of best friendship than potential romance. The Kid is one of my favorite characters because he's so boisterous and arrogant, but underneath all that bluster, he's a great guy, and a great friend. He's probably the one with the most depth out of all of them, especially if the Season 4 episodes are anything to attest to. At any rate, I thought it would be interesting to explore Stacy's resilient friendship with the Kid in contrast to everything that's going on between her and Ryan. Both guys are great for her in their own ways, but those are also different ways, which I wanted to highlight.

There is a slight in-joke about the Kid's date drama, repeated from the Season 4 episode “You've Got the Wrong Date”. I decided to make his date someone else, though, mostly inspired by this fantasy sequence from a few episodes before. Here's another shot of Challyn, who was a backup dancer during Season 4:

Stacy's dress (and perhaps my prom nostalgia, in general) was inspired by the dress Belle Black wore during the Last Blast 2002, on Days of Our Lives:

LOL, I told ya the inspiration for this was complicated, at best :P but suffice to say, this is an intersection with two other fandoms I might possibly be exploring in the future...if I can work up the nerve to face the craziness that is soap opera fandom o.O

The third, and most important scene, was the one that stumped me for the longest time. I wrote a great deal of this story over the course of two or three days, only to hit the wall when everything was finally getting interesting. On a whim, I heard this song on the radio during my painfully long drive to work, and it felt like everything magically slid into place :)

[“The Only Exception” © 2010 Hayley Williams & Josh Farro]

I'm not thrilled to be inspired by a Paramore song, but considering how much I enjoyed Hayley Williams's contribution to B.o.B's album, I decided to just go with it. One song doesn't a diehard fan make, after all :P

Since I never really got into Ryan's head during this piece, it was interesting that for the Big Scene, he's the one making all the confessions ~ but that's the way it came out, and what ultimately best soothed my muse. I liked the idea of the two of them being on the same wavelength - and him even dropping some rather large hints, that she couldn't pick up on because she was distracted by her own feelings - but not really realizing it until everything kinda goes pear-shaped.

But Ryan is a talker, and a fixer, not really one to brood, so he'd want to have it out, even if he came out of the confrontation a little worse for the wear. Stacy lives in her heart a little more, reacting when others don't realize what the problem is, which has gotten her into trouble before, even on the show. I've been trying to remember what it was like to be fourteen (and then sixteen, for this piece), and mostly what I remember is feeling like I was on a never-ending emotional rollercoaster. My personality was never much like Stacy's, so I've tried to temper my experiences accordingly, and I think I've struck a comfortable balance. It only took nigh on 60K words to get there, but I finally feel like I 'own' these characters, to some extent.

Ryan's little aside about the 'Wall of Sound' phenomenon is true, and is a little nugget I picked up while researching these songs. This style of musical production is what put Phil Spector on the map, and it really changed the way music was written and produced in the 1960s. One of the reasons (You're My) Soul & Inspiration became such a phenomenon is because one half of the group, the baritone Bill Medley, was able to recreate the Wall of Sound production style without Spector's input. I thought this was a fascinating footnote, and definitely something that's probably studied in musical composition/production classes - and its something a nerd like Ryan would mention, even out of nowhere, LOL :P

Let's see, what else? There are a couple other nods to canon (like Ryan wearing those Converse with everything, whether its appropriate or not, LOL), but mostly this story just really pushes my angsty romance buttons leik woah. Most of what I write is angsty or romantic, but its been awhile since I explored a situation like this, with a lot of depth and shades of meaning and possibilities (not only for good, but so much potential for disaster as well). I had an absolute blast writing this, and finishing it has put me in the best mood I've been in for weeks, so even though it slogged on forever and went places I never expected? I couldn't be happier with it :) I like the way I've written the characters, the situation, and the ways I incorporated (all of) the inspiration music.

I haven't been this excited about a piece of fanfic in a long time. I'm not sure if its because I finally finished something (for a change), or because of the story itself, or because its for this fandom, so close to my heart. Either way, if you give it a shot, I hope you enjoy it! =)