Writing Deeks: Heroes & Villains
Writing a multi-chapter alternate universe story for Marty Deeks is a big job, and it frequently requires the introduction of new characters to advance the plot. Sometimes these are good guys who support him and the team, and even serve as surrogate family. Other times they are bad guys, evil villains who give Deeks someone to fight against, bringing conflict and drama to the story. We spoke with our group of fan fiction writers about some of their original heroes and villains.
Pausing at the doorway to the outdoor dining area, Deeks’ eyes fell on a young girl sitting behind the cash register and the glass display case with t-shirts, postcards, and glasses bearing the logo and name of the brewery. She was tall and gangly but on the slightly unhealthy and thin side, and even though he couldn’t see her face clearly, Deeks would have guessed no more than twelve years of age. She was focused on a thick open book in front of her, colored pencils and drawing paper spread over the glass case where she sat, her dark blonde hair falling in long messy strands over her shoulders…
Deeks saw the sheets of pages underneath revealing half finished math equations and lots of eraser smudges from mistakes. From his right came the voice of Kelly the waitress.
“Hailey, you’re doing your homework, right? You know your mom wants you to concentrate on your homework first, then the art stuff,” Kelly warned piously. “I know she’s not here right now but I said I’d look after you.”
“Yeah, I know,” Hailey replied softly, making a show of pulling out her math homework and placing it on top of her pile of papers. Kelly gave her a satisfied smile and went off to the kitchen to pick up orders. And Deeks had to smile at how the young girl stuck her tongue out as Kelly walked away, then glanced at Deeks nervously. He held his hands up in surrender.
– imahistorian, “Feel the Tide”
Original characters are often necessary to move the story forward, but they can also take on a larger, more important role in Deeks’ life. Since TV Deeks has so few people he’s close to, our writers often find themselves creating OC’s to serve as his friends or family. “When I started writing fanfic for the show,” says imahistorian, “much of Kensi and Deeks’ backgrounds was unknown, so I filled in the blanks. And I thought by giving them characters that could be family or friends that could provide opportunities to challenge Kensi and Deeks and make them grow both separately and together. The most important original character I’ve created that has affected Deeks is Hailey, the sister I gave him in ‘Feel the Tide’. Her main purposes were to give Deeks something he didn’t have, a blood family member, to offer him the chance to make some kind of amends with his own past (by allowing him the chance to get Hailey out of the same kind of abusive household he grew up in), and to give Deeks a compelling reason to leave NCIS, because his sister needed him.”
Similarly, thepixiesmademedoit provided a surrogate family for Deeks in the form of Jim Weiss, the first police officer on the scene the night Deeks shot his father (in “Natural Equilibrium”). Jim, his wife Libby, and daughter Laura “offered a young Deeks a family of sorts, and from the point of their meeting they influenced who he grew up to be. Jim Weiss alone allowed me to explore Deeks’ thoughts and feelings about ‘family’; he allowed me to question what might have been Deeks’ reasons for becoming a cop; and it also allowed me to open up Deeks’ understanding about parenthood, about what his father could and should have been to him. On top of all of that it of course allowed for Deeks and Kensi to be brought ever closer together.”
Sweet Lu has also provided a surrogate family for Deeks, with Joe Atwood, an FBI agent he crosses paths with in “Judgement,” and Joe’s father George, who lives on a Wyoming ranch. “Those two show him what family truly means,” she says. “I wrote a quartet of stories that they figure prominently in and they have become quite popular with my readers, especially George. The rest of the family includes cousins to George who happen to be Arapaho, allowing me to delve into a more western take on life. They are all so real to me now that I picture them at the ranch in Wyoming waiting for me to return and pull them into another adventure. It has been tempting to keep Deeks there, but I controlled myself.”
Some of these original characters take on a life of their own and surprise their writer. “Some characters change as you write them and one you thought was going to be a bumbling idiot turns into someone you start to like and you keep him around,” says Sweet Lu. Joe Atwood “was supposed to be a slightly incompetent FBI agent, but as he interacted with Deeks, and said one funny line, I began to like him. At that stage in the story I needed someone for Deeks to talk to. I didn’t want to write a running narrative of what was in his head, so I needed someone to help move the story along and react to what Deeks was doing and help him cope. So I kept Joe Atwood and it changed the entire story, and gave me a reason to write several sequels. That’s what makes writing such an adventure.” Tess DiCorsi also found herself becoming fond of an original character from her story “Scattered.” CIA agent “Ira in chapter three is not a nice guy but by the time I was supposed to kill him off, and yes, the original plan was to kill him off, I couldn’t do it. He just grew on me.”
Deeks had left the Mission knowing exactly where he needed to go, and more specifically who he needed to see.
Stopping outside of a large home in the San Fernando Valley he turned off his engine and stepped from the car. He made his way around the side of the house collecting the newspaper from the lawn on route, and as he turned it over in his hand he could see the name Weiss printed in large letters on the sleeve. Unlatching the gate immediately brought him the attention of two large, barking retrievers, both wagging their tails enthusiastically at his presence. Taking a moment to greet them and throw the tennis ball one of them had unceremoniously dropped at his feet, he then continued on to the back door where a woman in her early 50’s stood wiping her hands on a tea towel.
“I’d point out that we have a perfectly serviceable front door, but why change a twenty year habit now?” she remarked a wry smile on her lips “I was hoping you’d come by.”
“I wasn’t sure I’d be welcome.”
“Martin Andrew Deeks, have you ever not been welcome in this house?”
“No,” he answered truthfully.
“Listen to me,” she began firmly getting straight to the point “This whole mess is not your fault. It is not something for you to take blame for and beat yourself up over. You understand me? You were ordered to do a job and you did it.”
Deeks smiled and leaned over towards the woman placing a kiss on her cheek.
“It’s good to see you, Libby.”
“It’s good to see you too. You need a haircut,” she told him with an affectionate pat to his cheek “And a shave.”
– thepixiesmademedoit, “Natural Equilibrium”
Then there are the characters who don’t grow on anyone- the bad guys. Or as Kadiedid describes, “A good story has to have someone you really want to see get what they have coming to them.” For her, “Bad guys are sometimes easier to write because you can make them say and do whatever you want. No one has to like them and sometimes it’s best if the readers hate them.” Sweet Lu also enjoys writing them. “Oh, they are so much fun to create and to kill off,” she says, and goes on to describe the crucial purpose they serve: “A true villain adds such contrast to a story, and allows our hero to crash against that evilness and fight for what is good in the world and in themselves. A villain creates tension and makes us root even more for our favorite characters. A villain allows us to get a glimpse of all that is bad in the world and shows us what the hero is up against and clarifies their own goodness in contrast to the darkness of soul in the villain. I believe they make a story stronger and I think the show needs more of them, like Janvier and Sidorov.”
But it’s not a simple process. “Writing bad guys is a challenge, but I like it.” she explains. “The hard part is, if you are true to the character, you have to think the way they think and make sure that what they do, however horrible that might be, makes sense for that character. They become the thing Deeks has to survive, to overcome, to beat at his own game… the bad guy makes the conflict greater… ups the anty. You have to make the reader fear that character or at least make them uncomfortable. They are the one that adds suspense to the story, because you’re not sure what they are going to do or how Deeks will weather whatever they throw at him. A master villain has to be believable and distinct, so I give him characteristics that make him stand out… maybe almost larger than life… an obstacle that Deeks has to defeat, so he has to be formidable. Then you get to kill them in some clever way and coming up with how that happens is always interesting.” thepixiesmademedoit observes a similar dynamic in the drama between hero and villain, saying, “If [the OC is] there as a point of conflict, then you have to work almost in opposition to the behaviors you know and trust in of the show’s characters, you have to find the actions and decisions which will bring such a conflict to bear and then work against the convictions and beliefs you know they hold.”
Perhaps Sweet Lu’s most memorable villain to date was a former Stasi agent named Wilhelm Jürgen, whom Bad Guy Granger (it is an AU after all) hires to torture and kill Deeks. “I thought I had made [Granger] really bad,” she says, “until I came up with my ultimate bad guy, Wilhelm Jürgen, a truly evil man… The character seemed to develop a mind of his own, becoming darker as the story progressed, making Granger’s character unnecessary. His creation lengthened the story as his life story began to mirror Deeks’. We come to see how characters with similar backgrounds respond in totally different ways and let Deeks see what lengths a true family will go to to protect their own.”
Jürgen came into his line of sight, his arm freshly bandaged and the muscle in his jaw flexing with anger. He spoke sharply in German to one of the Afrikaners and the man moved quickly, entering the building and coming back carrying an old military rifle with a heavy wooden stock. Deeks tensed, wondering if this was the end of his journey. Jürgen took the rifle and turned back toward him, an unreadable look on his face.
“I underestimated you,” he said. “I paid too much attention to Granger’s opinion of you. He discounted you. He couldn’t see inside you. He saw only the outside and some pale imitation of yourself that you projected to the world and that is probably why you bested him in your recent confrontation. Men like him never seem to understand the depth of rage that can simmer inside of a man. He didn’t realize it was even there. Even after reading about your childhood battle with your father, he was blind to what that did to you. But, I understand. I lived it. I know what your father did to you and I can guess at what he did that isn’t in those files. He tried to break you early, but he failed didn’t he, my friend? He thought he was winning the battle to dominate you, to make you submissive, but he was only stoking the rage that he had caused. Now you have nothing left but that rage, and I won’t forget that again.”
– Sweet Lu, “Vengeance”
Sweet Lu says that, “When I first started writing I was afraid to attempt creating original characters, but now it is one of my greatest joys… Writing an OC can lead you to new places and new thoughts and a world of new adventures you hadn’t planned on.” Next week we’ll explore a small corner of the alternate universe where a special group of original characters resides, ones who can engender strong feelings. A world where Deeks and Kensi are- gasp- with other people.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
thepixiesmademedoit, “Natural Equilibrium”
imahistorian, “Feel the Tide”
Sweet Lu, “Vengeance”
Or, go back to the last Writing Deeks, Capturing Character.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.
As always I enjoyed this article. I enjoy every word and every excerpt that leads me to explore new stories and enjoy the AU. (many times these particulararticle gave me ideas for my story).
I have read most of Sweet Lu’s fan fics and I said I’ll say again, she and Jericho Steele are one my favorite writers. I forgot how much storiesI read since I am lost when I read those stories. Lost in time and thought.
I loved Judgment and Vengeance. First, it was Wyoming. That place reminds me of the book Force of Nature by C. J. Box. I love that place. And second, it was Jurgen, well that was one mean son of a bitch that I wanted to kill slowly and painfully. You have no idea what those stories did to me. I was grasping as Deeks followed through and somehow managed to survive all those things Jurgen did to him. One of the scarriest villains I have read about in fics and books.
I agree that sometimes when you want to write about Deeks the inevitable question is his family.
I myself have inserted a family member in his life and i somehow grew to like the character, and I plan to use the character in future fics so I can explore it more by it, since my current (and first larger) fic is about a case from the past and I had in mind just a little tidbits about her and her background.
And when we talk about fan fics I can say that they are my source for encouragement to keep writing. When I think from this perspective, I was having ideas for stories about other TV shows since few years ago, but I didn’t know that there was a site where I could write my thoughts. And finally in January this year I started my fic. And it turned out a grear journey and a new experience for me.
About fan fics I always like the imagination we all have in store for our characters. Sometimes you can think of a character that is a lowlife that needs to be killed, but you are keeping him in life as you try to find a way to end his reign. And sometimes you write about sweet and lovable character that you keep it (or you’ll keep it in future).
When I write I feel fulfilled. I guess every writer does feel that.
And as our stories become more and more entangled, the more and more we find a safe haven in them. At least for me it is like escape from the reality.
Hey Natalie, glad you enjoyed the article. I actually do have some idea of what Vengeance did to you- Jurgen is the scariest villain I’ve ever read. Recently I was skimming through the story while writing this article, looking for a good excerpt of him to use. In the process I completely freaked myself out, LOL. He is very quotable, but most of his quotes were just too intense to use. Sweet Lu doesn’t realize her powers!
I just saw what my phone did to my comment. It looks like it was disoriented when I wrote my comment? Where are my horses and the ropes? I’ll use Sweet Lu’s idea for the killing of my cell.
Just kidding. And I really liked the part when he wanted Deeks to tell him George’s name, but he refused and told him that not every dad is mean with its children. Deeks really accepted George as his own, and he found family with him and Joe.
That’s why I love this kind of stories. It gives you an oportunity to see the character in another light, not just the weekly tidbits. Often I find myself in 2 or 3 a.m. reading a fan fic, and the next day I have classes early. But, what can I do? I love fan fics and I love to read.
Yes, Karen, I totally agree on Sweet Lu’s awesome power 😄
And I forgot to mention that Deeks is such an inspiring character that you can put him at any place at any time. He fits perfectly everywhere
It is such an honor to be included in your articles with all of these great writers. You have cited two of my favorite stories by two of my favorite writers. Natural Equilibrium and Feel The Tide are two of the best written stories in this fandom. They encouraged and inspired me when I read them and I still remain in awe of their authors. Thank you Karen for putting this series together. If anyone out there is an aspiring writer, those two stories are a great guide to how a good story is put together.
Thanks Lindy!. The honor is decidedly mine.
Awesome article as usual! I love all the insights and I have read and loved all the stories mentioned. Jim Weiss, Hailey, Libby, my all time favorite George Atwood, Joe …loved all of these characters. They all truly came to life and as I read this article it took me down memory lane. And the mention of Jurgen made the hair on my arm raise. That was one evil character and I enjoyed Sweet Lu comment, “Oh, they are so much fun to create and to kill off,” It’s true that after the stories are over, Deeks is a formidable character.
I could go on and on…have I said how much I love this section of WikiDeeks? I do😄
Thanks Reader! These AU posts have been some of my favorite to write, as I’ve gotten to find out more about how these great writers create so much out of thin air, something that to me seems downright magical.
In response to Reader 76…I must say that the deeper I got into Jurgen’s mind the less fun it all became. It was very difficult to keep writing him, but I felt I owed it to everyone to make his end a fitting one. He still lingers and sometimes when I hear the coyotes howling at night, my mind recalls that snowy meadow and I am thankful he is gone.