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.
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.”
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 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.