Authorguy's Blog

The Nickel Gag

Posted on: October 20, 2012


It’s really kind of strange and unpredictable what will strike a reader’s fancy. In the latest chapter of my latest fanfiction story, Sparring Partners, I had a scene where Sarah and Ellie go to a bar for some ‘girl time’ (a phrase which makes my wife gag every time she hears it)(not that type of gag). Sarah has commented that her relationship was so screwed up that they had three first dates, two first kisses, and fell in love at first sight, so having the wedding after they got married should come as no surprise.

When I started writing the chapter I was in a very different mindset, I guess, since the opening scene has a very different tone, Sarah asking Ellie to help her arrange her wedding after the fact (her desire to say her vows in front of people who will hunt her down and kick her ass if she fails to keep them is another favorite scene). This often happens to me, by the way. I’ll start a story with no real idea where I want it to go, and then something will occur to me halfway through. With these fanfics it’s usually easier, since I’m modelling the story I write on the story they told, but in this case the story they told doesn’t have much to offer.

The nine2five idea was mainly intended to keep the tone and theme of the show after season 2, developing them in the same direction season 3 did but not the same way season 3 did, since season 3 was really poorly done. In this case, since Chuck isn’t an agent he’s not going to go out and seduce a mark, or face the grim prospect of burning him afterward (my comments about season 3 above notwithstanding, I happen to like this episode because of this sort of dramatic development, most of the things that made season 3 suck weren’t in it).

As a result, I’m free to use this timeslot to work on other aspects of the overall season, such as the wedding, and getting Chuck and Sarah in shape for it. It’s not every couple that gets post-marriage, pre-wedding jitters. Sarah is trying to become a ‘real girl’ with a ‘real life’ she has no idea how to live, since she never had one, and she sensibly turns to Ellie, the realest girl she knows.

When they walk into the bar, the first thing Ellie asks about is the two first kisses, and Sarah says, “Damn, lost a nickel.” She then takes a nickel from her pocket and moves it to a different pocket. This chapter is already turning out to be one of the more popular I’ve ever done, and that gag is one of the most popular gags in it. Don’t ask me why, it was just a little whimsy when it first occurred to me to write it. I guess it’s the whimsy that does it. Sarah is usually such a sober sort of girl that something so ‘out of left field’ has more impact.

It’s the little things.

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2 Responses to "The Nickel Gag"

Don’t know the show so I don’t know the people, but this sounds interesting nonetheless. And yes, it’s the little things that make the difference. The tiny quirks, all the things that will go unnoticed in a movie or on TV, if they’re even included at all.

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One of the bits of advice they give new authors is to create character sheets with all the little details of your characters’ appearances, life details, etc., so that you can make them more real in your writing. I never did that, I just think of them as people, doing what people do. So many stories have characters who only exist to serve the story, that’s no fun at all. Real people transcend the stories they’re in, so our artificial people should be written that way too.

Thanks for reading! Chuck is one of the great shows on TV the last several years, I hope you check it out. My Chuck stories are all on FanFiction.net, and I hope you read them. Some of them are linked at the top of this page as well, the Hannah HISHE and the Epilog.

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