Monday, November 10, 2014

Fan Fiction and Me...or How I Started Writing (Again) Pt.2

This won't make any sense unless you've read Part 1 yet, so go back and read it if you missed it.

I'll wait.

Back?  Okay, onward!

So, when I left off I was saying how my first desire was to fix the Twilight books...write them the way I thought they should be.  But maybe I didn't have to do all this work...maybe there was something out there like this already?

I didn't really know where to start.  I had no idea people even did wrote stuff like that, but some Googling sure fixed that for me.

Site upon site popped up, and I started reading on several of them, fascinated and relieved that I wasn't the only one who wanted to take the work in a different direction.  A lot of the stories were decidedly more adult in nature (to be expected, given how much importance is placed on sexytimes (or avoiding them--Edward) in the books, and the fact that Stephenie Meyer faded to black in Breaking Dawn, not even giving the fans a little bit or somethin' somethin').  There were even stories where the characters were all human (abbreviated AH) instead of vampires, allowing the fic writer to take the characters in completely different directions while still retaining the character traits.  I'll talk more about this later and in Part 3.

I mostly read on the sites for a while before the writing bug really started kicking in.  I started small, writing a short story that was accepted on one of the sites, then, when I'd gained some confidence, actually wrote a novel-length piece.  People might wonder why I'd bother spending so much time and energy doing this--why write fanfic when I could have been developing my own worlds and skills?

You see, I was doing just that.  To me--and what I often tell people who look down on fanfic writers as silly people who are wasting their time when they could be writing real stuff--is that I believe writing fanfic is like writing with training wheels.  For someone new at writing period, or someone like me who hadn't done it in so long and was a bit rusty at it, it makes the process easier.  Half of the work is already done for you...the characters have backstories, descriptions, personality traits.  The fic author just has to make them do stuff--make a story around them.  It's like playing in someone's sandbox with the toys already there.  And later on, this gives us the tools and frees us to create characters and stories of our own.  The practice I got writing fanfic was, I believe, in some ways just as good as taking a creative writing class, and much more hands-on.

Another giant plus about fanfic writing is the instant feedback.  The sites you can post on all allow reviews, so readers will review your work (usually as posted...most of the time you can post chapter by chapter), and trust me, they won't pull any punches.  Sure, you'll get your share of "OMG write more! Loved it!" which is always nice, but you'll also get those who will give you a detailed critique of your chapter and/or story.  And there'll be some who hated your work, hated your characterization, hated...whatever...about the way you took the story.  Not much difference between fanfic readers/reviewers than "real" ones on Amazon and Goodreads, huh?

I loved working with other writers as well.  I was lucky enough to find a few that I used as "beta readers", or basically light content and grammar/spelling/punctuation editors.  We'd trade services where we'd read each other's chapters before posting them, giving the author feedback on what they've written.  As time went on, I could see my work improving, which was very satisfying.

Again, this is getting away from me, so stay tuned shortly for Part 3!

Thoughts?  Leave 'em in the comments below!

xoxo Sarah


  1. I understand your "training wheels" idea, but I still think the time would be better spent coming up with something that's yours rather than something that automatically, as soon as you publish it, you cease to own. Because, legally, that's the case.

    1. Not entirely! I go over some of that in part 3. And to someone who's never written before or is a bit rusty at it, writing anything is an accomplishment. I was so excited to realized that, yes, I could actually write something that was novel-length--how many writers stop because writing something longer than a short story is too daunting. Writing for whatever reason people write is good...especially if it makes them happy!

  2. Actually, yes, from a legal standpoint, if you write something in someone else's universe, that person owns it. Period. End of story. Unless you make actual provisions with the author to keep ownership (or some portion of it), that thing ceases to be yours. I did some research on that recently and that's how it is. The only quasi-exception is if you make your own character(s) then you can sometimes retain the rights to the character but not to the stories themselves.

    And, yes, I agree with the rest of what you're saying there. It's important to be excited about your work. However, it can completely quash you to write something, especially something novel length, and, then, have it taken away from you because it was fanfic. (And I know someone that happened to who has given up writing because of it.)