Tag Archives: fan fiction

Self-Indulgent Fantasies: Funny, but Not Appropriate

2 Mar

by Susan Dennard

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Once upon a time, there was a really beautiful girl with LOTS of money. Her name was Susan, and she was super popular.  Everyone wanted to be her, but she was nice, so everyone liked her too.  She fell in love with a handsome Frenchman.

Oh, and she could fly and turn invisible.

Oh! And Sam Worthington wanted to go out with her, but since she was already married to the wonderful Frenchman, she had to turn him down.  He still sends her flowers and chocolates, regularly…and they like to hang out.

Okay, okay, enough.  If you don’t want to gag yet, you should.  Just writing that triggered severe gag-reflex in me.  Sure, that may be My Ultimate Fantasy, but it’s not a story.  It’s really not something I should share with people either, methinks.

The point is this: YOUR FANTASIES ARE PRIVATE AND SHOULD NOT BE THE CORE OF YOUR STORIES.

Fan fiction is one thing, as Savannah explains very well here, but original fiction is quite another.  You need to distance yourself from self-indulgent drivel.

And here’s why:

When we write our fantasies out, there’s never enough conflict.  Perhaps there’s no character conflict (notice that Susan above is an obnoxious Mary Sue), or maybe there is no plot conflict (um, there is no resistance to Susan’s love story with the Frenchie) or maybe it’s just all-around cheesy (yes, my fantasy definitely has a lot of CHEESE).  No matter what, the problem is private fantasies have no conflict, and without conflict, the story is of no interest to the reader.

Now, of course, you can use parts of your daydreams in your novel.  Or you can draw inspiration from your fantasies.  Gosh, the kiss scene in THE SPIRIT-HUNTERS is definitely something plucked from my Most-Perfect-Kisses-Imaginable-Bank.  And, of course, the rogue-ish Daniel is built from my dreams of swoon-worthy boys.

But those personal favorites are layered underneath not-so-happy conflict, rough decisions, crappy circumstances, and lots of failure — all stuff that doesn’t happen in my fantasies. 😉

Of course, fantasies can sometimes be hilarious for anecdotal tales…  Case in point:

If you ever have fantasies like Katie’s, I ask that you please share.  Or if you ever walk backwards into bushes while sighing deeply.  (Like, seriously, email me or something.)

But if you have fantasies like this, please don’t share! (Go to ~1:00 to hear the about the self-indulgent screen play.)

But if your fantasy is PG rated, just go ahead and share in the comments what your personal DREAM starring YOU would be!

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Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, The Spirit-Hunters, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her writing process, crazy life-thoughts, and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or twitter.

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Evolving out of Fan Fiction

4 Nov

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(And you can add me to your buddy list here 🙂 )

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It seems like talk of fan fiction has been in the air recently. As someone who successfully made the transition from writing fan fic to writing original fiction, I thought today we could talk about the structural differences between fan fic and original fic, and how to make the change.

First, a little bit about fan fiction and why it’s good for you to write it:

(Before I begin this article I want to preface it by saying that I know there are legal concerns to writing fan fiction. This article isn’t about that; I just want to show how writing fan fiction may help young writers develop, and give a guide to current fan fic writers looking to move into original fiction).

FAN FICTION: TRAINING WHEELS FOR WRITERS

I’m a huge fan of fan fiction (:P). I remember back in seventh grade when I got so frustrated by a lack of romantic consummation between Rachel and Tobias in the Animorphs series that I just decided to write it myself. I’d never heard of ‘fan fic’ before, and so of course I thought that what I was doing was very original and groundbreaking (side note: does it seem to you that every writer thinks their younger self was a total dork?). That’s the beauty of fan fic; you can modify a pre-existing story to make it turn out however you felt it should have.

Emotional satisfaction aside, there are other benefits to young writers working with fan fiction. Here are some of them:

Pre-Existing World/Characters: Fan Fiction takes all the hard work out of establishing your own unique characters and world, and lets you borrow existing ones. This is beneficial to young writers because you already get to start with a wonderful plot/characters, and all you have to worry about is the craft of writing itself.

Length: Many works of fan fiction are quite short. Others are sprawling. Both teach the writer about story arcs; no matter the length of the fic, it has to have an introduction, some sort of middle action or revelation, then the denoument. I’ve seen some truly heart-breaking one-page fics, and some fabulous, wish-it-never-ended, 200-chapter fics.

To focus primarily on the short fics, works of such emotional saturation would have a hard time existing outside of fan fiction. Where else can your craft be judged based on one page, except in a universe where the readers already know your characters/world, and moreover are INTERESTED in them. The great thing about posting to fan fic sites is that your audience is already salivating and ready to read.

Craft: The medium of fan fiction is prime territory for using that infamous beginner’s tool -exposition. In fact, fan fic practically requires a lot of exposition (in the beginning chapters). Since young writers are naturally drawn to exposition, fan fic gives them a place where this device, normally seen as a faux paus, is actually perfectly normal.

Versatility: Fan fic also allows writers to explore different genres and scenarios they wouldn’t otherwise get to explore if they dedicated themselves to writing a novel. Writers of fan fic can take the same two characters, in the same setting, and create a hundred varying outcomes, from romance to comedy to outright fist-fighting. Fan fic encourages imagination, and really exploring the depths of the characters at hand.

TRANSITIONING

I made the leap from fan fic writer to regular writer when I had my first original idea (Antebellum). Finally I had a unique world of my own to explore, though in the beginning I wasn’t used to creating my own characters, so I borrowed some and gave them different names (don’t worry, they later evolved into their own unique beings).

I’ve heard several young writers express fears of devoting too much time to fan fiction, and harboring the vague but powerful worry that they really should be writing something ‘real’ instead of continuing their epic Harry/Ginny romance. While I can’t say it’s perfectly okay to continue to write fan fic forever, I can say that you should realize that you’re actually learning very valuable writing lessons, and your experience in fan fic will actually help your ‘real’ writing.

Fan fic writers become masters of emotion, and plot intrigue. These are skills that don’t go away. I learned lots of great tricks on how to write good action and climax scenes through reading fan fiction, then sitting down to write my own.

That said, there are a few bad habits that can bleed over from fan fiction into original fiction. When making the leap, here’s what you should watch out for:

Exposition: You. Yes, I mean YOU. You cannot write five pages of background on  your world and/or characters before the story begins. I’m serious. This DOES apply to YOU. While it’s great in fan fic to get all of that history out of the way so you can get on to the good stuff, in original fiction that does not fly. Just start at the good stuff! Weave your backstory into one-sentence narrative explanations and hints from dialogue. If there is one thing you take away from this article, it must be this: don’t begin with too much exposition!

(Also, don’t think that just because your characters are walking around and doing stuff that it isn’t exposition. If they’re having a mindless conversation just to establish their characters while you comment after their every sentence explaining their history together, that’s exposition. No conversation should ever be there ‘just because’. No ‘Wow I hate math class.’ ‘Yeah me, too.’ for an entire first chapter. Dialogue needs to advance the plot. Always.)

Fluff/Ego Stroking: This one’s gonna be tough, because fan fictors love them some fluff. I know, I do, too. But while it’s okay to include self-indulgent extras in fan fiction, it is NOT okay to do that in original fiction.

For example: an entire chapter devoted to hair-stroking, nuzzling, and gentle kissing. In fan fic readers lap that up. In original fiction, we do want to see your main couple in an ‘aww’ moment, but we also want to see your plot advance. 3,000 words of lovey dovey fluff will turn readers off.

As for ego stroking, in fan fiction it’s okay for your character to go off on a diatribe about why they hate a particular brand, or food, or political party. Or, rather, it’s more okay than in original fiction. Because it’s definitely NOT okay in original fic. We call those sort of non-essential asides ‘indulgences’, or, if you make an entire character based on them, a ‘Mary Sue’. You know about Mary Sue. Don’t even pretend you don’t. In original fic, ‘asides’ get you an eye-roll from a reader, and a big, fat, red strikethrough from a CP. Don’t do it.

Pacing: When you’re writing a decent-length fan fiction, particularly of the romance genre, and if you have a few dedicated readers who beg for your next chapter, it’s very easy to just throw up something entertaining but plotless, and call it a day. Your readers demand updates, and you need some time to pass in your story, so your characters take a chapter to go to the park, cook a meal together, play chess, go shopping, etc. It’s the character bathroom break of writing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if it’s not necessary, it needs to get cut. If you want to show time has elapses, say ‘the next day’ or something.

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Well, I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

If you want to hear more about what I have to say on the basic craft of writing, click here. Otherwise, I’m going to open the floor for questions. Do you write fan fic? What’s your favorite ship? How did you successfully transition out of fan fiction into original fiction? See you in the comments!

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Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is http://www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.

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Apparently Mercedes Lacky concurs! Read her inspirational article on encouraging writers to write fan fiction here

QOTW Week: Fan Fiction

12 Apr

Hey guys! We have a build up of Questions of the Week, so we thought we’d give ourselves a break and do a Question of the Week Week (Lol, more like Question of the Day Week) to clear out some of them.

We’re starting off the week with a really fun one from Corona:

What would your reaction be if your book got published and people would write fanfic about it? I know that some published authors out there are in a few camps concerning fanfic. Some consider it pure ‘devils’ spawn’. Some ignore it or are ambivalent towards it. Would you consider it flattery? Would you be offended? Would you want to read this fanfic?

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I would be EXTREMELY flattered if someone wrote fanfic about my characters.  It would make me so happy to know that readers had connected with my characters to such a level that they would want to have adventures with them of their own.  I think I would definitely read some of it.  However, I imagine it would give me an odd feeling, along the lines of the feeling I get when I hear a recording of my own voice.  You know how you always think, “That isn’t how I sound when I talk!”?  I have a feeling reading another person’s writing about my characters would make me feel that same way.

The Newest LTWF Member Also out on Submissions!

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Like Julie, I would be really flattered if someone wrote fanfic about my books or characters or world they live in. I think I would probably read it, and then like how I get with Harry Potter fan fiction (yup, I am not denying I still read it!), I would get sucked in and read for hours. I’d probably miss a deadline or two. 😉
But in all seriousness, I would appreciate the fact that someone, other than me, fell in love with my characters and were willing to take them to alternate universes or on different journeys.

The Writer Revising her Second Novel

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I like fanfiction a lot, good fanfiction that is. It gives people the chance to explore characters and worlds they love in more detail and in situations beyond the scope of the original work. I’d be really flattered if someone wrote fanfiction based on my book and interested to see how they interpret my characters. So I’d end up reading it. However, if the characters were out of character I’d be bothered. I think if you’re going to use someone else’s characters you should at least try to keep them acting like themselves and not turn them into Draco in Leather Pants! I would also be freaked out when Rule 34 came into effect, because it always does.

The Writer Who Just Began Querying!

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If anyone ever felt compelled enough to want to write fanfiction based on my stories and my characters, I would be GREATLY flattered! I might even start bragging about it to all my friends and family! However, I may be a bit biased, having started writing fanfiction before moving to writing my own works; but I see no problem with someone wanting to write fanfiction, no matter how drastically they change the characters or the stories. In fact, I think it would be great! I see it as a homage to any writer out there when a person writes fanfiction based on someone else’s work. I have to admit, though, that I doubt I’d ever read any fanfiction based on my work; it would be strange, reading about my characters and my stories and seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I’ll never say never of course – I have a tendency to let my curiosity get the best of me – so who knows? Perhaps I would read it. But seeing as how I no longer read any fanfiction anymore, I find it unlikely that I would read fanfics based off my work.

The Writer Writing Her First Novel

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A person who writes fanfiction is most likely writing not for publication but because the world created by another author has them at its grip. Fanfiction writers write because they want to live a moment longer in another’s world. Even though their writing might be atrocious, still, I would be more than honored that my words inspired a person in such a way. I know many people who later branched out into original fiction later. What greater compliment is there to an author than to know they’ve helped someone find their dream?

The Writer Who Got A Full Request

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Flattered out of my mind. I’d be so intrigued to see what ideas and stories people could come up with based on the universe and characters I created. What I’m working on now is the type of story that has gaps for a reason, and has an ending that leaves a lot to the imagination, so I’d be so curious to see how people would interpret the gaps and what they would do to the ending.

I don’t know if I’d be able to read it, especially since I know my characters so well and anything out of character would seem like sacrilege, but I would still think it so amazingly cool if somebody were inspired enough by my work to try to continue it through fanfiction. I mean, I’d think it were cooler if they were inspired to write original fiction, but if fanfiction is there as a gateway to that, and it’s based on my work, then that would still be awesome.

-The Writer Revising Her First Novel

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I got my start in fan fiction (Animorphs FTW!), so I would never, ever discourage someone from writing or or getting involved in it, but I think that when you get published a lot of legal restraints come into place. I asked author Rachel Hawkins (whose book Hex Hall just came out!) over Twitter about a status update she made where she said that fan fiction existed for her book, but she couldn’t read it. I asked why, and she said that for legal reasons she cannot read fan fiction about her work because if she were to later write a sequel which involved a concept or a plot point also present in a work of fan fiction, she could be legally liable. Even though it was fan fiction based off her concept! So she decided that in case that ever happened she wanted to be able to plead completely innocent, so she will never view fan fiction of her work. Ever.

Now, I don’t know if I personally could take that kind of stance because fan fiction is my background, and I love it too much. I would be beyond thrilled if fan fiction for the Antebellum series became popular on FanFiction.net, and I probably wouldn’t be able to stay away from it.

On the flip side of things, J.K. Rowling has dropped some strong hints that she reads Harry Potter fan fiction 😉

-The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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I would be thrilled if someone wanted to write Fanfic about my characters. Callie and Alex (Of Prada and Prejudice!) have so much more to do and say and live! And the ending is fairly open. The important thing is that you credit the author at all times…. so if you’ve got your own website, I would appreciate the cover for P&P, a link to my website, etc.

In my eyes it can only increase your book’s visibility. Most NYT bestsellers (especially for series!) have fansites devoted to their work, and fanfic is a natural part of that. But the important thing is it’s done IN SUPPORT of the book(s), not as a way for the writer to somehow profit from the original work.

And obviously, you should never, ever SELL fanfic based on a published novel.

The Literary Agent and Novelist with Another Book Deal!

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Audience, how do you feel about fan fiction of your work?

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You can ask us a Question of the Week by clicking on QOTW in the upper part of our website and leaving us a comment. We try to answer Questions in the order they are received, unless something is really pressing.