Alphabet Blogging: F is for…

Fanfiction. f

I admit I had no idea what fanfiction even was until I was in my early 20s and discovered Doctor Who. Since then, I’ve hovered on the fringes of fanfic, occasionally looking at it, but never reading it much or even considering writing it. I did once get an idea for a Doctor Who fanfic, but it fizzled out pretty quickly.

Recently, however, just for fun, I began writing a SuperWhoLock fanfic (a mash-up of the shows Supernatural, Doctor Who, and BBC’s Sherlock.) What started out as just a fun little side-project, scribbled in when I had an extra few minutes, turned into something I didn’t expect.

It actually taught me something.

Fanfic often gets a bad rap in the writing community. Folks deride it for not being “real” writing, for being prime examples of awful writing, and a thousand other reasons (some of which are really quite valid.) But there’s a good, legit reason for fanfic, in my opinion.

It’s good practice.

Really, it is. Oh, maybe not so much at building story-worlds, or characters. Those are definitely two areas where fanfic does most of the work for you.

But there’s something liberating about being able to take characters that are already fleshed out, plonk them into a world that is predetermined, and work out a plot that has to conform to certain limitations. It leaves you free to focus on the little things.

Things like body language–how a certain character tilts his head to the side when confronted by a new puzzle.

Things like vocal patterns–where a character places the emphasize in his words, and his tone and cadence that makes his voice different than any other voice on the show–and how to translate them to print.

Things like digging deep into what makes characters tick, how they would justify their actions, and why they’re so awesome. Analyzing how the plots and story-worlds work like they do. How the tropes of the genre are used in new ways, or twisted into something new.

I’d only been writing the fanfic for a couple of weeks when I discovered all the benefits to it. Not to say that I’ve mastered any of these–on the contrary, attempting to write something similar to what Kripke, Moffat, and Gatiss have written has only shown me how far I still have to go. But I can at least pinpoint certain things and know that I’ve improved in them and what I need to work on.

Say what you will about fanfiction, but I do think it does have it’s benefits.

About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

13 comments on “Alphabet Blogging: F is for…

  1. I wrote lots of fanfic in my early years, before I had a word to call it. I found it excellent practice for creating dialogue, playing with writing styles, and describing and plotting within preset limits. Pretty much all the points you covered, Heather. I don’t do it much anymore, but, boy did it help rack up my million words of practice.

  2. Same here. My first published story, if you can call it that, was in a little Star Trek fanzine in California. Fanfic is a great was to rack up your million practice words.

  3. Totally agree with you, Heather!

  4. I’m so glad you’ve discovered fan fiction. I’ve participated in several fandoms over the years, and always found both the art produced (fic, art, video) and communities incredibly fun. Sure, there’s dreck out there, but as I always point out to people: there is bad fiction everywhere, not just in fan fiction. Some of the best authors I have ever read are fic writers only.

    One quibble, though: fan fiction totally requires characterization work. Writing a contemporary version of a classic novel, for example, requires one to ponder: what exactly makes this character unique? What does he or she care about, regardless of era or setting? How do you change one thing but keep the spirit of the person intact?

    Anyone interested in learning more should check out the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), a nonprofit founded to defend fans and fanworks. My fan fiction can be found there (http://archiveofourown.org/users/scrimshaw).

  5. Incredibly, I already have fanfic, as I’ve noted before, and I’m scarcely a blip on the publishing radar. I’m not sure what that proves. 😀

  6. Reblogged this on Tales of the Undying Singer and commented:
    Another blog worth recording here for posterity… 🙂

  7. I just recently asked what fanfic is. And if I ever get a book written depending on my collaborator, I would not want someone taking aspects of my work and writing something new from it. Perhaps I am too picky, but feel it has my signature and would not want anyone potentially tainting it. Guess I am just different. If anything I’d be willing to see a draft of someone’s story based on mine but it would have to pass the moral, spiritual and ethical standards I set up. I think it takes less energy to use someone else’s work and recreate something. But to have an authentic piece of art? That’s the heart of this writer.

    • There’s definitely pros and cons to being open to fanfic. I know plenty of authors have respectfully asked their fans to NOT write fanfic of their work. I certainly don’t fault you for that. I think a lot of fanfic writers view their fanfic as a way of showing their love for the fictional world (I know this is certainly my motivation for writing it!). 🙂

      • What fanfic I have – by one author who also has done collaborations properly speaking with me – I’ve made sure to respect the protagonists (good and evil) and their abilities, personalities and characters; their settings; and so on. So far, there have been very few lapses and cooperation has corrected those. Yes, the fanfic exists in the first place because the other author loved what I came up with.

        I would tolerate lack of respect for my Metacosmos as such no more than Yisraela would of her nascent creation. It’s my temptation to do crossover with others from my direction which has proven more challenging – to me – over time. Ironic, ain’t it? 😛 It’s more tempting for me to compromise with my own standards than to let others compromise with them.

      • Yes I agree. What I write or co write is my is my, if you will signature. What defines me personally. It might be viewed as my desire for uniqueness in all I do. That isn’t always possible, but I strive for it. And I’d really not want to be angry with someone who polluted something that was an art of love for me. However it is a personal choice and I respect that.
        Thanks for sharing- yisraela

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