Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Importance of Fan-Fiction

About a year ago when I joined Tumblr I discovered something magical . . . fan-fiction. I'd known about its existence for a long time (thank you Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell) and I'd written some before I even knew what it was called (I have Harry Potter 8, 9, 10, and 11 written by my seven-year-old self tucked away underneath my mattress as we speak). But I didn't realize just how huge it was until I started following a few fandom blogs.

Me upon discovering how much there was to read.
Fan-fiction is magical! I know it gets a lot of flak for not being "real writing" (whatever the hell "real writing" means, seeing as anything that's been written is by its very definition "real" . . .) or being a waste of time, but I strongly disagree. Sure, there are some pretty poorly written stories out there, but there are poorly written stories for every genre.

Still not convinced? Let me list out a few of my reasons of why fan-fiction is so important.

1. It makes you feel like a part of the fandom

And I'm not just talking about being a part of the fandom as a fan (though it certainly does that, too). I'm talking about becoming an actual character in the story. Ever heard of reader inserts? I didn't either until last year, but I absolutely love them.

The basics are it's a normal fan-fiction story, but it's told in the second person. "Y/N" is the main character, which stands for "your name." So "Y/N" becomes "Kate" (in my case), and suddenly I'm the protagonist in the story. I'm a student at Hogwarts, or one of the Doctor's companions, or riding shotgun with Dean Winchester on the way to hunt down a demon. And I can do all of these things just by reading a story in the safety of my own bedroom under the covers. Here's an example of a reader insert:

“I so owned those guys!” Charlie squealed happily. She held up her hand for a high-five, which you accepted with your own grin. Leave it to Charlie to look like she'd been dropped in the middle of Disneyland when in reality you were covered in blood outside an abandoned bar.

“Yeah you did,” you said, beaming at her. “Are you sure this was your first vampire hunt?”

She rolled her eyes. “Totally sure. Couldn't you tell after that first one?”

You giggled, remembering how Charlie had had to swing three times before she could get the head completely off. It was funnier now that you weren't in life-threatening danger.

2. It's great for exercise

There are all kinds of fan-fic stories, but some of the most popular kinds are definitely ones that involve the impossibly cute couples from all of your favorite fandoms. I've read some pretty adorable Tenrose fics that have made me flail and squeal, and all of that helps to burn a few hundred calories. Reading and exercise, all in one. ;)

Me after reading about Rose and the Meta-Crisis Doctor going to the park with their daughter and being so freaking cute and aoidjgoasdl;liaje.
But since we're also talking about fandoms and ships here, I've also read some extremely sad ones . . . I've gross sobbed over fan-fic series before. It wasn't pretty. But I did get a good workout.

Me after reading the Stolen Dance Supernatural Sam/reader fan-fiction series. Go look it up immediately. Or just click HERE for part 1. It's fabulous. Clearly, considering it's shipworthy and heartbreaking all at the same time.
3. It's easier to write

I'm not saying that it's always going to be easier to write, or that it's somehow this magical genre that flows effortlessly from your fingertips at all times, but the already developed characters and storyworld certainly help. You don't have to come up with the complicated backstories of your main characters or figure out all of the rooms and secret passageways in Hogwarts. It's already been written for you! Now all you have to do is plop those characters somewhere and make them move. Easy as pie.

4. It's a fantastic warm up

Me writing fan-fiction. Apparently I have a thing for gifs of people--or animals--typing like their lives depend on it.
Fan-fiction is amazing for creativity! This past year I've struggled with varying kinds of writer's block, all of which frustrated me to no end, but fan-fiction was always the thing I just had no trouble writing. When my original characters refused to do anything, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were right there and ready to solve a mystery.

And even just staying in the habit of writing was great for me, because eventually the writer's block vanished and I was able to pick right back up where I left off. Even now I'll write a page or two of my fan-fiction series before diving into my NaNoWriMo novel. It's my favorite kind of warm up.

5. It can be adapted for publication

Though you should never try to make money off of your fan-fiction without the express permission from the original creator, you can take those fan-fiction pieces and rework them so they read as regular short stories. Just take out the unique elements and characters that make it fan-fiction and replace it with characters and elements of your own design.

One of my fan-fiction series that's still in the works has hit 20,000 words and is still going strong. I'm loving it! And when it's finished I'm planning to edit it so it reads like a novella. I just have to change a few things, replace Dean Winchester with a character of my own, and voila. Instant story with the possibility for publication.

6. You can make new friends

This is definitely my top reason to promote fan-fiction. I've bonded with so many people over a shared love for different fandoms. (And as bloggers, you should know just how important online connections are, too!)

In about January of this year, I discovered a fan-fiction writer by the name of Kazzy. She has thousands of faithful followers who read every story she posts (and I'm one of them! She's an awesome writer and the author of the aforementioned Stolen Dance series.). One day, she had the idea to host an online "sleepover." So she set up a Chatzy room so all of us who wanted to could join and talk about "Supernatural" and get to know each other as fellow fangirls/boys.

That night, a girl under the pseudonym Sam Winchester invited me to a private chat so I could participate in a Supernatural roleplay with her and nine other girls. We connected instantly. These girls were so welcoming to me and when I say we've spoken every day since, I'm not exaggerating. We roleplay on nearly a daily basis, text each other all the time, and Skype frequently. I've even met one of roleplayers offline because she only lives a couple hours from me! Even though we've known each other for maybe ten months now, I feel like I know these girls like sisters. We're one big family, and I love it.

My friend Charlie and me being nerdy dorks, as usual, after she surprised me by showing up at my house when I had no idea she was coming!! (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for helping to set that up. :) )
Charlie and me at a book festival.
So not only does fan-fiction provide entertainment, but it gives you the opportunity to form new friendships. If that isn't a selling point, I'm not sure what is.

What are some of the best fan-fiction stories you've read? Any personal stories of your own having to do with fan-fic you'd like to share? I'd love to hear about your experiences with it! Leave a comment!


Boquinha said...

These gifs make me crazy! :P

Great post! I learned some things. I simply want to say that I *love* the crazy, hilarious belly laughs that we hear nearly constantly when you're online with these girls. I think the friendship, fun, and creativity are AWESOME. Also? I love that picture of you and Charlie. :P The up-close one. So so funny.

Maria D said...

I think the reason I don't like fanfiction is because it goes against my basic writing philosphy--which is that you should only write things that are true and that tell your story in a different way.

Techincally, fanfiction can never be true. They are just projections of what we want to see. Fanfiction is also not your own story. It can really ring true in the way that unique stories can.

There are also plenty of ways you can get writing practice. Check out the book "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. She gives a lot of reccomendations on ways you can practice writing, while still using your own talent rather than someone elses.

This was a cute post though.

Cait @ Paper Fury said...

ahhHH it's so wonderful seeing you being a huge SPN fan. :') *sniffs happily* I helped create this, omg.


So I think fanfic is great nad there's nothing wrong with it!! I think it's also great starts for writing, aaaand, I totally agree with reworking stories to be one's own. *nods* (Although making sure the characters' personalities are very different could be tricky? Like I've read some books that just smell SO much like Harry Potter and it kinda turns me off as a reader. *shrugs* Probably just me though!!) And didn't Marissa Meyer become a writer because of fanfic?!?!? WHICH IS SO COOL.

Anonymous said...

I love fan fiction for all the reasons above. I wrote it for a solid year, taking a break from doing any big original pieces and learned so much. One of the best things is getting real time response from your readers. I learned so much that way and grew immensely as a writer.

I also love reading a good shipping story to release those fan girl screeches (or sobs). Soul x Maka forever!

One last thought. The author of the highly popular YA series, The Lunar Cronicles, started as a Salior Moon fan fiction writer. Her novels were also NaNoWriMo projects. She gives hope to the nerdy writer girls like me.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha Yay, that's what I was hoping to accomplish! :) Fan-fiction gets a bad reputation because a lot of people don't understand it, I think. So hopefully more information about it can expose more people to it.

Those girls are awesome in every way. It's definitely the best thing to come out of my Tumblr/fan-fic experience. And isn't that a great picture?

@Maria D Hmm, that's an interesting philosophy. So by that belief, do you not like fiction in general? Because any type of fantasy or science-fiction or even contemporary fiction isn't going to be completely true. By very definition "fiction" is made up.

I'll definitely have to check that book out, thank you! But I have to disagree with you. While fan-fiction involves you borrowing someone else's creations, for sure, it absolutely still forces you to rely on your own talent. You're not copying anyone, it's not plagiarism. You're still writing your own story. Have you ever heard the T.S. Eliot quote, "Good writers borrow, great writers steal?" As long as you don't do anything that would get you in trouble with the copyright laws (such as making money off of your fan-fiction without the express permission from the author), fan-fiction is a fabulous way to gain practice. It's incredibly difficult, sometimes even more so than when I use my original characters, and that's a good thing. We shouldn't confine ourselves. That's the one misconception I'm hoping will die out soon, that fan-fiction writers aren't talented. Some will be, some won't be. But there real gems out there.

I'm glad to hear from someone whose opinion is different than mine! It always makes for good debate. :)


(Just kidding. We all know I love it.)

Oh yes, that part is definitely the trickiest. But the beauty of fan-fiction is that you get to take these established characters and set them on a new path, which usually causes them to grow and change in a different way than the canon characters. :) I know what you're saying about copycats though, I can't stand them. That's why you have to be extra careful.

She did?! Wow, I never knew that, that's AWESOME! I just looked it up and on her FAQ page she wrote this in response to someone asking if she used to write fan-fiction: "I did! I wrote fanfiction for the popular 1990s magic girl anime Sailor Moon for ten whole years, completing almost 50 fanfics in that time, many of which were novel-length. I met a lot of great people through the fanfic community, received tons of encouragement, and was able to learn about the craft and discipline of being a writer. I know that my writing has benefitted from it immensely."

Just when I thought she couldn't get any cooler.

@Katherine Rebekah Ooh, very good point! Real time responses are a big, big plus. Especially since I find most of the fan-fiction community so encouraging, but willing to help you grow as a writer. :)

Same here! I've laughed and squealed and cried many times while reading a good fan-fic series.

Ha, just learned that from the above comment! Great minds think alike, it seems. That's super cool. I knew Cinder was a NaNoWriMo novel, but I never knew she wrote fan-fiction. She seems exactly like I would imagine a fangirl all grown up and successful would be.

Thanks for stopping by! :)