Fan + Fiction = Fanfiction
A FREE Creative Writing Course: Lesson One
Ah, fanfiction. It has such a bad reputation in many circles as being the literary domain of angst-ridden teenagers who dream of shooting Bella in the face and marrying Edward themselves. And it is absolutely not a writing cred in any publishing circle and you should deny deny deny that you have ever written a page of fanfiction if an editor or agent asks.
However, I am going to tell you why you DO need to be writing fanfiction and why you should be darned proud of it.
First of all, some of the best-written, most entertaining works of fiction I have ever read have been fanfiction. Sure, there’s crap to be found, but that’s to be said of traditional publishing as well. Unless you just want to be a snob for snobbishness’s sake, let go of the quality idea and the stereotypes and embrace the real power of fanfiction.
What power? you ask.
If you are a developing writer, fanfiction can be the best, cheapest, most fulfilling creative writing course you ever took. Answer the following:
- Do you really want to write but have no idea what?
- Do you know what you want to write but have no idea how to turn it into a book?
- Do you want to write but just want to have fun with it rather than selling your soul to the publishing industry?
- Do you have a secret burning desire to put two unlikely characters from your favorite movie/book/TV show together just to see what happens?
- Do you have a favorite book/movie/TV show that has officially ended (oh, say Firefly or Harry Potter) and you are still upset by this and want more more more?
Fanfiction has a long, stellar history (what is Shakespeare’s work but a fanfiction treatment of Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans?) and has spawned some works of serious literary merit (think Wide Sargasso Sea—Jane Eyre fanfiction). It is the purest, best form of literary criticism. Good writing induces a desire to produce more good writing, to enter into the text completely in a joint creative act.
And what better way to explore a work than to spin out a new work from it? I firmly believe that if an author wants to know what readers really think about his work, he needs to read the fanfiction.
For the next few weeks, I’m going to run a blog series here called Fanfiction Workshop. This is Lesson One—Get Over Yourself and Embrace the Concept.
Your homework is to go read some fanfiction. Two of the biggest sites are www.fanfiction.net (where I am Arcole BTW) and www.archiveofourown.org (commonly known as AO3 where I’m waiting for my invite, along with the rest of the world). You can also find fanfiction at LiveJournal and Deviant Art.
Pick a movie/book/TV show etc. that you just freaking loved and dig around a bit in the archives on it. See how many fics are already out there. That will give you an idea of how likely you will be to get reviews on your work. Read and review while you are there. Somebody worked really hard on that piece. Give ‘em some love. It’s not like they can get a royalty check.
WARNING: Those of you who answered NO to the first three questions should be warned—fanfiction is addictive. If you are already a successful novelist with an agent/publisher and work to be doing, stay away. But if you are in the developing stages, this course can help you tremendously. Trust me.
So, what do you think? You in? Comment! It’s just like leaving a review at fanfiction.net! Subscribe by email so you won't miss Lesson Two--Overcoming Submission Anxiety One R&R at a Time! And share so the rest of the world can start writing too!