Fanfiction: Masterclass for Baby Writers or Root of All Evil?

me and amy (2)OK, admit it, when you saw the FANFICTION at the beginning of this blog post, you thought, “Has The Belle finally taken leave of her senses?”  And the answer is: no more than usual.  Let me begin by saying that I’m very positive on fanfiction.  Like many of my colleagues, “fic” was my introduction to building a story.  Yes, kittens, beneath this cool exterior beats the heart of a true fangirl.  If you’ve seen my Pinterest page, you know that already.  I’ve always been a movie person and had that little obsessive streak.  I still do. I’m hugely inspired by movies, music, television, actors and actresses. Therefore, fanfiction has been crucial to my development as a writer.

The first complete short story I ever wrote was a fanfiction.  It was 1996, I was in college and I was obsessed with the TV show, Forever Knight.  If you’ve never seen the show, its the predecessor to all the sympathetic vampire shows we know and love now.  Anyway, I joined a mailing list (remember those?!) full of other Forever Knight fangirls and I was introduced to the fic phenomenon.  The story was called “First Kill” and it was a shortish, angsty piece about Nick Knight and his first involuntary vampire murder.  I’m sure if I came across it now, I’d cringe at how awful it was.  However, it helped me craft a complete story without having to worry about building a world and a lot of original characters.  I also got lots of encouragement from other people that  liked the story and liked my writing style.  They also told me things that I could do better.  I started to think, “Hmm… I might be able to do this.”  Fast forward about 5 years and found a new mailing list dedicated to “Moulin Rouge.”  That’s where I really took off and started writing A LOT.  I actually gained a following (hi out there to any former Cleo followers) and learned how to add details, description and plot twists. Oh and did I mention explicit sex scenes?  I also had the remarkable experience of meeting some of my best friends IN THE WORLD on those lists.

The point of this story:  writing fanfiction is like training wheels for authors.

Now, the dark side.  Fanfiction is technically copyright infringement.  Wait, wait… don’t jump on me yet.  When you write fanfiction, you have to keep in mind that your fingers are playing in someone else’s pie.  And if you’re going to play with their worlds, then you have to respect their rules.  Some authors/ screenwriters/ filmmakers/ actors are very positive on fanfiction and even encourage their fans to have fun with their universes as long as said fans aren’t making money off of it.   Authors such as Neil Gaiman, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, Stephanie Meyer, Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and many others give their full blessings to fan fiction writers as long as no profit is being made (the exception being Conan Doyle who is, in fact, dead– of course his estate is a different matter for a different blog post).  They realize that their works have inspired others to write and their creativity might lead future authors to realize their potential.  Others are VERY MUCH against it. Marion Zimmer Bradley, Orson Scott Card, Diana Gabaldon, Laurell K. Hamilton, George R. R. Martin, Anne Rice, and J. R. R. Tolkien are pretty adamant that their works NOT be borrowed or played with.  And that’s just a small sample.  So keep that in mind before hitting that PUBLISH button on Fanfiction.net.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVRDQacBVh0

The thing I don’t like about fanfiction is that some folks have taken it too far.  The “rules” have become way more stringent than in my day and flaming seems to be the rule of the day.  When I was writing fic regularly, it was a very supportive environment where aspiring writers tried to encourage other aspiring writers.  Now it can be like a warzone.  Fic authors are afraid to write Original Female Characters (OFCs) because they’ll be accused of doing a “Mary Sue.”  If you don’t know what that is, a “Mary Sue” is the author inserting herself into a story in order to engage in sexual situations with the objects of their desire.  I was actually reading a story on fanfiction.net the other day (yeah, I went snooping before writing this post) and in the author’s note the poor girl had actually apologized for her OFC.  This disturbed me because 1– you should never apologize for creativity and 2– if you never create an original character, then you’ll never move beyond fanfiction into your own stories.  I wanted to write this poor girl a note and tell her to take that apology back.  It was obvious to me that this girl was very young and very new to writing, and I’d hate to think that some fandom battleax would crush her because she’d dared to have an original idea.  I’ve also heard that for some fandoms, if someone dares to write a “hetfic” (meaning that the pairings are heterosexual rather than slash) that they’re almost guaranteed to be flamed off the list.  This disturbs me.  If two male characters aren’t gay in their fandom’s canon, why do we insist on forcing them into a sexual relationship in fanfiction?  Don’t get me wrong, if you want to write that– awesome.  Have at it.  However, don’t flame someone else who isn’t into that.  Personally, if I’m writing fanfiction about a heterosexual character, then its more satisfying to me to keep them in character (I’m lookin’ at you JohnLock!ers… ;P).

Now, the answer you’ve all been waiting for:  Do I, Alexandra Christian, Southern Belle, erotic author and part-time pinup girl, write fanfiction?  Yes.  I do.  Do I publish it anywhere?  No.  It’s something I write for myself for my hard drive for my eyes.  Fanfiction is now how I break through blocks, give my brain a rest and work through writing issues that I might be having.  I share it with a few friends every now and then, but for the most part I keep it to myself.

Mostly so George Lucas doesn’t kill my dog.

**********

ingenue_new lineCOMING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST!!– Not a fanfiction…LOL

Never fall in love with a hoofer. That’s the advice given to Stefan—advice he immediately ignores when he falls head-over-heels in love with burlesque dancer Rose, the shimmying, corseted star of the Footlight Theatre. But wicked, wounded Rose is far out of the humble stagehand’s reach.

Rose has stars in her eyes—and bruises on her face. As she suffers abuse at the hands of a cruel patron, she dreams of the day when she’ll find her way out of her nightmare and into the arms of the passionate, protective Stefan.

Inside scoop:  This book contains scenes of domestic violence before the heroine fights back and finds her true hero.

A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

 

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Author: Lexxx Christian

I'm Lexxx-- friend, lover, professional pornographer. I'm an author of erotic paranormal romance (dirty stories with vampires, werewolves and ghosts-- OH MY!). I also have many skeletons in my closet which include being a closeted goth. I am THE Southern Belle from Hell, which means i like red wine with my dark chocolate pecan pie. My fiction has a southern gothic twist along with lots of hot, steamy smut. Come by and say hi, collecting friends and stories is my hobby!

4 thoughts on “Fanfiction: Masterclass for Baby Writers or Root of All Evil?”

  1. I, too, started in fanfic, back in the Highlander days. In the HL fandom, I did write a Mary Sue, but instead of flaming me, the other fans gave me constructive criticism and encouragement. Years later, I got my first flame for writing an Eowyn/Legolas fic in the LOTR fandom. And then I was called a homophobe for genderbending a character. It worries me that kids today won’t get the same encouragement to try new things, even though it’s the AUs that are getting the publishing contracts.

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  2. Very well put, my dear! I love it when you explode all over the internet because it means I don’t have to! As for the actual point of the post – yeah, I wrote fan fiction. Yeah, I still write it. No, I don’t let anyone see it except you.

    I’m absolutely horrified by the idea that (1) slash fiction is now “the norm” and supposedly so much better than standard fiction that the authoresses feel justified in their decisions to partake in rampant bitchery, and (2) if fan fiction doesn’t have some form of erotic element, it’s immediately snubbed. Those are the two biggest reasons why I don’t read fan fiction anymore. I get so put out by the fact that people insist on bending orientations and sexifying characters that I can’t stand it. I want to see the characters be themselves, not be some shell-like mockery of what their owners once wanted them to become.

    The problem in the fan fic world seems to be the problem with the outside world as well – people have forgotten civility. Apparently the human race has become so ignorant to feelings that manners and positivity are now things of the past. These people really need to learn to think before they speak, or just not speak at all. Same goes for any troll who insists on boosting him/herself by belittling others. They’re bullies, plain and simple.

    And just as a matter of personal preference… bullies should be drawn and quartered. But that’s another rant for another time.

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  3. Correction: a Mary Sue is not necessarily a sexual self-insert. She is a self-insert who deforms the characters and universe. She is usually fairly young, 15-17 is the norm, brilliant, skilled beyond her years and all the male characters adore her.

    (The original was 15, died heroically saving the Enterprise and even Spock cried at her funeral)

    I was writing fanfic in the days we had to resurrect Spock ourselves. I’ve written het, slash, gen and in multiple fandoms. It was someone I knew through fandom who got me started writing original fiction. And sometimes the fanfic roots show in the original stuff. I have a Robin Hood novel. I see a lot of Han Solo in some of my characters–especially Hevik Montag, in my most recent book, but an older, tireder Han–and a fair bit of Errol Flynn in others.

    Ultimately fandom is what the readers and writers make of it.

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  4. I wrote fiction before I wrote fan fiction – two full-length novels, in fact – but fan fiction is what got me to my first publisher. Like Lex, I was writing Forever Knight fan fiction, and through that met a brilliant writer and poet, Laura Fargas. When the producers of the show announced that they were going to do tie-in novels, Laura, brave creature that she is, cold-called the editor and said, ‘Listen, me and my friend are WAAAY better writers than you’re likely to find elsewhere; you should let us do one.’ Probably more to get her off the phone than anything else, the editor, Ginjer Buchanan (who, incidentally, went on to edit the vampire novels of Charlaine Harris, among others), agreed to look at a proposal if we could get it to her within a week. Only then did Laura call me and say, ‘guess what I did! wanna write a proposal?’ Miraculously, we not only got one together, it got accepted – the third Forever Knight book, These Our Revels by Anne Hathaway-Nayne, is us. And through that, I got my first real agent, and through him, I got my very own contract with Pocket Books.
    I’m also dismayed to imagine the fan fiction community rejecting anything but slash–how dumb is that? Fan fiction should be whatever story pops into the head of someone who loves the book or movie or TV show or Huggies commercial in question. Mary Sues make me shudder, too, but I will defend to the virtual death any inspired darling’s right to write them. My biggest fan fiction project featured an OFC who was NOT a Mary Sue, but I suspect these days she’d be labelled as one. And there was a pivotal OFC in These Our Revels, too.
    Anyway, awesome post!

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