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.

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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