Posts Revisited: Fanfiction, to write it or not

fanfictionHey all! I’m doing pretty well, though my joints are killing me this month. I know it’s partially overuse and humidity and hyperflexibility, but it’s still very concerning. I’m seeing my doctor about it next week. So please be patient with me! I might be a little slow on writing/blogging for a little bit. At least until I can find a way to manage the pain well/better.

Anyway! Quick announcement! I have made a much more professional landing page for my blog. I had looked into a few things and this seemed like the best thing for me to do right now. I have six years of blogs and memories on this page. I’m not giving that up. At the same time, ‘pogomonster’ doesn’t exactly sound professional…and um. Well. This is my career. So! Presenting: ‘LL Lemke Writes‘.

Does that page change anything here? No! Rants from a Starving Writer will continue to update as usual. The blog posts will show up on the landing page and will link back to here. I just wanted something shiny and polished and professional!

Anyway, today’s post. I think it ties in pretty well with my previous post, ‘what even qualifies as original nowadays?’. I discussed it a little way back in, oof, 2011 in my post ‘Fanfiction: to write it or not‘. Back then, I wasn’t writing fanfiction. But as we all know, I’ve taken the plunge and started writing a bit more fanfiction. Really, I think the downward spiral toward that started with RPing, but that’s a story for a different day, I guess. Maybe. It might get discussed a little. Maybe.

ANYWAY.

As much as things change…

A lot of my opinions on fanfiction have changed over the past five years, which I suppose isn’t all too surprising. For a bit of background, I’ve been reading fanfiction since I was in high school. Early high school, at that. I discovered fanfiction.net back when I was 14. I read a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction around then. It was the only series that I was really, really into at the time.

As much as some opinions have changed (which we’ll get to in a bit), some have really stayed the same. I much prefer writing in my own worlds with my own characters. I like the freedom I have to explore and create and I love bringing characters people haven’t met yet to life. It’s one of my favorite things about writing.

I still think that fanfiction can be approached as a ‘what if’ scenario. ‘What if’ this had happened rather than this, what if this character had this slightly different characterization, what if this character lived, what if they were in a cyberpunk universe rather than their normal universe, etc, etc.

I still feel that fanfiction is a good way to experiment with genres and styles in writing. You get to work with characters within the confines of existing personalities and canon and relationships. The restriction can be really interesting to work with. You can see what happens when you change tiny bits and pieces of the canon story. You can tell the story from a different point of view. And in experimentation for you – writing that fanfiction might give you the chance to write in a genre you usually do not. It might give you the chance to write in a style you usually don’t. And you can get constructive feedback if you’re lucky.

There’s a lot of good.

how things have changed

The big one is that while I love writing original work, I’ve grown to love writing fanfiction as well. And that’s part in fact due to me having started RPing somewhere during 2011-2013. Up until 2013, I hadn’t really encountered a series/characters/whatever that caught me enough to want to write fanfiction. That’s why I didn’t understand the writing of it. Sure, I love Harry Potter, but I had no desire to write as the characters.

Then Gundam 00 busted into my life and dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of RP. I didn’t really realize at the time, but RP is just kind of, well, fanfiction written between two people. In a far more informal sense.

Because I’m writing fanfiction, I’m seeing more of the benefits. Like the experimentation and writing with styles and working within confines. And well, it’s fun. Sometimes my regular writing can be a little stressful, especially if words aren’t coming easily or if I’m getting close to a deadline. Fanfiction? It’s just fun. I like writing it because it’s so, so different than what I usually write.

And while I still admit that there’s a lot of bad fanfiction out there, it’s not as bleak as I made it seem. I mentioned Mary Sues and the like. Yes, they’re annoying. But people are becoming more and more aware that Mary Sues are a thing that should be avoided. Fanfiction is improving because a lot of people are listening to feedback they get. And, well, the fanfic authors when I was in high school are all older now. Presumably they’ve improved some in the last decade and some change.

I also mentioned bad formatting in fanfiction. Well. That can be avoided easily enough. I still bail pretty quickly if I see script style writing. It just isn’t my thing. Though this is a point where my viewpoint has changed a little – it depends on the format of the story. Is it a first person narrative and the protagonist is reflecting on what happened and summarizing what happened? That might work. If it’s third person though? Not sure it will.

Conclusion

I guess I’ve just gotten more open as I’ve gotten older. I used to think I was cool because I didn’t write fanfiction, because I only focused on original characters. But really? I was missing out. Fanfiction is fun. It’s fun to explore those characters as well, figure out what makes them tick, figure out what motivates them, all sorts of things.

But I will say – if it makes you happy, write fanfiction. That bit will always stay the same.

If you haven’t written fanfiction…? Well…

Maybe give it a try. I’m not saying you have to share the fanfiction with the world, it doesn’t need to go on fanfiction.net and AO3. But it might be fun to experiment and see what you can come up with. It might be a nice break. It might give you ideas on what to do with your original work.

I closed the old post with some bits and pieces about good grammar and avoiding Mary Sues. I’ll keep one bit of that closing: get a beta reader. Even if you’re great with grammar and writing – GET A BETA READER. DO NOT BETA READ YOUR OWN WORK. IT DOESN’T WORK.

Anyone else’s views on fanfiction drastically change over the last few years? Anyone else who started writing original fiction first instead of fanfiction?

Happy writing!

~LL

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