Fandom, Fanfiction and My Writing

This November, I'm celebrating geekdom, and how being a fangirl shapes my writing identity.


...And just me in general :P

I am a fangirl, and when my fangirl goes crazy, she takes over my entire life. As a teenager, I channelled all of that fandom obsession into fanfiction. So much fanfiction. One of my fanfics was over 200,000 words long. It took me two years to write it and I basked in the joy that was reviews. Thanks to the Internet, I wasn't alone in loving the things I loved. That was an amazing source of strength for me during my occasionally tumultuous school days.

Fanfiction not only gave teenage me an outlet for my creativity, it gave me an audience. People were reading my work and enjoying it. As a young teenager, this was the most amazing thing that had ever happened. Other people told me how much they loved my stories or my takes on the characters. I received fan art!!! It was the most empowering thing that had ever happened in my writing career. I was a fifteen-year-old fanfic writer, no, fanfic author, with *fans*. My desire to give them all a great story, and being able to interact with them, made me a better writer.

Fanfiction allowed me to work through my typical teenage issues while also teaching me a lot about writing. World building, characterisation, tension, pacing, how to nail a cliffhanger - fanfiction taught me all of that. And, thanks to those reviewers who left constructive criticism, I picked up a few things about grammar and structure, too. I had the time of my life writing all fanfiction, expanding on moments in stories I loved and sharing it with my fellow fans.

And it's thanks to fandom that I have some of the best friends a person could ask for.

However, when I decided to start taking writing more seriously, I chose to leave the fanfiction behind. It was time to move on. Writing was no longer a hobby. It became a job - albeit one I adore that doesn't pay me right now.

Except my obsessive fangirl didn't want to be left behind. Wasn't left behind. There's no turning off that side of my personality, so I had to keep up the same enthusiasm for my own ideas. And the good thing is, it's pretty easy to do that when you're writing a story you love. After all, if I can be as intensely obsessed with my own ideas as I get over my fangirl loves, I'm going to get a lot of writing done.


It's hard to talk about what inspires me in fandom without sounding like I'm ripping off the things I love, but all ideas are inspired by other people's ideas. We build on top of one another constantly. Nobody has an entirely new idea, we just have different takes on something that's come before. That's why The Hunger Games isn't a rip-off of Battle Royale. They're different takes on a similar theme.

Also, I've never taken one of my old fanfics and adapted it into an original story. I can totally understand why others have, but for me? 1) My teenage self, while passionate, had a lot to learn about writing and 2) those stories have been told, and I have plenty more of my own to share.

So how does a fanfic writer move on to their own thing? For me, it was part of growing up. I did write fanfiction into my twenties, but I had less time, and I really wanted to explore my own ideas. And as my own ideas took precedence, the fanfiction fell away. I do dabble in fanfiction now and then, but mostly for myself. And it's certainly a lot less polished than any of my original work.

Maybe some people feel that fanfiction is a waste of time. To that I say ABSOLUTELY NOT! It's a brilliant way to hone your skills, connect with other writers, and learn your craft. There are fanfics out there that I consider to be better than published books. Fanfiction - the really good stuff - is the product of a very passionate and talented person. It's never a waste. If you're writing fanfiction and reading this, carry on! Fanfiction always made me so happy. I get that same joy from my original work now, but back then, nothing put a smile on my face quite like sharing a fic with my readers.

And just because I don't write fanfiction anymore, doesn't mean I can't still be inspired by my various fandoms.

Part of the reason I started writing my series of Ghost!Stories is because I played through and loved the Chateau level of Uncharted 3.


But rather than me creating a carbon copy, or writing another 200,000 words of fanfiction (yes, really!), that moment of inspiration linked to ideas already lurking in my brain and came together to create Conspiracy of Echoes. I blogged more about that here.

I choose genres to write in, design characters and explore themes or ideas that really fascinate me... Kinda obvious, I guess, but frequently the things that fascinate me are things I pick up from other media. I'm fascinated by characters like James Bond who do what they do despite how much it separates them from the world the majority of us live in, but I also love characters like Sora from Kingdom Hearts who are super cheery, if a tad naive, and power through adversity. I have characters who may have those sorts of traits but are definitely not Cole's Version of James Bond or Cole's Version of Sora. So while I may no longer write fanfiction, fandom still impacts what I choose to write. It's why you're not likely to see a purely romantic story from me anytime soon. And I'm kind of amazed it took me so long to write horror. Looking back over my childhood and teens, I was pretty obsessed with ghost stories. I'm loving exploring the genre myself.

How do your fandoms influence the way you write?

Comments

  1. 200,000 words! That's so amazing! :D I also have a fanfic background, though my fandoms were so obscure that most of the stories are lost to time. I have a soft spot for very very small fandoms in need of a bit of love.

    I still feel like fandom informs my writing in a lot of ways. A ton of my plotbunnies come from my frustrations with female and LGBT representation in telly -- a lot of the ideas begin as genderbends of concepts I love and want to see done better, for instance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I lost a lot of my old stuff due to a computer move, but some of my readers kindly emailed my work back to me. Sadly, a lot of my work is forever lost.

      YES! I do write because of what's lacking in the things I love. That used to be why I wrote eeeeeeepic fanfics. Now I just channel all that stuff into my own work.

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  2. Let me know what you think about uncharted will ya? New follower here!
    http://herrowurld.blogspot.com/

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    1. In a nutshell - Uncharted 1 = meh, Uncharted 2 = ooh!, Uncharted 3 = FANGIRL OBSESSION ;) Took me a while, but I got there.

      Thanks for following! I'll check out your blog ^_^

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