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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fan Fiction: Fifty Shades of Conflicting Opinions

I want to take a minute to talk about something that gets writers in an uproar. Fanfiction. If you don’t know what fanfic is, let me just say, “Welcome to the internet. How are you enjoying your first day?”

This is pretty much what goes on here 24/7.

Now, fanfic is sort of the dirty little secret that everyone seems to know about. I have found that most people have either heard of it, read it, or write it. But it seems that no one (outside the fic communities, at least) talks about it openly. Yes, yes, we ALL know about Fifty Shades. Yes, yes, you either love it or hate it.

Everyone has an opinion.

Personally, I’ve only been involved in fanfic for little over a year now, and it’s something I don’t advertise. I’ve written a dozen or so stories for a particular fandom (no, I won’t divulge which one), but I read in several. But, Tara, you’re a writer! Why don’t you promote your own writing? The answer is this: backlash. For me (I can’t vouch for other writers), fanfic is a way to get out all the things that might not be well-received in the mainstream genres in which I currently write. Plus there’s that whole “fanfic authors aren’t really authors” crap. Which upsets me.
Renner's pout is much more attractive than my own.

Just like any other genre, there is good fic and there is bad fic. And sometimes, there is truly terrible fic. There is this wide misconception that all fic is basically gay porn. Granted, there’s a lot of that, but there are also works that don’t feature sex of any kind. And guess what? They’re good and bad as well. Like other written works, they’re just stories, people. That’s it.

I was sort of pushed into writing fic by a dear friend who loves my regular work. She wanted to see my talent channeled in a different way. Really, I think she just wants her own personal fic author, but I have been surprised to find myself happily obliging. Why? In my case, I find fic writing to be easier than what we’ll call my “day job” - writing paranormal and urban fantasy romance. It’s easier for me because the parameters have already been set. There’s an existing canon which I can choose to adhere to, or twist to make something a little different. I’m already involved with these characters, I know their history, their mannerisms, their adventures. I don’t have to come up with a new world because it’s already been created. I can take all of that and do something fun without the agonizing slog through set up.

It’s a challenge. These characters already have personalities, quirks, and other set dimensions that I have to stick to. It’s not the same when you’re making up new people. With my day job folks, I’m still getting to know them, feeling them out as I write their story. With fanfic, I can immerse myself in an already established culture. It’s a little freeing. It’s great for when I’m stuck in my regular work. I can write out a short piece (or longer, if necessary), just to get the creative juices flowing. Invariably, I return to my own work with renewed vigor and even a little more passion.

And reading is always good for a writer. Things pop out at you. You take inspiration from the work of others. Maybe you like the way their plot twists, or maybe you see something that is so heinous you vow never to include it in your work. The same can be said of traditional works of fiction. But what’s so comforting is the familiarity of a world already created. 

I don’t judge people for their fandoms and their ships. I can’t, because I don’t have ships; I have a Spanish armada. 

Sherlockians: If you’re hot and heavy into Johnlock, good on you. If you think they’re just bros, thumbs up, dude. 
I think we're all fighting the impulse to steal an ashtray.

Potterheads: If you ship Dramione, more power to you. 
Look how happy they are. It could totally be real.

Avengers fans: If your OT3 is The Stark-Spangled Banner, soak that up. 
Like I said, I don't judge. I don't think Stark does, either.

And if you subscribe to the awesomeness that is SuperWhoLock, well, let’s just say tumblr was created for you.

 My point is: don’t take it too seriously. It’s fun. It’s a way to find out the “what happens next” after the book ends or the credits roll. And it keeps these characters in our lives, which I think is what all readers want. A connection with characters and worlds we love. So go….find your ships. Be kind to the fic community. Happy sailing.

Tara S. Wood can be found lurking on the internet. Or in these fine establishments.
Moon Rose Publishing


  1. You know what gets me? Authors who don't want fanfic written about their work. lol It's already in my head...the longer it stays there, the worse it gets. TRUST. Are they worried fic writers will be better at it than they are? lol *end rant*

  2. Friends I want share with you some A dialogue is a conversation. Writing is a conversation between the writer and the reader. In our case, between the poet and the poetry readers. If you’re publishing your work, don’t pretend you don’t care what other people think of it if they don't seem to understand or like it. Of course you do! You're not going to please everybody all the time, so don't worry about the odd negative comment, but if people aren't responding as you'd like them to, try to see it as an opportunity. Take feedback on board, rewrite and perhaps even send a message to ask someone who has commented to comment again on your latest draft. One of the mistakes it's easy to make is writing about something with implications that seem obvious to you, but are not contained in the poem itself and so are unclear to someone who doesn't know you. Imagine reading it as someone who has no idea whether you’re old or young, male or female, American or Australian, a pupil or a teacher… is it as obvious now? If you want the dialogue you are having with unknown readers to improve, you have to learn to read your own poems from a stranger’s perspective. That is one of the most useful skills in improving your poetry. You can try it with something you’ve written now. Go through line by line from the beginning and try to write down what a stranger would interpret from what you’ve said. The picture will build up through the poem, but it may be that you can identify a place where you’ve assumed they will understand something that is obvious to you, but wouldn’t make sense without some piece of knowledge that you have about your life which is separate from the poem.
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