As promised on Tuesday, today’s Writing Challenge takes us further into the freeing farce of fan fiction.
Why is it freeing? Because you’re taking someone else’s beloved characters and engaging storybook settings, and commanding the plot to do your bidding instead of the original author’s.
Bella can now fall in love with Jacob. Or Christian Grey.
(Though Jacob would really be the better choice out of the two. Just sayin’.)
Why is it a farce? Because you’re taking someone else’s beloved characters and engaging storybook settings, and commanding the plot to do your bidding instead of the original author’s.
I went a little easy on fan fiction advocates on Tuesday, but let’s get as honest as possible now for our Writing Challenge. I promise this isn’t to be mean or “snotty,” as my more fan-fiction friendly mother dubbed me the other day. But as an author, editor and writing coach, I can’t help but stand by the following statements.
Push yourself to be more creative.
If you really want to go the fan fiction route, then that’s your choice, of course. And if you’re never going to publish it, then it’s even less of a big deal.
But if you do want to take it to the next writing level someday, you’re going to have to extend your known pool of creativity. Change the character’s names, for one. For two, relocate them to some other setting.
Unless perhaps you’re dealing with the more fan-fiction friendly franchises mentioned in the attached blog post.
Those would be Star Trek and Star Wars, by the way.
At last check, Stark Trek novels were published solely by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. That means you’ll have to go the literary agent shopping route if you want to legitimately publish your Star Trek fan fiction.
Meanwhile, Disney now owns the whole Star Wars franchise which means Random House is probably completely cut out of the publishing picture. According to what I could determine on Amazon, Disney Lucasfilm Press is now the corporation to contact.
Other than that, you’re not going to be able to get traditionally published writing fan fiction.
As the Writing Challenge above acknowledges, if you have no desire to be traditionally published, then this factor isn’t an issue. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other issues to address… including how fan fiction doesn’t expand your literary capabilities very far.
If you write fan fiction, you’re almost undoubtedly already working with someone else’s beloved characters and someone else’s engaging storybook settings. Which means the only writing elements you’re actively practicing are plot and dialogue.
Now, plot is an absolute necessity in any story whatsoever, and dialogue is going to be important in any significantly sized creative piece. So good for you in that regard. However, there are other elements to explore out there and other skill sets to nurture.
Like constructing your own beloved characters and designing your own engaging storybook settings.
Writing fan fiction, like any other kind of writing out there, takes time and dedication, energy and emotion to complete. But in many ways, it’s akin to an artist familiarizing herself with brush strokes while ignoring medium. Or a runner practicing his footwork but not his arm movements.
They’ll be able to accomplish something, certainly. But they’re never going to be one of the greats.
So fan fiction writers, I’m officially offering you this writing challenge: Be great. It’s an amazing adventure that could prove more worthwhile than you can possibly imagine.