Prewriting Week 1: In Defense of Fanfiction

The main problem with writing is that it takes gobs more time to produce, than it does to consume.  As such even the fun parts of writing can easily become a chore as “you’re not getting anywhere.”  Coming up with an original idea, worldbuilding and outlining to the point you’re actually ready to write is a LOT of work to foist on anyone, not just someone brand new to the whole business.

Therefore it might be a good idea to practice with stock elements, and work your way forward from there.  That’s what “fanfiction” is.

Fanfiction has several distinct advantages, and one glaring deal-breaking disadvantage over whole-hog original fiction.

The advantages are as follows

#1 Known characters and scenarios:

Fanfiction’s biggest draw is that instead of having to think up everything from scratch, you have these wonderful “stock” elements to use.  All you have to do is worry about the actual plot and keeping these stock characters…erm, in character, and not contradicting established world rules.

The benefit of course is that you can spend more time on the actual plot and not worry about every single tiny little detail.  True, some plots might not be feasible for a given fiction universe, but then, that hasn’t stopped anyone before.

#2 Established audience:

Perhaps more important is that if YOU like a body of work, there’s probably several thousand OTHER people who like it too…and will congregate in places that generate fanfiction to perpetuate the awesome thing  that they all love.  Which means you have a group of people just waiting to read your stuff already.  And having people willing to read your stuff for free is a treasure beyond price when you’re first getting you feet under you.

Better still the sort of folks that like to lurk about fiction sites are usually the sort of folks that also like writing.  And some of them will critique your stuff also free of charge (it’ s like it’s raining diamonds in here).  Yes, some of the comments will be unhelpful or downright hurtful, some of them will just be editor types looking for spelling errors, but in between you’ll probably find several positive comments, along with–every so often–someone so struck with your idea that they wrote at length about it, the good and the bad, and those are the comments worth savoring.  That is the power of audience, and it’s nice to have one just waiting for you.

#3 Established enthusiasm:

Perhaps the most important element is that you, yourself, like this stuff already.  As I’ve stated in a previous post, a good way to motivate yourself to write is to put things in that you like…and your favorite movie/book/tv show/web serial definitely counts.

Conclusion

The disadvantage is, of course, that anything you do with those characters, scenarios and worlds cannot be truly “yours.”  You can’t sell it, or market it, or even take total credit for the bits you did add.  However if that doesn’t matter to you.  If you just want to practice writing, or want feedback from a motivated audience, or if you just love the characters and want to express that love through art…then go ahead and explore the rabbit hole that is fanfiction.

Pre-writing Postscript.

This is all, of course, a very long-winded way of saying the 50,000 words I write in July will be fanfiction.

X-Men: Evolution is a Saturday Morning Cartoon from the early aughts released in conjunction with first batch of X-Men movies.  There are plenty of good points to the series, but there are also plenty of areas where there’s some good fan “wiggle room.”  And since I’m being especially bland and uninteresting, I’m simply going to drop a “Self-Insert” into this scenario (a la Paul from With This Ring).  There are 13 episodes in season 1 and if we allow seven thousand-ish words a chapter, we’ll end up at 52k words by the end of the month, and have ourselves a good stopping point.

Until next time, keep writing.

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