Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Insecure Writer and Fan Fiction



Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.






Why am I an insecure writer this month? Because my current WIP - my very first WIP as it turns out, the story that got me hooked on writing fiction in the first place - is fan fiction.

Hardly what real authors would consider real fiction.

It’s not that I have something against writing a publishable story – that’s my goal as soon as I’ve finished this WIP – but right now I’m content with using fan fiction to hone my writing skills.

But the stigma of fan fiction means I never know how seriously I’ll be taken by other writers, and as a result I’m often reluctant to mention the fan fiction part whenever I interact with them. For example, plenty of websites host contests with chapter critiques as the prize, but I never enter for fear of the reaction I might receive if I were to win and sent in a chapter based on JKK Rowling’s world. I can easily imagine the person offering the critique feeling as though their time was being wasted.

I shy away from local critique groups since I can only imagine the response I might get should I hand out copies of a story with the word Hogwarts sprinkled liberally throughout its pages. I’m not using any of Rowling’s characters or plotlines, but I’m not sure that makes any difference.

I finally worked up the courage to participate in Rachel Harrie’s beta reader/critique partner match (Highly recommended, btw. Thanks Rachel!) back in February and was fortunate to find a few writers who were willing to critique fan fiction. Thanks to them, my story has improved greatly in the last few months.

Even so, I still feel like an outcast at times, which makes me want to hurry up and get started on my own story. But I’m not moving on until I finish this one. This was the story that showed me how much I enjoy writing fiction and I plan on polishing this puppy until it shines. Besides, I still have so depressingly much to learn about writing that I need a story I’m obsessed with in order to keep learning.

Did any of you start out by writing fan fiction?

17 comments:

  1. There is very good fan fiction out there and a market for it. The Star Wars and Star Trek novels come to mind. And I know there are others. Follow your heart. You can't go wrong.

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    1. Thanks for the inspiration.

      As far as there being a market for fan fiction, it would be awesome if Rowling allowed others to publish stories based on her world.

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  2. I guess it's a good thing I love the Harry Potter books so much. But even if I didn't, my mom taught me never to judge a writer by his book's fan fiction cover. Well, not exactly, but she taught me not to be prejudiced. It's your content that matters, and I'm happy about that except for how long it takes between installments. We both write too slow, but I'm so slow hubby wants me to quit. Therefore the new Amazon store link on my blog in hopes somebody will buy something to help finance my writing habit, LOL.

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    1. Slow writing is definitely my Achilles' heel. I'll never be one of those authors who bang out book after book.

      Next time I buy something through Amazon, I'll try to go through your link.

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  3. I did. :-) I never told anybody, though. I, too, was embarrassed of being seen as not a "real writer." What they don't realize, though, is how much fan fiction teaches you. The joy of writing, character consistency, that ambiguous thing called "flow." Be proud, Sir Ken, of your work. It'll only give you a better base of skills to draw from in the future. And it's hella fun.

    P.S. I love HP. I would be happy to critique your fan fiction, if you're looking for some feedback--so long as you aren't afraid of a red pen bloodbath concerning dangling modifiers. :-) Feel free to look me up! http://lcfrost.blogspot.com/

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    1. I'll definitely take you up on that offer! I can use as many readers as I can get.

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  4. Any kind of writer is a 'real' writer! Take pride in what you do, Ken! Heck, I don't write fan fiction and I still feel silly telling people I write or entering contests...maybe we all feel like that :)

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    1. I suppose the feeling never goes away completely. But I'll still feel better once I start work on a story I'm allowed to publish.

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  5. I agree with the above commenter that any kind of writer is a "real" writer. And I must confess, I didn't even realize there was a category of fan fiction. Nice to meet you!

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    1. If you do a Google search for fan fiction you'll find a ton of sites. It's amazing what the Internet has does for fan fiction. Thanks for stopping by, Honey.

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  6. Ken I've come across many stigmas about genres in writing. Romance writing gets a bashing as too easy, whereas I struggle to form a good romantic scene, so I certainly wouldn't judge it as easy. In uni I was told Agatha Christie style mysteries are just fiction you read when you don't want to 'think'. But when I researched and wrote a mysteries I discovered it to be an intricate art that requires a heavy amount of plotting and planning to get the puzzle to fit exactly right.
    Fan fiction is no less a genre and has it's own devices that need to be mastered. When you use a world in existence there's a lot of stuff you can't just make up as you go, it takes research and you have to master the character's voice because people will know if they don't sound quite right.
    At uni we often imitate writers, we'll read Grimm Brothers then try to master a fairytale in the same style, or write an extra scene for Wuthering Heights. This is how we learned the craft.
    As for traditional publication, Dashiell Hammett had great success with Spade and Archer - a book using the characters from The Maltese Falcon. Write what drives you :)

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    1. I agree. Writing in any genre is hard work. The best authors just make it look easy.

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  7. Hi Ken, What does it matter? I would love to read anything you wrote. I did read the first Harry Potter book and also saw the movie, but anything beyond that would be new to me. I think writing fan fiction is probably more difficult than going freestyle. A couple of the greatest artists I have ever known had studied the Old Masters and had sold forgeries to galleries because their work was indistinguishable from the originals. They spent a lifetime at it.In any case, when something becomes a new or successful style, all of a sudden hundreds of followers become expressionists or rap writers. In such a case who is the "fan"? As a romance writer I am only to aware that I am walking a path worn smooth by greater more original talents. I guess I'm a fan, but just don't acknowledge any particular hero.

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    1. After I get my first draft into better shape, I'll send you some of my chapters and see what you think. I'd be interested in getting the viewpoint of someone who has read some Harry Potter, but isn't a devoted fan.

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  8. If you enjoy what you're writing then it shouldn't matter what it is. HP is one of my favorite series. I can see how it would be fun to have that world as the setting of a novel. And I agree with Juliana above. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm a new follower.

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  9. I think its a great way to learn. If you're enjoying what you write and you're motivated, you'll make better progress anyhow. :)

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  10. Yes and no - turns out I was writing fan fiction about real people. It was this singing duo, and I thought they were in love, but... well, anyway, I wrote two novels about their relationship...
    Any writing that helps you learn and develop your talent is good practice :-)
    Love your header photo!

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