So a while back, I decided that after six months of promising more blog-content than just notifying my readers when the next chapter of my fanfiction has been uploaded, it was time to actually follow through. Whereupon I bumped into that age-old question that Man has pondered from the very first moment that he raised his eyes to the starry heavens and dared to question his place in the universe: What should I blog about?
In the past, I’ve shared some thoughts on writing in general and on world-building in specific, which pretty much empties my Barrel of Blogging Concepts. After struggling with it on my own for a few days…
…I asked my writer’s group for ideas. I figured these people had read most of my books and if I had some sort of skill in some area or another, they’d know. Also, they were probably getting pretty tired of Five Nights At Freddy’s fanfiction and keen to push me on to a new topic.
So imagine my surprise when the immediate response, unanimously seconded, was that I should write this series on the subject of fanfiction. Turns out, most of the members of my writer’s group, all of whom are published professionals, had some of their first writing experiences with fanfiction and several of them continue to write and/or read it. I just happen to be the first one who openly admitted it and brought some to share with the group.
Naturally, I then suggested we all blog about fanfiction and organize a blog-hop and encourage open and discourse on the stigma associated with it. This suggestion was immediately and unanimously vetoed. Because they have careers and want to be taken seriously as authors or whatever.
But hey, I’m your huckleberry! So if fanfiction isn’t your thing, you might want to give the next two months’ worth of Wednesdays on this blog a miss, because we are going there, baby!
And so, without further ado, I present the premiere episode of (drum-roll)…
R. LEE SMITH’S 8-PART SERIES
FANS WHO FIC!
Fanfiction: The Good, The Bad and The Ironically Terrible
That’s a terrible title. Moving on!
As I’ve mentioned previously, I consider myself something of a fanfic purist. If I love a thing enough to seek out more of that thing that officially exists, I don’t want to see people making fun of that thing. And that’s on me, I freely admit that. I was a nerd before that was cool. When I was a kid, getting caught reading comics or wearing Batman underoos was an open invitation to an ass-kicking. True talk: My mom took me out of school every year for the sci-fi convention season, which in those days meant RustyCon, Norwescon and MagiCon. If that was today and my mom was signing me out of class to go to, like, BlizzCon or ComiCon, I would have serious bragging rights over my classmates, but back then? No, man. The only thing I’d be bragging about would be how quick I managed to kick my way out of my locker after I got stuffed into it.
This is funny to me now, because when it comes to movies, I love the ironically terrible ones almost more than I love the real ones, but when it’s fanfiction, there’s a line. It’s almost like prolonged bullying can have lasting effects on a kid’s self-esteem or something. Weird.
Anyway, fanfiction is serious business to me. Keep your trollfics, your Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Ravenway, your cupcake-baking pink ponies and especially whatever the fuck this is far away from me (Link probably SFW, but NSFL). You will never hear me say that stuff should not exist, that it’s toxic and so are the people who write it, etc, etc. Differences make us special, as Chica says (at least she says it in my head-canon), so you do you, whoever you are, and have a great day. It’s not my thing, so I don’t read it, which means I am not qualified to criticize it, so I won’t.
Having said that, maybe I should be reading a broader range of fanfiction, because apparently I do everything wrong. I know this, because a few months after I first started putting Everything Is All Right out there for others to read, I received this private message:
You are everything I hate about ff. You throw out the lore to make up your own, you’ve got the hot OC with a dark past as the main character and the animatronics who were actually in the game are just bit players in her story. And of course there’s a trigger warning so everyone will know there’s sex and gore and hard drugs and so much swearing because otherwise no one would know you’re a grown-up and not some edgy twelve year old. This is everything I hate about ff. It’s a good thing you do it so well. Great job, man. Best FNAF out there. One of the best fics I’ve ever read, period.
Um…thanks? But okay, I get it. I knew exactly what he was complaining…er, complimenting…complimentaining about because I’ve read those fanfictions too. And as someone who considers themself a fanfic purist, I acknowledge there are some hard rules for how to write them.
You don’t upstage the canon characters.
You don’t put adult content into a work that was originally intended for kids.
You don’t world-build.
And last but not least, you don’t fuck with the established lore.
So I get it. I do. There are fanfiction rules just like there are rules for every other kind of fiction. But the thing is, I don’t break the rules just because it’s fun. I mean, it IS fun, I’m not going to lie, but that’s not the only reason. I break ’em because when it comes right down to it, there’s really only one rule and that’s to try to tell a story no one’s heard before. The rest are, well…
Ultimately, the strength of the story is what makes any fanfiction good or bad. There’s no great mystery surrounding the popularity of trollfics and crappypastas; they tell a story no one’s heard before. Some of us didn’t necessarily want to hear it either, but that’s beside the point. The author delivered a strong story and a strong story doesn’t have to be a thousand pages long and have a lot of big words and semi-colons, it just…wow, I made myself feel bad. Anyway, all a strong story really needs to do is get into a reader’s head. In a good way, in a bad way–doesn’t matter. It just has to stay with you.
Is this series going to tell you how to do that? Ha! No. But I am going to address some of the so-called ‘rules’ for writing fanfiction with a tolerant eye toward breaking them, as well as hopefully explain how to avoid making some common fanfiction mistakes. And maybe tell a few dumb jokes and post some silly pictures because, you know, beats working. So hope to see you again next Wednesday and be sure to check in on Saturday as well for links to the latest update on my fanfiction! Cue shameless self-promotion!