Author has written 9 stories for Naruto, Elder Scroll series, Harry Potter, Inuyasha, and Lord of the Rings.
Hey, I'm Aista
I discovered fanfiction mid-high school and have never looked back. I read in multiple fandoms. My favourites have been compiled over a number of years and provide an amusing commentary on my personality and maturity.
Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couch bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
—Lev Grossman, TIME, July 18, 2011
In defence of what we do
“Well, sorry, but...I always thought you’d do something a bit...better. I mean, fan fiction’s a bit geeky, isn’t it? And it’s not like proper writing, or anything...”
There are those who believe that what we post is somehow not “proper writing.” Ridiculous. To begin with, this assertion is wrong on a very basic level; one of the site rules is that we obey the laws of spelling and grammar. Net and text speak are not allowed, so what we write has to be as “proper” as anything we would submit to a teacher for grading.
Somehow I doubt this is what was meant – but then, what else does “proper writing” mean? Published work? Literary writing? If so, I’ve found more than one writer on here whose prose would stand up next to that of Ian McEwan. For anybody who dares to argue that basing our work upon that of another author shows laziness or a lack of imagination, might I suggest the following:
1. Go to your local bookstore.
2. Pick up a copy of “Eragon” by Christopher Paolini. Supposedly, this is original fiction.
3. Read it.
4. Cross-reference it with Star Wars, LOTR and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels.
5. Return to this site.
6. Read any or all of the following – “Not Fade Away” by Jael, “A Dawn of Many Colours” by Pink Siamese, “Walt Disney Presents: The Lord of the Rings” by Jules14...I could go on.
7. Compare these stories with Paolini’s.
Then you come and tell me which shows the most originality and flair. “Not like proper writing?” Sorry, Miss M – I have to disagree.
People read--and write--fanfic because there is never enough canon! Truly, whatever else drives them, whether it is a love for the characters and settings, or for a particular pairing, or for a particular kink (and though I include het and slash in that last statement, that’s not all I mean, because I‘m a gen girl at heart) the underlying wish is for more stories about that fandom in particular.
After all, if all people wanted was just stories like that, they’d read and write original fic, even it was thinly disguised.
I have never felt the need to hide my enthusiasm for writing fanfic. I freely confess to all and sundry that it is the favorite of my many hobbies. I soon learned to navigate the shoals of fandom, and have made many lovely online friends, some of whom I have been fortunate enough to meet in Real Life. Fanfic fills a creative void in a way entirely different than needlework or calligraphy or painting or sculpture. It is a satisfaction of a singular sort.
And yet, that is what I do consider it: a creative hobby.
Unlike many of my fellow fanfic writers, I do not consider it a “training ground” for original fic. While there is much that both fanfic and original fic have in common, there are some totally different skill sets involved. In some ways, fanfic is actually harder than original fic--at least if it’s done right.
For me, the fanfic, in and of itself is the end as well as the means to an end. It is one of the ways that I use to explore canon and the story that I love. It is my chance to participate in JRRT’s “sub-creation”. To that end, I can’t simply “make up” things to fit my story--I have to consider how they fit in and impact canon. Even in an AU, I have to make sure that my AU will fit into the world of LotR in a way that will make it understandable as a plausible offshoot of what JRRT wrote.
This means research, and delving into the source material, keeping it always close to hand and close to mind. It means sifting through fanon, to decide if a particular fanon meme will work for me as a part of Middle-earth, and how exactly does it fit in with canon? It also means doing some logical extrapolation to create my “own” fanon. All of this is a lot harder than just “making up” a world of my own.
Of course, I have run into many of the same prejudices and misconceptions about fanfic as the rest of you--most of them are from well-meaning friends or family who just don’t “get it”.
Most commonly, of course, is the idea that writing should not be just a hobby that one does for fun! Why bother if I’m not going to ever get paid a dime? Why don’t I just change the names and publish the stories?
My response to that is that I write as a gift to myself and to others. Do these same friends and family insist that I should not bother to knit or sew or paint if I don’t plan to sell my crafts? Should I not bother to cook if I’m not going to open a restaurant?
Furthermore, trying to write for profit would take the fun out of it. I have never had any original fiction published, but I did at one time publish a few non-fiction articles, and I soon learned what a lot of work it was to write, for the miniscule amount of money to be made.
Hardly anyone writes an instant best-seller the first time out. J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer are just a drop in the bucket of aspiring authors--generally, even successful authors do not attain that sort of fame and fortune. And the majority of those who try to write original fiction for commercial publication will never even find an agent, much less a publisher.
If they do? Months, perhaps years, before they see their creation in print, and more months before money begins to trickle in. Unless they are among the rarities of best-sellerdom, they will seldom even find out what most people think of their stories!
A writer stands a better chance of making money on the lottery than on counting on hitting it big with a novel.
With fanfic, gratification is instant: You “publish” your story with the click of a mouse, and literally within hours, you will see the hit count on your story, and begin to see the reviews come in.
And you can experiment: drabbles, dribbles, poems, ficlets and vignettes and character studies; strange POVs; AUs; long and rambling WIPs which you can begin to publish long before you even know yourself where they are going! There’s no market for any of that in the conventional publication world.
And there are the friendships. Most of my best friends are online, met through fandom. I would not give that up for the world.
So, why fanfic?
Because there is never enough canon.
Because there are always alternate universes to explore.
Because there is always hurt that needs comforting.
Because there is always the chance to see your ‘ship come in.
Because we love the characters and the world and the story, and we never want it to end.
—By dreamflower02 on Why Fanfiction?
“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
— Ira Glass
They're a symptom not a disease. Sigridhr makes some valid points in her essay:
I Was a Teenage Mary Sue, or Why Being a Big Damn Hero Is Hard (Though It Shouldn't Be) If You're a Girl
The Perfect Girl: An Exploration of the Hidden and Dynamic World of Fan Fiction by Nikara
You can't depend on dumb readers. Many have been writing material for years or have completed tertiary study. The absence of a comment does not mean the writing is good, all it means is that no one has noticed or has bothered to comment on the mistake. But I try and give the reviews I like to have. If I've goofed, if there are errors in my story, I'd like to know about it. I assume all the other authors here want to write better. The first step towards better writing is to know when you screw up. But if you say things like 'Don't like, don't read' or send abusive PMs back in response to honest critique, you run the risk of alienating your readers.
There are two considerations when reviewing: PLOT and SKILL.
PLOT is story, and a matter of taste. Some writers say there's only one plot (the simplest being your character wants something that he/she doesn't have, and has to try and get it), others say there's seven, nine and even twenty basic kinds. I personally don't like 'Token Romance' (AKA Shoehorned Romance AKA Unnecessary Romance). Don't get me wrong, I really dig a good romance, but a lot of leads have to get together at a suspiciously inconvenient point in the plot because...? I resent it because even if it's not an inconvenient moment, the idea that for it to be a happy ending, the man and woman have to be together is boring and lazy. Especially when this involves one overlooking serious flaws on the part of the other, instead of running the hell away.
The point is PLOT is a matter of personal likes and dislikes. So I don't bother commenting on the plot; or the characters in their roles. I will comment on what I call the internal logic. Does the story have a consistent framework? Or do 'miracles' have to occur every other chapter to keep the story moving? Do the characters act according to their backstory and history? Or does the author u-turn or even 'retcon' to go a completely different way, ignoring the fact that three chapters back she had the character saying she would sooner die than go that way.
SKILL, on the other hand, is observable. There is a basic standard. SKILL is not a matter of taste, it's a learned ability; or rather a cluster of abilities: This word is spelled this way; a question has this punctuation; with a new speaker, begin a new paragraph; and so on. This can be taught usually by pointing out errors and possible corrections.
One articulate review is worth a million of 'KYAAA!!OMG. . LOL. YOure a grate writer! UPDATE! PWEEAASSSEE!! XD which is not a review IMHO and definitely not a barometer of writing skill or good plot.
'How to Review' by Juno Magic (Honestly the best guide I've ever come across.)
'The Six Types of Reviewers' by MizSphinx.
'Critique: Best and worst reviews you have given or received'. An interesting discussion on reviewing and critiquing.
Oxford's Section for Better Writing- It pretty much includes all the wonders of an English textbook without being in boring textbook format. Also, it's better organized.
Writing Forums- Includes tips for character development, plot development, setting development, grammar, critique and research.
Avoid 'Creative Dialogue Tag Syndrome'
Punctuating Dialogue and Direct Quotations: A Dozen Rules
Short forms (contractions): I’m, he’s, she’s, don’t, let’s, etc.
It’s = “it is” or “it has”: how to tell the difference
Hunting Down the Pleonasm- Let's avoid redundancy eh?
Homonyms- A bunch of words that sound alike but mean different things. A grate resource too help yew chews the write won wen inn doubt.
Semicolon- Oatmeal's guide to "the most feared punctuation on earth"; combines memorable examples with unforgettable illustrations.
Who vs Whom- Oatmeal again, this time on "who" vs. "whom". With monocles. And steeds.
“As he talked, I thought of my difficulties with writing, my struggles to articulate feelings not easily expressed. Of my struggles to find a language for intuition, feeling, instincts which are, in themselves, elusive, subtle, and wordless … ” –Anaïs Nin