Friday, July 7, 2017

The Stories We Don't Talk About

I haven't been working too much on my Camp NaNo project. I will. I'll reach my goal before the end of the month. I always do.

But mostly, I've been catching up on Supernatural. Every time I get back into it, I wonder why I ever stopped watching it. I mean, it's been around my entire adult life. I have some… emotions… about it. But you know what it tends to make me think of, and what we're going to talk about today?

Fan fiction.

Now, fan fiction is a strange thing. In the off-chance you don't know what it is, it's where you take the established setting and characters from an existing work (book, movie, TV, etc.) and you create your own stories with them. Imagine that: you get so into a fictional universe, you start to create your own scenarios and offshoots. And then you write them down, like a love letter to your favorite franchise.

A lot of writers get their start in fan fiction, like dipping a toe in the cold waters of fiction writing. In some ways, it's an easy route to get into it. The universe is already created, so you're just playing in someone else's sandbox. On the other hand, if you want to write good fan fiction, you have to get the characters right to make it feel… right. You have to get their voices, their mannerisms, all just right. Or it's "out of character" and no one likes that. 

When you first jump into writing fan fiction, like most kinds of writing, it's probably terrible. There's a little thing called the "Author Insert Fic" which is basically what it sounds like. The author says, "What would happen if I was in this world?" They're usually terrible. Because real people make lousy characters. Or they get twisted into the dreaded Mary Sue. She's the best thing ever. Everyone loves her. She's a terrible character.

And it's probably awful stories like that that give fan fiction a bad name. Because on the one hand, it's a thing that lots of writers do, and many do well, but on the other hand, it's this shameful thing we aren't supposed to admit to writing.

What's up with that?

I'll admit it. I've written fan fiction. It's out on the internet. No, I'm not going to tell you where.

I started back in 2005, when I was still in high school. Was it a good story? God no. But it wasn't the worst thing ever. It's the kind of thing you'd expect from a 17 year old who doesn't know any better.

And I've written more since then, on and off. What's weird is that people are still reading it. This is where Supernatural comes in. There is one particular Supernatural story that I posted in 2007. And every so often, I get an email that so-and-so favorited it. While writing this post, I went to look at my email to see if I still had the most recent email. Oh, what's this? There's a new email. So-And-So Favorited Your Story [incoherent mumbling]. Three hours ago. I don't even know how they're finding it at this point.

But that's kind of my point. People like to write fan fiction, and people like to read it. So why are we so ashamed?

Is it because it's not "real writing"? Or because it makes us look like crazed super-fans? (Hint: we probably are.)

But are either of those really a bad thing? Who's to say what we can like (or how much) or what we can write? Why is some writing more legitimate than others? Who are these Gods of Writing who decide these things? Why should we listen to them? Why is it that I can post half-baked first drafts here, but won't dare divulge the location of my surprisingly popular fan fiction?

Maybe I should stop asking these questions and get back to Camp NaNo.

I'll see you Tuesday.


  1. The first rule about fan-fiction: You don't talk about fan-fiction.

    You have a very good point though - there are definitely some gems out there. It's also not that different from tv series having different episode writers and the like.

    This also hits awkwardly close to home since I just found myself inspired to write, after a four month long keyboard dry-spell, something involving aspects and settings derived from a story I recently read... an act I honestly have never done before.

    Aw hell, I fan-fic'd "My Soul to Take" - and it is NEVER seeing the light of day. It was just such an interesting idea... I wanted to sandbox in it a little.

    Welp, there's my little fan-fic confession.

    1. I'm not going to lie, the thought that someone would write a fan-fic of something I wrote is possibly the most exciting thing ever. Like, that's how you know you've made it as a writer, when other people want to play in your sandbox. And for some reason, the possibility never occurred to me until just now.
      I mean, wow. I am just... wow. Thank you!