Fan fiction for aspiring writers

I am pretty sure the lot of you will have heard of Fan fiction. If you haven’t… Well, either you don’t like writing, or you live underneath a very, very big rock. Despite what some of you might think, I am also a fan fiction writer. I think that fact alone has already made some of you grimace in disgust and horror, before closing this tab and making the decision to never revisit this little blog again.

I am fine with this. Le shoo. 

Basically the whole point of fan fiction is that fans of movies, books, television shows, etc…are clearly not satisfied with what they are reading or watching, and decided to redesign the original into something that satisfies their ravenous appetite. I am pretty sure that most (99.5%?) fan fiction writers are like this (I know I am). They do not want to see their favourite series end, they have ideas to contribute to the continuation of the stories, they are not pleased with the ending (most), the characters and everything in between. In order to release all of this pent-up anger and frustration, they turn to fan fiction to reshape whatever they think is ‘wrong’. They just cannot let it go! They have grown so attached to the stories and characters to the point where if anything goes ‘wrong’ (in their mind), they just can’t let it be. They just have to ‘rectify’ the ‘problem’ so that they can feel satisfied when in truth there really isn’t much of a problem with the original to begin with, it is all personal. They – We have made it personal. We write, so that we can have a loosen our grip on reality and just find ‘peace’ in ourselves within our own little rainbow bubble – meditating and levitating and whatnot.

But is it healthy for an aspiring writer to write fan fiction? Is it good exercise? Some famed writers like the infamous J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer are not against fans ‘rewriting’ their stories. However, those such as vampire queen Anne Rice do not seem to share the same feeling regarding other people writing fiction relating to their stories/characters. George R.R Martin also opposes FF, believing it to be a “bad exercise for aspiring writers”, which is exactly what I want to get out of my system today.

Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling are flattered by fan fiction writers who create alternate universes based on their characters.

Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling are flattered by fan fiction writers who create alternate universes based on their characters.

Whereas writers of Interview with the Vampire and A Song of Ice and Fire - Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin are against fan fiction.

Whereas writers of Interview with the Vampire and A Song of Ice and Fire – Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin are against fan fiction.

So is fan fiction bad exercise? Being an FF writer myself, am I doomed to being cursed with lack of originality for the rest of my mundane, obscure life?

(I shall nickname FF writers FFers to make it simple) In a way it is. After all, one already has a foundation, a base – to begin with; so the FFer does not need to start from scratch. This applies to aspects such as setting, themes, backgrounds and characters.

The FFer already knows pretty much every detail of the story (as a reader) especially if he/she/it has studied it thoroughly (or just have that momentary period of obsession). The FFer does not require to think very much because they already have everything laid out in front of them like toys for a spoiled child. All they have to do is pick and play. 50-80% everything is already silver-spoon-fed to the FFer while the rest is their idea of the ‘right’ content; or what ‘should have been’. So it is a bad exercise in terms of originality and generation of fresh, new ideas. Whatever originality is minuscule to bare, for the FFers are only ‘changing’, adding or subtracting. This is especially targeted towards those who modify the story itself, unlike those who continue it. The beautiful originality of an aspiring writer is eventually squeezed into a box, possibly making them more and more dependent on such mediums and bases. They spend so much time thinking about their FFs until they are boxed from creating greater, more authentic ideas that will shape them into better writers in the future.

I won’t mention the ways how FF is bad for the original writers because I don’t want to stray away from the main topic, which is whether or not writing fan fiction is bad exercise for budding writers. I shall leave that in another post. Perhaps Chapter II?

However… In a way it is also good practice for aspiring writers. It exercises one’s brain. They are capable of thinking up new and fresh ideas for the story and its characters. The FFers are offered the foundation – the storyline and characters that they have grown to love/hate, but they are given limits. If they stray too far from the story/character’s ‘soul’, the essence of it is lost and it will be a different story with different characters. They learn to work with what they have, and they work with and/or around it. A sense of control is instilled within each FFer as they meld themselves into the fresh FF. Work with what is given. I think that helps in discipline within writers who sometimes have limits when writing. Give them a topic/base, and let’s see how well they can work with it to make it appeal to their readers.

There’s also a chance for them (especially aspiring writers instead of casual FFers who just write for the fun of it/or the ‘need’) to demonstrate their writing skills. How well they can write, how well they can express the characters in the story…the works. I’ve had my fair share of criticisms and compliments that make me scowl silently or preen with Leo pride.

Don’t we all?

I think that is all so far regarding this…one-way discussion – that is, without making my brain melt out of my ears. What I mean to say is that is all I have to say at this point. If anything new pops up I might either edit it into this post or just put it in another post.

So, is fan fiction good exercise for aspiring writers? Or is it bad? What say you? I can honestly say that it is a little of both – but if I had to pick one, I’d say that it is good practice for aspiring writers. One can hone their writing skills, demonstrate ways of how they can tell another story through an existing story (if that makes any sense to you), and show how, as writers, they can adapt to certain situations. I personally enjoy writing fan fiction – but that is a tale for another day. Till then, I shall stop here and treat myself to an Affogato at a nearby cafe. (Haagen Dazs or Artisan Coffee anyone?)

xx

E.N.

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