Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sympathy for the Devil: Fanfiction

"You almost made me fanfic," I accused my author friend after reading her latest, ingenious space opera. "I'm not even kidding."

I'm not criticizing fan fiction here at all. In fact, I think I learned something fairly significant about my own motivations and maybe even gained some empathy for the writers of fan fiction. I'm still not doing it, primarily because I'm greedy and an egomaniac and I want to write stories that are "mine" and that I can sell. (gods willing.) But I totally get the desire to do it. In fact, I think it just might be hand in hand with the desire to write at all.

So, my friend wrote this great book. She does that. And I fell head over crazypants heels in love with one of her characters. Not the main character, you see, but one that I could imagine all sorts of story lines wrapped neatly around. I love him. I'm not shy about it. I want to know what he has for breakfast.


And there isn't enough of him in the books. That's okay. It is, in fact, the perfect amount for the books' sake. But for my squeeish, fan-like hunger, not even close. I imagined the stories that were all about him, and I imagined a lot of them. I even imagined writing them, and then I went, WOAH.
Just like Wayne and Garth say it. Or maybe Bill or Ted. WOAH.

It's important that I said it twice, because the first Woah, was for "I want to write fanfiction," and the second one was more like, "Hey, I've felt like this before!"
I think that last bit is the important part.

A long time ago I used to have a lot more free time than I do now. I didn't have children or a husband or a house (its okay, I had a house, just not one I was responsible for cleaning) and I read a lot more and I watched a lot more movies. (I miss those. They were the kind without talking golden retrievers and they were allowed to cuss) ANYway...

Often I would become very engaged in a story, a character, a whatever and I would close the book or turn off the movie...and keep thinking about it. In fact, I'd extrapolate many more scenes. In essence, I would fanfic in my head. I think, hell I'm sure, that this action was vital to my desire to become a writer. I think (again) that it's maybe even WHY I WRITE. Because I want more story, and I want to be in control of it.

Now, while my stories are my own and come from personal sources...mostly dreams I've had or things I've encountered in real life...I think the impetus for writing, the drive to tell stories, came from what basically amounts to writing fan fiction. Only, I just did it in my head.
(Please don't call a therapist. I'm almost sure this is healthy.)

I also suspect (here's where I may lose y'all) that a lot, LOT, of authors do this too. I think maybe most of us have. It could be that any people do it, but it could also be that someone with a storyteller buried inside them has a strong tendency to recognize a good tale and want to embellish it. If, and this is the important part, it hits one of their buttons, it emotionally engages them, intrigues them, trips their intellectual trigger.
All of which, as an author, I'd consider a compliment.

It's also got a lot of that egomaniac attached to it. There's a whiff of, hmm. I could have made that better by...
But what the hell, I've already confessed to the ego.
And in truth, it's more like, I could explore this little corner that wasn't important to the original author, but is very important to me as a fan.
And that, I think, sums it up better.

Shared stories have been around forever. I don't want to share mine, (see the ego!) but I get it. Myths, legends, folk tales...is some of our fiction becoming the modern version of this? That's a whole different blog post, but I think you can probably guess my answer. :)



Jaleta Clegg said...

I'm not apologizing for making you fanfic, because your books made me want to fanfic, too.

I think it's a real compliment to the author when a fan gets so engaged with the characters that they want more of them. And when the author doesn't have the time/energy/inclination/whatever to write more about that character RIGHT NOW, the fan goes ahead and writes it because they can't wait for it.

I think that's why I became a writer in part. I wanted a certain type of story and I couldn't find any new books like that. So I decided to write my own. And I'm very glad I did.

Frances Pauli said...

I love him. Thank you for that. :)
I agree too, I think it's what draws us to writing in the first place. I'm glad too, for both of us, now I have my worlds to control, and your characters to drool over!