Friday, 31 July 2015

My Dirty Little Secret


I have a dirty little secret.

I've been hesitant to bring it up.

I did it when I was young. For hours on end. I loved it (even though it made me blush). And you can bet other people loved it, too. They'd literally beg for more.

And I'd give it to them.

I’m talking about … writing fanfiction.

You pervert.

Final Fantasy fanfiction, specifically.

For years, writing fanfiction has been something I’ve been a little embarrassed about. The shame was never that I did something “nerdy” (I’m a geek, now and forever, amen); it was that I wasn’t producing my own original content. But, I have to say, my experiences with posting stories on www.fanfiction.net  taught me invaluable lessons.

This post is to give a shout out to my fanfiction kink. Because, even though I’d generally confess to dressing up like the red Power Ranger before I tell anyone about my fics, they have helped me become a better writer. So, with pride, here are the benefits I found to letting your inner geek wreak havoc on your favorite fandoms.

 

Practice

Like any craft, writing takes hours upon hours to master. If writing can even truly be mastered.

I started posting fanfiction when I was 17.  I would spend days and nights at my computer, improving not only my typing skills, but my technical writing skills, as well.

I learned how to translate what I saw in-game to a Word document. Having environments, cutscenes, and gameplay filter through my mind to become my words has always been a lovely challenge. It’s the hunt for the perfect phrasing. It’s savouring sweet diction when it fits juuuuust right.

Mind you, the same can be said about original fiction and exploring the world inside your own imagination, but fandoms are a bit different.

How do you recreate a favorite scene, expand upon a gargantuan world, and delve into existing script? To an extent, fanfiction is easier when it comes to the fact everything is already there for you. But that’s also where the real test comes in as a fanfiction writer.

How do you make the world feel familiar, giving the reader a cozy nostalgic hug, while at the same time make it new and entertaining? Do you know the characters well enough? Can you make a believable OC (original character) cast of your own and not spawn the ever-dreaded “Mary Sue?” Most of all, can you honour the source material?

Given the nature of the beast, the majority of people write brain candy or wish fulfilment stories, so those questions are usually left hanging and swinging like a dead man at the gallows. But, to the writers who answer them with effort, they’re exploring character arcs, world building, pacing, and genuine storytelling.

All in all, perfect practice for the aspiring author.

 

Interaction

The internet is a great place to connect with billions of people across the planet. I not-so-randomly encountered many gamers who shared my love of Final Fantasy.

I received tons of support and enthusiasm for my work. It was a great confidence booster.

Of course, with “flames” (bad reviews) I developed a thick skin. Most were from people who hadn’t even read the story. In my case, I had a self-insert which many readers associate with having a “Mary Sue” character. Those reviews I never took seriously because, well, trololololololol. However, I would consider useful feedback, like wanting more action content.

In some reviews, people shared with me what they’d like me to do with my story. I was thrilled they had such interest, but I had to stick to my guns. Especially if I wanted to keep them coming back for more. It became a fun kind of … I don’t know, literary edging? As utterly classy as that sounds. I learned not to give the reader a quick fix, but to start slow and escalate. To pull back before a payoff. Then have events explode when they finally did, making it that much more enjoyable.

To connect with so many people is a blessing and a curse, but again, it’s something all authors will have to do. Posting fanfiction is like stepping into the kiddie pool before you put your floaties on for the deep end. Where, you know, there’s even more trolls.

 

Platform

Closely tied with my previous point is this one! Writers need platforms. Having a large following is incredible leverage. A dedicated fan base who loves your work is enticing to an agent or publisher. It means you can sell your work easier than someone who doesn’t have the same level of support. Now, you’d have to be a writer with hundreds of reviews and people following your story to get taken seriously, but it’s definitely good to have in your hand if you’re going all-in.

 

Publish

This is an option I personally wouldn’t do, but some authors have chosen this direction, most notably E.L. James with her 50 Shades of Grey series that started as Twilight fanfiction. I’m certain there are other authors who have done this, created fanfiction and tweaked it enough to send off to an agent or publisher.

Again, not my bag, but if it’s something that gets you writing, it’s something to consider. However, I’d advise pitching original fiction before rehashing someone else’s source material and slapping your name on it. After all, you want to be remembered for your work, don’t you?

That brings me full circle.

I don’t write fanfiction anymore. I haven’t even updated my profile in years. Honestly, I’d rather spend my time writing original fiction. It’s a shame because I know there are many people who love my stories, but it’s not something I can keep up with. Not when I have other goals.

I look back at my incomplete fics with the regret that they’ll probably wind up unfinished, however when I see that I’ve completed a manuscript in their place, I know I made the right decision.

Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll pick up them up again.  But for now, I’m definitely working towards getting my work published. And that’s something to be even more proud of.

Lastly, if anyone is at all curious, here are links to my two fics:

Call of the Mist - (FFXII) A writer from Earth is chosen by Mist to be summoned to Ivalice in order to aid in the restoration of peace.

Divine Machination - (FFXIII) A series of one-shots involving each character's experience facing an Eidolon for the first time.

Thanks for reading!

Take care!
 
Larysia

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for writing this! Larysia you continue to be such an inspiration to me as it relates to diligence and hard work with writing!

    And you're Fanfic isn't half bad. ;)

    Great as always, My Dear.

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    1. Thanks, Eric!

      Very honored and flattered you think so!

      And thanks ;)

      Larysia

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  2. Sounds cool, I did something similar before with a friend where we wrote an anime story. Never finished thought and there is a story to how and why we started writing anime. Remind me to tell you one day.

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    1. Well, writing is a fun art to dabble in! Any way to be creative is good stuff.

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