Introduction – Fanfic and Me
There is a saying I’ve heard, generally among those much more believing in grand Universal plans than me, that if you cross paths with the same stranger three times in a single day than you were meant to meet that person.
I haven’t met any dashing strangers of late. But one day last week, I did three times come across a topic I don’t generally have much to do with: that of fan fiction (fanfic for short), that is, fan-written stories that star the characters and settings of copyrighted creative works.
I encountered this topic twice through random clicking online, and once as a follow-up thought to a conversation about how books are often made into movies, yet it’s rare for the process to occur in the opposite direction, at least not professionally.
Thus, in a manner no less fatalistic than the aforementioned chance encounters with strangers-meant-to-be-friends, I’ve decided that my blog and the topic of fan fiction should become better acquainted.
(For those not already familiar with the controversial cultural phenomenon that is fan fiction, an excellent primer on the subject – one of the two online sources I stumbled across – can be found in this article from Time.)
Overall, I am in support of fan fiction as both a learning tool and a form of self-expression. For me to hold any other view would be somewhat hypocritical seeing as I made my start as a writer writing fan fiction too.
Always a science fiction and fantasy geek in my youth, my first fan fiction stories (or I should say story, for it too, like everything I write, was long and ongoing) were set in the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I was in grade 5 at the time, so this epic of fangirly adoration was free of any explicit character parings. Rather, it fell more into the Mary Sue variety of stories. It starred a Starfleet Medical intern who, while the appropriate age for such a position, was still remarkably similar to my eight-year-old self. There was also a Starfleet Command cadet who bore an uncanny resemblance to my best friend.
While not a writer herself, my best friend was very interested in how things were progressing among our alter-egos, and provided many potential plot twists. In exchange, I shared key developments in the story with her on a regular basis.
It was kind of like playing “house”. Except in the future … on a starship. And in written words rather than through playacting.
Before that story, I have a vague recollection of writing a fanfic in grade 3 of the cartoon Jem and the Holograms (a show I loved; when is some nostalgic child-of-the-80s TV producer going to remake that?), and in grade 4, one of Mission: Impossible (the TV revival version, once again starring Peter Graves).
I also have a vague recollection of my older sister telling me I should be creating my own characters, though not of what my response to that comment was.
My next (and final) forays into fan fiction weren’t until high school. There, me and my new best friend (also a writer) proceeded to write with the settings and/or characters from such diverse works as Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar series, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and the musical version of The Phantom of the Opera.
Our works took the form of an ongoing series of notes we would pass each other in class (for classes we shared) or in the hallways between classes (for those we didn’t share). And by “ongoing”, I mean ongoing for two-and-a-half straight years.
That’s enough notes to fill two binders, both of which we each still have secreted away at our parents’ houses.
I was in grade 11 when I took my first, much-loved, creative writing class.
Except, I don’t actually believe that was my first class.
I think writing fan fiction gave me a far earlier education in writing craft.
I will be continuing my discussion of fan fiction over the coming weeks (true to my verbosity gene, I couldn’t fit it all into one post!), but in the meantime, I am curious: how many other writers of original fiction out there got their start writing fanfic? How many writers aspiring towards original fiction are writing fanfic right now? What fandoms did you/do you write in? Consider leaving a comment.