Fan Fiction: Writing for Fun – Melanie Whithaus


In my previous post, I mentioned my love for fan fiction. I figure I could go into a little more detail about it for those of you who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of fan fiction is “is a broadly-defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator (“Fan Fiction”).” So basically, as I quote myself here from my last post, “you write a story about your favorite novel, movie, celebrity (the list goes on forever) living in a world that you’ve created. Now, it can be the same ‘universe’ that the original story is written in, but the new plot is yours.” There’s such thing as “alternate universe” which is outside the original canon.

For all we know, fan fiction could have been written for ages before it was documented. As a child, Charlotte Bronte was one well-known fan fiction writer, and during the 20th century many parody stories about Alice in Wonderland were written. But it wasn’t until 1965 when the term “fan fiction” was coined. Many sci-fi stories were written, and then, in 1998, fanfiction.net came to life (a personal favorite site of mine) . (“Fan Fiction”)

Just like any media, there are genres of fan fiction. “’Crack,’ a story with a deliberately bizarre premise, such as a nonsensical crossover; ‘angst;’ and ‘fluff,’ ‘schmoop,’ or ‘WAFF (Warm and Fuzzy Feeling)’ for a “feel good” story” (“Fan Fiction”) are a handful of examples. Personally, I like to read and write fluff because I get the most WAFF out of them. Romance stories are the most common because there are so many characters from any fandom that can be paired together. There is even such a thing as “crossover,” which is when two fandoms (that can be completely different from one another) are put in the same universe.

I could go on for hours about all the details of fan fiction, but I want to tell you a little about my own experience with writing in that genre. I started writing fan fiction when I was in the seventh grade. My friend introduced me to Harry Potter fan fiction and I instantly was in love. I spent hours reading fan-written stories, but I never had the faith in myself to write my own. As I grew older, I stopped reading fan fiction and focused on published works and writing my own pieces. But come my senior year of high school, I fell in love with another “fandom” (fandom, fan domain, is a term for a community of followers for a specific piece of published work), and my love for fan fiction immediately returned. Now I don’t mean to brag or anything, but according to my reviewers, I now have one of the best stories written in my fandom!

I enjoy writing fan fiction because not only is it fun, but I feel that it’s easy to write and makes for good practice. It helps to get the basics of writing down without having to worry about character development or setting up a world. The focus is on the writing and the fun of writing. Taking something that you found was wonderful and putting your own spin on it. That’s what fan fiction is all about: writing for fun, as it should be.

 

Works Cited “Fan Fiction.” Wikipedia. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction&gt;.

 

The Life and Times of a Struggling Writer


Another great post from RHP intern Melanie Whithaus:

As a creative writing student, I am always asked what I want to do with my degree. Well, teaching isn’t an option for me unless it’s at the college level, and working as a journalist has nothing to do with my degree. People assume that when you say you’re a creative writing major, all you want to do is teach. “Oh, you like to write? So are you going to teach,” they ask. The answer to the first question is yes. The latter: no. They then ask why I don’t want to be a teacher. It’s not my thing, I reply. Nothing about teaching a bunch of snot-nosed little kids how to read appeals to me. I’m not studying to be a teacher, and many of my professors have told me how much of a demand there is in the world for good writers.

But the list of questions continues and my list of pathetic answers continues: I honestly don’t know what I want to do with my degree. Not because I am lost, but because I have so many options. Maybe I could work at some random company writing newsletters, or maybe write instructions on how to save yourself from a plane crash. But over the past year, I’ve realized that I want to work in a publishing house and write on the side. I want to be surrounded by the literary world and not just some corporate office. So I have my future decided on. Score! But what about my own writing on the side?

I don’t want it to be an “on the side” sort of thing, but life tends to throw you a curve ball and doing the things you love gets pushed aside until further notice. Between school, work, internships, and life in general, there’s always something to use as an excuse to why I’m not writing.

But my favorite excuse: I have a terrible writer’s block. Which is true, but also I’m incredibly lazy. I have so many ideas and ways to keep myself writing, but of course I find some excuse to not do them. As a struggling writer, one of my favorite things to do to keep myself writing is fan fiction. For those of you who don’t know, fan fiction is when you write a story about your favorite novel, movie, celebrity (the list goes on forever) living in a world that you’ve created. Now, it can be the same “universe” in which the original story is written, but the new plot is yours. People have been writing fan fiction for centuries, but it didn’t get the name until recently.

But why fan fiction? It’s easy writing, I already have the characters and universe developed, all I have to do is create an intriguing plot. It’s a simple way to keep myself writing and more importantly, it keeps writing fun. But now the problem is this:  I’m coming up with excuses to why I’m not writing fan fiction!

As a struggling writer and hopefully soon to be a publisher, and for those who assume I’ll only be teaching with an English degree, teaching isn’t my passion: it’s writing. Life gets in the way a lot, but if it’s really something you love, you’ll find time for it. So  ten years from now, when I’m working at a publishing house in New York and writing on the side, fan fiction will still be a part of my life. But hopefully, I’ll have my own “universe” to keep me busy.