Fanfiction Author on why it works for her (and might for you)
Today I’m delighted to hand over my blog to J. E. Hallows who explains how she entered the world of Fanfiction…Fanfiction is a term applied to writing that it is immersed in the fiction created by another writer. It ranges from the 1930s novel Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – a prequel to Jane Eyre – to new James Bond novels from authors such as Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd.
You can read more about it and its growing popularity in my February post on the subject HERE but first enjoy a firsthand account from an author who has become very popular with fans.
At first glance, fanfiction may seem like an easy option. Trust me, there is nothing easy about fanfiction. Writing about pre-existing characters when you have little idea of the original writer’s intention is not so straightforward. Characters are open to interpretation, but this is one of the interesting aspects of fanfiction. There are so many possibilities to explore. It’s also a great learning tool.
I first started writing when I was about age eleven, just for fun. My education became too time consuming for me to devote spare hours to writing, so it wasn’t until I completed my degree and spent months searching futilely for a job (difficult in the current economic climate) that I began writing again, for something productive to do, a goal to reach. I had a rough idea for a book, and had begun writing, but something felt off. Not happy with the results so far, I decided to try something new. Through the process of writing and sharing fanfiction on Wattpad, I have learned so much and finally found my narrative voice, amongst other things. I now feel much more confident to return to my original work.
The idea to try my hand at fanfiction came whilst considering some of my favourite stories and characters from both TV and novels. What could I explore that hadn’t been done already? I slowly built up a plot, using my favourite characters as well as adding my own original cast. I began sharing my story on Wattpad and it was offered a place in the featured books list in late October 2014. Since then it has gained over 100,000 reads and gone beyond any of my expectations. I’ve built up a fanbase of regular readers, and the comments and feedback I have received have been phenomenal. Being part of the Wattpad community has been invaluable to me as a writer. My confidence has grown and so has my belief. Believing is probably the hardest part of writing, and we all have days or weeks when believing is a constant struggle. Getting your work out there is the first crucial step to developing as a writer. I haven’t been on Wattpad long but I have learned much more than I hoped.
Writing fanfiction has been crucial to me. For anyone struggling to write original work, or for anyone who wishes to explore a different challenge, fanfiction is a great way to learn. There are lots of online communities out there to read and share stories (fanfiction.net, archiveofourown.org, and general fiction website likes Wattpad that have fanfiction categories). Some people look down upon fanfiction, and consider it merely fantasies written by teenage writers, but fanfiction encourages anyone of any age to write, and there are many published authors who began practising with fanfiction.
There are many published books written about existing characters – countless Sherlock Holmes stories and James Bond tributes. I like to call these professional fanfiction. The genre is so diverse and covers so many movies, TV shows, books etc. I’m sure everyone at some point has wondered what might happen if a character they loved had made a different choice, fell in love with a different person, or was born in another place. Fanfiction gives you the opportunity to explore these possibilities. In fact, there are different kinds of fanfiction that allow you to do just that.
One sub genre is known as Alternate Universe, in which a writer takes the characters from an original source and places them in a completely different setting – this can be a different time period, location, or even different planet. For instance, I wrote a short story based on J. M Barrie’s Peter Pan, in which the characters are part of a motorcycle gang set in modern times. You can see how this can present different challenges for the characters. You can even merge two original sources and, say, write about characters from Lord of the Rings meeting those from Star Wars.
You could also write sequels to your favourite films or novels, if you wanted to stick more closely to the source material. What happens after the credits roll?
Fanfiction can be any length. Stories can range from a few hundred words to full length novellas. If you want to try your hand at fanfiction, a short story or one-shot is a great way to start. My advice would be to choose a TV show, film, or novel that you feel strongly about and consider what characters you would like to focus on. What draws you to them? Have parts of their story not been explored? Really consider your chosen characters. What makes them unique? What drives them? Look at their relationships with others – you can learn a lot from this. Who do they love and why? Who do they hate and why? How does the character regard themselves vs how other characters see them? What are their fears and vulnerabilities? These are all things to consider when creating original characters, so developing these skills with pre-existing characters is useful practise. But as I mentioned earlier, this is all down to interpretation. You have the opportunity to write your own interpretation. You can stay as close to the original source as you like, or stray as far as you like.
Fanfiction isn’t for everyone and it may be more challenging than original fiction in some respects. But it is a great way to learn and explore, even if you attempt it only once.
Despite how daunting the fanfiction community might seem, you don’t really have to know much to write a story and share it with others. I didn’t have much experience with fanfiction before sharing my own story, but I would highly recommend at least giving it a try. There are stories out there, like my own, that can be read and enjoyed even if you are not familiar with the source upon which they are based. Fanfiction can be as loose or as accurate as you desire. The possibilities are endless!
More about J. E. Hallows
She is a twenty-something year old writer who lives in Greater Manchester, England. She has always been an avid reader and has aspired to writing a novel since she was barely in double figures. Still holding onto the dream, she writes as often as she can and shares her stories with her 400+ followers on Wattpad.com. With a BA hons joint degree in Photography and English, she has worked on several proofreading projects for independent authors wishing to self publish ebooks. Her writings include the Wattpad featured story, A Pirate’s Life, which spawned two sequels, and several short stories including Neverland to Nowhere, a retelling of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan featuring motorcycles and biker gangs.
photo credit: Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes via photopin (license)
photo credit: Peter Pan Peter Pan at the Musical Chairs game at the Corner Cafe via photopin (license)