Monday, May 20, 2013

Of Fan Fiction and Storytelling

Whether I was aware of it consciously or not, much of my early years involved writing fan fiction. In this day and age, the mere admittance of this makes me uneasy, since I feel as if there is a connotation that fan fiction is somehow a “dirty”-type of writing, devoid of merit on its own, when the reality of it is that quite a bit of the media we consume these days is a flavor of that very thing. Movies like Avengers and Star Trek: Into Darkness are flavored rewritings of existing characters thrust into new situations, and many pieces of written media, be it books, comics, or graphic novels share these ties. Whether it's though the canon writing of follow-up books or the stories of aspiring writers on, readers are able to find out more about worlds and characters they cherish, and find out just THAT much more about them. And when I reflect back on this simple fact, it’s actually pretty awesome to me that people can be so compelled by these characters that they want more, and when it’s not available through official channels, they make their own stories.

Looking back, a sizable bit of my early writing was one flavor or another of fan fiction. I wrote stories that continued shows I watched that had been cancelled and I wrote stories about what had taken place between episodes. I followed-up on beloved characters from books, and dealt with simple childhood tragedies like losing a beloved pet through supportive characters I recognized so well that they almost felt like friends.

In time, this evolved into something that I’d consider my first attempts at “real” fiction, but in some cases (arguably worst ones), they were an odd amalgamation of many things I liked at the time. I wrote stories that followed-up on the adventures of RoboCop and introduced new characters and odd crossovers with then current shows such as the X-Files. I learned how to write a TV-script by creating an original adventure about the USS Enterprise with a gryphon character (I’m not even kidding here. This script exists and my mother encouraged me to send it into the studio for consideration, although I never did).

I'm sure young-me thought that haircut was "futuristic" too.

I wrote an alternative-universe version of the tale of Fullmetal Alchemist, but slowly, and ever-so steadily, I worked alongside close friends to tell completely stories of own outside our perceived “confines” of fan fiction. We mixed characters and tropes with a variety of settings, alternate dimensions, and you name it. It was a wonderful experience, and I feel I really grew as a writer when I had the opportunity to bounce my characters and ideas off others. Of course, during this time I also realize my life experiences were fairly limited, and writing for characters almost twice my age ended up being somewhat… interesting in retrospect, but we’ve all got to start somewhere!

There’s a certain allure that fan fiction or fan art has even now to me. I will be the first to admit that posting either of these online generates a great deal more attention and engagement than original characters simply, I believe, because you’re expanding on an existing mythos with recognizable, relatable characters. This is all well and good, and certainly enjoyable to an extent, but I realized at some point that it wasn’t really the heart of “me.” I felt like I was putting off sharing my own personal characters in favor of sharing more easily recognized ones. Creating fan fiction or fan art  because it was what I wanted to do is all well and good, but at some critical juncture I realized what I really wanted to do was share my personal characters with a wider audience, and in the time since I’d tried to figure out how to do just that while I wrote two-fold: at once in the public eye with my fan fiction, and the other quietly outside of the public eye. And I regret neither, and am thankful for all the storytelling I did within fandoms (though I’m not sure how much of the really early stuff I’d prefer digging up to share at this point in time. Something tells me that certain things, like Starfleet gryphons, are better off kept as an awkward memory unless blackmail is somehow involved).

It's comforting to me that even the writers of the
original Star Trek series were self-aware.
(Credit to:

I’ve still a ways to go before I approach my noble goal of publishing a series of books surrounding these characters, but it’s felt really good looking forward to the prospect of sharing short stories concerning the world out here. I’m still trying to figure out which will be my first short out here in the open (and I’m between reworking and updating older short stories, or drafting up something entirely new), but it’s been quite a welcome relief to sort of have all of this “out there” and off my chest. Innately, I know that actions mean more than words (which I digress is a bit ironic since we’re talking about writing here), but I don’t want to be that person that goes through life saying “yeah, I’m working on these books” or “I have a great idea for this new piece of art” and then never follow through with them. Talking about something is great, and planning is certainly encouraged, but unless you’re making honest steps towards that goal, I think you’re only doing a disservice to yourself.

Along those lines, I think one of the reasons I wanted to get this public blog up and running was to slowly give credence to all the personal work I’ve been doing behind the scenes, and to “prove” it to myself that this is a journey I am up for. I will also be honest that I was pretty much expecting radio-silence surrounding it, but instead I’ve been overwhelmed by the supportive words and emails I’ve received, and that feels just SO wonderful and heartening, and I can’t thank you guys enough for that. In the coming weeks/months, I’m also going to be trying to set up a beta-readers list so that I can get some feedback from people before the shorts go up, so if you’re interested, let me know, and if you’ve already told me you’re interested, I’ll make sure to add you to the mailing list once I get all the nuts and bolts ironed out.

In any case, I’m off to try to update and re-envision a side character who I want to build into something more! He’s one of just a handful of sort of hybrid steampunk and high fantasy characters, so it’s fun trying to find the perfect balance that really fits the world I’ve established. It’s also a bit scary because I’m leaving myself open-enough to reworking his personality entirely, so I’m not sure what I’ll be left with or settle-on once I’m done, but it’s nice having the opportunity to look at established characters with a fresh set of eyes and try to push them further. In a way, it’s almost like writing a fan fiction with my own characters.

Who would have thought?


  1. Starfleet gryphons!

    I find the whole idea of writing fan-fiction between episodes/seasons fascinating, I feel motivated to try that.

    Also, how did you wear a red shirt, and live?

  2. It's definitely a fun writing exercise that I'd highly recommend! Just trying to get "in-character" with another set of characters is a fun challenge!

    And re: the red shirt: thankfully it was The Next Generation era, so I had a bit more luck surviving thanks to having Captain Picard as a bit of a role model at the time. ;)