fanfiction: the underground genre

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I have a unique relationship with fanfiction.  I’ll go for months without writing any (as I have to have a fandom I’m totally obsessed with and a great story idea – most of the time, anyway) and then write a bit, or more than a bit, and read some as well.  And then I go back to ignoring fanfiction for the longest time.

See, ninety-five percent of the fanfiction out there is sludge: poorly written, poorly plotted, and poorly executed in pretty much every other way possible.  When I find a good piece of fanfiction, I treasure it, but they are so hard to find and I dislike wading through all the swearing, slash shipping, and sloppy editing (or no editing) to find the gems.

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With all that being said, fanfiction is tons and tons of fun and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from writing it.  It’s just that I’m a writer so I get more triggered over grammatical errors and poor dialogue and all the rest than the average fanfiction reader – it’s a gift and a curse.  Anyway, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I’ve discovered whilst writing several fanfictions, as well as some pitfalls to avoid.  Like all writing advice, however, this is mostly subjective and the main goal of fanfiction is to write/read fun stories and (sometimes) unbearable fluffy feels.  So read this post, sure, but keep in mind that I’m only one person.  And not a perfect writer either. 🙂

Fanfiction Tip #1 – The Correct Spelling

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It’s ‘fanfiction’, apparently.  Not ‘fan fiction’ or ‘fan-fiction’.  I dunno why.  Just go with it.

Fanfiction Tip #2 – Do Your Research

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Fanmade wikias are your new best friend.  You can check out character backstories from the Canon, find out if that one location was north or south of the hero’s secret lab, dive deep into relationships between different characters, and so much more.  The wikias don’t tell you everything – and some fandoms don’t have them – but they’ve been an invaluable help to me several times.

Fanfiction Tip #3 – Don’t Write Slash Fanfiction

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They are friends.  In a completely PLATONIC relationship.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Just…don’t.  Please.

Fanfiction Tip #4 – Show, Don’t Tell

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What I mean by that is this: don’t feel the need to document in excruciating detail everything that happened to the characters before your fanfiction begins.  If someone’s reading your fanfiction, they almost certainly know all that info already and it’s annoying.

Example: “Katniss Everdeen, the eighteen-year-old brunette archer who had successfully defeated the Capitol a year ago, drew the bow that Cinna had made for her, and shot the deer just like she used to when she and Gale hunted in the woods before she left for the first Hunger Games.”

Obviously, that’s an exaggeration.  But not by much.  A better way would be:

Example: “The deer moves into the clearing.  I raise my bow and take careful aim before shooting the arrow that ends its life.”

Okay, that’s still not great.  But it’s an improvement?  I hope?

Fanfiction Tip #5 – Friendships are Golden

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It’s not all about the romance, people.  I know how awesome it is to have favorite ships.  I really do.  But there are great epics of alternate universe fanfictions waiting to be written!  Friendship/Angst one-shots!  Crossovers galore!  Not every fanfiction has to be three or four chapters of romanticalness that goes nowhere.  I understand the appeal, and I think it’s fine to indulge in writing and reading such fanfiction, but it doesn’t hurt to switch things up a little every now and then.

Fanfiction Tip #6 – Distance Yourself from the Characters

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No self-insert characters.  Please.  I’m begging you.  And if you must write such fanfiction, please keep it on your computer’s hard drive and not published all over fanfiction websites.  By self-insert character, I mean this: you write a fanfiction centered around one of your beloved fandoms and its most beloved characters.  Only, you stick yourself in there as another fictional character who interacts with your favorites, usually as a little sister or love interest.  And it’s obvious.  And it’s Not Fun to Read.

(There seems to be a lot of self-insert characters in fanfiction for The Outsiders.  No idea why… *fantasizes about meeting the Curtises and hanging out with the gang and basking in the awesomeness and giving Johnny a million hugs because he deserves them all*  Sorry.  Where was I?)

I know that one of my friends has written some self-insert fanfiction, but I had to say it ’cause this is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to fanfiction. (And hers are more for crazy fun than wish fulfillment.)

Fanfiction Tip #7 – Write, Edit, Repeat

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My last tip is this: treat your fanfiction like Real, Serious Writing.  Because it kind of is.  Even if you’re writing about someone else’s characters and using someone else’s worldbuilding and even trying to copy someone else’s writing style (#guilty), you’re still honing your craft, your writing abilities.  And it’s awesome.  So proofread.  Get Grammerly if you have to.  Edit.  Send your fanfiction off to beta readers if possible (trust me, it helps so much).  And when it’s about as perfect as it can be, post it online or circulate it among your family, and wait for the fangirling/boying to begin.

Bonus Fanfiction Tip – The Most Important Thing of All

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Have fun!  Lots of fun!  Loads of fun!  Dr. Seuss-esque amounts of fun!  I’ve written serious fanfiction that I’ve worked on and slaved over for months.  But I’ve also dashed off Angst fanfiction because I needed to vent and I changed up the ending to a classic movie (something I normally dislike when other people do it), and there’s fluffy, mostly-for-no-purpose fanfiction sitting in my files (like Sodapop giving Ponyboy a haircut, which is *heart eyes*).  So even I ignore my own rules at times (except for the slash shipping one and the self-insert character one – because reasons).  Fanfiction is written by fans for the fans and you really can’t go wrong with whatever you write – you’ll always have an intensely loyal audience.

Unless you don’t ship Jo and Laurie.  Then you’d better hide.

Eva

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the writer’s tag

I know I just did a tag, but…whatever.  Hamlette tagged me and here are my answers.

1. What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

While I’ve flitted around from genre to genre over the years (ranging from historical fiction to dystopia to fanfiction) I’ve come to settle into westerns.  Louis L’Amour’s stories have inspired me, as have so many of the western films that I love.  Westerns are my happy place, my sweet spot, and I love writing them.

Styles?  I don’t really know.  Sometimes I tend to copy-cat whatever author I’ve read most recently – consciously or unconsciously – especially ones with a strong voice, like Suzanne Collins.  Obviously, that’s a problem.  I can’t really define my writing style/voice/whatever, but that’ll probably come in time.

Topics, topics, topics…I have this weird fascination with the idea of someone being thought a traitor but actually isn’t, or someone who is, in fact, a traitor, but then changes their ways.  Is that an actual topic?  I’ve written a couple of things centered around that, but mostly the stuff I write is all over the place.

Indeedy!:

2. How long have you been writing?

I don’t know exactly how long, but it’s been several years.  The big thing that pushed me into writing was when I read Northanger Abbey in my pre- to early teens.  I became obsessed with all things Jane Austen + Regency, so I started writing my own Regency novellas (they. were. wretched.) and then it branched out from there.  But even before then, I’d write stories.

3. Why do you write?

1) God has given me my ability to write (however small that ability is) and I want to use that talent as best I can to bring honor to His name.  So that when people compliment my writing I can turn it all back to Him.

2) It’s just plain awesomeness.

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4. When is the best time to write?

For me, personally?  When I write, it’s usually sometime in the mid- to late-morning.  My brain’s not trying to wake up anymore and it’s not crammed full of things I’ve done during the day either.  Though writing in the evening has a certain charm about it as well.

5. Parts of writing you love vs. parts you hate.

I love thinking.  Thinking about how the plot could fit together, thinking of crackling, witty dialogue and lovely, brave characters who are wounded in some way, at some time, but still able to do What Needs To Be Done.  I love all that.  And I love listening to cool beans music as I write.

What I hate is actually sitting down and writing and realizing that all those plot twists and dialogue bits and brilliant characterization has flown from my head and all that’s left is the wreck of whatever I tried to write yesterday. (Okay, it’s not that bad.  But sometimes it’s pretty close.)  I also dislike writing dialogue; I feel like I can never get it to sound natural.

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6. How do you overcome writer’s block?

Ignore it and hope it goes away?  Usually, I pray.  Then I switch back and forth between the two major projects I’ve got going right now (more about those in a minute) or I write some fanfiction.  Eventually, it all works out.

7. Are you working on something at the moment?

Yup.  Well, I’m not actively working on it at this very moment and I haven’t written anything in a few days, but I’ve got some things in progress: two western novels – Reese and The Bounty Hunter – and then a spot of 3:10 to Yuma fanfiction.  I literally have no idea where I’m going with the fic ’cause the movie wrapped up so neatly, but I WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH THESE CHARACTERS. (With *cough* one character in *cough* particular.)

8. Writing goals this year?

Write every day.  Seems unreachable, but I haven’t been trying hard enough.

you bet!:

Feel free to snag this tag if you want to.  It’s open to anyone, as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

Eva

on writing, creative juices, and NaNoWriMo

Artists.

We draw.  We paint.  We write.  We make fan-videos and cards and covers of our favorite songs.  We bind books.  We upload every type of fan-art possible.  We compose songs and poetry.  We sew and knit and crochet and embroider.  We design things.  We take photographs, all the time.  We play the piano, the violin, the cello, the flute, the harmonica.  We laugh at our mistakes and shiver with delight when that sentence, that shade of color, that lyric, that scarf we’ve been knitting for two months finally becomes perfect.

We create.  Over and over and over again.  Sometimes (more often than not) what we create isn’t perfect.  It’s messy and full of blunders and sometimes we might worry and fret that nothing will ever come of it.  But it does.  And even if it didn’t, I have a feeling we’d still keep trying.  Endlessly.

Something that’s been on my heart lately is how we, all of us, have the impulse to do things, to make things.  Even the most creatively challenged person in the world must have that desire in his or her heart to create, to craft, to form, to produce something that is unique, something that maybe no-one has ever thought of before.  And you know why?  The answer is both the simplest and the most incredible reason ever: each and every person on this planet has been created in the image of God, the master Creator.  He has placed His image, His imprint in our lives and souls.  That’s an inescapable fact.  We yearn to create, to take the picture in our head and turn it into something real, because that’s how we ourselves have been made.  The same God who shaped the stars, the earth, the leaves on the trees also formed you and me.  And that is why we do what we do.  That’s why we write and paint and play musical instruments.  Because we want to, because that’s the way God has designed us, with an impulse that is an innate part of who we are.

And, to me, that’s is utterly, astoundingly amazing.

Eva

P.S. On the day before NaNoWriMo, I decide to take the plunge and do it again.  HELP.

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busy, busy, busy

For the first time in my life, I understand a little of what college life is like.  Since the new school year started, my grandfather has begun three college courses with me – British Literature, The Life of Christ, and a worldview course – and I have a stack of books to read and DVDs to watch that’s about half as tall as me.  Whew.  Plus, I’m finally (for the first time in several months) getting serious about my writing, so that’s going to take up a considerable amount of my time as well.  I have four or five projects that I really want to work on right now (writing and sewing both) and there aren’t enough hours in the day. (Well, there are, but just barely.)  And I want to keep posting here, too.  Do you see my dilemma?

So.

My college work comes first.  I usually meet with my grandfather once a day (could be upped to twice a day, though) and we go over the stuff I’ve read and learned in between.  Then I have to go and read more stuff. (And we usually watch a DVD together.)  Then comes writing.  The main thing that got me serious about writing again was this: God has given me the gift of writing.  I really believe that.  And since He’s given it to me, it would be incredibly wrong to squander that gift and let it drift away for lack of actual doing.  Totally wrong.  Hence, I must write. (Anyway, I’m excited to start writing again simply because I went over several of my stories when I was organizing my documents and they aren’t actually half bad.  In fact, some of them are pretty good, in my unprofessional opinion.  WOOT.)  After college stuff and writing, I have chores and cooking meals and sewing projects and living in general.

Then, and only then, can I work on other things.  Like blogging, emailing, watching movies, and reading books that aren’t Required.  And Pinteresting.  Always Pinteresting. *wink*  Will it be hard to cram all that in?  Sure.  But I’m not worried, because I have God and an awesome family and plenty of determination. 

I’m optimistic.

Eva

mixing with murder: a story snippet

I was planning to write a sort of life update post today, but my thoughts refused to come together so I thought I’d share some of my writing: it’s an experimental opening scene to an idea that I’ve been tossing around for the past three or four months and I’d really like to get your thoughts on it.  Still very first-drafty (even as I was pulling up the document to copy-and-paste it here, I noticed things I want to change) but I hope it gives you an idea of the kind of story/novella/novel this might turn out to be. (It’s set in the fifties by the way…not sure if anyone would pick that up from just this one scene, so I just thought I’d mention it.)

(And please forgive any typos.  Like I said, it’s very First Draft.)

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The detective stood on one side of the room. I stood on the other. The animosity between us was sharp.

The third person in the room had no opinion in the matter.

She was dead.

Policemen stood in the hall outside as I, Investigative Reporter Alan Wade, and he, Detective Mark Randall from the Los Angeles police station, went over the crime scene with an attentive air.

The stench of cigarettes hung in the air – a half dozen of them lay in the ashtray beside the victim, lipstick staining each like a faded kiss – and there was also a strong sense of four or five different perfumes vying with each other for preeminence. The carpet was plush and red. There were twenty lights that surrounded the vanity mirror. One was burnt out. Two were brighter than the rest.

I paid no attention to Detective Randall as I pulled out my notepad – not so different from the one he himself now held and wrote in – and jotted down a few phrases that would help me remember the scene later.

Randall coughed.

I looked up. He was staring right at me with a glare that could be felt more than seen. I refused to respond and went back to my observations of the room. Small, smaller than usual. But comfortable. Victim seated in a pink armchair, head tilted back slightly, hands folded neatly in her lap. Strangled. Murder weapon nowhere to be found. They had waited to take the body away until Randall could come and look things over. Once he was finished, I was finished.

Not quite, though.

My press pass could get me places he’d need a warrant to enter. That was something. And my cooperation with and assistance of the Los Angeles police department in the past had me on good standing with the commissioner, good standing that benefited me now. How else would I have been notified so quickly?

“Officer, would you be so good as to come in here?” I called to the swarm of men in the hall.

An older man strode in, tall and muscular with a hard set to his jaw. “What is it, Mr. Wade?”

“I just have a few questions to clear up, officer.  Cause of death?” I asked, though I was already pretty sure I knew.

“No way to tell until the inquest, but I’d put my money it’s the same way as all the others.”

Strangulation. The other two murders had been in other cities too far away to give me an excuse to cover them – besides the fact that I’d been away on vacation both times – but I’d read all the reports. A serial killer. Possibly. Coincidences did happen, but with three actresses murdered – and all redheads at that – I would have put my money on the serial killer theory.

Randall coughed again. The officer looked up. I did not, choosing to remain fixated on my notes.

And the officer’s notes. His pad had slipped into a convenient position for me to try puzzling out his upside-down handwriting. No such luck. From this angle, it all looked like black gashes, sharp and angular. Pity. It would have been handy to know exactly what he knew. Even with my high standing at the department, the police always held back one or two details. Procedure. And I knew from experience that no amount of begging or pleading – or threats – would make them divulge what they knew.

“Time of death?” I asked, pulling the officer’s attention from some silent argument was having with Randall and back to my own investigation.

Once again, he consulted his notes. “No one’s sure. The maid went in about half an hour after Miss Shaw got back from the premier party and found her like this. Could’ve been any time in that half hour.”

Not very helpful, but I wrote it down all the same. “Did anyone see her enter the hotel? She could have been murdered somewhere else and brought here.”

“She tipped the busboy.”

“I see.”

So far, this was nothing new. Actress murdered in her hotel room after a premiere for her latest film. Which brought my mind back to the serial killer angle. I was tempted to drop a hint, perhaps even get a quote from the officer, but decided against it. Once the police began to think in terms of serial killers, every newspaper would be full with it and my thunder would be stolen. Better to run with the theory before anyone else had a chance to.

“You talked to the others on this floor?”

The inspector nodded. “Nothing.”

That was that, for now. My eyes made one final pass around the room as I nodded to both Randall and the police captain, tipped my hat, said “Gentlemen”, and took my leave. Now the real work would begin.

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Sooooo…thoughts?  Constructive criticisms?  Suggestions?  I’m open to anything you guys want to send me. 🙂

Eva

bicycling & writing: an object lesson

For the past couple of days, I’ve been learning how to ride a bike. 

It was one of my goals for 2016 and I’m happy to say that I’m making a good bit of progress, though I’m still nowhere near to being able to ride perfectly.  My legs are scraped up, I have three new blisters, and my whole body aches, but I’m having lots of fun anyway, and I’m not giving up until I beat this thing.  I’ve already determined that.

What does all this have to do with writing?  Well, another one of my goals for this year was to revise my novel, The Bounty Hunter.  And I’ve been putting that off, afraid to touch that mess of a thing.  No determination.  None of the gumption that I’m showing in learning how to bicycle.

You know what I need to do?  I need to push through my reservations, my compunctions, my worries, my doubts and plow into my book with all the vigor and verve that I know I’m capable of.  Just like I’m pushing through my aches and pains to reach the other goal I set for myself.  Especially since I have Louis L’Amour’s quote staring me in the face every time I look away from my screen: “Start writing, no matter what.  The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

So, turn up the music, ignore the question marks, and JUST WRITE.

Eva

the happy tag

Hamlette kinda sorta tagged me with The Happy Tag and it looked like lots of fun, so here it is.  Basically, you have to share a bunch of things that make you happy, and since I dedicated an entire notebook to lists on that very topic, this was easy-peasy.  The only quibble I have with this (rather perfect) tag is that there are no categories for 1) People/Fictional Characters or 2) Tastes/Food.  Other than that, though, this is one of my favorite tags ever.

Books:

Any book by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass.
All the Winnie The Pooh stories.
While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin.
A Little Princess + The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett.
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall.

Words:

Chaotic.
Jewel.
Sparkle.
Shimmering.
Eloquent.
Nefarious.
Serendipity.
Fluttering.
Ethereal.
Hero.

(As you can tell, I adore words.)

Movies/TV:

The Magnificent Seven (1960).
Combat! (1962-1967).
State Fair (1945).
Roman Holiday (1953).
The Indiana Jones movies.
Any Hitchcock film.
Meet The Robinsons (2007).
Little Women (1994).
Singin’ In The Rain (1952).
  
Scents:

Cookies baking.
Hot pavement after a summer shower.
Freshly mown grass.
Pizza.
Roses. (Any flowers, really.)
Grilled cheese sandwiches.
Old books.
New books.
Coffee in the morning.

Songs:

‘In The Mood’ (Glenn Miller).
‘American Patrol’ (Glenn Miller).
‘Go The Distance’ (Disney).
‘What Do You Do In The Infantry?’ (Glenn Miller).
‘The Way You Look Tonight’ (Frank Sinatra).
‘As Time Goes By’ (Vera Lynn).
‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ (Frank Sinatra).

 
Misc:

Christmas.
Movie soundtracks.

Organizing my bookshelves.
This video.
Autumn.
Dana Andrews.

Fangirling with friends.
Writing.
Chocolate chip cookies.
Family.
Everything, basically.

I tag…anyone and everyone!  Seriously, I want to know everyone’s answers because this is such a fun, joyful tag. ❤

Eva