Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fan-Fiction 101:

For some people, saying that you write or have written fan-fiction is like confessing to doing one of the seven deadly sins. For years fan-fiction was considered trash, something that wannabe's did to put themselves in a story with their TV or movie heroes. Or that someone did who wanted to make a few bucks selling mimeographed copies at sci fi conventions. Similarly, I remember when I was growing up being told that reading comic books was going to rot my brain. They were were not real literature and were a waste of my 15 cents (yeah, I am dating myself), and my time.
Just a couple of examples of that mind rotting literature. 
(The first one is from "Tarzan (1948) 01" by http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/225/112577_20071120065722_large.jpg. The second is from http://www.tvparty.com/comics/comic60s.html)

Now, back to fan-fiction. Where did my leap into fan-fiction come from? Let's go on my personal Way-Back Machine. Like the authors whose books I read when I was growing up, the television shows I watched in the late fifties, sixties, and seventies caught my imagination. I watched and loved the characters. The settings intrigued me. What the plots lacked, my mind supplied. When the episode ended for the week, I imagined all sorts of adventure that these heroes might have beyond the TV screen. (If I had only written down a fraction of what was happening in my brain!!!)

 Just two of the favorite shows that sparked imagination. 
(Both photos were borrowed from a wikipedia article. The original U.N.C.L.E. photo dated from the series. The Fury photo is from the cover of an Alpha Video release.)

Even when I married, had children, and was working, I still plotted stories with Mr. Spock, Buck Rogers, the Barkleys and other characters. Unfortunately these were mainly in my brain. It was only when my children were almost grown and I found others of similar passions, did I begin writing down the ideas that came into my mind. Zorro was the catalyst. A series that I had watched as a young child, I now watched on the Disney Channel. I took Diego de la Vega/Zorro on journeys well beyond what Walt Disney's writers conceived in the late 50's. But something else was happening. I was developing skills in writing. There were other fan-fiction writers who "beta read" (edited) my work, as I did with theirs. We had our own little online writing groups. Some of us even got together in person to discuss our plots, settings and characters. 

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, often well into the night. I continued writing Zorro, then Lost in Space, Buck Rogers, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and a few other television shows. I wrote short vignettes, longer short stories, novellas and series of novels. I improved my researching skills for the historical pieces, learned how to let imagination fly in the sci fi and fantasy. I even wrote some poetry and essays. In short, if I had not spent so much time writing fan-fiction, I would not have been able to write decent original fiction.

Not too long ago, just before my first book was published, there was a talented author on one of my fan-fiction groups. We were very excited for her when she got a contract with a major romance publishing company. Immediately, she informed us that if we wanted any of her fan-fiction stories, we had better download them, because she was going to take them off the internet sites. She wasn't the first to do this and I never could figure out if these were contractual things or if suddenly the fact that they had been writing about TV characters was something to be ashamed of. I will be honest with you—I am not ashamed. I owe a lot to those years of writing fan-fiction.

My fan-fiction site?   www.bookscape.net    Enjoy!

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