RWW’s Thoughts for Thursday: Playing in someone else’s sandbox

THOUGHTS FOR THURSDAY: PLAYING IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SANDBOX

by Xio Axelrod

You may think you know what fan fiction is, and maybe you do. For some people, it’s a wonderland of naughty designed to appeal to our most fannish fantasies. For others, it’s a chance to “right” the “wrongs” done to our beloved characters by their mean ol’ creators. (How dare you kill Wash, Joss Whedon!?)

And for others, likely the majority, fan fiction is…a joke. Bad writing, Mary Sue characters, and smutty smut-filled smut. (I don’t see a problem with that last one, by the way.)

The reality of fan fiction is somewhere in between. There are some incredible stories out there and some that are not-so-good. It’s all subjective, though. Isn’t it? I love Van Gogh, my husband prefers Salvador Dali. Some people love Taylor Swift, others prefers Adele. Some like both. The point is, there is art for everyone. There is music for everyone. And there’s fan fiction for just about everyone. It might surprise you to know that many authors got their start writing fanfic, myself included.

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I was a big Buffy fan back in the day, and wrote a number of Buffy/Spike pieces that are still floating around out there somewhere. More recently, I dabbled in a bit of Scandal and Sleepy Hollow. I wish I had more time to write fanfic because it can be incredibly cathartic. I’m big on what-ifs, and fan fiction is all about them. What if it had been Hermione instead of Harry? What if Luke had chosen the Dark Side? What if Sam and Dean weren’t brothers? (Nah, I’m all about Destiel. 😉 )

Here are some famous authors that have written fan fiction. Some still do!

Cassandra Clare

Author of the popular Mortal Instruments series. Some consider her to be the most popular fanfic writer of all time.  Her most popular piece is probably The Very Secret Diaries, a Lord of the Rings parody. There’s even a music video for it!

E.L James

I’m sure this one comes as no surprise, or shouldn’t. Her best-selling trilogy 50 Shades of Grey started life as Twilight fanfiction called Master of the Universe. You can still find copies of the original out on the interwebs. But E.L. wasn’t the only one to find success and inspiration in the Twilight world.

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Laura Kaye wrote in the Twilight universe as well. She was recently interviewed about it over at Happily Ever After on USA Today.

Our own Jeanne McDonald, writing under the name Sparkling Wand, published her own saga which later became Truth in Lies, The Certain of Deception and The Truth Be Told.

 

S.E. Hinton writes Supernatural fanfic. TV writer/producer/showrunner Jane Espenson (Buffy, Gilmore Girls Warehouse 13, Once Upon a Time) is also known to have written fanfiction. She considers herself an advocate for the genre. (I can vouch for that, having met her at a fan fiction conference back in 2004.)

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“I think that, a lot of times, how young writers get their chops. That’s the thing you do to get a job as a writer in Hollywood—you  write episodes of television shows [someone else has created]. And actually, the eventual job you get in television is writing for characters you didn’t create. I write fanfiction every day when I sit down to write something for the characters of Once Upon a Time in a way because I’m writing for characters that I didn’t create. I’m putting myself in Adam and Eddy’s shows and writing in as close to their voice as I can do. And that’s the same thing that fanfiction writers do.” Jane Espenson

While most fanfic writers are female, there are some well-known men too. Neil Gaiman – yes, thatNeil Gaiman – writes in the Narnia universe, as well as those of H.P. Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes.

FallingStars_AReMy upcoming release Falling Stars, while not technically fan fiction, was born of the fanfic world. It’s a big what-if, set in the drama-filled, sex-crazy universe that is Hollywood. I can honestly say, if I’d never played in those other sandboxes, this story might not exist.

Don’t be afraid to dip your toe into the world of fan fiction. I promise, it won’t bite. Read, write and be merry!

~Xio

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