mannadon: (Pony- Green Star)
A lot of people view fanfiction as something that takes from you, but never gives anything back.

I heartily disagree with that particular point of view. Fanfiction gives a lot back, more than the average person could ever fully realize, let alone comprehend.

Sure, you might not end up a BNF (Big Name Fan), but some of the qualities associated with being a BNF are selfishness and elitism, so who wants to be a BNF, anyway? Let's just stick with being loved in our little circle of friends on This Side of the Monitor. (Believe me, it's not worth playing the fandom version of an office or high school Popularity Contest.)

Continuing with this subject, though...

What do you think 'ficcing brings to the table?

Well, let's see what we give to 'fic, before we see what 'fic gives back.

1.) Time. Lots of time. So much that the parental units start looking at us as if we're weird (usually when we laugh/cry/grin like a maniac at a 'fic we're reading/writing/editing, but this can also happen when our eyes become bloodshot from staring at our MS Word documents for hours on end), the dog starts howling when it can't hear the clickety-click-clack of the keyboard, and your friends have long ago ceased wondering where you've been. (Bonus points to you if you end up with cobwebs in your hair, and even the canned soup in your pantry has gone bad.)

2.) Thought. This includes research, which sometimes means you have to re-watch a movie. Or re-play a video game. Or re-read a book. Lots of re-ing in there, don't you think? Then there's the note-taking, the looking up of clothing/reference art, and trying to figure out if scissors were, indeed, around in the year 1769 (they were, I checked).

That's all. The writing of fanfiction takes up two things in our overrun lives: thought, and time. That really isn't very much when you consider that becoming addicted to alcohol increases the chance that your organs will give up on you.

At least with 'ficcing, your organs won't implode.

Or explode.

Now, for what 'fic gives back. This is the really amazing thing, here, because as a writer of 'fic, you not only get back from your own writing, but by the writing of others, too. And readers? You're only getting back. Isn't it grand?

Let's look at what the writers get back:

1.) Thought. Because people that read your story will undoubtedly have a question or ten, and those questions will cause a chain reaction, sending your brain into a spiraling thought-session that never ends. Like the song, except better. While thought put into your own writing is something 'fic takes away from you, it gives it back, too. The views of your readers will make you think, and sometimes thinking is more positive than negative. (If you're like I am, and scheming up reasons for Character A being as quirky as he or she is, then this is most definitely true.)

2.) Practice. More on this later, but 'fic is definitely good practice for writing both future 'fic, and novels, too, if you so desire.

3.) Feedback. Not everyone gets feedback, but if you cater to the right fanbase, you'll see reviews in your inbox. But the best part is, feedback is also...

4.) Amusement. There's just something so...satisfying about clicking the little "submit" button that posts your geekery on the web for everyone to read. And criticize, too, but that's a topic for another day.

Now, the readers:

1.) Entertainment. Honestly, there have been days where I've read 'fic, and I've laughed at one, cried at another, and was incredibly moved reading the very next story. There is no end to the entertainment. The bad'fic is good, too, if you like the thought of poking a fork into your sore eyeballs. Sometimes the allure is too much to ignore, right? Either way, it's fun. And free, don't forget that.

2.) Food for thought. Haven't you read a 'fic that really made you think? And I don't mean in a bad way, either. I'm not talking about the, "What the hell just happened?" kind of a way. I'm talking more about the, "Holy crap! I never thought of that!" kind of a way. Or what about this: "I can't believe I didn't come up with that idea first!"

3.) The ability to give feedback. This sounds negative at first glance. (Aww, you mean I have to type out a review?) But give it a second to sink in. As a reader, you have a power at your fingertips that the writer doesn't have. Hell, you have more power as a reader of 'fic than any published author on the face of this planet! Your review, once submitted, will be read by the 'ficcer, and believe me when I say they won't forget it. (Provided it actually contains something worth looking at, but that's another topic for another day.) Your opinion matters, as most 'ficcers will tell their reviewers. I know it makes me ridiculously happy to see new reviews, short or long. It's just nice to know that someone cares. So not only can you leave a comment on a story, not only does your opinion matter, but you have the ability to make someone's day by just typing a few sentences out.

There are probably more benefits to both sides, but like I said before, 'fic gives back. Though it's hard for other people (read: Those that live On the Other Side of the Monitor™) to understand the entire thing, even when presented with the previous paragraphs, it might help us to understand the benefits of jumping into something fun that...at first glance, appears to have no benefits at all.
mannadon: (Pony- Minty)
So, now that we know we love fanfiction, and we know why we love fanfiction, it's high time to figure out why a majority of 'fic writers and readers tend to hide this enormous, dedicated love from their friends and family. And by friends and family, I mean the variety of friend(s) and family that are living in The Place on the Other Side of the Monitor™.

I've known more than a handful of people in my seven years of 'ficcing whose love of fandom (and fanfiction, of course) was kept hidden, like a diary, from everyone close to them.

This is only personal speculation on my part, of course, as is the rest of this blog, and every entry that I type out, but I believe that a lot of people are afraid to come out and tell their family that they enjoy fanfiction and/or fandom.

Those of us that have kept our families well-informed of the appeal of 'fic and fandom might have a hard time understanding why so many people refuse to let those who are supposedly close to them into the one place that they really love.

For me, fanfiction is an escape, however temporary, from life. It's nice to be in control (as a writer) now and again, to decide the fates of characters that other people love.

But an escape from life can also be kind of like a personal diary-- you don't want your friends and family poking their noses through it, do you? Similarly, I don't link my parental units to my fanfiction, nor do I link my coworkers to it. They know I write it, but not where to find it. That's key, I think. My fanfiction has little pieces of me in it, and you'll see that you often hear about authors calling their books their "children".

It can be embarrassing to admit to people outside of fandom that you write something that gives you nothing back. (Or does it give you something back? More on this in the next entry.) I don't mind telling people about my hobbies. ("What do you do for fun?")("Oh, I write.")("Like...books?")("No. Stories about pre-existing characters. You see...")

Of course, that conversation then goes on for about an hour, a back-and-forth, what I mentioned earlier in 3.) Why Fanfiction? The answer, of course, is because we love it. Writing is a hobby for most of us, not a career. Would we like to make it a career? Maybe. A lot of 'fic writers branch off into original work!

It gets hard, though, feeling defensive, as if you're defending your religion (or lack thereof) instead of your hobby. It is a hobby, people, just a hobby. And a hobby means you can do whatever you want with it. If you cross-stitch, well, what's wrong with cross-stitching cats instead of piano keys? Nothing at all!

If you're using your free time to write fanfiction instead of a novel, then that's okay, too. That doesn't mean you should shout it from the rooftops. (The neighbors, the raccoon hiding behind the trash cans, and the vulture circling overhead might think you're going crazy if you do.) It means that, regardless of the awareness of your family and friends, you should never feel ashamed or afraid to tell them that you dabble in writing. You'll find that some people are absolutely fascinated that you bother to write anything at all, let alone fanfiction, because to most people, writing is writing.

My sister's roommate recently admitted to having written Law & Order fanfiction when she was younger (about 12 years old), and my sister herself used to write fanfiction, too (for Rurouni Kenshin). Both are "ashamed" of having written it, but there is no shame in writing fanfiction. For my sister and her roommate, writing 'fic was something they did years ago, another old memory for the Memory Box.

But for some of us, it's a hobby that's been going on a long, long time, and it's sad to see people who feel any measure of shame or embarrassment for something they love doing. It brings me right back to how I felt when I started working in a factory, and I had to decide whether or not to admit to being a collector of My Little Pony, which, by the way, I no longer collect, and look back on with slight embarrassment and a bit of fondness.

The difference is, of course, that I no longer collect My Little Pony. My sister and her roommate no longer write fanfiction.

But for those of you that currently write and read 'fic (because sometimes, it can be just as hard to explain that you prefer InuYasha 'fic over Beowulf), remember one thing: fanfiction is a healthy hobby.

There is no shame in loving it.

If all else fails, tell everyone that it's good practice for when you write a book, even if you don't really intend to write a book.

And for your own sanity, not to mention the sake of those around you, don't shout your love of 'fic from the rooftops.
mannadon: (Default)
Fandom is made up of many different kinds of people. Just like The Place on the Other Side of the Monitor™, fandom finds itself made up of as good a variety of faces and names. Fandom divides itself up into cliques, or groups, and sometimes walking into an already-established fandom can be difficult, because, just like attending a new school, or starting a new job, everyone seems to already know everyone else. Finding someone to sit and eat your lunch with, so to speak, can be a challenge for the shy personalities.

Most fandoms are so happy to have a new face that they'll welcome a new author or fan-artist with open arms and internet emoticons enough to make the Wal-Mart smiley jealous. Other fandoms seem locked in their ways, especially if they are unpopular and have had the same writers/artists for many years. It can be hard to shoulder-shove your way through to make yourself a new home, but in the end, it's all worth it.

It doesn't matter if your fandom is accepting of new faces or not, because they all have one thing in common: the fandom source. Despite varying backgrounds, despite having different names and personalities that might clash, you do have one thing in common with everyone else in your fandom, and that is the material from which your fandom is derived, be it Pokémon, Anne of Green Gables, or The Lovely Bones.

You love the characters, the story, the plot... Something about this has captured your heart and your imagination enough to send you to the computer in search of 'fic or art or conversation.

Pushing aside fanart, because most fan-artists don't get the same flack that 'ficcers do, it's time to discuss loving fanfiction.

In 3.) Why Fanfiction?, I pushed us to the conclusion that we write (or read!) fanfiction because we love it. But why do we love it?

It's easy to say that you love something, or someone, but it's not always easy to find the words that explain the reasoning behind it. "I just do." It's a valid point, but for the writing-minded individual, it might require a little more thought. So sit back, close your eyes, and try to find out why you love writing or reading 'fic.

Done? Good. Now, what did you come up with? Hopefully you have at least one answer. Minimally, you'll need it for backup, you'll need it handy for that moment someone finally thinks to ask you, most likely when you're in The Place on the Other Side of the Monitor™. Coming up with an answer on-the-spot is as difficult as wallowing through a muddy garden. You'll fumble for an answer, mumble out a weak reply, and the Asker of the Dreaded Question will still be left wondering.

Since 2002, I've been trying to figure out why I love fanfiction, and it's impossible to pick one reason. There are a million reasons for loving 'fic, and here are a few to keep your mind busy!

The Sense of Community-- How many people can say that they hate their fandom? Well, a few people say it, but if they really hated their fandom completely, they wouldn't be in it. Take that saying with a grain of salt, because most people who say they hate their fandom only hate certain things about it, and that's like saying you hate the town you live in, when you really hate that jogger who drives your dog wild, and the kid that broke your window three years ago. Fanfiction and fandom are connected in many ways. A 'ficcer doesn't have to be a part of the fandom (see Trimurti) but most 'ficcers associate themselves with people in their fandom, exchanging emails, ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns. They provide inspiration when it's not even expected.

Other 'Ficcers/Readers-- Who can say they hate all of the other 'ficcers in their fandom? Anyone? Unless there are only two of you, I'd say that's highly unlikely. As a 'ficcer, and as a reader, I'm exceptionally happy to see new people come to my fandom. Even when they're not the best writer, or the best reviewer, it's always nice to see new faces, to know that your fandom is still being loved. I love reading 'fic by my fandom friends, and I love getting reviews from them, too. Knowing the thoughts of other, like-minded people is like a dream come true for most writers. How many writers of original fiction can say that they know someone who understands their characters almost, or as well as, they do? In your fandom, other 'ficcers will understand the characters, too. Maybe not the same characters you adore, but this allows you to swap thoughts and opinions about characters you don't know much about in an attempt to try and understand them better, through the opinions and careful consideration of other authors!

OTPs-- Who doesn't love reading a 'fic about their OTP? I've waded through the worst translations on the web for 'fic of one of my OTPs, and I've even made the attempt to read said 'fic in other languages! (Most notably French, but that's another story, entirely.) The dedication fans go to for their OTP is outstanding and frightening all at once. I've written just as many, if not more, stories about my OTP than any other person or group of people combined in my fandom(s). It's an added bonus, because someone else who writes about your OTP probably understands the characters as well as you do (or would like to!), if not better, and can provide a fun discussion.

Fandom Friends-- I love making new friends in fandom. Some stay, some leave, and then sometimes, you'll be lucky enough to find one or two people who provide you with constant support and appreciation for everything you have done and will do. Qieru is the one I'm fortunate enough to share this "bond" with. She's much more to me than an Internet Friend™. She's like... I don't know. An Internet Kindred Spirit™, to almost quote Anne of Green Gables. She's that one fandom friend who's always online to talk when I need her, who asks questions and answers them in turn, who shares and listens to ideas... But what's not to love about fandom friends? They're a network of support, a fountain of ideas, and they provide constant, around-the-clock entertainment for our weary writer's mind.

Source Material-- If you love the source material, you're bound to love writing fanfiction about the characters, the setting, and the already-established conflicts, emotions, and action. Your source material can be set in a fantasy world, it can be historical fiction, or it can be a science fiction. It doesn't matter where it takes place! If you love the source material, and you love writing (or reading), it just makes sense that you'll want more, and you'll turn to art or writing/reading to get just that.

The Characters-- Have you ever gotten to the end of a book, a movie, or a game, and threw your hands up with a muffled, "That's it?!" If you have much of an imagination, your mind immediately goes to work, imagining what else could happen to the characters within that setting...and sometimes you might set up a What-If Scenario™. I truly fall in love with writing 'fic when I love the characters.

The Romance, the Intrigue!-- From unrequited love to love polygons, (decagon, anyone?) most 'ficcers love a little bit of romance now and again...or always, depending on your tastes. I love romance, love writing and reading it. Romance is the driving point of most-- not all-- fiction. A story doesn't need romance to be good, to be well-written or well-liked. But just like the bookshelves of the bookstores, the fanfiction of your fandom most likely consists of mostly...romance! Even if it's just a little sprinkle, it can add high-flying emotions to an otherwise flat cast. You'd be surprised what people might do when they're in love. (Never underestimate the power of love!)

There are far more things than that, of course, but when you think about it...is it possible to dislike fanfiction?

It most certainly is. Some people feel it's a waste of talent, other people think it's a waste of time.

But it all boils down to the obvious.

"Does this make you happy?"

You can ask someone else what they think of your boyfriend, or your girlfriend, or that pie you baked. But their opinion is merely their opinion. It's far from fact. What makes you happy is what's important, and if reading and writing fanfiction makes you happy, well, it's perfectly legal and you'll suffer no harmful side-effects!

I remember stumbling on fanfiction for the first time in my life, sometime in 2001. "Wow," I thought. "This is really neat!" And it is, isn't it? People take time out of their day to write stories that they'll never get published, because they love writing and they care about the characters.

Doesn't that show real dedication, though, to do something and know you'll get nothing out of it? Most 'fic authors could, given time, produce something original. It might even be good, publishable. Maybe it'd even turn out to be a masterpiece. But most 'ficcers don't try, because they don't feel the push to write original fiction.

Some people call their inspiration a muse, but it doesn't matter what it's called, what form it takes. I know that as a writer, I write when and what I'm inspired to write. I would love to be able to write something original, to make money and show the world that I can write more than 'fic. But I'm not being driven to do that. Fanfiction has brought me to this point in my life, and I look around me, at all of the amazing friends that I've chanced to meet purely because of fanfiction, and it makes me happy. How fortunate I am, to have had the chance to become acquainted with these people, so different from me, but in love with the same, simple thing.

Some of us are young, others older, but we love what we do.

We're certainly not alone in that.
mannadon: (Default)
I get this question all the time, especially when I meet someone new, and they see me scribbling away in a notebook on my lunch break. "What are you writing?" often turns into, "Why fanfiction?", if they even bother to use that term. I've found that, more often than not, people skirt around the word, even when they've learned its meaning.

So to keep things simple, "Why write something that you know you'll never get paid for?"

I can't speak for every 'ficcer out there, but I write because I love writing. Typing is one of the most relaxing things I know how to do. I just sit back, stare at my screen, and type what I think or feel or feel must be typed. Asking someone why they write fanfiction is like asking a good artist why they draw fanart!

So let's break this down.

Fanfiction is, when put in the simplest of terms, fiction written by fans, for fans. Hence, fanfiction. You write about characters and worlds that have already been established by another person. If you write a story about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, then you're writing fanfiction, because Jane Austen already wrote about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. She established their world, their personalities, everything.

'Fic can be written about any book, any movie, any video game, and any television show or cartoon, from Romeo and Juliet to Star Trek to Stargate SG-1 to Pokémon. Sometimes people even write what's called RPF (Real Person 'Fic), about real people, actors or comedians or singers.

I write fanfiction because that's what I love writing. I fall in love with the characters, and the more I write about them, the more I love them, until I'm so attached to their quirks and habits that I can't let them go.

It's hard for non-'ficcers to understand the happiness that 'fic brings to people, sometimes. After all, it sure doesn't help you rake in any money! But there's something relaxing and fun about sitting down to read a story about characters you already know. The lazy man's reading material? Maybe. But it's something that everyone in a fandom (or, group of fans sharing a common interest) can relate to and enjoy.

Fandoms are divided up by common interest. The Pokémon fans are a fandom, the Tales of Symphonia/Abyss/Phantasia fans are a fandom, and so on. Since everyone in each fandom is familiar with the source material (be it a game, TV show, movie, book, et cetera), they can sit down to read any story that catches their eye or their interest. Members of a fandom often have forums or groups where they can get together and chat about their respective interests, particular plot arcs, what will happen next (in an ongoing series), et cetera.

Fanfiction has the fortune of finding itself appealing to everyone in its fandom. Will everyone in the fandom read it? No. Will everyone who reads it enjoy it? No. But that holds true for any book; it all depends on the reader's tastes.

To conclude, why do we write or read fanfiction?

Because we love it.
mannadon: (Default)
If you thought that the world of writers (in general) had the tendency to be diverse, stop and take a look at fanfiction!

There are as many different 'ficcers (or, fanfiction authors) as there are published authors in the world. You can find the good, the bad, the ugly, and every now and again, a literacy masterpiece! Unfortunately, the literacy masterpieces are few and far between, but when you do stumble on one, it most certainly makes for a wonderful day. It's like getting a present when it's not Christmas, nor your birthday.

A truly wonderful piece of writing moves you in some way, and fanfiction has the power to do that in only a few words, much like the Chicken Soup stories do.

I love fanfiction, and that's no secret. But before you can understand a person's love for writing 'fic (let alone reading it!) you must first realize what the fanfiction community is all about.
mannadon: (Default)
The world of writing has as many colors, or types of writers, as a rainbow has varying shades of color. Every author writes with a different style, they play on different words, rely on onomatopoeia or foreshadowing or character development to push their plot forward. No two writers are exactly the same.

Some people prefer, and find talent in writing, scripts, others poetry, and still others sit down and write epic-length masterpieces, novellas, novels, or even fanfiction.

If you're reading this, you're probably a writer, though perhaps you are the one doing the reading but never the writing.

Everyone remembers Reading Rainbow! But what about the Writing Rainbow?

All writers are connected by the urge, the need to write. It doesn't matter if your preference is writing with literacy abandon, or painstakingly outlining every last little detail before you even begin the first draft. All of us feel that itch, that push...to write.

But I'm not here to talk about original fiction, the kind of writing that gets published and makes you money.

No, I'm here to talk about fanfiction, the kind of writing that you don't get paid for.

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Mannadon

October 2009

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