Every now and again, the feeling of writing fan-fiction comes over me. Sometimes I’ll just get an idea that I think ‘well… that could be interesting to write’ but I never follow through on them. It’s difficult for me to try and write fan-fiction, I think, because I feel (wrongly) that it could be a step back for me as a writer. It wouldn’t, it really, really wouldn’t, but I feel that what I need to do as a writer is to focus on writing original stories.
But I think that an idea for fan-fiction doesn’t quite transpose completely to original fiction. When writing fan-fiction, you are writing for a fan base who already knows the world and characters that you are writing about. The world creation and world building has been done for you, so it’s up for you to expand upon that world – to explore what could never be done within the world created, to bring something new to it.
You know what fan-fiction world I find kind of interesting? Pokemon. Not so much the anime, but the games are an interesting basis for a lot of cool ideas, especially since the main characters and the Pokemon themselves are essentially blank slates to be drawn upon. I’d love to come up with a cool Pokemon idea, but there’s just so many awesome ones out there, I can’t seem to think of one that would be adding something new.
But, as I was saying before, you can’t transpose fan-fiction directly into original fiction by just changing the names or anything like that. Especially if it’s an example of badly written fan-fiction. And I know about badly written fan-fiction, because I’ve written quite a bit of it. Quite a bit of a bad fan-fiction.
Don’t look into that.
I will confess that I read a few pages of 50 Shades of Grey the other day because, like something that tastes terrible or smells like death, you’ve got to know for yourself. No matter how badly someone describes something, there’s that little voice in the back of your mind that plants an idea, Inception-style, that surely… surely there’s no way it could be as bad as everyone says it is.
It just screams bad fan-fiction. In the first few pages of chapter nine that I read, the most obvious example that 50 Shades was simply bad fan-fiction with the names changed was how badly it was edited. Not just grammar or spelling, but content. There were four very long, very tedious pages of the main character making breakfast. I’m sure that a decent writer could have made those four pages really interesting – filled with subtext, symbolism, or convey an appropriate sense that the character was out of her depth. I’m sure that a good writer would have done all that with four sentences.
The second ‘obvious bad fan-fiction’ factor that I saw was the fact that the line ‘I turned on my iPod’ didn’t end there, and we were treated to the main character musing about whatever song’s lyrics and how they affected her life and demonstrated how they affected her life by repeating the same fricking lyrics. I’m not saying that lyrics should never be used to describe a character, or how a character is acting or feeling, but if done badly, it just screams bad fan-fiction. There’s a bad fan-fiction way of using songs and lyrics – I would know, I’ve done it myself – and the choice of lyrics can be very telling as well, especially if they are ‘I am an outcast…’ or whatever they were in 50 Shades.
There’s a part of me that kind of wants to read 50 Shades of Grey now. Like it or not, it’s become a cultural phenomenon. It’s responsible for getting porn novels – I’m sorry, ‘erotica novels’ – sold in supermarkets, right beside Dr. Seuss. I remember getting some advice from film-makers at university; ‘See everything you can, even the terrible movies. Go see Twilight, you’ll learn something from that, even if it’s how not to make a movie.’ And with that in mind, maybe I should read 50 Shades. I’ll learn how not to write a novel, and I’ll be able to take what I would learn and what I’ve experienced and start writing anything else.