Friday, November 02, 2012

A Writer, A Fan, and An Instructor Walk Into a Bar....

If you are also doing NaNoWriMo, you can become my writing buddy or check out my progress on "Shattered Mask" by following (or whatever) user: lydamorehouse. I have to confess that if you go there today you will see that I have a word count total of 3,944. This is a lie. That *is* the progress I have on this novel to-date, but it's actually the chunk that I wrote previously.

I wrote nothing yesterday.

Actually, uh, well,...

Okay, another problem I'm having? As I was setting up my profile for NaNoWriMo, do you know what I found? A FORUM FOR PEOPLE WRITING FAN FICTION!!!!! Yes, I am screaming! I'm screaming because, hello? How is that going to help my problem? As I said on Facebook (with apologies to my friends in the recovery community,) it's like walking into your first AA meeting and discovering an open bar in the back room!

On the flip side, the universe has finally told me how I can make money writing fan fiction. I got an amazing e-mail the other day from the woman who runs the teen writing program at the Loft. She told me that she was going over the evaluations for the workshop that I did for the Loft during their teen writing conference (a surprise 40 kids had signed up!), and she asked if I'd be willing to consider teaching some summer courses for teens at the Loft. Of course, I said yes without even thinking much about it. She sent me a list that had been produced by the kids on the questionnaire in answer to the question, "What kind of classes would you like to see taught?" Guess what? At least one person put down, "Writing Fan Fic." There was another person who specifically wanted help writing Dr. Who fan fic, and someone else trying to figure out how to make the switch from writing fan fic to writing original work.

I figured I must have died and gone straight to heaven. It would only have been more perfect if someone had specifically requested, "Writing Bleach Fan Fic: 10 Tips for Characterizing Renji Abarai."

The Loft is specifically looking to me to teach writing SF/F, of course, but I thought I might actually also propose a week-long class called, "No More Kudos! How to Make the Move from FanFic to Original Fiction" about some of the differences between (and struggles with) writing fan fic and writing original work. Because, for my money, there are a bunch of ways in which fan fiction is significantly different--there's a lot more "front loading" of characterization (and character description) necessary, for instance. There's the problem of how soap opera/"plot, what plot" can be fine for a meandering 200,000 word fic, but is death to the commerical novel. And, then there's the emotional withdrawal of the difference between writing in community versus writing alone (and ultimately kind of unsupported.) I think there's EASILY five days worth of subject matter that could be covered in a course like that. Plus? I really, really think there are teen writers out there that are craving a class like this. When I was desperately trying to find common ground with the students in my workshop, fanfic was it. All the eyes in the room lit up when I randomly asked, "Okay, how many of you are into fanfic? How many write it?" Hands shot up all over. When I admitted to also writing fanfic (and how valuable I found it when I was first learning to write), there was actually almost an audible, "Oh!" that carried with it a sense of, "Holy shit, a grown-up/professional writer who GETS this!!??" I could almost instantly tell that the mood had shifted from "bored now," to "Maybe I should listen to what she says...."

Fingers crossed, because, damn it, that would be a truly legit way to make money off my fan work.


Eleanor said...


Sean M. Murphy said...

You definitely have the experience to teach on this, and it's an experience that's worth communicating to others working to make that move. Great move!

Jon said...