I have been thinking a lot about fanfiction lately. I know I have been asked how I feel about it. Personally? I love fanfiction. The idea that someone loves something I have created so much that they want to play in that world is intoxicating. It’s flattering and amazing, and even a writer goes some place I may not have seen with a character, it is their vision. I still write the canon, but I love what other writers can add, what depth they can bring, and occasionally insight they bring me about my own creations.
It seems odd, but the world at large is just discovering something that we, ahem, geeks have been aware of for years. My first “fanfiction” wasn’t even that—it was just a way to read more stories in a series I loved (I was eight, reading the Hardy Boys) and I had run out of books. Later, I dove into more serious stuff, starting with—of course—Star Trek. It was the beginning point for many writers, not just fans.
Over the years, I kept that awareness and love of “fanfiction”. It was always for just myself, or for a friend or two, never out there in public. The internet changed that, and suddenly the closet writers of fanfiction were out. Maybe not loud and proud, but out and sharing their stories on a larger stage.
This altered the world in subtle ways. No longer were the writers a few, quietly trading photocopies at cons—no they were posting in a very public way and that is both good and bad. It’s good because it allows writers from around the world to share their stories, their love of a particular universe with like-minded readers and writers. It’s bad because it has polarized fandoms, created the idea that fanfiction can be “canon” and at it’s worst, can lead to ugliness. Which is sad, somewhere along the way, people forget that it’s all about love.
I will always love fanfiction, whether it is playing in someone else’s world or reading what someone has done in a world I have created. What makes me happy is that the world is becoming aware of it, I just wish the awareness had a more positive cast.
After a discussion with a friend yesterday, I’ve been thinking about world building a lot. It’s the single most vital thing we do when we embark on a novel (or story or film). It is that first vital step that leads to everything else. If you don’t have a solid world, where can your characters, no matter how well drawn, exist?
Of course, with world building comes a host of problems. Once the world is built, if you play fair, you can’t decide to alter it because it has become inconvenient. It seems obvious, but it’s hard to do. I know that I have run flat up against some of the rules I created in the world of the Custodes Noctis and have spent some time wondering if I could ethically (well for me) just tweak the world a bit.
But then, that’s cheating.
I’ve created this world, and as much as I can’t change the world I live in to conveniently work for me—if I could I would own a Ferrari or Bugatti, my house would overlook the sea and I would not have to get up to go to work every day. Sadly, I can’t do that, and in all fairness doing it in a place I have created through writing is just the same. It’s cheating myself and more importantly my readers. It’s something you always have to consider when setting out, and as I look forward to different worlds and different series, I am eying the underlying structure of those worlds very carefully, because once in place, I can’t move them.
And I have to admit, I have a problem with writers that do just change things when they become inconvenient. It is cheating. You can’t have a world that (for a bizarre example) the sun rises in the west and all of a sudden go “well, that’s not working” and flipflop it without some reason, and some major event that actually alters the structure of the world. Just changing it is laziness, cheating, and it’s breaking every rule in the, pardon the expression, book.
I have been a writing all my life and have been published in newspapers, magazines and books. Recently, I have started working with writers helping them to learn to love their writing, and how we, as writers can learn from musicians and their techniques.