Why write fan fiction?

This article was originally posted on 5th September 2011 on my old blog.

I was talking with my mother about a week or so ago about writing, specifically my interest in writing fan-fiction, which she doesn’t entirely get. ‘Why not write some original fiction?’, was her point. ‘Why write a story with characters and a setting that someone else has set up?’ she would ask. There’s myriads of reasons why writers would seek to ‘play in someone else’s playground’ as it were.

To some degree, it’s the fact that the characters are already established as something visual; though for some fan-fiction writers they base their work on other author’s books, so it’s not always from a visual medium that the fan-fiction writers borrow from. For some authors, it’s a chance to say, “What if…” such a character was faced with a particular scenario, how would they deal with it? Or sometimes it’s a small scene that the writer felt was missing from the show that they felt the need to fill, or to expand upon. For some fanfic authors, they start in writing fanfic then branch into their own published original stories, or televised scriptwriting.

For as long as I can remember, I’d been writing poems, stories and the like. Somewhere in a box in the storage space under the stairs, there is an old folder of things I started writing when I was in primary and elementary school. There’s also the two ‘zines that our high school’s advanced creative writing class put out. I had a story in one of them. I watched a fair bit of television in my teens as I’ve long been introverted, thus preferred to stay at home. Often the tv shows, like ‘Remington Steele’ or ‘Scarecrow & Mrs. King’ would inspire stories and ideas, but things that stayed in my head and not written down.

As far as writing fan-fiction, I think the first story I wrote that was tied into a tv show was a ‘Beauty & The Beast’ Catherine & Vincent story. It was one of the first tv shows that I was really enamoured with, when I was in high school. Though that one is forever lost, no idea where that ended up – this was before the days of posting things online (1989). It would be sometime later before I would do much more writing that something grabbed me enough to write.

The next fandom to grab me to write would be from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, and it was a story that I co-wrote with a friend of mine nearly twenty years ago. Again, it was a story that had been hand-written in note-books. In the early to mid-1990s I got hooked into the Canadian/American sci-fi/fantasy show, ‘Forever Knight’, which prompted me to do some more writing. It was also around this time that I was getting more involved online with the FORKNI-L listserv, and I wrote a couple stories. Around the same time I also was involved with a ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ listserv, xenacampfiregirls. Over the years, other shows, or films have captured my attention enough to care about the characters to write about them.

Before the current age of posting fan-fiction online, large numbers of fanzines, compilations of stories from one particular fandom, or multi-fandoms, were published in small numbers and shared or sold (simply for printing costs) at conventions. As computer usage increased throughout the 1990s, majority of the fanzines closed up. I still have fanzines from MediaWest Con (‘Forever Knight’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’).

I’ve participated in various online fan-fiction writing challenges, and other stories I’ve written for personal interest. The shows (or films) I’ve written fan-fiction about include: ‘Army Wives’, ‘Bad Girls’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘ER’, ‘Forever Knight’, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, ‘Hospital Central’, ‘Spooks/MI-5′, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert’, ‘Wire in the Blood’, ‘Witchblade’, and ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’. [Stories available to read here]. Within the past year, I can also add ‘Guiding Light’ to that collection of writing.

In the past year, I’ve been involved in writing for the Otalia Virtual Seasons project which I’ve wrote about in other blog posts. It’s been a labour of love, challenging me to write longer, more detailed plot stories, exploring the characters, and writing as a team with other writers. Each of us writes an episode or more in a season. Some of us also are pulling beta (editing) duty as well. We’ve also got a couple of brilliant artists that work to provide accompanying artwork that complements the stories. It’s the first time, probably since high school since I’ve done group creative writing. I’ve done group writing projects in academic projects, but that’s a different ball game all together.

Up until writing for the Otalia Virtual Seasons, the longest story I’d ever wrote was the Spooks story, A Retreat of Truths, which was about 14,000 words give or take, and I was a little worried that my writing wouldn’t fit in with authors that I knew were part of the project, authors that I admired tremendously for their well-written stories. But I pitched the idea, and it was accepted, and I started writing. I was fortunate to be with a really good writing and editing team, and there was an overall plan for where the season was planned, and we could bounce ideas off each other easily. It also helped that I could identify with the main characters of Olivia, Natalia and some others that it made it much easier to write. That and sometimes the characters would get in your head and would not shut up until they told their story. Some of my favourite moments to write though were the little family moments with Olivia, Natalia and Emma. Thus far, I have one episode written in season one, one completed for season two (both of which are in the 30,000 word mark), and one more to come for season two.

Undoubtedly there will be more stories over the years written, and who knows, maybe I’ll eventually get an original fiction story written. A goal to work towards.

About jlynnstapleton

I'm a Licensed Practical Nurse, photographer and writer. My focus in photography has been primarily landscapes, particularly water based images, both in colour and black and white. I love to travel when I can and sometimes find some unique treasures to photograph. I also enjoy writing these blogs and doing interviews when I can. I'm the oldest of three siblings. I grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland [Canada]. I came out as a lesbian when I was twenty-one, and fortunately I've had a supportive family, and friends.
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