Posts Tagged With: fanfiction

On Writing, Fanfiction, and Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about fanfiction of late.  A post linked through a Facebook group that I follow pointed out some of the hazards of writers of fanfiction transitioning into the realm of Original Fiction and it’s caused something of a crisis in my mind and conscience.

You see, I write fanfiction.

I used to write more of it, to be honest.  When I discovered that it was, in fact, a Thing, I dove into writing fanfiction and offering it up on the Internet as fast as I could write.  Of course, I was in college at the time and the Internet was a very different thing back in the mid to late 90’s.  In point of fact, for the role playing game Changeling: the Dreaming, by White Wolf (this was the original version, not the later one), if a site was hosting fanfiction for the game, chances were, my story “Account of a Chrysalis” was on their list of works hosted.

I like to think that “Account of a Chrysalis” was the most popular fanfiction piece on the Internet at the time.  I may or may not be biased in that belief since not much remains of that early Internet.

The issue comes in when I make the transition to Original Fiction.

See, fanfiction, obviously, isn’t marketable in the same way that Original Fiction is.  It’s not valued the same way even though the very same skills are needed in order to write it.  Fanfiction is derivative and suspect, though that might be related to the fact that it’s been largely the writing form of women in the past decades instead of the, more respected, forms of fanfiction that were common long ago.  Let’s just say that Shakespeare could never find an original plot to save his life and the sheer mass of Biblical fanart floating around as the work of the Masters is astounding.

Still, a lot of my storytelling has its origin in fanfiction and that worries me.  I worry about the line between “inspired by” and “derived from”.  “Account of a Chrysalis” has yet to make the transition, but it’s sequel, “Cityscape” does, in fact, exist within the Grizzyverse under the name FaerieEarth: Ever Faithful and I hope one day to finish the edits on it so that I can make it publicly available and maybe sell some books.

Castellan Dreams, currently being made available here, also has it’s origin in fanfiction, though in the case of Castellan Dreams, it’s a much different situation.  Taking “Cityscape” into the realm of Original Fiction was a matter of reconfiguring the world on which it was set, the foundations for magic (which is something I still haven’t completed), and just rewriting to add a lot of detail and development.  The plot and the characters were already my own due to the nature of being formed from a role playing game.  The source material for Castellan Dreams, though, was a fanfiction tale called “A Traveler in a Strange World“, which was my retelling of Final Fantasy XII, with the addition of an original character, an old Mary Sue I’d had in the back of my mind since I was nineteen, Goldeneyes Dreamsail.

Taking that story into the realm of Original Fiction is a much bigger project.

In my own defense, though, I should note that the original text of “A Traveler in a Strange World” covered all the current material of Castellan Dreams, at least so far, within the first chapter and a half, maybe the first two or three chapters.  And the whole of the material I’m having to rework from the manuscript of 2007 to 2009 comprises maybe the first half dozen or so chapters.  And I wasn’t even halfway through my original outline when I set it aside.

In taking the tale into the realm of Original Fiction I had to rename and reconfigure the world and map, revise all the races, and rework the characters.  I also started to go into a LOT more detail of the development of the various threats.  It is now to the point that the relationship between Castellan Dreams and “A Traveler in a Strange World” is the same as the relationship between Final Fantasy XII and Star Wars. (Seriously.  Balthier = Han, Vaan = Luke, Basch = Obi Wan, Bahamut = Death Star, etc; just try and tell me that I’m wrong.)

I believe in fanfiction.  I love the feel of audience participation, the idea that a work can so affect someone that they feel the drive to be part of it, somehow.  I respect the fact that writing fanfiction, especially writing it well, involves all the skills of writing Original Fiction and then some, because some aspects are not of the fan writer’s creation.  Thus is the nature of the artform.

But I do worry about weaving in enough original development in altering a story.  Perhaps it is enough to realize that I worry because I care about the integrity of the craft.  And integrity matters to me.

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My Rotten Excuse for a Life

Okay… so I know that I rank very low on the scale of successful writers.  I’m arguably worse than that monstrosity that wrote “My Immortal” because THAT person at least has infamy.  If you don’t know what “My Immortal” is, first fall to your knees and thank whatever cosmic/deific being you prefer for sheltering you from that abomination.  Then, if you really must know, and are willing to sign a waiver that acknowledges that you are about to lose time which you will never get back, look up the title in just about any fanfiction database, in the Harry Potter section.

And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In any event, at least that monstrosity of a writer has infamy.  I can’t even shake this depression enough to finish Chapter Twelve of The Firebird’s Daughter.  I’m trying, but it’s taking a while.

I didn’t even participate in NaNoWriMo this past November.  At all.  Which I find incredibly shameful.  I’ve always participated in NaNo.

The fact of the matter is that the depression is getting worse and it’s sapping my ability to accomplish anything.  I look at all my unfinished projects and I just sit down and cry because I want so much to do something worthwhile and there’s simply too much to do.  I love my characters.  I love their stories.  I want so very much to share those stories and those characters with the world so that others can love them too that it’s a physical ache sometimes.

I’ve got so many stories on so many different worlds… I’ve got the adventures of the Firebird through all her incarnations; I’ve got the other Dreamsails as they wander the universe trying to make worlds better for having been there; I’ve even got a School setting to play with, where students from a number of worlds gather to study Magic and Battle… and that doesn’t even include my unfinished fanfiction pieces, some of which are pretty darn promising, even if I do say so myself.

The first version of The Firebird’s Daughter, where the tale was centered around the Firebird herself, managed to go seventy-five chapters and I wasn’t even a full halfway through my intended plot.  Here I am with a much better character arrangement for the tale and I can’t seem to get past Chapter Twelve… I know what needs to happen, in general terms, it’s just that writing it is a struggle.

So here’s to hoping.  I’ve got the Word document open for Chapter Twelve and I’m already to over a thousand words in it.  Maybe I’ll be able to get it done today.  Maybe.

I need more coffee.

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The Gift of a Master Ball

Some wounds never really heal.  Some scars rip themselves open at the most inopportune moments.  This is gonna take some explanation, though, so bear with me, please.

I’m currently working on developing an idea for continuing this whole “Pokémon Diaries” concept that I have going.  I like the writing style and I’d like to keep the whole daily writing thing going for as long as humanly possible because the longer I keep it going the easier it’ll be to keep going and maybe I can actually get something finished!

Yeah, yeah, dreaming real damn big there, but I gotta do something.

Anyway, I have this Original Character idea for the Pokéworld.  Her name is Erica Anne Redwood and she’s the daughter of Professor Kieth Redwood, the foremost expert on Fossil Pokémon.  I’ve got a rough outline of an idea but it’s being darn slow in development.

Basically, Professor Redwood sends his assistant, Heath, with three Pokédexes and three Pokéballs to find his estranged daughter and set her on a journey to fill the ‘dex by meeting as many Pokémon as possible.  I’m looking for ideas on where to have her start out at and what her Starter should be because I’ll have her start with the League Challenge in that region and then move on from there to the other ones.

So I was playing in Pokémon Black last night and my Trainer, Harmony, was given the Master Ball by Professor Juniper.  (She later USED said Master Ball to catch Tornadus because that’s a legitimate use of a Master Ball to my mind.  If he’d stay still then I wouldn’t resort to that because I prefer not to use Master Balls if at all possible.)  Harmony was the one who nearly got her backside handed to her by Clay and Bianca because I was suffering from the effects of Confusion.

Anyway, seeing Harmony receive the Master Ball, a fairly important event where Trainers and Pokémon are concerned, set off something in the back of my head and the next thing I knew I was writing and trying to keep tears from messing up the paper too badly…

Oh, and did I mention that Professor Redwood’s based very strongly on my own father?  Yeah.  ‘Cause that’s a thing.  It’s actually the original concept for Erica’s journey, to be honest, born from my own struggle to deal with the legacy of a father who was so absent and yet so foundational to my life… only to have him suddenly disappear.

So yeah, Erica is very much my attempt to deal with things that are ripping my insides apart at odd times.

The Gift of a Master Ball

Erica couldn’t believe her ears.  “He… what… I-I don’t…”

Heath’s expression was filled with painful sympathy.  “Professor Redwood, your father, died suddenly this morning.  I’m… I’m so sorry.”  He took her nerveless, unresponsive hands and put a box in them, a box that was tied with an absurdly inappropriate bow.  “He left this for you.”  Heath’s voice choked slightly.  “I think he intended it to be in celebration of your Eighth Gym Badge.”

She knew, some portion of her mind just knew what was in that box, but she didn’t want it to be.  She tried to deny it even as she tugged the bow loose and opened the lid to see the colorful sphere with the “M” painted on it sitting on a plush velvet cushion.  She shook her head, still wishing that this wasn’t happening.

Heath sighed and nodded as he saw the final legacy.  “The Master Ball… I knew that he’d been looking for one, can’t say that it surprises me that he would give it to you.  You’ve become a very strong Trainer.”

Erica looked at him in disbelief, emotions roiling in her mind.  “Strong?  What in the hell is that supposed to mean?  Strong trainer… powerful trainer… gifted trainer…” her voice changed as she obviously imitated the comments she’d heard on her journey.  “How in the world do I get the credit when my Pokémon are the ones who are doing all the damn work?”

Her hands clenched as the hysterical need to destroy the most coveted Pokéball in the world flooded her mind.  “I’m not even telling them anymore which moves to use.  They know what they can do and they don’t need me micro-managing something that comes naturally to them.”  She’d never been this irrationally angry before.  “They don’t even need me at all!  What in the Hell am I doing here anyway?”

Tears started streaming down her face and she couldn’t hold them back.  “This whole damn journey was his idea in the first place.  Why did he have to send me on this damned wild goose chase if he was going to just… just leave like this?”

Heath shook his head.  “This… being given a Pokédex and tasked with filling it… it’s an honor.”

“But did he ever consider that I might not want it?  That it might be just nothing more than… than a bloody, annoying burden?”

“You don’t understand…”

“Damned right, I don’t understand!  He didn’t know me.  He never even tried to know me.  If he was feeling so Arceus-damned paternal, why’d he never try talking to me himself?”

Heath took her by her shoulders, pulling her close in a hug.  He grieved, too, for the Professor who, in a very real way, was more a father to him than to his own daughter.  “Because, Erica, the point of a Pokédex journey isn’t the Professor; it isn’t the League Challenge, or even the Pokédex itself.  The point of it all, my sister-in-tasks, is you, the Pokédex-bearer.  He knew… he knew that he was dying and he knew that he’d never have the years he’d squandered along the way.  Not even Celebi herself could give them back to him.  He was never going to have the chance to know you.”  He cradled her in his arms for a time.  “In giving you a Pokédex, he gave you the chance to get to know yourself in his place.”

She utterly collapsed, then, crying out the loss and pain and resentment of a lifetime that had been stolen by pride.

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One Dim Star…

Once upon a time, people believed that the greatest heroes were honored by being placed in the night sky as constellations, to shine forever against the dark velvet of the cosmos.  Not everyone could become such a hero.  Not everyone was so inherently great.  The most that any could aspire to would be to rise and become one dim star within the legacy that was the constellation.

One dim star.  That was all the reward many hoped for, to be the least part of a larger legacy, a larger story.

I can respect that.

I believe in fanfiction.  I believe in the overpowering urge of fans to contribute in some way to that which means so much to them.  Fanfiction, Fanart, Cosplaying, Fanvids… anything and everything that fans do to show their devotion.

I write fanfiction.  I started writing it when I was just starting in college, back during the mid 90’s, when the Internet was starting to become an actual thing for most people.  I wasn’t aware of it up to that point, mostly because I wasn’t part of any sort of fan-community.  When I started college, I got dragged into computer literacy against my will, and ended up discovering email discussion groups.  That was when I started writing fanfiction.

At the time it was a shortcut to an audience.  I’ve been writing and telling stories since I was six years old, consciously training myself in writing since I was twelve, give or take.  But I needed to know whether or not I was any good at it.  A person can work and work and work at something, but if they lack the natural talent for it then they’ll never be as good as someone who has both the talent and has put the work in.  Dreams are wonderful things, but if they aren’t achievable then they end up draining a person until there’s nothing left.

As it turns out, I do have the talent.  I was nowhere near as good then as I am now, and I still have a long ways to go, but the dream I seek, the dream that drives me day in and day out, is achievable.  I’m good at this.

I still write fanfiction, though.  I probably always will.  To share in the reflected glory of something which means so much to me, to contribute to something which helped make me the person and the writer that I am today, I know the yearning to be one dim star in my hero’s constellation.  I share it with so many others and I hope one day to see that same yearning in another writer’s work as they seek to be a single dim star in the constellation that is my work.

What a wonderful day that will be.

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NaNoWriMo 2012…

… is underway, finally… at the last possible moment (okay, it was past the starting point when things finally went this far) a set of dice and a coin toss decided what I was going to do.  I kid you not.  My November project was decided by dice and a coin toss.

When did my life turn into a situation comedy without my permission??

So I’m doing fanfiction this year, which I have never done for NaNoWriMo before.  It’s allowed within the rules and guidelines, I’ve just never been one to do my fanfic for the November project.  Go figure.

In any event, the characters are fighting me, the story is fighting me, I’m about ready to tear my hair out and start the hell over and it’s only day 5!!!  I’m sooooo far behind on word count that it’s unbelievable and I’m going nuts. This is, astonishingly enough, par for the course for NaNoWriMo, which is why I describe it as complete insanity.

So I was talking with my husband about this mess (yes, the Mrs in the MrsGrizzley is honestly earned) and he made a suggestion.  “The Family Meal”.  Basically, put a bunch of characters together around a table, it works better if there are kids and/or animals in the mix, and just let them be themselves.  It’s an interesting idea.  Granted, the story isn’t at a place where this can happen, one character is setting off on a journey to deliver an Egg to another character who’s going to be absolutely exhausted when she gets there… but this is where NaNo Brilliance applies.

Because the only thing that matters is Word Count… I can take this Meta!

So the characters can end up at a table with my characters from other stories and even with the author herself and can quite openly discuss story and/or plot developments amidst the insanity of creatures and small children everywhere!  Dear gak, I love Meta some days!  Maybe some day I’ll do a NaNo project that is JUST the meta-story insanity of what goes on in the back rooms of my brain, also called the “Memory Warehouse and Boarding Facility”… ooooh… why is it the best ideas always show up LATE!!???

Be back later, I have writing to do!!!

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