Fanfiction as Writing Practice

lisa simpson

This post sounds and will be awfully geeky, but hear me out. No matter how many projects a writer might have going on, there is always time to work on improving their skill. After all, how can you master an art if you never take the time to practice it? One of the best things about writing is that there are a lot of creative ways to get better at it, and one of those ways is through fanfiction.

I’ll admit it, I wrote fanfiction when I was maybe 10 or 11 before I knew what it was. Then I grew older, learned it was a real thing, and kept my distance from it. I didn’t consider it real writing, and I already felt geeky enough so I didn’t want to add “fanfiction writer” to the list. That was until about a year ago when I wanted to try out different writing styles, but couldn’t come up with a good practice prompt. Normally, I’ll play around with flash fiction for this, but I wanted to work on generating short stories. Somehow fanfiction came to mind so for the first time in 14 years, I opened up a blank Word document and wrote one.

Oddly enough, it worked. The benefit of using this form as writing practice is that the characters and universe are already set up for you. Unless you want to practice worldbuilding, having an existing universe helps you focus more on style, voice, and general writing. Think of it like a prompt where the rest is already there for you. Now it’s easier to pinpoint areas you want to work on while having fun along the way.

The nice thing about fanfiction is that it means you’re revisiting a story you love, and all that reminiscing can bring forth forgotten inspiration. Maybe it will remind you how you fell in love with the narrative or what about that universe drew you in. Those tiny reminders take you back to where that creative inspiration is rooted. It also provides you a bit of fun because, if you’re anything like me, you take your main projects way too seriously sometimes. Fanfiction lets you play and have fun with writing again. It’s silly, but that’s what turns it into a great activity. You don’t have to take the pieces too seriously since it won’t be for publication, which opens up a lot of creative freedom.

So remember that old movie, book, or TV series you loved? Go write it. Have some fun while improving your art along the way!

 

From Books to Television

american gods

I’m not against books being adapted onto the big screen even if, as the saying goes, “the book was better”.  Of course the book is better. It’s impossible to fit every detail and moment into a 2 hour film, and sometimes characters and plot points fall into a pit where they’re completely forgotten.However, books being adapted in television series is another thing, and I’m honestly taking a liking to the rising trend.

In a TV series, the crew is given more room to handle a larger cast of characters and play with those intricate details. I still believe Harry Potter would make an excellent Netflix series so I’ll use it as an example. Having one book adapted in a 20 episode season would allow more time to show those slice of life moments at Hogwarts. The books themselves, especially the first few, go through the entire school year with many day-t0-day scenarios. These scenarios just include magical beasts and wizard high jinks. Imagine a whole episode about a field trip to Hogsmeade or Hargid teaching them about the Hippogriff. There would be time to neatly go through a year at Hogwarts through 20 episodes rather than squeeze all of that time into a roughly 2 hour film.

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(The show would even have spinning transitions like an old Batman episode).

Also, for content material like Harry Potter, a TV series would allow more room for the characters to breathe and grow. In the films, many are left out or rarely shown on screen. One of Ron’s brothers, Percy, is absent despite having a vital role at times in the books. In any adaptation plot points will be cut, but with the format of an hour long TV series, characters like Percy would at least get a chance at being more involved than the films allowed them.

Not to mention that lately people enjoy television series more than movies. By adapting into this format, the books would have a better chance at reaching a wider audience. For longer book series, this might be more beneficial in case the movies don’t last as long as planned (think the Chronicles of Narnia). I’m not saying every adaptation will be perfect, but changing up the medium that novels get adapted into is a smart move. After all, look at the success of shows like Game of Thrones or Sherlock. Personally, I can’t wait for more book to televisions adaptations (looking at you American Gods and Dirk Gently).

 

Edit While You Write

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Editing while writing: good or bad? Most of us are told to write it all down and then edit to avoid getting stuck in one place. To me, it’s like hiking that way because you plan to go down one specific trail. You have the map, supplies, everything for this trail and this trail only. Sure, you may see other paths along the way. Some might look more appealing, and you may think about backtracking to try one out. The problem is you don’t want to get lost. If you spend too much time on one path, you might not find your way back to the original one. Or you might get distracted and linger too long on one trail to a point where you’re no longer headed anywhere. Then it’s night, you’re lost, a wolf may or may not have just howled nearby, and your story is trapped in a purgatory where it will never be finished.

The last part of that scenario is why people avoid editing during the writing process. No one wants to get lost, but remaining on a path you don’t like can also damage a story. In my experience, editing while writing isn’t always harmful. If I didn’t edit chapters or scenes, I would have kept going down a beaten path instead of exploring uncharted territory.

I don’t write like a normal person. I open a blank Word document and just go with whatever idea is running through my head. There’s never an outline, I just write and see where it goes. This technique works for me, but I do come to stand stills within my work. There are moments where I’m not sure what should come next or the story is heading into a place that I have no interest in visiting. At times like this I go back to read through what I’ve already written so I can edit what I feel needs to be edited.

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In my current project there was a scene I loathed entirely. I had trouble getting through the next few chapters because I kept thinking of this one section that was gnawing at me. So I went back, read through from the beginning, highlighted the infamous scene, and deleted it. Then I rewrote it, still hated it, and wrote it a third time. It ended up becoming something entirely different that actually set up the rest of what I had in a much cleaner fashion. This also made the writing process less frustrating, which is always a bonus.

Through this process I have a better understanding of where my story is rooted, and I often remember details that can be lifesavers in terms of character development and plot. It’s fine to keep yourself on one trail, but sometimes the one you start with isn’t the one you want to stay on. The hiking experience is more rewarding when you allow yourself some exploration. Those alternative paths can lead to amazing views that can be missed if you wait too long.

Under Construction and What to Expect

Hey everyone!

You might have noticed I haven’t been posting much lately  (or maybe you didn’t, doesn’t matter because you do now). I don’t have a good excuse for my lack of writing, but I need to stay on top of it. I also need to give this blog a makeover because of how cluttered it is. I have too many themes going on at once with little to no direction. So, I’m going to do some late summer cleaning to get this place organized. The game plan is:

  • Post twice a week.
  • A “Sunday Writing Session” where I’ll do a post about writing tips or how my own writing projects are going.
  • A “Pop Culture Wednesday” where I’ll discuss television shows, movies, genres, you name it.
  • An “Art Day” on the first Friday of every month. This is when I’ll post something art related like photography, a craft, a painting, or a short prose. Since art takes time, I can’t make this a weekly thing even though I’d love to.
  • I’ll accept requests for things you want to read (piece on an upcoming movie, old movie, writing questions, and more). You can make a comment on a blog post, on the “about” page, or you can contact me through social media on Twitter or Instagram. Both are set to private because of my day job as a TA, but just let me know you’re from WordPress and I’ll accept the request. You can also send me an email at doni.york92@gmail.com if you’d like.

Thank you all for sticking with this blog, reading, commenting, and liking my posts. I love the community here and I’m ready to change things up a bit!

Support Small Publications

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Writers tend to dream big. There’s nothing wrong with this, I dream of things that are far out of my reach because those goals bring about good motivation. However, when writers decide to publish, their thoughts go to the big leagues. They think of publications who are known for reaching an audience of thousands. No one dreams of publishing something they’ve worked so hard on in a magazine that may only reach a few hundred or even just  fifty. I get it, people want their work noticed. They want to feel rewarded for a job well done, but small publications have feelings too and some wonderful readers.

I firmly believe in supporting the smaller magazines and literary journals. For one, they’re always looking to grow their audience and brand. By submitting and promoting your publication, you’re helping them gain a voice among the literary journal world. They’re also giving you a voice by printing your work. I’m not saying you’ll always get published, but you have a better chance when you’re submitting into a smaller pool.

The size doesn’t mean poor quality either. Literary magazines aren’t as commercialized as other forms of media so it’s more difficult for a journal to have a household name. The smaller publications usually don’t come with a cash prize either (they also don’t normally have submission fees, which is nice for the starving artists out there), but from what I’ve read, the smaller magazines have some of the best stories in them. These publications are fantastic at choosing work that’s gorgeous in it’s most natural and raw form.

There is nothing wrong with aiming for the big publications, but don’t be so quick to cross the smaller ones off your list. They’re just as important because they produce amazing work and deserve proper support. Give them a voice. Give yourself a voice. Support your art.

 

The End of Superhero Movies?

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I’ve heard people jokingly (and not so jokingly) ask if the end of superhero movies is near. The thing is, superhero movies have become their own genre so to ask for an end would be like asking for the end of romantic comedies, horror movies, or spy thrillers. Also, superhero movies aren’t anything new. They’ve existed long before the Avengers hit screens, and they’ll be around long after. I have no complaints about a new movie or two being released each year, but I can understand the exhaustion people are having. We don’t need an end though. We need variety.

One of the issues is that every recent superhero movie is linked together and all done through the same company. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is impressive, it doesn’t allow much separation because there are movies for each of the main Avengers leading in to the Avenger trilogy. Viewers are stuck in the same universe over and over again even though they’re able to see different stories taking place in that universe.

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One of the reasons people praised Deadpool was that it felt separate. It wasn’t done by Marvel so it didn’t connect and it kept itself apart from Fox’s other franchise, the X-Men (there were jokes, but that was a given). Deadpool also took on a wildly different tone, which made it a refreshing addition to the genre. I’d like to see more films follow suit either by making superhero movies that are separate from the MCU or making ones that explore different tones, styles, and storytelling.

DC does well in making their movies different from Marvel, but they’re also trying to build a connected universe that will carry on the same dark and gritty feel of Batman Vs. Superman or the Dark Knight trilogy. I’d like to see DC heroes star in films that aren’t always trying to be edgy or grim, and I’d like to see Marvel films that take on a different spin without requiring a marathon of movies from the ever growing MCU.

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I feel like the TV series are doing well with separation though (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, Supergirl, etc.). Every show has it’s own unique feel that is connected to another show in some way, but it connects in a subtle way. One that invites the viewer to check out the other series/movies, but doesn’t require them to. Someone can watch Agent Carter without seeing the first Captain America and understand the plot completely. The show also takes advantage of its 1940’s setting by giving the series a vintage aesthetic and plays with issues of the time. It’s connected to the MCU, but it feels complete by itself with a unique look and feel.

I love superheroes. I love superhero films. I don’t want to see the genre die, but I would like some variety. We need more content like Deadpool or Agent Carter that finds its own path rather than following a worn down trail. There’s no need for an end, but there is need for creativity and growth within the genre.

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The Dreamer

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Sleep came to her slowly and gracefully, but felt painful and loud

In a dream she trudged through damp grass

Toward the edge of a dock

Morning birds screeched

The hound wailed

The dreamer did not respond

But her bones did quiver

She swayed back and forth until she was falling

Slowly, slowly

At last she collided with the pond

Water pierced itself into her every pore

It ran through her lungs and cradled her veins

Darkness dripped onto the pale blue

Light flickered in and out from the mourning sun above

Shadowed hands reached from the sand and grabbed onto her legs

More rose from the bottom of the lake and gripped her bones

They clawed at her face and pulled at her hair

Water filled her every sense and chilled her mind

She was sinking

Further, further

The shadows pulled her down into their world

They held her and suffocated her with their faceless bodies

They drank from her skin

They inhaled her breath

They broke her apart

Piece by piece

Until there was nothing left.