Fan Fiction as a Writing Tool: Part Deux

keep-calm

I was supposed to post this last week, but I was detoxing from the awesome weekend I had in Charlotte, NC at the Authors After Dark Convention. That trip sparked a whole flurry of blog post ideas, but those are for later. This week I’d like to get back to discussing fan fiction as a medium for training your inner writer.

How can fan fiction be used as a tool?

The world, the characters, and all the intricacies of the story are already developed for you. Your only job is to use what is already there and run with it. No brainstorming, no world building, no character shaping. Just writing. This presents the perfect opportunity to test your writing skills, to expand them without having to do all the prep work we normally do as writers (well, most of us who aren’t true “pantsers”.)

All of us have read a book or watched a movie/TV show where we found ourselves unsatisfied with the direction of the story, the conclusion for example, or had an idea sparked by a specific scene or character pairing. Run with it. Use that spark of creativity to write a piece of fan fiction. It may just quiet the frustration you had about the show/book, or it could spark an idea that takes on a life of its own.

Once you’ve written it, what do you do next? Well, you could bury it deep in your hard drive or burn it as a symbol of acceptance. You can’t publish it…but you can. As I mentioned in my last post, there are sites dedicated to fan fiction. Fanfiction.net  and Archiveofourown.org are great places to post your fan fiction. Why would you do that?

Feedback. One of the greatest fears every author has is acquiring any kind of critique on their work. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Posting it for the public on either of these sites will prepare you for an author’s worst nightmare and most sincere delight. Reviews.

I’ve had two novels, a novella, and a short story published in the last year. I need reviews to market my books, but at the same time, I know I cannot please everyone and there will be those who leave me bad/negative reviews. This comes with the territory of being a writer. You take the suggestions, consider them, use the ones you know can improve your work, and then move on to the next project.

Posting your fan fiction for others to critique can be a daunting prospect, but it will help you hone your writing skills by taking the constructive criticism and suggestions left by readers. It will help you become a better writer, trust me.

Also, putting your fan fiction out into cyberspace will attract fans. These fans will then follow as you dive into publishing your own fiction…well, I know I would. There are some talented writers who only write fan fics. I would buy their book if the decided to take the plunge into writing/publishing their own creative fiction.

Fan fiction allows the readers to see and feel your style of writing, kind of like blog posts. Fan fiction is more fun and less clinical.

If you haven’t taken the challenge, then I ask you this time to write your own fan fiction. Pick a show, a book, or a movie that sparked an idea in your mind and write. Use their characters, their setting, and their world to write a scene as YOU would have written it.

Have a little fun and see where the wonderful, but dangerous, world of fan fiction can lead you.

Let me know how you do. Comments welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Kirsten

Repetition, Repetition: Effectively Repeated Words

Repetition, Repetition: Effectively Repeated WordsLast week I discussed the “don’ts” of repetition. This week I’d like to discuss a “do”: repeating words to emphasize, to garner an emotional response, or to manage rhythm.

As a line editor, I am charged with finding those pesky repetitive words that detract from the story. Sometimes, if they are special words (words not used all that often in the narrative or in everyday life), I’ll even mark them as a “bad” repetition if they are in separate chapters at different ends of the novel. Call it nitpicking if you want, but fresh words are an asset to any writer. But what happens when using the same words is actually beneficial?

Well, let’s get started, shall we?

The easiest way to show effective repetition, is to give examples. Kirsten will be happy to know that I’ve chosen Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence as one of them. See, even romantic scenes get some love from me on occasion. The reason I’ve chosen this novel is that it uses repetition a lot—and it’s good at it.

Repeating Words to Emphasize

He laid his hand on her shoulder, and softly, gently, it began to travel down the curve of her back, blindly, with a blind stroking motion, to the curve of her crouching loins. And there his hand softly, softly, stroked the curve of her flank, in the blind instinctive caress.

Firstly, the repetition of adverbs “softly, gently” right next to one another is an example of what stylisticians call epizeuxis. The two words are synonyms, which is repetitive in itself, but the same style is repeated not more than one line down, again: “softly, softly”. Minus the phonetic properties of the words (which are arguably “soft” sounds), the repetition emphasizes the way he goes about the motion. This transfers to the character, too. The softness and the blindness of his actions could translate as any number of nouns to the reader: hesitance, instinct, compassion, desire. I’ll let you decide.

The “curve” repetition emphasizes the structure of her body. It’s syntactically repetitive (the sentences are structured similarly), but the words themselves draw attention to the physicality of the scene. Curves are round; they are softer than lines. The entire scene emphasizes the softness of the body and of the emotions, and gently draws the reader in.

Repetition Emphasizes Emotion via its Rhythm

And he stood up, and stood away, moving to the other coop. For suddenly he was aware of the old flame shooting and leaping up in his loins, that he had hoped was quiescent for ever. He fought against it, turning his back to her. But it leapt, and leapt downwards, circling in his knees.

There are two repetitions here I’d like to bring your attention to: “And he stood up, and stood away,” and “But it leapt, and leapt downwards”. The rhythm is in their similarity of structure. They repeat internally: “stood up” — “stood away” and “leapt” — “leapt downwards” and this rhythm translates into the emphasis of emotion. The character needs distance, so the author creates distance by repeating verbs that move in different directions. The two also repeat externally, too, and by doing this, the repetition only reinforces this need of distance as well as the character’s subsequent desire (and also where that desire is going): the conflicting desire between staying and going away. The word choices create these two different meanings through their similarity.

The author uses repetition of words as a clever opposition, too: the old flame leaps up in the character’s loins. But when he can’t resist it, his desire continues to leap down.

In Conclusion

The more I read this, the more I see, so I need to step back before I bombard you all with 2000 pages of academic-worthy analysis. Despite my own interest in the topic, however, the uses of repetition in the examples above can be translated into your own writing. It takes practice: sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it doesn’t. But if you’re aware of you word choice, you can control the impact you’re making on the reader.

Found this interesting or useful? Check out these others on a similar topic:

Repetition, Repetition: The Don’ts of Repetitive Writing

How to Write Poetic Prose: The Sound of Words


What do you think of repeated words? Do you have any examples? Do you use this technique in your own work?

I had a bad day…

iamANGRY

We all have terrible days.  Those kinds of days where you want to just pull the blankets over your head and go back to sleep or when you wake and not a damn thing goes right from the moment your feet hit the floor.  My personal favorites are the ones when someone strikes a wrong chord with you and all you want to do is throw every piece of china you can get your hands on at them.  *takes a deep breath* Yes, we can all relate to those kinds of days.

What kills me is when I finally get the inspiration to write and one of those days comes crashing down right on top of me.

Last night, I wanted to write.  I’d been stressed out all day, stressed for the last two weeks to be honest, and I suddenly found myself with a few moments of peace and actually in the mind set to write.  It figures that SOMETHING would kick the happiness right out of me.  My husband, bless his little heart, decided to start a rather frustrating conversation that predictably landed me in a bitch of a mood.

I didn’t want to write then.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I disappeared into my room, readied myself for bed, and stared at the ceiling.

I had wanted to write.  I should have written.  There was no excuse why I didn’t just channel all that anger and frustration and pain into a scene, into a character.  But no, I chose to shut down completely.   Cause that’s what I do.  I shut down.

What does this have to do with writing?  A lot actually, especially when it comes to me.  I will find every excuse under the sun why I can’t write.  When I finally do find a moment of drive and inspiration, it often is overshadowed by days like yesterday.

How do I push past it?

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

~ Kirsten

Rediscovering the Lost Art: Writing by Hand

I don’t know if this post is going to make sense. I slept very little last night and I’m stifling a yawn about every other sentence, but I’ll try my best to write something coherent. This past week I’ve been busy. Busy managing social media (I still have trouble with the social aspect of it – talking to you all has been great, though), studying for the final exam of my fall semester, and attempting to get some writing in for my sanity. And of course, naturally, writing was the best aspect of the week.

My musings for this particular post, however, stem from the rediscovery of something that I find myself doing less and less: writing by hand.

I guess, if we’re being technical, I do write by hand on a regular basis. Notes for class, for instance, or my thesis outline, or story ideas that come to me when a computer isn’t readily available. I still carry a notebook around when I go into town or for a walk. In bars, in trains, sitting by the river. So, yes, I do try to write by hand when I’m not at home (as opposed to using my iPad).Rediscovering the Lost Art: Writing by Hand

But, still, the art of it – journals, stories, and letters – slowly started to disappear when I got my first just-for-me laptop.

Suddenly I was able to correct and edit as I wrote; I liked that my fingers could keep up with the speed of my thoughts when I typed. My output content-wise shot up exponentially. So, in a lot of ways, there were great benefits to getting that computer.

But because of it, I lost touch with pen and paper – the beauty of sitting beneath my window and writing entire stories by hand. Not necessarily good stories, but at least they were completed ones. In some ways, I think writing by hand enabled me to write without feeling inadequate, without worrying about the mistakes. Without feeling the overpowering need to edit.

Since I’ve been committing my daytime hours to studies, mostly, I’ve found myself wanting to get off the computer at night. So for the past couple weeks, I’ve been testing a theory. Before bed, I’ve started working on one of my novels sitting on the backburner and writing what comes to me. Though I have done some previous planning for it, I don’t know most of what happens in the middle, so writing it is kind of like unwrapping a present. Most people who know me well will tell you that a.) I’m a perfectionist, and b.) I do not like surprises. But, in this particular case, I’m finding that I like the no pressure, hands-off attitude. I like that I’m taking my time. And, most importantly, I like that, once again, I’m writing a story by hand.

It’s amazing how easily the words actually come to me. It’s amazing that, even though I already see mistakes and oddities, I’m not pulling my hair out and thinking, “Must fix now! Must fix now!”

I’m bent on rediscovering the simple joys that writing by hand can bring: the almost stream-of-conscious translation, the therapeutic, thoughtless meandering from the sheer act of it, the ability to see my terrible handwriting scribbled all over the page. (Please see photo for proof of squiggling.)

Wonderful isn’t it? How the simplest things can be the most mentally freeing and make me the happiest with my work.

So, on that note, I challenge you to write by hand if you don’t already. Share your takes on it. Do you write by hand or computer? A mixture of both?  Which do you prefer?