fandom

Living The Dream: From Fangirl to Author

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You may be surprised to learn that there are many ways you can turn fandom into a business.

You can become an etsy seller, a professional cosplayer, or even an academic who studies fandom (my friend is going for a PhD in it). But many of us fans dream of doing more than discussing and promoting our favorite works… we want to create our own.

This may be because we have our own stories clawing at us from deep inside, or may just be because we are tired of queerbaiting. Either way, a lot of passionate fans are also passionate creators, no matter what the medium may be.

But how do you make the jump? And how did I not only make the jump, but make the jump with a story about fandom?

It Started With Fanfiction

I started writing fanfiction back in 2003, and I never did stop. I started with (really bad) Harry Potter fanfiction about the Marauders. It included self-inserts. I was only twelve, don’t judge me.

Death Note fanfiction is where I really hit my stride, and it’s the period when I realized I really wanted to be an author. I loved writing. I was constantly having new ideas, especially for AU stories about Mello and Matt. I even became a bit of a household name in the Death Note fandom (I’m still proud of that). By the time I was heading off to college, I’d written hundreds of thousands of words and was planning to major in creative writing.

Being a Creative Writing Major

I did get some scorn for majoring in English with a focus on creative writing. I knew I wanted to be an author, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d do with my career beyond that. I imagined I would work in the publishing field in some capacity, and my editing and publishing class only made me that much more certain.

At first I struggled to write content that wasn’t focused on characters that already existed. It was difficult to pull myself away from the typical fanfiction tropes. While many of them make for great stories, a lot of them don’t make for great novels. This was probably my biggest struggle when it came to my English courses. In a way, writing my original work just seemed boring to me.

I also faced a lot of stress about my future career. I’d chosen English knowing it made me more marketable than other degree options, but I still felt rather limited in what careers I could actually pursue. So, naturally, I just focused on my writing classes.

And I did get better. I was always reading, for fun and for classes. My final exams were writing short stories or essays about literature. I got used to critiquing people’s work. I took English courses in satire, utopia, literary fiction, experimental fiction, and folklore. By the end of my college career, I had a better understanding of myself as a writer.

Writing Novels That Sucked

My first 3 novels, 2 of which I never properly finished, were terrible.

The first two were actually just complete garbage. The third tried, but really did not go very well.

Here’s a small list of the problems these three novels had that made them garbage:

  • Little character development

  • Cliche plots

  • Unnecessary scenes

  • Lack of focus

  • Bad writing

On the bright side, I learned a lot from those three failed projects. They helped me learn to improve those things, and they helped me figure out how to craft characters I loved so much that I never wanted to leave their world.

Seeking Utopia

This is a novel I don’t discuss here often, but it is the first novel I completed that I felt had a shot at publication. Seeking Utopia is the first in a trilogy about a girl who travels between dimensions using cracks she finds in the world.

Okay I know this sounds similar to FanFact, but they’re actually really different. Seeking Utopia is based on science and physics. It features about a dozen different dimensions, all very different, and has a very different feel. It’s a book series that features a bunch of strong queer women with a man or two thrown in here and there.

I do plan to go back to this series. The first book is finished, and the second in the trilogy is in progress. Once I finish FanFact I’d like to go back to it and start edits.

FanFact

FanFact is my baby. The idea grabbed me about a year ago and has consumed my life. I fell in love with the characters and the world before I even began to write it, and I think that shows in the novel.

In fact it’s one of the first things I ever wrote about on this blog!

This novel really brought me back to my roots. It’s a novel about being a fangirl, about slash pairings, and about magic. It’s a novel that even features fanfiction, but moves beyond that to flesh out new original characters, but from a fangirl’s perspective. It is exactly the novel I want to write.

It’s been a long road to get here from being a fanfiction consumer, but it’s been an amazing ride. You don’t have to be an amazing cosplayer or artist to have a career in fandom life. You can create your own fandom, using your own original ideas.

Get out there. Make something amazing, and find amazing people to share it with!


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That Time Two People Wrote Fanfiction About My Novel (While I Was Still Writing It)

How do we determine success as authors? Is it when we get published? When we make the Best Sellers List? Or maybe is it when we hit it big by getting a movie deal for our books?

Of course, all three of these are things that I would like to see. My goal is to become a published author and see my novel in book shops across the country. And if my book is a best seller, that means more people are reading and enjoying the project I dedicated so much time to. Plus getting a movie deal would be pretty amazing, as unlikely as it is.

I’ve mentioned before how I want people to write fanfiction about my novels, and just a couple of weeks ago I achieved that goal.

But my novel isn’t even published yet. In fact I’ve not even finished writing it!

Part of the fanfiction my wife wrote!

Part of the fanfiction my wife wrote!

The novel in question is FanFact, which still has about 10,000 words to go before it’s complete. I’m hoping to have the rough draft done this month (though my trip to Acen could make this tough), but that hasn’t stopped my friends from writing stories about my book.

So far, two people have read my partially-finished manuscript in its entirety; my wife and a friend of mine from college who has a Masters degree in literature/writing. My wife is my target audience, so I love getting her opinion on my story, plot, and characters to see if it is resonating. My friend is highly critical and an excellent writer, so I highly value their opinions.

Both of them wrote fanfiction about my novel several weeks ago. My friend presented a fanfiction to me along with their critique of the novel-in-progress. My wife wrote her own fanfiction at our writing retreat in Lake Geneva. Both of the fanfictions were a lot of fun, and both made me incredibly flattered.

Because people writing fanfiction about my work means they care enough about my characters to spend their own time creating something that brings them no gains. They can’t even publish the fanfiction online because the novel doesn’t even officially exist! That means they both simply liked my story enough that they wanted to write something for themselves, for me, and for each other to read.

I have to say that’s pretty damn flattering.

Authors don’t write for fame. So many of the things we write won’t even be seen by another person, let alone millions of people. Even authors who get published and sell a lot of books probably can’t live off that income alone. While being a full-time author is the dream of me, and many, financially it simply isn’t very likely. What I want is to write books that make people feel things, and I really want to write books that can create a fandom, not just fans.

The Difference Between Having Fans & Fandom

Ok, stick with me here, because there actually is a difference.

It is possible to have fans without having fandom, though the two are similar. Fans are people who enjoy a particular piece of media. Fandom, on the other hand, is an entire subculture dedicated to a piece of media.

A fandom is referred to as its own entity. “The Sherlock fandom is crazy.” “The Boku No Hero Academia Fandom is huge!” “The Merlin Fandom is still around, but it’s pretty quiet now.” In that sense, fandom refers to how active fans are being about a piece of media, rather than just enjoying it.

I’m a fan of the Marvel universe, but I’m not a part of the Marvel fandom. I don’t read the lore, I don’t create or consume fan-created media, and I don’t keep updated on all the latest news.

Now the Sherlock fandom, well, it got me my wife so I really like the Sherlock fandom.

I’d love to see more fanfiction for my work, and I’d also love to see fanart and cosplay as well! I want there to be a community around my books.

I also feel that fandom has become more widely accepted. In my lifetime I have never been bullied for being involved in fandom. Certainly there are plenty of people who aren’t involved in fandom who are my age, but “Normals” don’t seem to find fandom all that strange like they used to.

The Fanfiction

My college friend wrote the first fanfiction for FanFact (which upset my wife a lot) as part of a critique for my manuscript. The logic was by reading this fanfiction I could get a better idea of how my readers were characterizing my...well, characters!

This fanfiction focused on Blane and Orion. I don’t think Orion has been mentioned on this blog before, but I wasn’t surprised this friend wrote about Orion. The story mentions Liam and Clara and could actually fit into the canon timeline of FanFact, which was really cool to see.

My wife, on the other hand, didn’t involve Clara at all. Her story would have taken place before Clara made it to the world, and interestingly, also involved Orion. Deanna did really well understanding my character’s voices, probably because I talk about my characters all the time.

Impacts on FanFact

The main takeaway I got from these two fanfictions is that I need to spend a bit more time developing my character's’ personalities. While my wife knew exactly how to write my characters my writing friend didn’t, which means I need to spend less time talking about these characters and more time interjecting their personality into the text.

I’d already planned to write more about Orion, but the fact that my friend and wife wrote him completely differently showed me I really need to work on developing him more.

And having people write fanfiction about my novel inspires me to keep working on it.

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