I threw out a question on Twitter and Facebook today that got such great responses I want to repeat it here!
Background: as I've mentioned, Carlie Webber and I have an article in this month's School Library Journal. And it's called When Harry Met Bella: Fanfiction is all the rage. But is it plagiarism? Or the perfect thing to encourage young writers?
The question I asked was: "Tell the truth: did you write fanfic as a kid, even tho you didn't know it was "fan fiction"? What was it?"
Facebook answers are at Facebook.
Some Twitter answers are at the "replies" part of my Twitter account. (Actually, that is a "search" on @LizB at twitter so is a mix of responses).
I'm struck by the people who say, "I didn't know what I was doing!"
Same here. When I wrote the (original) Battlestar Galactica meets (original) Star Trek, with an original character named (wait for it) Leisl who was (I'm not kidding) psychic (I was TWELVE or so, what do you expect!) I had no idea that I was writing fanfiction and had created a Mary Sue.
By the way, my favorite article about Mary Sue is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE: 150 YEARS OF MARY SUE by by Pat Pflieger. First, 150 years! Second, whatever emotional and creative need Mary Sue meets in its writers, it is a need that has existed for over a century. It was written ten years ago, so the pop culture references are dated.
So now that you know that story where you were a cousin of the kids in your favorite teen show was, in fact, "fanfiction"... confess.
What fanfic did you write as a kid?
Do you write it now? I don't write now, but I do enjoy reading it and definitely get story ideas that I'm just too lazy to write.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
As a kid I added a Mary Sue character to Charlie's Angels - oh and the Brady Bunch was involved too. That's all I say about that.
My very first fanfic was a Pern story (if only I had known of Anne McCaffrey's legendary opposition to fanfic! Ah, the innocence), written when I was eleven. Then I got into writing stories about the characters on Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Airwolf, Doctor Who... actually that last one carried me through for about ten years, and then I got into writing Harry Potter fic (I'm getting older at this point -- as in, like, thirty), and eventually House, M.D....
Then I got a two-book contract and didn't have time or energy to work on anything fannish for about four years. I'm back into the fanfic now, though! Just occasionally, when I'm unwinding between projects, but it's a good way to keep my hand in without feeling too much pressure or worrying about whether it'll sell.
Chris, I remember that story. LOL.
RJ, I loved Pern! Well, up until the later books. I didn't love some of her characters the way she did.
It was the first two Menolly books I really loved -- music and fire lizards, how much more awesome could it get? The rest of the Pern books I read, I could take or leave, but those ones I keep coming back to again and again.
I had to stop and count on my fingers to figure out all the fandoms I wrote in, but the first when I was about eleven was (thunderously bad) Star Wars fanfic.
I still write fanfic--not Star Wars, and hopefully not thunderously bad--and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
I wrote a long tale in which I (not even a Mary Sue, just directly ME) got transported through time to Jo Bhaer's Plumfield school. Dan reformed on my account, don't you know.
I recall writing some Narnia fanfic in 7th grade, too, though I didn't know that's what it was.
I wrote Nancy Drew fanfic that I'm sure was just as dull and formulaic as a Nancy Drew book...
Oh, definitely -- my very first fanfic, at age 9, was a sequel to Anne of Green Gables in which Gilbert was not such an overweening prat, and Anne went on to do marvelous things.
I'm sure it was dreadful. There wasn't a Mary Sue, though; obviously 19th century Prince Edward Island wasn't where I was from, so I didn't insert myself.
HOWEVER. Speaking of Scarecrow & Mrs. King...
Well, we'll just draw a veil on that.
-- OH. And to answer the last question, no, I don't write it now. I think all fiction writers possess a bit of "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" fear, so I don't even write tribute fiction. I don't want to step on any toes, or write something that's already been done. Not that there's any hope of escaping that entirely, but I don't at all write things "in the style of" or anything else. Yikes.
Oh my goodness, yes I wrote fanfic! In middle school/high school my friends and I created a new "series" for Star Trek where all the parents were taken away and the kids now ruled the ship. We all had characters (I was Clover O'Brien, the long lost daughter of Next Gen's Miles O'Brien) and we wrote scripts and stories to go along with our characters. We also got together on weekends and role played. :)
I also wrote lots of Trek fanfic, read lots of fanfic and was very proud of my X-Files meets the Titanic in space story. My mom found a notebook of all my stories-I'm a little afraid to go back and read them all now!
I didn't think I did (though I definitely drew fan ART, and I did make up stories in my head), but a year or so ago I found Ducktales fanfiction stuck inside my old junior girl scout manual. No Mary Sues, but I had the annoying habit of inserting backstory like "this is something [this character] always does" or "in case you don't know, [this plot point] has to do with [this other plot point from the show]" in every paragraph or so....
I've never been into fanfiction (hence not remembering having ever done it at all) to say I "still" do it, but actually one of my original characters is related to a real person I am a fan of. It's something that will never come out in a final book, but affects my understanding of the character, and I've written short stories involving this real person while working on my character's backstory, so I don't know if that counts as fanfiction!
Congrats on the cover, btw, it's a great article! A teen asked me this summer if reading fanfic counted as reading time for the summer program and I said of course it does!
As for ME ... the summer before I started 9th grade I wrote a different ending for Gone with the Wind IN THE BOOK ITSELF. (Rhett and Scarlett live happily ever after, obvs.) And I still write and read fanfic! :) Some fandoms I've written stories in: Buffy, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, How I Met Your Mother, and Veronica Mars. I've written Harry Potter slash AND slash for a Newbery winner (!) from the last 10 years. I think it's fun to write something in an established universe and it's good practice without all the world building for me.
And it's also a great, direct way to get immediate feedback and response. Being 'part' of fandom after all, any way you do it, is just plain fun. ;)
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