The Power of Fan-Fiction

While I have not talked much about fan-fiction on this site, I feel that we should for I have already been engaged on the topic by another blogger, Chrissy’s Writing Challenge. Here posts are usually short and sweet, and I don’t mind for each blogger tends to write their blog in their own unique way.

In her post about the topic of fan-fiction she said the following:

 I like the idea of using characters that you know and love and writing about them but it always seems a little like stealing.

Yes, I commented back on her post, and while I could copy the whole comment that I left her I will let you click on the link above, which will take you to the post. However, I will summarize by stating that fan-fiction is not necessarily stealing for it is more of away for a show to build a presence from one person’s perspective.

I also noted that show runners and show writers tend to look at fan-fiction as away to see how much of a presence the show is getting online. Granted, as writers we all should note that the Fifty Shades of Grey series was originally a fan-fiction piece based on the Twilight Saga. Also the show Gargoyles had one of the largest fan-fiction communities than any other show, and due to this community they used to have a convention for the show.

Yes, a convention just for one show. Furthermore, their big kick off event was either writing, reading, or discussing fan-fiction based on the show. If that doesn’t tell you the power of fan-fiction I don’t know what will.

I have written a few fan-fiction pieces for the following: Gargoyles, Hocus Pocus, The Young and the Restless, and fairy tales.

While some may see it as stealing ideas, I see it as a way for one to get their own view of how a show or story should be going, even though, show runners and show writers will tell the story the way that they want to tell it. But it’s still away to make creativity happen. Also most writers started off as fan-fiction writers before they published their own works.

But it should also be known that some show-runners and writers have been known to read fan-fiction pieces to see how others view the show. Not only do they read it and encourage it, but I have heard one or two say at conventions that they are flattered by all the fan-fiction that come from viewers.

It must all be said that at times, fan-fiction can raise the bar as far as ratings, and that is alright, as long as they are inspired to write to keep the ideas being generated onto the page. So it must be said that I’m on the side of the writer who feels inspired by what they see or hear that they want to write a piece and that they want to join in on the community.

Also based on fan-fiction, that is how some theories for shows are conceived from, and some of the theories are not that bad. If you want to see a community that has a tone of theories right now, look no further than Game of Thrones. Yes, we fans of the show are eagerly awaiting for season 8 to begin, but in the mean time all we can do is theories and speculate about what is going to take place.

While others put down fan-fiction, I feel that it should be embraced as it is a story on its own right. Even though, it has characters that they did not create but some writers have created their own characters to encounter such known characters like Batman. There is merit to fan-fiction and the biggest merit of all is that it builds community and it brings others together.

Now I will give one piece of advice when it comes to writing fan-fiction and that is know your subject, which means do your research. If you don’t know the world that you are writing about, then your piece will fail. When it comes publishing fan-fiction, the best piece of advice is change characters names and other details. Furthermore, it’s up to you if you want to share with readers that it’s fan-fiction or it’s an original idea.

On the last note, we as writers all have to start somewhere and if it’s with fan-fiction so be it. I mean I started with fan-fiction and I think that it’s one of the best things that ever came into my life.

I hope that you have found this helpful when thinking about the value of fan-fiction. I hope that you have a great writing day!

 

Who has a Backstory?

As we go through our prep work for NaNoWriMo, and take the time of creating our characters that will inhabit our story world, we need to make them not just two dimensional figures but also three dimensional. When I say three dimensional, I’m talking about their physical attributes as well as their identity attributes as well.

These attributes includes, their quirks, their relationships, what make them be them. Furthermore, what past event shaped to be who they are on page one. This is past event is part of their backstory. Now backstory is different from a flash back in that we should use backstory as a sprinkle to give clues as to who they are. If it is essential later on, to give a flash back scene then write it. But backstory should be used effectively to say this is who the character is on that first page of the novel.

Look at Harry Potter, for example, we know that within the first chapter of the story, Harry is an orphan due to his parents being killed. We know that due to this event, that he has to not only live with his aunt and uncle but that he at some point must face the evil villain that took his parent’s life. When we look at The Hunger Games, for example we know that Katniss has trust issues with the leaders of Panam and that her father was killed during a mining accident, and that for the most part she is the caretaker for her family.

However, the main character should not be the only one with a backstory that is reflected in the story, but setting as well. The setting that is on page one of the story, was also effected by a past event. Take Game of Thrones for example, we know that in the world of Westeros, we have had a long summer and now we are heading into a long winter, none that has ever been scene before. In The Hunger Games, we are aware that we are coming in on the day of the latest reaping and how that came about. We know in the world of Batman, that Gotham is an unsafe place due to jokers, and other villains being allowed to roam the streets free. Let’s face it in the world of Batman, there are too many villains and not enough police officers to put away the villains.

When you are writing or planning our your story, there are two essential elements that need to have a backstory, setting and character. If these two do not have the backstory, then the complexity that may be needed in the story is going to be missing. Remember, that today’s characters that are created and the worlds that we create need to be complex and allow for readers to get hooked on to them from the very first page.

When looking at the backstory that you are looking to create, look at the milestones that are part of the character or setting, such as the world was created or the character went to school. Then dive into further by asking, did anything particular take place when the world was created or at that first day of school? If you answer no, then you should brainstorm as to what could have been the worst possible outcome that came out of those two events.

By looking at the worst possible outcomes that could take place, you are bringing in trauma. Trauma is where growth begins to occur and you are damaging the psyche. This damage should not just be to the character. Keep in mind there will be outside influences that will play apart of the story but those influences, should also reflect in someway back to the character’s backstory.

The best advice that I can give on using backstory is to be hard on your character, for when you are harder on your character you will allow them to grow and to take shape. If you don’t allow them to grow, then the reader will not want to see what happens to them through out the book or how they overcome the ordeals that they have to deal with.

Furthermore, when coming up with backstory write it out during your planning phase, and when you use it in the story, just sprinkle it in for effect. Remember, we are not going for flashback, we want to give a hint of who they are on that first page. We only need to include info that the reader needs to know, if we give too much detail then we lose our edge and our secrets and our effectiveness to tell the story.

Backstory, can be challenging for some writers for they confuse it will flashbacks, but I suggest during this month to learn from masters that have used this convention effectively, the following examples, listed above should be looked at. But I will add another one, if you have never seen past episodes of NCIS: New Orleans, don’t. Watch the latest episode, and pay attention to the character of Dwayne Pride, for in that episode, they splash some backstory in there. Now my other suggestion, is don’t use Google to find out what has recently effected the character either, for that would be cheating.

If that is not your thing, then I would suggest watch an episode or movie with a really complex character and on a piece of paper, write down anything that hints to the character or setting backstory. Then re-watched that episode or movie and see if you catch anymore details that you might have missed. Don’t pay attention to clothing, colors, just what is shown clearly and dialog. If you catch on to those hints about backstory, then you have an example of how it is done.

I hope that you have found today’s topic helpful on backstory. I hope that you have a great planning or writing day!

Another way to view Characters

I know that I have spoke about characters before but I recently found a new take on the subject. I probably haven’t mentioned it before, but I am an avid fan of soap operas, such as The Young and the Restless. Just as a fore warning this post does contain some spoilers.

But getting back to my love of soap operas, we see characters as both from a viewer/reader perspective but also as a writer. We see characters as those that we have put a lot of thought and work into. We see characters as those that we use merely as tools in other words when we think of thrillers or mysteries there is always that one character that has to be as the sacrificial lamb and have to die to move the story further. Let’s face it for without their death, there wouldn’t be a mystery or a crime that needed to be solved. Then there are the villains that we are miserable people and we hope that they meet a ruthless end for all the horrible things that they have done.

However, based on this principle as writers that we pour so much into these characters, what if we have readers that hate our characters with a passion but as writers we love them? Well, let’s get back to one of my favorite soaps, The Young and the Restless. Currently, one of the story lines is that there was a car crash that has left one of these hated characters on her deathbed because there was too much damage to save her. We know as viewers based on the information that we have that she is going to die. It’s her fate in life. Granted, for those that are avid fans, we pay attention to news feeds and spoilers that the actor/actress who plays this character is leaving the show, and that was announced a few months ago.

But in the last week of the show, the viewers that hated her so much and wanted her to leave or die are now left with the fact that they actually liked her. Why? The reason is that the writers changed the perspective of making her sweet, kind, and all the things that she was not during her time on the show. Did this change my mind on her character? You bet it did. I was sucked into actually liking this character and wishing that she was leaving and that her character wasn’t dying to leave her loved ones to morn for her passing.

This subject was put on one of the many soap groups that I’m a member of on Facebook. I commented with the following: The writers are making us pay for the way that we treated this character, and therefore they played their hand well. Well, played writers.

Yes, this is what I said. I said that the writers played their hand well. But not only did they make the viewers feel guilty for what they had said about this character, but also the other characters that treated this character badly. I think that this shows us as writers, that when our readers hate our characters, we can get them back by saying, “I’m going to make you like this character in their final moments.”

Now, I’m going to change the perspective again. By mentioning a character that everyone wanted to die originally on Game of Thrones and that is Prince Joffery. Yes, he treated Sansa poorly and was a disgusting human being, granted he was nothing like Ramsey Bolton. But still he had his moments where we wanted him to get what he deserved. However, then we think about his death, where he was poisoned did he actually deserve that kind of death?

I mean really think about it, as Lady Olena stated in her last speach, “I had never seen the poison work before. It must have been horrible to watch as a king’s guard but more as a father. Lips red, skin purple, vile spilling, him clawing at his throat.”

Take that all in and that scene of him dying with everything else that we know about the character, did he actually deserve this? Sure, I cheered like most everyone else when he died. But then when you take in her speech, he didn’t fully deserve it. Now Ramsey Bolton, on the other hand, yes, he deserved what he got. No, question asked. He deserved to be mauled to death by his dogs that he had not fed for days.

Granted, not every character’s death should make us readers feel bad or guilty for the way that we have been made to feel about them. But as writer’s there is a certain connection that we have with them. Good or other wise, they are like our children and as such we feel protective of them. We don’t want to hear bad things said about our characters and we do like any parent we want to make those pay for what they have done and said. This should be given some thought when we are setting our characters out into the world. But at the same time, will we be strong enough to play our cards close at hand and make our readers pay for all the nasty things that they have said about them in the past and make them care about them in their last moments?

We all have to make decisions about our stories, and we can have more leeway on this subject when we are writing a series versus a stand-alone book. Although, we can give another layer when we think about character and that is what will my reader think about them?

I hope that this helps your writing on this day. Until next time I hope that you have a great writing day!

Giving your Characters Poetic Justice

Have you ever written a character where something in their past was truly horrible? While you wrote about that character and their past, you thought do they deserve justice for that darken past? Granted, after all, you wrote the character and you gave them the ugly past that they never want to talk about. Shouldn’t you also give them the justice that they deserve?

This question has plagued my mind for a while and as I sit and think that yes, I should give that character justice. But I also think that maybe they don’t deserve justice for that past or whoever it was that hurt them in the past. However, my mind was changed again, after watching Grey’s Anatomy last night.

Here is the story one of the doctors ran away from an abusive ex-husband and he turns up in Seattle and finds where she is so that she can sign divorce papers. While he is there, she meets his new finance and she works really hard to convince the new woman in this man’s life to run away from him and never look back. Well, while that did not happen, something did happen to the ex-husband, he is hit by a car. While either woman thinks that the other woman is to blame for the man’s condition, it was actually a drunk driver, who hit the man. But before that revelation comes out, the man wants to leave the hospital but the new finance refuses to help him out of the hospital for she wants him to rot in prison for what he had done to her. But in his anger at the new finance, he hits his head on the end of the bed and is declared brain dead, at which point he is on life support and the one who can take him off of the machines is the original wife, who busts up laughing although, she says she’s sorry and then she cries. But she decides that she will take him off of life support and donate his organs. So was she given the justice that she deserves? While I think yes for the doctor but what about the other woman, yes she took off her engagement ring and she watched from the gallery as his organs were dispensed out, but was she given her justice? Yes, she would have preferred to have testified in court against him and see him rot in jail, I think that she also got the justice that she needed.

Granted, all characters may not get the justice that they deserve, but there are others that do get the justice that they deserve. Another great example that comes to mind is in Game of Thrones when the horrible, Ramsey Bolton gets imprisoned and he is mauled up by his dogs, that as he mentioned had not eaten for three days. While he was being eaten, one of his living victims, Sansa, leaves smiling at the justice that had been served to Ramsey. Another example, that comes to mind from Game of Thrones, is Little Finger’s death when it comes to light that he betrayed Ned Stark and his beloved wife Catlin, who Little Finger swore that he loved over and over again. What was even more poetic about it was that he was on his hands and knees gravling as his throat was slit just like Catlin’s was.

So then do heroes deserve just as much justice as the villains? I’ll leave that up to you, to decide. But I will say that maybe almost every character needs just a bit of justice.

 

The Importance of Human Life in Story

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of Twilight from the perspective of how it has been criticized for some bad things that are featured in the book. However, what I forgot to mention was how there was a theme that resonated throughout the book series, which was the importance of human life. When you really think about it that is the most important aspect that we as writers can bring to our writing is how important life can be. Let’s go back to looking at my favorite example that I have mentioned on here several times, The Hunger Games. Yes, as much as the book mentions death, there is still deep down the underlying theme that life is important. This comes up in the second book when Katniss is touring the other districts and she brings up Rue, who reminded her of her sister, Primrose. The thing that we find is how tragic her death was how Katniss is reminded of it again and again how Rue’s life was cut short and what could have been for Rue.

Granted, that is not a happy example of how important life is, but when you think about some of the other books that we read, like Charlotte’s Web. Fern really brings up in the first few pages that life is precious and that if she was a runt her family would not have disregarded like her father was going to do with the pig, who would become Wilbur.

But as much as these examples, show the importance of human life, we as authors can show the same through our characters. Yes, we have death in our stories, but at the same time, we need to show the balance of how life is important too and all the great things that come from living. Think back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, yes, Charlie Bucket’s life was doom and gloom but once he entered the chocolate factory he got to experience the wonder that was the factory. The same can be said of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy enters Oz and sees Muchkin City for the first time or even the Emerald City for that matter. These are wonders that they got to experience in their lives. I’m not taking away from Alice, but we did not find the same wonder that was explained to the reader as we did with Charlie or Dorothy for that matter.

That’s one thing that we need to do as readers, which is to show the wonder that can found in fiction let alone fantasy. As much as I like and love Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games, there is still something that can be said when a world can take a hold of you and show you the wonder that can make your imagination soar and show that life can be wonderful once you find that bit of magic.

Villains

Welcome, back to another week here at Faerie Rose Press! Last week talked about heroes and this week, I know that I said that I would talk about villains; however, due to what this week being and recent events in the news, I think that I will spend today talking about villains, and then the rest of the week talk about some other subjects related to writing.

When looking at heroes, the complete opposite is the villain. Villains have the same goal as the hero, except for it is evil in nature. Let’s take Frodo and the ring, for example. Frodo wants to the destroy the ring to save the Shire and Middle Earth, where as Sauron and his evil, dark servants want to reclaim the ring so that Sauron can gain his power and destroy Middle Earth and the race of men. When you look at Jon Snow and the Night King, Jon Snow wants to save Westeros from the Night King and the white walkers, where as the Night King, who is fascinated with Jon Snow, still wants to create his arm of the dead and destroy everyone in Westeros. That is what has been shown to us so far in the book and the show, but so far we still don’t know fully what the Night King wants. But whatever that goal is needs to somehow be similar to Jon’s while being evil.

Villains want to not only stop the hero(es) of the story but they also have an evil plan in mind. They have been hurt in the past, and they want revenge for that hurt. The Night King was one of the first men, the children of the forest take him, tie him up to the tree and basically put something painful in his chest, and he becomes the Night King. Originally the white walkers, were supposed to protect the forest and the children from the first men; however, they turn against the children and the forest creating their path of destruction. When you look at Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort, his hurt came from having a father, who abandoned not only him but his mother as well. He had a deep hate toward his father, who was a muggle. Furthermore, since he was a half-blood, much like Harry Potter, it seems that he would have wanted to perify the magical world from mud-bloods, who were those that no magical parents. Where as Harry Potter was a friend towards mud-bloods. The hurt of the abandonment for Voldemort was so deep rooted that he did not love, for he rather isolated himself, but he wanted to live forever. Unlike Harry, who accepted death.

When we talk about villains, they also have a weakness, and once this weakness is found out then the villain can be brought down. In Voldemort’s case it was after all the horcruxes had been destroyed that Voldemort could be finally be destroyed as well resulting in his death. In Sauron’s case it was when the ring was finally destroyed that he Mordor and all that remained of the evil lord’s soul was destroyed. Granted, we are still seeking out the Night King’s weakness, and once that is discovered then he too will be destroyed.

Villains are every interesting characters, in some cases I would say that they are more interesting than the heroes. Villains have a back story, which full explains how they became evil, this is where the hurt comes to play, they have a weakness, and that weakness can be shown how they can be destroyed. Furthermore, villains in some cases show up later in stories, as either a big bad or they are hinted throughout the story. Villains in some cases can be cool.

I hope that you have enjoyed today’s discussion on villains. If you like what I have written, please, like or comment down below.

Hero’s Week is over (sadness)

We have come to the end of Heroe’s week. It has been fun talking about the different types of heroes that we face in literature. Now once we have our hero, what do we do to them? We put them on a journey of course. A hero must be on a journey, whether it be self discovery, saving a whole town from certain doom, whatever it is they must have a journey and a purpose.

The hero’s journey basically goes from everything is going fine, and then something changes. This change impacts the hero of the story, along with a few other characters, but the hero is the most impacted, and they want to make a change. Remember that quote from yesterday, “Heroes don’t except the way that the world is, for they fight it.” Well, that is true for heroes.

Let’s look at Game of Thrones‘ Jon Snow, for he does not want to stay at Winterfell and just be looked down upon by his step-mother, for he wants to go to the wall, to server a higher purpose. Granted, after he gets to the wall, he has a hard time accepting how things are as far as how he is treated. Of course, he fights it but he also thinks that he is better than his other brothers at the wall.

Furthermore, when you look at the hero’s journey, there is that desire to flee, or deny the call. In Jon’s case, the he tries to flee after his father, Ed Stark, is killed at King’s Landing. Then again when his half-brother, Robb Stark, is killed. He also on his journey beyond the wall, starts to have a distrust of his brothers at the wall and what they stand for, and so he leaves his brothers for a short time, and joins the wildlings, but then goes back to the Night’s Watch, due to he had to save them from the impending fight against the wildlings.

Along the hero’s journey, the hero must face the big bad villain. In Game of Thrones the big bad is the Night King. Time and Time again, Jon has faced the Night King and the white walkers. His first encounter with the Night King came at Hardhome, when Jon is feeling Hardhome with a few of the wildlings and a few of his Night Watch brothers. During this first encounter, Jon witnesses the power that the Night King has to create white walkers from the dead. As a fan this was the first moment for me when I felt like “Oh crap! We’re screwed!” I will talk about my plan to survive the white walkers when we get towards the end of next season.

So we have seen the big bad, now what is next for the hero? Well, he is someone how taken down, to his lowest point. In Jon’s case, the low was when four of his fellow brothers in the Night Watch killed him, granted, he is brought back to life, but for the most part he is killed. It is after this that he leaves the Night’s Watch, and goes to become King of the North, after fight Ramsey Bolton. Yes, Ramsey is a villain, but he is not the big bad as the Night King. Ramsey is just a mere stepping stone on Jon’s way to reclaiming Winterfell. After he claims Winterfell, he tries to get allies to help in the battle that is to come against the Night King and the white walkers.

Along the way there is a revelation that comes for the hero, either the hero knows this or will find out, but the reader’s know this. In the case with Jon Snow, it’s that he is not Ed Stark’s son, for he is a Targaryen, which was once an important family in the world of Game of Thrones. But before this revelation, there is another battle with the big bad, and this time he get’s an important weapon on his side. A dragon, and not just any dragon, a makes a white-walker out of a dead dragon. Granted, at this point we are screwed for this dragon can fly and melt ice, furthermore, it gives the Night King a huge advantage over Jon.

In the climax/falling action of the story, Jon will have to gain some advantage or learn the weakness of the Night King, and when that happens the big bad will be going down. When that will be, who knows, but there will be some weakness that will be discovered and once it’s discovered, the final battle will be not only about strength but about knowledge as well. Then in the end, the survivors, such as our hero will live a happily ever after or however he chooses to live his life in Westeros.

I hope that you have liked today’s conclusion to Hero’s week. I hope you will come back, next week for an exciting installment on villains.