Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of Art, Affairs, and Angst

I'm in the middle of reworking my next manuscript, and I have a confession to make: while I edit and work with original characters and concepts, I've been cheating.

I've been having an affair.

Each morning I've spent in the arms of a new love, that of fan fiction. I've written quite a few stories (never ever to reach the light of day) about existing characters, ones someone else created.

It's an intoxicating exercise, one many view as degrading. "What's next, One Direction stories about Harry Stiles?"

If you think about it, fan fiction has been alive for centuries. Medieval bards sang lays about heroes his audience already knew. And more recently, some of the most successful books and movies center around previous writings: Wicked. Les Miserables, the Broadway opera. Once Upon A Time. 

Fan fiction is despised, but it shouldn't be. After all, those writers ask the question inspiring authors everywhere: What if...?

What if The Wicked Witch of the West was friends with her sister?

In writing and posting my fics, I've learned something very important. Angst is one of the most vital components of a good story, and it is also one I avoided for years. My characters were understanding, reasonable people for the most part. They accepted their fates head-on instead of railing at tragedy and the other characters.

There's no one to blame but myself for this; I really suck at drama in real-life. I'm not a Real Housewife. When anger boils up, I'm the one scurrying away just as quickly as possible. If I do have to confront an issue, you can safely bet I'll do it in the worst possible way.

A moment for a deep breath - that's a huge revelation, by the way. Make of it what you will.

In any case, with copious feedback from the fan fiction sites, I see there must be no more scurrying and hiding from angst and drama. A slew of overly calm characters will quickly grow dull and bore the audience - and this from the calmest person possible. (...unless, of course, my back yard is on fire.)

So as I rewrite my next book, the largest note in red letters to myself is: PUMP UP THE ANGST. SQUASH THE CALM.

Whether I follow that line of reasoning in my own life remains to be seen.


Connie J Jasperson said...

Oh my dear! Unless we are writing an autobiography or news-copy, we are ALL writing fan-fiction! We all have authors whose work we admire, and who inspired us to set a pen to paper--in my case it was Anne McCaffrey.

And to be honest, there are so many authors writing genre-fiction nowadays, I don't think it is easy to come up with a completely original, never been seen before type of story. We all write as originally as we can, but they are all riffs on work that has gone before, variations on early books by authors from Tolkien, to McCaffrey, to Mickey Spillane, to Agatha Christie, and even Margaret Mitchell -- we write what we want to read.

I actually began my professional career writing bad fan-fiction for a gaming website. (hangs head)

Alison DeLuca said...

To be perfectly honest, there is some amazing writing on fanfic sites out there.

Unknown said...

Ladies I enjoy your writing emensely, probably because I love all the above mentioned writers and subjects. Not surprising I have two daughters who were once known online as "The Snarky Sisters" because they both wrote rather snarky fan fiction and both did it rather well! I don't have the slightest idea where they get it. I know.... when will I begin?