The Comfort of an Old Familiar Story

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I’ve been rereading some older stories I wrote so I can finish a series of them, and I have this nostalgic coming home feeling as I read through them again.  It’s been really nice, since I’ve been struggling to write a bit lately.  I decided to return to, and hopefully finish, a fan fiction series I spent a lot of time on right after graduate school.

I’m not going to get into the fandom part of this, but my series focuses on original characters and the cannon side characters rather than the main cast, so it leans heavily toward original even though it’s fan fiction.  I use fan fiction as a place to experiment and explore.  It’s a way to practice my craft, and share a good story, and I don’t ever want to profit from that, even accidentally, which is why I don’t usually talk about it here on the blog.

I wrote most of the series of fics between 2009 and 2011.  There are a few I continued working on for the five years after that, but much less frequently.  In the past couple years, I’ve started rereading them with an eye toward finishing the series.  I just wrote the last two chapters of one that had been incomplete for years, and now I’m reading the next partially finished one so I can work on wrapping that up too.  There’s something so comforting about reading a story I already know.  It’s been a while, so there are lines that surprise me, or startle a laugh out of me, but for the most part, I’m reading a story I already know.  It’s a little like going back and rereading my favorite book.  I know I love it, and I can look forward to that as I read it again.

One of the pieces of advice I often see for authors is to write for a very specific audience.  You have to keep that audience in your mind as you write.  Your work might appeal to more than that narrow definition, but the more concrete your audience, the easier it is to write something specifically for them.  I’ve always found that my ideal reader (my intended audience) turns out to be myself.  I write stories that I want to read.  There are a lot of things I want to read, so there’s broad appeal (hopefully) for a lot of my stories, but first and foremost I’m writing for me.

This is especially true of fan fiction.  I think most fan fiction authors are really writing it for themselves, but I extend that thought into my original works as well.  When I reread a draft, I enjoy it, because I’m writing precisely the kind of story I most love to read.  It doesn’t much matter if it’s a fan fiction or an original work.  If I don’t enjoy rereading it, odds are good I’m never going to finish it, revise it, or edit it for publication.

It’s been a really hard year and a half, and I expect it will be a fairly hard next six months with the various transitions ahead of me, so I’m trying to take comfort in the familiarity of a story I know and love, and with luck that will translate into writing an ending for it once I’m finished rereading.  Returning to my old fan fiction haunts feels a little like coming home after a long time away.  I’m reconnecting with friends and readers, and I’m reconnecting with the characters I created to share the world of the series I loved so much.

Image Prompt Response 065 – Children in Snow

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I chose the image of the snow-covered patio furniture for my twenty-minute sprint this week.  This incorporates characters (all my originals) from my fanfic, so if anyone found me by way of that, you may recognize some of them.  Also, the inspiration to write with them again was all Manda’s fault 8-P.  (But I love her for it, so it’s fine.)

Children in Snow:

Síneag pushed the curtains back from the sliding glass door and was greeted by the brightness that came after a snow storm.  The world had turned white, and their patio furniture was covered in fluffy snow.  It looked like they’d only gotten four or five inches in the end.

The children would have fun playing in the snow later, she was sure.  Jenn had said they were all going to come by late morning to see Síneag and let everyone visit.  She’d been looking forward to it for weeks.

Leaving the curtains open to allow the light in, Síneag went about cleaning everything up and making sure anything that wasn’t child safe was carefully put away or out of reach.  She double checked that the basement door was locked as well.  As much as Ira loved the children, she knew he wouldn’t want them to see him during the day.  They might be very familiar with vampires, but that didn’t mean they needed to see one that appeared dead.

By the time she had everything cleaned up and child-safe, it was already after ten.  They would be there soon.

Síneag could hear them before they even made it to the door, which just made her laugh as she headed in that direction, opening the front door and watching Jenn, Jess, and Kim struggle to keep the children headed toward the door rather than out into the snow in Síneag’s yard.

“Don’t you want breakfast first?” Síneag called.  “I’m making French toast,” she added, knowing the children loved it.

There was a chorus of cheers as the three barreled toward the front porch.

“Snow stays outside!” Jess called after them.

The three tumbled to a stop on the porch, the twins stomping their feet to get the snow off them and encouraging their tiny sister to do the same.

“Close enough,” Síneag said to the three when they’d knocked most of the snow from their boots.  “You can leave your books here by the door,” she added as she stepped back to let them in.  It was such a delight to see the twins quickly deal with their own boots, and then help their sister before their mother and aunts even made it up the steps.  They shed their coats as well and headed for the kitchen.

“Thank you for inviting us,” Jess said as they walked in.  “They’re going to have such fun sledding in the back yard.”

“It’s always wonderful to see you and the children,” Síneag said.  “The twins are growing up so fast I feel that if I blink I’ll miss it.”

“You and me both,” Jess replied.  “It’s been surreal.”

Síneag nodded.  The three had rather unique heritage, and that led to some very interesting talents and growth even as young as they were.

Síneag made everyone breakfast and it was a bright, lively time.  Her kitchen was full of laughter and she loved it.  Things could be so quiet during the day while Ira wasn’t with her.  She was getting spoiled since they moved here.  She had far more friends and more chances to interact with others than she had while they were still living in hiding.

Once everyone had eaten their fill, the kids ran back to the entryway to pull their snow gear back on.

“Mom, do you think we could shift after sledding?” Jess’s little boy asked.

“If Auntie Síneag thinks it’s safe, you could shift in the house and then go out to play in the snow,” Jess replied.

“They’re still small aren’t they?” Síneag asked.  “As long as they’d be easily mistaken for dogs, no one in the neighborhood will think anything of it.”

“They’re still small enough,” Jenn said.  “But probably not for much longer.”

The twins cheered at that pronouncement.

“But only after you’ve had your fill of sledding and your sister is done too,” Jess said.

“We know,” the twins chorused.  They loved their little sister, so Síneag had no doubt they’d make sure she was completely exhausted from too much fun.

Síneag bundled up as well and lead them all out through the garage so they could gather the sleds and go out the side door that was inside the fence that surrounded the back.  They had a good bit of property, but they’d fenced in enough of the yard to make it safe for the children to play and for the occasional shifter to take their animal form where they would be safe.

Kim ended up on the hill with the children, helping them get settled on their sleds and pushing them off down the kill.  Jenn and Jess stayed on the deck with Síneag, brushing the snow off a few of the chairs so they could sit.

“You’re sure the neighbors won’t think anything is amiss?” Jess asked softly.

“They look like black German shepherds,” Síneag replied.  “Besides, with us here with them, no one is going to think of anything before they think dog.”

“Relax,” Jenn said, reaching over to rub her sister’s back.  “The kids are safe here.  And if anything major were going to happen, Kim would be sure to tell us.”

Jess nodded.  She had such faith in her sister.  So did Síneag when it came down to it.  That’s part of why they’d bought the house.  Kim had seen them happy here.

F is for Fan Fiction About Real People: Coopting the Real

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If you stumbled upon me through the A to Z Blog Challenge, welcome.  If not, check out the challenge and all those participating at their site.

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My strange thing of the day is fan fiction about real people.

To be clear, I find fan fiction itself to be a useful way of practicing and experimenting with writing in a low-stakes environment.  As an author, I view it as aligning with the idea that imitation is the highest form of flattery.  If someone writes fan fiction in your world with your characters, it means they really love them.

But when the characters in the fan fiction are actually real people, it just gets strange in my opinion.  Not least of which because of the tendency of many (not all) fan fiction writers to delve into the sexual with their fan fiction plots.

As an author, I would be thrilled to find a story someone wrote about my characters because they loved my world.  As a human being, I would be disturbed to find a story written about me by someone I didn’t know, or someone I did for that matter. Continue reading

My Thoughts on Fan Fiction

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Fan fiction can be a hotly contested topic in certain circles.  You can find fans who are very loyal to their favorite authors in their fandom, their favorite characters, or whatever their pet plot point is.  Then there are author reactions.  Some authors can be rabidly anti-fan-fiction.

I try to take a more relaxed approach, and not just because I write the occasional fan fiction piece of my own.  I like to see fan fiction as being an extension of the idea that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

So if I ever discovered fan fiction set in one of my worlds somewhere on the internet I think I’d be overwhelmed with joy.  That meant someone loved my world and my characters enough to want to play along.  I tell people, only partially jokingly, that if I ever become rich and famous, I want to run my own fan fiction site.  I want to make it nice, and have moderators, and some quality control for grammar and typos (but not content), and be able tin interact with fans who like my work enough to write some of their own.

Think about it.  You’ll nave have a more loyal fan and reader than a fan fiction writer.  They’ll be the first to buy your new book, and the fan fiction site could be a great place to converse with fans, and even get ideas from them.  As a fan fiction writer, I always thought it would be so neat to find out the author liked an idea I had, a scene I wrote, or a take I had on a character.  I’d like to be the kind of author who could offer that kind of interaction for fans.

And while I don’t expect to be rich and famous in the near future, it could happen.  And in the meantime, I’ll continue to use fan fiction as a place where I can experiment with my writing and learn new techniques and get valuable feedback from passionate fellow readers.

The important thing about fan fiction is to make absolutely zero claims on the characters or world that don’t belong to you and zero money, unless you’re on Kindle Worlds, in which case you should play by the rules and be grateful to the author who allowed their world to be posted there.

Now be honest, have you ever written any fan fiction?  Did you know that’s what it was at the time?  Did you ever share it?