Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Transitioning from Fanfiction

A Look at Transitioning from Fanfiction

If you first wrote in someone else’s universe, and now you want to claim your own, you may be transitioning from fanfiction.

Going from Fan Fiction Writing to Wholly Original Writing

It’s more than just ‘filing off a few serial numbers’. In particular, wholly obvious plot conventions and details may need to be nixed completely. Transporter room, anyone? Tatooine? Two brothers fighting demons? A bunch of sparkly vampires? Yeah, you get the idea. You’ll probably need to change any of those radically.

How Writing Fanfiction Can Help You

It teaches you how to follow continuity. And it can keep you writing when you’re stuck. Writing begets more writing (even fan fiction!). So it pays to keep going. You are better off, in terms of preventing writer’s block, to just keep on writing. Hence, if all else fails, go with fan fiction. Of course there are plenty of places to post it online. Here’s one.

How Writing Fanfiction Can Hurt You

The problem is, it does not teach you how to make your own world. Hence it can hamper your growth in this area. Furthermore, if you are not used to making your own characters, it can hurt you there, as well.

Flip Your Perception

So consider what the foundational IP (intellectual property) does, and why it matters to you as you start the process of transitioning.

  • Interesting stories – spend some time deconstructing your favorites. Where did the writers hand-wave a problem away? Also, where did they get confusing? In addition, where did they deliver on the promise of their teaser/preview?
  • Compelling characters – why do the canon characters matter to you? Again, engage in some deconstruction. Forget who plays a character. So consider how you would feel about a character if someone else played them. Furthermore, consider how you would feel if the character’s gender and/or sexuality were swapped. Would you feel different if the character was of a race different from the current actor’s? Be your own casting director. Who, living or dead, could play the role better?

More Ideas

  • Fascinating scenes – even within a familiar place, commercial intellectual property exists inside its own bucket. It might be a city block, a hospital, a car driving across the country, or somewhere else. But what would happen if the scene shifted? Does the work succeed if it moves from Milwaukee to San Diego to Angkor Wat?
  • Action-driving plots – what kicks things off? If it’s a television program, what happened during the pilot? Did someone new move in? Did someone lose their job? Attend their own wedding? Have a kid? Graduate? Get arrested? Would the storyline still work if the pilot was different?
  • Believable effects, makeup, costumes, lighting, scenery, etc. – technology is a part of onscreen fiction writing. New techniques are constantly being invented. This helps studios save money but also enhance believability. What happens if an older show or film gets new makeup and green screening? Does that help the story, or harm it?

Blaze Your Own Trail

For every exciting intellectual property out there, whether it’s books, films, YouTube videos, TV programs, or something else, it all started somewhere.

So what is your story? Who are your characters?

Who knows? Maybe someday someone will want to write fan fiction about your work.

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