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Found an old fanfic I had written...

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Amanita, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    Well, I’ve finished the story I’ve been working on for the last few months. I haven’t yet published anything ;) and therefore haven’t reached the stage where I have to create three books a year or anything like that. That’s why I want to wait a while before starting revision.

    Anyway, curiosity gripped me and I looked through older stuff I’ve written and saved on my computer. There I stumbled over a Harry Potter-fanfiction I had written in 2009. And well, this stuff was really, really good.
    I had to force myself to leave the PC before I had finished reading through the 20 chapters because I had other things to do of course. It’s really the first time, that something like that’s happened to me with my own writing.
    Just, that it isn’t really mine.
    I feel the desire to finish that story now (I stopped in the middle back then) but rationally, I know that this isn’t really useful. The German Harry Potter fandom has almost died anyway, so I wouldn’t even find many readers for free and it wouldn’t help me with my “hopeful-writing career” ahem.

    The story has Bellatrix Lestrange, her husband Rodolphus and Neville Longbottom as its narrators; Neville’s parents are also playing an important part, for anyone who’s familiar with Harry Potter. Bellatrix is a relatively prominent villain character but my version of her has probably very little in common with that of JK Rowling, Rodolphus is nothing more than a name in the books; Neville is one of the more central characters.
    It's pretty dark as fromer HP readers might be able to guess. ;)

    And now the most frustrating part and something I can’t really explain to myself. All three fanfic characters seem to be much more three-dimensional than my own and for some odd reason; I’ve been more successful in writing the world from their eyes than I’ve ever been with mine. Some of the flaws I’ve noticed when having my characters experience strong emotions simply don’t exist there.
    My own characters always remain more distant, despite of the fact that I’ve been working with those characters since 2007.

    Does anyone have any idea, why this might be and what I could do about it?

    Thank you for reading. :)
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  2. Zireael

    Zireael Troubadour

    Maybe it's because in your own work, you have to do everything from the ground up and in fanfic, half the work is done for you: the world and the personalities.
  3. Really? That sounds odd. I have a hard time getting readers for my own Harry Potter fanfic for the exact opposite reason.

    I don't know about Germany but internationally speaking, the Harry Potter fanfiction community is goddamned enormous. On Fanfiction.net, it has more fics than any other category by a huge marigin, three times as many as Twilight in second place and roughly twice the other Top 5 book categories put together.

    So, it's kinda hard to get any real and lasting attention, because your fic kinda disappears in the crowd and is never seen again. ^^;
  4. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I know what you mean - I sometimes feel some of my fanfic is actually some of my best work. Maybe because there's no pressure - for the main part, nobody but me is ever going to see it, I'm not trying to achieve anything with it except tell a story I enjoy, and when I write it, it's because I want to, not because I feel I need to make some progress on something I'm hoping to maybe publish. Fanfic is no pressure, there's a framework in place in the form of the world and most of the characters so I don't need to worry about legwork and if I forget something, I just bust out the DVDs or check the book or look it up on Wikipedia (or the appropriate fandom wiki) and it's solved. I don't need to make decisions all the time about names for new characters, places, events and so on (which sometimes does hold up my writing, or at least distract me long enough to pull me out of the zone while I go looking through fantasy name generators for the perfect name and get distracted by twitter) and I can have as many versions of the same events as I like, because it's only for me.

    As far as the characterisation goes, though, I wonder if it's more that because you know the characters fairly well from book and movie, you sort of fill in the gaps when reading fanfiction - you know how they're going to talk and so on already, so as long as everything's roughly in character your memory of other reading and watching of the character fleshes it out where the words in the fanfic don't actually exist. Not having read your fanfic I can't really say if this is the case for you, but I suspect it is for me, at least in part.

    Plus, having seen the characters on the screen, with actors and everything, there's more to them in the way they talk and move that you know than can easily be portrayed in prose. I didn't feel any of the main three actors in Harry Potter were right for the roles when the first film came out, but by the third they were so ingrained in my head as those characters that I started reading their diologue in the books in the voices of the actors.

    So if that is the case it might be better to mentally assign actors to your characters and think about the way they speak in a particular movie or TV series. The danger with that lies in making your character too much like the character they play in said movie or TV series, but as long as the personality is noticably different and its only the mannerisms, the meter of speech, the language and so on you adopt and not the whole character it could work.
    Amanita likes this.
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    If you believe your fan-fic to be that good, I would suggest taking it, changing the characters names and setting (maybe you could drop it into your fictional world, if you have one?) and make an independant tale rather than fanfic.
    Zireael likes this.
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I totally agree with Chilari's post.

    One of the things she mentioned about casting your own characters with actors, I do that. Not to all my characters, but certain ones will just be of a certain 'base type' of person that just happens to correspond to an actor/actress. So I imagine them moving and speaking as my characters as I write. I find it helps me remain consistent with the cadence of their voice, and it helps me find it again if I haven't written them in a bit.

    Another thing, if your characters don't feel three dimensional, I'd venture a guess that maybe you haven't dug deep enough into your character's pasts and have produced as much material about them as there is of the Harry Potter characters.

    I find that when I dig deeper into my characters, I realize what I though drove them is only the tip of the iceberg.

    I find that fleshing out a character starts with knowing three things. What's their work life like? What's there play life like? What their home life like? And understanding why each of these situations is the way it is helps me understand the character better as a whole.

    Any way my two cents.
  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Thinker's suggestion sounds like a really good one. Shame to throw away what you consider to be a good story. That way you'd be able to justify taking it to a conclusion and maybe get some good out of it.
  8. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    Thank you for your answers everyone.

    The fact that all the world-building has been done and that I only have to care about plot and characters probably is an aspect of it.
    I don’t think I’m affected by the movies all that much because they never managed to change the mental pictures I had formed after reading the books which I did way before watching them. In some cases, I’m actually quite annoyed by the way the characters have been portrayed in the movies.
    Still, I think that “casting” your own characters can be a helpful tool which I use sometimes.

    I think I’ve figured out what the main difference is.
    In Harry Potter, there’s a very close relationship between heroes and villains. Everyone went to the same school, there’s one government, one prison, one hospital and so on. Dumbledore used to be Voldemort’s teacher; most families have members on both sides of the conflict and so on. There’s something very personal about the conflict, characters often know their opponents really well.
    That’s completely different in my own story. The three narrating characters are from three different nations with different cultures. The main character herself is travelling from one country to another but unlike in Harry Potter, the place where she comes from isn’t unimportant.
    The conflict initially isn’t personally about her. She and her family are random victims of something caused by the villains. Later, they’re after her because she knows something she shouldn’t and she’s trying to tell the right people in time. Still, the impacts her actions are having on the overall world are much smaller than is the case in the Harry Potter-world.
    I’ve actually considered making it more personal, but it doesn’t really work. The nature of the conflict and of the magic as well are making it almost impossible.
    Therefore I probably have to accept the fact that it’s simply a different kind of story.

    Maybe I should really try to create something of my own based on the fanfic. It’s more about dealing with those who are ill than accepting death like Harry Potter itself and also about a child’s love for his parents rather than a mother’s sacrifice for the child, working with themes raised there from a different angle. I don’t really think anyone would recognize the characters if they were in a different setting, “my” Bellatrix doesn’t have much in common either with the person JK Rowling presented in her last book or with most fans’ version of her. (Deathly Hallows didn’t really have me change the characterization I had made before.) Neville is the only “problem” because he’d probably be recognizable.
    Maybe it’d be worth a try. The author of Shades of Grey was quite successful when turning a fanfic into an original story after all
  9. Zireael

    Zireael Troubadour

    Try that - I second ThinkerX's opinion.

    Four words: not a good example.
  10. If your goal is to be a successful, published author (using the usual criteria for those terms), then don't write fanfiction. Yes, it's writing practice, which is good; but every hour you spend on fanfic you could instead be spending on original material, which you then might be able to make money off of, which you can't with fanfiction.

    If you want to write fanfiction just for fun in your "free time," go for it; although I'd argue that if you're really trying to be a successful author, you don't have any free time, because all your free time is spend working on your career. ;)
  11. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. I got into writing fanfic for a bit and it was a nice way to rejuvenate my writing. However, it was kind of like throwing water into a basket. I could just as easily use my own work to sharpen writing skills anyway. I would see if there was a way you could tweak this fanfic until it produced something solidly yours. Besides, you deserve full credit for your work just the same way someone else does and I have slowly come to see fanfic in a different light now.
  12. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    You're probably right when claiming that writing fanfic will not be too much use. ;)
    I've just been wondering about doing a bit of it, because I'm at the stage where I'm deciding what to write next at the moment. When I've done that, I'm going to have to plan before I can start the writing, so I thought it might be better than doing no actual writing at all for this period.
    I'll see.
  13. I do not think that is a good idea. What makes a good fanfic isn't necessarily the same thing that makes a good original story. Plus, if you can actually turn your fanfic into an original story just by changing the names and altering the setting a bit, you probably wrote it wrong to begin with. If Amanita has done it right, it will still be Harry Potter.

    Eh. By the same reasoning, one should not devote any time to reading books, because that's time you can spend writing them.

    Yes, you have to prioritize your time, but I think spending some of it on things other than writing once in a while is permissable. Some of us have other interests as well, like learning how to play musical instruments or drawing or cooking food or practicing martial arts, etc, etc.

    And as wastes of time go, fanfiction is probably a lot more beneficial to your writing than any of those things I just mentioned.

    Well, of course. Writing fanfiction is a hobby, pretty much by definition. I don't think anybody has seriously tried to argue otherwise.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
    Chilari likes this.

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