Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The writing process in fan-fiction

I have a friend who writes fan-fiction stories.  Fan-fiction is based on original works (also called canonical fictional universes) from which writers may borrow characters or settings. Fan-fiction is almost never professionally published because their origins belong to the original author. Writers may alter the events in a character's life from the original, or put the characters in a different setting or situation. On FanFiction.Net, authors serialize their work, posting chapters one by one. Reviews are frequent. Commenters provide constructive criticism and communicate with writers.

The author I know is onto her third novel published online. Her stories contain druids, elves, mages, rogues, and humans set in the Warcraft fantasy universe.

Blizzard Entertainment developed the Warcraft franchise which includes video games and novels and other media. A film adaptation of Warcraft is rumoured to be released in 2013.

My fellow writer has a different approach to writing than I but her techniques are used often in fan-fiction. She publishes a chapter at a time online. Her first story was over twenty chapters. Her second was longer. When I asked how she is able to complete and post chapters one by one, she says that she only plans a few chapters ahead at a time. She may have an overall idea of the outcome or conclusion of a story, but the details and crafting are done step by step. When she gets closer to the end, she'll think it through and formulate the twists and turns and ins and outs in more detail. After she received some feedback on one story, she went back and edited one crucial chapter but she didn't need to edit very much.

I was impressed that she could write a book this way. I edit a lot and go back and flesh out different details. What I learned from her is that one should have a strong sense of story structure including the overall story arc and minor threads. Continuity is as important as conflict. She also arranges different scenes in a chapter to open and end each one on strong note for best impact. Her use of cliffhangers create tension and suspense. She has an amazing ability to create big climaxes with fight scenes including magic as weapons. Her characters are imaginary but each have believable motivations, emotions and behaviour which are consistent. I think her stories are mainly plot-driven but the main characters do evolve and go through a transition as in other types of fiction.

By the time I read the final chapters of her first serialized book, I was so excited I flew through them. Her sentence structure is fluid like a dance with rhythm. I would say her stories are popular and she has fans of her own.

So for the next book I write, I'm going to spend a lot more time preparing before actually writing. It will save me a lot of headaches later.

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