Due to time and technology issues, the last three days of my lightning series are going to be posted all together, followed by a separate post with the ending (parts 4 & 5) of my own fanfiction. I’ll be honest with you guys, doing the research into fanfictions and their history was fascinating. Writing one, on the other hand, was very uncomfortable and I’m so glad it’s over! Writing about real-life people as if they were fictional characters is, well… I thought it was really creepy (but that’s just my opinion about writing fanfics myself). That’s why I’m going to stick with works of 100% fiction.
Yeah, that’s more my style anyway!
Elements of Fanfictions
What are the things that make a fanfiction obvious? What elements will you always be able to find in (almost) ANY fanfiction???
1) Characters outside of their realms. This is definitely the most obvious of the elements, but I thought I’d include it anyway because, well, it’s the most obvious of the elements. If you come across a character you recognize but he or she is not living in the world they were written in, or if they’ve changed mediums completely (i.e. a television character is now the star persona of a short story), you are almost definitely reading a fanfiction. Especially if the misplaced character is behaving, well, out of the norm. Like, hmm, if they are suddenly in love with one of their fellow bandmates (*cough*cough every One Direction fanfiction EVER).
2) Famous [people] in a small town. (And, yes, I did steal that from the Miranda Lambert song title). There is a .0000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance (practically infinity) that Josh Hutcherson is going to knock on my door and be like, “Hello, I was driving down the Michigan highway when I got lost and–oh, oh wow, you’re pretty. Let’s date.” There are so many things wrong with that sentence alone… I just can’t… Don’t get your hopes up, people, that’s all I’m saying.
One day, Josh, you and me!
3) The Prince(ss) and Pauper. Isn’t it just lovely–and completely unrealistic–when the main character of a film/television show/novel/manga/anime falls in love with a person from… the real world?
Wait… what did I just read? Who’s Karen? Why is Gale marrying Karen??? WHO IS KAREN?!?!?! Oh, it’s a fanfiction. Never mind, I get it.
4) Grammer thats done not-so good. This happens to be a bad stereotype of fanfiction that stems from, what I believe to be, the fact that people are writing these stories as a form of self-expression and not to be sold to a publishing house. There is no editing filter that they are forcing on their works. The writing community tends to take this as a reason to dislike fanfiction (although in the past couple of years the genre has blown up to the point of being incapable of being ignored). Grammar should not be a key reason for disliking fanfiction; I was over-impressed with how many really good stories there were out there with pristine grammar. Of course, then there were those that made me cringe on the inside, but you have to take the bad with the good!
There are 5 basic ratings a fanfiction can fall under, all of which coincide with a rating for the (American) cinema.
K [for kids]– a.k.a. G rating
K+ [for older kids]– a.k.a. PG rating
T [for teens]– a.k.a. PG-13 rating
M [for mature]– a.k.a. R rating
MA [for mature adults]– a.k.a. NC-17 rating (or what used to be known as an X rating)
Basically, MA is the porn of the writing world, extreme erotica. MA is actually banned on most fanfiction websites due to the fact that it is not exactly suitable for everyone.
To make these ratings even more clear, I added an “in Mel’s terms” additional description:
[K] = Anyone could read this. You could give it to your grandmother and not be embarrassed. Do it! Give it to Gam Gam!
[K+] = There may be a small curse word or two, nothing too serious. Maybe a kiss, nothing too touchy-feely. Kind of like Shrek! (Dudes, there are more curse words in that movie than I realized as a child).
[T] = There’s sucking face and maybe a grope or two. (What a creepy word… grope). It’s more of a “second base” kind of thing, inching toward third.
[M] = Really freaking hard to find. Think of it as pre-porn. Not quite visual enough to be rated X, but definitely enough to get the point across.
[MA] = Um… yeah…
What Type of Fanfic Should You Write?
So, how do you know what to write about? What topic should you choose? What characters? What should happen? What rating level should it be (are you really ready to write teen/mature)?
Where to begin…
Fanfiction is all about exploring new ideas with already established characters. In a way, it’s cheating for a good cause! And what is that good cause? Creative self-expression. Writing is one of those creative mediums that helps us to discover exactly what it is we think about life (not to be overly philosophical because, frankly, I hate reading that kind of writing. So, I’ll just stop it there).
Basically, that was a long way of me telling you that fanfiction is a completely opinion-based writing genre.
Do you believe that Katniss should have chosen Gale, the handsome best-friend, over Peeta, the handsome baker-kid who has been in love with her since forever? (May I insert here that I am not of this opinion. Peniss foreva!!!) Are you of the opinion that, jeesh, Stephanie Meyer does not know how to end a series properly, but YOU DO!
Fanfiction is completely up to the fans (duh, Mel, duh), which means you could take any story/theme/setting/plot point/character that you are passionate/curious/intrigued/angry/etc. about and do with him/her/it whatever you please. Feel free to cross mediums to your little heart’s content! Fanfictions have no boundaries; it’s, I’m sure, why they’ve become so popular. Now people are able to answer their own questions as to why Mary and Marshall didn’t get together at the end of In Plain Sight, why Pascal from Tangled didn’t have a cute chameleon girlfriend, or why Will and Elizabeth have yet to return in Pirates of the Caribbean!!!
As far as what rating category you should write in: do whatever is most comfortable for you. For example, if you have two characters who fall in love, maybe they are a little more, how should I say it, hands on? There: teen rating. But maybe you are writing a…um…fanfiction about One Direction *cough*cough* and it feels really awkward to write about them because they are real, living people. In that case, you might write a kid rating. It all depends.
Fanfiction lightning series: COMPLETE!
I hope I have helped/taught/informed you about something. If not, I hope this was interesting for you. It was definitely a different experience for me, but now I can say I understand a lot more than I did before. Am I going to continue writing fanfictions after this? Not a chance. Still, it was cool learning about it.
Expect parts 4 & 5 (the end of my own little fanfic) tomorrow.