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The big thing I miss about writing fanfic

25 July 2015

From author Ada Maria Soto:

I used to write a lot of fanfic. It’s how I cut my teeth as a writer. I turned out close to a million words of fic before I tried to sell an original piece. It was after I wrote a 120,000 word piece of fic where several people made the comment that I should be selling original work that I took a deep breath and submitted my first novel.

Now that I’m writing professionally and turning out a good deal less fic I find there are several things I miss. One is the ability to be a bit lazy. No one is paying for my fic so I didn’t feel bad putting out something that’s only had a quick edit that I wrote at three in the morning. I tell people it was written quickly at three in the morning and people just shrug and say ‘we’re reading this quick at three in the morning’.

The big thing I miss though is the feedback and interaction with that feedback. Yes when you write pro you get long detailed reviews, which you’re told not to read. There is amazon which you’re not supposed to reply to. It seems like Goodreads blows up at least once a month when an author responds to a review. I know to ignore the haters but there is this idea going around that you shouldn’t respond to the good reviews either.

I’ve realized it’s a matter of space and audience. Reviews are readers talking to other readers, not the author.

. . . .

When I was writing fic it wasn’t like that. I would post chapters on my LiveJournal or AO3 account, then readers would comment directly to me. I was not just allowed to respond but I was expected to respond. And the feedback was blow by blow. One chapter at a time. Love for new characters, questions and theories on what might happen next, curses for chapter cliffhangers.

Link to the rest at The Electric Ink of Ada Maria Soto and thanks to Cooper for the tip.

Here’s a link to Ada Maria Soto’s books


19 Comments to “The big thing I miss about writing fanfic”

  1. Wait, I was supposed to stop writing fanfic? That must be one of those contract clauses I skipped out on by publishing my own work.

  2. I remember back in the day when I would play City of Heroes with Misty Lackey. She wrote so many novels for her day job…then, to relax, she’d roleplay and write CoH fanfic. 🙂

  3. I feel the same way about responding to reviews both as a reader and a writer of fic. In fact, if I wrote a review on a story, and didn’t get a response, I would consider the writer rude, and I probably wouldn’t review them again. That created a lot of turmoil when I first got reviews as an author. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was rude.

  4. The nicest thing about fanfic is that there’s already a world built and most if not all the rules are know, just add your players and go.

    Designing your own world (if not using the here/now or Earth’s past) can be quite a lot of work. I know of one lass that spent a couple years trying to write all the rules/history of her world before trying to write the story. (Part of that might have been from watching a fellow writer get hacked to bits by readers/critics pointing out the plot holes and problems in his ‘world’.)

    • I was a big fan of Turtledove’s alternate history books growing up, and to this day some of my favorite stories are AU (alternate universe) what-if fan fiction stories set in favorite story world’s.

      Some people might say that fanfic authors are hacks or lack talent since they’re “playing in someone else’s sandbox”, but as both an exercise to perfect one’s craft and way to extract further enjoyment out of a beloved franchise I can’t get enough of the stuff.

      • Mine can be considered fanfic of another small universe, but I joined it in ’05 and there weren’t a ‘lot’ of rules yet in place. As I’d read everything else on it before asking if I could ‘play’, I had a good enough idea of how the author thought that I was able to ‘add’ to the universe without going out of canon (to the point he added what I’d suggested and I had other fanfic types wanting to write spinoffs off ‘my’ silly tales! 😀 )

    • Good on the lass (I want to add ‘wee’ in there, but my Scottish accent isn’t convincing enough).

      I hope she has beta readers to help her, too. One of my projects is set in a fantasy Greco-Roman era, and it wasn’t until I was editing the first book that I realized I made a stupid error guaranteed to send the book flying across the room: I said a character was using a compound bow (think Hawkeye) when I meant to say composite (think Scythian/Cupid). My beta reader caught other errors but missed that one. Sigh.

      • As she’s only a few years younger than I, adding the ‘wee’ might have been dangerous! She’s told me she does have beta readers (which is good, because I’m a poor proofreader if it’s good because I get into the reading and forget all about the proofing!)

        Another fun thing about fanfic which spans years/decades/centuries is trying to remember what was where/when/why in the other story(ies). Can’t have something happening — or being known/heard of before its time.

        • Canon review. No one tell me it’s just plug and play, or else so is every fairy tale retelling, no matter how interrogated or subverted and every invocation of epic myth or archetype. Almost all writers interact with a canon. Fanfic just does it in smaller pieces and more acknowledgement.

  5. I would post chapters on my LiveJournal or AO3 account, then readers would comment directly to me.

    Why can’t she just post her WIPs on her blog, a chapter at a time? Shoot, since she already has a fanbase, that should be a snap. Baen lets authors do that in their forums; if she’s worried her work could get plagiarized she could add the forum feature to her blog so readers could login.

  6. “Fanfic” as abbreviation for fan fiction=okay
    “Fic” alone as abbreviation for fiction=not okay

    • Too bad. For those of us who write both, it pops out. Originally, fic just meant fanfic, but too many of us write both and in traditional language drift fashion, it now means fiction and in context, can apply to either fanfic or original fiction specifically.

    • I’ve got to ask, since I keep thinking this one over, but… Why? Why is “fic” not an acceptable word when those of us who write both original works and fanfiction know what it means?

      • No good reason why. :mutters darkly:

      • Because you’re corrupting the rest of the world.

        Think of the children!

        • Speaking of children, my 14 y.o. daughter now writes fanfiction, and is both horrified, and a little proud that I am a member of all of the sites where she reads fanfic. A few years ago, she was talking about An Archive of Our Own as if she had discovered it, and I thought back and was like, oh yeah, I joined that one back when it first began! Same with Fanfiction.net. My user number is something like 4250, because that was how many people the site had at the time. (late 1998!)

          She also forgets that I know the meanings of all the acronyms. OTP, AU, etc

          • Ah, now she has to come up with a ‘handle’ you won’t think is her!

            (Yeah, poor kids always think their parents are too old to have done any of these ‘new’ thingies … 😉 )

        • Best you start them young, least it surprise them when they don’t have you there to explain things to them. 😉

  7. Yes to all of it! I called a halt to my fanfic mainly due to time considerations. I’m working on my first publishable book (as opposed to the 370K words I cranked out two summers ago before I wrecked my hands). I just don’t have time to do both right now. Not that I wouldn’t love to. But I do think I’ll put the novel up on Wattpad and my blog. Have NO fanbase to speak of, but hey, maybe someone will drop by.

    Ah fanfic. The ways you’ve corrupted my mind. XD

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