Tag Archives: creative writing

Fan Fiction Is Different – Here’s Why

Hey everyone, Kern here… you know, it always bothers me when people critique fan written works the selfsame as they would original works. I decided I’d examine why.

First of all I want to make note that creative writing is in the eye of the beholder. It really comes down to your view, and you may not agree with everything I have to say. That’s fine and dandy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. I’m only attempting to hang a light atop some of the reasons why being too critical of fan written media is on its face the wrong approach to a proper discussion on the subject.

The main difference between an entirely original piece of written media and a fan written piece is that the fandom exists in the first place. Fan written works come from someplace. By strict definition, an original piece of artistic work either inspires or defines some of the parameters of the work being written, hence the name fan fiction.

Orson Wells once famously said that “The enemy of art is the absence of limitationsand I believe this to be true. He didn’t say that in reference to fandom, but rather artistic endeavors in general.

Mind you, this is probably the one greatest truths for fan fiction. By its nature, the media itself is strictly defined by limitations in the first place. You have a set standard in which to choose how to proceed.

The Fan Fiction Writer’s “Toolbox”

A fan fiction writer has a complete tool box to use already at their disposal. We can choose to subvert these understood norms of the series we love, or use them as they are, but irrefutably they do exist already. A few very noteworthy limitations that define fan fiction include the following;

  1. Characters: It comes as no surprise to anyone that most fan fiction uses established characters built and crafted by the original creator. We know what they look like, we know how they act. We can make our own original characters too, sure enough. We can also insert other characters from series we know and love into a separately crafted universe, Either way, we have characters to utilize already and that makes a world of difference. Speaking of worlds though, let’s look at the second thing we gain from the artistic ‘toolbox”.
  2. Settings and Set Pieces: We have these at our disposal too. The books, television shows, movies, and anime that we know and love have these fictional worlds and setting for us to use and play around with. Once again, we can choose to subvert what we know and understand to be true, often we do. Ultimately though, we just don’t have to craft these things completely from scratch for ourselves. They exist, and like everything in the fan fiction writer tool box, we have a clear and distinct starting point from which to craft our story. Even if it comes down to alternate universes, we know exactly what place these characters come from, so we know what might be compelling to change about that.
  3. Proof of Concept: The fact the original work already exists proves that a story can be done with these characters and this world as it’s already designed. Furthermore, being a fan of something means you like that thing, whatever it may be. If there is an active fandom for this thing, then you know other people like it too. For aspiring creative minds, this may be the difference between making an attempt to be creative too, or avoiding the effort all together.
  4. The “Tool Box” Itself: This is the most important thing that harsh critics overlook when discussing fan written media. If the original media itself is flawed to begin with, then you need to allow those same flaws to exist in the fan written work. If there are plot holes and plot bunnies rapidly multiplying in the original piece, then hints of those things will inevitably crop up for the fan written piece. Even those writing fan works attempting to “fix the flaws” will inevitably end up with one or two flaws of their own making. It’s just the nature of the beast. Nothing is perfect, but this holds doubly true for fan made content.
  5. Lack of Services: Fan fiction writers might have a “beta reader” if they’re very lucky, but they don’t have paid editors or peer based quality control. Most fan fictions are posted up on websites and archives. This means that you shouldn’t expect the same sort of quality you’d get out of a best selling novel, or even one you might pick up at a discounted rate off store shelves… at the end of the day, the writer is NOT providing YOU a service, they’re writing for free (note: If you are paying them to write fan fiction for you, that’s a question of legality and morality, but that’s a separate discussion).

With all of that said, it’s almost arrogant and pompous to act with the mindsets that fan written work are the same as an original piece… or expecting that fan fiction authors might follow all of the creative writing rules and standards that we expect from other published media.

The One True Paring Fallacy

When fans of a series gather to form large social groups over a specific type of media, we call this a fandom. In general, fandom tends to be a positive space, but there can be occasions when it isn’t.

That isn’t to say a smash hit might not rise from the ashes and become it’s own unique story separate from fandom. This has happened a few times in the past. Although the likely most well-known example is Fifty Shades of Grey.

The story was originally a Twilight fan fiction, and it proves proved that it is possible to write a fan fiction based story and turn it into something else entirely. That you can, in fact, become a well-known author that way. However, that outcome is so rare that it may as well be labeled a pipe dream.

Ultimately fan fiction is a fun little hobby, and it should be treated and regarded strictly as what it is. That isn’t to say you can’t love it or use it to hone your craft as a wordsmith. Just remember, not all of us plan to be “best selling” authors one day. Some of us just want to enjoy a hobby we love and that’s okay too..

This has been Kern of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are part for the course. I’ll see you next time. Until then check out some other great content below.

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Fandom: 3 More Tips To Combat Writer’s Block…

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here, and today I’m back again writing another writer’s block post. I’ve already written one of these posts before, and you can find it here if you want to read it. You really should start there, but I’ll do a recap here as well.

Basically, in my last post I outlined three core principles for solving writers block. Here is just a very basic outline, and it only glosses over the topics I spoke of in detail.

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  • #1 Respect your mental health. -This means that you should know where your mind is from a creative standpoint. Make sure you are doing your best to maintain the right kind of thinking for your writing style. If you can’t do that, maybe put your old projects aside and write something new to get the feelings out.
  • #2 Redefine your methods. – This means you always should look at the fulfillment you get by writing. If you feel that your writing is no longer filling your needs as a person, you might change the way you go about crafting the written word.
  • #3 Perfectionism is flat out stupid. – Nothing is perfect, and trying to force it to be that way isn’t something you should do when you’re still in your first or second draft. When all else fails, a good old fashioned write-and-toss may help.

As I stated in my last post, these suggestions are made for the hobbyist and creatively inclined. They’re not made for professional writers, though I suppose you may see some value in them too.

That being said, this is geared more for the fan fiction community, or someone who is just getting into writing and doesn’t know exactly what to do with an idea or a project that they want to start. If you’re one of these sorts of people, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this post.

#1 Drabbles!

What is a “drabble”, you might ask? Good question, and the answer is quite simple. Usually it is a very small fiction. If you’ve been around in the fan fiction world for a while, you’ve likely seen those fictions that are less than 800 or so words.

That’s a drabble. Yep, that’s it.

Now by definition, a drabble is usually about 100 words, but in the fan fiction world we take number counts very loosely. With some fan fictions easily becoming over one million words in total length, we tend to play fast and lose with the standard expected writing formula. So really, a drabble is just a really short story, and often times it’s not always fleshed out.

This is a great way to bust writer’s block. Pick one theme, one or two characters and one simple setting. Then get to it. Write that scene to its completion. That’s it. That’s a drabble, and most of them can stand on it’s own. If it can’t, that’s fine too, because now at least you have a jumping off point. Upload that sucker and get yourself some feedback. Then build off of it. Either with a few more small drabbles from the same universe to make an interconnected story, or with a longer length work.

Sometimes the best cure for writer’s block is just to get something out there in the first place, and drabbles help you do that.

#2 Find Sensory Input

Your personal experiences as a writer will shape how your work takes form. This is especially true if you don’t have much writing experience to go off of. It can be difficult to describe a particular feeling or flesh out the world that your characters live in.

If that’s the case for you, find the next best thing. All pieces of media come from a place of introspection to a degree. Learning to absorb the details around, you will help you to make your story fluid and interesting.

If you’re having trouble describing something, find a real world equivalent. For example, if you’re trying to describe a room in a house, or the way a character acts, then look around for your inspiration. Act out your scenes a little, as if you were the characters. Play them out in your head. If your character seems to shrug something off, you shrug too. Feel the way your shoulders lift. Feel the sort of breath you take within the confines of the scene as if you were the character.

Is the breath you take gentle or heavy? Do your shoulders sag a little as they fall? Do they hunch forward, or do they square back confidently? What are your lips doing? Are they placid, or frowning? Do your eyes close, or do they stay open?

Take notice of those small details, write those in. That way you can move on without lingering too long. Trust me, you don’t ever want to longer linger than you have to. It will only make the writer’s block worse in my opinion.

I cannot stress this enough, but perfection has no place in a first draft. Hell, it has no place in a second draft, either. If you’re a perfectionist, toss your idea onto the page and move on.

You will inevitably return to it later, like all writers do during the editing process. Sometimes just getting deeper into the scene you’re writing will help. Someone that really is all you need, then you’ll be able to go back and add more content later.

#3 Creative Drifting

So, you have no idea what to do. You’re just completely stuck to the point that words just aren’t going onto the page to save your soul. It’s agitating you to no end, and you’re just about flip your entire desk over in frusteration.

Don’t do that. Instead, go find yourself a voice recording app. A free one. There are so many to choose from, really. Either grab one on your cell phone, or a computer, it really doesn’t matter. Now, open that thing and talk into it. Yep, you read that write.

Just talk about your creativity. Talk about the world you want to build, the characters you want to write about, the setting. Make a mess, let the thoughts exist and mingle into something you can listen to later.

When you’re done, listen to it a few times. Occasionally that’s all you need. The talking will occasionally jump-start your innate creativity. If that didn’t work on its own, then listen to that recording and make a bullet point list of things you say that inspire you. Dig deeper into it, and focus your talents on that inspiration first and foremost. From there you should be able to write something, hopefully.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, writers block is something that everyone will struggle with creatively at one point another. That’s a demon that just falls into line when writing anything, and often times there isn’t much a person can do but struggle through it. Writers block is a fluid thing. It will come and go and that’s just the way it is.

I find that playing to your strengths really helps a lot, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. When that happens, the best thing you can do is play with the actual writing conventions themselves. Toy with them, twist them around, and throw them all over the place. The written word is a powerful tool, but don’t let that stop you from truly enjoying the freedom of expression.

So what if you happen to have too many words, or maybe just not enough? So what if you can’t nail down that perfect moment? What if you can’t get a description of a scene just right? It doesn’t matter during writers block. These are all issues that help to contribute to writers block in the first place, and these are all things that can be overlooked during the initial phases of your creative journey as a writer.

There will come a time and a place to fix all of that. If it is meant to be fixed at all, it will be. Sometimes it’s just not, and allowing your initial ideas to merely exist as they are might give you more freedom as a writer.

It’s all hit and miss. We all throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Sometimes all of it does, and sometimes none of it does. That’s the nature of the beast. Work with it, not against it.

As I always say, let yourself love the creative process. Let yourself love writing for as imperfect, bombastic and grandiose as it can sometimes be. Clutter is part of the process, messes crumpled up wads of ideas will be cast aside more times than not. Don’t be bogged down by it, just embrace it.

If you can do that, the block will pass and words will eventually flow freely once more. Love is a powerful tool too, and few things are stronger than its power. As a hobbyist writer, you are your own master. the written language is your form of magic, and the page is the vessel upon which to place it. Allow yourself the flexibility to play with the craft, and simply just love it no matter what.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Fandom: Three TIps To Combat Writer’s Block

I feel like absolute garbage today thanks to my ongoing cold that has decided to make my nose all stuffy. Therefore I wanted something easy to write about. Also, my tags aren’t click bait, I’ve linked my recently completed RWBY fan fiction at the bottom of the page for those who want to read it.

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Now, onto the reason for this post; writers block…

To put it simply, “writer’s block” is the inability to put a thought into its written form. Make no mistake about it. Writing is a craft, and it isn’t always easy. These are some of the ways I stave off writers block. They help me, hopefully they help you too.

Before we begin, a disclaimer needs to be said.

This is aimed at the writers who do so for the fun of it. Writers who love to just write. This isn’t advice aimed at creative writers who earn a living through the power of the pen and their own ambitions, though you may find some value in this post as well.

If you are a professional writer just know that number three on this list certainly won’t apply to you. It wasn’t written to apply to a career writer, and isn’t aimed at a person who does this for a living.

With that’s said, let’s begin.

#1) Respect your mental health.

I’m not kidding. This really is important. You should know where your mind is when you sit down to write a new chapter in a fan fiction, or begin your own novel. More often than not it matters beyond belief. Your emotions will fuel your writing from a creative standpoint. That is indisputable. You cannot completely remove yourself from your own written word.

Why do you write? That’s the first question you should know the answer to when figuring this out. Even if all you have to say is “I like it”, at least have that. Have something.

Anything. Any reason. Just so long as its your reason to write.

For example, some writers take to the practice so that they can vent their emotions in a safe way. Other tend to explore different parts of the human condition insofar as it applies to themselves. Others write based strictly on where their mood takes them.

A very lucky few may not have their writing changed at all by their head space. Anecdotally speaking though, I find this to be rare. Particularly in those who are not professionally inclined.

No matter your content or your style, ultimately the first key to solving writers block is to understand where your head is creatively. How does that mood impact you? That is without a doubt something you should discover and explore.

If you’re in a bad head space, it may reflect in your writing in ways you don’t want it to. If you’re in a general bad mood, it could be difficult to write a happy-go-lucky scene. If you’re in a really good mood, you may find that writing something sad or heavy just isn’t going to work at that moment.

Work with you mind creatively, not against it.

In cases where you mood just doesn’t fit the content, it may be best to begin a small side project. Use that idea to explore your capabilities as a writer, even if very little comes from it. Don’t start frustrating yourself by trying to cram the idea into a work already in progress. Especially if that idea simply doesn’t fit to begin with.

In other cases, it may just be best not to write at all for that moment. Instead, take some time to put yourself into best frame of mind for your personal goals. As a writer, it’s always important to be aware of yourself, even if you just do this for fun.

#2) Redefine your methods.

Let’s say you’ve been writing for a long time, perhaps years. Let’s also assume this is the first real rut you’ve ever been in as a writer. Lastly, let’s assume it seems to be a bad one this time.

What do you do?

You begin by looking at your creative work. Is it bringing you the emotional fulfillment you need? If not, cram that thing on the back burner and begin a new project entirely. Try a different topic to invigorate your passion for writing.

If it’s not the creative work itself that brings you discomfort, perhaps the problem can be blamed on your workspace. Does it suit you creatively at the time?

If not, fix that. No, really I mean it. Fix that as soon as you can. Sometimes it really is that stupidly simple.

People always harp on clean writing spaces, but I get the worst writer’s block when my area is too clean. I’m actually writing this post in my garage next to my space heater. No, I’m not joking, this has become a thing…

Normally I write blogs at my computer desk. However, I just recently cleaned my desk thoroughly, not a spec of dust remains. It smells of wood polish. I do that about once a month because I’m not a complete slob, but this is the downside. I just can’t write there at the moment.

My computer room is just too neat for me right now, and that’s just the way it is. In a day or two the general clutter of daily life will have sorted that out. Until then I’m sitting in a place more conducive to my own personal creativity.

I like to write in conditions that are casual, comfortable and lived in. My garage isn’t ideal, either. It’s the middle of winter. Snow is littered all over the ground outside at the moment, and I can see my breath. Still, it was the need to get out of my “too clean” location that inspired this entire ramble of a blog post.

Yes, this time the cure for my writers block really was that simple. Is it the best I can do when I’m at the peek of my writing? Most certainly not, but that brings me to my next point…

#3) Perfectionism is flat out stupid.

Spelling errors? Yep me too, we all have them. Words repeating themselves over and over and over again? That’s a thing. Run on sentences? Sure!

Does it really matter in the moment? That’s up to you. Don’t make a huge deal out of it, though.

To prove my point, i’m putting my feet to the fire on this one. I’m not even going to edit this stupid thing. It’s what I like to call a “write and toss”. Anyone who reads my fan fiction knows I make the habit of just enjoying the creative process because it’s the part I like best.

Hence the writing, and the tossing, and the no editing…and my god we have a lot of “and’s in and grammatical hullabaloo this sentence now down’t we? Yes, I’m aware I misspelled at least one word in this paragraph. Do I look like I care?

Nope don’t care! There it is, welcome to my lack of caring…

No, seriously though, to me creativity is the fun part of writing, and fan fiction to me stands out as a hobby only. I don’t get paid for fan fiction. That’s both a legal and moral grey area I won’t get into on this blog post but the point stands.

For most of us, creatively writing pieces of art won’t be a job. For those of us who use certain written media as an outlet, it might not ever be one. If earning a paycheck through writing isn’t your goal, don’t strive for perfection.

Is there a place and time for carefully edited works? Most certainly. Does it need to be every single tiny thing you write? Absolutely not.

Professionals spend years honing their craft to reach the standard of “Best seller” or other critical acclaims. Sometimes it’s just raw skill. Sometimes that raw skill mixed with pure luck. Sometimes it’s a fluke that their hard work was a best seller at all. Right time, right place, all that jazz.

Do not listen to every person out there who demands your creative process needs to be a certain way. It doesn’t to fit their mold. The only standard of quality your writing needs to fit is your own.

You can clean up and revisit your old works when you feel ready to do that. If you don’t feel like doing that, well, just don’t. Edit and revise at your own pace, but never to the point that you burn yourself out.

If you write only for the fun of it, then just have your fun. Let yourself love it, and don’t let the need for perfectionism get in the way.

I feel like I can’t say that enough, because there are a lot of mean spirited people that bully new writers and discourage them. Writing isn’t meant to be torture, and if it’s turning out to be that way due to editing, lighten up on yourself and your creative process. Don’t let yourself feel like you’re losing control of your vision.

No one likes to feel that way. Writers hate losing their creative voice. Even the best writer out there wouldn’t want to lose what makes their writing special to them. Don’t allow yours to be stifled.

In closing…

Welcome to an incredibly casual blog post that’s finally reached its end. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world. Just a wall of text really. Still, I know someone will read this thing to its conclusion and take some value from it. So long as just one person does, then that’s good enough for me.

If that wasn’t you, sorry. You’re probably just in a different place as a writer than the people I’m addressing. Maybe you’re way more advanced, or perhaps you’ve never experienced a writer’s block like the one I’m talking about. Perhaps you simply see the world differently that I do. Either way, I wish you well on your writing adventures.

So, the best advice I can give you is right here. Down at the bottom, for those who truly do love this medium. This final piece of advice is just for you.

Just… love it.

Love your writing, love yourself as a writer, and love the journey it takes you on as a person. Learn to love this writers block and what it can teach you about the craft. Let it inspire you. Let yourself discover this side of your creative mind.

If you can do that, you’ll overcome any writers block eventually. It might take some time, and it might be annoying, but inspiration comes from strange places. Embrace that, and embrace your ambition to write.

As for critics who have a bad side?

If you do decide to share written works for the world, just decide if you care about the criticism you receive. You can take it or leave it. The choice really is yours. If the criticism comes up a lot, it might be worth thinking about. In the end though, it all comes down to your goals as a writer.

When it comes to fan fiction, I certainly don’t care about any tiny nitpick that crosses my path. It’s not a job, it’s a hobby. The phrase “Don’t like? Don’t read…” may be hyperbolic, but there’s a lot of truth in it too.

I live by that truth, because in the end I’m selfish when it comes to my creative writing. It’s not meant for everyone else, it’s meant for me. If I share it, that’s on my terms. It’s not for anyone else to decide.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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