Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. I’ve written a few posts about “fan fiction” before, basically centered around the impact of fandom and how to combat writers block.
These posts are not for people that want to be best selling authors. If you want to do that, you shouldn’t be writing fan fiction. They’re also not for those looking to make a quick buck, as that’s not the heart and soul of what fan fiction is. .. not to mention, that’s a questionable act besides.
No, these posts are low stress, low expectation, built around discussions based on a hobby that I care for greatly. I know many other people do too. When it comes to fan fiction, I read it, I write it and I love it.
For all the snappy dialogue and punchy editing, most best selling books have me losing interest as soon as I turn the first few pages. It always seems so pristine to me, in a way that’s just outright off-putting.
I am such a huge supporter of fan fiction that I even choose to to read it over many best selling books. I made a blog post regarding that already. However, my view stands strong and I’m not likely to change that opinion any time soon. You can check that one out if you care to, I’ve linked it for your convenience.
To be succinct though, my preference comes down to the way the medium is handled. It isn’t perfect, far from it.
Fan fiction often lacks the punchier written format we expect from professionals, and to me that’s the main appeal. It will always be a diamond in the rough. That’s usually a good thing, as it means fans are enjoying thier ability to explore thier own creativity.
With my views of fan fiction laid bare and transparent for all to see, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this post. First though, I have an important question for you…
What is the one thing a good story cannot do without?
Well, there’s only one thing really… characters. Well-written, compelling characters are the single strongest asset to the fan fiction medium.
Fan fiction will inevitably be separated from other writing styles simply because the concept has already been laid out in front of you. Whatever your fandom of choice, there are already fans of it. You’ve already been given a set of predetermined parameters in which to work with. When we talk about gaming, anime, movies and television, the characters within the series are by far the bread and butter of any piece of writing.
The reason for this is because established characters we know and love are ones that we want more of. When the main series ends or takes a break, the fandom remains. It’s fun to interpret major set pieces in your own way. The characters are typically the first touch-stone fans use to do that… now clearly they aren’t the only building block of importance, but they are the one I want to look at today.
Aside from a few key examples where settings, and their obligatory set pieces become particularly noteworthy, those things will never tower over the characters themselves in a fan written work. When you boil it all down, the reason why is simple…
A story is about what happens, and the characters are who it happens to...
If characters aren’t compelling, readers just won’t give a rat’s ass what happens to them. Impeccable action sequences and mindfully placed drama doesn’t add anything if we can’t be brought to care about who those things are happening to.
No amount of skillful writing can save a story that has poorly written characters. Thankfully in the world of fan fiction, you aspiring writers out there already have a perfect template. The characters you know and already love. You’ve got the whole tool chest right in front of you. You know how they should look, you how they sound, you know their dialogue and vocal patterns.
The characters in the fandom you’re writing for have already been made. Like a child playing pretend, it’s up to you to decide how you want to play around with your imagination. There’s all kinds of ways you can do this.
You can choose to subvert what you know. I highly suggest this. Add a little flair, amplify key character traits and lessen others to background static to suit your needs in your fan fiction. Do you want to take your favorite action hero and cram him in a coffee shop? You can do that. Actually, funnily enough coffee shop fan fiction tends to be pretty popular too.
What to mix and match your favorite characters across different series, you can do that too! I’ve done that myself using Final Fantasy XI and RWBY. Both series have a lot of the same thematic elements, personal character struggles and compelling undertones to explore. These two series play off of each other particularly well for combat too.
Don’t believe me? Find a mage in a Final Fantasy game that casts “haste”, and then check out Weiss Schnee when she battles with yellow dust during Roman’s fight Atleasian Paladin in the RWBY series.
The clock Weiss makes for Blake really is a neat thing. and the skill as a dust mage plays off logic found in the mages of Final Fantasy games.
Both of these skills do the same thing. Speed up character attacks. These are two universes I absolutely love, and combining aspects of both really appealed to me. Putting aspects of both into the same fan fiction was just par for the course for me.
For my fan fiction, I chose to take Curilla V Mecru from the video game Final Fantasy XI, and place her into the RWBY universe in my fandom related writing.
Why was I compelled to do this? Easy, it’s because Curilla’s homeland of San d’Oria reminds me heavily of the kingdom of Mistral in RWBY.
This mixed with the fact that she shares so many common personality traits with Weiss Schnee and Winter Schnee of RWBY makes me wonder what these characters would be like if they could be friends (and perhaps romantic interests).
I decided to explore that, and fan fiction was my gateway through that journey.
The takeaway; the key of good characterization is to focus upon what interests you the most.
We’re likely to notice the aspects of characters that mean the most to us. Perhaps it’s their fighting style, their personality, or maybe it’s just the way they chose to dress. There are always aspects we, as fans, cling onto. Traits we love and tidbits we’re drawn to. However, it’s not just what we love about the characters that matters. It’s typically a well placed character flaw that seems the most interesting to explore.
Ultimately we won’t be brought to love every single thing about our favorite character. To be sure, if there isn’t a flaw someplace… well, that’s a huge issue and it is bad writing. You can still love a flaw while respecting that it is a flaw, though. When writing, play with those flaws and your readers will thank you.
At the end of the day fan fiction thrives not on the story you craft, but the interesting dynamics of the characters and world you showcase through your own eyes.
This has been Kernook of the Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at it’s finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time. Meanwhile, check out some of our other great content below. Be sure to join us over on Patreon to support more content like this. Also, we have a Twitch channel for gaming, come check us out!
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