For a long time – although I have had a fanfiction.net account since 2006 – I have been a bit wary of writing fanfiction in a serious way. When I read novel-length fanfictions, while I have the greatest respect for their authors, I find myself wondering: if you had the time and energy to write that much, and then make it into something decent which you would feel comfortable putting out to the world, couldn’t you write original fiction? It seems to me like a terrible waste of good writing to use it on someone else’s characters rather than your own.
Many writers out there who suggest using fanfiction as a way to improve your writing without having to worry about serious things like character development, or worldbuilding. I always figured – wrongly – that this was for people who wrote for completely different reasons to me. I love worldbuilding and creating characters, and so I thought it didn’t apply.
As it turns out, I was entirely wrong. As I have mentioned in the past, I’m in the process of editing the first draft of a 115,000 word novel-in-progress. I wrote a post last week detailing my methods, but honestly, I haven’t a clue how to go about it. I’ve been reading a lot of writing blogs and advice by published authors on how to edit in the hope that they will explain this to me. Things like how one should cut ALL the adverbs, never, ever use a dialogue tag other than ‘said’, and remove every sentence that doesn’t serve at least two purposes. I don’t know, at this point, whether any of these things are true. I don’t mind adverbs, but I know that I horribly overuse the word ‘suddenly’. I read a fanfiction the other day in which someone ‘tsk’ed an entire line of dialogue, and I recognise this isn’t physically possible, but I’m sure words like ‘exclaimed’ and ‘whispered’ exist with good reason. And as for the last one, I just don’t think that I can.
Without any practise, I don’t know yet what works in writing, or what works for me. If I start on a 115,000 word monstrosity, it will take me a long time to work it out. What with the two-and-a-half years that it took me to write the thing, the year-and-a-half it’s taken me to start editing, the whole writing process isn’t going to make sense to me any time soon. On the other hand, if I start on a 300 word drabble, I’ll know have a mini snapshot of the writing process in a much shorter space of time.. And then I shall apply it to my novel-in-progress.
That is, at least, the plan.
(And guys, by the way, read my fanfiction. It’s an Eponine/Cosette fic, of sorts.)