Guest Author - Gail Kavanagh
Do you wonder what would happen if the Predators chose the Na’vi as their next prey? Have you ever tried to fill in the gaps while Daniel Jackson lived on Abydos with his wife Sha’re? Does the thought of Dr Who’s Tardis materialising on the USS Enterprise make your fingers itch to start writing about a contact between the eccentric fourth doctor and the coolly logical Mr Spock?
Writing Fan fiction is tremendous fun. You can move your favorite sf/fantasy characters around in space and time (as long as you have a good reason for it - one that satisfies Spock’s logic), have them interact with characters from history or fiction, or in a world you created yourself. You can answer those plot or character questions that keep coming back to haunt you. In your writer’s imagination, you can become an avatar on Pandora and ride a banshee, or or explore the elemental world of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Writing fan fiction has many other benefits for a fledgling fiction writer. It gives you a ready made world and characters in which to unleash your own creativity. You can learn a lot about plot and character development, and be published in fanzines. Later, when you branch out into creating your own worlds and characters, you have a solid foundation on which to take those first steps.
I was a fan fiction writer for about five years back in the 80s before leaving it behind to branch out on my own. I learned a lot about writing a solid story set in a familiar TV or movie universe from the feedback that fanzine writers are only too willing to give, and was encouraged to write my own stories for mainstream sf zines because the editor of one well known zine liked what what I was doing in the fanzines and thought I had potential.
There are a few things you need to remember if you want to write fan fiction. First of all, don’t change ‘canon’ (what is already written about a TV show or movie by the original writers) unless you have a darned good reason for it. Landing the Tardis on the USS Enterprise is OK, because theoretically the Tardis can go anywhere in space and time - but if Spock gets all blubbery and hugs the Doctor, you will have some explaining to do. Canon says Spock always keeps his cool unless he is in the throes of Pon Farr.
The second thing is to avoid ‘Mary Sues’. These are stories where the writer (often a female, hence the term Mary Sue) injects herself into the story as a sexy, brave and perfect genius whom the main character (Kirk, Daniel Jackson, or whoever turns the writer on) falls madly in love with. These sorts of stories are easy to spot, and usually derided. The male version is known as a Gary Stu.
To write good fan fiction that fan readers will love, just ask yourself the sorts of questions you see above. Immerse yourself in the world and the characters as though you lived there, and listen carefully to their speech patterns so the characters sound right.
To get your fanfic out there, join fanfiction.net or Google fanzines and your favorite show for places to submit your stories. You won’t get paid, but you will get valuable feedback which will help you be a better writer when you decide to take the big step into creating your own worlds.
A history of Star Trek Fan Fiction:
Boldly Writing A Trekker Fan and Zine History 1967-1987