Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Fuel Your Writing

Fanfic and the writer’s apprenticeship

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Fuel Your Writing has a nice little piece this morning on whether fanfic is worth a writer’s time. I have two tidbits of my own:

1. There exists a Kung Fu Panda fanfic, “A Different Lesson,” that is 632,000 words long. (According to TV Tropes, “very little of it is filler; there’s just that much going on.”) By way of comparison, War and Peace weighs in at a mere 460,000 words. I don’t have much else to say about this, except that it’s possibly my favorite fact ever.

2. If you believe, as I do, that a writer’s apprenticeship is best served in public, then fanfic is incredibly useful. Back when pulp magazines were still thriving and a strong market existed for paperback originals, it was more than possible for a young writer to learn his craft in public, with actual readers, and even get paid for the privilege. These days, when most pulp magazines have folded and publishing is increasingly focused on a few big books, that kind of public apprenticeship is all but impossible, except for a lucky few.

Which is where fanfic comes in. Given the broad range of fanfic that exists—for every television show, most big movies, and an incredibly large number of literary sources—it isn’t hard for a writer to find a fandom that might accommodate the kind of writing he or she wants to do. And stories written in a popular fandom, if executed with even a modicum of style, will be read, for pleasure, by real people. Even novels. Even screenplays. Even radically experimental works. And the author will get feedback, much of it encouraging, from people under no obligation to read his or her work at all.

Writing this sort of fiction, of course, poses problems of its own. Among other things, a fanfic writer’s capacity for creating original characters can easily wither and die. But if approached with care, fanfic can be an extraordinary opportunity for a writer to develop craft and find a voice in front of a real audience. (Naomi Novik, among other novelists, has credited her work in fanfic with much of her development as an author.) Anyone interested in writing for a living would certainly be advised to consider it.

Written by nevalalee

November 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm

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