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Fan to Fiction Writer

joker, batman, artwork, jen frankel, drawing, fan, fiction

Fanfic to Fiction Writer

joker, batman, artwork, jen frankel, drawing, fan, fiction
a little scribble of the Joker I did to entertain myself — still haven’t written a Joker fanfic though!

I think that writing fanfic fiction has always been a natural way for a writer to begin, even before the term itself existed. Imitation is the easiest way to start to do anything: here’s how to throw a ball, trace this letter then try it yourself.

The surge in popularity of fan fiction seems as much a tribute to the easy of sharing stories as it is proof that we love to put ourselves, or at least our own imaginations, into the worlds others create to entertain us (or, you know, themselves!)

So I can’t stigmatize the urge or the action of writing fan fiction as something that ISN’T writing, as the more snobbish might. Writers don’t start off performing like finely-tuned racing cars, or running like prized thoroughbreds in a prestigious race. We start off small (with that six page “novel” we wrote in elementary school) and move on up from there.

Fanfic: What’s your goal?

There are however different kinds of writing and different goals for it, and there are certainly different levels of competence. You have to “learn the craft,” as they say, to take your work beyond fanfic if you want it to reach a consumer market as well as the folks who are going to love what you do because you’re giving them what they want: a new or expanded way into stories and characters they already love.

JFRRS, writing, fanfic, author, podcast
Don’t miss Jen’s writing podcast JEN FRANKEL READS RANDOM S#iT!

I know that I forgive a lot of spelling and grammar errors in fanfic that I wouldn’t in a published mass market paperback, or even in a manuscript that crosses my own desk. If you want to reach an audience that will see you as a creator and craftsperson, you need to do two things—and yes, they will both take a long time! You need to learn how to write technically, and you need to learn to tell your own stories.

Spec Script 101

If you don’t know what a spec script is, you might want to read up! If you’ve ever dreamed of having a show you created on television, one of the ways to get there is to write a spec, which is basically a piece of fan fiction that can take you to the next level with your writing career. A spec is an episode of a current television show (live or animated) that YOU write. Here’s a place where you can bring all your fanfic chops to bear. I mean, you probably already know what you want to see happen to your favourite characters! And here’s a way you can do it.

undead redhead, calumet editions
Buy Jen’s UNDEAD REDHEAD at Amazon!

Now, something else you should know going in is that you rarely send a spec script to the show you wrote it about. That’s mostly a legal thing, because the last thing a show wants to do is air a story close to yours and have you sue them! But you can send a “Supernatural” spec script to “Grimm,” or a “CSI” script to “NCIS.”

From there, you might end up getting hired to write a script for the show you submitted to, from which you might move into the writers’ room where new ideas are honed, and eventually on to create a show yourself.

Fan fiction can take you places, if you learn the craft, and watch out for opportunities. And yes, spelling DEFINITELY counts!

READ a great article by Joanna Smith on the different types of fanfic, and where to try publishing your fanfic online!

When I’m Famous

When I’m Famous

Yes, this is a seriously good time to write about what I’m going to do when I’m famous. A) I’m not, and B) since I haven’t had any experience being famous, I can speak with the authority of the entirely ignorant.

It’s also a great time to get started because no one is going to mistake me for, well, anyone.

Fame is a tricky beast, and always has been. People hated Cleopatra millennia before Hillary, and that was way before Fox News. The contemporary accounts of King Henry VIII are full of praise for his height and good looks.

I have always been perplexed by hero worship, or even hero envy, but then I’m lucky to have always known my path in life, and to have concerns other than the public side of what I do.

The work, in other words, is the point, not who loves me or knows who I am.

I want you to feel like you could be my peer, not my peon. It would be extremely flattering to know you admire me and connect with my work, but I want you to ask yourself why.

Art is a conversation we have often at extreme arms’ length, with art as the medium of that conversation. Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the medium as the message has warped even further: now the media is two-way voice and video chat. Media is so ubiquitous that we treat the plural of the noun as if it’s the smallest unit we’d deign to consume.

My rule about stories is that I only want to read about someone who’s more interesting than I am. That way, I’m always learning, always growing, and I strive to set that bar pretty high in my own life. That’s what you deserve too, what I hope our conversation spurs you on to.

blackadder, rowan atkinson, actors
…printed and bound in play manuscript form!

I quip that I only want to meet famous people when they want to meet me, but that’s really the truth. When you read my work, we’re having the best conversation I can offer you: crafted, honed, and cleverly printed and bound in book manuscript form, to paraphrase Blackadder.

If something I write sparks you, let that spark move you to something more profound than fandom. Let it move you to respond by starting a conversation with someone else, with growing and learning to do and be what you admire instead of letting me speak for you. I’m sure you have tons to say and talking to yourself is, I’m sure, as lonely for you as it is for me.

I wish you joy of identity, of striving for excellence, of honing your own conversational skills to bridge the gap between yourself and others. I wish you more than the surface of fame, the parties and the money. I wish you something real, something lasting, and something infinitely more valuable: communication.

As a side note: there was no “Jen Frankel Reads Random S#it!” podcast this month. Apologies! But if you’ve read this month’s newsletter, you have more than a good idea why. If not, sign up!! –> 😉