Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Fan fiction for fun and as a writing exercise
I make no claim to be a great or even a good author. That is for my audience to determine. I genuinely enjoy writing and sharing my stories and game ideas. One thing to which I aspire, is to become a better writer. I have taken to writing whenever I can, in an effort to improve my skills.
There have been several sources I have read over the years that encouraged aspiring writers to hone their craft through the simple process of practice. All the practice in the world won't make me a 'perfect' writer but I feel as if it is helping me to improve. This is a sentiment I much convey to you as well. Become a better writer by writing often. Practice may not make you or I perfect, but it will help us to improve our writing skills!
Publishing RPG material has required considerable amount of editing of my work. This is because I happened to write my initial drafts in a lazy fashion, similar in construction to my speech. Couple this habit with a tendency toward shorthand grammatical structures and you get some really rough material as a starting point. It was fortunate for me that another writer reached out and reminded me of the importance of practice. So I took up and began a Shadowrun (tm) fan fiction blog several months ago.
Fan Fiction and a writing exercise:
I write the fan fiction because I enjoy telling the stories of games of the past. I like fictionalizing the interactions of those game sessions and reminiscing about old friends. This is also my version of practice. When I started my fan fiction blog I was determined not to rewrite anything. Sure, I'd go back and correct gross spelling errors or rub out the dreaded "the the" repetitive text, but I left the grammatical structure intact and tried to transform my writing away from the rough to work with material I was producing. It's slow going but very recently I'm seeing an improvement.
So for all of you who write, design games and self-publish I want to remind you that we can all use practice to develop our skills. Even those of you who are magnificent authors with thousands of fans behind you, I would like to remind you to keep your skills as sharp as they can be. Scribble in your spare time to capture ideas and have fun creating.
Episodic or Chapters:
There is an interesting difference of opinions I've encountered regarding fan fiction. On one hand, several sources I've read argue that most people spend less than ten minutes reading any narrative online. The other side of this is that I like to release whole, complete stories that can be digested as one segment of the running narrative.
I found myself writing fan fiction that was sometimes well over 12,000 words in length, including one particular tale that spanned almost 30 pages! It was then that I realized that people were having to come back a second time to finish reading those stories. They were simply too long for a single, casual reading and so people who have been following that blog were reading each story either in pieces, or were stuck finding time to read through them. While I personally prefer a longer tale in one go, I came to believe that there was such a thing as "too much" on a single entry. This lead me to break up some of the stories into separate entries and release them sequentially.
The jury is still out for me on which format I will follow. I like writing out the whole of a story in one go and leaving it for the reader to digest at his or her leisure, but I also like the idea of shorter entries that someone can read through during break time at work or while on the bus. For now I'm referring to these shorter components of larger stories simply as "Part One, Part Two, etc" of the main title and so these short chapters are easy to distinguish where they fit in the overall story. The longer form, episodic entries, I will very likely continue to do for some stories but for now I'm looking to my readers to see which format they prefer.
What I've learned:
I make a lot of grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and have a nasty habit of using too many commas. I know I habitually make these mistakes so I am now becoming more aware of them as I write. This has, only recently, helped me cut down on the time I spend in editing. This alone has been enough to teach me just how valuable such practice is.
I hope you'll take up your pen or keyboard, and practice as well. You may very well be the next Jim Butcher or Charles Stross. The world awaits your words and stories, so polish your craft and let your work shine brightly in the hearts of your readers.
I want to thank you all for joining me once again for my continuing adventures in game design, self-publishing, and game design. I look forward to seeing you next time!
For those of you who may be curious about my fan fiction, I'm posting links to a recent story line. This fan fiction blog runs chronologically, so if you want to get to know the central protagonist (Tommy 'the Machine' Gunne) I'll recommend that you start from the beginning story and read forward.
Thank you all! Your comments are most welcome!
Where it begins: The Beginning: A Story about Tommy
Rise of the Machine, Part One
Rise of the Machine, Part Two
Rise of the Machine, Part Three
Rise of the Machine, Part Four
Rise of the Machine, Part Five
Rise of the Machine, Part Six
Wedding Bells and Burning Hells, Part one ~ The Iron Citadel
Wedding Bells and Burning Hells, Part two ~ Power in the Blood
Wedding Bells and Burning Hells, Part three ~ Requiem