So, how do you break you off a piece of that hotline fanfiction bling?
Inspired by Emo Kylo Ren’s popular Twitter feed, I’ve decided to share some tips on how to write your own fun parody story about your favorite television show, movie, video game or book series. Or, a freakishly relevant combination of the two. For my examples, I decided to go with the anime Dragon Ball Z and tv series Downton Abbey.
Once again, I don my Maggie Smith dowager-countess-esque tiara of novice writer empowerment and go into super saiyan mode to encourage anyone who would like a little push to start telling their own special story. I may not be a published novelist yet, but I’ve written lots of fanfiction, so I can at least guide you that far…
- Get confident. Your first task is to put on your own sparkly tiara or butch Game of Thrones-esque crown of ‘Icanmutherfoyeringdothis.’ Make up your mind right now that you are a good enough writer and that you are going to share your ideas with the world.
Ex: I can write a new love story for Lady Mary Crawley from the tv show “Downton Abbey”! Why not? She sure could use another romance, we all know that.
- Pick a focus. Pick your favorite thing ever: movie, television show, book series. Or, you can mash up more than one series. Whatever you do, I think you should add a disclaimer to the top of the first chapter of your story that makes your intentions clear and avoids any legal or other issues: You do not own the [name of the story] or claim any rights to it. You’re just a fan who wants to pay homage.
Ex: Dragonball Z meets Downton Abbey: The Return of Super Saiyan Matthew Crawley.
- Launch from the canon. The ‘canon’ is the official ‘what actually happened in the story.’ I even recommend reading up on your favorite series online. You’d do it anyway, right, and I happen to think doing research about something you love is fun. It’ll help you bring it to life. In the fanfiction scene, readers want to get the feeling they are still enjoying the story that they know, which is different from writing your own normal story. If you are going to write a fanfiction about Lady Mary, for example, then you have to write within places and events that actually existed in her story if you don’t want to lose people (and if you actually do want to write about Downton Abbey).
Ex: In “Downton Abbey,” Julian Fellowes plotted a specific path for Lady Mary Crawley that involved losing her fiancé on the Titanic; accidentally killing a man she slept with; then later, losing the man that she really loved after a long war and ‘a stupid car crash’; and most recently, losing a man she slept with because they had nothing in common. (Which I happen to find exactly as devastating as the first three tragedies, when it comes to dating.)
- Set the, uh, setting. Most fanfictions are, in fact, short stories. At least, your first one will be. Short stories are best told when you focus on one specific event. Yes, you could craft an entire universe eventually (I did this with my fanfiction after months), but at the outset, you need to keep things simple so you do not alienate your readers. If they resent the effort they have to make to understand you, they won’t keep reading. For me, creating the setting is more about building a bridge from where you are to where your readers are, who only know about the universe of the story, not what you intend to do with it. So, pick a time, place, and a few characters in the story that you like the most and start your adventure from there. This also gives you the opportunity to hone in on a part of the story that you are/or can get very knowledgeable about.
Ex: After watching a ton of Downton Abbey and Dragonball Z, it’s safe to say that after Matthew Crawley died and Lady Mary was left a widow, Matthew came back from the dead, had plenty of time to go off on several adventures involving monkeys, aliens, and dragon balls of power causing him to ascend to super saiyan status while driving a zombie car through the english countryside.
So, if you’d like to take on a fanfiction writing challenge, make some notes about your fanfiction’s focus and who you want to feature in it. You can also make a special fanfiction ‘I can do this’ crown to wear from old holiday wrapping paper and bows if you have some left… or not. I guess writing fanfiction alone while wearing a home-made crown really does push things over the edge. Maybe not as much as Super Saiyan Matthew Crawley rising from the ashes on the front lawn of Downton Abbey, but it sure gets close.
Next time, I’ll have some tips for writing and publishing your first fanfic.