Learning to write can only be described as a process of trial and error. For every polished piece or story that is published, there are others that are still in messy draft form.
Many writers (myself included) started writing via fanfiction. Fanfiction is fiction that is based on previously released work. The beauty of this genre is that there are so many opportunities to take the narrative in a new direction. The story can be a prequel, a sequel, go inside a character’s head, take place in an alternative universe, etc.
The one caveat is that the publishing date determines whether or not the writer is breaking copyright laws. Anything that was published more than 100 years ago (i.e. the novels of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens) is public domain and obviously fair game. The same cannot be said if the tale being crafted is based on a work that is less than a century old. Anyone writing, for example, Harry Potter or Star Warsfanfiction is wading into legally murky waters.
The answer is yes, you can learn to write via fanfiction. Some of my early works are in need of a major rewrite. Even with that cringe factor, there is no doubt that I was learning along the way. The basics of creating fiction in terms of narrative, characters, setting, etc, can be mastered via this genre. E.L. James, the creator of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, has become one of the preeminent authors of our era started out by creatingTwilight fanfiction. Regardless of one’s opinion of James’s writing, there is no doubt that she has turned a hobby into a successful career.
Not everyone takes the same route when they start out writing. That does mean, however, that one path is better or worse than another. We all learn how to craft stories in our own way and own time. One of these routes is fanfiction.
It can be said that within the realm of story telling, that every idea for a story has it’s roots in another story.
With the release of the film version of Fifty Shades Of Grey, some writers are comparing the book’s leading man to other famous literary leading men, most notably Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
Jane Austen would be rolling in her grave.
To be clear, I have no desire to read the book or see the movie. While I adore stories of this ilk, I prefer well written stories that keep me engaged as a reader. From what I have heard, Fifty Shades Of Grey does not fit that description.
While the surface comparisons are inevitable, there is no way that these men are even remotely similar. A more ardent Janeite might demand that Christian Grey and Fitzwilliam Darcy not be mentioned in the same sentence, unless it is to create a wide gulf between them.
Christian Grey is not and will never be the new Fitzwilliam Darcy.
I was hoping that after the unfortunate success of the bloodless Twilight series, that the vampire genre was slowly receding and waiting to be replaced by another genre of the moment book.
I was wrong.
As I wrote last Sunday, I was given VM Gautier’s new book, Blood Diva at the Brooklyn Book Fair. I’m glad I did not have to pay for it, it is not worth the paper it is printed on.
1847, Marie Duplessis is Paris’s most famous and celebrated courtesan. She is also dying from consumption. VM Gautier imagines that instead of dying a natural death, Marie is reborn as a vampire. In present day New York City, she calls herself Alphonsine. She has fallen in love with with a young man who she believes to be the reincarnation of her lost love. Marie/Alphonsine finds herself torn between her Vampiric past and the future she may have with this mortal man.
This book is Anne Rice meets Twilight meets Fifty Shades Of Grey. If I felt like I was being kind to the author, I would say I was underwhelmed. If I felt like I was being blunt, I would say that the book is not very good. I don’t mind a sex scene in a book, but it has to be appropriate to the character and it can’t be every other chapter, which is what the author does. This book may be someone’s cup of tea, but it’s not mine.