Before allowing my good friend Nat Wood to over take my blog with her guest post, I just wanted to say that I don't just count her as a friend, but I admire her so much as an author. With each book she has taken me on great journeys, and even with her fan fiction she published, I still bought them and love them even more than the originals.
Nat was one of my readers who has become a friend I hold dear in my heart so please take the time to read this, and buy her books :-)
Guest Post: Fan Fiction to Original Fiction transition.
As many of my readers know, my writing career started through fan fiction. Well, that isn't completely true. It really began when I became a published poet at the age of nine. My primary school hosted a class competition, and those who won had their poems published in a book made up of poetry from schools all around the county. Somehow, my short poem about knickers (underwear) hanging on a washing line made the cut.
A few years later I received an invitation from the same publisher to participate in another open call, even though I was no longer at the same school. I jotted down a poem, sent it off, and again was published. This happened three times before I lost the love for poetry and switched to short stories instead.
To begin with, the stories were written solely for my own enjoyment (as an author should do in the first place, because if you don't enjoy what you write, how will anyone else like it?) At the age of fourteen, I unknowingly wrote my first short story fan fiction. I'd never heard of fan fiction before, had never read any either, and the work wasn't published. It was just a few chapters of my own X-Files story. Yes, I had a Mulder crush!
As my age progressed, so did my interests, and I continued to write my self-entertaining stories. Lord of the Rings was next, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course, Twilight. By the time Twilight caught my attention, I finally had Internet connection and spent a great deal of time googling Jasper Whitlock (swoon). It was while doing so, that I came across FF.net, and its many Jasper related searches. I was in heaven!
For at least two years, it never occurred to me to write or publish Twilight fan fiction. I had found many wonderful stories that kept me occupied and entertained. I was never really fond of Jasper being paired with anyone other than Alice, but once I'd read all of the good stories with that pairing, I reluctantly moved on to new pastures. That's how I accidentally came across Slash. I discovered a Jasper/Edward story and decided to give it a try, and to be pretty honest, I haven't looked back since. I enjoy a well written heterosexual story from time to time, but Slash was like the forbidden fruit for me and I read every one with Jasper as a main character that I could find.
Once new material became few and far between, I returned to my original act of writing my own stories to fill the gap until more could come along. I penned a short slash story only meant to be a one-shot, but decided one day to publish it on FF.net to see what others thought, and whether they would enjoy it as much as I’d enjoyed writing it. To my surprise, over the course of around six months, that one-shot turned into an almost thirty chapter story thanks to the reviews of praise, encouragement, and begging for more from my readers. I even entered a one-shot into a competition, and though it was the only Slash entry, I received many reviews on the contest page. As a result, I chose to continue with it afterward when it failed to win a banner. That one chapter turned into yet another thirty chapter story. It also became my biggest fan fiction achievement, winning reader's choice awards as well as Best Author and Best Jasper. Yep, that one especially made me chuffed!
I still read fan fiction from time to time, though now my focus is mostly on writing original stories. I've had someone ask me before: “What's the difference?” In my mind, there isn't really one. When you sit down to write a fan fiction, you have a basic outline of your story in your head and you know who your characters will be—whether that's Twilight, Harry Potter, or any other fandom you like. With original fiction, it's the same concept except that your characters are who you make them out to be.
For me, I still have the mental image of Jasper in my head when I write, and whoever I pair him with, but on screen the names are different, as are the appearance. Like when reading a book, I visualise the characters in my head to help picture all that's happening rather clearly. When writing original fiction, you have to give that image to the reader with your character's own unique appearance and characteristics. Paint the picture and the reader will see what you did when you wrote the story.
In conclusion, I never fully gave up on fan fiction to write original. It's just a case of a rose by any other name . . .