On Writing: Part 1 – Fan Fiction As Cure for Writer’s Block?

calvin-writingEver since I started this blog, the desire to start writing fiction again lurked in the back of my mind.  Thirty years ago in college, I could conceive a plot and bang it out on my Selectric typewriter overnight in time for deadline and get top marks on the first draft.  I was used to that pressure cooker mode of working which certainly wouldn’t work now in the professional world of publishing.  The point is words flowed freely from my mind to the paper.

I hoped that blogging would remove that blockage.  While it has helped the creative sap to rise particularly with drawing, I still have difficulty putting pen to paper, as it were.  I could create another fanvid before composing a new piece of fiction. I’ve pondered long and hard about this.

One of my mental hang ups is the need to understand my style.  Every time I’m complimented on it, I want to grab them and ask “what *is* my style?”  Finally I asked.  The answer was: “humorous.”  This gave me pause, not for being funny, because that’s what I had intended, but due to wondering if this was my *style.*  I imagined writing a murder mystery or historical novel which usually has more serious tones.  Was I stuck being a Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck, famous humorous writers?  Yes, before I’d written my first sentence, I was already fretting about being taken seriously as a writer, nevermind whether I had real talent.

Most likely the biggest hurdle is my wanting to write like other writers.  I was enthralled with the lyrical styles of Colleen McCollough and Toni Morrison thinking, “I want to write like them!”  But unless that’s what naturally flowed onto my paper, that would never be my style.  My mind doesn’t compose in that manner; trying to copy it would look exactly what it is, second rate copying.  So I’m back to square one, mulling over what is my serious style.

People in ArmitageWorld have asked when am I writing fan fiction.  My first reaction was, “oh good grief no” but then that’s what I said about making fanvids.  In a way fanfic provides a ready template with the characters and universe already in place.  Just add a new plot and a credible bit of fanfic is born.  As much as I want to write the next Great American Novel, I need to take baby steps; writing a short fanfic is an realistic goal.  I need to simply write and see what it looks like.

Then people can tell me what my style is.

Over the next few days, I will interview other authors for advice and see what they have to say to a novice like me.  Stay tuned.




25 thoughts on “On Writing: Part 1 – Fan Fiction As Cure for Writer’s Block?

  1. I’m not sure you should worry about your style… just write what you want to write and see which way the unconscious you delivers it.

    In the end style is the least of your worries, the fact that the story has a good plotline, or legs, is the most important thing of all. Style is often something that only emerges after months of editing that original delivery.

    • I suppose you’re right. Not sure why I’m so preoccupied with style. Guess my brain wants to concoct a finished product in my head and then put it to paper, which I know is the fastest way to never writing anything. Plot, plot, my kingdom for a plot. That’s the rub at the moment. Thanks for the advise. 🙂

  2. Hi Judiang,
    Well, you do have style and wit and verve and aplomb.  That’s why myself and so many others are drawn to your blog each day.  Your essays are a reflective upbeat way of observing your world and ours.  And I’m not just referring to Armitage World.  Ha!
    Cheers!  Grati  ;->

  3. Muchos love to that comic strip there, haha.

    Agree with bccmee about NaNoWriMo; it’s great fun, even if “nothing” comes out of it in the end. Managed about 17k words last year before I got bored with what I was writing. Another year, I wrote about 52k words in the month but the novel is basically a load of drivel lacking a coherent plot … not to mention conflict. Just a bunch of people who bumble about and Learn Stuff and in the end, find out they have some sort of Great Mission to Save the World, and then they’re sent back to their normal lives again, The End. Doesn’t work. If I came up with an actual plot and all, it COULD amount to something, I suppose, but it would need a complete re-write. Still, fun to do.

    Have struggled with the whole “finding a voice” thing too, until someone pointed out that wow, I’m so lucky to have found a voice. Eh?! But yes, I suppose I do, in a way. Somewhere cheerful and quirky, and I’m happy with that. You’re style is likely to be something similar, I would have thought. 🙂

    • I’ve read the site and trying to get my head around it. Writing whatever for 50K words? I need to get some sort of coherent outline going before I start. Just can’t see myself meandering around for 30 days. People say I already have a voice though I don’t see it. I suppose if other people see it, that’s all that matters, eh?

      • Well, the official rules are that it has to be a novel, i.e. you can’t write a biography or a non-fic book, and you can’t work together with anyone either.

        I disagree.

        I see NaNo as a writing challenge, and if you want to write something non-fic, I don’t see why you can’t. No one checks up on you anyway, so write whatever you like. If you make 50k you’re still going to feel accomplished at the end.

        In 2008, a friend and I got together to further the plot we were doing in an online roleplaying game. We set the bar at 100k together (we figured 50k each, that’s fair), and we made it. We were chuffed to bits that we had managed to write that much about those characters in that short period of time. A lot of it I turned into a 650-page book and had two copies printed roundabout this time last year, and gave her one for Christmas. She loved it. So what if it didn’t follow the official rules? We were writing, and we were developing our writing, and that’s what matters, if you ask me.

        This year, I’m taking a slightly different route. I meant to have written character backgrounds and bits and bobs around the plot, but never got around to. So last night, my words for day one was in fact a background explanation of the situation the novel will be about. It’s only a first draft, it can (and probably should) change loads in the editing stages anyway, so you won’t have a chapter one explaining how a baking competition came to be and why it’s seen as very important … and the details of the importance, and so on. 🙂 At least it’s getting me started!

        • I’m getting the main purpose of NaNo is to write – some way, some how everyday. I’m not likely to net 50K words; right now I can hardly get an outline going. If I can do 10K words, I will be happy. It’s interesting about your and your friend joining forces for that novel. It’s too bad the official rules don’t allow collaborations. Good luck on your new novel! 😀

  4. Love the Calvin and Hobbes!

    On writing and writing fan fiction in particular…finding your “voice” can be really frustrating.  On the blog, I write like my internal monologue (yep, I really am that goofy pretty much all the time).

    • I write like my internal monologue too. It just seems for a novel, there should be something but as Prue says, that should be the least of my worries behind the PLOT.

  5. Very much hope you do try your hand at fanfic! Save perfectionism for later; just write and see what develops. I do envy those who write fiction; I require to be fact-based and can’t develop a plot for love or money…

    • Is that what I’m striving for, perfectionism? I suppose you’re right. The idea of writing a Guy fic is becoming more appealing to me, but don’t quote me on that! 🙂

  6. I just wanted to say that Erma Bombeck was an important author for me in my early teen years. Don’t underestimate what humor can do!

  7. My advice, for what it’s worth is –  GO FOR IT!!!  I don’t write myself, other than in my daily journals, but wish I could.  Don’t worry about style; what others may think of it, and so on.  Write something that you would enjoy reading..  If you like it I’m pretty certain others will too.  You won’t know how people will respond unless you try!!  I come to your blog every day and always find it enjoyable and worth taking time to read.  I have to say I’d be thrilled if you wrote some fan fic – especially if it’s about any of RA’s many characters! 😉  I love humour too so that would be a plus for me. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your lovely words and encouragement. There could be a possible Guy fanfic budding somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain – just need to tunnel to it. 😉

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  9. A difficulty with any rules set by any entity for writing (I think of NaNo), is the discipline required to adhere to them. This, Traxy provided both amusement and inspiration in the description of collaborating with a friend! Obviously, collaboration can work extremely well – witness the Ian Rutledge series by the mother and son team of “Charles Todd”, and many others. This past year, another blogger suggested an experiment as follows: a number of dailogue quotes from Armitage BBC productions were presented, and respondents were invited to construct a story corresponding to the quotes. For some reason, I found myself writing as though this were a script – dialogue, with “stage directions”. It went swimmingly for a while, until I found that my characters were not conforming either to the order of the quotations, nor to the intent of the rules, at which point, plot develpment  (assuming that some day I can actually build a plot) broke down in writer’s block and ruin. I will return to that story; in fact, this post and comments give courage – and permission to cheerfully break the rules. What else are rules for, after all?  😀

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