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FFC #68 - The coming of novels

Posted February 25th, 2021 at 08:11 PM by The Grim Reaper's Friend
TGRF's Fan Fiction Chronicles - Entry #68

While I've been saying for a few years that I'm nearly ready to write novels, and that I'm working on the last few things I need to fix in my fan fiction, the reality is that I keep writing fan fiction, and my novels remain in the unformed halls of my imagination.

This might lead the inquisitive among you to wonder if, in fact, I will ever stop writing fan fiction, and if I will ever write novels.

The answers to those two questions are 'I don't know,' and, 'yes, I plan to.' While writing fan fiction and novels at the same time is - regrettably - unlikely, I'm not specifically planning on stopping one just because I start the other. But that's far in the future. What I really wanted to mention in this FFC is WHY I am continuing to write fan fiction instead of novels.

I've said before that there are 'things' I want to improve/fix in my writing style before I write novels, and that fan fiction is how I plan to do so. That's true and hasn't changed. But over the last few fan fictions, I've paid special attention to where my writing fails, both in my eyes and those of my readers (per your comments - keep them coming!). Now that I've done this with a few fictions, starting with HiS, I'm getting an idea of what remains to be worked on. The list isn't long.

There are two minor issues and two big ones. The first minor issue stems from a tendency to not develop the antagonist as much as I do the protagonist. This leads to villains without compelling/believable motivations, making them seem weak and forgettable. I know I need to develop ALL my characters, so I'm not sure why I keep forgetting this. Now that it's a known issue, I hope to resolve it in future works.

The second minor issue is a lack of airtight detail. This was especially obvious in the first part of HiS, where the world was highly developed, but certain tiny details were not. When readers found them, they made gaps in believability. The only way I can really fix this is through exhaustive review and extensive worldbuilding. Not a quick process.

The first major issue is what I'm terming 'squished content'. This is most seen with Utgar, and to a lesser extent in the rewrite. I've always had a weakness for letting the skeleton of a story define it too much, and not fully developing every little subplot/side character. This has led to subplots/side characters which feel underused or unexplored. This was noticeable in ACoS, Utgar, and Valkyrie I feel. However, this is something HiS, for all of its flaws, nailed. The side characters were so developed that for a time I was thinking about writing their entire backstories as side-fictions. So this is certainly something I know how to handle. The difficulty is in implementing it.

The second major issue is that old enemy, show vs tell. My stories have gotten progressively more show-oriented as time has gone on, but they aren't quite where I'd like them. Especially in HiS, the internal thoughts of characters, who they are, and how the reader is supposed to feel, are repeatedly told and forced. This has stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to properly show. I feel like I've gained that knowledge slowly over the last few fan fictions, and since HiS, have improved vastly in this area. I plan to perfect this in my next fan fiction.

That's the list. A lot of my other nemeses (yep, that's the plural) - stakes, character development, absent middles, plot twists - have been fairly well resolved (or will be in my next fan fiction - meaning I know how to fix them).

And I also know perfectly well how to fix those four remaining issues I just listed. So why am I still writing fan fiction?

Practice. I've got to cement both the ability to write a (mostly) flawless story, and the process which will enable me to repeat the feat. And no, I'm not aiming for perfection. There will always be issues, but as long as I know how to fix them, I will.

Once I turn out that fan fiction which has no glaring defects or silly mistakes, do I intend to start work on novels? If the setting for the novels is solid, yes. And while the setting has not been solid for many years, I've come up with a new one, and so far... it's still there. It does what I need it to. It works.

All that remains now is to write a fan fiction without those glaring defects they always seem to have. Once that happens... I plan on starting my novels.

But until then, keep reading, and keep writing!

~TGRF.
Posted in FFC
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TheAverageFan's Avatar
Show vs Tell in writing has always been hard to me because I'm more familiar with the term when it comes to writing for film (where it's very literal). Getting character, worldbuilding, etc. across through writing without just explaining it through dialogue or narration is more tricky and harder to keep yourself to task on because just plain explaining it is also more acceptable in writing, I feel.

~TAF, who isn't sure if he'd ever stop fan fiction writing simply because it comes without the pressures of vetting it
Posted February 26th, 2021 at 05:15 PM by TheAverageFan TheAverageFan is offline
Old
The Grim Reaper's Friend's Avatar
I agree it's harder. I've actually found it useful to use film as examples when asking myself how to show something, simply because they have to show it (most of the time).

I think the simple way to beat show vs tell is a shift in thinking. I find it's easier if I consider how to show worldbuilding through the mere presence of setting, or character traits through interaction and reaction, or decisions through results. That sort of thing.

~TGRF.
Posted February 27th, 2021 at 07:51 PM by The Grim Reaper's Friend The Grim Reaper's Friend is offline
 
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