Spend some time with both of us and let us know what you think on this potentially volatile subject! Here's your coffee, LM, shall we get started?
What constitutes “real” writing?
Fan fiction is one of the hobbies that has grown in popularity enormously following the arrival of the internet. It has got a lot of bad press over the years and many do not consider it to be real writing at all.
Admittedly there is a lot of bad fan fiction out there – but there is also a lot of good, at least if you know where to look for it. Personally, when I am looking for good fan fiction I go on recommendations from writers that I have already discovered.
But the stigma of fan fiction still remains and many people refuse to accept fan fiction as real writing. I disagree. I believe it is simply a different type of writing, just as writing a technical manual for a new computer program is different to writing a best selling novel. No one would ever dispute that either of these are real writers, so why is fan fiction any different?
Just consider the number of fandoms where published books spawned from a television series, for example, are available to buy. Many of those are written by people who had nothing to do with the various shows, but no one would accuse them of not being real writers.
I am a self-confessed writer of fan fiction and have been for nearly ten years.
I have always enjoyed writing but didn’t delve into fan fiction until 2003. I had not written anything for a number of years at this point due to full time work and evening classes. My writing had been shoved away in a closet and was largely forgotten about. I stumbled into fan fiction more by accident than design and found it both easier and more difficult to write than my own stories.
On the one hand fan fiction can make a writer lazy. The author of the fandom you are writing has already done the leg work of world building and you know in advance that any reader looking up fan fiction will already know the ins and outs of the world you are writing about. The places and people are already drawn for you and it is remarkably easy to skim over that part to get to the plot you are writing.
It can be quite nice to know that the reader is familiar with the world you are writing about, but woe betide any fan fiction author who makes a mistake in the details of that world. The readers in the fandom are a stickler for detail and are more than ready to jump on every mistake they find. If you want to brush up on keeping track of the tiniest of details, fan fiction can be a great place to start… at least providing you know the fandom well.
Something else you will find is that the fan fiction readers are always eager to tell you if a character is acting out of character. Of course, only the author of the fandom will be able to tell you for sure how any of their characters would act in the situation you are placing them in, but their readers often know the characters nearly as well.
When writing your own original stories you should know your characters pretty well, but even the most accomplished of writers can have a character who undergoes a complete personality transplant during the course of a book. I am sure every reader can think of at least one instance of this happening. I know I can.
Writing a novel is a time consuming process; writing fan fiction can be equally so. I spend just as much time researching details in the fandom I am writing for as I do researching things for my own stories. It is just important to me that everything is correct, to the best of my ability, no matter what type of writing I am doing.
My fan fiction remains online for those who continue to read it. None of it is professionally edited, and most of it is unbeta’d, but I am reluctant to take it down for various reasons. It may not be what everyone considers “real” writing, but I work as hard to write those stories as I do my original fiction stories. They may not be as polished as my published stories, but I put a great deal of effort into each and every one. One of my longer stories took me at least two years to complete and I put my heart and soul into that story, just as I do for any of my original fiction stories.
Many fan fiction writers who become published vanish from their fandoms. Their stories are removed from the internet and for years afterwards people continue to hear about them and mourn their loss.
I would, however, hope that my stories remain online for many years to come.
L.M. Brown can be found at http://lmbrownauthor.webs.com/
Touch of a Ghost by L.M. Brown
Andy Jessop wants a life without ghosts. He doesn’t want to see, hear, or talk to them. Ignoring them should be relatively simple.
But Andy soon finds that Benji Richards, an eternally gorgeous ghost from the fifties, is not so easy to ignore.
Halloween night is approaching and both Andy and Benji know what it could mean for them. From sunset to sunrise, it is the one night of the year when a mortal can feel the touch of a ghost.
Excerpt (Mild R rated)
Andy could ignore rattling pots and piercing screams with no problem, but how could he hope to ignore a shirtless Benji, draped enticingly across his bed?
Andy couldn't resist much longer, especially when Benji took control of the television and persistently altered the channel he had chosen.
"What about this one?" Benji suggested as he changed the channel again, this time to a porn film.
Andy ignored him and turned the channel back to the news.
Benji smirked and switched it back again. "You can't tell me you've never watched a porno before."
Andy gritted his teeth, determined to neither confirm nor deny the teasing accusation. Even if he were in the mood for watching some porn, the straight stuff that Benji had put on wasn't to his taste at all. He reached out to switch the channel yet again, only to find Benji had taken the remote and moved it to the other end of the sofa.
It took every ounce of his willpower not to glare at the ghost as he grabbed the remote and switched off the television.
Benji chuckled and twisted round so he faced Andy.
"I can't believe you're still ignoring me. We could have so much fun together if you'd just stop being so stubborn."
Andy closed his eyes and rested his head back on the sofa. He forced himself not to look at the way Benji toyed with the belt of his jeans.
"Did you know that you're the only single gay man in the building?" Benji asked. "Apart from me, but I guess I don't really count."
Andy hadn't known that, and honestly, he hadn't really thought about it. He doubted he could even name half of the residents in the building.
"There's only five people in the building who regularly watch porn," Benji continued. "And all they watch is the straight stuff."
Andy suspected he knew where this might be going.
"Would it kill you to watch a bit of gay porn now and then?" Benji whispered, sounding far closer than he had been when Andy had closed his eyes.
Andy sighed and opened his eyes. Benji had moved closer. A few more inches and the ghost would be in his bloody lap.
"Just one film? Or I may have to consider getting my thrills some other way…"
Andy shivered involuntarily at the implied meaning behind the words.
"You're a healthy young man," Benji continued, his voice low and seductive. "Sooner or later you'll need relief, and if you won't let me watch the occasional porno…"
Andy didn't know whether Benji would actually carry out his unspoken threat, but he found instead of being shocked or angry, the idea of Benji watching him while he masturbated actually turned him on.
"You like that idea, don't you?" Benji murmured in his ear. "Even if you won't admit you can see and hear me, your cock tells me otherwise."
Available from Silver Publishing