Thursday, March 15, 2012

Confessions of a Twilight Fanfic Author...

Me: Hi. My name is Jessica and I was a Twilight Fanfiction writer.

Group: Hi, Jessica!

Leader: I know that there’s a lot of hoopla right now surrounding one book (I’m not mentioning the name because this post isn’t about that, it’s about me) and its origins in the Twilight Fanfiction. I understand that you too started this way and are confused about why there is so much talk about it?

Me: *nods*

Leader: Well why don’t you tell us how you became involved in all of this…

Me: Ummmm…okay. *looks at floor and kicks imaginary rock with toe of shoe*
I had it bad. REALLY bad. When I finally broke down and read Stephenie Meyer’s trilogy (because Breaking Dawn hadn’t come out yet – and let’s face it, I try not to remember it anyway), I couldn’t get enough. I read all three of them 5 times…in a row. Once I would finish Eclipse I would pick Twilight back up and read it.

Then one day I stumbled on this thing called FANFICTION!! I had never heard of anything like it. I would spend hours on the fanfiction website reading only canon (true to the story with vampires and werewolves and all). It was during this time that I had a little thought – what did Edward and Bella do when no one was trying to kill them? So I sat down and wrote a short little three or four page story about the day after the prom where the couple just hangs out.

Leader: Was that your “gateway” story?

Me: It was. From the few good comments that I received from just that little story I was inspired. And then I found a phenomenon that developed in Twilight fanfiction – ALL HUMAN.

Leader: What? I mean isn’t the whole idea of Twilight that there are vampires and werewolves?

Me: Well, yes, originally that was. BUT, with Twilight fanfiction it developed into people writing original stories where Edward was a doctor or a teacher or a college student and Bella was a nurse or the single parent of a student, or a co-ed…the possibilities were endless!

Group: *murmurs erupt*
- I read one where he was a total bad boy, swearing and smoking and drinking!
- I read one where he was a pastor in a church!
- I read one where he was a cop!

Me: Yes! There were all of those. The stories lines were original and often times though the character’s names were used, they didn’t even have the same personalities that made them Edward and Bella (or in my case Emmett and Rose). I fell in love, not with the character of Emmett as Stephenie Meyer wrote him, but with the actor who played him, Kellan Lutz. I wrote A LOT of Emmett fanfiction. One of my favorites is actually a Twilight/Weird Science crossover where Emmett is created by Alice and Bella. That was pure fun!

It was from this new ALL HUMAN vein that my first long, serialized story came. I wrote a story called Passion Fish with a good friend and it was so much fun. We got lots of praise for the story, and that only drove us on. We posted the last chapter at the beginning of June in 2008.

Once Passion Fish was over, I felt the need to write some more. I wanted to see Kellan Lutz as a Navy SEAL because I had felt that hard chest and could see in my head what it would look like with a tight black t-shirt stretched over it and tucked into a pair of camo pants…who wouldn’t want to see that?? So I conceived Indivisible. It was a story about a new love put through a test and the need to trust and communicate…and it still is.

Leader: So you wrote a Twilight Fanfiction about a Navy SEAL? No vampires?

Me: Nope, not a one.

Leader: No werewolves?

Me: None.

Leader: But it had Edward and Bella and the rest of the Twilight characters in it right? And it took place in Forks, Washington?

Me: Ummmm…well first, no. Indivisible was always set in San Diego. It’s a SEAL story, so San Diego was the place to be. And, as far as the characters go – they had the same names as the Twilight characters, but that was pretty much where the similarities ended. My SEAL had blond hair and blue eyes…always! Because in my head he was Kellan Lutz and not Emmett Cullen.

Leader: I don’t understand. Why write this story that you wanted to tell as Twilight Fanfiction? Why not just write it as “original”?

Me: I did write it as “original”. Everything about my story from plot to the character development is original. But, fanfiction allowed me to get criticism and comments and praise that helped me to develop the story and better my writing. It is a place that allows a new writer to understand so much more about the whole process of writing. If I go back and read the first things that I wrote, I am all over the place, from tense to time discrepancies to punctuation.

I learned to write through Twilight fanfiction.

I appreciate so much having had that venue to learn from. I met some amazing people and read some amazing stories - stories that deserve to be seen and read by more than just the Twilight fanfiction community.

Leader: But you then pulled the story down before finishing it right. So you could make sure people would buy it?

Me: No. My stories were published to the end and were up for about a year. My publishing was more because I loved my story and wanted to share it with others who didn’t know about Twilight fanfiction. Of course as a writer I also had the “pie in the sky” dream that someday Kellan would actually BE Gideon on the big screen…I mean that’s the Holy Grail of writing. Oh, or winning a Pulitzer Prize, I guess – but I’d rather see Kellan as a Navy SEAL!

Leader: So, you just did a find and replace, and took out all the Twilight names and then put a cover on it? That kind of seems like cheating…

Me: *laughs* Man, I WISH it had been that easy! I spent weeks rewriting every chapter because in fanfiction the POV readers want is in first person from every character’s view, so I had a lot of information that was repeated, just from a different character’s point of view. I went through my story which was somewhere upwards of 200,000 words and edited a lot out myself in changing it over to a Limited Third Person Point of View. I lost a lot of scenes that I truly loved, but I knew were unnecessary. I submitted a manuscript at around 170,000 words. I was pretty proud of myself. And then the editors got a hold of it…

Editing Indivisible was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My poor editor, God love her. I would fight tooth and nail with her over every little thing. Opening up a chapter and seeing ALL THE RED…I would instantly close it and cry. Of course my husband would say, “Well isn’t that her job?” I hate when he’s right!

I can’t imagine not having such a great team working for me. In the end, Indivisible was around 127,000 words. That’s probably close to half of what was originally posted as fanfiction.
And it is a story that I am so very proud of. I know I would never have gotten the final product that I did without the FABULOUS women who edited it!

Leader: Are you still writing fanfiction then?

Me: No. I have moved on from writing fanfiction because I now have enough confidence in my writing to just write. I am working on two new stories (one’s erotic…don’t tell anyone( *blushes* I am writing a SWAT story that is where the free download you can get at Omnific called Big Guns came from. And yes, my hero is a bad ass, moody, man in a uniform – who looks like Kellan Lutz in my head.

Leader: Thank you so much Jessica for sharing with us your Twilight Fanfiction roots. Let me ask one more question before we continue with our meeting… aren’t you a little embarrassed that you wrote fanfiction?

Me: HELL NO!! I have never been embarrassed by it. I am proud of Indivisible and the story that I told and the characters that I created. I love that people will Tweet that they have been crying all afternoon because they are reading Indivisible! I DID THAT!! No matter where it started – I wrote those words, I created that plot, I made people fall in love with Gideon and Charlie…it’s ALL ME!


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6 comments:

  1. "I did write it as “original”. Everything about my story from plot to the character development is original. But, fanfiction allowed me to get criticism and comments and praise that helped me to develop the story and better my writing. It is a place that allows a new writer to understand so much more about the whole process of writing. If I go back and read the first things that I wrote, I am all over the place, from tense to time discrepancies to punctuation."

    Amen! Fan fic is a great place for fledgling writers to get a start.

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  2. I'm so happy you wrote this post! I loved the immediate feedback with fanfic -- it was a great training ground. As far as Indivisible, if I hadn't been told ahead of time, I never EVER would've guessed it originated with Twilight.

    It's so silly for anyone to say a work can't be original just because the initial spark of inspiration was ignited by another work. It's equally silly to think that just because the first draft was put online for review at one point, the author has no right to decide to publish and *gasp* get a little compensation for their hard work.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Sorry, I will try that again. :)

    Can I say I love EVERYTHING about this post. Perfect insight into what really goes on.

    I'm a proud ficcer too, although we are having some relationship difficulties. I often feel some in a fandom want writers to pick a side and either write for publication or the fandom, that a person can't do both.

    I currently writing a historical vampire fic. It's AU and it takes just as much effort as my books. In fact, *gasp* it began life as an original story with months of research until I decided to share it free in the fandom.

    FF isn't an easy option when it comes to writing and I believe it's the author's choice what happens with the story when it's finished. Whether that is to continue sharing it free or, if the story and characters are so far removed form source as to make it original in itself, going on to publish.

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  5. Love this post. It made me laugh and nod in agreement. I wrote tons of fanfiction, most Buffy verse. Fanfic is what gave me the courage to go into original writing. And I embrace my fanfic roots. I hope Indivisible gets to see print one day. It's sounds like a great story.

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  6. Excellent post. Please look at the cover for A. Meredith Walter's Find you in the Dark. This author used nearly the EXACT same cover which is so wrong. I don't support fanfic being published. I think fanfic is a lot of fun and is a great way for an aspiring author to learn to write better but fanfic should stay as fanfic. The fact is that no matter how they try to spin it their stories aren't original. They borrow heavily from other authors works, even if there are NO vampire or werewolves they base their characters off of them right down to their little quirks and to publish it is wrong. This author even went a step further and used a cover that looks as if it belongs to someone else. Just very wrong.

    CarolOates but it isn't your choice. You might be the author of that fandom but why write it as fandom in the first place if it's original? Unless you're riding someone elses success to get free feedback, free editors, free advice, etc. It's wrong. If you want to write original material then do so and get it published if you like or put it out for free but if you wan to write fanfic then do that. It's wrong to borrow from another author then make money off of it and you KNOW it is.

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