Wednesday, August 27, 2014

5 Ways Writers Can Use Fanfiction

From what I have noticed, fanfiction tends to be looked down upon by the majority of writers. I suppose this is understandable. A lot of fanfiction is exactly what the stereotypes say it is: poor writing, poor characters, poor plot, poor everything... but it doesn't have to be that way. Writing fanfiction has helped me become a better reader and a better writer. Here are 5 ways it has helped me.

1. It helps me focus.

Let's be honest, writing is hard. Writing requires you to be constantly creating, but also constantly critiquing. It requires constant thought, yet you also have to simply feel and not let your thoughts get in the way. And sometimes, it's just too overwhelming. That's when writers get writer's block. Yet, everyone says that the best way to break out of writer's block is to write. However, my writing during writer's block is always terrible. I don't want to write words I will just delete on an original work. So I don't write. Which just prolongs the block. It's an unending cycle...

...until fanfiction, that is. When writing fanfiction, I don't have to be as creative or thoughtful. The worlds and the characters are already there for me. That doesn't mean I get to be lazy though. I have to work my mind in another way. I have to think critically about the characters, setting, plot, and original author. And yet, there is no stress because I'm never going to attempt to publish this, I might not even edit it, it's just relaxing. Yet, I'm still practicing my writing and I'm still thinking. Now, my writer's block disappears in no time!

2. It makes me a better reader.

I touched on this in the above paragraph, but I would like to emphasize it. To be a writer, you must also be a reader. And not just a casual reader, you have to read lots and lots of books from many different genres. You have to be critical reader, so you can learn what you should and shouldn't do in your own writing. Yet, you also have to imagine yourself as a reader reading your book. It's a lot to remember.

Writing fanfiction has helped me be a better reader because I have to dig deep for answers. I have to truly think about the characters. Why would he do that? What made him say that? Why does he word his sentences that way? In my fanfiction, I try to emulate the original author's writing style while still staying true to my own. For example, J.K. Rowling has an obsession with adverbs (the only aspect of her writing that bugs me). Should I use more adverbs when writing my story or should I not? I choose to not, because it irritates me. However, she also has a simplistically beautiful way of describing people. I try to incorporate that into my fanfiction. I might not have noticed either of these details if I weren't paying extra close attention to her writing because of fanfiction.

3. It can get instant feedback from readers.

I don't know this one too well because I have only published a fanfiction one-shot. However, I have seen it be true for other writers and it did happen for me, though on a much smaller scale. On fanfiction sites, there are usually ways to instantly comment on a story or chapter. Many readers give helpful and kind critiques that focus on simply one aspect of your story- like your writing, or plot, or a single chapter. This can be an invaluable resource for writers looking to improve. Of course, like all critiques, you ought to think about what the readers say and decide whether you believe it or not. Just because someone on the Internet said it doesn't necessarily make it true.

4. It can be a great marketing tool.

This one goes along with my third point, but fanfiction can be a great marketing opportunity. If a reader enjoyed your story, they might go and check out your original work. Many sites won't let you promote within your story, but they don't usually have a problem with you promoting your original work in your profile. If your story is good enough, readers will click on your profile to find more of your work and who knows? They might become your new biggest fans!

5. And finally... it's FUN!

Fanfiction is just fun. It's sad to me that so many fanfiction writers simply re-write the same old stories. It's sad that fanfiction has become a place simply for fans to vent or change the story to fit their whims, without paying attention to the depth and complexity contained within that story. It's sad that many writers look down on fanfiction writing. Because not only can it accomplish the four points listed above, but it is also extremely enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, writing my original writing is the most amazing thing in the world, but then, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it gets stressful and annoying and hard. That's fine. It's an aspect of it. But I prefer to keep it fun as much as possible, and relieving some stress into fanfiction writing helps with that.

So that's my two-cents. What do y'all think? Have you ever written a fanfiction? Would you ever write a fanfiction?

Friday, August 22, 2014

For the First Time in Frozen... Not

This post was created from boredom and snarkiness. It serves no real purpose and only exists because I was sick of reading and re-reading various ways of greeting someone in Spanish. You have been warned. This post is mostly to satisfy the Disnerd inside of me that gets irritated when I hear people say certain things about Frozen.

"There was a handsome villain for the first time in Frozen!"


"Frozen was the first Disney movie to show how girls really wake up!"


"Frozen was the first to have a love interest that was not the typical 'prince charming' handsome."


"Okay, okay, but it was the first Disney PRINCESS movie to do that!"

Umm... how about not.

"Frozen was the first Disney movie about sisters!"


"Frozen was the first Disney movie that had both the hero and the villain sing in the same song."


"Frozen was the first movie to include a song about self-freedom and finding yourself!"


"Elsa was the first Disney princess to show no interest in getting married."


"Kristoff was the first prince to actually ask permission before kissing the princess."

Well... actually that might be the first. Unless this counts.

"You must KISS me." "Excuse me?!?!"

"Elsa was the first Disney princess to become a queen."


"Frozen is the first Disney movie to show that the first guy you fall for might not be Prince Charming."


"Kristoff is the first blond Disney 'prince' in the Disney princess franchise."


"Anna is the first clumsy princess."


"That was just because she had never walked before!"

Still not.

And finally...
"Frozen is the first Disney movie to teach girls that they don't need a man to save them!"

So Frozen might not be as original as it at first seems. However, the beauty of Frozen is that it has all of this in ONE movie, and it's a movie that is enjoyable and not preachy. Personally, I think nearly all Disney movies have some aspect of beauty and truth in them. They all speak to the viewers in different ways. That's why I love Disney.

So what's your favorite Disney movie? Did I miss any"not the first" Frozen tidbits? :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blurry Line

via Pinterest

I think I've mentioned this before, but a lot of the aspects of 'Ember Flame' and 'Hail Frost' come from the vortex of snarkiness that has taken over my brain.

Little, random things that irritate me like unrealistically chivalrous heroes or phones vibrating in the middle of the night find their ways into my novel. Obnoxious gossip overheard at a mall or anger towards a sibling or my phobia-like fear of crabs all make it into the rough draft.

But it's not all bad stuff. I also include my fascination with watching a fire burn out, or the smell of pine trees in fall, or my aspiration for the sibling I wish I could be in my novel.

Basically, thoughts and experiences I've had usually morph into new imagery as I write. Sometimes I do it purposefully, other times I notice it later. I think all writers do this to some degree. And I think all writers should do this... but how far should we take it?

For instance, there is a woman that I have a been angry at for years. It's a righteous anger which she absolutely deserves. I've contemplated writing her into a novel. But should I? Would that be acting on my anger in a sinful way? Since I feel the need to be secretive about it, I'm going to take that as a 'yes' and refrain from writing her into a story that gets published. I think it's okay to vent my feelings in a private diary though. I also think it's okay to take the anger I feel towards her and reflect it in my characters when they are put in similar situations. This will make it more realistic since I have truly felt what I'm writing about.

You see what I mean? There is a blurry line between what experiences you should draw on and which ones you shouldn't draw on. Sometimes, I struggle to find a balance. My writing comes so much easier to me when I am emotionally invested in what I am writing, and I find it easier to throw myself into the story-world when I have already lived that world. And yet, I have to remember that using a pen as a sword is not how God intended me to use writing. I have to be careful to keep whatever I'm feeling towards someone relegated to my characters and not to my desire to "get even".

The 'Ellie Sweet' books by Stephanie Morrill helped me quite a lot. In the novels, Ellie is a teen writer who vents her feelings by translating her real-life into a fictional novel. Only, when the novel gets published, everything becomes a lot less fictional. I highly suggest these books for any teen writer gal, even if you (like me) aren't typically a fan of contemporary fiction. They helped me decide how I wanted to handle the blurry line between reality and fiction.

So what about y'all? Do you struggle with staying on the white side of the blurry line? Or do you not have this problem at all? (I dunno, maybe it's an angsty teenager thing) Have a great week! :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quiet Lives

Have you ever had one of those moments where life just got so overwhelming you froze? Or cried for seemingly no reason? Or shut yourself in your room and built a wall around your soul  so strong that not even reading or writing could penetrate it? Where you couldn't even find the energy to turn the page of a novel because it was just too hard?

Perhaps I'm being a bit melodramatic. Let me start over.

Hey guys. *smiles sheepishly* I've been gone for more than a month. I really missed y'all.

Why have I been gone for a month? Well... several reasons. 

Firstly, Hail Frost and Rooglewood's new contest. My summer has been fairly busy, so all the free writing time has been spent working on either editing Hail Frost or writing a 'Beauty and the Beast' short story. More on this in a bit.

Secondly, social life. This seems like the first summer where I've actually gone and got myself a social life. (whaaaat? I know right.) I've got amazing friends who I've been hangin' with quite a lot, which was good and calmed me down from the other craziness that's been going on.

Lastly, I think I had Senioritis. Yep. In the middle of the summer before my senior year even started. Thinking about the next schoolyear caused an earthquake (brainquake?) to erupt in my mind. Mom would ask me questions about this-or-that college or this-or-that subject. And I would just kinda blink and stare stupidly at her, or more often, say something rude and childish because I just wanted my head to stop hurting. (sorry Mom...)

I feel like I've grown up quite a bit in the last month. Everything just got so overwhelming. I took a break, and I'm glad I did, even though I thought about y'all every day. You know, I always make fun of movies like 'Thor', where the hero drastically changes over the course of a few days. I sit there in the theater, stuffing popcorn in my mouth, and internally chuckle over how that could never happen. It takes years to change a person's character so completely, especially if that character is a thousand year-old "god" with the angst of a teenager. 

And yet... there's some truth to it. Now, I've not changed that much. I don't think I could lift Mjolnir or fight the Destroyer or even look fabulous in a red cape. But I feel a bit more mature. A bit more confident. 

I wrote a blog post awhile back called 'Thinking about College'. In it, I reflected on how I was going to trust God with the entire college-situation, and everything after it. That hasn't changed, but I think I learned something rather odd about myself.

There are people I know who sit back and say with confidence, "God will take care of it", "God will help me through this", "God will never leave me nor forsake me", "God has a plan for all of us" etc. And yet, they literally don't do anything to fix their situations. They just sit there and wait for God. And I'm just here like, "Yeah, sure, He'll be there. Why don't you get off your butt and go to Him? Why should He help you when you aren't even making an effort to follow His plan? Why are you relying on your heart when God gave you a brain as well?" 

I've never found anything wrong with my response to these types of people. I still don't, really. They do need to make an effort instead of waiting for a magic genie to fix all of their problems.

And yet, like always, I've discovered that I have flaws in my way of life as well. I trust God with my life after college, absolutely. I trust Him with my college plans. But I haven't been trusting him with my life. I don't mean my future. I mean my day-to-day, should I have cereal or yogurt?, oh my gosh, I have so much work to do!, my siblings are so obnoxious, I'm such a failure I can't do anything, everyday life. Instead of sitting around and waiting on God, I decided to limit him to the vague, foggy future that even I can't fix, while I attempt to fix everything that comes at me each and every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is not a good way to live. In fact, I wouldn't even call it living. More like juggling. On a tight rope. Surrounded by laughing clowns and constant distractions with a stress headache just a miscalculation away. 

Get the log out of my own eye, much?

1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12 says, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

This verse never jumped out at me until this month. I'd always assumed "quiet life" meant "don't try to be famous." Check, got that one. I thought "mind your own business" meant "don't get involved in other people's drama". Done that. I thought "work with your hands" meant "don't be a lazy bum". Well... I mean, I only procrastinate some of the time... And the "don't be dependent on anybody"? Obviously, it meant "don't end up on welfare". Yep! Looks like I was good on this verse! Now onto Proverbs 16:18...

Maybe some of those interpretations are right in some ways, but this verse has come to mean so much more to me. God can use people who are famous. If someone were famous, He would want him or her to use that blessing as a ministry. I think "quiet life" means something else, something a bit more personal that social status. 

I think it means peace. When I became a Christian, Jesus gave me a peace that passes all understanding. And that doesn't just mean peace in the knowledge that death can never hurt me. It means that life can never hurt me either. It means Jesus is there to help me through my day. It means He is there to own my day. I don't need to freak out over deadlines and failures and school and college and my life. He gives me peace so I can have a quiet life, a life focused on Him and His plans, not me and my insecurities. 

"Mind your own business" doesn't necessarily mean "avoid drama" and it certainly doesn't mean "keep to your own life, don't get involved with others'". It means to focus on the things that matter. I don't need to make sure I use super cool writing techniques and stylistic literary devices in 'Hail Frost'. It means I need to be honest. I need to write what God would have me write, even if, perhaps, the story would be more "stylistic" if I did something else. 

"Work with your hands" means that I need to do the job God has for me today. I don't need to worry about what college I can be of most help to God in. I don't need to worry about what missionary trips I should go on during my summer between school years. It means I follow His plan today and let Him worry about tomorrow. I let Him guide me as I struggle with editing or plotting a short story or hanging out with my siblings. I let Him work through me.

And after all this, when my life is quiet and I mind my own business and I work with my hands, I won't be dependent on anyone. I'll be wholly dependent on God, and I'll feel more free than ever.

I'm not there yet, but I know what it feels like and I can only imagine what it will be like when every second of every day is filled with heavenly peace. Maybe I won't feel that until after I die, but I know that I can at least trust God with each day of my life and simply focus on His plan for that day.

So yes. Thor learns that being a jerk is totes not cool and that a little humility never hurt anyone. I learned that I have no control over my daily life and that God needs to own each and every aspect of today. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Well... now that I have only translated my soul onto a keyboard to blast out into cyberspace... let me share some updates!

I'm currently writing a short story for Rooglewood's new contest (which I encourage you to check out). It's a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it's been fun to write so far! It's one of the first short stories I've ever written, so I don't think it will win, but it's been good practice and 'Beauty and the Beast' is my favorite fairy tale and Disney movie so I just had to join in the fun!

'Hail Frost' is a little jerk. I'm serious, this book does NOT want to be edited (Or maybe I'm just a perfectionist. Whatever). I love the story so much. It's a rather personal tale. Of all the characters I've ever invented, Hail, Ember, and Flake are probably the three that are the most "me", so this story feels especially vulnerable. Perhaps that is why it is taking so long. I don't know. All I can say is this- when I said in 'Ember Flame' that it would come out in 2014, I obviously had no idea what junior and senior year would entail, nor how much I would grow to love this novel. I'm still hopeful it will be published in 2014, but if it's not, I promise to have lots of freebies to hand out as apologies. :) 

Fanfiction. Seriously yo, if writing "real" stuff gets too stressful, write fanfiction. It's extremely relaxing because you don't have to worry about editing or styles or cliches. You can just write. It's also cool because you can experiment with different writing techniques without fear of ruining an entire novel. AND, you get an excuse to spend time seriously obsessing analyzing your particular fandom. There are no cons to this. For example, I'm writing an HP fanfiction that involves three different timelines and storylines that all interconnect even though the characters never meet. I would have never attempted something like this in an original fiction, but I can in fanfiction. (That sounds way more professional than what actually happened. Actually, I couldn't decide between writing Marauders Era, Next Gen, or AU because of Snape feels... so I sorta went with everything... #lol #yolo #ihatehashtags #turntopage394)

I've got a lot of post ideas that have been coming to me over the month. Totes ma goats excited. (My friend May likes to say that. She designed Ember Flame, and she is always saying stuff like "That is totes ma goats cray-cray". And she can do it without sounding dumb. She's way cooler than me, for seriously). I've got a way overdue review for a fantabulous novel coming up. I've got some thoughts on HP. I've got some thoughts on superheroes. I've got some thoughts on world-building. I've got some thoughts on dude characters (I did a strong female character post awhile back, and I'm for gender equality, so guys get a post too). And I've got a blog post about writing workshops. Basically, be prepared for a lot of blog posts!

*sigh* Long post, I know. I'm so glad to be back! What have y'all been up to? I missed you so much! *hugs everyone*

P.S. Guardians of the Galaxy people. GO SEE IT NOW!!!! IT'S AWESOME AND HILARIOUS AND GLORIOUSLY CHEESY! Need more incentive? Zoe Saldana. Chris Pratt. Animated raccoon. GO SEE IT!