So You Want To Write FAN FIC

by Molly Tarr

Fan fic – the genre that does not legally exist and cannot be spoken of to writers, actors, (and others) who helped create the universe you happen to have borrowed. Limbo writing. Without a license, nothing you write in a fan fic can ever hope to find a publisher, so why waste your time? And what's wrong with you anyway? Writing in a world not of your own creation, are you creatively challenged?

That, of course, is like saying, what's wrong with you, running about in that playground and having fun when you didn't build any of the slides or hang any of the swings. The point of fan fic is that it's fun. There's no pressure, it is, indeed, just like a writer's playground. You didn't have to do the world building; you just get to play in it.

Personally, I have no problem with borrowing worlds others have created – I live in one now – but I generally don't care to commandeer canon characters as my own. That seems a bit more personal, somehow. In every fan fic I have written in, I have always gone to the effort of creating an original character, because I have a need to shape them as I see fit, rather than accept what has all ready been established. Here at Pan, the character is Molly Tarr, and she seems to fit right in with the Immortals over at Highlander, and has a lot of fun doing so. Not that there is anything wrong with giving new life to characters created by others, Molly's best friends are two such, and they are great folks, but I was initially of the opinion that if I was going to play on the public field, I better bring my own ball. How could I otherwise take my ball and go home if necessary? Not that I would ever do such a thing.

There are, of course, degrees of fan fic. Numerous examples can be found within Pan, from the realms of Middle Earth, to all of time and space, to the far future, and to galaxies far, far away. My own Highlander is a relatively small universe comparatively.* Star Wars, for example, has become so ubiquitous, that writing in that world is rather like writing a story set in Australia or Alaska. It's as remote - to many of us - but often can seem just as real. Even non-fans could tell you the names of the main characters, and the geeks? Well, the geeks can tell you what Palpatine had for breakfast on the day he died. If indeed, he did die. Star Trek is another world that has been widely fleshed out; the Federation; the aliens both allies and enemies; and even how far Federation explorations have penetrated. The differences are, of course, that these are whole universes that differ from our reality by quite a bit. In a fan fic for Highlander, one needs to weave the Highlander mythology through reality. Their world is our world, only with mysterious immortals hiding within it, right in plain sight.

So back to the theme; why write fan fic? The short answer is it's fun. The longer answer is, it's a hell of a great exercise for a writer. Can you capture the voices of the canon characters? Will those who know the world, know who you are writing, or will they wrinkle their brow and say: “That's not Richie/Bale/Checkov!” Can you get the universe to feel like it ought? If you go to 16th century Scotland or Ord Mantell or Seti Alpha 6, do you have the chops to make it seem like it did when last seen on screen? And finally, fan fic aside, is it a readable and interesting story in it's own right? Is your character and obvious tourist, or does he/she fit in? Did you enjoy writing it? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you may be a fan fic writer.

*Just to give you an idea of fan scale of the varying worlds mentioned, the Wikia for Star Wars, aka Wookieepedia, numbers 123,889 pages, all fan edited. The Dr Who Wikia, aka Tardis Data Core, numbers 50,153 pages. The Wikia for Star Trek, also known as Memory Alpha, numbers 39,370 pages, The Middle Earth Wikia, aka One Wiki to Rule Them All, has 6,004 pages. The Highlander Wikia, no alias, numbers 921 pages.

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