Before Saturday’s workshop, I had very little experience with fan fiction. But, as a lifelong fiction lover, I can definitely appreciate the sentiment of wanting stories and characters to live on beyond their short stint in the author’s world. And, my mentee Xiao Shan had been looking forward to the Fan Fiction Workshop for months. So I arrived excited and curious to see what this genre was all about.
Listening to Racheline Maltese, our Craft Talk speaker, was my first clue that fan fiction is a hugely creative and wide-ranging area of writing. Clearly, she is passionate about all aspects of pop culture, and she really made an interesting case for the way that fan fiction can build upon existing ideas and generate new content that is just as fun, clever and thought-provoking as its inspirations.
When it was time to experiment with writing our own fan fiction, I struggled with picking the characters for my piece. I found myself worrying that I didn’t remember enough details to make it convincing, and wasn’t sure whether other people would know the characters from the original works.
But, thinking about the other examples of fan fiction we’d seen earlier in the workshop and Racheline’s encouraging words about feeling empowered to take our writing in any direction we want, I dove in. I wrote about Tim Riggins, the bad boy football star from the wrong side of the tracks in the TV show Friday Night Lights, and Jonny Valentine, a tween pop star from a book I just read called The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne. In my piece, Jonny is taking a break from his concert tour to attend a regular school in Los Angeles, and Tim is taking a break from his beloved Texas to coach football at a middle school for celebrity children. Jonny goes out for the football team, and Tim sees himself in the younger boy’s bravado on the field.
One of the most interesting things about the Fan Fiction Workshop for me was seeing the enthusiasm among the mentees. It was particularly exciting for me when Xiao Shan got up to read her piece — I know this is a genre she loves, and I’m so glad that she was willing to share her work with the group. Overall, it was fun to learn about fan fiction through the eyes of the mentees, many of whom are extremely knowledgeable about these online worlds where fictional characters are given new life through many different writers’ voices and ideas. It was a great way to end Girls Write Now’s year of new worlds!