Friday, 31 July 2015

My Dirty Little Secret


I have a dirty little secret.

I've been hesitant to bring it up.

I did it when I was young. For hours on end. I loved it (even though it made me blush). And you can bet other people loved it, too. They'd literally beg for more.

And I'd give it to them.

I’m talking about … writing fanfiction.

You pervert.

Final Fantasy fanfiction, specifically.

For years, writing fanfiction has been something I’ve been a little embarrassed about. The shame was never that I did something “nerdy” (I’m a geek, now and forever, amen); it was that I wasn’t producing my own original content. But, I have to say, my experiences with posting stories on www.fanfiction.net  taught me invaluable lessons.

This post is to give a shout out to my fanfiction kink. Because, even though I’d generally confess to dressing up like the red Power Ranger before I tell anyone about my fics, they have helped me become a better writer. So, with pride, here are the benefits I found to letting your inner geek wreak havoc on your favorite fandoms.

 

Practice

Like any craft, writing takes hours upon hours to master. If writing can even truly be mastered.

I started posting fanfiction when I was 17.  I would spend days and nights at my computer, improving not only my typing skills, but my technical writing skills, as well.

I learned how to translate what I saw in-game to a Word document. Having environments, cutscenes, and gameplay filter through my mind to become my words has always been a lovely challenge. It’s the hunt for the perfect phrasing. It’s savouring sweet diction when it fits juuuuust right.

Mind you, the same can be said about original fiction and exploring the world inside your own imagination, but fandoms are a bit different.

How do you recreate a favorite scene, expand upon a gargantuan world, and delve into existing script? To an extent, fanfiction is easier when it comes to the fact everything is already there for you. But that’s also where the real test comes in as a fanfiction writer.

How do you make the world feel familiar, giving the reader a cozy nostalgic hug, while at the same time make it new and entertaining? Do you know the characters well enough? Can you make a believable OC (original character) cast of your own and not spawn the ever-dreaded “Mary Sue?” Most of all, can you honour the source material?

Given the nature of the beast, the majority of people write brain candy or wish fulfilment stories, so those questions are usually left hanging and swinging like a dead man at the gallows. But, to the writers who answer them with effort, they’re exploring character arcs, world building, pacing, and genuine storytelling.

All in all, perfect practice for the aspiring author.

 

Interaction

The internet is a great place to connect with billions of people across the planet. I not-so-randomly encountered many gamers who shared my love of Final Fantasy.

I received tons of support and enthusiasm for my work. It was a great confidence booster.

Of course, with “flames” (bad reviews) I developed a thick skin. Most were from people who hadn’t even read the story. In my case, I had a self-insert which many readers associate with having a “Mary Sue” character. Those reviews I never took seriously because, well, trololololololol. However, I would consider useful feedback, like wanting more action content.

In some reviews, people shared with me what they’d like me to do with my story. I was thrilled they had such interest, but I had to stick to my guns. Especially if I wanted to keep them coming back for more. It became a fun kind of … I don’t know, literary edging? As utterly classy as that sounds. I learned not to give the reader a quick fix, but to start slow and escalate. To pull back before a payoff. Then have events explode when they finally did, making it that much more enjoyable.

To connect with so many people is a blessing and a curse, but again, it’s something all authors will have to do. Posting fanfiction is like stepping into the kiddie pool before you put your floaties on for the deep end. Where, you know, there’s even more trolls.

 

Platform

Closely tied with my previous point is this one! Writers need platforms. Having a large following is incredible leverage. A dedicated fan base who loves your work is enticing to an agent or publisher. It means you can sell your work easier than someone who doesn’t have the same level of support. Now, you’d have to be a writer with hundreds of reviews and people following your story to get taken seriously, but it’s definitely good to have in your hand if you’re going all-in.

 

Publish

This is an option I personally wouldn’t do, but some authors have chosen this direction, most notably E.L. James with her 50 Shades of Grey series that started as Twilight fanfiction. I’m certain there are other authors who have done this, created fanfiction and tweaked it enough to send off to an agent or publisher.

Again, not my bag, but if it’s something that gets you writing, it’s something to consider. However, I’d advise pitching original fiction before rehashing someone else’s source material and slapping your name on it. After all, you want to be remembered for your work, don’t you?

That brings me full circle.

I don’t write fanfiction anymore. I haven’t even updated my profile in years. Honestly, I’d rather spend my time writing original fiction. It’s a shame because I know there are many people who love my stories, but it’s not something I can keep up with. Not when I have other goals.

I look back at my incomplete fics with the regret that they’ll probably wind up unfinished, however when I see that I’ve completed a manuscript in their place, I know I made the right decision.

Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll pick up them up again.  But for now, I’m definitely working towards getting my work published. And that’s something to be even more proud of.

Lastly, if anyone is at all curious, here are links to my two fics:

Call of the Mist - (FFXII) A writer from Earth is chosen by Mist to be summoned to Ivalice in order to aid in the restoration of peace.

Divine Machination - (FFXIII) A series of one-shots involving each character's experience facing an Eidolon for the first time.

Thanks for reading!

Take care!
 
Larysia

Monday, 27 July 2015

August 2015 in Alberta’s Capital

The end of the hottest and sunniest season hits Edmonton in full festival force! Take the kids to celebrate their last dose of freedom before school is back in session. And well, if you don’t have kids, congrats! You’re already free.
 
Movies on the Square
When: Every Tuesday
Location: Sir Winston Churchill Square
Head downtown for a free family-friendly event in the heart of the city! Watch flicks on a huge three-storey inflatable screen and be sure to bring lawn chairs and blankets to get comfortable. Starting at dusk, view Jurassic Park on the 4th, Cinderella on the 11th, Big Hero 6 on the 18th, and TBD on the 25th! Please note that the weather’s cooperation is in tandem with the screenings. Check out this page for more!
 
 
Summer of Sci Fi
When: Multiple dates throughout the month
Location: TELUS World of Science
What’s more epic than enjoying a classic kickass flick? Watching it in IMAX! Let nostalgia get you right in the geeky feels with movies like Big Trouble in Little China, Star Trek: First Contact, Blade Runner, The Matrix, and Serenity. And if you haven’t seen these before, definitely taking advantage of seeing them for the first time on Alberta’s biggest screen! Tickets start at $9.95 a ticket. Click here for times and dates. May the wings of liberty never lose a feather.


Servus Heritage Festival
When: August 1st–3rd
Location: Hawrelak Park
One of the most popular festivals for 40 years running is this multicultural event! With over 85 cultures and 60 pavilions, there’s a whole world of cuisine and culture to experience. From food and performances to crafts and clothing, there’s something to capture just about every piece of the globe. Admission is free however a donation for the Edmonton’s Food Bank would be greatly appreciated. Please see this page for details!


Cariwest – Edmonton’s Caribbean Arts Festival
When: August 7th–9th
Location: Downtown
Prepare for Edmonton to explode with colour, rhythm, and delicacies celebrating Caribbean culture! The Friday Night Extravaganza kicks off the weekend at 7 pm at the Shaw Conference Centre. The following day at noon, the vibrant and musical Great Parade begins, leading right into the Caribbean Village at Sir Winston Churchill Square. The events come to a close on Sunday with the Caribbean Village and Children’s Parade. For more information, please visit this site.



Edmonton Fringe Festival
When: August 13th–August 23rd
Location: Old Strathcona
The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival storms into Old Strathcona with its magical theme of “SupercaliFRINGEilistic!” Take in over 1,600 live indoor theatre performances meant to send your imagination into overdrive. Tie that in with the festival’s usual flair for showcasing amazing local, national, and international theatre artists and the experience will be … (forgive me) Poppin’. Click here for further details!
 


Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival
When: August 14th–16th
Location: Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
Head down to the 19th annual Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival! “Rip Up the River” is this year’s mantra as participants from across the globe race for glory! From recreational paddlers to teams looking to compete for Canada on an international level, it’s an event that is certainly made up of all kinds. Giving a nod to the boat races’ ancient Chinese roots, opening ceremonies will feature the Taiko Drums and a Lion Dance for luck and prosperity. Following will be friendly non-competitive challenge races to get into the spirit of the event. The remaining days will have competitive races to keep you on the edge of your seat! Everyday there will be exhibitors, vendors, stage entertainment, and beer gardens, as well. Go to this page for more.
 


Edmonton Latin Festival
When: August 15th–16th
Location: Sir Winston Churchill Square
Celebrate the energetic and bright Latin culture with this free 2 day event! Enjoy delicious authentic food pavilions, live international performances, beer gardens, a kids’ booth, and an Artisan market! Visit here for further details.
 
 
Symphony Under the Sky
When: August 27th–August 30th
Location: Hawrelak Park’s Heritage Amphitheatre
Bringing the summer to a finale is this outstanding outdoor musical event! Music from classic composers like Mozart and Tchaikovsky will be featured. But it’s not all uptight and serious! Expect epic Hollywood film scores from The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, and the James Bond flicks, too. If you love theatre, listen to Broadway hits from Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera. That and more will be waiting for you under the sky with conductor Bob Bernhardt returning to lead the orchestra. For more, please go to this page.
 
Enjoy the tail end of summer, Edmonton. After all, winter is coming. But get ready for fall first!