There’s a lot of variance out there in the author world when it comes to opinions on fanfiction. Some love it, some hate it, some are merely okay with it. I tend towards the “love it, but don’t ever ask me to read any you wrote on my own stuff because down that road lies Trouble.”
Why do I love it? Well, I got started as a writer on fanfiction.
Actually, that might not be entirely true. Technically, I got my start in “writing” in online text-based RPG games known collectively as MUSHes. I was always that idiot who overflowed the Character Background attribute’s character maximum…four or five times. And, of course, I put serious effort into writing the actual RP poses.
I credit MUSHing with getting most of my traditional Million Words of Crap out of my system. The extra special beauty of this is that all of those words? Gone, like smoke, when those MUSH games slowly died off. Nobody will ever see them again, and the few who have will probably never connect me with my younger self. Which is good, because my younger self was a hot mess and I’d just as soon have a little distance from that.
…back to fanfiction.
My first full-length novel was Mistborn Era 2 fanfiction, starring my own original characters. There are a number of reasons I went this route. First and foremost, I assumed that my first novel would be absolute crap, and that playing in fanfiction where I could still get useful feedback would be a good plan. Using original characters in an established universe meant that I could focus on plot and character development without getting caught up in the dreaded Worldbuilders’ Disease. Finally, and this is key, reading The Alloy of Law literally transformed my brain. Brandon Sanderson somehow hid some kind of secret Konami Code in the text that worked specifically on me and turned me into a Writer. He doomed me.
Well, funny story, I got a writing group, and then I decided to get their feedback on that fanfiction novel. A few chapters in, and one of them said, “Um, is there any way you could make this not fanfic? Because it’s really good.”
It took several months and Jody Lynn Nye’s writing workshop at DragonCon to convince me this was true.
I am now finally close to finishing the de-fanfiction draft of this thing. Changing up the world and the magic system had some interesting effects. Some scenes managed to remain virtually unchanged, while others got flipped entirely on their heads. Certain plot elements got retooled. Some of the action scenes, in particular, have been bent, folded, and mutilated into only the barest resemblance of their original forms. All in all, the book is unequivocally better than it was before, which is fantastic.
It’s also longer, which is…less so. The first place I intended to submit to has a pretty hard upper limit of wordcount thanks to binding limitations. I’m sure an editor can trim me down, but from 140k to 110k is a pretty tall order. I’m gonna have to think on it while this runs through another beta, but it appears I’ve simply read too much epic fantasy and it’s affected the way plots grow in my brain.
All this to say, no, I’m not posting the fanfiction version of this anywhere. Sorry. But can I offer you a lovely consolation prize?
I’m a My Little Pony fan. Yes, it’s true; I was a little girl in the 80s. And then they rebooted the show with Friendship is Magic and my reaction was, “Holy crap! They brought back my childhood and they infused it with quality!” So naturally I watched the series. All nine seasons. Yes. Every episode. Do not judge me.
So, there’s an episode in season 5 called “Tanks for the Memories” where Twilight Sparkle (the primary protagonist of the series) rattles off a quote that sounds suspiciously like she might have recently read “A Game of Thrones”. Part of the fandom kind of lost its shit over it. I found it hilarious. But I got to wondering, what if she had read the books? How could that have happened? And the answer came to me:
Obviously, Discord (a sort of chaos god amalgam creature who started off as a villain in the series and eventually reformed and redeemed) went on vacation and brought back souvenir gifts for the ponies.
And so I wrote “Clear and Present Discord” which you can find and read here if you are so
foolishly inclined: https://archiveofourown.org/works/36792862/chapters/91788040