Write Like a Fangirl

I was a fangirl before I knew anything about fandom. As early as I can remember, I would take an aspect of entertainment and fixate on it, imagining opportunities for stories that had yet to be told. If my favorite couple didn’t exchange a loving glance, my little girl heart would ache for them. I think that thirst for more than the story proper was what honed my writer’s curiosity.

I’ve discussed my fangirl status before here, but that topic was mainly about what fandom was able to teach me about how to view writing, how it gave me a better understanding of storytelling in general and how it helped me to comprehend myself as a “writer”. But another aspect of how fandom affects my writing is that I’m beginning to see my stories the way potential fans may – and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Ships ahoy!: I am a Daniel/Vala shipper. Oh, and John/Aeryn. And Angel/Fred, Katniss/Peeta, Jamie/Jeremy, Derek/Chloe, Magnus/Alec, and Tris/Four. What the hell does this mean? It means that I am a fan of that particular relationship. Being a shipper means writing 100 pages of fanfiction about how Daniel and Vala should have gotten together. It means throwing things at my TV when the series ends with John and Aeryn being blown to bits (THANK THE HEAVENS FOR FARSCAPE: PEACEKEEPER WARS!). It means you quote the things they say to each other, scramble to find more about their relationship, squee when they get together and die when they break apart. When you’ve got a more unconventional ship, you eat up all interactions they share like they are tiny bits of candy from the heavens. When Fred kissed Angel to hide him from Jasmine’s followers, the squeak that came out of my mouth could’ve broken glass.

This love for relationships and enough time in fandom has taught me to spot even the most odd (or crackiest, as we fandom people say) potential for ships. If I can spot them in my own story, that means that I can try to give something to each of those potential sections of the fandom for my stories – something that will hook them in. I don’t rewrite stories for that purpose or anything, but if I see the opportunity to have two characters interact, I work it into the tale. And I’m hoping this helps add a richness I wouldn’t have otherwise achieved.

Canon vs Fanon: My sister, Megan, is also a fangirl. Allow me to give you a peek into a recent conversation between us.

Me: Rereading Order and I mentioned this part that took place way before the actual story. I wished I could have told it. So I wrote it as a side short story.

Megan: Awesome. Isn’t that, like, the third time you’ve done that?

Me: Fourth.

Megan: LOL – You write your own fanfiction.

Me: LMAO – I would not have thought of it that way. What if I write all of the fanfiction and there’s no more fanfiction left to write? Don’t you love how I assume I’m going to have this crazy fandom?

Megan: LOL – You will! But seriously – you think fandom will run out of stories to write about anything? Trust me, you have not thought about all possible stories. Someone’s gonna come out of nowhere and write the crackiest of all AU [alternate universe] fics out there. Just wait.

Fandom is an interesting place. As a writer, you create a world, and you think you know the ins and outs of it. That is the Canon story. But Fandom digs out some obscure quote that you made in the beginning of Chapter 3 of your 1st book and creates something that gives it so much more meaning. This is Fanon. And suddenly, you want to see what was going on during that one line throwaway where two of your characters were off doing something other than the main plot.

Being a fangirl has helped me to see little instances where I can write outside of the box, little moments that I may not be able to flesh out through the course of the main story, but should I ever have a use for them, my little side shorts are there, waiting to see publication, who knows where. Even if they never see the light of day, that story I wrote about the moment Kyp is abandoned by his father figure, the tale of how good friends Austin and Zane met, that story of why a character betrayed their best friend – they inform the main story. I’ve found myself making edits in the main tale because of things I revealed to myself about my characters in these little backstory exercises.

In that way, writing your own fanfiction can help. Maybe one day, if the series gets successful, I’ll publish an anthology of these. Or, maybe, one day, I’ll pretend I’m more successful than I am by sadly publishing these as fanfiction, pretending I’m somebody else. Can you see it now? “Look! I have a fandom! That Jennine Mantaro keeps writing fanfiction of my work!”

Enthusiasm: The key aspect of being a fangirl is enthusiasm about the work. The best thing you can use when writing like a fan, would be to approach all of your work with a deliberate enthusiasm. Be excited! Know what your characters would think in any situation. Picture them in your head. Build stories of adventures they go on even when they aren’t worth writing about. Create fanmixes, then decide why each song reminds you of your characters or your world. Immerse yourself in your story, the way a true fan immerses themselves in what they love.

I pray my enthusiasm for my stories will be contagious. Will yours?

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15 thoughts on “Write Like a Fangirl

  1. I’ll write fanfiction for you. Wouldn’t want you to get lonely, having to do it all yourself. 😉

    I remember as a kid watching cartoons as a shipper. Of course I didn’t know the term, but you should have seen how carefully I analyzed every episode and every scene for those shippy moments. Ah, the memories. (I even sought fanfiction once I realized there might be some out there. Sadly, my particular ship has fallen out of favor in the world of graphic novel canon. Fics for my ship are few and far between, and the ones that exist get yelled at for not being canon any longer. Sigh….rough world out there.)

    And that has nothing to do with anything…sorry. I’ll stop hijacking your thread.

    I do love how I’ve seen improvements in my own writing just since starting this whole fanfiction thing. I don’t know how much it’s helping the writing I do for my “day job,” but *I* can see where my fiction writing (my first love, anyway) is getting better through this. It really is a great learning experience. And yes, it will definitely be something I can take back to my original piece, which has been a WIP for about an eternity now. 😉

    Love your thoughts as always. 🙂

    1. So curious as to what childhood ship you are discussing. SHARE PLEASE. And I can tell you about some of mine.

      My first actual fanfic involved the daughter of Prince Eric and Ariel marrying the son of Belle and the Beast, and their adventures. True story. I wrote it on looseleaf paper and illustrated it. LOL

      Keep working on that WIP and eventually, it will just become a CW (Completed work). 🙂

      1. Oh, my. Well, I was a HUGE fan of the G.I. Joe cartoon back in the 80s. And I shipped Duke and Scarlett SO MUCH. Of course the cartoon ended eons ago, but the fandom apparently still exists in graphic novels. Only the graphic novels have paired Scarlett with Snake Eyes. So any Duke/Scarlett fanfic gets the “That’s not canon!” cry. But those of us who watched the cartoon version tend to gravitate toward Duke and Scarlett.

        And now I feel ridiculously silly for admitting that as an adult I sought out Duke/Scarlett fanfic in a moment of nostalgia. But…there is some out there. And some of it is even really, really good! Long live the 80s cartoons, I guess. 😉

        I also shipped JB and Bravestar from the Bravestar cartoon–but that was canon, and it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world anymore.

        My first “grown up” ship was Lee and Amanda from Scarecrow and Mrs. King. By this point, I was in middle school. And they’re still my ultimate OTP. 😉

        I do keep plugging away at that WIP. It’s changed and evolved a lot over the years–the more I grow and learn, you know?

        1. OH MY GOD. I loved Duke and Scarlett! I was partial to Lady Jaye and Flint myself (Flint was my first fangirl crush, and yes, I’m aware that makes me weird.) I think my first unconventional ship was from Jem. I always thought Stormer and Kimber truly loved each other. I don’t think I got the true extent of what I was thinking at the time, but they seemed like they should be besties.

          My first “semi-grown” OTP was Vachon and Tracy from Forever Knight. They never really got together, but it was clear they LOVED EACH OTHER. Then came Buffy and Angel and I was never the same. LOL

          My ultimate OTP is actually Daniel and Vala. ❤ At least my OTP that wasn't created by me, anyway.

          The more you grow and learn is right – one day, I swear, I will get the courage to post my first version of the story I'm writing now. You. Will. All. LAUGH!

          1. The first version of my WIP–I don’t think exists anymore. Which is actually just as well, honestly. :-p But yeah, it would definitely be laughter-inducing. Actually it would more, “Never let this woman anywhere near a pen EVER again!” 😉

            Daniel and Vala pretty high on my list. I never actually cared a whit about SG-1 as a series before Daniel and Vala. *blushes*

            My friend Allyson was always a big Lady Jaye fan. Sigh. They don’t make cartoons like that anymore. 🙂

            Part of me wants to watch the movies they’ve made. The other part of me doesn’t want to see how they’ve probably ruined it. I’ve gotten cynical about movies in my old age. 😉

            1. DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIES. You will never get that time back. 😦

              It’s funny, because I watched Stargate because Claudia Black and Ben Browder were coming over from Farscape and I was excited. And I expected to spend the whole time watching for Vala and Mitchell moments, but I fell so hard for the Daniel/Vala interaction.

              No blushing – you get into what you get into, for whatever reason you get into it. There is an entire book series where I absolutely despise the leads – but love so many of the supporting characters I can’t help reading…so… *shrug*

              Yeah…my first version of my WIP…I think it would be the same way. 😉

  2. While I completely get how valuable it is for knowing your characters to write sidestories, I don’t get how to create characters that a reader would find interesting enough to write fanfiction for…I write fanfic because the characters I create aren’t even interesting enough to keep me engaged.
    Why do you think your charcters would be interesting enough to have someone write fanfic for them?

    1. I don’t actually think they would be. Or rather, I don’t know they would be. I dream they will be.

      I have fun with my characters. I love seeing the facets of their emotions and I love getting to play with them and see how they would react to situations and think of how they react to saving the world and for battling over mocha chip ice cream at the grocery store. (Kyp would definitely tell Jacklyn to rise above the battle, but Jacklyn would shove someone into a freezer if it meant she got the last one.)

      I feel like I’ve gotten to know these characters inside and out. And I love them. I love getting to hang out with them. And the pleasure I get from getting to know them is the kind I hope to share with others in the way you send someone recommendations for the best makeup or give people a heads up about a clothing sale. If you enjoy something, you like to share.

      But do I actually expect fanfic to be made about my characters? No. I just dally with the idea in my head and hope that one day someone will care about someone mischaracterizing Morgan, or gets mad because they miscast Cassandra in the movie, because that would mean that I have added something to this crazy thing we love called fandom – and I would love to get to be a part of that.

      And wow – I just wrote another blog post! LOL

      1. A completely weird question here:
        Do you like those shows they’re showing on TLC lately about people in odd family situations or stuff like Honey BooBoo?

        1. Ha! Totally weird question – I would love to hear what brought that on.

          To answer your question: There is no word that can properly explain the depths to which I despise shows like those. NO WORD.

          1. LOL…I am relieved that I won’t have to unfriend you because you watch those sad excuses for TV shows,
            Seriously, I too despise those shows. I have zero interest in their lives and relationships….however I wondered if perhaps my disinterest in the dramas of those relationships would be why I can’t stay enthralled with the relationship dramas between my OCs…yeah never mind….it seemed to make sense when it first occured to me.

            1. I can see what you’re thinking. I don’t know what it is. I find myself very interested in the interactions of people in high stress situations. I think part of the reason why I rarely write stuff that wouldn’t be seen by the mainstream audience as “weird” is because I don’t really care about people doing their mundane, every day things. What I care most about is people during high emotion moments.

              Could it be that maybe the reason you aren’t feeling motivated is because the dramas between your characters don’t feel real enough to you? Or maybe you need to ratchet up the conflict? Just a thought. I could be totally off base with those guesses.

              1. Been thinking about this some more and it might that I’m not normally attracted to books that are only about the relationships…I can’t stand stuff like Danielle Steel, I need something that takes a little more thought. I much prefer mysteries, espionage, sci-fi etc. So I think the conclusion I’ve reached that whatever I write has to some other “meat” to it than just the relationships. Which is explains why I like writing fic for SG so much.

  3. Funny, it was fan fiction that actually got me back into the writing thing in the first place, but now that I’m there, I rarely write fan fiction anymore. Although I don’t write it, I still come up with ideas, especially for characters I created in my fan fiction, which, I would suppose, is closer to this topic. I find myself thinking – well, ok, so you created this character…now it needs a backstory…or a future one. You can’t just leave it like that…there has to be more. LOL
    I suppose that, when you write a novel about a character, you know it so well that you can create a dozen situations that character could find itself in outside of the box of your novel…but is that truly fan fiction or just fleshing out your own character?

  4. Pingback: 10 Things To Know About Me…Er…If You Want To… – Justine Manzano ~ Author

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