Why I Write Fanfiction
Why do you read fanfiction?
For the purposes of this essay, I assume that you DO know what fanfiction is and you DO read it. If you donít, a brief explanation; fanfiction, fanfic for short, is fiction written by fans of a particular author, set in a world created by him or her. In this case the author is Robert Jordan. If you have never read Jordan fanfic before, you may start very easily and simply, by clicking on the following link.
Now that you are familiar with fanfic, you may wish to ask me why I write it. To which I answer again, why do you read it? Fiction by professional authors, usually of better quality, is available in any library or bookshop. Stories by the million are available over the Internet. You donít read fanfic purely out of a desire for reading matter.
I suspect that the reason most people do read fanfic, is that they become interested in the world of the Wheel of Time and want to read more about it. Since the books of the series come out at relatively long intervals, the only available source is in stories written by other fans. Or, if you have the talent, by yourself.
Many fanfic writers simply continue or add to the storyline invented by Jordan Ė writing their own versions of the upcoming books. Others add a new dimension of Ďbehind the scenesí action, often inventing a new and powerful character who alters events. Some write Ďhistoricalí stories, set in the Wheel of Time past and dealing with famous figures.
Iím sure youíre now all wondering Ė or not Ė what category I put myself into. Well, the answer is Category D Ė None of the above. And this links in with the original question of why I write fanfic.
Writing fanfic is, to start with, easier than writing original fantasy. The world and the background is supplied for you, and you can concentrate on the storyline rather than working out how to introduce a new world. But merely copying Jordanís ideas seems ratherÖ boring, as well as unfair to him.
What I try to do, then, is to pick up on a possible scenario in the Wheel of Time world that Jordan has not used, and write about that, or to take a new spin on a familiar one. For exampleÖ
* * * *
Warning! In the following discussion there are spoilers for several of my stories, namely Joking, Mashiara, Moon Water, The Final Cup, The Dream, Choices and To Choose Again. If you have not read them, read on at your own risk. You have been warned.
* * * *
Ötwo of my stories, Joking and Mashiara, deal, although in different ways, with an Aes Sedai and Ashaíman meeting and neither of them realizing it at first. Jordan has never written this idea into his books, but itís still a plausible one and interesting to write about.
Moon Water is about a woman who becomes linked, as Perrin does, to wolves. Perrin has always been very reluctant about his talent, but other potential wolf-kin might have different views. Adarrina, in my story, sees it as a welcome alternative to the human life that she dislikes.
The Final Cup is my second-favourite among the Jordan fanfic Iíve written (Mashiara comes out on top) but readers tend to be ambivalent about it. Iím not sure why. It may, of course, be that it isnít a particularly good story. Not to be vain, however, I rate my own judgement higher than that, and I consider it well-written at least. My guess is that itís the content that makes people uneasy Ė the idea that Marenne, a Darkfriend, is to be pitied more than hated. Or it might be the suicide. Youíre one of my readers, so you tell me.
(Actually, someone just told me that what made her uneasy was all the jokes about death. Well yes, Iíll admit there are a lot of them. But while a good story shouldnít have to be explained, Iíd like to point out that the death-humour was supposed to be overdone. Marenne was drinking and joking about her own death because it was easier to laugh about it than cry.)
The Darkfriend-repentance scenario is one of two that I think are particularly interesting (the other is the Aes Sedai meets Ashaíman one, in case you were wondering) and Iíve used it again in two other stories. One is Choices. In fact, that came from wondering what the Forsaken dream about. Is there something, even in the most hardened evildoers like Demandred and Mesaana and Semirhage, that cries out against the evil? Does what theyíve done ever give them nightmares? Who knows? So the narrator of Choices is a high-level Darkfriend, maybe even one of the Forsaken, who still, somewhere in their soul, wishes to be able to make their choice again.
Sara, a lower-level Darkfriend, did choose again Ė and paid a price for it. That is, of course, a main theme in Jordanís writing: Do what you must, then pay the price. To Choose Again is not entirely an original scenario. Sara is to some degree a feminine version of Ingtar in the end of The Great Hunt.
Now we come to The Dream. The first part, In Search of a Dream, was one of the earliest fanfic I ever wrote, although I have changed it somewhat since then. The second part is, as you probably know, not yet written. It will be. Chapter One is done and the whole part, when complete, will be titled The Wind from the Stars. Why is it taking so long? Because, my dear reader, I unfortunately picked a story type and writing style that is not easy for me to do. Half the chapters are from a male point of view Ė Ralonís Ė and being female I find that quite difficult to write. Yes, I know Jordan does it. He has a wife to help him, heís a lot older than me, and he has a whole lot more experience. And sometimes his female characters still donít seem realistic. Back to the subject, the plot of The Dream Ė particularly this part of it Ė contains quite a lot of action. Iím bad at action. I like writing ideas and emotions. Also, The Path of Daggers was somewhat different from what I thought it would be, so I have to revise my timeline. But donít worry, The Wind from the Stars will be done, if for no other reason than that Iíve gotten fond of Ralon and Leika and donít want to leave them hanging.
I donít know where I got the initial idea for The Dream from, by the way. I just Ė got it. Iíve elaborated on that initial idea quite a bit. For example, one scene from The Wind from the Stars is based on a fairy-tale that caught my imagination when I read it, so I worked it into my own story. Iím not going to tell you what the fairy-tale is, because I donít want to ruin the scene for you.
I like looking for possible stories in the Wheel of Time world. There are a lot more stories and characters in my head than Iím ever likely to write on, but some of them make it onto this page. For example, stories called The Firedancer, Daeron and Kirianne, and Wanderings will probably never be written, because theyíre long, complicated and would take more time and work than I have available. On the other hand, you never know. I might surprise myself.
I like reading other fanfiction, and there are some very good writers of it around (I recommend To the Void, by Selinthia Ė you can find it at Dragonís Library). And sometimes when Iím reading a story I pick up on an idea that the writer hinted at but didnít go into detail on, and think Ė I could write about that. Then again, sometimes I read a very badly written story (no, Iím not giving any examples) and think Ė I could do better than that.
Like quite a few other Wheel of Time fans, Iím writing a book of my own. If you happen to be one of those other fans, you know how hard that is. Unless you happen to be one of the lucky few who never get writerís block (and believe me, whatever Jordan says, it exists). At any rate, however, writing a book takes a long time, so when I get to the stage where I feel Iím running faster and faster to stay in the same place, I take a break and write a short story instead. I then put it up here, hopefully get a few compliments, and go back to my book having released the tension.
So now you know why I write fanfic.