Hi readers! Welcome back to the third blog about fanfiction. In the first blog, I gave a brief introduction to fanfiction, and the second one focused on its unique features. This one will present how fanfictions are written and tell all the difficulties in writing as well as in sharing. Most of the sources of inspiration and problems in writing are no different from other creations while online censorship is a unique feature. If you want to start writing fanfiction but have no clue where, to begin with, this is the blog you must read! Texts in [ ] are originally in English and others are translated from Chinese. Enjoy it!
Inspiration and Writing Process:
Allen: I will first have an idea coming from nowhere and sometimes it cannot be applied to any character. Then I figure out how to put it into specific characters and works and refine it. It’s hard to say where the inspiration came from. It just appears.
Auretta: I rarely sit down and think about how many words I must write today. Most of the time I write a little when I am commuting, waiting for my food, eating, etc. If there is a relatively large paragraph that needs to be thought thoroughly, I will take a note and later when I’m free and can write on the computer, I will extend it into a paragraph. Inspiration comes when I am watching movies, listening to music, or brushing my teeth. I am most inspired when I brush my teeth.
Bella-Illiz: [My inspiration usually comes from my own experiences or the events and certain words the characters are described in the original works. I travel a lot both before and during the pandemic, and I live in New York City, an amazing place for writers to find inspiration. Other times, I would ask myself what would certain characters, such as Enjolras or Robespierre, do during the Cold War or the January 6 riot when I read Rousseau and Marx’s theories.]
Eliel: Inspirations come from imagination (mostly erotic ideas), discussion with other fans online, an excerpt in the original work, and anything that happened in the real life that I believe may also happen to my ship.
Eggachingdaisy: If it’s an alternative universe, I will first think about how to position major events from the original world to the new universe. Then I will set their character position, their strength and weakness into the new world. If it’s in the original universe, I will think about from what angle do I want to cut into the timeline of the characters in the original book. What needs to be changed? What can be kept? What events will they encounter? What will they do if the same things happen?
Lingyi: Writing is painful because there are too many ideas, and it is difficult to integrate them all into a story. I always get stuck. Inspiration mostly comes from songs I’ve heard, movies I’ve seen, or some of my own experiences.
Lum: [I used to write under a group for fan books. Usually, I would talk to our editor and the illustrator (if I have one) for an outline and tried to cram it out before the deadline lol. I usually based my works strictly under the world of the original work, but now I am also writing Paros (basing the story or characters in another universe or just out of the setting of the original work). Now my source is somehow topics and things I want to express about myself, so I think I am attaching my works more onto my identity now.]
Mumu: I write RPS almost entirely based on imagination, including visual impact, role-playing and emotional touch. Visual impact is based on the celebrity’s outfit. Assuming it is a school uniform, it will make me imagine a story in school paro. Role-playing is based on the roles played by the two parties in TV series, and this kind of gameplay can be used to achieve a new universe through permutation and combination. Emotional touch comes from my perception. For example, when I feel that the celebrity looks like a puppy, I would like to write a story about the puppy being loved. Sometimes the touching points in him will be developed into a story.
R: Usually, inspiration comes when I read an excerpt that touches me, or when I talk with my friends. In most cases, I finish the story in my mind. Unless I start writing immediately when I have the idea, it is rather difficult to write down a complete story.
Rangli: Usually, I grab a few inspirational fragments and record them first. Then I think about the causes and consequences. For a grand setting, I usually write a general outline. The source of inspiration may be some hard feelings about the real world or imagination. Sometimes inspirations come from a song or a picture from my own life.
Saikofujima: I usually think about my work before I go to sleep. Dreams in the early morning bring me many inspirations.
Salmon: My writing process is generally completed in one go. Otherwise, I often give up halfway or present my work in fragments. Writing one story in a specific period is easier for me to succeed. I often talk the key content of a story out when I’m chatting with my friends and this chat record is often my creative outline. It is expanded infinitely during communication and finally forms a very long story, usually having tens of thousands of characters involving the key plots of the characters. I save these chat records and read them repeatedly. I find it more difficult to put down the story in chat records into a final product because it feels that the whole story has been told. Therefore, there’s no motivation to retell the story, let alone for the heavy and daunting meticulous carving.
Songxiabuzhai: It’s a bit narcissistic to say that the source of inspiration is mostly myself, but every character I write is a magnified aspect of myself and I write with empathy. I usually write down the outline first, then think about the plot during sleep. Music and walking also help in bringing inspiration. Finally, I will divide the plot into chapters and write according to the plan.
Xiaoxiwang: Inspiration abounds when I’m taking a hot bath. I usually write a story from the end to the beginning.
Yansengwu: Writing is like having a fever. I have to write down a story once I have the idea. Otherwise, I won’t have motivation after a while. Ideas come to me naturally when I stand under shower head in a bath.
Barriers to Writing Fanfiction
Writing is never easy, and sometimes even painful. But don’t but afraid of picking up your pen because you are never alone, and the sense of accomplishment when finishing a story is unparalleled.
Bella-Illiz: [I just do not have enough time for all my ideas.]
Eliel: When I have no idea what to write about… also when I cannot finish a long series and must give it up.
Eggachingdaisy: I have never written a long novel before, so this is super difficult. I often write a lot of details in order to create a sense of reality, which will cause inconsistency … Sometimes I found that there is no way to change the plot without exaggerating during writing, which may cause OOC.
Lum: [Procrastination is number one, whether I am writing for a deadline or not. Because there is always something more important to deal with in real life, which keeps me from going back to write for fanfics. Secondly, because I am sort of a trained writer now (as of my degree), I am more sensitive than others who just write for fun, though it is just a pride thing.]
Mumu: I will give the same answer if you remove the word “fanfiction”: the difficulty in creation. I think my biggest difficulty comes from not being good enough to write down the work I want. There must be a mixture of joy and pain in the process of creation. Generally, it is very happy when the brain is filled with stories, but it is very painful to put them down. Because of the high expectation for myself, it will be more painful when I want to write good stories.
Rangli: My limited ability and wiring skills. Sometimes I have an ideal framework but I see my clumsiness with language as soon as I put it down.
Salmon: Personally, it is mainly due to the lack of ability, but I don’t care much about this. In fan creation, I think that self-expression is more important than perfect works.
Saikofujima: Lack of ideas what to write about.
Yansengwu: Procrastination, and recession of enthusiasm in my mind. I gradually don’t want to contribute efforts and emotion as I grew older.
Barriers to Posting Fanfiction
Allen: It is really painful to publish inside the great firewall. (The great firewall blocked some foreign websites and applications in mainland China, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. The fanfiction website AO3 was banned in February 2020)
Auretta: Difficulties in publishing online, the domestic censorship, um … There are also many naysayers online. Most of the time my works are under a realistic background. Although I have said countless times that I am writing about a parallel world, there are still comments and private messages saying that the setting is not accurate.
Bella-Illiz: [Social media censorship and publication restrictions in Mainland China are some of the major discouragements for creators and readers.]
R: The big problem for mandarin Chinese fangirls: I don’t know where I can post it, and whether it can be seen by others (it’s too easy to be censored).
Rangli: The online environment is becoming harsher than ever. Many topics and settings are not welcome, and I stop writing them for fear of being accused of inappropriate, partial, and connotative. The writing environment is not particularly free.
Salmon: The great firewall, censorship, the system/society rules that imprison creation. Most of the questions about publication and communication return to this essential reason.
Songxiabuzhai: No one read my work! It’s super tiring to be alone.
Xiaoxiwang: Fewer and fewer platforms to publish, more and more restrictions, which kills enthusiasm. I’m unable to create and publish what I want to write under current legal rules.
Next week we will come to the last blog of this series: fanfiction community. Hope you will like it!