What do you think of when I say “Fanfic”?
Neville Longbottom acting out stories about himself at the Fringe, perhaps?
No? Maybe you think of the ridiculous success that Fifty Shades of Grey turned into after starting as a humble fanfic for another surprising best-seller?
What am I getting at here?
Fanfic doesn’t have the best rap, but it can be useful when you want to flex your writing muscles without doing the legwork. Let’s say you want to work on dialogue or description or pacing, but you don’t want to spend all that time developing the characters and plot just so you can work on your style. Good news, others have gone before you and paved the way. And admit it, who doesn’t want to take a couple of their favorite characters and throw them into a situation to see what happens? *rubs hands together conspiratorially*
Just to keep it simple, I’m going to take a couple characters from books we’ve reviewed on LWA. I’ll take Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey (I feel like I’m picking hitters for a baseball team) and R from Warm Bodies.
Now that I have my characters, let’s pick a setting. I want to choose somewhere that would be stimulating for both characters. It doesn’t have to make sense. Just because I’m in Edinburgh in August, I think I’m going to put R and Catherine at a zombie-themed ceilidh at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (thx to Miriam for the idea).
Let’s see what happens.
The room was packed with undead. And they were the most limber undead R had ever seen. They leaped and twirled and danced in every direction. What could so many people have been doing wearing kilts when they died? he wondered. He felt under-dressed in his red hoodie and jeans. His date, however, had taken the opposite tact. She wore a long, formal dress with a high waist, and her hair was pulled up in an elaborate bun. One or two ringlets curled along her jawline. R glanced at her face, conscious of a bit of drool forming on his lip. He put up a hand to stiffly wipe it away, but almost took his lip off in the process. Need to work on the hand-face coordination, he thought.
Catherine sat patiently, shifting in her seat. Her eyes darted to R, then fell to her hands folded in her lap. She smelled like flesh and brains, more heavenly than any perfume. How do the others not immediately fall on her and feast on her perfect skin? They must be some strange dancing breed from a remote part of the world. Like maybe Glasgow. R shrugged off the thought, steeling himself: this was the moment, the moment he’d stand and bow and eat–ehm–kiss her hand, and lead her into the pit of zombies skipping around the hall. He put a hand on the table to push himself up. His knees locked, and he stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. Act natural, act natural, he thought. Catherine was looking at him. Probably wondering why he looked like he’d been kicked in the gut. Then, out of nowhere, a graceful male zombie wearing a kilt, a sporran, the whole get-up, appeared at Catherine’s side. “You wanna dance?” he said, extending a hand. Damn, the guy is eloquent too, R thought. She turned to look at R, and a light blush colored her cheeks. Then she turned back to the other guy. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m spoken for.”