Fanfic++

I am a huge advocate of new writers cutting their teeth by trying out fan fiction. Fan fiction can be a great playground. For starters, so much fanfic is truly awful, so the bar is set really, really low. Whatever your fandom, somebody, somewhere, has a fanfic forum where you can, if you choose, post your work, get feedback, and cultivate a stable of beta-readers. You will be practicing foundational skills such as plot development, dialogue, character motivation, story and emotional arcs, etc., without having to do all that tedious world-building first. OK, so it’s not “original.” When you think about it, what is?

So without further ado, I would like to thank everybody who made this year’s Nanowrimo novel possible. I stand on the shoulders of giants.

The concept for a race of randomly and inexplicably immortal humans is lifted whole cloth from Robert Adams Horseclans books, which I purchased by the dozen in the mid-1980’s from the how-can-you-read-that-crap shelf at the used bookstore for around seventy-five cents a pop. The idea that maybe they don’t rule the world because been there, done that, hated that job, is entirely mine.

The basic architecture of my ‘verse is the love child of Mercedes Lackey and Joss Whedon. From them we learn that not only are pocket universes possible, nay, probable, but they contain peoples as fascinating, horrifying, inspiring, and infuriating as the humans we encounter every day, and for pretty much the same reasons. Joss gave me the idea of Chosen Ones, selected by the Divine Powers to save the world from Things That Go Bump In The Night, and Misty created a wide and varied taxonomy for them.

The idea that the world was created imperfectly, and that the Divine Powers thus needed the Chosen Ones as a sort of cosmic janitorial and maintenance staff to prevent it all from going smash, comes from Time Bandits. Heck, in my ‘verse, the world comes to an end every couple of years, but most people don’t even notice.

I am doubly indebted to Misty for the Chaos, and for its role in creating Creation, with a dash of C. S. Lewis thrown in for seasoning. She is also responsible for teaching me what ghosts do with their post-living experience.

Not only did I blatantly photocopy one of Joss’s secondary characters, one day I hope to tell the story of how the Queen of Coins convinced Spike and Drusilla to help her hunt Nazi sorcerers through middle Europe during World War II.

The perfectly-obvious-once-you-think-about-it observation that all libraries are connected through the Plato-esque Great Library, where every book ever written resides in perpetuity protected by some truly frightening Librarians, I owe to Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde. In Pratchett’s honor, one of my Librarians is an orangutan. Another, the stone lion Fortitude, comes from the front steps of the New York City Public Library. Flynn Carson, Noah Wyle’s character from The Librarian: Quest for the Spear makes a non-speaking cameo— blink and you’ll miss him.

My cynical, world-weary, what-fresh-hell-is-this-and-I-mean-that-literally mystical IT department I owe entirely to Charles Stross and his Laundry Files series. Also the idea that you can jailbreak an iPad to run unauthorized-by-Apple computational demonology utilities— although it probably isn’t a good idea to use that same iPad for playing Plants vs. Zombies afterward. Stross also gives me the basic physics of magic, for what it’s worth.

That my viewpoint character, Nichole, is the least powerful of all characters in the book comes to me from Akira Kurasawa by way of George Lucas.

Finally, it wouldn’t be fanfic without a Mary Sue. Cordelia Nash is the idealized version of myself that I began building in my early 20s. Wise, compassionate, self-confident, unconditionally beloved and trusted, infinitely clueful, effortlessly creative with impeccable taste, a gourmet chef, married to the perfect husband, and of course, with far, far better hair.

Psst. Listen closely. The secret they don’t tell you about fanfic is— you start stealing from enough different sources, your work begins to approach originality! I learned that this year!

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