Firstly, Patrick Gann (Ramza on the forums) is my hero for this Slime. Slimes rock.
That said, welcome back to Fanfics. It's been a harrowing past few months, despite it being summer. Between obtaining a job and such, I've had little time to work at the 'Fan. But never fear, I haven't abandoned ye readers and writers. Again, a word about Smart Quotes in Word: Turn 'em off. I really don't need the pain of searching out every symbol Word implants into its structure which shows up as some random character in HTML, thereby destroying the readability of a given story.
I'd like to talk with the community for a bit. I know fan sections like these don't often have their own sense of community (although I wish they did), but as the operator here, I'd like to open some dialogue with those of you who grace me with your work every so often. To that end, let me start by sharing a few thoughts on why I feel fanfiction is a healthy pursuit for an author, and not just an occupation for overzealous fans. Even if you aren't one of the people who've been subject to that sort of criticism, it may be of some use to you in realising your worth as an author.
Constructing a story of your own isn't difficult in one's mind, but sometimes putting it on paper is. But when creating an original work is difficult, fanfiction is often a great way to exercise one's creativity in writing because the characters already exist. Some people devote a whole book's worth of writing to fanfiction, and while that's often a sign that you're overdoing it, it's great to see such enthusiasm. I'm not a fanfictioneer myself, although I do enjoy reading it a great deal, but I often find that when characters are laid out for you beforehand, it makes putting them into a situation that much easier than trying to do it on the fly. The whole reason authors often use fanfiction as an outlet is because the world and characters have already been given to them. All they need to do is introduce the new circumstances.
You can use this in your regular work as well though. Write your characters first, write your settings. Make these your tools and develop them. After that, placing them in a situation isn't so difficult, and I think that helps us overcome a major step in sitting down to our writing. It doesn't mean the character has to stay that way, but that you have a basic foundation to build upon. Hero A has such and such qualities, so he will react to Situation B in a certain fashion unless Heroine C is around. It gives you some dots to connect.
It's also vastly helpful when an author hears back from readers. If you have something to say about a story, be it praise, criticism, or just a few comments, send them my way and I'll be happy to post them for the author to read. If you'd rather keep them private of course, there's always a direct e-mail beside every story. I'd like to help give fanfiction a sense of community at this point though, so if you have a letter you'd like posted in here, let me know. It can be a reader to a writer, or a writer to a writer. Heck, you can even post requests for stories you'd like to see. Drop me a line.
~ Mark P. Tjan