Friday, January 20, 2017

Fan Fiction and Me

“A horrible massacre has taken place at Sunnydale High, and Buffy is missing. Also, Principal Snyder fears that smoking was involved.”

That is how I promoted one of my fan fictions, a multi-chapter novella called “Reversal of Fortunes: The Sunnydale High School Massacre,” which I wrote over ten years ago and which is among the eleven stories I have posted at fanfiction.net. This particular story blends the “canonical” storyline of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with my own “what-if” alternative universe. 

By far, “Sunnydale High School Massacre” is the most popular of my fan fictions. Since I re-published it at the end of 2014, this story has been viewed 3,561 times. To give you some context, my next two most viewed stories have 638 and 607 views. My least read story has only 35 views. I attribute the relative popularity of this BtVS fan fiction to its homage to the spirit of the original series and its use of humor, perhaps suggested by the promotional description of it above. (Too many BtVS fanfics rely solely on the author’s fantasies about character relationships and not at all on the Buffy canon or anything to do with a plot.)

My reason for writing these fanfics was to play with some of my favorite movies and TV series: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the James Bond series (actually the books as well as the movies), “The Maltese Falcon,” “Twilight Zone,” “Fringe,” “The Outer Limits,” “The Americans” (The only recent show included.) and “The Bob Newhart Show.” It was a lot of fun, most of the time, to write these stories.

Several of my fanfics – if not, indeed, all – are experiments. I wrote a slash parody of “The Maltese Falcon” just to see if I could write one of the lowest forms of fanfic. “The Casino” was written because an online writers’ forum I belonged to was discussing the inadvisability of writing in the second person, so I had to try it. (The result seems moderately unappealing to me, yet it is not the least popular of my eleven posted fanfics (and has 123 views).

I published the last of these fanfics at the end of 2015. In “A Very James Bond Christmas: Until the Day I Die,” I even suggest an imaginary sound track, including Portishead’s “All Mine,” implying that the reader might enjoy listening to certain songs at appropriate points in the story.

I learned a lot about my writing process. Creating an outline is helpful because it gives you your plot, and then all you have to worry about is writing each scene or chapter without having to worry about what is going to come next.

Writing “A Very James Bond Christmas” made me realize that all James Bond movies follow a folk tale trajectory: A wizard (Q) grants the hero several magical enchantments (high-tech gadgets) that turn out to come in handy in each subsequent adventure. The hero uses each gadget to rescue himself or others until he has used all of them and has defeated the villain.

These are my personal favorites among my fanfics:

Reversal of Fortunes: The Sunnydale High School Massacre (A novella set in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” world)

Reversal of Fortunes: End of (School) Days (A novella and a sequel to the first “Buffy” story)

Lorne in Vegas (A novelette and a crossover between “CSI” and “Angel,” the latter being part of the “Buffy” universe)

A Very James Bond Christmas: Until the Day I Die (A novelette that originally was almost done as a screenplay)

Star Wars (A short story based on the Cold War series, “The Americans”)

The Naked Scream (A short story and an alternate version of “The Bob Newhart Show” from the 1970s)

Four O’Clock Today (A short story that updates a classic “Twilight Zone” episode)

The Barrier (a more or less original short story but in the familiar genre of “The Outer Limits”)

(The two “Reversal” stories and “Lorne in Vegas” were written over ten years ago and were originally published on a now-defunct website.)

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