How to Adapt your Fanfic into an Original Story with JoSelle Vanderhooft

Craft How to Adapt your Fanfic into an Original Story with JoSelle Vanderhooft

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Characters, Description/Setting, Dialogue, Genre, GMC, Plotting, POV, Voice, Worldbuilding
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Even a decade ago, fanfiction was seen as an embarrassing activity that writers should keep to themselves—and that no professional writer would surely ever do! Thanks to the increasing visibility of fandom and the fact several bestselling novels began their lives as fanfiction, the stigma is all but gone. If you’ve ever felt like your fanfic could work as an original story but you’re not sure how to go about making changes, then this is the course for you! Editor—and fanfiction aficionado—Jo Vanderhooft will walk you through each step in retooling your work. From retooling your worldbuilding to remaking your characters, you’ll walk out of this class with the tools to respin and rewrite your story into something new.
Week One:
  1. Introductions and discussions of fandoms we like and write for.
  2. Discussion of fanfics that have been turned into books and fanfic authors who have gone on to write original work. Since Fifty Shades of Gray is so well known, I’m thinking I’ll use this as an example of what to do and what could have been done better in adapting this Twilight fanfic into an original novel. In week one, we’ll focus on what I think EL James did right: she created a world that was so different from Twilight (corporate world Seattle rather than a stormy small town) that one could really just replace the names and have a story that at least cosmetically did not resemble Twilight.
  3. Essentially, the key to doing more than “filing off serial numbers” is similar to what makes a good retelling: find the qualities you like about your fanfic, the world you are writing in, or the characters you are writing and think about how to make those your own. Really, this strikes at the heart of what fanfiction is: what details, real or imagined, stir a writer or reader’s fancies and make them start to imagine possibilities.
Homework: Students will take one of their fanfics (preferably complete, but in progress is fine if they’ve decided to stop working on it as a fic so they can turn it into an original piece) and identify what part(s) of it fit the above criteria.

Week Two:
  1. We’ll talk about how not to leave identifiable plot pieces or characters behind. For example, using Fifty Shades again, we can easily see the ways in which Christian and Anastasia are too much like Edward and Bella, in which secondary characters seem like those in Twilight (I absolutely forget her Latino friend’s name, but he was an obvious stand-in for Jacob), and ways in which plot points feel similar in spirit to Twilight.
  2. Next, we’ll examine how to keep the spirit of your fic as you rewrite it. (Using Fifty Shades again, we’ll talk about how the sense of entering the new, strange, and forbidden is at the heart of both Twilight and Fifty Shades).
Homework: Students will begin replotting their fanfic and reworking their characters as needed.

We’ll work on refining those outlines and further discussing fanfic.
Jo Vanderhooft
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