Continuing my weekly revisit of my writing as its developed... I've previously written about my turn as a young author and the completion of my first novel. After that, my writing meandered pretty lifelessly for a while. I wrote a few short stories, including, "Guns, not Roses," an aborted bit of crime fiction featuring hair metal band artists.
My writing really got its jump-start with work on two novels, both of which (alas) began as works of can fiction. At the time, I didn't even know what fan fiction was. I'd seen a couple of novels based on movies, though, and had two brilliant ideas:
#1 - Sometime needs to tranlsate the brilliance that is the RPG video game Dragon Warrior into written words so that all can appreciate the complex word and sweeping fantasy epic.
#2 - Well, I don't want to write just more Star Trek Next Gen, but what I could do would be to write about the generation after that.
Both novels went like gangbusters, even though I was working on them at the same time. After a few months, though, I decided fan fiction (though I didn't call it that) was problematic. I wasn't concerned about artistic integrity. What I was writing was actually pretty good, and fairly legit writing for a teenager. But there were copyright laws and I would never, ever get the permission of the copyright holders to publish these books.
That started the most outrageously complicate revision process ever. I first went through and did the sample changes. I changed names, places, dates, and any other references that tied into the established franchises. I knew that wasn't enough, though, so I made at least one major change to each plot-line so that it not possibly have continuity with the franchise stories. Even that wasn't enough, though, because I was very self-conscious about how these stories began.
And that's when I went all Tolkien on these things.
I drew maps. I invented languages. I filled out detailed biological profiles and cultural profiles of all the races and groups of people in the books. I created huge backstories. I tied the fantasy book into the same universe as the science fiction book. I invented technologies, both primitive and advanced. The compendium of data supporting these two books would be embarassingly large.
All that work helped me break all ties with the fan fiction origins, however, and ultimately, create original works. Both books were finished, too. Unfortunately, both also (a) need some punching up of the writing and (b) pretty much demand sequels. They might yet see the light of day. I still have electronic copies of the manuscripts on floppy disks...
Next time: the genre melieu.