StudyCon returns tonight for students at the San Antonio campus of Our Lady of the Lake University. The Academic Center for Excellence will have food, games, workshops, and, for the first time, a Foam Dome! Feel free to take out all of your test-taking anxiety on your friends in a massive Nerf Battle. And as always, your friendly resident tutors and consultants will be on hand to provide the usual academic assistance.
The StudyCon book raffle and giveaway will also be returning with popular books to be given to students at the event, along with other various prizes. Be sure to stop by and browse the titles.
This semester the books include Star of the North by D.B. John (Contemporary Fiction), The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (YA), Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman (YA), The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA), and the complete Sea of Ink and Gold series by Traci Chee (YA/Fantasy).
But that’s not all: This semester, there will also be a grand mystery prize near the end of the night for anyone who entered the raffle, but had not won anything. One lucky student will receive a mystery bag containing a gorgeous decomposition notebook, a $25 gift card to a local bookstore, and a series of comic books. Which comic books? Well, I’ll just say that the hero is from the Marvel Universe. Let the wild speculations commence!!!
Happy end of the fall semester word nerds! You made it to the final week of what many consider to be the hardest semester for college students. Although, let’s face it, at times spring semester is no picnic either.
I hope everyone is able to enjoy a restful break. And if you’re looking for some books to help fill your time, and you have an inclination towards fantasy and/or YA, may I recommend the first two books in Traci Chee’s Sea of Ink and Gold series. Both The Reader and The Speaker explore a world where reading is a skill only a few have, and books and stories hold tremendous power. In other words, it is a place where word nerds run things and their power is sought for both good and evil. Fascinating stuff.
Okay, so last week I played a mean trick and began the post by talking about world-building, and then I changed course drastically and lured you into a lesson about writing a thesis. Sorry.
To make up for it, I will actually talk about world-building this week, though honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Literally, you build your own world and universe to your liking. All fiction writers do this on some level, but it is especially employed by fantasy and science fiction writers.
When a writer is telling a story set in the world we live in, where everything is more or less as we know them to be, there is not much about the setting that will need to be constructed. But fantasy and science fiction writers will often make up an entire universe in which they must come up with a unique history, geography, ecology, map, and even language (think Tolkien and the languages of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings).
Personally, I love world-building, even though I don’t write fantasy or science fiction, and if I do, the world I create is still fairly similar to the one we know, with just a few changes here and there. But even in its simplest form, it can be easy for the writer to let world-building get away from them. Think about it: there is no limit. You can do anything you want; it’s your world that you made up. But if you take it too far, you risk losing your audience. Also, you risk losing the one thing that is arguably the most important when building your own universe: consistency. Suspension of disbelief only works if the audience is allowed to get caught up in the story. If they are constantly caught up on inconsistencies, the experience will not work for them.
So why not try building your own world. Is it similar to the one we know or completely different? What are its challenges and immediate dangers? Are humans still in charge, or has some other species come to power? It is all entirely up to you.
Another OLLU Writing Consultant, Scott, and I were recently discussing the legitimacy of fanfiction.
Personally, I am not a fan of fanfiction. I do not read it, and I certainly do not write it. With that being said, I have nothing against it. If my writing were to ever gain a wide enough audience that someone were to have the desire to write fanfiction based on any of the worlds or characters that I had created, I certainly would be more than flattered and have no desire to make them stop.
However, the legitimacy of fanfiction as its own genre is often hotly debated. Not only do many not think of it as a real genre, but there are several authors out there who rush to shut down sites that are using their characters and their storylines for fanfiction produced by their own readers.
I get it…kind of. Someone out there is taking your world and characters that you created and agonized over, and putting their own spin on things in stories of their own creation…with the main parts being of your own creation. I get why some authors would not be completely okay with that.
However, as Scott pointed out, fanfiction can be another way for authors to connect to their readership. It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And if that is true, then writing fanfiction could be a way for a reader to express their appreciation and love for a certain story or series.
But authors are not the only ones who take issue with fanfiction and its place in the literary world. In Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, one of my favorite young adult novels in recent years, the main character’s primary hobby is writing what is essentially Harry Potter fanfiction, although in the book the series is given another name and the characters are a bit different. But when she turns in a fanfiction story for a creative writing assignment, she does not receive the high grade she was anticipating. Her professor’s reasoning? It was not her original work, and not entirely of her own creation. Naturally, the main character is crushed, not only because of the bad grade, but because the instructor of her favorite college course has essentially told her that her primary hobby and means of enjoyment is not legitimate writing.
Again, I get it…kind of. When someone takes someone else’s characters and just has them do what they want them to do, the story is not exactly their own invention, nor is it completely original. Nevertheless, that someone is actually writing something. They are attempting to put real thoughts down on paper (or on the computer screen), using their imagination. And often in the case of fanfiction, that someone is a younger person.
As of November 6, 2014, the top 5 fandoms on FanFiction.net were Harry Potter, Naruto, Twilight, InuYasha, and Hetalia: Axis Powers. Of course, I am not saying that older adults cannot be into fanfiction, whether writing it or reading it, but at least in the case of this particular popular website, the contributors and the audience tend to be of the younger demographic. And I kind of like the idea of kids having fun with writing…and with reading for that matter. Plus, let’s be real here: there are a large number of Harry Potter fans out there who would rather have Harry end up with Hermione. If they wish to play around with that idea and make it their own, I do not really see any harm in it.
I doubt this question of whether or not fanfiction is a legitimate genre will be answered definitively any time soon, and sites like FanFiction.net are in no rush to disappear. Many authors have already asked that anything related to their novels is not to appear on the site, but there are still many other authors who seem to have no problem with fanfiction as it is. Some authors who are flattered by the fanfiction that has been inspired by their novels include J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game). Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles), however, has remained rigidly opposed to it, and George R.R. Martin (A Song of Fire and Ice) believes it to be a bad idea for those who wish to be serious writer.
What the future of fanfiction is, I certainly cannot say. And I also do not think I have the authority or background to make a ruling on its legitimacy. Either way, it has carved out its place in the literary world and will not be going anywhere any time soon.
Welcome to the Mary Francine Danis Writing Center at ACE. You can find tips, news, and fun posts about the wonderful world of writing, the ACE, and the OLLU Community!