Fandom

An unofficial fan video made by a lot of the actors that starred in a number of Star Trek series'

Keeping an audience in mind is essential when making anything. You’re making something to be consumed by others, and as such the whole purpose of what you do is for the benefit of others.

But it’s a specific type of audience member I’m going to talk about is not the casual audience, but the real fans. The casual audience will keep the money rolling in, but it’s the fans that really keep the spirit of the film alive. It’s the fans that go to the conventions, the fans the join the facebook group and its the fans that keep buying the merchandise.

Fans get energy and inspiration when the watch media texts they like. They identify with the characters, they copy the mannerisms and buy the soundtrack. They spend a lot of both time and money displaying their passion and they even come up with their own stories. These are obviously based upon their own abilities. Some will be good, some bad, but both are down their love for that series, film, comic book, game, etc. they can’t seem to get enough of.

Some people's passions outstrip their abilities - but that's fine. It's all part of the culture

Here, I’m going to outline several tips for creating a good fan-fiction story:

Don’t overuse the cast of characters: There’s usually an established range of characters in anything. Within superhero stories, there’s a lot of villains to choose from. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to use all of the characters. Stick with one, possibly two but no more. You don’t want to complicate things needlessly.

Realise its for your fellow fans: The audience that you’re aiming for is people like yourself. But there’s many levels of fandom. There’s the people who like to buy Star Wars figures, then there’s people that can recite entire episodes of Star Trek, line for line. The trick is to be geeky – not nerdy but geeky. What do I mean by this? Celebrate your relationship with the film/series/computer game etc.. but don’t try to prove you know more than anyone else. More specific?…

Spaced. It was a brilliant series not just for the geeky references, but a specific way in which they were used. They were used to fit in with the storylines – not in spite of it. If you don’t know what they were referencing, it still works by itself. It doesn’t make you feel lesser because you don’t instantly get all the references.

Don’t cherrypick what you follow: You can pick the best bits of what you like, but if there’s a lore you don’t want to follow, I’m afraid it’s tough. You can choose not to include certain bits, but don’t contradict it. Which leads me to…

Don’t make up rules for the universe: If something is implied or hidden in the main universe you’re trying to include, don’t go making anything up about why things happen there – especially if they’re deliberately left unexplained. Say for example, making up legends about Timelords or about ancient Vulcan societies that underpin why they’re so logical.

Don’t use too much exposition: Not everything needs explaining straight away. Keep some things a mystery, either for a certain pivotal time or completely a mystery. Also, make sure your characters don’t say or do anything that’s both out of character or even worse, why they’re doing something. This is a general thing about scriptwriting – “show, don’t tell”. If you’re having to have the characters explain things to each other, then chances are your plot is too convoluted, there’s not enough action or things are going too fast for your characters to be realistic.

Of course, there’s other types of fan stuff that don’t need these rules, but these are generally fanart or crossovers. Those are entirely their own thing, and aren’t designed to be enjoyed in the same way as regular fanfiction. Why? Fanfiction in general is designed to slot into the main universe of whatever its designed to be a part of. There are those that like to do crossovers, and those have separate issues involving how the worlds interact, which then bring up things about lore interactions.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, you mostly likely will not get a job writing for Doctor Who, get a part in the next Superman film or editing the next Bond flick. It’s not a question of ability or passion. Don’t expect anything else other than a few people to really like what you did.

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