During 1960’s there was an outbreak of science fiction written by amateurs who used already developed and idolized characters – those from Star Trek were favorites – from there came the term fan fiction. However, with the advent of the internet and the ease putting closet storytelling urges out in the public, this trend has boomed. However, fan fiction is not new. People have been piggy-backing on existing stories ever since stories existed.
One of the techniques to use with students struggling with the relevance of pre-modern literature is the fan fiction assignment.
They create a short fictional piece based on one major character and the setting used in a particular piece of literature. In order to do this, students have to study the character and setting (Writing Plan). Then, they need to identify a conflict that the character might actually become involved in that leads to a series of events, resulting in a climax and resolution. Once these this plan is completed, students have the information needed to complete a short (750-1500 word) fan fiction.
If we have been studying a quantity of older classic literature I usually let them choose their favorite selection. Make it optional to imitate the style, diction and tone of the original piece. Although I request this somewhat difficult task as an added challenge for additional points. However, doing it does help students begin to grasp how to analyze the effect of these elements in literature.
Writing Plan (Fan fiction)
Nationality, age, gender
Two personality characteristics
Likes and dislikes
Approximate time (year, era) Specific time (month, day) and location (house, city, country)
Describe appearance of setting
Parts of plot
Often I share with students an example of an archaic fan fiction writer who went too far. William-Henry Ireland was enamored with the works of William Shakespeare to the point that he practiced until he could produce a reasonable copy of Shakespeare’s handwriting. Then, he tried his hand at poetry that resembled the Bard’s and finally a play. Actually claiming the play was an original, was Ireland’s undoing. He did get by with it long enough to have the play produced. However, people quickly realized that long lost play Ireland claimed to have found had phrases sounding like Shakespeare, but the overall quality of the drama lacked the cohesiveness the Bard’s writing.