Why Fanfiction, Part II: On Writing for a Game You No Longer Play

NOTE: This entry contains spoilers for both Wayward Son and Fire Emblem 7.

As promised, my friends (what few I have on here right now, at least XD), I bring you the continuation of my previous post I promised last Friday.

I have told you why I started writing fanfiction, and of the seeds from which nearly all my stories grew. Yet, as you will recall, I implied these reasons were no longer quite as compelling as they once were. I’m no longer as passionate about FE, and I no longer find it as interesting as I once did. Yet again, you will notice I still write fanfiction for it, and review other people’s work quite profligately. Why? There are several reasons. Allow me to begin with the first and most important:

1: I am a stubborn son of a bitch. I am constitutionally incapable of leaving a job undone.

This aspect of my personality is far from unique, of course. In my case, however, it has kept me on a path many would consider quite strange. It would be easier for me to simply drop all the writing I’m doing and concentrate on enjoying myself rather than pushing forwards, step-by-step, to the conclusion of Wayward Son and my other stories. Yet I find I cannot. If I were to stop work on Wayward Son today, it would annoy me for quite literally the rest of my life. No matter how much time passes, I’ll always remember that it’s up there, on FFn, waiting to be completed. Same with the other unconcluded fics I have on my profile. When I start something, I simply have to finish it. I can’t live with myself otherwise. It may cause me a great deal of inconvenience, and it may take me places I never imagined going—Wayward Son is over 700,000 words long and I have at least 200k to go—but it’s who I am. I have no choice but to deal with it.

2: I am emotionally attached to the characters I write about and the stories I’ve made for them, even if I no longer care about their games. I feel an obligation to see their struggles through. Perhaps it’s silly, but I have an attachment to Renault. The one from the game, yes, but also the one I’ve created—the mercenary who is never seen but only mentioned in Fire Emblem 7 (For those of you who don’t know, Renault is a bishop in that game who mentions being a mercenary a very long time ago). I don’t think I could live with myself if I simply abandoned his story now. I feel like I owe it to him to describe not only his bloody life as a soldier for hire, but his eventual redemption (such as it is) and his path to religion. Anything else would be a betrayal, almost. Renault has been with me for quite a long time, even if only in my mind (and word processor). I started writing Wayward Son in 2006—the Burdened Bishop has been walking with me for nearly seven years now. That kind of devotion, I think, leaves me with at least a degree of obligation, fictional character or not.

Of course, this leads itself into the question of making someone else’s characters “your own” when it comes to writing fanfiction, and the murky relationship between the original creator of a work and the fan author creating something based off of it, and how there can be many equally valid canons among the original creator, fan authors, and readers, but that subject is murky enough to warrant a separate post. Perhaps I’ll get into it next Friday 🙂

3: Lastly, I also have an obligation to my fans. I don’t want to leave them hanging. I know for a fact many of my friends have been reading every chapter of this story since it was first published. According to the traffic stats on Fanfiction.net (FFN), Wayward Son gets over 300 unique visitors per month (377 in May, in fact). Perhaps some of those hits are bots or something, maybe others are from people who just want to laugh at me and/or my work. But I know more than a few are from friends who are invested in the story and genuinely want to see more. If I have an obligation to Renault, an entirely fictional character, I definitely have an obligation to my readers, who are real people. However difficult it may be, I don’t intend to let them down.

That last point could extend to the Fire Emblem fandom (again, the community of fans/enthusiasts which has grown up around the game) as a greater whole, though. It is also why I continue to review Fire Emblem fanfiction even though I don’t play the games much anymore.

Fire Emblem fans—both on FFN and elsewhere—have done me a tremendous amount of good. On FFN in particular, the reviews and feedback I have received on Wayward Son have helped me grow immensely as a writer and remain a perpetual source of pride and comfort to me. For a second time, some might call this silly, and for a second time, I retort, that’s just who I am. To give back to that community, then, I take it upon myself to review as many of other people’s fanfics as I can. I think it’s a pity if anyone puts in even a degree of work and effort into a piece of writing and put it up in public without anyone else even acknowledging its existence, so I try to leave at least a few words of encouragement when I can. It is what others have done for me, after all.

There are, of course, limitations to this approach. Firstly, I can’t and don’t review for everyone. While I have a decent amount of reading knowledge in French and German, that knowledge is geared more towards nonfiction than fiction, so I don’t really feel comfortable providing input on non-English work. Perhaps I’ll start when I’ve gotten more experience with other languages. Secondly, given the volume of fics being written after the recent release of Fire Emblem 13, I simply don’t have time to leave exhaustive reviews. Usually, I can only briefly mention something I liked in particular or general pieces of advice. Still, most of the time even a few sentences of praise or critique can be immensely satisfying for a writer of fanfic. There are those for whom this isn’t the case, and I understand the desire for more in-depth critique. Lamentably, I just don’t review stuff for people who very much prefer longer reviews, because I just don’t have the time these days! When I finish up some of the other projects which are keeping me busy, I may be able to leave more satisfactory feedback. As to what those other projects may be…well, hang around this blog long enough and you’ll likely get an idea. 😉 Again, my next post will be next Friday…I think I may discuss why I’m not as into FE as I used to be. I may make a couple of smaller entries, though—we’ll see, I’m still working out a good schedule for blogging. Wish me luck!

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One comment

  1. […] known as a rather prolific reviewer around the FE section of Fanfiction.net, as I’ve mentioned before. Today I’d like to talk about why I leave reviews so much, along with some general advice on […]

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