Posts Tagged ‘fanfiction’

One of the YouTube channels I follow is Tale Foundry, a channel that breaks down how different genres and mechanics of storytelling work and then uses the lessons gleaned to write original short stories. They present themselves as robots in a foundry that works with fiction rather than metal (hence the name Tale Foundry). Their latest series of videos has been around worldbuilding in fiction, and their latest video, which I’ve embedded below, really got me thinking.

Now, if you didn’t watch the video for whatever reason, let me just quickly talk about one of the methods of worldbuilding they discussed: found design, which to put very simply is when you modify an aspect of the world in order to accommodate or address an issue (or “emergent concern,” as they call it in the video) that’s come up in the course of telling the story. An example would be if while writing your novel about a war between werewolves and humans who hunt them, your beta reader says that the conflict has been done before and that something needs to be added to make the story more interesting (other than a forbidden romance). The something required to spice up the story is the issue or emergent concern, and the integration of whatever you decide to add to the story (a threat to both armies, an original twist to lycanthropy, etc) is the act of found design worldbuilding.

Yeah, it’s a lot to absorb, but whoever said fiction writing was simple?

Anyway, this last method got me thinking, because that’s the method a lot of horror writers use while writing their own stories. As we all know, horror stories are more often than not set in our world, but with modifications to allow for the fantastical things that show up in it. Modifications to allow for something new to be added to the story and its world…sound familiar?

I call this the “build upon” worldbuilding method (if there’s an official name in academic circles, someone please let me know). You take an already-established world, one that many people would already be very familiar with, and add your own twists or details to it so you can tell the story you wish to tell. This is a method used by fanfic writers, anyone dealing with Arthurian lore, and of course, horror writers.

A good example of how this method works is with my own short story, “Car Chasers” (being released in late 2018/early 2019 in The Binge-Watching Cure II anthology from Claren Books). This story is set in a world similar to ours, except ghosts are capable of participating in illegal street races in this story. When I wanted to write that story, I had to not just modify the world so that it was capable of having ghosts (though if you ask me, our world has always had ghosts in it), but I had to add rules to these ghosts, how they interacted with the races/racers and under what conditions they participated in these races. Will all this be evident when the story is finally released? You’ll have to read it to find out, but whether or not it is evident, all that work in designing this world was necessary for it to be written, let alone accepted anywhere for publication.

So as you can see, it’s a handy method to build a world for your story. And if you’re into creating a shared universe across your stories, like Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, or I do, it’s pretty helpful in making that possible. All you need to do is make a slight tweak and you can find ways to connect your various stories together into a fantastic and varied world.

Of course, this isn’t the only method for building a world in horror. But this is the one that I use the most in my stories, and which I’m sure plenty of other horror authors use when they make their stories and their worlds. And it’s not hard to see why: it’s a wonderfully flexible tool for any storyteller, and helps in the act of storytelling every day.

Thanks to Tale Foundry for giving me the idea to write this post, and as always, I’m looking forward to your next video. And I encourage you folks to check out their stuff. From Lovecraft and Junji Ito to Celtic mythology and satire, you’ll find plenty of videos exploring the various aspects of storytelling and how they can be applied.

That’s all for now. I’m off to work a little bit on that novella again. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on worldbuilding in your genre? Any methods that you find helpful? Let’s discuss.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

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Andy Weir. E.L. James. Christopher Paolini. What do these three names have in common? If you guessed successful novelists, you’re close. They’re all successful novelists who were originally self-published, their stories caught on, and they eventually began to catch on and one day they woke up with millions of people reading their books, movies in the works and great things in their future.

I’m not sure I’m going to get the millions of people and the movies in my lifetime, but just hearing the success stories of these authors gives me plenty of reason to hope that this could happen to me some day. Self-published writers are having success stories everyday. I even heard of a teen in England whose fanfiction about her and a bad boy version of one of the members of One Direction became a smash hit and got a publishing deal (yeah, I didn’t know that sort of thing was possible either until I heard of it). It’s quite incredible how people can become successes over time in a field that used to be despised by establishment writers.

How do these writers get their successes anyway? Well, it’s different for each one. Andy Weir published through his blog, and it attracted a bunch of readers who wanted to read The Martian in Kindle form. E.L. James published her Fifty Shades trilogy as an e-book and used the emerging field of e-readers as well as word of mouth among erotica fans to gain a following. Christopher Paolini toured around the United States, visiting schools and libraries and dressing up like a man from the Middle Ages to get books into the hands of kids and teens, until the son of author Carl Hiassen found Eragon, loved it, and brought it to his dad’s publisher’s attention. And, if that story about the 1D fanfiction is true, then I think she posted it on WattPad, which is kind of like the YouTube of writers (and which, along with Goodreads, I need to use more often).

One thing that these all have in common, the authors made it easy for interested readers to get their hands on their work. And their work was really good (though from what I hear Fifty Shades is very poorly written), which made people want to read more and keep coming back for more. Thus it sometimes snowballs until…success, I guess.

Now does this happen for all authors? Obviously not, or we’d all be reading books by people whose works may be anything from really good to just plain dreadful. But it could happen to any author who puts in the right amount of dedication to their writing and marketing and who has a little bit of luck on their side.

God knows I’m working hard on all of those when I’m not working or looking for jobs. I’ve had sales that have been very successful and gotten my books into the hands and Kindles of plenty of new readers. And I’m working on an audio book of Reborn City, which is probably my most popular novel right now, so that could open up a whole new field for me: those who like a good story on long car trips or while jogging. And I’ve got a story or two I think would do great as serials published on WattPad and on Kindle, though I’m not sure when I’ll get around to writing them.

And of course, I tell people. I let them know about the books I’ve got out and if they’re interested I give them my cards so that they know where to find them (I’ve already gotten two or three people at work to promise me they’ll get copies of at least one of my books as soon as possible). And I’m always looking for new ways to get readers interested, and usually they work.

So maybe someday I can be, if not the next Stephen King, then maybe the next Christopher Paolini or Andy Weir. Selling enough books to write full time, expanding my media so that more people are exposed to me and maybe find a new favorite author. Anything’s possible. I just got to keep writing, keep working hard, and above all never lose hope.