Fiction Writing: Child vs. Adult

My very first computer was one my mom and dad had discarded because it was a few years out of date. I had used it for a awhile before that to check email and surf anime websites and to write the occasional middle school paper. I was just getting into the upswing of the anime lifestyle at the time: watching the afternoon showings of Sailor Moon, Cardcaptors, Dragonball Z, and for many more years than I should have, Pokemon.

At school, I got top grades, but it was more because I was a perfectionist than a decent writer/reader. I loved to read books, but I tended to read them all too quickly. I was quiet and withdrawn, and at the time had only one friend. Who wants to be friends with the wacko who imitates Charmanders on the school bus?

It’s approximately at this time that I stumbled upon the illustrious FanFiction.Net. I was in anime heaven. There were literally millions of stories to read; not only that, but I had the honor of letting the authors know that I enjoyed their hard work by clicking a button called “review.” All of the stories were based on characters and worlds that I was already acquainted with. So what if the grammar was a little odd sometimes? These were stories written by amateurs, with the sole intent of being written for their (and by extension, my own) enjoyment.

After I’d read about three hundred stories (and no, I am not joking), I began thinking about writing my own. So began my foray into story-writing, which would last me throughout more than a decade. I still cringe to even look at my very first story, a Dragonball Z fan fiction about a little girl named Angel. I will leave it at that, because I don’t want ya’ll’s eyes to bleed reading it.

I wrote it in basically a month, sitting down at my computer from the time I got home from school until about one or two in the morning. I was constantly thinking of new ideas, writing them down so that I wouldn’t forget. The plot meandered all over the place, because I had no idea what an outline was back then. I started on another story right after that, and kept going and going. Most of the time, I didn’t finish what I started. The ones that did get finished are still posted on that amiable website under my assumed names. A handful of them still receive reviews occasionally, mostly from kids between the ages of 12 and 16 who don’t know that my early work sucked.

Over those years, however, I managed to develop and hone habits that would carry me on through high school and into college. My writing skills increased phenomenally. My reading skills, too, but to a lesser extent. I learned what a character was, how to give him or her more than just a pretty exterior and clothes of my own imagination. I learned to give him a scar and a story with the scar; to give her a unique name and a reason that her mother insisted upon it at her birth.

I learned to give Jirkle the half-demon a rubber ducky tattoo from a drunken night out, after which he would continually call the woman he secretly loved his “Ducky.” I learned to give him a womanizing personality that is more endearing than annoying (though Ducky wouldn’t say so!).

I learned to outline my stories before I begin, to touch it up as I go along to give the story a solid foundation on which to stand.

Now, as an adult, I write for my continued enjoyment. Unlike those early years, however, the ideas aren’t flowing freely onto the computer any more. I’m more cautious about what flies from my fingers. Sometimes I wish for those carefree days of bliss, where the only reward I ever hoped for was a review from a fellow writer.

I’ve grown some thicker skin, too. The regular fiction world is a harsh place, though I would argue that since my time there the fan fiction world has gotten a lot more so. Now there’s Canon to deal with, on top of the grammar nazis and flamers and idiots. I still delve back into that world through Harry Potter fan fics, because I adore what they can do with such a simple story. At least with regular fiction, most people are trying to help you avoid embarrassment.

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