Thursday, June 29, 2017

Writing Battletech Fanfiction - A View From the Trenches!

As some of you know, I am a budding professional writer. Partly, it's my day job, (I am a technical writer), and partly? It's my passion. Battletech is well, great fodder for fanfiction. The veritable "what ifs" alone make for some great story material.

I wanted to use a story I am currently writing, Clover Spear - The Story of the War of '56 as a way of showing both the joys and the pitfalls of fanfic writing, especially for Battletech. There's a lot of good here, and some bad. But am I enjoying myself? You bet.

So, first the good. Fanfic is a great way to keep your writing talons sharp, as well as your imagination. Your chosen subject matter is your canvas, and you're not limited by canon, but by whatever your mind can conceive,

Let's use my story, I wanted to see what the result of the following premise would be? "What might have happened had Hanse Davion had survived his heart attack back in 3052?" Well, for starters, I do not think he would have let the Clans just set up shop on his borders. And with Hanse Davion, when he is unhappy, he is rarely unhappy alone for long. But I didn't want this to be "Hanse Davion saves the universe again!!" No, I wanted Victor to shine, and I wanted Katherine not to be a "ponytail twirling villain" like she was reduced to in the canon universe. And yeah, I wanted Omi to live....

So, what to do, what to do? Well, you're seeing the results.

But some points as I continue to write.

1. Have a plan: Having a plan to guide your writing is always a good thing, especially for a stream-of-consciousness writer like me. That doesn't mean you let the plan straight-jacket you. If you think of something good (especially if it makes you cackle with glee), and/or a reader has a great suggestion? Use it. Give credit where credit is due, but use it. But always have an idea where you are going with this. I have two spreadsheets, soon to be four, tracking the troop movements for this thing. Combat resolution is, if it sounds about right, do it. Some may not like that, but this is a story, not a wargame. Just don't be munchy about it.

2. Deal out the Pain as Even as You Can: Battletech is war, and war is a risky, risky enterprise. Battles are lost and won based on the slimmest of margins, and so are wars. You can do a lot, even kill factions, but the fact is..make sure there is enough around to keep it an interesting universe, so more often than not, make sure everyone gets their fair share of loss.

3. Keep Writing: I admit it, every review, every site visit, and discussion thread on Spacebattles and is a fix for the writing drug. We fanfic guys don't get paid to do what we do, we do it for the love of what we do, so reviews are our payday. Many of us do it to see "Are we really that good, or are we kidding ourselves." I have had the question answered, and yes Virginia, I am a pretty damn good writer. But don't abandon your readers, even if you have to take time off, make sure when you come back, you come back with a vengeance.

4. Start Small, and Do Your Homework: Make your beginning micro, and build out macro. Make sure the steps you are about to take are ones you can build a good writing foundation for. If it's on a shaky foundation, it will be reflected in your prose. Moreover, do your homework. There is plenty of material out there for Battletech, even on the internet. If you have to make something up? Make sure it's at least plausible vis a vis your research. This leads into a related point....

5. Respect Your Readers Suspension of Disbelief: Your readers come to be entertained and have fun with your writing. They aren't asking you to be Hemmingway or Ringo, just good enough they can have fun reading it for a while. So respect the use of their time. Don't write a plot bunny you know sounds weak or just plain bad to you just because "it's in the plan" or "you have to, the story won't flow." If you think it sucks, then the reader will too, I promise you. Like on Broadway, give the audience what they want...but leave them wanting more. Do that and you will have them coming back for more of your work.

So, that's the best advice I have out there. I will keep writing my stuff, because it's fun and keeps the writing muscles sharp. I do hope you keep reading it.

No comments:

Post a Comment