But the Writing is So Good! – How we justify Fifty Shades of Grey?

This isn’t going to be a long post. I’m not going to get into an argument about the merits/follies of the outrageously popular novel, Fifty Shades of Grey – Now a major motion picture. I’m just going to ask you to read the following statement.

FSGYep, that’s right. This is what we are telling women today. After decades of demanding respect, this is now what we call liberating.

Please don’t tell me the book is more than just sex and I’m being small minded to focus on that. Tell me what you think of this one line.

The Particulars and Perils of Writing (and Reading) Fan Fiction

Fan fiction: A story written by a fan based upon the work or life of the author they are fanatical about. (Example: Pride and Prejudice retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view or Pride and Prejudice set in modern day.)

Are you a fan of fan fiction? I have to say, I’ve fallen in love with many books from this sub-genre and dabble here and there in writing it. But after reading a stack of fan fiction books, there are some particular pointers that I have picked up, as both a writer and a reader.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
It’s all well and dandy to want to write a book based on your favorite author, but before you start to plot, check on the copyrights. Even some classics are not yet considered public domain. For instance, all but 10 Sherlock Holmes stories are public domain. So make sure you’re not rewriting one of those 10!

DON’T JUST REWRITE THE STORY
This problem occurs in the case of changing the point of view or moving the story to a different era. If you are retelling a story from another character’s POV, don’t just tell the story exactly the same, event by event, with a little change in the emotional response. Give your reader new events, new details and new characters mixed in with the classics. For instances, in Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy, we get to know everything Darcy did when he wasn’t showing up next to Elizabeth as well as some additional historical details.
The same applies for changing the setting for a novel. So you’ve moved Cinderella into a dystopia setting. Great. It doesn’t necessarily follow that you should still have a pumpkin turn into a carriage or even a literal glass slipper. In fact, you might want to forget literal all together. Reimagine each event in the story to suit the actual setting.

READ WHAT YOU WRITE
At the very least, be aware of the other types of fan fiction in your genre on the market. Don’t just automatically ignore the fact that someone might have already come up with your idea. Find a way to make yours different.

PLEASE, DON’T DESTORY IT (The Reader’s POV)
A new twist on an old story? Great. The true story behind the story? Love it. Turning a classic novel into an steamy erotic book or a nasty horror show?…You’re kidding me, right?
This is me, as a reader, speaking to both writers and readers new to this scene who might not know how far some people take it. As I lover of Jane Austen, who was obviously a moralist, I don’t want read about the Darcy’s sex lives or contemplate chopping Ms. Lucas’s head off. I also don’t like it when writers take real people who from historical account were good, for instance Jane’s brothers, and turn them into adulterers and murders just to make her life into a cool mystery novel.
In other words, dear readers, always read the reviews.

That’s my take on fan fiction. What’s yours? Any you can recommend to me?

If you want some good stories to start with, definitely try the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy, Debra White Smith’s Austen Series (modernization), or Anthony Horowitz’s new Sherlock, The House of Silk (it gets a little lost in the middle, but it begins and ends with a true Sherlockian style).

I had to pick it up and then I couldn’t put it down.

So, now that we’re deep into my month of young adult, I have to bring up my first successful jump into this genre. I’d tried to read a few popular young adult novels before, but I always ended up putting then down. They just felt too teenager for anyone over sixteen to enjoy. But The Mysterious Benedict Society broke the mold I previously believed was not capable of being broken.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (Blogger), I talked about the first book in the series right after I finished it. Well, now having finished the whole series I will laud it even more. And the funny thing is I never intended to read it.

I found the book on a table at Sam’s Club and bough it purely because of the title. Come on, how could I not have a book with Benedict on the cover in my collection? Fortunately, I got stuck in line that day, so I started reading it just to keep my mind off the wait. By the time I reached the cashier I was hooked.

Like many books in this age range, the story begins with a series of uniquely talented orphans. I’m not sure why orphans are so marketable, but that’s just the way it is.  There is Reynie, who can solve any riddle you put in front of him. Sticky, who has such a good memory facts just seem to stick to him. Kate, who is so resourceful she can solve any problem with her ever ready tools. And there’s Constance who…well, nobody in the world is more stubborn.

Unlike most orphans in novels who struggle with their own personal situations and hardships, the children of this novel have a much higher cause. You see, the world is on the verge of slipping quietly and unaware into the hands of a sinister man with mind control on his side. Of course, each character does have their own unique issues and moments of decision for better or worse and you can’t help cheering them along. Just watch out for the “Ten Men,” okay. They might be coming for you…

These books are just plain good books. Suspenseful, thoughtful and at times funny, the characters and plots of this three book journey are worth your time. Yes, like A Series of Unfortunate Events, I did find myself saying, “This is a kid’s book?” but that was simply because I didn’t think I could enjoy a kid’s book so much. The readers in my house have become quite devoted fans, from my younger sister all the way up to my 83 year old grandmother.

The only real issue I have with this book is Mr. Benedict says his family is from the Netherlands. Okay, I’m just going to say it now, Benedict is not a Dutch name. End of story. ;)

So, have you ever “accidentally” stumbled upon a good book?