Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fan Fiction Class and Flash Fiction

Well, I'm a week and a half into the Fan Fiction class I'm teaching online at Brave Writer. I have ten students (all females), about half of whom are experienced fan fiction readers and/or writers. 

During our first week, we explored what fan fiction is, defined some terms, reviewed story elements and literary analysis, and discussed what the students wanted to get out of the class. I also dug up ten one shots from various fandoms, and they had to choose and analyze three of them. I chose stories from Harry Potter and Twilight, of course, plus Teen Wolf, The Avengers (two from here). I also included some more "classic" fandoms for the more conservative home schooled kids such as Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and Sherlock Holmes. I asked students for rec's of course, and I also put up a post where they can rec some of their favorite completed stories.

The challenge in teaching this class, of course, is in balancing the two very different worlds of fan fiction and home schooling. Many, if not most, home schooled students are Christians, and while Brave Writer is a non-sectarian business, we still need to be sensitive to our clients. Yet we also have non-Christian students as well. The student age range is 12-17, so we have to be careful of what we post. 

Along with the owner's input, we wrote Guidelines for Posting Fiction that we hope will aid parents in protecting their younger kids yet will also allow for whatever expression of creativity students wish to explore. The Guidelines explain the Fiction Ratings categories (those used on of K, K+, T, M, and MA, plus the MPAA ratings used for movies (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17), then request that only K-T and G-PG-13 stories (written by students or as rec's) be posted in the classroom, with T, PG, and PG-13 stories being uploaded at attachments with a warning so that young readers don't accidentally read something they shouldn't. 

Stories rated M/MA or R/NC-17 will be e-mailed to me, and I'll offer feedback via e-mail. 

One student (age 15!) e-mailed me to ask about posting slash story recs; I had to tell her that it wasn't appropriate for our classroom with such young students, but that she could e-mail me the link and I would be happy to discuss the story with her. Teaching fan fiction definitely produces a challenging balancing act. 

Today students are submitting their first stories: flash fan fiction. Their assignment: write a fan fiction story of 300-1000 words, and we'll all read and comment on them. I'm thinking that I'll do the assignment, too, and thus provide Jacob with a voice before we find out what happens to him. 

This week we're also discussing the elements that the students reported struggling with the most: plotting, character development, effective dialogue, and judicious descriptions. In addition, I've also posted on writer's block and finishing a long WIP. 

They'll be starting their two longer stories soon; they may write two one-shots or two chapters for a new story, or two chapters for a current WIP. I think it'll be fun, and I'm looking forward to reading their stories submitted today. :) 

So that's what's been going on with me. I'll be writing the second half of the wolf/vamp battle from either Carlisle's or Edward's POV (possibly both) for Sunday, but I may sneak in that flash fiction from Jacob's POV before then. 

Happy Reading!
~Cassandra  :)    

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