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What an exhausting week. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen statuses like, “Off to make lingerie out of toast,” and a lot of you might still be wondering but what the hell is GISHWHES and the purpose … Continue reading

Hollywood and Western Ideology

A discussion on whether Hollywood films “invariably reinforce Western ideological values” and to what extent.

romantic-moviesAs Hollywood was the leading film industry during the development of early cinema, it is not that surprising that it still dominates the market. The culture it portrays is over-saturated in European cinema, in the sense that its stereotypes are widely accepted as the ‘norm’ and are internationally recognised. Indeed, during the 1920s, European countries “began to use legislative measures to resist Hollywood’s domination of their screens” (Ruth Vasey, 1993, p.214) In this essay it is necessary to briefly touch upon what is the Western ideology of Hollywood and what is not; and what is at the ‘other’ end of the spectrum. To help understand its success I will draw from writers like Paul Willeman (click [here] to read his entire essay) who looks particularly at the specificity of nationalism and how films outside of leading Western cinema are alienated.

NOTE: Given requests when this was posted on Squidoo, you have full permission to quote my essay in any academic paper, presentation or casual blog that you are writing. Please just reference back to this page and its sources correctly (my name is Willow Wood). I’ve included a bibliography at the very bottom.

Ideology of the West
where is it, what is it, and who utilises it?

weird-topgunFirst thing’s first: what is ‘Western ideology’? Where does it come from and how do we define it?

Western ideology tends to vary depending on the source. It is not a ‘thing’ or a clearly-marked-out manifesto. It is a blurry set of beliefs that have pooled together from different cultures, states and countries that are constantly changing and being argued over. The most prominent ideology is enforced by the leading party in the US as it reaches a larger spectrum of people through (for the most part) the medium of Hollywood films and agitprop news feeds, e.g. CNN, FOX, SKY.

Most of these feeds will claim to be a middle-man simply giving us the facts – a well balanced update that puts across both sides of an argument – even though, as John Molyneux points out, “the idea that media news coverage is politically neutral or merely “reporting the facts” will not withstand a moment’s serious consideration” (Molyneux, 2011, p.55). But this idea is still idolised and embodied by reporters whom pick their words carefully to give the illusion of LIVE, unedited reactions. This is also true in film as most directors, producers and scriptwriters employed by Hollywood (although not limited to Hollywood) will express they’re political neutrality – they are just ‘creating entertainment’. This argument seems to hold water because it is made “without making overt the evaluative and interpretative terms that underpinned their object of study.” (Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, 2003, p.257)

So, let’s try to narrow down this messy pool of beliefs into the three most frequently valued ideals in popular Hollywood films.

1. The American Dream
oh, to be rich and free

This is something most of us have heard about. The pursuitofhappynessonesheetBig American Dream: to be successful, stable and free. What ‘the dream’ doesn’t say is that it’s easier to achieve what it promises if you are (ideally) middle-class, have graduated from respectable schools and are Christian. If one is anything else then ‘achieving your dream’ requires substantial effort and proof of labour or intellectual worth before he/she can break away from the stereotypes of their ‘ethnic community’.

An example of this in Hollywood cinema is The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) directed by Gabriele Muccino. It is the biographical story of Chris Gardner, a black man who came from nothing, suffered homelessness as a young adult with his nine year old son, and was then hired from an internship position from which he went on to create a multi-million dollar brokerage firm. Even if this is a true story, we know from our every day experiences that it’s not true for everyone.

When we watch films like The Pursuit of Happyness, it is easy to be swept away by the emotions the film wants us to experience. It’s a feel good film – something people want to believe happens and could perhaps even happen to them.

2. America Saves the Day
coming again to save the motherfuckin’ day, yeah!

Transformers-Dark-of-the-MoonAnother frequent Hollywood theme is the belief that because America has risen through industry, they are able to advise or help the rest of the world. This tends to be when the story is purely for American audiences. There is an apocalyptic problem solved by Americans and typically by Americans alone (not that this is restricted to America). Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) directed by Michael Bay exemplifies ‘America saves the day’ to the point that it detracts from the real theme of the story (if we can tell what the original themes were even meant to be underneath all the military-hoorah and explosions).

The American military comes across as more effective at combating the Decepticons (a threatening and powerful alien race) than the Autobots who have travelled across the galaxy to fight their ancient enemy. Such films, like Revenge of the Fallen, tend to be backed by the Department of Defence who allow military equipment to be borrowed for authenticity, but only when the American military is shown in a positive light. As described on the official website of the US Department of Defence, “transports and airmen running across the scene will look so convincing, viewers will swear they’re the real deal. And they’d be right.” (Donna Miles, 2007)

This ties in with the image of the American War Hero. It’s a way of showing national pride and loyalty to the flag, and imples that those who put state before themselves have good morals.

3. True Love & Apple Pies
how to be a good girl or boy

The final and perhaps most typical example of Hollywood ideals is that money (or stability) and respectability comes with true love and good behaviour. This is typical of the Romantic Comedy genre in particular.

Stories tend to start with a beautiful protagonist suffering from a broken relationship. Protagonist is then encouraged by concerned friends to find someone else. The lead protagonists will then fight against their attraction for each another. Sometimes one of them will seek fame or wealth – or have this thrust upon them – and settle for other men/women, distracting them from their ‘true love’.

Once the misbehaving lover settles into a routine of good-deeds or solves their selfish ambitions, they typically win the heart of the girl/guy they feared they had lost. This happens in Groundhog Day (1993, Harold Ramis) when the protagonist, Phil, falls in love with Rita and tries every deceptive method possible to get her into bed. The humour arises from Rita’s inability to remember previous dates as Phil must relive the same day over and over again.

Rita overtly refuses him each time and Phil eventually settles for ‘easier women’ and abuses the people who annoy him because they won’t remember the next day. He sinks into despair and realises he’s happier making Rita smile, spending time with her and helping everyone in the town. This wins the girl, wins him respect from the townspeople and his co-workers, and thus the time-loop ends.

An Ideological Rut
it’s time to revolutionise the meaning of ‘culture’

From these examples we can better consider: do popular Hollywood films invariably reinforce Western ideological values? Yes, the majority of popular films do (but not invariably, as I will discuss later), just as popular Asian films reinforce Eastern values. If this is the case, then perhaps the question should be changed to why and what are the benefits or problems of this? Willeman tends to argue that the bad outweigh the good. In particular, he has said, “One very negative result is that ‘ethnic’ groups will be imprisoned, by arts funding bodies and local government practices, within a restrictive and fossilised notion of culture.” (2006, p.31)

Everything is Political
your views come from somewhere

Even if Hollywood is conscious of racial slurs and looneytunesstereotypes, or attempts to remain “culturally and ideologically neutral, if not benign” (Vasey p.214, 1993) – which was imposed in the 1920s by Frederick Herron of the Motion Picture Producers and Distribution of America (MPPDA) – the producer is bringing his/her life experiences and values to the film. As a member of society constantly impacted by propaganda and his/her surrounding culture it is not possible to stand neutral.

Writer and director Andrew Niccol in an interview with Tommy Cook about his latest film, In Time (2011), is an example of this: “I make movies. I’m not in politics. But I think there’s probably enough [money] to go around, if you know what I mean.” (Andrew Niccol in: Cook, 2011) Here Niccol is saying that, he may pretend to Hollywood that he has no political agenda, but his film speaks for him and his belief that the distribution of wealth is unbalanced.

People cannot detach their lives from the material they create. This is especially true for film when its viewers apply their own life experiences and beliefs to the text. Each person brings their form of the world with them. So why is American ideology at the forefront of Hollywood – an international cinema – if Europe and Asia do not identify (or wish to) with its values?

Popularity vs. Regressive Media
understanding the purpose of the text and the facts outside of it

gandhiJohn Molyneux points out that the media industry claims to be a “reflection of the politics and values already held by the public. In other words they are “only giving people what they want”.” (2001, page 55) In the case of popular Hollywood films this is American ideology. If ‘giving people what they want’ is an accepted argument, Molyneux goes on to say, “[it] will serve to justify virtually all the mass media output – Fox News, The X Factor, Nuts and Bizarre, everything – provided that it is popular.” (2011, page 55)

Hollywood gives the impression that it believes it knows the underlying values of its audience, when this is globally not true and not ‘invariably’ the case for every American citizen. In fact, when some things are so popular they become a ‘phenomenon’ there is a harsh counter reaction against what it stands for and is often directed toward the people who enjoy phenomenons such as the Twilight Series, Justin Bieber and High School Musical.

Thus, as so far implied, “Hollywood is said to be a site of the people’s culture in the West.” (Willeman, 2006, p.38) Tell someone that from Britain or South America and the response might be an instant rebuke. While Hollywood may portray ideological values that lean closer to the government currently in power, this does not necessarily mean it portrays a ‘realistic’ representation of the West. This is best articulated by Willeman in his essay ‘The National Revisited’ (2006):

    …insufficient attention is paid to the determining effects of the geographically bounded state-unity, and this encourages a kind of promiscuous or random form of alleged internationalism, which I would prefer to call an evasive cosmopolitanism masking (US) imperial aspirations. (page 34)

In essence: Hollywood and internationalism may be portrayed as a wonderful form of unity, but how is that unity achieved and who is actually included in this ‘equality’? What information is being selected for us and how do we not succumb to indoctrination? Asking these questions will lead into a long list of potential debates but it is necessary to ask them if our ideas as a society are going to evolve.

Challenging the Status Quo
‘it’s too tiring – I’d rather not think about it’

What is it about Hollywood, then, that makes it digestible or ctrlaltshiftwanted? For one, it reinforces the status quo and is written in the tone of its target audience. After a long and tiring day many don’t want to be challenged or made to engage with ‘controversial’ ideas. Films that give information quickly and easily is a way to switch off, a form of escapism.

This brings us back to Molyneux’s discussion on ‘giving the people what they want’ as he goes on to say, “we must bear in mind that radical or challenging ideas always seem more difficult than ideas which reinforce the status quo.” (2011, page 59)

It also seems necessary to point out and remember that Hollywood is a capitalised industry and, at the end of the day, the corporation wants our money and attention. While Hollywood is not necessarily trying to indoctrinate us, it does know how to manipulate us in order to gain profit, as contemplated by Jonathan Beller:

Nowadays, as it enlists viewers to build pathways for its infrastructure, both as fixed capital and in themselves, Corporate America consciously recognizes that ramifying the sensual pathways to the body can produce value, even if the mechanisms of value production have not been theorized fully. (2006, page 6)

Films Outside the Hollywood Norm
they do exist – for the most part

Of course, not all films reinforce the status quo, like in-time-movie-posterthe recent film In Time (2011, Niccol). The basic premise is that humans have found a way to genetically stop ageing (immortality) past twenty-five, but once this age is reached they must earn every minute of their life henceforth. Time has become currency: you earn it. When a person’s time runs out they drop dead, which in this case means the rich are immortal and the working class are constantly struggling to stay alive one more day.

This is a very obvious parallel of the class divide and a timely release with the (currently ongoing) Wall Street Occupation. Compared to the usual reinforced idea that democracy and happiness will find a patriotic or “morally correct” citizen, In Time follows an unlikely “pair [who] robs banks and tries to redistribute the wealth to ghetto residents[. T]here are strains of criticism of not only the money-hoarding wealthy elite – the 1% in current protestor[sic] jargon – but of simplistic ideas to address economic imbalance.” (2011, Russ Fischer)

So, if this is not a normal Hollywood production and undermines its predominantly capitalist values, how did Niccol get away with it? He explains, “you say no character’s over twenty five years of age and there’s a ticking clock in every scene, they just go ‘where do I sign?’ They don’t read the script. Fortunately.” (2011, Andrew Niccol in: Cook) This statement alone shows that Hollywood isn’t looking for in-depth scripts; it wants a consumable story and familar dreams it knows sell, such as a cast of ‘beautiful actors’.

In Time is praised by some, like web film critic Bob Chipman, as succeeding at being openly controversial: “While it unmistakably has something to say about income gaps and free markets and social justice, it manages the balancing act of being about something without being preachy.” (2011, Chipman, 04:20) Whereas others like Russ Fischer think it is a failed Robin Hood pastiche that suffers under the glare of Hollywood action-movie aesthetics.

V_For_Vendetta_Banner_(EC)On the one hand, if films like In Time and V for Vendetta (2005, James McTeigue) managed to pervade Hollywood screens despite not reinforcing US Western ideology, the issues with national cinema is then a matter of communication and making ‘controversial’ behaviour acceptable if it is directed toward an overtly fascist or ‘evil’ system. But on the other hand, this might mean the executives of Hollywood – those who commission scripts – are hired based, in part, upon their beliefs, which then dictate the kind of films allowed to be produced; not necessarily the writers and producers themselves.

As mentioned earlier, the Department of Defence in America is also known to influence scripts. In 1986 the Pentagon gave money to the film Top Gun, directed by Tony Scott, which caused an increase in military enlistment. There are a number of forces impacting the media that come out of Hollywood and the ideology within these productions seems to be overruled by those injecting the most money into the project.

Conclusion

Going back to the original question it should by now be clearer that even after such analysis, this is an ambivalent topic. Defining Hollywood’s ideologies will always be ambiguous if the only way to define them is to compare what they say with what they produce: films enriched with “American values” or open to creative, political opinion. Do Hollywood films reinforce Western ideology? If it was possible to give a more concrete answer based upon a (sliding) scale of one-to-ten: yes. It is not too outlandish to say that nine films out of ten conform to the “typical Hollywood formula”.

Bibliography

Primary Sources
Groundhog Day, 1993 [film]. Directed by Harold RAMIS. UNITED STATES: Columbia Pictures.

In Time, 2011 [film]. Directed by Andrew NICCOL. UNITED STATES: Regency Enterprises, New Regency & Strike Entertainment.

The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006 [film]. Directed by Gabriele MUCCINO. UNITED STATES: Relativity Media, Overbrook Entertainment & Escape Artists.

Top Gun, 1986 [film]. Directed by Tony SCOTT. UNITED STATES: Paramount Pictures.

V for Vendetta, 2005 [film]. Directed by James MCTEIGUE. UNITED STATES: Vertigo Comics, Virtual Studios & Silver Pictures.

Secondary Sources
BELLER, J., 2006. The Cinematic Mode of Production: attention economy and the society of the spectacle. USA: Dartmouth College Press.

Escape to the Movies with Movie Bob: “In Time”, 2011 [online video]. Directed by Bob CHIPMAN. [viewed 24 November 2011]. Available from: [HERE]

COOK, T., 2011. “Director Andrew Niccol IN TIME Interview; Talks About Adapting Stephenie Myer’s THE HOST”. Collider.com [online], n.p. Available: [HERE] [Accessed 23 November 2011].

FISCHER, R., 2011. “‘In Time’ Review: Andrew Niccol Tries to Occupy Sci-Fi”. Film: blogging the reel world [online], n.p. Available: [HERE] [Accessed 23 November 2011]

MOLYNEUX, J., 2011. Will The Revolution Be Televised? A Marxist analysis of the media. LONDON: Bookmarks Publications.

VASEY, R., 1993. Foreign Parts, Hollywood’s Global Distribution and the Representation of Ethnicity. In: COUVARES, F. G., ed., 1996. Movie Censorship and American Culture. USA: Smithsonian Institution.

WILLEMAN, P., 2006. The National Revisited. In: VITALI, V., & WILLEMAN, P., ed., 2006. Theorising National Cinema. UK: St Edmundsbury Press.

YOSHIMOTO, M., 2003. National/International/Transnational: The Concept of Trans-Asian Cinema and the Cultural Politics of Film Criticism. In: VITALI, V., & WILLEMAN, P., ed., 2006. Theorising National Cinema. UK: St Edmundsbury Press.

6 Ways for Writers to Procrastinate and Still be Productive!

color-creative-ideas-design-illustration-brain-colorful-7c6fc3d21551e01f7804e2e675f2a63e-h

art by yasmeanie

Writing a novel or a short story is challenging at the best of times. There’s plot holes to consider, bathrooms to be cleaned, food to be eaten and, sometimes, motivation to be found.

I’ve been writing novels for the past seven years and yet I still suffer from chronic procrastination. When my Deadline disappears I turn into a Twitter dwelling, PS2-gaming, clean freak – anything but writing. This is stupid, because I don’t just love writing, I adore it.

So, over the past seven years I’ve taught myself to avoid writing by writing or crafting other things. Like right now (I should be planning another essay). In this lens I’ll share with you 5 ways to procrastinate and still make progress on developing your novel, short story or writing skills. No magic needed.

1. Mood Boards
staring at your wall can now be productive

This is perhaps the most enjoyable way to IMG_0689procrastinate. Images are a fantastic source of   inspiration. When you plan a novel or begin writing, do you collect images? Have you seen echoes of your characters or creations on deviantART or Etsy? Then it’s time to do something useful with those pictures, or, start collecting them.

Begin with magazines – beg, borrow and steal them from your friends. This is a good place to start image gathering as it is forces you to look beyond the specificity of internet search engines. It can make you think beyond whatever genre you are writing for. So, find your magazines, browse through them and tear out pictures that make you think of your novel. Don’t ponder over an image or consider ‘why’ you like it, just rip it out and put it to one side.

IMG_0691There is also no quota of images you should get from this. I usually have a limited supply of magazines (I always nick them from friends and family), so I tend to find no more than 3-to-5 images. This is OK. It’s about quality, or, ‘instinctive inspiration’, not quantity.

Now that we’re done with magazines: onto the internet! You can simply type key words into Google Images and hope for the best, but this can be dull and unfruitful. I would suggest going straight to deviantART, Etsy or even Tumblr.

When you’ve collected your images, arrange them onto a giant piece of paper (when in doubt, sticky-tape or glue the edges of A4 pieces together instead). Again, don’t think too hard about how you arrange these pictures. Place them as feels natural.

Now, find a friend to look at your mood-board IMG_0690and ask them, ‘what is my novel about?’ They will probably read your mind, or, point out things you hadn’t considered just by looking at the arrangement. Over time, as you spend hours looking at your mood-board instead of writing, each picture will have meaning and probably answer a few missing links within your story.

In the three collage photos here, you can see two of my mood-boards for two separate novels. Almost all of the images were found on deviantART. In the third image, you’ll notice a line of white paper and post-it-notes – these are images I have drawn myself. It always takes months for each picture to have a solid meaning but they develop a meaning nonetheless, and I never stop gathering images. This is, for me, the most useful procrastination technique.

My Favourite deviantART Artists

I’m primarily into fantasy and digital art but I do like a few photographers. I’ve listed some of my favourite artists here that might help narrow down your search. Browse their galleries, check out their scraps folder, poke at their favourites – you might be captivated by what you find. For a more complete list check out my journal: The Lemony World of Willow
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yuumei
yuumei creates flash comics, political and fantastical art concerning the enviroment, and switched-on, sarcastic journals.
mibou
mibou has a flat, colourful and distinctive style that I love. He likes creating emotive pieces that have something to say – often through neo-symbolism.
sylphiemetallium
Sylphie has a smooth, ethereal style that always interests me. Her subjects are often set in China with hints of magic and origami fish.
thienbao
thienbao has a unique style that often experiments with setting and mood. Ranging from terrifying to magical to surreal, thienbao will probably have something for you.
sandara
sandara is all about magical creatures in fantastic settings. Dragons, giant fish, griffins, phoenix’s, gods – the action is all here.
Senju-HiMe
Cristina Otero is my favourite photographer on DA. Her work ranges from scary, emotive, moody, wacky and often has a theme to pique your imagination. Beautiful stuff.
Sugarock99
Elena Kalis is an underwater photographer. Her photos primarily feature young girls in costume, holding a magnificent pose whilst in the sea or a pool. Her most regailed project is her Alice in Waterland exploration.
2. Begin A Writing Bible
something every writer needs
Art by Unodu

Art by Unodu

Most authors will tell you that a Writing Bible is essential to your story and, for the most part, I agree. This isn’t an instantly gratifying way to procrastinate but it will become your most guarded treasure.

What is a Writing Bible?
A Writing Bible is an explosion of organised notes about character details, key moments in your chapters, plot points, things to remember, timelines etc. It contains your ideas and secrets in as little or as much detail as you want. It’s the padding of your universe without actually writing a story. No one will ever see it. This is your super-awesome-journal that helps keep your story consistent (did Joe Bloggs have brown eyes or blue?) and it’s a safe place to throw around ideas (what if Voldemort was Harry Potter’s father?! Okay, so that’s an awful example, but you get the idea).

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Starting Your Writing Bible

Make a contents of all your characters’ names – the easiest place to begin. Then, pick your favourite character and answer all of the questions that Manon Eileen has written for interrogating your character. [CLICK HERE] The Survey is nicely presented and, at the end, leaves you with a chunky PDF all about Your Character. It’s a great way to spend hours not-actually-writing but developing lifelike people.

Extra Awesome Stuff
For more details on what to put in your Writing Bible check out Pip Hunn’s fantastic, in-depth article [HERE]. It explains how to make a contents list, how to index and, most importantly, what to explore within your super-awesome-bible-of-procrastination.

My First Writing Bible
Click [HERE] to see my first Writing Bible made out of ripped in half sheets of A4 paper and bound together with a pipe-cleaner!

3. Get Out the House
I know, scary stuff. No pyjamas here…

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art by Unodu

…unless you’re like me, and don’t mind walking through the countryside in pyjamas and with a mug of tea.

As writers, we tend not to get out the house often enough, but walking is actually a really great way to mull over our ideas and release stress. It gets blood flowing and oxygen to the brain.

When you’re feeling down; struggling with writer’s block, passionate but frustrated with your work, it’s time to put on your shoes. It doesn’t matter where you live, in the city or suburbs, leaving the house will make you feel better.

I find that the most creative walks are when I only take my keys and my iPod. If I have a playlist that I listen to when I’m writing, then I listen to it when I walk. New ideas come to me and I feel happier about returning to my manuscript.

Vary the hours you go out, even the types of weather you brave. This will change the setting of your regular walks. As I live in the city, I often go walking at night amid the lights and dinner-couples, although I only recommend doing this in safe districts.

It’s not about being inspired by what you see – although this is great and can happen – it’s about daydreaming. That sounds awesome, right? And it is. Let your feet carry you on a long walk and your mind fly through another universe. Watch out for cars, though.

4. Put Together A Playlist
you’re lying if you say songs don’t inspire you

symphony_of_life_by_mibou-d2yokxc

art by mibou

There is a plethora of musical genres and languages to be discovered from all across the globe. Aside from finding songs that make my imagination explode, I’ve learnt and discovered a lot just by looking for music. I’m now a fan of Faroese folksongs, Korean rap, Scandinavian darkwave and my iTunes is one giant album of game and film music! So how do you find these songs that get you in the mood for writing?

Things to Consider
Where is your story set? Norway? Atlantis? Galafrey? YouTube is fed every day by people from around the world. Unless you’re searching for music sung by dodo birds, you should be able to find something that is linked to your setting. This is what I search for first as it is the most thematically relevant.

What’s your favourite film or videogame? Both of these mediums produce gorgeous soundtracks that cater to a range of moods. The galaxy, horror, chase-scenes, piano music that makes you cry – there’s a wealth of soundtracks you probably never noticed are amazing.

Have you considered production music? Trailer music is epic and usually what I listen to on my walks. There are roughly five groups who produce all the trailer music you know of. It’s crazy, I know. These groups are Brand X, Two Steps From Hell, Epic Score, X-Ray Dog and Future World Music. Most of their music isn’t available for the general public to buy but it is available on YouTube.

TIP: It’s best to listen to music without lyrics, or, in a language you don’t understand.

This is perhaps my favourite piece of trailer music

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5. Write Fan Fiction
there’s a fanfic hidden inside all of us

Fan fiction is a wonderful form of literature (yes, literature), and if you think otherwise, let me share with you a quote from onlyalittlelion:

“Most of the history of Western literature (and probably much of non-Western literature, but I can’t speak to that) is adapted or appropriated from something else. Homer wrote historyfic and Virgil wrote Homerfic and Dante wrote Virgilfic (where he makes himself a character and writes himself hanging out with Homer and Virgil and they’re like “OMG Dante you’re so cool.” He was the original Gary Stu).

“Milton wrote Bible fanfic, and everyone and their mom spent the Middle Ages writing King Arthur fanfic. In the sixteenth century you and another dude could translate the same Petrarchan sonnet and somehow have it count as two separate poems, and no one gave a fuck. Shakespeare doesn’t have a single original plot-although much of it would be more rightly termed RPF-and then John Fletcher and Mary Cowden Clarke and Gloria Naylor and Jane Smiley and Stephen Sondheim wrote Shakespeare fanfic. Guys like Pope and Dryden took old narratives and rewrote them to make fun of people they didn’t like, because the eighteenth century was basically high school. And Spenser! Don’t even get me started on Spenser.”

Alright, so it’s a long quote, but it’s a good quote. The beauty of fan fiction is that half the work is already done for us. The world is there, the characters are there and so is the lore. Writing fan fiction is a creative process that squeezes out new content. We have to look at what we want from the original story and reconstruct it into something new.

all_you_need_is_love__by_enchantedtiki-d39ycpz

art by meggiefox

It can be great practice for character studies, rewriting timelines, experimenting with setting, and of course, using language in general. The nice part is, as people read your work, you’ll have prompting and encouragement from readers. Some may even give constructive feedback. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What book, game, film, TV series do you love?

I would like to conclude this little module with another quote from onlyalittlelion:

“Here’s what fanfic authors/fans need to remember when anyone gives them shit: the idea that originality is somehow a good thing, an innately preferable thing, is a completely modern notion. Until about three hundred years ago, a good writer, by and large, was someone who could take a tried-and-true story and make it even more awesome. (If you want to sound fancy, the technical term is imitatio.) People were like, why would I wanna read something about some dude I’ve never heard of? There’s a new Sir Gawain story out, man! (As to when and how that changed, I tend to blame Daniel Defoe, or the Modernists, or reality television, depending on my mood.)”

6. Write A Blog Post
I’m serious

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picture by Anna Pietroni

Writing a blog post might not be writing a novel but it is some form of writing. Write, write, write. It’s the only way to improve.

Don’t know what to write about? Nonsense, of course you do. You’re a creative individual with hundreds of ideas to share. How do you build fictional worlds? Where do you find writing prompts?

By writing this post I’ve hopefully helped you and I’ve experimented with how to write a casual article. Progress, right? I’ve also learnt how to deal with despair when I accidentally delete a whole module of text that I didn’t back up. Make sure you back up words to a harddrive before hitting ‘save’ or you may suffer unadulterated misery at having to start again. I could have wept because it’s bad enough that I’m procrastinating, remember? Yeah.

Now go get busy effectively procrastinating yourself!