Updated: Dec 31, 2019
by Alysha Blaze
So, I'm one of those "weebs" who went through a Naruto phase.
You know, that anime even people who don't know what anime is have heard of? It's the anime you hear fall out of your less-than-hip relative as they widen their eyes when they see you reading a manga and saying "Hey, that's some of that Naruto stuff, right?" To be fair, the show is a giant, and most people started their descent into being a "weeb" with this show, as well as icons Yugioh, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon. But Naruto is iconic in a different way for those of us with a passion for writing;
It is the most perfect fodder for fan fiction.
Yeah, it's not something I acknowledge much when I'm asked about my writing. I literally write for my job. I've been published in a few things you've probably never heard about. But arguably my greatest success has been writing stories about fictional characters and how they would interact in different scenarios, with people and even in different worlds. Fan fiction is unique in that so much of the story can revolve around the actual plot without all the pesky character development since anyone reading it is already familiar with the characters. This can sometimes lead to comments about the story being "unlikely" as it is "out of character," but that's a whole other story. Mine is about the most important lesson I have ever learned since I started seriously writing.
I had made about my third posted story in a small corner of the interwebs that gave me my first taste of achieving something. I happened to write about a scenario that was growing in popularity in my preteens - 7 Minutes In Heaven. For those of you who might not know, basically two people in a game, usually in groups of teens, are put in a closet or room for 7 minutes with the expectation they are going to kiss. Around thirteen/fourteen years of age this story was the be all, end all EVERYWHERE I found in fandoms across the web. So I read a few stories and found I always disliked something about them. There was always a detail that just didn't quite sit with me. So, being the good egg who didn't comment my personal dislikes, I took matters into my own hands and wrote my own story. And it blew the heck up. One quick short story turned into my inbox being FILLED with requests to turn what I intended to be a single chapter story or a "one shot" into a full fledged chapter story. I was shocked. But mostly I felt a strong pressure to deliver, so I decided to write something totally off the wall to keep things going as I had written my short story with a pretty clean but slightly open ended ending.
A character that, as a comedic relief in the story who bolted out of the game originally became the romantic interest in my chapter story. Essentially, the two characters that got together in my original short were the other two mains, and my leading man who had opted out of the game came back with a vengeance ("WHAT happened while I was gone???") that lead to a love triangle. I have to admit, I just ripped this second chapter out of my...well you know. I wrote whatever came to mind and flowed from my pre-pubescent fingertips into the keyboard. I rambled, edited, and made something I thought wasn't half bad. When I posted it, I learned others did not feel this way.
They freakin' LOVED it.
Turns out, having an unexpected plot twist made me relatively popular. Suddenly I was developing readers at a rapid pace. I was ecstatic my writing was enjoyed so much! But there was even more pressure to produce results. I had droves of comments begging for updates to my fiction and it was a lot on me for someone who just started this writing a short story for fun. I updated my fic, but I was becoming displeased with my story. In retrospect it still wasn't bad, but I realized I wasn't writing for myself anymore. I was writing for faces I had never seen and never would, who had a constant hunger for new content. I got some great feedback and one of the leading comments that made me want to continue writing (they literally said the words I AM MELTING IN YOUR GLORY, and yes in all caps - thank you random Naruto fan somewhere out there!) but I wasn't really happy with the way my story was going. So, I wrapped up my story. My readers were satisfied with my ending, and I was too, though we both agreed it was rushed.
This all lead to that "most important lesson" I mentioned earlier. My best writing comes out when I'm just writing what I love. Yeah, this doesn't always pan out - I said I write for a living right? But the stories I produce, not the things I write to pick up a check, that's all me. I'm not really active on fan fiction anymore but I had a few more lessons and success stories, and even took some requests. But I always followed what I thought was best, and my stories thrived because of it. So don't change your story because someone else wants you to. After all, you're doing this for the person who should be the happiest with the turnout - yourself.
Thanks for reading.
Alysha Blaze is a masked vigilante who spends her nights defending her city of Winnipeg, Manitoba from the evil villains Captain Misspell and Mr. Incorrect Grammar. With her side-kick Spell Check at her side, no misuse of words will escape justice. She spends her down time writing short stories and poetry. Some of this might not be true.