Monday, July 30, 2012

Fandom and the WWW

I wonder what it would be like to entirely grow up in the age of the internet. When the 'WWW' took off I was around thirteen but even then it was really just email and a few good websites here and there. It wasn't until I was 17 that the internet seemed to grow arms, reach out of our computer screens and pull us all in. It seemed like within a year the online world had exploded.
MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Blogging, YouTube, Wikipedia then finally Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Linkedin.... I could go on...

Cyberspace has completely changed the way we live. In fact, I think back to 'the days of old' and wonder what people used to do with their time, before we all became computer zombies. I know I played a lot of sports, I went to dance classes, I went to drama classes, I played music, I read books, I went for bike rides, I baked and cooked, tended to my vegetable garden.... oh and I went to school of course! Now I look back and wonder how I found the time for all that!


I mean really, now I have to go to work where I sit in front of a computer, and I go to the gym just to make sure I get some physical activity, I cook my dinner, I write on one of my various blogs, I Skype friends, waste time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, read other blogs, read the news, repeatedly check my emails, brainstorm ideas for my MS, write MS, brainstorm more ideas and then repeat. This means the majority of my day is spent in front of a computer - obviously a terribly healthy lifestyle!

The thing is, I know this is the lifestyle for a good percentage of the population. In fact, most teenagers I know check their emails and social media profiles before school, during school and after school. Many still do extra activities such as arts or sports but when they're home they can generally be found 'cyber socialising' - sitting on Facebook - chatting, posting on people's walls and Facebook stalking.

One of the big changes I've noticed in the last six or so years if the change in fandom.

I think the best way to illustrate this is to use a personal example....

When I was nine I loved the Spice Girls. I loved them so much I glued their pictures to my bedroom wall (needless to say my room needed to be repainted a few years later...). I knew my closest friends liked the Spice Girls too - we played their CD during lunchtime at school and we all had their posters in our bedrooms, whenever they were on the cover of the latest tween magazine we'd all buy them and read them during our breaks. We'd buy the branded lollypops and go to the Spice Girls film we'd watch any TV appearance that was broadcast and we'd pretend to be them for dress up parties and talent quests.

File:Spice Girls (6 janv) 56.jpg

I knew the Spice Girls were big, simply because of how much publicity they were getting. In shots of them touring the UK and the USA you could see the hoards of fans lining the street to wave at them and flash the trademark 'Girl Power' sign. Plus they were on the radio ALL the time, so of course they were big.

When I was nine there was no internet to connect with other fans, to access the latest Spice Girls photos or to create fan websites. Now, however, things are hugely different.

Think of Justin Bieber. In fact, he's a great example because he found his fame online. We all know the story, how he posted videos on YouTube, gathered a huge number of fans, got discovered, and became a massive sensation. The fans banded together online, creating fan sites, tribute videos to their hero, declaring their love for him and generally hyping each other up. Creating a whole new level of fandom.

Check out these passionate fans!
Justin himself contributed to this. He uses Facebook and Twitter as a platform to really connect with his fans, make them feel like they know him, like he's not some unobtainable super-human. He shows them through the internet that he is just like them, that he's not a super-human and that in fact anyone can achieve their dreams if they believe they can. The fans love this even more, creating even more hype. Add that to the insane marketing team he's got who also know how to use the internet to their advantage and suddenly you've got yourselves some pretty intense 'Beliebers'.

I've seen the same thing happen with many young celebs of Justin's age - Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Jonas Brothers.... just to name a few. Then you've got the other super celebs who may not utilise the social media platforms the same as the 'ex-Disney kids', but who's fame has spread hugely due to the fiercely passionate fans like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

The reason I singled out Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart for the last example is because they bring me to my next point. Part of the reason their huge success is because of the film they were in - Twilight (obviously). As everyone knows, Twilight started as a book which developed a fan base in much the same way. Once Twilight (the book) was released, the fan base steadily grew, largely due to the ever growing presence online of the fans. As more fans caught onto the books, the fandom grew. Websites and facebook pages popped up all over the place, online quizes were made and by the time the film was released fans were choosing whether they were 'Team Jacob' or 'Team Edward'.
Naturally you'll find zillions of things like this..... from here

and this.... from here

The internet has changed so many aspects of our society. The fact the internet has made fans more intense and more passionate is really cool to see! It's especially great for books. I feel through the fans, with how passionate they become for the stories and the characters, that the love of books is being revived. Look at Twilight again, and The Hunger Games series - granted the movies helped them along but there was already a huge following before the movies were even announced. We had very passionate fans all over cyberspace, writing fan fiction, talking about the characters, the story, arguing over plot points, discussing casting choices.

We've got the last few books of Harry Potter as well. Harry Potter obviously started well before the internet came along, but with book six and seven being released during the age of the internet, as well as the last few movies, then of course Pottermore, the Potterheads have managed to make their presence known online too.

This pretty much sums up this entire post... from here

The internet is a great place to see how stories are impacting others. Through reviews and general chitchat online you can see how novels will spread. In fact I predict the next big YA series will be the Divergent trilogy. It's a great series and already I can see YA readers going nuts over the story. It's nice to see the hard work of the authors paying off by through the passionate fans.

Obviously it can be a harsh place as well.... for celebrities and authors, you need a thick skin - particularly when people rip your ideas and stories to shreds. Overall though, I feel the internet has really helped to spread the joy of the stories we love, to be a place where you can know that you're not alone for loving that band or that movie or that book. It's a great place to be able to join together to discuss your favourite character and plot line.

We love the fans! Here's a little online fandom piece of cleverness to wrap your brain around.... enjoy :D

Buzzy, huh?! From here

Friday, July 27, 2012

Are writers born or made?

Are writers born or made? I came across this debate a couple of weeks ago and have been pondering over this question ever since.

It almost goes back to the nature vs. nurture question really.

I think it is a combination of both. I believe everyone is born with wild imaginations, with the ability to build worlds and create stories - to prove this theory you just need to watch a child who's off creating their own fun in a world of princesses and dragons.

Somewhere along the way it becomes socially unacceptable to talk to yourself, to sit down and imagine yourself to be a princess fighting the dragons, and having tea parties with your dolls (unless you live in New York and aren't afraid to be branded a typical crazy).

It's not unacceptable to keep on imagining these things - in fact I know plenty of people who daydream frequently during the day, making up various fortuitous scenarios for themselves inside their heads - but most people just tend to leave their imagination behind, or at least don't talk about it.

But then there is the nurture side of the argument. Some writers would have been brought up surrounded by books, creativity and stories. Others may develop a love of reading and story telling on their own but may be encouraged by family and friends to pursue their dreams of becoming a writer.

Others may show no particular desire to be an author until later when one day they just decide they want to tell stories, or perhaps something happens in their life and they realise they have a story to tell.

However it happens, it takes a special kind of person to become a writer. The type of person who is not afraid to listen to their imagination and turn their ideas into a story. The type of person who has a way with words and enough patience to write, read, revise, read, revise, read, revise, then talk, and more talk about the book.

Writing a book is not an easy task - right from the first idea of a novel it takes a lot of thought, a lot of brainstorming and a lot of determination.

I guess you have to really want it. You have to really want to tell the story that's screaming inside your head, wanting to get out. I guess you have to be relentless as well - not giving up, no matter how hard it gets. Just keep swimming ... I mean writing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RTW: A reincarnation...

Over at YA Highway they do a little thing called "Road Trip Wednesday" -each week a writing- or reading-related question is posted to be answered by the masses, then everyone can jump around to everyone else's blogs to see what's been said. Like a carnival. Or speed dating. Anyway, since I've started this new blog I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon....

This weeks question - 

If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?
I’ve had a lot of trouble picking exactly who I would want to be reincarnated as. My first thought when I sat down to write this blog was Hermione. 

Of course she’s not a classic literary character, but I grew up with her. She’s strong, very intelligent, she doesn’t generally have to use violence (aside from a few spells) to complete her mission and she is fiercely loyal. Then of course there is the fact that she has a wand and can do magic.   

While Hermione is who I initially thought of, I realised there is one character in particular who when reading the novel I truly felt that I wanted to be her… or at least be friends with her!

Fiona from The Tea Rose is quite probably my favourite female protagonist of all time. Fi is so very good, she’s been through so much and she continues to rise above, learn from her history and become an incredibly strong woman. 

I think the other part of Fi that I love is that she never forgets where she’s come from - throughout all three books, she never forgets where she grew up and she consistently wants to do what she can to help. She will never let anyone change her and for that becomes a role model, both in and out of the book.

It wouldn’t be an easy reincarnation, that’s for sure. I’d be setting myself up for starvation, indescribable grief, the very strong chance of being murdered, a lot of fear and so much heartache. However, I’d also be learning a lot, experiencing this time period which is so different to our own, yet in some ways very much the same, and I would get to help change the lives of others in need.

Fi is definitely who I’d want to become, very closely followed by Hermione. Failing that I'd just go right ahead and be reincarnated as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Who would you chose?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The marvel that is the internet

I've spent the last week waist deep in other writers blogs, reading about their lives, their techniques and what makes them tick.

There's a lot of information about on how to write a book, how to develop a character, how to create conflict and how to remember ideas.

It's all very useful and interesting to read but I have noticed a good portion of the writers contradict each other into what they find their best technique is to crafting their 'ideal' story.

Is there really a 'right' way of doing things? Is there really 'rules' that should be followed? I don't think so. I think that's what makes writers so special. They march (or write) to the beat of their own drum. They lose themselves inside their head. They have control of their own worlds and that's what makes them so special.

That is one of the biggest joys for readers - to get lost in these worlds that have been created, away from boundaries of right and wrong, away from rules and formalities.

The internet's a marvel though, isn't it? To be able to completely watch the whole process of a writer, start to finish, through the blog posts. To see little glimpses of a world, of a manuscript over a period of time, and to then see the finish product of all that hard work.

It's a valuable tool to be able to talk to people from all walks of life who you otherwise may never have connected with about the things you have in common. To compare notes and talk about various writing techniques and ideas from opposite sides of the globe just blows my mind!

Of course the only negative is being a total and complete computer zombie who spends her whole life wide-eyed staring at the screen....

Regardless, you can learn a lot by wading through people's blogs in whatever industry you belong to.

I love it!