Original Character Novels Discussion Post

First off – thank you SO MUCH for all your help in the past few days. I decided to go with the excerpt from Hands in the end just because it came from a shorter story and didn’t need so much explaining to make sense :-).

The interview went really well – apart from the fact that I rambled on a bit. I hope I didn’t say anything TOO stupid but when you’re just chuntering on I think there’s a danger of disappearing up your own arse. Alex, who did the interview, was a really lovely guy, and after it finished we continued having a really nice chat.

He says the interview is likely to go up on his Sounds Erotic website next Friday – I’ll be sure to tell you when it’s up.

After we finished the interview, we talked about publishing Ebooks. As you guys know, I’m taking a bit of a break from fanfic at the moment, and the next thing I intend to do is write original character novels. I’ve got tons of ideas but my brain wasn’t wired to do any writing so far this year because of the Big Work Issue. That was finally resolved last week – thank GOD! It was a toughie and caused me a lot of worry and stress. Anyway, work is still busy but everything looks clearer now than it did in the first few months of the year, so I want to get going on something creative again.

My problem is, I’m not sure WHAT! I’ve got about 4 different novels I want to write and am finding it really hard knowing which one is ‘speaking’ to me most. There are: the slashy vampires in London taking it’s inspiration from my NCIS story Birth Day, the BDSM universe romantic comedy about a bunch of TV actors in a hit show, and a BDSM slash novel (not BDSM universe) about an undercover cop.

I’ve started the Vampire one AND the BDSM universe one – there are about 13,000 words of each as I’ve been trying them out but I haven’t had enough writing time to really be sure. I want to write both of them eventually – but which to do first?! I was kind of hoping that one story would just leap out at me, even if it was a brand new one, just begging to be written, but so far it hasn’t been that clear.

I’m not talking about giving up fanfic for ever. But one thing that came out of my experience in NCIS was how frustrated I am about writing in other people’s universes where the slash can never be canon, or the pairing I’m interested in be the central relationship on the show, even when it SHOULD be. I want to create my own universes where *I* say what happens and create the canon.

While talking to Alex, he said that he thought I should practice for producing an OC book, by filing the serial numbers’ off some of my fanfic novels (basically changing names and situations enough to make them Original Character, thereby not infringing the copyright of the original source material) and publishing them on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords etc. It’s basically what the author of ’50 Shades of Grey’ did, and I thought I’d ask what you guys thought about that.

Part of me is quite excited by the thought, but another part of me isn’t sure. I wonder what the drawbacks would be? Would it piss fandom off? Would it leave one open to any kind of legal action? What are the issues there? Another concern is that part of me isn’t sure how much I’ll like going back and making changes to old stories rather than working on new ones although I’m intrigued by the idea of giving it a go. Having spent so much of my life slaving over so many epic long novels, I did like the idea of putting them out there and seeing whether they’d sell even a bit.

I also liked the idea that it’d be good practice for seeing how it all works prior to releasing an OC novel. If I DID go down that route – which story/ies would I do it too? I thought Hiding in Plain Sight or General & Doctor Sheppard might be good candidates – if I’m going to write an OC fic in the BDSM verse then it makes sense to try and establish the universe first. But maybe that’s not important. I liked the idea of getting a body of related work out though, especially if I was going to release an OC BDSM universe novel, so people who liked it could read others in the same universe.

Anyway, I wondered what your thoughts were. This is clearly a burning issue in fandom right now – I wonder how many fanfic authors will decide to go down this path after the success of ’50 Shades’? Not that I think that success would be easily duplicated – I think there were specific reasons why it worked for her, and I don’t think it’d be at all the same with more niche writing, especially slash.

After talking to Alex, I AM excited about my plans going forward. The interview came at just the right time after my holiday and the resolution of the Big Work Issue that was taking up so much of my time and energy. I feel ready to embark on something new and exciting. I’ve been thinking about this all year already but it really focused me on it again.

There are some real life issues tying in here with all this too, with my desire to sell my business and retire at some point in the next 7 years, and wanting to set up something for myself that I can do, and enjoy, that will bring in at least a little income when I reach that point.

I’m going to do some poll thingies for the hell of it if you want to fill them in :-).

Is it a good idea to turn a fanfic novel into an original character novel?
Which Xanthe fic would you like turned into an original character novel?
Completely new original character novel ideas


  1. UprightIguana

    Talk about thinking along the same lines – ie epublishing, etc. I have a Kindle, and that’s almost exclusively what I read now, rather than printed books, mostly because my eyes are shot. Too many years in front of a computer so that I can’t read more than a page or two of print, and a lit screen doesn’t help, and so I’m down to e-ink and kindles. Having browsed through low-cost or no-cost kindle ebooks, I see that the erotica market has really grown in the last year or so. (People can’t tell what ebook you’re reading by its cover :) Mostly het, but a very few slash, so I think there’s a real market there.

    I’m in the middle of Fifty Shades, and yes, it’s well written, and I can see why its so successful. There’s enough badly written erotica out there that when a good one comes along, with characters with some depth, it’s a real read treat. As for turning fanfic into OC fiction, the danger there is that in reading fanfic, the characters and ‘verses are already established for the reader, you just have to buy the fanfic/slash turns of story. In OC fiction, you’re essentially having to go back and explain that verse, with new names, so it’s sorta like writing a whole new story.

    If you write some world that you know, it makes it that much better. A good example is Mercy by Annabel Joseph. It’s dom/sub bdsm het, but it stands out not just because of edgy but well-written characters, but it’s set in the world of ballet, which the author obviously was a part of sometime in her life, and lent a detailed background you don’t find much in erotica. That novel also came out around the time of The Black Swan, which lent it some more credence. If you’re gonna write an SF/fantasy erotica, then there needs to be some real tenets of science fiction or fantasy there, and not just hopping through convenient portals and warp drives to get to slave markets of Zorn.

    Which novels of yours? Hmm – Man of Two Truths, because it was really un-x-files-sy, and boiled down to the two characters set in a world of spy intrigue. It had an almost John Le Carre feel to it. Or Contagion – just change Scully into the young idealistic male doctor and Skinner the capable grizzled dom veteran. I loved Subturfuge, that could be a police procedural-type story with your two lead characters in the pit, and, of course, you could still keep Lenny :) ) Oh, and I love Birth Day – other than the two main characters, it had so little to do with NCIS that you could set it in any police or federal agency in any city – preferably one with real seasonal changes, so not California. Why not set it in modern day London – LA and New York and even Chicago are overdone.

    They count words now for ebooks, and I’ve seen ebooks with anywhere from 3500 to 9000 words. Don’t think erotica can be much longer than that, because it, like porn, will get boring after a while, unless characters move forward and change. I’m thinking of epublishing myself, but not based on any fanfic I’ve written. I’ve reached that point that I don’t want to give my soul to a souless corporation any more – if I’m going to pour my soul into something, it’s going to be something worthwhile – like saving some part of the environment (like the last wetlands on the Southern California coast from greedy developers and ego-driven city officials) or something creative, or some combination thereof. And I’ve always wanted to write. Epublishing is a lot of like fanfic, only people might pay to read it, and you can establish a blog and build a following. Sorta like xanthe.org now. 

  2. Xanthe

    First off I have to say – you think 50 Shades is WELL WRITTEN? I thought it was simply awful. How on earth can you get through her flushing every 2 sentences as if she’s a toilet, and the way every single action is commented on as if it’s THE most important thing ever and full of significance? Maybe you could overlook that and get swept up in the story but I just hated it. I put it down momentarily to look at The Hunger Games and got hooked immediately and kept reading obsessively – now THAT was some seriously good writing. Sorry – just had to get that off my chest because one of the main things I was disappointed in with 50 Shades was how bad it was and how much that must confirm the mainstream’s idea of fanfic as poorly written when there is so much GOOD stuff out here. I also don’t think erotica by and large *these days* is as badly written as in the past. I think there’s some simply great stuff out there. I think 50 Shades was successful because she brought a ton of fans over from Twilight and that bumped it to the top and then other people bought it simply because it was AT the top. I don’t think many people buying it were looking for erotica and probably they don’t READ erotica so this probably DID seem like well written erotica to them. I just wish they’d go read Selena Kitt or some others like that instead! That’s well written erotica!

    Moving on, because that’s a massive pet peeve of mine at the moment but that’s not YOUR fault *ggg*. But I love that you chose those old XF stories that most people probably don’t remember or know about! LOL! I thought Subterfuge would work well, and A Man of Two Truths remains one of my favourite of my stories – I simply loved doing it and I think it would have some potential although it’d need a complete re-write.

    I think my problem is that I don’t really want to go and fiddle around with my old stories – I’d rather move on to new ones! But it is something I’d consider for further down the line.

    And I totally understand your point about pouring your soul into something worthwhile – that’s definitely the stage I’m at in my life. I’m seriously thinking about the next step, after I retire from my current job, which will happen some time in the next 7 years. Now is the time when I set up my future so I want to consider everything in detail to make the right move.

    Thanks so much for joining in the discussion!

  3. UprightIguana

    Fifty Shades is well written – for erotica.  There’s some pretty crappy erotica out there in the ebook world.  Which is how I thought of it from the outset.  If it’s to be considered mainstream, like a historical romance type soft-core, then yes, it’s getting annoying.  Too much streaming thinking on her part, which first-person type writing can fall prey to.  There seems to be a plethora of first-person writing in most popular genres, but they all can’t be Jim Butcher and The Dresden Files (and I have to say that in the Dresden novel Death Masks – #5 – has just about the best piece of bondage het sex you’ll ever read in mainstream writing, sexy, hot, tragic and ultimately setting up the most recent books Changes)(and written by a guy). 

    As for The Birth Day verse, you could set it in modern day London and MI5 or Scotland Yard.  Law Enforcement vampires – neat way to cross genres.  Although there’s something to be written for an ex-Marine ex-jarhead vamp – that would be a force to contend with.  Make vampires less effeminate – excuse me – metrosexual.  ;)

    I’ll give Selena Kitt a try – which would you recommend?

  4. Xanthe

    Everything Kitt writes is pretty good – just go for what calls to your particular ‘thing’. Some of her subject matter doesn’t interest me but even that stuff is, I’m sure, good.

    I already know what I’m doing with the vampires – it is set in London – that’s a major part of it and I’ve written some of the early stuff. London is absolutely crucial to the story. I also want to showcase some areas of London that I know and love.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree re 50 Shades – I just think it’s awful by any standards. The Dresden novels sound great though! And I don’t know what the modern fetish for first person present tense is. I don’t mind present tense if it’s done right or even both if done right but a lot of the time I think it’s just done because it’s ‘in’ – it’s not actually an authorial choice at all.

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