Field Guide to Identifying Fanfic Writers
by James Walkswithwind
Every writer is potentially several, or all of these types. A writer may go back and forth between them for different stories, or be a combination for some stories or all stories, or change combinations constantly. The point of this is not to squeeze every writer into a box.
The point is to clarify that there are different reasons for writing, different ways of writing, and different consequences for different types of writing. The field guide is meant to help illustrate those differences and help you make your own conclusions about what the consequences not listed here, may be.
Also - there are good and bad ways of being each type! There is nothing inherently worse or better about any type. So if you feel bad because you fit a certain type -- it's because you are judging it that way.
Thirdly - for the record? I see myself as all these types, in varying degrees at varying times. :-)
This person writes stories in order to tell them to people. Her intent is to entertain, impart a message, pass on a tale. The primary goal is the communication from the Storyteller to the Audience. The act of telling the story is what really counts, and without the act of telling the story to the audience, there would likely be no story at all. The Storyteller often feeds off audience response; without it, she will seek another fire to tell her stories around.
This writer will often be involved in many types of writing, of which fiction is one. Fanfic is often a sort of fun hobby sideline of a writing career or academic pursuit which is writing-intensive. The Craftswoman will be as interested in discussing the story, debating finer points, deconstructing the story and re-constructing it in new ways. The Craftswoman will be just as likely to write non-fiction for her fandom or pairing(s), especially the more formal constructs such as essays and articles. The Craftswoman values thorough beta readers and critique, both offering and receiving.
The Artist writes stories in order to Create Something. The final product may often be more important than the details which make it up, or will follow less conventional fiction-formats. The Artist will sacrifice whatever doesn't fit -- if The Story demands something, then The Story gets it, no matter what the "rules" are. The Artist will madly scribble down parts of her story whenever inspiration strikes, because The Muse may be fleeting. Compromises in creating the story are undesirable, as The Artist strives to exactly replicate the Vision in her head.
The Pop Writer
The Pop Writer wants to be Famous. She wants the Big Feedback, the Adoring Fans, the Recs and Mentions and Awards. The Pop Writer wants to be liked, praised, and encouraged. She adores feedback and doesn't mind about the nit-picky details of what might be wrong with a story as long as people liked it. The Pop Writer will tailor her story to gain the most attention, and will publish her story in order to get it, and by extension herself, noticed.
The Therapist writes in order to exorcise demons. Whether her own, or abstract demons, she writes in order to explore the dark parts of the world. She may or may not explore ways to slay those demons; the primary purpose in writing is to provide a catharsis for her emotions and the emotions of her readers. The Therapist will willingly take liberties with the canon from which she writes, so that the demons may be more fully explored. It is the emotion, and the demon, which is the driving goal and the fandom is merely the vehicle of choice.
The Engineer takes parts of stories and puts them together. She will often travel from fandom to fandom and use the same models, making them fit the new fandom and new characters (and sometimes vice versa). The Engineer is primarily concerned with seeing how the new models work, or how the old model works in new surroundings. Often the Engineer will have a favorite model which she will build with each new fandom and character/pairing she encounters. The Engineer will sometimes, especially when new to the craft, take parts or entire models from other Writers and use them for her own.