A. Victoria Mixon, Editor
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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar for them, 'Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction.'

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.
  • By Victoria Mixon

    Fanfiction. Yes, I write it. Harry Potter fanfiction, to be exact. I find it a great way to practice. I’ve heard so many arguments about copyright infringement, but honestly, I myself would be flattered. As long as others don’t sell my characters off as their own, I can see nothing wrong with it. It’s free publicity and probably brings in money for the writer. Even more than that, I love the idea that my work would be the inspiration that starts a whole new group on the path to become writers, that it could change them, that it could make them think so much and see so much in it. Isn’t that what we look for, after all?

    So, my question to you is: what do you think about the controversy? I’m simply a eighteen-year-old girl about to graduate high school, yet you’re a published author with a successful writing blog. What are your thoughts, being on the other end?—Isabella

    Congratulations, Isabella, on beginning your writing career young! It sounds as though you’re committed to your craft and very thoughtful about the current writing industry.

    Copyright infringement is an entirely legal issue. Some things an author can legally copyright, and if they choose to do so then other writers break the law when they violate that copyright. This can lead to lawsuits, which the author holding the copyright will win.

    Other things an author cannot legally copyright. These things must be trademarked if the author does not want to share them.

    Copyright is designed to protect an author’s intellectual property: the effort they put into inventing characters, settings, fictional worlds. This effort is very hard work, and writing fiction traditionally pays so little that when an author has worked that hard on their material they often feel quite proprietary about their creative results.

    I can sympathize. My colleague, Roz Morris, has compared copyright infringement to being tied up while your house is burgled.

    However, is the publicity of fanfiction good for the original author? Does it promote that author’s income? Should authors take fanfiction as a compliment rather than a violation?

    This is an individual decision for each author. None of us can make that decision for another.

    Since the rise of the blogosphere and self-publishing, many professional writers have tackled the question of whether copyright contributes to or detracts from an author’s career. These people have created something called Creative Commons, which is a form of copyright that allows re-use of an author’s material so long as the author is credited as the creator.

    So, for instance, if JK Rowling uses Creative Commons as her copyright, you could publish your Harry Potter fanfiction with the written caveat that it is based upon characters and situations created by JK Rowling. Unfortunately, I suspect that Rowling and her publisher do not use Creative Commons, which would preclude you from publishing fanfiction based upon her creations. (I’m afraid Rowling really doesn’t need any of us helping her publicize her work.)

    Many other less-famous authors, though, do use Creative Commons. These are the authors you’ll want to seek out. The self-publishing industry is absolutely chock full of unknown authors who might very well be glad of any publicity they could get.

    The key is respect for the author’s legal right to their own material.

    If I were you, I’d search for self-published fiction copyrighted under Creative Commons and then contact the authors directly. Make friends with them. Compliment them on their terrific material. Show them that you understand the hard work they’ve put into creating their characters and fictional worlds and that you respect their right to own them. Chances are that you’ll very quickly acquire not only fresh material for your fanfiction but—more importantly—a network of writing friends interested in the same genres as you.

    Then you can all move forward in promoting and publicizing each other’s work through your collective creativity. . .which is the ideal solution for everyone.

    “The freshest and
    most relevant advice
    you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher,
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Fiction
    The Art & Craft of Story




    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories

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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .

BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by PanMacmillan. Read more. . .

LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .

SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .

STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield's second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .

ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .

TERISA GREEN, represented by Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .

GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans' fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .

SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, forthcoming from Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I'm working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .

LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez' debut novel, The Shoebox, and her up-coming The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .

JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .

LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .

JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff's abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .

In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.