Filing off the serial numbers

Let’s start this with a statement: the title of this post in no way references firearms. ATF, FBI, etc – you can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. I know none of you wanted to visit North Dakota.

There’s a dirty little secret about fiction writing: what’s released to the world, what’s in your hands, sometimes isn’t what was written.

Fiction often starts out as something else. The most famous example I can think of, off the top of my head, is Fifty Shades of Grey. (No, I haven’t read it. No, I don’t intend to read it. No, there are no copies of it in my house.) Fifty Shades actually started out as fanfiction of the Twilight series. (Another set of books that have no home in my abode.) It wasn’t until the serial numbers were filed off that it was published as a perfectly legal, very lucrative book.

Dead Man’s Fugue and the upcoming sequel, Contract Hunt, both have some heavy filing marks. Characters in particular were derived from a variety of sources. (People whose characters are “re-imagined” pretty much all know about it.) And you know what? It works!

Fanfiction isn’t a bad way to start in this business – just make sure you’ve got a good file, or at least some heavy-duty sandpaper, so you can turn it into something salable.

And thus ends my random thought on writing after a very unproductive day.

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