In her introduction to Wide Sargasso Sea, Edwidge Danticat writes that the book is “more than, to use a contemporary term, fan fiction. It is its own jewel of a novel, which can be read with or without its original inspiration in mind” (7-8, my italics).
Danticat seems to take a slightly negative view toward fan fiction in the quote above, as she emphasizes that Rhys’ work can stand on its own without the Western novel, Jane Eyre, from which it springs. However, Danticat also muses, at the end of her introduction, on what she wishes would have happened to the characters, mainly: “I only regret that Jane and Antionette never get to speak to each other in either book…. I suppose this is the kind of conjecture that moves one in the direction of writing a book like Wide Sargasso Sea, the “What if” element that leads to extracting other stories from ones that have already been written. What if Jane and Antoinette had become friends? And what if Christine could have a novel of her own?…. I still can’t help but hope that maybe one day someone else will open up yet another portal into these incredibly intertwined worlds….” (10-11).
According to Wikipedia, “Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan fic, fanfic, fic or ff) is fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator. Fans may maintain the creator’s characters and settings or add their own” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction).Wikipedia cites the 1960s fanzine Spockanalia as one of the first places where fans wrote their own stories populated with characters from the Star Trek TV show. Around the same time in Japan, independently published dōjinshi appeared, often based on already existing manga, anime, and video games. Today, the internet is rife with stories produced by fans of comics, TV shows, games, and movies of all types.
What am I supposed to write for this assignment?
In this assignment, you will answer Danticat’s call by doing two things:
Write your own ~1-2-page work of Wide Sargasso Sea fan fiction
Imagine you are an author, and you want to write a work of fiction that responds to Wide Sargasso Sea.
You can draw inspiration from the “what if” questions Danticat raises in the introduction or from your own questions, desires, and speculations about the characters Rhys has written. Your fan fiction can focus on a single character or multiple characters. It can take place before or after or even during the events in WSS.
It’s up to you, and what you desire to build upon or talk back to.
This creative part should be ~300 words, or ~1-2 pages of double-spaced text. Longer is ok! You will not be graded on the creative part but you do need to make an attempt at writing it.
For inspiration, and to get a better sense of the kind of options you have, you’ll find attached a sample WSS fan fiction entited “A Moment Between Us,” written by a student in a previous class who gave me permission to share it with you.
Write an author’s note (minimum ~600 words; ~ 2-3 pages) to accompany your fan fiction, explaining the choices you made in part 1. Please use at least three (3) specific examples from Wide Sargasso Sea to explain the impetus/background for writing your particular fan fiction.
Questions your readers might want to know the answers to include:
Why did you choose to write about this/these character(s)? Was there something bothering you about them? Did you feel like there was something missing in Rhys’ telling?
Or were the character(s) so compelling or interesting so that you felt like there was still more to write?
Were you primarily concerned with changing our understanding of a character or situation, or did you want to give a character or situation more detail and depth?
Finally: how did writing fanfic change your feelings about, or understanding of, the original text?
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