An open educational resource using FanFiction to teach writing.
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Writing is a complex task, it’s being taught wrong in public schools. We give learners a blank piece of paper, throw at them a jumble of grammar rules, story guidelines, and a hundred other tasks and ask them to produce a good story. Teachers may not expect a perfect story, but the students do. When they see the story isn’t on par with what they read, they become overly-critical of their work and give up before they have a chance to improve.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
When teaching a complex skill, a good educator uses an instructional strategy called "scaffolding." This means that the teacher provides help and support with larger tasks, so the learner can focus on smaller tasks.
Fanfiction can provide this type of scaffolding when teaching writing. Fanfiction is when you take an existing world or story and rewrite it. Instead of starting with a blank piece of paper, you start with existing characters, worlds, and plots. A writer can focus on one task, such as writing dialogue or creating conflict, because the rest is already developed for them.
We want to create support materials built for fan fiction and teaching writing. We will create worlds that will have intriguing characters, a rich setting, and multiple potential storylines.
The foundation for these stories will be delivered via a podcast. We’ll then turn those audio stories into written stories and document the process. This will demonstrate the process of taking a developed story idea and turning it into a written story.
Learners can take our stories, characters, and worlds, and add their own storylines. They can finish threads that we started, or refine what we create.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
When I was 12, HarperCollins published my dad’s first novel. He had read each draft to me and my brothers. I saw the story develop and improve over each iteration. I realized that the text you see in a book is not achieved on the first pass. I have met many people since then who have a story inside of them, but they say they can’t get it just right. I believe if they can see the entire writing process, they will be better prepared and better understand how to make their story shine.
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
A learner would listen to our podcast where we tell stories about a series of characters. The podcast would be similar to a season of a television series. My father then takes these oral stories and turns them into written stories. He documents the process, and provides tips and tricks on how to take a story idea and present it properly in text. He then gives suggested assignments designed to help learners understand the specific skills; point of view, show don’t tell, etc. The first major assignment challenges you to explore this world and make a part of it your own. We will provide a community where writers can share their stories, provide feedback, and receive feedback from other users. The assignments build on each other so that by the time you’re done, you have developed skills necessary to better compose your own stories.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
In the spring of 2019, we performed a trial run in a high school creative writing class where students and teachers used Massive Fiction as part of their class. Over the course of a standard 19 week semester, the small class of 25 students posted over 165 stories on our community and submitted almost 600 different critiques. All from a single story told in a 13-hour serial podcast. My father took the story and wrote a 460-page novel.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
In the spring of 2019, we performed a trial run in a creative writing class where students and teachers used Massive Fiction in their class. Over the course of a semester, the small class of 25 students posted over 165 stories on our community and submitted almost 600 different critiques. All from a single story told in a 13-hour serial podcast. My father took the story and wrote a 460-page novel.
We demonstrated the entire writing process, from story idea to finished product. And we taught the students many skills and tools necessary to write their own stories. Feedback from both student and teacher was incredibly positive. It inspired confidence, something many young writers struggle with. Massive Fiction empowered these young authors.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
How did you hear about this challenge?