In the Massively Multiplayer game World of Warcraft, there is a place called Silvermoon City–an isolated, arcane, and perpetually autumnal realm where the Sin’dorei (blood elves) exist on the fringe of the world between sea and forest and legions of undead. I can easily picture (in the Burning Crusade content) the strange golden trees of Eversong woods, and I can hear the melancholy cello music and eerie choral interludes in my mind. There was such a powerful sense of place, and not always in a good way. At the gates of the city and throughout the entropy-kissed towers bolstered by terrible magics and the sheer arrogance of this people, guards stood proudly and did what all NPC’s in games do–repeat the same four or five phrases over and over and over. One of them was “Remember the Sunwell.”
Now, I won’t lore you to death but the funny thing is that yes, I do remember the Sunwell. I remember the architecture of these imagined cities, even phrases from these elves’ language, Thalassian–“Anu’belore dela’na” (the eternal sun guides you) is just one. I remember the beautiful music, even some of the NPC’s names. And it’s no surprise that I was prompted to write vignettes that took place in this pixel-city. It was so well-imagined, so real to me that creating narratives around the guardsand trainers and merchants just felt natural. I think this is one of the best gifts that fandoms/gaming/nerdery can give a writer or creative sort–the gift of an easy and super!fun way to create one’s own content. Sometimes you want to break away from writing the next Great American Novel or creating the Most Important Art Project of All Time and just forge your own take on something that already exists.
Fanfiction/art is a fantastic way to engage in character studies, to learn descriptive writing, to capture character expressions in art, and on and on. It makes me sad when I see people bashing fan-made content for already existing worlds. Part of fandom is having fun with what you do–and if that means writing, RP’ing, creating art featuring these places, then live it up! I know personally I’ve learned a ton about writing craft (guys, my prose started out so freaking purple) from character vignettes based in gaming or established canon worlds. Fanfic can be a fantastic way to break through writer’s block and exercise creative muscles in a safe place. In the end, I do remember the Sunwell. I remember how much fun I had gallivanting about Azeroth, and I remember how much it supported my writing so to all I say shorel’aran, al diel shala, and have fun out there!