Memory Lane: ‘Helena’ a My Chemical Romance Fanfiction

Memory Lane:

‘Helena’ a My Chemical Romance Fanfiction

As writers and artists, we all have to start somewhere, and that was the idea behind our “Memory Lane” blog series–a chance for Junto Magazine editors to look back on their own work and reflect on their growth. Because as much as our fourteen-year-old selves thought their fiction and writing were compelling–they probably weren’t. It also might be a great way for creators to get to know us beyond reviewing your pieces and maybe make them feel more comfortable seeing our own creative journeys.

So, no one is a great author their first go around. And now that all that cheesy shit is out of the way, let’s tear apart one of my old short stories.

So, in 2008 I was an eighth grader struggling in school, and I struck an extra credit deal with my English teacher. Our agreement was that she would replace one on my “zeros” with a “hundred” if I wrote a short story.

So I did.

And that short story was “Helena,” a My Chemical Romance fanfiction. Now, I didn’t tell my teacher this was a My Chemical Romance fanfiction because she didn’t need to know.

The story followed our main character, Gerard, who followed the love of his life–Helena–after his unforeseen death at the hands of her husband. It was a very dramatic piece, and at the time I thought it was one of the greatest stories I’d ever written. Now, I can’t get through the first paragraph without wanting bury myself alive.

This is something I can’t stand when reading a short story: specifying flashbacks with headers. Look, I’m not saying it’s a sign of bad writing, but it does strike me as amateurish. Flashbacks can help enrich a story and help with character development. However, they should be introduced narratively and not with a giant sign. You’re painting a picture, not giving directions.

Also, researching your subject matter is important in any writing context. Like, I don’t even think colleges have yearbooks. Or football captains.

I’m starting to realize this was not the final draft of the story, so there are going to be a lot of mistakes here and there. Which actually leads to a good point about submitting your work for publication: always proofread. Or have someone else who has a grasp on the English (or your native) language do it. One would think this piece of advice isn’t needed, but there have been so many pieces of writing in my inbox with obvious, easy-to-fix mistakes. There are so many issues in this one excerpt that would need to change before submitting it for publication.   

And what even is a traditional bride and groom pose, Sam? What is it?

I had a type.

Like I said, have someone with a firm grasp on language edit your piece if you’re not good at self-editing. I really hope I didn’t take that tip.

So, shortly after this scene Helena and Gerard part ways, and Ryan sees them hug goodbye. In a jealous fit of rage, he beats Gerard to death–hence why Gerard is a ghost throughout the rest of the story. Helena and Ryan get into a huge fight because he went out drinking with friends on their wedding night. After the fight, Helena takes a shower, clearly regretting all the decisions she’s made in the last four years. Afterward:

There’s a lot to dissect here. Gerard possesses a taxi driver and kills Ryan. Probably not the best thing in the world to just kill an innocent bystander who has nothing to with your revenge scheme. Yeah, I get that it’s sort of a “thing” with authors like George R.R. Martin, but in a story like this, it really wasn’t necessary. The issue was that I established Gerard was a ghost who could only be seen when he possessed another person–which I immediately retcon for my melodramatic kiss scene.

I had no idea I actually use the song lyrics for actual dialogue… That’s bad.

And then Gerard finally dies, moving on to the afterlife slowly in a burst of light.

Or does he?

This is a trope I carried into my adulthood. If I write anything with ghosts, it’s going to have some kind of plot twist. Sometimes good and sometimes cheesy. Of course, Gerard and Helena are going to reunite and pretend like the death of her husband never happened. What matters is the edgy emo guy gets the girl in the end–which was common at the time with stories like this. And if we’re being fair, this would have been an absolute hit on DeviantArt–which I don’t have so there’s no reason to go looking for it.

I don’t think I was a bad writer when I was fourteen. There’s a plot here, and I do see some character development here and there. I was obviously influenced by the Twilight era and the emo music of the early 2000s. In fact, this isn’t the only work of fiction I wrote based around a band. Two years later, I wrote a 72-page musical based on the music of Panic! At the Disco, and I’m still proud of it. If it wasn’t for that project, I probably would have never gotten into playwriting.

It’s good for us to look back and remember where we started–especially in an industry that’s often filled with rejection. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer and too often I see writers give up the moment they receive that first or second or third rejection email. If you can look back on your own writing and see where you’ve improved then you’re going to do just fine in this world.

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

(Casual Chance, 1964)”

Colette