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Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 10:42 PM
Is fanfiction a legitimate avenue for writers?

Does it violate all kinds of honor codes and copyright rules or is it all in good fun? Does it aid or damage learning how to write? Why or why not?

This is most likely jumping head first into the flames, but I'd like to see where AW folks stand on this.

-Hj

quicklime
09-28-2012, 11:00 PM
so, haki, did you start this thread because the other one was locked?

That seems a great way to get some time off here, but I'm not sure what else one would hope for....

heza
09-28-2012, 11:15 PM
so, haki, did you start this thread because the other one was locked?

My US Central Standard timestamps say no.


1:14 p.m.

By all means, let's talk about this--I may start a thread for it.

1:42 p.m.

Is fanfiction a legitimate avenue for writers?

1:57 p.m.

I'm locking this until the mods have a chance.

ETA: I always love a good fanfic debate, but I'll hold my opinion until we know whether the thread'll live.

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 11:23 PM
I think there are already threads about this. It would help if people remembered RYFW, regardless of what writing they do.

quicklime
09-28-2012, 11:27 PM
heza did his homework......

I don't write fanfic and have absolutely no desire. The idea struck me, on first impression, as a derivative bit of wanking. But I've learned more than a few foks I highly respect dabbled, or more than dabbled, in fanfic, so there's no arguing with results. Writing is writing. Some folks got very good in part writing fanfic.

Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 11:31 PM
quicklime, absolutely not. I just wanted to give it its own straightforward thread instead of hijacking juniper's.

heza, thanks for the clarification, that's a huge help. :)

I'm a writer who has recently dedicated the majority of my time to writing fanfiction (to be specific, one fanfic). I feel that this is important to my growth as a writer, and I think that it's enhanced my ability to work on a schedule and actually finish projects I've started. I like expanding the potential I see in characters that I enjoyed from other media (ie, exploring the deep psychological complexity of a cartoon character).

That's why I think it's worth doing, among other reasons. I'd like to hear other opinions on both sides of the issue as well.

-Hj

Unimportant
09-28-2012, 11:34 PM
Is fanfiction a legitimate avenue for writers?
Define "legitimate." If you mean "does it create fiction that can be commercially published", then, no. If you mean "can people write fanfiction without causing baby kittens to spontaneously combust", then, yes.


Does it violate all kinds of honor codes and copyright rules or is it all in good fun?
These are not mutually exclusive. Many people write fanfic for fun. It is still copyright infringement, though. Whether it violates an honour code depends on how the author of the original work feels about people writing fanfic based on her original work.


Does it aid or damage learning how to write? Why or why not?
There is no answer that can apply to all writers. Same goes for any approach to writing. If it works for you, it works. If it doesn't work for you, it doesn't. Your experience is unique to you.

dangerousbill
09-28-2012, 11:34 PM
Not sure why the other thread was locked. I thought that was reserved for flame wars and barefaced promos.

Calla Lily
09-28-2012, 11:36 PM
General note: If you have an issue with something like why a thread was locked, PM a Mod.

Filigree
09-28-2012, 11:46 PM
I used a three-year stint of fan fiction to help me iron out problem areas in my writing. Because that world and characters were pre-made, I didn't have to waste time with world building. I learned how to convey backstory as efficiently as possible, and I could swing right into plot and character issues. I don't have a lot of fans of my derivative writing, but I still get compliments on it ten years later. What I learned in fan fiction certainly helped my skills and confidence when I returned to original fiction.

There are fan writers whose works are breathtaking, as good as anything from a fine publisher. And they should be, because a fair number of 'name' writers moonlight in fanfic. I'll seek out the new works of a dozen favorites, any day, because I know they will be worth the effort.

On the other hand, there are far more pieces from folks who just aren't ready for the majors. I can tell within a paragraph or two, and I usually stop reading. That's okay, too - these folks are on the same learning curve I was.

So I both love and loathe fanfic, depending on the skill of the writer.

Susan Littlefield
09-28-2012, 11:52 PM
I've never read or written fan fiction, therefore I remain neutral.

:flag:

G. Applejack
09-28-2012, 11:55 PM
I credit fanfiction to why I can string a sentence together. I dropped out of high school, and English was one of my most hated classes before that. Boring essays and reports on dry required reading that held no relevance to my life was enough to make me hate writing.

I discovered fanfic on accident. When I wanted to post my own story, I realized I had to teach myself basic grammar. I actually got some good reviews. After that, I became addicted.

Now, ten years on, I've finished my first manuscript. I've even had nice office admin jobs where I wrote and edited company newsletters. I have a long way to go, but fanfic was my gateway to the love of writing.

Cyia
09-29-2012, 12:32 AM
As a former fanficcer for fandoms big and small, I have to say that yes, it's legit writing. It's great practice for not only plot and characterization, but it also helps you learn to deal with others' opinions of your work.

As someone who's been on this forum long enough to know how these sorts of threads go, I have to say I'll be in the corner handing out flak jackets if anyone wants one.

heza
09-29-2012, 12:33 AM
heza did his homework......

*shrug* Not trying to be defensive. I just recalled Haiku mentioning starting a new thread several posts before the lock. Thought I'd mention it. :)

*pokes thread* :poke:

Seems reasonably stable.

I don't see anything wrong with writing fan fiction if the author of the original work hasn't put a ban on it. I think it's a great thing if it's written with love for the fandom and isn't intended for profit. In my opinion, it ultimately benefits the original work in that it can be significant part of helping build and maintain a voracious fan community.

crunchyblanket
09-29-2012, 12:37 AM
Fanfiction was where I started aged 12, right up until 16 where I branched out into creating my own worlds. I don't know that I would have the confidence, aptitude and concentration I have now had it not been for the 70k word monster FFVII fanfic I spent my early teenage years crafting. I look at the earlier chapters I wrote aged 14, and the later chapters aged 16, and the difference in quality is staggering.

There is no better way to improve as a writer than to write. If fanfic is a readily accessible way for young people to hone their skills before dipping a toe in the non-derivative pool, then so be it.

As for whether or not it's legitimate...one of the best-written, most compelling stories I've ever read was a novel-length piece of fanfiction, and frankly I don't give a shiny shite about whether others think it's legitimate, because it's so bloody good.

AW Admin
09-29-2012, 01:06 AM
Just a few notes.

1. Be aware that we have many writers who write fan fic, and many who don't. They're both writers, and deserving of courtesy. We don't allow fan fic posting here because it's frequently a copyright issue.

2. Some smart things about fan fic from the wonderful Making Light blog:

Fan fic Force of Nature (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007464.html)

Some Reasons I Read Fanfic (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/014167.html)

Cybernaught
09-29-2012, 01:18 AM
I personally don't write fan fiction and never have. I'm much more interested in my own stories than telling someone else's. But that's just me. Some writers like it. Others don't like it when people write fan fiction based on their work (See: Anne Rice).

But then you hear about stories like Fifty Shades of Grey starting as Twilight fan fiction. And then you wonder. You really start to wonder about some things.

crunchyblanket
09-29-2012, 01:31 AM
Just a few notes.

1. Be aware that we have many writers who write fan fic, and many who don't. They're both writers, and deserving of courtesy. We don't allow fan fic posting here because it's frequently a copyright issue.

2. Some smart things about fan fic from the wonderful Making Light blog:

Fan fic Force of Nature (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007464.html)

Some Reasons I Read Fanfic (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/014167.html)

A wonderful quote from that first link:

"The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year went to March, a novel by Geraldine Brooks, published by Viking. It’s a re-imagining of the life of the father of the four March girls in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Can you see a particle of difference between that and a work of declared fanfiction? I can’t. I can only see two differences: first, Louisa May Alcott is out of copyright; and second, Louisa May Alcott, Geraldine Brooks, and Viking are dreadfully respectable.


I’m just a tad cynical about authors who rage against fanfic. Their own work may be original to them, but even if their writing is so outre that it’s barely readable, they’ll still be using tropes and techniques and conventions they picked up from other writers. We have a system that counts some borrowings as legitimate, others as illegitimate. They stick with the legit sort, but they’re still writing out of and into the shared web of literature. They’re not so different as all that."

shadowwalker
09-29-2012, 01:37 AM
I personally don't write fan fiction and never have. I'm much more interested in my own stories than telling someone else's.

Except that fanfiction isn't really telling someone else's stories. It's borrowing the characters/situation and writing your own story.

Oh, and it's not just for young people. I got back into writing via fanfiction when I was 48. Had it not been for fanfic, I may never have had the courage to try writing again, or learned so many things about writing that I either had forgotten or never understood.

Cybernaught
09-29-2012, 01:56 AM
Except that fanfiction isn't really telling someone else's stories. It's borrowing the characters/situation and writing your own story.

That's the part that doesn't interest me--borrowing someone else's characters.

DeleyanLee
09-29-2012, 02:08 AM
For me, when I want to write fanfic, it's because I so love the characters/world/whatever that I don't want the story to end. I want it to keep going and going and, for whatever reason, the author isn't going to continue with what I love most or has abandoned the series.

Or there's a huge plot hole in a story that I adore and I just feel the internal need to fill it so it makes sense within the story.

Sometimes I'll use fanfic as a means of improving a certain technique or explore something in my writing. Generally, I'm writing it because I want to and am putting the same kind of effort into it as I do my original work, because that's how I am.

And the fanfic I enjoy reading tend to be of the same kind of thing.

Not all fanfic improves writing skills. But, then, not all fanfic writers are interested in that. It's not so much the kind of story that's being written that makes the difference, but the author's intention and effort put into the writing that does.

To my experience, it's not what the story is that makes the difference, it's the writer's choices as they're writing.

Buffysquirrel
09-29-2012, 02:23 AM
I'm pretty much indifferent to it, apart from a lingering desire to write a Triffids novel, or one about the further adventures of Edmund from King Lear (yeah, yeah, I know they *said* he was dead). I think I was scared off at an impressionable age by having someone point out that I'd reused the last line of Triffids in something I wrote for English.

I would love to write a Triffids novel. Eh. I actually could write the Edmund stories, given Shakespeare is a tad out of copyright. But I don't. Perhaps because I'm a snob?

Amadan
09-29-2012, 02:34 AM
That's the part that doesn't interest me--borrowing someone else's characters.


Some fan fiction uses original characters (OCs in the vernacular), sometimes having them interact with canon characters and sometimes going off to have their own adventures. Fandom tends to be very ambivalent about OC fan fiction, since a lot of people read fan fiction because they want more stories about the original characters.

Marian Perera
09-29-2012, 02:38 AM
That's the part that doesn't interest me--borrowing someone else's characters.

I write Transformers fanfics, but I focus on some minor supporting characters who were barely one-dimensional in canon. I like fleshing them out, giving them depth and facets. It's certainly borrowing someone else's characters, but it's also making something new and different out of them.

shadowwalker
09-29-2012, 03:04 AM
Some fan fiction uses original characters (OCs in the vernacular), sometimes having them interact with canon characters and sometimes going off to have their own adventures.

One of my most popular stories had an OC for an MC - and he was actually more popular than (or at least as popular as) the canon characters.

Tepelus
09-29-2012, 03:05 AM
Back in the old days of the late 1990's I used to write fan fiction of certain Marvel characters intermingling with my own. I loved those pre-existing characters and wanted to write my own stories about them while adding my own characters to the line-up. I posted the stories online a long time ago and took them down several years afterward (no one was reading them anymore and the writing was garbage). They were fun and I was writing, though I really didn't start to learn the mechanics of writing a good story until fairly recently, when I joined this site. I plan to use the characters in that fan fic that I created and put them in their own world some day. The only reason I posted my fan fic was because I wanted to share what I wrote and nothing more. I don't see anything wrong with writing fan fiction as long as you respect the copy write holder's wishes of what can be done with their characters, it can be fun for some but I can certainly see how others would rather write their own characters. I like my original characters very much.

Satsya
09-29-2012, 03:06 AM
I'm mostly ambivalent. It's interesting to see what fans come up with and how they build on the original story. It's great that they can share a common love. It's a good way to do less intense work (than having to come up with the entire universe from scratch).

Any problems with fanfiction have nothing to do with fanfiction itself, and more to do with the social issues of a few individuals in the communities. And I'm trying to phrase that in a way that no one should take personally.

NeuroFizz
09-29-2012, 03:09 AM
Love it or hate it? Neither, really. I've never read any, nor have I written any. It just doesn't interest me. I know it has helped other writers refine their craft, and as long as the original writer whose works are "borrowed," or used in any way, doesn't object I can see that good side in it.

I ask myself how I would react if someone did a fanfic treatment of one of my stories, and my initial reaction would be negative. However, I'd want to see what that person was intending to do with the work before acting on the initial feelings. I guess this is a good test--to imagine how we would feel if someone were to take our characters out for a spin, or use some other aspect of our writing to carry a derivative story. This is my intellectual property (such as it is). If someone borrows some aspect of that property and puts it into a story that I consider of inferior quality, it would upset me to be associated with that writing in any way. But even if the writing was superior to mine, I would still feel kind of violated. This is my honest, gut-reaction response from my initial read of this thread.

fadeaccompli
09-29-2012, 03:16 AM
That's the part that doesn't interest me--borrowing someone else's characters.

I'm no good at all at borrowing other people's characters. That's why I don't write historical fiction about real historical figures, or Sherlock Holmes pastiche, or any sort of story with characters inspired by people I actually know.

But I have written an awful lot of fanfiction. I learned how to plot and pace and do character development over in the world of fanfic, though learning how to do setting in-cluing had to wait until I wrote some seriously AU stuff. (I suppose if I stuck to writing just modern America non-supernatural settings in my "original" fiction, I wouldn't even have had to learn as much of that.) Occasionally some of the pre-existing characters from the setting would show up around the edges, if absolutely necessary, but I didn't do it much; it wasn't a skill I was any good at.

I suppose if I wanted to write a novel about Julius Caesar, or do a retelling of the Odyssey from Polyphemus's perspective, I'd actually have to learn how to write a pre-existing character well. Fortunately, neither of those are very interesting ideas for me, so I haven't had to pick up the skill yet.

bearilou
09-29-2012, 04:20 AM
Fanfiction also has the added benefit of driving more sales to the original source, especially if we're dealing with a smaller/obscure fandom. I have lost count of the number of books, tv series and movies I've bought after having read fanfiction from it.

buz
09-29-2012, 05:03 AM
I write Egyptian mythology fanfiction... :D

aikigypsy
09-29-2012, 05:21 AM
I don't have any interest in fan fiction. I've never read it, and I was pretty sure I didn't write it until I ready this:


A wonderful quote from that first link:

"The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year went to March, a novel by Geraldine Brooks, published by Viking. It’s a re-imagining of the life of the father of the four March girls in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Can you see a particle of difference between that and a work of declared fanfiction? I can’t. I can only see two differences: first, Louisa May Alcott is out of copyright; and second, Louisa May Alcott, Geraldine Brooks, and Viking are dreadfully respectable.


I’m just a tad cynical about authors who rage against fanfic. Their own work may be original to them, but even if their writing is so outre that it’s barely readable, they’ll still be using tropes and techniques and conventions they picked up from other writers. We have a system that counts some borrowings as legitimate, others as illegitimate. They stick with the legit sort, but they’re still writing out of and into the shared web of literature. They’re not so different as all that."

Fan fic is generally related to a recent body of work,as I understand it. Huge tracts of literature are founded on borrowings from older works, which have become part of the cultural canon, like Greek myths, the Bible, and Shakespeare (all of which incorporate borrowings from earlier stories, ad infinitum). There's a continuum between those points, and stuff like Little Women is on its way to being part of the canon.

I recognise that I occasionally borrow heavily from older stories, but I feel that it's different, especially when the author of the borrowed-from works is long dead and/or anonymous.

I'm not against fan fic, but I'm also not interested in it.

LOG
09-29-2012, 07:17 AM
These are not mutually exclusive. Many people write fanfic for fun. It is still copyright infringement, though. Whether it violates an honour code depends on how the author of the original work feels about people writing fanfic based on her original work.

As I recall, fanfiction is still kind of up in the air, but I doubt it will ever be ruled infringement--the entire point of fanfiction is to be different from the original work, and fanfiction also usually assumes prior knowledge of the original work as well, so the original author isn't losing money that way. As long as the fanfic authors don't try to make money, I don't see an issue.

DancingMaenid
09-29-2012, 10:46 AM
I love fan fiction, and write it pretty actively alongside my original stuff, but that's not really a big secret.

I do take it seriously, in as much as I take my original fiction seriously. My motivations and goals for writing fan fiction differ to a small extent, but when it comes down to it, I still want to write well.



Fan fic is generally related to a recent body of work,as I understand it.

Yes and no. While more recent media tends to be the most popular, there is certainly fan fic for classic literature, fairy tales, and the Bible alongside fan fic for Doctor Who and Supernatural. Fanfiction.net has a Bible category with over 3,000 stories. Pride and Prejudice, which is a popular choice for professional-published sequels in recent years, has over 2,000. Of course, these are tiny numbers compared to something like Harry Potter. But fandom and fan fiction are definitely not limited to newer works.

And both fan fiction and professionally-published work based on other things fall under the category of derivative fiction.

Medievalist
09-29-2012, 12:08 PM
Almost all of the medieval Arthurian corpus qualifies as fan fic.

There's scads of Chaucerian medieval Canterbury Tales fan fic, and I think a case can be made for Virgil's Aneid as fan fic...

onesecondglance
09-29-2012, 12:56 PM
I'm completely indifferent about it. If it were to disappear from existence overnight it wouldn't bother me - neither would it bother me if my best friend turned round and told me he was writing Metal Gear Solid fanfic.

DancingMaenid
09-29-2012, 01:07 PM
Almost all of the medieval Arthurian corpus qualifies as fan fic.

There's scads of Chaucerian medieval Canterbury Tales fan fic, and I think a case can be made for Virgil's Aneid as fan fic...

My understanding is that it was very common and accepted in medieval and renaissance literature to re-tell/adapt existing stories or use pre-existing characters.

I'm pretty sure the Canterbury Tales themselves include some re-tellings of pre-existing stories.

shadowwalker
09-29-2012, 05:25 PM
I think the whole thing with fanfic is a love and respect for the original. That's why it's considered so rude and wrong (even in the fanfic world) for people to write fanfic if the original author doesn't approve. But most originators seem to range from either not minding to encouraging. And of course, there are some who approve with limits (like no porn), which is to be respected by writers.

It really is a form of homage to the originators, whether authors or actors or whomever. If people didn't love what they had created, they wouldn't even consider writing fanfic about it.

Blinkk
09-29-2012, 06:52 PM
I read Fanfic in my spare time. I've gotten to know some amazing authors in my favorite genres, mainly bandfic. I'm sometimes in awe at the skill level of some of these authors. Of course, fanfic is sometimes not so great. It sure beats reading demotivational posters in my spare time, though.

I agree with most of what other people are saying here. Fanfic was a great stepping stone for me when I first started to write. It helped me in many different ways. I don't actively write fanfic anymore, although I would consider doing it again if the right situation came up. Is it legit? I don't know. All I know is I used it when I was first writing and I'm glad I started there. :)

dpaterso
09-29-2012, 06:58 PM
Fan Fiction: Love it or hate it?
Not nearly enough options! Where are Accept it and Done it ?

-Derek

davidh219
09-29-2012, 07:01 PM
I've never had the desire to read or write fanfiction ever. Most of it is terrible and written by teenage girls. I didn't say all of it; don't freak out on me. But most of it is, let's be honest.

My basic opinion is that if you already know how to write, writing fanfiction won't make your writing worse, because duh. But if you start out writing fanfiction and never progress from that, you're probably not going to get any better. This belief comes solely from personal experience.

My girlfriend, once being a teenage girl, used to write fanfiction all the time, apparently, all the way into her college years. She hasn't done it at all (that I know of) since we met, but recently she got the urge to write a Harry Potter/Game of Thrones crossover fanfiction. She had me look at it since she knows that I know a lot about writing.

Now, first of all, she's a very smart girl. She writes amazing college papers and articles. She does a much better job of that than I do, honestly. So, with that said, I would't say her story was "bad" so much as it was very amateurish. Adverbs and adjectives everywhere, stilted dialoguge, LOTS of telling instead of showing. You name a beginner mistake, it was in there. Now, what this tells me is that all of that time she spent writing fanfiction didn't teach her anything. Is that to say that you can't start off writing fanfiction and by doing so become a great writer? Certainly not. I'm sure there are people on this very forum who would prove me wrong, as there are exceptions to every rule but, generally, I'd say writing your own stuff will probably help you a lot more. Just my two cents.

shadowwalker
09-29-2012, 07:08 PM
Now, what this tells me is that all of that time she spent writing fanfiction didn't teach her anything. Is that to say that you can't start off writing fanfiction and by doing so become a great writer? Certainly not. I'm sure there are people on this very forum who would prove me wrong, as there are exceptions to every rule but, generally, I'd say writing your own stuff will probably help you a lot more. Just my two cents.

I don't think I'd say those who improve are exceptions to the rule. I think it depends a great deal on the fandom, and the group(s) one gets involved in. The fandom I write in was very much into critiquing the work, and it wasn't just for canon issues. There are also fanfic beta groups out there, and they're geared toward the writing. So I would say if you're one of those writers who was in it for the writing as much as for the fandom, chances are you would improve. If you were in the group where the fandom was more important (or the only importance), then chances are your writing would not improve much, if at all.

As with any writing - improvement is dependent on the desires of the writer. :)

LeslieB
09-29-2012, 07:13 PM
I've seen a lot of discussions about fanfic, and I think the main thing that gets missed on writers' boards is that fanfiction is less about writing and more about fandom. 99.9% of fanfic writers have no intention of trying to become professional writers. They are writing to participate in their particular fandom. They are expressing love, or at least excited interest, for something they enjoy. They couldn't care less what we think of them, because they're not writing for us or for professional level critique. They're writing for their fellow fans.

bearilou
09-29-2012, 07:23 PM
I've seen a lot of discussions about fanfic, and I think the main thing that gets missed on writers' boards is that fanfiction is less about writing and more about fandom. 99.9% of fanfic writers have no intention of trying to become professional writers. They are writing to participate in their particular fandom. They are expressing love, or at least excited interest, for something they enjoy. They couldn't care less what we think of them, because they're not writing for us or for professional level critique. They're writing for their fellow fans.

This.

If you're seeing a writer who is writing but doesn't seem to be improving or doesn't seek to improve, you can't blame the subject the writer is writing about as the reason. Some writers write because they like it and their intent is not about improving but about sharing and the community of like-minded individuals.

Just like not everyone has a hobby that they want to turn into a money-making proposition, not everyone has a hobby in which they are trying to be the best at the hobby ever. Sometimes, they like canoodling around and are content with what comes out and sharing in the community that arises out of the canoodled hobby.

...and I wanted to type canoodle a few times.

Ketzel
09-29-2012, 07:29 PM
As I recall, fanfiction is still kind of up in the air, but I doubt it will ever be ruled infringement--the entire point of fanfiction is to be different from the original work, and fanfiction also usually assumes prior knowledge of the original work as well, so the original author isn't losing money that way. As long as the fanfic authors don't try to make money, I don't see an issue.

If you use a copyrighted work to create a derivative work without permission of the copyright owner, you've infringed on his/her copyright.



A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.


I don't know any copyright lawyers who think this definition doesn't cover fanfic.

I have no opinion on fanfic's usefulness for developing writing skills, and I am not providing anyone with legal advice, but writing fanfic without the permission of the owner of the copyright doesn't fall into a gray area of the law, imo.

angeluscado
09-29-2012, 07:29 PM
I write fanfiction for the instant gratification. Write a chapter, post a chapter online, instant love of the chapter. I have people PM-ing me and begging me to update my stories - makes me feel kind of awesome. It's an ego boost.

It also got me thinking that I could do this writing thing seriously - it took me a couple of years but I started writing original fiction alongside of my fan stuff. I'm starting to write stuff that could possibly be published somewhere down the line.

Fanfiction taught me what it's like to write complete, novel-length fiction - my longest piece clocks in at just over 108k. It taught me commitment to a project, from inception, to drafting, to polishing, to posting.

Do I want to write fanfiction for the rest of my life? Probably not. I think I'm going to finish off the two series I'm working on and then pack it in to concentrate fully on my original stuff - I don't want to leave something that big unfinished, but I don't want to start anything else, either. I don't seek out new stuff that often anymore, only sticking with my old faves until they're completed.

jjdebenedictis
09-29-2012, 07:50 PM
I've never had the desire to read or write fanfiction ever. Most of it is terrible and written by teenage girls.

(snip)

My girlfriend, once being a teenage girl, used to write fanfiction all the time, apparently, all the way into her college years.

(snip)

Now, first of all, she's a very smart girl. She writes amazing college papers and articles. She does a much better job of that than I do, honestly.

(snip)

Just my two cents.Just my two cents, and this is off-topic, but you're strongly implying that being a teenage girl--as opposed to a teenage boy, for example--is automatically a bad thing. This is sexist.

Also, calling a capable adult "a very smart girl" is patronizing and also a bit sexist.

Fanfiction might mostly be bad, but implying it's bad because it's mostly written by females is offensive. Please re-examine your attitudes.

crunchyblanket
09-29-2012, 08:03 PM
, I would't say her story was "bad" so much as it was very amateurish. Adverbs and adjectives everywhere, stilted dialoguge, LOTS of telling instead of showing. You name a beginner mistake, it was in there. Now, what this tells me is that all of that time she spent writing fanfiction didn't teach her anything. Is that to say that you can't start off writing fanfiction and by doing so become a great writer? Certainly not. I'm sure there are people on this very forum who would prove me wrong, as there are exceptions to every rule but, generally, I'd say writing your own stuff will probably help you a lot more. Just my two cents.

If it weren't so embarrassing, I'd post a paragraph or two from the fanfics I wrote when I was 16. Every beginner mistake you mentioned was there. But see, I read widely (both fanfic and standard fiction) and wrote copiously (mostly fanfic, with a few essays for school) and I improved. I cared about what I was writing, and I wanted the people reading it to enjoy it, and so it was important for me to improve as a writer. I wanted to be a better writer - if you go in with that attitude, it's hard not to improve as you go along.

Like I mentioned upthread, the difference in my writing is clear from the years I spent writing fanfic. Early fics are a mess of weird characterisation, half-baked plots and purple prose. Those I wrote in my mid-to-late teens are noticeably better. The ones I wrote in my early twenties are among some of the best things I've ever written.

Also, every fandom I've ever participated in has had a healthy mix of genders and ages - not just teenage girls.

LOG
09-29-2012, 08:25 PM
I've never had the desire to read or write fanfiction ever. Most of it is terrible and written by teenage girls. I didn't say all of it; don't freak out on me. But most of it is, let's be honest.

My basic opinion is that if you already know how to write, writing fanfiction won't make your writing worse, because duh. But if you start out writing fanfiction and never progress from that, you're probably not going to get any better. This belief comes solely from personal experience.

My girlfriend, once being a teenage girl, used to write fanfiction all the time, apparently, all the way into her college years. She hasn't done it at all (that I know of) since we met, but recently she got the urge to write a Harry Potter/Game of Thrones crossover fanfiction. She had me look at it since she knows that I know a lot about writing.

Now, first of all, she's a very smart girl. She writes amazing college papers and articles. She does a much better job of that than I do, honestly. So, with that said, I would't say her story was "bad" so much as it was very amateurish. Adverbs and adjectives everywhere, stilted dialoguge, LOTS of telling instead of showing. You name a beginner mistake, it was in there. Now, what this tells me is that all of that time she spent writing fanfiction didn't teach her anything. Is that to say that you can't start off writing fanfiction and by doing so become a great writer? Certainly not. I'm sure there are people on this very forum who would prove me wrong, as there are exceptions to every rule but, generally, I'd say writing your own stuff will probably help you a lot more. Just my two cents.
Writing college papers and writing a story are two very different things.

Captcha
09-29-2012, 09:13 PM
I write fanfiction for the instant gratification. Write a chapter, post a chapter online, instant love of the chapter. I have people PM-ing me and begging me to update my stories - makes me feel kind of awesome. It's an ego boost.



This was my experience with fanfiction as well. I've tried to write at several different times over my life, but I've always felt drawn to novels and I could never keep at one long enough to finish it. Ten thousand words in, I'd abandon the effort. It's just too long of a slog to write a whole novel with no feedback or positive reinforcement. I could have joined a critique group, but that's a huge investment of time - I guess it sounds selfish, but I didn't want to read a chapter each from a bunch of other people as a 'bribe' to get them to read mine. Lazy, but true.

When I stumbled into fanfiction, I found an audience, and one that would accept the posting of WIPs as par for the course. I was writing 5K words a day (while working full time) without real effort, because I was getting positive feedback, excited questions about what was going to happen, etc. I got energy from the readers, and transferred it to my work. I didn't care about the show or the characters or anything else - I just wanted the rush!

I still post my WIPs this way, on a locked blog accessible only to a few online friends from my fandom days. They aren't AS interested in my original stuff as they were in my fan writing, but I get a few comments per chapter I post and that's absolutely enough to keep me energized to write the next chapter.

I don't think I learned a lot of technique from writing fanfic, but I definitely learned how to get motivated to write.

Amadan
09-29-2012, 09:32 PM
I've never had the desire to read or write fanfiction ever. Most of it is terrible and written by teenage girls. I didn't say all of it; don't freak out on me. But most of it is, let's be honest.

Like several others have pointed out, this really reads like "Teenage girls; therefore, terribly written." I've read a fair amount of fan fiction, and I gotta say, the fan fiction written by teenage boys isn't any better, and tends to have a lot more gratuitous boobies.


Now, first of all, she's a very smart girl. She writes amazing college papers and articles. She does a much better job of that than I do, honestly. So, with that said, I would't say her story was "bad" so much as it was very amateurish. Adverbs and adjectives everywhere, stilted dialoguge, LOTS of telling instead of showing. You name a beginner mistake, it was in there. Now, what this tells me is that all of that time she spent writing fanfiction didn't teach her anything. Is that to say that you can't start off writing fanfiction and by doing so become a great writer? Certainly not. I'm sure there are people on this very forum who would prove me wrong, as there are exceptions to every rule but, generally, I'd say writing your own stuff will probably help you a lot more. Just my two cents.I don't see how you can conclude that. Everything you describe, I've seen from many writers who've written nothing but their own stories for years and year. Amateurism is amateurism, and while you can maybe make an argument that fan fiction doesn't help with characterization or world building (I would disagree), issues with showing vs. telling, overuse of adverbs, stilted dialog, etc., are the same mistakes with the same learning curves to overcome whether you are writing fan fiction or not.




I have no opinion on fanfic's usefulness for developing writing skills, and I am not providing anyone with legal advice, but writing fanfic without the permission of the owner of the copyright doesn't fall into a gray area of the law, imo.

Your opinion is wrong because it's not a settled matter. There are people with very strong opinions about fan fiction being a clear copyright violation, but it's more complicated than just "making a derivative work without permission of the copyright holder." I mean, taking your statement literally, if I write fan fiction only for myself and it never leaves my hard drive, I've still broken the law. There is a lot more that will go into the legal decision, should a court ever decide the issue. One of course would be damage to the copyright holder. Another would be the degree to which the work is derivative. If I write a Harry Potter story set in another country and using all original characters and just borrowing a few Rowling terms like "Avada Kedavra," is that the same as writing Harry/Draco slashfic? Jury is still, quite literally, out. I am not saying that the courts will necessarily rule that fan fiction of any stripe is perfectly legal and non-infringing - I think that's very unlikely - but I think it's equally unlikely that they'll shut down fanfiction.net in this hypothetical future Supreme Court case deciding the future of fan fiction.

JSSchley
09-29-2012, 11:03 PM
I've seen a lot of discussions about fanfic, and I think the main thing that gets missed on writers' boards is that fanfiction is less about writing and more about fandom. 99.9% of fanfic writers have no intention of trying to become professional writers. They are writing to participate in their particular fandom. They are expressing love, or at least excited interest, for something they enjoy. They couldn't care less what we think of them, because they're not writing for us or for professional level critique. They're writing for their fellow fans.

Bearilou already QFTed this, but I want to QFT it again.

One of my friends made a very astute observation: say someone is asked about her hobbies, and she says she likes to play tennis, play the flute, and write novels.

No one asks if she is planning to become a professional tennis player or flutist. But people will immediately ask if she intends to try to sell her novels. For most people, "writing" being in the same category as "playing tennis" just doesn't compute. But a lot of fanfic writers honestly just write for fun.



My basic opinion is that if you already know how to write, writing fanfiction won't make your writing worse, because duh. But if you start out writing fanfiction and never progress from that, you're probably not going to get any better. This belief comes solely from personal experience.

My girlfriend, once being a teenage girl, used to write fanfiction all the time, apparently, all the way into her college years. She hasn't done it at all (that I know of) since we met, but recently she got the urge to write a Harry Potter/Game of Thrones crossover fanfiction. She had me look at it since she knows that I know a lot about writing.


I'm not going to touch the "teenage girls write badly" aspect of this, since you'll no doubt continue getting your deserved wet-noodle lashes for that one.

But writing anything without an eye toward how you can improve your craft fails to improve your craft. It doesn't matter whether it's fanfiction or not. Improving one's writing involves bothering to figure out what you might be doing wrong; asking for assistance; comparing your writing to what you read and seeing what published writers in your genre do differently. That's true for everyone.

You can blindly write bad non-derivative fiction just as easily as you can write bad derivative fiction. And most people's first attempts at writing fiction period are pretty crappy—the ability to write well is a skill to be honed. Fanfic gets a bad rap on that account because there are a great many writers for whom their fanfic is their first foray into writing. So a lot of it is pretty unskilled, and it's out there for everyone to see as opposed to quietly trunked on the author's hard drive. But take a broad sample of a whole bunch of first-time efforts, fanfic and not, and you're going to find a lot of unskilled writing. It's not amateurish because it's fanfic; it's amateurish because a lot of the writers are... amateurs.

Medievalist
09-29-2012, 11:18 PM
My understanding is that it was very common and accepted in medieval and renaissance literature to re-tell/adapt existing stories or use pre-existing characters.

I'm pretty sure the Canterbury Tales themselves include some re-tellings of pre-existing stories.

No, no. Reusing old stories/themes/motifs isn't fan fic.

Fan fic is driven more by character than by incident; it's not the reuse of the plot or the narrative that makes fan fic, it's reusing the characters as they are in the original, and taking them down different paths, paths that may change the characters from the original versions--s.v. the Kirk/Spock fan fic popular in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Fan fic is when writers other than Chaucer wrote about Chaucer's characters on Chaucer's Pilgrimage.

Fan fic is when, because Chretien de Troyes didn't finish his romance about Percival and the grail, many medieval writers continued it. He wrote less than 10000 words; the various continuations are five times that or more.

Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra isn't fan fic, even though the story and chunks of the play are taken (word for word) from Plutarch's lives.

Fan fic is when someone takes Shakespeare's characters, say, Olivia and Viola from Twelfth Night and continues their story, still using Shakespeare's basic characterizations, etc. but evolves the characters, introduces them to / writes about them with original characters and new plot lines.

Medievalist
09-29-2012, 11:24 PM
As I recall, fanfiction is still kind of up in the air, but I doubt it will ever be ruled infringement--the entire point of fanfiction is to be different from the original work, and fanfiction also usually assumes prior knowledge of the original work as well, so the original author isn't losing money that way. As long as the fanfic authors don't try to make money, I don't see an issue.

You would be wrong; specific instances have been ruled as infringement in the U.S. and the U.K.

Where it starts to get tricky is in the determination of whether a derivative work meets the criteria of the fair use safe harbor—not the least because fair use is decided by the court, which means paying fees and attorneys.

It gets even trickier when trademarks are involved, as they often are for film, TV and comics.

The laws about derivative works vary in various nations so there are fan fic works in Japan, for instance, that are quite legal, but that wouldn't be allowed in the U.S. should the rights holder choose to object.

Ketzel
09-29-2012, 11:41 PM
Your opinion is wrong because it's not a settled matter. There are people with very strong opinions about fan fiction being a clear copyright violation, but it's more complicated than just "making a derivative work without permission of the copyright holder." No, it's actually just that simple. Black letter law, in fact. Other people may have other opinions, but that doesn't affect the plain language of the copyright law, any more than having an opinion that the earth is flat affects the shape of the earth.

I mean, taking your statement literally, if I write fan fiction only for myself and it never leaves my hard drive, I've still broken the law. And that would be correct. Of course, it's a technical violation that would be very hard to prove, and the damages done to the copyright holder would be limited, but that doesn't make it
less an infringement. It just makes it less of a risk.


There is a lot more that will go into the legal decision, should a court ever decide the issue. One of course would be damage to the copyright holder. There's a difference between deciding whether infringement occurred, and whether, if it occurred, how much harm was done. The first gets decided before the second is even considered, so how much a harm the infringement did is not relevant to whether infringement occurred.


Another would be the degree to which the work is derivative. If I write a Harry Potter story set in another country and using all original characters and just borrowing a few Rowling terms like "Avada Kedavra," is that the same as writing Harry/Draco slashfic? Jury is still, quite literally, out. I am not saying that the courts will necessarily rule that fan fiction of any stripe is perfectly legal and non-infringing - I think that's very unlikely - but I think it's equally unlikely that they'll shut down fanfiction.net in this hypothetical future Supreme Court case deciding the future of fan fiction. Rather than parse what's incorrect in this from a legal standpoint, I'll just say that there is not likely to be a Supreme Court case raising this issue and for just the reasons I explained in my original post. I don't know of any copyright lawyer who, when faced with a client who says he's being sued for writing and publishing Harry Potter fanfic by J.K. Rowling, who will not recommend immediate settlement. When the statute defines a derivative work as broadly and clearly as it does, there wouldn't be a defense, because taking on the expense of the litigation and the risk of damages is pointless, given that there is virtually no possibility of successfully defending the case. (And I only add "virtually" out of the usual excess of lawyerly caution. :-))

Usual disclaimers re: imo and not intended as legal advice to any person.

fadeaccompli
09-29-2012, 11:48 PM
No, no. Reusing old stories/themes/motifs isn't fan fic.

Fan fic is driven more by character than by incident; it's not the reuse of the plot or the narrative that makes fan fic, it's reusing the characters as they are in the original, and taking them down different paths, paths that may change the characters from the original versions--s.v. the Kirk/Spock fan fic popular in the 1970s and early 1980s.

...but...I write fanfic that doesn't use anyone else's characters*. I'll read fanfic that does, but I'm not interested in it at all, for the most part. And yet what I write is distinctly fanfic; it's derivative work based on someone else's property--property that's still in copyright, mind, though the copyright holder is explicitly okay with not-for-profit fic of this type being put online and shared around on the official list for the property--in a way that I could never publish legally.

I think that much fanfic is driven more by character than by incident, but there's definitely a significant, if small, portion of fanfic out there that's enjoying premise or setting as much as it is character. So I don't think it's a useful definition of fanfic if you're excluding that set of fiction entirely from the category.




(*) Except for a one-act play involving Helen of Troy, Dido, Mephistopheles, and Faustus. But that was for a class.

Captcha
09-30-2012, 12:20 AM
The US courts don't decide law for everyone on this board, surely. Any legal discussions are going to be pretty vague, given the numbers of jurisdictions involved not only here, but in most fanfic communities.

And I also disagree about the definition of fanfic as being only fiction using the characters of others. That may have been where the practice started, but I've read fics with all original characters set in the universe of the original story, and I've certainly read RPF (real person fiction) that is considered by its authors and readers to be fanfic. RPF (involving members of bands, sports teams, actors, etc.) doesn't have the copyright issues of traditional fanfic, but it has its own set of moral issues, and, who knows, might have some sort of defamation/invasion of privacy/something else legal issues down the line.

I think the legality AND definition of fanfiction are more complicated than any simple answers will satisfy.

Medievalist
09-30-2012, 03:48 AM
So I don't think it's a useful definition of fanfic if you're excluding that set of fiction entirely from the category.

No no, not meaning to be exclusive. Look at all the Trek or Buffy or Potterverse fics that don't feature any of the main characters of the ur-fic.

There's a point though where the line blurs: where do we fit the "canon" spin offs of Trek like the animated series, or the Pocket contracted books (one of which is also a Here Come the Brides fan fic)—so I don't think anyone seriously interested in the history of narrative fiction, or genre fiction, or fiction can afford to be exclusive.

It's not like it's even new. And seriously, if we look at other lits—like traditional Irish medieval texts including and tied to the Táin—what do we call the sub-tales and the various versions of the subtales if not fan fic?

Cyia
09-30-2012, 04:08 AM
If you use a copyrighted work to create a derivative work without permission of the copyright owner, you've infringed on his/her copyright.


Sometimes. There are specific instances in which this isn't the case - satire being one of them. The Harvard Lampoon thrives on this exemption.


I write fanfiction for the instant gratification. Write a chapter, post a chapter online, instant love of the chapter. I have people PM-ing me and begging me to update my stories - makes me feel kind of awesome. It's an ego boost.

Especially with the tools on sites like ffn that allow you to see how many people have clicked on each chapter and which countries they come from. So much of what's posted online can seem like screaming into an empty room, but when you've got hit counters inching toward the millions and charts and graphs showing readers on every continent save Antarctica, it's seriously cool.



It also got me thinking that I could do this writing thing seriously

Ditto. Fanfic was my first foray into allowing others to read what I'd written. It's sort of like going into a pool wearing water wings because if you're not quite ready to swim, or make a mistake, you can get out any time you want to.


Fanfiction taught me what it's like to write complete, novel-length fiction - my longest piece clocks in at just over 108k. It taught me commitment to a project, from inception, to drafting, to polishing, to posting.

Also ditto.

It's "deadline lite" in a way. You still have people wanting you to "turn in" material by a certain time, but there aren't any real penalties if you can't make it.


Do I want to write fanfiction for the rest of my life? Probably not.

Honestly? I probably would. It's a great way to break writer's block because there's no pressure.




Most of it is terrible and written by teenage girls. I didn't say all of it; don't freak out on me. But most of it is, let's be honest.

If we're being honest - you know nothing about fandom. There are entire fandoms whose teenage members would be in the single to double digits. Even in the big ones, there are huge sections of long-time writers who haven't been teens in over a decade. Not to mention those who've never been female at all.



Now, first of all, she's a very smart girl. She writes amazing college papers and articles.

Dude, if she's in college, she's a grown woman, not a "very smart girl" who needs a sticky star of approval.


Now, what this tells me is that all of that time she spent writing fanfiction didn't teach her anything.

It would only tell you this if you actually compared her beginning writing to her current level, and then compared her fanfic to the source material to see if her "mistakes" are consistent with the voice, tone and writing style of the original. There are plenty of writers' styles which, if emulated, would require the use of many adverbs, telling, and passive voice. Using those things would mean the fanfic writer was being true to his/her inspiration.

Mark Moore
09-30-2012, 04:14 AM
I love reading and writing fanfic.

*goes back to searching for those Sailor Moon sexfics that he read in the late 1990s*

fadeaccompli
09-30-2012, 06:11 AM
No no, not meaning to be exclusive. Look at all the Trek or Buffy or Potterverse fics that don't feature any of the main characters of the ur-fic.

There's a point though where the line blurs: where do we fit the "canon" spin offs of Trek like the animated series, or the Pocket contracted books (one of which is also a Here Come the Brides fan fic)—so I don't think anyone seriously interested in the history of narrative fiction, or genre fiction, or fiction can afford to be exclusive.

It's not like it's even new. And seriously, if we look at other lits—like traditional Irish medieval texts including and tied to the Táin—what do we call the sub-tales and the various versions of the subtales if not fan fic?

Oh! Sorry, I misunderstood your post, then. I agree that fanfic is a big, blurry category.

The particular blurry border I always want to talk about--and which I never seem to be able to find much conversation on, darnit, because I really do want to hear from people who've thought about this even more than I have--is where historical fiction and fanfic start edging up against each other. Pre-existing setting one attempts to emulate: check. Pre-existing characters being written as close to how they "ought" to be as possible: often check. Working within known plot events: check! And then once you start comparing it to something like modern RPF...

Well, I find it interesting, anyway.

quicklime
09-30-2012, 06:20 AM
Writing college papers and writing a story are two very different things.


this, to the point of them being damn near different languages.

Ketzel
09-30-2012, 06:24 AM
If you use a copyrighted work to create a derivative work without permission of the copyright owner, you've infringed on his/her copyright.





Sometimes. There are specific instances in which this isn't the case - satire being one of them. The Harvard Lampoon thrives on this exemption.



I don't want to be pedantic, but this isn't actually the case.

What you are talking about is an example of "fair use." "Fair use" is not an exemption. It's a defense to a claim of infringement.

In legal terms, you've created a derivative work which, without the copyright owner's permission, is an infringement upon the original copyright. The owner has grounds to sue you and, unless you can demonstrate to a court that what you have done constitutes a parody or satire that falls within the very narrow definition of "fair use," the owner will win that case. The burden of proving "fair use" is on you.

This may seem like hair-splitting, but it has very real effects on the legal process. If parody/satire was really "exempt," from the definition of a derivative work, the burden would be on the copyright owner to prove that what you had produced wasn't a parody/satire. This is a more difficult and expensive proposition for the copyright owner, as opposed to simply being able to show that you created a derivative work, and then make it your problem to show that what you did was a defensible "fair use."

And with that, I take my battered copy of Nimmer on Copyright Law and move along.

DancingMaenid
09-30-2012, 07:12 AM
I've seen a lot of discussions about fanfic, and I think the main thing that gets missed on writers' boards is that fanfiction is less about writing and more about fandom. 99.9% of fanfic writers have no intention of trying to become professional writers. They are writing to participate in their particular fandom. They are expressing love, or at least excited interest, for something they enjoy. They couldn't care less what we think of them, because they're not writing for us or for professional level critique. They're writing for their fellow fans.

This is a good point to make, and it's true to a good extent.

However, I also want to stress that it's not mutually exclusive. Not everyone who writes original fiction aims to be a published author, and not everyone in fandom is uninterested in the writing itself.

I'm a writer, but I don't aim to be a professional when it comes to writing fiction (writing nonfiction is a different matter). That's true whether what I write is original or fan fic.

While my fan fic really is mostly about the fandom, the writing aspect is still important to me. I still take time to do my research, and revise my work.

And since I am a writer, I do have a lot of the same interests and concerns in regards to my fan fic that I do with my original fiction, and that other writers have with their original fiction.

The tough thing for me, since I do write both fan fic and original fiction, is that it can be tricky to get feedback and support on my writing. When I'm working on something original, most of my fandom friends are not going to be interested in that. But when I'm working on fan fic, I don't always feel like I can seek advice in non-fandom spaces, lest people not take my questions or concerns seriously. It also makes it tough to participate in critique circles, since if I decide to focus more on a piece of fan fiction for a little bit, that's some time where I'm essentially unable to participate.


No, no. Reusing old stories/themes/motifs isn't fan fic.

I didn't say it was fan fic, exactly. I was more pointing out that it seems like attitudes toward using pre-existing stories has been different in the past.

But I also disagree that fan fic by definition has to be more about the characters than the scenario or the themes. I think the focus is very often on the characters (and it definitely is in my fan fic writing), but there's also fan fic that uses pre-established worlds with new characters, or re-tells the original story with a new twist.

crunchyblanket
09-30-2012, 12:22 PM
The tough thing for me, since I do write both fan fic and original fiction, is that it can be tricky to get feedback and support on my writing. When I'm working on something original, most of my fandom friends are not going to be interested in that. But when I'm working on fan fic, I don't always feel like I can seek advice in non-fandom spaces, lest people not take my questions or concerns seriously

No kidding. And I feel guilt whenever I focus on one type exclusively: right now, I'm working on an original novel, and I've got a couple of WIP fanfics waiting to be finished - I feel guilty about that because I know there are a few readers waiting for the next chapter. But equally, if I'm working on a fanfic, there's a part of me that insists I should be working on something original.

I suppose the problem is I've been conditioned, to an extent, to think of the two as completely separate forms of writing - and yes, to think of fanfic as the 'lesser' form, even though the effort and heart I put in is exactly the same.

LeslieB
09-30-2012, 04:03 PM
However, I also want to stress that it's not mutually exclusive. Not everyone who writes original fiction aims to be a published author, and not everyone in fandom is uninterested in the writing itself.


That's very true. But I have found that when fanfic is discussed on writers' boards, it tends to be treated as training wheels for professional writing rather than having value in and of itself.

I have been a member of what is considered the best fanfic board for my particular fandom for over a decade. In that time hundreds of members have come and gone, but only a bare handful of us have any aspirations towards pro work. I didn't start there with any intentions towards becoming a pro writer. I was just having fun with my fellow fans, and the dreams came later. But here and other places I've seen a lot of people who seem to think that most people start writing fanfic because they are practicing for book publication, and that's just not true.

Cyia
09-30-2012, 06:44 PM
I think the main thing that gets missed on writers' boards is that fanfiction is less about writing and more about fandom.

*****

They are expressing love, or at least excited interest, for something they enjoy.

This is something that bugs me when people give the "but you're stealing ideas!" answer to questions about fanfic. It's not a perfect analogy, but writing fanfic is very much a grown up version of tying a bed sheet around your neck and declaring yourself Superman or grabbing a frisbee and calling it Captain America's shield. Kids like to make up stories staring their favorite characters and adults do, too. Story-telling is a fundamental human trait. It just moved to a more mature medium as the participants get older.


But I have found that when fanfic is discussed on writers' boards, it tends to be treated as training wheels for professional writing rather than having value in and of itself.
To be fair, most of the people speaking in favor of fanfic on writer's boards are former/current fanficcers and current/aspiring professional writers, so it makes sense that this is the justification used.

bearilou
09-30-2012, 07:18 PM
It's not a perfect analogy, but writing fanfic is very much a grown up version of tying a bed sheet around your neck and declaring yourself Superman or grabbing a frisbee and calling it Captain America's shield.

...ohwait, we're not supposed to be doing that once we've grown up?

*slips into my mother's bathroom and puts the towels back, then returns the pizza pan in the cabinet*

CrastersBabies
09-30-2012, 07:25 PM
I really don't read it.

I feel that Beloved shows (especially genre shows like Firefly) were written to perfection already and that ideas had gatekeepers like Whedon to maintain character authenticity and integrity.

Now, I did find a wonderful set of screenplays that someone wrote after Stargate Universe was cancelled. They answered the cliffhanger and for some strange reason, it gave me a little closure. Maybe that wouldn't be considered fanfic, though.

Even though I'm not a fan of fanfic, I don't get the "It's not YOUR original idea" gripe. So what? I would imagine it's harder to stay true to the creator's vision than it is to create your own and stick to that. Just because I don't like reading some random person's idea of what Buffy should be, doesn't mean they shouldn't write it, or, that others won't love it.

On writing . . .

I have a pal who writes a lot of it (slash type stuff, if I recall) and she writes beautifully. She said that's how she learned to write. Her non-fanfic is sublime.

My guess is that an okay writer can probably grow considerably, given that the material they're working with is something they are super passionate about.

Just because it's not my bag (baby), doesn't mean it's any less of a means to exercise your writing muscle.

Amadan
09-30-2012, 07:33 PM
No, it's actually just that simple. Black letter law, in fact. Other people may have other opinions, but that doesn't affect the plain language of the copyright law, any more than having an opinion that the earth is flat affects the shape of the earth.

Okay, so I gather you're a lawyer and therefore you're lecturing ignorant plebes who don't know the law. Fair enough. I have only your word for it that your take on black letter law is superior to all the flat-earthers arguing otherwise, but I'm not a lawyer, so I suppose we'll see if it ever does make it into court.


No kidding. And I feel guilt whenever I focus on one type exclusively: right now, I'm working on an original novel, and I've got a couple of WIP fanfics waiting to be finished - I feel guilty about that because I know there are a few readers waiting for the next chapter. But equally, if I'm working on a fanfic, there's a part of me that insists I should be working on something original.

I suppose the problem is I've been conditioned, to an extent, to think of the two as completely separate forms of writing - and yes, to think of fanfic as the 'lesser' form, even though the effort and heart I put in is exactly the same.

Oh hey, this is me.

I do actually put as much effort into my fan fiction as into my original fiction. I didn't start writing fan fiction to "practice" for "real" writing, but once I finished my first fan fiction novel, I realized I could write a novel, and that made me start thinking about writing a book again, for the first time in years. And then I did take the same approach to all my fan fiction work as if I were writing something that I would publish.

I think fan fiction authors who write long-form works (like extended AU sagas involving original characters, or vastly altered versions of canon characters) are more likely to be those who are or will move into writing original fiction than the ones who just write drabbles, short stories, and the like. (I am not dissing the latter, just saying that people who are inspired to write new stories just because they love the fandom are probably taking up fan fiction as a hobby for its own sake.)

G. Applejack
09-30-2012, 07:53 PM
No kidding. And I feel guilt whenever I focus on one type exclusively: right now, I'm working on an original novel, and I've got a couple of WIP fanfics waiting to be finished - I feel guilty about that because I know there are a few readers waiting for the next chapter. But equally, if I'm working on a fanfic, there's a part of me that insists I should be working on something original.


I'm having the same problem. Most of this year has been dedicated to my original writing. I've received some nasty emails and comments from people because I've slowed down my fanfic.

So the guilt sets in.

Haikujitsu
09-30-2012, 08:08 PM
*peeks out from under flak jacket*

Wow, AW. Thank you. It's been fascinating to watch this discussion unfold.




I feel that Beloved shows (especially genre shows like Firefly) were written to perfection already and that ideas had gatekeepers like Whedon to maintain character authenticity and integrity.


It's pretty common to idealize the creators of works that we love. But in reality Whedon is just as human as the next man, and his ideas and the end product have a much more nebulous connection than we might think.

It's been very eye-opening to me to watch the special features for Blade Runner and realize that it went through four or five drastically different drafts--and that some of the imagery that made it so iconic was done simply because of technology constraints.

There are so many factors that go into making a complete work, even of a single-media product like a novel. There's always a "road less traveled". I don't think anything can be classified as untouchably perfect.

-Hj

CrastersBabies
09-30-2012, 08:25 PM
It's pretty common to idealize the creators of works that we love. But in reality Whedon is just as human as the next man, and his ideas and the end product have a much more nebulous connection than we might think.

It's been very eye-opening to me to watch the special features for Blade Runner and realize that it went through four or five drastically different drafts--and that some of the imagery that made it so iconic was done simply because of technology constraints.

There are so many factors that go into making a complete work, even of a single-media product like a novel. There's always a "road less traveled". I don't think anything can be classified as untouchably perfect.

-Hj

Oh no, I don't think anything should be untouchable. Freedom of writing. Yes. But, not for me. Not to write or read. But, if someone wants it, I say go for it. Add that to their life word count and be all better for it. :)

eparadysz
09-30-2012, 09:14 PM
I really don't read it.

I feel that Beloved shows (especially genre shows like Firefly) were written to perfection already and that ideas had gatekeepers like Whedon to maintain character authenticity and integrity.


I laughed at this, because the only fanfic I've ever read was for the X-Files, and it was exactly because the fans seemed to have a better idea of the integrity of the show than the creators. The fanfic was a remedy to the train wreck the show ultimately turned into. But that's probably an unusual case.

CrastersBabies
09-30-2012, 09:55 PM
I laughed at this, because the only fanfic I've ever read was for the X-Files, and it was exactly because the fans seemed to have a better idea of the integrity of the show than the creators. The fanfic was a remedy to the train wreck the show ultimately turned into. But that's probably an unusual case.

See, THAT I'd like to see. :)

I imagine there are some shiteous shows/comics/movies that fanfic writers have improved upon. I don't think I know enough about it all to find them, though.

shadowwalker
09-30-2012, 10:13 PM
I laughed at this, because the only fanfic I've ever read was for the X-Files, and it was exactly because the fans seemed to have a better idea of the integrity of the show than the creators. The fanfic was a remedy to the train wreck the show ultimately turned into. But that's probably an unusual case.

Even good shows had their moments ;) Part of the fun was taking the plot holes or those totally embarrassing moments and trying to make sense of them. :D

Sarashay
09-30-2012, 11:02 PM
I have no problem with derivative works as a practice, but I do have some issues with fanfiction as a subculture. The problem is, each time I get grumpy about the latter, people seem to assume that I am automatically critiquing the former and start bringing up Shakespeare's plays and brandishing copies of Wide Sargasso Sea at me as if they are somehow equivalent. This only succeeds in making me even grumpier about it.

Amadan
09-30-2012, 11:13 PM
I have no problem with derivative works as a practice, but I do have some issues with fanfiction as a subculture. The problem is, each time I get grumpy about the latter, people seem to assume that I am automatically critiquing the former and start bringing up Shakespeare's plays and brandishing copies of Wide Sargasso Sea at me as if they are somehow equivalent. This only succeeds in making me even grumpier about it.


Well, fandom is batshit crazy. That's a given. :P

There are aspects of fan fiction culture I don't like - I believe, for example, that a lot of the incidents we see of authors posting work in SYW and then having a meltdown when they get harsh crits is because they are used to fan fiction where "reviews" are generally compliments and squee, not constructive criticism.

And the compulsion to slash anything and everything - okay, whatever. I don't get it.

But I do think writing fan fiction does more to build basic writing skills than a lot of people give it credit for. That assumes, of course, that you are actually using fan fiction to improve your writing skills. Some people don't, either by design or because they don't actually know how to go about improving. Just spending a lot of time doing something doesn't automatically improve your skill.

Samsonet
09-30-2012, 11:22 PM
Just dropping by to say that my fandom is primarily composed of teenage girls. There is not a single slashfic in the archive. There aren't any crazy fangirls either. We're very formal about it. The "teenage girl = terrible writing" thing has probably been beaten enough, but I wanted to say this.

shadowwalker
09-30-2012, 11:50 PM
Well, fandom is batshit crazy. That's a given. :P

There are aspects of fan fiction culture I don't like - I believe, for example, that a lot of the incidents we see of authors posting work in SYW and then having a meltdown when they get harsh crits is because they are used to fan fiction where "reviews" are generally compliments and squee, not constructive criticism.

And the compulsion to slash anything and everything - okay, whatever. I don't get it.

But I do think writing fan fiction does more to build basic writing skills than a lot of people give it credit for. That assumes, of course, that you are actually using fan fiction to improve your writing skills. Some people don't, either by design or because they don't actually know how to go about improving. Just spending a lot of time doing something doesn't automatically improve your skill.

There are definitely times when you have to tread carefully with fanfic writers. I got effectively banned from a fanfic crit group because of actually giving constructive crits instead of squee (well, that and expecting the slash to be 'in-character' slash and not just bad stereotypes :Shrug:). Best thing that ever happened to me, frankly. And I could never understand the groups where only compliments are allowed - nothing but ego-stroking there.

But there are people who are willing to give and get real critiques - and those are probably the ones who have the best chance of getting their original work published. They've already shown an eagerness to learn and get better, so they're ten steps ahead of the game.

Medievalist
09-30-2012, 11:55 PM
Well, fandom is batshit crazy. That's a given. :P


I would suggest that the particular Venn diagram is inverted; writers are crazy . . .

shaldna
10-01-2012, 12:20 AM
No, it's actually just that simple. Black letter law, in fact. Other people may have other opinions, but that doesn't affect the plain language of the copyright law, any more than having an opinion that the earth is flat affects the shape of the earth.


But here's the thing - fanfiction tends to fall into that shady category where the 'black letter law' is pretty grey, tbh.

Now, obviously it depends on where you are, and also what you do with your fic, but it basically comes down to to this - if you aren't using it for commercial gain, not selling it, not making a profit off it (I'll come to certain authors in a moment) and you're not plagiarising the original piece (note I said plagiarising and not infringing on copyright / trademarks etc) and, and this is important, the fic doesn't impact negatively on the original work in terms of sales / reputation etc, then it's not generally going to get you into trouble. For the most part, it simply isn't worth it to try and take fic writers to court unless they have seriously overstepped.

The big issues come when a fic writer tries to capitalise on their writing - see the whole Russet Noon fiasco which got shut down pretty quickly, and of course there is all the wank surrounding Cassandra Clare and the 'gifts' to keep writing her fic.

Some 'original' books started life as Fanfiction - 50SoG and City of Bones, for example. Both of these were pretty popular fics, and it's pretty commonly known that's how they started out. But here's the thing, the work as it is now is unidentifiable as a fanfic. There's some bad feeling about 'filing off the serial numbers' in this way among some of the writing community, but each to their own. Personally it doesn't really bother me.

Another point worth noting in the context of this conversation - while some authors support and encourage fanfiction, some don't. That's why you'll generally not see an Anne Rice or Robin McKinley fanfic on any of the main ff communities. Fanfic writers LOVE the fandom, and they don't want to disrespect the author or the books.




If we're being honest - you know nothing about fandom. There are entire fandoms whose teenage members would be in the single to double digits. Even in the big ones, there are huge sections of long-time writers who haven't been teens in over a decade. Not to mention those who've never been female at all.

I've certainly found this in the fandoms I've been involved with - Buffy, Harry Potter, LOTR, Mighty Ducks (don't ask) - most of the folks I've met have been in their late twenties or much older. A lot of folk grew up with the major fandoms and participated in a way that teens and kids now don't really seem to do so much.




I would suggest that the particular Venn diagram is inverted; writers are crazy . . .

Yes, but fanfic writers fall into that special category of batshit crazy.

Cyia
10-01-2012, 12:42 AM
Now, I did find a wonderful set of screenplays that someone wrote after Stargate Universe was cancelled. They answered the cliffhanger and for some strange reason, it gave me a little closure. Maybe that wouldn't be considered fanfic, though.

Yes, that's fanfic. There are shows that do "virtual seasons" after a series is cancelled - especially for those with rabid, but small fanbases for shows that only got one season. The best of them are highly organized with participants chosen by readers familiar with a given fandom's favorite writers, then they collaborate on a "season" of stories with joined arcs, stand-alones, the whole bit, just like the series was still going strong.


I laughed at this, because the only fanfic I've ever read was for the X-Files, and it was exactly because the fans seemed to have a better idea of the integrity of the show than the creators. The fanfic was a remedy to the train wreck the show ultimately turned into. But that's probably an unusual case.

Not really. A hefty percentage of fanfic seems to stem from fans who want to explore the "what if" scenarios not taken by a show or book's writers.

It's worth pointing out that many times the show writers have no issues with this, even to the point of encouraging it. Several years ago, the popular and prolific writers for a certain fandom (I can't remember if it was BtVS or Charmed) were actually contacted for an anthology by TPTB who owned the rights to the show.

And I know I've mentioned this before, but a few years back there was a short-lived vampire series that gave a huge shout-out to the fandom members by incorporating numerous bits from different fanfics into the show's final episode. It was interesting to watch it unfold as people recognized and pointed out specific moments and character names.

(And for anyone who's never seen SG-1's infamous "200th" episode. The whole thing is fanfic run amok - right down to the "wedding" between the two male leads.)

Haikujitsu
10-01-2012, 01:55 AM
Not really. A hefty percentage of fanfic seems to stem from fans who want to explore the "what if" scenarios not taken by a show or book's writers.


I'd agree with this. Often fanficcers write not because of plot holes or "bad" source material, but in order to expand on a loved world or character in a way that would not have suited the constraints of the original.

Say you want to show the familial relationship between Jeeves the butler and Tony Stark through a series of touching vignettes--that could be interesting considering their personalities, but it would have no place in the Iron Man movie.

-Hj

Buffysquirrel
10-01-2012, 03:56 AM
I remember reading Joan Aiken's novel about Jane Fairfax (a character in Jane Austen's Emma, for those not in the know) and thinking, wow, all this does is prove Austen already told us everything about JF we needed to know. But perhaps it was just a bad novel.

CQuinlan
10-01-2012, 03:58 AM
I have no problem with fanfiction. My sister is obsessed to a level that actually turned me off of it but anyone else can have at it.

When I hear fanfiction I automatically equate it to slash (even though I know that's not the case, it's just an association I have). I'm not a fan of the idea slash...especially where they change a characters sexual orientation. It bugs me. However anyone else can read and do as they please.

Just please don't go selling it. It's bad for your ethics.

Shadow Dragon
10-01-2012, 04:17 AM
Fanfiction as a great way of increasing writing skills is a good idea. You have the world provided for you so you can just focus on plot, pacing, and grammar. And there's some fanfic that's better than a lot of published material.

Ken
10-01-2012, 02:42 PM
... there are negatives. Some (possible many) authors do not like people playing around with their stories. I'm definitely sympathetic to that. At the same time, some people use fan-fic as a launchpad for their own writing and meet with success. I've read about a number of writers on this board who got their start with fan-fic and are now writing novels of their own. That's really neat. So I have mixed views when it comes to whether fan-fic is beneficial or not. My short answer is yes and no.

Flicka
10-04-2012, 01:06 AM
As a reader, I generally don't get fanfiction because it's not, you know, authentic. I mean, that's how it feels to me. It's like when you wake up from a bad dream and try to make up a fitting happy ending to it. It doesn't help, because it isn't real (in the sense that the dream was).

As a writer, I wouldn't want to use anybody else's setting, characters or situations. I want to do something better than the setting, character or situation I'm inspired by, and I want to own my characters and settings, not just have borrowed them from someone. Also, world building is my favourite part of writing and I'm not likely to give up that.

However... One day, I will write the book I've dreamed of writing for ages--The Three Musketeers from Milady's POV--because that story just begs to be put right. And that would be fanfiction, I guess. Very iconoclastic fanfiction, obviously, but still.

frimble3
10-04-2012, 05:22 AM
Is it weird that I think fan-fiction based on television shows or movies seems less invasive than fan-fiction based on books?
Books are (usually) the product of one person's ideas (barring editors and the like), their words, their decisions, while television and movies are the product of lots of people. Writers, directors, producers, actors: fan fiction is only one more finger in the pot.

Waffles
10-04-2012, 08:17 AM
It always amuses me when people get pearl-clutchy at the idea of taking someone else's characters and settings. Most aspiring television writers have a couple of "spec scripts" which are...wait for it...scripts for existing television shows, using those characters and settings.

Agents, managers, prodcos, expect you to have these in your arsenal as writing samples. You can enter them in screenplay competitions too (even ones as prestigious as the Austin Film Festival).

Sunflowerrei
10-04-2012, 08:46 AM
I love fanfiction. Whenever I get into a movie or a TV show, I search around for some fanfic to read. I don't really write it anymore--I used to write Real Person fanfiction when I was a teenager and in love with Orlando Bloom. I wrote three or four epic, long, neverending fanfics. I can't be bothered to write anything longer than a short fic now and then when I'm feeling inspired--I'm working on a novel--but I love reading them.

Thank goodness I never posted my fics anywhere. But they taught me a lot about writing. I got in my practice with them. i learned about characterization and dialogue and how to write for an audience, a little, because I'd send parts of my fanfiction to some friends to read.

In fact, I started writing fanfiction when I was twelve because of Titanic.

I've read good fanfiction and really shitty fanfic, no doubt. But the good fanfics I've read rival some novels I've read. Because I'm familiar with the characters already, it's easier for me to get engrossed in the story. My current favorite is one called "Both Alike in Dignity" in the Downton Abbey fandom.

DancingMaenid
10-04-2012, 07:43 PM
There are aspects of fan fiction culture I don't like - I believe, for example, that a lot of the incidents we see of authors posting work in SYW and then having a meltdown when they get harsh crits is because they are used to fan fiction where "reviews" are generally compliments and squee, not constructive criticism.


See, I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I do feel like there isn't as much opportunity to get critiques in fandom. Beta readers are commonly encouraged, but it can be hard to find people who are comfortable doing more than proofreading.

On the other hand, my experience has been that sites geared toward original fiction writing, like this one, are far better when it comes to encouraging respectful and helpful criticism.

There can be some passive-aggressiveness and downright aggressiveness in fandom sometimes. There can be a lot of making fun of and trashing stories behind writers' backs, and some people inexplicably enjoy writing "flame" reviews to young writers telling them they suck, that they should never write again, etc.

I've seen people say insulting things and then complain that writers just don't know how to take "real" criticism. Which is funny to me because the sort of stuff they say would get a thread locked on here.

The only criticism I've ever gotten that has actually hurt was in fandom. I had just gotten back into writing after going through some depression-related writer's block, and I stumbled upon a couple people publicly trashing my effort. Not just the story itself, which was admittedly not my best, but the actual effort I'd made. It put me off writing for that fandom, to be honest. I never felt welcome there again after that.

On the other hand, almost all of the criticism I've received for my original fiction has been helpful, professional, and focused on the writing and not on me. (And to be fair, most of the criticism I've gotten in fandom has been good or at least well-intentioned, too.)

shadowwalker
10-04-2012, 08:49 PM
See, I have mixed feelings about this.

I think one thing to bear in mind is the difference between a critique/beta reader and a review. I've been involved with crits for fanfic and typically they adhere to the constructive crit guidelines. Reviews, on the other hand, do get nasty - but no more so than reviews of original work. Crits are to help the author; reviews have no such obligation, and this is true with both fanfic and original writing.

Phaeal
10-04-2012, 09:33 PM
I remember reading Joan Aiken's novel about Jane Fairfax (a character in Jane Austen's Emma, for those not in the know) and thinking, wow, all this does is prove Austen already told us everything about JF we needed to know. But perhaps it was just a bad novel.

I read this one, too. It faced the problem all canon fanfic faces -- unless you stay strictly prequel or sequel, you end up repeating scenes and dialogue the fandom's already very familiar with, and often a change of POV isn't enough to overcome this familiarity.

Scribhneoir
10-04-2012, 11:11 PM
Is it weird that I think fan-fiction based on television shows or movies seems less invasive than fan-fiction based on books?
Books are (usually) the product of one person's ideas (barring editors and the like), their words, their decisions, while television and movies are the product of lots of people. Writers, directors, producers, actors: fan fiction is only one more finger in the pot.

Nope, it isn't weird. That's how I feel, too. I don't particularly like fanfic, but I can understand why some people have the desire to read or write it. TV and movies are collaborative by nature, so it doesn't seem as rude to create fanfic for that as it does for novels.

I know a lot of people on AW consider fanfic to be a form of flattery, but most of the fanficcers I've come across in real life have uniformly gotten involved in order to "fix" what the creator got "wrong." That's not flattery. That's self-righteousness --usually accompanied by a hot mess of a story. No thank you.

DancingMaenid
10-04-2012, 11:16 PM
I think one thing to bear in mind is the difference between a critique/beta reader and a review. I've been involved with crits for fanfic and typically they adhere to the constructive crit guidelines. Reviews, on the other hand, do get nasty - but no more so than reviews of original work. Crits are to help the author; reviews have no such obligation, and this is true with both fanfic and original writing.

Actually, I would say most "reviews" in fandom are more akin to talking to an author at a book signing. When people talk about "reviews" of fanfic, I find they usually mean comments that are posted on the work itself, for the writer to read. So I don't think criticism is necessary or should be expected, but I also don't see it as a venue for readers to say whatever they think. They're not directing their comments at other readers--they're having a dialogue with the writer. The difference is that with fanfic, the writers are much more accessible to talk to and you're all part of the same community.

And since everyone is a part of the same community, there isn't really a clear line between the writer and the readers, so any public discussion of people's writing has to be done with not only the assumption that the writer could see it, but with the assumption that they are part of the same social group that you are addressing. It's kind of like the difference between making a thread on here about J.K. Rowling's new book vs. making a thread about a book written by an active member of the forum. It's unlikely that Rowling is going to read anything people say here, but it is likely that you or I would stumble upon a thread discussing something we'd written.

Which doesn't mean that people can't be honest or say that they disliked something. But I think sometimes people are emboldened by the idea that the person they're talking about will never see what was said. Ideally, I think there should be a balance between feeling comfortable telling the truth and being respectful. I feel like this forum is very good at fostering an environment where we can discuss writing and books openly and honestly, but bashing authors or genres is not acceptable. In my experience, that sort of social control can be lacking in fandom.

There really isn't a good venue for people to actually review fanfic, as in talk about it for the benefit of potential readers. There are venues for giving recommendations, but obviously people will only recommend fics that they liked.

shadowwalker
10-04-2012, 11:25 PM
I know a lot of people on AW consider fanfic to be a form of flattery, but most of the fanficcers I've come across in real life have uniformly gotten involved in order to "fix" what the creator got "wrong." That's not flattery. That's self-righteousness --usually accompanied by a hot mess of a story. No thank you.

I don't consider it self-righteous, but let's face it - especially with TV/movies, there are a lot of plot holes and misinformation. Staying within canon and fixing those can be a real challenge for a writer. And most writers aren't going to write a story based on something they hated. They love the show but aren't blind to the warts.

flowerburgers
10-04-2012, 11:29 PM
I love it and confess to having written some, but for me it's more of a guilty pleasure and for the most part I wouldn't consider it a "legitimate" avenue for writers, or a good way to learn how to write. I think it tends to be more sentimental than "real" writing, and fandom demographics/canon can sometimes prevent fanfic writers from delving into anything too experimental. Which is why I've never written a sprawling, existential bildungsroman about Sam Malone from Cheers, even though I totally want to. ;)

bearilou
10-04-2012, 11:30 PM
but most of the fanficcers I've come across in real life have uniformly gotten involved in order to "fix" what the creator got "wrong." That's not flattery. That's self-righteousness --usually accompanied by a hot mess of a story. No thank you.

Hmm.

When I was in fandom, the fanficcers I knew 'uniformly' got involved to make their favorite characters have sex and go on grand adventures that wouldn't have happened in the source. 'Fixing' anything wasn't on their radar. They just wanted more stories about the characters and in the world they loved.

Maybe that's not flattery either, but it sure isn't 'self-righteousness'.

Hot mess of a story is another issue altogether.

Hiroko
10-04-2012, 11:46 PM
I have known some fan fiction writers. It's an outlet, in my opinion, but not a serious one. They mostly seem to want to indulge in a fandom's universe with their own twists on it. I find this to be a start for original writing--practice, if you will.

DancingMaenid
10-05-2012, 12:18 AM
I know a lot of people on AW consider fanfic to be a form of flattery, but most of the fanficcers I've come across in real life have uniformly gotten involved in order to "fix" what the creator got "wrong." That's not flattery. That's self-righteousness --usually accompanied by a hot mess of a story. No thank you.

Well, first of all, this isn't the only motivation for writing fanfic.

But I don't think it's always self-righteous, either. First of all, a lot of the "fixing" is actually an effort to expand on things that the writers probably couldn't have expanded on. Especially with TV shows, where there are usually multiple writers and the episodes are written over a long period of time, sometimes there can be inconsistencies and plot holes. I don't think writing a fic to explain a plot hole or reconcile conflicting facts about a character is disrespectful to the writers.

I also think it's possible to write fic because you would like to see a different outcome without feeling like you are a better writer than the writer of the original.

When someone actually says they think they're the better writer, then yeah, that comes across as self-righteous. But those people are in the minority, in my experience.


I have known some fan fiction writers. It's an outlet, in my opinion, but not a serious one. They mostly seem to want to indulge in a fandom's universe with their own twists on it. I find this to be a start for original writing--practice, if you will.

How serious it is depends on the writer and what they consider "serious." I write fan fic for its own sake, not just as practice, and I plan to keep writing it even though I also write original fiction (and I started writing original fiction before I started writing fan fic).

heza
10-05-2012, 12:31 AM
I think it tends to be more sentimental than "real" writing, and fandom demographics/canon can sometimes prevent fanfic writers from delving into anything too experimental.

I think this is true of those who are writing fanfic just to be writing fanfic and who restrict themselves to catering to a certain audience within their fandom. Writers who are trying to improve their craft and are using their fic as workspace for doing so get out of it whatever they put into it. I've seen a lot of experimental writing and boundary pushing in my fandom.

Marian Perera
10-05-2012, 12:54 AM
Well, first of all, this isn't the only motivation for writing fanfic.

But I don't think it's always self-righteous, either. First of all, a lot of the "fixing" is actually an effort to expand on things that the writers probably couldn't have expanded on.

Exactly. Hasbro's approach to Transformers (G1, anyway) is going to be very different from my approach, because Hasbro used the show to sell toys to kids. The writers couldn't have gone deep into the mechanics or psychology of giant alien robots even if they had wanted to. I don't think I'm fixing what they got wrong, because we're writing for two completely different audiences, and what was fine for kids back in 1984 is not going to be ideal for adults in 2012.

Captcha
10-05-2012, 01:08 AM
I love it and confess to having written some, but for me it's more of a guilty pleasure and for the most part I wouldn't consider it a "legitimate" avenue for writers, or a good way to learn how to write. I think it tends to be more sentimental than "real" writing, and fandom demographics/canon can sometimes prevent fanfic writers from delving into anything too experimental. Which is why I've never written a sprawling, existential bildungsroman about Sam Malone from Cheers, even though I totally want to. ;)

Maybe it's different in different fandoms, but my experience has been the exact opposite of this. Freed from the demands of pleasing market-oriented editors, some fanfic writers are HIGHLY experimental and are doing really exciting, creative work.

I used to be frustrated that some fandom writers weren't pursuing profic careers; then I started selling my own writing and was relieved not to have the competition!

I think fandom is huge and therefore very hard to generalize about, but there are, at the very least, pockets in which people are doing some damn fine writing.

DancingMaenid
10-05-2012, 01:37 AM
Maybe it's different in different fandoms, but my experience has been the exact opposite of this. Freed from the demands of pleasing market-oriented editors, some fanfic writers are HIGHLY experimental and are doing really exciting, creative work.


This has been my experience, too. I've seen some interesting experimentation in fanfic.

I also find that it can be easier to cater to small niche "markets" with fanfic. No matter what you enjoy writing about, there's a decent chance that there will be other fans who will be interested in it. And there isn't a big risk with writing something different than what's already been done. Worse comes to worst, you won't get many readers. Best case scenario, people will think it's really cool that you did something different.


I think fandom is huge and therefore very hard to generalize about, but there are, at the very least, pockets in which people are doing some damn fine writing.

I think this is the best thing to take away from a discussion like this. You really can't generalize, in my opinion. There are many different kinds of people and writers in fandom, with different interests and motivations.

shadowwalker
10-05-2012, 01:38 AM
I think fandom is huge and therefore very hard to generalize about, but there are, at the very least, pockets in which people are doing some damn fine writing.

Agreed. I think, though it may take some time, one can find excellent writing in just about any fandom.

Cyia
10-05-2012, 01:54 AM
I don't think I'm fixing what they got wrong, because we're writing for two completely different audiences, and what was fine for kids back in 1984 is not going to be ideal for adults in 2012.

And some of us just want to cheer someone up who's having a bad day, so we write a crack!fic about what would happen if the Weasleys snuck a joint into the common room and no one magical could figure out what it was without testing it :D

Amadan
10-05-2012, 02:02 AM
I know a lot of people on AW consider fanfic to be a form of flattery, but most of the fanficcers I've come across in real life have uniformly gotten involved in order to "fix" what the creator got "wrong." That's not flattery. That's self-righteousness --usually accompanied by a hot mess of a story. No thank you.

That's not my experience. I've met a few like that, but not the majority.


Actually, I would say most "reviews" in fandom are more akin to talking to an author at a book signing. When people talk about "reviews" of fanfic, I find they usually mean comments that are posted on the work itself, for the writer to read. So I don't think criticism is necessary or should be expected, but I also don't see it as a venue for readers to say whatever they think. They're not directing their comments at other readers--they're having a dialogue with the writer. The difference is that with fanfic, the writers are much more accessible to talk to and you're all part of the same community.

It's true that reviews of fanfiction are a sort of currency for the author, but concrit is still legitimate, IMO. I've got no respect for fan ficcers who only want praise and throw tantrums when someone doesn't like what they write.

flowerburgers
10-05-2012, 03:01 AM
I think this is true of those who are writing fanfic just to be writing fanfic and who restrict themselves to catering to a certain audience within their fandom. Writers who are trying to improve their craft and are using their fic as workspace for doing so get out of it whatever they put into it. I've seen a lot of experimental writing and boundary pushing in my fandom.

Perhaps! I only have a few fandoms and they are all are tiny, so I guess my exposure is more limited. Out of curiosity, what sorts of experimental things have you seen and enjoyed?

DancingMaenid
10-05-2012, 04:26 AM
Perhaps! I only have a few fandoms and they are all are tiny, so I guess my exposure is more limited. Out of curiosity, what sorts of experimental things have you seen and enjoyed?

I'll let heza answer this for themselves, but if you don't mind, I'll touch on this, too.

A few examples I've noticed and liked:

* Use of language. I've seen people incorporate things like binary or computer programming languages into the title and narrative. I remember a while back, there was a thread on here where someone was debating whether or not to use special characters (or maybe binary letters? I can't recall) in the title of a story, and general consensus was that risky because it would be hard for readers to say or remember. With fic, this risk isn't as pronounced and I thought it was an interesting thing to try.

* Use of multimedia. I've seen fics that incorporated artwork or images. For example, including an image of a letter instead of having the text of said letter typed out.

* I've seen more use of present tense and second person in fic, sometimes to good effect (in my opinion).

* Taking the source material in a different or unconventional direction. A lot of fics are built around "What if?" questions, so there are some that delve into really interesting scenarios that you might never see happen in canon.

* I've seen some interesting examples of outsider points-of-view. That is, depicting the canon characters or world from the point of view of someone who isn't really involved. I remember reading a fic that was from the point-of-view of the main character's dry cleaner, for example.

* Writing fics for things that you really would not expect fan fic for. Yuletide, an annual secret santa-like exchange for fan fic for rare fandoms, is good for this. You'll have people write fic for things like commercials.

* A lot of people are dismissive of all the pairing off of characters that happens in fan fic, but I think it can be really interesting when it's done well. I like it when a writer takes a couple characters whom I really couldn't see together and writes them in a way that feels genuine and interesting.

_Sian_
10-05-2012, 09:10 AM
I remember one fic where the author had created twitter, Facebook and various other accounts for their characters, taken screen shots of what they wrote, and worked it into the story. It was amazing. People also create things like soundtracks, which brings another dimension to a written piece.

Also, second person. I don't always like it, but I do remember this one fic where I didn't even realise it was in second person until I got down to the bottom and read comments about the use of second person. It was amazingly good.

I've also read a lot of crap, but you can generally pick that up within the first couple of lines.

On pairings - I often think, if treated right, they're the ultimate what if. Some, I can't stand, because they would never actually work. Others... Well, I can totally imagine the current reincarnations of Sherlock and John Watson happening. Half the supportive cast in that show seems to think it's going on. And their personalities are so different that it's interesting to see how it would work.

Haikujitsu
10-05-2012, 05:11 PM
I know a lot of people on AW consider fanfic to be a form of flattery, but most of the fanficcers I've come across in real life have uniformly gotten involved in order to "fix" what the creator got "wrong." That's not flattery. That's self-righteousness --usually accompanied by a hot mess of a story. No thank you.

Some of the most compelling fics I've come across are ones that challenge something the author found problematic in canon--and yeah, think they can do better. Maybe there's an element of self-righteousness in that, but how is that different from the endless rants all over the internet?

This author could have just said "Renesmee and Jacob becoming a couple is messed up", but instead she illustrated her point by writing a story:

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4567400/1/Seven

and then took it a step further and deconstructed it the other way:

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4942443/1/Eighteen

It's using the story format to argue a point. People who do this get a lot more respect and attention from me than throwaway declarations of "this sucks!"

If you're going to disagree with an author, this is the way to do it, imho.

-Hj

onesecondglance
10-05-2012, 06:38 PM
I'm way too much of an egotist to allow for the possibility of someone else doing a better job with my story than I did.

heza
10-05-2012, 06:57 PM
I'll let heza answer this for themselves, but if you don't mind, I'll touch on this, too.

I know you used "themselves" because you don't know if I'm a gal or a dude, but it makes me want to refer to myself in the royal "we" for the rest of the day! ;)


Perhaps! I only have a few fandoms and they are all are tiny, so I guess my exposure is more limited. Out of curiosity, what sorts of experimental things have you seen and enjoyed?

Oh, there are so many things I've seen succeed in fanfic that just wouldn't have been acceptable in the publishing industry. It's really difficult to take those kinds of chances when you're so concerned about writing to standards that will make it past the gatekeepers. I think that's one of the things that entices me about self publishing. Being your only gatekeeper, you can take those risks. You might not have readers, depending on which risks you take, but at least you can still take them and still publish. In that regard, traditional publishing feels very sanitized.


So, the things I've enjoyed in fanfiction are things like:



Drabble series written to specific themes. This, in itself, is not all that experimental inside of fanfiction because it's pretty common. But I do consider it an art form in itself that can't really be practiced with much success if you're writing for traditional publishing.



Imagery saturation. In a fandom where your setting, characters, premises, motivations, and such are already so well known by your audience, you can really zero in certain aspects of your writing. So I've seen one-shots that were almost pure imagery or metaphor, that were beautiful and poignant and didn't need to be polluted with setup and explanations (which is what it would have felt like in those particular instances).



Prose written with extensive narrator intrusion... or even character interruption. There was a very amusing one I read once, where Characters 1 and 2 were plotting to hook up characters A and B. Narrative scenes of 1 and 2 failing miserably at hooking up were interrupted by dialog-only commentary by A and B, rehashing their plans and discussing where they went wrong. It was hilarious.



Prose told out of order (Tarantino-style) or switching POV in a structured but frequent way. Like a scene retold three times from three different character perspectives. Or even paragraph by paragraph between two characters.



I'll second second-person POV. It's so rare in commercial fiction, and a lot of people hate it, especially in book-length narrative. But I've seen it really done well in one-shots.



Extreme premise reconstructions (AU fic). I don't especially love reading them, but I do love that fanficcers feel free to write characters in different settings or different characters into the canon setting or new characters reminiscent of canon characters (like reincarnations) in totally alien settings. Purists think that's too OOC for fanfic sometimes, but I appreciate that writers are taking such leaps, and I have seen some of it I enjoyed.



Role reversals. Sometimes it's really interesting to watch characters trade places. What if Superman and Lex Luther had been born in each other's places? How would they have turned out? You want to see some major delving into the nitty gritty workings of characterization, find a good role swapping fic by someone who really understands the characters.



Narrative mixed with journal/song/FB/poetry. I read a wonderful love story, where the woman's side was present-tense narrative, but the man's side was past-tense journal entries, which she was reading. Only one character was actually present in the scene, but it felt entirely complete, like they were having actual dialog and at the end, you felt like their love was requited.



Dialog only stories. No attributions.



Narrative only (No dialog) about characters with no names mentioned but still written with such great characterization that you know exactly who is being described and what is going between them.

Not all of these examples would work in commercial fiction, but they're still risky, experimental approaches that are quite welcome in fanfic. And that's not even mentioning the plethora of things you can expand on canon content in a way that's totally respectable to canon--such as relating the story of an older character's youth based on hints from the original or extrapolating old-age stories for younger characters.

Marian Perera
10-06-2012, 03:14 AM
One of the experimental things I tried in fanfics was a story where the chapters described the first moments of the characters' lives. During that time the characters became self-aware, noticed their environment and learned their names. The story followed those changes from the molecular level on up, with each chapter climaxing in a character's declaration of his identity.

In the cartoon, that scene took a few seconds.

Kitty27
10-06-2012, 09:19 PM
I love fanfiction!

I have seen stories so good that the authors really should be working on novels!

I used to love to read Spike/Buffy fanfic back in the day. There was an author who wrote so beautifully that I was eagerly waiting for every chapter. The details,lush language and flow were awesome.

As an author,if anyone ever made a fanfic off my stories,I think I would explode from egotistical pleasure.

crunchyblanket
10-07-2012, 12:27 PM
As an author,if anyone ever made a fanfic off my stories,I think I would explode from egotistical pleasure.


Me too. It sounds bonkers, but if people start writing fanfic...and yes, even if they start slashing my characters....then I'll know I've arrived.

WritingIsHard
10-07-2012, 03:30 PM
Me too. It sounds bonkers, but if people start writing fanfic...and yes, even if they start slashing my characters....then I'll know I've arrived.This is exactly my feeling too.

I actually have "fanfiction ideas" about my own writing too. Romantic storylines that would never happen in my canon but would be interesting to explore, or even alternative universes with major canon things changed... I guess the normal thing for a writer to do is just pick the best option, but I don't see why I can't have it all :)

I have to say a lot of fanfic I read at the moment I read to get a breather from all the schlock that is published these days. Sometimes after reading another cliche-ridden male powerfantasy with a grizzled noir hero that speaks in soundbytes you just want some humor about Tony Stark and his roomba army defeating a supervillain by vacuuming really hard...

I think it's perfectly legitimate to see fanfic as the end goal and not a springboard for your "real" writing. It doesn't have anything to do with wanting or not wanting to get your writing to "another level" by writing original fic. It's just two different kinds of writing...

If you do decide to make a switch though, I think it's important to know the main difference between fanfic and original: fanfic is read by fans. They're already invested in the world, the characters, the relationship/etc. Moreover, the original creator already created all those things for you, so you have a springboard from which to launch your own thing. Original writing has to stand on its own, and that might be hard at first if you're used to working off someone else's blueprint. What fanfic does teach you is how to use language, construct a story, and (ideally) how to keep a character consistent.

So, yay fanfic! Really a shame I don't have the time to write anything not-original anymore >_<

crunchyblanket
10-07-2012, 03:58 PM
I actually have "fanfiction ideas" about my own writing too. Romantic storylines that would never happen in my canon but would be interesting to explore, or even alternative universes with major canon things changed... I guess the normal thing for a writer to do is just pick the best option, but I don't see why I can't have it all
Sometimes, when I hit a brick wall, I take my characters and shove them in an improbable situation. I write them in scenarios that would never happen to them. It can be a useful exercise in both breaking through writer's block and getting to know the characters a little better.

LeslieB
10-08-2012, 07:28 AM
Me too. It sounds bonkers, but if people start writing fanfic...and yes, even if they start slashing my characters....then I'll know I've arrived.

Doesn't sound bonkers to me. I have the same attitude. If someone is writing fanfic based on my work, it means someone *cares*!

_Sian_
10-08-2012, 04:50 PM
I'm pretty sure I imagine the fanfic before I imagine the full and totally story. I've got this whole collection of scenes in my mind that have nothing to do with the actual story, but they definitely come first.

heza
10-08-2012, 06:28 PM
Me too. It sounds bonkers, but if people start writing fanfic...and yes, even if they start slashing my characters....then I'll know I've arrived.

My day is 100% better this morning because I got a review over the weekend that someone made fanart of my fanfic. ;) Not quite the same as getting fanfic of your original work, but a pretty darn big ego boost, just the same.

Cyia
10-08-2012, 07:36 PM
My day is 100% better this morning because I got a review over the weekend that someone made fanart of my fanfic. ;) Not quite the same as getting fanfic of your original work, but a pretty darn big ego boost, just the same.


YES! It's amazing to think that something connected with a total stranger to the point that they took time out of their day to create their own something to celebrate it!

Anninyn
10-08-2012, 07:55 PM
I went through a brief flirtation with fanfic, before the internet opened up places to post it up (I was quite young) but very quickly went on to playing in my own house.

I have no real problems with it. I get a bit twitch when it goes from 'fan work' to 'plagirasing' (and there are fanficcers who jsut rip off other peoples work without attribution, some of whom have gone on to be published) and I dislike 'fanfic with the serial numbers filed off published as original work' - I find it unethical. But the desire to play with other peoples worlds, to tell 'what-if' stories and cover areas the author can't? Wonderful.

I think I'd feel... weird, if someone fanficced my work. Flattered, but strange, especially if they were doing erotic works, and even more so if those erotic works involved sexual fetishes that I find unpleasant or offputting - but ultimately I'll have engaged a person to the level that they wrote that. That makes me a success.

Marian Perera
10-09-2012, 01:33 AM
YES! It's amazing to think that something connected with a total stranger to the point that they took time out of their day to create their own something to celebrate it!

I have a friend who's written quite a few fanfics. One of her fans printed all her fics, bound them into a book and designed a pretty cover for it. Not to sell, just for that fan to have and read.

My friend was thrilled. :)

Filigree
10-09-2012, 01:48 AM
I know several fans who had their work printed and bound, for donation pieces to charity auctions. It's something I'm considering for the future.

Jess Haines
10-09-2012, 11:50 PM
I used to write fanfic. Buffy, EverQuest, and a few other fandoms back in the late 90's.

I'm glad my name isn't associated with them anymore, because when I looked at one of them recently, I wanted to kill it with fire. :tongue

Writing the stuff was fun, and a good writing exercise as a teen, but I'm not sure that it did much other than give me the practice I needed to learn how to type fast(er) and think of plot resolutions on the fly.

Lissibith
10-10-2012, 07:15 PM
Writing fanfic was the first thing that made me think clearly about the web of a character's personality - their history as it interacts with their current circumstances as it interacts with their personality as it interacts with their associates, and how each of those aspects pulls on the others. Because you're writing someone the reader is probably already familiar with, and while you can take some liberties, they have to make sense within the characterization or you WILL hear about it.

Before starting to write fanfic (at age 20, sorry, not a teenage girl) my fiction just sort of let the characters be who they would be, but the result was a character who changed depending on what I wanted the story to be, not a character who made the decisions that were right for them and moving the plot around that. Fanfic really impressed on me the importance of that authenticity of character. :)

Of course, on the flip side my fanfic was never as good as my original work, technically speaking. But my friends enjoyed it a whole lot more. One friend liked a piece I wrote for her so much, she included it in a little bound book of her own work that she made for herself and a few close friends. Higher praise than the stories I've gotten traditionally published, if I'm being honest.