Saturday, April 6

F - Fanfiction

I'm not going to completely rehash old news. I will however provide a couple of links from people who have made arguments about fanfiction.
  1. Diana Gabledon (who is fervently against fanfiction)
  2. George R.R. Martin (who also dislikes it)
  3. Robin Hobb took down her original post about the evils of fanfiction, but as we all know, once word is out, once a page is up, it never truly goes away...
  4. Then there's the other side of the coin, a cautionary tale, well told by author Jim Hines (regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley).
  5. And on the other end of the spectrum (although she's not alone) here are Anne McCaffrey's Rules for Fanfiction involving her works and worlds. I thought it might be nice to end on a nice note, before taking off into my own thoughts.
And actually, I *am* going to quote and discuss Ms. Hobb's words a bit, not to rehash or stir up the cauldron, but because her arguments aren't unique. I do, however, think they're wrong.  Okay, here's the quote (the bold is the general statement about fanfiction that Ms. Hobb is responding to, the italics is her response. I'll keep my post in plain ol' text).
 “Fan fiction is a good way for people to learn to be writers.”
 No. It isn’t. If this is true, then karaoke is the path to become a singer
I don't think I could disagree more if I tried. I know several good singers who love karoke; it gives them a chance to get in front of an audience and practice singing with people staring at them, which can be pretty unnerving. It's a chance to get over stage fright...kind of like singing in the school choir, which, by the way doesn't require you to write your own songs either.
coloring books produce great artists, and all great chefs have a shelf of cake mixes. Fan fiction is a good way to avoid learning how to be a writer. Fan fiction allows the writer to pretend to be creating a story, while using someone else’s world, characters, and plot.
Not all fanfiction is well written, no arguments there. But seriously, I've written over 200,000 words of Torchwood fiction; don't tell me there isn't a story line!  The only short cut is using someone else's world and characters (which actually helped me get a better handle on writing dialogue). I've read very few fanfiction stories that didn't have original plots (some wildly so), seeing as to most of us, that's kinda the point.
Coloring Barbie’s hair green in a coloring book is not a great act of creativity. Neither is putting lipstick on Ken. Fan fiction does exactly those kinds of things. 
Seriously? It's not creative to color Barbie's hair green? (And by the way, I'm an artist and I started out coloring in coloring books, kinda like most little kids I know. It's no guarentee, but I think I was on to something when I decided that *this* picture was going to be in all different blue and *that one* all different shades of red. A creative child will be creative with whatever medium is set before them).

The first step to becoming a writer is to have your own idea. Not to take someone else’s idea, put a dent in it, and claim it as your own. You will learn more from writing one story of your own, no matter how bad it is, than the most polished Inuyasha fan fiction that you write.
No, the first step to becoming a writer is to write. It's learning basic grammar and sentence structure, plotting, dialogue, character development, tension, story arc, etc. ANYBODY can have an idea, it's exicuting it that becomes trickly.
Which pretty much sums up where I stand on fanfiction and why I support it...but there's more.
I read somewhere else (and for the life of me I can't find the link) that fanfiction is a waste of time. It's no more a waste of time than playing baseball or chess or watching your favorite TV show--in fact, I think it's less a waste of time than the latter, because you're accomplishing something even if it's something that only makes you, the writer, happy.

Now, definitely do not misunderstand, authors have just as much right to their opinions as the next guy and certainly saying, hey this is copyright infringement is totally legit. Even saying, "I would really appreciate it if you didn't write it" is perfectly fine. But sometimes what authors say is a bit over the top. Gabledon said something to the effect of "it's one thing for fans to like red headed men and another for one of them to try and seduce my husband" when speaking of fanfic's equating someone who writes a story about one of her characters or otherwise set in her world with that aome someone trying to get Mr. Gabledon into bed?! Forgive me for being dense, but I just don't see the connection. I love my characters, but I'm not married to them, they aren't even real! (By the way, I met the lady once very briefly and by all accounts she was both sweet and gracious, although of course I didn't bring up the subject of fanfiction.)

I also certainly understand that there are legal ramifications, although I don't actually equate writing fanfiction with stealing. In order to steal something, you have to take a thing away from someone else in such a way that it is no longer theirs. I'm totally mind-boggled about this concept that some writers have that  fanfiction infringes on their livlihood. That doesn't make it any less of a legal gray area (or maybe not so gray, because copyright exists for a reason), I'm just saying that my Torchwood fic hadn't taken any money out of Russle T. Davies' bank account and I know for a fact I brought a couple of viewers to NCIS because of my crossover stories. I don't think anyone else's fanfiction has stopped fans from buying the original novels, either.

Here's an interesting collection of pro and against authors and some of the things they've said. Click Here. Personally, I thing that attitudes on the subject are changing for the better. If you don't believe me, you are aware that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as fanfiction, right? (And of all the irony, it now has fanfiction stories based on it).



Pickleweasel said...

Thanks for all the links (so much care about copyright and it's interesting how some authors harp on the legal aspect more and how some honestly acknowledge that they don't want their babies harmed, so to speak). I appreciated your own thoughts, and I honestly don't have much of substance to add... just to say that writing fanfiction has introduced me to amazing people, including some of my closest friends, that my writing has improved in leaps and bounds by writing fanfiction, that my confidence for creating my own characters has increased, etcetera!

H.B. Pattskyn said...

I met one of my dearest friends through writing fanfiction and a whole bunch of really wonderful acquaintences who have totally made my life richer and much happier. I definitely would not have started writing original fiction again if it weren't for the encouragement of some of my fanficiton readers.

I respect the copyright infringement arguement, but I totally think some authors are attached to their characters in ways that might not be so healthy. I mean sure, they're my babies, but if someone else wants to borrow them and play, that's fine with me. I genuinely believe that any creative pursuit is worthwhile and I got some amazing feedback from readers that made a much stroner writer.

Jyl22075 said...

I don't know that I have anything to add, but I really enjoyed your post. There was a time when I read fan fiction almost exclusively. There are some amazing stories out there. The fact that someone would enjoy a persons work enough to want to write stories about it, should be flattering.

I rarely read fanfic now, but I'll always have a soft spot for it as it's how I came to read m/m romance in the first place. I know two fanfic authors that went on to publish from my somewhat small fandom and they are both very talented writers.

H.B. Pattskyn said...

I don't read much fanfiction these days, either, I just don't have the time (saddly, I have even less time to write it). But my stories are still archived on the ones that have serious grammer/spelling/formatting issues. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think we've already talked about fanfiction at some point, though I can't remember for sure. But I know that if someone were to want to write a story from Neyem, I'd just be flattered, frankly. Nothing makes me feel more honored than known that I have touched someone so much that they just can't walk away from my world.

To me, people who have such a fit over fanfiction just sound... selfish and self-centered. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but it seems like they're saying that no one else could ever possibly treat their characters right and that just makes me kind of boggle.

I have... *pauses to count* 38 fanfiction stories posted on (my account got pulled) and I think there are a couple elsewhere that I never put on aff. Those stories have a total of well over 300 chapters of writing. I can see massive improvement in my own writing from my first stories to the most recent postings. Just because I'm using another person's world and characters does NOT mean that there's no creativity or learning to be done.

You're still working on dialog. Research. There is still plot and character development.

I agree, there is some very bad fanfiction out there. Really horrid stuff. I've shuddered at what I've come across, but honestly? I've seen bad stuff that's published original fiction, too. (Not yours, of course.)

I don't believe for one minute that it takes original work to improve.

Thank you for a lovely post. :D

Amber said...

Thank you for the links, I actually didn't know alot about the various view points. I remember reading a lot of hot debate about fanfics on Dearauthor about Dreams Spinner Press last year but didn't know about Hobb's rant. She is one of my favorite authors but honestly her rant is a real turn off :( Even if you aren't a fanfic writer I think everyone has there own way of looking at a story or imagining different endings or twists in a plot but Hobb obviously DOES NOT want anyone doing that, her words are perfect o_O

I can't help but think authors' dislike of fanfic is more about ego than about money. They just use the copyright card for the moral high ground, since it does sound childish to say no one can play in my world by MEEEEEEEE. The Japanesse have kind of shown that Fanfic can help not deter sales.

I think the Japanese manga industry has the right idea by using the fanfic author's to keep interest alive in their products while the author/artist works on original material. Or even expand the market by niche material the the original author won't write but a fanfic author would creating more interest in the original stuff. When you consider most books especially a good fantasy book can take over a year or more to create that is a long time for people to remember a series and I think fan-works help keep the interest active.

Personal I don't read fanfics much. I think I've read maybe three or four. Although I did write 1 multichaper one and 1 short one. Ironically I do like to "respect", as Hobb put it, the author and see the character true to their sexual preference and character traits. I certainly won't want Henry from you book to turn straight :P or see Fitz from Hobb's turn gay. Most fanfic tend to focus on such changes and I don't have the patience to wade through the sites looking for ones that say use a author world and create all original characters or use all the original characters, stay true to them, but use a ALT universe.

I'm not much of writer since I gave it up but I always found creating worlds and characters the best part of writing so doing fan fics never really appealed to me as much.