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Fanfiction: Good or Bad??

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Devora, Sep 29, 2012.

Good or bad?

Poll closed Nov 5, 2012.
  1. Good

    10 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Neutral

    15 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. Bad

    5 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. Devora

    Devora Sage

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    I've read that many writers dislike fanfiction, and loathe when people write using their material as a basis for their fanfics.

    I'll admit that I've read some pretty bad fanfiction, some that are just plain porn writing with fluff, but I've read some damn good fanfics that made me feel like they should have been part of the source material (and I've also read others that are so good that i questioned why the writer couldn't have made his own characters to tell the story since it seems like it comes into it's own!).

    What is your opinion on fanfiction?

    How would you feel if your stories were used for someone's fanfic?
     
  2. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    I wrote Fallout fanfiction when I was starting out. It helps not having to worry about developing a world and, with an RPG like that with a faceless/nameless/voiceless protagonist (ala Skyrim, Dark Souls, etc), you're not really using other peoples' characters.

    So I don't have a problem with it and, if I'm ever famous enough to have people write fan fiction using my work, I'd just be plain old flattered. I don't get the hate for it, to be honest. It's basically just fans expressing their love for the work. I mean, yes, some can be horrible works of literature torture, but so what? It's not like it has any actual relation to the work itself.
     
  3. Agran Velion

    Agran Velion Minstrel

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    In some ways, I think fanfiction is a great exercise for writing. Since you already have the characters that you like, you don't have to spend time creating them (She he do this? I don't know if he's strong enough, or if he's a coward!), and the world building is already done, so you don't have to worry about if this island should be that close to the mainland (because if they were they'd have raiding parties there) or if the Dwarves should be moved less they dig a tunnel under the Elflands as a prank.

    It's also a good challenge to try and write someone else's characters. When they're yours, you can more or less handwave everything in the first draft, but if they're already established then you have to constantly question and say, "No no, Bela wouldn't go do that. She has to be forced to do it in order to show how much she doesn't like stuff despite being good at it." I've always loved reading fanfiction where I can say, "Yes, I could definitely imagine the character doing that."

    That being said, it is a bit depressing reading fanfiction that has very little to do with the original material. I've seen way too much "All human! No vampires! School fanfiction!" as a description for stories. Or when they force characters to do something that is completely out of character (without a proper explanation). If I'm ever blessed enough to actually have fanfiction, I fear that they may see a relationship that isn't there. "Of course they'd be in a relationship! They're adopted brothers and really close!"


    Of course, if I do get fanfiction written about my work, I'll probably be too busy trying to pay off the deals I made with that cult to worry about my characters being portrayed wrong.
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I wouldn't mind if anyone wrote fanfic about my work. I think it might handicap the writer in a way, because they get skip some of the necessary steps. As Agran points out, it might also allow focus on a specific problem area.
     
  5. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Apologies in advance to any fanfic writers for this rant.

    I don't like fanfiction. It's lazy, unimaginative, and ludicrously self-indulgent. Of course no one fanfic is ALL of those things, but most fanfic is at least one of them. I had books and shows I loved as a kid, and I still do. They inspired me to write. But did I use their characters and worlds? No. I came up with my own! Fanfic is a shortcut for those too lazy or feeble to do the heavy lifting of coming up with their own world and characters, or else for those who have the talent but lack confidence in their own creativity and want to play it safe by piggybacking on others.

    If someone did fanfiction of my work, I'd be flattered, but also disappointed that they didn't have the will or confidence to do their own thing.
     
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  6. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Frankly, I don't see why, say, The Letters of Mina Harker gets to be considered mature and intelligent fiction, but the story I'm betaing that takes apart the social inequalities on display in My Little Pony doesn't get to, despite arguably being better-written. (I asked the author of the latter why she didn't write original fic, given that she's practically the bastard child of Borges and Orwell, and she said that she preferred to take apart other people's stories and reconstruct them in unrecognizable forms. In other words, she does exactly what Dodie Bellamy did to Dracula in Harker, exactly what Gregory Maguire did to The Wizard of Oz in Wicked, and even arguably what Gen Urobuchi did to Cardcaptor Sakura in Madoka Magica.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
    saellys likes this.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Well, it is one thing to say you are doing those things with fanfiction and another to pull it off. Most fanfic I've seen is so ham-handed and all around horrible that the author's protestations about "deconstruction" or any other such pursuits fall on deaf ears. The fanfic fails at doing it effectively and fails in other ways as well.

    If you have a "fanfic" that is an extremely well done and insightful commentary on the original, then that's another story. But I don't see many of those.
     
  8. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    Maybe you just don't look in the right places. Through Sessalisk, I've been introduced to the larger world of MLP fanfiction, and it's almost alarming how many good writers you can find on FIMfiction. (It's true that the toplist is by no means a measure of quality--you also get a large degree of harmless fluff and faffing about--but I do not regret the time I've spent there, and I think I've learned a few things about writing.)
     
  9. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I'm curious. Are the D&D, Warhammer, and World of Warcraft considered fanfiction?
     
    saellys likes this.
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'm not a fan of using other people's characters. I think the characters usually get butchered, often deliberately so, and I don't see that as being very useful to the authors.

    I do think it's helpful to write with your own characters in a shared world. Worldbuilding can be a chore if you're starting out.
     
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Not if they are officially licensed writers. Fanfic is written by someone other than the owners of the rights to the IP. That's my view of it. In the case of public domain works it can be a little more blurry.
     
  12. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    If what you say is true, your friend is wasting her talent. Also, your comments have helped me figure out why I absolutely hate Wicked so much.
     
  13. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with everything Mindfire has said in this thread.

    If you want to be good at writing, you have to do all the steps. All of them. That means building your set, making your characters, etc.
     
    Mindfire likes this.
  14. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    Not only have I come to agree with Mindfire, but I don't even find writing fanfiction that fun. You have to work within the limits of the franchise's world and characterization unless you don't mind irate fans screaming at you for your unfaithfulness to canon. I'd rather create my own worlds and characters and write my own rules, thank you very much. Furthermore, some franchises are loaded with tons of canon material that you have to research. I pity the budding author who wants to write Naruto fanfiction without having watched every single episode of the anime or read every single issue of the manga.
     
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  15. Weaver

    Weaver Sage

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    It's difficult for me to keep my response to this question short, as I am inclined to talk at great length when I feel strongly about a topic. So, the short answer:

    I'd be very angry.

    Y'see, I feel very protective of my characters (even though I frequently cause bad things to happen to them myself, because that's my job), and I do not ever want a stranger inventing all sorts of lies about these imaginary people I care about.

    Many people argue that fan fiction is good practice. Okay, so it allows a writer to make up a plot without having to invent the characters and setting. Whatever. We're not required to share with the world everything we write. Practice all you like, but keep it to yourself.

    Many people argue that fan fiction is flattering to the author of the original work. I'd be a lot more flattered if my stories inspired someone to create their own rather than attempting to lay claim to mine.
     
  16. Alva

    Alva Scribe

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    Well, I've never bothered to write fanfiction and I've only rarely bother to read any. But still, I have nothing against it. Well written fanfiction should be regarded as dialogue with the original work, not only doing it easy and low and somehow benefitting from the already imagined places and ideas and characters.

    And really, fanfiction is nothing new under the sun. I think that there is lot fiction that most people aren't even recognizing as fanfiction since these works have been written with enough reason and skill. Nowadays, Internet has made it possible for even the laziest and lousiest writers to find their audience, but really... fanfiction is absolutely nothing new.

    For instance: There is a possibility that Cervantes wouldn’t have written a(n official) sequel to his Don Quixote hadn’t a pseudonym "Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda" created a fanfiction out of the original story in the fist place. And I know, even Cervantes himself didn’t approve the aforementioned pseudonym's efforts, but at least there was dialogue happening between the two and Cervantes hitting back. : D

    A bit similar example can be found from early Finnish literature history in a form of a novel "Det gÃ¥r an" (1839) written by Carl Jonas Almqvist. It was a defence for free love and a deliberate critique against the original texts written by author J. V. Snellman. In 1940 Snellman published his own “sequel” called: Det gÃ¥r an. En tafla ur lifvet, fortsättning, and made it quite clear that he – like Cervantes – hadn’t really approved the interference. (Even though I’ve understood Almqvist's work was way more serious-minded than de Avellaneda’s.) Since I haven’t read Almqvist's Det gÃ¥r an, I had to refresh my memory and find information on it... and, as I found out, had to admit that such a task was a tad bit troublesome. In any case, during this quest I stumbled upon Wiki-article and this time I think an excerpt from Wikipedia (forgive me! D :") proved out to be a better summary on the essentials than I'm capable of giving here and now:

    ”The novel is primarily an attack on lifelong marriage as an institution and the inability of women to become financially independent. The book's social tendency aroused lively debate and "det-gÃ¥r-an literature" became a concept. One consequence however was that Almqvist was forced out of his post as rector at the New Elementary School, Stockholm.”

    An(other?) example of well-written and thoughtful fanfiction is Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). It’s a response to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and offers a backstory for one of the Brönte’s original characters: the mad lady of the tower. I’ve actually read Sargasso Sea (had to read it for a course at uni) and it’s such an interesting piece of fanfiction that I’d be honored if anybody showed such a philosophical attitude while reading my work. What comes to Jane Eyre it’s still sitting on my booklist but I’m definitely going to read it. And soon. I just have to see myself how Brontë originally represented the mad woman, locked up high in "her" high and lonely tower.

    What comes to the modern fanfiction and my understanding of it, I'm quite disappointed. As far as I know books such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (2009) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) are nothing more than examples of unimaginative pranks on the original works. I haven't made acquaintance with these works myself, but I’ve came to understand that all the effort shown in the making of these novels is the capacity to use copy-paste and add something “sea-monsterish” and “zombieish” here and there within the original text.

    Nonetheless, I’d guess contributing to the evergrowing amount of mainstream fanfiction nowadays is, at least, a way to get feedback. One doesn’t need to share their innermost, unpublished - and uncopyrighted - ideas to the whole world and still they can share their takes on fiction writing. Of course there are a lot of people who hardly meet the standards of readable fiction - if at all - but at least these people are still writing. It’s something. And hopefully it’s dialogue.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  17. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I guess what it comes down to for me is that I, personally, don't have any creativity to waste, and I don't think I'm a bad writer. I'm not arrogant enough to think that blending elements of twenty different stories into a work that can pass as "original" makes me better than someone who rearranges and redefines elements of just one.

    P.S. Mindfire, when this story is complete, I will send you a link. Please read it, and then you can call it a waste of talent all you want.
     
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  18. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I personally am a huge fan of Wicked, though I thought the book had far too much needless sex, gore and politics; I much prefer the musical. Even so, it's a fascinating look at a classic story from the villain's point of view, showing her struggles to be a good person despite being branded as wicked by practically everyone, and her every attempt at goodness blowing up in her face. For those who claim it ruins their view of the original Wizard of Oz, it's not much of a stretch to think of it as propaganda written by the eponymous Wicked Witch, to make herself look like more of a good guy (or girl) than a villain.
     
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  19. Alva

    Alva Scribe

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    Hmm. I think there are cases that have proven it hard at times to differentiate between "mere" fanfiction and original thinking. I won't go into lenghts this time, either, but I've already listed some examples in my post above...

    All I'm saying is that a dialogue between two works of art can be as meaningful and even necessary as any dialogue in any field of human interest. Plus, poor fanfiction is not (in itself) taking anything away from the original work. As a reader, I don't go into hating some fiction just because I've read bad fanfiction out of it. On the other hand, well written and thoughtful fanfiction can be a positive thing - even from the point of view of the original story.

    Nonetheless, I can also relate to your opinion and especially to your feelings concerning on the topic. : )
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  20. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'm not a fan of it and I've never had the desire to read any. I think fan fic is the equivalent of "writer karaoke." Yeah, you can go to karaoke and sing brilliantly, but at the end of the day, you're still singing someone else's song. I see it as something fun to do, like karaoke. If people are going to write fan fic anyway, then they should just have fun with it. If a writer gets annoyed that someone is butchering their characters, then they have that right. Some writers have said they don't care, while others are sort of insulted that someone is using their IP to do all sorts of bizarre things to their characters.

    I'm sure Journey isn't happy with millions of people butchering "Don't Stop Believing." Or maybe they are? :)
     
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