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George r.r. Martin’s 20 quotes on writing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ankari, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    This is the quote, pulled from the article:

    I'm not saying you're responding to anything specific in that comment, and I understand your assertion that he is against fan fiction. However, and this is speculation, couldn't he be against fan fiction for the reasons stated above ( or at least partially due to those reasons)?

    I think he makes a valid point. To exercise the creative muscles necessary to produce great fantasy, an author needs to create. This makes so much sense to me. If I'm borrowing characters, their relationships with others, settings, etc. how much creative work am I really doing? How much growth as a writer will I truly gain?

    In my view, one of the hardest parts of being a writer is sitting down to the blank page and hammering out a story that has never been written before with characters of my own creation, in events and settings of my making. I don't have any problem with fan-fiction if that's what someone wants to do. However, it seems a far easier road considering the writing will begin with an established framework. As such, I don't see how the fanfic author will progress as quickly as the one who creates everything from nothing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
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  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    George Martin doesn't like fanfic. I read a blog post of his about it, in defense of Diana Gabaldon, who is also against it and who wrote a blog post about it that started as follows:



    I'm not a fan of it personally. I don't read it or write it, and I think a writer learns a lot more by working on their own original material. The arguments that fanfic writing is a net gain as opposed to original fiction when it comes to learning how to write are bogus, in my view.

    Still, I don't have a problem with people writing it if they enjoy it. But they should just say they write it because they enjoy it and leave it at that, rather than trying to convince us that it's a better way to learn to write than by writing your own original material. It's not.
     
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  3. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    What I find the most amusing is that he mentioned playing video games when he's had enough of writing for the day. Good to know one can never get too old for that. :D

    Edit: About the fanfic, people are going to do it anyway. I don't know how I'd feel if one day I were to see some of it on my own work. Gauging the journey from writer to author being a steep one, yeah I can see myself thinking of it as stealing. But in another way, it seems harmless because it can't be published. And its not a good thing to write if you want to improve your skill. Growth happens from our own creations, our own hero's journey to being published.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2013
  4. Tirjasdyn

    Tirjasdyn Scribe

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    On 3#.

    What he describes doing is actually an outline. Huh. An outline doesn't have to be a play by play of a story. Most outlines are a "I have a broad sense of where the story is going; I know the end, I know the end of the principal characters, and I know the major turning points and events from the books, the climaxes for each book".

    Just sayin.
     
  5. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Interesting quotes. I think new writers who read these sorts of things need to read it critically. Nobody is going to agree or disagree 100% about someone else's point of view or journey as a writer.

    With regards to fan fiction - Robin Hobb once said she felt fan fic writers were 'raping' her characters, if I am remembering the quote correctly.

    It's being published online, whether on fanfic.net (is that the correct site?) or a blog or elsewhere. It's more about whether it's clear that it was done as a piece of fan work and not written or endorsed by the author of the original world and characters.

    I'm not for or against fan fiction in general. But I am not sure how I would react if somebody wrote about my characters and my world. I think I would be curious to see how my world was interpreted by someone else, but as far as my characters and creations go, I might feel protective. In general I would expect the writer to say how they deviated from the world and what their take is on it/the character. It'd be a shame if someone judged a novel or story by someone's famous fan fic. I would also be quite annoyed if they made the character do something very much out of character. That sounds paranoid, doesn't it! I can seriously see where the authors are coming from.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I don't think the authors think or fear that people will try to publish the work. But it does one thing that really hurts the author, and that is it can cut the author's ideas off at the pass. What I mean by this is if some fan fic writer starts toying with ideas and throws a work out there with say elements A,B, and C, and the author who never read the fan fic just so happens to writing a story with elements A, B, and C, now this results in a problem for the author.

    When and if the author publishes the story with elements A, B, and C, the fan fic writer may decide the author stole their idea and may try to sue. OR this may make the author abandon their story because they don't want to be sued thus wasting hundreds of hours of work.

    Think about it. How many of us have done work developing a story only to realize something very similar has already been published? This usually causes some trouble. Either we abandon the story or we work to change it into something less similar. But regardless of if it turns out well, it still sucks having to do extra work through no fault of your own.
     
  7. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    True. However, in the age of information this potential is not solely in the the realm of fan-fiction. Forums, even ours, postulate all the time on what will happen in popular stories. These days, everyone has a theory on where popular stories are headed. Although, in those cases, the people posting theories are not likely to claim any responsibility for the idea.
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'm confused. I didn't think that ideas could be copywrited. If someone were to write fanfiction about my characters, wouldn't I be perfectly within my rights to steal all their ideas as long as I didn't use their words?
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Depending on how you went about it you could be OK legally, but you'd probably look like a hack to your readers and it would damage your reputation, I would think. People would wonder why you can't come up with your own ideas instead of 'stealing' them from fanfic writers.
     
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  10. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    The problem isn't a legal one (usually; there's always been that minority who see themselves having any contact with a writer as proof that they were robbed), it's that it's awkward to find yourself writing what the fans have already tried. It's constraining if you hear about slightly-matching fanfic before you publish, and embarassing if you hear it after-- and I guess it would be crippling if you had trouble forgetting fanfic ideas and started second-guessing yourself.

    Then again, this is tricky stuff. The "there's only five plots" arguments are always true, and always meaningless, depending on how you look at them. Spider Robinson did a story ("Melancholy Elephants") where a great composer was heartbroken to realize the beautiful song he wrote for his wedding night stole the melody from an old folk tune.

    I suppose one point is that the more fanfic (and fiction in general) is written --and shared, in our connected world-- the more cramped all creativity gets, period. But since it's impossible to turn back that clock, we might as well get more used to knowing stories that have gross similarities to others.
     
  11. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Not that this is an issue for me since no one, to the best of my knowledge, is writing fanfic about my stuff, but I was more interested in the legal aspects.

    As to the other, I think we all "steal" ideas from all kinds of sources all the time. Am I somehow a lesser writer because I take a beta reader suggestion to modify my plot?

    EDIT: My main beta reader probably feels I have the opposite problem; I don't take enough of his suggestions :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'm talking about perceptions. No one is going to know that you made a change due to beta reader input except you and your beta readers. If there was a fanfic of your work up on some fanfic site and your next book basically took that story and rewrote it as your own, I bet a lot of unflattering commentary would spread around the internet in a hurry and it wouldn't be helpful to your reputation in the long run.

    As for legalities - there could be some issues, but it is highly fact-specific and not the most well-settled area of law. I suspect there would at least be enough there for the fanfic writer to get past summary judgment if they tried to sue you.
     
  13. Mara Edgerton

    Mara Edgerton Troubadour

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    I don't agree with GRRM's stand on fanfic. Heck, I can't wait for the day when people write fanfic on my stories--what an amazing compliment for people to want to play in your sandbox! My main characters are already LGBT, so obviously I don't mind slash, but I can't wait to see what unusual pairings fans come up with. :D

    In fact--I won't feel I've really made it as an author until I see fan fics of my stories on LJ, AO3, and Fanfic.net. :)
     
  14. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I suppose the more provocative side of the fanfic/hate cycle is really the "sausage-making principle" in three forms. Unless you're one of the fans and into it, it can be painful to see too much of:

    • A newbie's learning to write, practiced on beloved characters
    • Fandom's odder desires about what the characters "should really be like" (hello, 'shippers!)
    • The author's resentment, if he actually shows some of his protectiveness in public.

    It's not pretty-- but no better and no worse than that.
     
  15. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    To be fair, I played a bit with Skyrim fanfics a short time just for fun. Since I started writing by creating my own work, it kind of always felt like it was disposable and that my time was better spent focusing on my own stuff. So I don't write it anymore. My whole view on fanfic has changed since I've gotten serious about my own work. First of all, its not my universe. Second of all, my universe is much more exciting. And there's no replacement for the amount of growth a writer goes through when creating their own universes, characters, and story lines. We can't control what other people do, only our reactions to it. Personally, I think writing fanfiction is ultimately a waste of resources and time...but that's just my opinion. I wouldn't go calling my fans names and accusing them of moral crimes if fanfic was written on my work. I think it makes authors look bad when they do that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2013
  16. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    This should probably become a separate forum. I think there was a discussion about fan fic somewhere?

    With the evolving internet comes new challenges. It's not just challenging for journalism, but for all writers. But exciting, too, with new opportunities.
     
  17. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Great quotes. Like almost all of them. :)
     
  18. Daichungak

    Daichungak Minstrel

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    This is how I read it.
     
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