1. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    Is this AU fanfiction of "The Desert Song" or original fiction?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Morwen Edhelwen, Jun 13, 2012.

    One of the stories I'm working on right now (second to the first one, which I can describe as Evita meets The Boys From Brazil in alternate futuristic mob-ruled Cuba) is a YA fantasy novel loosely inspired by the Sigmund Romberg operetta The Desert Song (I'm a huge musical geek. The story is a commentary on the racism in the original, which has great songs. As an 18 year old Chinese Australian girl, the story has always felt really problematic to me)

    The hero in my story, the Red Shadow, a leader of outlaws in a nomadic desert ethnic group inspired by Bedouins in a fantasy country that combines aspects of Morocco and Egypt (I'm doing research to make it culturally accurate) is inspired by the hero of the operetta (also called the Red Shadow). He's an Arab chieftain who falls in love with Margot Bonvalet, a bounty hunter/mercenary raised in his country, after infiltrating the French fort disguised as a cameleer and gets closer to her to get information to his rebel band. Would anyone else other than me consider this original fiction rather than AU fanfiction of The Desert Song? (someone will probably post that they started singing as soon as they read this post.)
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not familiar with the operetta at all, but based on your description (the way you've worded it), it sounds like you're just giving the operetta's characters a bit of a makeover. Now, that may be because you're over-sensitive to any (even the smallest) similarities and so that's crept into your post, or it could be because that's all you've really done. I think you'd need someone familiar with the original to give your piece a look-see.
     
  3. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    If you (in general) are familiar with the operetta, would you consider the description in Post#1 to be a description of an AU fanfic? ETA: I'm sort of in-between on fanfiction. I understand why people want to do it, but then I understand why some people hate it too.
    On one hand, I could just take the piece and get rid of all references to the Red Shadow and the Riffs, but OTOH, that would sort of defeat my purpose, which is to do a Lord of the Flies-style commentary on the original. The similarities are very much intentional. And also, what are the differences between something like Lord of the Flies and fanfiction? (I mean Lord of the Flies is clearly inspired by The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne- the heroes are Jack and Ralph. And there's an island and a group of kids stranded on it with no adult supervision.) Is it just a matter of "bringing something new to the table?" What counts as "something new?" I don't want to just write a pale copy of The Desert Song, which doesn't bring anything new to the table. I want to write a story which comments on The Desert Song in the same way that Golding commented on The Coral Island. (And my take on the story focuses on the difficulties of leadership, the effects of colonialism etc which don't exist in the original.)

    ETA: Thanks to the moderator who deleted those extra posts!
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, now I'm a little more confused. Fanfiction is taking the characters from a published work (book, movie, TV show, etc) and writing a story using them. It's not writing an original story inspired or influenced by something else, as with your examples (I don't think one is a 'commentary' on the other, either, but maybe your idea of a commentary is different than what I'm thinking of.). Your description in the first post sounds like someone writing fanfic and trying to make it seem original with as little effort as possible.
     
  5. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    shadowwalker, tbh I'm confused by your post too. But can you please explain what about the original description sounds like fanfic? Is it a wording problem, as you said in your first post to this thread? Because I can't see it. Are you saying that a) having a hero called the Red Shadow who wears a cloak and is a chieftain of a desert-dwelling tribe reluctantly cooperating with the colonisers and a heroine called Margot means it's fanfiction? or that b)having the Red Shadow lead a rebellion is fanfiction? or c) having those last two things together is fanfiction? What's the boundary between fanfiction and inspired by? How much of this would I have to change to make it an original story, not a fanfic, if it is a fanfic? Just the names? I want to write a story inspired and influenced by the original, not fanfic of it. And you are right that Lord of the Flies is an original story. I didn't say it was fanfic. I said it responds to The Coral Island. (Another wording problem). I was talking about the boundary between fanfic and inspired by. There are similarities between The Coral Island and Lord of the Flies which could mean that Lord of the Flies could be counted as fanfic. I have nothing against fanfic, it's just not something I'd want to do.

    Then in that case, what's your definition of commentary? It can't be all that different from mine. My definition of commentary is something that was written as a response to something else. IMO Lord of the Flies is a commentary, because AFAIK it was written as a deliberate response to/parody of The Coral Island(why else would the two protagonists be named Jack and Ralph if it wasn't? Those names were deliberate. And The Coral Island is even mentioned twice in the book. And I think Golding even mentioned somewhere that he wrote LOTF as a response to that book. So he practically said himself that it was what I'd call a commentary. ETA: Anyone else have opinions on this topic? Especially someone familiar with the operetta in question? I just realised what you're talking about. I think it was the "In this version he's an Arab" and that stuff. That gave the impression it did. Am I right?
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay. Based on this thread and your others:

    Fanfic is taking the characters and premise of an already published work (book, story, movie, play, what have you) and writing a story using those same characters/premise. You acknowledge the owner and you don't make any money from it. If all you are doing is making cosmetic changes to the original, then it's not fanfic; it's attempting to hide a re-write of an already published work - in other words, plagiarism. If only the very basic ideas from the original are present in your story, then it's inspired by the original. If you're writing a parody, there has to be humor, satire, or irony in the writing, and again, it's not just changing a few things and rewriting it - you also have to acknowledge the work you're parodying. As to a 'commentary' - what Golding did was acknowledge the inspiration; that's not writing a 'commentary'.
     
  7. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    But here's the thing: All that's similar is the setting and the characters' names. The Red Shadow and Margot. Everything else is different. I've basically reimagined the entire thing and rewritten it. So it's a story about an Arab chieftain's magic powers and his Love Vs. Honour conflict and his problems with tribal leadership after his father dies. Even the relationship dynamic between the Shadow and his outlaw band is different. It's not just cosmetic changes. Am I right that talking about "this version" in the first post's description is the one that gave you the impression of cosmetic changes?" You talked about wording in your first post.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    First, yes, the wording you used in the first post made it sound like you were changing a few things to get by with a rewrite.

    Second, re-imagining is just a remaking. It's not writing a story inspired by another - it's rewriting it. You were given a couple examples of this in the other threads.
     
  9. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, shadowwalker!
     

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