1. JC Axe
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    JC Axe New Member

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    What do you think of Fan Fiction?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JC Axe, Oct 22, 2014.

    I've noticed in recent years a rise in the number of people writing Fan Fiction in the amateur writing community. I've never really cared much for fan fiction, partly because I don't watch much TV and rarely watch films.

    I'd always thought that the very concept of writing fanfiction was a bit uninspired and cheesy. Often writers steal ideas from other works of literature or film, but fanfiction which is categorically not based on anything the reader has experienced or dreamed up.

    That being said, it cannot be denied that some authors have had great success writing fanfiction. Some have even developed fanfiction to the point that the story has taken on a life of it's own, and warped into an independent story entirely (the most obvious example being Fifty shades of grey).

    Some might argue that in the same way that Shakespeare and many other prestigious authors based many of their most famous works on older stories, myths and legends, fan fiction could be considered similar.

    I recall hearing about Joss Whedon producing an episode of "Buffy the vampire slayer", based on some of the fanfiction he'd seen (in which a fan writes himself into the story as an omnipotent heroic character) an example of somebody copying a copy of their own work.

    I suppose for some aspiring writers, fan fiction is their first step into writing, and may provide them with a comfortable treading ground in which to begin writing. On the other hand, I struggle to believe that paying direct tribute to another writer's work by mimicking it (usually poorly), is not so much flattery, but lazy plagiarism by fantasists.

    Although that being said, if fans of a TV show want to write fiction for other fans to enjoy, then why criticise? They aren't hurting anybody, and if it amuses the writer and the fans, then great! Maybe the readers will be so inspired that a new genre of fanfiction will develop called 'FanFanFiction'.

    What are your thoughts? Is fanfiction lacklustre and stale? Or does it have a rightful place as legitimate creativity?

    JC Axe
     
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  2. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fan-fiction is a mix for me. Some fanfictions are sometimes really good. For example, the hit Disney movies Frozen, Tangled, and Malificent are all fan-fictions, from The Ice Queen, Rapunzel, and Snow White (I think, haven't seen it), respectively. Disney took old stories and revamped them, and that's technically a fan fiction.

    But then you've got the fan-fiction that everyone hates. The kind that 'ships' two characters that don't make sense, as a sequel to the show, movie, or book. That's what a lot of fan fiction is, sadly.

    And I'm kind of a hypocrite, sadly. I wrote this for a short time, taking certain events from my favorite video game and rewriting it and taking it in an entirely different direction. Another idea I had long ago was taking The Hunger Games and writing it completely from Peeta's perspective. That also died quickly because my creativity was stifled and I couldn't take it in the direction I wanted without breaking the integrity I was trying to hold.

    An old idea I had to practice describing things (back when this was a bigger problem for me) was to take a TV show and write it down as paper. I did this for the Pilot of Lost. That lasted about ten minutes, and I guess it's still fan fiction but I never finished it so whatever.

    One of my favorite writers, George R.R. Martin, is vehimently against fan fiction. He argues that it stifles creativity, and with that I can agree. I mean, it takes a preexisting world and leeches off it*.

    * I say leeches instead of builds because, well, it never builds. One example of building would be the Star Wars extended universe. That actually builds.

    One argument for fan fiction would be "It's a stepping stone for new writers afraid to make their own universe." That's true. It gives them a way to test the writing waters. But here's the problem with it: they aren't developing their own voice... they're mimicking the other writer's voice. So they're just writing. They aren't honing in their skills or forging their own universe.
     
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  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The rare fanfiction is good, and it's a good place to start as a writer - and to learn how to write for an audience on something like FanFiction.Net. But I'm sorry, I just don't see much use for it other than that.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't read fan fiction and I don't write it. I don't have a problem with its existence, but I don't really understand the motivation of fan fiction writers. To me, the major reason I write is to create my own stories and my own worlds. Why would I trade the opportunity to do that for playing in someone else's sandbox?

    That said, I might be a hypocrite about this. I love picking up my guitar and singing some of my favorite songs - traditional folk songs as well as songs written by others. I write my own songs too, of course, but that doesn't prevent me from also wanting to sing other people's songs. Is doing a cover version of someone else's song a form of fanfiction?
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I guess it would be if you spun the song in a really different direction.

    It's important to note that Fan Fiction has soil in which it grows. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. Fandoms exist for many franchises and they are tight-knit, communicative, have their own forums where they talk about, discuss, and sometimes make fetish of their thing. For a while I managed a fanpage for a character from Avatar: The Legend of Korra and I was amazed at how invested the fans get. Sometimes - as in all things - even displaying ugly sides of themselves in disagreements over canon, shipping, etc. So, there's a large and diverse dynamic of precursors that give rise to fan fiction that answer to different drives than the "typical" writer who wants to tell as completely unique a story as possible.

    ETA: Darn you, @minstrel! :dry: Your post made me think of an old Sting song that I had in a really cool, very raw acoustic version that was a genuinely old recording, long before the whole "unplugged" era of MTV, so not from there, that now I cannot think of which song it was and now my brain itches and it cannot be scratched. :(

    ETA yet more: I found it! Brain is itchy no more. ;) It's a 1977 demo with just Sting on guitar. It's haunting. But maybe only if you're from a certain generation. :)

     
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  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Speaking as somebody who's written 23.5k words of a Doctor Who fanfic:

    It's not a terribly different experience from any of my past "original" writing projects. I got an idea kicking around in my head, I felt driven to see how that idea would develop and change when I started hammering out the details, and I hope when I finish that other people will love the story as much as I do.

    I respect that certain specific authors feel very differently, and I don't look for fan-fictions based on their creations. Otherwise, I hold to Stephen King's Law that writers must be readers. Who among us can honestly say that we've never become so attached to a cast of characters - even long after the original reading/viewing is over - that we've wondered how the rest of their lives might have gone?
     
  7. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never really understood why people think fanfiction is inherently different from other writing by means of its originality. It's not like 'real' writers are tabula rasa; every idea we get we create from our experiences or from combining multiple experiences. Some fanfiction may borrow an extensive amount of detail (characters, setting, and plot) and have less originality, but it doesn't have to. If it just borrows the setting, how is that different from a writer borrowing New York City? As with most classifications, it's a spectrum instead of a dichotomy.
     
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  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    The two fan-fictions that I wrote only connected to the original work in the most tenuous and tangential way. And then I realized that I didn't need to write them as fan fiction and just brought the elements into the next thing I was working on.
     
  9. Artist369
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    Artist369 Active Member

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    Writing is a lot like art. People get upset about fan art too. When I first starting drawing with photoshop, it was on premade templates called "bases". A lot of people in the art community looked down on it, because it "stifled creativity" and artistic progress. But it was an essential stepping stone to my art career. I gained invaluable insight into Photoshop, and drawing in general. In time, I moved onto creating my own mini illustrations with no templates, to full on illustration. Now I am working on amazing things with an amazing company (under non-disclosure). Let's just say, I could very well see my own designs at comic-con in the near future.

    I'm just learning to write after one of my routine clients (whom I illustrate for), found my Doctor Who fanfic online and encouraged me to pursue it. If I hadn't written that stuff just for kicks, he would have never found my writing, and I would have never thought to try it for real. People who condemn fanfic and fan art are simply thinking too broadly. There are pros and cons to any way of thinking/progressing. Sure, it CAN be a crutch, but in my case, it was a launching pad.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
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  10. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I started writing fanfiction at 8 years old on paper with a pencil.
    No paragraphs, no real logic, no style, structure, or any idea of HOW to write. I just did it for fun. Age 12, got my first computer and found fanfiction.net where I wrote fanfics for a few years. I gained experience in both writing and the English language, met other writers, got tips and encouragement, and eventually moved on to fictionpress.net and RPing on forums in general. Basically, if it wasn't for fanfiction, I would maybe not be a writer today.

    Fanfiction is a base, a starting point, like drawing between the lines, playing simple songs on a new instrument written by the greats, or learning simple additions and substractions before multiplications and divisions.

    Everything we learn, as a society, is thanks to those who created by genius, luck, or the same way we're learning new things. We base it off what's available and grow our own branch away from it to form new things.
     
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  11. Artist369
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    Artist369 Active Member

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    Very true A.M.P. When I was in art school, I had to draw paintings by the great masters and sculptors- like Michelangelo. We were encouraged to copy works by the great masters. This goes on every day around the world in just about every college art program there is. Do we condemn an artist for being inspired? What would have happened if Star Wars hadn't copied Doctor Who? George Lucus revolutionized the sci-fi genre and set the bar for special effects in today's movies. But anyone can see that R2D2 is a Dalek and C3PO is a Cyberman. I love both. I'm glad that Lucas was inspired. We build on each other's ideas. Finding inspiration in something does not make the resulting work less worthy. There are no original ideas these days anyway.
     
  12. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never been motivated to write Fanfiction, but I don't blame people for doing so. Their fans are more loyal to the pre-existing story than they are to the author, though, so it's hard to build respect as a writer there. However, writing anything is healthy for the mind, so it's better for the fans than watching countless reruns, right? It's too bad they don't get much experience writing dynamic characters.

    I find that idea of C3PO's and R2D2's inspiration being from Dr. Who very hard to believe. One's a walking robot, the other one is cylindrical and on wheels. Neither are death machines. That's like saying Escape from L.A.'s writer stole the idea of holograms from George Lucas. The similarities are only simple concepts more than one person could think up independently.
     
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It may be fun for the fans to delve into their imagination about existing characters and fiction, but it's not the domain of anyone serious. It's like a cover band. Serious bands write their own songs.
     
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  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Correct, they were not inspired by Dr Who in the least. They were originally written as two bumbling diplomats, inspired by similar characters in Kurosawa's film The Hidden Fortress. The design of C3po was heavily inspired by Metropolis, which also inspired the BBC special effects department. R2d2 was designed after the robots in Silent Running.
     
  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Guess all the hours, days, weeks, and months I spent sweating over my fanfic stories, trying to make them as involved and compelling and well-written, dealing with beta readers and revisions, and golly, doing all those things serious writers do to improve their craft, were just... what? Diddling around? And God knows, nobody ever goes on to write original stuff after being ruined by fanfic - just wondering how I'll break the news to my two fanfic buds who, after first trying to write by going the fanfic route, have now gotten trade publishing contracts (one has several books out now and the other got a 2 book deal first thing). Obviously the three of us were just goofing around...
     
  16. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    yep. Sorry if that annoys you but them's the breaks.

    And of coarse you can go on and do other things, just like cover bands often move on to become, you know, The Beatles. But you won't get anywhere AS a cover band.
     
  17. Jared Carter
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    Jared Carter Member

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    I'm not all too fond of reading fanfics and have no desire to write any of my own. There are, however, a few troll fics here and there that really cracked me up.
     
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  18. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Not true, your local community will enjoy listening to something almost as good as the real live band ;p
     
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  19. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    You know I was going to echo what others have said here, that the fan-fic itself is ultimately of interest only to the reader and maybe a few fans, but is important in developing the writer, but ...

    ...then a few names popped into my head, such as August Derleth, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell and Timothy Zahn. These are writers who made their mark and is some cases more money than writers on this forum doing precisely what we think is 'not the domain of the serious'.

    And then there's shared universes, in effect fan-fic, such as the Warhammer novels, Dragonlance books, all pretty serious to the millions who read them, building writing careers we'd be envious of.

    If that's not serious, I think I'm just goofing around too with my original stories.
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, if I might chime in here. If you want to write fanfic, then I'd say do it. It's certainly practice, and I can't see it doing any harm, really. Just like anything else, if it becomes obsessive, it might hold you back in other areas, though. It would be nice to think you could branch out and write your own original stories as well, but I suspect a lot of fanfic writers do. Some fanfic writers have already been published before they ever write a piece of fanfic.

    If you get GOOD enough at writing fanfic, you can always sell your stuff to fans of the original. I remember buying a couple of Star Wars spinoffs many moons ago that were actually well-written and stayed close to the characters, and took the Luke/Leia/Han story forward in a very plausible way. (I also read a couple that were AWFUL.) So writing fan-fic is not necessarily a dead-end money-wise, either. Something to add to your writing CV.

    Right now, I'm astonished at the number of books that have been written with Pride And Prejudice characters in them. I mean there are DOZENS. Some are actually not bad, either. One in particular tells the story of what it was like to have been a servant in a mansion and estate at that time, and to have Elizabeth and Darcy as employers. It was an eye-opener—gritty, moving, and far from frivolous. Those servants basically had no life at all. Worth thinking about when you watch or read Austen's works.
     
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  21. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    No, because most of that stuff is commissioned, or 'cannon'. Shared universe stuff written with permission is NOT fanfic. Fanfic is stuff created by fans on their won accord, is NOT considered cannon, and cannot be sold because it does not have sufficient copyright approval. The Star Wars expanded universe books, although no longer considered cannon, are not fanfic.
     
  22. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    It will probably be helpful if you can provide a definition of 'fan-fiction.' It seems to me that the boundaries are a little vague, and based on being published or not. Some non-commissioned published works are still not considered canon as you say, but have been successful such as works written around HP Lovecraft's stories. Or does this only apply to living creators/writers, not dead ones?
     
  23. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I don't know. I don't make the rules. For me fanfic is non-commissioned and unofficial work created by fans for the fun of it; in the same league as cosplay. If you can't sell it legally, it's fanfic. Personally, I can't respect fanfic. But that's just me and the OP did ask for opinions. :) Anyway, other people love it and good on 'em.
     
  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Lovecraft's stories and fan stories usually fall into a shared mythos more than 'fanfiction'. That sounds like a needless and pedantic difference to most - but the status of the Lovecraft mythos (I'll not use the term 'Cthulhu Mythos' because it is wrong and was invented by an idiot) means that it's in some odd world between original fiction and fanfiction. Pastiche might be a better word for it.
     
  25. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can't sell fanfic unless the source material is in the public domain. Otherwise, it's illegal to make money from it. Copies could be sold for cost only, which is why there were so many fanfic magazines around before the internez took off.

    And no, fanfic is not normally considered canon, but it typically follows canon closely. If it goes too far afield, it's called "AU" (alternative universe). There's also 'fanon', which is something written in fanfic which appeals to so many in the fandom that it becomes 'accepted' for use in other fanfics.
     

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